From the ashes of disaster bloom the roses of success

Now that I'm optimistically quoting Dick Van Dyke movies, let's just get to the point:

I think I'm supposed to wait.

I've obtained and filled out two retail job applications and I've researched volunteering at Duke and Rex hospitals. And I'm just not sure I want to go forward with either of them. There are scores of pluses and minuses for each option, but I won't bore you with those gory details. I must admit, I'm hearing the echo of my own voice, "you've got to do something while you figure out what to do", but I'm not really getting the go ahead from the man upstairs. I was told to get into the River and wait there for further instructions. I'm not about to complicate things by taking matters into my own hands. At church on Sunday, one of the preachers, (there were two, more on that later), talked about the hostile opposition of our society towards free time (those weren't his exact words, but I'm paraphrasing). We become human-doings instead of human beings. And I'm wondering if the Lord hasn't given me this time to press into him and just enjoy this sliver of a moment in my life. It's difficult to ascertain, though, because even as I write these words, I feel the judgement of eating "the bread of idleness" clanging down on my head. I rebuke you, in Jesus' Name. I'm not saying being at home all day is all it's cracked up to be, but it is what you make it. I'm not whittling for myself an excuse for laziness. I'm not even saying that I don't do something every day to push forward with getting a nursing job. I'm just saying that I'm questioning running out to find something to fill my time with. In this schedule stocked stressed out society, should I follow suit and sign up for active duty at the mall? I don't know. Not no, per se. But not yes, yet.

So why the Chitty Chitty Bang Bang reference? Because a little self-help never hurt anyone. In the movie, Grandpa Potts is in the dungeon of the castle of Baron Bomburst of Vulgaria, a place where children are forbidden (the Baroness hates kids, apparently). The Baron thinks that Grandpa Potts is the inventor, which is actually his son, Caractacus Potts (Dick Van Dyke). The Baron wants Grandpa Potts to make his car fly, just like Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (their car). The helpers in the dungeon/workshop are all old men, because they've been there foooooooorreeeeeeevvver. And they do their song and dance called "Roses of Success", a song that cites Pasteur, Edison, and Bell as major failures before their dazzling successes. It's a feel-good song, (hey, it's a kid's musical), but the take-home message is important: to keep trying in the face of failure.
"There's more to come: we continue to shout our praise even when we're hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. In alert expectancy such as this, we're never left feeling shortchanged. Quite the contrary--we can't round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit." Romans 5:3-5 The Message

Passionate patience. Active waiting. Compelled perseverance. Tempered steel of virtue, comin' right up. There is nothing "sit-on-the-couch-y" about those words. And for the record, why do we so many, many times (myself included) lump praying for something or about something into doing nothing. Isn't praying doing something? The best something you can do?? Reality check, MG. And I'm putting my soap box away now.

So, the last few days have been pretty uneventful, other than procuring the said job applications and researching the aforementioned volunteering opportunities. That, and talking with the Lord a lot. As Forest Gump says, God's first name must be Andy. "Andy walks with me, Andy talks with me, Andy tells me I am his own". We've finally washed all of our sheets and towels and blankets to get that "store" smell out of them. We've decided on a dinner menu for the rest of the week--Santa Fe Corn and Bean soup in the slow cooker, BBQ chicken and asparagus, fajitas, and more! And when I say "we" I mean me. I've probably got the most agreeable husband on the planet when it comes to food. We finally found a good sushi restaurant nearby on Monday night--nothing to top 356, Nami, or Umi--but it was quite delicious. And they had buy one get one free deals, which was pretty clutch. And by clutch I mean I WAS REALLY FULL. Mmmmmm. :)

Praises: Noah and Melody are safely in NYC and have jobs (hooray!), Andrew got a job as a Physics TA that will pay tuition and then some--i.e. no debt for us!, Jennigray and Chris are moving to Flahrida (back to the Southeast, baby!), and we may have found a church already! Thank you, Lord.

"Grow the roses! those rosy roses! From the ashes of disaster grow the roses of success!"


Five second rule, and for some reason, this thing won't let me skip lines. ???

