Overflowing with Thanks

Wouldn't it be neat if I set a blogging goal of posting each day this week about something for which I am thankful?

It would last until tomorrow, when Joel and I will take the road before us until the wee hours, driving over the river and dashing through the snow to get home for the holidays.

Could there be more cheesy musical allusions in one sentence? I think not.

Anyway, right, I don't foresee myself blogging terribly much for the rest of the week.

But two days in a row of blogging about thankfulness constitutes a legitimate blogging streak, don't you think? A veritable trend.

And for what am I thankful today? I thought you'd never ask.

Today, the Lord shined His light of providence into my life and illuminated just the next step or two of this long, windy road I tread. Today, He saw fit to grant assurance that the last four years of my life have not been in vain. Today, I was officially invited for an interview at the Reading Hospital and Medical Center!

Praise God for condescending to the needs of my weak, human heart. I've been trusting Him to the best of my abilities - and it has required a daily laying down of my fears and anxieties at His feet! I am grateful that He has seen fit to lighten my heart's burden by showing me tangible evidence of His continuing provision. This interview doesn't guarantee me an internship spot by any means, but it does mean that the next small hurdle has been leaped and God has rolled out the road just that much further beneath my feet.

I really was going to wait until Thanksgiving to tell y'all important people "in person", or at least over the phone, but I am just overflowing with excitement! I just had to tell the good news, and what better way to tell the fewest possible people than to post it on my blog?

One Tiny, Huge Blessing

My apologies to those who endured several moments of gut-wrenching disbelief until you spotted the all-important "niece or nephew" line.]

As we roll into Thanksgiving later this week, I'm reminded to reflect on the blessings in my own life, the things for which I'm truly thankful. And while there are myriad extravagant ways in which the Lord has lavished His grace upon the Va Beach Pearces this year, one deserves special mention tonight.

Is it a lentil? Perhaps a kumquat or a lime?

Nay, gentle readers. We would not be this grateful for such sundry produce.

This long-awaited little one, though it has apparently resembled a variety of food items in its short life, is none other than Joel's and my very first future niece or nephew! We are so thankful for this tiny treasure, this bundle of developing life that is the answer to countless prayers! What a miracle that the Lord is, even now, knitting together a (not-so) wee human in Becca's belly, fearfully and wonderfully.

And in a few days, we will be even more thankful to learn the baby's sex, which Becca and Scott are selfishly withholding until Thanksgiving. Who do they think they are, the baby's parents or something? For now, Joel and I are left to pore over small, grainy ultrasound photos and ponder whether that one spot is its legs or...you know...gender-specific parts.

We can't wait!!

...for so many things, of course, but for now: Is it Harold or Harold-etta?

What's your prediction?

Scott's blog, with ultrasound photos!

Break out the Saran-Wrap

Lest you envy the balmy climes of Va Beach in error, I am pleased to inform you that Winter '08 has (un)officially begun:

We experienced our first snowfall today!

And by snowfall, I mean a few flurries that I didn't even have the pleasure of observing before they died a quick, steamy death a few inches above the ground. Blink and you miss it, seriously, folks.

But it was COLD. Cold enough for me to learn about yet another deluxe feature of my car. This vehicle, my friends, is so thoughtful and concerned for my well-being that it kindly informs me the second the remotest possibility of unsafe driving conditions blips onto its radar. And it accomplishes all this with the utmost in efficiency, a single word added above the digital display that tells me exactly how many miles lie between me and desperate prayers for a WaWa station.

The word? ICY.

I was so touched, I didn't have the heart to tell my sweet love machine that water actually freezes at 32 degrees Farenheit, rather than the toasty 38 at which the warning blinked on.

How far I've come since my days of praying to reach my destination with all four wheels attached.

But perhaps the thermometer of my little bundle of highway happiness would serve well as an advanced warning system for the poor palm trees that have been imported to our fake-tropical resort city. They are no doubt eager for their "Christmas wrapping", as it were, to preserve them from cold damage, which is often manifested in the form of stunted growth, root damage, and increased susceptibility to infection.

(yes, I researched palm tree winterization solely to sound intelligent in this blog post...and discovered a whole new brand of botany nerd out there on the interweb.)

(not me, I mean those guys with the palm tree blogs.)

Palm tree winterization, for you ignoramuses, is rarely neat and never pretty:

Full disclosure: I totally ripped this photo from someone's Flickr account. But at least I'm honest about it, right? When I get a chance I'll get you a photo of real, live, authentic Va Beach palm trees all bundled up for winter. Sometimes they even have Christmas lights draped around them, like it's not depressing enough already to see a palm tree on life support, now they have to draw attention to it like some poor carnival misfit.

Oh, ye north, how I long for your frosty winters and honest, deciduous flora.

Please, reward my loyal yearnings with a blanket of snow for Thanksgiving? Preferably falling promptly on Thanksgiving and completely melting no later than Sunday noon, thanks. The Nissan may be deluxe, but there's no reason to press our luck now.

