Andrea's blog


Blue Like Jazz

I just finished reading Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller. Ben has been telling me to read it for the past two years, so it was only fitting that in my resolution to read at least one non-fiction book per quarter, I started with this one. Besides, we own it, so I didn't even have to go to the library to pick it up.
Overall, I enjoyed it. Since it's written in a sort of heres-my-experience narrative, it's hard to summarize it. So instead of a review, I thought I'd present you with some quotes from the book that stood out to me:

“I believe that the greatest trick of the devil is not to get us into some sort of evil but rather to have us wasting time. This is why the devil tries so hard to get Christians to be religious. If he can sink a man’s mind into habit, he will prevent his heart from engaging God.”

Habit--it's such a huge thing for me, and I can see it emerging in Ayla. She's all about routine and knowing exactly what comes next. I can only assume she's learned that from me. This was a good reminder that it's good to mix it up a little bit to prevent something important and meaningful like worship and prayer from becoming a mindless habit.

“So much of me believes strongly in letting everybody live their own lives, and when I share my faith, I feel like a network marketing guy trying to build my down line.”

This has always been awkward for me...telling other people about God. I think I'm better at it now, but probably just with certain audiences. I can relate to his comparison to a salesman...I don't want people to think I'm selling something everytime I talk to them.

“Rick said he thought it meant we should live missional lives, that we should intentionally befriend people who are different than us. I didn’t like the sound of that, to be honest. I didn’t want to befriend somebody just to trick them into going to my church. Rick
said that was not what he was talking about. He said he was talking about loving people just because they exist—homeless people and Gothic people and gays and fruit nuts. And then I liked the sound of it. I liked the idea of loving people just to love them, not to get them to come to church.”

This is a good description of the core feeling we've found at Disciples Fellowship, where we've been worshipping here in Birmingham. Missional...loving's so basic, but so different than the typical "church" formula.

“I am something of a recluse by nature. I am that cordless screwdriver that has to
charge for twenty hours to earn ten minutes use. I need that much downtime.”

I just related to this because I feel this way sometimes. If I have a big day planned during the week, I need two days of nothing to recover. It's nice to know I'm not alone in that!

“At the end of the day, when I am lying in bed and I know the chances of any of our theology being exactly right are a million to one, I need to know that God has things figured out, that if my math is wrong we are still going to be okay.”

Amen. We don't have it right, but we're trying and I think that's what matters. I'm sure I've said that before....



Uncle Kyle must've seen that I had little to no blogging material this week, so he tagged me in a blogging game:

Pick up the nearest book of 123 pages or more. (No cheating!)
Find Page 123.
Find the first 5 sentences.
Post the next 3 sentences.
Tag 5 people.

It wasn't really cheating, but I do have an entire bookshelf-worth of books sitting in my office (still in cardboard boxes).  I picked one of the 10 or so that are sitting on top of all the boxes.  It's a book my Aunt Susan gave me called "Games to Play with Babies" by Jackie Silberg.  
Then put the napkin on the baby's head, pull it off and say "Peek-a-boo".  Put the napkin on the baby's head and see if she will pull it off herself.  Keep pulling it off until she learns to do it herself. 
My friends, consider yourself tagged:

Ben and Andrea Steed Family Tree


For those of you that I've been e-mailing about finding out family names and dates, let me show you the project I'm working on. I finally glued everything down this evening and started labeling the leaves of our family tree. The beauty of this project is that it can be displayed now, even though *all* of the information isn't there yet. I can add to it at anytime just by writing in names or dates. Click on the picture below if you'd like to see a more detailed image: 



It's made on a 24" x 12" stretched canvas that I painted with the grass and sky horizon. The tree trunk and branches are cut from two sheets of 12" x 12" cardstock and the leaves are also die cut from green cardstock. The pink dot that represents Ayla is a brad. (And don't worry, I have plenty of additional pink and blue brads in case we have more kids in the future.)


This has been a fun art project that was inspired by a MOPS meeting about geneology a few weeks back. Thanks for the inspiration Patricia! Now I have to install the family tree software and get a more detailed (and accurate) tree going on my computer....another ongoing project to add to my list...



