Tuesday, August 31, 2010


Yesterday was the first day of school.  I got some beautiful flowers from my parents, met my students, and only had to threaten a trip to the office once! 

Then, after school I sat down to edit my "About Me" PowerPoint that I show to my students every year.  And I had to delete the slide called "My Husband"...the slide with a picture from our wedding.  And I had to change the slides that talked about our summer trips on our honeymoons (yes - honeymoonS!) to pictures of the things I did by myself this summer.  And someday, some unsuspecting 6th grader will ask if I am married, or why my name is "Mrs." but I don't wear a wedding ring, or about who my husband is...and I'll have to explain.

It hit me a little hard last ngiht, as I sat eating Chili's takeout.  I remembered going out to dinner with Isaac after my first day of school last year, and getting "have a great first day!" text messages, and deciding that my vow to go to the gym every morning last year was less important than spending an extra hour snuggled with my husband. 

Then I read my friend Amy's blog.  Amy lost her husband, David, to sarcoma just about a month after I lost Isaac.  She wrote today about "triggers" - things that remind her of David and make her happy.  So, I thought I'd share some of things I see that remind me of Isaac and make me smile.

White t-shirts.  Everytime I see someone in a plain white tshirt and jeans, I think of Isaac. 

Fish.  Isaac bought me a betta to keep at school last year, which I promptly ended up killing.  So after he died, and his friends took his big fish tanks to keep at their houses, I bought myself a new betta fish and he makes me smile.

Junk food.  Hot Pockets, Hamburger Helper, Dr. Pepper, Mac and Cheese, Tony's Pizza - every now and then I'm rooting through my cabinets and I find one of these things and it reminds me of Isaac.  I used to tell him we should try the all organic thing and he would tell me if cancer was going to kill him, he was going to at least enjoy eating Doritos and drinking soda!

Gold 4-door Saturns.  Everytime I see one I still check the bumper for a "Submit to Authority" bumper sticker.

My Bible...which is actually Isaac's.  He wasn't much of a note taker, but every now and then I find little underlines or words that he wrote. 

I've had a lot of "How are you doing?" questions lately, and the answer is:  most days I am doing really well.  Just sometimes, something happens and I miss Isaac so much I can barely breathe.  But most of the time, I'm okay.  I remember the good times and the fun we had and the life we lived, and I still miss him - but I'm happy. 

"It's hard when you miss people.  But you know if you miss them, it means that you're lucky.  It means that you had someone special in your life...someone worth missing."


Monday, August 30, 2010

Let's Get Cooking - Again!

Another week of delish new meals, photos taken, recipes to be shared!  This time, I chose all of my recipes from Everyday by Rachael Ray. 

Monday:  Chilled Chai Spiced Melon Soup

This was okay.  I'm not a fan of the cold soup thing, but I love melon so I gave it a try.  I did love the flavor mix of the chai spices with the honeydew flavor.  I think it would make a good ice cream flavor!  I served it with a steak and some sauteed veggies. 

Tuesday:  No cooking - went out to a ballgame!  (Dinner was french fries and Bud Light lime - the dinner of champions!)

Wednesday:  Bowties with Smoked Almond Sauce, Bacon, Lettuce, and Tomatoes

I thought this was a really flavorful dish!  It was easy to make, and would be great to take to a pot luck or picnic.  It makes tons, so I shared with my friends who were having a rough week, and we all had enough for dinner and even lunch the next day! 

Thursday: Flank Steak with Chimichurri and Grilled Banana Sundaes

This was one of my favorites!!  It was SO GOOD.  The flank steak was so easy, and everyone agreed that the chimichurri was the best part.  My friends were dipping their potatoes and veggies into it at the end.  It's definitely something I'll use again. 

Dessert was fun too!  The sundaes were "Elvis Style" - peanut butter ice cream topped with grilled bananas, a drizzle of honey, and bacon.  Yes, BACON.  You'd think this would be a bad idea, but it's not!  We were all amazed at how the flavors all came together.  It was really unique and delicious.

(unless you are Herb, who was dared to put a spoon of the chimichurri into his ice cream sundae.  He got a whole $1 out of the dare!)

Friday: Chicken Salad with Yogurt Ranch Dressing

So good and so EASY!  I love using rotisserie chicken for different things.  This dressing was really simple, too.  I will definitely use this when school starts again.  It's an easy thing to make that I can use for salads and sandwiches throughout the week. 


Monday, August 23, 2010

New Year's Resolutions

Yes, I know it is only August.

However, today is the first back to work day.  (This is the song that is currently playing in my head.)

So, it's time for some new school year resolutions!

This year I will:

Wake up at 5:00am so that I can go to the gym and have my quiet time before school.  I can hear my parents laughing at that now.  But, let me remind you that I did this faithfully for an entire year once!  And, I had to drive 30 minutes to get to the gym.  (Thanks Amy for meeting me there every morning!)

