Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Satan is the undertow...

Yesterday at the beach, I did one of my favorite things - splashed in the waves.  As I was out splashing in the waves, I was thinking about my blog from the morning and I came to this conclusion:

Satan is like the undertow.

Have you ever been out splashing around in the waves and looked back toward shore only to discover that you've drifted a few hundred yards from your spot on the beach?  While you were blissfully jumping waves and splashing in the surf, the slight pull of the undertow slowly caused you to drift.  Somethines it is subtle like that, you don't even realize it's happening until you look back towards the shore and realize you have to swim a little. 

Sometimes, that's how Satan works. You're totally unaware that it happens. You're out splashing around in life, having fun and doing things you think are completely harmless. It's only when you take a minute to look back at shore that you realize you've drifted. In those cases, it's often easier to "get back to shore". You are able to notice you've drifted, recommit to living life for Christ and things fall back into place rather easily.

Sometimes though, the undertow is terrifyingly strong.  I remember one time I was swimming in the ocean with my college friend Reeny.  We were out splashing in the waves having a great time, when we got caught in the undertow of a rip current.  We swam and we swam and we swam, the lifeguard whistled for us to move out of the current...and we tried.  By the time we swam parallel to shore and got out of the current, we were exhausted.

Those are the times we get so far off track that we think we might never get back to God.  We might not even realize how far off track we are until someone, like that lifeguard, lets us know.  We struggle and struggle to get back to God.  When we finally do, we stumble to shore - weary, beaten, and exhausted.

The beautiful thing is - no matter how it happens, no matter how we make it back to shore...God is there.  He's the sun warmed beach towel we flop down on.  He's our place to rest and find safety.  We can never drift far enough away that we won't make it back to Him.

"O Lord God of Heaven’s Armies!
Where is there anyone as mighty as you, O Lord?
You are entirely faithful.
You rule the oceans.
You subdue their storm-tossed waves."
(Psalm 89:8-10)

Monday, June 28, 2010

Complete In Christ - Week #3


It's week #3 of my "Complete in Christ" challenge.  Did you miss weeks #1 and #2??  Oh wait...so did I!  Yes, that's right -  I wrote up this challenge and then didn't do the first 2 weeks.  Awesome!  I can give you a one word reason why: Satan. 

Towards the end of May/beginning of June I really began feeling the tug of God on my heart.  I have this very free summer, I'm done my classes and have no grand plans for the whole month of July.  Sounds fabulous, eh?  I felt as I did my quiet times in the morning, I began having this completely and totally fulfilled and excited feeling.  I bet some of you can identify with that feeling - it's like feeling so full of God's grace and love that you feel like it might just overflow.  Well, one day I missed my quiet time because I didn't get up early enough...and then it happened the next day, and the next, and before I knew it I hadn't cracked open my Bible in a week.  So where did that "overflowing with joy" feeling go?  What happened to craving God's Word?  How did I get distracted so quickly? 

I've heard it many times before, how Satan uses our busy lives to slowly pull us away from God.  I think Satan heard my cries to God, felt my desire to deepen my knowledge of God's character, and found a way to pull me from it.  I painted my living room, moved furniture, completed 2 graduate classes, and packed for the beach.  I was busy, busy, busy and didn't make time for God.

As usual, God's timing is perfect.  I have been VERY blessed by a wonderful family in our church, and get to spend a week in a beautiful condo right on the beach in Myrtle Beach this week!  I think I'd be a much happier person if I could wake up to the sound of the ocean every morning!  I think this is the perfect week for my week #3 challenge -  to pray for my future husband daily.  I have a really strong desire to get married again.  And I'd better start praying, because who ever this guy is - he has big shoes (or rather, Adidas Sambas) to fill.

I have more to say on the topic of getting married again, but I'll save that for another post because I think I hear my beach chair calling...

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Dining Room Chairs - Drab to Fab!

How to reupholster dining room chairs in 6 easy steps:

1.  Grab your chair that has seen better days.

2.  Figure out how to remove the chair pad.  If you're lucky like me, it's just a matter of unscrewing 4 screws - easy peasy!

3.  Pick the perfect fabric and measure it out.

4.  Wrap the fabric around the chair pad and staple gun that sucker (my favorite part)!

5.  Put the pad back on and admire your fabulous new chair!

Friday, June 25, 2010

The Great Living Room Redo

This weekend I decided I'd repaint my living room.  This was definitely a good idea because I also had an entire house to clean and prepare for all of my parents' furniture to move in.  Nothing like a little pressure to get things done! 

My mission in this house is to get rid of the trim colors.  I'm a big fan of white trim.  The lady who owned the house before me was not.  There are 2 colors of trim in my house:  tan and unpainted wood.  Not an ounce of white in the house.  It drives me nuts! 

