Sunday, September 28, 2008

Change of Season

Fall is here. The leaves are changing colors and reflect God's imagination - the reds, greens, oranges, browns - it is a kaleidoscope of beauty that takes my breath away. The air is getting cooler and has a crispness to it - breathe deep, can you feel it? Fall means football, blankets and cuddling, warm and yummy food, hiking, exploring, enjoying the last moments before it gets cold, and, most of all, being thankful for what God has blessed us with.


This week's chapter in our bible study is about forgiveness. At first, I didn't really think this was something I struggled with. I don't stay mad and tend to get my feelings hurt more than being truly hurt. However, after reading this chapter, I realized that I do need to work on forgiveness. According to Chapman, forgiveness is using honesty, compassion, and self-awareness to reconcile with someone who has hurt you. When someone hurts me, I usually keep the hurt bottled up and don't say anything to the other person. I usually assume that I overreacted in some way, so the being hurt is my own fault. Of course, then I blame myself. I like how Chapman puts it - that we need to practice forgiveness in small ways and offer apologies even for small offenses. In other words - not keeping the hurt bottled up (which only causes more stress) and be loving and honest. Chapman offers four steps to forgive.

  1. Release - the hurt and anger

  2. Confess - your own failures in the situation

  3. Return good for bad - be kind even to those who don't reciprocate

  4. Use your pain well - inner reflection; using your pain to grow. Chapman states that a "forgiving person will not wallow in hurt or lash out in anger, but will spend energy seeking reconciliation."

To forgive, you must use the above steps each time you are hurt. However, to truly become a forgiving person, you must do the following.

  1. Forgive yourself - this is something I struggle with; to become a forgiving person, we must forgive ourselves and realize that we too are human and make mistakes.
  2. Apologize for your own failures in relationships - this means being quick to apologize and being honest with our offenses. Chapman offers some ways to apologize in a heartfelt way. You can say "I was wrong" to accept responsibility for wrongful behavior. To express regret, "I'm sorry that my actions hurt you so deeply. I feel bad for what I have done." When you seek restitution, "What can I do to make this up to you?" When expressing a genuine desire to change behavior, "I don't ever want to do that again." Or, to ask for forgiveness "Will you please forgive me?" I realized from this that I do say that I'm sorry (a lot), but I need to also ask for forgiveness.
  3. Have an attitude of authentic love toward others - become a conduit for forgiveness at all times - no matter how many times a person offends.

I am working on becoming a person who loves as a way of life. I can feel myself becoming a person who loves as way of life - it is only with God's help that this is possible. It is a journey and blogging about it has really helped me. I express my feeling and learn through writing - random as my thoughts may be.


With fall here and all of the changes it brings, it really helped me to feel a connection to my bible study. Leaves change - from green to vibrant fall colors and then fall to the ground and are raked into colorful mounds that I want to jump in the middle of. I think forgiveness is like the leaves. I get hurt and go through all of the emotions that come with that - like the changing colors of the leaves. Then, with God's help and grace, I learn let go of the emotions and forgive - the leaves falling to the ground. I can them jump into the lifestyle of forgiveness and the emotions get scattered into the wind. I learn to live a life full of love - full of kindness, patience, forgiveness, courtesy, humility, and generosity.


I included some pictures of the changing seasons. The pictures were taken three weeks apart. It is amazing what a difference a few weeks can make - both in nature and in our life! All of the photos can be viewed here - second page of the album.

The week we moved in (taken at the beginning of September)

Mist in the valley - it looks like the fog is rising from the trees. (taken at the end of September)

The valley - look at how green it is! (taken at the beginning of September)
The valley in the middle of the change of season - it is foggy because of the mist. (taken at the end of September)

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Mamma Mia!

