Peace vs Understanding

How many times have I read Philippians 4:6-7? Hundreds? Certainly. Thousands? Maybe. Yet a few weeks ago in our Sunday liturgy, we said those verses as a congregation, and I heard something entirely new.

Wind back to November of last year. It had been a terrific few months at Viewzi. However, we hit the wall on our fundraising with the downturn in October, and by November payroll was, well, not. We all kept working at it, and the company has continued to have some success by shifting focus to more immediate, revenue-driving projects. However, the new approach really wasn’t a fit for my contribution. I’ve continued to office with the guys and collaborate on some opportunities, but by the time I heard the Philippians passage that Sunday in late March, I had been over 4 months without a paycheck.

February was the low point for me. Interestingly, our church’s service also played a key role then as well. We sang that wonderful rendition of Psalm 130, and I sang it quietly to myself each day for weeks as I learned to patiently wait on the Lord. Now in March I was doing pretty well in terms of my outlook. I’d even started a couple ventures that were starting to generate revenue. And we said Philippians 4:6-7 in the liturgy, and it was like I heard it for the first time.

What had I always heard before? That God’s peace goes beyond anything we can make sense of. We experience his peace in circumstances that should not lead to peace. And I think this is exactly what the verses state, yet I’m now convinced there is even more.

What causes worry? When do we wallow in worry instead of experiencing peace? I’d suggest the Bible’s admonitions exactly match our experience. In Matthew 6, Jesus asks us if we can add one moment to our life by worrying. We are told not to worry for food, clothing, or shelter, that God knows our needs. That we should think about today, and not fret about tomorrow.

There it is. We worry about the future. And Tricia and I, as we went months without income, worried. Tricia summed it up so well one evening when she told me, “If you told me we’d be in this situation for another 6 months, and then it would end, I’d be okay.” The situation wasn’t the only stress, it was our fears for the unknown future that were killing us. Not knowing was at the heart of the worry.

We worry because we do not know the future. We may mourn for what we do know or experience, we may experience real hardship, but we worry because of what we do not know. As we read Philippians 4:6-7 in church, I suddenly heard it this way, “and the peace of God, which is of more value than knowing”. We don’t know the future. But God does. And his peace, which he brings us, is of far more value than us knowing, even knowing the future.

What is the antidote to our worries? From this point of view, Philippians 4:6-7 and Matthew 6 offer similar answers. We need to know that God knows our needs, and then we need to seek first his kingdom. And we need to believe that God’s care, God’s knowing, is far better than our knowing.

HGTV: HORNE & Garden Television!!

Last week, Jay suggested to me that he’d really like to have a little space of his own somewhere in the house to work, other than this:

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It seems that despite the cute and cuddly company, such a workspace isn’t as conducive to high productivity!

We considered various options around the house, none of which were ideal: use an entire bedroom (but it’d be hard to stuff three boys and all their gear into one of our rooms); find a convenient closet to settle him into (he wasn’t keen on this one); convert a formal area to office space (we are using our front two formals right now to home school).  If we had a basement, that might be a neat solution (not only for a home office, but for about a thousand other purposes that immediately spring to mind!); alas, there are no basements in Dallas!!

So…the only viable solution at this time seemed to be the little vanity area (better known under my watch as the “junk-gathering” area)  in our master bedroom. It’s a decent-sized if not gigantic space for this purpose (5 by 5 feet), but since it also serves as the walk-through to get to my closet and one of the entrances to our master bath, we’ll be limited in how we set it up.

I have only a very blurry shot of the space, taken the first day we ever visited the house, so it’s pretty rough-looking (read “ugly”!!). But you at least see the area: a little nook off to one corner of our room.

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This angle looks directly into the nook, and gives you a view of the closet doors ahead of you, and the bathroom entrance to your right.

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Earlier this week, Jay set about gathering supplies and demolishing the built-in vanity that took up a major portion of this area. Since the cabinets appear to have been built into the walls piece by piece, the process of removing them was not simple.  Here we are in various stages of demo:

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See how happy it makes my husband to tear something apart!

