Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Community- and not the TV show!

I've been thinking a lot about community lately. 
 What does community mean? 
How am I making an impact in my community? 
I've been thinking about the community that is outside the four walls of the church and of my home. 
 Am I modeling for my kids about caring for their community? 

Here are definitions from Webster's New American Dictionary of community: 
1) a body of people living in the same place under the same laws 
2) society at large 
3) joint ownership 
4) similarity and likeness

Three and four really stand out to me. 
A group of people with similarities and likenesses that have joint ownership. 
I think sometimes we forget that we all have similarities and likenesses.
In some cases, our differences keep us from acting on what we as Christians have been called to.
Thank goodness we have Webster to remind us that we are alike.
Like we needed Webster to tell us, God did create us all in his image!
Number one says a body of people living under the same laws. 
My family, friends, church, neighborhood, work, all part of my community.

 I googled "community in the Bible."
Here are some of the verses that came up:

 "Jesus said, 'Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence.' 
This is the most important, the first on any list. 
But there is a second to set alongside it: 'Love others as well as you love yourself.
These two commands are pegs; everything in God's Law and the Prophets hangs from them." 
Matthew 22:37-40 MSG 

 "Let me tell you why you are here. 
 You're here to be salt seasoning that brings out the flavors of this earth. 
If you lose your saltiness, how will people taste godliness? 
You've lost your usefulness and will end up in the garbage. 
Here's another way to put it: You're here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. 
God is not a secret to be kept. 
We're going public with this, as public as a city on the hill. 
If I make you light-bearers, you don't think I'm going to hide you under a bucket? 
I'm putting you on a light stand. 
Now that I've put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand- SHINE! 
Keep open house; be generous with your lives
By opening up to others, you'll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in Heaven."
Matthew 5: 13-16 MSG 

 "Stoop down and reach out to those who are oppressed. 
Share their burdens, and so complete Christ's law. 
If you think you are too good for that, you are badly deceived. 
Galatians 6:2 MSG 

 "Our counsel is that you warn the freeloaders to get a move on. 
Gently encourage the stragglers, and reach out for the exhausted, pulling them to their feet. 
Be patient with each person, attentive to individual needs.
1 Thessalonians 5:14 MSG

Tonight I shared with Jason about how this topic as been on my mind.
It is a common theme in churches, reaching out into the community.
I'm not really even sure how God is working these thoughts out in me.
I'm not an extrovert, doing new things scares me, and stepping out in faith has always been a struggle.
But I can't ignore this desire I've felt to branch out, "launch" out into the community.
Is is it my physical community, this virtual community, a community not yet visited?
There is an overwhelming excitement and peace about it.
To reach others and be a light that magnifies the "God-colors in the world."
Not a one time event but a constant source of God's love.
Not about bringing the community to me or to a place, 
but going to all parts of the community in their space to help meet their needs.
To share their burdens.

I told Jason about the blessing bags I've seen on other blogs.
I even pinned a picture of it for reference.
Ziploc bags filled with hygiene items, snacks, socks, and other needs 
that are ready to hand out to those in need.  
To share God's love with them.
I think this is one the first things I want to work on with my family for our physical community.
I want my kids to help put them together, to pray over them and to hand them out.
To share ownership.
To be lights on the hilltop shining in their community.
Blessing bags (keep in car to give to homeless). via Beth Gleason
Source: Denise on pinterest

In this season of my life I'm praying about how God would use me in my community.
I am praying for an openness to what that might mean.
For faith in taking that first step.
For calmness when change may come.
For patience in His perfect timing.
For clarity of His plan and not mine.
For reminders that I am called to love others.
For thankfulness that I have this new passion and for where it might take me.

Through all this...
Finding the blessings,

Connecting with others:

Monday, January 30, 2012

Celebrating Life

It was exactly one year ago today that I had the chance to celebrate the upcoming arrival of Madelynn.
On Saturday, January 30, 2010, friends and family came together to help us "restock."
I probably wouldn't have had a baby shower if the kids were closer together.
Madelynn was a surprise and we had no baby things at all.
I had sold everything!

So we chose a day a month before her arrival to come and fellowship together.
It was just my style.
Gerber daisies and bold colors.
Finger foods and cheesecake for dessert.

It was a special day indeed.
So many important people in my life.


