Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Tuesdays Unwrapped: That's What Grace is For

It's Tuesday again, which means it's time to celebrate the beauty that sometimes gets shoved aside and buried in the busy and stressful stuff going on. 

Today, I woke up late. Not just a little late, a LOT late. As I was walking out the door, I realized today is the Christmas lunch at work where everyone is supposed to bring something. I signed up for macaroni and cheese and promptly forgot all about it! So, at the time I normally sit down at my desk and gear up for the day, I turned around and frantically started throwing ingredients in the crock pot.

Tonight is supposed to be our last homestudy visit before we are approved to be Foster Parents. I have been cleaning and getting ready for days now. The floor has been swept so often that I think I'm wearing out the hardwood. 

Then, this morning's fiasco happened. 

Now, the sink is full of dirty dishes.

There are half wrapped presents all over the dining room.

There is a basket of unfolded and wrinkly clothes in the middle of the living room floor.

There are art projects all over the kitchen table.

And yet, I'm here to celebrate the beauty of not having it all together. Thankfully, our social worker is very gracious, and she doesn't go around the house with a white glove. It is probably only my pride that will take a hit. My pride so often compels me to make others think I have everything under control, and that I can always do things by myself. 

I think sometimes God orchestrates these moments for me to realize 
that I DON'T have it all together, 
but that's what grace is for. 

Counter clockwise: Our skinny little christmas tree with its beautiful homemade ornaments, my creme brulee dessert for my birthday dinner, the hubs and me at his company Christmas party, and sweet little Prickles (sorry for the blurry iphone shots)

Friday, December 14, 2012

A Little Christmas Card Love for Your Friday

The Christmas cards have all been sent out, and my family and closest friends should be getting one in the mail soon. So I decided it was time to share a picture of the picture here for you guys!

I mean, it's Friday people. And what's cuter than a hedgehog in Christmas lights?!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Tuesdays Unwrapped: Fear is a Choice

Today was a day that I had been dreading for weeks.

Today was the day I had to go back to the doctor. Almost a month ago I went in to find out what was hidden, growing from one of my ovaries for the second time, a tumor that is growing slowly but steadily. This time, I went to find out what needed to be done about it.

Did I mention I am terrified of the doctor?

Last night I woke up in the middle of the night with a migraine from all of the stress, all of the worry. This morning I spent most of my time ignoring the ugly fear trying to claw its way out. My stomach stayed tied up in knots, and I gave in to the worry that had been chasing me.

Then I was reminded that I didn't have to go to the doctor alone. I was reminded that the last time I went, I found Him there. He went before me.

This Tuesday, I am unwrapping the gift of knowing that fear is a choice. It is not handed down from my gracious Father, rather it is force-fed to me by the one who delights in chaos. But I can't swallow this fear without first choosing to open my mouth. So today, I went into the doctor's office with ammunition. I took my Friend, my Father with me, and instead of being afraid, I chose to rest in knowing that He came to this earth so that I might have life, and that I might have it more abundantly. (John 10:10)

And you know what? That's one doctor's visit that wasn't so bad. :)

Monday, December 10, 2012

MBM: Grad School Money

It's time for another Memorial Box Monday, where I take a minute to stop and remember what awesome things God has done in our lives! I love this time and I seem to always find myself wondering where Monday went, and sometimes even posting these on Tuesday or Wednesday! But, for once, I am on time, and I'm celebrating how awesome my King is.

For those of you who know me in real life, you know this has been kind of a rough year. It seems like one thing after another has happened and I have had very real periods of discouragement over the last 12 months. Needless to say, I am anxiously awaiting the fresh start that is coming on January 1st!

One thing that has been a big stressor is money. At the beginning of the year we bought our first house, the hubster is in graduate school and we are trying to pay for it debt-free, and on top of that we have had bills for 2 different surgeries, a new tooth, and some MAJOR house repairs that were all urgent.

Well, it was about time for the next grad school bill to be paid and I knew there was no way, short of Almighty God stepping in to provide for use, that we would be able to come up with the amount of money we needed. We had tossed around the idea of taking out a loan or selling one of our cars, but then I read a post on my friend Linny's blog that challenged me to ask Him for what we needed instead of scheming ways to provide for ourselves. So we did.

