Friday, November 22, 2013

The Power of Words

Lately God has been showing me how truly powerful our words are.

I'm working through a Beth Moore study called Believing God. I'm working through it much more slowly than I would like, mainly because it's Medicare season at work and things there are way too crazy busy. But, I'm working through it. The last few days of homework and study are about the power of words. After all, God could have created the universe from nothing by just thinking, but He chose instead to speak the universe into existence (Gen 1:3). Jesus could have raised Lazarus from the dead with a thought, but instead He said, "Lazarus, come out!" (John 11:43).

That same power to speak life into and over others lives in us as Christians. But, so often we misuse our tongues and we spew out words that are critical, hateful, mean, or slanderous. We use the same tongue for blessings and curses (James 3:9-10). Beth Moore makes a good point in this study; God is much more reluctant to use our words powerfully when we also use our mouths to consistently sin. This week has been a week of repenting and trying so desperately to get a hold of my tongue; my bad language, the way I carelessly throw around the powerful and matchless Name of Jesus, my criticisms of others, my that's-what-she-said jokes and crude humor, and my gossip habit. Y'all- taming my tongue is so hard.

At the beginning of the week I was so discouraged. I am sure I made Satan mad (since he l.o.v.e.s. it when I spit out curses and sin constantly) and he was using my discouragement to his advantage. All those familiar lies were being whispered to me; You should just quit. God isn't proud of you; look how often you have to repent. You can't possibly do this. He would rather you be yourself anyway. And then, I realized that wasn't coming from God; the one who gives us a spirit of power, love, and sound mind! My attitude began to change. I stopped thinking of this process as a failure before I'd even begun, and I started seeing it how God sees it; a lifetime process of sanctifying what I guard most closely and don't want to give Him control of. And that last lie? The one that says God would rather me be myself?! No. God wants me to be more like Him. He wants me to be who He created me to be, yes. But that doesn't include my sin nature.

Once that attitude shift started in my heart, I started seeing the power of words how God sees them. He started bringing people into my path who were speaking LIFE to me.
  • One man who told me how grateful he was that I able to help him with his health insurance. He kept telling me that he was impressed that I knew what I was doing even though I was so young.
  • A lady today who asked me what my Team Tina bracelet's verse was (2 Timothy 1:7) and who told me that I needed to keep smiling because I was kind to her and that shows people Christ in us.
I'm definitely not saying any of that to brag; there are so many days where I feel totally incompetent to sell health insurance and days when I frown all day and don't point anyone to the Lord with how I live. The point here is that their words to me were powerful. And they were affirming and life-giving.

If the tongue has the power of life and death (Proverbs 18:21) doesn't it matter how we use it?

Thursday, November 7, 2013

He is good

This girl. She wrote what I needed to read this morning. Click the link to read more, but here is a piece I love:
"Hope is a crazy thing, a courageous thing. That little bird, she feels the sun coming, knows with certainty that it will come, even when she can’t quite see it yet.

We live in a world where innocent people suffer and good friends die and stories don’t have the endings we prayed for, and the pain and the hurt, it is everywhere. But the Joy and the Hope that we find in our Savior? It is everywhere, too.  I do not have all the answers; in fact, I don’t have many at all. But this is what I know: God is who He says He is. And in the hurt and the pain and the suffering, God is near, and He is good, even when the ending isn’t.

And I can sing, because I know what is coming. I can hope, because I know Who is coming.

In the dark of the night, I have seen His face, and I have known His promises to be true, and I know the Light is coming.

And I want to be brave enough to hold out the hope of the Gospel to a world that is hurting and alone and afraid. Not a hope that is the absence of pain or heartache or suffering, not optimism disguised as hope that waits for the best-case scenario or happy ending, but a Hope that is the knowledge and full assurance that our Savior is on His way.

It’s not light yet, but I know Him, the One who is the Light.

