I do NOT need this book!

When I was young, my mother informed me that I was somewhat...headstrong. Stubborn, even.

Take, for example, the time when I decided that I was through with afternoon naps. Two-year-old me stood up on the bed, hands on hips, and declared, "I will NOT take a nap!"

And since that day - no more naps! Unless you count the times when I would fall asleep at dinner, fork midway to my mouth. Or unless you count the many times since college, when I rediscovered the beauty of sleeping when you could be doing work (as opposed to actually sleeping, you know, at night).

So apparently my mother felt that she was in need of assistance, or at the very least some sound advice on what to do with such a determined toddler. She turned to Dr. Dobson and his book, The Strong-Willed Child. He has since published The New Strong-Willed Child, New Strong-Willed Child Workbook, and Dr. Dobson on Parenting: The Strong-Willed Child/Parenting Isn't for Cowards...Mom, apparently you are not alone...and I'm not the only one!

It has always amused me that she looked to this book for help. And in a way, I'm proud of the fact that I have such an untameable spirit....maybe not proud that I sent my mother scurrying for the self-help books, but there is something about having a distinctive personality that makes me feel good. Maybe it's my Celtic roots (what few of them remain untangled with all the Welsh, and German, and Scottish roots).

But I do think that I have come a long way since swearing off naps. At the very least I've recanted that oath and wholeheartedly embrace a good mid-day snooze. I also like to think that my personality has become much more manageable, particularly in the context of marriage. But I saw something today that stopped me in my tracks and made me go hmmmmm. Maybe I should re-evaluate. Because someone out there apparently is married to a version of me who never grew up. Behold: The Strong-Willed Wife.

I don't really think I need this book. My character flaws have all been gently and lovingly refined away in the crucible of graduate school in clinical psychology. (You come out the other end either totally aware of and overcompensating for your issues, or you emerge infinitely more wacky than you went in and henceforth do therapy wearing poncho shawls and cowboy boots and sparkly hair ribbons).

I'm not strong-willed anymore. I'm the very picture of wifely submission and sacrificial service. Right honey? ....Honey?

*In all seriousness, the Lord has been infinitely gracious in His refining of my spirit. While some of the strong-willed-ness remains (ok, a significant portion of it), He has taught me volumes about the importance of gentleness and submission. Joel and I are reading through a fabulous book right now called Each for the Other, by Brian Chapell. This book discusses the true meanings of male headship and wifely submission, and how to conform to these Biblical roles in marriage without sacrificing your personality and gifts.

If any of you knows Joel and me very well, you realize that he and I are at opposite ends of the assertiveness/submissiveness spectrum - and in the wrong direction! But in our short year and a half of marriage, God has molded us both to be ever more in His image and living more closely according to His ideals for marriage. What a blessing it has been to journey together, learning about ourselves and about dying to self without killing the self...we've come so far, and really it has been the most natural process.

People say the first year of marriage is the roughest, with all the adjustment that is necessary. If our first year has been the roughest, are we in for a smooth ride! Again, we attribute the many blessings of marriage not to our own impeccable characters and flawless behavior (heavens, no!). Rather, only by the grace of God have we arrived at this point in our marriage where we can sit on the back porch listening to the rain, looking at one another through the hazy April air, and remark "We have the best marriage ever." No, really. It's how we feel, so it must be true.

(anyone get the postmodern/emergent church jab there at the end?)

No, if we need any book in this house it's The Far Too Humorously Sarcastic Wife.

As an aside, did you know that "badum tish" is the official spelling of that drum sound that follows (lame) jokes? Seriously, Google says it, so it must be true. Badum tish!

More of My Crazy

Today I decided to make mac 'n cheese for lunch. This should be no surprise, considering it is April 29, and we're at the end of both groceries and grocery budget. As the noodles were boiling, I decided to touch the pot to see how hot it would really feel if I went really fast.

I'm not kidding. This was an actual, serious thought I had, upon which I then acted.

Add to this the fact that I decided to touch the pot a second time because the first time really wasn't that bad.

