Thursday, December 31, 2009

Anniversary Pictures

Happy New Year's Eve everyone! We are being lazy at our house today. Relaxing and enjoying time together. Tonight, a good friend I grew up with is getting married here in the metroplex; so we will be welcoming in the New Year by celebrating his marriage! I have a few posts up my sleeve over the next few days, but for now here's a few pics from our anniversary weekend at the Gaylord Texan Hotel!



Thursday, December 10, 2009

Merry Christmas Time is Here!

Cold, snow, hot chocolate, spicey candles, evergreen trees, blue, silver, red, green, wrapping paper, warm blankets, sparkly lights, festive music, cozy fires. These things and many, many more bring this holiday season alive for me!

I have been extremely reflective pretty much since Thanksgiving. The Lord is doing some amazing things for Taylor and me these last few weeks. We are watching with wide-eyed, open-eared anticipation as God moves around and among us opening doors for our future that are beyond our wildest imaginations. As of yet, we know not what 2010 will bring for us, but we do believe it will be big and directly in the will of the Lord. We pray daily for His guidance and that we will simply be obedient, mission-minded followers of His word joyfully going wherever He next sends us. It is completely fulfilling to find ourselves this anticipatory while completely at peace knowing He is working around us in ways we cannot see but faithfully trust!

With these thoughts, anticipations, and joyful unknowns treasured deep inside me, I have entered this holiday season full of so much joy, peace, contentment, and celebration! In just 10 days, Taylor and I will be celebrating our 1st anniversary! What an amazing year this has been! We have each learned so much about each other and marriage. I find myself overcome with moments of pure amazement at how my Heavenly Prince Charming overflowed my cup of imagination when it came to my earthly prince charming! I could not ask to be married to a better man. Taylor is such a Godly man! I love watching him as he wrestles with what it means to be a Godly man, husband, and servant of the Lord. He has grown so much in the year and a half that I've known him! I cannot wait to see what the rest of our life holds!

Taylor and I have made wonderful celebration plans. We are spending next Saturday and Sunday at the Gaylord Texan Hotel here in the Dallas area. We thought it would be somewhat reminiscent of our honeymoon since we stayed at the Gaylord Opryland! :) We are very much looking forward to our weekend away just the two of us! Early Monday morning the 21st, we will be leaving to head to Albuquerque to spend Christmas with my parents and grandmother! We will get to spend a week there enjoying the company and relaxation of Christmas vacation! We are praying for a white Christmas near the mountains, but also praying it holds off til we get through the mountain pass on I40 into ABQ! :)

I'm not sure if I will blog again until the New Year. I am planning on losing myself in the celebration and time with family that this season brings so joyfully! I pray that the Lord blesses each of you with joy beyond your imaginations as you celebrate Jesus Christ and His love!

Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Christmas Decorations

Our first Christmas was during our brand-new, 5-day-old marriage! It was wonderful and special as we celebrated on our honeymoon. This year, however, FEELS like our first Christmas because we have actually been able to decorate together, shop for gifts to give others together, and enjoy this season not wrapped up in wedding preparation. I have been able to contribute with my own cooking to family and friend gatherings. It has been a wonderfully, blessed start to this holiday season! Here's some pics of our festive home.













Thursday, November 5, 2009

Ode to My Last Name

10 1/2 months of marriage have passed by for me, and I have enjoyed them immensely. I'm actually a little sad to see the first year of our marriage coming to an end. However, I'm thrilled for the many, many more years to come! I was reflecting today on how much I like my "new" last name that now feels as normal as my "old" last name felt. In fact, Lowery sounds/looks weird now if I ever hear or see it paired with Kristi. I was telling Taylor today how much I love the name "Belt." He asked what brought it on. I had just deposited a check made out to me and was admiring it. I love the way it looks and I love the way it sounds. It has a very nice ring to it in my humble opinion. :)

You see, I explained to Taylor that girls are filled with nervous excitement about one day changing their names. For a girl that liked her maiden name (as did I), dreaming about one day getting married and changing names is a great joy and a little scary. I couldn't wait to take on the name I would one day spend the rest of my life with. But, what if I chose someone with a really bad name that I'm stuck with for the rest of my life???? I mean, this could be a very serious situation. :) So, in my (albeit a little silly) reminiscent mood I have to say that I happened to marry the man of my dreams who also has a fantastic last name! Whew! What a relief! :)

Happy Thursday everyone! May you find joy in the small things today!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Thankful

I posted last week about the overwhelming state I was in (see My Hats). Since then, God has continued to work on my heart and mind. A couple significant things have been said to me; one through a friend, and the other through my current Bible study. First of all, when sharing some of my struggles with my Bible class on Sunday a new, sweet friend shared with me her experience with the same feelings and confusions in her life a couple years ago. She mentioned that she too felt that God had given her each of her "hats," but that she was struggling to keep them all on her head. She prayed and prayed for God to release her from something, but He did not close any doors for a time. He simply asked her to trust Him. Eventually he did close some doors and provide her with gracious relief. That was a balm to my soul to hear. God is not releasing me yet from any of my many "hats," but is asking me to allow HIM to give me balance and perspective in all of them until such a time as HE decides fit to close some doors.

