Monday, February 28, 2011

Head & Shoulders, Knees & Toes

I know it's been a while (ok a long time) since I actually had my act together enough to take part in a weekly I Heart Faces challenge. But I decided not to let that stop me from jumping back in this week . . . The theme is "Head & Shoulders, Knees & Toes" - and they want anything BUT a face. Since I'm entirely too NOT together to actually have my camera with me to try and take a new picture for the challenge, I looked through my files and found this one from a wedding I shot a few weeks back (more from this wedding are here). I love the green and black - such a great color combo, right?


Go see more non-faces at I Heart Faces this week!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Links and Such

Just because I have nothing particularly interesting or insightful to say, doesn't mean that other people aren't busy blogging about things that are beautiful and life-changing and thought-provoking. Maybe someday I'll blog about that stuff too. But since today is clearly not that day, here's some things I think you should read.
First of all, my sweet wonderful friend Gini is making cute personalized keychains to help raise money for our ministry. I told you she's sweet and wonderful. I'd love for you to go check our her blog and maybe even buy a keychain or two (or twenty-seven).

I want to see Jesus- I want to be like Katie. Seriously, I love her heart and her blog and everything she is doing.

Orphan Care Isn't Sexy - from We Are THAT Family.

Ghana: The Rescue - Beautiful pictures, and a beautiful story of redemption.

from Millie Holloman Photography

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Weekend Recap

I've been trying to think of the best way to share our weekend in a way that's not, you know, incredibly boring, but it turns out that I got nothing. However, boring has never stopped me before, so here it is: our weekend.

Friday night we had dinner with some friends who live down here right near our new house. It was fun and delicious all at once - which is definitely a winning combination. My favorite part was how chaotic the whole thing was with 4 kids running around. Their daughter Ava is three and between her and Jay, the whole thing was just hilarious. They were adorable together though, both of them in their "princess skirts" and smearing applesauce all over the furniture. In fact, they were having so much fun carrying purses around and "going to the airport" that we stayed way too long past Jayci's bedtime, which resulted in our hurrying out the door in the midst of a complete meltdown (by Jayci, not Ava). Luckily, they are willing to stay friends, despite Jayci's poor social skills.

So as it turns out, I can't even remember what we did on Saturday. It's all a blur of sitting around watching movies and eating and hoping some of that food actually stayed in my stomach. In particular, we have been watching the movie "Over the Hedge" about 8.6 million times. Every morning, Jayci begs for "the TUWTLE MOVIE," and I usually give in. But boy oh boy do I wish that movie would magically disappear at this point. And if you're wondering why Over the Hedge (seeing how it's five years old and not exactly the most popular movie ever), it's because I happened to grab it when I was bringing Jayci's DVDs for our housesitting adventures. Somehow Jayci discovered it. And the rest is repetitive history.

I do know that Saturday night Adam made us some delicious Tacos. We went to the local Kroger to pick up supplies. And I have rarely seen Adam so excited over all the deals. The MANAGER'S SPECIALS had him especially worked up. Organic milk for a DOLLAR? What kind of place is this? I'm guessing it's because the neighborhood folks don't buy a lot of organic milk. Or maybe because the milk had gone bad or something . . . But either way, we are enjoying the milk, and it tastes fine to us.

Sunday we went to Renovation Church in the morning. Then we took the kiddos (and Jayci) to a local pizza place which is just delicious. And picked up Zack for a fun-filled afternoon. Minus the fun, apparently. See what had happened was that we locked ourselves out of the house where we are house-sitting. Which is a bummer on a Sunday when we had to call several different locksmiths before finding one that was open. 45 minutes later, the guy showed up. Unfortunately he could not unlock the door. Because locksmiths apparently aren't as good as the thieves in the movies at unlocking doors. I tried to tell Adam just to slip a paper clip into he door knob, but he didn't seem to think that would work. Poor Zack was a good sport with all the waiting, although he did think that maybe the locksmith should get a new job if he couldn't open locks.