And guess what? God provided. Just like He always has. I spent so much time worrying about how we could get that money when all along He was just waiting for me to ask. And the cool thing is that He had already been setting things in motion to provide that money for us the whole time, even while I was worrying and scheming.

I work for an insurance company so from time to time, I have to go out and take pictures of people's houses so that their insurance company can see what condition their roof is in and what their house looks like. I get paid to do this, but it's usually not even enough to make a difference in my paycheck. However, this time, our little insurance company stopped writing all of the insurance with one particular provider, which meant that all of the customers we have that had their insurance through that company needed to be moved to another company. Which means I had to go take pictures of every single house. There were over 60 pictures that needed to be taken (and I'm not even finished yet!). That money was a real start toward the Grad School payment we needed to make.

Here's the cool thing: my husband works for a Credit Union as a teller, but each year their Christmas bonus is a percentage of the amount of money they made in the past year. This year, when we added his Christmas bonus to the amount of money I had gotten paid for taking pictures, it equaled out to the EXACT amount we needed to pay that grad school bill. Down to the last penny. Only Faithful God.

And the icing on the cake? One of the classes the hubs has to take this semester is actually at his school's campus (the rest have been online). This campus is hundreds of miles from our house and we don't know anyone who lives there. We realized we would need almost $1,000 to pay for the hotel bill for the week he has to stay up there. That's not a whole lot of money to some people, but to us it's almost astronomical. But He provided for that need too! Between my dad's reward points at one hotel chain and my father-in-law's points at another, we are going to be able to both go up for this class and stay an entire week for FREE. All we will have to pay for is our food.

Is your jaw on the floor? Mine is. Just remembering what God has done in the past makes the present troubles seem so much more bearable. Yes, this may have been a hard year. Yes, there have been some incredibly yucky things that have happened. BUT, my God is the working-all-things-together-for-good God. He is right there, even in the middle of the not fun and the downright terrible. He always comes through, He always provides for His children.

"I was young, and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread."
Psalm 37:25

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The bedroom

Our kid's bedroom is almost finished!! Walls are painted, curtains are sewn and hung, the rug is a work in progress, the bed is a work in progress, and the wall art is ready to be hung.

Pictures to come soon (and hopefully a full post with tips on how to design a room that can work for either gender and a wide age range).

Friday, November 30, 2012


I thought I would give you all a sneak peak of our Christmas card picture this year.

Since all of my friends have decided to create their own baby boom, most of the cards we are getting this year feature cute new babies.

We are coming up on 2013 childless so the poor hedgehog has to be the star of our show once again ;) at least it's different!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Memorial Box Monday

Forgive me friends, I know it's Tuesday, but I was reminded in church on Sunday as God's children, we are supposed to remember what He has done for us. Not only are we to remember what he has done for us, we are to share our stories of His faithfulness with others.

A few months ago we ended up having to have some major plumbing work done underneath of our house. While the plumbers were already there and running up the tab for us, we decided to have a new disposal installed in our kitchen sink.

Fast forward a few months, and last night when we were washing dishes, I noticed that there was a large pile of water underneath the kitchen sink that was overflowing onto our floor. It seems that there was a small leak of water coming from the ring around where the disposal met the plumbing under our sink.

I just about worried myself sick today trying to think of how in the world we could get this fixed. It looked like something I could fix myself, but on the other hand, I didn't want to mess it up even worse than it already was. I knew we didn't have the money to hire a professional to come back out and fix it for us.

To make a long story short, I ended up calling the plumber that installed the disposal originally. When I spoke with him on the phone, it seemed that he was going to have a small charge just for coming out to look at the problem. Anything he had to fix would probably cost us extra.

I knew the problem was probably the plumbers fault originally, because it looked like the disposal was installed a little bit crooked. However, I also knew that we couldn't afford another plumbing bill. So I started praying that God would grant us favor in the eyes of the plumber, that he would notice that the problem was something he had caused originally, and that we wouldn't be charged for it.

