Monday, December 28, 2009

My New Year's Initiative — 18 Weeks, + 6 days

funny graphs and charts

see more Funny Graphs

It's a new year and most people spend this time reflecting on their past year and trying to decide what they are going to do better or differently in the new year. Most folks call this their "New Year's Resolution." They RESOLVE that they will make a change, that from that moment on they will lose weight, or exercise more, or stop smoking ... they make a statement. I don't believe in Resolutions. I think they are a lot of talk and no action. I can sit on my comfy couch and announce to the world that I will be thin, healthy, and athletic, but until I get up and DO something, I am just blowing hot air.

That's why this year I have instituted what I am calling my "New Year's Initiative." An initiative is a little different from a resolution because it requires more than just the first step, it is more than just making a statement or decision, it involves the second step ... actual follow-through. So, instead of resolving to do something, I've gone ahead and just did it.

In a little over 20 weeks (give or take) our baby will be here. It will be new and different and exciting ... but it will also be scary. The baby will demand more time of me than I have to offer, and I will have to oblige, because the baby comes first. So, this year I am taking steps to be more efficient, by carving out my time very carefully. I love my job, but when the choice comes between working or going home to be with my husband, I will choose home. I realize that I will not always have a choice, sometimes work can be like that, but on the days when I make the decision to stay or go ... I go. This applies to school too. I am not taking any courses that aren't required of me, even though I want to take the Technology and Ministry course because I know it will be super easy and it will pad my GPA (I have to make a blog as my final project ... um, yeah). I will not sign up for it, because that's wasted time away from my family. So what if I won't have an amazing GPA when I graduate, I'll have a pretty decent one (still Cum Laude I hope) and would have spent more time with my husband perfecting our marriage, which seems a little more important to me than the sticker on my degree.

Finally, I'm doing more things for me. I will visit the library once a week (and have been) and check out at least two or three cheesy quick read novels or intense nonfiction book to read. I can usually get through one of those in a night or two, and it's important for me to read. I love to read, and I deserve to read more than just my homework books. Carving time out for me will make me a better wife and mother, and I need to do a good job of teaching myself that now. I will not work myself into the ground and then come home and try to be superwoman. If there is anything that being pregnant has taught me it's that I can't "do it all." What's surprising is that I'm okay with that. I know there are plenty of feminists out there shaking their fist and declaring me a traitor for that statement, but really what woman do you know who truly does it all? I still plan to work full-time, I still plan to be a mother to my child, I still plan to be ordained and become a "woman preacher." I think I'm okay with the feminist movement here, but what I'm saying is that I have a choice of where I set my boundaries, and at the end of the day my choice will always be with my family. My husband, my child, my health, comes before anything else on my agenda, and that will be my focus for not only 2010, but for the rest of my life.

I am not ashamed to say that I have stepped back and evaluated and have decided that my needs and my family's needs come before everything else. It's a growth process, and I had to learn how much I could give, before I could learn how much I could take back. So, that's my initiative, to evaluate each circumstance and ask myself, "who benefits from this decision, and what are the pros/cons of making this choice?"

I hope that each one of you will have a prosperous new year and will also take a look at your own lives. What can you cut back, move around, make better so that you can give your time and energy to whatever it is that makes you the most happy?

Upcoming Blogs:

Will Baby Downey give us a peep show? Find out on 1/18/09!

The Love Dare — Martin and I received it as a gift. I have my opinions on it already but I'm trying to give it a fair shake for the sake of the great friend who got it for us!

Monday, December 14, 2009

15 Weeks + 5 Days, End of the Semester Blues

Right now, in this moment. I hate school. I know it won't last. But right now, I'm so over it. I know I have one semester left of this and then I'm finished with what I'm "required" to take, but I'm so so tired. You see, I actually love to learn, but this semester has been hell on me since getting pregnant. I would not change being pregnant for the world (and there is good news on down after this complaining session), but I am way too tired to work full-time and do school online at night and give both 100%. I'm going to make a "B" in my favorite class of the semester. Mostly because I didn't have time to banter stupidly with other classmates on the online post, if I fail the paper I just wrote, I'm going to make a "C." Which, you know, whatever. It's graduate school, getting a "B" or a "C" is not the end of the world, the issue here is that I COULD have made an "A," and pretty easily if I could have just stayed awake a few more nights and pushed through. But, I didn't. I'll probably make an "A" in my other two classes, so it's not like I'm flunking out or anything, I'm just annoyed with myself right now because I have two papers left to write and really, I'm just so FREAKIN' over it!

Okay ... want some happy news? I've been able to feel the baby move. I know this is an INCREDIBLE blessing because most people don't feel this until like 20 weeks for their first pregnancy, but I guess I'm just aware. I've only felt the baby move twice, once when I was listening to "Here Comes the Sun," by the Beatles, I felt a little flutter in my tummy twice in a row, so I knew that was my kid. However, the second time was a funny. I was listening to Jay-Z in the car and the bass came on and it scared my kid to death! I could feel it totally freaking out! I felt a little guilty, but overall I just laughed out loud for like 10 minutes. Oddly enough, as I write this the baby is kicking the crap out of me, as I started the paragraph there was nothing and then patter, patter! : ) I have a very active little one!

Okay, that's the update for now. Christmas in a week! Yay! I'm ready for a couple days off work where I don't have to think too much. I'm ready for this semester to be over with so that I don't have to think at ALL about that! Thanks for letting me vent, I just needed to get my feelings out there and into the open air. Two more papers to write and I'll be finished with this semester, whatever grades I get, I get. At least I know that I always have one Master's to fall back on to pretend that I'm smart!

Monday, December 7, 2009

14 + 5 Days & Christmas

Not too much to report, but I wanted to do a quick update before I started this very, very busy week! I'm feeling a bit better. I think the neasuea is finally beginning to wear off and we are finally getting into the happy "honeymoon" trimester! I have gotten back a bit of energy, which is also good because I have quite a bit of homework to finish up this semester and work is, as always, busy as ever!

Martin and I did our 12 days shopping last night and debated if we should keep the tradition going once there is a child in the picture. We've been doing 12 days gifts for seven years, and to me it seems a shame to not continue it on with our kid. When people find out we give each other 12 presents (plus a large gift on Christmas day) I think they think we are a bit extravagant when it comes to Christmas, but there are a few things about 12 days that I think makes it special:

1. It's the best time to buy Martin socks, underwear, and tees and wrap them up as presents! As a wife I don't pick these items up for my husband and he always forgets. So, at least during 12 days I can get him some practical items that aren't necessarily fun, but needed. I usually buy him these items every year (at least since we've been married).

2. We aren't allowed to spend over $20 on any present. Martin is great about sticking to this rule, me, not so much. I did pretty good this year and only went over my limit once, but it's fun to limit ourselves so we have to think outside the box when purchasing gifts.

3. It's something to look forward to every night. As a kid I used to talk my mom into letting us open one present on Christmas Eve, EVE! I love to open presents, even if it is a pair of socks, so by doing it daily up to Christmas makes it super fun. We usually open presents right at midnight which means I have to stay up late ... and sometimes that's a challenge but it's worth the fun. Now, when we start doing this with a kid we might have to change the rule on that ... but for now when midnight gets here we will be opening presents.

So, for me, it's become a very special tradition and I really think that we can incorporate a kid into the picture without them getting too spoiled. I think Martin and I will have to set some limits (not too many toys or candy) and focus on more of the practical side of things for the kid, but I think we should keep it going!

