Don't Forget the Lyrics!

I'm going to start a new "series" called "Don't Forget the Lyrics!". After I posted the "To Everything There is a Season" blog, I realized how many songs I love and want to share. There are several reasons why I want to do this. Here are a handful of them...

1) I love music.
2) I think a lot of people enjoy music, but don't really pay attention to the lyrics. (Ben is admittedly guilty of this. There have been several occasions where I've told him what a song was about and it completely surprised him--he had never paid attention to what they were saying even though he was singing along.)
3) Music is an easy way for some (including me) to remember things like scripture.
4) The people that write music are much more eloquent and talented than me!

So, my first one is from Christy Nockels (one of my faves) and the song is called "By Our Love". The main message that I take from this is how we (the church) are called to be the "hands and feet of Christ" (as Christy says, "love with His hands, see with His eyes"). And what does that mean? I think it means many things, including...

- loving on our friends instead of judging them by their sin
- stopping to chat with the homeless guy on the corner instead of just passing by
- being uplifting and supportive instead of "gossipy"
- etc., etc.

And now to the lyrics. As you read them, let them soak in. And as you sing it, think about how you can apply it in your own life. That is the challenge I'm giving myself. I want to be known by my love that comes through knowing Christ!

By Our Love

Brothers, let us come together
Walking in the Spirit, there's much to be done...
We will come reaching, out from our comforts
And they will know us by our love...

Sisters, we were made for kindness
We can pierce the darkness as He shines through us...
We will come reaching, with a song of healing...
And they will know us by our love!

The time is nowCome Church arise...
Love with His hands
See with His eyes...
Bind it around you,
Let it never leave you,
And they will know us by our love...

Children, You are hope for justice,
Stand firm in the Truth now, set your hearts above
You will be reaching, long after we’re gone,
And they will know you by your love!

Written by Christy Nockels
© 2009 Songs / sixsteps Music
(admin. by EMI CMG Publishing) (ASCAP)

Oh (no), Christmas Tree

Don't judge me for the information I'm about to share with you...

We're not planning to put up a Christmas tree this year.

Yep, you heard (read) it right. We haven't put up a tree, and we don't plan to this year. And guess what else? No lights on the house either. And I'm totally OK with it.

"Why?" you ask. Well, not that I have to justify myself, but I certainly feel like I need to (obviously I'm blogging about it, so I must feel the need to explain myself, right?), so I will.

You see, we didn't go into this Christmas season intentionally planning to not have a tree. It just kind of happened. We were out of town for Thanksgiving and we came back home just in time for our remaining work days and an entire week of a project called Angels of Light that we participate in every year. It keeps us very busy and exhausted for an entire week (getting to sleep around midnight each night, then waking up at 5:30am to do it all over again). So, we planned to buy the tree this passed weekend. Well, once again, we had other commitments that kept us busy and just never found (made) time to pick out a tree.

Let me add that we have always bought real trees. I just personally love everything about having a real tree for Christmas. I don't have any objections to others having fake trees. I just personally love a real tree.

OK, back to the justification for not having a tree this year.

I said something to Ben on Sunday afternoon about "what if we just didn't have a tree this year". I was fully expecting him to disagree with me, but it turns out we were on the same page about this one! We don't have any kiddos, we're not having a party at our house during the Christmas season, so the tree would only be for us. And if we're OK with not having a tree, then I think it's OK to not have a tree. I mean, we can't put lights up on the house this year because Ben has a torn ACL (not a good idea for him to be on the roof with a bum knee). So that just made it even more OK to not have a tree. Then we both started adding more justifications to the pile...trees cost money (which we're currently trying to save), we really couldn't think of where in the house we would put it (we have more furniture this year than we have the passed 2 years), and we're just plain overwhelmed with other things on our plates.

