Suffering Well


So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh,a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
2 Corninthians 12:7-10

I (Charity - the only one of Paul + Charity that posts) have always thought that if I was diagnosed with some sort of terminal cancer or disease I would be able to suffer well. To not lose hope in God, to point others to Christ. I think (and only think) that I could do that because I would know that the suffering wouldn't be a lifetime.

I wonder what Paul suffered from. I wonder how he endured once God told him his strength was sufficient. I wonder if he ever questioned God's strength or asked Why Him? I suppose I wonder because I personally do not suffer well and these questions haunt me from time to time.

10 + some years ago I had my first bout with headaches. They were overwhelming. I had read an article about migraines and was convinced that is what I had. When I told my parents, they were under the assumption that I was creating symptoms from having read the article. I took a lot of ibuprofen in those teenage years.

In college the headaches seemed to return with a vengance. There are nights I remember laying on the floor of my dorm room. all the lights off, towels covering the crack under the door because even that little bit of light hurt. I didn't have much for health insurance so I didn't feel that I had options.

After college I worked at a chiropractic office and was able to get free treatment. Those years were some of the best in terms of finding some type of cure - though not always fool proof.

I am sure I prayed throughout these years - but I imagine my prayers were "why me" and "please heal". In my mind, I didn't deserve to suffer like this.

Over the years I have seen more doctors and have hodge-podged different medicines together and sometimes I find relief and sometimes I don't.

In my mind though, I suffered well. Looking back, I realize that because I had the luxury of being selfish, I didn't suffer well - I escaped well.

My headaches (or migraines, depends which doctor I see) have been returning more frequently. My prayer still tends to be "take this away". It doesn't occur to me to ask for strength or God's sufficiency. I see that more clearly as I try to interact with Paul while having a headache. Well, more like my lack of interaction. I am mean, impatient, avoiding, etc. I'm upset because I don't want to feel minimized. I want attention and care, I want to be number one. My character truly shines when I suffer.

God wants to be number one. Mine, and Paul's.

Anyways, long story short - I have really realized lately that I don't suffer well, I suffer selfishly and impatiently. This is something that I am still wrestling with. I get what I need to do... I just cannot seem to get myself to do it in the midst of the pain. Prayer welcomed.

and THREE makes us a Family!


Get yo mind out of the gutta!

Okay... title is kind of silly - but by 3 I mean Paul + Charity + Charlie:

Charlie turned 3 almost two weeks ago! Isn't she the cutest:

She truly is part of the family! Paul has had Charlie since she was 6 or 7 weeks old... so she is his baby! And I am just a sucker for those big brown eyes!

And she is quite the cuddler!
Charlie's favorite things to do are: Watching the world go by out the window, chasing balls of any type, chasing squirrels, swimming, sniffing, and of course eating!
Nicknames include (but definitely not limited to): Char-naners, naners, bobos, bobo-see, and Char.
The three of us make a great little family!
Happy Birthday Charlie!

Routine & Mission


How is it so easy to neglect the blog?

I think part of the reason is that Paul and I have been settling into a routine - or at least a routine that defines this season of our life together. I am working part-time at my new stressless job for 20 hours a week and then interning with a school counselor 20 hours a week. Currently my class load is light, however I am also meeting weekly with a group of ladies to begin studying for the comprehensive exam we need to pass in order to receive our degree this year.

Paul continues to work too hard and has also been taking part in a ministry at church called Counseling in Community. We have also started a new (but familiar) community group that is closer to our home and affiliated with our church campus.

Did I mention we wake up around 4:30am Monday through Friday? Our other new routine is Waffles on Saturday - which has been a fun way to start our morning weekends together!

Some parts of our routine are new, but fit into a mission that we are trying to develop for ourselves as a married couple. As we have been talking about mission with each other, I have also had the theme show up in a book I am currently reading.

