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Friday, October 2, 2009


Don't ya just feel like you're spinning your wheels sometimes? I know I sure do. Actually, I feel that way more often than not, by my own fault, of course. I come to a point where I reflect on my life and think, "Am I really doing what I should be doing? Am I really contributing to something? Is my life leading to something?" And the answers I receive (from myself) are almost always the same. "Not really. Somewhat. In certain ways, hopefully."

"Am I really doing what I should be doing?"
This question always, without fail, pops into my head at about the mid-semester point. It's when I evaluate my school performance and realize that, in all honesty, it has been nothing to "woohoo!" about. But, it never really has been for me. And I think I am coming to a point (this is my 5th college year, it's about time I come to grips with myself, ha) where I can accept that. I know, and am okay with, that school is merely something I have to "get through". I don't like it, heaven knows I don't like it one bit. But I have to do it. So I soldier on... for years and years (longer than most, perhaps). Period.

"Am I really contributing to something?"
As far as my contribution is concerned -- it really just depends on what area of my life you choose to look at. If you look at my job - then nope. My job is really contributing nothing to society or my personal well-being. It is a job of laziness and boredom. A job that does nothing but interfere with my sleep schedule and keep me away from my marital bed 4 of 7 nights a week. On the other hand, I DO feel like I contribute to a worthy cause - church and Mountaineers for Christ. These two things, are of course, my favorite things. It is my lifeline. I have been heavily involved in both for 4 years now, and I become more involved with each year. I love every second of working with Loren in this campus ministry & I love every second of teaching the little kiddies about Jesus (and other wonderful bible characters :)). These things not only bring me closer to God, but bring my closer to my church body, and give me a better understanding of myself daily. Who could ask for more?

"Is my life leading to something?"
Ahh, the big question. Logically, of course my life is leading somewhere. All lives are. I am aging, that is a sure sign that I'm headed somewhere, even if it is only to my death... ha! But really, this question is a toughie. It's a combination of the prior two questions in my mind. I am making my way, however slowly, through my college education... which should lead to a career. I am in a wonderful new marital relationship (almost one year!) that is leading towards a lifetime of new experiences and ups and downs with my very best friend.I am working in a church body and working in my relationship with the Lord that is leading to eternal life. ----- SO to sum up, I suppose my life IS leading to something!

I think the moral of my story here... as it is with all of my wee-morning ranting posts... is that I lead a very blessed life, a life that is heading down a path. I just have trouble seeing that in the midst of all this day to day rubbish. I often feel like I'm simply spinning my wheels, and sure there are many areas in which I could always do better, but all in all -- in the words of Jo Dee Messina, "well I guess I'm doin' alright." ;o)

Wednesday, September 2, 2009


Let's see what has been going on in my world lately...

Most of my summer consisted of summer classes, working one or two jobs, & basically just living regular day to day life. I liked it. I am a sucker for routine and monotony! With this regular joe living, I grew some pretty flowers (my first time ever trying my hand at outdoor flowers!) that were placed all around our front porch (since we're still renting I didn't really want to try to plant some in the ground...). I wish I had a picture to show! But I bloomed some lovely pansies, geraniums, & wave petunias! Along these same lines, as I have mentioned before, I tested my hand at some different recipes. While I don't really have anything to share about my complex meal attempts, I can tell you that I found my new favorite lunch EVER! Tomato & avocado sandwich!! YUMMM! (please, ignore the awful look of my avocado slicing... at the time, I had no idea how to cut and slice an avocado properly, ha!)

Moving on... a highlight of my summer was my weekend in Lexington, Kentucky. My Mama & I drove down to visit my oldest & dearest friend (and first cousin) Ronica! Ronica has been a sister to me since we were tiny tots. We're only two years apart in age & come from a very, very loving and close family... so naturally, we were close, too! Unfortunately, some differences in lifestyle separated Ronica & me for several years... I am happy to say that God has really worked in her life & my heart -- and now I feel like she and I can get back to the close relationship we once had! I could not be more thrilled! First picture: Tiny tots at Christmas! Bottom picture: All grown up in Lexington!