By the time we got into the house and got our stuff, it was time for One Church. Zack came with us, and we rewarded him for all the waiting and boring with donuts. Because sugar and chocolate make everything better, right? After church, we ate some delicious Barberitos and then headed back home.

See? BORING. Don't say I didn't warn you. But one day, I'm sure Jayci will be desperate to know what we did the weekend of February 19th, 2011. And she will be pleased to be able to read this post, be embarrassed by her mother, and remember how much she loved to watch Over the Hedge. As a matter of fact, she's watching it as we speak.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Backyard Photoshoot

I've been more than a little excited about the fact that the place we're housesitting has a backyard. It's been so long since we've been able to just go outside and play . . . Add some gorgeous 65 degree weather, and my soul is feeling a little refreshed the last few days.

Today, Jayci wanted to go out and play - and I grabbed my camera. Which, of course, ensured that she would pose for some pictures for me. . . Have I mentioned that I love this phase?



Probably my new favorite picture of her.



And check out that sassy-ness. Lately, she has taken to saying "OH YEAH" just like Vector from Despicable Me. It cracks me up.






Golly but she's cute. Thankfully, because it makes the whole disobedient stubborn two-year-old a whole heck-of-a-lot easier to handle.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Random as usual

 Here's the thing: I've been sitting here staring at a blinking cursor for a good ten minutes now. It's not that I have nothing to say (heaven forbid), it's that I cannot for the life of me string words together into a cohesive, if somewhat boring post. That said, I'm resorting to a list. Don't judge.

1. We are currently house-sitting downtown near our new house (just a few miles away). Which, by the way, is an absolutely fantastic blessing especially with Adam and his dad working on the house every day. His commute has gone from 45 minutes (with no traffic) to 5 minutes or so. Just think of how much money we're saving on gas!

The first night we spent house-sitting, I was a little surprised at how jumpy I felt. I mean, I was all gung-ho to move into the hood right? But it turns out that life in the city is just louder. And there's lots of sirens. LOTS of sirens. And a train. So Adam set the alarm, in an attempt to offset my jumpiness a little.

We went to bed and had a terrible sleep (note this post if you want a more in-depth discussion of the lack of sleep we received that night). When Jayci woke up for the day bright and early at 6am, I thought I'd be a good wife-y and let Adam sleep. And then I took things a step further (I knew there was a reason I don't overachieve) and decided it would be super-helpful to let the dogs out to do their business. It was in half-awake stupor that I found the key to unlock the security door. Unfortunately, opening the door was a big mistake, seeing as (if you'll recall), we had set the alarm the night before. The loud noise did not agree with Jayci's ears, causing her to scream "I DONT WIKE DAT NOISE!" as I ran through the house haphazardly trying to remember the alarm code and find the key pad. Luckily Adam hopped out of bed and turned off the alarm, so I went to go get the dogs and calm Jayci, only to hear the phone ringing (no idea where the phone was to actually answer it) and Danielle calling out (our friend who is going to be living with us in our new house) that it was, indeed, the security company calling to check on the alarm. OH VEY. I couldn't help but ask Danielle if she was super-excited to live with us. And to remind her that on top of all this usual chaos, we will also have a newborn. I'm sure she's ecstatic.

After that somewhat shaky start, we have been able to settle in for a few weeks and enjoy having our own space near our new neighborhood.

2 - A little while back, it snowed again. Granted, it wasn't a lot and it didn't last long, but Jayci was still pretty pumped to play in the snow. As evidenced by her selection of kicking 80s sunglasses to commemorate the occasion.

3. Yesterday when i signed onto my Google Reader (which I desperately need to get under control), I had approximately 147 posts titled 'Happy Valentine's Day', or something of that sort. I just wanted to apologize for failing to jump on that bandwagon. And also to reassure you that we did, indeed, celebrate Valentine's day. Jayci worked diligently and made some sweet little "bawentines" for all her friends at school.
She was quite excited to hand them out, and also about all the candy and chocolate she received in return.