What about you? Do you have any special traditions you share with your children? Do you think we will be spoiling our kid by buying them 12 gifts? Are we spoiling ourselves? Thoughts anyone?

Monday, November 30, 2009

13 Weeks, 5 Days -- Optimus Prime Baby

So, I know I've not been the best on updating. I'm trying to at least update from each doctor's appointment to keep everyone updated, but to be honest I didn't want to update the last few weeks because I've just felt *ugh!*

The morning sickness has been overwhelming at times, but I have found the amazing medication Zofran. I know, I know, medication is bad and all that, but I figure that my doctor approves it and it helps me function, so I'm going for it. It makes me feel SO much better. Without it I had a hard time even going into work, going to church, or doing anything except hunching over the nearest john. At least now, it eases the queasiness to the point where I can function as a human being. Thankfully I have been feeling much better and have gotten down to just taking the medication every other day, so that's a relief. My doc (and everyone else) says that I should be getting to more good days than bad in the next few days, so I'm looking forward to that.

Other than the morning (all-day) sickness, I've felt pretty good. A few icky moments, but overall I've been okay. Last Wednesday marked the end of my first trimester and now we are four months into growing this little one. With that came another doctor's appointment and a new ultrasound.

Today's appointment was amazing. I wish that everyone could have been there to see how much Baby Downey likes to move and suck her thumb! When we first put the wand on my tummy Baby was chewing on her little hand and looking up, when we moved the wand around to get a better view she moved her hand so quickly that Martin said it looked like a karate chop! This made me start laughing and that just made her even more excited so she started squirming and moving around with my laughter! It was really great. For the past U/S the baby has really just been a little blob, just a little black dot, now she has features ... little eyes, a nose, hands, a big pot belly (well, she just fits in!). We could not tell the sex of the baby yet and it looks like it will be late January before we find that out! I really enjoyed my appointment today even though they took four vials of blood (yuck!). There are two photos for you this time. One without photoshopped arrows to tell you what's what and one with ... Martin thinks the baby looks like Optimus Prime from Transformers right now! : )

As for names I decided against the poll. We have made a decision and I don't think anyone can change our mind. Our names are: Lucy Delilah and Jude Wesley. Don't tell me if you hate them, don't even make a face. I'd appreciate if you would just lie to me ... Thanks! :)

Nursery theme is getting started. I know some of you have asked about my aversion to Noah's Ark. Well, it simply comes down to Theology for me. When I read about Noah, I don't excactly feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Noah was the ONLY good man on the whole Earth and God was tired of mankind ... so he decided to start over. Why would I want my child to sleep with the animals going onto the boat when the story represents God saying ... "Nope, this didn't work, let's start over." Now, I could go with the animals getting OFF the boat and the rainbow and the promise of a new covenant ... but that just seems too complicated for me. I know, I'm completely neurotic, but really I want my kid to be surrounded by all the goodness of God. So, we've decided on a theme around Van Gogh's Starry Night. The painting because it represents the creativity of God through the stars (and the talent he gave Van Gogh, no doubt!) and the creation of the universe. We are planning to put stars on the ceiling and decorate around the night sky. I'm super excited about this theme and look forward to getting it done. Martin has gotten started on the room by surprising me a few weeks back when I went home for a friend's wedding by painting a wall dark blue, and I love it!

Other than that we had a great time going home for Thanksgiving but it always feels like we don't have enough time. We look forward to getting the house ready for Christmas and having some more time to spend with family over the Christmas holiday. Personally, I'm looking forward to feeling little Lucy or Jude move around in my tummy ... I'll promise to try to be a good writer when that happens and explain it for you all!

Till next time!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

10 + 3 Days ...


So, it's been five weeks since the last update. Sorry for that! Work and life have been pretty crazy! But, we had another ultrasound and everything is going great! The baby is growing leaps and bounds! Things were going pretty well for me with morning sickness until I flew home to Arkansas, then the worst happened. I got sick on the plane ... and basically haven't felt better since. I know it's a good sign that the baby is growing, but it's been a difficult 3-4 weeks. So, there's the health update. But, I have lots of other updates for you from last time:

1. Baby Names (maybe we'll have a poll?)
Okay, so a poll sounds good. So we are working on baby names that we like and will get those up here for you soon. I just haven't decided if I want to wait until we know the sex to have the poll or do it while it's still unknown. Weigh in if you like in the comments.

2. Baby Nursery Theology (Why Noah's Ark is a BAD idea)
This post is still coming ... so don't worry. I want to finish up the theme that we ARE doing before going into why I ruled out so many others.

3. Ultrasound photos! (Coming 10/12!!)
A little late, but there it is up there at 8 weeks. We have another scheduled in a few weeks, right after our second trip to Arkansas.

4. Mary's results from Race from the Taste 10k
Finally, photos from this event as well. Ironically, I did not have to walk this race alone. Whit's husband Graham was injured and he walked with me and we are proud to say that we MADE it! In fact I think we at least beat 50 people! :) Six miles was never easy for me, but I was really afraid to get my heart rate over 140, but I'm pretty sure I did. I did manage to run the first mile but then slowed down so slow that Graham caught up with me and we walked the last 5 together. I felt bad for Graham, who has done half-marathons in less time than we did six miles, but it was still a fun experience.

So, that's it for now, I know it's a quick post. But we have a lot going on.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

5 Weeks, 4 days or 6 Weeks

So, being pregnant is interesting to say the least. Here are the things that I have done since having an enormous amount of hormones running through my body:

1. Almost puked after taking communion at church
2. Almost passed out from the heat at church
3. Had to pee so bad that I stopped at a disgusting gas station, and still went there!
4. Spent an obscene amount of money on Maternity Clothes.
5. I go from feeling like I'm going to die from back-pain to super happy and excited
6. Being hungry all the time
7. Almost fallen asleep at work (sorry Cara!)
8. Forgotten stuff

So that's that. I wondered what kind of theological meaning there is in puking up The Lord's Supper. I'm sure I'm not the first one who has felt that way, but I swear after taking that bread I thought ... "Oh God, this is going to be it, this is what's going to make me puke?" Luckily, I didn't throw up the Holy Sacrament, but it was a close call. In fact, I have yet to throw up anything. And, I'm thankful. Usually this is how I feel: I have to pee, I go. Then I get really hot and start fanning myself. The heat takes over and I feel nauseous, then I think I'm going to puke. So, I keep fanning myself, and squirming in my seat until the feeling passes. I guess that can be including in "morning sickness" but there has no puking yet, and usually it happens in the afternoon, early evening.

Also, my back still has days when it hurts. I think some of this may be from gas. Apparently the baby slows down my digestive system quite a bit, and makes it harder for my insides to do what they are supposed to do. I've tried fixing this by eating better and sipping warm liquids. I have a cup of warm tea every night before bed and I have been eating Lipton Cup of Soup quite a bit too. These help a lot, but sometimes the backache is still there. That's why I think it's not all from the slow digestive tract. Some is just down-right pain. I've been doing yoga to eliminate the pain and to stretch out my body, it seems to be working.

I'm already gaining some weight. I think a lot of it is water (hence the urge to pee!), and the rest from just being hungry A LOT! Because of these two things, I couldn't find anything to wear in my current wardrobe, so I went to Motherhood Maternity. They CLAIM that the clothes will grow with me, so those who see me regularly be prepared for seeing me in the SAME thing for the next eight months!

