12.30.2009

my thoughts on the world of christian women

It's possible you remember this blog, and it's probable that you don't. But I'm going to continue finishing all of my thoughts!

I can really relate to what Paul has to say to the Corinthian church here:

"I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment. For it has been reported to me by Chloe’s people that there is quarreling among you, my brothers. What I mean is that each one of you says, "I follow Paul," or "I follow Apollos," or "I follow Cephas," or "I follow Christ." Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, so that no one may say that you were baptized in my name. (I did baptize also the household of Stephanas. Beyond that, I do not know whether I baptized anyone else.) For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power."
1st Corinthians 1:10-17 (ESV)

Within the last year, I've slowly become introduced to the world of Christian women. It's that season for me: Most of my friends are getting married, some are having their first children and starting their families.

And I'll tell you what, I love it. It is so fun to watch so many people make these huge steps and hurdles in life.

I love the learning process of it all. Each woman I know is having to constantly learn something new about their new little world. I love learning from all of these women what they're learning!

Most of all, I love that everyone is different. That's definitely my favorite part. Everyone I know has a slightly different method of living, and nobody is wrong! Every family is different, in number, in personality, in background. And every woman I know is working hard to learn and do what is best for her family. I love that there are so many "best" ways of doing things!

Although there are many things I love about all of these differences, there is one thing that I don't love. I'm guessing every woman has experienced a taste of it:

Judgment.

I have definitely been on both ends of it, who hasn't? More often than not, I'm the one judging.

Many times I'll simply have a silent judging thought. Often I'll go on a rant about my opinions, unknowingly (and sometimes knowingly) destroying someone else's. Sometimes, I argue with someone and in someway, tell them they are wrong and they simply should not be washing their clothes with actual detergent. I judge easily and with confidence. And I so wish I didn't.

I feel that the current world of women we're living in is interestingly similar to the Corinthian church. I think it's both hilarious and ironic that we, as Christian woman, can sound so much like the Corinthians when they say, "I follow Paul," or "I follow Apollos," or "I follow Peter."

For instance, have you ever said, I follow "Simple Mom" or I follow "Money Saving Mom?"

Or perhaps, we tend to follow people we actually know. I follow my mother. I follow her mother. I follow my Doctor. I follow my best friend.

Just to make sure everyone is included:

I vaccinate my children.
I don't vaccinate my children.
My husband and I rent.
My husband and I own a house.
My kids are public-schooled.
My kids are home-schooled.
We are striving to be debt-free.
Debt doesn't bother us.

And so on.

Yes, I'm a Christian but I can't help but wanting to tack on an assortment of the above descriptions! More than that, I can't help but wanting there to be one right way, one right combination of the above. I want it to be gospel truth.

But there is not!

There is the simple gospel: by grace we have been saved because of the sacrifice of God's only Son!

That's it. That's all I need to be identified with. That's all any Christian woman should be identified with.

My concluding thoughts are those of my convicted heart:

I'm so thankful for the God that saved me. I'm thankful also that He is the same saving God that created me, different from everyone else in the world to think, to decide and to have my own opinions about all sorts of things separate from the gospel. These opinions I have, about any of the aforementioned topics are totally, completely separate from the gospel. In no way, should my opinions ever interfere with how I love those around me. My opinions should not keep me from sharing the simple gospel with anyone I know, either!

12.25.2009

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Click on THIS:
Happy Christmas!

12.23.2009

seven months in heaven.

Ah, marital bliss!

On this 23rd day of December we celebrate our 7 months of marriage. Is it heaven? No, it's marriage. More specifically, it's marriage in Iowa, which is a powerful combination.

Let's have an update, shall we?

Some little things:

I have been lying this WHOLE time about when I became a christian. If you lie about when you became a christian does that negate the whole "saved by grace thing?" Crap. If it does. I've been telling everyone that I became a christian when I was 9 and that I got baptized on Easter. However, I was talking to my mom and she says (according to the church records) that I was baptized in December of 1996 (How could confuse snow with flowers?). And I was only 8 then. But an old eight, I was basically as good as 9, right?

Bryan is so close to being able to whistle! He's whistled a few times now and he practices for at least an hour everyday. I'm so proud of you, Bryan!

I have been watching waaaahay too much tv lately. I love watching the Office and Heroes with Bryan but on top of those shows I've been hooked on Project Runway, Glee, and Parks & Recreation. Wait there's more! We're currently watching every season of LOST before Season 6 comes out in February. We're almost done with the 4th Season. Also, I'm obsessed with Gilmore girls. If you're looking for a last minute Christmas gift, I'll take all seven seasons of it please.

As far as other hobbies go, we both continue to read. Bryan just finished Frankenstein and he's about to start re-reading the Harry Potter Series over break. I'm reading Blue Like Jazz and still need to finish the last four books of the Chronicles of Narnia Series.

I have been playing an online game called Cargo Bridge. And I'm darn good at it too!

Some big things:

We are absolutely, completely, totally DEBT-FREE! Don't believe it? I'll bet my bottom-dollar on it. (What the crap is a bottom-dollar, by the way?) That was one of our big financial goals for 2009. After a lot of hard work towards this goal, our debt was ultimately dominated when we were given a huge gift from Bryan's parents. (We love you!) Yippee! I'm more excited than Hillary Clinton:

We are MOVING! Whoa? (wow.) What? (we're moving.) Really? (yeppers.)
First of all, thanks to those who have been praying for us about this! Here are some Q&A's I came up with:

Q: You're pregnant.
A: No, I'm not. We're moving.

Q: Where are you moving? Across town?
A: Actually, across the state. We're moving to Iowa City.

Q: When are you moving?
A: Next summer, as early as possible!

Q: Are you quitting your job, LisaGrace?
A: Usually moving entails a job change, so yes. I'm quitting my wonderful job. I will miss it!

Q: WHY are you moving to Iowa City?
A: We will be apart of a church plant there. Our home church, Cornerstone is starting a Salt Company and a Cornerstone of Iowa City.