So, I know it hasn't been that long, but I got the blogging itch, so here I am again. The happenings of late are not much to write home--or anywhere--about, but I just think a quick recap will do us all some good.

Wednesday night was date night -->.
Andrew and I went to PF Chang's. We got lettuce wraps--delectable--, crispy green beans--que rica!--and orange chicken with brown rice--delicious. It was so great to be on a date with my husband. (Still weird saying that, FYI). But, we discussed the fact, nay, the delightful discovery, that our dates have taken on a different quality since we've gotten married. We have permission to dream aloud, so to speak. There is comfort in the commitment.
According to my workout log, I've walked 12.5 miles this week, Monday-Saturday. Every morning after coffee, Smartstart cereal, and a little Bible action, I trek down to the "gym" at the clubhouse. And then I trek back home to clean up, shower, and figure out what to do for the day. In light of my disengagement with, well, everything, I've taken quite a few trips to Barnes & Noble this week. Two to browse, one to pick up a world map, and another one to take back the US map that I thought was a world map. Today was the map-take-back day, and boy, was it slammed! I guess I underestimated the population of the area and the draw of the Streets at Southpoint, but there were so many people there today. It was all I could do to slide that map across the counter and get the heck out of dodge.
On Thursday evening, Andrew and I had the immense pleasure of hosting my middle/high school gal pal, Abby, for dinner. What a treat to see a familiar face, even one from many moons ago. Abby and I were BFF in middle school, and close friends in high school where we worked on the BEST student newspaper in the whole of America, The Tribal Tribune. Abby was high up in the ranks, I was a page designer and column writer. And by that, I mean Kelly and I screwed around the whole time. I mostly tried to be Martha Stewart and push recipes or pumpkin carving patterns, but apparently, the paper was trying to emit a more serious vibe.
Tonight we will probably watch The Count of Monte Cristo, courtesy of the Red, White and Blue--just kidding, no more Toby Keith references, I promise--courtesy of Netflix (hooray!), originally a novel by Alexandre Dumas about undying love, nasty betrayal, and calculated revenge. Edmond Dantes is played by the same dude who played Jesus Christ in Mel Gibson's The Passion : Jim Caviezel. Makes total sense. They both get betrayed by a friend and give their lives for love. Yeah, yeah, I'm stretching it. Anyhoo, I'm excited. The novel is fantastic, too--if you haven't read it, you should.
If the movie thing is a bust, maybe we'll just pull the plug on a bottle of vino and figure out how the vacuum cleaner works. I know what my vote is. ;)


Dolla dolla bill, y'all

Ahem. Let me just push up my horn rimmed glasses and straighten my pocket protector before I get started: I studied my critical care book today. After three months of silence on the homework/exam front, I decided to stretch my mental faculties by cracking open the fabled textbook and brushing up on some critical illnesses. Delightful. It actually made me feel like a bonafide nurse again. Now. If only I could get a job that would soar above and beyond what I can learn in that book. It's a hard row to hoe, unemployment. I'm no farmer; I lack any type of green appendage. So I'll keep fertilizing, yanking out rocks, and watering, watering, watering until harvest time.

I've cleaned, straightened, organized and re-organized, worked out, checked job statuses, applied for new positions, planned meals, tried on my clothes (it's almost like shopping, except not), painted my toes a collegiate Cajun Shrimp and truthfully, I got bored. So, I actually ventured out of the comfort of my apartment, today--superconscious of my lack of a sense of direction and my South Carolina license plate. One I remedied with my GPS, the other I chalked up as payback for giving tourists in Charleston a hard time. I made it as far as the Southpoint Mall where I discovered myriad stores very much to my liking. Among them, Anthropology, Nordstrom, and (sigh) Barnes & Noble. My home away from home. Something about a Barnes & Noble--the smell, the books--gives me comfort. Maybe it's because anywhere, everywhere Barnes & Noble is, it never changes. The people perusing the shelves of books and magazines change and the queue in front of the Starbucks cafe might parade different looking people, but it's all basically the same. And I like it. Change is good--great--but don't change my Barnes & Noble. I sought greeting cards and Rosetta Stone Spanish, and much to my dismay the price tag on the latter boasted an arm and a leg, two body parts I'm very fond of. I've decided to go ahead and tackle the speaking Spanish dream, if it means I have to teach myself. I'm just not prepared to sell my first born to do it. So, we're still on the hunt for a well priced and worth it teaching tool.