Now THAT's a family tree art project:

In my family tree art project research, I ran across this photo:

How stinkin' cool would THIS be on a wall of your house? Wow... 


What do you do with holiday cards?

Remember when I asked what everyone does with their holiday cards and what kinds of cards you like to recieve? Well, today I put a new plan in action to save our annual Christmas cards covered with the current year's holiday postage stamps . It's very simple--just a manila envelope to put all the photos and letters inside. Then I decorated the front of the envelope with punched squares from all the other cards we received. On the back of the envelope, I wrote down who we received cards from and how we know them. Seems obvious right now, but someday it might not be. Maybe next year I'll get a pretty basket to put the envelopes in and they can add to our holiday decor.
I'll admit, this process seems to be a little over-kill in the "memory-keeping" department, and yes, they may all be trashed someday. But...our MOPS meeting this week was about geneaology and how to do family tree research, and I guess in my head I have this vision of one of these families looking for information and photographs about their family and I'll have their 2007 family photo archived in my folders. Silly, I know...but these are the kinds of things I think about!
Thanks to everyone who sent us cards this year. We enjoyed them all!

The Seven Year (sw)Itch

No, I'm not trading in my husband. But, for those of you who have made it to that 7-year mark in your marriage, you'll know what I'm talking about here.
Remember all those beautiful gifts you received as wedding gifts? Dazzling dishes, glimmering glasses, pristine pots and pans, sparkling silverware, gorgeous know, all the cool kitchen stuff that you couldn't afford to buy on your own?
My advice to new married couples: Enjoy how perfect all those things look in your first few years of marriage. Because one day (I estimate 5-7 years), you'll take them out of the cabinet and realize that what once was so pretty is now old, scratched, chipped, cracked, and crumbling. And this time around, you'll have to buy the replacements yourself!
We have a pot lid that is hanging by a thread...literally---a threaded screw is holding it together, barely. I think it's time we retire it from active duty. To it's credit, it has been used nearly everyday for the past 7 years. I suppose that's pretty impressive.
And I'm the first to admit that our mis-matched collection of tall glasses is almost entirely my fault. This is actually the 3rd or 4th round of glasses we've had to buy because I keep dropping them and breaking them! Our short glass collection however, keeps growing, because apparently you can't buy just tall glasses without the short ones too. So, if you come to our house and your drink is served in a small glass, you'll know why. Don't worry, we give free refills.
We are also on our third set of plates and bowls since we got married. We bought this round a few months ago and we're hoping they'll last us a little longer than the last set, which we only kept about a year and a half. Thankfully, they were cheap! Then again, maybe that was the problem.....
The moral of my story is to remember that all this is just stuff and even though it might be as old as you've been married, it's condition doesn't have to represent your marriage. Or maybe in a way it does...the evolution of it. Instead of starting over with a new mate (as many do nowadays), just be sure to choose the next set of dishes together, and you should carry on just fine....we have anyway!

The Year of Living Biblically

I just finished reading The Year of Living Biblically: One Man's Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible by A.J. Jacobs.

Now, typically I don't read non-fiction. No matter how often Ben "suggested" that I read something that was true, I frankly found it too nerdy and figured that couldn't be enjoyable at all. But, since this book was our pick for book club this month, and it did look interesting, I gave it a shot.

And interesting it was! It reads just like a year of daily blogs by A.J. (editor at large for the magazine Esquire and author of The Know it All). He spends a year trying to follow the bible as literally as possible, focusing on the Old Testament for 9 months and the New Testament for 3 months. He has a great sense of humor and the things he encounters trying to find the origin of traditions and examples of people following all the obscure rules and laws are beyond bizarre!

He's Jewish by heritage, but calls himself agnostic. His theory is that all people who follow the bible (there are so many names for these people besides "Christian" that I'll just say "people") are choosy about what parts they follow, picking only what fits their agenda. His experiences with all these people and their various beliefs, traditions and customs are proof that it may just be impossible to follow everything in the bible--at least literally.

I took away two things from reading this book...well, maybe three:

To follow the Bible, and essentially God, is difficult, complicated and mind-boggling to say the least. There are so many interpretations and perspectives on the meaning of nearly every verse in the bible, all (or most) with excellent arguments.

