Saturday, November 27, 2010

The Mercy House.

Go check this out, it's incredible!

If I had the money, I would buy all the girls on my christmas list these:

AND, between now and November 30th, you can save 30% with the code SUPER30. Amazing? Yes. Consider supporting this incredible ministry!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Jumping on the Bandwagon.

While I do think that it can be [not always] cheesy to do holiday themed posts, being thankful is a very Godly attribute, so I'm am joining the blogging world and doing a Thanksgiving post. [Also, I am hosting our families for the first time this year, so I may be M.I.A. over the next week!]

1. I am thankful more every day for my salvation. Without Jesus, nothing else in my life would work, and none of the amazing things I'm about to share with you would be in my life. He has had His hand on me even when I've tried to push it away. He has lavished Love and Grace on me.Keep in mind that I deserve none of this! I am a real mess - I am selfish, stubborn, judgmental, and unloving, to name a few. But He is always loving, always faithful, and always pursuing me. Without Him, and am and have nothing.

2. I also get more thankful every day for my incredible husband.
And not just because he's the most handsome thing I've ever laid eyes on!
He is my very, very best friend. We met in October of 2000, dated for a year [I was 13, he was 17 -yes, my dad hated that], broke up in 2002, dated other people, and got back together in February/March of 2007. We had stayed in the same circle of friends, but hadn't been really close [we'd have a long conversation about once every 6 months, but saw each other almost every day]. Then he just showed up one day at the coffee place where I worked and something clicked into place. I wasn't even thinking romantic things at the time; I was going through a really bad break up [which had been going on for about 8 months to give you a picture of how dramatic and ridiculous it was], and he was just being a friend. He was exactly what I needed. I could trust him completely. From that place of trust, openness and forgiveness, we found ourselves in a weird place. He came over to my apartment one night and said "I either can't talk to you anymore or I'm going to marry you." That was March 2007. We were married New Year's Eve 2007. And it has been better than I thought marriage could be. :]

He's an amazing father!! Shiloh adores him, and his heart just gets mushier for her every day. I didn't think I could love him more, until I saw him walking around with her in the delivery room, and they were just staring at each other while he sang to her. And as she's grown they've formed such a special bond. I can't imagine raising a child [soon to be children!] with anyone else.
He loves Jesus more than anything. He is the reason I accepted Jesus in the first place at age 13, and he helped draw me back to Him when I was in the darkest place I've ever been. He wasn't always sugary about it, but he was always real and willing to tell me exactly what the Bible said about anything, even if he though I wouldn't like it. And he's still that way. I have so much respect for him. The only reason we could make it when we got back together, the only reason I could trust him enough to marry him, is because I knew He loved Jesus more than me, and that is how he can love me so well.3. I can't begin to express how thankful I am for Shiloh.

She is an absolute gift from God. She is a real picture, wrapped in a perfect little body, of the Grace Jesus has for me. I made so many bad decisions in my life that should have prevented me from ever having her. All I could think when I first held her and got to see her was "I don't deserve this. God loves me more than I will ever understand to have done this for me."
And every day He shows me something new and amazing through her. I feel so incredibly blessed to be entrusted with her.
4. I am thankful for the baby in my belly. :] It was a real shock, but the closer it gets the more excited I get. I can't wait to see both Matthew and Shiloh around this new little baby. Our little family just keeps growing, and I can't wait to see what life will be like with 4 of us.

5. I am so, so thankful for my friends. Specifically, my friend Haley. She has stuck around through some real tough situations and has supported me and Matthew when literally no one else did. Jesus was really trying to bless me when He brought her into my life. She understands what we do for a living, and has a heart to do it as well. Plus, Shiloh is in love with her. There's nothing like having someone who your kid enjoys as much as you do, and who genuinely loves your kid. I have no clue what I'd do without Haley in my life.
I'm stopping there, even though I could probably go for days [I'm seeing now why people have been doing things like "10 days of thankfulness" and stuff like that...we have a lot to be thankful for!!]. I will add, since it's Sunday, that I'm thankful for my church, Greenville Christian Fellowship. They are some good folks. And the leadership is stellar. If you don't have somewhere to be on sundays, look them up!

