Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Pack Rat Purges

I am kind of a pack rat.  I confess it.  I have a tendency to think "I might need this someday," or "One day when _____, this will be perfect for X" and then I keep stuff.

I also am a sucker for sentimental things.  When my grandmother (not if, when) offers me things that SHE is purging, she weaves a story about how these things were used every Christmas (tradition) or this item was once really loved by a deceased ancestor (how could either of us get rid of something like THAT?!) or this _______ was something that I used to do with my grandfather.  We cry together and I take the trinket.  Unfortunately, while some of the things are nice, others are beautiful only in the eye of the beholder.  Since she loves them, I love them and keep them and accumulate them.  I really do have deep emotional ties to all of these things since they all carry a memory that I hold dear.

Patrick is a pack rat.  He has tons of items that we never use that he owned before we were married.  They take up more space than my stuff, and they are NOT sentimental items (thus I am more justified than he).

About once a year the "PURGE BUG" hits me and I go crazy.  Last year it was cleaning out every piece of junk mail and church bulletin that Patrick had ever received and going through every birthday card that I was ever given . . . ever.  For ONE DAY, all my sentimental feelings go out the door.  When they do, I get rid of as much stuff as possible.

NOTE: I have only four small dresser drawers--the paper trash had THREE dresser drawers.  Literally.  They were in a dresser of their own.  My cards were in a box under the dresser, BTW.

This year, I am getting rid of all of the miscellaneous glasses, stemware, microwave cookbooks (there are about ten hard bound copies), magazines, and, if I persevere, paint cans.  I already have boxes of glassware ready to go to the Goodwill, but now there are literally 25-30 one gallon cans of paint (um, our home has a few different colors) stacked in both my storage closet and my laundry room.  Talk about a waste of SPACE!

Thankfully, there is no emotional attachment to any of these things.  I am able to PURGE.  Don't touch my stuff, though.  They're mine.  My letters, my Santa mugs, my antique sewing machine, my rusted ladle that Mommom used to serve soup . . .

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

In Love

Right now, I am a little obsessed.  It's been a while since I've been this obsessed about something . . . and it's the first time that I've ever been obsessed with . . . exercise.  Exercise?  Erin?!

Yes, those who know me best have probably realized that I've never been into playing sports (probably because I have about zero athletic ability beyond playing badminton), that I have never been one to seek out physical activity, and that I have really never WILLINGLY exercised.

Sure, I went to the gym with a friend in college--but that was because we motivated each other and I wanted to look good.  I enjoyed the results without exactly loving the way I got them.  Cardio has never been my thing, and my mom has always called me a wimp for not relishing going on 8 mile uphill "walks" with her (and for always lagging behind, panting as I go).

As of this moment, however, I am LOVING my workout routine--not just the results.  I was actually looking forward to and greatly anticipating it this morning.  Weird, huh?  It's just that I have discovered yoga.

With the problems that I have had with my back since Natalie was born, I've found that certain kinds of physical exertion merely exacerbate the problem.  There are times when I can hardly stand up--so how am I supposed to do a million sit-ups?  Well, with yoga I don't have to  . . .  In fact, my back and the rest of my body is more limber and relaxed than ever before AND I am toning up.

So it isn't the most calorie-burning routine I've ever done--it is, however, the only one that I have ever loved.  Not only do I feel good AFTER I do it, I also feel good while doing it.  So I'll trade off getting in shape a little faster for actually sticking to and enjoying my exercise.  

Friday, February 17, 2012

Four Years Ago

It's funny to think that just four years ago, I did not know my husband.  We had never officially met, and the one, the ONE TIME that we'd spoken in passing, he had taken a jab at me . . . a comment which, despite his being cute and well-intentioned, I hadn't really forgiven him for making.  Little did I realize that one week from today four years ago, I would meet the man to whom I have been married for coming up on three years.  Perhaps I'll write a more elaborate post on this subject a week from now . . .  As for this moment, I am just grateful for all that God has given to me in such a short amount of time.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day!

Happy Valentine's Day to your family from mine!  This time last year, our Valentines were ultrasound photos of our little Munch . . . so much better to have here her here!

Shout out to Naomi from Works of Anselm for the adorable dress on Natalie!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

L'incendie au village voisin

It has been a long time since a piece of music moved me as much as this work by Charles-Valentin Alkan did when I heard it on the radio yesterday.  Although an etude, this work is also program music as it depicts its title: "Fire in the Neighboring Village."  A beautiful pastoral scene is painted which then  gives way to a violent fire and then finally the calm after the flames are doused.  In a way, it describes life: things are good, bad things happen, but God always calms the storm for us in the end.  Enjoy!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

What I Learned When a Loving God Took My Baby

Whenever there is a loss in life, a great trial or tragedy, people often wonder how a "loving God" could have allowed such a thing to occur.  The answer often is not clear to mortal minds, but I know that, in this instance, God used great sorrow to grow amazing love.

The week before Christmas, I found out that I was five weeks pregnant.  Once the initial shock wore off, I was super excited, albeit a little scared, that I was going to have two children so close together.  Playmates, best friends, life-long companions--perhaps even closer than my sister and I are because my two were going to be just fourteen months apart instead of thirty.  We shared our news with family and a few close friends around the holidays, and our happiness only grew.  My mind was filled with dreams of the next year--two babies around the tree, double strollers, and joy.

Just before I was eight weeks along, just a month away from entering my second trimester, I lost the baby.  Words cannot describe the agony that wrenched my soul as I realized that I would never hold my little girl in my arms, that her birthday would come and go . . . without her, that the life that was within my womb was no more.  Grief.  Pain.  Devastation.  I am still struggling with it.

Through it all, however, I have felt the arms of Jesus holding me close to His heart.  I have felt His love surrounding me.  I have felt His strength upholding me and giving me the power to make it through each day.

Why would a loving God take my baby when it was already so loved?  There are so many healthy babies whose lives are taken from them by mothers who don't want them--why did God take a little girl whose parents were excited to meet her?

I don't know.

But that doesn't make God any less loving and compassionate.  In fact, it has drawn me closer to Him and introduced me to His love in a whole new way.  God says, "I love you, and I know what is best for you, my child."  As He has guided and continues to lead me through the Valley of the Shadow of Death, I see and feel His light encompassing me.   I cling to Him and He holds me close.  I cry and He wipes my tears.  I pray and He tenderly listens.

One might say that I prayed that God would save my baby and that He didn't answer . . . but He did.  His answer was no.  Now, I have a little girl waiting for me in heaven.  As I envision her running into the arms of Jesus, it draws me closer to my Lord.

How could I still love a God who would allow me to experience such heart-rending pain?  I honestly don't know--I just know that I do.  I understand that God will never give me more than I can handle, and that He has given me the ultimate test of my faith.  It is one thing to die for Christ--it is another to sacrifice the child for whom you would die.  God asked Isaac of Abraham, and Abraham was willing.  God did not ask me, but my test was whether or not I would serve Him in the end.  I do.

Looking neither to the right nor to the left, I will follow Him, no matter the cost.  For me the cost seems high indeed--but I understand just a little more just how much God paid to redeem me.  The blood of His innocent Son shed before His eyes.  What a sacrifice, what a cost, what a love this is.  I will praise Him for His goodness, and thank Him for His love.  And one day, one day, I will shout with joy when I join my little girl in the Everlasting Arms.

Through the darkest night He leads me, leads me, leads me.
In my hour of need, He holds my hand.
Though the world would tear me from Him, firm He keeps me,
Guiding me on to His promised land.