And guess what? God is always faithful. Our sink is fixed, and we didn't have to pay a dime to get it fixed. Not only that, the plumber offered to come back out free of charge if we ever had another leak related to that same problem! Today I'm thankful for a God who knows our needs, even before we ask. He delights in taking care of his children.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Jehovah's Witnesses

My husband happened to be home one day when a Jehovas Witness guy came to the door. I don't think the hubs was very nice because now they have made us their personal convert project.

We get on average one brochure per week. Now they come with personalized notes that say, "If you're interested in a bible discussion, please call me". Dude even left his cell phone number! Why aren't Christians that passionate?

Also, I wonder how long it's going to take him to figure out that no one is ever home during the day? That's the only time he ever comes.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Foster Care Timeline

June 2012 - Started praying about Foster Care, God starts answering that prayer by opening doors (including the fact that my husband was on board and even excited for the idea).

July 2012- Called the central office for the Department of Children's Services for our state, got a call back a few days later from the office in our city and was given the name and number of the person I needed to call to set up our training classes.

August 9, 2012 - Began PATH class

September 20, 2012 - Finished PATH class

September 25, 2012 - First Homestudy visit - General interviews, gave social worker tour of the house

October 4, 2012 - Second Homestudy visit - Interview with just me

November 1, 2012 - Third Homestudy visit - Interview with just the Hubs. Our social worker got a flat tire and had to reschedule.

November 7, 2012 - Third Homestudy visit - Interview with just the Hubs ;)

December 18, 2012 - Final Homestudy visit!

December 30, 2012 - Our paperwork is sent off to our state's DCS office and we are officially DONE!! (Well, really this is just the beginning) We are approved for one child age 3-12, or a sibling group that is able to share a room. Now, we wait.

This process took a lot longer than we expected it to, and most of the other people in our path class were approved before we were, but this was definitely God's timing.

Monday, November 5, 2012

National Adoption Month

 November is National Adoption Month!

My husband and I don't have any kids, but that's all going to change soon. 

This is an announcement I was keeping to myself just in case something happened and we didn't get approved,

but we are going to be foster parents!!
(now that the cat is out of the bag, there will be more posts coming that explain how we got to this decision, our timeline, and our process of getting ready.)

We have never adopted, but we would like to some day. 
Since we are about to be thrust into the middle of the world of adoption, reunification, birth-mothers, grief, and healing, I thought it would be an appropriate time to do a post in honor of National Adoption Month.

Adoption is something that has always been part of my heart. When I was younger, I begged my parents for years and years to consider adoption. They considered it for a while, but it never happened for our family.

While we aren't quite ready to adopt just yet, you might be in a different place. 

Or, you might be like us, and considering how God is calling you specifically to help the orphan. 

Did you know He calls us all to orphan care?

"Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." James 1:27

Some people are called to pray.
Some are called to go.
Some are called to give. 
(either their time or their money, or both)
Some are called to adopt.

What's your calling?

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Susan Komen Run (and Halloween)

Contrary to what the title of this post might lead you to believe, the Susan Komen run was not on Halloween, I just lumped all of the recent activities around here into one large, picture happy post.

First of all, can I just say I love fall and I LOVE the mountains. My whole ride was spent in complete awe of how incredible our Creator is!
Last weekend I went home to NC to participate in a 5k that benefits the Susan Komen foundation. You may remember this post about my sweet aunt who went to be with Jesus a couple of months ago. She had been fighting cancer for a long time, and every year she participated with a team of family and friends in this race. This year our family and her friends made up one of the biggest teams they had in the race that wasn't a coporately sponsored team.

Here are 3 of my brothers and one of my cousins, waiting for the timed run to begin. Forgive the iPhone blurry shots :)

The race went really well. Some of us participated in the timed run (not me) and some of us walked (me) but we all finished the race (all 3.1 miles of it!!) and I think we all had fun doing it. It was a great way to honor the memory of such a special lady.