My cousin Donna was there but I don't have any pictures.

High school friends together again.

Neighbors who watched me grow up and are still a part of my life.


Many others that I don't have pictures of right now.
So many laughs and funny baby stories shared that day.
The loot taking over our living room.
I have to say that later that evening I had a moment of, "We're having a baby girl in one month!"

It was my intention to get thank you notes written to all these lovely ladies when I started my maternity leave.
I had two weeks of work to get through which meant sub plans to prepare.
I would have time to sit down starting the 15th.

Madelynn was born into Jesus' arms on Thursday the 18th.
The thank you notes were never written.
I struggled with what to do.
What was the protocol?
Things that could be returned to the store were returned.
Clothes and other baby things were given to a sweet family expecting their first baby girl.
A girl we watched grow up now becoming a mom.
You can see her sweet family at Jenna Rae and her day to day happenings.
This is Paige wearing one of the outfits we had bought for Madelynn.
It warmed my heart to see her wearing it.
Isn't she just beautiful!
I love checking in on Paige.
I feel a special connection to her.

I struggled with not sending notes of thanks and gratitude and think about it often.
These same friends were now bringing us meals and sending us sympathy cards.
What would I write in a card?

So today on this two year anniversary of that special day,
I want to thank each one of you for being a special part of my life.
For creating a special day.
For being there that day to celebrate life.
For bringing gifts to help us start our lives with Madelynn.
You all have a special place in my heart!

I'm going to close now.
My heart is heavy.
Please pray for us these next few weeks as we approach another birthday without our little girl!

Finding the blessings,

Weekend Wrap-up: Gallery Wall done

I can't believe it's the last weekend in January.
I really need time to slow down!!

This weekend I finished the gallery wall look I wanted for the wall in our master bedroom 
that you see when you enter.

The pictures aren't the best I've taken.
Especially of the wall.
Hard angle to photograph.
The other pics were at different times of the day and
I haven't become an expert of the manual camera settings yet.
So bear with me!

So here goes:

This is the before picture.
I bought the oval mirror at Rescued Treasures for $10.  
I was so lucky I bought two of them.
The other smaller frames came from one, two, three, or more of my thrifting trips ;)

Here's the set painted with a coat of Annie Sloan Chalk Paint in Paris Gray

Next I painted a coat of ASCP in Arles.
The pic of the mirror really shows the true color.

After the paint dried I did a layer of clear wax.
I then sanded to distress so that the gray would come through in spots.
I forgot to takes pics of that part.

But here it is.
My mini gallery wall.
I'll be hunting for a bench to set underneath it and for other little knick knacks.
Remember: bad angle for pics!

Now for fun:
I have been drawn to red and turquoise for some time now!
My mantle is a great mix of the colors I love.
On Saturday night I went to a craft group and we made a valentine's theme craft.
I painted a canvas bright red and let it dry.
Next, I painted it with a crackle medium.
On came the white, but hardly any crackle.
I'm new at crackling.
So I threw on some more crackle medium and then a layer of turquoise.
Then I did some "distressing."
I love the look.
The buttons were glued on with a hot glue gun.
It was very webby.
I didn't have the patience to fill it with buttons so I did an arrow.
It now hangs next to my mantle.
I "love" it!

Okay, not sure what my next projects will be.
I think I need to get back to making my necklaces and hair things.
Then on to opening an Etsy shop.
Gotta move this fabric :)

Finding the blessings,

I linked up over here:

Tip Junkie handmade projects

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Technology is not my Friend!

I started writing my weekend wrap-up at 6:30 pm.
My photos wouldn't upload to edit.
My laptop was running slower than molasses.
I switched to Jason's laptop and the problem was still there.
The post is half done.
I will post the wrap up tomorrow along with my Mondays are for Madelynn post.

So, for now I say goodnight before I throw these laptops up against a wall!

Finding the blessings,

Friday, January 27, 2012

No More Little Caesars

Sorry Little Caesar, we will not be eating your pizza anymore!
As part of my quest to save money and the result of a hectic night,
I decided to get Little Caesar's pizza.
$5.00 pizza, two crazy breads, total: $7.55.
My thought was that I would then have lunch for the kids today since I was low on bread.
It was a win win!

3:00 am:  Janell comes into our room,
"I think I'm going to throw up!"
Jason says go to the bathroom.
She runs to her bathroom (which is not the closest one) leaving a trail all the way!