And so in the dark, I will sing."
I haven't been writing much here lately. I've been mainly writing on my private blog that only I can see. Mainly because I don't have interesting updates on my life to give and I don't want to bore anyone with the same thing every post. But I thought someone might need to read this today. To be reminded that God is good, even when the ending isn't.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Memorial Stones Post

It's been forever and a day since I've posted a story of what God has done in our lives. This one is miraculous and it just happened a few minutes ago. I wanted to write it down so I can look back on it and remember how God works on our behalf. 

If you don't know what a memorial stone is, you can read the story behind it here. Basically, it's my attempt to document and remember what God's been doing in our lives. Sometimes the stories are miraculous, sometimes they are pretty ordinary, but every story is a glimpse into how our God is working all things in our lives together for our good and His glory. 

So, on to the story. The Hubs is in grad school and we've been trying to pay for it completely debt-free. This is something we have felt like God was asking us to do, and I've been looking at it as a faith exercise. Each time one of those grad school payments is due, we have no idea how we will afford it. We never have the money saved up in advance, but when we need to make the payments, God always comes through for us. 

Well, the payment for this installment of his school bill was paid last week, and it left our bank account pretty bare. Ok, really empty. Basically, we have about $100 to make it through the next few weeks. Not impossible, but pretty tough. Today, the Hubs looked online at his classes and he realized that he has homework due on friday for one of his classes and we haven't had the money to buy the book. I was hoping he could make it a few weeks without the book, but it looks like he needs it before Friday. I checked all the discount stores and re-sell places in town, but no one is selling the book he needs. 

At this point, I started to panic because the full cost of the book online is $130. Plus he has two other textbooks he needs to buy as well. I couldn't figure out how we were going to come up with the money. 

At this point, I would love to tell you that my first reaction was to pray about it. But it wasn't. My first reaction was the one I usually choose as a default position; fear and panic. I got overwhelmed looking at the prices of books online and I just turned the computer off and decided I would deal with it another day.

But God. He heard my needs even when I didn't bring them to Him. And He showed up.

See, I was in a car accident with a friend of mine a few weeks ago. She was driving and the lady who hit us was uninsured. We got a little bit banged up and both of us ended up with whiplash and had to go to the chiropractor. Thankfully, there were no major issues, my friend's insurance covered all of her car repairs and our medical payments, and we didn't have to pay anything out of pocket. I thought that was the end of it. I was just thankful they didn't make us pay anything out of pocket to go get checked out. 

But I got a call from the insurance adjuster who is handling the claim, and she just wanted to let me know that they were wrapping the claim up and that all the bills were paid. She also wanted to tell me that they were going to send me a check for my time and trouble. 

Wait, what??

I've been in plenty of wrecks before, but no one has ever sent me a check that wasn't for car repairs. I'm thinking it might be like $50 or something. 

Heck no, techno. 

She said they were sending me a check for $600!! Ha! That's enough for school books, groceries, and a few unpaid bills that are sitting on the counter!

The point of this post is not to brag about how much the check is for, or to whine about how little money we had before. I honestly hate sharing details like that. BUT, the story wouldn't be the same if I didn't tell you how God not only provided for the need I was worried about, but He also provided for the other little things that I hadn't even started worrying about yet. He is a faithful God. He knows my needs even before I ask. And He always, always, always shows up and provides for us. 

Friday, August 16, 2013

All of Me

I go through phases where I find a new song or a new artist and I can't get enough. Right now it's All of Me by Matt Hammitt. (See the bottom of this post for a youtube video of the song)

The first time I heard it I only caught the end of the song, and I thought it would make a great wedding song.

The chorus goes like this:

You're gonna have all of me
You're gonna have all of me
'Cause you're worth every falling tear
You're worth facing any fear

You're gonna know all my love
Even if it's not enough
Enough to mend our broken hearts
But giving you all of me is where I'll start

Then I heard an interview with Matt Hammitt and he told the story behind the song. And it means so much more now. He and his wife found out his son Bowen would be born with a heart condition. The doctors didn't know if he would live or how long he would make it outside the womb. The song was written as Matt's way of giving the situation over to God, promising he would give himself completely to his son, regardless of the outcome. Sidebar: you can check out Bowen's Heart for the full story and updates on Bowen.