How does my brain work? I'm not sure, but if my parents are reading this, I'm sure that many things about my adolescence/college/life suddenly make much more sense.

Once Bitten

Do you know what this is?

It's a baby bug. And it's bitten me. HARD. Metaphorically, because if that little baby had really bitten me I'd be majorly freaked out. Anyway...

You know how they say "Once bitten, twice shy"? Well, this would be the exact opposite. This is more like "Once bitten, twice insanely desirous of enlarging one's family by means of a sweet, adorable, beautiful little baby." Sigh.

My husband's reaction when he saw me upload this picture?
Him: "What's that?"
Me: "A baby bug." (no further explanation whatsoever of what the post will be about)
Him: (sighs and bows head) "Oh honey."

Alas, I have another two years in the program. Although Mr. Wonderful tells me this might translate to only another year and a half before we begin attempting to make our dreams come true. Because deep down he really really wants to have a baby too, he just won't admit to it because that would REALLY fuel my baby issues :-).

But he and I have done some baby shopping, and reached a few conclusions. This is the most beautiful baby ever. And this one is the absolute manliest - I can already see him watching football and throwing back a brewskie with the guys. Believe it or not, the little Cullen is a good three months (if not more - don't remember exact birthdays) older than Brody boy in the second link. Which would you prefer to give birth to? You have my utmost respect, Christine!

I want one...

Welcome to My Crazy

So picture me driving an hour to a wedding rehearsal last night, from Va Beach to Currituck, NC. Directions say: turn left onto VA-158, portions toll. I go whizzing by the ramp for VA-158 (of course), but signs still say "Business 158" so I'm debating whether I'm still ok to keep going.

Enter My Crazy:
I have this history of screwing up when driving. Like going whizzing by the turn I Needed to Make. And seriously, every time, I end up getting creative and messing myself up and wishing I had just turned around and gone the way I KNEW would be right instead of blazing a new trail into the wild unknown, only to take an extra 45 minutes getting to where I'm going. Grr.

Flash forward back to this particular car ride.

Elizabeth decides to actually play it safe, turn around, and take the ramp for VA-158. The thought process: Business 158 might hook back on to VA-158, but who knows where, and who knows where that will put me in relation to my destination. Joel's map isn't in the car so I can't consult. Yeah it's a partial toll road, but it'll be ok. It might not even be toll for the short time I'm on it. Blah blah blah, best idea is probably to stick with the directions and not be late for the rehearsal.

Yay, Elizabeth! Getting back on track! Way to be humble and admit when you messed up!

So Elizabeth, still addressing herself in third person, pulls onto the ramp for 158. Literally 100 feet onto the ramp, Elizabeth realizes she has NO CASH for the toll. After briefly debating whether to reverse it back off the ramp, Elizabeth thinks, how much could it really be? Joel keeps change in the ashtray.

And then Elizabeth beholds the sign: 2-axle cars, $2.00.

Two dollars?!?! Uh oh...and the toll plaza is mere yards away!

Elizabeth frantically digs through the ashtray (all the while reminiscing about the time she had to solicit a quarter from the driver behind her - really, who has more of an interest in getting you through the toll booth quickly?) and holds up traffic as she scrapes together every blessed nickel and dime and hands them to the bored (annoyed?)-looking toll lady.

And not a minute later, Elizabeth goes whizzing by Business-158 merging back on to VA-158.

Oh, the strongly-worded thoughts that entered my mind about Joel taking his map out of the car. Oh, the incredible anger that welled up within me knowing I could have avoided the whole situation. Oh, how difficult it was to let go of that two-dollar mistake. Don't you hate when the one time you decide to learn from your mistakes and eat crow, navigationally speaking, it turns around and bites you in the ashtray?

God really knows how to keep me humble.

Welcome to my crazy.

Bite Back!


If you haven't checked out BooMama's blog, I advise you to do so immediately.

In the event that you're too lazy (or too devoted to my blog to ever navigate away), let me tell you about something cool that she is doing.

