Thursday, July 21, 2011

4 Years

A few weeks ago, I had to travel to our hometown to do some photo sessions.  Josh wasn't coming until a few days later, so I was making the 3 hour drive by myself.  For the last year, I have mostly driven in with no music.  I used to listen to the radio, but I am  LOVING the silence.  It gives me time to listen and pray and process.  I am coming to cherish those times.

And, during this particular ride, I was processing this last year.

This past year (summer to summer) has been, perhaps, one of the more stressful of our lives. Not bad necessarily, but stressful.  There hasn't been any major crisis or anything, just tons of change and stress- both good and bad.  That is the main reason I haven't posted much on here- we have had little discretionary time, and we want to use it on relationships and such.  Here's a brief summary of the last 12 months:


We have moved- yet again- to a brand new town where we didn't know a soul.

Josh has had 4 jobs and 2 layoffs.  Oh, and the financial strain and job searching and uncertainty that all brings.

We have started a business- and labored and worried and prayed over it.  We LOVE it, but it definitely adds stress to our lives.

We have dealt with a significant, new, long-term health challenge.

We have searched for and found a new church.

I started full-time grad school and practicum.

Some of our loved ones have had VERY tough times, and we have hurt with them and prayed for them through grief, pain, and consequence. 

We have deeply missed many of the relationships we made in Namibia.

God speaks to our hearts and whispers parts of His plan, which left us with uncertainty when they didn't match what we originally thought.

We have no idea where our next move will be when I graduate in May.

And all this is just the stuff that I can repeat on the blog.

In summary, we have been in constant transition.  And honestly, transition just isn't my thing, you know?

At times, it has been overwhelming.


While thinking through this all in the car, I started thinking about transition and change and "home."  I have written about being homesick before, and I have realistic expectations about that "home" feeling.  We have now been in our townhome for 10 months, the longest we have lived in any place since we got married, and I have just started to refer to it as "home" instead of "the townhome."  I realized while driving that I have a new definition for home:

Earthly home = wherever Josh is.

Maybe this goes without saying for some people, but it hasn't always for me.  I love my husband more than any other person.  However, "home" has always been solidly defined as a specific place to me.  Those places will always mean a lot.  But this was a new realization for me, and served as a reminder that our relationship is always growing.

Seriously, he is amazing- I've said so before here and here.  And probably a ton of other places, but I really don't want to take the time to link to all of them. 

Our love continues to amaze me.  My love for him grows and grows, even when I think I can't love him any more than I already do.  He loves with grace and forgiveness- not holding grudges and accepting me for who I am.  And the best part of it all is that I know it is coming straight from the love and grace of Christ, because we are, on our own, selfish and unloving human beings.

But Jesus continues to show me His love through Josh. 

I stand in awe of what God has done and what He has brought us through in the 4 years that we have been married.  Yes, 4 years!  That's hard to wrap my mind around!  On one hand, I feel like we've been together forever- we started dating 8 years ago, we know each other better than anyone else, we often know what the other person is thinking before they say it.  On the other hand, we are constantly learning about each other, and I still often get butterflies in my stomach when I see him (especially if it's been a few days).

To My Dearest Joshua,

Happy Anniversary!  I wouldn't want to live my life married to anyone but you.  If you're up for it, I say we shoot for 75 years.  We'd be 96 and 97, so it's doable : )  Thank you for being the man God made you to be, and for loving me so well.  You are my perfect opposite, and best friend.  I never could have known when I met you that you would turn my life upside down- into one that is crazy and dangerous and barbaric (in all the best ways).  I praise God that He is bigger than my plans, and that His will was for us to be together.  I am grateful for your devotion to serving Jesus, and for the intentional way you strive to lead our family.  You are the water to my fire, perfect counterbalance.  As long as it's God's will that we both be on this earth, I'll cherish every moment with you.

I love you, I love you, I love you.

Your Princess *

*Yes, he actually calls me that!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Simple Decorating: Free Immortal Flowers

 This is the second post in a series about simple decorating.  I am not a decorator and this is not a decorating blog.  However, we have had to think creatively to decorate our rented townhome for very little money.  I am posting this in case it might inspire someone else who is in the same predicament.
This week's project is immortal flowers. 