Secondly, in my study of the book of Esther, the idea has been presented that women often feel responsible for the "hows" of life. Man, if that isn't me...I don't know what is! There is freedom in embracing that God is in charge of the how, not me! It's okay to long for things while I wait--that's healthy and biblical! But, going crazy trying to make the how happen NOW is not my job! Whew! So, I will keep praying, keep studying, keep releasing each and every "hat" up to Him every morning until He puts the hows into motion!

For, now...here's some things I'm thankful for that get me through each day:

Thank you, dear Father, for:

1) A successful marching season for my husband and his kids.
2) The end of marching season!!!
3) A husband that now keeps "normal" hours and can (and loves to) help out with more things around the house!
4) Sunny days--it's been feeling a little "Pacific Northwest" around here lately, so I cherish sunny, dry days!
5) Theme days at school when I get to wear jeans or slippers. I love teaching when I'm comfortable!
6) Using me as a dyslexia teacher
7) Using me as a jewelry lady
8) Using me as a minister's wife
9) Using me as a band director's wife
10) Hot tea made in the early morning made by my loving husband
11) Singing with my husband
12) A sweet dog that brings joy to our apartment
13) Laughter!
14) New friendships
15) dreams, visions, and new destinies in the making that only you know about

In the midst of what we sometimes perceive as chaos, what are you thankful for?

Friday, October 23, 2009

I DID IT!!!

I figured out how to change up my banner a little so that it would fit and not be off center. I just couldn't stand the asymmetrical banner anymore! Now that I have figured it out, I can have even more fun! Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

My Hats

Kristi Renee Belt

-Bachelor of Arts
-Master of Education
-Reading Specialist
-Academic Language Therapist in training
-Premier Designs Independent Jewelry Consultant

I promise I’m not tooting my own horn. I’m processing. These are my current hats (minus being a wife, daughter, sister, friend, servant, and Child of God). These are the things the world sees as accomplishments. I guess in many ways they are. They could explain an extreme need to be successful. I guess that could be true about me, but more than that I think they show my love of learning. Each accomplishment on this list was born out of a desire to learn something new. I could be a forever student—yes, I’m one of “those.”

Lately, however, I feel like I’m drowning in my “accomplishments.” When I set out to accomplish each of the above things, I believed I had God’s blessing. I believed that He would use these things through me as a ministry to Him. Somehow that’s still true, but I’m struggling with it. Because, somewhere at the heart of me, I feel that my true passions and the hats I want to be wearing are being neglected (wife, daughter, sister, friend, servant, and Child of God). It has been affirmed to me that I am not neglecting these things, but rather ministering to each of these at the same time. I appreciate the affirmation, and I’m thankful that God is using me; but why do I feel spread too thin? Why do I suddenly feel that I have put too much time and effort into my accomplishments and not enough focus on becoming like Christ and deeply ministering to His people? I KNOW that I can do both of those things while living out the above accomplishments and successes. But, for now, I FEEL a little lost. I don’t have peace for some reason, and I’m exploring why. Is it because something needs to go? Do my priorities need to change? Is it just a time of wilderness where I can’t feel what God is doing, but He IS living out His promises through me and therefore I must trust and obey? Is there something in me God is molding that my spirit of unease is directing me towards? Surely, it’s not a mid-life crisis right now at the age of 28??? ;)

For now, I’m here. Getting up each day and doing what God puts before me on that day; praying fervently for my next step and His providential direction.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Blogging Woes

I am still in the process of cutifying my blog. (Yes, I made up that word!). I'm really excited that I was finally able to personalize a banner-thanks Amy! But, I can't figure out why the banner is going outside the box at the top for banners. Now my blog is off center and that bothers me. :) Does anyone have any pointers for me?

Friday, October 9, 2009

Wonderings

Random:
1. Why does the card machine at Sonic ask me if I know my pin number? (Amy also asked this question on her blog awhile back…I wanted to ditto it!)
2. When my husband makes me tea in the mornings, why is it always better than when I make my own tea?
3. Why do I feel like a better teacher and have more energy in a school day when I get to wear jeans?
4. What is happening in little children’s bodies (especially K-2nd) that makes it impossible to walk or sit still? At this point, I’m completely used to it; but it’s so funny to watch it just makes me wonder.
5. Why did it take years and years for me to realize that "The Quiet Game" could actually be played as a game instead of just what mom told us to do when we got too loud? I mean, I know that even in game form the job of "The Quiet Game" is to give adults some peace and quiet. But, it was never a real game...it was just a nice way of saying, "BE QUIET!" ;)

Serious:
1. When I focus on a new self-discipline in my life, why do my previous self-disciplines fall to the wayside? Is it really that hard to be self-disciplined in more than one area at a time?
2. Why is it that when I know I feel better if I’m exercising regularly do I continue to talk myself out of doing it at the end of a long school day?
3. If I know I feel better when I don’t eat products with wheat in them, then why do I continue to “just deal with the pain” and eat them anyway?
4. Why does a 9-year-old girl have to ask her mom why Jesus hasn’t fixed her dyslexia yet—even when she’s made lots of progress?
5. Why do some Christian families seem to have more hard things happen to them than others? I know that there is a spiritual battle raging, and God allows things to draw us closer to Him; but sometimes it seems that the “wealth” of hardship needs to be spread around a little more.
6. Why do innocent kids have to pay for the mistakes and sometimes outright stupidity of their parents?