Through Compassion International, YOU can help children in Africa who can't afford inexpensive mosquito nets to be saved from the preventable disease malaria. Countless children die from this disease, and doctors in Africa are frustrated because a little netting and some education could prevent this great tragedy. So, get this - for a one-time donation of $10, YOU, yes you can provide a child (or a family if they sleep in the same place) with a mosquito net that lasts three years, along with education and treatment. To donate or for more information, click here.

Almost Famous...Sort Of

I'm famous!

You know how you feel super-cool when you have up-close, personal contact with someone who actually IS famous, and you bask in their reflected glory for, like, way longer than is probably appropriate? It's like that...

So I've been doing all this research for my dissertation on "Efficacy Expectations as a Mediating Variable in Marital Conflict Resolution" (or something like that). Amongst my, oh, fifteen thousand articles that I have gathered in my review of the literature, about 80% have had the names "Fincham" and/or "Bradbury" in the author spot. And 99% have these gentlemen at least cited somewhere in their discussion.

So as I am gathering measures to use in my dissertation, it comes as no surprise that I'm interested in the Relationship Attribution Measure, developed by none other than our dear Fincham, and an expectancy questionnaire designed by, you guessed it, the fair Dr. Bradbury.

So now for the part where I got famous.

I emailed these two really hugely famous researchers, at least one of whom was a Rhodes Scholar and is now a Big Important Honored Professor at Oxford. Me, this piddly little doctoral student, tugging at the sleeve of these Great Men, asking if I can use their Brilliantly Designed Measures.

And I got an email back!!!

Dr. Fincham the Unfathomably Intelligent sent me a response within, oh, five minutes. And it was TWO WHOLE LINES. They went something like this:

You are most welcome. I am so glad that you find it helpful.

Good luck with your research.

Obviously, my research will indeed be blessed with sweet favor.

I can't wait to see what the Fair Bradbury has to say!!

Vitae Fodder

There's a very important thing called a "Curriculum Vitae," or C.V., that comes to dominate your consciousness when you are in graduate school. Along with things like, you know, dissertation and comprehensive exams and internship applications. But it's very important to fill your vitae with very impressive, scholarly things so that internship sites will find you appealing. So people tend to do very labor-intensive and travel-intensive things to add lines to this crucial document.

With such a goal in mind, I and three other Regenters traveled to Charlottesville today to present our brilliantly-crafted posters at the Virginia Psychological Association conference.


It was a whirlwind trip with an overnight stop at Michele's parents' home in Lynchburg. So fabulous! We crashed close to midnight and were up again at 5:30 to drive the remaining 1.5 hours to the conference location. What an exhausting day, but mission accomplished: the much-coveted vitae line may now be claimed.

Now I'll definitely match for internship!

And That's What It's All About

I was driving home from Covenant today, just listening to the radio, when I heard a song that made me stop and think.

Strange, I know.

My radio has been broken for like a year.

I was driving Joel's car, if you must know. I'm spoiled today because I am driving a bunch of friends up to Charlottesville tonight for the VPA conference. But I digress.

Oh wait, you thought it was strange that I heard thought-provoking music. You'll be even more surprised to learn that it was on K-LOVE, of all stations. That's right, a radio presence whose entire marketing strategy currently revolves around the fact that its goal is to make you "feel good". Light And Fluffy should be their slogan. I suppose Positive And Encouraging isn't far off, though.

On a side note, their "feel good" advertising bothers me. Christianity isn't about feeling good. It's not really about feeling at all, although positive feelings may be a bonus. Christianity is about being saved from the wrath of God by the grace and mercy of God, as justice was served once and for all in Christ. It's a fact thing, not a feeling thing. Why do we insist on marketing Christianity in a neat little package that promises sunshine and roses, health and wealth, if you just accept Jesus into your heart? Sure, I'll take that Jesus!

