Tuesday, October 21, 2014

recently read for october 2014

Books are one of my favorite things to write about, but it has been a long time since my last post on what I've read. Dax doesn't exactly nap enough for me to get a whole lot of reading in these days, but I try. Here's what I've finished in the last eight months ...

Praying Through Your Pregnancy
By Jennifer Polimino and Carolyn Warren
Loved reading a chapter for each week of my pregnancy! Awesome prayers. Great book.

The Gifts of Imperfection
By Brene Brown
Brene Brown's TED talk on vulnerability is fantastic, and that is what prompted me to want to read her books. A bit too touchy-feely at first. Not saying that's a bad thing, but it was hard for me to concentrate and really get into her style of writing. And then ... I did. AND I LOVED IT. One of my all-time favorite reads!

Praying Circles Around Your Children
By Mark Batterson
Quick. Packs a punch. I took away one specific prayer that I continue to pray over Dax daily.

The Nesting Place
By Myquillyn Smith
I want to gift this book to every woman that I know. Her perspective is so freeing and inspiring. It frees you up to decorate however you want to, and to just do it. Try things. Go for it. This book definitely got my creative juices flowing. I want to be friends with Myquillyn. Her biggest statement: it doesn't have to be perfect to be beautiful. (Can everyone please get on board with this? Love it.)

A Million Little Ways
By Emily Freeman
A divine read. Another one that got my creative juices flowing, as Emily encourages readers to see the beauty and creativity in almost everything. I'd like to be friends with Emily too. (She and Myquillyn are sisters!)

Me Before You
By Jojo Moyes
Stayed up way too late finishing this book the other night, because I could not put it down. (I love when you get to that part in a book, and you know you're not going to sleep until you finish!) Story about a girl in her twenties who needs a job, takes one as a caregiver for a quadriplegic, and finds out a secret that changes everything. (Hint: the secret ties in well with the current media storm over assisted suicide.)

What about you, friends ... finish reading anything great lately? 
(Any mediocre or terrible reads would be good to alert me about too.)

Monday, October 20, 2014


i read this sign in a shop - the kind so cute that you wish you could buy everything, but leave with nothing because it's all too expensive. (or you're too cheap and too broke. either or.) i had never thought about it like that, but that statement is SO TRUE. good conversation, with a good drink on top of that, leaves me feeling incredibly refreshed. 


my experiences with traditional therapy are brief. i had to go after my parents got divorced - or maybe it was before, my timeline is sketchy. (my family would probably pipe in that my timeline isn't the only thing sketchy about me or my memory, but that's neither here nor there.) and again one time right before my mom and stepdad got married. i don't even know if it was technically called therapy, or just "counseling." is there a difference?

the first time, i remember my brother and i being in a room with pretty good toys, and the movie "all dogs go to heaven" was playing on a small TV. my brother was not interested in playing, and told me there were people watching us. this baffled me. WHAT? WHY? i don't think that was true, but as usual i listened to him and stopped trying to talk to him, and just watched the movie. i don't remember anything from the part where we were actually in a room talking to an adult. 

fast forward to fifth grade, and again it's my brother and i in a small room, sitting on a couch. this time to talk about blended families. i did not want to be there. the counselor (bless) was too peppy - or i was too sassy - and i was NOT about to talk to this joker. 

i fiddled with my watch and he commented on that, which perturbed me. he talked about his kids - whose parents were not divorced or remarried so i failed to see the connection. none of his attempts at conversation led to anything that left any positive impression on me. after that we had to go back in with my four stepsiblings for more banter. we all devoured mcdonalds immediately afterward. all of us. probably the first and last time we all had fast food together, because my stepdad and mom are amazing cooks and all of us are foodies because of it.


life is crazy and so are people, and therapy is crazy expensive and not necessarily always the way to go ... so i think that requires knowing yourself well enough to incorporate whatever is therapeutic for you into your daily life.