There are not really any answers to these questions, and I'm completely okay with that. Just wanted to share with you some of the questions that have crossed my mind this week. What are you wondering about…random or serious?

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Spice It Up

I am trying to spice up my blog. I found a very cute background (as you can see) that I got from The Cutest Blog on the Block website (thanks Amy-I found this on your blog!). I have tried getting a banner and some extra fun things for my blog, but all of these require using a PhotoShop type program and then uploading into my blog. I am having difficulties with this for some reason. Oh well...one step at a time, I guess. I'll keep playing with it. For now...enjoy the cute background but look forward to some icing on this cake in the future! Happy Reading!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Life in the Belt Household



It has been awhile since I caught my readers up on what is happening in our lives. We’ve been married for nine months, and we are some place completely different today than either of us could have probably imagined 9 months ago. But, we would not trade a second of this journey of marriage and life together! We are having a blast and loving doing life together! So, here’s an update of the comings and goings of The Belts!

Update on me: I cannot believe that I am in my 5th year of teaching. It has been a whirlwind for sure! I have been with Frisco ISD the entire time, and it’s so neat to see all the changes that happen in a school district through the years. This is my 2nd year doing dyslexia therapy, and I’m still thoroughly enjoying it. The training program is for 2 years, so I’m on the home stretch working towards my Academic Language Therapy certification. Summer 2010 I will be taking the ALT exam to receive my official certification. I cannot wait to be finished with this training and fully certified. It has been said by many that I am a perpetual student…and this is so true. I have loved being able to teach while going through this training because I got to be a student and teacher at the same time. I have learned so much and am continually amazed at how God created us and how He enabled us to combat difficulties that children can experience.

In addition to training and teaching, I have started a new venture working for myself. In July I began my business as a consultant for Premier Designs Jewelry. I am thoroughly loving this job! It’s completely different than teaching and allows me an outlet to spend time serving women instead of children! Taylor and I hope to start our family in a couple years, and we both feel it is important for me to stay home. Premier Designs will give me an opportunity to add to our finances while being a full time wife and mom! I am loving all the things God is doing with me and through me as a teacher and as a jewelry lady. At this moment in my life this is very fulfilling for me!

Update on Taylor: Taylor is in his 3rd year teaching, and his 2nd year working for Birdville ISD. He is the percussion director for Birdville High and its cluster schools. He also teaches about 20 private lessons a week to many of his students from those schools. This time of year is incredibly busy for Taylor due to marching band. We treasure our quiet moments at home together or the occasional chance to go on a date—these are few and far between right now. But, I tag along for most of the contests and cheer him and his kiddos on which is fun for us to do together. It makes me proud to see the way he works with kids!

In May, the Lord blessed Taylor and I with an incredible opportunity! Since we met, Taylor has been talking with me about his passions towards ministry (a passion that began long before we met) and trying to weigh that against his current situation as a band director. We have been talking and praying about this for a year a half, and had agreed that Taylor would start spending some time with some worship ministers we knew and try to gain experience filling in on occasion. We had kind of placed a 2 year time table on him continuing to teach while learning everything he could about worship ministry before he started fully pursuing a position as a worship minister. To keep a long story short, God had a different time table! In May we received an opportunity to join with the Park Row congregation in Arlington in order for Taylor to serve as interim/part time worship minister while the church heads through a period of transition. We were amazed at God’s workmanship in crafting this journey. The sequence of events could only have happened at God’s Mighty Hand! So, Taylor is also working part time at Park Row making our lives incredibly full and happy as well as busy, but God’s Hand is in all of it! We do not know the timing of how much longer he will be teaching. Our hope is that this will be the last school year, but that rests in the Lord’s will. Taylor loves teaching, but his passion for ministry is significantly greater that his passion for teaching. This is where we believe God is calling us; and though overwhelming and unknown at many points right now, it is a journey we wouldn’t trade for anything!!!

So, this is us. Journeying through the will of God each day, learning where he wants us to move. There are amazing and wonderfully fulfilling things going on in our lives right now. There is a whole lot of unknown regarding our future as well. But, when is the future really known anyway? God has us in the palm of His Hand. All we really want to do, is serve Him passionately and use our lives individually and as a couple to glorify Him always!!!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

The Disposition of Perfectionism

It is early Sunday morning. My husband gets to church at 7 on Sundays to make sure everything is prepped before praise team practice at 8. Sometimes I take my own car so that I can rest a little more and not be a distraction to him as he works. This morning, I decided to come along with him. I am currently in the middle of Beth Moore's Esther Bible study, so I got comfy on the couch in his office and dived back into the dramatic narrative that is the story of Esther. I'm in the middle of chapter 5. At the end of chapter 4, Esther has begged Mordecai and the Jews to fast for three days and pray as she prepared to risk her life to go before the king. One of the things I had never really noticed before until this study is that Esther tells Mordecai that she has not been summoned by the king (her husband) in 30 days. Her life is at stake because it was against the law to walk into the king's presence without being summoned. But, I believe Esther was afraid her life was at stake for a 2nd reason: because she had not been called in a month. I believe she feared that she no longer pleased her husband enough for him to feel her life worth sparing. How scary!

