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We live in Mexico! What???

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Ok, it’s a long one folks, but This is the first chance I’ve had to post everything I’ve written over the last week. Here goes:

We arrived in Df on Wednesday, March 26th, 2014. Our sponsor took us to our hotel, which was quite nice. It had a pool and that was all that mattered to E. It had a sofa bed, which was all that mattered to C.

About 3 hours after landing in Mexico, we arrived at our first FS social event. A gentleman who lived in our apartment building was moving on Sunday, so one of our neighbors/Todd’s co-works – M, was hosting a farewell party. She generously turned it into a farewell/welcome party when she heard we were coming. She was so gracious telling us she certainly understood if we were too tired to attend, but we were eager to start meeting people and get a look at our building. We were really pleased when we were able to actually take a quick walk through of our actual unit as the custodian was there finishing up some upgrades they were doing before we could move in.

We moved in our apartment on Monday, March 31, 2014 It was also the girls’ first day of school. The day went pretty well for us. Wait, except for getting in the car that the hotel had called for us to take us to school at 6:45 and discovering the driver, who spoke only Spanish, did not know where the school was. Aggh! Between Clair and I, we managed to understand that he was going to start driving, hoping he was going the right direction, and he wanted me to use his phone to call the school and get directions for him. Thankfully, I had a handful of paperwork to turn in (which is why I was going to school with the girls) and one of the pages had a phone number on it. I dialed the number and gave him the phone. He was able to get directions and in no time, we were headed to the school. We arrived just as the bell rang and headed to the office to get the girls situated.

I then headed back to the hotel via taxi to wait for the word from Todd on what time we could get the keys, move in etc. We got word about 10:30 that Todd would get the keys about 3:30. I had to check out of the hotel by 1 – just me and Macey the 4 pound poodle. The customer service at the hotel was fantastic, so the door man loaded up all of our luggage – 5 rolling duffels, 4 rolling carry-ons, one tote that had all of the contents of the girls’ backpacks they had packed with fun stuff to do while traveling, which had to be emptied in order to take to school that morning, the dog crate and one other random bag. I had no idea what to tip him so I gave him 50 pesos – about 4 bucks. Not nearly enough in hind sight.

Todd’s employer had sent a driver in a van to pick up me, Macey, and all of our luggage, and take us over to the apartment. Yay! It seemed like the timing would be perfect. I would get to the apartment about 15 minutes before the girls would get off the school bus! We arrived just in time and the driver started unloading all of our luggage. I tried to tell him that he was just to take it to the embassy and they would bring it all to the apartment when they brought Todd home. But the driver either just didn’t understand me, or didn’t want to do it that way. The glitch with unloading all the luggage was that I COULDN’T GET INTO THE APARTMENT! Todd had keys, but the powers that be would not/could not (I’m not really sure) let the driver deliver keys to me, and Todd could not leave work to bring me keys. SO, Macey and I had 15 minutes to kill until C got home. E was staying for Volleyball so she would be home about 4:45. Still no keys. C and I, and Macey had 1 ½ hours to kill. We walked around the neighborhood as we waited for E and Todd to arrive home. They got home about the same time. Finally we could get in the apartment! We ran on adreneline for about an hour and unpacked quite a bit, then we headed out for some dinner and food for the girls’ breakfast, lunch and dinner on Tuesday.

While C and I were walking around the park across from our apartment, we noticed a food vendor. Sitting on his stand, right by the cook top, was a huge squirrel. Now, in general, I like squirrels, but let’s face it. They are rats with furry tails! Sitting in the guy’s mobile kitchen! EWW! Gotta be real careful about the street food here.

Saturday April 5, 2014

We slept late this morning – 8:30ish. Todd headed to Starbucks to get on wifi and do some research on phones. E and I met him there about 10ish, but C is still nauseous so she opted to stay home. About 11 or so E and I came back home and found that the famous neighborhood market was up and running. On our way in the apartment, I saw our custodian, Alejandro, and told him we had a problem with a leak in our brand new kitchen sink. He stopped immediately what he was doing (cleaning the garage floor) and came right up stairs with us. In less than 30 minutes the leak was fixed. (One joint just needed to be tightened a bit.) Yay Alejandro!

