Dec 30, 2009

Too good not to share

A friend on Facebook posted this and it was so random, I decided to do it. Oh my gosh it's the funniest thing ever!

So here's what, call the Nestle Crunch Hotline at 1-800-295-0051.

When you are asked if you want to continue in English or Spanish, just wait quietly for about 10 seconds.

Hang in there and select option 4.

Listen to the options... and enjoy! I'd recommend starting with 7 and then trying 8.

If, when you call, the line rings a few times and you have to hold, just hang up and try calling back in a few seconds.

Love is all you need

A friend at work sent this to me -- how cool?!

Dec 29, 2009

I asked God...

I asked God to make my loved ones whole.
God said, No. Their spirit is whole, their bodies are only temporary.

I asked God to grant me patience.
God said, No. Patience is a byproduct of tribulations; it isn't granted, it is learned.

I asked God to give me happiness...
God said, No. I give you blessings; happiness is up to you.

I asked God to spare me pain.
God said, No. Suffering draws you apart from worldly cares and brings you closer to Me.

I asked God to make my spirit grow.
God said, No. You must grow on your own, but I will prune you to make you fruitful.

I asked God for all things that I might enjoy life.
God said, No. I will give you life, so that you may enjoy all things.

I asked God to help me love others, as much as He loves me.
God said... Ahhhh, finally you have the idea. In the world you might be one person, but to one person you just might be the world'

May the Lord bless you and keep you, may the Lord make his face shine upon you, and give you peace.

(As far as I know this is anonymous... if anyone knows the author, let me know! It's beautiful!)

Dec 28, 2009


I've been reading a lot lately.

Recently, a friend told me about this book:

It arrived on Christmas Eve so I've not opened it yet, but it's in the queue to be read.

While on a couple of weeks ago, I found this book:
The author, Kelly Minter, also wrote a Bible study that goes along with the book. I actually thought I was buying the Bible study, but realized I goofed when I opened the box. Oh well! I'd printed the first week of the Bible study from the website and wow - it's good! I love the format too, it makes me wish my Bible study girls were in my living room!
I don't remember who recommended this book, but it's become one of my favorites. I feel like I'm always falling asleep during my prayers or I forget to pray for things. Not only does this book talk about those things, it takes it a step further and has some great insight. I'm reading it slowly, chapter by chapter instead of all at once.
Chandler got this book for me for Christmas this year:

I told him I felt like I needed a little guidance in the cooking department and that every woman has this book. :) I hope he's not expecting much now.... I can bake but I'm no dinner chef!
When my sweet friend and her MIL surprised me with this book, all I wanted to do was read it! We don't use the Bible much in church, or at home really - so I was a little lost. It had a lot of great footnotes, but I still needed a little more help! I found this book:
So far, so good! I love the pages and the additional insight it offers with photographs. The more I read my Bible though, the more I realized that even the NIV was a little too much for me. I got a copy (tiny!) of The Message and started reading from the beginning. I paralleled with my NIV Bible and have really been enjoying the learning. I was hoping to finish by the end of the year, but I don't think that will happen. It will be close! I need to read Isaiah, Lamentations, and Ezekial - and all of the new testament. It's possible.... :)

Mom surprised me with this on Christmas Eve:
I'd mentioned that I was looking through it during one of our trips to the bookstore and she got it for me! Chandler thinks I'm crazy for the number of Bibles I now have... but I like that this one poses questions after some of the readings. It's challenging and I like that it makes me think. I don't always understand what I read and the questions often get my attention and I realize the deeper meaning of what I just read.

About that collection...
When I started reading the Bible through, confused is not even the word I'd go for... I had no idea how much was repeated. Someone suggested that I read a chronological version. What? They have that? Yep indeed. So, I found a cheap paperback copy and I'll start on Friday.
I'm really lucky that our insurance company has points we can earn by logging health and wellness activities. So far, I've used all of my points to order books from Amazon.
These are just a few of my current books. I have another stack that consists of some novels, other nonfiction, and then a stack of magazines that date back to August that I still haven't gotten around to reading. Can one be a stay at home reader? I could write some mad reviews!
What books are you reading?

Dec 22, 2009

One step forward, two steps back

Moving forward:

We have some house activity! I drove by last week and asked the guys if I could take their picture. They agreed, then asked if I would take another so they could pose, ha!
Across the street from us:
Houses behind us:
Set back: job market. To say it stinks is simply an understatement. I pray that the coming month will bring some new positions. We're super excited about the house, but we need ME to have a job so we can pay for it!

Dec 20, 2009

the Spirit surrounds us

...was going through my reader tonight and came across this post by Carlos. Amazing. Turn your volume up, you won't want to miss this. Be sure to read the post linked above. I love what Danny says to Carlos after the song.

Feel the Spirit.

Dec 15, 2009

Mini Jason Mraz

...otherwise known as "Ukulele Boy" on YouTube - adorable! "I'm Yours" is a somewhat recent song and one of my favorites. Young Ukulele has quite the rendition!

Dec 14, 2009

'O Christmas Tree

Last year, I participated in a linky tour of homes for Christmas decorations and had a great time looking at everyone's trees and decor, so this year - I'm doing it again!

