only help my unbelief


Slow and steady wins the race
January 13, 2009, 2:00 pm
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For some reason, I was actually kind of looking forward to last night when I stepped on the scale following my after-gym shower.

At the same time, I was nervous. All I drank last week was water, milk and a few glasses of Crystal Light at Christian’s, but we also made brownies on Friday night. I helped lick the bowl, and I had a few small brownies over the weekend. I also ate out a fair amount: Chinese on Tuesday, Taco Bell on Friday, San Jose’s on Saturday. Also, I only went to the gym two times.

So I was pleasantly surprised to see that I lost 0.8 pounds over the course of the last week. No, it wasn’t an entire pound, but that means I’ve lost 4.8 pounds so far. I only need to lose 8.4 more to reach my goal, and I’ve got 14 weeks to do it!

I’m considering increasing my goal weight loss a bit to include losing a pound a week until the wedding, which would make my goal weight 185 pounds. I think I’ll keep my goal weigh at 190 pounds and make 185 my stretch goal.

I’ve done some research, and according to BMI calculators, the high end of the weight range for “normal” is about 170 pounds for my height. I’ve never regularly weighed myself, so I don’t really remember what I was when I was younger, but I do remember wearing a size 8 in high school. Most of the pants I have now are size 14, although they are a little bit loose. I’m guessing that at 190 pounds I could probably wear a size 12.

The thing is, I really think that either I truly am “big-boned,” or that I just carry my weight differently than other people. When I watch The Biggest Loser and see the women that weigh 200 pounds, I feel like they look a lot heavier than I do, even the ones that are taller. I’m not saying that I don’t need to lose weight, obviously, but I just don’t know if 170 pounds is too low.

I am learning a lot about my eating habits. Probably my biggest food-related vice is my desire to have something sweet after lunch and dinner, and to make every treat into something I deserve. I think that two weeks without regular sweets is making the craving subside a little bit.

I think the best part about this endeavor, though, is that I don’t feel like I’m on a diet. I’m not counting calories, and I’m not freaking out if I have a brownie every once in a while. I’m making choices, by the grace of God, that leave me feeling full and satisfied.

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In which Christian and I realize that we’re actually 82 years old
December 18, 2008, 12:00 pm
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Every Christmas, for the past three years, Christian and I have always done the same thing: seen Behold the Lamb together.

I am absolutely in love with the music, the people, the entire idea behind the show. You can read the Wikipedia article to which I linked, but I’ll give you a rundown of what goes on.

Basically, Andrew Peterson and a bunch of his friends (like this guy, this guy, this girl, this guy and this guy, and sometimes this guy and this girl and this girl) play some of their songs for the first half of the show. There’s an intermission, and then they come back and play through all the songs from Behold the Lamb, which basically tells the story of Christmas from the Old Testament until Jesus dies on the cross (which, actually, is the story of Christmas. Not just the innkeeper part.).

If you’re still dubious, let me just give you this line from the song Labor of Love, which describes the night Jesus was born from Mary’s point of view:

Noble Joseph at her side, calloused hands and weary eyes.
There were no midwives to be found on the streets of David’s town in the middle of the night.
So he held her and he prayed, shafts of moonlight on his face,
But the baby in her womb, He was the maker of the moon,
He was the author of the faith that could make the mountains move.

It makes me weep EVERY TIME.

Last night, Christian and I both got off work early. He drove to my house and got in my car to scoot up to Charlotte. We made it just in time for the show and found our seats.

The “in-the-round” portion, where all the members of the tour play their own songs, was great. I knew most of the songs that were played, mostly because the members of the tour basically make up my top ten favorite musicians, which made it even better. I love singing along (no feedback yet on whether the people around me loved my singing along).

During the intermission, we went up to the tables, realized we already had all the CDs they were selling, and sat back down. Then they started playing the songs for Behold the Lamb. It ended with everyone at the show singing “O Come, All Ye Faithful” and “Angels We Have Heard on High.”