"I will give thanks to you, LORD, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds."
-Psalm 9:1

Monday, November 15, 2010

Jesus Hearts Yard Sales.

I've had some pretty major yard sale scores the last couple of weekends, and it could not have come at a better time. The last few months have been the worst financially since Matthew and I got married [don't even mention October...which I renamed "Sucktober" very maturely!], and it is of course time to gear up for the holidays, which we are hosting for the first time this year. Then throw in the move mid-october plus a 14 month old plus my pregnant belly suddenly getting giant seemingly overnight, making me MUCH less efficient, and we have what you could call a tight spot on our hands. [Note: Shiloh is not a "tight spot"...her ability to climb on things and reach things above her head may be, though ;)]

Anyway, at times when it's tough financially, it's easy to start doubting everything you're doing, wondering if maybe you've been a bad steward somewhere and so God can't trust you with as much, so you start pulling your life apart to look at everything you've done. The problem with that is, it's not about you.

Yes, you absolutely are responsible for being a good steward with what you've been given. And yes, there is biblical evidence that God rewards good stewardship[Matthew 25:14-30]. But, when you begin to think that God's provision and faithfulness is tied to something you're doing, you're making it about you and your works, instead of the fact that God is love, and will be gracious and just.

So that's what I learned [and have been learning, and continue to learn]: it's not about me. If I would just go ahead and really learn this lesson, God could stop trying to get it through my head and work on another part of me...but I am just not learning it very quickly. I'm very grateful He loves us in our messiness.

Another temptation in financial hard times is to doubt not ourselves, but God. This is always a dumb idea. God is always God, He is always Love, He is always just and kind and gracious. But when we don't receive something the way we expect to, we refuse to receive it at all, sort of like a toddler throwing a temper tantrum. If we would just step back in those moments and remind ourselves of the Truth : God is good, He is Love, He is my Father, and He will provide for me, we would be able to see where He is providing for us in a different way.

Like my yard sale scores.

We have [literally] a zero dollar budget for anything other than food for Thanksgiving. So decorations and things of that nature were totally out the window, which isn't a big deal, but kind of a bummer. It's my first Thanksgiving as hostess, and I'd like to be kind of fancy and fun about it, you know? And although this seems like a silly little desire, God knew this desire of my heart and made a way for me. He didn't give us a bigger check so I could go out and spend money on brand new stuff. He did, however, remind me that Matthew and I had seen a moving sale that morning and that since they said everything must go, they probably just put everything out by the street after the sale.


All in neat stacks in boxes was everything I needed. Platters and dishes and candles and decorative things...I mean everything I could've wanted from a store. For free. My friend Haley and I went by and loaded up the Jeep [no exaggeration...we packed it out!] and even got to meet the owner of the stuff and hear their story. And this was doubly exciting to me because I hate the idea of buying/consuming new things and increasing the need to just make more and more junk to sell in stores for way too much when there are people throwing the same stuff out every day right down the street. It's crazy to me! When did we get too snooty to re-use someone else's candle holders or board games or pictures frames [and the list goes on and on]?! Crazy.

I think that's why Jesus hearts yard sales. We learn to consume less, respect the earth more, and find our identity in "stuff" less. We learn to be creative. We learn to share with other people who may need what we don't anymore. It's just good common sense. In case you didn't notice, I heart yard sales too. :]

This now feels super long. Hope it made sense. Now I'm going to bed. :]

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

New Recipe.

I love experimenting in the kitchen. Sometimes it turns out awesome, sometimes it is really bad. But today I may have nailed it.

No pictures, because it would be pretty boring, but here's what I made:

Vanilla-Honey Tea

1 family size tea bag
3/4 cup sugar [we like it real sweet!]
2 Tbsp organic honey
1.5 tsp clear vanilla extract
2 quarts water

Pretty simple...I just wanted to change it up a little from normal sweet tea and thought I'd share. We'll see what Matthew thinks when he gets home from work.

Monday, November 8, 2010


Things are finally getting settled [still haven't unloaded all of our stuff yet, but I think it's helping me restrain myself from putting up Christmas decorations so I'm ok with that]! Matthew had a personal retreat this weekend to a monastery in Virginia that's being turned into a Prayer House, so Shiloh and I had our first girl's weekend alone. And we made it. :] Actually, we more than just made it; it was awesome! She slept ten hours straight at night and took a three hour nap in the morning, and we went with my friend Haley to a toy store here in town and played there, and then scored some free stuff out of some yard sale leftovers. AND we saw a rainbow. Pretty sweet.