It's not like we're scrooges or anything. I decorated the inside of our house with our Christmas items. We have stockings hung over the fireplace, garland on the mantle, festive dishes with Christmas candy, little santas and snowmen around the house, a holly wreath on the door, and a little snowman thingy on our front step. We even wrapped all of our gifts and placed them together in a corner. So our house definitely looks decorated for Christmas...there's just one thing (a pretty big thing) missing...the tree.

Who knows--we might change our minds and decide to go get a tree. Maybe even just a small "Charlie Brown" tree to put on an end table in the living room. But the point is that we don't NEED a tree in order to have a Merry Christmas, right? I guess we'll see...

To everything there is a season

I love it when seasons change. Just when I get tired of wearing shorts and flip-flops, the cooler weather comes. Then just when I get tired of turtlenecks and coats, the warmer weather comes. I love that God cares about the little things! I mean, I realize that He didn’t create seasons just so I could change the style of my clothing a few times a year, but I do know that He cares about me enough to give me that added bonus.

Just like the weather changes, so do our seasons of life (that sounds like the cheesy intro to a soap opera or something). Often times we don’t appreciate the current season that we’re in…then when it’s gone we miss it and wonder where it went! I have those thoughts about high school and college (oh, the days!). Now that I’m a grown-up (hehe), I’m going to try my best to cherish the moments of the current season of life I’m in (young married, no children, successful career, clean house) so that when the next season comes I have no regrets and can jump in wholeheartedly to that new adventure.

You know the phrase “change is good”? Well, I am like most people in that I’m a creature of habit and I find it extremely hard to accept change. I’m a bit resistant to it for sure! But I guess it’s a good thing to be shaken up every now and then. Good things do come from change if you let them. To everything there is a season…I wonder what season of life you are in and what’s changing in your life? No matter what it is I encourage you to enjoy your current season of life and also embrace change when it comes your way. You don’t have to receive it with open arms, but at least give it a fair chance and let it grow on you.

I’ll leave you with the lyrics to this song. It was actually sung at my Dad’s memorial service, so it brings back all kinds of memories for me. It’s a song adapted entirely from the Bible (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8), with the exception of the last line (“I swear it’s not too late”), and composed to music by Pete Seeger in 1959.

Turn! Turn! Turn! (to Everything there is a Season)

To everything – turn, turn, turn
There is a season – turn, turn, turn
And a time for every purpose under heaven

A time to be born, a time to die
A time to plant, a time to reap
A time to kill, a time to heal
A time to laugh, a time to weep

To everything – turn, turn, turn
There is a season – turn, turn, turn
And a time for every purpose under heaven

A time to build up, a time to break down
A time to dance, a time to mourn
A time to cast away stones
A time to gather stones together

To everything – turn, turn, turn
There is a season – turn, turn, turn
And a time for every purpose under heaven

A time of war, a time of peace
A time of love, a time of hate
A time you may embrace
A time to refrain from embracing

To everything – turn, turn, turn
There is a season – turn, turn, turn
And a time for every purpose under heaven

A time to gain, a time to lose
A time to rend, a time to sew
A time to love, a time to hate
A time of peace, I swear it’s not too late!

All God’s Creatures

Squirrels and possums: those are the animals that our dogs love to hate. The squirrels are smart and like to taunt the dogs. The possums are just plain stupid to keep coming into our backyard.

Smart Squirrel
We have 1 squirrel (we’re convinced it’s the same one) who loves to taunt our dogs. And it’s actually a benefit to us because it keeps the dogs occupied for hours on end and they’re exhausted when they come back inside. Here’s how the game works: the squirrel makes his presence known by squeaking. That makes the dogs go crazy and sit at the bottom of the tree staring up and sitting still, just hoping the squirrel will make a mistake and fall to the ground. The squirrel has become brave recently, as illustrated in the photo on the left (that's the squirrel on the lowest branch of the tree; that's Layla in a "stalker" stance; and Heidi is out of the range of the photo in a similar "stalker" stance). He’ll come slowly down the tree, closer and closer to the dogs. The dogs stay VERY still like statues. When Heidi senses that the squirrel is close enough to her, she’ll make her move. She jumps up as high as she can onto the tree trunk and the squirrel always narrowly escapes back up to the high branches. Layla plays along, but never has a chance of actually catching the squirrel. That game repeats itself until the squirrel has finally had enough and he moves on to the next backyard. The fun part is when the squirrel jumps into our larger oak tree. You see, Heidi can climb the oak tree (see photo to the right). Once the squirrel sees Heidi climbing closer, he jumps back into the other tree that Heidi can’t climb. Smart squirrel.