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Pulling those stubborn cabinets out resulted in a few gashes in the walls:

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Prepping the hole for the new piece of drywall:

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Taping up and nailing in new drywall:

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Wall mudded and ready for sanding and texture…to be completed another day.

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Here is Jay taking a break from his work (and nursing an injury he sustained in the demolition when he took a crow bar to the ribs – self-inflicted but still quite painful.).

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Next steps after finishing out the wall texture and repainting are: We’ll need to install a light where there is now a blue hole (very top of the picture) to which electrical has already been pulled. And Jay is planning to custom build a desk: which will likely consist of an appropriately-sized shelf on brackets set at a height to serve as a workspace of sorts.  While he’ll be limited by the size of the space, we think he can build something that will give him room to spread out and work in addition to his nifty little Target computer cart (which he’ll keep using in his new set-up).

My hope is that when the project is all done, that the computer cart and desktop might be low profile enough to be gracefully hidden behind a curtain or set of panels which I’d love to mount at the outside of the “office nook”.

If anyone who is reading this has design input, please chime in, and tell us your thoughts. Especially if you have ever put together a little spot like this, yourself. If you have opinions to share on the curtain idea, I’d love to hear those too!!

We’ll hopefully update you soon with progress on our latest little Horne Improvement project!

C’mon…Burn that Butter!!

Eating all those birthday cupcakes has motivated me to work out!! Well, not really…the realization about a month ago that swimsuit season is impending was motivation enough. Cupcake consumption just served to seal the deal.

A few weeks back, I began looking around for something new to inspire my efforts to get back into the swing of exercising. Jay will tell you that I have to think long and hard about exercising before I ever just put on my sneakers and go for it!!

Given our budget is pretty lean right now, I turned to my friend the library, and checked out several dvd’s to try at home. After working through most of them, I settled on my favorite of the bunch, a Denise Austin “Kick Your Butt” Fat Burner workout, and have used it a few times now. It’s felt helpful enough that I had to share a personal review with all my patient readers!

First, please do not be turned off by Denise’s lack of clothing as pictured on the cover of the DVD  – she wears something entirely different (and more covering!) during the actual workout. This is a great workout (said the “hasn’t exercised in a thousand years” girl) that will challenge you over and over.  It is circuit training: cardio bursts interspersed with weights, and consists of seven segments which each include about 4 minutes of high cardio activity immediately followed by a couple minutes of weight training. This goes on and on and on….till you wonder how Denise can still possibly be bouncing up and down, and looking downright happy about it!!

There are three levels of intensity shown for every part of the cardio exercise, and of course you can vary the size hand weights used for more or less resistance.  The moves are less “dance-y”, and much more athletic in nature. Most are inspired by kickboxing and basketball moves. Some of you may hate Denise’s upbeat, happy personality, but I find her comments about exactly which muscles you are using during each segment really helpful. Her banter is encouraging, and even funny. “Burn that butter!”

I gotta tell you though, that I do not look as awesome as Denise does while burning butter (or fat, whichever term you prefer). Her hair, neatly styled and worn past her shoulders literally never falls out of place or gets the slightest bit frizzy, and I do not believe the woman even began to break a sweat during the entire 45 minutes of high energy exercise. But Denise has a few advantages I don’t: for one thing, she has a huge workout studio with hard floors and plenty of space to punch, jab, and kick.  She has backup “dancers” er, workout buddies, to make her look good.  And perhaps most importantly, there are no children or animals sharing her workout space with her.

This morning while I sweated along, I had a toddler on one side of me brushing up on his own little jabs and punches, and a Kindergartener on the other side desperately trying to keep up with the fast-paced shuffling and kicking. The kindergartener also diligently weight-trained right along with Denise and me, using his own tiny set of weights (and asking me in a most polite manner to please move over so he could have enough room to do his workout properly!).