After reading this book and visiting a variety of different churches over the past two years, I have a much greater appreciation for God's grace. May he be merciful unto all of us who think we have Him figured out. I'm sure we don't, but we're doing our best and as far as I can tell, that's our mission--to do our best to follow Him. Somehow though, I get the feeling He's just shaking his head at us in Heaven because we are all so transfixed on the details and the little things that we were missing the big picture. I'm going to try and look at the big picture more in the future.

Second thing I took from the book: I'd like to be able to be dedicated and focused on a project like A.J. was for this book. Amazing commitment and in-depth research was essential to his success. I'm not sure what kind of project I'd like to do, but I like the idea of really focusing on something specific everyday to reach a long-term goal.

And finally, I'm going to read more non-fiction. I'll try for one a quarter next year and see how that goes.

Definitely a recommended read--it'll make you think--and laugh out loud, literally. The people in the cardio room at the rec think I'm the weird girl who laughs for no reason!



Is this weather for REAL???  



Feelin' Crafty

I'm feeling all crafty and festive lately.

I spent this afternoon making handmade ornaments to give to our

neighbors and to the lovely ladies who watch Ayla every morning at the Rec. None of them read my blog so I can show you! :)  I'm pretty happy with how they turned out:

Instructions: (for those interested in an inexpensive, crafty project) 

  1. Stamp a large star onto chipboard.
  2. Cut out the stars from the chipboard.
  3. Cover the stars in mod podge and glue them to the back-side of your patterned paper of choice.  Wait a few minutes for it to dry.
  4. Using an exacto knife, cut out the stars from the patterned paper.
  5. Next, cover the other side of the star with mod podge and glue them to the backside of a coordinating piece of patterned paper or cardstock. Wait a few minutes for it to try.
  6. Again, cut out the stars using an exacto knife.
  7. Punch a hole through the top of each star.
  8. Use sandpaper to sand the edges of the stars (optional).
  9. Add any text or handwriting.
  10. Cover the entire star with mod-podge to create a protective coat. (do both sides)
  11. Add a loop of ribbon with a knot at the top to finish them off!

I also baked a batch of Aunt Dora Cookies for our Steed Christmas celebration tomorrow afternoon. Those things are teeny tiny! They only take about 6 minutes to bake, so it keeps you hopping.  I'm making them again next week for a Cookie Exchange, so I've got lots of dough rolls all ready in the freezer.

Finally, the last project of the day was on a whim, really.  I've had these white candles in our bedroom forever (they looked great in our old red bedroom, but not so great in our new tan bedroom).  I never light them, and I really would like to have RED candles instead, but I have trouble buying them when I have three perfectly good white candles.  So, I decided to just decorate the white ones instead.  Patterned paper, a little ribbon, and a metal alpha letter.  They were done in about 3 minutes.  


Tomorrow is Steed Christmas at Josh & Rachel's house.  Looking forward to lots of good food and Christmas music and gift exchanging.  Hope you all (not y'all) have a good weekend!


Afternoon at the Zoo

Today was gorgeous: 76 degrees, sunny, and perfect.  Yes, that's right all you Minnesota folks, Ben was wearing shorts today!  Hard to imagine, I'm sure, but it happened.  Anyhow, since it was so gorgeous we decided to take Ayla to the zoo this afternoon.  It was Ben's first visit, and we had a great time walking around, seeing the animals and enjoying the weather. 

We had a couple of memorable moments while at the zoo.  First, the hippo was being very entertaining and gave us quite a show.  Check out the video by clicking on the photo. 

And next, we saw the evasive cheetah for the first time!  According to my sister-in-law Janel, the cheetah is NEVER out where you can see it, and they had begun to think it wasn't even there at all.  He was there today, sleeping right in the middle of his area, plainly visible.  So I'm wondering if in the mornings (when Janel & the boys usually go to the zoo) if he's got a routine where he hides.  We were there from about 1:30 - 3:30 in the afternoon today.  Could any case, we got to see him and we took a photo for proof that he was there:



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