Stupid Possums
We’ve had 4 instances so far where we look out into the backyard to find both dogs sitting there “surrounding” a possum. Twice they were baby possums. Twice they were adult possums. I’m hoping that completes the family because I don’t know how much more of this I can handle (I have compassion for all animals, so it breaks my heart—and grosses me out—when I see this). We actually don’t think our dogs intend to kill the possums. We usually find them “playing” with the possum. With the smaller baby possums we saw them tossing it up into the air and catching it. With the larger adult possums we saw them pawing at it and then doing a “stare down”. Have you ever heard the phrase “playing possum” (it means pretending to be asleep or dead)? Well, the last adult possum did just that. When we noticed him in the backyard with the dogs, it looked like the dogs had already killed him. I brought the dogs inside while Ben went to the shed to get a bucket. When he was inside the shed I watched the possum get up and take off running. Hmm, maybe he’s not such a stupid possum after all.

I guess all of God’s creatures have some sort of purpose in this world. Even if the purpose is just for our dogs to have something to play with…

7 – 30 – 3

Those are the milestones I’m hitting in October.

- I commemorate (notice I didn’t say celebrate—hehe!) 7 years at KPMG on October 1st.
- I turn the big 3-0 on October 3rd.
- I celebrate 3 years of being married to Ben on October 21st.

Besides these milestones, October also brings some other exciting things for me…football (we particularly love high school football and NFL), cooler weather (where you don’t sweat immediately as you step foot outside and eventually you get to wear boots and sweaters), the beginning of the holiday season (the food, the decorations, the festivities)…let me just say “I love me some October!”

Do you have a particular month or season that you just LOVE?

Are you happy now??

I did it. I gave in and opened a Facebook page. And just like I guessed (and you warned), it's addicting! I will now blame all of my non-productivity on all of you who pressured me. hehe!

But seriously, I get it--it's the method of communication for a LOT of people "these days", so I need to "get with it" and join in. So now that I've joined, you need to "friend" me. Ben is making fun of my current count of 93 friends compared to his 534 friends. And you know how competitive we Husses can be...

Waking Up is Hard to Do

“Hi, my name is Lauren and I’m a snoozer.”

Remember my blog post about being honest? Well, this is confession time. I can’t wake up on time. Some of you might think that this is just a minor issue, but to me it’s a big deal. It affects my life. I beat myself up over it. I need your help!

My modus operandi
I’m a very light sleeper, so I hear the alarm clock as soon as it starts going off. I realize that it makes no sense to snooze. All it does to me is gives me 10 more minutes of sleep and then I’m woken up again…and again…and again. That’s right—I’ve been known to snooze for up to an hour! And what good does it do me? NONE! I don’t really get more sleep because I’m disturbed every 10 minutes by the alarm. And I’m always stressed once I realize what time it is because I have to rush to get ready. So why do I do it? I have no idea!!! That’s why I need your help!

I’ve tried a few tricks
I set my alarm clock for a time that’s 20 minutes earlier than I need to be up. This allows me 2 snoozes. I tell myself that I only get 2 snoozes and then I have to wake up. And that NEVER works. I’ve tried tricking myself by setting the clock to be ahead by 10 minutes or so. Doesn’t work. When morning comes, I remember the “cushion” on the time, so I just allow myself more snoozes. I’ve tried setting the alarm for the exact time that I need to get up so I can kick the habit of snoozing. Doesn’t work. I still snooze, and then I’m even more late when I finally wake up. I’ve tried putting the clock across the room so I have to get out of bed in order to turn it off. Doesn’t work. When morning comes, I just fly across the room to hit snooze every time and then dive back under the covers. I’ve tried setting my alarm to be music instead of a buzzer. Doesn’t work. I still get up late, and then I have a song stuck in my head the rest of the day.