Chapter 5 begins with Esther going to see the king and requesting a banquet. After extending his sceptor to her, the kings asked Esther in verse 3, "What is it, Queen Esther?" Beth mentions in this lesson that the Hebrew translation for "what is it?" is akin to "what troubles you?" It was apparent to the king that something was wrong. Despite Esther's bravery and determination in fulfilling God's will for her, she was still human and extremely scared and nervous. "What if I mess up? What if he doesn't love me enough anymore to save my life? What if I am unable to save my people?" I believe all of these questions plus many more were going through Esther's mind. And, that's where my mind starting whirling today...because Beth used this dramatic moment in Esther's story to talk about perfectionism. Here's a quote from her study:

"Beloved, do we believe that the only way to do something acceptably is to do it perfectly? Sometimes God is more aware than we of just how much He requires of us. He knows how hard it's going to be for us...Do you happen to struggle with perfectionism and perhaps could use a little ministry? Do you feel if you can't do something to perfection, you ought not bother? Do you frequently feel pressure to perform tasks that will result in applause? When you blow it, do you wait a long time before trying again? Do you feel the need to always make an 'A'?...Perfectionism is a disposition to regard anything short of perfection as being unacceptable...I'm not suggesting we shouldn't do our best. I'm simply saying that sometimes just surviving certain tasks without fallling apart is our best and in those times God is not ashamed of our performance. He's proud of us for fighting overwhelming human emotions to do His will. God isn't interested in our stellar performances but in our hearts. He loves our willingness and obedience despite our insecurities."

I don't even have a good comment on this yet. I'm going to have to spend a lot of time thinking and praying through this idea and concept over the next many days. I have been convicted and in some sense am experiencing some type of spiritual relief, but that relief is currently at war with my nature of perfectionism. So, I need time. I need to pray and meditate on this concept and on the story of Esther. In the meantime, I cannot wait to continue on this journey with this Queen who may not have been perfect, but was bold in the Lord.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Invitation Only

If you are reading this post, you have either received an invite from me and joined my blog; or you are one of my approved Facebook friends that can see my notes. Yes…I have entered the world of protected blogs. I’m not sure why I didn’t do it sooner.

I awoke this morning to a comment on my blog from an anonymous contributor making hurtful observations regarding my dad. The contents of the message do not matter; only that I have learned my lesson of not protecting my blog before now. I believe whoever the individual is that left the message is acting cowardly and in bad taste, and I feel for them that they do not know of a better way to handle themselves.

It’s amazing how much we can be hurt by comments about those we love. It was a difficult decision to even tell my dad about what happened, simply because it was a very cruel comment, and I didn’t want him hurt. In the end, I decided it was best because he’s still my dad…and dad’s usually want to know when someone has hurt their daughter even if she is all grown-up and married.

So, all of that said, my blog is now invitation only. My God is bigger than the enemy that wishes to see me destroyed, and He will protect me and those I love!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

The In's and Out's of Taylor Belt

A few weeks after we got married, I posted about a few things I'd learned about my husband since living in the same house. Well, it's now been 8 1/2 months of marriage and I have learned more! Here's a small sampling!

1) When my husband is tired and wants to wind down, he watches Sports Center. To me, the volume and hyperactivity of Sports Center is anything but "wind down" material; but to my husband it does the trick. So, I quietly shut the bedroom door and enjoy the silence of a book in the tub or in bed so that we can both wind down in our own ways. :)

2) We are at the time of year when marching season takes over our lives. Between teaching school and private lessons, after school marching rehearsals, and working part-time as a worship minister - several days a week find me in bed before he gets home and a quick hi in the morning before we both rush out the door. As a result of this, my husband's subconscious has figured out how to reconnect - sleep in the middle of the queen-sized bed. Yes, without doing it on purpose, Taylor has taken to sleeping in the middle of the bed. And, while I love to cuddle. At 2:00am, my half-asleep self wants to lovingly say, "I miss you too, but SCOOT OVER!" :) hehe

3) Taylor yearns to work in full-time ministry! I love watching him work towards his dreams!

4) Sunday mornings = Gaither Homecoming Hour Taylor tapes these on our DVR and then watches them from time to time, but ALWAYS on Sunday mornings.

I am loving learning about my husband! So excited I get to learn about him everyday!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Providence, Destiny, and Gratitude

I am studying Esther. The Queen who basically won a beauty contest in order to move out of the harem and into the queen's quarters. Only to find herself in the midst of a pending holocaust with the responsibility to stop it lying squarely on her shoulders. I am journeying through Esther verse by verse over a 9-10 week period. I'm on week 4 at the moment, and have studied much about God's timing, His providence, and His destiny for me. On the way to school this morning, this song came through my CD player; and I realized how fitting it was to my current study. I wanted to share the lyrics with you. May God's blessings be upon you!

Gratitude
Nichole Nordeman

"Send some rain, would you send some rain
Cause the earth is dry and needs to drink again
And the sun is high and we are sinking in the shade.
Would you send a cloud, thunder long and loud
Let the sky grow black and send some mercy down
Surely you can see that we are thirsty and afraid.
But maybe not, not today
Maybe you provide in other ways
And if that's the case

We'll give thanks to you with gratitude
For lessons learned in how to thirst for you
How to bless the very sun that warms our face
If you never send us rain.