Don't get me wrong, I love real flowers- but they are expensive and need natural light and eventually die.  I had TONS of ideas about what could go on or near our bathroom counter that would work well with our new window frame project, but after thinking awhile I realized that, even if they were free, they were not necessarily simple.  With our goal of simplifying our lives and our possessions, I wanted to make sure I wasn't just adding clutter to our home.

I originally found this post  for an adorable cardboard vase that I love.  However, I decided to make the flowers first (which come from this post ), and during that time I decided that I would just rather use a vase I already had than create something new.  [I have this tendency to think that making something free and recycled is always better, and I sometimes forget I already have something that will fulfill the purpose and save me some time.  I am trying to get over that.] 

As you’ll see in the link, Donatella from Inspiration &Realisation used magazine pages to make her flowers.  However, she talked about them being a little small and flimsy, and I definitely didn’t want that.  I looked through the few sheets of scrapbook paper I have left- I sold most of my supplies last year- and found several 8x8 sheets that were suitable and coordinated with the colors of my bathroom.  I cut those into 4 equal-ish squares, and then cut them in spirals.  The tutorial that she links to says to draw a spiral and then cut it, but I found that to be unnecessary.  I liked having flowers with more variation in the depth of their "petals", so I didn’t want a perfect spiral anyway.  I rolled half of the spirals with each paper design with the white side facing in, and half with the white side facing out.  I also used a few sheets of solid-color typing paper to fill in the “bouquet”- I cut those into six squares.

The next step was to go find some twigs.  [See?  Still FREE!]  The twigs we found behind our townhome had really bumpy, almost prickly bark, but we used the outside edge of a scissor to rub the outer bark off.  Then, I had Josh clear coat the twigs with spray paint, since I had an allergic reaction to the bark.  Oops.

We used 7 twigs that were a nice height for our vase.  You could use more if you want, but we're trying to keep this simple, remember?  I divided up the flowers so that I wouldn't end up with all one print on one of the twigs.  Then, I glued them on the twigs at random spacing by putting a generous drop of hot glue on the outside bottom of the spiral, and holding them to the twig until they dried.  This took a little while, but it wasn't too bad.  If you come up with a better way, please share it here!

Finally, you could clear coat the whole project with clear spray paint if you want to, but we chose not to.  The whole project cost $0!  Here are the results:

The bathroom is starting to come together.  More Simple Decorating to come next Friday!

Monday, June 13, 2011


I always miss Africa and the people there with whom we built relationships.  But some days- or most usually, nights- I miss Africa and her children more acutely.  I am deeply burdened, to the point that I experience it physically.  And I pray for them and think about them and love them, but it still hurts. 

And I want it to.

Not because I'm a masochist or experiencing self-hatred or something, but because I know it's part of God's way of communicating with me.  His children are hurting.  They may be a world away, but they are just as important to Him as any other human being.

He uses this pain to speak to me, to us.  Although we've been back for a while now, Josh and I talk- to God and to each other- about Africa all the time.  And He talks to us.  Not in long, drawn-out epics, but in tiny little snippets that remind us of His plan and His heart, and that remind us of where our plans and hearts need to be.

Following Him, at all cost.

And I beg Him to tell me more RIGHT NOW, because how can He expect me to live with this deep, aching pain in my heart if He won't tell me all the details of what to do about it?

But He has His plan, and His timing, and His way.
 8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
   neither are your ways my ways,”
            declares the LORD.
9 “As the heavens are higher than the earth,
   so are my ways higher than your ways
   and my thoughts than your thoughts.
                                             - Isaiah 55:8-9
I thank Him and praise Him for His Word, for sharing these truths with me.  I am so grateful that, even when I don't know, He does.  I don't need to know, because He is all-knowing and loving and trustworthy.  I cling to these verses, as I have since He turned my heart to see Him in the people of Africa. Not only does He care fore me, but He cares for them, too.

Sometimes it hurts more than I think I can bear.  LOVE hurts.  Not in some 80's ballad sort of way, but in a real, sacrificial, Savior-dying-for-my-sins kind of way.  Jesus uses this burden to chip away at the hollow, hardened shell that is my heart, exchanging it for infusions of His.  All I can do is wait and listen and be revived.

