Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Heaven on Earth

I've gotten a lot out of the 100 joys project--I still may not make it all the way to 100 before the end of the year--but what I HAVE done has been a blessing to me. I look through my previous posts and it's like I have my own treasure chest of Joys--enough to brighten any day. I've loved the project. But today I am bursting at the seams with joy, and I don't have a single picture to show for it!

I have this week off work. It's been wonderful to be at home all day. Monday I never stepped outside the walls of my house until my beloved came home and took me out. I worked all day and finally got the house "under control." Our clothes are put away, the dishes have been done, the office is orderly, and the bed is made. At the time of this writing it it isn't perfectly clean, but that's just because we've lived in it since yesterday. An hour of work and it'll be "company ready" again.That is such a wonderful feeling!!

Not only have I had this week off of work, but I've also had this week off my ordinary duties of cooking. Monday was date night, Tuesday we were at my parents house. I enjoy cooking (immensely!) but I've also enjoyed having a few days without that responsibility.

And then I'm also so in love with my wonderful man. Last week we had our very first misunderstanding--and it was entirely my fault because I went and changed my expectations of him without having the courtesy to notify him of the change. But he completely and freely forgave me. I am reminded of the joy the shepherd in the Bible experienced over the lost sheep--he was more excited about it being restored than about the 99 that were never lost. I am more filled with joy over a restored relationship than I was over a relationship that hadn't been tested.

So today I am working on the last round of Christmas presents. I am getting the final bit of housework taken care of. I am catching up my wedding photo album. I am listening to old time country hymns. I am looking through my goals for the coming year. I am counting my blessings. I'm thanking God for a husband who truly does love me as Christ loves the Church.

And I feel like I'm tasting a bit of Heaven on earth.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Our first Christmas

Christmas 3 of 4, was of all our Christmas celebrations, the one most anticipated in the newly established Rohlin Household. It was the first Christmas we celebrated as a family, the most lavish gifts were given there, and it was the most special and significant to us both.

We unanimously elected to open presents Christmas Eve, after celebrating with my family (Christmas #2). While we both agree that Christmas morning is a better time to celebrate for children, while it is just the two of us the evening before Christmas makes most sense.

I handed out my presents first. I have been looking forward to giving these presents for MONTHS. Before we were married I knew I wanted to give these presents to him, but didn't know when I could afford them. I saved and saved, and had enough just in time for Christmas! He loved the presents--and was satisfactorily impressed with my creativity.

Joy 68
Richard wanted to go second. He gave me a pair of super cute red heels first. They are very old fashioned looking, and I believe at some point I'll have to make a special dress to match them. Richard's second present was the biggest--and the most special.

When Richard first proposed, nearly two years ago, he presented me with a beautiful heart necklace. The front was encrusted in 16 small diamonds, the back was silver filigree forming 9 hearts within the framework of the heart shaped pendant. It was hands down the most beautiful and valuable piece of jewelery I'd ever owned up to that point, but I treasured it most because it was the present he'd selected to give me on that very special evening. But less than three months after that night I lost the necklace.

I was terribly upset when it went lost, and I didn't tell Richard about it for several months (the longest I've ever kept something from him). Finally I had to tell him. Richard wasn't upset--he told me it was just things, and things weren't important people were. But I continued dilligently searching for that necklace. Every time a drawer was pulled out that I hadn't already thought to pull out, my heart jumped as I hoped it was there. Every time there was a day of in-depth house cleaning I hoped it would turn up. It never did. To this day I have no idea what happened to it.

Ever since I finally gave up on finding the original necklace I've hoped that Richard would think to purchase a second one, if possible, to replace the first. I haven't really talked about it, but if there was one THING I wanted me husband to give me, it was that particular diamond necklace.

And this year, our very first Christmas together, that's what he got me.

Joy 69
Christmas morning we started with a (very) simple breakfast together, after which we sat in the living room and read the Christmas story together.