My mom and Amy

The next day we had a birthday party for my Papaw. I can't believe he's 70! Although most people in their 20's have grandparents that are much older, so I'm counting myself blessed. I love his property, and the sun started going down with a beautiful display of colors that I just had to catch. 

This is an iPhone picture with no filter on it. How awesome is our God? He paints the best pictures! 

Same sunset, just a little bit later in the evening.

My other aunt and my mom.
All in all, it was a great weekend and I had a great time getting to see all of my family. I have gotten so used to getting to see them every few weeks that I'm not sure what I'm going to do when I have to go back to not seeing them as often!

NOW..... for the Halloween part of the post. :)

I have NO idea how this happened, because 1.) I am the biggest scaredy cat in the history of the world, and 2.) we didn't really go all out for Halloweed or watch scary movies when I was a kid, but

I should probably clarify that by saying that I love to open the door to trick or treaters in their cute costumes and I love the slight chill in the air, and I love to put out fun (not scary) decorations. I'm not a fan of scary movies, witches, ghosts, bloody stuff, zombies, or vampires... so I guess that doesn't leave a whole lot to really celebrate. Mostly I like to give out candy and sit with a nice fire in the fireplace.
This year I got into the pumpkin carving contest that our Sunday School class was having, and I didn't go into the activity with a defined plan for what to carve on my pumpkin, so I ended up with a scary pumpkin-headed scarecrow that I saw on the internet. I think he turned out pretty good!

The only downside is that he didn't last until Halloween. Not even close. I had to throw him away 2 weeks ago. Poor Pumpkin.

I did get this awesome door cling from Dollar Tree though. It is supposed to look like a witch crashed into our door. I know I said I don't like witches, but this thing is pretty cute and it makes me laugh.

These last pictures I couldn't help but post. I mean, how adorable is this? My hedgehog is a pretty ballerina for Halloween. I would love for her to help me give out candy, but she's more afraid of her own shadow than I am. I'm pretty sure opening the door with her every 5 minutes to kids screaming for candy would push her over the edge into a nervous breakdown!

 The tutu is also really wayy to big for her tiny body, even though the strips of tule are only like 1/2" long!
Oh the sweetness :) I love this prickly little girl. I'm glad she lets me do crazy stuff like this. She will probably need therapy from this though.

My mom told me I should start a blog about
how to torture your hedgehog. 

Stay tuned for that one. ;)

Wednesday, October 17, 2012


Time is a funny thing, it doesn't slow down for anybody. You might be hurt, you might be scared, but you can't stop time from moving, marching.

What you do when you feel stuck in a moment, and it feels like life keeps on moving around you?

Time is a funny thing; it heals us, it stretches us, it forces us to grow when we don't feel like we want to.

And then one day you wake up and realize that even though time can be bittersweet, you are thankful for it. Thankful for the time you had, thankful for the time when you grew, (even when you didn't realize it until much later) and thankful for the person that you have become...even after all this time.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Lock em up!

First we were peeling wallpaper, now we are getting trigger locks for the handguns.... Can anyone guess what we are up to?

Monday, September 3, 2012


Isaiah 54:1-3

“Sing, barren woman,
    you who never bore a child;
burst into song, shout for joy,
    you who were never in labor;
because more are the children of the desolate woman
    than of her who has a husband,
says the Lord.
 “Enlarge the place of your tent,
    stretch your tent curtains wide,
    do not hold back;
lengthen your cords,
    strengthen your stakes.
 For you will spread out to the right and to the left;
    your descendants will dispossess nations
    and settle in their desolate cities.

These verses have been my mantra these last few months. Sing, when it feels like you can't. Praise the God who can do anything, even when it feels like what you want is so far away.

But today, I am spreading out my tent pegs. I am making room for what He has in store. He's going to do big things in this house. 

It may just look like ripping down wallpaper, but in reality, it's a faith exercise. 

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

My Bucket List

A few days ago, I was riding in the car with my husband, on our way to a much-needed one night getaway in the mountains. We were going to go shopping, go on a fancy dinner date, and in general just get away and relax for a while.

