Thursday, November 15, 2012

He Is Better

Hello Again!

The last few weeks have been a whirlwind. The good news is that Bruce and I finally found a new place. The bad news is, now we have to pack up and find furniture to fill our new TWO bedroom apartment. What a blessing! Through all the struggles and frustrations of looking for a new apartment, God taught me a lesson. I thought it was hard enough to be going through all the newly-wed challenges, plus apartment shopping and then add a little homesickness and you have a big mess. That is what I was. My husband is so patient!

So after we pulled through all of that and finally found a place, my husband showed me this video.
Matt Chandler was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor three years ago and was given three years to live. It's been three years and he's still alive. That is beside the point. His attitude towards this shocking news is simply this: Thank you God! Thank you for considering me worthy to display your goodness and your excellence and your glory in THIS. Not just when miracles are happening and we are blessed, but even when things are terrible and don't FEEL good, YOU ARE STILL GOOD!

He spoke about Hebrews 11 and how so many are commended for their faith. At the end he talks about  those who shut the mouths of lions, and who overcame terrible odds, but then it says some were beaten, some were shipwrecked, some were sawn in two and both groups of people showed great faith.

First of all, wow are my little trials BEANS compared to how people have suffered for Christ or what? Secondly, not everyone gets miracles and blessings all the time. Sometimes we suffer. I want be known as someone whose faith withstands the trials that come. I want to be able to stand up and say God is good, and excellent and beautiful and glorious no matter what the circumstances may be. I want to be able to say that God is sufficient, God is BETTER even than any thing, any circumstance, any ache or pain that there is in this world.

I also read an article in Table Talk magazine this week that spoke about pursuing contentment. It was dealing with the issue of covetousness, and how the heart issue is contentment. I have been so guilty lately, not of covetousness, but just of wallowing in my little list of things I wish were different. Um, Maria, THINGS AREN'T DIFFERENT!!! And you can't change them. You can only change YOU. That change that I need, it's contentment. So I've been on a crusade to pursue contentment. What a change it has made. How much more joy there is in life when you just choose to be thankful.

I sure do miss home....but I have the best husband in the whole world. So instead of being mopey because things here are different and mom and dad are far away, I choose to look at my hubby and let the goodness of the Lord fill my heart like wind in an open sail.

p.s  Here is a little preview of my wedding pics courtesy of Mark Elkins Photography.

There's a lot of love here :) 

Monday, November 5, 2012

Still Not Home

Still Not Home

White, and wispy all at once, she saw it coming fast
planning, working, calling, making, hoping she would last.
Then it came, and she emerged in white from head to toe.
Veil blown by balmy breezes, bright and all aglow.
She looked him in the eyes, she felt her spirit soar.
Home never felt this close before.

That white and wispy dream it carried her so long.
It buzzed and rang inside her ears like a lovely ringing song.
Day after day the song wore off, and then she faced her life.
She was happy cooking, cleaning, being a little wife.
I must be home, she thought, and sat down with a sigh.
But something in her yearned and longed, and made her want to cry.

The days grew long, and sometimes dull, the wispy dream had left.
She felt a little lonely, a little bit bereft.
Perhaps something was missing to make a home out of her house,
Perhaps she needed time to find her place, 
and get to know her spouse.
But time went on and on and on, she knew that wasn't true.
There was no thing, no time, no spouse
 that could stop her feeling blue.

No place, no person, nothing here on earth could fill and satisfy.
No place would ever fill her heart, and stop the need to cry.
No apartment, house or hut could make her feel at rest.
No roof would satisfy the longing that weighed upon her chest.
The only thing, she realized, that would fill her to the brim,
Would be when she saw God and went to her eternal home with Him.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Life Goes On...

Apartments, friends, feelings, schedules, routines.

These are all things that I am discovering, learning, searching for and understanding in my new life here.

Apartments. My husband and I have been searching diligently for an apartment. It is so difficult to find the line between being good stewards of our money and yet finding somewhere we can feel at home. We don't mind living somewhere that isn't the nicest place, but we would like a place where we don't wake up in the middle of the night because the roaches are having a party in our kitchen, you know?