Joy 70
Even though the mail doesn't come on Christmas day, I asked my husband to go check it. I ordered Christmas Ornaments to give to his family, as our main Christmas present to each of them. To my dismay the ornaments still hadn't arrived, although I'd ordered them a month ago. You can immagine my delight when my husband returned, triumphantly holding a package from china!!

Joy 71

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas celebration--2 of 4

Our second Christmas celebration took place Christmas Eve, with my family. We arrived back from Christmas #1 and had just enough time to clean the house (in a throw-things-in-closets-to-be-dealt-with-later kind of way) and get presents together before leaving. On a very spur-of-the-moment idea, I grabbed two santa hat and told my husband we were going to wear them to my parents' house. He protested at first, but then went along with it--to the point that he wore it inside Walgreens when we had to make a stop! My wonderful, good-humored man.

I enjoyed being with my family. Since the two weddings it's been more and more difficult to get the entire family together at once. Mom had to get a picture of the two new couples together on the couch. She took a picture first, and we all shouted "No! Wait!" And dove for our Christmas hats. Properly attired in seasonally festive attire, she was allowed to snap the picture.
Joy 63
 I was still suffering from the cold/laryngitis/throat infection, and so spared my voice that evening by whispering. When a call went out for somebody to play Santa I enthusiastically volunteered. As 'Santa' was horse, however, she needed a translator. Josiah wanted to help also, so he was the elf in charge of actually handing the present to the person. So, in order to delever a present Santa whispered the name to her helper, who announced the name and handed the gift to the elf, who carried the gift to the recipient. It was great. :P
One of my favorite gifts this year was to my middle brother, Dallas, and came directly off of his (very immaginitive) wish list. He wished for a girl friend. So I got him a girl. She was about 2 inches tall, had wings, was made of plaster, and cost $1.99.
Joy 65
After the gift exchange we had family dinner. Since the two newest additions to the Rhoades family we've had to break out the extra leaf to the family table. As you can see, we aren't exactly the quietest bunch in the world... but we are lots of fun!
Joy 66, family dinners
Following dinner was the traditional family Nuts game. As usual it got pretty wild, but the newbes are starting to catch on! Amanda gave the experienced crew a run for their money. As for my husband and I? Well, we tied. I'll leave it at that. :P
Joy 67

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Celebration--1 of 4

This year, as our first Christmas together, we are having 4 Christmas celebrations over 3 days. Our first celebration was the day before Christmas eve, and we went to East Texas to celebrate with extended family on Richard's dad's side.We rode with his family, and I really enjoyed the time we spent with them. I took a LOT of pictures. :-)

We started our trip with a trip to whataburger, where I'd obtained coupons for free sandwiches. All together we got 11 hamburgers for free!!! Plus extra pickles on the side. I must have those extra pickles. ;) Everyone was thrilled with the tasty food--particularly Arthur, who was delighted to not need to settle for a Jr. burger.
Joy 54
On the way there we girls got the brilliant idea of writing a poem to commemorate our adventures. I thought it was very creative--even if the meter wasn't 100% accurate. It certainly helped pass the time!!

Joy 55
Once we arrived family time began in earnest.  I enjoyed seeing family members I haven't seen sine the wedding, and it is ALWAYS fun to visit Aunt Claudia's house. Her home is like a decorator's paradise--there are so many little nooks and crannies, all with some interesting something. Come to think of it, it would have been an awesome place for hide-n-seek too....

Joy 56
Before dinner there is a family tradition to pull poppers--and this year was my first to participate. Inside is a riddle, a crown, and a toy of some sort. The riddle must be solved, the crown worn all evening, and... well, the toy can be useful too. If you get a catapult and plastic ball. And are inclined to shoot it at people. Not that I would do anything that childish, mind you. What made you think that??