(Yes, my zebra is totally propped up on the snowflake, he hangs lopsided so he needed a little help.)
One of my favorite angels from mom and some funky purple splash balls I bought 90% off (!!) at Pier 1 a few years ago.

I just realized, while looking at last year's post, that I haven't even hung the stockings yet! They're the same as last year though so if you'd like to see them, click here. I also haven't put the tree skirt around the tree... and might not. I don't have a tree outside, my nativity is packed up, and I've only bought one gift so far. I am picking up one of my favorite childhood nativities from mom and I'll add that photo to this post once I have it.
Next year's tour from our new house will be LOTS of fun, but this year, we're keeping the decorations low key. Off to see some more trees and decorations!

Here with us

Joy Williams is quickly becoming one of my favorites. A few months ago, I downloaded her song, Here with us and put it on a CD in the car. I didn't pay too much attention to the lyrics because the "hallelujahs" she sang were so different that it's all I focused on... when I finally stopped obsessing about the hallelujahs, I couldn't decide if I was overwhelmed in thought or speechless. I don't think I've ever taken the time to even imagine the things Joy sings about. Listen to the song.

Did it give you chills? I've been wanting to post this for a few weeks now but wanted to wait until a little closer to Christmas.

Here are the lyrics for anyone unable to see the video.

It's still a mystery to me
That the hands of God could be so small,
How tiny fingers reaching in the night
Were the very hands that measured the sky

Hallelujah, hallelujah
Heaven's love reaching down to save the world
Hallelujah, hallelujah
Son of God, Servant King,
You're here with us
You're here with us

It's still a mystery to me, oh,
How His infant eyes have seen the dawn of time
How His ears have heard an angel's symphony,
But still Mary had to rock her Savior to sleep

Hallelujah, hallelujah
Heaven's love reaching down to save the world
Hallelujah, hallelujah
Son of God, Servant King
Here with us
You're here with us
(Ohh, mmm, here with us)

Jesus the Christ, born in Bethlehem
A baby born to save, to save the souls of man

Hallelujah, hallelujah
Heaven's love reaching down to save the world
Hallelujah, hallelujah
Son of God, Servant King
You're here with us
You're here with us

Dec 11, 2009

Blessing Bank, take 2

This post has been a work in progress for at least a month! Back in September, I wrote about how I'd found the neatest thing ever, Blessing Banks. Long story short, M's mother in law saw my blog post and called to tell M about it. M owns the company (Blessing Banks) and well, you can read more about it here. She was so kind and sent me a bank, and et me just say, it is beautiful. I absolutely love it! It is so simple yet really stunning.

The pictures were taken in a weird setting but definitely visit the website for pictures too. The bank I have is the "girl" bank, but there is also a "boy" bank that has different wood pieces on the sides.
A Blessing Bank would be a great gift idea for anyone - children or adults alike.
"Based on Jesus' words in Acts 20:35, Blessing Banks are more than a gift; they are a lifelong lesson in the blessing of giving. They are available in handcrafted hardwoods for boys and girls, hand-painted ceramic and also in a hammered, silver-plated option. And Little Blessing Bags are a convenient way for collected change to bless someone with an immediate need.
From our beginning, Blessing Bank® has had one mission:We want to provide a meaningful gift that will give children an opportunity to learn about generosity and the Christian principle of tithing.

Our banks reflect our desire to blend form and function into a sturdy, yet beautiful handmade piece that will last for generations. Whether used as a tithing or savings bank for helping those in need, we believe the Blessing Bank will help nurture a giving spirit that will grow with the individual for a lifetime."
If you happen to order, let M know that you read about it on my blog! I don't get anything or benefit from it, but I think she'll appreciate how neat the "blog world" spreads word around. I had the opportunity to have some email exchange with her and she's an amazing woman, very kind and genuine.

Dec 3, 2009

Cries of the Poor

It's been a while since I lasted posted some good Straub... I love this one!
The Cries of the Poor

We need more than an emotional response
to the plight of the poor,
we need more than feelings of
sorrow and regret.
We need to be moved
by grace
to action.

When we hear the cries
of the oppressed,
the cries of the poor,
we hear the voice of God.

Where there is weakness,
there is God.

We need to ask God
to shatter our complacency,
to strip us of our need
for comfort.

Life lesson...

When you really want to help someone, do it - completely.

I learned this yesterday.

It was pouring rain and I was on my way back to work when I saw a man walking along the highway, soaking wet with a backpack on his back and only a light vest. I've often seen the same scene and thought about how I should pull over and offer that person an umbrella (I keep several in my car, don't ask), but I've never done it... it's always just been a thought. I don't know what came over me yesterday, but I had the thought and kept driving. About three miles later, I pulled into a cul-de-sac, got the umbrella from the back, and turned around. It wasn't until this point that I considered he may pull a gun on me, but I decided that was not going to stop me from doing what I'd always thought about doing and was finally about to do... I rolled the window down, holding the umbrella out, and told him I had an extra and would he like it. He declined saying he was almost home and he was "fine." I had a fury of emotion going on for many reasons, 1) I was finally stopping after thinking about it hundreds of times, 2) It was pouring rain and the inside of my car was absolutely soaked by this point, 3) He really could have pulled a gun or knife out...

I was so distracted with emotion, I simply said, "Ok" and turned back around to go to work.