Friends. Thank you Lord for letting me move nearby my sister. what an amazing blessing that has been. However, when you move to a knew place, you want to find connections, people you will see on a regular basis. In Morehead, I had Lambeth, of course, but I also had other friends that i'd run into at Wal-Mart, I new my hairdresser really well, and had other people that knew me around town. I want that community feeling here. I want my butcher to smile when he sees me coming, and I want to find my regular hair salon. I want to run into friends in the grocery store and when I'm on a walk. I want community. This takes time, and I'm not a very patient person. Yet, He is always faithful to provide, so I don't have to worry about it.

Feelings. So many new feelings. Homesickness comes in waves but less frequently now. Joy is constant. Happiness I feel whenever my hubby is in sight. Contentment fluctuates but increases with time. I am struggling with selfishness now more than I ever have. I never knew how spoiled I was until I got married. I have been shocked at how often I find myself upset and when I analyze it realize that I'm just not getting my way. God give me grace! And he does. Frustration and inadequacy come fairly often. Learning new roads, new stores, new everything can be frustrating, but at least they speak English here. I can't imagine what it's like for a new missionary transitioning into a whole new culture. Inadequacy I have always struggled with. My husband does such a lovely job of lifting me up and reminding me of the gifts God has given me. He also reminds me that it is GOD'S SPIRIT in me that does all the good and not me by myself.

Schedule and routines. This will come with time as I learn what my husband needs from me and what I need to accomplish during the day for my house and for my Herbalism program. No! I haven't abandoned it. I'm still working at it. And all of this comes with a need to learn how to balance my activities with the distraction of constantly available internet. I'll get used to it. I did in college.

Thank you Lord for helping me, and indwelling me with your Spirit, so that I might not lose hope and lose strength.

As the sun is full of light, 
the ocean full of water, 
Heaven full of glory, so my heart be full of thee.
Give me thyself without measure, 
as an unimpaired fountain, 
as inexhaustible riches. 
Come as love, that I may adore the Father, and love him as my all;
Come as joy, to dwell in me, move in me, animate me;
Come as helper, with strength to bless and keep, directing my every step;
Come as beautifier, bringing order out of confusion, loveliness out of chaos;
Magnify to me thy glory by being magnified in me, 
and make me redolent of thy fragrance.
~ From a puritan prayer

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Dinners for Two

Hello friends!

A new challenge has presented itself in my new married life: cooking for two! I have spent the last fifteenish years cooking for anywhere from 4 -16+ people. I was not sure how I could reprogram my brain to cook less. I find myself buying large amounts of food, dividing it into portions and freezing it. It's kind of like being in college again. That was a three year window where I cooked for one! Although there were times then that I cooked for a lot more than that. Some of you may remember the famous Friday night dinners. So I find myself making little pots of soup, and chopping pork loins into four big chunks. It's kind of fun making a meal and then seeing if there's any left over. Tonight I made roasted pork loin with a pineapple glaze and a side of fresh steamed green beans and mashed potatoes. Yum! I can't wait to eat it :)

Here's a little how-to for roasted pork loin for two!

  1. Take a full sized pork loin (1.79 a lb at Kroger this week!!) and chop it into four large pieces about four to five inches long. Freeze three pieces and save one out. 
  2. Place the piece you saved out in a pressure cooker pot with olive oil, sprinkle it with seasoned salt and garlic powder and brown it. 
  3. Then put the rack in the pressure cooker and 1 1/2 of water and a little salt. Put the lid on the cooker and bring it to full pressure. Cook it for about 12 minutes in a manual pressure cooker, 10 in an electric one.
  4. Meanwhile, place three finely chopped rings of canned pineapple in a small saute pan and add a tablespoon of brown sugar and 1/4 tsp of fresh grated ginger. Add two tablespoons of water and simmer for a few minutes until thickened.
  5. Let your pressure cooker fully release the pressure before you open it. Open it then and slice the pork loin, put it back in the cooker to stay warm.
  6. Place fresh, rinsed and snapped beans into a steamer pot and steam for twenty minutes with salted water. Top with a couple pats of butter...VOILA! Delicious dinner for two :) Enjoy! 

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Are We Home Yet?