Joy 57
After dinner was finished we gathered around the Christmas tree to pass out presents. This year we only gave presents to the children, adults abstained. But it was lots of fun to watch the children open presents!!
Joy 58
One of the presents that caused the most laughter (the family) and delight (the recipient) was the final present to Arthur. He is 9, and has been saving every penny for a long time to buy his own bike. The poor fella has been using a hand-me-down from his sisters--pink and sparkly. It was time for him to move up in the world. So he diligently scrimped and saved, and decided to wait till the after Christmas sales to go purchase his very own bike. Little did he know that there was one all ready purchased for him!!

When he realized what was in the box, his very own red 24" brand-spankin-new mountain bike, his delight couldn't be contained. After jumping up and down in delight for a few minutes, he darted to each of the aunts and uncles to hug and thank him. By the time he got back he was completely puzzled about how he'd NOT known it was coming. It was a LOT of fun to watch.

Joy 59
After presents our resident photographer got a family picture. I'm looking forward to seeing that, plus the other pictures she took throughout the evening.

Joy 60
That night my husband and I stayed the evening at MamaDolls house. I always love time spent with her. Even though she isn't a grandmother I grew up knowing, I felt at home with her the first time we met. Her home is one of those "peaceful" places in the world, the sort of place one wants to visit after a particularly difficult or stressful week.

The next morning we drove home again with Richard's family. His sisters sang acapella Christmas songs most of the way home. My laryngitis kept me from joining in, but in my mind there was another harmony line as I 'sang' along with them.

Joy 61

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Christmas presents

I really enjoy the Christmas season. I love the decorations, the music, the seasonal cheer. As the song says, "it's the most wonderful time of the year!"

These poinsettas were put out on the tables where I work. They are pretty good about keeping the cecorations fresh and seasonal, and I've enjoyed all the Christmas reds and greens. It was also a joy, however, to know that this was the last time I'd see them. I'm off work for the rest of the year. I love my job, but I can't wait for some days at home!!

While at work I had some presents to give to the people that help look after M'lady. It was fun to give them the presents, as they weren't expecting anything.

After work I did the final present shopping. I'm so glad to be finished!! {52} I don't find present shopping stressful in the least (on the contrary, I greatly enjoy it!!) but I don't usually let it stretch quite so late in the season. It's good to have finishes, and I'm looking forward to giving the gifts I've chosen.

In the evening I curled up with my man on the couch to watch a show. We'd intended to do something more constructive... but I've just been too tired lately. I did figure out what I have, though. It isn't a cold--it is laryngitis. I don't know why I didn't realize it before. I used to have seasonal laryngitis, but I've missed it the last couple years. My main complaints are a sore throat and tiredness. There is congestion, but it isn't too bad. The voice is gradually diminishing. So, yes. Laryngitis.

Anyway, Wednesday night we cuddled up on the couch to watch a movie, and as we did I noticed one of the ornaments on our tree. It isn't easily seen during the day, because it is brown, but at night the back-light from the christmas lights bring it to the forefront.  I think the one word sums up what the season SHOULD be, but not always what it IS.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010


Sometimes it is very difficult for me to Be Still. Actually, it USUALLY is difficult for me to be still. I am constantly thinking, constantly planning, constantly doing, constantly making my husband and my schedule 'work.'

My home has suffered tremendously from the bedbug issues we've had, added to the already full Christmas schedule. Essentially I've had MORE to do at home and LESS time to do it in. Now that the bugs are officially gone, we have about 30 bags of clothes, fabric, and towels that need to be unpacked and put away. Plus all the normal stuff that keeps me busy. Plus the fact that I'm coming down with some sort of seasonal sickness.

This morning I was sitting on the couch, writing a couple of long overdue letters, and feeling very frustrated. I have ONE day off before Christmas starts (which is Thursday for us), and that is today. I have the final presents to make/buy. I have the final wedding Thank Yous to send. I have New Years letters to get finalized. I have the menu and basic shopping to do. Not to mention I was sick of the house being messy, and living out of a very disorderly guest bathtub while most of our clothes are bagged on the porch.