Landslide Victory

The final tally for our Christmas Spirit vote looked like this:

Why wait? Deck the Halls! - 5
Give it another week or so - 3
At least wait until after Thanksgiving - 4
Christmas Eve? - 1
You're as bad as the retailers! - 1

Since it has now been close to a week since I originally opened the polls, I would consider the first two categories to be essentially the same vote. Therefore, a total of 8 votes were cast for seeing the Christmas colors fly before Thanksgiving. Those of you who voted for after Thanksgiving - I hear you, I really do. We won't decorate our house until Thanksgiving (well, actually, we'll probably do it early so that we arrive home from PA to full Christmas regalia). But the Christmas season is just so darn short - hardly a month of Christmas decor before I would need to change it up for "winter" in January. I'm thankful that so many of you support an immediate overhaul!

More regular posts coming soon...in theory...

Cast a Vote That Matters!

So I can't wait to deck the blog out in new Christmas decor. You vote - how soon is too soon? Make your voice heard via the poll over there on the right side of the blog.

Incidentally, when I glanced at my calendar to see how long I should keep the poll open, I realized that Thanksgiving is only two weeks away anyway! Woohoo!

Thank goodness I started my online Christmas shopping today :-).

Another Post Office Success Story

Well, y'all, I tell you what. It is utterly fabulous to be done with all this internship baloney!

And by baloney, I mean "important, significant, life-determining obstacle to getting my doctoral degree".

I could DANCE, people. In fact, I'm surprised that I haven't. Actually....be right back....


Yes, I did just go dance mid-post. Just because I CAN and I don't have ANYTHING BETTER TO DO!

Except write all the course-related papers that I've been putting off because of internship cover letters and essays, but ya know.

Allow me to testify to God's ongoing faithfulness, and His divine blessing of total peace about this process. Some have told me that the time between sending applications and hearing about interviews is the most stressful (though I think the week or two leading up to Match Day would be worse) because all you have to do is wait. But I feel, again, totally chill, and more excited than nervous to see what God has in store for us. Out of the 15 sites to which I applied, I could really see myself at any of them (though of course, mom and dad, the Pittsburgh/Cleveland sites look SO GOOD).

That last parenthetical was to make up for the email that went out from Dad Pearce stating that I am seeking an internship in eastern PA or NJ...

Really we would be happy anywhere that is less than 7 hours from any given relative.

And you know what Joel said last night that made my heart so happy? We were thinking about where this next year will take us, and he said, "You know what's crazy? Not to get your hopes up, but think about one year from now when you'll be on internship and...you might even be pregnant by then!"

Oh my stars, people.

God is so good, and we will indeed see where the next year takes us. We pray that He will give us the desires of our hearts - namely, an internship close to home (whichever home that might be) and a little one on the way. But if not, He is still the Lord of our lives and we will rejoice in our portion from Him. 'In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.' [Prov. 16:9].

Another Two Bite the Dust

Two more apps out today - the Pittsburgh VA and Applewood Centers in Cleveland. Yes, we are open to living in Cleveland for a year, and no, I don't know what's come over us.

It continues to be an emotional challenge to mail my application packets. That whole relinquishing control thing can be a doozy. Today went better though... I really didn't think about it until I was on my way out of the post office - at which point I had a mild anxiety episode when I realized I had casually handed my packets off to the postal guy without so much as a mental rundown of their contents.

Then I remembered that I had checked and double-re-checked the checklist (imagine that) and no less than signed my name on each of manila folder to "certify" that the packet was complete. Props to Josh for suggesting that OCD-relieving technique! Now if I'm ever concerned, I can look back at my folders and be assured that I checked the packet thoroughly prior to mailing. Yay!

I sure hope all this work pays off with a few interviews. Either way, though, the Lord is in control and for all my application-mailing OCD, I'm supernaturally chill about the whole process. It's the peace that passes understanding, and I know where it's coming from (hint: Jesus).

Irony Defined

Today I stood in line for over three hours in order to cast my ballot. The lady directly behind me was an outspoken, far-left Democrat, and passed the time by sharing her opinions with anyone who would listen - and even with those who weren't particularly interested, as I learned. Could she have been more different from me? I spent most of the time with a book open in front of me, trying to concentrate, but alas, she would not have it. I learned about her views on abortion, rights for gay domestic partners, and economic policy. I heard the details of her recent knee injury and exactly why it was difficult for her to stand in line for such a long time (my own tennis-knee throbbed in sympathy). I can tell you how long she's lived in Virginia Beach, and the length of poll lines for each election in which she has voted (twelve in our locality, but she has been in Virginia Beach since 1962). Amazing.

The book I was trying to read?

Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment.

That's what you call a hands-on learning experience. Teach me, Lord.

