Saturday, October 30, 2010

The Dark before the Morning

Nearly 500 years ago Martin Luther nailed 95 Theses to a large wooden door on the church of Wittenburg, Germany. He stood for truth over lies, for justice over injustice, and for doctrines he believed were not worth losing, no matter what the cost. The Protestant Reformation restored what the powers of sin had created across centuries of Europe. The battle cry of the Reformations became, "Post tenebras lux," and for the first time for many there was hope. After darkness light.

Hope is a powerful thing.

Fast-forward 493 years, and we're living half in the blessings of the Reformation. But truthfully, life is still grim. Pompous, self-righteous men still strut about in their gleaming attire, and poor little children still beg for bread. The world seems to be pushing for religiosity, but it is hardly the truth Luther fought for. More importantly, it is hardly what God's Word teaches.

Yet that battle cry still rings as a melody in my ears, because no matter what day it is, I still need hope. I still need assurance that this is not the end. That a new day will dawn brighter.

I remember one particular day, where I felt the need to be reminded of hope. We were driving, and a summer thunderstorm had just begun.  I was crying. It was raining. The radio was humming, and then this song came on.

Dark Before the Morning, By Josh Wilson

Do you wonder why you have to,
feel the things that hurt you,
if there's a God who loves you,
where is He now?

Maybe, there are things you can't see
and all those things are happening
to bring a better ending
some day, some how, you'll see, you'll see

Would dare you, would you dare, to believe,
that you still have a reason to sing,
'cause the pain you've been feeling,
can't compare to the joy that's coming

so hold on, you got to wait for the light
press on, just fight the good fight
because the pain you've been feeling,
it's just the dark before the morning

My friend, you know how this all ends
and you know where you're going,
you just don't know how you get there
so say a prayer.
and hold on, cause there's good who love God,
life is not a snapshot, it might take a little time,
but you'll see the bigger picture

Would dare you, would you dare, to believe,
that you still have a reason to sing,
'cause the pain you've been feeling,
can't compare to the joy that's coming

so hold on, you got to wait for the light
press on, just fight the good fight
because the pain you've been feeling,
it's just the dark before the morning

Once you feel the weight of glory,
all your pain will fade to memory
once you feel the weight of glory,
all your pain will fade to memory
memory, memory,

Would dare you, would you dare, to believe,
that you still have a reason to sing,
'cause the pain you've been feeling,
can't compare to the joy that's coming

com'n, you got to wait for the light
press on, just fight the good fight
because the pain you've been feeling,
it's just the hurt before the healing
the pain you've been feeling,
just the dark before the morning
before the morning

By the time the song was over the rain had nearly stopped. But the view was even better than before. I took a picture, not so much for the landscape, but for the memory. I got a glimpse then of the morning.

I don't know a single person who hasn't ever suffered in some way at some point in their life. I am struck by the dozens of people that surround me who are living through terrible, awful situations. I don't know anyone who doesn't need hope. God used this song to remind me that the hurt and pain can't be compared-- that somehow they're even worth it. Morning will dawn. A new age will come, and it will be glorious. It won't just be a Reformation. It will be a Restoration, or more accurately, a Redemption.

So, I love Martin Luther. I love what the Lord accomplished through him. I love that God took a sinful, superstitious, hot-tempered man and worked a wonder than changed history forever. I'm happy to celebrate Reformation Sunday.

But I only rejoice in those things because of Jesus Christ, who took on the weight of the wrath of God so that we could experience the weight of glory. A passage in 2 Corinthians 4 has become my life theme:

"But we have this treasure in earthen jars of clay, to show us that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; stricken, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh... knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence." (2 Corinthians 4:8-11, 13b)

To God be all praise and glory!

Monday, October 25, 2010

4 days and 4 nights without my husband

O, my, o, my, o, my. I was not exactly ready for that. Thank goodness for girl friends, good movies and a busy schedule or I may have cried myself to sleep every night!

He's home now.

I got to wait anxiously in the airport late this morning with a brightly doodled-on piece of paper that said, "I love Daniel" in pretty, bold colors. It was worth ever minute I spent covering the page to have him roll his eyes at me and ask if I would throw it away. I embarrassed him! Ooops. ;-)

I didn't think he could look any handsomer. But he did.

I've realized in the last (almost) five months (can you believe it's almost been five months?) what the Lord meant when he made Adam "a companion suitable unto him."

In every way my husband and I are perfectly suited to and for each other. We balance each other out, we settle one another down, we stretch and strengthen one another. We love the other like no one else knows how. We can talk more sincerely, more deeply than I ever thought possible. We can open up our hearts, share our struggles, cry in each others arms and never feel condemned or embarrassed. We are one.