My dad and sister are out of town on business, so we invited my mom and brother-in-law over for a lovely Valentine's Day dinner at our place. Adam made baked ziti, one of my favorites. It was a little funny though because he tried to give me some of the credit for making dinner. It turns out, however, that all I did was put some water in a pot and turn on the stove. I'm nothing if not a gourmet chef. Oh and my sister (the pastry chef) would be so so proud of the mini-cupcakes from a box we made. They might have stuck to the pan a little and we didn't use cupcake liner-things. But aren't they just lovely? Like I said, I'm a gourmet.




Jayci was a little shocked at how ugly they were. But she managed to eat one (or two) anyways.

4. This weekend, our brakes went kaput on our car. Which was quite expensive to repair, as it turns out. The guy at the car place said: "oh girl, those don't sound good." And unfortunately, I'm not sure at this point how we're going to have enough money to close on our house. We are trusting the Lord to provide. And would love your prayers along that vein. Thanks friends!

5. And for those of you who have been wondering: Yes I'm still throwing up. Thankfully, the throwing up has lessened to maybe 3-4 times a day. And I've even gained a few pounds (although I still weigh less than I did to start the pregnancy). And that might be the first and only time I'm happy to share that I gained a few pounds. That said, I am very tired of being nauseous and feeling like crap. Like super-duper-ridiculously-tired-of-it.

The end.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Provision

Do y'all know my friend Jenna? If you don't, you should probably hop over and read her blog. She is a gem. Anyways, this past Christmas, I posted a story on my blog about our sweet friend April and her family. After reading that story, Jenna emailed me and told me she felt led to give monetarily to our ministry in a way that could help April's family. I was super-excited, obviously, and couldn't wait to figure out the best way to use the money to help their family. Someone had already contacted us and provided them with Christmas gifts, including bikes for each child in the family (no small feat, there are lots of kiddos in this family!), so I thought that maybe I'd use the money to help her get her electricity turned on. But then they moved before that happened, and had been bouncing around a little since then . . . I just kept the money aside, and continued praying about the best way to utilize this gift.

And then this weekend, we picked up our boys for a fun-filled Saturday watching tennis, eating pizza, and showing them the progress on our new house (all clearly besides the point, sorry), and Sabo mentioned that he heard April's house (she was staying with her sister) had burnt down. I insisted that it didn't, after all we had seen them just a week earlier and their house was most-definitely fire-free. Regardless, we called to check in and discovered their house had indeed burnt to the ground the night before. The fire caught in the night while they were all asleep (something involving gasoline in the fireplace which is never a good combination). So more than anything, we were grateful to hear that everyone had gotten out uninjured. But they lost everything. Having so little to begin with makes this even harder for me to fathom. Their clothes, new shoes, jackets, food . . . gone. Their bikes MELTED in the flames.

The Red Cross put them up in a hotel for a few nights, and the landlord at the place that burnt will be moving them to another property tomorrow. I have been so worried about them, thinking about how scared they must have been. I mean, I was terrified of fires growing up, and I never had to live through one. On Saturday night while I was praying for them, it hit me -- I had money to buy them all new clothes! I was able to go to Target and get every member of the family a pair of pants, a few shirts, and new undergarments.

I just think that it is so amazing to think about how the Lord used one of my sweet bloggy friends to provide for April's family. And you know what? I'll bet that He knew just when we would need this money, and He made sure I held onto it for that very reason.

I'm reminded of how often we don't know how we're going to make it through something, or we don't know how we're going to make ends meet. And then God shows up in amazing ways. Because He is strong when we are weak. And He loves to give good gifts to His children. And He knows our needs far more deeply and more intimately than we even know them ourselves.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Good Gracious Heavens but I am tired . . .