Q: Why are YOU moving to Iowa City?
A: To be honest, this was not part of "the plan." I should be freaking out right now. I should not be okay with throwing away our main source of income and moving to a completely different place and having no idea what kind-of job I'll be able to get. BUT, seeing as I'm not freaked out, not even in the slightest, kind-of makes me think that the Holy Spirit turned off the worry section of my brain and turned on the overwhelming sense of "God will provide." And that makes me think we're suppose to move. So we're moving because I'm not freaking out about moving, make sense?

Q: What will you do in Iowa City?
A: First on our list is to swallow our Cyclone pride and become Hawks. (heavy sarcasm there, we really could care less!) No really, it's pretty simple. We'll move in. Bryan will transfer to Iowa. I will get a job (hopefully). And we'll live life there. We'll get to know our neighbors and love anyone we meet. We'll share the Good News as God leads us. It's like a long-term mission trip, with the perk of only being 2 hours away from Ames. : )

12.16.2009

being vulnerable vs. being a pushover

Ok, I'm just going to lay this out there, I'm still struggling to find the difference between those two words. In my life, I honestly can't seem to separate the two!

But I am learning.

More than a few of my experiences in life have shown me that if you become vulnerable with someone, they begin to take advantage of you. And it hurts. Everytime. Tears are inevitable for me, and bitterness easily takes root in my weak flesh.

And contrarily, some of the best moments in some of the best relationships come when I've totally laid my heart out there and they've received me, despite my sin with love, comfort, and gentle correction and accountibility. Tears are inevitable for both of us, and somehow the tears aren't as painful or embarassing when someone is just as brokenhearted over my sin as me.

I've lived in the aforementioned bitterness because of "more than a few" experiences. I've reveled in it, complained about it to my husband and to others who would listen. I've been corrected about it, several times. I've asked God to rid me of it. But ultimately, over the past couple of years, I've shut myself in a steel box with it. I've held fast to it and didn't allow anything in.

So far, I sound kind-of hopeless don't I? I can't help but laugh at myself. I feel so pathetic reading that last paragraph!

But I am learning.

At least, I'm opening my gigantic steel box. Just a crack.

Learning Point #1: There are people who will take advantage of me when I am vulnerable! It happens. I've experienced it. Christians, non-christians, both.

Learning Point #2: Ultimately, I need to get over it. But more than that, I need to forgive them. Everyday, if necessary. I repeat some version of, "Even though they hurt me, I still need to love them." when I'm in a bitter mood.

Learning Point #3: More often than not, love means honesty, and especially if a believer is the one who hurt me, I need to be honest with them (according to scripture). Often they will admit they were wrong and we'll discuss how to improve our relationship. Sometimes, which has only happened to me once or twice, they will continue in their ways.

Learning Point #4: It's ok to not trust everyone I meet. And it's ok to not trust those who have broken my trust. I'm not talking about acquaintance trust, but deep trust. I still tend to generally trust people not to mug me upon that first handshake, you know.

Learning Point #5: It's even more important to find someone I can trust!!! I can't shut everyone out because one person hurt me. This was/is the hardest part for me. For at least a year, I didn't trust anyone. I kept everything to myself, in that steel box. But the people in my life that I can share everything with, I cherish more than anything.

Finally, I would simply like to share with the world today that I am pathetic. I am often a pushover and allow myself to be taken advantage of. I am more often bitter at everything that has wronged me.

But.

It actually makes sense that I'm that way. I am a child in need of a Savior. He loves me. He wants me to love everyone around me. And He wants me to have fellowship with those who will sharpen me.

So I will not be conquered by my sin! I trust Him, who sees me in my most vulnerable states.

11.28.2009

staying excited about salvation

Following typical Sunday routine, I went to church with my husband and one of his best friends, Joel, who became a believer about a year and a half ago. We're going through Ephesians as a church and if you've ever read Ephesians, it's easy to feel the joy of salvation as it just reeks from the text. Adoption, inheritance, and chosen are the words used to describe the relationship we are to have with the Father. It's a happy thing!

Admittedly, though it should feel easy to get sucked into that joy, I find it's difficult for me to appreciate the true gift of salvation, to truly recognize the power of the gospel. Can I get an amen?

During worship that Sunday morning, I couldn't help but being overcome with jealousy for what Joel (and even Bryan) had that I didn't: A fresh view of the gospel, of salvation.

Jealousy was followed quickly by conviction and the Holy Spirit led me to write down exactly what was going through my heart. Directly quoted from scribbles on my church program:

"Is it possible that I am so numb to salvation because I am not experiencing it often enough? I of course can not experience it again in my own life but I could-if I was involved enough-experience it again and again vicariously through others..."

Though Joel has been a believer for a year and half already, there is still much that is new to him. It's still easy to compare the new Joel to the old and it's hard not to smile at the obvious changes. And Bryan too gets to experience salvation in a new way, being so directly involved in Joel's life and story.

It made me ponder. Maybe, God's command to share the gospel isn't simply what's best for those who need to hear it, but it's also best for us and for me, who need to be reminded of the power of salvation.

Could I possibly serve a God who has my best interests in mind when He asks me to do something?

hmmm. Interesting theory, eh?

I think I'm becoming convinced that the key to staying excited about salvation is experiencing it...as many times as possible. And God has already given us a manual for this experience. Go. Make disciples. Share the Truth!

11.23.2009

month six: what we've been up to...

1: Going to Church. (I stole this picture from Mark Arant's blog)


2: Finishing up the decor in our living room.
(before)
(after)


3: Getting rear-ended.


4: Eating Chocolate Ice Cream.


5: Retreating


6: Teaching Bass Lessons.


7: Watching Planet Earth.


8: Voting.


9: Being impressed with my brother Adam's skillz.


10: Playing the banji

11.21.2009

my life is a construction zone, hard hat required.

My Life: Under Construction
Micah 3:3


To several different people, I have recently described my life as a construction zone, a remodel if you will. Jesus Christ purchased me with His blood and though I am stubborn in my own sinful structure, He has torn down walls, ripped out the flooring, threw my appliances to the curb and so on. This is an ongoing process, of course, one that has been at work since the beginning of my relationship with Him. Slowly but surely, He makes me new.

But recently, this construction site of mine has become a little intense. Think: Extreme Home Makeover style. One week to blow up a house and build a new one from scratch.

