Sunday, January 30, 2011

Living a Simple, and Fruitful, Life

Dad, Jeff and I on Christmas, 2010!

Whoa...we are quickly realizing our February and March are jam packed with weekend visitors. Such an answer to my prayer (as noted here Tumultuous New Year) Beginning February 19, we have visitors through the second weekend in March! I feel really blessed because my Dad and Peter will be coming out for my dad's 60th birthday! Not only has the Lord blessed us with out-of-town visitors, I have felt really blessed by the lovely ladies in my small group.

Jeff and I have been really trying to lead a simple, organized life. It was initially put on my heart when reading Oswald Chambers "My Utmost for His Highest" on January 26. Ozzie was discussing how Christians have such a hard time maintaining the simplicity in their lives. I know I become SO wrapped up in my job, my goals, moving home, shoveling the snow, writing emails, reading books, church events, small group, making friends, cleaning my toilet.. I just CANNOT live a simple life. Ozzie uses Matthew 6:30, "If God so clothes the grass of the field.. how much more will he clothe you?" to highlight this idea of simplicity. If God clothes the grass of the field, how MUCH MORE will he clothe/provide for me?
As we were pondering this point, a few things came to mind:
  1. we have way too much stuff. not just jeff and i, in particular, but EVERYONE. we have too much furniture, too many boxes of old clothes, too many books, too many blankets, way too many dishes, too much house...
  2. in order to be simple, i need to lead an organized life. thus, i have put together a new schedule for myself so i can enjoy quality time with my husband and friends - and, more importantly - prioritize time with the Lord.
So, Jeff and I have committed to waking up about 10 minutes earlier than normal to have a short quiet time with the Lord. For me, personally, I also need at least 45 minutes 5x/week to exercise. I feel better, more rejuvenated, and energetic when I prioritize exercising. So, my daily schedule looks like this:
  • 640am: wake up, 10-15 minutes in prayer, journaling, reading the Word
  • 655-740am: breakfast, getting reading for the day, organizing dinner
  • 740am: leave for work (i also get to drive jeff to his subway stop)
  • 820-420: work! my schedule changes and is flexible, but generally, these are my hours
  • 445-530ish: work out
  • 53-630: make/eat dinner
  • 630-930: quality time with jeff (i go to bed early!)
  • 930/10pm: bedtime!
Of course, my schedule is flexible and changes on a weekly basis. For example, if a girlfriend wants to go out for dinner/coffee one evening, i try to schedule it on Monday or Tuesday so it doesn't interfere with my laundry/cleaning evenings...if it doesn't work, no big deal! I can clean/do laundry on a different night!

Also, I have been committed to doing laundry and cleaning our house mid-week, so I have more time for jeff and social things on the weekends. I do laundry on Wednesday nights and clean on Thursday nights.

Saturdays and Sundays are officially cleared for relaxing, sight seeing, date-nights and social time. Today, I got to spend the majority of my time doing this:
Time with the Lord, personal reading and a hot cup of tea (sweetened with Silk Soy Chocolate Milk!) (PS: Thanks to Neil Tambe for the Spirit of Detroit photo!)

In addition to scheduling my time, Jeff and I have also been committed to a budget (although we have never kept our "ideal" budget, we are close! we have been tweaking it since december to better fit our needs and financial goals.)
I really want this "simple" living to begin to transform the food we eat. Jeff and I love junk, fatty foods.. So I am slowly trying to learn how to make, and buy, more healthy choices. I haven't transitioned to organic yet, but i'm considering it! I know it's something I will want to do when we have children - it doesn't hurt to start now!

On a totally separate note, have you heard about how the East Coast has been DRENCHED with snow? It's true. It's funny that the winter I live in New York City we receive more snow than MICHIGAN (and have set some records!) Snow makes it harder for me to do my job -- traveling from house to house when I can't dig my car out, or when the bus and subway services are suspended, make it VERY difficult. Oh well, I have learned to graciously accept a snow day as a gift from the Lord :)

Jeff faithfully digging our car out of the snow. Happy snow day to us!

Happy first week of february, everyone!

Much Love.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011


jeff and i are sitting in our new apartment, enjoying a quiet night. he said, "whatcha doing? updating your blog? you haven't done that in awhile." eeek, i guess it's time :)

I've been learning a lot about expectations.... mostly in my relationships with friends, family and jeff. I've pretty much come to the conclusion that I am inept at communicating and often feel let down by people because I have expectations that have been unmet. More frequently than not, my (freakishly high) expectations were never communicated to people I love which results in major disappointment.

There's no way that Jeff can know that I expect him to take the garbage out if we never discussed our expectations about whose role it is to take it out. (I assume that he should take it out because I do the laundry and apartment cleaning....not the case.)

I cannot expect people I meet at church to be my go-to friends if I've never communicated my longing for friendship and if I've never considered that they may already be at their "friend-quota".

I cannot expect my friends that do not claim Christ, or who are not walking with Christ, to live their lives as I see fit. Unfair. They cannot be upheld to this standard I've set for myself.