Marriage is the most beautiful thing I have ever experienced. I'm so glad my honey's home.

p.s. my computer still isn't working, so it may be awhile before any pictures are up.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

The Weekend

This weekend was fun, and I had plans today to:

1. Go to church
2. Have lunch with the pastor and his family
3. Take a short afternoon nap
4. Update the blog

Well, the first two went fine and dandy, and the third went well, except for the short part. But when I went to boot my macbook up I beheld a very unwanted site: a cancel/not allowed sign (you know, a circle with a slanted line through it).

Some googling makes me think that it's a hardware problem, and one site said, "Be patient, these problems could take hours to fix." So, I'm not even going to try! Thank goodness for Apple Care and those super heros without capes. :)

Monday, October 11, 2010


I've been suffering from baby-syndrome pretty badly, lately. I want to rock them to sleep at night, singing our favorite hymns and melodies. I want something small to cuddle in my arms, and hold close to my chest-- all day long. I want the cute, gumless grins that make you smile down to your toes; and the happy, bubbly sounds that are better than music. I want to look at a baby and see my husbands eyes, and my mouth and know he is ours. I want a chubby little girl in a pretty white dress, with huge brown eyes, a face covered in freckles, and of course, a head full of curly red hair. And I want a gurgling baby boy with pretty blue eyes, and a fuzzy nearly-bald head. I want to see their daddy scoop them up and cover them in raspberries, and toss them up high, high and higher.

Of course, multiply that all by five and I'd be even happier. And crazier.... But happier.

A Blur

I don't really know where the last week went. It was certainly great to be back into the normal routine of things after being sick for nearly a week. I missed the kids, and we had a lot of fun last Monday afternoon at the park.

I bring Isabelle, their rescued German Shepherd, along almost every day now when I pick them up from school. She gets so excited. After only a week of doing this, she now goes to the door at 2:15-2:20 when it's time to leave and spins circles until I open the door for her to go out. She knows we're going to get the kids! It's really amazing.

I am not totally an animal person. Lots of hair, lots of work, etc. But Isabelle has opened up my heart a little. I'm so happy to have her by my side in the early afternoons before we go get the kids. She's well-behaved, but certainly has a mind of her own, which is hilarious. She's just crazy, and that's cute. The kids adore her, but especially Maura.

We had beautiful weather all last week. Fall was definitely in the air, but the sun was bright and warm. Two of the little boys in Michael's kindergarten class were at the park as well, and he had a blast leading them around on his adventures. There's a small creek that runs near this particular park we were at, and I usually let the kids hop along the rocks. The adventurous outdoor play is fun for them, since they don't have space to do that at home. So, Michael led his friends to "the swamp." They were having a blast. I gave them a couple of rules about keeping their shoes clean, and not throwing rocks at each other, which they listened to; but boys will be boys and they were just having fun. Then the other moms caught on to what was going on, and called their boys back to the play ground. So Michael went with them, but found a huge stick along the way, that instantly turned into a double-bladed light saber, and he was immediately the hero of his own galactic empire. The other boys caught on, too, and sticks were whizzing with little-boy noises carrying the adventure to great heights, and I was just smiling and enjoying the excitement of it all. I love boys. I gave a warning again, to stay clear of each other, and look all the way around to make sure there weren't people around, which Michael heard, but the other boys didn't. But then the moms came over and saw what was going on and dragged their little guys away. One of them burst into tears, and the other ran far away, stick still in hand.

I left all of that and felt very thankful that my parents let my brothers be boys, and when appropriate, was glad that Michael could have the opportunity to be a little more adventurous that he usually gets to be at home. Disclaimer for the mothers: They were wonderful women, who were looking out for their children-- maybe I am wrong and swinging sticks in a public place (even if it is away from people) is a bad idea. But regardless I did observe the adventurous spirit of all three of those boys, and really enjoyed it. 

I always loved the scene from The Sound of Music when Maria asks for play clothes for the children, and Frau Schmidt answers her, 
"The von Trapp children do not play; they march." Maria is aghast, "But they're children!" And of course, down go the old drapes, and out come beautiful new play clothes, for climbing trees, running across hills, bouncing around town, and singing in row boats down the river.

Michael found a tree to climb

Maura tried too


I've finally made a real friend down here in Charlotte, too, and she and I have been spending a lot of time together when I'm off of work, and Daniel is gone. I am so thankful for her! She was looking for a friend, and I was looking for a friend, then at a time when so much other stuff was going on God threw our lives together, and it has been such a blessing.