There have been many, many things God has been teaching me and many things in my happy LisaGrace world that have been shattered because of it. And I intend to share all of it with whoever chooses to listen. Here's a current list of the things I've been stewing over:

  1. The complete plan for our lives as believers: Staying excited about Salvation
  2. Is it wisdom or selfishness? Being vulnerable versus being a pushover
  3. Insight in the world of Christian women: Relating to the Corinthians
  4. Study versus Passion when it comes to the Word of God
  5. What does the Sabbath look like for me?
  6. The Holy Spirit actually does stuff! Cool!
  7. This life is hard, suck it up and get to work. (stole that from Travis Pierce)
  8. What do I do after I share the gospel?
Stay tuned faithful readers!

11.06.2009

prices revealed!

So maybe you didn't play my game, but I still wanted to brag about the awesome prices I got! : )

Giant Trunk: $25.00




Small Storage Chest: $9.00



Retro Yellow Chair: $10.00

GRAND TOTAL: $44.00

yahoo!

11.04.2009

guess how much?

I got some GREAT pieces of furniture to finish off our living room at the Junk Refunkery. Can you guess how much each of these cost?

Giant Trunk
(It fits ALL of our board games and serves as a coffee table! Amazing!)



Small Storage Chest



Retro Yellow Chair

11.03.2009

a long apology for a long absence

I really enjoy blogging. I love writing. I love sharing about our lives and marriage and journey. And it's totally therapeutic for me to take time to digest things by writing it out.

But I ran into a problem with blogging this past month: I don't want to be a "Ranter."

I personally become so burdened and bogged down after I read a particularly negative anything (blog, facebook status, etc.) written by anyone (friend or not).

Frankly, for me, this past month has been full of hard things, and I haven't had many positive things to say. But I didn't want to bog myself, or anyone reading my blog down with all the negativeness.

Hence, I haven't been blogging much.

I want to stay positive, even in the blogosphere. Don't get me wrong, I don't want to fake a happy attitude, but in my heart I know that even negative things are really good. I know that everything in my life is part of the journey of life and more specifically part of my spiritual growth.

I told one of my good friends that the recent weeks of my life have been ones in which God seems to be tearing me apart. It hurts, but I know its a good hurt. He desires to put me back together His way. This Anthem Band lyric has been speaking loud and clear to me:

"Destroy our hearts so we can recover."

(From, "Take the Day." thanks Ryan Seiler)

--------------------------------------------------

But don't despair, I think I'm on the mend from all the construction God's been doing in my life. I've been learning so much from Him and changing in ways that I really didn't want to. : )

And I have a lot to say about it too! More blogs are coming soon from the Alsbury home!

10.23.2009

month five: blessings abound

Five months down and forever to go!

I really, really, really LOVE my husband.

This is at our rehearsal dinner, aren't we cute?

He's my best friend. He's been my best friend since we were in high school...when we were dating other people. He's one of those friends that (still, four years later) calls me everyday, just to tell me a random story or check to see if my day is going well. He's one of those wonderful people who are easy to talk to all the time. And I get to be with him for the rest of my life! I apologize to all the girls who don't get the pleasure of being married to the best man ever. Though I'm sure in your disillusion you think your man is the best ever. : )

He's the Spiritual Leader. As much as I (regretfully) fight for this position in our family, it seems that it's always him to lead us in prayer. He's the one who came home one day and said, "We're giving more to our church." Despite the small dose of financial hardship we're currently experiencing (read on for a financial update). And he's the one who got up at 5:15A.M. yesterday morning for his first men's group meeting.

He's the patient one, the kind one, the forgiving one. Why does he always have to apologize so quickly-I didn't even get a chance to chew him out yet! Why can't I have a moment to be mad at him? Why doesn't he ever yell and get raging mad?

He's my claim to fame. Call me proud but it is just fun to say, "My husband play bass for the Anthem Band." "Oh, yeah, the red head, that's you're husband? Cool!"

This month, our marriage has been a blessing because of him. Thanks, Bryan.

MONTH FIVE UPDATE:

Spiritually
We're doing alright spiritually. I've actually been experiencing some spiritual warfare as well as struggling with several different situations all at once. It wouldn't be prudent for me to share it all but prayers for protection against the enemy are welcomed.
Bryan just started going to men's group on Thursday mornings at 6am.
We're both enjoying our connection group very much! God really blessed us big time with a great leader and 3 other young couples, two newly married and one engaged. It's such a perfect fit.

Financially
You may have read about the car repairs. Our dreams of making a dent in our debt were further crushed when we found out last Friday that Bryan's hours were getting cut at the bank. Again, we're going to be fine financially, but it was a little overwhelming at the time.
To be honest, I'm starting to feel that all of this financial crap has been much more of a blessing then a burden. It sometimes feels like a burden because God's plan can be harder then my own. But overall, I'm stretching and growing into a more Christ-like LisaGrace and I'm really loving the slightly-new me! God's plan is always better then my own...

Home-ly
Here's what I've been up to:
Lot's of work on the machine...


These are some curtains I just whipped together. I need to hem the bottom and their just the back curtains. The front set will match the black and white pillows below.


PILLOWS! I'm pretty proud of these babies.


Just a little wall art.


If you thought I was proud of the pillows, let me TELL you about this little treasure. I did this. Yep, me. I free-handed with bleach and created this! I. am. amazing.

Trust me, all of the above is cooler in person. COME SEE US!

10.12.2009

menu plan monday

Monday: Pizza Balls & Salad

Tuesday: Scalloped Potatoes & Sausage

Wednesday: Taco Quiche & Corn

Thursday: Meat Loaf & Green Beans

*Bryan has yet another retreat this weekend, so I'll be home trying to eat up all the leftovers!

Friday: Leftovers

Saturday: Leftovers

Sunday: Chicken Caesar Salad

I'm very excited for this weeks menu, yum-town!

I'm going to post a few recipes soon, hopefully my mom will give me permission to post her amazing meat loaf recipe!

i really hate a change in plans

The Frustrating Situation
Let's just say, Bryan's car better not break for a LONG time. I feel like we fixed everything that could have possibly gone wrong with the car. And yet, the brakes still need to be replaced and it needs at least two new tires.