The girls and I then walked across the street to the market. We had promised E a balloon and there were lots to choose from. She found one guy with a Minion balloon. He asked 100 pesos but we talked him down to 90! LOL! There were a whole slew of vendors. One could buy baskets, pottery, hosiery, lingerie, belts, personal hygiene products, jewelry, sunglasses, toys, fruits, veggies, tacos etc. We bought 12 handmade pine coasters to protect our brand new government issued furniture for 100 pesos – $8. C bought a little silver ring for 25 pesos. WE tried to get her to go down to 20, but she looked at us in disgust and said no.

After our little shopping spree we went back to the apartment to see if Todd was home. He had just gotten home and was ready to go get some lunch. We wandered back along the street with the market and found a little restaurant that was busy, clean and had an interesting menu with great prices. Lucky for all of our future visitors, we stopped and ate there. WE were greeted by Regina who speaks English! She was very kind to us and especially the girls. She asked us how our Mexican food experiences had been and made some great suggestions for us. She thought C should have the Chicken Soup with Avocado. She suggested a chicken dish for me. I can’t remember the name of it, and a chicken dish for Todd which was basically the best roasted chicken leg and thigh ever! E wanted waffles which was officially on the breakfast menu, but sweet Regina said she would have the chef make them for her special. Everyone absolutely LOVED their meals! It was the best meal we have had in DF yet. Oh! And let’s talk about the salsa! This salsa was phenomenal! I asked Regina if it was something they sold. She said no, but she would work something out for me! Less than 10 minutes later she returned with a 16 oz container of the salsa as “a welcome gift on the house”! I think Regina is my new BFF. And then came the dessert tray. Oh the dessert tray. The owner of the restaurant is from Austria. The menu has a lot of Austrian influences like Wiener Schnitzel and German Style Potatos. Let’s just say that the pastry chef knows his/he way around a dessert cart! We were going to get 2 to share, but just couldn’t resist all the choices. Todd had a puff pastry croissant thingy with some kind of fruit filling. Erin, Clair and I shared 2 different chocolate layer desserts. One had a dark chocolate ganash and the other was milk chocolate and had a chocolate crema filling. I no longer want the Costco Chocolate Cake for my birthday this month. Nor do I want Chilli’s chips and salsa. Good-bye American staples.

After lunch/dinner/supper, we went through the tail end of the market. We bought some grapefruit which Todd says was a nice sweet grapefruit, but it just tasted like bitter grapefruit to me. The oranges on the other hand were muy fabuloso! We bought some oranges too. And finally, we bought 2 LARGE avocados for 30 pesos (about 3 dollars).

So I’m going to call our first Saturday in our new home a success! We still have some challenges with getting our phone and internet services set up, but those are bumps in the road. We have started that process and have a pay as you go plan for our phones until we get the proper paperwork from the Mexican government in a couple weeks. Until then, we have our new Mexico phone numbers. It’s a start.
Todd and I are happy, the girls are happy. All is well.

Monday, April 7, 2014

The tricky thing about moving anywhere, a new neighborhood, new town, new state or new country, is simply figuring out how to live there. First you have to have a place to live – a home. You need to find your favorite grocery store, pharmacy, Wal-Mart type establishment where you can buy toilet paper, cleaning supplies etc. You need to find a church where you can minister and be ministered to. What are the major streets around you? Which neighborhoods are safe and which are not? You have got to set up some form of communication – phones (land line or cell or both) and internet and TV of some variety if you are interested.

On paper, these seem like relatively easy things to do, and sometimes they are. When we moved to Virginia, my biggest struggle was finding a grocery store that I loved. It took me 8 months to find that golden egg.

So here we are in Mexico City. From my perspective (as a retired, stay at home mom), it’s a pretty cushy post. I recognize that. Every day I live here, I’m thankful that I’m not in Mongolia, or India, or Ukraine (or a lot of other places frankly). Thanks to Uncle Sam, we have a nice apartment in a beautiful neighborhood. It is quite comfortable and due to it becoming a furnished post on March 1, 3 weeks before we arrived, it is fully furnished with brand new furniture! My guess is that will never happen again in the next 20 years. The neighborhood is as safe as I could hope for in the 2nd largest city in the world. We are very near a beautiful park (of which there are roughly a million).