Not even 20 feet down the road, watching him continue to walk in the rain, I couldn't help but think about how I'd totally screwed up helping this person. WHY in the heck did I even ask if he wanted an umbrella, it was POURING rain. Who doesn't want an umbrella? I admit, I was tempted to turn around again and make him take the umbrella, but for sanity's sake, I decided against it.

I'm posting this story because it was a lesson for me. A lesson in learning how to help. I had good intentions, sure - but had I been a little more confident in my wanting him to really HAVE this umbrella, he might would have taken it. I messed up. I did. I did a good thing by asking, but I could have actually DONE something.

Next time...

(Future umbrella ministry??) :)

Dec 1, 2009

Happily Ever Faster

I suppose there's no sense in waiting to let the cat out of the bag...

Last week, the future H family (yep, that'd be us) went to VA for a few days to scope out some real estate. Accompanied by a tranquilized puppy, Chandler and I met with our realtor and the hunt began!

Because it's 2009 and people can pretty much walk the streets of distant lands from the comfort of jammies and a kitchen counter (thank you Google), we'd seen a lot of the area we were interested in and just needed confirmation. We toured a few home sites in the neighborhood and long story short, made an offer. It was perfect. The homes were well built, the neighbors seemed nice, there is a park beside the 'hood, a new library, a new elementary school.... and a dog park! It's right outside of the city and only a few miles from Chan's office. We honestly couldn't think of a reason not to move forward. Wait, did I mention that this was the first place we looked at in the flesh? Well, that's not too important (please, don't remind me of this if in a few years I regret our decision!).

We talked. We called the fam. We called the CPA. We talked some more... and we decided to make an offer. It was just too good not to do so. There were a few reasons we needed to move quickly so the following day, I spent the afternoon with the builder and started the unexpected, grueling process of choosing colors. After work, Chan met me there and we completed the paperwork. The site manager, Melannie (who is as completely awesome as Leah), let us know that we were asking for a lot and to be ready for a counter offer.

Chan and I discussed at length what we'd do if that happened but I told him not to get too upset because I had a good feeling. That feeling, however, was certainly not without a LOT of prayer and a lot of "God, if this is your will..." I truly felt good about it all.

I left VA the following morning and we understood that Melannie would call us that day sometime in the early afternoon. The call came in early. Two hours plus early. I couldn't believe it. Melannie said, "Happy Thanksgiving!" "What?!" I was utterly confused... "We got the house?" "YES! You got the house!" So, we got the house! She said that the builder went back and forth about a counter offer, but because our realtor had referred two others to the neighborhood, he accepted! Chan was at work and I didn't have his number - he didn't have his number! - so it was another whole hour before I was able to tell him. I spent that time half wanting to cry and half wanting to throw up! This is it. We're moving. For real. Time to put on my big girl panties and get with it!

There is still a lot to be done but we are very happy and truly thankful to have this checked off our list of things that needed to be done.

Nov 19, 2009

Random moments

Checking out some VA info...
Snuggling with this sleeping beauty...
Enjoying beautiful fall weather...

Her lump

Lump, day 7 (exactly one week post vaccine) - feels fluid filled yet we weren't able to get anything out of it at the vet.

Lump, day 11 - lump turned hard (like cement), and it was obvious that it was her skin that was hard and not something else.

Lump, day 13 - visibly smaller! Started second course of antibiotics, still on anti-inflammatory, also continuing warm compresses w/ heating pad twice/day. No longer feels like cement, but is hard.
We have major progress -- thanks for everyone's concern and prayers.

Nov 17, 2009

It's a fine line... Nola

So, took Nola to get her annual wellness exam and vaccine last week. Blogged about it here, and discussed how I had been back and forth about even doing it since just about EVERY major veterinary group recommends every 3 years. Regardless, it was done. She had an immediate reaction, I asked about it and Dr said it should go away in a couple of days, if not - call. So I called a week later. We went in, tried to aspirate, got meds, came home. Lump changed, went back to vet, got meds, came home. It measured 3" in diameter on Sunday and it's about 2.75-2.5" today.

I've had a hard time with this and feel like I'm walking a fine line between completely freaking out and being proactive. My ultimate fear is that this could be an injection site sarcoma. That is pretty rare in dogs and usually is a cat thing, but it can and does happen. I expressed my concern about this and our vet agreed that it is a possibility but not a great one. She has said that if after a month since the vaccine the lump is still there, we'll remove/biopsy.

We're hoping and praying that the lump is simply the vaccine that went IN the skin instead of under it and her body will absorb it... we're doing warm compresses 2-3 times/day hoping to increase the blood flow.

I have pictures of said lump but can't find my camera cord to get the files to the computer. Perhaps tomorrow...

Nov 15, 2009

Just a little wedding update...

A color tease...
I used to know exactly what colors I wanted: plum and raspberry; but when we decided May would be the month, the colors seemed a bit too deep summer/early fall. Every other combination I played with wasn't right... turquoise and orange, yellow and pink, green and blue... everything seemed ALL wrong for early Spring. Finally, someone asked me what colors I wore a lot. Easy: pink, peach, mango. So that settled it. What an easy way to make a decision... and perfect colors for early Spring! Official colors are light pink and peach. (My sister seems to have a hard time with this and says pink and orange, which could be true, only very light orange would be more correct.) We'll have splashes of green and white polka dot to mix up the color a little... Think vintage chic meets urban traveler. Make sense? I didn't think so... :) Nothing's new!