Enter me: I'm a worrier, and a planner, and a control freak, lacking in faith and bearing my own burdens. Bryan's car had been in the shop since Wednesday, September 30th and I've been freaking out for the last week and a half.

My mom thinks that I'm not trusting God. I told her, "I know! Of course I'm not trusting in God!"

It's just that we've worked so hard to get so close to paying off ALL of our debt. We paid off my car in August, we paid off our wedding rings in September and by the end of September we had paid off over $5,300 of debt over the course of 4 short months! We only had $2,600 to go and we were going to have that gone by the middle of November. We had a PLAN, and I just don't like it when my plans get messed with! My pain is understandable, right?

We got the bill today. And we charged $2,620.68 to our credit card today. Just saying that HUGE amount makes me squirm.

Provision from the Father
Maybe you're even starting to see the way God is working in all of this. But it took me a little longer to realize just how perfectly this all works out...

The $2,600 I mentioned before is all that we owe Bryan's parents for his car. No interest, no due dates, no decrease in credit score if we don't pay it off right away. We've been blessed from the beginning by their generousity.

The bill? Yeah, only $20.68 over what we had already planned to have in our checking account by the middle of November. And guess when our credit card payment is due? Yep, you guessed it, November 16th.

How amazing is that? I'm almost in tears at the way God provides for us!

Sin Issue Revealed
I honestly never doubted that God would provide for us, after seeing over and over again his provision in our lives. It was more that I was and am struggling with anger that it can't be done MY WAY. My way was to have zero debt by 2010. I hate debt! I really do. I wanted to be done with it and I, of course, did not want Bryan's car to break.

But God desires to draw me closer to Him and make me more like Christ. That's God's way.

While I know I tend to struggle with control and carrying my own burden rather then laying them before the Lord, I didn't really notice I was acting in the same way towards money.

I have been finding a lot of my security in money.

Lesson (in the process of being) Learned
I'm still struggling with putting my faith in a plan and finding security in our finances. We've been blessed. And it's truly difficult for me to praise God in the midst of blessing. But I'm feeling a heavy flow of conviction at this point, and I'm ready to see God change my heart by the power of the Holy Spirit.

The New Plan
Ultimately, my plan is to trust God with our money.

I'm not going to look at our budget and bank account 3 times a day anymore. (You have NO idea how hard that's going to be for me) I'm not going to obsess about having enough money in May 2010. I'm not going to try to plan each and every financial detail of our lives through the next 3.5 years.

I am going to look at our budget each month. I am going to pay our bills on time. I am going to take out the cash we need for the month and stay under our budgeted cash amounts. And I am going to remain responsible with our finances.

I don't believe that trusting God with our finances means that I throw out our budget, do not watch what we spend, refuse to have a schedule to pay off our debt, and take out loans for school. King Solomon encouraged wisdom with money, and I'm still determined to be as wise as I can be regarding our finances.

So, in the mean time, we do have a plan so that we can stay wise and be responsible with the money God has entrusted to us:

In the following order, we plan to:
  • Stick with our budget, cutting corners when possible and saving any extra.
  • Fix the brakes and tires with an "extra paycheck" I'll get in December.
  • Refill our emergency fund back up to $1,000.00 as soon as possible
  • By the end of this year, save up $1,200.00 for the first Iowa State Tuition payment to come out January 20th, 2010
  • Slowly, but surely, re-pay the last $2,600.00 we owe to Bryan's parents over the course of 2010.
While we're committed to paying off our debt as soon as possible, we're still going to pay cash for college so it's going to go a lot slower then I've planned. And speaking of plans, I'm not going to have a schedule to pay off our debt. I really don't want to make the same mistake twice by putting my hope in the date which we'll be debt-free. We are going to work hard and whatever extra we have at the end of each month will immediately go to our debt.

10.06.2009

markduvick

i love my brother.
you know how sisters never call their brothers by their nicknames? like when everyone else called the neighbor boy "stinky pete" but the polite girl called him "peter."*

anyway, my brother's "nickname," if you will, happens to be markduvick. everyone calls him that. even bryan, my husband and mark's brother-in-law. bryan seriously says to me sometimes, "i saw markduvick today..." really?!?!

yeah, well, it's possible i need to jump on the bandwagon of calling my OWN brother by markduvick before there are some serious mix-ups. here are two examples from the last week and a half.

lg: well, yeah, he's been hanging out with mark.
a: mark arant?
lg: noooo, mark, my brother.

-----

lg: if both bryan and i died later on in life, i'd probably give my kids to mark.
p: mark arant?
lg: um, noooo, mark, my brother.
p: oh, that actually makes more sense.

bahahahaha. well, i guess the moral of the story is that no matter how famous my little bro is, mark arant is still MORE famous.


*that is actually a reference to famed childhood stories my dad used to tell us when we were kids. i, obviously was always the polite kid. : )

10.05.2009

menu plan monday

well, we DID end up eating last week! : )

we had a date night at cafe milo on tuesday, chicken ceasar salad on wednesday, grilled paninis on thursday and chicken alfredo pizza with spinach on friday. not bad!

here's what's on the menu for this week:

can i just say how excited i am for cooler weather? i LOVE soups and baking. 'tis the season!

MONDAY: White Chili & Corn Bread
TUESDAY: Enchiladas & Leftover Corn Bread
WEDNESDAY: Spinach Apple Salad & Pita Bread
THURSDAY: Stuffed Manicotti
FRIDAY: Leftovers
SATURDAY: Escape 22 Connect Event Meal
SUNDAY: Gyros

happy fall!