But I'd much prefer a Jesus who strengthens me for the difficult realities of this fallen world. To draw from a Natalie Grant Song ("Held"), our salvation isn't about removing obstacles and hurdles from our lives. It's about being (not just feeling) empowered to overcome them not somehow, but triumphantly! It's about being sustained in spite of the obstacles and hurdles, held far above them in a place where a deeper joy trumps sorrow and loss. Far be it from me to pretend that sin is magically eradicated from my life when I enter a relationship with Christ. How I wish this were the case! Rather, my Father comes alongside me and lovingly says, "We'll work on that sin...but in the meantime, I no longer hold it against you." The end result is not a lack of sin (it wouldn't be eliminated from the world, even if it were somehow gone from my own heart), but instead a lack of the penalty for sin, and a new perspective on pain and suffering.

Take this verse, for instance:
"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to His purpose." (Romans 8:28).

Does it say that God will pamper us with chocolate and candles and soft music all the days of our lives?

No. (Although I'd be perfectly fine with my husband deciding to do this.)

I'd say it implies that whatever happens (in some things? no - in all things!), God will somehow orchestrate all for our ultimate good.

Which returns me to the original topic of my post (finally!).

The song I heard goes something like this: "He makes all things good, He makes all things good. There is a time to live and a time to die, a time for wonder and to wonder why, cause there is a reason. There is a reason." ~Caedmon's Call, "There is a Reason"

And I got to thinking: He does make all things good. That's Who He is. He is good. In His infinite, gracious love, God takes all of our sinful and foolish screw-ups and transforms them to our good for His glory.

Did you catch that last part? For His glory. That's really what it's all about (sorry, Hokey Pokey!). Even our salvation is about His glory. Of course God is love, and He accepts us as we are and forgives us and welcomes us to Himself. But why? So that we can bring Him the glory! We rejoice in our salvation for His sake. When I got that one, it was like a huge light bulb went on in my head. Why would He save me? Because He desires me to love Him as much as He loves me, and He desires my worship, my praise, my adoration. He is not willing that I should be separated from Him. He has chosen me to help fill His throne room with eternal song! This is love, that He laid down His life for us. But God does nothing apart from His own ultimate glory.

Which is where our ultimate good comes in.

Which God is more glorious, the one Who erases sin and causes all life to be without pain or difficulty, or the one Who is able to allow sin and pain for a time and cause them to somehow be transformed into good and glory? The second God is far more amazing, far more glorious! What a demonstration of His power that He can take MY life, MY struggles, MY silly humanity and make something good and beautiful and purposeful of them!

So that's what it's all about. We're people: by definition we are sinful, fallen, broken. We'll go on screwing up until the end of time. It's who we are.

But God is God: by definition He is love, He is power, He is glory, and He is good. He'll go on picking up our pieces and weaving them together in ways far more beautiful and glorious than we could ever see from here. I liken it to being stuck behind a tapestry: we see the knots and random strings going all over the place, but turned over, we suddenly see the great artistry of the Weaver. He takes my frayed, ugly little thread and weaves it through a few other frayed, ugly little threads and suddenly a gorgeous blend of fabric takes on color and beauty. He makes all things good. He'll go on making things good until the end of time. It's Who He is.


Irony is wanting to post your third blog entry of the day to announce that you are suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome. Which is the result of incessant blogging.

In case you were wondering.

I should be writing a paper.

Check This Out. Seriously.

You'll never guess what I just got in the mail - the Celtic Woman, A New Journey, Live at Slane Castle DVD! This concert is absolutely fabulous, even if you are not hugely into celtic music. Please come to my home and watch it (if you're my friend. Otherwise, you know, that'd be weird.).

What you will experience: Five beautiful celtic women with names like Orla and Meav, whose voices are so pure and sweet...not to mention the lovely Mairead who dances around with her fiddle on the fast numbers. Full orchestral and choral accompaniment, along with the backdrop of the Irish Slane Castle, make for a breathtaking performance! They even sing in Celtic on some of the numbers. Amazing!

A big THANK YOU to my fabulous sister Brittany for this fabulous birthday present! I need to come up with a fabulous new adjective!