I am also pretty tired all the time. I'm trying to take breaks and walk around the office so I don't get too tired sitting at my desk. Luckily, last week I was EVERYWHERE and hardly had time to sit still, but by Friday I was so ready to wind down and was so tired I didn't know if I would be able to drive home! I think the tiredness makes me forget stuff too, my friends warned me about "pregnancy brain" and I can't believe it's already taken hold! I also notice that I don't catch things as much (i.e. spelling/grammar mistakes in my blog posts, and papers!) I hope you guys don't mind that for now my brain is working much slower, and I hope you will overlook any mistakes!

So, overall things have been going ok. I'm liking being pregnant, I just need to get used to all these different feelings. The shortness of breath comes and goes but I'm finding it easier to adjust. According to all the sources, the baby is only the size of an apple seed right now. It's hard to imagine something so small can take so much of my energy all the time. I'm not complaining by any means, it's just weird to see (and feel) all these changes in my body!

Things to look forward to in the next few blogs:
1. Baby Names (maybe we'll have a poll?)
2. Baby Nursery Theology (Why Noah's Ark is a BAD idea)
3. Ultrasound photos! (Coming 10/12!!)
4. Mary's results from Race from the Taste 10k (Did she get picked up by the short bus?)

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Pot of Gold at the End of the Rainbow!

*I want to just put something out there before I go into this blog. Martin and I tried for seven months to get pregnant. During that time I was pretty emotional and weepy when each time I would take a pregnancy test and it would come back negative. Each time I knew I wasn't pregnant AGAIN, I was upset and found it really hard to read/hear stories of other people's baby-making success. I was REALLY happy for them, it was just hard on me because I felt like I was being left out of the baby loop! So, I'm being honest with my readers. If you have been trying and things aren't working out, it's okay with me if you are a little annoyed with me right now. I do want to celebrate, but I don't want to upset anyone. So, I'm acknowledging the feelings that I had, in hopes that, if you are reading this and you feel the deep pit in your stomach sink in a bit more, I want you to know I understand. Also, I'm taking this blog to a new level and it may be too much information for some. I'm not modest (never have been) but I'm just warning folks who may be because I plan to go into the details of being pregnant in the next nine months! So be prepared! : )

I'm Pregnant! (Five Weeks, or 4 Weeks +3 Days)

Wooo Hooo! It's been seven long months of trying, and one dose of Femara (a breast Cancer drug that is also good for PCOS and jump-starting ovulation) and the test read yes! So, now we start the journey of pregnancy. And, I want to at least blog about it once a month so I can journal this important and exciting time. I had a couple of friends who blogged through their pregnancies and they were great, so I hope that my posts can live up to theirs.

The Background Story

So, what's first? I guess the story. I had been charting and watching very closely my cycle for the last few months, and things were not adding up the way the should. So, I called my doctor and got an appointment on Aug. 12. He talked to me for a bit, and at first wanted me to keep trying for a year, but once I showed him my charts and had proof that things were not happening the way they should, he reconsidered. I am forever thankful to Cara for teaching me how to chart, it saved me six months of waiting! So, anyway, we discussed it and he decided that I needed a "jump-start." So, at the beginning of my next cycle I started the Femara. I have to tell you it was tough! I only had to take the pill for five days, but it did make me very emotional and moody. However, after the five days were over I was fine. So, the month progressed and we hoped and prayed that this would be it.

Taking the Test


I first starting testing on day 8 after ovulation, they tell you to wait until 10, but since my cycles had been short, I thought I might get lucky. I didn't. It was negative. Day 10 came and I tested again, and it was negative as well. So, I did what any other normal woman would do. I gave up! However, I didn't feel that great all day of Day 10, and people around me were noticing that I was very short of breath! I also spotted a bit, so I was convinced that I was just going to start soon, and that this round of Femara had not worked. So, Day 11 I woke up and decided, Why not?, I'll take the test again today (since I had stopped spotting) and if it's negative then I'll know I was about to start. Besides, I sort of think it's fun to pee on a stick. I know, I'm crazy, but I think it goes back to when I was in Chemistry and we could dip those little sticks in different liquids to see what color they were and how acidic they were ... I loved to watch them change colors, same principal, I guess it's just weirder because we never stuck those in pee. ANYWAY, so I took the test and then went about my morning. I'm not one for counting down the minutes on the clock. So, I took Sawyer out for his morning walk, I made a little breakfast, I lazed around for a few minutes, and I'm pretty sure at one point I said OUT LOUD, to myself, "There is no way that test is going to be positive." That was right before I walked into the bathroom and saw the word "pregnant" on the screen.

Telling Martin

I did a horrible job of telling Martin. I always had dreams of thinking of something creative and cute. Maybe I'd write some long love-letter about how we had made this precious thing together, or get him a T-shirt that said "World's Greatest Dad." What did I do instead? Run into the other bathroom where he was showering and yell, "I was wrong, I'm pregnant." Which I got in response, "HUH?" Then I proceed to repeat myself, pull yesterday's "Not Pregnant" stick out of the trash and show him the difference between the two (as if just seeing the "pregnant" was not enough, I know CRAZY), while the poor man is still trying to shower. Yeah, I could have done that better. The worst part too, was that he had no time to really digest it because he was getting ready for work and was working on a HUGE project, so in hindsight, I wish I had told him differently, but hey, at least he knows! And, now he is super excited and happy, so it worked out okay in the end. As for everyone else, I, of course, called my Mom and my sisters (Oddly enough, my little sister Becky found out she was pregnant the day before I did, so we have the same approximate due date). I called closest friends and told them the news and then decided later that night to just put it on Facebook so that we could share with everyone. I know it's still early, but I've never been one to live in fear so I'm not too worried about anything happening.

What's next?


So, I've been to the doctor twice. Once for blood work and once for a question and answer session. I really like my doctor and he's very open with me, which I appreciate. We have an ultrasound date for 10/12, which was the earliest possible date we could do one and see the baby. The doctor wants to watch me closely and make sure everything is going smoothly, but he seems to be very confidant that things will be fine. I can already tell a HUGH difference in my body. It's so weird! So far I've had shortness of breath, tender breasts, I need to pee quite a bit, sore back, and I'm hungry about every 4-5 hours. I haven't gotten sick yet, so I'm happy for that. One big thing I've noticed is how my body is already changing quite a bit. One big problem is that I can't "suck" in my gut anymore. It hurts to do so. So, I look like I'm six months pregnant when I'm really just one! I used to make fun of little skinny girls going out and buying maternity clothes so early, but now I understand. Nothing really does fit! I already can't wear my black work slacks because they button above the tummy, and it ain't happening! UGH! It's okay, I don't mind the weight gain (Doc says at least 30 lbs) but I just don't want to have to buy a lot of new clothes! The only other thing that I am worried about it doing a six mile run in a few weeks, well, make that walk. My doctor made me buy a heart monitor and HIGHLY suggested the I walk briskly and not run the race. I hope the short bus doesn't pick me up, this is the last year for 'The Race for the Taste' at Disney World and I REALLY want that medal!

So, that's about it. The best part is the day that we found out we realized was the same day that Martin started his job here in Florida and when we got the house ... so there is something special about September. I guess that why God blessed me with seeing a rainbow on the way home on the day we found out (photo above). It was like a special message just to me that said, "See, I was paying attention, all those rainbows before were a promise, and here is another promise to you!" I have been truly blessed, it was not an easy road to get here, but here's to an easy journey here on out full of fun and happiness for Martin, me, and the future baby Downey!