Without going into too much detail,
let's just say we won't be eating crazy bread for a really long time.

Jason and I have been nauseous all day.
I ended up having to call in another sub.
Janell and I hung out on the couches in the loft all day!
I may or may not have done quite a bit of pinning today,
which has caused great restlessness because of all the great projects I want to do.
Oh, and Nathaniel apparently has an iron stomach.  
He went to school today unphased!

So, what did I learn last night when I veered from my eat at home plan?
Don't do it!
Eat at home even if it's tortillas and peanut butter with a banana.
Which I'm pretty sure is way healthier that Little Ceasar's Pizza!
I do believe God has taught me a lesson.
Does he teach lessons this way? 

Finding the blessings,

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Thankful for Opportunities

Well, folks, I'm beat!
Super tired.  It's been a really busy week in our house.
Jason has been working so hard this week getting ready for the church annual business meeting.
He's out the door before we are and home well after us.
So blessed by his hard work in serving our Lord.
I am thankful for what he does behind the scenes to get things ready.
He does way more than just get songs ready to sing.
I have to admit I just might be his biggest fan!

Tonight, I am thankful for how the precious life of Madelynn Lorene has blessed others.
I am thankful that through such a tragic event in our lives, 
I am able to help others as they travel this unwanted journey.
I am thankful that a mom and dad spent time with their precious son who was born into Jesus' arms last night.
I am thankful for the pictures that a gracious photographer came and took for them.
I am thankful for a dear friend of mine who asks questions 
so that she can be a support and encourager to her good friend 
whose walk down this road of infant loss began last night.

Tonight, I am thankful for little Andy who has only ever known the perfect peace of God.
Grateful for a loving God who carries us through the sorrow and anger.
Praying for his mommy and daddy that they may feel God's comfort tonight and for the rest of this journey.

Finding the blessings,

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

3rd Installment of What I Wish I Wore!

I can't believe it's already Wednesday again.
Today the kids stayed home from school.
Janell seems to be working on a cold/allergy thing.
Nathaniel was complaining of a stomach ache.
At 6:30 am I decided to just call in and stay home with the kiddos.
Good thing I did because when I got home from doing sub plans
my back starting aching soooooooo bad.
I was thankful to be at home in my bed.

So on to some fashion fun!
I think I'm getting close to taking pictures of my outfit shenanigans.
We'll see how lucky you all get :)

I've been having fun pinning away on Pinterest.

Here's this weeks drool fest brought to you by the color green!
Pinned Image

I really like all the pieces in the above pic. 
This shade of green is a fave color of mine. 
It reminds me of fresh starts, new beginning, and a revolution of sorts.
You know the saying, "The grass isn't always greener on the other side."
Well, sometimes you have to work hard to make the grass greener where you're standing right now.

The below pic has hints of green.
Not a fan of feather earrings, but love the purple and green with neutral clothes.
The green shoes, an absolute must.
I had a pair of green shoes but the poor things wore out!

Pinned Image
Pinned Image

These two outfits are adorable!!
For the top outfit I have a green cardigan sweater and the dark colored jeans.
Just need to go get a grey and white striped shirts and some shiny flats.
The bag looks to be the perfect size to carry by camera and goodies.

The outfit below is a winner!
I have the long sleeved black shirt already along with the jeans.
Added to my shopping wish list: a cute white shirt, green scarf, and green loafers.
It just screams, "Revolution!"
Time for change.
Get on it grow that greener grass!
Okay, maybe you don't hear the voices in my head, but they're saying these things.

Pinned Image

Source for all photos: polyvore.com via Denise on Pinterest

Well, I have to say that after pining over these outfits and the different accessories,
I'm in a much better mood.
Although I don't think I'll be able to shop soon.
I guess I better get on it and open up an Etsy shop to sell my necklaces, bags, and other goodies.
I can't hoard all these new creations that help maintain my sanity.
And, I'm going to need to fund this new fashion adventure!

What's your favorite color to wear? and why?

Finding the blessings,

I've linked up again with Lindsey at The Pleated Poppy and
What I Wore Wednesdays.
Gathering up my courage to take pics of myself.
Drooling over possibilities until then.
Go check out what cute outfits others are putting together!
pleated poppy

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Think Positive!