This past weekend Andrew and I drove his truck to Hendersonville to get fixed by apparently the best fix-it man in the southeast--Ronnie. A broken air-conditioner is no laughing matter in the summertime. Too bad we couldn't have collected our perspiration and traded it for parts and labor because we sweated the whole four hours and 250 miles there. We dropped the truck off and wound our way around the mountain to the Davidson River campground where Andrew's family and then some were camped. It made me miss my family and the good ol' days. We passed the Fish Camp and Dolly's--two Cove Creek staples--ever-present in my childhood memories. Gosh, we had it good. My sister and I actually made sticky note count downs until Cove Creek camping weekend, beginning days before school even let out for the summer. We would use one sticky note for one week and tear it into 7 approximately equal parts, the idea being to tear each tab off as the day passed. It was thrilling to watch the yellow papers stuck to our bathroom mirrors dwindle to just a few tabs; our excitement heightened with every passing week, every sticky note in the trash. And finally, Mama and Daddy would pull out the camper and get our boxes down from the attic: time to pack. Joy, rapture! Nothing could elicit such giddiness like a small rectangular cardboard box stocked first with a bathing suit, jean shorts and economy sized trash bags. It's the simple things, y'all.

For tonight, it's leftover spaghetti in light of date night tomorrow (woohoo!). I don't know where we're going or what we're doing and frankly, I don't care. As long as I get some face-time with my husband, I'm good.

Until next time.


I got lots of pictures in my head--you better not turn off the projector! [hoo!]

Our moving van stuffed like a Thanksgiving turkey!

Dun dun dun...

Empty. Just us.

The grand hall of the front entrance.

Living room complete with couch monkey. ;)
The other side of the living room.

And over to the kitchen/dining area.
Our dining room. The kitchen table is an old library table. It actually had gum underneath it that I had to scrape off when my dad and I were refinishing it. In 50 years, kids in the library are still the same.
The kitchen. Chocolate chip pound cake cooling on the stove. Like I said--had to break in the mixer.
The other side of the kitchen. Mixer resting after a hard day's work.
Delectable beef stew--not exactly a summer dish (we did have to let it cool from it's boiling lava hot to just really hot before we ate it). But we also had to break in the crock pot. So there you go.
Tea time!! If you look closely, you can see Jennigray, Jamie, Danielle and Stephanie.
The bathroom. No cabinet space, hence the baker's rack.
Bookshelf in our room, as well as our iron gym. I may have failed P90X but I can do five pull ups. Beat that, Tony Horton. Wait. He probably can.
Closet. So full. I don't want to talk about it.
The "office".
New bed! No crack! Hooray!

And last but not least, our back porch.

I can't claim that I have any sort of faint idea or CLUE when it comes to putting pictures and captions on this thing. I don't know if it's my awesome Clemson recommended five year old computer, or if it's me. Either way, it's pretty elementary. My apologies. Also, I forgot to add a picture of our epic washroom/storeroom/pantry. We have little to no cabinet space so we had to purchase a ginormo baker's rack to accommodate our food and laundry accoutrements, as well as store all of our storage bins (ain't that a biscuit).

Welp, there's that.


Death to the status quo

We're here!!! In Chapel Hill, that is. We bid a tearful goodbye to my parents and Charleston on Friday and tooled up the interstate to North Carolina. Mike and Beckie helped us move all of our boxes and boxes and bags and furniture into the apartment and stayed to help us bring some order to the chaos. The craziness is by no means over, but we're getting there. Our new apartment is becoming home and Andrew and I are becoming a family. Everything. is. different. We decided that pretty much we've just now gotten married. The past two months we've just been allowed and encouraged to have sex. (Yep, I said it.) All of a sudden, we're sharing a closet, a bathroom (scream), a kitchen, and everything else in between. All of our belongings are jumbled together--no more having to remember which stuff is mine in order to pack up at the end of the year--we even did our first load of mixed up laundry today. Amazing, I know. Also, we've already accidentally set off the security alarm on the apartment, signed up for Netflix (kudos to Melody and Noah for that) and been to one of our long list of must-see churches. We went grocery shopping together and cooked dinner together for the first time. What did we have, you ask? Why, Greek chicken and curried cous cous! A food so good they named it twice.