10.01.2009

october's getting off to a great start!

quoted from a previous blog, here's what i want the month of october to look like:

"not sure if [streamlining] is the right word, but basically i want to "deal with today's problems today." and have a life that is somewhat predictable and efficient. ok, so that sounds incredibly boring when i put it like that. but i want to "streamline" my home so that things don't get so piled up. i want to have systems in place for the laundry, the mail, meal times, and things like that. i feel that this will both honor my husband and keep me from going crazy."

this blessed first day of october got off to a rough start! my plans of getting up earlier and starting my day off right were crushed by yesterday.

it all starts with car repair: bryan's heater was broken so he took it in. well, the joys of vehicle repair would have us shell out $2,000.00 to get it in good running condition. alright, cool. (i'll write later on how this will effect our financial goals of 2009)

we did leave it at the shop to get almost everything fixed, save a few things. so we were, and are, a one car family. last night i had escape and bryan had to practice for salt so bryan came early with me to escape, i got a ride home from jasey and bryan kept the car so he could drive home from practice. just so you know, he also kept the car keys with him...which also had my set of apartment keys, see where this is going?

so, as soon as i exited jasey's car, i realized i'm not going to be able to get into our apartment. and i didn't exactly want to sit in the hallway from 9:30-12:30, so i asked jasey to take me to me parents house. she graciously did and i waited there for bryan to get done with salt practice.

so, we both had a really long day yesterday. and we consequently got up a little late. today, october 1st, will probably be another long day. but we always continue to feel so, super, incredibly blessed by the hand in life God has graciously dealt to us.

i'm so thankful we have food in our bellies, clothes on our back and a roof over our heads. praise Him! and happy october!

9.30.2009

september sabbaths

remember this post?

well, it's the end of september and i have not really gained any understanding of the word, "sabbath."

i think i will move on to "streamlining" next month (read: tomorrow) while keeping the idea of keeping the sabbath holy in the back of my mind.

does anyone have any suggestions for unlocking the secrets to this lost commandment?

(i.e. opinions, books, messages, etc)

i'll take any and all suggestions, thank you!

9.29.2009

menu plan monday?

FAIL! it's tuesday, if you didn't notice.

DOUBLE FAIL! bryan and i ate b-bops yesterday.

this week there are only 3 days of september, and even though i have meals planned through tomorrow, i've been less then inspired.

so, yeah. today, i'm probably just going to make something up for dinner.

next week will be better.

9.25.2009

dr. wife to the rescue!

earlier this week, after bryan was complaining about frequenting headaches and not sleeping very well, i battled the desire to be impatient and unmerciful to my husband. and by battled i mean completely lost the battle with hardly a fight. i was tired of his complaints, especially because i couldn't fix his problems. especially because we had already spent hundreds of dollars to try to fix the headaches. so why didn't he just buck up already and get over his pain?
several times God spoke into my heart, "...in sickness and in health." oh how humbled i need to be! i am so thankful that headaches and lack of sleep are bryan's only sicknesses and i'm so thankful to be learning these lessons on such little things.

after my change of heart, i decided to put some effort into finding some sort of solution to bryan's pain. i did some research and found lots of answers! i'm finally starting to take after my mom's resourcefulness and desire to discover natural causes and cures.

it makes sense to me that if you can find a natural cause for an ailment, you should be able to find a natural cure. after i researched headaches and the causes for them, i've deducted that it's probably allergy related. in an article i read, allergies that cause headaches also causes two other side-effects: sneezing and um, another side-effect which shall remain nameless. : ) bryan has experience both of those side-effects. in the same article i also found that foods that can cause the allergic reaction of headaches are:
  • milk
  • milk products
  • chocolate
  • chicken
  • liver
  • alcohol
  • strong cheese
i was amazed by the helpfulness of this information! bryan's dad happens to be allergic to milk-just milk, not all dairy. we both think milk is the culprit. bryan, being the great guinea pig that he is, is going to take a break from drinking straight up milk for a while and see if that helps. if not, we'll add all dairy to the list of "do not eat." we'll continue to work our way down the list until something changes-hopefully it does!

in the meantime, we're going to see if some of these natural remedies help:

apparently, 3-4 slices worth of lemon juice will give you immediate relief from a headache

eating a peeled apple with a little salt in the morning on an empty stomach for about a week will cure your headaches (not so sure about this one, seems a little too good to be true. but i know that eating fruit on an empty stomach is really good for you so we'll probably try it!)

i also looked up some natural sleep aids. there were some obvious things like cutting out caffeine and laying off the sweets before bed but one interesting thing i found was how important magnesium is. it's a natural sedative and being magnesium deficient can directly cause insomnia. also, whole wheats can help promote sleep as well. we're thinking we'll try a magnesium supplement with some whole wheat toast or crackers before bed and see if that helps!

i'll keep you posted on the results and you can always be praying for bryan's health!

9.23.2009

month four on the oregon trail.

or month four of marriage.

same thing, really: broken axles, dead oxen, starving until we get to next town and free land!*

no really, by God's grace marriage has been good to us in these four short months. the rewards we reap despite small bumps in the road are rich to the soul.

finances:
i can taste freedom! see this post regarding our financial goals for 2009. in august, we wrote a check to pay off "my" car, or the focus. at the beginning of this month we paid off our wedding bands and last week we wrote a pretty big check to bryan's parent for "his" car, or the suburu. we only have two more checks to go, meaning we'll be completely debt free by the end of november! can you tell i'm a little excited?
also, we found out some news about iowa state tuition as bryan will be starting full time next semester. it's a little bit of good and bad.
the good news is that formerly, we had only been told of the yearly payment plan option, in which we pay for an entire year with 12 monthly payments starting in april. but since bryan was starting half way through, that obviously didn't make sense for us. however, after purging our debt and paying cash for dmacc classes this semester, we knew we wouldn't have enough to pay in full at the beginning of the semester. but we recently found out that their is an alternative payment plan where we pay in 3 payments over the course of next semester.
the bad news is that one semester at iowa state is $3,600.00 and we can't change bryan's fafsa until next year, meaning we won't qualify for any financial aid until fall of 2010. so that 3,600 bucks is all ours to handle. (for comparison sake, we only paid $1,350.00 for dmacc this semester) *deep breath* though it's a large chunk of money, i'm honestly not too worried. i've reminded myself that within the course of 6 months, we will have paid of $5,500 in debt, which is TWO THOUSAND more then tuition. also, if we're really good with our money, we'll have the first payment of $1,200 by the end of this year. from there it's just trusting God that Bryan will be able to make at least $600 a month to finish out the other $2,400.
anyway, i'm moving on, because i know you don't care that much about our finances.