for me, it's definitely good conversation with friends. whether over a cup of chai, or on a walk, or at a dinner party. exercise. running outside. shopping. a great song, movie, or book. exploring or going on little (or big) adventures. being outside. being alone. being with people. cafes and bookstores. beauty in flowers, gardens, and nature. yoga. massages. worship music and singing. writing.

yard saling has been my latest therapy ... love language ... cheap thrill, if you will. i tried in columbus, but the yard saling scene there just was not what it is in lancaster. this place is an oasis of second-hand goodness and frugality! i am tickled whenever i find something great, and i love the challenge of making a house a home on a dime. it probably would be fun to decorate with a limitless budget, but it's easy to convince myself that it really wouldn't be as much fun as it is to have to search for treasures and improvise and be creative. creativity is definitely a joy-giver for me.

this morning i had to scrape frost off my windshield and was reminded that winter is coming, and i'm not excited for that. bye bye sunshine and yard sale therapy, hello ... hmm ... hopefully getting addicted to exercise again. 

so what gets you through winter? and life?

Friday, October 3, 2014

stories that bring perspective on marriage/life

"I don't know how you're going to face God at the end and say, "You put us together, and what we decided to do with our marriage was get comfortable."

Whoa. Definitely worth watching for some fresh perspective. 

Mental notes for later/what else stuck out to me ...

- If you individually desire to settle down, then together you'll doubly settle down ... but if you individually desire to serve the kingdom, then you'll double that impact.
- Sometimes Satan whispers in your ear when things are hard: 'Your friends are in Jamaica, looking in each other's eyes and relaxing ... what did you get yourself into?'
- Following God often includes doing a lot of the same mundane things over and over. 

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

yay yay yay!

we are finally in our own place in PA and finally have internet … yay, yay, YAY!

it was a rough transition, but i am starting to feel settled and definitely loving being back.

still praying for JOBS for lance and i, because it is no fun having no income (eek) … and also for "mom friends." my friends in GA laugh at this, but that's because there is such a strong community of fun moms to connect with there.

my "attempts" have included going to the stroller group here … but that was a flop. super nice people, but the group was more of a walk through the park and sing songs to the kids while you work out. the stroller strong moms group i was part of in GA was more of a run and do tough workouts and listen to music, instead of sing nursery rhymes. just different. for awhile i was running at different parks, but i would NEVER see any other moms running with strollers?!

i joined a gym now, but i'm doubtful about making connections there. (if i write that i will make a lifelong friend or something, right?) yesterday i tried to go to a class, but we got there late and halfway through it the childcare people came to get me because dax was "not happy." blah. it's hard for me to go with the flow as a mom. like hey dax, i just wanted to work out. so just sleep. at night. for naps. whenever. you always feel better when you do, okay?

i thought joining MOPS/moms group at church would be a really easy way to make mom friends, but apparently that is everyone's plan … the childcare is already filled up, and i'm not paying $50 to join it without childcare. who knew these things were such hot tickets?!

all of that to say, in our wait for jobs … and my wait for friends … i am trying to stay positive and focus on all that God has already done.

i'm reading "the prayer that changes everything" by stormie omartian (love her) and it's helping me to keep my perspective on PRAISE. she walks you through her own life and scripture to get you in the habit of turning everything into PRAISE. putting it into practice is so refreshing.

so i keep praising God for providing us with an AWESOME place to live. house/apartment hunting was taxing! there were times i though we wouldn't find anything or we'd end up in a miserable dump. but we found a place in a great location with great landlords and rent. it has more space than we were expecting to find for our price range, and lance is thrilled to have an unfinished basement where he can work out. so many wins!! thank you God for caring about the details and meeting our need.

something lance and i have different attitudes about is God in the little things. as in: i pray for parking spaces, and he says God is more into the big picture. but the little things make a big difference for me, and it's hard for me to not think God is in them. sometimes if i focus on the big picture i feel defeated. maybe i'm actually focusing on the "medium" picture when i feel that way, because in the BIG picture i am created and loved and saved by an amazing God with a limitless supply to meet all my need.