One thing I did notice, however, is that we have a lot of stuff. Stuff we "need" and stuff we don't need. And as we were putting everything in it's place these last few days, I realized that just because all of our stuff is here, doesn't mean it's home yet. And then I cried. I know it takes getting used to, a new home and all, but it's still hard to believe sometimes. That whole "my people will be your people and my God will be your God" thing that Ruth threw down was no joke. Home is where my husband is. And that might be on the dadgum moon, but you can bet your sweet tokus I will be there.

One thing my sage mother-in-law asked me during our unpacking frenzy, (I'm sure this was during the 5 hour trip to Lowe's Andrew and Mike took), was about my "five year dream". What do I want to have accomplished in five years? Where do I see myself? A tough, but good question. It's scary to put those things out in space anyway, much less on the internet, but what is trust if not bold and daring? I want to have gone to graduate school and have a better handle on where my nursing career is going. I want to be fluent in Spanish. I want to be able to play the piano--not necessarily to wear a fancy, tulle infused dress and play in a Miss America pageant (that dream is shot for obvious reasons)--but to play for myself and my family. I want to be thinking about kids in five years--maybe. I want to be doing yoga weekly. I want to be able to cook delightful meals without using a recipe. I want to still be able to zip up my wedding dress. I want to have grown in my relationship with the Lord and in my knowledge and love for Him. I want to be able to say that the last five years were not spent waiting on the Lord to use me, but were spent being used. All this and so much more. Call me an idealist, but what is our God, if not ideal?

Andrew is at a men's small group this evening with David Goodman and I am in our cool, quiet apartment watching the healthcare hubbub on CNN. Pictures of our little hovel will be up as soon as I can figure out why my camera has decided to go on strike. I'm hoping to bust out the Kitchenaid mixer soon and make a pound cake (that's what the hubster has requested). Probably won't help the wedding dress zipping situation.



So many thoughts that the tips of my fingers cannot express at present. Tomorrow is moving day. An ambiguous day that has been popping up in my and Andrew's vocabulary for the last two months. A reality, a bittersweet reality.

Last night Andrew and I spent a few hours with the Simonis family, eating homemade pizza and marveling at God's handiwork in baby Luke. As Todd and Elizabeth prayed so many blessings and prophecies over us, one thing Todd prayed stuck with me--that patience is a sign of trust, and trust a sign of relationship. I don't really feel like this is the "ultimate test" in patience and trust for us, but rather it's setting us up for the next time when patience and trust will be needed in greater measure. Not that this is easy, by any means--it's very hard actually. Baby steps--wobbly, head-bobbing, Daddy-holding-your-hands baby steps. And it's a tangible season of our lives in our relationship with Christ. Touch, touch, touch.

This summer, my immediate family has literally been crunched up all in our house. It doesn't seem crowded when you're a kid, but when you're all adults, and you're all there [plus two spouses], one person can't sneeze without the other catching a cold. It has been the most cursed blessing, or the most blessed curse. We have gotten to know one another better, laughed, fought, cried, forgiven, laughed some more and learned more than we ever wanted to know about each other's gifts, short-comings, hobbies, habits, hobnobbing and loblollying. [Those last two aren't really words, I don't think, but I couldn't think of two more adjectives]. HAHA--wait, I just looked them up on Dictionary.com--Hobnobbing: to associate on very friendly terms; to drink together. Loblolly: a mire, mud hole; a very thick gruel. Yep, so basically our summer together has been as gruel-y as a mud hole and as sweeeeet as a friendly drink. I can't say that I loved every single moment of it, [there's a reason for that "leave and cleave" clause] but I hope I didn't take it for granted. Family is family. And I would give any of them one of my $160,000 kidneys if they needed it.