Then I saw a billboard for a family that has made their farm into a drive-thru safari. I thought this was a pretty cool idea, and it got me thinking about how I would love to go on a safari one day. I've heard of people doing bucket lists before, but I have never put much thought into the things that I would want on my bucket list.

Before I knew it I was reaching for a pen and paper and the list just started flowing.

-Go on a safari
-Go to grad school so I can get a job that I love
-Visit Africa
-Get to see a Broadway show
-See a bear out in the wild

I even added some items that I had always wanted to do when I was little that I have already completed, just so that I could cross them off my list. Yes, I'm a nerd like that.

-Work for one summer at the camp I went to when I was a kid
-Play soccer at the college level
-Get married

I came home excited about this list and scheming ways to make some of these things happen. But today, my perspective on my bucket list changed a little. I was over at Ann Voskamp's blog reading what she had to say about the idea of a bucket list. If you are one of those people that doesn't like to click links that might distract you, I'll eloquently clumsily try to give you th general idea of her post (but, really, check it out in her words because they are so much better!)

We spend our lives in the pursuit of new and better experiences, so that at the end of our lives, we can look back on all the memories that we made along the way with no regrets as to how we lived our life. The goal of a bucket list is to cross off everything so that by the end of your life, you have had all these wonderful experiences. That's all fine and good, but my problem is that the more I sit and think about what I want to do some day, the longer my list gets. My list of wants only makes me think about what I haven't yet done, instead of encouraging me to be thankful for experiences He's already gifted to me.

How much better would it be to have an empty bucket list? To get to the end of your life and there be nothing left, because you were so poured out in service to Him and to others? Instead of compiling a list of all the things that I want to do someday, I think instead I will work on writing down my list of experiences that I can already give thanks for.

That list looks quite different.

- I am thankful that I got to spend two summers in high school learning how to minister to people who didn't even speak my language.
-I am thankful that I had the opportunity to lead the little girl I took care of for a year in college to the Lord.
-I am thankful that I have been blessed with a family that cares so deeply and loves so selflessly.
-I am thankful that even though I am not in grad school, I have the opportunity to encourage my husband to reach his dream of doing what he loves.
-I am thankful that I have been allowed to see the end of another summer and the beginning of another fall.
-I am thankful that I have a job when so many others do not.

This list could keep going (and it does, in my gratitude journal). And isn't that really the point? Not to accumulate a never ending list of what I may never get, but to store up my treasures in Heaven instead.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Sunday Snapshot: Baby Blues

This weekend I had the privilege of taking pictures for my friend's little girl. I was there the day this little sweetheart was born, and it almost makes me feel old that she is turning 2 already!! I honestly love so many of these photos that it was hard for me to pick a favorite.

I love everything about this picture. I love the mystery of not being able to see her face, I love how she is almost on tiptoe on one foot, I love that her shoes are ladybugs, and I LOVE the light streaming in through the slats in the bridge.

I'm horrible at remembering settings, so I have no idea what my shutter speed was. I just set my ISO and put my camera on aperture priority and let the camera pick the shutter speeds.

ISO: 200, 50mm, f/3.5

 This was probably one of my favorite shots of the whole day. I love how the focus is on the bow, but you can still see her giggling. She had just pulled her dress up over her head in true little girl fashion.

She was looking for ducks in the creek under the bridge in the picture below, and I think I surprised her when I popped out with my camera!

This little one sure is cute. You wouldn't know it from these pictures, but she is usually so intense and pensive that it's a challenge to capture a smile. It didn't take long for me to make her laugh though by just getting down on her level and rolling in the grass with her. Her mom and grandma were surprised and very pleased that she was so happy during this session.

Bubbles really are a girl's best friend. Except when they spill on your dress, which happened shortly after this shot!

I love how intense she is for such a little girl.
This is another favorite... Her mom told her we were done, but when we turned around to leave, she plopped down in the grass for one last round of bubbles!  Thanks for stopping by!

Check out more great Sunday Snapshots at www.nihaoyall.com

Ni Hao Yall

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Beach Time!!

I figured it is way past time for me to start actually writing here, and the best place to start is the pictures from our beach trip back in June. Yes...JUNE.. it's been a while people!