Pottermore – Something Light for a Change

Here’s something light for a change: my nerdy side.

I am a big fan of art and literature and as immature as it may sound, I truly appreciate Young Adult fiction. Not because it suits my reading level (although it’s probably closer to it, ha!) but because it usually explores some really big themes in life that make me think outside the box and also carries an element of fun.

One of the series I truly enjoy is Harry Potter. I’ve got to admit I’m not as fanatical as my SIL but I still love it SO SO much. You can tell I’m not a fanatic because up until yesterday, I had not joined Pottermore.

When it first began it was by email invitation only and I felt like I wasn’t worthy? But I’ve always been oddly curious to see what house I’d be sorted into. In real life, I see a lot of my personality fall into Hufflepuff and Slytherin while my intentions lean more towards Ravenclaw.

Out of all the houses, I felt like Griffyndor least-suited me.

And of course, I’ve officially sorted into Griffyndor. I scratched my head a lot little and went on to take the Ilvermorny sorting and got Thunderbird. 2/2.

I was so confused. How could that be? And that’s when I thought of the dichotomy of perception vs. intention.

My perception of self is mostly Hufflepuff/Slytherin. However, if I honestly search myself, I am working/wanting many of the qualities of Gryffindor.

If I look far enough back, I can remember wanting to be something great as a kid, being a “fearless leader/instigator” as the eldest of the cousin pack on my mom’s side, and now as an adult, willing to sacrifice comfort/goods/wants for the greater good, and wanting to discover new things and my intrinsic craving for new experiences. The brave and devil-may-care attitude? Not so much. But in that hindsight, I can now pride myself as a Griffyndor.

It’s a good little tidbit for 2017, I think. This whole perception vs. intention. I think it will help me discover more about myself that I didn’t know but had assumed.

What house(s) were you sorted into and how do you identify with it? I am super curious!

NYR’s and PR’s

NYRs = New Year Resolutions
PRs= Personal Record

I had a wonderful Christmas and New Year! I’m feeling refreshed and ready to make the most of 2017. I’m also humbled and feel like my selfish desire to hide out for a week was wrong. I truly enjoyed the company of the relatives that came for Christmas and the relatives I saw in Arizona during my week off.

I ate horribly this holiday season. I didn’t really follow any guidelines for food or exercise and I sweet-ed myself out. All that to say when I was in AZ with my cousins and they were obsessing talking about logging calories into myfitnesspal, going to the gym religiously, and breaking all types of weight-lifting PRs, it made me feel super crummy. Some of the crummy I deserved to feel because I was making poor choices. But a lot of the crummy felt like shame, incompetence, and worthlessness — and I’m not okay with that.

They have all worked hard and I can’t discredit their efforts. I’m PROUD of them. I will say that they started out as healthy individuals of ideal weight and physical ability when they started so they didn’t have weight or health issues and were able to hit the ground running. Trying to compare myself with them isn’t fair. We have different goals even though we’re both working on our health.

We went out for a hike one of the days there and I needed to prove to my own self that I was capable. As we hiked (it was an easy trail, btw) I kept the lead most of the way up and down. Some of them weren’t wearing proper shoes or clothes, and I was in snug jeans, so none of us had ideal attire, but I pushed myself to keep ahead. It didn’t matter if they were casually hiking and I was putting in 110%, it mattered to me that I was able to keep up and feel good about what I was able to do. That hike dissolved a lot of the mucky feelings I was having and set my mind straight for 2017.

Here are my 2017 resolutions:

1. A healthy body, mind, and spirit. First and foremost.

Learning to rest/de-stress myself physically and mentally because I’m HORRIBLE at it. And leaning on Jesus. Also working on this body of mine, one day at a time, with new focus.

2. Working on patience instead frenzy, kindness instead of aggravation, and helpfulness instead of frustration. Especially with family members.

3. Minimizing belongings and unnecessary thoughts/feelings that cloud my outlook, rob my time, and prevent me from seeing my potential. Dwelling on/owning what truly brings me joy.

4. Being better friend. Finding new local friends organically.

5. Giving myself a heck of a lot more grace than I did in 2016. But also push myself harder with healthy motivators.

Happy New Year, everyone!