As I listened to the full song, I couldn't help but think how it applied to all the things I was going through when we had Hope. For kids in foster care, the primary goal is almost always reunification (meaning the child goes home to their parents or eventually goes to live with family). That doesn't always happen and it isn't always in the best interest of the child. But sometimes it can take a while for the state to figure out exactly what is in the child's best interests. Until a judge sends them home, foster parents are supposed to raise and love this child as they would their own. You have to be prepared to lose them at a moment's notice, all the while planning to continue life as "normal". It's hard to  love someone with all your heart and simultaneously prepare to lose them. It's even harder knowing that's how it's supposed to work. And that's what this song is about. 

It's hard, but it's so worth it. She was worth it. 

Friday, July 19, 2013

Boston Photo Dump

Warning: this is a long post with lots of pictures of my dog.  If you're looking for serious or interesting content it might be found somewhere else on the internet. But if you like cute dogs, keep reading. :)

Last time I put pictures of the pup on here, she was looking like this:

But she grew up! She's huge and she's not even done growing! It's hard to think she went from the little fuzzball in the above pictures to giant pawed puppy below. She's at that awkward stage where she trips over her own feet a lot but she's still super cute and able to fit (barely) in my lap. 

She's still pretty small in these two pictures because they are a few months old. The ones at the end are more recent.

 Her favorite thing to do is paw you in the face. I laid down for a minute to pop my back and she promptly jumped on me and gave me a "face-five".

 The only thing better than jumping on people, biting, and pulling things off any counter she can reach is when her daddy comes home. This dog loves Hubster. As in, you will see several pictures in this post of her waiting by the door for him to come home.

This is a picture of a picture that I was editing on my computer, so it's blurry and poor quality, but it makes me laugh every time. This is typical Boston; 100 mph with her ears flying everywhere. 

And this is her sweet, calm side that you get to see when she finds a stick to chew on or when she's heavily medicated. Not that we drug her to make her calm.

We had to go out of town for Hubster's grad school class for 2 weeks, and I feel silly typing this, but we Facetimed the dog while we were gone. It made us laugh but it confused the heck out of her! She kept running around barking and looking for us. 

 She did like the T-shirt we brought her back. Oh man, I just realized we are now those people. The ones who bring their hedgehog to a hotel for 2 weeks and who Facetime their dog and bring her presents. Oh well. It could be worse.

 I told you she was getting big. Look at those paws!

This was hilarious. This is how she fell asleep on me the night we came home. I think she was exhausted!

This is the most recent one from a couple of nights ago. It makes me want to paint the paneling in the whole house because with the exception of the iPhone in Hubster's hand, this looks like it could have been taken 30 years ago. I still love it though. 

Monday, June 17, 2013

True Confessions

I haven't been around here much lately. There's a reason for that, but I wasn't ready to announce it because it would mean being brutally honest with myself, and that's something I'm not a fan of. But, I'm tired of hiding out, so here goes:

Our foster parent status is officially on hold. We called a couple of months ago and requested that they not call us for any more placements and that our home be listed as "closed". There are a number of reasons behind that request, and Hubs and I have very different feelings on the subject. It's caused some tension, I won't lie. At the end of this post you will probably still be scratching your head with more answers than questions, because I'm not going to give a whole lot of details on here.