Most of the people reading this know that I go to GateWay Church.
They also know that my husband is the Worship Pastor.
He is the most awesome worship leader ever!
(I'm biased of course, but the man has a divine gift!)

Anyhow, I hadn't been to church in a while.
Like weeks.
This last Sunday I was superwoman.
Four dozen cookies baked, dishes rotated, kids dressed, me showered and dressed, 
and all to church by 10:30.
I left the cape at home :).

The sermon series is called, "Constructing the New You."
You know, with the new year and all.
The focus verses were Philippians 4: 1-9.
The goal was to see God at work in our life, 
and to do that there were six commitments to make.

Pastor Ed took us through sections of these verses and went over the commitments found in them

There is some really good stuff here:

#1-  Agree to disagree agreeably.  Vs. 1-3
"I urge Euodia and Syntyche to iron out their differences and make up.
God doesn't want his children holding grudges."  vs.2 MSG

Did you know that people who are connected to others
 are healthier than those who lead lonely, withdrawn lives?  
He had the research.  
They even fight colds better and faster.
As humans, I believe we were inherently designed with a desire and need to be connected to others.
We crave meaningful relationships.
And when those relationships are in strife we are miserable and feel broken.
This is not what God desires for us.
He desires us to extend grace as it was extended to us by Him.
Even when the situation seems impossible.
Think about about it, holding that grudge only sickens us.
Imagine the freedom that grace can allow us.
I believe he wants us to be in healthy relationships.

#2- Celebrate something. vs. 4-5
"Celebrate God all day, every day.  I mean, revel in him!" vs. 4 MSG

As I type this I have the choruses to two songs running through my head.

Sing along with me:
"Rejoice in the Lord always and again I say rejoice!
Rejoice in the Lord always and again I say rejoice!
and again I say Rejoice!
and I again I say Rejoice!"

"Yes Lord, Yes Lord, Yes Yes Lord!
Yes Lord, Yes Lord Yes Yes Lord!"

You sounded lovely,
How did I sound?
Please contact Jason if you think I should be on the praise team too!

#3- Worry about nothing. vs. 6a

Pastor Ed shared that worry is assuming responsibility God never intended for us to have.
I totally agree with that, but I do want to add that there are 
certain times when worry and anxiety is a mental/physical issue.  
I have struggled with it for years and significantly this last year.  
I will say that I have found myself in a place where 
I am less worried and more mindful of the blessings God has provided me.  
I am in a more positive frame of mind.  
Spending more time with Him and casting my worry and anxiety to
 Him who can handle it has eased my burden.

#4- Pray about everything. vs. 6b
Be specific.
I know that God knows what I need and don't need.
I do think He wants us to share our every concern with Him.
Just like our earthly dads want us to share with them,
our Heavenly Father desires that of us too.
So much so that he impressed these words upon Paul to share with the people.

#5- Thank God for anything. vs. 6c
"Thank you God for turning the light green just now!"
Raise your hands if you've prayed that prayer before!
A quick shout out to the Lord Almighty.
My hands up.
I remember someone sharing this same idea once.
We need to be thanking God for everything.
Not just the big stuff, but the day to day stuff.

"Don't fret or worry.
Instead of worrying, pray.
Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers,
letting God know your concerns." vs. 6

#6- Think about the right things. vs. 8-9
"Summing it all up, friends,
I'd say you'll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true,
noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious-
the best, not the worst;
the beautiful, not the ugly;
things to praise, not things to curse.
Put into practice what you learned from me,
what you heard and saw and realized.
Do that, and God, who makes everything work together,
will work you into him most excellent harmonies." vs. 8-9 MSG

I love the word choice from the Message version.

I will admit right now that I don't always dwells on the above attributes and qualities of others.
I easily get sucked into drama which is often negative in nature.
I can join in the conversation with the best of them.
I can spout my concerns or observations to Jason like nobody's business.
Yes' I'm shouting it at my computer, and myself, right now.
Now I know that there are times to be involved in serious discussions about important matters.
I just want to remind myself to make sure they are productive.
This is a work in progress.
Something I have to remind myself about daily, 
and when I screw up I dwell on it forever.
See commitment #1, don't hold a grudge against self, extend grace.