As soon as the last strain of the last song faded, I picked up my purse.

“Are you ready to go?” I asked Christian.

“Oh, but didn’t you want to see Jill and Andy?” he said. Jill and Andy are married and are good friends with Christian’s former youth pastor. They’ve played several times on Christian’s church youth retreats. The last time we saw them, they remembered him and it made his day.

“Well, I do, but if we leave now we’ll beat all the traffic,” I responded. It was at this point that I realized I had become my father, who always used to make us leave sporting events before they were completely over so that we could “beat the traffic.” When I told my mom about me saying this, she was horrified.

“There’s going to be traffic anyway,” he said. “Let’s go see if they’re up there.”

At this point, I almost started crying, because I was so tired, and I said a variety of incomrephendable things like “I’m sure they’re not up there” and “They won’t remember you.” In case you’re wondering, yes, I was being a complete jerk.

So we wandered up to the stage, where some of the tour people were putting away their stuff. Of course, the only people not putting away their stuff were Jill and Andy. So we stood off to the side and joked about talking to the other Andy. I lamented the fact that I hadn’t made him double chocolate peppermint cookies, because he had commented about them on my Facebook status, which made my day.

We waited for at least 15 minutes. Still no sign of Jill or Andy. We went out to the merchandise to see if they were there. Nope. We came back and saw Andrew across the room. It was the first we’d seen of him, so we wondered if Jill and Andy were with him. They weren’t, but we decided to say hi to Andrew and remind him of some stories he told us a few years earlier.

We waited until we could talk to him, and he was friendly as always. Christian brought up the stories.

“Hey, Andrew, you probably don’t remember us, but a couple years ago we saw you in Knoxville and you told us about this time when you played in Columbia and my fiance saw you, and you were playing a song called ‘Mary Picked the Roses’ and you passed gas during it.”

Andrew laughed and said he often regrets the stories he tells.

“Yeah, and then another time, you told us that even though we were in college, we should get married, because you got married in college and you said it was awesome because you got to be in college but it was OK to have sex.”

Andrew laughed with us some more, and we told him that if they ever made a documentary about his life, we would be happy to share those stories again. I think he was really appreciative.

On the ride home, we discussed what we might talk to him about the next time we see him in concert, and decided we are actually no longer able to approach him, because what are we going to say? “Hey, Andrew, you probably don’t remember, but last time we saw you we told you about how the time before that when we saw you  we told you about the time before that when we saw you and you told us these stories…” It could go on forever.

Anyway, after we talked to Andrew, we spotted Jill and Andy. They were in the one spot we hadn’t yet surveyed. Happily, they remembered Christian and so the entire 30 minute wait was worth it. At least for him. They also spoke to me very kindly, telling me I look like the wives of one of the other guy’s on tour, which is always kind of awkward, because you don’t realy know what to say.

And with that, we left, and this is when it become readily apparent that we are no longer in college. When we first planned to go to the show, we knew it would be on a work night, but we figured we could just shake it off the next day. We left Charlotte around 10:15 p.m. for what was essentially a 2-ish hour drive. I normally go to bed at 11 p.m.

We stopped at Sonic around 11 because neither of us had eaten dinner. It took forever, and they gave me a cherry slush instead of a cherry limeade slush, WHICH IS NOT EVEN KIND OF THE SAME. My onion rings, however, were delicious.

Once we got done there, Christian was driving and trying to eat and so we got on the wrong interstate. This took about 10 minutes to correct. At this point, it was about 11:30 p.m. and we were still approximately one hour from home.

“Are you OK to drive?” I asked.

“Oh, yeah,” he said confidently. “I can definitely make it home.”

I dozed off for about three minutes.

“Are you sure you’re OK?” I asked again.

“Actually, can you drive?”

And so we pulled over and switched.

“Just let me know if you need to switch again,” he said, and then he promptly fell asleep.

