Monday, May 30, 2011

Electronically Challenged. Or Something

I'm not sure I can adequately convey the depths of my despair regarding all things electronic right now. I'm thinking Adam and I should go old-school-electronic-free in our new house. Which, by the way, we will be getting appraised (which means it will be finished!) in T-minus-2-days! Woo to the hoo! Why the sudden technological aversion? (and an even more pressing question: why write about hating all technology on a blog? Ironic, I know).

Well, here's the story: a few weeks ago, my computer started acting all crazy-like. And it turns out it had a MAJOR infection/virus of some sort. Don't ask me what it was - all I know is that it was serious business. And it took a long time to fix. We ended up having to back EVERYTHING up and completely wipe it clean. Totally start from scratch. Which is all fine and good right? Because now I have my computer back, and it functions without randomly shutting down or throwing temper tantrums on a regular basis. HOWEVER, I forgot to back up a few very important things. 1-All the actions/shortcuts I had created and/or downloaded for Photoshop. So those 5 photo sessions I need to edit? They are now going to take approximately seventeen times longer to finish. Brilliant. And 2-All my bookmarks on Firefox. I had saved so so so many amazing tutorials and ideas for crafts/decorating/creating in our new home. And now they're lost out in the world-wide-web somewhere. Floating around, where I cant find them back. Which means I will never be able to make my house cute. Because I am nothing if not a copy-cat. And also, prone to the dramatic apparently. Because I KNOW I just said we are finishing our house tomorrow. HELLO HALLELUJAH AND PRAISE THE LORD. But still, y'all, I felt the need to take a quick moment to acknowledge the sad loss of my online bookmarks. 

And on the subject of online finds. Can anyone tell me where I can find something exactly like this that doesn't cost $300 PER SHADE? Please and thank you.
So why else do I hate technology right now? Well, I bought a Kindle about four months ago. And I couldn't be more excited about it. I absolutely love it, and think it's going to be even more amazing when I'm breast-feeding our new little bundle. Because with Jayci, I was always trying to read my books using one hand while I breast-fed - no easy feat for someone as lacking in coordination as I am. About a month ago, tragically, my brand-new Kindle stopped working right. Its charge is supposed to last approximately 4 weeks if you dont have wireless turned on. Mine? It lasts maybe 4 hours. Plus randomly it wont turn on, and then it will decide it's feeling better and turn on (claiming it's fully charged) only to shut itself down and refuse to turn back on again. It's a delight I tell you. I actually called Amazon about it a few weeks ago and they walked me through resetting it and everything, and that helped for about three days, until my Kindle returned to it's fickle state once again.

Then this morning, I went out to start my car to go work on finishing up our house, and guess what? The battery was dead. Like really dead.

And I currently cant find my cell phone. Which happens about 45 times every day.

Ok, ok, enough complaining. Let's all focus on the positive for a minute: OUR HOUSE IS ALMOST FINISHED. Booyah. Oh and if every single one of you could take a minute on Tuesday and pray that our house appraises for what we need it to (at least 90k), then we would appreciate that so so so much. And also pray that our loan stuff works out well. Because that's the last thing we need once the house is actually finished . . . loan troubles.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Camp Grace 2011

One of the hardest parts for me about all these house-shenanigans and timing and pushing back deadlines etc, has been that it means Adam and I aren't able to work at camp for a full summer this year. Plus, I'm pregnant and my due date is the last day of camp - and camp is pretty much in the middle of nowhere, which is no bueno for having a baby apparently. 

I am having to come to terms with the fact that God has a bigger plan than my plan. I know I've mentioned that lesson a time or twenty here on the blog, but it seems that God has to hammer things home really well in order for me to actually learn any lessons. We absolutely 100% believe we are moving where God is calling us to move, and that means we need to spend time this summer getting to know the neighborhood, especially while the kids are out of school.

But truthfully? Selfishly? I just want to go to camp. I love camp. It's what started us down the whole path of urban missions. It's something we're passionate about and look forward to every single year. And it's just plain fun. Seriously, it's basically two months of playing with kids. And I like playing.

Don't get me wrong, Adam and I are still going to be involved with camp and help however we can - it's just not going to look the same as it has for the past four summers. And I'm bummed about it.