A couple weeks ago, our AWESOME photographer B-Dub Diddy came over to design our 'save the date' cards -- Nola was utterly and totally psyched to see her!

...she even brought fun toys!!! Check it:
We picked out some pictures, talked about fonts, listened to Twilight soundtrack, got distracted, talked about everything under the sun, and she peaced out right before Halloween festivities kicked off in full swing... Fast forward two weeks (three?) and our cards arrived in the mail. They are AWESOME!!! THANKS B-DUB DIDDY YO!!!!!
Otherwise, just doing some reading... having some dates with Beth Moore (we've been discussing Daniel).

Nov 12, 2009

Song of the day...

I'm loving this....

I think you might love it too.

Nov 11, 2009

Veteran's Day

Happy veteran's day!

Enjoy the sweetness... (click)

Very cool celebrity...

It's us! Check it out!

How very, very cool is that? We really love the Days folks... now we really feel like family!

We also had a GREAT experience with Danielle at Brilliant Earth...

Our current love affair however, is with Leah - she works in Virginia and has exercised extreme patience with us. Did I mention that we emailed her to just to ask if a photo on their website was real? Yeah.... we did. And then we had some back and forth chat about it - it was after 10pm... she's that awesome. And she STILL talks to us -- actually, she's answered a TON of our questions, so we really do like her lots.

It's pouring rain here... my day has consisted of making soup and apple pie and watching The Proposal and Bride Wars. I didn't much care for Bride Wars... Proposal was very cute. Watch it! Now, date with Beth Moore.

Oct 30, 2009


The last week has been a complete whirlwind.
@ Work: DHHS (Dept. of Health & Human Services) sent letters out with statements like "the state budget situation... daunting budgetary outlook... reductions come just prior to the end of X partnership with X... bad fiscal news... limited available funding..."
@ Chandler: offer on his condo, accept offer, close on 28th... phone call on 23rd saying party cannot buy, appt made with atty the same day, $500 spent... 26th, deal still off. 26th, deal back on... closing was 28th - finally. It happened.
Chan [finally] starts his VA job on the 23rd of November! We are TOTALLY psyched!!! After sleeping on cardboard for a while in between when the movers brought ALL of his things to NC and when he closed on his place and now hotel hopping - he's ready to not be homeless! Can't say I blame him. We've been in heavy discussion about our options. On the one hand, he is ready for a new home. A bed. A place to park his car. On the other hand, we don't know anything about the area with regard to residential living. We don't want to rush into a decision because we have to; we're hoping to wait a little while and learn more about where we want to be. There are SO many things to consider.... it's overwhelming.
My thoughts are everywhere.
Anyone have relocation advice? Tips?
Current game plan is for him to find a cheap apartment or long stay suite for a month or two... I'm planning to drive up on weekends so we can get comfortable and familiar with places and start meeting people (???). Hopefully by January we'll be able to narrow it down and really start looking for a house.

Oct 26, 2009

Oct 25, 2009


Funny that the box that contained my wedding dress had "SINGLE" stamped on it. Hmmm... :D Seven months and some change to go! So far, planning is great and I'm not really understanding why people say it's so stressful. Choosing the date has been -by far- the worst part and I won't even go into it but many have told me I should see Bride Wars. (For the record, I don't think either of us have seen it! And by "either of us" I mean my friend-who-is-also-getting-married-on-that-day.)

So, my dress came - early! It was originally not supposed to arrive until mid-November and I was oh so excited when I got an email saying it had shipped!!! Oh so excited, except for the whole feeling like a giant buffalo part. That, not as exciting. But I'm told there are body shaping garments that squeeze you together and make you look a size or so smaller. We might be investigating those tiny torture pieces. I'm starting to wonder what kind of mirrors the stores have in them anyway...
Some weeks ago (and by some weeks I really mean last month), my sweet friends sent me a surprise you're-getting-married box! It was FILLED with the sweetest things!!! These girls... I really have no words for them. They put together the most fun box ever! I tried to take my time and slowly take out one thing at a time - they had several H's (for Chan's last name), a SUPER book that had really neat DIY ideas, two beautiful necklaces, one that someone made that had our names on it (LOVE IT!!!)... and a really cool planner for all of my lists with another H (and if I had to guess, I'd say they might have put that H on there too!) - I know another someone who is a little obsessed with initials. There were a few other things too and it totally made my day! Thanks again girls!!!

I would LOVE to post a picture of my dress, but Chandler pops in here from time to time and stalks me, so I have to refrain from too much dress talk. So far, he knows it's white and may or may not have straps. ;) He also knows it's long and I think that's enough 411 for him!

We had our engagement pictures taken a couple weeks ago and they were great!!! There were quite a few that I completely ruined... let's just say the "serious" face is not a good look for me. So much for any potential modeling career....

If I can, I'll post a couple of sneak pics - must ask our awesome B-Dub ...

Our weekend

Oct 23, 2009

Check it

Did you hear about this???


Powerful indeed.