We have found a couple grocery stores and Costco. Yes, Costco. I know. I’m spoiled. One store is very close to us and will be great for grabbing that forgotten loaf of bread or gallon of milk (except it is not really a gallon, it is a couple liters maybe. I don’t really know.) The other store is huge, like a Wal-Mart Super Center. It has pretty much everything. It is also in walking distance, maybe a couple miles, but it is not real practical to walk home with armloads of stuff. Thankfully, it should be relatively easy to drive to once our car arrives. The Costco is also walkable, but not remotely practical! It IS Costco after all. I’m very grateful to have these amenities so close to our home.

I have found a church online that looks like it might be a good fit for us, but we have not yet been able to visit. Our first Sunday here, we were able to “attend” or precious church in VA via Live Streaming, but this Sunday, we did not have internet. And today, one week after arriving in our apartment and 2 weeks after leaving VA, we still don’t have internet in our home. So it seems securing an internet connection, and a workable cell phone plan have proven to be the most challenging of logistical challenges on this move.

I must say, that on this day when I’m feeling a bit vulnerable, as a stay at home Mom, these challenges are REALLY getting on my nerves!!!!! Having settled the kiddos in school, and being confident that they are going to do well here, I really wish I could just pick up the phone and call whomever I want, sign on to Facebook, and check my email.

But that day is coming, hopefully sooner rather than later. Until then, I will write, listen to my iTunes library, pray and clean (and maybe make my way to Starbucks so I can actually post this baby on line).

All the while, chasing crazy.

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I AM Blessed!

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I AM blessed. Not because of anything I have done, learned or earned. Not because of my social status or my bank account. I am blessed by God, and you may be too.

I am blessed because of what God has done for me through his son Jesus. Being blessed is a condition of my heart.

Recently there has been a big kerfuffle over Christians saying “I am blessed”. Many are vowing to stop saying it. I will never stop proclaiming that I AM blessed.

I’m not rich. I’m not poor. I’m not in any way extraordinary. I am saved by grace through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. Everything else that happens in my life is sifted through that filter. EVERYTHING.

Being blessed does not mean being without pain or loss. Being blessed also does not mean that I have been given unexpected wealth or fortune. I am blessed because “I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. “ (Romans 8:38-39 – NIV)

I understand how some people could be confused by the saying. I understand some may feel that my condition of being blessed highlights their perceived lack of blessing, but that is simply a wrong conclusion. I will not refuse to acknowledge Christ in my life because others misunderstand what that looks like. You see, the blessed life is available to everyone because “God so loved the world the He gave His one and only son that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16) Again, this is not a prosperity gospel I’m preaching. This is a saved by grace gospel.

If you don’t know that you ARE blessed, I would LOVE to talk with you about that. If you know that you ARE blessed, please shout it from the roof tops and make sure that people know WHY you are blessed. Please acknowledge all of your blessings, not just what those without Christ would acknowledge as blessings. We do not change the world by stating the obvious.

Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. (James 1:2-3)

All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is by his great mercy that we have been born again, because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Now we live with great expectation, and we have a priceless inheritance—an inheritance that is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay. And through your faith, God is protecting you by his power until you receive this salvation, which is ready to be revealed on the last day for all to see.
So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you have to endure many trials for a little while.
(1 Peter 1:3-6)

BLESSINGS!

CHRISTIE

Do You Feel Like A Diplomat Yet?

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Our Agenda for the day:

  1. Take Erin to get a required immunization for school.
  2. Go to Justice and the American Girl store.
  3. Enjoy the rest of the day with nothing pressing to do.

Our actual day:

Todd woke me up about 8:30 this morning with “I need you to come get me at lunch at take me to the Dr.” (We only have one car). We’ve both had this throat/ear thing that has been on again off again for several weeks. This week is Todd’s week to be miserable with the little bugger. I reminded him that my battery light came on my car yesterday. He said he would check it tonight when he got home.

Before I even got out of bed I called my sweet friend in New Jersey who we are going to go visit this weekend (because Todd finally has a Monday off work so we have a semblance of a life for a few days).  At some point in my conversation with Micah, Erin came in because she had burned her finger on the toaster. I told her to put mustard on it (google it), but she turned up her nose at that and chose a more conventional solution. Then I called my parents because I could, and today is Mom and Dad’s 48th anniversary so it seemed like the right thing to do.