Dear friends,
       I feel as though I've been here for an eternity now and I keep wondering when I'm going to have to pack up and go home. Then the reality hits me that I AM home. The trouble is, it doesn't quite feel like home yet. For one thing, all my books, beloved stationary, fountain pen, odds and ends are still in a storage unit. I daren't unpack them because in six weeks or so I'll have to pack them again. That's right, I'm moving again. Our lease is up December 1st and we're off to a slightly larger place. One where I might just have room to set up a legitimate pantry or a craft area. One where the kitchen is not also the living room, and the bedroom.  
It's not easy to be trying to settle and not settle too much at the same time. I want to be home. I yearn to be home, and yet I must wait.
     This waiting puts me in mind of the verse that says

"Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head." Matthew 8:20

  Where was I? Oh yeah, I think I was complaining about not feeling at home yet in this cozy apartment with a memory foam mattress topper and luxurious embarrassing. I can't believe that I would even begin to feel sorry for myself when Jesus himself had NOWHERE to lay his head that was his own. He had NOWHERE that he could call home. He slept outside, under the stars, and in the cold. He spent his days giving, giving, and giving until he exhausted himself. I spend my days working, staying busy, yes, but also whining and complaining a lot. 
      So my goal right now is not to focus on not being home quite yet, but on my home with Bruce. It's not the place really that is home, but the people. I don't really miss Morehead City or the beach as much as I miss Mom and Dad, Paul, and Grandmother. So I need to fill that bit of loneliness with my new home, my new family, Bruce. How can I adjust my heart, my emotions, my mindset to feel more at home with him? This is the question I intend to explore and answer. Stay tuned to find out my progress. Love to all! MG 


Friday, October 5, 2012

A New Name, A New Life

Dear Friends,

      I am now no longer Maria Lorraine McNiel. YES it's true, I got married! I am now Maria Lorraine Goff. And OH, how I love it! So I thought I would continue my blog as a married woman now. Exploring the challenges of being a stay at home wife in the big city. I haven't gotten quite used to using a dishwasher AND a dryer yet. I do miss hanging out the laundry.
     But oh there are so many JOYS in being a wife. My husband delights in all the little things I do. Everything is like a little gift to him. The things that were routine to my family are so new and exciting to him. When I take out his shirt in the evening and iron it for the next day. When I greet him with dinner ready. When I tidy up the house and when I do the laundry. Each thing just gives him joy and thus giving me joy as well.
     I am learning also that missing home is not bad. Grief of this kind is not so despairing. It is merely one's heart separating itself from what it was knit to before and re-knitting itself to a new family. Tearing and repairing can be a mite painful. But it will not last forever. There are things I miss about home, besides hanging out clothes of course. I miss the water. I miss afternoons sitting in my parents room rehashing the days events. I miss getting breakfast ready with my dad in the mornings, and hearing his talk radio when I got in the kitchen. I miss my grandmother shuffling around the house and telling me for the seventeenth time that she doesn't know what she'd do without me. Yes, I miss these things. I miss exercising with Lambeth in the mornings and meeting up with her for Bible studies. However, I do not long to have them back. It is merely a letting go, a saying goodbye that hurts.
     When I begin to wax sad, I simply think of my husband. I think of his delight in me, the joy I have in helping him, and the joy of being in his arms and belonging to him, and the sadness seems to fade away. I have much to be thankful for. I can hardly wait to see where this journey will take my husband and me. Stay tuned to find out!

 P.S. Here is a picture from our wedding day, and the picture of the twins I promised ;)
Such a beautiful day in my life!
This is a couple weeks after they were born. They are now six months old.

 So yes, I am now a Texan. I live here in the big city, a country mouse trying to find her way. More to come! ~ Mrs. Maria Goff

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Nanny McNiel

Hello All,
Yep, I've been making the 'rounds again. Here I am in Chicago, its almost midnight and I'm wondering why I'm still awake. Next to me swinging gently and smacking his lips while he sleeps is my new nephew, Asher Monroe McNiel, and not far away is his sister, Genevieve Elaine McNiel. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, the twins have finally arrived. We waited SO long and they are here. I do not yet have a picture to post, but I will as soon as I can. OH how I love newborns. Their soft, velvety heads and sweet milky breath. Nothing really makes you see God more clearly then holding a tiny new born, hearing their heartbeat, feeling their breath and realizing that He created this little being out of nothing. He spoke and it was there. He knit them together in the womb. What a God we serve!

So I start to wax a little homesick, but then I remember how blessed I am. I remember what great siblings I have and what a joy it is to serve them. I love being a nanny, whether it is to my family or to my newest little friend Vivian. Meanwhile I tuck my own little mothering hopes and dreams away and give them to God. He knows my heart so well. How grateful I am for such wonderful training that I have had in the art of maternal love. Therefore I rejoice and am glad, YEA and I will rejoice!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Courtship 101

Hello out there!