Christmas Bells

I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along
The unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Till, ringing, singing on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime,
A chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Then from each black, accursed mouth
The cannon thundered in the South,
And with the sound
The carols drowned
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

It was as if an earthquake rent
The hearth-stones of a continent,
And made forlorn
The households born
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And in despair I bowed my head;
“There is no peace on earth,” I said:
“For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!”

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead; nor doth he sleep!
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men!”

-Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

The Ups and Downs

My brother confided in me earlier this month that the specialist firmly suspects the state of his concussion is now solidly out of PCS (post concussion syndrome) and now more firmly planted in a brain injury. This means instead of the 6 month timeframe, his injuries could last time a year or more still, or certain elements may be permanent. You can see how this news was carefully considered before he could break it to my parents. Today he is making the most of things and interviewing for a spot in a PT program. It was a rare opening and we are praying things go well despite his brain injury. The plus is that he got a much sought after but hardly given interview, the downside is that he has so much to figure out even if the interview goes well. I am SO PROUD of him.

The upside of my health scare was that blood tests and an ultrasound ruled out DVT, heart, liver, and kidney scares. I figured I could live with some foot and leg swelling and never wearing nice shoes again. Then downside, about two or so weeks ago, any type of sock made my swelling much worse and restricted circulation to my ankle area. And on my good leg, a red tender bruise/rash appeared and swelling followed. I went to urgent care and while the appointment was rather useless, they ruled out any kind of topical infection or cellulitis on the rash/bruise but advised I get an ultrasound of my left leg now too.

My mom asked me to a take a picture of an infection happening in her gums so she could show her dentist. Two years later and they’re still messing with her teeth as they’ve failed to provide the implant results they guaranteed her. She has dealt with drills and fittings and people tinkering inside her mouth for so long that it infuriates me.

It’s been a crazy time for our family but I’m glad we’re close and able to encourage each other through all the ups and downs.

Because Believers Contemplate Suicide Too

Please read this/share this/save this if it is on your heart.

Before you ask, let me clear the air and say I’m not suicidal. However if I’m completely honest, I can say thoughts have run through my head that I wish hadn’t about my worth, my life, my purpose, etc.

The truth is being a Christian doesn’t mean we are immune to depression, suicidal thoughts, and self-harm. We struggle like everyone else, regardless of belief.

But when it comes to reaching out? Sometimes we feel we should conceal how we feel or be silent. Please don’t. We have a God who loves us beyond what our human hearts can measure. And He has placed people and resources in your life to reach out to.

http://micahjmurray.com/to-the-christian-contemplating-suicide/

Holiday Focus

This holiday season has been rough for me. Mostly because I am trying so hard to keep it centered on Christ and I feel like I’m failing. There’s been bouts of sadness, bickering, you name it – and it makes it hard to feel the true joy that is at the heart of Christmas.

I wonder if trying harder this year makes me more conscientious that I could do better. I don’t feel like it’s a trial or that I need to “blame Satan” for interfering. No, this is just because I’m an imperfect person in a busy secular world and interactions with others and distractions get in my way.

I hope my effort despite recent failures pleases God. I’m not trying to guilt myself or fit a certain mode of worship, I’m just trying to take the steps I can, because that’s the right thing to do.

One of the hardest parts with my living situation right now is that we have a guest room and it is constantly occupied. This weekend relatives are staying to go to a Sweet 16. Then, next weekend, one of my cousins and her family will be here for Christmas. And then, immediately after, my family is caravan-ing to a neighboring state for a big birthday party.

That precious week of vacation time I saved for the week of Christmas? Now gone to hosting people and traveling out of town. Is it wasted? No. But is it what I wanted? No.

I wanted a week of low key relaxing, wrapping up the Christmas season in the comfort of my home and preparing for the new year by taking care of personal things. Now I’ll be hosting people, driving 7-8 hours out one way and then back, and returning to work in the new year exhausted instead of rested.

Is it selfish to just want some darn peace and quiet? Is it cruel to not appreciate seeing relatives and getting to spend more time with them? I don’t know. I’m just running on empty.

DIY Advent Calendar

I mentioned in a previous post that I wanted to do something extra special for my nephews to help them remember all the reasons they celebrate Christmas. Well, here it is!

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There were a few things I had to take into consideration as I made this. The first being this would have to be shipped halfway across the country and last several years. The lesser being that Mom and Dad could hang this where curious little hands couldn’t reach or open them and try to cash in on all the treats at once, ha!