I realized something last night when Adam grumpily mumbled to me at 5:30am: "do you think you could try getting her once?"

I replied (obviously very kindly and not-at-all snappily or sarcastically): "once? try this is my fourth time getting up with her."

It turns out Adam had also gotten up with her 4 times during the night. So 4+4=8 - EIGHT times during the night Jayci woke us from our precious and much-needed slumber. Now, to be fair, it's entirely possible that one or both of us either a) exaggerated the number of times we got up with our child to ensure that our number would not be lower than our spouses' number, or b) imagined, dreamed, or hallucinated getting up four times with a crying baby child who actually just needed the blanket tucked back around her. That said, Jayci had to have been up at LEAST 5-6 times every night for the past month or so. Oh and being pregnant, as it turns out, already makes me tired and cranky without any added sleep issues. Not to mention the fact that I'm feeling a little panicky at the realization that we're about to start the newborn phase all over again, and at this rate the next time we sleep through the night will be sometime in the late 2020's . . .

The thing is, I've been googling the heck out of "sleep training for toddlers" and "why in the name of all that is good and holy is my two and a half year old still waking up a million times a night?" and everything revolves mostly around setting up a good bedtime routine and getting her to sleep painlessly. But the "getting her to sleep" part is already pretty painless. It's the "getting her to stay asleep" part that's causing us anxiety and headaches and desperation for caffeine even though coffee makes me vomit these days.

We don't get her out of bed. We don't play with her or turn on the lights. And as soon as we go in, she settles right back down and goes right to sleep (for an hour or so if we're lucky). Unfortunately, that still involves us getting out of bed, reassuring her, going back down the hallway, climbing back in bed, realizing I have to pee because I'm pregnant, getting back out of bed to go to the bathroom, tripping over various shoes we have inevitably left strewn around the room, and trying desperately to fall back asleep fast enough that I can legitimately let Adam take the next waking.

I expected not to sleep with a newborn. And in just a few short months, I'm again expecting not to sleep because, you know, the newborn . . . but a two and a half year old? With nothing wrong? You're killing me here.

And because I know y'all are going to suggest this, let me throw it out there. We've tried letting her cry, and she quickly goes from slightly whining and easily consolable to completely angry and out-of-control and inconsolable no matter what we do. Not to mention we are currently living with other humans who didn't necessarily sign up for the crying in the middle of the night.

The only thing I've apparently learned from this whole experience is that "sleep" and "parent" are basically oxymorons. Now if only I wasn't pregnant and I could enjoy a margarita and cheese dip, because that's the only solution I can see right now. But then again, I'm totally sleep deprived (not to mention nutrient/food-deprived) so I might be missing the magic sleep solution that's right in front of me. If so, please feel free to point it out. Thank you and good night.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Mamahood, among other things

Warning: This post talks a little bit about some things that we usually spell out at our house (ahem, s-e-x) so Jayci doesnt repeat them (and so I don't get too embarrassed) . . . that said, this has been on my mind for a long time and I finally thought I'd share/ask for input. However, please feel free to NOT read this if you might feel uncomfortable or anything. As a side note, this little sex talk has to do with our kiddos and NOT with Adam and I. You don't know me at all if you think I'd be willing to talk about my own s-e-x life in a public place. I'm blushing just thinking about it.

Adam and I have been working with inner-city kids for about four years now. That means all the sweet little third and fourth graders are now full-fledged teenagers. And, to be honest, I really am enjoying working with middle schoolers (although I still love all my little babies too). It's fun to be able to talk to the kids and have real, reciprocal conversations. However, the issues these kids are facing (and forcing us to face too) are slightly more complicated than they were when they were just little 8 and 9 year olds. And quite honestly, they make me shake in my boots at the thought of my own kids entering the teenage years. Basically almost every single one of the 13 and 14 year old kids that we are working with are having sex regularly. Which, really, just blows my mind because I feel as though I didn't even know what sex was when I was that age.