relationship:
we're finding that there needs to be a balance in almost everything. recently, it's been mostly balancing our time. i'm still trying to figure out how to get stuff done when bryan's home. i don't like cleaning when someone is "watching" me. and it's always hard to be productive when my husband is taking a break after a long day of work. but we're learning that there is a time to hang out with eachother and a time to...not. meaning, i have to learn to be productive even when bryan's home so that i can completely devote my mind, body, and whole self to him when we have specific time alone with eachother. but we still hang out plenty, especially when i've been extra efficient!
otherwise, it's been sooo easy to love one another lately. praise God for this! i'm soaking up these months and trying to engrave them in my heart for when hard times eventually come.

homemaking:
i've been at a pace of about 1 project/improvement a week. here are some pictures chronicling my journey:
our computer desk station (that chair won't be pink for long!)
our beautiful bedspread

here's our old bedspread...it was scratchy and crazy and i'm sad i ever spent $100 bucks on it. especially considering the replacement was $60

our record collection in my favorite piece of new furniture, our little bench that fits perfectly in our little nook

painted and filled bookshelves

and a new futon cover!

and here's what i'll be up to this weekend while bryan's gone:
  • sanding and painting one of our shelves.
  • making the back set of living room curtains
  • making a few pillow cases
  • starting my painting projects : )
parenting:
what?!?! no, no, no, get your mind out of the gutter-we're not gonna have a kid. but we got to practice our parenting skills on this little guy:
bryan says, "i don't get why parents are always complaining about how tough it is to raise kids. i joke around with them, you give them pizza, you give them candy, you let them live their lives. they're adults, for goodness sake." (for you office fans out there)

p.s. we can't wait for another one! congratulations todd, paige, and atticus!

*footnote: i've read two francine rivers books this month and they BOTH referenced the oregon trail. also, both groups traveling on the oregon trail in the books detoured to california. weird. needless to say, the oregon has been on my mind.

9.21.2009

bacon, pasta, parmesan!

my friend morgan asked me to post this recipe and her wish is my command!
actually, i was totally already planning on posting this recipe as it is one of the few that i can kind-of claim as "my" own. my mom made up this recipe for a contest when i was just a kid! she didn't win, but it has stuck in our family and has also made its home in the alsbury house!


ingrediants:
8 strips of bacon
1 cup of green beans
2 cups penne noodles
1/4 cup parmesan
salt to taste

directions:
  • cut up bacon into bit-size pieces and place in a large saute pan
  • cook bacon at a medium heat until cooked thoroughly
  • do not drain grease! this acts as your "sauce."
  • meanwhile, boil water and cook pasta as directed
  • toss green beans in with the bacon until cooked all the way through
  • add pasta and parmesan and stir it all together
that's it! it's super easy, pretty frugal and surprisingly yummy!

also, all of the ingredients amounts are just estimates so add more bacon or green beans or just throw in whatever kinds of pasta you have in your cupboard. i usually add a little salt too.

menu plan monday

here's what we're eating this week!

monday:
homemade velveeta mac n' cheese & salad

tuesday:
bacon pasta parmesan (yep, you did see this last week-we love this meal!)

wednesday:
homemade lasagna & french bread

thursday:
homemade pizza (here is the pizza crust recipe i use)

Bryan is leaving me on friday to play at a retreat in KC with the rest of the Anthem Band

friday:
leftover lasagna

saturday:
leftovers, clean out my fridge!

sunday:
leftovers, clean out my fridge!

9.18.2009

frugal friday: therapuetic shopping

FACT: i needed some new slacks. as in: pants-that-are-not-jeans. as i only have one pair of such pants and they may or may not have a hole in the crotch.

FACT: i do love me a good deal.

gap is having a 40% fall sale on select items. i love gap sales:

1 pair of black straight fit pants
regular price: $54.50
on sale for: $24.99

1 pair of stone capris
regular price: $39.50
on sale for: $9.99

TOTAL BEFORE ANY DISCOUNTS: $94.00

total after sale price: $34.98
15% off for using my gap card: -$5.25
8% cash back via e-bates: -$2.38

MY TOTAL: $27.35
SAVINGS: $66.65/71%!

yeah, that's right. i'm awesome.

9.16.2009

simple refreshment.

i confuse myself. a lot. i'm constantly in conflict between the way i am, the way i want to be and the way i was raised. so, today, i felt like figuring out why i'm so confusing to...myself. maybe this will help you understand me too.

i'm an ESFJ in myers-briggs lingo.

here are some descriptions that i particularly connected with:

"...They have a strong need to be liked, and to be in control. They are extremely good at reading others, and often change their own manner to be more pleasing to whoever they're with at the moment...

"...They may have a strong moral code, but it is defined by the community that they live in...

"...An ESFJ who has developed in a less than ideal way may be prone to being quite insecure, and focus all of their attention on pleasing others. He or she might also be very controlling, or overly sensitive, imagining bad intentions when there weren't any..."

the above quotes basically answer all my questions about me. no wonder i'm so confusing! these words were written about me! i'm sooooo influenced by those around me. i'm like a permanent junior higher. crap.

"...All ESFJs have a natural tendency to want to control their environment. Their dominant function demands structure and organization, and seeks closure. ESFJs are most comfortable with structured environments...
"

i guess you can probably tell why i'm so great at my job. it involves high control, organization and structure. hmmmm...sound like any one we know?

"...ESFJs respect and believe in the laws and rules of authority, and believe that others should do so as well...This tendency may cause them to sometimes blindly accept rules without questioning or understanding them..."

oh my word, this one cut deep! just ask bryan about the time we were rollerblading and were about to go on a trail until i saw a sign that said "no wheels." i completely refused to go.

"...ESFJs are people persons - they love people. They are warmly interested in others. They use their Sensing and Judging characteristics to gather specific, detailed information about others, and turn this information into supportive judgments. They want to like people, and have a special skill at bringing out the best in others..."

this very much describes my optimism in people, i have a lot of faith in people. sometimes that is good and sometime i get disappointed.

even though i've known about myers-briggs personality stuff since i was a kid, it's never really affected me that much until now. for some reason, today, it was really beneficial to read the descriptions of who i am. and knowing who i am helps me see what i specifically want to change, or rather, ask God to change.

i think my personality will probably be about the same but i'd like to ask God to change my heart in the following ways:

i want to be less controlling. nobody likes to be controlled (there goes my people-pleasing sensor) but more then that, i know it's not my job to play "god."
please, God, help me to trust you and not myself. change my heart and allow me to be led by you and also by my husband.

i desire to be more confident and not so insecure. it is very true that i can easily take things too personally and focus
all my attention on pleasing others. this part of me has really wounded me and i'm more insecure then i want to be. this also relates to the moral standards quote. please, God, help me to be confident in all that you have revealed to me by your word. help me to love freely and not hold back because of my own insecurities. you are my rock and foundation, whom shall i fear?

sorry for the somewhat me-centered post, but i'm actually really refreshed by all of this. praise God for simple refreshement!