I am watching it right now, not five minutes after the big brown truck of happiness delivered it to my doorstep, and I thought it was our friend Jimmey so I was all "hey! come on in!" through the open front door from the comfort of my couch, and then he didn't answer so I ran to the door and realized it was the UPS guy...who was beating a hasty retreat away from the crazy lady in the cute blue slippers.

Yay Celtic Woman!

Also see their male counterparts, High Kings. Their "Dance at Crossroads" video is also great.

Please Respect Your Therapist

If you have an appointment with a therapist, for therapy or for testing, please KEEP IT or call ahead to cancel.

Unless you want your therapist to wind up as crazy as you.

Thank you.

Ok, I feel I should qualify this post with an explanation and disclaimer. It's already tough enough to get and keep clients, what with the stigma that is still at least loosely attached to seeking help. No need to alienate all my (many) readers from ever setting foot in a psychologist's office.

First, let me say that I love my work. I do. I love meeting new people and hearing their stories. I love the privilege of entering into new worlds and coming alongside my clients for a great journey of healing. I love the great honor of being the first to hear a painful memory and of witnessing the heartrending confession of one lover to another. Words fail to convey the significance of those moments behind closed doors when the heart breaks and then is lifted anew through the sharing of thoughts and feelings. My heart, that is.

Don't underestimate the healing that the healer herself gains from caring for the wounded.

But seriously, don't play games with my schedule.

For two Tuesdays in a row I have been up bright and early, at school by 8:30 to pick up testing supplies, and down at Covenant no later than 8:55 in eager anticipation of a 9:00 appointment. Who never showed up. Two different clients, people. What gives?

I mean, I realize I'm at the very bottom of the totem pole when it comes to mental health care providers. I'm not licensed, I have no doctoral (YET!) degree, and I work in whichever office is available. But from the bottom of my heart, please, if I care enough to be punctual and prepared for your appointment, the least you can do is roll in on time...at all...heck, give me ten, fifteen minutes late. But don't make me sit for half an hour before I decide you're not coming, and finally have our lovely office manager leave a message when you don't answer the phone and ask whether you'll be attending this morning's appointment (like we don't know the answer to that one) and if not, when would you like to reschedule?

Because I'd love the opportunity to not see you again tomorrow morning.


Birthday Reflections and Thanks

My birthday was on Saturday. I'm officially old (or is it really old?). Ok, probably not in the eyes of most of you, but I'm at that twentysomething age where every year I mourn the passing of another bit of youth. Farewell, flawless skin and bikini-ready silhouette. Adieu, boundless stores of energy that allow me to pull all-nighters. Ciao, carefree days of friends and malls and giggling over boys. See you never, times of little responsibility and bills to be paid by others.


Hello, Grownup World! Land of budgets and metabolism changes and dissertations and time management, and did I mention stress?

But there are certain aspects of Grownup World that I would not trade for all the benefits of eternal youth. An ever-blossoming relationship with Mr. Wonderful, for one. Who just came in from unloading a car full of our friend's belongings (more on that later) and thought it would be helpful to warm his frigid hands by placing them on my warm, sensitive skin. And tried to convince me that it was fun. What a wonderful guy.

Although he does have his moments of utility. Like earlier when he unleashed a stink bomb next to me on the couch and claimed he was "reminding me that it was time for me to go". But I digress.

As I age, I learn ever more of the joys of adulthood and maturity. For example, only as an adult may I choose to have a birthday party that lasts until 4:00 a.m. without fear of parental interference. Only as an adult may I reside in my very own home (well...our very own rental house, anyway) and blast the volume of movies and classic rock until the walls shake. The privileges may not outweigh the responsibilities, but are not to be taken lightly, either.

May I tell you about my birthday party?

It was absurd. (absurd: inconsistent with logic or common sense; incongruous, inviting ridicule)

Due to the limits of confidentiality, the description must remain there. But trust me when I say that you would not believe the absurdity of it all. Especially that movie we watched at two in the morning after Mr. Wonderful got home. So....absurd. In a good way.