On a scale of difficulty from 1-10, this is like, a 2. Looking back, I’d ideally use coin envelopes instead of my method, but smaller packs weren’t available in stores and I needed to send this out ASAP. I’d also take more time to decorate the outside of the envelope. I’ll do that next year.

I used:

– A wooden plaque with hanging already built in from Michaels.com (Use a larger size for larger trinkets)

Craft wood clothespins from the scrapbook section. They’re shorter than regular ones.

– Wood stain

– Short Envelopes

– Assorted candy, toys, stickers, and quarters

– A printout with verses about the Christmas story. I used this one.

Step One: Stain the wood plaque

(Optional, but it wasn’t hard and adds richness)

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Step Two: Use wood glue to glue clothespins ( I laid them out and lifted as I went)

The beautiful hand model is my boyfriend. Haha.

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Step 3:  Wood glue tells you to clamp as it dries.

Instead of clamping 24 pins, I used cans. I know, I know. Genius. 😉

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Step 4: Print the verses, trim them, prep the envelopes. 

If I had enough time to order coin envelopes I would have used them. Instead I cut short envelopes in half, folded the cut edge over, taped it, and use those as my coin envelope.

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Step 5: Prep your goodies

This was a challenging part. I have three nephews which means three of something in each tiny envelope. It made some of the envelopes look really bulky and I chose to give more quarters and opt out of the second candy choice. I know my best friend is grateful for less sugar. 😉 For the last day, I wrote 24/25. Since it’s the grand finale, I gave them all a light saber light up thingy. And on the back of the envelope I wrote, ” The Light of the world is born to save us.” Quarters not pictured.

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Overall, this was a very time consuming but worthwhile project! I have to give Josh a shoutout for helping me with staining and glueing. I hope my nephews enjoy it and think of their auntie when they see it each year. Auntie thinks she’ll be sending new envelopes each year to keep them interested in new treats and bible verses.

I can’t wait to make one for Kai when he’s older. ❤

Showing Mercy While Emotionally Wounded

Yesterday was an emotional stretcher for me. I can’t say I did amazingly under the weight of my emotions, but I can say despite some tears, I learned to practice mercy a little better.

Because my brother is still suffering from his concussion, things are kind of planned last minute to see how he’s doing. It wasn’t until 8pm or so Saturday that he and my SIL confirmed they would be coming over on Sunday to celebrate our Mom’s birthday and have lunch. My dad and I mutually agreed that if we were dining at home, Mom wasn’t allowed to make her own meal. So, I offered to make everything. Because it was so last minute, I elected to stay home from church and watch the live stream online while I got everything prepared. Yes, admittedly, it was a little overwhelming. I was making food for 5, picking up a cake and ice cream, and tidying up all by myself in a few hours.

I purposefully didn’t rush too much while I was listening to the live stream. Just because I was working on some cooking didn’t mean I wasn’t wholeheartedly listening. As soon as it finished though, it was a race for the clock. I had most things ready and tidied and went to get ready. In that time my parents got home and from another room I heard my dad going “What’s this? Where do I put that?” I think, “Oh no, they’re moving stuff around.” When my dad moves things, you most likely will take forever finding it. He doesn’t ask and doesn’t tell where things are going. So I rushed out and asked him what he was talking about and to let me handle it.

My mom caught some stress in the tone of my voice and responded rashly. She muttered something along the lines of not bothering to do anything for her again and walked off to her room. She keeps on muttering and I tell her I just wanted to handle things and not have my dad mess with it. She ends up telling me something terrible:

“You should have kept your priorities straight and gone to church today. Your heart is in the wrong place and I don’t want you to do anything for me again.”

I tell her I’m sorry if I came off scattered but I am handling everything and she mutters more stuff. I finish getting ready to head to the store and start crying because it really hurt me, especially since my intentions were good and now it didn’t matter. Still, I opened the door and drove to the grocery store.

I walked through Vons swatting tears as they rolled down and slowly picked up a birthday cake and ice cream. I thought about how upset with her I wanted to be, how wounded her words made me, and here I am picking up a cake and ice cream.

I took as much time as I could so my brother and his family would be home at roughly the same time. My mom of course changed her tune as soon as she saw my nephew.