And so I kept myself awake by singing along to the Hairspray soundtrack.

I stumbled into bed around 12:30 a.m., only to wake up less than 6.5 hours later for work.

When the alarm clock went off this morning, it was abundantly clear that I no longer possess the on-demand adrenaline-laced blood that pulses through your veins when you’re up all night with friends and have an exam at 8 a.m. the next morning. Even worse was the realization that I couldn’t just go to work for a few hours and then come home and nap.

My 97-year-old great grandmother, though, apparently sleeps until 1 p.m. every day, though, so maybe it’s not so bad to grow up.



Eight things
December 17, 2008, 11:24 am
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I got this from Leigh’s blog.

8 TV shows I watch:
1. The Office (The funniest show on TV, although this season seems lamer than others…)
2. Jeopardy (My favorite part, aside from pretending to be a genius by confidently yelling out what ends up being the wrong answer, is the stories the contestants tell. Oh really, you make up songs about your cats and sing them to the dear animals?)
3. The Biggest Loser (I am SO glad Michelle won. I hope that Vicki is embarrassed by her foul mouth.)
4. Top Chef (I don’t normally know what 80% of the ingredients are, but it’s a cooking reality show with very little drama.)
5. LOST (My all-time favorite show ever. I watched two seasons over the course of a couple weeks. January 25 21* cannot come soon enough.)
6. Anything on FoodNetwork. My favorites, though, are Paula Deen, Ina Garten (if only she would stop talking about Jeremy!), Giada DeLaurentiis, Tyler Florence, Sunny Anderson, and Sandra Lee.
7. House (Christian and I call this “our show,” because we watched it for the first time together. We LOVE it.)
8. Everybody Loves Raymond (I used to watch this every evening while I made dinner)
8 favorite restaurants:
1. Moe’s
2. Taco Bell
3. D’s Wings
4. Red Bowl Asian Bistro
5. Crust (local pizza place in Sewanee, where Christian went to school)
6. Olive Garden
7. Egg Roll Chen’s (only local Columbians know the joy of this place)
8. Steak ‘n Shake
8 things that happened to me recently:
1. I applied for a new job.
2. I ate dinner with my friend Alexis at Red Bowl Asian Bistro (see above).
3. I ate lunch at Taco Bell (see above)
4. Christian and I explored some new apartment options.
5. I ordered my wedding dress.
6. I called my mom and asked her to plug in my camera battery so it would be ready for Behold the Lamb tonight.
7. I cleaned my keyboard with some compressed air. One of the highlights of my day, seriously.
8. I watched Michelle win The Biggest Loser last night (see above). AWESOME.
8 things I look forward to:
1. Seeing Behold the Lamb tonight.
2. Getting married on April 18.
3. My two friends – Emily and Emily – getting married in March and April.
4. Living with my best friend.
5. Spending time with my second-best friend, Sam, in preparation for the wedding.
6. Having babies. Soon, Lord, soon. (Well, no sooner than January 2010.)
7. Celebrating Christmas in a non-stressful way.
8. Having six days off work for the holidays. Glory.
8 things I wish pray for:
1. Wedding planning that is Christ-centered and un-stressful.
2. That the wedding ceremony and reception would be used by God to draw all of our unsaved family members and friends to Himself.
3.  That I would daily be a godly example for my sisters.
4. That God would remove every temptation to fear or anxiety.
5. That the two- and three-year-olds I teach in Sunday school would learn something of Christ through what I do every week.
6. That the words I use with Christian would lift him up and not tear him down.
7. That God would give me the desire to seek Him every day through prayer and reading His Word.
8. That I would become famous through blogging. (Just kidding. Kind of. No, yeah, I’m just kidding.)
*An insightful commenter pointed out that LOST starts January 21, which is sooner than I thought it was starting. Hallelujah!