Monday, August 10, 2009

The Weekend is my Enemy


I've been on the wagon now for two weeks. That's right, I'm in a 12-step program ... for food. I'm back on Weight Watchers again after a short break from the "dieting" scene. Back in June, I decided that I wasn't going to worry too much about my weight. I figured, hey, I'm going to be pregnant soon, so no need to be watching my weight. I thought that I could just blame any weight gain on my baby bump, and not my eating habits.

Guess what happens when you take on this mindset and don't get pregnant? You gain 15 pounds. That's right, 15. I already weighed more than I would like, but I didn't figure I would gain that much, especially since I was going to be all fat and pregnant. Well, thanks to my overactive cycle and under-active metabolism I am neither pregnant nor skinny. I am now 45 pounds overweight.

So, once I realized that this baby thing wasn't going to go the way I wanted, I decided I better at least get these extra 15 pounds off before 200 starts staring at me from the scale. So, I've changed my habits yet again. I am dedicated to exercising at least 20 minutes a day for five days a week, eating within my weight watchers points, and taking care of myself by writing, reading, and relaxing in my down-time. All of this can tend to be a bit difficult with a busy work schedule, but I'm at the point where I'm over it. And that's usually the point where I become the most successful.

It's interesting that other things in my life seem to go so well for me. Career wise I'm right where I want to be (tomorrow marks one year at my AMAZING job, and it came with a new title and promotion, Deputy Director), I enjoy freelance writing for the Florida UMC conference, and ordination is moving at a steady pace. Marriage wise I couldn't be more blessed. My husband is caring, supportive, and loving, I'm lucky to have him. But, with all the good things, I just can't seem to get "healthy" with myself. I find that the weekends are my worst enemy. All week I count points and do really well, but when Friday night gets here, I loose the obsession and eat whatever I like. This attitude continues on Saturday and by Sunday I am disgusted with myself. Lucky for me I didn't give up last week when I fell in the weekend trap (I lost 3 lbs) and I was able to get back on track this week (weigh day is tomorrow). But, I would do so much better on my weight loss and exercise if I wouldn't let Friday and Saturday get in my way.

So, my goal this week is to be READY for Friday. I will write down everything I put into my body over the weekend, I know I can do this because I do it all week. I will continue my morning prayer and Bible time, I will continue exercising and I hope to do a practice 10k this weekend.

I'm back on the wagon ... let's hope I don't fall of. If I do, just go ahead and let it run over me please.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Looking for Rainbows ... Part II

Today is my birthday. As of 7:45 p.m. (or so) I turned the ripe old age of 27.

When I was 21 I made a list of things I wanted to achieve by the time I was 30. I don't remember all of it (it's in a book that Whitney currently has custody of), but I know there were things in there like lose weight, start a magazine, have a baby and go to Europe.

I'm 27 and have yet to do any of those things, and I still want to. But, there are other things that have gotten in the way, new goals that I have been working on and seeing some good results. I would have never thought at 21 that I was going to be ordained or so passionate about helping those in need in the community. There are things in my life I am VERY proud of, and for that I am know I am blessed. But, with those great things there are disappointments.

I debated if I was going to blog about what I have been going through lately, because it is deeply personal. But, if what I have to say will help someone else feel better then it's worth putting myself out there. One of my goals before I was 30 was/is to have a baby, and it's one that is proving to be a little more difficult than I would have hoped. Martin and I decided back in April that we were ready to start a family, but our timing doesn't seem to be working with my body's timing. It's to the point now where I have made a doctor's appointment to see if everything is "all right." I have some ideas about what is going on, and honestly I blame 10 years of birth control for the problem. But, even when you do have a scapegoat, you still can't help but be upset with yourself, and disappointed. I have several friends who are pregnant right now (and congrats to all of them), and it's really hard trying to figure out why they have seemed to get pregnant so easy, and for me it seems to be more of a challenge. It's frustrating, and I know I am not alone in this. I know there are thousands of women who are going through what I am going through, and really, it's only been four months. It may be that there simply hasn't been enough time, but it's still REALLY hard.

Martin has been amazing in all of this. He loves me, and he has been supportive in everything. Even when I spent a whole day crying this week, even when I seem like I am going crazy. I'm very lucky to have such a loving and understanding husband.

Today I turned 27, and when I walked outside from dinner I saw the widest, brightest rainbow shinning over my world. I have to remember the promise of a few months ago, that God reminded me. God is with me, there is a plan, and I'm part of it. I just have to keep looking for rainbows.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Looking for Rainbows

I woke up a bit early this morning, which hardly ever happens for me. Usually by Sunday I am so tired that I can't even move, yet alone get up by 6 a.m., but this morning when Sawyer (who has since fallen back asleep) woke me up for his usually bathroom/morning meal routine, I didn't feel like going back to bed, so I'm enjoying a little time to myself this morning to relax and reflect.


Updates

I've done really well this week on my being more positive plan. I've set aside time each night for devotional, and have actually stuck to it. Now, it's not more than 20-30 minutes worth of time, but it's amazing how just a few extra minutes each day spent in prayer and reflection seems to get me back centered and at peace. However, it was a pretty rough week for me and I think if I hadn't of planned to have that time, I would have been a lot more stressed. I am liking having a domain name for the blog, but for some reason if you go directly to the link the whole page doesn't load, I'm not sure why, and I'm hoping this will work itself out in the future.


Looking for Rainbows


This week brought a few hard memories for me when I found out that one of my niece's friends had been killed in a car accident. When I was about her age I had a dear friend pass on and the memory broke my heart, and just knowing what she was going through made it even harder to swallow. It's always funny how God speaks right when I need him to. I was driving to work after hearing the news, reflecting on death, life, resurrection, all the things that I believe to my core, and honestly I wasn't thinking, "God why?" but more along the lines of, "Is your promise really possible?," Boy, I've found when you ask a question like that you get an answer you will never believe. As I was thinking and praying about past circumstances and a few current circumstances (especially those involving work), I saw just a glimmer of a rainbow in the distance. Rainbows to me are a clear reminder of God's presence with his people. It was the sign of the covenant that he would always be with us in the OT, and it is a continued sign to me that God keeps all his promises. Honestly, that small sign was all I needed, I was already feeling connected and close, but God apparently thought I needed more reassurance. Immediately after I saw the small rainbow I noticed that I had an e-mail on my phone. A co-worker had taken a photograph at work and he thought I would like it:

As someone on my Facebook said, "What a promise!" What a promise indeed. With an full arched rainbow over the place where I spend most of my time, it was God reminding me of his ways, his plans, and ultimately his promises, for me and for mankind. "As colorful as a rainbow that appears after a storm. I realized I was seeing the brightness of the LORD's glory, " Ezekiel 1:28.

God's glory is constantly around us, and he has promised to never forget us or forsake us. The rainbow says to me, through the trails, through the pain, there can be peace, love, grace. The rainbow is, for me, God's ultimate sign of grace. I am so thankful for all the gifts that God has already poured out over my life, every sweet morning with my husband, every milestone that happens in my career, it is not me who deserves the credit, but God and his ultimate grace!