I put the cake and ice cream away, snuck off and composed myself for five minutes, and then carried on with the celebration even though my heart was burdened and heavy.

She never said sorry. I never brought it back up. It still hurt. But I knew mercy was the right choice.

The irony? My pastor’s message that morning was about how during the holidays people may hurt you or be hard to deal with and living out peace.

O Come Let Us Adore Him

I stood at church this Sunday and watched the light on the first advent candle [hope] flicker. Considering that I had no clue what an advent wreath was 5 years ago, I am quite thankful my church has one! The first week of advent, with three remaining. And here I am still detoxing from Thanksgiving gorging and family feels. As I see each candle lit consecutively it reminds me to reflect and shows me how short Christmas season really is.

I feel like holiday seasons pass by so much quicker as an adult. Does anyone else feel the same? And with Christmas being a time we give gifts, it can easily become more consumer focused than Christ focused.

I’m working on getting decorations up this week because they help remind me that there is more to this season, even if it’s just awe as I watch the Christmas lights sparkle and ponder Jesus taking human form (fully man, fully God) as I gaze at the nativity set.

I’m also working on an advent calendar for my nephews. I thought about my small but important part in their lives right now and how this Christmas I could make a spiritual impact rather than just giving a toy. I’ve decided to hand make an advent calendar for them with verses each day about the Christmas story with room for reflection and their parents to make it more of a devotion if they wish. I’ll also include some fun, of course. I have candies, stickers, and dollar bills to stuff in there as little gifts as they open one each day. I feel like this is the perfect year to give it now that the eldest is a great reader and the littlest is able to sit still and engage in the activity.

I need to clarify that I am doing this with their parents’ permission. I feel it very important, especially regarding spiritual things, that I get permission and that I do not overstep the parent’s spiritual instruction in their children’s lives as they are the main source and have a big responsibility before God to keep. But in this way, I can do my part this season to share Christ with them in a very special way.

Do you or your family have special traditions that help you remember the reason for the season?

Thanksgiving Reflections and a Grocery Challenge

Christmas may be my favorite holiday as a whole (personal + spiritual reasons) but Thanksgiving is the main event of my year. This is because all my relatives gather from afar this one special time a year. One family comes from a neighboring state, a cousin going to med school on the opposite coast flies in, and a cousin in the south east for an awesome job got a ticket to come out just for T-day. On extra special occasions we have both sides of the family together; other times we make two thanksgivings out of it. This might be my favorite year of them all since we have a brand new member of the family joining our festivities: my baby nephew!

It’s also going to be a little bittersweet because this is the first big holiday gathering my Uncle N won’t be at. It’s hard to think that last Christmas is the last holiday we ever had with him and it makes me wish I took a little more time to spend with him one on one that day. I never thought less than two months later we’d be gathered around him in a hospital room as he drew his last breath. I want to remember him on Thursday. We always gather and hold hands and say what we’re thankful for before we pray to bless the meal. This time he will be what I’m thankful for. I want to consciously remember to spend a little more time talking to my aunts and uncles one on one instead of devoting most of my time with my cousins as a life lesson too. God willing, my cousins and I will have many decades more to enjoy each other, but our aging parents, we don’t know how many decades are left. It’s important for me to remember how fleeting life can be and really seek out meaningful times with them.

Here’s how the grocery challenge ties into Thanksgiving: my work generously gifted the office $100 gift cards for the holiday. For people with families of their own, that gift card will be gone in an instant just on the feast. Since I am only helping with a few dishes, I’m going to spend my own money now and save that gift card to stretch me through the holiday season.

My goal is to use up all the pasta, grains, cereals, and canned goods in my little pantry and be more mindful of grocery spending for the rest of 2016. This will help me get back on track with whole foods and make my pantry 100% back on diet plan. This last year with all the crazy I’ve accumulated a lot of boxed pasta, off plan snacks, and didn’t cook nearly as much as I used to so I have canned goods near expiration.  As a renter I’ve been told many times that my pantry isn’t desired in that location so ultimately my goal is to get rid of it and work with them to establish a place for my extra food items and small appliances. I honestly don’t think it looks bad, but I’m bending my will and trying to be compliant.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! May you have a blessed time of reflection and gratitude with friends/family and may digestion be on your side for all the goodies at your table!