Of most help though was my eager lab, who would not submit to being put out of the room just because her 55 pounds were in the way of my workout. Instead she stayed close by to monitor our progress, and near the end happily licked my face repeatedly during a particularly trying set of tricep dips. I think she, like Denise was cheering on my feeble efforts.

Well, there you go.  I’ve never been a huge follower of exercise “videos” but I think a good one can be a nice help in adding variety to a fitness routine. If any of you have re-entered the world of working out after a long hiatus and found things that helped keep you in the game, please feel free to share!! Also, if you have favorite workout dvd’s that you want to share names of, please leave me a comment.

And now, if you’ll excuse me, enough of this exercise talk.  I must go stuff my face with some homemade queso and chips!!

Easter/Birthday Recap

As I sit here posting these pics, I am eating one of my sister’s amazing homemade Dark Chocolate with Chocolate Chip Cupcakes topped with a Bailey’s Irish Cream Chocolate Ganache, finished off with a Pouf of Meringue Buttercream. I don’t know quite how I typed all that. In one word though: DELICIOUS!

Easter this year happened to fall on my 27th birthday. If you do the math, you can see Jay and I tied the knot at a pretty young age….

So for 2009, I got the double treat of having all our in-town family join us for not just Easter but also some birthday fun on Sunday. Hence the aforementioned Dark Chocolate Decadence.  The day was made ten times sweeter because most everything for our feast was brought to us, not provided by us. We are very grateful for everyone’s kindness and generosity. Thanks to all of you!

So here’s a quick summary of the day:

For something new this year, we attempted to make Easter Tomb Cookies.  I say attempted because yours truly sort of missed a critical step early in the process which flubbed up the recipe bigtime.  And caused me to actually shed tears…tears!!!! over egg whites that would not whip properly on the eve of my birthday. Silly, I know.

Maybe I was just a little sad over finally turning 27. But I think it was more due to the fact that I felt so frustrated because there was not time enough left in the evening for us to assemble another batch of the cookies before bedtime. So I did what any control freak would do under the circumstances: just as soon as the kids were in bed, I made a second recipe!! My children WOULD be able to open the oven door on Easter morning to properly-made tomb cookies!

Opening the Sealed Oven

Opening the Sealed Oven

After church, we attempted to take some Easter photos. These sessions are always so sanctifying; usually even more so than the wonderful Easter sermon! You get shots where the big sister is trying to no avail to tell her brothers to knock off the foolishness so that they can please go eat lunch sometime today, and preferably before the Easter supper is ready to be served:

Tweedledee and Tweedledum

Tweedledee and Tweedledum

and others like this where for whatever reason the child thinks jumping up and down and flapping his arms will enhance the clarity of the final shot:

The Quintessential Goofball

The Quintessential Goofball

and then endless goofiness from the littlest meatball of the bunch (my Pa always used the term “meatball” and I still love it!):

Silly

Silly

but if you’re lucky, you might end up with a pretty nice, if not perfect picture of your four beloved children.

Beautiful!!

Beautiful!!

Remember when they looked like this (Josey’s first Easter, and please note that Abigail is wearing the same dress)?

First Easter with All Four, 2006

First Easter with All Four, 2006

She is the easiest one to snap photos of, so I took a few more of her, sweet thing.

Our Abigail

Our Abigail

Then mid-afternoon, cousins and aunts and uncles and grammys and grandys, and a sweet friend all arrived!! There was much drinking and feasting and playing, and the traditional egg hunt was held on the grounds.  Fierce competitors these ones:

The Egg Hunters

The Egg Hunters

Whose child is that wacky little guy on the end?

The Egg Hunters Plus Some Kid Who Thinks He's a Rockstar!

I leave you with a nice picture of the great minds (and cooks) behind much of our Easter merrymaking:

Uncle Keith and Aunt Sandra

Uncle Keith and Aunt Sandra

Thanks to everyone for helping make our Easter 2009 a blessed day of celebration of the best thing that has ever happened to mankind!