The past week has been massively and wonderfully busy. My Mom came to visit Tuesday and left this afternoon. We had such a great time! I got completely spoiled and enjoyed every minute of quality time with my Mom. In cool, bulleted form, this is what we did (Mom, our friend Elizabeth and me):
  • Tuesday - lunch in Robinson (town over from us), shopping at Robinson Mall, yummy dinner at Buca di Beppo with my sweet husband, Mom and me.
  • Wednesday - OFF TO OHIO! We visited Amish Country and went shopping in Sugarcreek and Walnut Creek. We went through three states in one day (twice) - Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio. Gorgeous drive - totally loved it!
  • Thursday - We checked out the Fiesta Outlet in West Virginia and the TJ Maxx Home Goods store in Ohio. It was so much fun - of course, our day was not complete without a Krispy Kreme donut. AND THEN - the most fun part. We went home and got ready. Mom and I headed out to the Duquesne Incline, followed by dinner at Georgetown Inn and then we saw Wicked the Musical. It was so "ozsome!" I understand why everyone who sees it loves it so much. Absolutely incredible! Chip stayed home with the girls - he is so wonderful!
  • Friday - I think we were all exhausted - I know - hard to believe! We went to Trax Farms Market, Ross Park Mall and the Galleria. I love all of the interesting little stores that have such cute things! We finished off with dinner with Chip at Eat 'n Park and Bruster's Ice Cream. MMM good!
  • Saturday (today) - Mom, Chip and I slept in and then headed off to lunch so Mom could have a REAL cheesesteak. DELISH! We went to Wal-Mart after lunch and then took Mom to the airport so she could catch her flight. We love you, Mom!

We really did have a great and busy week! The girls loved my Mom being here - Izzie slept with Mom at night - so sweet! The girls do need some extra walks from all the spoiling they received from Grandma. I also will post pictures soon - the leaves are changing and WOW! Absolutely breathtaking. It is amazing to see God's handiwork in nature.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Into the Bush

Literally - that is what happened to me today. This morning. In my pajamas. I was dragged into a bush. Now, the story is quite funny. This morning. In my pajamas. Not so much.

It all started when I got the morning make out from Addison. She likes to wake us up in the morning by licking my face - even when my face is buried under a pillow. Actually, she especially likes to do it then. I think she likes the challenge. I stumble blurry-eyed downstairs in a mismatched shirt and pajama pants with flip flops to put the leashes on the girls. Normally, I use the harness on Addison so she won't pull, this morning - because of my sleepiness - I did not. BIG mistake.

After putting their leashes on, I opened the door and took the girls outside so they could go potty. Izzie and Addison both went, so we headed back inside so I could feed them breakfast and (hopefully) catch some more zzzz's. And this is when the craziness happened.

There was a toad hopping merrily along his way in the flower beds in front of our house. There was Izzie noticing the toad. Then, there was Izzie and Addison trying to catch said toad. I don't know - maybe they hoped to kiss him and he would turn into their dream doggie boyfriend?

I had a leash in each hand with my feet firmly planted trying to keep the girls from capturing the toad. Then I was skiing across dew-soaked grass in flip flops. Before I knew it, I was being drug by two dogs who seemed like they were trying out for the Iditirod. I ended up on my butt being drug until the bush stopped me. The toad was safe and hopped merrily away. The girls were disappointed. I was a wet mess.

I called Chip once I got the girls inside. I didn't seem the humor of the situation at that moment - Chip did, but politely covered the phone while he doubled over in laughter (he waited until I thought it was funny to tell me).

The girls did get breakfast and we laid on the couch together. They apologized for pulling me like a sled by letting me sleep on the couch for an hour. After I woke up, I wondered if maybe I had dreamed the whole bush incident. Not so much. I have a sore butt and mud caked pajama pants to prove it. That and skid marks in the grass.

I did take the girls on a walk - I braved the possibility of toads and other critters that I knew we could come across. This time - I was prepared with a harness and gentle leader. I admit that I lost my patience this morning after my run in with the bush - I did hold it together better than I would have in the past. I am learning patience - God is teaching me. His ways are creative I must admit. He will use dogs, irritated drivers, slow lines at stores - He knows that I need to learn this love characteristic and, for that, I am thankful.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Update in a Listy Way

Where do I start? So much happened this weekend - so I am doing a cool listy, bulleted update (with PICTURES even!). Enjoy! NOTE: the pictures are not in the actual order of events because I am still learning how to use Blogger. :) See all of the pictures here.

Thursday and Friday I cleaned house, ran errands and went to lunch with a Tri Delta sorority sister at Al's Cafe in Bethel Park and went to Trax Farm. I could seriously do some serious damage in that store! Also, you will be proud of me! I made stuff - from SCRATCH! I made Caramel Apple Dip and homemade Cream Cheese Icing to go with a spice cake mix I found called Grandma's Wacky Spice Cake (wacky because it is made with apple cider vinegar).