These kids are forced to grow up so quickly, and they live in a culture that's both overtly sexual and doesn't have any qualms about talking about or even demonstrating grown-up things in front of kids. As a result, these kids are knowledgeable (more so than me, honestly. Sometimes they ask me: "becca, do you know what that means?" and i get all flustered and embarrassed and insist that "of course i do!" when really i dont, but that's probably a whole other set of issues to discuss) and acting on that knowledge. And yet, they're still such kids. They don't really understand all of it and they certainly aren't equipped for all the JUNK that comes along with physicality in relationships (disease, emotional attachments, pregnancy etc). We had a kid tell us that she couldn't get pregnant as long as that 'white stuff' dont get inside her. And another kid tell us that the only reason Adam and I could wait until we were married to have sex was because we are white, and that "black folks don't do like that." . . .

Ugh, I can't help but think that our Heavenly Father's heart must just be broken to see how far from Truth His children are living, how desperately ensnared they are by the enemy and the lies he is feeding them. I hate to think of my kids missing out on one of the Father's most precious gifts simply because they never even knew it existed.

The result of all this growing up too fast and confusion and what-not is kids who end up being parents themselves. Like 14 year old girls and boys having children. I'm sorry, but 14-year-olds are still children themselves. Period. And can you see how this perpetuates the whole messy cycle? Of course a teenager who is single and woefully unprepared for high school, let alone parenthood, is only going to repeat the things she's heard and do the things she sees going on around her. Which means her child is going to grow up the exact same way she did, and then probably end up having sex early and maybe becoming a young mother/father themselves.

It's painful really, the hopelessness of the cycle. Because unless something changes, unless someone intervenes, everything is going to stay exactly the way it is. Young boys will become fathers with no sense of responsibility, and no idea what it means to be a FATHER. They will abandon the girls they impregnated, leaving them alone (and ill-equipped) to raise their child. . . It hurts my heart.

So what's the point of this post (besides just depressing you)? I think the key to this whole mess is something I mentioned above. . . . UNLESS SOMETHING CHANGES. That means people stepping in, intervening, and changing the course of these kids' futures. And that's exactly what Adam and I want to do with our ministry. We've been thinking a lot about things like getting these girls on birth control. Because right now, they're not going to stop having sex apparently. So at least maybe we can stop them from getting pregnant while they're still kids themselves . . . (and before you jump on me about what a terrible idea that is and how I shouldn't do anything that would enable these kids to have more sex . . . let me just say that I'm totally torn over the whole issue and am still wrestling through the best way to respond). Or things like educating the girls who DO get pregnant. Because I guarantee you they're not taking prenatal vitamins, nor do they nothing anything about babies needing schedules or sleep or what to feed them and what to feed themselves etc. . . Or about maybe starting a study on s-e-x the way God intended it to be. Or about purity.

I honestly don't know what it will look like moving forward, but I DO know that something needs to be done. Or the cycle is only going to continue.

Today I was reading my friend Marla's blog and she had a fantastic post up about praying through her book (Expecting) for young mothers-to-be in Haiti. And I immediately thought of our girls. Of the prayers that they need to. Or maybe we could get these books to them somehow if they do end up expecting . . . Anyways, all that to say that I would love for you guys to take a minute and lift up the girls we work with to you. Girls who are still children and desperately need the chance to stay that way a little longer. Girls who need Truth. Who need Jesus. And anyone who has any knowledge or insight or ideas on the best way for us to proceed with these kiddos, I would love to hear from you.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Demolition Weekend

This weekend brought the day we have all been waiting for. And waiting for and waiting for. But seriously, it was finally DEMO DAY at our new house! Our awesome church (One Church) showed up in force to help rip out plaster, fill up dumpsters, remove trim, tear down walls . . . and generally work very hard. It turns out that I am both a bad photographer and a bad blogger because I forgot my camera AND my phone, so I had no way of documenting the fun . . . Luckily, my friend Maddie DID take some pictures, and I'm totally stealing them from her cute blog to share with y'all.