Here was the living room when she lived in the house:

It might look like a nice sage green, but it's actually army green...with tan trim.

Here's the room as I had it decorated:
I really wish the green looked that pretty in person!

Here's the room now:

(best accessory: a cute cat!)

And the best part...tackling the big brick monster of a fire place!

How's that for a big, creamy sigh of relief!  It took about 6 hours of painting (grout first, then brick), one coat of Kilz Oil Based Primer, and then just one coat of paint!

I used Behr Premium Plus Paint/Primer in One in "Heavy Cream" for the trim and fireplace, and Behr Premium Plus in "Ocean Foam" for the walls.  This is my new favorite color.  It looks green with my green couch, but pre-couch it looked just barely blue.  It's absolutely GORGEOUS!

A big thanks to my pal Michelle for lending a hand with the painting, and to Young House Love for a great fireplace tutorial!

I'm sharing this at "along for the ride"!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Oh, the Places They'll Go!

Tonight I bid farewell to my awesome Mom and Dad...at least until September!  Tomorrow morning they pull out in their RV and drive off into the wonderful world of retirement!  Yep, they've emptied out the house, put it on the market, packed up the RV and they're planning on spending the foreseeable future roaming around the country!  I've set them up a blog, called "Oh the Places They Go" (Dr. Seuss - we are teachers, after all!) so they can share their journey. 

I could write a whole blog...actually a whole book...telling you about how amazing my parents are.  But, it would make my mom cry.  Actually, let's be honest - Mom, you're crying right now aren't you???  heehee!

So, I'll leave you with this:

Today is your day.
You’ve worked for so long,
Now it’s your turn to play!

You have air in your tires,
A generator to use,
You can steer your RV any direction you choose.

You’re on your own.
And you know what you know.
And you don’t have to write lesson plans to know where to go!

You’ll Google map streets.
Look’em over with care.
About some you will say, “My RV won’t fit there!”

Oh! The Places You’ll Go!
You’ll be out on the road!
You’ll be seeing great sights!
You’ll join the high fliers who soar to high heights.

You’ll get mixed up, of course, if you let Mom navigate.
That’s when your Droid GPS will really be great!
And will you succeed?
Yes! You will, indeed!
(98 and ¾ percent guaranteed.)

Mom and Dad, you’ll view mountains!

So…go see the Tetons, the Rockies, and more
Check out Bryce Canyon, there’s a lot to explore!
You’re off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountains are waiting.

So…get on your way!

I love you Mom and Dad!  Can't wait for you to come visit - you're room will be ready, I promise!!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Farm Fresh Friday!

This year, my friend Michelle and I decided to join a CSA.  What is CSA?  It stands for "Community Supported Agricuture".  The farm we chose, Goldfinch Farms, defines CSA as: "a term used to describe a special partnership between farmers and customers. The customers become members, or "shareholders," in the farm for the entire growing season, receiving a weekly share of fresh, seasonal, chemical-free, non-genetically-engineered vegetables, herbs, and flowers."
Basically, we paid some money to the farm and then we go every week and pick up fresh produce that someone from the farm has picked for us.  If we were really ambitious, we could have signed up for a "working share", but that would've involved dirt and farming and probably bugs. 

Last week was our first share, and since I was headed to the beach, Michelle picked it up for us.  This week, Michelle was out of town so it was my turn to pick up!  I headed to the farm and came home with:  1 head of red leaf lettuce, spinach, mixed salad greens, garlic tops, a giant squash, radishes, cilantro (which Michelle hates, so I get to keep it and make salsa!), basil, green onions, and snap peas.  So, I challenged myself to try and use all of the ingredients in my dinner. 

Here's what I came up with:

-Tilapia topped with assorted herbs (basil from the farm, plus rosemary, thyme, and parsley from my garden), chopped green onions and a garlic top
-whole wheat pasta tossed with squash, EVOO, and the rest of my chopped up herbs
-salad with the lettuce, spinach, and greens plus radishes, green onions, and snap peas

Got 'em all but the cilantro...which I'm saving for salsa.  And it was delish! 

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Kitchen Confessions

Along with really working on my spiritual life this summer, I am also doing some major house cleaning/reorganizing!  I have to show you today's project:  the kitchen.  Ugh.  It was beginning to look like something from "Hoarders" on TLC.  After 2 hours of scrubbing, wiping, organizing, and mopping, my kitchen looks AWESOME!  Check it out:

Cluttered to Clean
Chaos to Calm

Trash to Treasure

Nightmare to Neat-o

This is not the last you'll see of my kitchen, folks!  This summer holds some major changes for this room!
Tomorrow's project...the dining room/living room...and it ain't pretty.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


3 friends sit around a table in the quiet of evening chatting about their lives. One tells stories of her chronically ill daughter, their hospital trips, the daughter's suffering, and the questions she asks God. One talks dreams of a baby, shares of her struggle as God asks her to wait for His perfect child, and the questions she is also asking God. The third shares the sorrow of losing her husband, the ache of longing for companionship again, and once again - the questions she is asking God.