I had lovely chats with both until about 10:30 or so.

Then I got out of bed.

I checked email and Facebook and hit the shower about 11ish so I could go get Todd. Language school is in Falls Church, about 10-15 minutes from our house depending on traffic. We pulled into the circle to pick him up at 12:05 on the nose. We sat for about 10 minutes before I decided to roll down the windows and cut the engine. Around 12:30, Todd came out and we headed to Chick-Fil-A for lunch! Yay Chick-Fil-A! We Love YOU! It had been about 6 months since Todd had eaten a Chick-Fil-A Spicy Sandwich. He was happy.

On the way out of the parking lot, I rolled up the windows on the car. That’s kind of funny to write, because back in the day we actually ROLLED UP the window. Now, I pull up a little button and the window raises almost miraculously…and quickly. Very quickly. Then Clair says, “Mom, tell Erin to roll up her window all the way”. I can fix that problem. Bada bing bada boom! Window is up! I hear a weird sound. Erin is screaming. ERIN is SCREAMING! Apparently her finger was in said window when I fixed the problem. Say it with me, “Slacker Mom!” Decision time. Chick-Fil-A or straight to the clinic? Todd checks the finger. It is in tact. Erin is still crying. Hard. She wants to go to Chick-Fil-A. She cried all the way to Chick-Fil-A. Her finger was numb, but it hurt. It felt like needles pricking it. The window scraped off her nail polish. The horrors.

My little crew made it to Chick-Fil-A and ate a delicious chicken lunch complete with waffle fries. Yum. It’s 1:05.

We zipped back across town toward our apartment, except not quite there, because I know a great Urgent Care Clinic that is new and easy to get into. We don’t have a regular doctor yet because you can’t get into a doctor as a new patient less than 6 weeks out. And who has time to find a doctor if you’re not sick? I digress. On the way there, I remembered that I forgot Erin’s shot records. Oops. Happily, the visit to the clinic went well. Todd got drugs, Erin got the shot despite my lapse of memory, AND we got Todd back to school JUST in time! Yay us! I dropped Todd off with a tiny little kiss (because he is sick) and promised to run (drive actually) down the road to pick up his antibiotic.

#1 on the agenda complete.

Less than 60 seconds after I kissed my hubby goodbye, every single warning light in my car flashed on. Battery, brake, ABS, Maintenance Required, and something else I had only seen once before when Todd left the gas cap off all the way from Breckenridge to Colorado Springs. I called the hubs. I knew he wasn’t in class yet because I had JUST left him! I told him what had happened and that I was going straight to the Toyota Dealership in Alexandria. I miraculously KNEW where the dealership was and knew how to get there from Falls Church without help from Siri. Woo hoo! I had a proud moment. Todd said it sounded like my alternator was going out and I had about 4 miles to drive if that before the car completely died. No problem. It’s not far.

I hung up with Todd and called the dealership to let them know I was on my way. The Service Dept agreed that it sounded like the alternator and assured me he could get it in pretty quickly. They would shuttle me and the girlies home. I was only about 5 or 6 miles from the dealership. (More than 4, but I was hoping Todd was wrong. He is by far one of the smartest people I know). I started to call Todd back when it happened. MY PHONE DIED!!!!!!!! Yes. My phone died. Not my car. My phone. Died. No problem. 2 more miles. The car made a weird sound; kind of a clunk under my feet. It was sluggish but it kept going. Red light. My power brakes weren’t working. I pushed the brake hard. Car stopped. No problem. The light turned green and we cruised (ish) through the intersection. Then the warning lights started flashing….off. “Dear Jesus, please let us get there safely”, was my prayer. Lights off. I managed to pull the car off the road and over to the curb where no one else was parked! God is good. Engine off.

My car was dead. My phone was dead. There was a lot of traffic.  No worries though. We had just passed a little shopping area about ½ mile back. The girls and I got out of the car and started the walk back to the shopping area.  I was hoping there would be a cell phone store, or something of the sort, where I might be able to charge my phone. There was none. But there was a little fro yo place called “Sweet Frog”. The FROG in Sweet Frog is an acronym for “Fully Rely On God”. They have great fro yo.