Everyone worked so hard and it was such a blessing to us to see the church body at work. We completely filled up 2 dumpsters and there's plenty more to go! Please know also that I am using the term "we" rather loosely, considering as how my delicate condition (aka being pregnant) kept me from doing any actual work in the dusty house or in lifting heavy pieces of concrete into dumpsters. Rest assured, however, I managed to contribute to the efforts with some major carb-loading of our workers involving Krispy Kreme donuts (I discovered there's a KKD that is dangerously close to our new house) and large cheese pizzas. I am nothing if not worried about food, even when I can't necessarily enjoy it myself.
I have big plans for this door that I valiantly rescued from the trash pile. I don't know what they are yet, but something cool for sure . . .
Yes, this is the INSIDE of the house. It's almost as messy as it will be when we're living there!
But how cool is the exposed brick? Love it.
Our dear friend and future roomie, decked out in her work gloves and mask.
Just in case you forgot how cute Jayci is. Not that you could ever forget.

Oh and one more thing, I started a facebook page for Blueprint 58 (our ministry) so if you wanted to head over there and "like" it, I wouldn't complain . . .

Monday, February 7, 2011

The best small group ever. Just sayin'

For the last five years-ish now, Adam and I have been blessed to be a part of an awesome small group. And I'm not just saying that cause I know they read this (hey guys!). Seriously, the members have changed a little over the years as people have moved away and new people have joined . . . but I dont know what I would do without them. Don't you just think everyone needs a solid group of friends who will keep them accountable, lead them closer to Jesus, and be a shoulder to cry on when you need it? Cause I know I do.

When we first started our group, we had 4 couples and decided to "kick off" our small group by having each person take a week that would be "their" week - they had to bring their favorite snack, make a cd of their favorite songs, and share their entire life story from beginning to end. And then the group could ask any questions they wanted. We drew names to see who would go the next week each time. I ended up being the very last person to go. You'd think after 8 weeks, I might have gotten less nervous about the process . . . but I will never forget how terrified I was to share myself with people so fully. Being vulnerable and honest about who you are is HARD. Seriously hard. Luckily, my small group (as I mentioned) is full of amazing people who totally accepted and loved me despite my messiness and flaws. And we have been BFFs ever since. And I don't even mean that sarcastically.

Anyways, over the years our group has gone from sharing our stories, to reading books together, to just eating together, to talking about tv all night, to just catching up and hanging out every week, to watching sermons on dvd . . . Right now our group has 3 couples, which is a great number for going deeper and talking about hard stuff and being vulnerable. We've been taking turns as couples leading the group each week . . . but now we've decided that we need some sort of study or book or something to do for the next 6-8 weeks (before Adam and I move). Unfortunately, we've done some not-so-successful Bible studies in the past with our group, and we really want to avoid doing any more lame less than wonderful studies.

That's where y'all come in. Our homework this week  was to come up with an idea for what we should study and we will put them all on the table when we meet on Wednesday to decide what to study. Here's the problem: I am completely clueless and have no idea what makes a good small group study. So I need your help! Any ideas? Have you done a study/book with your small group that was wonderful? Life changing? Let me know what you guys think we should do next!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

When Skies Are Gray . . .

She makes me happy :-) And I realize the skies aren't gray in these pictures, they're from a glorious perfect day this weekend. But when MY skies are feeling a little gray (as in most days lately), she is my sunshine!

 (and yes, she is wearing a weight watcher's name tag . . . we thought she needed to start losing those holidays pounds she put on)
Oh i kid. She went with Nana and then refused to take it off the rest of the day.




As a side note, I read this post by Kristen this morning and felt like just hugging her for articulating my thoughts exactly.

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