Oct 20, 2009

His Glory Appears

Song I'm loving right now...
"You gave me hope
You made me whole
At the cross
You took my place
You showed me grace
At the cross where You died for me.
And His glory appears
Like the light from the sun
Age to age He shines
Oh, look to the skies
Hear the angels cry
Singing, "Holy is the Lord"

It's personal.

How different would life be, if it was lived for Him instead of for us?

Lord, help me to love You more. Help me to know You more deeply.

Oct 18, 2009

My Dog Nola

Did you know that Nola Belle has her own blog??? She does... and she won a very cute collar she'd like to share with you!

Check it out!

We're going to try and update her blog a little more frequently. Be sure to add her to your reader because you won't want to miss out on all she has to say!

Oct 13, 2009

Oct 9, 2009


Don't you just love Beth Moore?? Our Bible study group did Breaking Free earlier this year and we followed up with Living Free. It was awesome! We are finishing Esther now and our next study will be.....
Daniel! I am SO excited! A lot of us have heard great things about this study and I can't wait! I didn't love Esther like most people so I'm going to do it again by myself and try and find more. I'm not sure what happened to me but I just couldn't dive in and 'get it' like many people. I've read a lot of reviews and Esther is a lot of people's favorite study... I want to love it too.
If you're up for joining us as we study Daniel, let me know! We have a wonderful group and many of us have become close friends!! We use an online format so you can contribute at your own pace. It's a great place for prayer and fellowship. Comment or email me and I'll forward your info to our group leader!

Oct 8, 2009


I just watched Francis Chan LIVE!! He is one of my favorite speakers. (Ok, my most favorite speaker!)

He was speaking at a conference called CatalystBackstage. He was amazing. He always is. But to see him speak and know that it's LIVE, wow!

He mentioned several verses during his time on stage, and shared that he was asked to speak about the cross.

Some things he mentioned that stood out to me...

1 Peter 5
To Elders and Young Men

To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder, a witness of Christ's sufferings and one who also will share in the glory to be revealed: Be shepherds of God's flock that is under your care, serving as overseers—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.

Young men, in the same way be submissive to those who are older. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble." Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.

And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.
Francis said, "are we not always one breath away from seeing God?" Above, in 1 Peter 5:

Humble yourself - you are always one breath away from God. One breath. And when we DO see God, He will restore you, strengthen you, confirm you. Who else can do those things?

God and His GRACE. I had to pull a Jess and define grace to further grasp what Francis was saying about God. "Kindness, compassion, eternal graciousness."

Go green!

Are you green? Chan and I are somewhat eco-conscious people, but we don't necessarily take steps above and beyond what we probably should in order to be more friendly to the earth. He's more concerned with renewable resources and energy and I'm more concerned with everyday, easy things like soap and food.

As we prepare to merge our lives, we've been discussing things we'll buy, do, etc... in our new home to be more eco-conscious.

We've already found new cookware that will replace some that we'd previously registered for that had Teflon coating. We've also decided to use regular hand soap as opposed to antibacterial soap.

This week, I made the decision to [finally] throw out my old Nalgene bottles. When the BPA argument first hit the news, I didn't think too much about it. I loved my bottles and had no plans to trade them out. Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago when I was running late for work and didn't have time to fill up a bottle - disappointed - I grabbed some change and ran out the door only to see that I'd left the previous day's bottle in the car - score! However, the water tasted horrible! Like plastic. This can't be good. Regardless of BPA (which the bottle did have), I just don't feel good about my water tasting like the container. That's what ultimately made my decision for me.

You would have thought that after trying out several bottles last year that I would have already made the change, but bottles don't come cheap and I didn't have too much to complain about, so I kept what I had and was okay.

Today I decided that I'm done with plastic bottles. And I might be done with my Rubbermaids too.

I'll be surviving off of one Klean Kanteen and my one Nathan bottle!! If you haven't tried a Klean Kanteen -- DO IT!

For other green tips, check out these sites:

What green things do you do? We'd love any tips or resources you might have.

Sep 30, 2009


Gerry Straub... (I don't love him at all, can you tell?)

The Movement of Grace

Isn’t it odd that we pray “thy kingdom come” yet we really love and cling to this world and its fleeting pleasures. Isn’t odd that we pray “thy will be done” yet we cultivate and worship our own self-will.

I need to continually strive to make Christ present in every ambit of my life, in every encounter, every deed, every relationship. Of course, I all too frequently shut the door on Christ, or worse set up a wall around some hidden area of my being that I want to keep all to myself. It’s crazy how we seem to protect the very things or behaviors we should reject. The fact is we pray…and we sin. But where there is sin, there too is grace, overflowing and abundant. But only in stillness can we see the movement of grace. My faith may be fickle at times, but God is always faithful. Alleluia. Alleluia. Alleluia.

Sep 29, 2009


Prayer is part of my daily routine. I try to say quick prayers here and there during the day, and save my longer conversations for bedtime. I pass a church on my way to work each day, and for a while they had the following words on their sign near the road, "Just tell the Lord Thank You." I loved that sign. It was a daily reminder of gratitude and praise. The message was there for so long that I still find myself thinking of those words when I pass by in the mornings.

In the past year or so, I've noticed that I have a hard time asking God for things.

Why should God listen to my prayers?

My small, petty requests...
-to be without fear when I fly,
-to take away my anxiety before a big presentation,
-to help me get through planning a wedding, and a marriage...

