Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Part 3: Posted below the food

I can't figure out how to change the date on a post from when I started writing it to when I actually posted it, so the newest post (Part 3: church) is down below the food post.

If anyone knows how to do this, please let me know!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

A break from the long wordy posts

****7/14 update - I looked up the pork steak marinade (and made it to grill for dinner tomorrow); it's cumin, allspice, chile pepper, hot pepper sauce, oregano, orange juice, olive oil, lime juice, garlic, salt, and pepper. So good).******

Father's Day barbecue:

Cold rice salad with artichoke hearts, green olives, curry, & green onions. So good, and even better the next day.

Grilled pork steaks marinated with something really good (but now I totally forgot what it was! I'll have to go check my cookbook).

Grilled shrimp marinated in a ginger lime marinade.

Heirloom tomato salad with fresh herbs Yum - deviled eggs.

4 bean salad, with purple onions and vinaigrette.

We've been trying to cook more at home and I've been having fun with some new recipes and my All-C.lad gril.l pan! I've had this pan for a few years, but for some reason have never used it - I pulled it out a week ago to grill some chicken and I am hooked! It works really well, and drains all the fat down the sides. I don't plan to turn the oven on again all summer!
Grilled asparagus, marinated in balsamic vinegar, olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic, and onion salt

Grilled peaches, brushed with melted butter and brown sugar, to be served over ice cream

My dinner - lobster (I hadn't had any in about 3 years and really wanted one; Husband was nice enough to let me splurge), baked potato with cheese, boiled corn, grilled asparagus

Husbands dinner - steak (also done on the grill pan) and potato. He was in heaven. He did eventually eat some corn, but I think he was incredibly happy with just a plate of meat and potatoes.

J's dinner - he thought it was funny that I was taking pictures of our dinner, and really wanted me to take a picture of his plate also! He had veggie corn dogs, corn, cheese, blueberries (which he doesn't eat) and yogurt raisins.
This was our 4th of July brunch with friends - blueberry/strawberry french toast casserole with blueberry sauce and mixed fruit.


Thursday, July 10, 2008

Part 3: Church

First, I really appreciate your comments and empathy about my homesickness. I feel like I'm being pretty whiny and selfish by not appreciating all the great things I do have in St.L.ouis, so I hope it's not coming off entirely like that!

It has been surprisingly helpful to write all of this down. I have always loved to make lists, and writing through all these feelings is kind of like making a list of what's wrong and what I could be doing to pick things back up.

So on to the church situation. I need to backtrack for myself some on this so that I can really try to figure out where I'm headed. I spent the first 18 years of my life in a S.outher.n Ba.pti.st church - a wonderful church. Upon going to college, in a different state, I visited the local Bap.tist churches but didn't really find one that fit. I was dating a guy who was Met.hodist (also was at a school affiliated, historically, with the Met.hodist church), so that was a big influence and there was a big Met.hodist group at the school. In fact, the opportunities for involvement with a christian group at school was pretty split into two options: (1) the met.hodists (2) the ultra-conservative group (what some refer to as "Jesus-freaks"). I never fit in with the second type of group - simply put, I partied too much to be comfortable with that group and for them to be comfortable with me. But since I needed some connection to religion, and some outlet for my faith, I went with the metho.dist option. It worked for me during that time, and I came to love some aspects of this denomination and found a good outlet - I discovered new songs that I had never heard in a baptist church ("Lord of the Dance", "Sanctuary", "On Eagles Wings"), I attended and helped lead weekly campus services, I volunteered for a week over the summer as a counselor at church camp, etc. In sum, I was busy in the faith, but in retrospect what I was doing lacked, for me, a personal connection to God.

My junior year of college, I spent a semester in Colora.do Sprin.gs at a conservative, evangelical christian program for college students. (I won't mention it by name here, but if you know what program I'm talking about, and you attended there also, I'd love to hear from you - just email me at midwesttexan(at)gmail(dot)com). It involved classes and an internship, but most importantly, it gave me the opportunity to be enmeshed in my faith for a semester and to be surrounded by others who were of similar mind. I had never before, and don't expect that I ever will on this earth, experienced something like that semester. There aren't even words to describe it or to describe the lasting impact it has had on my life (oh and the friendships from it - when I talk about some of my friends that are true soul-friends that live so far away, two of them are from this semester). I started to experience what true faith could look like. During this semester, I attended lots of different churches and really explored what felt right for me. It was nice to do this, without the feeling that I had to commit to a church. What I found during this time was that the church that felt most right for me was, not surprisingly, a medium-sized baptis.t church with a strong mission and bible study emphasis and an emphasis on salvation by grace alone.