I look forward to more of God's promises in my future, and I know that by believing with faith like a child I will see the truth of God's promise TODAY.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Seven Tornadoes

So, the blog has gotten a little makeover, and it's going in a new direction. Martin has officially given me permission to use this blog as my own personal creative outlet. I'm sure there will still be plenty of family updates, but that will not be the sole purpose of the blog. I've also registered the domain for this blog, so soon you can visit www.seventornadoes.com, and will get right to my blog (and for you Google Readers out there, take a moment and stop by and see how pretty the page looks!)

But, why the name Seven Tornadoes? It goes back to my high school senior newspaper, and class predictions. I wish I had the actual copy (Whitney, you have it somewhere I'm sure) but the gist of it was that I wasn't going to amount to much of anything ... I think it was probably a joke, and I took it lightly, but as a good friend says, there is truth in every joke. However, I knew myself better than anyone else, and I feel like I have been successful, but life is crazy and there are times when I feel like tornadoes are ripping through! That's what this blog is for, to give you the blow-by-blow!

Seven Tornadoes:
Seven Tornadoes, the amount that my high school classmates predicted to sweep through the trailer park where I was supposedly going to end up with my seven children. What happened instead was I became a major overachiever, live in an actual house, and don't even have kids at the ripe old age of 26. It was all in fun and games, but there was always this underlying idea that I would just get married and settle down in Arkansas. However, I instead am a career woman, happily married to my soulmate and living in Florida. This blog is a collection of my journalist work, my personal musings, religious ramblings, and a little fun and games of my own in-between! My life is a whirlwind, I guess I couldn't keep all the tornadoes away!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Inspired!

So, I haven't been in my "groove" for a while. You might have noticed since there have been fewer and fewer posts on our family blog (which, because Martin never gets on here, is really my blog) and the fact that poor Zoe and Sofya has gone to the wayside (though, feel free to blame Whitney on that one too, she hasn't blogged for months, that's right CALLING YOU OUT! :) However, be looking for a post on Zoe sometime today too! The song says, "Groove is in the Heart," and I really believe that's true. If your heart isn't in it, then it's not going to be as good without it!

So, a few updates on life and then some inspiring thoughts for a Sunday morning.

Updates:
Martin and I have officially changed churches. We had been thinking about this move for a while, it really isn't a reflection of our last church, just for me working through ordination, and Martin looking for a place that he really fit, we thought it would be better if we found a church that we could get behind and support, and one that was reaching outward instead of inward. So, we have started going to church at Community of Faith UMC. It's a drive for us, but we don't really mind that. They have a Saturday night service that we enjoy going to and then we take the rest of the night for "date night." We go to dinner or watch a movie after worship and it is the best feeling. The other great thing is that we get our Sundays to really be a a "Sabbath" time. This is really important to me because when I was working in the church Sunday was crazy busy and I never got a chance to really sit down and enjoy the world God has given us. COF is really servant driven, and they have been very supportive of HOME, so that's always a plus to have my workplace and my place of worship working together to serve all God's children. One thing I really like about them is that they are very "Wesleyan," they state that faith is a journey, not a destination, and I really believe that. We don't just stop once we proclaim our faith, we continue to grow, or as Wesley would have said, "continue on to perfection."

Inspiration:
Last night the sermon was about problems coming with growth. The sermon was more about growth in the church and the need for people to step in and help fill the needs of the congregation, but I saw it a little different. There has been a lot of growth happening in my life, and I have been just chugging along, not really focusing on anything. It's been forever since I have had regular devotional time (quiet time) and even longer since I sat down and wrote for myself (like this).

So, my new goal is to be more productive. If I can get back to starting my day focusing on myself, and who God wants me to be, and end my day in devotion and prayer time, then the "me" in the middle will be a more productive, peaceful being. I plan to write more, reflect more, and spend some time being still and knowing that God is real and powerful in my life. This is always an underlying thought for me, but I want to put it back front and center. I'd like to say that weight loss and taking care of my body will come with this, and I really hope it does, but I've made too many failed proclamations to say it again.

So, I woke up inspired this morning. Inspired to do all the work that's sitting on my To-Do list (personal, professional, and for friends). Inspired to remember that God is the time-keeper, and do things in his time and not mine. Inspired to go for more walks, and run a few more 5ks. Inspired to be more positive at work. Inspired to be a better wife to my husband (I cooked breakfast for him today, see already on a roll!) I want to inspire others, and get back to the place where Jesus shines on my face like the morning sun. So, pray for me, send positive energy my way, and get inspired too! If we are all inspired to be better people, then we will see a better world!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Quick Update

Is it possible that it is almost June? I can't believe it! Things have been moving along really fast! I honestly can't remember March and April was so busy that it went by in a HUGE blur!

Update:
• Martin & I have booked our trip to Las Vegas and plan to go over our 5 year anniversary on July 24. We also plan to drive over to the Grand Canyon.
• I have finished all my classes for this semester and it looks like I will have a 4.0, however, there is a small chance of a B in Church History, and I care not!
• I decided not to take any classes this summer because I want to focus a little more on Martin and I and being together as a family. I feel like the last few months were such a blur, and I missed just hanging out!
• Work is still going great, May was still pretty busy, but it's slowed down a bit now and I've had time to focus on some of the "small" things that get pushed aside while planning events!
• June 4 Martin and I will celebrate 9 years together as a couple ... that's a long time! :)
• We went to visit Whitney and Graham (and Annie briefly) this weekend and had a great time. However, I weighed when I got home and saw on the scale the weight that I have never seen before ... so, back to yo-you dieting myself down to the place where I am still fat, but at least I can look at myself in the mirror.
• Martin and I ran our first 5k in late April, and had a great time! We haven't signed up to do another yet, but plan to. I need to get us on a real running schedule, but to do that I have to stop scheduling meetings after 6 p.m.

That's about it for now. Sorry it's been so long, and really, I know this wasn't the most informative blog, but I promise I will try to blog a lot more in the next few months!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

New Blog for Spirituality



So, a lot of times I discuss religious aspects of life on this blog.

Well, I'd like to invite those of you who are interested to check out a new blog that I will be contributing to, along with my best friend Whitney, dealing with life issues and spirituality. The blog will focus mainly on Christian principals, but we hope that we can have a discussion that is open to all peoples, no matter if they are a practicing Christian or not. So, please take a look at our new blog and share with your friends. It is geared more toward women in their 20s and 30s, but anyone is invited to join in on the discussion!

Here is the link: http://zoeandsofya.blogspot.com/

The blog is called Zoe & Sofya which means Life & Wisdom in Greek. We hope to provide wisdom for today's life issues in a loving and caring manner!

Check it out and please take a moment to comment on our first post (there are even discussion questions to get you started)!


The joys of Internet (at home!)

Well, the battle has been fought, and we came out victorious! Yes, there is high-speed broadband internet at the casa de Downey!

It was a long and difficult process, that literally took months of my time, but last night at 7 p.m., we were able to actual access the internet from way out in the country of St. Cloud manor!

I don't even feel like going into all the annoying details (especially the part about having a Comcast tech at my home until nearly 1 in the morning) but, it's over with now and last night I was able to sit down and actually do my homework without having to go to the library for hours (St. Cloud library is really nice though, and has this great little study room!) I wrote all the papers that I have due for the next few weeks because I was able to actually do the research I needed. It was so refreshing!

Of course, Martin was ecstatic because he could finally update the Wii and download songs onto the Guitar Hero game, so that was exciting too. It seems to be really good service, I checked out You Tube and Netflix and both ran very smoothly.

So, finally I can start blogging again and really get back into updating.

