Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Fall is in the air!

Tomorrow will be September 1st! Woohoo! Not only do we have a vacation to Maine coming up in a few weeks, but it's also time to decorate for autumn- my favorite time of year!

Since the last time I posted, hubby and I weathered Irene- which wasn't really a big deal where I live. We had a lot of rain, some wind and spent some quality time at the local mall since we couldn't be outside. Benton, a town about 20 miles north of us, had a lot more wind damage. I believe there are quite a few folks who still don't have power up that way. Still, everyone is safe and with the exception of some trees, everyone weathered the storm safely. I hope that you rode the storm out comfortably, too.

My husband put in for a 1st shift position. I can't begin to tell you how excited I am at the prospect of being on the same shift again. For the past 4 years, we've worked opposite shifts. Basically, he leaves the house an hour and a half before I get home, and he comes home about an hour after I've gone to bed. We see each other Friday nights (if I am able to stay up late enough!) and on the weekends. I am thankful for the time we do spend together- but I wish that we could be a "real family" and I could cook for him, see him daily, etc.

Do you ever feel like you didn't learn something well enough the first time, and now you're sort of scrambling to make up for those lost years? I took Home Economics from 7th grade to 12th grade. I got high scores. I actually won the Home Economics award my senior year. However, I sort of feel like I could have done better and learned more. I found a Home Ec course online for teen girls...I'm considering ordering it. lol Silly right? I mean, clearly I've got enough down to get by. The house is relatively clean, I meal plan, I cook, etc. Still...I feel like I could use a refresher course. I never really learned how to properly clean the house from top to bottom. I typically just do things as I notice they need to be done. Bah, I digress. I'm sure me listing a list of things I'm not great at housekeeping-wise makes for a riveting read.

So, at any rate, back to fall. I am planning on cleaning the house 1 room at a time and putting up decorations in each as I go. I believe we have 2 totes of Fall/Thanksgiving decorations down cellar, so I'll start with the living room and keep on going till I'm done! Do you like to change your decorations for the seasons? I must admit, I'm not always as enthusiastic about it. Sometimes it seems like a hassle, but once the decorations are up and my home feels cheery and cozy, I'm always glad I took the trouble to put everything up.

Have you any plans for the long holiday weekend? I believe my husband will be forced to work on Saturday, but Sunday and Monday should be free! Woohoo! Two blissful days with my fella!

Picture this- a man is at the beach with his son. He decides after awhile that the rest of his family is hungry and summons his son Sam to come to the car with him to grab the family cooler so everyone can have lunch. He walks ahead and Sam, who is about 9, plods along behind him. He can hear Sam behind him, his shoes crunching very softly. He stops for a moment since his son has slowed down and seems to be examining something in the sand. Sam looks up and notices his dad, then stands up and continues on.

Halfway to the car, dad looks back again. Sam isn't there. He looks across the beach- no little boy. He looks for someone who could be disguising a boy and is sneaking him away- no one. He calls Sam's name...then louder...then louder yet. No response. He begins to panic. He walks back down to his family. He's not there. At that moment in time, everything that is in this man- all his resources, everything he has learned is focused and honed in on 1 thing. His missing little boy. No amount of money is too much to try and find him. His life is about the search. Nothing else matters. Getting back Sam is the most important thing in the world to him.

God knows exactly how he feels...because God feels exactly the same way for all of His children. God is actively pursuing everyone who hasn't found him...who has turned away from Him. God is frantic. He wants them back SO badly. He's doing His very best to find them. To find you. He wants YOU. He is frantic with worry to find you. Do you know Him? Have you felt Him looking for you in your life? Consider this a little nudge...say a prayer. Just say Hello. Are you angry at God? Tell Him about it. It's okay. He can take it. Honest. Just talk to Him.

Some people say they don't know how to pray...if you can talk to other people, to a pet, or just to yourself, you can surely talk to God. It can be as informal or as formal as you like. Pray for wisdom. Pray that you are doing the right things in your life. Pray for God to help you make good decisions. Tell Him thank you. (If you think you've got nothing to be thankful for, don't be silly. If you have the ability to read this, a place to live, food to eat...etc. You've either got a computer or you have access to one somewhere...I could go on and on, but I think you get the point.) Tell Him you are scared, worried, sad, happy or whatever. Just talk to Him!

He is looking for you. Take that step and get to know Him. Please.

Have a good night everyone.

Bless you all!


Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Loving the weather

Hello all,

For the past week or so in NE Pennsylvania, it has been beautiful! Cool, crisp mornings and warm sunny days slowly give way to chilly night skies. I couldn't be more thrilled! I love this "autumn-esque" weather!