I know that God tells us to talk to Him. To ask of Him.

I seem to have trouble with this. I have no problem asking Him to help others, but I feel selfish asking Him to help me.

Why are my requests worthy of His time... my silly fears I ask Him to calm when He has already told me that I should not worry... ?

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7

My requests are so insignificant compared to those of others. How can I ask Him to help me be disciplined to save money for a wedding when mothers cannot afford to feed their children? How can I ask Him to protect me when I walk to my car at night when children are being raped, abused, and forced to see hell in their night?

I cannot help but be filled with guilt in my requests to Him. I pray for others, not knowing their names and I praise Him for the home that I have been blessed to live in, for the food that I take for granted, and for the opportunities and experiences I have lived to enjoy.

I know that there is a deeper meaning to this and perhaps it's part of my awakening in Him - His way, His gentle way, of reminding me of His presence. When I think He is too busy or has forgotten me, I know He is there.
I know He is there because I am safe and I have enough.
For that, I praise Him!

Note to self

Half of the year has come and gone... and as I approach the one year mark of blogging [again], I find myself reflecting on the purpose of my blog. It has sort of evolved from personal, deep, meaningful thoughts to every day fun and randomness (which is totally okay!).

Looking back, I want to try and maintain the purpose of this blog. For my own sake. That said, it's no secret that I've wrestled a bit with my faith over the past few years. I've always considered myself to be a "Christian," but until last year, when I really started to feel without, I really had no idea what being a Christian really meant. I've mentioned before (pardon that middle hiking-with-dogs post, not sure why that filtered in the search) that I was reading a book, Crazy Love. It has truly changed my life. Well, that and some help from Beth Moore (who doesn't love her?!). And then there were some special friends along the way...

All of this to remind myself of why I started this blog. And because it was going to lead into a journal entry I wrote that I find myself going back to - frequently - pondering. But I think I'll save that for another post.

What difference do it make?

A few months ago, I read Same Kind of Different As Me by Ron Hall and Denver Moore. It was a great book and renewed my desire to volunteer locally. I just finished this book yesterday and was probably a little over excited when I read in one of the chapters about the woman who developed Blessing Banks! Did you read my last post on here?! Had I read the "About Us" section on the website, I would have been expecting this, but I didn't. I admit that I was so excited about the concept, I posted it to share with you all and didn't even do my research. Sorry friends! The good news, is that it's still a SUPER great wonderful thing and you should still totally buy one for a friend! Or you own child. :)

Back to the book, it also mentions a family that adopted a little boy from Ethiopia. Turns out, I remember visiting this family's blog because they had their blog designed by Nikki, the same person I who did mine!

All this to say, it's not only a small world, it's a tiny one! I truly do believe in six degrees of separation. Oh the stories I could tell you about how Hope Aid's directors in Uganda met with a man from Duke University while he was visiting Kampala and how this Rev. Duke Professor apparently knew our assistant rector very well! Or how in the middle of a rural Tanzanian village, I met up with two mzungus from Raleigh... but I digress.

What Difference Do It Make isn't a sequel or second book to the original story, however it is a follow up to the rest of the story. It chronicles some amazing tales of people who were motivated to do more after reading Same Kind of Different As Me. It is a quick read with short chapters and it's a great book to pass along to friends. While you wouldn't have to read the first book to understand the second, it would be good to do...

Same Kind of Different As Me is by far one of my favorite books.... check out both of them!

Sep 24, 2009

Blessing Bank

Click here to read more! I think these would be great baby gifts - and I love the idea behind them.

Sep 23, 2009

New bags at Fido

I just added a few new bags to Fido's web shop. Check it out!

Also -- go here!

I'm doing a giveaway! Well, technically, Fido Bags is doing a giveaway, but how much fun is that?! Stop by Shealynn's blog and comment, you could win!!!

Since this bag isn't being sold, Hope Aid won't be getting the customary 25% from it.

That just won't do!

So... I've decided that since it IS a giveaway, I'm donating $16, one dollar more than full price, to Hope Aid towards the Mosquito Net Fund!

Not only will whoever wins the bag GET the bag, but they'll have satisfaction in knowing that a donation was made in their name to Hope Aid. TWO new moms will be protected from malaria!!!

Sep 18, 2009

Day in the life... (long)

I came across a post today from Angie's blog, Bring the Rain. Typically, I'd link the page directly, but this post deserves to be read by the non-link-clickers. Please, try and read it in its entirety. It was especially meaningful for me today...

I'm sure I've posted somewhere on my blog that I work in public health - specifically communicable disease, which means I am directly involved in HIV education, awareness, outreach, and testing. Part of what I do involves providing rapid tests to people in the community who desire to know their status. Today, I had to tell someone their test indicated they were positive. This person did not have a questionable exposure and gets tested routinely. It was a hard blow. Emotional. This is the least fun part of my job. Hearing those words today, changed his life. Each time I have to tell someone their test is positive, it changes mine. It never gets easier and I am always affected.

So today, when I read the following post, "Blink," it affected me deeper than I expected. Knowing that my words today changed someone's life, that I didn't have a choice in speaking them aloud, and with all my heart, did not want to say them....

This message is simple but profound at the same time.