I'm especially bummed because I'm pretty sure camp is going to be even better this summer than it's ever been before. Camp has an amazing staff this year, new leadership combined with old leadership that I just feel like is going to be so so good for these kids and giving them an amazing camp experience.

Oh and this sweet gym, complete with a giant climbing wall, has been built. Booyah. Plus a giant water slide into the lake. Which, unfortunately, I wouldn't be able to ride even if I was going to be there, because hello? 8 months pregnant.
This year's camp theme is based on Proverbs 3:5-6, which are some of my most favorite verses ever. And I think they hold such promise, such hope, for these kids who so desperately need it.

While I was down at camp a week or so ago for a planning meeting, I was reminded of just how awesome-ly God has shown up in providing for building camp. From receiving our certificate of occupancy WHILE the first campers were already there, to having people donate their time and money and resources to help complete camp, I could share story after story of the extravagant ways God has provided.

And it struck me while I was listening to all these stories, that it is just like our God to go SO above and beyond in showing up for a group of people that are mostly overlooked. Those people the world tells deserve it the least, He is giving them the most. Because He hasn't just given them a summer camp, He's giving them a summer camp that makes everyone I know jealous - with beautiful facilities, the best of everything, fun things to do, zip lines, horses, luxury cabins, an olympic-sized pool . . . And I can't help but think about Matthew 25, remembering that I serve a God who truly cares and loves the least of these. I am encouraged to know that what we are doing for the least of these, we are doing for Him. 

*Side note: We still need to get all our kids sponsored to go to camp this year! Want to help? Visit Vision Atlanta's website and sponsor a kiddo today. Trust me, it's totally worth it - the best $360 you can spend!

Monday, May 23, 2011

The House Renovation that Never Ends

I finally have my computer back - and I feel a little bit like my lost child has returned home. Granted, it is a terribly unrepentant, irritating child who is STILL badly misbehaving . . . Some sort of virus has wormed it's way into my computer for sure. Not cool.

But onto even more depressing matters . . . I mean seriously y'all, it's been almost a year since we moved out of our sweet little house in Woodstock. I swear if I could have looked ahead a year ago and known what the year held. . . I don't even know what I would have done. Possibly run away. That said, I feel like the end is finally FINALLY in sight. Seriously, we should be done working on the house in the next week or two - and then move in shortly after that (once we are finished with the paperwork and headache that is the loan process these days).

Since I know y'all are dying to see the finished house almost as much as I am (almost), here's a few peeks at some of the work we've been finishing up lately.
Adam and his dad hard at work on those beautiful beadboard ceilings . . . yum.
And look! Our cabinets are in too. . . .Which would be a whole lot more exciting if they were the right color. If you can tell in this terrible phone picture, they are all gray - and I love the gray color- but my plan was for only the bottom cabinets to be gray and the top ones to be white . . . and I feel as though the gray just looks miserable with the "tame teal" color on the walls (which is clearly not-so-tame). And I REALLY tried to just get over it because, hello, at this point I should be happy about anything at all that happens to move us closer to actually living in our house. But I just couldn't do it with this one, so Adam and his dad are going to paint them white for me (thanks guys!)
 And this is the first time I saw any part of our house bathed in natural light. Yay for windows! Don't worry, we put the plywood back up over top to prevent any more rock-through-the-window incidents. But look at all that light! This is our bedroom, and I'm thinking curtains are a must . . .
        Let's all count down together now. One more week of work before it's all done! Knock on wood.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Growing a Human

First of all, I must apologize for my extended absence. First blogger was down for a while, and now my computer is in the shop because it is acting like a crazy-person. For realz. Luckily, while we're living with my parents, there are a plethora of computers I can bogart for a little while to write y'all a quick update.

Last week, I had a doozie of a doctor's appointment. I mean, it wasn't terrible or anything - I just had to do my glucose test, blood work, and get an ultrasound because my placenta was a little low on my last ultrasound.

Now don't worry, because my placenta is just fine now. Because I know you were worried.

Anyways, I thought now was a good time as any to share a quick update on the pregnancy and how things are going.
As a disclaimer - I am wearing no makeup and am exhausted . . .