I do want to blog more about Kelly's wedding but that will have to wait until later, I need to get ready for class!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Kelly's Wedding

Here are a few slideshows. There will be more info about the wedding to come. It was absolutely beautiful and we had a great time ... I also got really dolled up and it was a great place for Martin to take some portraits of me ... more on all this later (including airbrush makeup). I haven't had time to format all photos, but you get the point! Also to see them better, click on the slide show :)

Enjoy!




Monday, March 16, 2009

When Jesus Turns Our World Upside Down

*This is a sermon that was preached at FUMC-Kissimmee on March 15, 2009. This was the rough draft.*

Scripture Reading I: Exodus 20:1-17

The Ten Commandments

Then God spoke all these words:

I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery; you shall have no other gods before me.

You shall not make for yourself an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, punishing children for the iniquity of parents, to the third and the fourth generation of those who reject me, but showing steadfast love to the thousandth generation of those who love me and keep my commandments.

You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not acquit anyone who misuses his name.

Remember the sabbath day, and keep it holy. For six days you shall labour and do all your work. But the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God; you shall not do any work—you, your son or your daughter, your male or female slave, your livestock, or the alien resident in your towns. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but rested the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day and consecrated it.

Honour your father and your mother, so that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.

You shall not murder.

You shall not commit adultery.

You shall not steal.

You shall not bear false witness against your neighbour.

You shall not covet your neighbour’s house; you shall not covet your neighbour’s wife, or male or female slave, or ox, or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbour.

Scripture Reading II: John 2:13-22

Jesus Cleanses the Temple

The Passover of the Jews was near, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple he found people selling cattle, sheep, and doves, and the money-changers seated at their tables. Making a whip of cords, he drove all of them out of the temple, both the sheep and the cattle. He also poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables. He told those who were selling the doves, ‘Take these things out of here! Stop making my Father’s house a market-place!’ His disciples remembered that it was written, ‘Zeal for your house will consume me.’ The Jews then said to him, ‘What sign can you show us for doing this?’ Jesus answered them, ‘Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.’ The Jews then said, ‘This temple has been under construction for forty-six years, and will you raise it up in three days?’ But he was speaking of the temple of his body. After he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this; and they believed the scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken.

Sermon:

When I was in high sch ool back in Arkansas there was this great little place that some of my friends and I used to visit, we referred to it as "The Rock." In the foothills of the Ouachita Mountains is Lake Degray, and out on that lake, is a few little "cliffs." I say little cliffs because they aren't very high, but they are just high enough that if you find the right one, say one like "The Rock," then you can dive right off into the lake below. I loved going to the Rock, but getting there was never easy. It was located out in the woods pretty far back,

and there really wasn't a set path to it. I knew where the rock was, and I knew where the road to get back was, so I thought. One day at the Rock we realized we had forgotten to pick up stuff to have a bar-b-que, since I knew the way back to the car I offered to head back with a friend to go get the cook-out stuff. We began walking towards the car ... it was about 45 minutes later that we realized we had made a wrong turn.

Even though I knew the way perfectly, somehow I had gotten lost. I tell you this story because I think that sometimes when we read the scripture that was read today in John, we want to think that the temple sellers were bad people, I want to share with you today, that I think just to opposite, I think they were good people, who THOUGHT they knew the right way, but soon realized that in fact, they had been taking the wrong path all along. It started with "The Law."

Can you remember the first time you heard the ten commandments? Probably when you were a small child, probably about the time when you told your first lie, someone in you family might have said to you, "God doesn't like it when we lie," or "God says it's a no-no to take things that don't belong to us." The Law was given to us at a early age, and it was given to the Jewish people during Jesus' time at an early age as well, but it wasn't just the ten commandments that was read today that was given to the Jewish people to follow it was those plus the 603 or so other laws that you can find in Leviticus and Numbers. The people of the time KNEW the law, and they did everything they could to follow it to the best of their ability. That's the background that we have coming into Jesus' visit to the temple. People were simply following the law, in fact law number 482 under sacrifices, "To offer a sacrifice of varying value in accordance with one's means (Lev. 5:7), so when Jesus came in and started throwing tables around and demanding the people out who sold these sacrifices, you can imagine the people were outraged, in fact you could say that at that moment, Jesus had just turned their world upside down with every table he turned over!

What we would like to say as Christians, who know who Jesus was and is, is that the people got what they deserved, they should have realized that they were going down the wrong path, but hey, don't judge them, they've been following this path all their lives, how could they have known that they were going the wrong way. Maybe, the same way we often don't realize when we are going the wrong way today?

You see, going back to experience at the Rock, it wasn't that I didn't know the way, it's that I got distracted. I was talking to my friend, we were just going along just find, never noticing that maybe the path had shifted, we didn't forget the way, the way was always there, we ignored it. That's where we find the good people of the temple, the path didn't change, but there were so many laws, so many observances, that focusing on the path became less of the idea and focusing on the laws became more important. They stopped focusing on God and began to focus on "being Religious." When Jesus turned over the tables, he wasn't stating that these were bad people, he was just calling to their attention that the right path was in front of them and they were headed in the wrong direction.

How many times has that happened in our lives, when we stopped focusing on what's important? When did you start following the path toward salvation, was it when you were little and someone spoke to you the first of the ten commandments, was it an epiphany moment where you knew salvation was at hand, where did you go after that ... when was the last time Jesus turned your life upside down?

As some of you may know, I started seminary this Spring at Asbury , and man is it fun! I am learning so much about the Methodist church and the path that those of us who are Methodist have taken to become Methodists. My favorite class is John Wesley's Theology for Today. John Wesley, is of course, the Anglican Church leader who decided that the church he attended path was becoming a bit too legalistic and began to explore other options, in that exploration the Methodist Way began. I like how he looks at our paths in his order of salvation. According to Wesley, salvation from original sin begins with justification, continues in sanctification and ends with glorification or in layman's terms or how some theologians today like to refer to it, awaking, attaching, advancing and assuring. I think that the journey when we encounter Jesus is in that awaking moment.

When was your awaking? Was it on that path when you were first told the Ten Commandments? Think about that ... look at this chart and try to imagine where each one has or will happen for your life. Now, here is the kicker, John Wesley didn't believe that this was a step-by-step process, in fact, he believed that you could walk down the path many many times. God desires us to be aware of him OVER and OVER again — the journey continues. Often times it continues with Jesus turning our world upside down. Here are some good examples, last week Pastor Scott preached on Nicodemas, a Pharisee, his awareness came when he learned the Jewish law, and he became aware again when he asked Jesus how we must be born again, Paul, another great Jewish leader, was very aware of God, was following the path, and then BAM! Jesus appears on the road to Damascus and turns his world UPSIDE DOWN ... want some more modern examples, CS Lewis, didn't believe in God, found religion to be too full of laws and rules, until he had an encounter with Jesus and was "Surprised by Joy." These are all good examples of people who have had their lives turned upside down by Christ, and continued to let him do so.