On the menu tonight
December 12, 2008, 3:38 pm
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I was working on a post about birth control. This is not that post. In fact, it’s almost like the exact opposite, in that I can’t imagine how this will possibly be even kind of contoversial.

But it’s Friday, and I’m weary. I’d rather write about something delicious, like food.

If asked what our favorite things to do together are, both Christian and I would name the following: Going to the grocery store; cooking; trying new restaurants; watching movies; reading. Note that 60 percent of those activities involve food.

Which is why I’m looking forward to this evening, when we’re really going to cook. Not just some form of spaghetti, but a meal with more than one dish.

For our main course, we’re going to attempt a version of Pioneer Woman’s crispy yogurt chicken. I don’t know how PW’s chicken tastes because I’ve never tried to make it, but this recipe looked good, too (and I love cilantro), so we’re going to make an attempt. We bought bone-in chicken thighs because they were cheap.

Our necessary dish that involves cheese is Sunny Anderson’s spicy macaroni and cheese. We’ve made this once before, and it was the cause of The Big Bacon Fight that actually resolved quite nicely. We liked it the first time, but we wanted to make it again because of two poor decisions the first time (and because it was good): The noodles were too big (we used long ziti noodles) and the hot habanero cheese we got was, well, hot. So this time, we settled on mini sea shells and regular ol’ Monterey Jack.

Our vegetable is one of our recurring favorites – roasted asparagus. Christian isn’t picky at all, but asparagus is not his favorite – and yet he loves the way I make this. Basically, I get the thickest asparagus I can find, cut off the end of the stalk (not with the leaves – the other end), rinse them, and put them in a big gallon ziploc bag. Then pour some olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic powder into the bag. Close the bag (very important) and roll, shake, throw the bag until the asparagus is covered. Then dump the stalks onto a foil-lined baking sheet and cook for7-ish minutes at 400 degrees. Not too soggy, not too hard, and a rich flavor.

For dessert, I will probably have some oatmel chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream that we bought at Publix last week, but I’m guessing Christian is going to try the double chocolate peppermint cookies I made last night. For the chocolate chips, I used 1/3 mini semi-sweet chips, 1/3 jumbo semi-sweet chips, and 1/3 special dark chips. I did this because we had three opened bags of chocolate chips and I was trying to use them all up. Anyway, one of the reasons I think these cookies were a success is because I enjoy eating them after they’re cooled. I’m actually not a huge fan of non-freshly-baked cookies, but these are light and thin enough that they’re enjoyable. And also, chocolate and peppermint? Who can complain?

Wondering where I come up with recipe ideas? Two places: Food Network and blogs. When I’m on the treadmill, I watch Food Network, and if I have a few free moments and control of the remote, I watch Food Network. I subscribe to probably 30 food blogs, so almost every day I see something worth trying.

And that, my friends, is what we’re eating for dinner tonight. How ’bout you?



The big things and the little things
December 11, 2008, 10:26 am
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Two nights ago, I had a bit of a meltdown. It was partly wedding, partly lack of sleep, partly sin, partly Chelsey. Christian got to experience my emotional instability in all its un-glory.

Last night we were driving to a Christmas party and were stuck in traffic for a good 30 minutes. We started talking a little bit about our conversation the night before, and Christian asked me a couple questions about how he could have responded better (for the record, I thought he responded well). He asked me if there was anything he said that really didn’t help the situation, and what kinds of questions he could ask that would point me to Christ and keep me from getting defensive.

Of course, it wasn’t all his fault, but him being so vulnerable with me made me willing to confess the pride and sin in my heart to him, and within 20 minutes or so, what little tension might have remained was gone. All that was left was joy and closeness.

I think that was one of those Big Things that you’re supposed to do in marriage, and I’m so glad we’re being given opportunities to practice in little ways.

But I don’t think it’s just about how we deal with conflict. I think there are smaller things, almost more meaningful things, that nurture that closeness.

The best example I can think of is actually an example of me failing miserably, but maybe some of you can learn from my mistakes.