Daily bread, give us daily bread
Bless our bodies, keep our children fed
Fill our cups and fill them up again tonight
Oh, wrap us up and warm us through
Tucked away beneath our sturdy roofs
Let us slumber safe from danger's view this time
Or maybe not, not today
Maybe you provide in other ways
And if that's the case

We'll give thanks to you, with gratitude
A lesson learned to hunger after you
That a starry sky offers a better view if no roof is over our head
And if we never taste that bread.

Oh that differences that often are between
Everything we want and what we really need

So, grant us peace, Jesus, grant us peace
Move our hearts to hear a single beat
Between alibis and enemies tonight
Or maybe not, not today
Peace might be another world away
And if that's the case

We'll give thanks to you with gratitude
For lessons learned in how to trust in you
That we are blessed beyond what we could ever dream
In abundance or in need
If you never grant us peace

But, Jesus, would you please?"

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Rori vs. The Vacuum

We were cleaning last weekend, and Rori attacked the vacuum. It wasn't running. I was just rolling it across the floor and this is what happened. She even bit it at one point, but that's hard to see on the video. She's just ferocious!

video

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Sugar and Rori

When we come to Albuquerque, we bring our little Rori with us. My parents' dog, Sugar is on a raw food diet. She eats twice a day and then gets to chew on a raw bone for 15-30 minutes after each feeding. Rori has been fascinated by this whole process. She has stolen the bone once and hid under the bed. We don't want her to have it cause it's not hers, and she has a sensitive stomach and gets sick easily. Unfortunately for Rori, the whole process of Sugar eating her bone is torture to her. This video shows the agony Rori goes through twice a day when Sugar eats. :) Enjoy!

video

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Vacation and Jewelry

We are on vacation!!! Taylor and I made the 11 hour drive to Albuquerque on Monday. We get to be here in this wonderful place until July 16th! We are so excited about such a long vacation. So far we haven't done much, but isn't that the point? I'll update along the way with any adventures we take while here in New Mexico.

So, last week I began a new adventure in business. I am in the process of joining the Premiere Designs team as an Independent Consultant! If you are not familiar with Premiere, it is a jewelry company that uses independent consultants to sell affordable, high-quality jewelry through home shows. I'm thrilled about this opportunity to earn some extra cash in a very fun, rewarding manner. If anyone out there reading my blog would like to do a show--let me know!

Hope everyone else's summer is fun and relaxing. Make time to rest!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Addicted

Did my title catch your attention? HA! I couldn't help myself.

But, truthfully, I'm discovering that I am addicted to the Internet. Especially to email, Facebook, and my blogs that I enjoy reading. Our computer died two days ago. We went to the library yesterday to check email, and the library's Internet was down-go figure! All night last night I would sit down to relax and just naturally reach for the computer to check email and remember that it wouldn't boot up. Today, I am at the church with my husband while he is planning worship for Sunday morning catching up on emails and getting my blog "fix" to last me a few more days. We will be in Albuquerque with my parents next week and will have limitless Internet availability for 2 1/2 weeks! Maybe during that time we will figure out what is wrong with our computer.

In the meantime, I am learning how to enjoy doing other things. I am learning that the world does not fall apart when I can't check email for 2 days (or even more). I'm learning that it's okay to have a phone conversation instead of email conversation when things do need to be taken care of. It's been good to identify my need to connect to the web and to realize I can survive without it. :)

So, all that being said-I'm signing out of the World Wide Web for a little while and will learn what life was like before my Internet addiction existed. :) Have a blessed week everyone!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Novel Reflections

I am reading a book right now called Ever After by Karen Kingsbury. I have cried my way through most of this book, and I plan on finishing it tonight for two reasons:

1-I can’t put it down. She’s an amazing story teller, and this story is captivating!

2-I can’t spend another day weeping over this book. I need to enjoy the story and move on to happier books for a time.

Having said that, this book has encouraged some contemplation that I wanted to share. I won’t go into details of the story because it is definitely worth reading even though it is a tear jerker! So, here are some reflections

I do not think I would be a good military wife. From where I sit today, I don’t find in myself the strength it takes to let my husband (or child, if I had one) go off to fight in dangerous places. I admire these wives so much!!! I also admire the men (and women too, but I’m thinking more about husbands at the moment) who in many ways might rather be stateside protecting their families still choose to go where duty calls because they have such a passion for protecting so many others. My mind just doesn’t want to wrap around it because I’ve never experienced it for myself. But, I can tell you, I pray for these families. For those overseas and for those still at home hoping everyday that their loved one comes home. Selfishly, I’m thankful I do not have to be a military wife. Who knows about my children, but for now I pray for all the wives out there who find the strength from Above to be mom, dad, nurturer, and provider while their husbands protect our freedom!

Thank you soldiers! Thank you wives!

“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.” 1 John 3:16

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

On My Bookshelf

I have been reading up a storm recently. The craziness of engagement and wedding plans slowed down my usual frantic pace with which I read through books. But, since the wedding I have gotten back to my usual book reading fetish. In fact, my husband is becoming quite the reader himself, and we’ve enjoyed reading some of the same books and talking about them. Isn’t he a dream come true?!?! Okay, I digress…


This post is meant to catch you up on what I’ve books I’ve made it through recently as well as give you a list of what is awaiting my reading pleasure in the future!