Friday I went thrifting with Lydia, our pastor's daughter. We had a blast, and found so many great deals. Instead of going to the Goodwills that I usually go to, we tried a Value Village Lydia had read about online. We were super impressed with the size of the place, and the great prices. I got two new ties for Daniel, two shirts for myself (one brand new, one from Banana Republic), and some things for the house. Lydia even found a Polaroid camera for her collection. We did try Goodwill before heading home, and both spent more than at Value Village and got less... 


Saturday we ventured out to Huntersville for the annual Renaissance Festival. We were invited by some friends of ours, and found some coupons at Chic-fil-a to get in half-off, so thought we'd give it a try. What a mix of cultures! Over half of the people there were country hicks dressed for the occasion. There were many men in tights, some in kilts, and lots of pirates, too. A lot of the women looked beautiful, some dressed as princesses, or fairies, some more rustic in trousers with linen shirts and wide belts. But it was Medieval time, and there was a lot of drinking, and crude jokes. We sat down to watch an adaption of Little Red Riding Hood and ended up leaving before she even got to Grandmother's house. But there were a lot of other fun things to see and do:

Like the Vegatable Justice Booth:
"Do not play this game if you are easily offended" was the warning sign.
The rotten tomatoes smelled awful by the end of the day, but the guy was still throwing out insults faster than the tomatoes were coming. We stood and watched for quite a while, amused by the insults, and all the people trying to bulls-eye his face.

There were different musicians all around the festival. Lots of harp and fiddle players.

This knight's name was too complicated to remember, but he was the "good guy" who fought, "For the glory of God, the King, and England!"

Maxmillian, in the gold and black, was Daniel's favorite knight, because he always had two-cents to give.

The jousting was actually legit, though there were certain parts (like when one knight "fell" off of his horse) that were obviously staged. There were three shows throughout the day. We watched the last two. The final one was a joust to the death, which actually included blood! I don't know what prop they used to make it look so real, but when one knight slit the throat of another blood gushed out. I screamed and covered my eyes. :-P

There were also neat artisan booths and shops with Medieval type gifts and trinkets. There were shops to buy clothing, genuine leather-bound journals and sketch pads, glass and pottery.

perfect for newly weds. ;-)

We left pretty content with our day out, and Daniel even mentioned maybe trying to go again next year.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Newly Wed Kitchen

The last couple of weeks we've only had two meals from our Newly Wed Kitchen cookbook. I really don't get much of a chance to cook around here like I did the first couple of months of our marriage. Daniel works until 8pm on Mondays, has class until 9pm on Tuesdays, and we go to the spaghetti dinner at church on Wednesday evenings, which leaves open Thursdays and Fridays, and then Saturday and Sunday, which I always found difficult anyway.

I did sit down with a cookbook my mom gave me years ago as a Christmas present. It's called "The Busy Woman's Guide to Slow Cooker Recipes."My mom really knows me. And I guess I haven't changed too much in four years. I found some pretty good sounding recipes to try out on Mondays. The plan is to put them in before I head to work at 11. Let them cook all day, then Daniel can grab some before he goes to work at 5, and I can get some when I get home from work at 6. If it goes well on Mondays I might try it on Tuesdays. We'll see.

But back to the Newly Wed Kitchen. .

Supergooey Philly Cheesesteak Sliders
(I didn't make the sliders, though)

3 Tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
1 medium sweet yellow onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 thinly sliced bell pepper, any color
1 pound top round or rib eye, thinly sliced
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
salt and pepper
6 ounces sharp provolone, or 1/3 cup melted Cheez Whiz (we used the real stuff, obviously :))
4 mini hamburger buns
(or whatever you have -- but I guess the buns would have been nice to get the full effect of the meal.)

1. Heat 2 Tablespoons of the oil in a skillet and saute onions until golden. Add the garlic and peppers, cooking until the peppers are soft. Remove from pan and set aside.
2. Add remaining oil to the skillet. Cook the meat until your desired brownness. Season with Worcestershire, salt and pepper to taste. 
3. Spread the cheese over the meat, then top with the top bun and cover while still in the skillet to allow the cheese to melt.
4. Pile the peppers and onions on the bottom bun, then top with the other half.
5. Eat with both elbows on the table to maintain your center of gravity. :-D

Saturday, October 2, 2010

A Miserable Worm

The Holy Spirit is reminding me right now that the Lord has a plan for my life, for each and every day, and though sometimes things may not go as I hope, planned or wished they would have, I should not complain. There's a wedding I wanted to be at today in Hudson, Ohio; and a reception in a quaint, familiar garage in Cleveland, Ohio, which is arrayed with white linens and tulle and tissue paper lanterns and twinkle lights that I wish I was dancing in right now. But I'm not. I'm here in Charlotte. Moping.