I went back to college and tried to again reconcile my college life with my now-renewed faith life. It didn't really happen so well. There was a lot going on (my boyfriend of 2 years and I had broken up, my roommate had gotten married and I was living alone and spending more time with a group that loved to drink (to put it mildly)) and church just got pushed to the backburner. I think since I had realized that the meth.odist church wasn't really doing it for me in a way that the bapti.st church did, I stopped going, but without finding a new place to settle.

I didn't really settle on a new church until I was off to grad school. In this new town, I looked for a bapt.ist church to become a part of, but I didn't find anything. There was a popular meth.odist church right on campus with a strong young adult program and a great youth program (I was looking for a place to volunteer, and I've always loved working with youth and wanted to contribute in this way). I felt comfortable-enough with the metho.dist church, and so in the absence of other options, I joined. Unlike in college, when I just attended a met.hodist church, I went ahead and joined the denomination through this church. My thinking was that if I was fully a part of it, then maybe it would "work" better for me.

Like before though, the church just became a place I went. I worked with the youth group, sponsored a few girls for communion, attended services, and went to Wednesday night dinner/prayer group. I went, but I didn't grow in my faith. Of course, it probably didn't help that I was not exactly living a christ-like life at this time, but that's a whole other story.

Ok, so fast forward a bit. During grad school, I met my husband, who is Ca.tholic. Didn't seem like a big deal - he himself had expressed a bit of uncertainty with with where he went to church and had been considering other places. And I went with him to Mass a few times, and thought it was ok. And neither one of us was really attending church all that regularly anyway.

So we get married (at the church I grew up in), get settled, enjoy our first year of marriage, we alternate between visiting a bap.tist church I found and the cat.holic church near our house, then we're pregnant, baby is on the way, and I start feeling like we should figure out a church and decide on something so that we can get more involved and get to know people, etc. Husband says "I'm Catholic, I've always been Catholic, my family is Catholic, and I'm going to the Catholic church. You can do what you want".

What I want is for us to go to church together. I grew up seeing my parents develop wonderful relationships with other couples at their church, I want to go to the married adult Sunday school (not the "ladies class"), I want it to be something we share and can talk about together. I want to be on the same page when it comes to our faith.

So Catholic it is. And while pregnant with J, I start going through the classes at our local parish to join the Catholic church.

Whew. Does it make you laugh or roll your eyes if I tell you all this was just the introduction to what I'm struggling with?

I'm finishing this later. I doubt anyone made it this far as it is! But if you did, thanks. :)


Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Part 2

So I'm still sad, but not as sad as last week. I'm not crying every day, which is good, and I've done a few more things that have made me start to feel better. We had friends over for the 4th of July for brunch and then to take the kids to the parade (pictures on fa.cebook and my family blog) - it was nice to do something social and it definitely did help make me appreciate the new house since it is set up so much better for entertaining and has so much more room for company than the old house. We also went to a firewor.ks party, just Husband and I, at the home of one of our old neighbor's fiance. His house is actually walking distance from our new house, and they are tearing down and building on this lot, so she will be our neighbor again in a year! There were a lot of our old neighbors there, so it was fun to see them and hear stories about the people that bought our old house. Apparently they are addicted to concr.ete statues and large plants and the neighbors all think the yard is starting to look tacky! The new people also have been rummaging through everyone's trash and taking things - broken patio umbrell.a, wagon, old dirty planters - that they then display in the yard! I found that so funny - I have nothing against taking things from someone's trash if it is usable, but I would never take something from a neighbor and then display it where everyone, including the person who was throwing it away, could see it.

So the nostalgia is getting a little better. I still really, really miss Te.xas and have wasted some time trying to figure out if there is any way we could move back there. I've also wasted time thinking about all the ways it would be better there. And the only conclusion I've come to is that the only way I would be moving back there would be without Husband, because he's not moving there, so I don't really think that's an option. But, since this is my blog and I can say what I want, I have to admit that part of me considered that for a little bit. Then I realized that I would probably miss him more than I miss Texa.s. I also realized that as much as I am idealizing what my life would be like if I lived in Te.xas, there would still probably be things I didn't like about it and even things that I missed about St.L.ouis!