Friday night, the Palmer family came to see us. Justin and Chip went to the University of Northern Iowa together. Ellie, his wife, and I became great friends. They actually got engaged at our house in Texas! They live in Illinois and have an ADORABLE 5 month old puggle named Gracie. Friday night our neighbors, Luke and John, had a get together. We all stayed up WAY late hanging out with a bunch of new people. Also - there was consumption of beverages.

Saturday started early - 5:45 a.m. - we all got ready and headed to Heinz Stadium for tailgating and to go to the game. After the game, we all took a nap and went to dinner and then to downtown Pittsburgh to see the sights.

Sadly, today our friends headed back to Illinois. We miss them already! I am looking forward to my Mom coming on Tuesday. YEA! I bought my tickets to go back to Texas for a visit, I will be there October 3rd - 7th (Thursday - Tuesday).

I have also really been working on patience this week. It has actually gone pretty well - I do have to take deep breaths and remind myself to be patient. I have noticed a change in how I act and I try to think of the other person more. Maybe the person who cut me off in traffic is on their way to pick up a sick child from school - thinking like this has helped me to be more relaxed. I am excited to see what the other ladies in my LG have to say - they know that I really have to work on being more patient and less of a planner.

Tailgating for the Iowa vs. Pitt game was awesome! There were so many Iowa fans at the game - totally unreal! Also, Ellie and I are rockstars at ladder golf (i.e., dingle balls). Last time I played I was AWFUL, evidently Apple Spice wine makes me good at ladder golf. We went 4 for 4 and then retired. The game - fun, but sad that the Hawkeyes lost by ONE FRICKIN' POINT! Our seats were amazing too - great job on getting us awesome seats babe!

Ellie and Justin in front of the lights of Pittsburgh.
My love, Chip, and I in front of the city.
Ellie and I - two girls who enjoyed a bottle of wine at dinner.

Ellie and I before our Ladder Golf reign.
First beer of the day. The friends we made are parked next to us in the Jeep. SUPER nice!

Grace and Addison playing tug of war with a squirrel this morning. They LOVED each other. Izzie was the referee.

I hope your weekend was wonderfully relaxing and fun!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008


This week the new chapter of my bible study book (Love as a Way of Life by Gary Chapman) is Patience. As anyone who knows me can attest, this is definitely an area that I need to work on. I say that I am a planner, that I am OCD - really, I am just not very patient. Granted, there are times when this is a benefit, for example - getting packed/unpacked, organizing events, getting "stuff" done. However, as Chapman notes, when you are running around in a rush with a hurried attitude, your relationships suffer. You have a spirit of impatience around you and it is difficult to shift gears and be patient with the person you are on the phone with, the store clerk, your family.
I can personally testify to how being patient can ruin or enhance an encounter. When I get stressed, I tend to get (more) emotional. My feelings get hurt and I feel very "woe is me" and am apt to throw myself a pity party. However, being patient can make even a frustrating situation much more pleasant. I tend to have very unrealistic expectations of myself - I try to be the best at whatever I do and expect more than is humanly possible from myself. I need to realize that it is okay, good even, to not be perfect and I don't need to try to be. I need to just be Lucia.
It is so true that making the choice to be patient can make an enormous difference. Chip is one of the most patient people I know. Being married to him has helped me to realize that, truly, it is good to just lay back and relax. To just be. He reminds me so much of my Dad - they both have this ability to stay cool under any situation and never raise their voices. Seeing the two of them with their dogs or with kids proves this even more. They both has this ability to be kind and so patient - even when the dog wants to go out for the 10th time in an hour or a little cousin is endlessly giving wet willies.
My challenge to myself this week is to put patience into action. I will strive to be both kind and patience. This means to not worry if I get stuck in traffic - it happens. To not be in a rush. To just enjoy and truly enjoy being in the moment. To not hurry. Patience is allowing someone to be imperfect and I am far from perfect. All I can do is try.

The points that Chapman challenges us to look at this week are to realize:
  • People are not machines. They have ideas, emotions, desires, and perceptions that are different than mine.
  • People don't work according to my priorities. Their agendas may be different from my own. I choose to respect the choices of others.
  • People are always in process. I choose to give them time for growth. (including giving myself time for growth and not having to be valedictorian of everything)
  • My patience creates a more productive atmosphere for helping others.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Meandering Roads

The roads is Pennsylvania don't go straight. They meander and are extremely curvy. For my Texas friends, think of the Haslet hill that curves - the roads here are like that. At first, the curves made me a bit nervous - you can't see what's coming. Now that I am getting to know that area, I like the curves and the way the road goes up and down like a small roller coaster. The trees grow up and over the road making anywhere you drive seem even more picturesque.