So, I must ask you all- do you ever "fall off the wagon" so to speak, in one area of your life or another? I grew up in a home that never attended church. My parents both grew up going to church, but neither liked it. Neither felt it necessary to take us growing up- so I grew up a very secular kid...and turned into a secular adult. However I must say, that God's pull on me was pretty strong. I remember wanting to go to church when I was 8 or so. I'd ask my mom and she said I could walk into our village and go by myself if I liked (it was only a short walk- less maybe 1/10 of a mile) but she didn't want to go.

Yet, I still was interested...when I was in high school, my friends went to a Bible study for teens and I decided to start attending. I liked the pastor. I didn't really like what all the Bible had to say. I was not a rebellious kid. I did exactly what I was supposed to do when I was supposed to do it...and a lot of what we talked about was judgment and what I felt was ridiculously stringent guidelines. I wanted to be closer to God, but I felt like I was being pushed away at the same time.

Finally, after graduating high school, I went to a Christian College. I really liked the nice people there- after all, though I grew up in a secular home, we were still nice people. I was never a girl who wanted to go out and date a bunch of guys or go get loaded. This Christian college had the right type of people...but their Biblical knowledge compared to mine was (as you might imagine) massive. I made a lot of friends that year...and constantly felt misunderstood. How could I fit in with these people in the way that I wanted, but still be true to myself?

I could only afford to attend that school for a year, after which I went to a state college in PA. I hated it. The mindset was completely different. It was the worst few years I've ever had. I was constantly depressed and felt more and more alone. I knew God at that point in time, but didn't think that He would help me. After all, I didn't know as much as anyone else, and even though He could do something, I knew He wouldn't. There was no point in getting my hopes up.

One good thing did come out of going to that state college. I met my loving husband.

At any rate, I digress. I shared this story with you because I wonder if anyone else struggles with the same things I do.

I grew up one person and then around 5 years ago, realized I should be trying to be another person entirely. Most of the time I do pretty well, but now and again I flounder...and start cursing again.

*sigh* After a week or of swearing more than 10 times in a day, I believe I have my head on straight and can start acting the way I should again.

Sometimes it feels like the old me and the new me are in a constant battle. The old, comfy, silly Mandy has a hard time coping with the new, more serious, more exacting Mandy. New Mandy gets kind of bitter that she wasn't good enough to begin with. lol

God keeps telling me, "Just keep trying! Do your best and I'll love you no matter what!" So that's pretty comforting at any rate...

This poem was given to me a few years ago by a friend. It never fails to make me feel better. Maybe it will help you feel a little better today, too. :)

Desiderata By Max Ehrmann

Go placidly amid the noise and the haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.

As far as possible, without surrender,
be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
and listen to others,
even to the dull and the ignorant;
they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons;
they are vexatious to the spirit.

If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain or bitter,
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs,
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals,
and everywhere life is full of heroism.
Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love,
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment,
it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself.
You are a child of the universe
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be.
And whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life,
keep peace in your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Trying to beat the blahs

When wilt Thou save the people?
O God of mercy, when?

Listening to Godspell tonight and it's really making me feel so much better. I've been down in the dumps for a couple days now. It's nice to have a little break!

I'm not in much of a writing mood today, but since it's been awhile since my last post, I thought I ought to write a little bit.

- Hubby fixed the dripping faucet in the bathtub, saving me from a slow and agonizing death of being annoyed to death. lol

- After 3 weeks of being out of service, we are taking hubby's truck over to the garage tonight to get it fixed. Cross your fingers for us that it doesn't cost a fortune to fix.

- I so many dishes today, I wonder if my hands will ever unprune themselves. lol

- I made taco pizza tonight for dinner. It was good, but not great. Meh.

I think that's about all for today. I realize this post is pretty pitiful, but I'm just not really in the mood to write a lot today. I hope you understand. :)

Have a great evening and God bless you!


Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Summer Days

Hello all! It's been several days since my last post, so I decided it's probably about time to give an update!

We visited my mom and dad last weekend and had a grand time out in Western PA. I miss it out there lots. People out here don't understand that although this part of the state isn't urban, it is most assuredly not "the country" either. I have to laugh when people complain that there's nothing to do around here. I wonder how bored they would be living in Crawford County. lol

There's nothing like being at home- sitting on the deck and listening to Amish horse and buggies go by, or an occasional car. The wind rustles the leaves and the birds flit from tree to tree. My mom noted to me the other day that she has a regular little bird visitor that is a dapper fellow...he perches on the edge of a branch and hops impatiently, waiting for a bug. She loves listening to the "snap" of his beak when he gets a tasty insect. I live on a quiet street, but I couldn't hear the snapping of a bird's beak here- it's a different kind of quiet.

I'm not sure what insects are out this time of the year, but I love, love, love driving past fields in the evening- the bugs are all chirping, humming, or singing together which creates one of the nicest sounds I've ever had the pleasure to hear. It just reminds me of being young and sitting on the edge of the bed, looking out the window and listening to that same sound in the field right beside my parent's house. Oh do I miss those days!