As I mentioned earlier, it is a boy this time. And if his amount of inner-belly movement is any indication of how active a boy he is going to be - then all I have to say is that I'm a little frightened.  Not to mention that yesterday I realized how much I dislike trying to parent a 2.5 year old, so I'm thinking that having two children seems a little overwhelming and extraordinarily challenging right now.

The doctor said that everything looked perfect and healthy, and that my little boy is, in fact, measuring at about 2 weeks larger than how far along we think I am . . . I corrected him that probably what he meant to say is that this will be another 6 pound baby. Because I enjoyed delivering a 6 pound baby - but a 10 pounder? Scares me.

Speaking of measuring large, when I stepped on the scale, I had apparently gained a large amount of weight so rapidly that the nurse exclaimed my weight LOUDLY and with MANY EXCLAMATION MARKS!!! So loudly, in fact, that I'm pretty positive everyone in the office heard and wondered what in the world was going on. I urged her to lower her voice and reminded her that I just stopped throwing up and was really enjoying my cheese dip and ice cream. I'm really only like 9 pounds ahead of my starting weight; but remember, I lost a lot of weight while I was sick . . . but I'm not counting all that weight as gain - just the part above my normal weight. That's reasonable right?

As a completely unrelated side note, this computer is really hard to type on. I keep deleting things and jumping backwards and typing new sentences in the middle of old sentences etc. So this post is taking me approximately 4 hours to write.

We still haven't settled on a name for our little boy. Jayci calls him "brother" and has finally dropped the "brother-sister", which is at least a step in the right direction. But don't worry, we will keep you posted when we do make a decision. There are 2 main problems we are encountering in settling on a name: 1-Adam and I never see each other while he's working on the house, so we dont have time to talk about it, and 2-I think the name Adam likes is a girl name, and I just can't get past it. I'm all for giving girls names that sound slightly masculine, but for some reason I'm flinching about doing it vice versa.

While we're on the subject of updates, let me just say that I can only HOPE and PRAY that we will be in our house within the next month. But how many times have you heard that? (hint: a lot of times, that's how many).

Also, I would like to mention that I feel totally clueless about raising a boy. Plus, what is he supposed to wear? All I know is that I like to put Jayci in ruffles, but I have a feeling that my little guy might not appreciate me sharing those same preferences for him. So what do you think? Where should I shop for boy clothes for this one? Plus don't boys like to run around and yell and climb things and stuff? That's cool and all, but I'm a little more lazy and prefer laying on the couch and reading books or coloring or something . . . . Or maybe that's just because I'm flat-exhausted these days with chasing a stubborn two year old who literally fights me on every. single. thing. Seriously. Exhausted.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Moving Mountains

Yesterday I sent an email to some of our close friends asking for their prayers and explaining that Adam and I are really struggling right now. Every since I sent it, I've been feeling like I need to at least share a little bit here about the same thing. I kept trying to ignore it, because I prefer to keep things light and upbeat around here (not that I've been doing a great job of that recently, what with all the pity parties and throwing up and complaining about house stuff) . . . But I also realize that many of y'all have been faithful supporters of us and our ministry and what we're doing with our lives. And I know for a fact that some of y'all love to get on your knees and pray for other people - and I honestly can't think of anything we need more right now.

The truth is that it's really just more of the same. More waiting, more delays, more discouragement. But Adam and I have gotten to the place where it feels like one more time of pushing back the closing date by two weeks will literally be the death of us.  I realize it wont ACTUALLY be the death of us - but it sure feels like it will, because we've been spending far too long in survival mode, not connecting or sharing or thriving.

Right now, things are 100% beyond our control and there is nothing we can do to move the house process along, or make the numbers in our bank account somehow make sense . . . While we were chatting (ok maybe I was crying hormonally and Adam was chatting) about the situation before bed a few nights ago, Adam mentioned that it feels like we have been stripped of absolutely everything we might be tempted to rely on in any way, shape, or form.

It was in that moment that I realized we must be exactly where God wants us to be. Utter and complete dependence on Him. Granted, He sort of dragged me there kicking and screaming. But I nevertheless feel such relief and comfort in knowing that He is at work on our hearts and in our lives, even when everything seems like it's going to heck in a hand-basket. Quite honestly, it would be a dangerous thing for us to be starting a ministry and living in and loving a rough neighborhood if we thought we could do it on our own strength. Not to mention the fact that we would be sorely mistaken.