Those struggles are what bring us together. Those pains, though different, are a tie that binds us. We can speak freely of our REAL pain, of the times we are truly angry at God, and know we will not be judged. We are all asking God the same question: WHY?

3 friends sit around a table, enjoying a slice of lemon cake topped with berries, watching the fireflies...and remembering we are not alone. "For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst." (Matthew 18:20)

tuesdays unwrapped at cats

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Complete in Christ Challenge

One of my favorite blogs to read is Women Living Well.  I think the blog author, Courtney, is just awesome and sweet and so encouraging!  Recently, Courtney announced a new challenge for her blog readers called "Completing Him: Be the Woman Your Man Needs".  I read through the challenge, and being that I am a young widow, I thought about how I wished I could participate.  I thought about all the ways I would have done this challenge if my Isaac was still here.  I was sad that I couldn't participate in the challenge because I'm not married anymore.  Then it occurred to me:  rewrite the challenge!  So, with Courney's permission, I copied her challenge topics, but put a spin on them for the unmarried gal.  I am a firm believer that God gives us our singlehood (or widowhood) for a reason, and we shouldn't waste it with the "why me" pity parties!  Embrace the time you have been given to sharpen your skills as a homemaker and to spend more time growing in God!

So with that, I give you...Complete in Christ Challenge: Be the Woman GOD Wants You to Be!

June 14 - Have a date with Jesus!  It may sound silly, but cook yourself dinner and sit down at the table with your Bible.  Spend the meal reading God's Word, talk out loud about it, pray over it, and let God speak to you!  Share with us what you learned!

June 21 - Think about marriage.  Marriage vows are a serious commitment.  Read 1 Corinthians 13 every day this week.  What truths does God show you in His Word?  What areas of this love do you think might be a struggle for you?

June 28 - Pray every day for your future husband.  Pray for God to develop his character and spiritual leadership skills.  Pray for his walk with the Lord!

July 5 - Admire your friends.  Sure men are important, but if you're a single gal, your friends are who you lean on now!  Who is your best friend?  What makes them so special?  Introduce us to them!

July 12 - Make a list of 5 homemaking skills you think will be important for a wife.  How could you start working on those this week, even before you meet "the one"?  Why not use your singlehood to work on those skills?

July 19 - They say the way to a man's heart is through his stomach, so start practicing some recipes!  Check out websites, cookbooks, and ask friends for their favorites.  Invite some friends over for dinner, I'm sure they won't mind taste testing!

July 26 - Dream a little dream!  Think about all of the ideal characteristics you'd hope to find in a husband.  Set the bar high!  What's your ideal man like?

August 2 - Make your glass half full!  No complaining about being single, criticizing yourself, rolling your eyes, or hosting any pity parties this week. Focus on the joy God is bringing into your life!  Share it with us:  What awesome, joy bringing things is God doing in your life RIGHT NOW?  What can you be thankful for?

August 9 - For the married folks, the last week challenge is "Kiss Him Like You Mean It (and be sure the door is locked!)".  Offer to watch the kids of some of your married friends for a night and let them enjoy some time out, while you get to have fun playing with the kids!

If you want to join and have a blog, grab the button and link up here!  If you don't have a blog, feel free to leave comments on mine to share how your challenge is going!


Saturday, June 5, 2010

I am addicted!!

Hi, my name is Jess and I am addicted to books. 


I almost get the shakes when I walk into a Borders or down the book aisle of Target.  I love the look, feel, smell, and promise of a new book.  I love to get wrapped up in a story!

This is the current pile of books just waiting for me to crack open their covers:
It's a pretty eclectic collection:
  • fabulously unthought provoking beach reads (Nora Roberts, Danielle Steel, and Lauren Conrad!)
  • books with depth of story (A Thousand Splendid Suns and a few other s that caught my eye)
  • spiritual growth books (Sheila Walsh and Donald Miller)
  • and even an educational book (The Sound of Hope - about auditory processing disorders)
I also should tell you that since I took this photo last week, I bought 5 more books.  I can't stop!!!

Oh, and...then there's this crate of books to read for my Language Arts curriculum next year.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010


Today I am celebrating my 29th birthday.

Today, Nick and Friends Sarcoma Foundation is featuring my husband's story

A reminder to celebrate the life of my amazing husband = best birthday present ever.

tuesdays unwrapped at cats