*for the source of the above quotes, go here.

9.14.2009

menu plan monday

well, i've finally come to point in which i'm confident enough to post what we eat for dinner every week. seriously, the first months of marriage were full of frozen pizzas and eating out.

but the month of september has been a great cooking month for me so far, so i'm excited to share with anyone who cares...

*drumroll please*

WHAT'S FOR DINNER?!?!

monday:
chicken ceasar salad
garlic bread

tuesday:
cheeseburgers
fried veggies/leftover salad

wednesday:
pizza soup

thursday:
bacon, pasta, parmesan

friday:
broccoli quiche

saturday:
leftovers

sunday:
grilled paninis
salad

so that's what we're having. if you need any more information, let me know!

9.12.2009

GO STATE!

just kidding, i don't care. just kidding, i love iowa state. just kidding, i don't. just kidding, of course i love the cyclones, i've lived in ames my whole life. just kidding, i'm not cheering for anyone. just kidding, who else would i cheer for? just kidding, go hawks! just kidding, just kidding, just kidding.

have you ever seen this lady?

ahahahahahahaha. so funny.

the above basically explains why i haven't been blogging: our lives are so uninteresting right now that all have to keep you entertained are random clips and movie reviews. (see previous post)

uninteresting is NOT a bad thing though. we've gotten into a very normal, steady stream of life. everything is really great actually. like i said in my last post, bryan and i are definitely having the most fun in our marriage ever. our apartment is slowly coming together as a home. bryan has been very disciplined in his work, school and ministry. he seems to have developed a good schedule in which he's not so overwhelmed with everything. and i have too. i've developed a perfect balance of work, high schoolers, time with bryan, cooking and cleaning and small projects.

confession: the only thing that's missing for me is time with God. why is it so easy for making dinner, organizing something or going to work to take priority over what might be the most important part of my day? well, i think a simple answer is that feeding my family and going to work and keeping things sane around here are priorities of the day. bryan and i do need to eat.

here's the real dilemma though: i love being a wife. i've never been more joyful in the mundane tasks of the everyday. i'm really content. and even more, Christ is doing things in and around me in the midst of my being a wife and especially a high school small group leader!

so, i think that's the real answer. everything i've ever asked to have when i'm 21 years old has been given to me. and i've just never been able to figure out how to be content and in need of God. i'm either crying out in bitter need and seeking His word daily, desperate to see Him move. or I'm content and happy with my life and occasionally seeking His word, without much passion.

however, i KNOW that the Bible, being the book it is, has wisdom for the content heart as well as the weary. and i definitely know that God wants MORE for me and those around me then i could ever imagine, so being content is somewhat silly. and i know that seeking Him daily will also prepare me for the day which i am not so content. all in all, it sounds like i should quit writing and start hanging out with God.

if you are willing:
please pray that i can learn passion in times of contentment.

wow, i just looked at the title of this blog, ha, bet you weren't expecting THAT!

9.02.2009

monthly review

i keep seeing today's date and marveling at it in wonder.

really? september 2nd?

crazy.

august, as i predicted, was an insane month! and a wonderful month. definitely one of my favorites.

here's a review of all things august:

3 months down!
i love marriage! august 23rd was our 3-month anniversary. the past month of marriage just kept getting better and better. and better. we've simply been enjoying eachother so much mostly due to the fact that i, especially have been letting go of the little things.
  • letting go. i have a lot of trouble taking things so personally when it comes to my husband. and worse, the biggest cause of the former is that i ask him to do things, in my head, and he somehow fails to do those things. when he would fail to do the things i had clearly asked him to do, in my head, it would hurt me to the deepest level. how could he treat me like this? well, i'm learning, ok? i'm learning not to assume, but i'm also learning that i just need to be ok and love my husband even if he fails to read my mind.
  • what's in a word? encouraging eachother has been another thing we've become more natural at. by the grace of God, we've not really tore eachother down with words. but we've both, ok, especially i, have been lacking in words that build up. we had a series of conversations about how we both felt so overwhelmed by eachothers expectations. we weren't making an effort to tell eachother how much we really care for eachother and we've found that is important.
  • share the load! oh yeah, bryan is not just my roommate and he's not just my friend. he's not even just my husband. he's my other half. i had a total breakdown somewhere in the middle of august. i got home from work one day, sat on our couch, thought about everything i had to do and just melted. bryan found me curled up in a ball underneath our covers when he got home from work. (i'm not kidding!) it was the first time in my life that i caved under pressure. my personality tends to resonate a "suck it up, get it done-and do it with a smile" type of attitude. i can easily find joy in pressure, but this time, i couldn't do it. i curled up in a ball and cried. literally. and when bryan got home from work, what do you think i did? i told him i "wasn't feeling well." and i didn't tell him what was really wrong until two days later. i'm stupid. after i told him everything i was feeling, i immediately felt better. he didn't offer to help with some of my tasks and he didn't really say anything in particular to encourage me. just the fact that i knew i could share my load with him gave me immediate peace. and to add to that peace, he really is such a servant-hearted husband. i rarely do to the dishes anymore.
so yeah, marriage is great, and we learn new things everyday.
----------
uncle bryan and aunt lg!
possibly the most exciting piece of news:
mya rosalie duvick
august 27th, 2009, 6:52pm
7lb, 7oz, 19"


this is my brother, luke, and his beautiful baby girl:
my family is so blessed by this little one! please pray for luke and diana as they adjust to life with little mya. praise Him!
----------
entertainment reviews
we watched a lot of movies this month, and we have some thoughts for you:

District 9. so stinking good! it was incredibly well made and thought-out as well as thought-provoking. bryan and i had several conversations about the controversies brought up in the film. we don't however, think the movie is making a statement about "illegal aliens" or immigrants. we've heard that's been said, but ignore it. also, coming from me, it's not so scary!