Once back from Kentucky, it was time to get back in the groove of school :'(. But on a more positive note - getting back into school meant getting back into Mountaineers for Christ! So far, so good! We've had a good turn out so far in the first two weeks, we have had a successful leaders meeting, & have planned a bunch of great things for the semester! Here is a picture from our first event back together, Sunday night College Church. This is Ben & Kevin rockin' out on the geeetar!

And finally -- Meet Oliver, the Brainard's temporary kitten! Oliver was meant to be our kitten, a kitten that was going to live outside... however, Oliver hates it outside. He only desires to be indoors with his people. So, I found him a (possible) home with Jennalea & Scott. They already have an adorable cat named Leo, & Jennalea really wants Leo to have a friend... enter Oliver! However, she has to convince Scott. So until she does, Loren & I are providing Oliver with his temporary indoor home. Of course, if Loren decides he is helplessly attached to Oliver, I will be more than happy to let this adorable & super cuddly little kitten live inside with us forever & ever. :)

And that is my life as of now... check back soon, as I will be getting a brand new car tomorrow evening & will surely want to blog about it! :) :)

Have a lovely rest of the week!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


I am no decorator. This pains me. In general, I am rather domestic. Or at least, domestic in the sense that I genuinely love to clean, like trying to cook, and generally enjoy my wifely "duties". But, I fall short in decorating. I want to. I love HGTV just as much as the next gal, maybe more than some... but I cannot, for the life of me, come up with a vision of what I want. I look through other's homes, longingly, and see how beautifully their homes flow, knowing that my home will probably never compare.

As ridiculous as it is, this actually makes me sad.

Oh well. I will continue to watch HGTV and I will continue to pour through blogs for ideas... and maybe, just maybe, someday my creative vision will come...

Have a delightful day, world! :)

(perhaps this blog was a tad dramatic... but that's what you get at 6am after a longer-than-usual-feeling midnight shift)

Monday, August 3, 2009


Today, I thought I might share with you one of my few successes at cooking up something tasty... that doesn't involve meat or chocolate, ha!

I don't know about you all, but I find it hard to fit in all kinds of veggies. I like my veggies, I actually can't think of a vegetable I have tried that I don't like, but I have trouble eating a bunch of them at once. I could live off fruit and fruit alone, but veggies are just tough for me. So, with my new obsession with nutrition and my lack of meat these days, I am constantly looking for new ways to cook vegetables to make them extra yummy so I don't feel deprived or unhappy. I stumbled across a recipe for zucchini on a wonderful, wonderful website (http://ohsheglows.com/). The recipe was for "zucchini boats", but it called for some things I didn't have, so I decided to veer off on my own path and see what I could do... and the result was yummy! :)

You can't see it too well, but that is a zucchini boat in the middle, 1/2 cucumber drizzled with lite balsamic vinaigrette on the right, and a nice plum on the left. It was all delicious... and healthy, too!

Zucchini Boats:

-Cut a zucchini length wise and scoop out the insides

-Mix up the insides with about 1/2 tomato, 1/2 C mushrooms (I steamed mine a little before, so they would be nice and tender), 1/4 C cooked brown rice

-Add salt, pepper & spices to taste (I used chili powder)

-Sprinkle with cheddar cheese, if you like... I liked ;)

-Add the mixture to the boats and bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes

While it wasn't the best thing I have ever had - it was easy, good, & filling. I'm sure I'll be making them pretty often!

Thursday, July 30, 2009


As it has been 4 months since I last wrote, I am out of the swing of things. So, instead of writing some in depth blog about some one subject, I will do a nice list (we all know the love that is list-making!) of things that have gone on, changes, etc. (Or perhaps I am making a list since I have nothing of real importance to say yet... but geesh, it's been four months... I'm overdue to say at least something...)

List time!