And on top of all that I'm sick--and the only thing on The List that I had the energy to do was write a couple of letters.

I was frustrated because I wanted all of this done NOW. I want the house clean TODAY. I want the to-do list completed TODAY. I want the clothes neatly put on hangers TODAY.

But then I realized that even though my impulse to make my home beautiful is natural, in this particular instance it isn't RIGHT. God gives us the strength to accomplish what HE wants us to accomplish. If I don't have the energy to be able to do what I have on my list, well, that means I've been adding unnecessary items to GOD'S list. Impatience is not being satisfied with what God gives us right now.  And I wasn't satisfied.

So for the rest of the day I'm going to battle impatience. I'm going to go from item to item on the list. I'll put the list in the order-of-importance My Man gave me this morning (which wasn't the order I had it in originally :-P). I'm going to complete GOD'S to-do list for me for today--even if I don't get MY list finished.

And you know what?

If God and my man are happy with me at the end of the day, that's enough.

cooking joys and a lunar eclipse

Monday morning I woke up with a sore throat and generally under the weather. I'm not actually sure if I ever DID wake up before lunch time, though I did end up at work at the appointed time. It was hard to get up the gumption to leave the house for work, but I only had two work days left this year which I kept reminding myself of on the way there. I enjoy my jobs, but my house needs attention.

Upon my arrival home I did a spot of desperately needed cleaning, and then commensed with the marshmallow making. I made a batch last week and my man enjoyed it so much he asked me to put some together for him to take to work. I gladly obliged.

First I boiled the sugar mixture, than whipped it up with the gelatin mixture for about 15 minutes. With a well coconut oiled spatula I spread it in a pan and let it sit.

I overcooked this batch a wee bit (when trying to take the pictures) so I was concerned something wouldn't work quite right. But they turned out beautifully, and after I added the chocolate dipping and peppermint sprinkles they were perfect.

After this effort I was pretty worn out, which brings me to my next joy. Let me start out with saying that since we were married I have taken pride in my cooking. The area I was most concerned about pre-marriage has turned out to be one of my greatest joys post-marriage. To put it in short--my man eats very well. I make nearly everything from scratch to avoid unhealthy additives. I make my own crackers, salad dressing, and mayonnaise and I grind my own wheat into flour to make my own bread. I buy from local sellers when possible--both the milk we drink and the eggs I buy. Organic is a decent second choice. I get a real sense of joy and satisfaction when I can put a meal that is totally mine and totally healthy in front of my man.

I feel guilty when I take short cuts for no good reason, because I know that with any less than what I do my husband will be eating MSG, aspartame, hormones, and  a whole host of other bad things. But sometimes there is a good reason to have a backup plan in the fridge, and Monday evening was one of those evenings. So my 47 joy is Dinner in a Bag.

After dinner I did a little more around the house work, then pretty much went straight to bed--at my man's command. I have a hard time slowing down, even when I know I need to. Perhaps I should have slept the entire night, but I knew my man was going to watch the lunar eclipse, and I didn't want to be left out of something that only happens about every 400 years or so. So around 1:30 my man and I went out to wach as the moon slowly shrunk to a slivr, and then to nothingness.

The weather was perfect--pretty, clear, and just crisp enough to remind us that it was December. I enjoyed the hour we spent together watching it.

Monday, December 20, 2010

A special Birthday Joy

This past Saturday was My Man's birthday, so while it was a full, busy weekend, it was full of things we did for him. We started the weekend off with a trip to the theatres to see Voyage of the Dawn Treader with a friend of ours. {37} I didn't care for the movie and wouldn't let my children (when the Lord blesses us with them) see it, though I thought it was a noble effort. My husband didn't even allow that. It was rather sad to see a beloved and uplifting story turned into a "pirates of the carribian" type tale, complete with talismans.