Ben has even tried to help me in my quest to get up on time. It bugs him that I’m always running late, so he is willing to help me. But I make it hard on him because I’m pretty sneaky about it. You see, he’s a very heavy sleeper, so when he finally hears his alarm go off (the one he set for me), he rolls over and tells me to wake up, I “fake” waking up (I’ll actually sit up in bed and clear my throat so my voice sounds like I’m awake), but then he immediately falls back asleep, so I quietly crawl back under the covers and go back to sleep. I know, it’s awful! I’m a terrible person for lying to my husband!

I place blame
I have a “normal” desk job, so I work Monday – Friday every week. Unless I have a meeting in the morning (which is rare), I don’t really have to be at work at any certain time (i.e., no accountability). They just trust me to get my work done, and I do. Ben is a firefighter, so he works two 24-hour shifts every week. So, two days a week, he gets up at 5:00am to go to work. The other five days of the week he sleeps in until about 9:00am. And the days that he works change every week—it’s a rolling schedule. What that means is that we don’t have any set pattern or schedule with our sleep. And for someone like me who is very schedule-oriented, that doesn’t help my problem with waking up on time.

Why does it matter?
Even though my boss doesn’t require me to come in at a certain time, I want to be there by 8:30am so I can get my work done and leave by 5:30pm. Leaving work at 5:30pm puts me home at 6:30pm, and that’s the absolute latest that I like to get home. There have been several nights that I’m not home until after 7:00pm, and that’s just not good—for me or for Ben. I took this role at work in order to have a 40-hour work week so that I could spend more time at home. And the best way for me to uphold that is to get to work by 8:30am every morning.

Plus, it just feels good to wake up on time. There have been a few days in my adult life that I did get up on time, or even early. And I LOVED those days! I started off on such a calm and relaxed note. It was wonderful! And I find that when I start my day off on the right note, I end up with a much more productive day. I do a real “quiet time” with God, I work out, and I’m more focused at my job. So why in the world is it so hard for me?

It really bugs me
I’m embarrassed to admit all of this because it’s like I have an addiction to sleep! And just so you don’t worry about me—no, this isn’t a sign of depression or anything serious—I just love to sleep! It really bugs me that I can’t wake up on time and that I’m perpetually late to things. It feels like something inside me just can’t get it right. And I feel like I better get this under control before we have kids or I’m just going to be even more late for things. I need help, people! So if you have any tips for me or things to try, I’d love to hear them.

Reinventing My Lunch

I’m a creature of habit. I like what I like and I usually don’t stray too far from it…until recently, that is. Living in a big city has truly expanded my food choices. I like to say “I’ll try anything once” and I’ve stayed true to that so far. (But that doesn’t mean that I’m giving you permission to put a chocolate covered cockroach in front of me and ask me to try it…unless I’m going to win $1million for eating it!)

What I’ve found is that my taste buds have definitely matured. From simple things like the fact that I now like mustard, ketchup, pickles, and lettuce on my burgers when I used to only eat them with ketchup…to more expanded things like the fact that I love hummus, edamame, and green curry chicken (but not all 3 together)—things I never thought I’d like. And to top it off, I’m actually developing a taste for tomatoes now! My Dad would be SO proud!