**Note: Audrey is the author's fourth child, who died shortly after birth, her full story can be read at the blog referenced above, Bring the Rain.

~This post was written in pieces over the past few days. It was really emotional for me, and I could not do it all at once. The Lord beckoned me back to it until it was finished, and I am so glad He was good for my soul to be near Him in these moments...thank you, Lord.

Several weeks ago, I received an email from a woman who is a photographer, and she wanted to let me know that she had decided to do an "auction" in honor of Audrey. The top bidder would receive a session with her. I was so honored, and I immediately went to her website to check out her work. I have a life-long love for photography, and I am a little bit (ok, a lot) picky about what I like. Well, let me say this. I loved her work. I sat for at least a half an hour, oohing and aahing at each shot, just to jump to the next and start it all over again. I decided that my favorite was a beautiful image of a little girl blowing a dandelion, and you can see all of the little fuzzies as they float away from her. That's it, I thought. She captured life. More on this a little later... I have a Bible Study on Tuesday mornings with an amazing woman of God (Ms. Nancy Dunn at Forest Hills Baptist Church here in Nashville...9:30 a.m. if you are local and want to join us!). Every time I am there, in the presence of other women of God, I come away refreshed and encouraged, and yesterday was no exception. On the way out of church, Kate had run into the grass by the car while Abby and Ellie were buckling themselves in, and I turned to Kate and told her to run to me and I would pick her up. Her eyes lit up and she took off full-force toward my open arms. I lifted her way above my head and kissed her sweet cheeks on the way down. As I put her into her car seat, Ellie said to me, "Know what, mommy? I really wish I had a camera, because that was a beautiful picture you just made." It caught me off guard, because I didn't even realize she could see me from where she was sitting. "You think so, honey? Well let's just blink our eyes and keep that one in our heads, then." I smiled at my 3 sweet daughters, and then Ellie and I looked at each other and blinked our eyes...another moment captured and held as a precious memory. On the way home, I was thinking about what she said and I realized that I see the world in photographs. I love to take pictures, and I suppose my mind has incorporated a little camera that allows me to freeze moments and store them away. Last week I was driving to the pool, and to get there I have to pass under these amazing trees that make a canopy over the road, only allowing bits and pieces of light to pass through. It was beautiful.


I thought about the way it was when I saw Audrey for the first time, red hair and those sweet rosebud lips. No crying, but there was breath in her, there was life to be lived... I am so glad to meet you, sweet girl...stay with me for awhile...


After a hard day of school as a teenager, my dad took me out in his old-fashioned convertible to talk and make sure I was okay. We drove to this field in the middle of nowhere that he had found a few weeks earlier. It was amazing, because as soon as the lights went off in the car, what seemed like millions of fireflies danced around us. I was completely mesmerized, and as the hot September night soaked into our skin, we watched them light up the night, and I felt like God spoke to me. It is one of the earliest recollections I have of feeling His presence, and to this day, whenever I see fireflies, I remember the way the old leather seats smelled when my father loved me enough to show me that life is beautiful even when it hurts.


Me, in a veil I had dreamed of wearing my entire life, and a church full of people who were celebrating the way we loved each other. I was so nervous because I was sure I would trip and fall, but then the huge wooden doors swung open and I saw him, and I wanted to run to the end of the aisle.


"It is very possible that your daughters will not survive. Now is the time to start praying."


"4 pounds, 11 ounces, and the other is 3 pounds, 11 ounces! They are here and they are healthy!"


Kate recites her Bible verse from yesterday (A soft answer turns away wrath...thank you, Ms. Nancy's class ladies!!!) as "A soft answer turns away the rats." I spit my coke out all over the car and tell her she is brilliant and that I love her for being exactly who she is. This morning, she was acting up and using a less than desirable tone with her sister, and I asked her if she remembered the scripture I had taught her yesterday. She nodded yes. I asked her to say it to me. She replied, "I think the Bible says I am going to time out." This time it was coffee.


Abby, in the backseat of the car, eyes closed and hands in the air, worshiping with the music as she has seen me do a thousand times before.


"Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief..."


Todd surprises me at our wedding with a song he wrote for me. It is called "After the Rain," (seriously) and it tells the story of how he knew he was supposed to marry me one day when he prayed during a thunderstorm, and moments later it just stopped with no warning.


My brother-in-law Greg calls, and tells me he went to play golf. He says he cried on the way home because he realized he will never play golf with his son Luke. I never mention the conversation to anyone, but the next day, Ellie draws a picture of Audrey and Luke. She says they are playing in heaven. I look closer and see something I have never seen her draw (because as far as I know, she has never heard of the game), and I ask her what they are playing. "Golf." she says, and skips out of the room...


These moments, and millions of others, engraved in the beautiful book I am making in my head. As I drove home, the Lord spoke to me, and I want to share with you what He said, because it is not an exaggeration to say that I believe it has changed my life. Angie, sweet daughter of mine. You know, I do the same with you...every day, every hour, every moment. ..