  • In my last blog, I spoke of my heavy heart and changes I hoped to make. Well, I can tell you these changes did not come quickly. I am still in the process... but I am working on it all, and things are going well, very well.
  • I am getting back in the habit of constant and consistent prayer. I have found it to be somewhat of a lifesaver for me. I feel so much better and so much closer to God with some good prayer.
  • I'm on a daily reading schedule that is also helping me grow in my relationship with God, a lot.
  • Loren & I have moved into our new place... in May. It's out of town, with land, and flowers, and chickens, and bunnies, & even a horse. (the animals are not ours... but I like to pretend they are) It's lovely to sleep at night and not be woken up by the sounds of a rager upstairs.
  • Loren & I see too little of one another. But summer has provided some extra quality time, since the campus ministry is basically non-existent during the summer months. He and I both still work full time for REM (him - days/evenings, me - midnights)
  • My wonderful husband preached his first sermon at our church a few weeks back... he did a fantastic job! I feel (and I think he does, too) that preaching is what he is supposed to do... he's too good not to! :)
  • In classic Toni fashion - I changed my mind as to what I planned to do with my life. But then changed it back, ha. Honestly, I want to be a teacher. I see myself being a teacher, it's the only thing I have ever felt completely confident about. But just some education and money issues came up that made me think I should switch back towards the path of nursing... As of now, I'm still at teaching, just a different process of attaining that goal. Check back later, I'm sure I'll waver several times before the time comes.
  • I'm now a vegetarian - or at least 99% of the time. I still have slip ups... such as when Loren makes a pizza, I am only human, ha! I'm in the slow, slow process of working my way to vegan. We'll see. It all came about for various reasons - it really came as no surprise either, many have expected me to go this route for years. It was only natural.
  • I am certainly enjoying trying out new, healthy, meat free/sometimes dairy free recipes... hopefully, once we have internet at home, I'll post about those someday.
  • Loren's dad, Carl, is now back at home. Yay!! He's doing well, hopefully a full recovery is in his near future!
  • Jack, our dog, has gone to a new home. A much happier home. And from what I hear, he is LOVING it! Sometime soon, Loren & I will get to visit with him. I miss him a ton, and think of him often (and shed a few tears) but I know he is happy... and that makes me happy. He deserves the best home, one that can dote on him, like he loves, and be there constantly... unlike us. Miss that furry goofball though. :(
  • We had the pleasure of going to the beach this summer. For Jennalea & Scott's wedding (who was a maid of honor, oh that's right, ME!). It was absolutely beautiful and I could not be happier for those two! And I was also pretty happy to spend a few days in Nags Head!

I'm sure there is more. But c'mon, no one likes 500 bullet points.

See ya in another 4 months! ;)

Tuesday, March 31, 2009


Ya know what, I take back what I said a little while ago. Yes, I am coming back to a place where I am able to plan and dream again. But when I think it over, it doesn't feel the same as it used to...

I was reading through countless old entries on my last blog (the one on xanga) out of sheer boredom and I realized that I am nothing like the me I used to be. Part of that is quite the blessing, parts of the old me I am more than happy to leave behind. But some parts, parts that I think have been vital to who I am, seem to be missing nowadays. Such as my unwavering optimism. I am far too critical now. I am far too glum. Where is my old smile and cheery heart? Where is my zest for life? Really, WHERE is it? I used to find such joy in the simple things... like walking through campus to class, writing checks for bill payment, writing a paper. I still find joy in some simple things -- such as, I love cleaning our apartment before Loren is about to get home, I like getting everything in order for him to come home to (sure, he probably doesn't care about it at all, but it makes me feel nice and wife-like). I like the simple act of hugs or holding Loren's hand. And I like when Jack does something silly and I laugh and laugh. Some simple things still really excite me --- but the overall zest for life seems to be missing. Where is my motivation for school? Now really, this plagues me a lot. I know I have never particularly cared for class and have never felt super motivated to try my absolute hardest. But I have NEVER cared this little. Seriously, it has become a huge problem - in more ways than one and I don't quite know how to remedy it. One would think that coming up so close on graduation would put a little swing in my step and a light under my rear... incorrect.

And the one thing that has changed, above all else -- is my fire for God. And this one thing is the hardest for me to explain. One would think, since I am newly in a situation with a Godly husband - who happens to be in the field of ministry, that my relationship with my Father would grow and deepen. Wrong. I have hit an all time new level of complacency. And I am just too darn lazy to fix it. I hear Him calling to me, I know He is there, I do not doubt... what I doubt is my will to listen, to turn towards Him. I doubt my faithfulness to Him. This, I know, to be the root of all aforementioned issues. I know that without a zealous heart for God, I simply do not find joy in life like I should. I know that without a daily quiet time with God, I simply find myself losing focus and motivation. I find myself losing touch with reality. Losing interest. Losing myself. I know this, I have always known this.... so why do I still pull away? I promised myself and God that after my biggest personal trial to date (fall of '06) I would never allow myself to become comfortable in my relationship with the Lord. Because I had learned, I had seen, the many blessings and joy and love that could come from a true, deep, close relationship with Him. But, just as I had feared (which led me to my above mentioned promise) once things became "good" in life, I would soon forget how much I needed Him to carry me.