Here are a few of the reasons we decided to take a break for now.
Hubs is in grad school, so all of our money goes there. I'll be honest and say that a lot of our time goes there too. He spends most nights doing a lot of homework, and I usually help with proofreading papers and double checking things before they get turned in. He's spent a week up in VA for his school stuff already, and this summer we will be spending two consecutive weeks up there for two classes that he has to take. I'm going with him for moral support and to make good use of the money we've paid for hotel rooms (someone has to lay around all day and use the pool while he's in class, right?). On top of the money and the time we sink into grad school, there's all the drama that comes with foster care, which we already got sucked into big time and we only had the little girl for a few weeks. The last reason has to do with health factors. I've had to have several surgeries in the past year, and at the time we thought I was going to have to have another surgery fairly soon. I just found out the other day that I won't have to have surgery unless something changes down the line, which hopefully it won't.

These are all pretty logical reasons. But my heart is very, very heavy. I feel like God called us to foster care very clearly. He opened a lot of doors that we walked through in faith and He blessed us for it. If I am going to be honest, I feel like we are wimping out. I feel like collectively we are choosing what is safe and comfortable over what is right. And I hate that. I don't think what He is asking of us changed, which means we aren't only being cowards, we are being disobedient. But, I don't know how to reconcile that when it's not just up to me. The hubs and I have very different feelings and opinions on this, and we are going round and round and not getting anywhere on it. I feel like He asked us to make a difference and we failed miserably. Because we didn't. We had a total of 3 kids, for a total of 2 weeks and 3 days. None of those kids will probably remember we existed. 

We can open our home again anytime in the next 2 years without having to take PATH classes again. We have talked about being able to come back to fostering after Hubs finishes grad school. I'm praying that we can, because I miss having kids in our house pretty badly. I was hoping that since we aren't doing foster care that Hubs might want to try for our own kids, but it's looking like that's a big negative too, for most of the same reasons. So, for now, it's us and the pets and I'm trying to learn how to be content with that.

For those of you that read here that foster, I am still reading along with your journeys. I hope sometime soon we will be back in the craziness with you.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Random Awesomeness

The longest Domino chain of books. This is pretty cool. Also check out the lady in swim goggles and a bathing suit about 3/4 of the way in.

Prancercize. If you haven't done it yet, you're not quite living. 

My #1 Father's Day Idea: 

Just what he's always wanted.

Friday, May 31, 2013

I'm Not Dead!

You guys may have noticed I've been absent here for a while. Well, I've been toying with the idea of starting another blog. This one is mainly personal and I use it for my family to keep up with us since they live all over the place. But I've been thinking about making another blog where I can just post random projects and crafty stuff and show off what I've been working on around our house.

So, I started another blog (technically) and then I started looking into designing it how I wanted to and I got frustrated and quit. How's that for honesty? But I didn't quit completely. I actually found a template that I like, but it's not exactly how I want it to look. So...I've been learning HTML and CSS to try to figure out what kinks I want to get rid of in the code.

This is actually my first shot at working with html from scratch. This very post was handwritten by me in html. At this point, you are probably looking around for some remarkable sign that something is different. And you probably won't find anything. If anything, this post probably looks more plain-jane than any post I've ever done. I'm learning the basics, y'all. I didn't say I've mastered it! Haha. But seriously, it's slow-going. And headache-inducing. There are millions upon bajillions of lines of computer information that goes into one itty-bitty webpage. It's really super easy to miss a little < or " here and there, and believe me, that will throw everything off! And honestly, I'm not even 100% sure that I'm doing this right! (Which is why I'm copying and pasting this into a word document in case I messed something up and you guys can't read any of this. ;)

Anyways...I just wanted to let you guys know that I'm not dead. In fact I'm working my fingers off over here trying to learn how to make my little corner of the internet a little more snazzy. So, don't expect anything big yet, but one day you just might stop by and you will be all...WHAT THE HECK HAPPENED?! THIS PLACE IS AWESOME! And I'll be all...yeah, no big deal...just learned how to code. On my own.

Then again, there's the distinct possibility that this project will be like all the other ones I take on. If you haven't been reading long I'll give you a hint...our house is full of unfinished projects.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Wise Words

I was reading over at A Holy Experience this morning, and one line of her post stuck with me. I was feeling a little bogged down this afternoon between work and money worries and all kinds of other stuff, so I felt the need to get creative to clear out some of that junk. So I made my own printable.