One thing that I did that has helped make me feel better is writing letters. The real kind, that requires a stamp and pen and paper. I stayed up late one night re-reading letters from college and on that I had saved, and I realized that it's been a really, really long time since I've written or received a letter, unless it was for someone's birthday or some other occasion. No one I know writes letters (well, except my Mom) since email is so accessible and cheap and even calling long-distance is so easy now because of cell phones and free minutes. So I wrote a few letters to friends and mailed them off. I still have a few more that I want to write, so I am going to do that in a minute. There's one letter I really want to write, but it's one that will be hard to write, and I'm working on it. It has to do with a lot of the stuff in my past that I am trying to make sense of, and I don't want to write the letter until I know exactly how to say things.

So that's the nostalgia. It is getting better. I think that I may make another trip to Da.ll.as this fall, before our scheduled Christmas trip. The hard part about going down there is that it is so hard to fit in everyone and everything that I want to see and do. And it doesn't' help that my mom gets upset if I don't spend enough time with her (if she had her way, I'd only hang out with her while I was there and not do anything else!). So it's hard to balance it all. And I hate fighting with my mom when I want to go see someone but she thinks I'm not spending enough time with her and starts getting upset about how she spent so much time getting ready for me to visit and blah, blah, blah and then hits me with a guilt trip and makes me feel bad for leaving to visit someone else for even an hour. So I never leave feeling like I got to see everyone that I wanted to and that even those I did spend time with, it wasn't enough.

So Part 3 will have to focus on the church and God stuff. Or maybe church alone will be part 3, because there's a lot there. And I've been thinking through that also and trying to make some decisions about what I can do to help figure it out. So up next, my search for a church.


Tuesday, July 1, 2008

why I'm blogging again

It amazes me that it has been three months since I have last posted. I can't believe how quickly that time went by, and how often I thought of things I wanted to write about, but how little motivation I had to actually sit down and write.

I'm blogging again today because I am horribly sad. Not about anything in particular, and nothing major has happened (fortunately). I can pinpoint some of the things that started leading up to this but it is just the last few days that I've felt stuck because of it. So I'm hoping writing something will help. I can define the sadness - a lot of it is sad feelings of nostalgia, brought on by the move from our first home and then complicated this past week by going to Te.xas and seeing friends and family there. Some of the sadness is just a realization lately that I'm not fully where I need to be with God and my faith, and that part of that is because we lack a good church HOME (we have places that I would call our "house of worship", but nothing that feels like a home and that we feel connected to). Some of the sadness is from my recent realization that I missed a lot of opportunities in the years before I met Husband to truly show what God can do to transform someone and that I won't have the chance to re-do that part of my life (I know that doesn't make any sense; I'm not sure if I want to go into details).

I'm trying to figure out what I need to do to get out of this. Obviously, it would have been ridiculous for us to continue to live in our 2-bedroom house just because I feel sentimental about it. I have been blessed and am grateful for our wonderful new house, which has so many great things about it (huge back yard, main floor laundry, 4 bedrooms, a big master bedroom, walk-in closet, family neighborhood) and will be the place of so many more great memories. Maybe I need to start doing a little more to make some good memories here instead of moping around. Invite friends over, decorate (hard to do with the new mortgage), ?????

I also should stop driving by our old house. It's on one route to my in-laws house, so I've used that as an excuse to go by it, but there are other routes I can take. I think it's just too hard to see it, and it makes J upset to go by it as he doesn't understand why we aren't stopping (and it kills me to hear him crying for "old home" and then saying "no new house!". So no more drive-bys.

Moving back to Texas is not an option, unfortunately. I really am going to have to find a way to like where we live. I can't sit around feeling nostalgic about Texas and living there and the people there. I need to make more friends here. My closest friends - the ones I feel like I can call about anything and talk to about anything - are all out of town. And although phone, email, and occasional visits are wonderful, they aren't the same as having someone close by. I need that kind of friend here. And yes, Husband is my best friend, and a wonderful one at that, but it's not the same as a best-girl friend. I miss that.

more later.