But I will testify that, after a period of (relative) silence during which I managed to finish my chapter, I tucked the book back into my purse feeling a refreshed sense of, well, contentment. I engaged La Democrat in conversation for the rest of our time together, expressing interest, sympathy, or whatever emotion seemed most polite. Best of all, I chatted with several weary poll workers, making jokes about taking up a collection and ordering a hundred pizzas for those trapped in the crowded gymnasium.

La Democrat inquired about the book I was reading - of course - wondering if it was something for school (I had mentioned Regent University, so I'm sure that was a guess based on a stereotype). I told her it was for a Bible study, and said a silent prayer that the Lord would somehow be evident to her in my response and in my interactions with her.

I truly believe that the Lord redeemed those three hours by softening my heart to those around me and helping me to view them for who they were - a mass of people teeming with humanity, each with our own political views and leanings, but each with our own joys and sufferings. And I was privileged to briefly come alongside these people and peer into their lives. We're all really just the same underneath...broken, sinful people in need of a Savior.

More of My Crazy

This is how I know the Lord has a sense of humor.

Today, one of my big internship tasks was to send out my undergraduate transcript request (why some of these sites still care about my undergrad GPA is beyond me, but oh well). So I printed off the request, wrote the check, stamped the envelope, and debated the best way to mail it. (Read: method for quickest pickup/fastest delivery)

Being the technology junkie that I am, and knowing that our mail is delivered around 1:30/2:00, I decided to hop on usps.com to see whether I could get this sucker out any earlier than that (without hiking all the way to a bona fide post office, of course). I'm on a time frame, people. So I found several mailbox locations and selected the closest one. I went so far as to look at the "street view" so I would know exactly which Chinese restaurant the mailbox would be in front of.


I pulled up to the collection box location and found not a big blue monster eager to devour my letter, but an empty sandblasted-looking patch of sidewalk. The heck?? Like they knew I was coming and thought it would be funny to move the mailbox. I could practically hear the angels snickering as they looked on.

Fortunately, I was aware of another nearby (though slightly further away) collection box and struck out immediately. I arrived only to find out that I had missed the most recent pickup by a whopping ten minutes. Once again, the cherubic chuckling was almost audible. The next pickup was at 2:30, slightly later than it would be collected from our house, but I dropped my letter in anyway so as not to waste a trip. Then I headed home.

And passed a mail truck on our street. At 12:20. On its way to our mailbox, whose little red flag was sticking up. Indicating the presence of other outgoing mail that will be collected a solid two hours before my urgent little transcript request.

I just...this is my life, people.

A Multilingual Post

The milestones just keep on coming! Today I baked my first from-scratch apple crumb pie all on my own. I count this as my first pie because my previous experience involved Laurie, who is a culinary genius. Just as you can't really say you rode a bike when there were training wheels attached, my first pie-baking experience was very closely guided and I was afforded few opportunities to screw up.

But today I did it ALL BY MYSELF when I should have been writing cover letters. Ahem. Did I admit to that?

The illustrated version:
It all began this morning when I acknowledged my hankering for home-made baked goods, and kind of a yearning for an afternoon in the kitchen. So I grabbed the grocery list, added apples and unsalted butter at the bottom, and set off to finally re-stock our kitchen. Funny how the supplies dwindle when you've got two people/grad students scrounging for sustenance and nobody really organizing the food detail. Anyhoodle...

So I obviously started with the pie crust. No illustrations from the process, but it went pretty smoothly and, after much chilling, rolling and delicate moving, resulted in this beauty:

Whilst it chilled, I busied myself with peeling and coring the Granny Smith and Golden Delicious apples for the filling and also pastry-blending the crumb topping. Here is my "work station" with all the parts ready to be put together:

In go the apples...(pretty green stripe courtesy of Blogger photo uploads)

And the crumb topping:

By far the best picture is of Joel's face when I showed him the oven-ready pie; it is truly for his delight that I toil:

And 45 minutes later...voila!

Thankfully the red-eye in that last one doesn't seem to show up here. I actually named the file "Demon Baker" when I saved it because it is quite frightening. As in, I wouldn't feel comfortable eating my own pie if I knew someone with those eyes baked it.
*Note: If you click on the photo and open it in its full size, you will apparently SEE WHAT I MEAN. Yich!

Now for a close-up, and The Slicing:

Bon Appetit! Like, good appetite or whatever, not like the Grove City food service. Though I hear they've come a long way, I remain adverse to having my culinary endeavors compared with theirs.

Also, congratulations to the Kings on the birth of baby Jacob!! He's a Halloweenie, and in honor of the happy occasion we took the first piece of pie to Michele in the hospital. Due to a muy rapidalmente birth (Spanish for, a very rapidly birth), he doesn't look nearly as squished and funky as most newborns. In fact, he looks very much like Chris with a hint of Michele's nose:

Congratulations to the Kings, and Happy Halloweenie all around!

And yes, I totally just preempted Jacob's parents by being the first (I think) to publish a photo of him on the blogosphere. W00t!