It's a good reminder for me. Sometimes I have a tendency to feel like I'm in the middle of a flood and I'm drowning with no land in sight. After the flood is gone, the landscape is always changed.

I'm afraid of the damage I'm letting the floods of trouble do. I'm afraid that when the waters recede, there are going to be deep ruts in my heart that can reach up and swallow a man. I want to look back on these years and say that the lean times made us stronger, closer, better. But I'm afraid they are making me weaker, better at worrying, and more likely to complain. I know having more won't solve those problems, because those are deeper issues. They are heart problems.

The bitterness left after flood waters recede are a marker of my growing discontent. My lack of gratitude. All too often, I forget to be thankful for what I have and I spend all my time looking for what I lack. That's a choice that I make. Some days it's a choice I make minute by minute.

So, today, I'm choosing thankfulness. It's been way too long since I've done that.

Monday, May 13, 2013

The One for My Mom

Dear Mom:

This one's for you. 

"Thanks for believin' in us, puttin' up with us, and straight up lovin' us!" - Kid President

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Chalk it Up

 Today I'm linking up with Young House Love with my edition of the Pinterest Challenge. Chalk paint is all over Pinterest, so I'm totally jumping on the bandwagon (and I'm really late to the party). Oh well. Without further ado, here's what I've been working on:

My friend Kristy painted a chair with chalk paint for a charity auction a couple of months ago, and my mother in law saw it and decided she wanted a dresser painted in a similar style. We work together, and our office is pretty much covered in cheap paneling that we aren't allowed to paint, so we needed something to brighten up one big paneling-filled wall.

We went to a yard sale and found this little diamond in the rough. It was on sale for $25, and when we looked inside we saw that it's a solid wood Broyhill dresser. Needless to say we strapped that bad boy into the truck bed and hauled it home in the pouring rain.

I started looking for inspiration and instructions, and I found some great tutorials that I followed pretty closely. The best ones I found were from I Heart Naptime (where I got the recipe I followed) and Perfectly Imperfect (this one has some great videos where she shows waxing techniques) and from In My Own Style (she uses a piece of trim and compares the 3 main recipes side by side).

Once I had my instructions and my materials, I got cracking on the poor dresser that needed some TLC. First steps were ripping out the cardboard liners that were under the drawers and cleaning the wood. It had been sitting in someone's garage and had a delicious mildew smell we had to scrub out.

Mixing the chalk paint was pretty straightforward. I used four tablespoons of plaster of paris, two tablespoons of water, and mixed that until it was smooth. It was still thick and gloopy like really thick pancake batter. If it gets too thick though you can add another tablespoon of water.

Then I mixed about 2 cups of latex paint from Ace Hardware in with the plaster/water combo. We just got the Ace brand of paint and had it color matched to Benjamin Moore's Tropicana Cabana. It didn't look like much paint, but it was enough to do one coat of paint on this whole piece of furniture, including drawers and cabinet doors. This is probably the most accurate picture of the color of the paint. The lighting in the office is really weird so in the other pictures the paint can look really bright or really blue. In person it's more like an aqua-turquoise.

When I first painted it, I could see brush strokes everywhere, but as it dried the paint kind of smoothed itself out. 

After the first coat, the paint was looking a little streaky and there were some water spots that bled through, so I mixed up some more paint and gave it a second coat.

Then I hit it with a little sandpaper to distress some spots. I will have to say, this paint is a lot easier to distress than latex paint.

Last step is to cover it with some furniture wax. I used Minwax Paste Finishing Wax for dark wood. I got the kind for dark wood on accident, because I was not paying attention at the store. Then I started working and I was too lazy to return it, so I decided to just try it out and see how it would look. I found out that it worked great for the look I was going for. It helped give the furniture a little bit of an aged yellowed look. It wasn't enough to make the dresser look dirty, but it did give it a weathered finish that helped dull down the brightness of the paint. It also kind of pulled out the distressed areas more so they stood out.