What happened to carpe diem, you know? Saturdays are usually fun for us. We turn on whatever college football game we can get on the tv, snuggle on the couch, read; plan for the upcoming week, or get odds and ends done around the house. (I know, we're boring). But for the last four days I've been sick in bed, and so one more day at home just makes my eyes roll. I can't wait for Monday.

At times like these I know I'm being ungrateful. I often feel like the contentious woman-- especially when I came downstairs earlier nearly crying (but really just whining) and said to my husband "I'm sad. I wish I was at the wedding!" He threw up his arms and gave me one of his gentle, but disapproving looks. That always convicts me.

And I'm reminded o how full of sin my heart is. "Desperately wicked" is not an understatement. Who am I to complain against the King of Heaven?

Daniel has this little notebook he carries around with him. It's for writing down what I call his "brilliant ideas." He has thoughts he wants to capture when he's on the go, and that's what that little book is for. Every once and awhile I peek through it, looking for tidbits of wisdom and encouragement. One quote I caught recently has stuck with me (obviously only in my head, or I wouldn't be writing this post, because I never would have been complaining to begin with, if it was in my heart).

"For every glance at oneself, one should glace a dozen times at Christ."

I don't remember who the original author was, but I don't think it really matters.

I think I've looked 12 dozen times at myself today, and now, at 8pm I'm finally looking at Christ.

What a mess!!!

And ironically, it's all because I wanted to go to a wedding. A wedding. Where a beautiful, radiant bride walks down the aisle to her adoring husband; where they covenant together til death parts them; and celebrate with feasting and jubilee.

Of all the things that should point me to Christ, the wedding should. Marriages are the best representation we have of what Christ's relationship to His people looks like on this earth.

But my heart is dirty and selfish when I forget to look to Christ. It's not just weekly, or daily that I need Him. It's hour-by-hour, moment-by-moment; because without him I am that miserable, wretched worm.

Thank the Lord tomorrow is His day. I know this sinner certainly needs refreshed!

Friday, October 1, 2010

blah, blah, blah

I have a camera full of pictures from the last two weeks that I will upload eventually, though they may or not make it up here. Week before last I had a sick little guy to take care of and ended up working just over 40 hours. Then this week hit and I seem to have come down with some strange stomach problem. After a day between Urgent Care, the ER, hours in several different waiting rooms, a CAT scan, three different x-rays, and being used as a pin cushion five different times by three different nurses, we decided to throw the bag in on the medical system and see if just rest and controlling the pain would help any. Seems to be working so far. I feel more myself today than I have all week, which is good news and progress.

Since I've been resting, Daniel has taken the time to get his new (used) macbook organized. In doing so he found some old files that made us laugh. Mainly one that Daniel put together one day to try to win my affections:

The Definitive Proof of Ashlee’s “Okayness”
A = Ashlee
O = Essential properties exemplifying Okayness
1.      A exists (Assumption)
2.     There may or may not be persons or objects bearing O (Assumption)
3.     Person x bearing O may be said to be “okay.” (Assumption)
4.     A bears O. (Provisional Assumption)
5.     For a person x to bear O, they must exemplify properties essential to “okayness.” (A clearer restatement of 3)
6.     Bear minimum standards to qualify x as humorous, witty, bright, pleasant, and intriging far exceed O.
7.     A exemplifies conditions in 6. (PA)
8.     A demonstrates the continuing ability to make those with even the most sophisticated senses of humor laugh uncontrollably.
9.     A consistently remarks of things exemplifying the universals of truth, goodness, and beauty.
10.  Even A on her most difficult days may not drive away those who admire all of A’s qualities.
11.  Thus, A exceeds O. (8-10)
12.  A bears O.  (6,11)
   13.  Therefore, A is okay. (12)
Note:  However, in examining the soundness of this argument, we may induce that Ashlee more than likely may deserve a label that exceeds “okayness” (even far exceeding).  In fact, we may reasonably conclude that Ashlee is “preferable” as someone to relate to in the course of human affairs (if even Ashlee thinks she is a difficult person).  A human agent x bearing the qualities in 6 must certainly be someone worth even performing propositional logistical tasks as this one.  Such philia love certainly exceeds other meanings of the concept “love” that some may ascribe to digital components in one’s life.  

After reading over this again over two years later I burst out laughing and looked at my husband, "Were you desperate, or were you just **that** crazy about me?!?"
To which my wonderful husband replied, "I just really love philosophy."

 .... then he got smacked, and we laughed together, because I'm pretty sure he was, and still is, just **that** crazy about me. :)