That, and find comfort in the fact that God loves these people more than I do.  Even when I love with my whole heart, it pales in comparison.  He is more than enough for them- and me.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Simple Decorating: Bathroom Window Frames

First of all,  let me make it crystal clear that I am not a decorator and this is not a decorating blog.  However, we have had to think creatively to decorate our rented townhome for very little money.  I am just posting this in case it might inspire someone else who is in the same predicament.  There are a lot of ideas in the blogosphere and the rest of the internet that are said to be “budget-friendly,” but I have found that term to be used rather liberally.  Kitchen renovations for under $1000 is not the kind of budget I had in mind.  I’m looking for, say, a $0 or so budget.  Or at least as close to that as is possible.  It’s not that I don’t value my home, but rather that I’d like to spend the little money I have on something with more lasting value than fancy curtains or knick-knacks or rugs.  I just have this conviction that we should be able to have beautiful homes without spending a ton of money.

So, I’ve been scouring the internet- and my brain- to come up with some projects that are free or very close to it.  Of course, this all depends on what you have around the house, but the name of the game here is improvisation.  Overall, I want a simple home, but one that has character and creativity.  Thus, today begins a series of Friday posts all about simple decorating.  The projects must be inexpensive, simple, and renter-friendly.

I am obsessed with old window frames.  Hang around here for awhile, and you’re sure to see some.  As a photographer, I am constantly looking for new ways to display my photos- and for my clients to display their prints.  Last winter, Josh and I visited a local craft/artisan show that took place in this GORGEOUS theater that I’m  shooting a wedding in later this summer.  We met a woman there who makes gorgeous frames out of reclaimed barn wood, and I adored them.  After talking to her for a while, she mentioned that a woman that morning had told her about a bunch of old windows she was giving away. Josh called her, and a few weeks later we were the proud owners of 14 windows.  Unfortunately, they didn’t have the sashing I was hoping for, but I knew there was definite potential.  We now have a huge stack of windows in our garage that need to be put to good use.

We have a very long, narrow second bathroom near the back entry of the townhome.  It’s the least visible room in the house, which is probably why I started decorating there- I am not sure I trust myself! There is a lot of white wall space, but since we rent our townhome, painting is not an option.  We have never had a second bathroom before, so we had nothing to decorate it and we were starting from scratch. 

I knew I didn't want to go out and buy art if I didn't have to, so I decided that a row of three of our window frames would be the perfect way to decorate the longest wall.  At first, I thought about using them to display photos, but I always think pictures in a bathroom is a little creepy.  Instead, I decided some homemade art work was in order.  I LOVE LOVE LOVE all things vintage, so I knew I wanted a bright but slightly vintage color palette.  I went with red, yellow, sky blue, and a color similar to this.  I bought everything but the yellow in spray paint, because it was a lot less expensive and I didn’t need a lot of paint.  I bought the smallest can of paint I could in yellow, because I didn’t like any of the yellow shades they had in spray paint.  Altogether, the paint cost around $14.

Coming up with a design was a little more complicated.  I had just taught two of my best friends how to paint with paper doilies, and I came up with this idea of layering designs with different colors- it’s hard to explain, but it looked great in my mind.  The only problem is that using intricate stencils- like doilies- on glass is way more challenging than I thought.  I found it almost impossible to get a clean edge, and with this much detail going on, that was imperative.  Time for plan B:  I decided to use a pack of foam brushes (like the round ones in this pack.  I have seen entirely round packs at both Walmart and Joann Fabrics, but I couldn’t find a picture online) to make a little landscape. I think these cost about $4.  [Note: if you use these with spray paint, you will NOT be able to get them completely clean.  I ended up having to throw most of mine away.]

*** Super-Important:  This project involves painting the back side of the glass so the window covers the painting when it is hanging on the wall.  Therefore, painting depth will be the opposite of regular painting.  For example, instead of painting flower petals and then adding  stigma (or the center part of the flower), you must instead paint the stigma first and then the petals, so that you can see both through the glass.***

I used the round brushes as petals and stigmas, and just layered different sizes and colors.  There is no “right” way to do this, just whatever looks best to you.

Here are a few shots of how I designed the flowers (I apologize for the extremely warm lighting in my bathroom- I didn't have time to edit):

 When I had completed the flowers, I used a children's art brush that we had lying around to draw stems and create grass.  If you wanted to, you could add so many more details, but I was happy with the way they looked at this point, so I decided to stop.  