After the party last night, I stayed at Christian’s apartment for a few minutes. Because my computer is broken, I’m having severe Facebook withdrawal, so he let me use his computer. We sat next to each other while I browsed profiles and read through some items on Google Reader. He watched some YouTube videos I had starred, and he commented on some recipes I had saved (“So, once we’re married, we’re eating chocolate desserts and stove-top macaroni and cheese?” he says. What can I say? That’s what the food bloggers are making these days, it seems.). Then he said he wanted to watch an episode of The Adventures of Pete and Pete (TAOPAP).

His roommate recently got them an entertainment center and TV, and Christian has been really excited to watch some of his DVDs. I never watched TAOPAP as a kid, so I have no attachment to it, and the one episode I have seen I thought was fairly stupid.

I watched the first half of the episode with him, although I wasn’t paying attention at all. Then I picked up his laptop and continued perusing the blogosphere. I completely lost touch with the television.

As soon as the credits started rolling, though, I noticed Christian sitting on the other end of the couch, and I felt so far away from him. I immediately felt terrible.

“Hey, Christian?”

“Yeah?”

“Would you have enjoyed it if I’d watched TAOPAP with you?”

He smiled a little. “Maybe.”

Lesson learned. Next time, sweet boy, I will watch it with you, and we can laugh together.



My “friend” and I like each other a lot
December 10, 2008, 4:06 pm
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It was one of those days when I didn’t exactly need, but really really wanted, Taco Bell for lunch.

There’s just something about Mountain Dew and three soft tacos with two packets of hot sauce each that makes my stomach grumble.

And so I drove the short bit down the road to my favorite Taco Bell location, ordered the usual, and settled down with The Christian Wedding Planner by Ruth Muzzy and R. Kent Hughes, printed in 1984. A friend of my mom’s let me borrow it.

I thought, since so many of my friends are engaged, that I would share the most helpful tip I’ve found so far, to be done immediately after the engagement:

If you like, your mother can invite people over to meet your “friend,” and then your father can reveal the “inside facts.”

I’m not sure what the “inside facts” are considered to be, but my dad isn’t really the kind of person to reveal them.

In another book that was lent to me, I’m excited to read the “Top Ten Ways to Plan Your Wedding Using the World Wide Web.” Sounds cutting edge!



Rachael Ray’s Pizzagna
August 20, 2008, 5:00 am
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I got this recipe from Rachael Ray’s website. You can read the original recipe here; I’m going to list the ingredients I actually used, because I’m all about making things simpler.

Ultimately, this might be better than pizza or lasagna. If nothing else, it’s super cheesy, and that’s a good reason to make something.

Ingredients
1 pound pasta curls (I used a hollow, swirly kind; any kind of short pasta should work)
Salt
1 cup ricotta cheese
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
Handful parsley
1/2 cup sliced pepperoni, cut into thin strips
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 green pepper, seeded, quartered and thinly sliced
1 onion, quartered then thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, sliced
12 mushrooms, thinly sliced
Black pepper
1 can crushed tomatoes (28 ounces)
1/2 pound shredded mozzarella
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper

Pre-heat broiler.

Cook pasta according to package directions.

While the water boils, combine ricotta, parmesan, parsley and pepperoni in a large bowl.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat with olive oil. Add peppers, onions, garlic and mushrooms. Saute 6-8 minutes until tender. Season the vegetables with salt and pepper. Stir in tomatoes and reduce heat to low.

Add a ladle of the water the pasta was cooked in to the ricotta mixture just before you drain the pasta. Drain pasta then toss with ricotta mixture. Pour pasta into baking dish and top with peppers, onion and mushroom sauce. Top with a layer of mozzarella, oregano and red pepper flakes. Place under hot broiler and melt cheese until golden and bubbly (about 5 minutes).

Rachael Ray says to “remove and serve with crusty bread,” so I did. Yum.