Side note: I like to think that it’s not just my palate that’s maturing and appreciating other cultures now. But that’s another blog post…

So I was making my grocery list yesterday afternoon and realized how bored I am of the same ol' pb&j sandwiches I bring every day for lunch. Yes people, I’m only a few short weeks away from being 30 years old and I still eat pb&j’s most days of the week! I’ve had a couple of people at work make fun of my lunch and tell me it looks like the lunch they pack for their children (think pb&j, goldfish, and jello). I’m certainly not saying that I’m abandoning my beloved pb&j; however, if I don’t give it a break I’m going to get burned out on it for good. And that would be a tragedy!

So I’m at my computer (I do my grocery list electronically—more efficient that way since I can sort it in the order that my HEB is set up)…so I’m at my computer and I google something along the lines of “ideas for cold lunches” (cold because I like to eat at my desk so I can check my personal email and my friends’ blogs while I’m eating—and I sit at a cube which means I can’t eat anything with a strong odor—and most things that are heated emit some type of odor)…so I type that into google and a lot of the articles that pop up are referring to something called “bento”.

So I’m thinking to myself, “what the heck is bento?” I investigate further. Turns out that bentō is a single-portion takeout or home-packed meal common in Japanese cuisine. (Click here for the longer definition) I stumble upon the website and the first thing I see is a post where the author is asking the readers to post their favorite bento recipes so that new readers (i.e., me) can get a good summary. How convenient! It’s meant to be!

So I scroll down and several people mention the “carrot kinpira”. I like carrots, and it turns out that kinpira is a Japanese cooking style that can be summarized as a technique of "sauté and simmer". Sounds easy enough and after reading the recipe, I decide that it looks like something I’d enjoy eating so I add a few things to my grocery list. I whipped up a batch after we ate dinner, which is when I usually prepare all of my lunches for the week (if I don’t do this on Sunday nights it never happens and I end up spending money on unhealthy lunches—neither of which is good). I packed it in my work bag this morning and was excited to try it out as part of my reinvented lunch.

So I tried my carrot kinpira today for lunch and it was yummy! Quite the departure from my usual lunch, but certainly worth it. Yay for trying something new and liking it! I’ve included the recipe below, and you can also click here to go to the recipe on the justbento site. The hardest part for me was cutting the carrots (I’m terrible with a knife!), so next time I’ll probably spend a little more money to get the pre-shredded carrots meant for a salad and then I’ll just lessen the cooking time a bit. Anyway, the rest was SO easy! This is the first time (I’m serious) that I’ve made a recipe and it actually looks like the picture! First time, people! This is exciting stuff! Is it just me who makes stuff that never looks like the pictures??
Carrot Kinpira
# of servings: 2

2 medium carrots (or use the pre-shredded carrots meant for a salad)
1 Tablespoon dark sesame oil
A pinch of red pepper flakes (about 1/8 teaspoon, or more if you want it spicier)
1 Tablespoon soy sauce (I used the lite kind and it was good)
1 Tablespoon sesame seeds

Cut the carrots into matchstick size.
Heat up a skillet or wok with the sesame oil (medium-high heat).
Add the carrots and toss around until crisp-tender, about 4 to 5 minutes depending on how skinny the matchsticks are. (Don’t forget to lessen the cooking time a bit if you’re using the shredded carrots.)
Turn the heat down to medium-low.
Add the red pepper flakes and toss.
Add soy sauce and toss.
Add the sesame seeds and toss.
Serve warm, cold, or at room temperature.

And If you have any suggestions for cold lunches, please leave me a comment with the info.

Let's be honest with each other

Ben and I meet with 6 other young couples on Wednesday nights (it’s our “small group” through our church). This week we talked about getting honest. As many of you know, one of my key characteristics is that I’m an open and honest communicator (or as some would say, I’m a confrontational person). This trait can sometimes offend people and/or get me in trouble, but when I filter it properly, it’s one of my best assets. So I thought I had this honesty thing mastered.

But when we talked about it on Wednesday night, I felt convicted. I’m not being honest in the way that it counts. Although it’s super-easy for me to “call people out” on their own mess-ups, and it’s even fairly easy for me to confess to someone when I’ve done them wrong, it’s not easy at all for me to share my “junk” with people. What “junk”, you ask? You know that hidden stuff that nobody sees unless you tell them about it?