Tonight, sitting in my room, I am listening to the hum of the fan. It occasionally buzzes, since it's on the older side. I can't really hear much else. I'm sure there would be a few crickets outside, if I were to turn off the fan. Not those field bugs, though! I wish I knew their names. I feel quite uneducated calling them "field bugs". lol

Mom made chicken on the grill (we call it Dippy Chicken- it's a type of southern BBQ sauce that goes on top- and you serve it on the side for dipping) as well as linguine salad, potato salad, and baked beans. It was perfect summer fare!

At any rate, it was a very pleasant weekend. The 5 hour drive home wasn't quite as pleasant, but it was tolerable! lol

My busyness for this week is over (I hope). I threw a baby shower at work today for my friend Kristin who is due in September. It was a pretty nice time- definitely worth all the stress. I think she got a lot of great items for Liam (the new baby's name) and lots of practical stuff, too. We had a potluck as well, entitled "Appetizers in August" which was fun. It was odd eating an entire meal of finger food, but no one complained because it was all so tasty! There was cake and soda as well. We ate well.

The past couple days I've been feeling kind of down in the dumps. Tonight isn't so bad, but earlier I was really feeling grouchy and sad. I took a walk and it did help some. It is frustrating being away from my husband day after day. I mean, we live in the same house, but since he works when I'm at home and I work when he's at home, we see each other only on the weekends. I don't really go out anywhere without him, so I basically work, come home, cook, clean, go to bed, and then wake up and do it all over again. Can you see how the monotony would get tiresome?

At any rate, we've only got Thursday and Friday to wait through, then it'll be the weekend again! Woohoo!

I hope your week is going well. I know a lot of folks are still having very hot, humid, and dry weather. Keeping you guys in my prayers- I do not like incredibly hot weather. It just sucks the life right outta me!

Oh, and as you can see, that cucumber did not kill me. It did leave a bad taste in my mouth for quite awhile, though...even after brushing my teeth! lol!

Have a great night, and bless you all!


Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Well...that didn't work

So, I thought taking a little time to think and figure out where I wanted this blog to go might be a pretty good idea.

As it turns out, I am really not good at organizing, following any kind of a set plan or format, or doing much of anything structured that needs to be initiated by myself.

After praying about it a bit, I was washing dishes at the sink tonight, and this is what God had to say to me. (Now, I'm paraphrasing here, you know...)

God-"Mandy, why do you think I made you the way I did?"
Me- "I don't know...why?"
God- "Basically because I thought the world needed someone like you...just like you. So I made you the way I know you needed to be made. Why are you trying to fit in with all these other blogs? How often do you usually follow everyone else? That's one of the things that I love about you- your randomness is part of who you are. People like it. I like it."
Me- "So, I guess I should just keep the blog like it is for now, and write down my random thoughts?"
God- "If it isn't broken..."
Me- "Gotcha."

So, there you have it. For the time being, this will continue to just be a reflection of me- sometimes happy, sometimes sad, usually silly, a bit spiritual, a little quirky, and a whole lotta Mandy.

If this happens to be my last post, don't be surprised. I ate a bite of a cucumber tonight that tasted like poison. I've never tasted anything like it before. I spit it out...and then kept spitting cause the bad taste wouldn't go away. Yuck. I have no idea what was wrong with those cucumbers, but if I end up dead, blame them.

In other news, I dug out some of my old "Quick Cooking" magazines by Taste of Home and am making a different recipe each day.

Yesterday's Southwestern Spaghetti was easily 4/5 stars. It was tasty, easy, and super good.

Today's Chicken and Veggie Bake gets maybe 2 and a half/5 stars. It was kind of dry, the veggies didn't want to cook since there wasn't much liquid, and it was lacking...something. I don't know what.

Here's the recipe for Southwestern Spaghetti. It's super good.

Brown 3/4 pound of ground beef. Drain and set aside. In the same pan, add 2 1/4 cups of water, 1 15 oz can of tomato sauce, 1/2 tsp cumin, 1/2 tsp garlic powder, 2 tsp chili seasoning- stir together and bring to a boil then add 7 oz of spaghetti, broken into smaller pieces (I broke the noodles into thirds). Bring to a boil again, then lower heat to medium low and let cook about 7-8 minutes. While that's cooking, chop up 2 good sized zucchini (about a pound all together) and then stir that in. Let cook another 5-6 minutes or till zucchini are tender. Stir in the ground beef and top with some shredded cheddar. Voila! Deliciousness in a pan.

Now I sorta want some more, even though it's all gone and it's 10:21 PM. Dang.

I watched a couple episodes of "Christy" tonight. I love that show sooo much!

Well, it is getting late and I still need to go through a couple magazines scouring for next week's recipes, so I probably ought to be off for the evening.

I hope you are doing well and having a good day.

You are loved, appreciated, and needed. God wanted you to know that. :)

Bless you all!