Today, while driving to the library and grocery store, I thought about how life is like that. Our lives do not always go in a straight path - we meander and go through ups and downs. Eventually, we wind up right where God intended for us to be - even if it takes us ten times longer to get there because of our own stubbornness. The gentle, winding roads reminded me to take lifes curves with grace and to be excited about what new opportunities and adventures lay just around the bend, out of sight. It reminded me to take the time to enjoy the ride - to not rush - to just BE in the moment and appreciate the beauty that surrounds me.

I hope your week is filled with pleasane surprises and that you stop to appreciate just where you are. Know how much I appreciate and love you!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Our Lovely Girls & More House Pictures

I was (am) so mad at myself for not taking my camera today when we went to the dog park. Of course, there were so many perfect photo ops! To make up for it, I took my camera on our evening walk and got some great (if I don't say so myself) pictures. You can see the entire album here. I posted a few of my favorites below. I also uploaded the pictures of our downstairs - click here for that album.

The girls getting ready to take a walk. Addison sitting pretty at the dog run. I LOVE this picture of her!

Izzie, the expert rock climbing dog, shows us a few basics. My favorite girls with their wonderful Daddy!

Our living room
The kitchen
The dining room / where I post blogs

Lazy Days

This weekend has been a laid back one. We have pretty much been chill-alxing most of the time.

Friday night, we decided to have Chip's Famous Grilled Cheese and I heated up some fries and tomato soup. We rented some movies and laid on the couch with our girls. Perfect for a rainy evening! Our complex also put in a fenced dog run area - Izzie and Addison LOVED being able to just run and play not on a leash.

Saturday we headed to Sports Rock Cafe in downtown Pittsburgh for the Pittsburgh I Club game watch. Iowa beat State! Iowa defense played an awesome game. Still feeling the taste of victory, we headed over to Trax Farms. The gift shop is amazing - I could have looked around for hours! I decided to wait until my Mom comes to really look around. Chip and I bought some delish fresh produce that was picked THAT DAY. We stocked up on fresh peaches, tomatoes and I bought some corn. It probably won't be as good as Iowa corn - but we''ll give it a shot. We had Bruster's for dinner. YUMMY ice cream!!

Today we planned on checking out a church - but, upon further research of the church, it is not the kind we are looking for. So we will try out another one. I am OH SO grateful for my LG in Texas so I can stay connected. My LG friends are incredible! We did check out a dog park (Upper Frick Off Leash Dog Park) today in Squirrel Hill. (Note to self: do NOT wear jeans and boots when going to look at dog parks. It is hot and boots are heavy!) When we were driving through, I noticed some really cool little shops that I am excited to check out when my Mom gets here.

Kindness for this weekend
  • Being lazy with my husband
  • The very nice people who made us feel so welcome at the I Club game watch.
  • The extra ice cream we got at Bruster's.
  • Delish grilled cheese!
  • Getting to see Wicked with my Mom when she is here visiting
  • Phone calls from friends to see how we are doing
  • Movie night
  • Fresh produce
  • Hiking
  • Seeing my girls smile when we take them on adventures

Friday, September 12, 2008

Promised Pictures

This sign sums up how I feel right now about life.

The girls posing on the guest room bed. It's ready for visitors! Our room.

Look - I took (and posted) pictures of the upstairs and outside of our new home! Downstairs pictures to come once all of the boxes get put away. Click here for the full album.

I am actually posting before lunch. YIPPEE! Today I have so much kindness (and it's only 1 p.m.) to be thankful for.

  • Chip gave me lunch money so I could get some sweet tea at Chick-Fil-A.
  • My Mom is coming to visit on September 23rd and is staying until Saturday night! I can't wait to see her and go exploring with her.
  • The joy I felt in writing a thank you note for a wedding gift I misplaced and found when we were moving. I did feel some embarassment at misplacing the gift - it did make my heart happy to write an apology and thank you.
  • The cleansing rain that I woke up to this morning. There is something to be said for God's gifts to us through nature. The windows were open and I heard the most gentle rain - that coupled with a breeze and the curtains moving in the wind made it a perfect way to wake up.
  • Chip tucking me in and saying to get some extra sleep - he said I deserved it for working so hard on our home. I feel back asleep with the girls in bed with me listening to the rain.
  • The sweet emails I received from Paula, Doc, Josh, Linda, Jim and Sheila. My heart was (is) so full of love for the people in my life - I am so blessed! Two of the emails made me cry at the gratitude I felt from the amazing friends God has blessed me with.