For now, everything's in boxes--my whole life--something about moving makes a person want to downsize. Goodwill has found the pot at the end of the rainbow this summer just from the things we've gotten rid of. My childhood bedroom is a different color, with different furniture in it and an almost empty closet. Mom and Pop Armstrong are on their way with our moving truck, as Noah and Melody's U-Haul sits stuffed to the gills in our driveway. Everything changes, nothing stays the same.

As sad as I am to leave home, I am just as excited about this adventure of not knowing, and not knowing with the love of my life by my side. There are people in Chapel Hill that we are going to love, dearly love, that we have yet to meet. There is a church body that we are going to serve in. A home we will inhabit. A God who is bigger than having no friends and being practically crippled without a GPS. Bigger than the bureaucracy of the nursing employment world. The same God who called Abram out of his comfortable life to give him a new name, a new home, and a covenant [Genesis 17]. Sounds like marriage to me!

My next post will be from my new nest. Until then, sayonara, a rrivederci, a revoir, adios amigos!


Fun-strating: (noun) "Golly, dealing with car problems with my best friends sure was fun-strating!"

I can't believe it's August third. What changes a year can bring. This weekend, starting with Thursday evening, was slam jammed with chaos and fun-strating activities. Fun-strating? yes, I made that word up. I believe the proper definition is when your activities are less than optimal, but the people you are with are amusing and fun to be with, and you really don't have anything better to do, but you might possibly rather be doing something else. Watch for it on the SAT.

As in the aforementioned post, Thursday night a gaggle of us went out to Riveroaks to see Jennigray and celebrate her birthday for just a few hours in-between final destinations. So short, it was practically a layover. We had delicious cupcakes from Cupcake and big glasses of milk and sat around the kitchen table giving updates on our very different, and very intertwined lives. We left around two o'clock--so tired, but refreshed and happy.

Friday, I do not remember very well. Must have been a sugar hang-over.

Saturday, Meghan and Ruthie and I drove down (or over?) to McDonough, Georgia for Ben and Jenn's wedding. After scouring the roads for a Chic-fil-a and finding ourselves successful, we rolled into town around four o'clock to the "ring-ring" of my cell-phone with Andrew on the other end telling me that Dane's car was broken down on the side of the road. Three hours and some major scrambling later, we were sitting in the white wooden chairs at the outdoor wedding, listening to the rumble of thunder in the distance, and praying that the rain would hold off. A few people felt drops. Everyone eyed their neighbor, not knowing protocol on who gets up first in the event of a downpour at a wedding. We stayed glued to our seats with our shiny orange and pink programs shielding our hair and faces from the ever-increasing drip, drip, drops of rain. Andrew played two Shane & Shane songs in the drizzle. Enter mothers, grandmothers, groomsmen and bridesmaids. It's now raining, frankly raining. The bride and her father walked down the aisle strewn with pink rose petals in a pretty convincing downpour. She reached her groom, the pastor prayed, the rain stopped. And God is good.

The rest of the weekend we dealt with Dane's Jetta's clutch failure and Duane the tow truck driver. We drove home in Stella Dijon, the Avalon, all five of us packed in like sardines in my so-called--and so cool--luxury vehicle. I got home in the rain, again, and headed back out to meet Jenni and Brittany for supper. A last hurrah with some of my favorites before the move.

Today was a delightful day of trying to burn off the hot dogs, pizza, chocolate covered bon-bons and other delectable self-esteem killers from this weekend. Andrew and I walked the I'On trail--50 minutes of mosquitoes and dripping sweat. Yum. I cleaned my bathroom and spackled nail holes in my room, ready to erase forever the lime-green of my high school neon obsession. Back to eggshell for me.

Some praise: Ben and Jenn got married, Andrew got in-state NC tuition for grad-school, I got a call from my Duke contact about a possible job. Possible is good. Better than impossible. Thank you Lord.

The rest of the week will no doubt be filled with packing, organizing, down-sizing, upgrading, moving out, moving in, and moving on. Time to roll up our sleeves and get to work.