At least they left in a line at the end where Aslan tells the children that he is known by another name in our world. That was a big deal.

That would be my man's rockstar pose. :P

The next day was Richard's birthday proper. We started the day with a meal of bacon and waffles with whipped cream and berry topping. It was tasty, but I didn't take a picture. After finishing our meal we went to pick up Arthur, Richard's only brother, and took him with us to the Gun Show. I had fun talking to him on the way, and have officially promised him a camping trip in 10 years where he can help out with howevermany kids we have by then. When I pointed out that by then he'd be 19 years old and big enough to toss the little ones up in the air his face lit up like Christmas lights.

Joy 38, my little brother Arthur

Going to the gun show was a Very Big Deal. It was, in fact, the way that my husband had determined to spend his 21st birthday over 5 years ago when he first took up firearms as a hobby. He has eagerly awaited the day that he could 1) legally purchase a handgun from a dealer, and 2) legally obtain his concealed handgun permit. Ever since we got married he has saved every bit of his spending/play money for this day, and now that we were finally AT the gun show he was nearly out of his mind with excitement. He almost reminded me of a kid in a candy shop the way he went from table to table, but UNlike that overwhelmed little boy, Richard was quite purposeful. He went through the entire show, narrowing down the options in a surprisingly short peirod of time. He finally came to two choices, and after examining both with a critical eye made his decision. Afterwords were the REAL looks of delight. He still hasn't stopped fondling his new acquisition. I'm seeing a range trip in the near future.

On the way to dinner we passed by the chapel where we were married. I could see it's steeple from the window as we passed. It's hard to believe we've already been married 3 months. 3 months and 4 days to be exact.It's been wonderful, nothing like I expected and yet exactly the way I should have known it would be.

Joy 40, "our" chapel

Richard shares his birthday with Aunt Latrell. She isn't blood related, but spending 40 years on the mission field in Taiwan with Richard's grandparents made her and Uncle Jack every bit as close kinfolk as blood relatives. The same day Richard turned 21, Aunt Latrell turned 80--two big milestones.

Joy 41, shared birthdays

We celebrated by having a family dinner at Kings, a "real chineese restaurant." As Uncle Jack (and the rest of the family) assured me. While I love Chinese food, this was my first time to eat the genuine article at a restaurant (though Richard's mom, who was raised in Taiwan, can make an amazing--and authentic--chinese meal). One thing that I thought was neat were the little dessert... uhm, puff things. I can't remember what they were called, probably because I don't speak chinese. Anyway, they were puffy sweet things with red bean middles, and were shaped like rose buds. Very tasty.

Joy 42, funny little puffed rosebud chinese desserts

The evening was concluded with the gift I gave Richard--a computer game, actually. It was a departure from the norm and NOTHING like whatever it was he was expecting, but he loved it all the same. I love surprising him. I can't wait till Christmas.

Sunday morning the children at church put on a Christmas drama, "The Case of the Missing Christmas." It was VERY well done. Richard's mom, a very talented musician, pulled it all together. The amazing thing is that she was able to get 40 children to both sing and act the entire thing out!! As Richard put it, she's pretty amazing. :-)

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Patchwork quilt

Today was like a patchwork quilt of joys. Bright colors, muted colors, colors that look like they SHOULDN'T go together, but somehow mesh perfectly.

On my way to work this morning I noticed the tree just outside our third floor apartment. REALLY noticed it. It looks like it is in four different seasons--some leaves have fallen, leaving bare winter branches. True to Texas weather, however, I saw some spring-like buds on some of those bare branches, reminding me that spring won't be long in coming. The tree still has summer-green leaves, though, of course, most of them have now put on their cheerful orange, red, and yellow fall outfits. Welcome to seasons in Texas. :-)
Then at work today I made cookies with my kiddos. Well, that and a bazillian other things. Most days we get home fix a snack, watch a TV show and rush off to wherever. I'd like to do more, but after a full school day the kids are ready to sit for a bit--and after they've had their break it is time for me to go. But half-days give us more time together, and give them more energy. So today we did nearly everything we've been WANTING to do. And one of those things was making 3 dozen cookies together. {32}