Don't get me wrong, it still feels like crap and I still feel a little bit like I just got a major beat down. And that's why I wanted to be vulnerable with y'all right now. If you have a chance and think about it, our family could use your prayers. For our house situation (for a mountain to move that seems a little immovable), for our family dynamics, for our hearts, for the fact that we're going to have to move twice in the next few weeks, for Jayci's stability in the midst of instability, for our new ministry, for the Lord to supernaturally provide financially (because as of right now, who knows how we're going to be able to actually close on this house -- I sure don't) . . . 

And as for me, I will rest in the TRUTH that "I can do everything through him who gives me strength" - even when I absolutely don't FEEL like I can make it through.

Monday, May 9, 2011

My Little Sunshine on a Gloomy Day

Today was one of those days. You know the kind . . . the terrible kind of day that you just want to forget all about. Luckily, my little girl manages to brighten my day even when things are feeling dark.


 So lady-like, I know . . . .


 I might be biased, but I'm pretty sure that's the cutest profile ever.


Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mommy Day

I remember growing up I would ask my mom why there wasn't a "Kid's Day" since there was a "Mother's Day." I must have thought breakfast in bed and pretty necklaces made of macaroni were a pretty desirable reward. My mom always told me that every day was kids' day, and mother's needed one day to be rewarded for all their hard work. I might not have understood that sentiment at the time, but I most certainly get what she was saying now. Because motherhood is the hardest and most rewarding job I've ever had. And the day I became a mom, I know that my life changed irrevocably for the better.
So for all those mommas out there who work their tails off every single day: cleaning up spit up, failing to sleep more than a few hours at a time, making lunches that don't get eaten, picking up toys ad nauseum, answering "why" a million times a day . . . THANK YOU for what you do, and I hope you know how important, how sacred, and how beautiful your job really is.

I will leave you with a quote I found on my friend Danielle's blog (from Stasi Eldredge's You are Captivating: Celebrating a Mother’s Heart.):

"…so much of our lives as women is lived in secret, hidden from the eyes of the world and the accolades of others.  So much of it feels mundane… But God sees.  And He esteems most what is done away from the eyes of others.  He loves hidden, secret, small places.  He does his best work there—in the home, in the womb, and in the heart."

 Happy Mother's Day!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Put me in the Zoo

Jayci loves the book "Put me in the zoo" - anytime she wears polka dots, she gets really excited to be just like her book. She had not, however, been to the zoo since she was too little to remember. So when my sweet friend Allie invited us to go with them to the zoo, I knew Jayci would love it.

This morning we packed up the car and drove downtown (as usual. want to know why we have no money? reason #1 = gas). And the whole way, Jayci kept yelling "wohoo" and telling me she was so excited to see the mouse. Now I have NO clue what made her think there would be a mouse at the zoo, or who told her a mouse is a cool animal compared to elephants and gorillas, but whatev.

I couldn't help but take a few quick shots of my little munchkin waiting for her friend Catherine. But then, I sort of forgot to get my camera out most of the rest of the trip.

Could you die at how cute she is right now? Cause I could.
 Look! A giraffe. Also known as the only animal I took a picture of during our trip to the zoo.

We ended the day at the petting zoo and Jayci enjoyed brushing the goats.
And her and Catherine also enjoyed brushing every other object in the petting zoo. They ran around saying "let's pet this goat."
 
Thanks Allie for a fun day at the zoo!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Building Patience and Faith

 I need to remind myself this morning that sometimes it's more important for God to build my character than to give me what I want, when I want it. And not only that, but sometimes (ok a lot of times) I don't know what it actually best for me and for our ministry.

This entire past year has been one of those time, for realz. Because God has definitely been building my patience and growing my ability and willingness to wait on His timing. My timing? We would have been living in a house downtown at LEAST 8 months ago. But His timing says I still need to wait a few more weeks. Don't misunderstand me and think I'm all super-Christian and have this issue conquered, because I am clearly still impatient about the whole thing. But I HAVE come to accept that our ways are not necessarily His ways. And that His wisdom always outweighs my wisdom.