EITHER WAY, the little things make me happy ...

  • on sunday i won the flowers they were giving away in our new small group at church. (after initially remarking how beautiful they were.)
  • on monday i won a giveaway from my friends business for cookies. (lactation cookies to be exact, but a cookie is a cookie and i am pumped. i feel weird using pumped for that sentence. i am thrilled?)
  • we found a chair for sale along the side of the road, and it was just what i'd been wanting. the lady said she had JUST put it outside. that is one of those things i would have previously said, "that never happens to me!" (never say never.)
  • yard saling has been so good to me since being back in lancaster. i keep finding things i am looking for - woohoo! bargain shopping really is addicting … after a few yard saling and thrifting finds, it is hard to even pay target prices, let alone truly expensive prices. 
  • when i stopped to buy flowers for 10 cents, the lady threw in extras for free. and the same thing happened when i bought sweet corn elsewhere. LOVE that!
  • when i am running (and therefore struggling somewhat, because it's hard getting back in shape post-baby and i'm also not into a habit/schedule yet) there have been so many strangers complimenting me and cheering me on. i feel silly and even vain writing that, but it gives me that extra push to keep running when ladies see me and give me positive encouragement on the road or at the park. they must know. :) sisterhood. always give that cheerful word - it makes a difference!

"Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you. I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands. My soul will be satisfied as with the richest of foods; with singing lips my mouth will praise you." [Psalm 63:3-5]

Thursday, July 3, 2014

paddle board yoga on the chattahoochee river

sometimes there are things you've always dreamed of doing or had on your "life list", and other times things come along that you have never even thought of … and they still feels like a dream come true.

stand up paddle board yoga was like that for me. i never even knew it was a thing until my friend madison posted pictures of it. last night i tried it for the first time, and it was so much fun! it felt like a vacation. we took our class at sunset on the river - absolutely beautiful. at first i was terrified to stand up and paddle around, but paddling around ended up being easier than standing up and standing still on the board without a paddle. (we anchored our boards and tied our paddles to the anchor for the class.)

the first fifteen minutes or so i was terrified. madison said, "well at least if you fall it's just into water." very true. very logical. and a very positive and grounded way to think. but i was busy fielding rapid-fire thoughts in my brain like: "was that a snapping turtle sticking its head out of the water? what if i hit my head on a rock? i wonder if there really are crocodiles in the chattahoochee? which way will i go if a crocodile shows up? what if i get sucked out of this calm inlet to the rapids? i'm not a strong swimmer. why am i doing this? how is everyone else making this look so easy? why am i the only one whose legs are shaking? what was i thinking trying this so soon after having a baby, my core is still weak. i wish there weren't so many onlookers …"

the first few poses and attempts at standing up i was seriously so scared i was doing my mental chant of "thank you Jesus" and variations of "I can do everything through Christ who strengthens me" because that is just what works for me, as crazy as it may sound. i am a big believer in taking risks and doing things that scare you.

the good news is after the initial fears passed, i relaxed and had a great time. we all fell in a few times. the water felt great. we laughed a lot. it wasn't hard to get back up onto the board like i was afraid it might be. and afterward my other friends were talking about how their legs were shaking too. guess that's like most of life - we think it's just us, but it's never just us.

if it was free, i would seriously do this every day. great workout + fun + relaxing + nothing refreshes me more than time outside, especially being on (or near) water. at the end we just laid on our boards for a few minutes. we were supposed to close our eyes for the closing sequence, but no way jose ... i was enjoying the gorgeous sky, eyes wide open. ;) if you ever get the chance to try it, go for it!