Yeah—that “junk”.

I’m totally guilty of making it look like everything is hunky-dory to those I come in contact with on a daily basis, when in fact something might be totally messed up on the inside. Maybe I haven’t had a true quiet time with God in over a year. But I go to church on Sundays and Wednesdays. Maybe I’m not showing my husband the kind of love and respect that he needs. But I keep our house clean, his laundry done, and a hot meal on the table.

And it’s exhausting living that way.

So why does it matter if I share my “junk” with people or not? Why do I need to be honest with people? For me it’s because of a few things. 1) Accountability. I need people in my life who know what’s really going on so they can pray specifically for me, follow up with me, and call me out when it’s deserved. 2) So they know the real me. If you think about it, it’s quite deceitful to live a life as I have. I can’t truly share life with people until I’m completely honest with them. I want my friends and family to know me for me. Then I can be confident that they love me for me. 3) So they will be honest with me. If someone thinks my life is going along smooth as silk, they’re not likely to be comfortable telling me that they are dealing with (fill in the blank) and that they need my prayer and support. Instead they’re going to only show me their “best foot” just like I’m showing them…and then the cycle just continues…we’ve got a bunch of messed up people walking around who appear to be perfect. Yuck. Who wants that?

So what’s holding me back?

When it comes down to it, I have the same insecurities that most people have. I’m not comfortable sharing my “junk” with people for fear that they’ll judge me. Let’s face it—I care what other people think about me. And if I tell them all of the ways that I’m a screw-up and where I fall short, they’ll think less of me, right? Well, maybe that’s not the case. If I’m truly being open and honest with my family and friends, then of course they won’t think less of me! Instead, they will love me for who I am…my family will because they’re kind of stuck with me and they share my DNA and my friends will because they choose to (side note: if they chose not to love me for who I am, then a friendship is lost and it probably wasn’t that strong of a friendship to begin with).

So, I’m putting myself to a challenge and I challenge all of you to do these same 3 things this weekend (you know as well as I do that if you don’t act on this NOW you’ll totally forget about it…I’m just being honest with you--hehe!):

1) Find someone you can be honest with.
2) Be honest with them.
3) Make honesty a habit.

Giving credit where credit is due

Awesome "Team Huss" logo above compliments of my talented little sister, Sarah. This (to the left) is what she originally came up with, which I LOVE, but we couldn't figure out how to make it work with blogger. Both are so cute! Thanks, Sarah!

Here we go...

...I've entered the blog world! Since I'm not on Facebook (biggest reason is that I think I'd get addicted to it), I figure I could at least share my thoughts with you guys this way.

UPDATE on 9/26/09: I gave into peer pressure and opened a Facebook account. Don't judge me. ;)

I'm not sure what directions this blog will take, but I do want to use it to keep my family and friends updated on what's going on in the Huss world. And I imagine I'll also share my ramblings on various other topics for anyone else who stumbles upon this blog.

For those who don't know me well, I'll let you know a few things...

1) You won't see any political or current event type of posts on my blog. That's just not "me." But if you want to catch great posts on deeper topics, simply check out my list of followed blogs.

2) I'm not a mom yet, so this isn't a "mommy blog." However, I do reserve the right to make it a mommy blog when I do become a mom one day. hehe! And again, if you want some great "mommy blog" posts, simply check out my list of followed blogs.

3) I tend to get a bit wordy when I write. So, I will do my best to keep my blogs short and sweet so I don't lose my readers to simply being overwhelmed with words when they open this blog.

OK, so I'll leave you with this link to YouTube to watch this hilarious literal interpretation of a music video. It's been around a while and it's pretty popular, so many of you have already seen it. But if you haven't, then you have to check it out. It's only 5 1/2 minutes and it will have you laughing for sure! My favorite parts are around the 4:35 mark and the 5:11 mark. Enjoy!