Memorize 2 verses a month.  With regular quiet times, verses should be popping out at me, making this one a natural!

Do Weight Watchers.  I currently belong to Weight Watchers.  I even go to the meetings almost every week with Michelle.  But I don't actually count any points or really try.  Basically I give them money every month for no reason.  I may as well take the money and toss it out my car window, it'd be just as helpful. 

I was going to add more, but I think I'll stick with those 3 for now!  Maybe come January, I'll have a few more!

Happy new school year! :)


Friday, August 20, 2010

And so it ends.

I'm honestly not sure how this happened.

It's August 20th.  Do you know what happens on August 23rd?  SCHOOL.  I'm not sure how that happened so quickly.  I could swear it was just June. 

So I'm taking a moment to look back at this summer.  It was certainly a busy summer, filled with fun, friends, sun, sand, and oh yeah - a comprehensive exam to earn my Master's Degree.  (which, btw, I passed and have officially graduated with a Master's Degree in School Counseling!)

This summer included painting projects in my living room, hallway, and bedroom.  I can't tell you the difference those paint jobs have made in my house!  I sit in my living room almost every day now because it is so bright and calm and happy.  My bedroom makes me smile everytime I walk into it.  Sometimes I just go in and lay down on the bed and think about how much I love that room!!

I did some crafting, went to the beach, and learned some fabulous new recipes!  There was time with friends around the firepit and at baseball games

The best thing that happened this summer was in my relationship with God.  Having gone through everything with Isaac, it would have been easy to spend the summer moping and crying and watching lots of bad TV.  (um...ok.  I did that a few times.)  But, through regular quiet times, quality teaching, and a summer challenge, I have been reminded over and over again of the steadfast love of God.   I have especially been reminded of this lately, as I watched 2 of my closest friends go from sheer joy to total heartbreak, and then land in a place of understanding and peace.  

As I sat today to reflect on the summer, I started reading through posts on my Walking the Valley blog.  I cried through many of them, as so many of the words written there came from a place of brokenness and heartache.  But I came across one post that I think sums up everything I've learned this summer.

The bottom line is: Unlike our circumstances, God NEVER changes. Unlike our circumstances, God is ALWAYS good. That's why, we don't sing praises to our circumstances - we sing praises to our God.

I'm sad to see summer go....but man, I love me some FALL!  Bring on the pumpkins!  (I think it's time to make a new wreath!)

I'm linking this little bit of randomness up over at Under Grace and Over Coffee!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

WFW - Quiet Time

I have the "back to school" itch.  Or maybe, it's more like the "back to routine" itch.  I love the relaxing, no agenda, sleep in late, watch TV all day if I want days of summer.  However, around this time of year I always start getting ready for routine again.  Surprisingly, one of the things I am missing most is my early morning quiet time on the porch.  In the summer, I wake up later and the sun is shining directly on my back porch so it is HOT!  I've taken my quiet time inside for the summer, but I am ready to enjoy the cool of the morning outside, while the birds chirp and my sweet kitties play in the backyard.

Some of you may be what is "quiet time"? All About God explains quiet time like this: Quiet time could refer to those precious moments after the kids are in bed, but for Christians, a quiet time is more than that. Quiet time, or devotion time, refers to our daily appointment with God, when we shut out as much outside interference as possible. During our quiet time, we may sing praise songs, pray, read Scripture or daily devotions, meditate on God's Word, or simply be still and listen.

Here's my indoor quiet time space.  It's a comfy chair, lots of light provided by the windows, and there is always a cute cat hanging around! 

 Personally, I don't usually sing - which my neighbors are probably thankful for.  I have my Bible, a devotional book if I'm reading one at the time, and my journal. 

I usually read the chapter of my book, and then answer the questions in my journal.  Sometimes I read through random passages of Scripture or I revisit the sermon notes from Sunday's message.  On days when I'm struggling with something or upset by something, I tend to just sit...either writing in my journal or just being still. 

What are your quiet times like? 

(and here's a close-up of one of my cute cats - her name is Minimum!)

Monday, August 16, 2010

Complete in Christ Challenge - a Recap


So the day has arrived, the end of the summer "Complete in Christ" challenge!  It has been a terrific way to grow this summer, and I'm sad to see it come to an end! 

Here's a recap of the challenges and my posts:

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!
(I didn't write about this one officially, but I did spend Thursday night with 4 awesome girls!  They taught me to play Mario Kart, tried to convince me to let them come spend the night at my house, and laughed when I let them have too much chocolate syrup on their ice cream.  It was a blast!)

I've really enjoyed thinking through and completing these challenges every week!  A huge thank you to Courtney @ Women Living Well for writing her summer marriage challenge and inspiring my summer singleness challenge! 