Harry Potter Books 1-7 by J.K. Rowling

It is no secret to many how much I love the Harry Potter books. Before my recent adventure back into the land of Hogwarts, I had read books 1-5 two or three times each. When six and seven came out I downed them each once, and promised that after a little time passed I would start back at the beginning and absorb Rowling’s amazing story from start to finish. I started back in February at the beginning and worked my way all the way through without stopping to read something else. I finished a couple weeks ago, and once again, Rowling has wowed me. She is a masterful storyteller. I had forgotten so much of what happened at the end of the saga that it was like reading it for the first time. Her good vs. evil story line is phenomenal, and I love the morals she emphasizes throughout the course of the series. Most importantly, her story stresses the power of choice over an individual’s fate. That we can chose good or evil, and it is not put on us simply as a result of our background or life circumstances. There are so many spiritual allegories that can be drawn from that idea. Aside from the serious portion of the story, it is just plain funny too. Rowling has imagination and creativity unlike anything I’ve ever read. She is funny and has an amazing knack for character development. If you have never ventured into the life of Harry Potter, I encourage you to do so. If it’s been awhile since you lost yourself in this world, I suggest you do so again—it’s very worth your while!


The Tales of Beetle the Bard by J.K. Rowling

This is in many ways the sequel to the Harry Potter series. In Book 7, the character of Hermione is bequeathed this book from Dumbledore, the headmaster of Hogwarts. Basically it is a collection of wizarding fairy tales and fables much like Aesop’s fables are to Muggle (non-magic) children. After the publication of Book 7, Rowling wrote this book because of the extreme interest in the collection that is mentioned numerous times in Book 7. Beetle the Bard is a cute book, but definitely not my favorite of Rowling’s. She still fascinates me with her depth of insight into the wizarding world that she created in her own mind. My favorite part of this book was the commentary after each fable “by” Album Dumbledore. I always like the way Rowling wrote Dumbledore’s sense of humor, and his commentaries are full of funny thoughts.


The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

After reading something I adore and getting extremely lost in it is often hard for me to fall in love with the book immediately following. So, I jumped into The Thirteenth Tale thinking there is no way it would blow me away because I had just come off of my months-long journey in wizard world. However, I was completely wrong. This is a story that is intriguing, disturbing, and wonderful all rolled into one. I do not want to give too much away, so let me just say this. Margaret Lea is a biographer who gets called away from the antique book shop she operates in order to write a biography for a dying novelist named Vida Winter. Miss Winter has fabricated her life history many times to many biographers in the past, but as her days on earth draw to a close she decides it is time to tell the truth. The truth is disturbing full of tales of unrequited love, broken families, fascinating twin behavior, and devastating disasters. It has so many twists and turns that when you close the final page you have to sit with it for a few minutes while you brain wraps around all you just read. It has a touch of science fiction mixed in with the mystery. I highly recommend it to anyone who doesn’t like a predictable plot. Also, if you are a book lover, this is a great one for you because the narrator (Margaret Lea) describes so beautifully over and over in the story what it is like for a reader when he/she is completely involved in a story. It is fascinating.


The Choice by Nicholas Sparks

I have always enjoyed Nicholas Sparks. His stories are usually extremely romantic and also sad. I’ve been known to cry profusely in the movies that have been made of his books. The Choice is probably the least favorite of the Sparks’ books I’ve read. I don’t want to describe this too much either for fear that I would give too much away. The basically gist is that a man is nearing the end of his married life and takes a very detailed trip down memory lane to when he met and fell in love with his wife. While not my favorite, it is still a very sweet story of love fought for, lost, and rekindled.


So, that is what I have mentally digested over the last few months. On my bookshelf to read in the coming weeks is:

-Sunrise by Karen Kingsbury (Book 1 of the 3rd series involving the Baxter family)

-Confessions of a Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella

-Shopaholic Takes Manhattan by Sophie Kinsella

-The Pilot’s Wife by Anita Shreve


Another good one I just recently picked up for Taylor is I Love You, Ronnie by Nancy Reagan. This autobiography of sorts tells the love story of Nancy and Ronald Reagan through all the letters that President Reagan wrote to his wife from their days courting all the way through until his health would not allow him too. Nancy fills in the pieces of their life between the letters. You get some history of his career as it related to their personal life, but it is really a story of their amazing, loving relationship. It’s a must-read!!!

I hope you find something on my list that you might enjoy yourself. Now, a question for all of you fellow readers: I am participating in a program on our church’s website where I can read a book and write up a review for others to look at when deciding what next to read. While I can write about anything, I would love a new Christianity-focused book to read and post about. Does anyone have any suggestions? (The Shack has already been done! J ) Happy Reading!!!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

My Singing' Sweetie

Taylor loves to sing. He, his brothers, and his best friend began a quartet 2 1/2 years ago that he dearly loved. Recently, the quartet has had to disband due to the many different directions often takes people. A couple weeks ago, Taylor was contacted by a group out of Tyler, TX who is searching for a tenor. After many discussions with the group, we decided that this will be a great opportunity for him right now. So, we are headed to Tyler today to meet the group and give Taylor a chance to sing with them. We are hopeful for this opportunity, and I am excited to my sweetheart to have a chance to be singing again-he misses it!!