We walked in the store where there was a very sweet young lady working. I told her my sad story and asked if she might possibly have a charger for an iPhone sitting around. She and my daughter and my daughter’s friend are the only 3 youngish girls in America without an iPhone. My girls started filling their little fro yo tubs with yummy goodness. The Sweet Frog barista(?) (What do you call a fro you employee?) graciously offered me the store phone which I used to call my insurance company. This is a good place for me to sing the praises of that $2/month (or whatever ridiculously cheap fee it is) Roadside Assistance coverage I have. My conversation went something like this:

USAA Gal, “Are you somewhere safe?”

Me, “Yes”.

Gal, “Where are?”

“Sweet Frog”

“Where?”

“Sweet Frog. But that is not where my car is.”

“Oh. Where is your car?”

“Glebe and Mount Vernon”

“Are you at the Sweet Frog at blah blah blah Glebe?”

“Yes.” I guess that’s where I am, but I honestly don’t know, I’m just assuming she’s looking at a map and finding the Sweet Frog closest to my car.

“On Glebe, which direction is your car headed?”

“I’m embarrassed to say but I really don’t know. I’m headed FROM Falls Church TO Alexandria.” I don’t know what direction I’m headed because I don’t live in Colorado any more and there are NO MOUNTAINS here!!!!!!

“Ok. Will you be at your vehicle when the tow truck arrives?”

          “I can be if the driver will call me when he gets close.” My cell phone is dead. I give the gal my cell phone number anyway. “Ok. He’ll be there in about 30 minutes? Great. What time is it now?” Because my phone is dead, I don’t know what time it is! “2:45? OK. Thank you very much. Buh-Bye.”

I thank the sweet iPhoneless young lady. She told me that the guys at Dominoes across the parking lot can charge my phone for me. Are you kidding me???? You found someone to charge my phone????? I knew I loved this place!!!!!!!

My always ready for an adventure little darlings and I marched ourselves across the parking lot to the Dominoes. The 3 gentlemen there happily charged my phone for me long enough for me to get the call that the tow truck was on it’s way. And long enough for me to get a text from Todd asking if we made it to the dealership. I texted Todd back that we were safe, car was going to be towed, phone was dying and I would call him later. He texted back immediately. “I’m in class. Do you need to talk?” (So sweet. He’s a little worried.) I text back. “No. Will call you later.”

The girls and I walked back to the car and waited in the car with doors locked and windows up, because there were some shady looking characters at the bus stops near by and I happened to be carrying a LOT of cash. It got hot in there so we were super happy when we saw the tow truck drive up.

The driver got out of the truck and was saying something to me as he walked towards me. I was looking at him and listening, but was distracted because it looked like his truck was rolling backwards. I wasn’t sure because traffic was moving past and I thought maybe it was just my eyes. I watched a little closer. Nope. It was rolling backwards. “You’re rolling, I say while raising my arm and pointing towards his truck.” At which point he ran towards his truck and jumped in (thankfully not getting hit by the traffic passing by.) At this point, the homeless man begging in the median pointed at me and yelled, “Good job young lady!” I kid you not. I cannot even make this stuff up.

Once the driver returned to me he said, “Which one of you is riding with me? I can only take one in my truck.” Most definitely me, sir. My 14 and 11 year old daughters will just walk!!!!!! Are you kidding me???? He told me that it is really his dispatcher’s fault because she doesn’t ask enough questions. He has told her to ask more questions blah blah blah blah and blah. He told me that he needed to roll my car back a bit so he can get the truck in front of it. OK. He got in the car but could not put in neutral. You know why? Because it was DEAD. DEAD. He suggested I should not have put on the emergency blinkers because it drained the battery. Thank you for that sir. That is very helpful.

 

 He went back to his truck (which was quite capable of rolling backwards) and drove off. He left. Buh –bye. Gone. I don’t know where he went. He was gone for several minutes before he came back. All the while, cars were driving by honking at the empty, jankedly parked car without emergency blinkers turned on, and 3 damsels in distress standing by. And they call this “The South”.

When the driver got back he explained to me that he had to have the Police come and block the intersection so that he could get in front of the car to tow it. Then he mumbled something about Police not doing their jobs and something else I didn’t quite catch. Thankfully, my Knight in a Shiny White Toyota came to my rescue and whisked the girls and I off to the dealership! The tow truck dude was left to wait for the Police and get my car to the dealership. I found out later that for his services he would bill USAA something like $375! I bet they don’t pay that.