Often times, we find ourselves on our own path. We think we have been going the right way all along, until something happens, if like me, you notice the trees don't look the same, or like Paul, you have lost your vision completely, or like John Wesley, you find that the denomination you have loved all your life has become too ritualistic, you might be having an encounter with God. Becoming aware again of who you are, looking down the path and examining, is this where God wants me to be, have I been focusing on him, or have I just been following the way, because that's the way I've always gone. Where have you already encountered Jesus and you missed it because you were taking your own path, was it in the homeless woman that you met at the grocery store who was buying food for her kids, and you were in a hurry and only noticed that it was taken her WAY too long to count out the change, did you meet Jesus on your path when your boss came to you visibly upset and you didn't bother to ask what's wrong because you were too worried about all the things YOU had to get done that day? What about when that small child looked at you and asked you to play outside, and you said, no, did you miss Jesus simply because you didn't bother to look?

Don't stop looking for God at the first awareness, don't forget to become aware again after you have found sanctification, but instead, keep pushing forward. Open your eyes to the road around you, REALLY listen to the people you meet along the way, take a moment to smile, enjoy the scenery and make sure that you are on the path that is focused on Christ, and not on anything else. And, if you find that the path has shifted, and you have you lost your way to "The Rock,," remember the words of Jesus in John 14:6, "I am the way, the truth and the life." The pathway is there, we simply must open our eyes, look for the signs, and let Jesus turn our world upside down once again.

Let's pray: Thank you gracious and holy God for your son Jesus Christ. Thank you that you have given us his examples and his words to follow as we walk down the paths of life. Lift our eyes up to you and give each one of us the assurance that you want us to become aware of you again, and again, and again. Amen.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

The Dog Did It!


My Dog ate my internet. Allow me to explain. The last few weeks have been SO busy, I feel like I have gone non-stop through the month of February and I can't believe that it's already the middle of March, so many things have been going on that I can't remember the last time I slowed down. However, that's honestly, how I like it. I enjoy being overbooked, I find it to be one of the major challenges in life and if you can do 500 things at once, I think it's really a God-given gift to do so.

Usually, I have no problem overbooking myself, until the dog ate the internet. Yes, I was busy, so when I got up Thursday morning at 6 a.m. to do my homework and finished it at 8 a.m.to rush to get ready and drive off to class, I didn't think about the small connector that usually is plugged into my computer that had fallen onto the floor (or laid out on the table). I must have missed it, I am usually really good at putting things away, but this time, it didn't happen that way. I went to class, and then came home to find my nice little USB Connector, chewed to pieces, not only that, but Sawyer (the pup) seemed so happy to have me home, that I couldn't very well punish him when he's so cute and sweet, and really he didn't know what he'd done wrong.

What he did, was have me in a fit! I called AT&T first, to find out how much it would be to replace it, right away they reminded me that I didn't bother to buy insurance on the precious port and it would be $300 to replace it. I promptly hung up with them since I already knew it would only cost $125 to cancel the service. I then called my old friends at Comcast, now what most of you probably don't know, is that because we live in a cul de sac in St. Cloud, this apparently means that we are not allowed to have internet service (because they are too lazy to lay down our lines). However, Comcast has sworn to me that they can and will get us internet, so I called them to see if it was available yet.

They first scheduled me for an appointment for Friday from 4-7, so I went to work, ran some errands and was back at the house by 4 p.m. ... 7 came and went and they were a no show. I called and they had conveniently moved my appointment without telling me to Saturday from 10-12 ... I was at work, but checked in with Martin and found that at noon they still had not come. I called and they had rescheduled for 11-2 p.m. According to Martin someone from Comcast showed up around 2:30 to "look" at our lines. Come to find out, Comcast had done some work toward getting us internet, but they needed to have tech come out and look at the wiring. We were told to expect the tech before 5 p.m. The tech showed up at 4:30 to tell us that actually, a contractor would need to come out and have a look. So now, it's Thursday and there has been no word from Comcast. I called Tuesday morning just to get an update, and of course there was no record of ANYONE coming out to talk to me and alas, my service has been discontinued. SO, some customer service woman told me she would have the contractor supervisor call me back ... yeah, we all know that's happened.

So, if the blog updates are less frequent don't blame me ... blame the Dog!

Monday, March 2, 2009

Work/Life/School/Church/Facebook Balance

I logged into Facebook tonight. Not because I wanted to social network, but because I wanted to disconnect my blog from my account. I decided that updating my account through blogger was still a form of social communication, and so I decided I needed to fix the problem. However, I was very good, I logged in, went straight to my import options and disconnected my feed. I did not read one person's status or check my messages or see what sort of notifications I had. I wonder at what point Facebook stops notifying you or your notifications, because I have a feeling that number is going to get very high.

In all honesty it hasn't been that hard to give up the social networking, I have been so busy with work and school that I would barely have time to log on anyway. I didn't get home from work tonight until nearly 9:30 and this has been my routine for the past few days. I have been having some trouble sleeping too at night, so I've been using that time to catch up on work stuff (mostly e-mails at 1 in the morning, sorry guys with the blackberrys :). It hasn't been that difficult to manage my time, but I do know where my priorities lie, and it's not really with school.

School is getting the back burner of my time, and I'm okay with that. I recently had to write a paper for my church history course, I didn't give it as much time as I had wanted, and if I had been grading myself, I would have given myself a C. It was a C paper for me, I knew it, but it was really all I could give it. I got my grade and feedback today, not only did I make an A, but I made an actual 100%, I don't know that I even made a 100% on anything I did in my first Masters, so great job Henderson State for preparing me to write papers that would get a C in Truth, Order and Beauty that gets an A everywhere else! I guess I was more prepared than I thought. However, a test is coming up in there, and I haven't read half of the materials to take it, but we get to use our notes so I will be making myself a nice study guide before I open that test! So, I think I'm going to be okay with school. I do know that next semester if I take this many hours I will do it all from online. Going to class takes a big toll on my time (especially away from work). I have a great and understanding office, but I don't like getting in the office so late. I think that I will try to only take one class on campus per semester.

However, I do love the classes that I am in. John Wesley's Theology for Today is a great class and I am learning so much! When I am in class I really feel like I am where I'm supposed to be, I understand John Wesley, I see what he sees, I am a Methodist to the core. The thing I love about John Wesley is that when his Bishop asked him to find a church and "settle down," which basically meant, stop stepping on other people's perishes, John Wesely responded, "The World is my Parish." This is so what I am about. It's not that I don't want to itinerate (be moved from one church to another) but that I believe that my work belongs outside of the church, that the world truley is my parish. Class has already helped me better define my call, so I am looking forward to my next Ordained Ministry review because I am really starting to articulate better why I want to be a Deacon working in the World.

My other class that meets weekly is Worship Leadership. I really enjoy this class, but I didn't think I would. I really disliked worship planning when I was working for the church. I was always so stressed that things weren't perfect and that some stupid mistake that I had made, hindered someone else's worship. There was a lot of pressure for worship to go smoothly and sometimes I think I put more pressure on myself than was nescessary. I thought this would come out in Worship Leadership. But, really I am learning more about why we do the things we do in worship, why we pray what we pray, why we gather the way we do. It's really fasicnating stuff that dates back to when God called the people to worship him outside of Mt. Siani.

Work is going really well, but we are down two in the office (Yay for babies!). We have been working on a strong intiative to have a volunteer base, and we did our first training tonight. I had planned the training to last 45 minutes, it was 2 hours. Basically because the volunteers wanted to ask questions and share ideas, and they were so excited that I didn't mind that it was nearly 9 when I left the office. It was good seeing people in the community reaching out and being willing to help those who are in need! I think this is going to be really exciting and I can't wait to see what great things we are going to do! We also have some really great events coming up that I plan to spend most of the week working on. I basically took my google calandar and scheduled me time for just about every thing that needs to be done. I've followed it pretty well, but I think I should schedule myself naps so I don't feel guilty taking one when I was going to read Church History (which at times gets so boring that IT puts me to sleep! : )

I suppose that's it for now, just an update on my goal to "perfect work/life balance." So far, so good.