Stay tuned next week...I've got a week's worth of Rachael Ray meals planned that I'm going to share with you, and a new challenge! 

Friday, August 13, 2010

The Random Dozen

I like random and I like survey type things.  So, here's the Random Dozen! Visit Linda at 2nd Cup of Coffee if you need more!

1. When was the last time you laughed until you cried?
Hmmm...I don't really remember anything specific!  It happens though, I have very funny friends!

2. If you found $10 today, what would you do with it?
Grab a pal and buy us both some good coffee! 

3. Do you volunteer anywhere?
I don't.  Used to do youth ministry, but I'm currently "on break" from that. 

4. What is your favorite summertime veggie or fruit, and how do you eat it?
Fresh raspberries - right out of the container!  I also love veggies on the grill with a little garlic salt.  You know what I'm sick of? Yellow summer squash.  I have the bionic squash plant growing in my back yard.  I have pulled at least 20 squash off so far, and they are still growing!!!

5. Is your social sphere (circle of friends) small, medium or large?
Small.  I like to know a lot of people, but I like a small circle of truly close friends. 

6. When was the last time you attended a family or school reunion? How did that go?
My family doesn't have 'family reunions' and I don't really keep in touch with anyone from high school outside of Facebook, so I didn't go to that reunion. 

7. When you're feeling blue, what is the best way someone can cheer you up?
Leave me alone!  When I'm feeling blue, I'd rather just be by myself with a chick flick and a cup of coffee. 

8. Have you taken a vacation this summer?
Yes! Woo hoo!  I went to Ocean City for a weekend with some girlfriends, spent a week at Myrtle Beach by myself, and visited my grandma on the St. Lawrence River for a weekend!

9. What is the most unnecessary item you carry with you all the time?
Most of the things in my purse.  Like my small pack of Starbucks VIA - which I've never used, but keep in there just in case I have an emergency need for coffee and there's no coffee insight (which has never happened...but if it does, I'm armed!)

10. What is the best summer flick you have seen so far?
Ramona and Beezus!!!  Seriously - this was the cutest movie.  I loved it!  It is rated G, and there isn't a swear word in this movie.  If you have daughters or little girls in your life, TAKE THEM TO SEE THIS MOVIE! 

11. Describe a perfect summer day.
Blue sky, sunshine, an ocean, and a mojito!

12. Please a share a favorite photo from the summer so far!

While your hear, won't you please visit Sponsafier and vote for the Nick and Friends Sarcoma car design?  If the design receives the most votes, it will be featured in a NASCAR race!  The car is covered in yellow ribbons bearing the names of over 450 men, women, and children who are battling or have battled all forms of sarcoma.  This is my favorite part of the car:
Isaac S. and a pair of angel wings - beautiful.  Click here to vote!  You don't have to sign up for anything. 

If you have a blog, please consider sharing this link on your blog too!


Thursday, August 12, 2010

You Oughta see this Ottoman

My old furniture was tan and espresso, so I had this faux leather ottoman that went perfectly!  Then, I got new furniture and the brown ottoman no longer fit.  (It's also possible that I used this as a stepstool while painting and thus got little drops of paint on it...)

I have this super comfy La-Z-Boy sectional in my den.  It reclines at both ends, but still could use a footrest for the middle seats.  So, I recovered my ottoman! 

First, I removed the bottom of the ottoman - just a matter of removing a few screws. 

Then, I tore off the faux leather to reveal the frame underneath.

The fabric I used is actually the cover of some pillows.  The couch came with 4 big pillows, and I only ever use 2 of them, so I took apart the other 2!  The red on the top is leftover from my dining room tablecloth.  I pinned the fabric around the frame and then sewed it all together.  Voila!  New ottoman!

It's not perfect, but it cost me $0 and does the job! 

(Stay tuned for a full tour of the den!)


Wednesday, August 11, 2010

WFW - A Walking Lesson

Maybe you're wondering why I chose a picture of a bridge for a verse about keeping our eyes on Jesus.  I promised on Monday that I'd share with you a piece of Truth I was reminded of while listening to Mark Driscoll's sermon series on Song of Solomon. 

I was reminded of a speaker I heard once at a "Worth the Wait" conference I took a few teens to once.  The speaker was talking about finding "the one" to share your life with.  He described it something like this:

Stop constantly searching and looking and wondering where "the one" is.  You fix your eyes on Jesus and walk with Him.  Eventually, you'll glance to your left or right and find someone walking the same path as you - that's the person you want to be with.  You don't run after the person who is way ahead of you, you will always feel behind.  You don't stop and wait for the person who is way behind you, you'll always feel like you are dragging them along.  Just fix your eyes on the One who leads your life, spend your time seeking HIM, and eventually you will see someone walking the same path. 