[Note: before I forget, if you don't have window frames, you could easily substitute some old picture frames.]

The finishing steps were super easy.  Josh painted the wooden edges of the frames red (with more of the red spray paint), and let them dry completely.  Then, he used medium-grit sand paper that we had on hand to distress the edges.  When you move as much as we do, you grow to love distressed furniture.  If it gets scratched while moving, it just adds to the look!  Then, he gave the wood and the painted side of the frame a clear coat of spray paint to protect it.  This step would not be necessary, but we want to make sure these last for a while.

Our finished product (well, almost- I couldn't get all three frames in one picture) :

Overall, I estimate that buying decorations for this wall would have conservatively cost around $15 per piece, or $45 for the set.  That would be bare minimum.  The project cost us around $18, so I estimate a savings of $27.  That's $27 going to Africa!

More simple decorating to come next Friday.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Why I Dislike School Breaks

I have a few weeks of school break right now, and it’s totally throwing me.   

Confession: I despise school breaks.  I know, I’m a freak- there, I said it for you.   

Don’t get me wrong- when I was a kid I looked forward to school breaks just like any other normal kid.  Mine were always filled with day camps and parties and playdates and enrichment classes and family time, and I loved every second.

Somewhere along the line, all that changed.

School breaks mark some of the most stressful and depressed times of my life.  I didn’t even realize this until last fall, but since then I’ve thought a lot about it.  I think I’ve discovered the reason behind the insanity:

I have ridiculous expectations.

So, that’s pretty much the story of my life, but it gets especially out of hand on school vacation.  During the school year, I am completely busy with going to school full time and running a business.  I find I cut myself a little slack (lest I die from over-exertion).  However, in the back of my mind I am always making promises that when finals are over I will:

Finish decorating the house (perfectly, of course)…

Return all those emails and facebook messages…

Catch up on all my photo editing…

Organize the file cabinet…

Do spring cleaning…

Get in shape…

Visit all the family and friends we miss…

Handwrite letters…

Make those sewing alterations…

Apply for scholarships…

Update my [long-neglected] blog…

Look at PhD programs…

Begin my research for next year…

Take cookies and introduce ourselves to the neighbors we haven’t met since we moved here in September…

Finally create and order our wedding photo book… 4 years after we got married…and did I mention I’m a photographer?!

And a million other things.  All within the 3 week time span I have off from school.  Oh, and I will rest and relax so chronic illness doesn’t rear it’s ugly head.

But it just never works out that way.  Instead, I get sick as a result of pushing my body too hard the last semester.  And I do too much too soon since I set expectations that were too high, so I spend the entire break feeling icky.  I have no structure or deadlines so I don’t know what to tackle when; I feel like I run in circles.  I panic because I only have ___ number of days left to get all this done!!!  I begin to feel purposeless.

It doesn’t feel much like vacation.  

I wish I could wrap this post up in some cute, neat little package, complete with a “life lesson.”  I know I could write about God’s mandate for us to rest, or about balance, or relaxation, or not finding our value in efficiency.   I see that potential there, but that’s just not where I am at right now.  I want to be sincere with you, and right now that is just to leave it open-ended.  To sit with the discomfort.  To accept reality right now for what it is.  It might not be ideal, but it’s real and genuine… and I can live with that.

What is your reality right now?

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Mission Report

Hi Everyone!  I haven't had much time to write here lately, but I want to let you all know we will be having a gathering focused on our time in Africa very soon.  Here are some details:

Missions Report from Josh and Nicole on their service in Namibia

Saturday, April 9 beginning at 6:30

Calvary Baptist Church
1620 Bridge Ave
Albert Lea, MN 56007

Talk about time in Africa followed by Question and Answer session (please come with questions!)

There will be lots of pictures and stories, as well as songs, dance, cultural artifacts, and language.

Children are welcome- this would be a great learning experience!
I know this is short-ish notice, but we recently realized that our summer schedule is really filling up.  (Can you believe we have already booked 13 weddings?  God continually surprises me- more on that later.)  We don't want to put it off any longer.  If you can't make it, but would like us to speak at your church or group, just send me a message and we will see what we can do!