So here's where I am this morning:

To me, who am less than the least of all the saints, this grace was given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to make all see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the ages has been hidden in God who created all things through Jesus Christ; to the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places, according to the eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through faith in Him.

[Ephesians 3:8-12]

Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.

[Hebrews 10:19-22]

Shiloh started me on this because she's really into keys lately. She LOVES finding the right key and us holding her up to the door, the mailbox, whatever and letting her put in the key to open it.So this morning she was walking around with a key putting it in all the keyholes [all our doors have skeleton key keyholes because they're old] and I got hit with the word "access". She wants access to everything Matthew and I have, and to us. And it goes both ways, because I want all of her as well. The idea of shutting a door between the two of us when one of us wants to get to the other is a painful image for me!

And it's the same with God as our Father.

There was a door between us, and we're the ones who closed it. Everything started with open access between us and God, and then we slammed the door in His face. Every day we get up and make decisions to shut that door between us. And then we have the audacity to say things like "God is distant" or "I can't feel God and it's His fault" and on and on. But the truth is, we shut the door and God put a plan in motion to swing it wide open. He was a parent separated from His children, and that is an anguishing place to be. And us? We are too comfortable in this world to realize most of the time that we are nothing more than children separated from our Father. That's scary when you're a kid! And it should be even more so in a spiritual sense.

We have bad things enter our life, and instead of letting God through the door that He gave everything to open, we throw a tantrum and blame it on Him and shut the door. And yet through Jesus, we have the ability [and the right!?!] to open the door and get close to Him again. We have access to the God of the universe any time we want because He's adopted us as His children and has handed us the keys. Isn't that insane? What's probably more insane is how nonchalant we are about it. I'm guilty of that, most definitely. I can hang out with, talk to, hear from, receive from, give to, and directly connect with God anytime, and I pass up opportunities all the time because something else is more pressing. I always forget to have some time with God during Shiloh's naps, because I start cleaning or crafting or blogging or looking up coupons, etc and by the time I realize I'm not spending that time with God, she's awake. But what good does a clean house or saving money on groceries do for her if I'm not where I need to be with Jesus or being an example for her of how to pursue and love God?

Don't waste this gift.When I hand Shiloh a key, she is focused on one thing: getting access to whatever I've just given her. She's so much smarter than me. :]

And she so darn cute. Here's another picture just for cuteness.

I'd encourage you to look into this stuff yourself...there's a lot I could say that I'm not because I don't want to post a novel.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

not now, arctic puppets!

This has been a month for the history books. Or maybe a month to purposely be left out of the history books. I have never been so glad to see a month end!

This is just a quick update, because we just got internet today and it's been over a month since I've posted, but it's also ten o'clock and I'm almost 7 months pregnant [when did THAT happene?!] and I know Shiloh will be up at 5am [only 7 hours from now...zzz...].

We've been at the new apartment for almost 3 weeks now. It is such a cool place. Once we get more settled, I'll take pictures. I hate not being settled after 3 weeks, but I'll have to count the stairs next time I leave and share that too...then you'll understand.

Shiloh and Matthew have been sick, so I have been beyond busy and pretty much in a constant state of wishing I was napping. But we're coming out of that now, and Jesus has given me lots of grace to get them through it, as well as giving me such a sweet husband and daughter, which helps a lot.

We haven't had internet, which is more crippling than I expected. But we got it hooked up today [FINALLY!], so I'm hoping to get back into blogging as I get more settled here.

Life Lesson of the Day/Week/Month: taking care of a baby is like a vacation compared to taking care of a toddler. ESPECIALLY while pregnant. I have so much more respect now for women who have done this without having a total meltdown.

Jesus is doing some good stuff in our family right now, and in our little community of people at the Boiler Room. It can get messy when He does that, but it's always for our good. I just have to keep reminding myself of that.

Now I am going to go to bed and hopefully not move for at least 6 hours. That's not likely, considering Kicky McGee here in my belly and how much water I just chugged, but here's hoping.