As a pastor I heard recently say as his benediction and I LOVED IT ... PEACE OUT!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

What I'm gaining ... not giving up!

"Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry." (Matthew Chapter 4:1-3)

For the past seven years I have observed the 40 days before Easter as a time of sacrifice in my life. In the Christian liturgical year this time is referred to as Lent. Growing up in the Baptist church, we were never really acquainted with the Lenten period, so it wasn't until I began going to the Methodist Church, and eventually becoming a Methodist that I realized how important this season of the Christian year is.

Many people think that Lent is strictly about "giving something up," but in all reality it is actually about what we gain. It is not simply making a sacrifice, but taking the time that wo
uld normally be dedicated to the sacrificed action to be a time of prayer and reflection on the blessings you do have in life. Sometimes, when I have observed Lent, I have not done this part, simply because I did not understand that it was required of me, or because I was not spiritually disciplined enough to do so. I have "given up" several things for Lent— beef and eating out at restaurants to name a few, but I have never scheduled a Lent celebration in a way that I could actually use my sacrificed time to dedicate to God in a tangible way.

So, this year, I have decided to forgo social networking. Beginning today, I will no longer frequent Facebook or Myspace (and I just realized Twitter, so much for updates from my pregnant friends!). I really struggled if to include blogger in this as well, but decided that it was necessary because 1. I can use it as a way to communicate WHY I am dedicating myself to this task, 2. We keep a blogger account for my company and it is part of my job to update it and I didn't want to make things difficult there and 3. My blogger is connected to my facebook account, so my facebook friends can at least be notified through my blogger posts that I am alive and well. : )

However, I will not be simply "giving up" social networking, I will be replacing it. I have decided that every time I am bored and wa
nt to check out what folks are doing, I will use this time on the net to read Christian resources, I will visit Bible Gateway, The Christian Century, or Christianity Today or maybe I'll do some studies on other religions and take a tour of beliefnet, but overall I will trade my social networking time and instead make it focused on God. I also encourage my friends and family on facebook and myspace to call me. I will not be answering your messages on my wall or little notes, and I still want to know what's happening in your life. As one of my Facebook friends put it, "The real world is better anyway," and I agree, I would much rather talk to you than a one-liner on a social networking site!

When Jesus was in the desert, he was hungry, and I know there will be times when I simply want to "check" my account. Be it to see how many apps I have been nominated for, or if I have any Friend Requests, but I won't. Lent is not about what I am giving up ... it's what I am gaining — a sense of peace, a more intimate way to communicate with friends, and finally a closer relationship w
ith the one who gave himself up — the least I can do is return a small part of the favor.

Tonight is the Ash Wednesday service at most Methodist and Catholic Churches, and I will be attending. Once the ash cross makes its way onto my brow the season begins and it's Peace out Facebook, Twitter and Myspace — See you on Easter!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

My Writing

I have decided that my blog doesn't exactly demonstrate my great writing skills. Yes, I have okay things to say, but I have some really good stuff out there that most of you haven't read and I'd like to share it with you. So for the next few blogs, I will post past articles I have written for my freelance job with the Florida United Methodist Annual Conference E-Review. I will also post future articles here as well.

This will give you a chance to critique my writing style and give me advice on what I could be doing better as a writer. Through just the blog, not so much ...

But, don't worry! There will still be lots of fun updates on life on here as well, I just want a chance to share some of my "professional" work.

Also, I would love for you all to see what I've been doing with graphic design, you can look at my work on my online portfolio.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Puppies & Babies

My Poor Puppy
We had a pretty scary weekend at the Downey household. As most of you know we got Sawyer about a year ago, Mom got him for us for Christmas. Since we don't have kids yet, Sawyer gets a lot of our attention and most of the time he is a pretty good dog (he has a few issues, eating toilet tissue, nipping our legs when he wants to play). So, we knew something was up with him when he got up on Saturday morning and didn't want to play. At about 4 a.m. Saturday morning he asked to go outside, I didn't think much about it, sometimes he gets up REALLY early, so I didn't pay attention to what was going on while he was doing his business. By 7 a.m. he was still laying around the house and not wanting to play at all. That's when he started throwing up. We called the vet around 11 a.m. because he was having issues from both ends, and we really didn't know what to do with him. They said to keep an eye on him and take him to the emergency vet if he got worse ... he got worse. We took him into the emergency vet and they taught us a very important lesson. Since Sawyer wasn't eating or drinking, we thought, just like a child, that he was getting dehydrated, so we encouraged him to suck on some ice chips. This was the wrong thing to do, apparently dogs make themselves throw up even more if they get more liquid in their bodies, so we were only making to problem worse. The vet inserted a disolvable IV pouch in Sawyer's back and gave him two shots and sent us home with some pills to stop the vommitting and coat his stomach. We stayed home with him all day Sunday to make sure he was doing better, and he had a few issues, but I could tell he was getting better. He seems fine today, we are supposed to keep giving him his medicine and feeding him small meals, but he was wanting to play this morning, so that's a really good sign. The whole ordeal really made me think about how important Sawyer has become to Martin and I. Sawyer has made us a little family. He is fun, sweet, and makes us laugh at least three times a day. I wanted a small dog because they live longer, and I wanted to make sure that he was going to be around for the long haul. Those of you who don't have a family pet may not understand, I wouldn't go as far as seeing Sawyer like a child, but he is this small little being that relies on us to take care of him. Sawyer needs us to feed him, make sure he has water, take him out to potty, and provide a warm place for him to rest. When he was sick, I felt like how I would imagine a newborn's mother would have felt ... he can't talk to me, he can't tell me what's wrong, all I know is that something IS wrong and he's relying on me to make it all better. Martin made the comment at the vet that we better make sure to get a dang good insurance plan for our kids when we have them, because if this is how we are going to be with the dog, then imagine how it's going to be with a baby. I don't worry too much about that though, I've been around babies, I am pretty good at figuring out what they need ... dogs on the other hand I'm still learning!

In other news
Martin and I have been going strong on Weight Watchers. I'm really proud of us. Ususally on a diet we make it about three weeks and then give up. So ... we just passed the three week mark. Pray for us that we can keep this going, I had a moment of weakness this week and wanted nachos like the world had ended! I looked up my favorite nachos and found out that they are 107 WW points. Those of you who do WW know that's almost a full week of points in one meal! Last night I made my own version of nachos for a mere 14 points ... and amazingly it filled the spot (thanks to Cara for forcing me to rethink my options and dragging ME to the gym! ;)! Keep us in your thoughts as we continue this journey. I would like to be at our goal weight by June when we go to Las Vegas. We've been thinking a lot about the right time to have kids, and I want to make sure I am healthy when that happens. I've been wavering lately about when that might be. I have had a pretty strong case of baby fever (thanks in part to Cara and Stephanie being so cute and pregnant at the office) but the last few weeks I've noticed that wain a little. I know things will be great when we have kids, but lately I've been thinking about a lot of things that I would still like to do with Martin before we change our life! We'll see how I feel after those cute little boys are born at the office and I see how sweet a baby is again, but right now, I think I'll stick to being a mama to a sweet little boy named Sawyer Pup!