My friends, it is far too easy for me to let go of God when things are going well... it is only in my darkest hours that I realize how much I depend on Him and how much better life is with Him by my side.

When things are good, I suddenly don't remember how to rely on my Savior. I don't remember how to be "in love" with God. I start relying on myself and my own pride and my own selfish desires. I read something tonight that reminded me so much of myself... "I was extremely well-versed in theory, but completely lacking in practice." I have read and read about how to fall in love with God, how to have a deep, personal relationship. I know the ins and outs of what it takes, I just don't actually do it. I have achieved that type of relationship on rare occasions. One being, as I mentioned, when I am in the pit of despair. When there is no where to reach but up to God. I have felt a true connection. I have felt the loving arms of my Heavenly Father wrap around me and comfort me in ways that no human touch ever could. I have had the heart wrenching conversations with God through prayer, I have felt Him speak to me..... The other times I have felt this time of relationship were in the few following weeks of a despair. Those weeks when I am on such a high from feeling the presence of God that I can do nothing else but seek Him and chase after that closeness. But eventually, and here in lies the problem, life gets in the way. Life gets busy or I get distracted. And suddenly, poof, that relationship has fallen by the wayside.

What an uneasy feeling.

Well let me tell you, as tears stream down my face right now, I am sick of it. I am sick of feeling complacent. I am sick of feeling like I don't want to try. WHY oh WHY would I not want to give EVERYTHING I have to the Lord that gave EVERYTHING to me??? It sickens me to realize that I am such a fool. It sickens me that it takes me writing everything out and facing these issues that have been building for months to see how ignorant I truly am. It sickens me beyond belief to realize that I have let my strongest spiritual gift go unused. I have a gift for prayer, it comes easily to me to converse with God. An area where so many struggle, I have always found the easiest. And I have ignored that so much lately. I am completely ashamed.

I know things cannot stay this way. This is why I feel some things have been heavy on my heart lately. I have just been to prideful and stubborn to look at them and listen to what He has been saying. Well... today is a new day. Today is a day to start falling in love with God all over again... Today is a day to start listening and doing.

Today is the day.

"Your love, O LORD, reaches to the heavens, Your faithfulness to the skies" psalm 36:5


I think of all the things I want to do. For the first time in a short while, I am back to a place where I feel like I actually want to do things. Back to a place I am familiar and comfortable in... a plan making, hopeful, dreaming, optimistic place. But there is a twist this time... all of my goals and plans and hopes and dreams seem to all have a counterpart. Clashing hopes, hmmm.

I want to hurry through school and be able to teach... but I also want to go on an extended mission before I start teaching.

I want to buy a house and have "roots"... but I want to move around.

I want to have a baby... but I want to enjoy new marital bliss.

I want to go to Colorado... but I want to stay with Mountaineers for Christ in Morgantown.

I want to grow and deepen my relationship with my Father... but I also feel a desire to hold onto my (selfish) independence and pride.

I want to truly be a "team" with my husband... but much like with God, I want to hold onto my selfish and stubborn ways.

I want to keep our dog Cracker Jack... but I want to not have to vacuum and eat his fur every day and be free to go anywhere at anytime.

I suppose the right thing to say is: I don't know what I want. I want too many things at once. Too many colliding dreams. Not to mention that all of these dreams have to coexist with Loren's dreams... the beauty of marriage. :)

Honestly... I am just happy to be back to feeling like myself after a season of no motivation or desire.

there's nothing ever wrong, but nothing's ever right. such a cruel contradiction. i know i cross the lines, it's not easy to define. i'm born to indecision. there's always something new, some path i'm supposed to choose... with no particular rhyme or reason -- shinedown "burning bright"