Here she is in all her finished glory:

All in all, I'm not sure how much time chalk paint saves you, because I feel like it took the same amount of time to wax the furniture that it would have taken to sand it. I did like that I was able to finish the whole thing inside without having to haul it outside to sand it, because it rained here all week. Oh well.

A couple of obligatory detail shots of the distressing:

We painted the hardware a chocolate brown color to match the wood that showed through on the distressed areas.  

And one last before and after, just to compare.

I think it looks a lot better!

Monday, May 6, 2013

Gone Muddin'

You may have noticed a trend that is starting to sweep the nation. 5k runs are the new lazy Saturdays. Especially the themed 5k runs. I've seen Color Runs, Tough Mudders, and even Zombie Runs. For the life of me I don't understand why someone would pay good money to be chased by people who give me nightmares, but that Husband of mine has a thing for adrenaline inducing situations.

I think it's great he wants to be healthy and all, but seriously, can't we just lay around and get fat like everyone else? Apparently not. Sigh.

So, much to my chagrin and his excitement, we spent last weekend in Georgia at a mud run called the Superhero Scramble. His job was running in the actual event, and my job was standing in the mud and waiting for him to run by so I could take pictures. Little did I know that there were professional photographers there and they were taking better pictures that were free. Oh well!

There is a group of guys in our Sunday School class that likes to hang out together and do this kind of crazy stuff, so there were four guys that made up the Hubster's team last weekend. It was fun to hear them talking about what happened at some of the obstacles farther back in the course that we couldn't see.
This was the Muddy Lips obstacle. You had to belly-crawl (or barrel roll, depending on your preference) through muddy trenches that had barbed wire strung across the top. Yikes. At the last obstacle course run they did back in October, this was the obstacle that got Hubster. He came home with a gash down his back from getting up too soon. This time he came out unscathed though.

This one doesn't look that bad in the picture. But in person, it was a 30 foot jump into 15 feet of icy water. The platform you see in the background here is only the bottom of the platform they actually had to jump off. There were a lot of people that chose to go around this obstacle, and I don't blame them. We saw a couple of people that had to be rescued out of this pit.

Here is the whole team that ran with the Hubs. I think they had fun. Don't they look so cute holding hands? :) He might kill me for that one.

 This slide ended in a slime pit, so you can see them all starting to brace themselves for the impact. I love how they all have their eyes closed and mouths open. I would have been screaming and tucked in the fetal position.

 Ok, I just had to put this one in. It makes me laugh every time. Hubster is the one on the far left.

 And, just in case you thought that slide didn't look so bad, here's the view from the top:
 I certainly wouldn't have gone down it! That's the real reason that I was on the sidelines instead of running. Everyone would have known how big of a chicken I am when it comes to heights.

Here he is at the finish line. The last thing you had to do was make it past some marines that wanted to take you out with these punching bags. Luckily, by the time our team made it to the end, the marines had been replaced by volunteers that didn't care quite as much.


 The lovely Chloe, who volunteered to pass out medals to the runners. She's a trooper. Notice how muddy she is and she didn't even run!

I think one of the coolest things that we saw all day was this team:

 If you look closely, you will notice that the guy standing up in the Superman cape has a prosthetic leg, and the guy in the middle in the Superman cape is in a wheelchair. This team was awesome. They attached a rope to the wheelchair and pulled him 4.5 miles through the mud, and he had crutches that he used to get out and do the obstacles himself. 

 Here's the guy in the wheelchair coming down the slide. I was super impressed by this whole team. It almost inspired me to get off the couch and run one myself. Almost.

 Maybe I'll start with something smaller first, like a walk-a-thon (do people do those anymore?) or a 5k. Or maybe I'll curl up on the couch with a cookie and watch a movie. :)