Apparently, however, I haven't learned that lesson deeply enough. Because there are MORE things in and about our house that we are realizing we are going to have to wait on doing (which may mean never doing because, hello, we're not exactly raking the money in with our ministry budget).

Like we would really like to have a fenced in back yard, because our neighborhood tends to have lots of stray dogs running around, some of which are pitbulls -- and I would love for Jayci to be able to play outside. Or it would be awesome to have a driveway. And we wanted to have a desk area in the kitchen with a computer that kids could come use to do homework etc. Or we would really like to have a garden and chickens and grow fruits and vegetables so we can do things like what our neighbor Tim is doing with his garden.  And we envisioned having a huge dining table with lots of space so we can always have our table full with neighbors and kids and friends who need a place to eat. And we even added a bar for more seating, and sort of assumed we could afford bar stools. Plus I was hoping for some appliances, you know so we can do laundry - not that I like doing laundry, but it tends to be a little essential.

I could keep going, but I think we will all be appreciative if I just stop there. But you get the idea, I think.

The truth is that I KNOW (in my head) that God is using all of this to build us, to develop our character, to teach us patience, to help us simplify, and for a million other reasons that I cant see right now . . . but I'm having trouble believing that and resting in that (in my heart).

When my friend Courtney was here this past weekend, we talked a little bit about praying with FAITH - about believing that God can and will answer our prayers. When I honestly examine my heart, especially about our house, I have to admit that I'm a little afraid to pray for things. Because what if the answer is no? Does it mean I don't have enough faith? Or just that God has other plans? Who knows, maybe He has someone who is going to give us a fence and that's why we aren't able to do it right now. Or maybe He is speaking to someone's heart who needs to give us some appliances, or who can donate cabinetry, or windows, or a dining room table. . . . My point is that I don't know. I can't understand or even fathom the Lord's ways and wisdom. So all I can do is trust. And rest in that. And have full faith that He has a plan, He is watching out for us, and we are doing all we can in obedience to follow Him every step of the way.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Blogger Fail

So if your best friend Courtney comes to visit all the way from Texas just for the weekend and you dont take a single picture, I feel as though that qualifies as a big fat FAIL. And I didn't even realize I forgot to take out my camera, even once, until just this minute when I thought I might write a nice little blog post about how fun it was to see her. Unfortunately, my words are going to have to suffice because the pictures are non-existent.

The reason Court came to visit was to surprise her brother and sister-in-law (who just happen to also be our current roommates) by showing up for their baby shower. By the way, just to warn anyone who might be thinking of sharing a big secret with me, I might or might not be the best secret keeper in the world. I basically told them she was coming a few times and had to back track frantically. And I'm not the most graceful back-tracker ever. Luckily, Esther (Court's sister-in-law) was super-surprised and we were able to enjoy a really fun weekend together.

Saturday morning, I met up with my friend Ashlee so we could go visit a large number of multi-family garage sales (remember, I still desperately need a dresser that is a very specific size and layout . . . ) Unfortunately, it wasn't the most successful garage-sale-ing of all time, but we did end up at Chickfila - which is always a win. Except when Jayci panics and starts screaming at the tip top of the play place and I have to heave my pregnant self up there to rescue her. Lame. By the way, if you want to know why I love Ashlee, you should read this post of hers.

Sunday Courtney was "unfortunately" unable to get onto her first flight (she was flying standby) so we picked her up, brought her with us to church, and then met up with Clark and Esther for lunch. We also brought along some of the kiddos and our lunch at Tin Lizzie's (best cheese dip ever) involved the knocking over of THREE glasses of water in a span of mere minutes. Our waiter loved us. After lunch we showed her our new neighborhood and house, then hit up Trader Joe's (she doesn't have one in Waco and needed to stock up obviously), and enjoyed some Rita's "Ice Custard Happiness."

Then we ended our day with 2 hours stuck in construction traffic and my sister's birthday dinner. Just so the Atlanta road construction people know, their work improving our highways is really a pain in the you-know-where for us when we are driving downtown every. single. day.

Oh and after dinner we grabbed all some of our stuff from Clark and Esther's and moved it back to my parent's house. By now,  "moving" consists of shoving some clothes into a few laundry baskets and hauling it to a new place. Let's just hope that the next time we "move," it will be into our new house!

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