I was speechless as my spirit understood what He was saying to me. Not necessarily in words, audibly, but it was as if I knew something profound I had never known before, and I knew God had imparted it to me. I have choices, every second of the day, to serve my Lord. To honor Him with my speech and with my thoughts, with the way I love those around me and the way I worship Him. Every moment, there is another opportunity, and I want to use as many of them as He will allow. In fact, Scripture tells me that one day I will stand before Him, and I will (symbolically) hand the King of all Kings a tattered scrapbook of my days. It is up to me to decide what the pages will reveal. I was washing the dishes last night and thinking about what the Lord had said to me, and I heard the girls fighting. I raised my voice more than I meant to, and I thought to myself, "Wow. I don't look like myself in that one. Let me try that again." I apologized to them for my tone and let my hands drift into the hot water. Now that one felt better for me too, Lord. There are many, many pages I want to rip up and hide...maybe you do too. But that shouldn't consume me. Rather, I want to focus on the beauty of this gift that the Lord has given. It is the gift of this breath, this moment, this photograph. My offering, captured. We need not dwell on the things we wish we had done differently, nor should we even give too much thought to what the future will look like. We need not worry about the pages, but rather this very simple fact. I have this moment. Right now. And I want to make it good. I am sitting cross-legged in an old chair, pouring out my heart to you, because above every other thing I can think of, I want these words to be a beautiful photograph for the Lord I love.


In a few minutes, I will go find my children their dresses and we will go to a cook-out with friends. As I snap their sandals and brush their hair, I will tell them how I love them and how grateful I am to be their mommy.


Todd just came in to tell me about something he is reading and I nodded absent-mindedly as my thoughts drifted everywhere but his voice. No, I thought, I don't want it to look like that. I want to love deeply, and have him know that I care about what he cares about. I want to show him that I am here to listen, and that he matters to me.


I met a woman who does not know about Jesus. She is broken, bruised, hurt, alone. I want to show her the way He loves her, to inspire her to let me into the places she runs from. I want to make His name known. I want my life to be lifted up to Him, offered to Him, spilled out for Him...


"She is gone..."


A crown of thorns, piercing his sweat-drenched brow...oh, my sweet Savior...


You refused the bitter wine but drank deep of the cup that would not pass.


I see you there, Lord, and I will not turn from You. Not in my joy, not in my agony, not ever. Not ever. I will remember the scars, and the gracious Love that the world could not believe...


Oh, my Jesus...speak to us through your Word... ...whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me-put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you...Philippians 4:8-9 I have always loved this verse, and I have been meditating on it for the past few days. I hope you are blessed and encouraged by it tonight... As for the photographer I mentioned? Her name is Amy, and her business is called "Images of Grace." (And no, I don't think that's a coincidence:) I came home from church on Sunday (after the message on Providence), and was trying to trust God with my fears. I opened my email and saw a message from Amy, saying that the bidding had ended. I cried and cried when I saw the amount, because it answered an unspoken prayer request that Todd and I have had for weeks (almost to the dollar!). Thank you, Rachel. You were most certainly used by the Holy Spirit, and I am still speechless, because it was a confirmation of something I have known for years, but love to be reminded of... I'm still here, Angie. Tucked away behind this trusty old camera. Now remember, you have this moment, child... That's it, turn your head a little more toward me...Do you trust me? A little more toward me...there...perfect...


Sep 17, 2009


I'd be lying if I told you I don't swing by the drive-thru every so often to get fries and a coke. However, I'd also be lying if I told you I'll continue to do that. Check this out.

Sep 16, 2009

Alone. Peace. Solitude.

Before Nola came into my life, I used to have scheduled alone time at the beach. I would go at the beginning of spring and beginning of fall. To me, those are the most beautiful beach days. I would sit on the beach with my camera and journal and watch the sun rise, walk along the boardwalk during the day, and return to the beach to watch the sun set in the evenings. I tried to maintain silence as much as possible. The spring and fall beach is perfect because few people are on the shore and nature is as perfect as it was made to be. Chandler and I will be married at the beginning of spring. It's no coincidence.

I was going through my old journal and found something I'd written a few years ago during a fall trip.

Sitting on the beach. Alone.
Watching the sun set.
Time stops.
My world stands still.
I am alone.
The wind blows my hair.
Is it God?
One lone boat still at sea.
Birds fly above.
Fish jump.
Three dolphins swim.
The sky is purple.
Clouds disappear.
Crashing waves become silent.
The tide is low.
Slowly down, the sun falls.
Where is the moon?
Will camera catch the peace that surrounds such beauty?
Can it capture the serenity?
Create warmth on cool sand?

Looking over the ocean.

There's a hole in the sky...

...and I can see a little piece of heaven.

Psalm 19:1
The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.

Sep 15, 2009

Happy Birthday Sister!

Sister had her eyes closed in the picture of her with the cake and I'd never hear the end of it if I posted that picture so... the most adorable Baskin Robbins cake ever made...

Is Bells not the cutest child ever?!
Oh! There's her cuteness again... hands down she is the best dog ever. If only I could snap my fingers and turn her into a human child. Sweet Nola Belle. LOVE HER!!!
...and then, there's this beast. She had surgery yesterday. I think I woud like her better if she was always doped up on pain meds. Poor little humongous Cady.
Happy Birthday SISTER!!!
"Sometimes I'd like to ask God why He allows poverty, famine, and injustice in the world when He could do something about it, but I'm afraid God would ask me the same question."
You don't change the world by trying to change the world; you change the world by changing yourself.
-Gerry Straub