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Shock

This weekend has been hard. A friend of my sister's, a girl that I went to Harding with was killed by her husband on Thursday night. I know few details and they don't matter anyway. It's heart-wrenching. The Harding and Searcy communities are aching. Friends and family of the girl are shocked and mourning. It's left me feeling very out of it all weekend. I don't understand how something like this happens. I'm quickly figuring out there's no way to understand it, and therefore I'm gonna quit trying. But, it's scary and it hurts.

Dear Lord, cover all of us affected by this tragedy with compassion, comfort, and extra measures of love...especially the family!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Update on the Belts

I was recently informed that I have become bad at blogging. I confess-it is true. :) In all my euphoria of being a newly wed, I seem to consistently forget my readers who wish to catch up with me. So, what has been going on with us?

-Taylor had a very successful percussion concert in mid-March. It was his first concert to completely plan, organize, and run on his own. It was wonderful. The pieces he chose for the kids to play were fantastic. It was very entertaining, and I was so proud to watch him up there showing off his kids knowing that he is the reason they were so successful!

-We spent spring break in Albuquerque with my parents. It was a relaxing, peaceful week. We played Wii, watched old movies, cooked out, did a little site seeing, and a whole lot of talking and laughing. Taylor and I enjoyed the 11 hour (one way) road trip while we listened to Da Vinci Code on CD. Neither one of us had read the book. We loved it. What a well crafted story!

-April at school for each of us has become very busy. Taylor and the other directors took the band kids to Winter Park a couple weeks ago where they played in a contest and spent 2 1/2 days skiing. Taylor came back uninjured (yea!), and the band came back with a first place plaque!! Now that UIL is over for the bands, they are prepping for spring concerts and getting ready for fall marching season. I am in the process of spring testing and identification for kids starting the dyslexia program next year. It is a very busy time of year balancing paperwork, testing, and 09-10 prep at three campuses; but I'm discovering it's one of my favorite times. I really love this job. I'm really looking forward to heading into my 2nd and final year of training.

-On a more serious but still fun note, Taylor and I have been blessed to have many conversations recently about what our future together looks like as servants of our Lord. We are realizing how many possibilities are out there for us as a couple. Now that we are settling into this marriage thing, we are really getting excited about new and different possibilities as Christ's servants! Stay tuned for updates on our spiritual journey as a couple as time goes on.

So, that is a quick and probably not complete update of the still-new Belts! I will do my best to stay more on top of this blogging thing! In the near future look for: a new post of what's been on my bookshelf and summer plans for the Belts!!!

Monday, March 9, 2009

My Amazing Husband

I have been appreciative today of the sweet, simply ways Taylor shows his love and support for me, and I thought I’d share them with you:


-He gets the hot water going for my tea in the mornings, and if time allows he fixes it just right and brings it to me in the bathroom.
-He runs the water for my bath when I’m ready to relax and unwind at the end of the day.
-He scratches my back and plays with my hair.
-If I am laying in bed reading at night and he's not ready for bed, he sometimes comes in and gives me a kiss on the forehead just so I know he's thinking about me.
-Sometimes after a long day, Taylor will tell me to sit on the couch and read a book, catch up on email, or have my quiet time with my Bible while he makes dinner.
-If I put a clean load of laundry on the bed, and then go back to the laundry room to start more laundry, I sometimes come back to the bedroom to find him already folding the clean clothes.
-He helped me hang the curtains in our apartment yesterday at the end of a long day just because he knew I was ready to get them up.
-He brags to other people about how amazing he thinks I am at my job.
-He takes the dog out when its dark outside so I don't have to.


I have an amazing and wonderful husband, and I just had to share him with my readers. There are many, many more ways that Taylor shows me his love; but these are the ones I have been thinking of and appreciating today.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Lessons Learned in Sharing a Bed

Due to being a little on the tired side this week and nursing a little bit of a hurting heart, I needed some smiles. I thought passing them on to you might be fun for you too. The following are my lessons learned in sharing a bed:

1) I hog the covers. I don't know how it happens, but in the morning the sheets are always farther on my side of the bed than Taylor's. There has even been a time or two where the poor man woke up shivering because of the lack of covers. I promise I don't do it on purpose.

2) Taylor snores (okay, so do I-says he...but I don't like to admit it, and I don't think it's very often). Last night Taylor's loud snoring came into my dream as a rythmic noise I was trying to stop. Upon awaking (at 1:15am, mind you) I discover that the love of my life is laying on his back VERY noisily sawing logs. I gently woke him up (unfortunately, with a start) and asked him to roll over. He complied and quickly fell back to sleep with no snores. No sooner had I gone to the bathroom, rejoined him in bed, and found a comfortable position-he rolls back onto his back and promptly starts snoring again!

3) I sink lower in the bed as the night goes on. Another thing I don't know why or how it happens, but there are many mornings where I wake up with my head level with Taylor's shoulder or chest instead of his head. This is funny because you'd think my feet would hang off the bed. They don't because I end up putting them diagonally onto his side of the bed. :) The problem with scrunching lower in the bed, however, is that when Taylor wants to cover up his shoulders in the middle of the night he has accidentally covered up my head. Apparently, in a dozing stupor, I groan as I toss the offending covers off my head and go on with my dreams.