Friday, March 11, 2011

More of Africa 2

More unshared pictures of our life overseas;

In Rehoboth and Rundu:
 A playground in Rundu- few and far between in Africa.  Almost certainly built by foreigners, but greatly enjoyed by the locals. 
 Two boys hanging out under an acacia tree:

 These kids came to play at 5am!

 Mokoros (dugout canoes) on the Kavango River:

 The seven girls (of 24 students) that I taught at Kwakwas.  They called this sand a "river" because it would fill with water (for a few days) during rainy season.
 Some of the youth center kids:
Taken in Block E.  To me this is an amazing reminder that in spite of poverty, kids just want to be kids.  Their resilience inspires me.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

More of Africa

Without really being intentional, we've more or less put Africa aside since we got home.  There has been a lot to organize, and digestion is best one bite at a time.  Since the new year, we have started to examine it again, to mull over what God taught us, how He might use us, and where we should go from here. 

While going through pictures for the blog makeover (thank you Tara!), I came across tons more that I haven't shared with you.  In fact, I realized I haven't had pictures on here in a long time.  I guess that comes with the territory of having a photography blog.  However, I know that God didn't give me the privilege of capturing these images just so I can keep them to myself.  Although there are too many for me to narrate every one, I am hoping He might use the images themselves to speak to someone or many someones...maybe even you.

For today, I'll start with those from the header, plus a few extra:

Some of the kids I taught at Kwakwas:
Rundu, Namibia:
Me holding one of our little ones at the preschool, Josh with one of our youngest from the youth program:

Dune 7, Walvis Bay, Namibia

Kids from Hope's Promise and the Youth Program:
Aren't they precious?
Some of our preschool girls.  This picture always reminds me of little old ladies at a salon : )

Sunday, March 6, 2011

New Look, New Life

Well, in case you didn't notice, CTLA got a makeover!  Woohoo!!!!!!!

Because seriously, it was about time.

After more than two years and 200 posts- which just blows my mind since I still feel like a baby blogger- I was tired of looking at that dreary black background.  At least now I know I am not inspired by dark and boring.

I thought for a while about whether I would keep this blog.  After all, we aren't in Africa anymore- at least for now, anyway (more on that to come).  And I do have another blog to keep up, which occupies much of my time already. 

After thought and prayer, however, I realized I didn't want to sacrifice the outlet and relationships that this blog has sparked.  It is more than it seems on the surface, which is what so many bloggers already know.

It's connection.

It's community.

It's memories.

It's having a voice.

But I needed some new inspiration.  I decided a new look would be the way to go.  Since I had just gotten my photography blog redesigned, I already knew a great designer.  Tara of Our Princess in Pigtails Designs is wonderful to work with and beyond talented.  If you are even considering thinking about maybe wanting to look at trying having your blog professionally designed, check her out.  And, she is way affordable, which was huge to me.  If I had found her sooner, I would have gotten this done ages ago.

As I’ve been looking at other blogs, trying to figure out what mine needs for the redesign (since I only get one shot at this or I have to pay more money : P ), I realized I have no “about me” section. It’s pretty much intentional, but possibly unacceptable. I am reminded of the fact that I want to read an “about me” section when I visit a blog. I mean, honestly, I don’t want to start reading posts every day, and develop a tight internet-bound relationship that I come to rely on, only to find out the author is some sort of animal sacrificer or dictator or supports dealing illicit drugs to pre-schoolers.

[Don't judge my dramatic and fanciful thinking.  It could happen.]

I guess it’s a quality-control sort of thing.

The other day I was trying to post an ad on craigslist. Now, I had already posted this ad and it had run for a full 40 days or whatever the allotted time is before your post expires. So, I post the very same ad, and it got “flagged and removed.” Three times. Do you have any idea how frustrating that is? I did the same thing last time, SO WHY ARE YOU GIVING ME DIFFERENT RESULTS?????


Grrrr… I was feeling rather riled up about the whole thing, in case you didn’t catch that.

Anyway, I posted a question to a craigslist forum. Because you can’t just pick up the phone and call them or anything. No, when you have already failed miserably at posting on their technological venue, they want to make you do it again, just to really emphasize that you don’t know what you are doing.