I have been reading Love & War by John & Stacey Eldridge. Though I have to admit I started the book before we got married, lost it for a couple months, and once found - I have been reading it very slowly. One paragraph though, that struck me on mission goes like this:
"It was not by accident, mere chemistry, sexual attraction, or some bizarre alignment of the stars that we had been drawn together and gotten married. It was planned in the heart of God. We were made for each other. God had brought us together for a reason; the whole of who we were - our life experiences, our unique desires, our spiritual gifts, our talents, even the man and woman that we were on the road to becoming - all this fit together in a way that made sense. We had a purpose, we shared a calling; we needed each other."
Right now, we are still asking God questions about our mission. We have had doors opened to us as we're sorting things out. We know that service, community, and mentoring are important components for both of us. Sometimes when I think about mission - I think about a cheezy corporate mission statement that is meant to rally the troops and keep them motivated. I guess Paul and I do not necessarily need to be rallied, but motivation is important because it is easy to get bogged down by the world. A mission statement for us is a reminder that we are in this together and that we are seeking the specific mission God has for us to share in.

Well, that is a brief update from the Paul + Charity Show!

Pumpkin Deliciousness


Fall is here!

I can easily say that I love pumpkin year round - but, I have burnt Paul out on Pumpkin - how is that even possible? So I try and wait until seasons have changed before bringing the pumpkin back! The leaves are falling, the mornings are uber chilly - It's official that the season has changed!

A few weeks ago, a friend made some pumpkin bread for me and I devoured it. I may have given Paul a piece, but the next time he tried to get some - it was gone - kind of like our wedding cake. Whoops... sometimes I just get so excited!

Anyways, I stocked up on some canned pumpkin this last Sunday while at the store and as soon as we got home I started assembling a loaf of pumpkin bread. Paul said it was the best pumpkin bread he has ever had, which is funny, because it is almost exactly my friend Robyn's recipe with only one minor change. But - I have to agree, it was pretty dang tasty!

Oddly enough - some 1,800 miles away, my sister was also making her own loaf of pumpkin bread. Great minds really do think alike!

Without further ado: Pumpkin Bread (recipe from Robyn, minor tweak by me):

1/2 cup apple sauce
1 - 1/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 cup pumpkin
1 -3/4 cup flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp allspice, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg & salt (I didn't have allspice - so I used pumpkin pie mix)

1. Mix applesauce, sugar and eggs in a larger-sized mixing bowl with an electric beater/mixer
2. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix until smooth
3. Eat some batter because it's really good! (This was advice from Robyn and I completely agree!)
4. Bake at 325 for at least an hour

Marital Arguments


They are almost exactly the same as when you're dating... except now all space is shared space. You can't just run home.

Oh, and those Biblical roles you've spent all that time talking about during dating - well they are a reality now - and they're not easy!

Paul and I survived our first argument and we know there will probably be more where that one came from. It is nice once you're finally on the otherside and are able to look back at the issue and learn and pray through your mistakes!

I'd also crack a joke here about once you're on the otherside you get to make up too - but that could be seen as inappropriate ;)

Meal Planning & Budgets


I absolutely love cooking and I even love meal planning but budgets, those I am not such a fan of.

As a single person I didn't cook as often because who wants to do the work to downsize a recipe or who wants 3 days of left overs? I ate a lot of Kashi Frozen Waffles or Cereal. Easy. So budgeting for food wasn't very necessary.

In a dating relationship, especially one in which I was in school and work full time, cooking was something both Paul and I took turns doing. I love being in the kitchen and whipping up something new. In fact, I am not very good at repeating recipes. There are just so many meal options out there. Again I never worried about budgeting for food because the cost was share between Paul and I.

Now married. And not just married - but married and my income is decreasing quite a bit with changing positions at work and only working full time as I complete an unpaid internship for my master's degree. Now I have a number I need to work with each month for planning meals.

This week, I gave my first try and planning a weeks worth of meals, shopping for that whole week and staying in a budget.

I didn't do so great. Don't get me wrong, the food is pretty fabulous (minus one day so far) but money wise I may have gone slightly over - by a LOT! I just get so excited to be back in the kitchen. I lost that excitement the month of July with finishing work, completing a tough summer quarter, and of course planning the wedding. I guess I have been a little too on fire!

Here is what I've been whipping up or will finish whipping up this week:
Sunday: Grilled Veggie Wraps - this has been the only failure - the sauce just didn't bring much to the party.