{rachel in the water, madison in the middle, and me. i must have been tensing up my shoulders and neck, because my neck is sore/tight today, whoops.}

 {sweet friends i am going to miss! madison is from utah and rachel is from texas, and their husbands are in ranger regiment too. thank you lance for being an AMAZING dad and husband and giving me a fun night out!!!}

{source: pinterest}

Tuesday, July 1, 2014


i find it easier to write about people who aren't on the internet. that way i am not intimidated by the thought of them reading it or misinterpreting it when they do. it probably shouldn't be that way, but writing usually works better when i don't filter.

so, for instance,  it's easier to write about my dad, because he "doesn't do computers." and i've been thinking about his friend karl, because he doesn't do computers (as far as i know) and he is a character like my dad - which is probably also what makes writing about them so easy.

karl makes me smile. he is the only karl with a k (not a c) that i know. he loves hunting and fishing and smoking cigarettes. he has a medium build with tan skin, brown hair, and a mustache. he wore a cartoon tie and brought a disposable camera to my wedding to snap picture of me and my dad. i wasn't even sure they still made disposable cameras in 2013.

his voice has its own drawl to it - the kind you could easily pick out if you had to. when i was dating lance and i saw karl one time, he said, "chelsea, i heard ya got a steady!" um yeah, yeah i guess i do? i'm not sure how to respond to that, but thank you for allowing me to feel like i'm living in the 1950s that i paint so dreamily in my mind for a moment.

one of my earliest memories of karl is waiting for  him to clean out the backseat of his car so my brother and i could ride in the back on the way to go hiking. something had a ketchup stain on it and he said, "damn it, that's not gonna come out. oh i mean darn it. you didn't hear me say that, did you?"

karl is one of the kindest people i've ever known. he picks up hitchhikers, lets people stay at his house if they're down on their luck, and is quick to give money to people in need.

my dad says that karl is probably the hardest working person he knows. if you ever need a tree to be cut down, call karl. "boy, he has a gift. karl can make a tree fall exactly where he wants it to." i am laughing as i write that. my dad is fantastic at acknowledging other people's gifts. he says that one of his roommates is "a genius with a telephone." here i am laughing again, because what does that even mean? more than he can operate a telephone and make calls my dad doesn't feel like making. but to hear my dad talk about it you would think that guy has set olympic records.

but karl is your guy if you ever need a tree cut down. he has had several jobs and maybe he got fired sometimes, but he would always get right back out there and find another. he never gives up.

when karl worked at cactus willie's, a buffet with made-to-order steaks, we tried to visit him at work with my dad. i say try, because i don't actually remember that we ever ate there at a time when karl was working. i think my dad had just found a convenient excuse to eat at a steak buffet as much as he wanted to and took advantage of that.

i pretend gag when i think of cactus willie's now, because i have adopted my mom's disdain for buffets and smorgasbords. why stuff your face with rows of mediocre (at best) food, when you could order one sensible portion of deliciousness at a nicer restaurant? if that's not enough to convince a person not to like buffets, i think what happened to my dad the last time we ate at cactus willie's would.

my dad was wearing new shoes. he has enormous feet and is very particular about the shoes he buys, so finding a pair he likes is a big deal. i forget what they looked like, but they probably cost a pretty penny because joseph benjamin shank does not skimp when it comes to footwear. we waited in the winding line to get into cactus willie's, because it was wildly popular when it first opened and that was when karl worked there. we got our table and went our separate ways to fill our plates. all i remember eating there was soft-serve ice cream cones.

midway through the meal, my dad got up to go to the bathroom.

when he came back, he had this look on his face that you knew something was either terribly wrong, or you were about to hear a really good story. this time it turned out to be both.

when he opened the door to the bathroom, someone had thrown up all over the floor. so my dad slipped around and wound up with someone's steak buffet puke all over his new shoes. if there are words to describe the look on my dad's face after this debacle, or how much it burned him up, i don't have them.

we never ate at cactus willie's ever again. it could've been the shoe incident, but it's more likely that we stopped going because karl stopped working there and moved on to trucking. cactus willie's has since gone out of business (i guess we left a big hole in their income) and i will forever count it a privilege of adulthood to choose restaurants myself.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

here and now

dax had his four month doctors appointment and shots today. he was 18.2lbs and 27.5inches - "top of the charts, but that's no surprise," our doctor said. i cannot say enough good things about our pediatrician - he is a father of seven and a fantastic doctor. dax was all wiggly when he lifted him up and he said, "boy, he's a handful huh?" yup. :) i feel spoiled that lance was able to break away from work to go with us to the appointment. i hate watching him get shots, so it's really nice to have lance there as a calming presence and to hold him down.