My party was also wonderful! Not only did four of my closest friends come over to help ring in my birthday, but they gave of themselves in ways I could not even imagine.

Leana made cupcakes. That didn't really do it justice. Leana made CUPCAKES!!!!! Much better. She and Kasi also gave me a gift certificate for a One-Hour Massage at a nearby massage school. Laurie brought the drinks and gave me gift certificates for THREE FREE VOICE LESSONS with a really terrific lady. It's not every day you get a birthday present that pushes you toward realizing your dreams! Melissa didn't make it due to an unfortunate intramural basketball incident involving her husband, but she did provide the ***** (confidentiality censor). Wish you could have been there, girl!

Also, yay for playing with font options on blogspot.

All this to say...thank you ladies for a most spectacular birthday evening. I truly felt loved and had a blast carrying on with y'all about (confidential topics). I've had close friends in my day, but I don't know that I've ever felt this much a part of an actual circle of friends. Like, a whole group of people who like me and whom I like back. Also of whom my parents would approve. Sweet!

Hopping on the Blogowagon

Well, this is it. My blogging debut. Given my track record in things requiring diligence, this will be updated quite regularly - if you can count twice a year as "regular". At least I'm consistent.

Why enter the blogosphere, you ask? I wish I could say it's because I'm such an intriguing person, or because I have such profound things to add to the interweb. More likely it's the result of peer pressure, though unspoken, on the part of my husband. Or perhaps a growing desire to be like one of my favorite bloggers, Big Mama. Basically, I just want to try my hand at this Revealing My Inner Workings thing that bloggers seem to do so wittily (is that a word? I'm in trouble already...)

Who am I, and why should you care? The first is far easier to answer than the second, but I'll do what I can. I'm a wife, a daughter, a sister, a friend...a doctoral student in clinical psychology, a music director. More important than all these put together is my identity in Christ. I am a daughter of the Most High. As such, I am learning the beauty of trusting Him for daily provision, both physical and spiritual. This life is crazy stressful, as I'm sure you can relate. Many people have a full plate; I feel as though I could daily feed a small family from my heaping portions. I work hard to discover what it means to be a ChristianWifeCareerWomanFutureMom, only to find that the answer to this tricky balance lies in waiting...waiting and resting.

Like I'm good at those things.

Which is the point of this blog, I suppose. Welcome to the inner workings of an everyday wanderer (scary, I know). Wanderer, you ask? Allow me to explain...

According to the Good Book, my citizenship is in heaven (Phil 3:20), and according to my heart, my loyalty is to the King of Kings. As such, I am an alien in a land not my own, wandering until my work is done and my Savior calls me home. My hope is in the salvation of the Lord, and in His Word, which is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path (Psalm 119:105). While He may only illuminate the next step in the darkness, He promises that my trust in Him will be rewarded with His direction (Prov 3:5-6).

I almost said "a clear path", but we all know that the Lord is only too glad to provide "learning experiences" along the way. The path is not so much Clear as it is What Is Necessary to Shape Me. I suppose this blog could have been called something like "Thoughts of a Lump of Clay"...but somehow that seems to have less literary appeal.

Another angle to my title is the whole Shepherd/sheep analogy. Matthew 18:12-14 talks about the shepherd who has 100 sheep. One wanders off, and the shepherd leaves the 99 and goes in search of the precious one that is lost. The story goes on to say that in the same way, "your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should be lost."

I guess what I'm saying is that I have a tendency to wander off. Metaphorically, of course.

Ergo, in addition to being an "ordinary" wanderer, I also feel like I find myself wandering every day. So the title really works both ways: everyday wanderer, and every day wanderer. See what I did there? Too perfect...

So welcome to my journey. I hope to share my thoughts and struggles as a newish wife, grad student, ministry leader, and all-around ordinary girl. I hope to also share some lessons learned, perhaps even some successes. Don't get too excited, my life isn't exactly exciting or profound on a daily basis.

But it is a work in progress.