But some kind soul (*bless their heart*) took pity on me and told me how it was. Apparently your post isn’t deleted by some sort of algorithm or anything. Instead, viewers flag it either for not following the rules or because they think it looks sketchy or like a scam or even because they just don’t like you. So really, it can be a bit of a challenge to figure out why you got kicked off.

But the kind soul’s suggestion for improvement threw me- it wasn’t that I didn’t include the appropriate language or links or format, but rather that I didn’t include any information about myself, anything that would make it clear I was a real, live, local person and not just a robot somewhere.

Which makes sense, you know? Why would you read my blog if you don’t know who I am ?
So I will give it a try, open up, and be vulnerable- even if it doesn't come easy.

So, if you're interested you can check out the "About" section for a look into my mixed-up, wonderful, messy, complicated, grace-filled, Jesus-dependent life.

Thanks for stopping by : )

Thursday, February 17, 2011

I Dare You Not To Cry

A video of one of our hometown heroes.  So touching.  A million thanks to those of you who sacrifice for our country's safety.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Prescription for Approval

I finally said no.
For those of you who don’t struggle with people-pleasing tendencies, this post might be difficult for you to understand.

For the rest of you, you know the gravity of this situation.

Because, for people-pleasers, saying no is a last resort. We will contort our schedule until it works, go without sleep until we’re ill, and nod and smile when someone asks us to be on yet another committee, all while freaking out inside because we can’t take on ONE. MORE. THING.

It sounds so ridiculous on paper (and it is).

But what we have to take into consideration is the payoff: the approval drug. Maybe it’s the firstborn in me, but there are just times when I crave it. Just today, I got a little rush when someone complimented me on my resume (which God has completely orchestrated, so it’s not even mine to take credit for!)

And seriously? This is the improved version of me, because now I do not need the approval of others 100% of the time. I’m down to like 80%, and only from people with whom I have relationships.

Like so many other things in life, it’s a journey. *sigh*

I am an are-we-there-yet? kind of girl. [We will have to attack that in another post.]

But I did it this time. In spite of a lot of anxiety, I said no. Not only that, but it was to a good opportunity- a wonderful, short-term, resume-building, financially-rewarding job. (Which is sounding better and better as I type, and making me second guess myself. But I will not). As good as this opportunity sounds, I need to simplify my life, not add stress to it. Let’s just say that self-care is not my strong point. [I’m not saying that in some sort of look-how-holy-I-am-I-don’t-even-have-time-to-care-for-myself sort of way. Rather, it’s evidence of how I have mismanaged my resources. As different people have been so faithful to point out to me lately (I’m listening, God), if I burnout or get sick from exhaustion or go insane, I won’t be as much help to others as if I make health a priority.]

I love this quote from D.L. Moody:
“Our greatest fear should not be of failure, but of succeeding at something that doesn’t really matter.”
This quote reminds me that, just because I succeed at something and gain approval doesn't mean it is true success.  We don't have time in this life to waste on okay activities that just fill our schedule.  Every time we say yes to one thing we are saying no to another.  So we weigh them, and try to find a balance.

Aren’t those the most difficult decisions? Not between a good and a bad option, but rather two (seemingly) relatively equal options. To get a job or more education. To stay at home with your children or work outside the home. To have a baby or build your finances. To pay off debt or build your retirement fund. To teach Sunday school or be on the city council. To get another job to make more money, or to have a little more flexibility in your schedule.

Good options, all of them. My optimist husband would see these decisions as a blessing of abundant opportunities. I somehow end up cowering in the corner of my inner being, fearing I will make the “wrong” decision.
This time, I realized the particular project I said no to was in that latter category, at least for my life. It was not building toward my life goals and my current understanding of God’s will for my life, not going to be something that I would miss on my deathbed. I’ve only got one short time on earth, and I don’t want to waste a minute of it.

I am learning more and more that that means I will have to say no more often. If I am to be transformed and not conform, I have to go against the grain. I have to make difficult decisions, be willing to say no, sacrifice, and turn my back on what “makes sense” some of the time.

Last year I posted this question on my facebook status, and got quite a response.

One cannot simultaneously be both a people-pleaser and a God-pleaser. Which are you?

My answer right now would have to be a recovering people pleaser, on the difficult-but-rewarding journey toward becoming a God-pleaser. One decision at a time.