Sorry that I've been so remiss in my posts. As it turns out, my life has been very full as of late. A new character has entered the scene. Here is my new friend. His name is Bruce Goff:

My new friend is also my suitor. I thought I'd give you all a little information on what courtship is all about. Courtship is the process of getting to know someone in order to decide whether or not you'd like to marry them. The young man approaches the father of a young lady and asks to spend time with her. The father spends some time getting to know the young man to discern whether or not he is prepared for marriage, suitable for his daughter, prepared for family leadership etc. Once the "vetting" is done, the father may or may not grant permission depending on how his conversations with the young man go. In my case, my dad said yes and invited Bruce for Christmas. After spending more time together, if the young man is still interested, he may then ask the father to "court" this means to intentionally set aside time to spend with the girl to further confirm his interest and then to persuade her. I need to stop here and put in a disclaimer that courtship varies from one family to the next and this is how it looks for me and my family. So Bruce and I have now been getting to know each other for a little over a month. All the big questions have been answered and now we are just developing our friendship and getting to know each other better. To some this may sound like arranged marriage or downright crazy, but it is SO much better than dating. How many girls go out with a guy only to find out that he is some creep that just wants to take advantage of you? That does not happen with courtship because the guy has to go through the dad first. How many guys get in a relationship and then want to get married but have to wait exorbitant amounts of time because he has no savings or job? This again does not happen in courtship. Courtship is getting to know someone for the right reasons, with the right things in line in your life, and having people watch out for you while you do it. Its that simple.

Bruce and I are enjoying this process, and hope to be an example to other people and to bring glory to God. So that is where I've been and who I've been with. The end.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Passing Seasons

What is it about the season that gets us so excited and in a flutter, only to come crashing down when its all over? Holidays are like a drug. They give us an unnatural high in which we revel the daylong. Suddenly, without warning, we come crashing down with a headache and a heartache.

I am a victim of this drug. For weeks I baked and cooked and decorated. I shopped and wrapped with care and dreamt of the smiles that would appear from said gifts. I yearned for the family and anticipated the dear friends. Then all at once it was upon me. Trips to the airport were made, and bedrooms were filled. Soon we were laughing and singing and eating like crazy. I enjoyed every minute of it. Even being woken in the night by a crying baby at 4 am. I relished it.

My sister and her husband and their ADORABLE baby were with us for ten glorious days. My friend, Bruce, came for four. We all had such a fantastic time. I can’t begin to tell you all the good times we had. Between our new stove, Javier’s new gun, Granny’s fruitcake and Abigail’s little washer machine, it was a perfect Christmas. We sang the most beautiful song at the candlelight service on Christmas Eve. We ate the most delectable foods. We played games and went on walks and talked until we all collapsed each night with exhaustion.

Then one day I woke up, and we packed everyone in the car, and they were gone. Everyone. Suddenly my house was empty. There were sheets to wash, and a refrigerator that looked like World War II. When I said my farewells at the airport, I felt okay. I was still feeling the residual giddiness from the week. When I got home, I thought I would be sick. It was all over. Somehow, I found the energy to undecorate the tree and strip the beds. I felt bereft and depressed.

I needed some TLC. I was just so blue and tired. It was, after all, New Years Eve. Mom and Dad had plans, and Granny had plans, and my plans were up in the air. I went to go take care of some Internet business and then just sporadically decided to take a walk on the beach. My heart was so full. As I walked, the Lord enveloped me in His love. He game me a spectacular sunset with which to say good-bye to the old year. He gave me encouragement from His Word, which I had brought along. I was uplifted. When I got home, I had just what I needed: confirmed plans, a quiet house to myself, a frozen pizza, and a chick flick. After my film I joined some fantastic friends for a Twilight Zone marathon, and rang in the New Year watching a crab pot drop downtown with my community. It was perfect. It was just what I needed.

The Lord sees that we are dust. He sees that we are so desperately weak. He knows my frame, and when I feel that the slightest breeze will crack me into a thousand pieces, He finds the gentlest way to whisper His love to me, and remind me that though the season has changed, and though my friends and family have returned home, He is still God, and He never changes. For someone who has SUCH a hard time with change, THAT is a comforting thought. ☺

Malachi 3:6a “ For I am the Lord, I change not…”