I know that there is only more kindness and gratitude in the weekend ahead. I am so giddy just thinking about it! Tonight I am making dinner (THIRD time this week - WOW) for my sweet husband. Tomorrow we will go to a Hawkeye watch party in downtown Pitt with the Pitt Hawkeye Club and then off to a farm to pick apples and get fresh produce (maybe even some ice cream - although there is no way it could compete with Picket Fence - a wonderful creamery owned by our cousins in Iowa). On Sunday we are trying out a new church that the internet guy recommended and then off to take the girls to a dog park.

Thursday, September 11, 2008


My LG (LifeGroup) at our home church in Texas started a new bible study yesterday. I am doing the study with them via correspondence - a weekly commute to Texas would be rather far. :) The book our wonderful leader chose is Love as a Way of Life by Gary Chapman (author of The Five Love Languages).

This week's homework is Chapters 1 & 2. Chapter 1 is basically an intro to what love as a way of life looks like - authentic love - sharing Christ's love for us. This chapter discusses the seven characteristics of a loving person:
  • Kindness
  • Patience
  • Forgiveness
  • Courtesy
  • Humility
  • Generosity
  • Honesty
Chapter 2 is where the meat of this book begins. Here, we begin on delving into the first characteristic - kindness. Kindness, according to Chapman, is the joy of meeting someone else's needs before your own simply for the sake of the relationship. I agree with this assessment. You can't do anything about how someone will react to your kindness, you simply need to be kind in all situations, no matter what. My challenge to myself this week is to look for the kindness in the everyday situations. I challenge myself to truly appreciate and let those in my life know how much I appreciate their kindness and to pay it forward.

Here's my list of kindness today:
  • My sweet husband taking the girls for a walk this morning (as he does every morning without complaint) and letting me sleep in. He also looked up flights for me to go back to Texas and visit (and go to the State Fair), bought tickets for us to go to the Iowa vs. Pitt game with our friends Palmer and Ellie, set up all of our electronic equipment and moved a bajillion tons of stuff for me, said how great the curtains looked that I made (and how yum dinner was) and worked a ten hour day.
  • A sweet older couple at the mall that I held the door for. The husband insisted that I go in the store before him and the wife remarked on what a beautiful day it was.
  • The kind young man at the oil change place. They did a great job on my car, were courteous and didn't try to sell me something I didn't need.
  • The salesperson at GameStop who sold me to Wii Fit for my Mom.
  • The clerks at the adorable shop at the Mall. They were so sweet and one lady shared how much she loved her Wii Fit with me.
  • The person at the stop sign who waved for me to go first.
  • My Mom and Dad - my Mom is coming to visit me soon!
  • The joy I felt in mailing cards to some people I care so much about.
  • My Mother in Law (best one on Earth) - the care package she sent us.
  • The thank you note from our new bank.
  • The joy on the faces of our girls when I got home. Their tails were wagging so hard!
  • Talking to my dear friend, Kristy, on the phone and catching up.
  • My sweet LG leader keeping me up to date with what is going on in Texas so I feel a part.
  • The internet guy recommending a church for us to try.

I hope your day is filled with kindness today - take a look - it's everywhere.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

What's in a Name?

The title of this blog came about because, well, I am a Texan now living in Pennsylvania. The purpose is to keep our friends and family updated on what we are doing.

Chip and I are on a great adventure that is bringing us closer together. We have a wonderful marriage and, now, we are exploring all that Pennsylvania has to offer. Our girls (read: dogs), Izzie and Addison, are loving it here. There are so many critters for them to run after!

Our new house (see link for pictures) is becoming a home. I even made curtains for the living room and dining room today! (note: Stitch Witchery is awesome -what a time saver over sewing!) I will upload pictures of the INSIDE of our house once I have everything put away and pretty. :)

Gosh - I am thinking (scary, I know). Where do I start? Do I tell you about the drive? The housing adventure that lead us to our current (awesome) home? Since I am a random person, there is no telling!