Kudos to the people at the Toyota Dealership in Alexandria. They were really nice. I need a new alternator and battery. Woo hoo! And with my purchase of said parts, I received a rental Camry for free! That was Erin’s favorite part of the day. She loves cars. Maybe she’ll be a car saleswoman, she says. She would do well. The dealership didn’t have the part, but they have 11 at the warehouse in Baltimore, which is close to where I live now. That’s weird. So my car should be ready by tomorrow evening.

We still needed to get Todd’s prescription…back in Falls Church. It was rush hour. I opted to head home in my new zippy little silver Camry. It was an uneventful trip. We arrived home where Todd was crashed on the couch semi-conscious apologizing for not being more help today. I’m a lucky girl. At 5:30 I headed back out the door to get his prescription.

Shortly after getting Todd’s meds to him, I ran next door to visit with my neighbor who had texted me during this whole fiasco because her sweet 4 year old daughter wanted to come over and play for about 10 minutes. That would have been fun. While sharing my day with them, Clair ran over to their place to tell me that Erin had fallen off of the bed and landed on her tail bone! She heard something crack. She was crying. Todd was off of his death bed tending to her. It’s 8pm This cannot be real right? I mean seriously. I’m being punked.

 

I am happy to report that Erin survived her fall. I don’t think she’s broken. I hope not. But her little accident did seem like a fitting end to our day. As my neighbor’s daughter said after hearing about our day, “”I think she must have found a NO leaf clover!”

When I walked in the door after our adventure Todd laughingly asked, “Do you feel like a Diplomat yet?”

Ask me tomorrow, Honey. Not today.

Tomorrow’s Agenda:

1. Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! – Philippians 4:4

Grace and Peace

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Grace and Peace

Have you ever noticed how often the phrase “grace and peace” is used in Scripture? It was used almost 20 times as a greeting in letters and epistles in the New Testament.

According to Merriam-Webster, (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/grace)
“grace” is:

a : unmerited divine assistance given humans for their regeneration or sanctification
b : a virtue coming from God
c : a state of sanctification enjoyed through divine grace
d: a temporary exemption : reprieve
e : a charming or attractive trait or characteristic

No doubt, grace is given freely to us by our Creator through his Son, Jesus Christ. We would be spiritually lost without it. But how often do we extend grace to those around us? On a personal level, it is very easy for me to lose my temper and forget that we all make mistakes. We all have bad days, weeks, hours or minutes. In times of stress, it is really easy to let those minutes and hours out of my bad days and weeks to take total control and lash out on everyone around me. I am learning though, that better, less natural response, is to respond with grace.

Anger and impatience NEVER deliver the responses I want or need. Even if there is a temporary submission to my will, the emotional and spiritual damage is done and the behavior I was looking for is not rewarding at all. But, when I respond with grace, the result is nothing short of miraculous! In fact, I would say that the direct result of grace is PEACE!

According to Merriam-Webster (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/peace), “peace” is:

a: a state of tranquility or quiet
b: freedom from disquieting or oppressive thoughts or emotions
c: harmony in personal relations

Peace is absolutely the opposite of anger, stress and tension. I can say with a huge amount of confidence that our family has recently gone through perhaps the most challenging period of our lives in about the last 14 years. Theoretically, we should feel like life is in absolute chaos right now. Instead, we are experiencing a whole lot of peace!

Our difficult circumstances have given us the perfect opportunity to practice “grace giving” on a whole new level. It is clear to me that we have had countless friends and family praying for us. During our most difficult times we have managed to extend grace to each other. My personal experience is telling me that extending grace delivers peace.

In Scripture, the greeting that we see over and over is “Grace and peace”, not “Peace and grace”. Nothing in the Bible is there by accident. Every word is there for a purpose. Can you imagine what life would be like if you only extended grace when you were at peace? Or what if grace was only extended TO you when the person you needed to give you grace was at peace? I’m going to go out a limb here and say that you don’t have to IMAGINE either of those scenarios, because they are probably your reality (and mine) most of the time.