Monday: Shrimp and Succotash - Delicious & Easy!

Tuesday: Stuffed Chicken Breasts: picture goat cheese, roasted red peppers, and asparagus!

Wednesday: Grilled Flank Steak with Chimichurri Sauce and Braised Chard with Chickpeas - this meal we had company over and it was an overall hit!

Thursday: Loaded Bowl: Quinoa with Black Beans, Tomatoes, cilantro, avocado with a garlic sauce.

Friday: Garlicky Mussels & Cornbread - can't wait!

I am looking up sales & discounts for next week - but as you can imagine... it will be a more simple fare!

I would love to hear ideas, suggestions, inspiration for how others plan meals on a budget!

Back in the Bedroom!


I promise I am not obsessed with the bedroom. Well, not completely obsessed!

First, this post needs an intro regarding marriage. Married life. Meshing two lives. It is kind of an interesting concept that no one seems to talk about. Or maybe they don't talk about the nitty gritty. What is the nitty gritty? Well - it can be an anxious time meshing lives. Well, at least for me it was the first week back after the honeymoon.

I won't lie - I cried. I cried because I felt so unsettled. We had just returned from a wonderful week in worry-free Hawaii. But in Seattle my clothes were in boxes and I had just moved to where Paul had lived for almost 3 years. I had paperwork to do and agencies to contact and unpacking to do. I felt stressed and unsettled. And I felt awful for crying when I felt pressure (my own) to be happy because how could I be sad? I just married an amazing man!

Thankfully since cry-fest 2010 I've talked to some other girlfriends who had either cried the whole way back from the honeymoon or felt stressed and angered during the transition. I didn't quite feel as alone or abnormal - the latter being the most important.

So last week, Paul and I made a list, we checked it twice and we made a plan. Suddenly the impossible To Do List became the possible.

This brings me back to the bedroom and also lets me share about how wonderful Paul is. Last week we bought a dresser and some bookshelves for the bedroom and Paul put them together. We basically put the furniture where the only empty spaces were in the room. And I didn't like it. I couldn't put my finger on it, but I think the room didn't feel balanced. I don't think Paul liked it either. He mentioned we could rearrange but that sounded like more work than was worth the effort. I wasn't sure how to express that I felt dismayed.

Paul continued to persist the idea of rearranging the room completely - and assured me how quickly it would be to change it back if we didn't like it - so we got to work. Twenty minutes later we had a bedroom. A bedroom that I love and that is ours. Not just a room I am adapting to - but a room that is now adapted to us. Every time I walk into the room I feel happy and relaxed! Sometimes I just go up and sit in the bedroom!

I love that Paul knows and works past my apathy - my willingness to just give in because the work seems too hard. I am very blessed! Now I have had my touch on every room.

Paul's house is now our home!

Poor Bedside Manners


It seems fitting to have the first posting of the Paul + Charity Show be about our bedroom. Don't worry - I'll keep this PG13.

Paul and I are fresh off the wedding altar - meaning about 12 days ago we got hitched. Prior to this we have avoided sharing a bed together and now... well it would be kind of odd not to be sharing a bed ;)

Here is the dilemma: In the past 28 years I have only ever slept on a twin size bed. Kind of sad in a silly sort of way I know. Growing up this was fine, and then in college I was upgraded to an extra long twin - because at 5'2" I need all the extra leg room I can get. After college I had a brief stint with a full size futon, but the relationship fizzled quickly. Then I purchased my very own twin bed.

Why a twin? It's great. Fits me like a glove. I can lay in the middle and touch both ends. You see, I am an edge sleeper. I like to be at the very edge of the bed and sometimes I hang an arm or a leg or both over the side. In a twin I can quickly roll to either side and see which one I am the most comfortable with for the night.

Enter marriage. I now have the right side of the bed. It's comfortable, don't get me wrong, but so much space. Paul and I tend to start the night sort of in the middle and then suddenly I have edged myself all the way to the edge, and I typically take the blankets with me.

Will it take me 28 years to change this habit? Hopefully not. However, It really is just one of many "adjustments" and learning curves that seem to come with marriage. Well, learning curves, here we come!