Monday, August 9, 2010

Second Best

Any single gal reading this knows the temptation to settle for "second best" when it comes to dating.  Sometimes, you feel extra lonely and just wish for someone to go out with - it doesn't have to be someone you want to marry, just someone to date.  Sometimes you think maybe your standards are too high, and start taking things off your "must have" list. 

It started happening to me last week.  I remember one time when Isaac and I were talking about me getting married again.  He was confident I would meet someone quickly, but I told him, it took me 27 years to find him - and he says "Oh yeah, and then you got a defective model!"  (If you knew Isaac, hopefully you laughed at that!).  So last week my mind started going to the place of "I'm never going to find anyone to date" and "Any guy who is Christian and over 30 is probably single for a reason".  Ugh.  I really hate that place. 

Cue Mark Driscoll (by way of Michelle's husband, Herb).  Herb really likes Mark Driscoll.  In fact, Herb sometimes dreams of moving to Seattle so he and Michelle can attend Mars Hill (Mark Driscoll's church).  I think he'd like a bromance with Mr. Driscoll.  But, back to my point.  I once tried to listen to a Driscoll sermon and I didn't like it.  At Herb's recommendation, I tried again, and this time with the "Peasant Princess" series on Song of Solomon.  It rocked my socks off!

Let me tell you why I love this series. t was as if Mark Driscoll heard every single compromise I was mentally making. I was actually beginning to think "Maybe it's okay if I date someone who just believes in God." and in this series, Driscoll said "Don't date someone who just believes in God. Date someone who LOVES JESUS." I was reminded that I have standards for a reason. I was encouraged to keep those standards.
I can't even begin to tell you everything I learned in this series.  Listen to it yourself.  If you are married, this series will give you encouragement and practical ways to strengthen your marriage.  If you are single, this series will remind you that it is worth having standards and waiting for the right person.  If you are a teenager, this series will give you reason after reason to WAIT, to wait on dating until you are old enough to be serious, to wait to give your heart to someone until it is THE someone, to wait to give your body - any part of it - to someone until you are married. 

Come back on Wednesday for another piece of Truth I was reminded of in listening to this series!  In the meantime - what are you waiting for?  Get listening!!


Thursday, August 5, 2010

Like Jessie Spano...

Like Jessie Spano in my favorite "Saved by the Bell" episode...I'M SO EXCITED AND I JUST CAN'T HIDE IT!!!

You may remember last month I wrote a blog introducing you to my best friend, Michelle.  I wrote this about her:
Michelle and Herb are currently waiting on God to bring them a baby by way of adoption. If you ask Michelle, I bet she would tell you about how impatient she is or the number of times she wonders when it is going to happen. If you ask me, I'll tell you about the number of times she talks about how perfect God's timing will be, how excited she is to be a Mom, how proud she is of Herb for the Dad he will be, how reliant she is on Jesus for her strength, how much she already loves the baby they will someday get to call their own, and what an amazing Mom she is going to be.

Today, if you asked Michelle about the waiting, she'd tell you:  "It wasn't so bad."  And she'd tell you that, because on Monday they got a call telling them...SOMEONE PICKED THEM.  That's right, Baby Suereth: ETA August 26, 2010! 

I got the extreme honor of following Michelle around like the paparazzi taking pictures of her telling Herb, her mom, her brother/sister-in-law, and Herb's mom.  Check out the full story of that day at Michelle's blog

(And Michelle, all that stuff I said about you is true.  And you were right, God's timing is perfect and this situation is better than any we could have ever dreamed up ourselves.  You rock, Mama!)

Woo hoo - today Baby Suereth is a great reason to...

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

WFW - School!

Today is the day I can get into my classroom for the first time to set up for the new school year.  I love a box of fresh, pointy crayons!  Like a reminder of God's renewing love, opening a box of those crayons reminds me of the hope and excitement of a new school year!


Sunday, August 1, 2010

Thankful for God's Sense of Humor!


Oh boy do I have no doubt that our God is a God with a sense of humor!  I couldn't remember what this week's challenge was for my challenge, but when I looked it up I laughed out loud. 

The challenge is:
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?

The reason I laughed is because last week I was totally throwing myself a pity party.  I was being sad and mopey.  So, God's timing on this week's challenge is just an example of His sovereignty!  Love it!

God is definitely bringing me joy!  He has brought me a closer and stronger relationship with Him.  For the first time ever, I actually have been consistent in my quiet time.  Not because I feel like it is an obligation, but because God has been showing so much to me of His character and faithfulness every time I spend time in His Word!   For yet another example of His "irony", check out the cover of the new book I am working through in my quiet time:  Lisa Harper's "Untamed".  Look familiar? 

Will you join me this week in being thankful?  In making your glass half full?  In finding JOY in each day?