Friday, January 28, 2011


I want to definitely write more on adoption at another time, but my grad school homework is waiting :(

So, I just wanted to quick share some great links with you:

Here is the post that got me thinking about adoption this morning. Because honestly? Josh and I were already talking about it last night. (No news or anything, just praying about future plans!). What I love most about this post is that Kelly discusses the multifaceted and challenging nature of adoption. As a member of a family that adopted (x2)and fosters (x a lot), I will witness to this. Adoption is a calling. Make no mistake of that. The post also links to a discussion of how we might better support families who adopt- so important

So, I happened over to a link Kelly posted from a family that is currently going through the international adoption process. She is selling these cute and meaningful shirts. And I love a good tank top (so hard to come by these days if you want to leave anything to the imagination!).

Then I clicked on a few more links, and somehow ended up here. I promise I am not usually this much of a procrastinator, but anything for this cause ;) The shirts say "love is waiting," and even though I typically buy a lot of our clothes secondhand (because I'm really cheap), I couldn't see any reason not too. It is clear my money is not going to fund big business or to line the pockets of some rich guy. This is going towards uniting pieces of a family. I can't think of a better way to spend my money.

Well, I probably have already spent more time on this than I should have already...more on this later.

Thursday, January 27, 2011


If you read my post from yesterday, don't be alarmed. I went back and made a few edits. I was trying not to edit in the hopes that it would be more honest and real, but it just came off harsh and...wrong.

Lesson learned.

I also wanted to clarify that I am not going to all of a sudden start writing only heavy, deep, difficult posts. In fact, one of the next ones I have planned is a craft tutorial. Random, I know. But I like crafts, and this is my blog, so there you go.

Maybe the focuslessness (totally just made that up) of this blog is just a reflection of life right now. Don't get me wrong, in many ways this is a really good time in life. But there have been so many changes it is often difficult to know where we are going. We have so many possibilities and opportunities right now, which is a huge blessing, but isn't necessarily helpful in providing focus or direction.

The only thing we know is we want to honor Jesus with our lives as long as He wills us to be on this earth.

Now we just wait for the details.

Short-Term Missions Trips

I just wanted to share a quick link with you- seriously, it will take like 5 minutes to read it. To be honest, I am afraid to even broach the subject, like I am afraid to discuss many. Our time in Namibia turned many of our preconceptions on our head. About giving. About serving. About Love. About evangelism. Most importantly, about God.

Up until this point, our lives since we got home have been about surviving, enduring transition, and clinging to Jesus as we re-integrate to this now-somewhat-foreign culture that used to feel like home. It doesn't anymore. Nowhere does completely (for more, check out this past post). And we are okay with that. It has been a really intense time, in so many ways, and we've sometimes struggled with being real and honest, when everyone wants a happy face and a positive report.

The most often-asked question we receive is [often with a wistful sigh] "Wasn't it amazing?" followed by close second in "I can't imagine the fun you had!"

I nod politely and mumble something about us being at peace that was where God wanted us at the time, but inside I am screaming:

"NO! Are you crazy? It was not fun! How can you think I could enjoy seeing people suffer from disease, death, poverty, hunger, abuse, spiritual lies, and things I could never even write here because most hearts can't handle it?????"

Yes, it was amazing- but not in the way they think. I think the best word to describe it is "satisfying."

My heart is forever broken by the things we experienced. Not that it's not joyful about so many triumphs, but my blissful ignorance was shattered. I have seen a greater hurt, one that only Jesus can heal- but don't read that too quickly. The important part is that Jesus CAN heal.

There is so much I want to say, and so much I need to process. Things that aren't necessarily fun or pretty or peaceful. Please take it all with a grain of salt.

He didn't teach us those hard lessons only for us to keep it to ourselves. If there is one thing we have discovered about our first time out, it's that he was laying foundation.

And that is truly the hardest, and most important part of building anything. I feel it. The weight and responsibility of it. The necessity of not forgetting. Needing to not waste even one moment. Just when I think I can't handle one more tiny bit of stress or change, it has come.
But He has been faithful, so faithful. More than I can ever articulate.

I know He has a brilliant and beautiful plan, one I can't fully see, yet. He is worthy of my trust.

I guess this post didn't exactly go as planned, but that's okay. It's pretty much analogous to life, huh? There will be more on short-term mission trips, and so much else. Please allow me to share with you on this journey.