(I know this is a really touchy subject but...)

I cannot preach about what the gospel says about issues like homosexuality or abortion, and expect to be persuasive, to people who are not christians. although I do believe the bible to be 100% truth, it will only damage a non-christian's heart and their perspective on christianity if i walk around pressing my standards on them.

i am 1/2 sleeping as i write this post.. i think i will cuddle up in bed with a book.

much love.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

tumultuous new year

"Going Home" Sara Groves
I’ve been feeling kind of restless
I’ve been feeling out of place

I can hear a distant singing

A song that I can’t write

And it echoes of what I’m always trying to say

There’s a feeling I can’t capture

It’s always just a prayer away

I want to know the ending

Things hoped for but not seen
But I guess that’s the point of hoping anyway

Of going home, I’ll meet you at the table
Going home, I’ll meet you in the air
And you are never too young to think about it

Oh, I cannot wait to be home

I’m confined by my senses
To really know what you are like
You are more than I can fathom
And more than I can guess
And more than I can see with you in sight

But I have felt you with my spirit

I have felt you fill this room

And this is just an invitation
Just a sample of the whole
And I cannot wait to be going home

Going home, I’ll meet you at the table

Going home, I’ll meet you in the air

And you are never too young to think about it

Oh, I cannot wait to be going, to be going home

Face to face, how can it be
Face to face, how can it be
Face to face, how can it be

Cuz this is just an invitation

Just a sample of the whole

And I cannot wait to be going home

I think I've been avoiding writing about the past 3 weeks because I'm not done processing them. I still feel some sense of anxiety and worry - although I can't quite figure out if it's from a new work schedule or residual effects of our move last week.

Move. Yes, I said it -- we moved again. I've been in New York City for one year and have already moved three times: Grosse Pointe to NYC; NYC to Brooklyn; and now, only a few blocks away, we have moved again in Brooklyn. God has really been testing my longing for the perfect, earthly home. As Jeff and I have been discussing the past two weeks, I'm beginning to learn that a "home" in suburbia has quickly become an idol of mine. Not only do I long for a home in Michigan near my family, but I long for a comfortable, washer/dryer-in-unit, nightstand, painted walls, backyard, nice school district, 2 car garage, PERMANENT home. Yes, the girl who has preached about living in the hood amongst the poor secretely wants a white, middle-upper class, 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom, safe home. Maybe Sara Groves has it right -- what I'm really longing for is my home in heaven...maybe nothing on this earth will satisfy my desire for home.

Jeff and I thought we found a good balance of our hood-loving-yet-trendy-safe-apartment-with-character in September. We soon realized it was missing two essential elements: heat and hot water. Along with the annoyance of daily cold showers, we also had a landlord that didn't find it necessary to spend time or money on fixing the hot water heater. After 15+ visits from our super and landlord, privately hiring (and paying) for a hot water company, a few "heated" arguments between Jeff and our landlord, we finally came to the realization that we had to leave...ASAP Unfortunately, this decision came 3 nights before we were to leave for Michigan

Although our landlord verbally agreed to let us out of our lease and give us our security deposit and last month's rent back, we really wanted something in writing, to assure us. There were many false promises previously made, so Jeff wrote a "Recession of Lease" document that included all terms previously discussed and agreed upon. Our landlord initially said we could have until January 15 to move out, but moved it to January 1. Nonetheless, he did not tell us that we had to move out on January 1 until we had already left for Michigan and had NO boxes packed. Although he also promised he would return the "Recession of Lease" agreement before we left, he NEVER returned it. Alas, we ended up leaving for Michigan with no closure, no place to live and not sure if our landlord would actually follow through with his promises.

To say the least, the holidays at home were very stressful. Looking for a new apartment from Michigan, over-night mailing documents to the new leasing company and, yet, really wanting to just spend quality time with my family...We did eventually go CSI on our landlord and recorded a phone call with him in which he agreed to the recession of lease terms.
Throughout our trip, I consistently heard God whisper to me, "Laura, do you trust me? I have you and I have always have had you." I kept responding with, "LORD! ALL I WANT IS A HOME! WHY IS THIS SO STRESSFUL!!?!?" While we were looking for an apartment, we considered moving back to Michigan for one, hot second. Unfortunately, Jeff and I are big planners and thought it would be careless to quit our jobs on a whim. It looks like we will be in new york until january of 2012. yuck.

All in all, God has been so faithful. We found a home and moved within two days of returning to new york. The Lord opened so many doors to allow the paperwork to be quickly processed despite the big snow storm. we had one friend, alfredo, that was so dedicated to us, our family and friendship. He spent the night with us and helped us move into our new place.

on a sidenote: good friends like alfredo really make me long for my girlfriends at home. is it too much to ask for a friend who will be there within a drop-of-a-hat to help me move, have coffee with me or just hang out? maybe i haven't found any of those girlfriends here because god is protecting my heart. it's painful to be away from my dear friends in michigan.

friends like this:

and this....

and her....

and, most importantly, HER

sorry for the novel you just read... as i said, i'm still processing...

much love