Today my man and I ended up at church in two vehicles (happens when we both come straight from work). Usually I hate being in the same place in two vehicles, but today I'm glad we did. The moments of forgetting we are married are getting fewer and fewer, but today I had one of those panic moments today as I was driving up. His car was the only one in that vast empty parking lot and I thought in dismay, "Man. I hope he called to see when a chaperon was gonna be here...Oh, wait... That's right. We're married now."

It wasn't exactly rare that Richard and I ended up at the church by ourselves while we were engaged. We both tend to be there a lot anyway, and while we always planned to arrive after other people it seemed to be a common occurrence that his family would have a change in plans and come late--generally not remembering to notify us. In such cases either I'd read in the parking lot while he did whatever inside, or he'd come out to visit while we waited. While I certainly enjoyed any time we spent together, I'd spend the entire time stressed about the reactions his family would have. Therefore it's a REAL JOY for it to not matter anymore whether we have a chaperon at church. {33} I LOVE seeing those two cars together in the parking lot. :-)

It's a joy to make my man smile after a hard day of work. Even if I have to use a baby bell roll of cheese and turn it into a Pac-Man. {34}

It was a joy this evening to wrap up the evangelism class I've been taking. {35} beforehand everyone was catching up on their homework--unlike me, angel of studiousness that I am. Yeah, okay. So I did all my homework today also. :P

BUT, there's a story there. Part of the homework is that you have to witness to two Christians who aren't in the class (the above picture), two unsaved people in natural relationships (think family, co-workers, friends, people you already know), and two unsaved people you aren't regularly around. I planned to share the gospel with the two children I look after, plus a co-worker. I totally chickened our on the co-worker, and I asked God for help with the rest of the day. He helped by having one of the children's friends over, giving me 3. I'd already told them the day before that I needed to share my faith with 4 people, and the kids volunteered to help. That made it a LOT easier, even though I was still very awkward. I really don't get why witnessing is so hard...

One thing came out of the class that I know will have an eternal impact. Christiana, Richard's younger sister, accepted Christ as her savior. {36} Her mom was sharing with her as part of the homework, and she understood! She was so VERY happy this evening--and so was I. Now she is my sister twice over!!

Living Joy

Mondays first joy was in a clean plate. I work for a lady who lacks only  6 months of being 100 years old. She is a sweet lady, but the last few months I have been pretty concerned about her. I often couldn't get her to eat at all, and she was having some other problems as well. But then about a month ago the doctor adjusted her medications and now I see a completely clean plate most days! God is good!!

When I got home on Monday I had another joy--I had packages delivered from JC Penny's. A couple weeks ago they were having an AMAZING sale, and I had about $40 to spend. I mainly was after shirts for my man, as he is running low, but the coupon was soo good that after I'd done all the damage I could in the mens department I moved on to other parts of the store. I was up till about 2am, but after seeing the fruits of my labor I think it was worth it.

Earlier this week my man re-opened a computer game he is the admin of. {28} He'd temporarily closed it after we were married to focus on more important things, but then found that he needed the accountability of a writing outlet. He reopened it a week ago on a smaller scale. I'm not big on most computer games, but the one that my husband runs is something I find both enjoyable and constructive. Before we were courting this was one of many things we enjoyed doing together, and I'm looking forward to being able to play with him again.

 Yesterday my husband and I went on a walk together at a light show near my parents house. My man wasn't feeling particularly great that evening, but he was kind enough to humor me with a very romantic walk. It was so pretty to see all the lights covering the trees!

Even though he wasn't feeling particularly well that evening, my man seemed to perk up during our walk to the "frisky" stage. It was quite a challenge to get a picture, but I persevered!!!