We all have the promise of eternal peace because of the grace that was given to us on the cross when God sacrificed his perfect Son for is imperfect creation. Grace on the cross = Peace for eternity. It seems that Paul’s favorite greeting is not just a greeting, but a reminder of how God has treated us, and how we are to treat others.

Philippians 1:1-11

1 Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus,
To all God’s holy people in Christ Jesus at Philippi, together with the overseers and deacons[a]:
2 Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
3 I thank my God every time I remember you. 4 In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy 5 because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, 6 being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
7 It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart and, whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God’s grace with me. 8 God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus.
9 And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, 10 so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, 11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.

http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Philippians%201&version=NIV

Not a Consolation Prize

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Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

This is not a consolation prize. This is a promise. This is a reminder that God Does have a plan for me. It is His plan. It is not my plan. Yet, His plans for me are good plans. These are plans for specifically designed for me! This is not a community plan, a government plan, a plan for the neighborhood, the church, the country, it is a plan specifically for – Christie.

God knows this plan. I don’t know the plan. I may know a piece of the plan. I may get more and more pieces as the plan unfolds, but I don’t know the whole plan. I don’t understand all of the intricacies of the plan.

If you have ever built or remodeled a home, you have experienced something like this. For simplicity lets assume you are building a brand new house. You start out walking through tons of model homes in tons of neighborhoods looking at several builders. Hopefully, you narrow your choices by first choosing a builder. The builder is key. It doesn’t matter how great the floor plan is if the builder is going to do a shotty job.

Once you choose the builder, you walk through more model homes. You take home handfuls of fliers with floor plans on them. You ask about tweaking the plan: “Can I take out this wall? Can I bump out this exterior wall? Can I make this a full bath instead of ½? Eventually you choose a floor plan that you love.

Meanwhile, there is an architect holding the actual blue prints for the home. He (or she) is measuring every wall, accounting for where all the electrical and plumbing need to go. He is laying out the blueprint for the foundation, the load bearing walls, the roof line. You are primarily still looking at that little floor plan flyer. Every now and then, the builder may sit down with you and show you the actual blue print, room by room, elevations etc. You may glance at the big picture, but you are not an architect. All of the little architectural notations don’t mean much to you unless the architect explains them to you.

Sometimes the builder may say, “I’m sorry, we can’t eliminate that wall. It’s load bearing” or “I can take out the wall, but I will have to leave a beam, or a column. I know this is not exactly what you wanted, but in order for the house to meet code, to be safe for you and your family, to hold the roof, to allow for venting etc. etc., this is what I have to do.” “As your builder, I cannot do it exactly the way you want it. But this plan is what is best for you. I understand the plan.”

AS the architect of my life, as my Master Builder, God is holding the blue prints for my life. I have desires and God has desires. My desires may not always line up exactly with God’s desires, but he has the whole detailed blue print. I just have a little flyer.

This passage is more than just a little piece of encouragement to quote when we are lost, frustrated, tired or feel like we don’t have direction. This passage is not the consolation prize. What it does say is that God, knowing and wanting what is best for me has His planned lay out in advance to bring benefit to me (whether or not I recognize it as such) to His glory.

Must. Have. Chocolate.

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Ok, here’s the deal. I love chocolate. I know I’m not alone. Usually any chocolate will do. Today is different. I don’t know why today is different. Maybe because it’s the middle of the week. Maybe because it is cold and snow is on the ground. Maybe it’s because I need to be scrubbing my house from top to bottom to get it on the market. It doesn’t matter why. It just is. Today alone I’ve eaten chocolate chips, Thin Mints, and M&M cookie dough. Nope. None will do. And then genius struck!

My awesome hubby brought home from work some day old french bread. People, I needed decadence. I needed carbs, chocolate and cream. Please don’t judge me on this: I toasted a slice of french bread. I softened about 1/4 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips and spread them on the toasted bread. As if that was not enough, I spread about 2 teaspoons of cream cheese over the chocolate. SATISFIED!

I probably should have taken a picture to show you, but I was far more focused on eating the yumminess than blogging about it. So, if you want to see it, you need to make it yourself. I can never do this again. I will have to strike this dessert from my memory or I will be 100 pounds heavier by February.

Unfortunately, it’s time to re-focus on the task at hand. Call me crazy, but eating chocolate is more fun that cleaning.