4) Three nights ago, I was having a strange dream that I don't really remember. What I do remember is Taylor suddenly swinging his fist at me from his side of the bed and whacking me on the arm. As this happens in my dream I am awakened by a horrible pain in my realistic arm. Due to the delirium of the middle of the night dream, my feelings are immediately hurt and I declare, "What was that for?" Taylor starts profusely apologizing for hitting me with his elbow as he rolled over (apparently with much gusto). I realized that the "on purpose punch" was only in my dream, but because of the early hour and the sleepies I had trouble shaking off the hurt feelings and going back to sleep.

5) The night after incident #4 mentioned above, I wake up to go to the bathroom. As I return to bed, I sit on the edge of the bed while I apply chap stick to my dry lips. While sitting on the side of the bed, Taylor moans in his sleep, jerks really big, and sends his arm wholloping extremely violently onto my pillow. Even though it is early and I am sleepy, I am aware of how awful that situation could have been if I had been laying there. Talk about a rude awakening! Thankfully I was already awake. It turned out Taylor was having a nightmare and was fighting off some attacker trying to take me hostage.

6) One Sunday afternoon, we laid down for a much needed Sunday afternoon nap. I had just gotten completely comfortable and relaxed when out of nowhere Taylor sits straight up, leans forward and starts messing around with his feet and the sheets at the foot of the bed. By doing this, he has completely uncovered me (which I guess I deserved, see #1) and the fan is now blowing directly on me making me cold. I am laying there trying to figure out if Taylor is awake or asleep because something about it struck me suspiciously like sleep "walking." Apparently the questions of "What is he doing?", "Is he awake?", "Do I wake him up?" were written all over my face because he turns around, sees my face, and says, "I'm awake!" He then dies laughing realizing how silly he suddenly looked and explains that he thought something had bitten his toe (we had been having an ant problem in our apartment). We had quite a laugh before we finally took that nap.

Needless to say it has been an adventure learning to share a bed with my wonderful husband. I wouldn't have it any other way, though, because I love knowing he is there and having his companionship even when catching z's.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Becoming a Wife

Tomorrow will be six weeks since I married Taylor. It has been a fabulous six weeks. I love him dearly, and every day I love him more. I'm am learning, however, that I have a lot to learn about being a wife. I am finding myself spending more time praying for wisdom as I mature as Taylor's wife. I also find myself praying for Taylor, for his wisdom as he leads our marriage. Last night I sat down and starting looking up verses one by one that are located under the term "wife" in the concordance. I've decided to read a few a day and let myself meditate and pray on them as I internalize each verse in a new, very applicable way. Becoming a Godly wife is a study in becoming more like Christ. It's intense and deep, but oh so wonderful. I love the depth my relationship with Christ is achieving simply because He has brought me into this marriage relationship. I love Taylor with all of my being, and I am excited to see what is in store for us in the days/weeks/months/years to come.

"She is clothed with strength and dignity,
and she laughs without fear of the future.
When she speaks, her words are wise,
and she gives instructions with kindness.
She carefully watches everything in her household
and suffers nothing from laziness."
Proverbs 31:25-27

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Are We Really Married?

This is the question that Taylor and I randomly throw out at each other from time to time. Every so often it hits us that we really are married and living together, and we just have to stop and take it all in. After just a few seconds of processing, we both end up with goofy grins on our faces relishing the idea that yes...we are definitely married!

I haven't posted since 9 days before our wedding. My how time flies! It sure didn't feel like it those last few weeks when I was just dying to get to the wedding day...but looking by it sure went fast! We had an absolutely amazing honeymoon. The Gaylord Opryland in Nashville treated us like a king and queen. We had a beautiful room overlooking the garden atrium where we could look out at the Christmas lights and go to sleep in the evening with the windows open listening the waterfalls downstairs. It was incredibly relaxing and romantic. We even took in a 3 foot Christmas tree and set it up with wedding gifts underneath to help set the Christmas mood! It was fantastic. After a wonderful week we returned to our home together--which wasn't exactly a home yet.

We spent the next week running errands changing my name every place we could before school started again, going to my old apartment to pack and clean, and moving all of my stuff into our apartment. Once it was all in I felt like I had to stand somewhere and yell for Taylor so he could follow the sound of my voice to find me. No-it wasn't quite that bad, but it was VERY crowded. The next several days were spent trying to get our most used rooms liveable before school started. We managed to do that pretty well. There is still a lot of cleaning out and unpacking that needs to be done, but we can function just fine.

Married life is absolutely wonderful! It is so calming and comfortable to come home every night to Taylor knowing that he doesn't have to leave at the end of the evening. We are having fun learning how to be married. It definitely takes work and lots of patience and communication, but we are really enjoying learning how to make a strong marriage. It has only been 3 1/2 weeks...do we have it all down? Oh no! But, God has set us out with such support and strength we are off on a terrific start.

It is amazing how much depth comes to a relationship once marriage happens. All areas of our relationship have deepen ten-fold...I cannot possibly imagine how that will increase as the years go by. The one thing I do know is that I wouldn't take this journey with anyone else. The Lord has blessed me so much by giving me Taylor as my husband, and I look forward to what the years bring.

Thank you, dear Lord, for the blessing of marriage. Thank you for blessing me and Taylor on this journey together. Lead us to glorify you all the days of our life together for we have built our marriage and our lives on You.