UP. we realize we're a little late for a review but this movie... SO GOOD! we just saw it in the dollar theater. i personally cried 5 times, so be prepared with tissues, women! you too men, because bryan himself shed a few tears. it's is the BEST disney pixar film thus far (in our opinions) and we both agree it has the perfect balance of fantasy, reality, laughter and tears. it receives a high five from the alsburys!

The Time Traveler's Wife. this coming from a girl who gets extremely sucked in and involved in chick flicks, despite the quality or writing: i did not care for this particular movie. it was, in the simplest terms, awkward. i guess i hope the book was better.
----------
in other news:
  • paige and i have HALF of galatians memorized. i feel such a great sense of accomplishment! i was hoping to finish the whole book by the end of 2009 but i'm not sure if that will happen. whenever we finish, it will have been a race worth the run!
  • NERD ALERT. i'm becoming even more of a nerdy wife. you know how much i love coupons and deals, and now i've fallen in love natural/homemade products.
  • i completely chopped my hair off last night. i was getting sick of it being so stinking long and straight and...boring. so we make some drastic changes. drastic. i can't decide whether i look like i'm a forty-year-old woman or a 12-year-old boy. i'll let you decide. unfortunately, i can't post pictures because we seem to have lost our battery charger for our camera. so you'll have to wait!
if you got this far down, i'm amazed. there is still much more to update but i'll save that for a later day.

until next time, thank you and goodnight. um. good afternoon.

8.28.2009

frugal friday: a neat tool for online shoppers

bryan and i have started the decorating! we (well, i) really want our little apartment to feel like home for the next few years and decorating is key for me!

i don't really like shopping, so going around to all the stores in ames and looking for that perfect piece of furniture does not really appeal to me. so i've been shopping online! i wanted to share with you a tool that i've been loving:

so, basically, i simply go to ebates.com, search for a store like overstock.com (i got a $26 duvet cover!), click on the store, and order as usual. it's pretty simple stuff!
by adding this one step, i get cash back (typically 2-5%) for shopping as i normally would! sweet deal!
plus if you sign up, you get an automatic $5, so it's no loss right?

8.19.2009

it's a wonderful wednesday

"The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul;
the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple;
the precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart;
the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes;
the fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever;
the rules of the LORD are true, and righteous altogether.
More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold;
sweeter also than honey and dripping of the honeycomb.
Moreover, by them is your servant warned;
in keeping them there is great reward."
-Psalm 19:7-11 (ESV)

i had a sweet moment with God this morning-what a unbelievable joy it is to speak to and hear from my Creator, Savior, and King!?!

this passage was so good for me to hear. i've recently been particularly caught up by the just, powerful, and destructive aspects of God's perfect and holy character. there are many moments in the old testament when i find myself saying, "really, God, is that truly the best decision? completely destroying a nation for their sin while forgiving a flagrant sinner of a king just because he was 'chosen'-is that really justice?"

i know it's the pride in my bones that causes me to ask such a question, but i'm searching to know my God more. and He answers me.

He gives me Psalm 19, which reminds me of the message of Galatians:

"We who are Jews by birth and not 'Gentile sinners" know that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law, because by observing the law, no one will be justified." 2:15-16 (NIV)

"What then is the purpose of the law? It was added because of trangressions until the Seed to whom the promise referred had come...So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith." 3:19, 24 (NIV)

"the law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul"-literally! my soul has been revived by the sacrifice of Christ and that law is what has led me to Him!

i put my full confidence in all the words recording in the old testament, or the book of the law, because i know that "that law was put in charge to lead us to Christ."

8.14.2009

frugal friday: rebates rock!

i'm dubbing august the month of rebates!

sometime in september, i'll receive around $38 dollars in rebates! that's almost a weeks worth of groceries for us!

the best part? i haven't gone over budget! usually i'm not so excited about rebates because you have to spend more money up front. since we're on a budget, more money on something i don't need is hard even if it's free after rebate. but, due to a lot of the free stuff we've inherited and due to some GREAT sales these past few weeks, we're stocked up on food for the rest of the month and still have some money leftover!

here's something i highly recommend you take advantage of if you can:
in ames, cub foods is the only grocery store participating and right now, they have pretty decent sales on all of their kraft dairy products. here's what i bought:

3 12oz. bags of kraft natural shredded cheese (3/$5)-$5.00
6 tubs of philidelphia cream cheese (3/$5)-$10.00
2 16oz. packages of kraft singles (2/$5)-$5.00
2 family size boxes of wheat thins ($3.79 each)-$7.58
TOTAL-$27.58
-$5.00 off my next purchase at cub foods
-$20.00 rebate
TOTAL-$2.58!

i love free things! and i love staying under budget! more details and a shopping list are here!

8.11.2009

one giant leap!

yesterday, i wrote a check.

it was for $742.31.

it will give me and my husband entire ownership of our 2006 ford focus!

hoorah!

by the blessing of His hand, we were able to pay off one of our cars 1 year and 9 months ahead of schedule. i'm not sure how much of a savings interest-wise that is, but we're gash-darn excited anyway!

WOOT!

8.07.2009

eight eyes are better then four...SUCKAS!

a couple of weeks ago, bryan went to the eye doctor. he hadn't been in a few years and he was getting really bad headaches and his vision was getting worse. he had a really low prescription so his current lenses weren't really helping.
overall, it was a little frustrating. he has astigmatisms in both eyes and his prescription is still pretty low. basically the doctor told him he could try contacts, but they wouldn't improve his vision as well as glasses and because of his astigmatisms he would have to wear weighted contacts which are harder to get in. bryan managed to try the contacts out, but they didn't improve his vision at all. he was pretty frustrated about having to wear glasses all the time.

so i decided to support him and wear glasses too! so i started wearing my glasses again and i'm actually really liking it! i've pretty much been a strict contacts wearer since high school but i feel smarter and more artsy with my awesome purple glasses!


and bryan's headaches are no more! and his vision is much improved! hooray!

also, i really like saying, "suckas."