and now lance is working an overnight shift that reminds me how thankful i am for his time in the army coming to a close.

the army has been good to us. lance is more than excited to be finished with his four years in the military and moving on to other things. for me the move back to pennsylvania is bittersweet. i've only been here for a year and a half (not even!), but oh what a year and a half it has been. columbus holds so many memories for me. we got engaged here, along the chattahoochee river. one of my favorite little spots and views in the world. brimming with beauty and sentimental moments.

we moved here after our wedding and had our first apartment together. it was my first time making a house a home, learning to cook and now loving to cook, and it was where we figured out how to be married and make our marriage work. lots of laughs and priceless memories, lots of fights and hard times too. the ups and downs that make our days a life.

this is where i carried my very first pregnancy. where dax and i spent so many moments together while lance was deployed. this is the apartment where i waited for lance to call so i could tell him that the ultrasound revealed we were having a boy. where i was filled with fear at the news of other rangers being killed and injured, and then with a guilty sort of gratitude that lance was okay.

we had the joy of being reunited when he returned from his deployment. the last two months of my pregnancy together, with lots of mcdonalds runs for ice cream sundaes and laughing at lance ordering in the drive through every time - for no other reason than sometimes i get the giggles and just can't stop laughing and i bring everyone around me down too. ;)

then my due date came and went and finally we got to meet dax a few days (that felt like an eternity) later. and in our cozy one bedroom apartment we learned how to be parents together. and we'll keep learning wherever we move next.

i think it's a bit easier for lance to move on because he is ready for a new career, and because he isn't quite as plugged in here as i am. i feel like i really immersed myself here and made the most of the past year and a half.

i'm kind of amazed at how many friendships i've formed in such a short time. and even so i am afraid that won't happen wherever we end up. i seem to have an ongoing fear of 'what if i don't make friends?!' even though so far i've made friends everywhere i've gone.

a military town and community make forming relationships kind of convenient - almost everyone is in a state of transition with their family spread across the country, so you become each other's family for the time that you're here. i love it. some of my favorite memories are just having people over for dinner and hanging out at our house. i have met so many strong people. a taste of military life would be good for a lot of people - it adds a lot of depth, appreciation and strength. i love our church and how welcoming the people were, how easy it was to jump in and fit in. i love all of our couple and family friends, and i love my other "mom friends" here with babes so close in age to mine. i loved walking through pregnancy and the newborn stage with them.

i heard a song on the radio with a line i adore: "God put a million, million doors in the world for his love to walk through, one of those doors is you." i complicate God's commands, but when i look at my life the thing that's always made a difference is the kindness of friends, family, acquaintances and strangers. when i think about things i want to impress upon dax, one would be that what matters most in our day is how we treat other people. i fail terribly at this - usually by getting in a hurry, concentrating on myself or being annoyed or distracted, but it really is what matters most. kindness and meaningful relationships make all the difference.

* * *

… i wrote that yesterday morning and i'm not sure where i was going with it, more than to say that i will miss columbus a lot. especially the friends.

the south is still every bit as weird to me as it was when i first came here - if not weirder - and i had more culture shock moving here than when i lived in nepal. the georgia-alabama line is a whole 'nother world. even though i never felt like i meshed with the southern culture, i will miss this crazy place.

it's been a formative season … and a very GROWING season. i feel like a different person from when i moved here, but that's good. change is usually hard while it's happening, but looking back it's almost always the best thing. something i think about often is: "insanity is doing the same thing over and over, but expecting different results." i mention that because i'd take change over insanity any day.

i'm nervous heading into so many unknowns … but even if the changes are painful, they'll be worth it. it's like the speaker at our church said this week: God loves us just the way we are, obviously, but He loves us too much to let us stay that way.