I need to refocus my thoughts to be on the qualities that Paul wrote about in verses 8-9.
Things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy.
I need to also put these qualities into practice.
Have I been lovely, admirable, or excellent?
I don't think this is about tooting my own horn as much 
as it means being an example of God's love and attributes to others.

And what will I get if I put this all into practice?

"Before you know it, 
a sense of God's wholeness, 
everything coming together for good,
will come and settle you down.
It's wonderful what happens when Christ displaces the worry at the center of your life."
vs. 7 MSG

Awe, yes.
It's is wholeness I seek.
Living a life that is good and reflective of His love for us.

Tonight, what are you thanking God for?
What do you need specific prayer for?
Tomorrow (or today), think about the good, the beautiful, the authentic and gracious things.

Finding the blessings,

Monday, January 23, 2012

She Was a Little Sister

Mondays are devoted to Madelynn.
To share the different aspects and experiences of losing a baby.

Today I want to share what is so easily forgotten.
She was a little sister.
Madelynn has a big sister, Janell, and a big brother, Nathaniel.
Two children who are now experiencing life without a little sister they so wanted and waited for.

As it gets closer to her birthday I start to recall those days leading up to and after as if it was yesterday.
There are so many things I would have done differently.
We chose not to have the kids come to the hospital to see Madelynn.
We were is such shock and I don't think we really thought it through. 
There was really no one there to walk us through it or to share things we might want to do.
We decided to have them come to the hospital Friday after school.
We told them there that their little sister and died and was now in Heaven with Grandma Ethel.
She was sick and couldn't live here with us.
It was the most awful thing I've ever had to do.
They were practically running in the room expecting to see their baby sister.
Poor Jason and I lost it.

Shortly after being home we received the pictures of Madelynn taken in the hospital.
I shared with Jason that I wanted to show the pictures to the kids that night.
There was one good picture we shared with them.
We talked about her and what she looked like.
We made each of them a picture to keep in their rooms.
Nathaniel calls her his "Sweet Angel"
I wrote that on her picture for him.
I found this frame in the closet.
I'm pretty sure it was a gift from my sister to me.
It once held a picture of us together.
How perfect a frame for Janell,
"Sisters: A sister is an angel that you can depend on."

Oh how I wish we would have had them come be with us and with her.
They were old enough to understand.
They needed to be a part of that experience of saying goodbye to their sister.
Kids are resilient.  They would have been okay.
It would have saved them from so many questions that continue to this day.
Nathaniel asks the most.
Such honest remarks like,
"Why does she have to by under the ground?
Can't you just lift up the stone?
I miss her.
I wish I could go to Heaven right now to see her!"

Through all that was going on in those first days home, I forgot to check in with my kids.
You see I had told Janell that when she went to school she didn't need to tell anyone what had happened.
I was concerned about her saying things like, "My baby sister died."
I was worried about what other kids would think and how to deal with it.
She was a second grader.
She went to school the Monday after Madelynn died.
Life continues on as normal.  Wrong!

I remember one day walking to school to pick Janell up from afterschool care.
I needed to get out of the house.
I walked in to pick her up.
The ASA teacher asks, "Where's the baby?"
Gulp, stunned, shocked, what do I say?
"There is no baby," I barely got that out.
I assumed they knew what happened.
I turned around and walked out.
I thought my 8 year old daughter had shared with them.

As we walked away I asked Janell why she hadn't told them.
She said, "because you told me not to say anything."
Oh what had I done?
Expecting a little girl to share adult news to adults.
At that moment I realized that I neglected her feelings of losing a sister and 
watching her mommy and daddy in such turmoil.

I kept her home with me the next day.
We went out to get her hair cut.
I asked her what she was thinking about everything.
Her thoughts, "I miss my sister."
I affirmed her in her feelings.  I missed her too.
I told her it was okay to talk about Madelynn.
She would always be her little sister now in Heaven.
I shared that I didn't want her to ever be afraid to talk about her and how she felt.

It has been almost two years.
It is still fresh in our hearts and minds.
The kids still talk about her and ask questions.
We drive by the cemetery every day on the way home from school.
Today there was a rainbow that looked like it was going right into the cemetery.
We drove in to drive by, "Madelynn's place," as Nathaniel called it.
We made sure her flowers were still there.

It doesn't get easier.
It's painful to think about the kids not having their little sister.
It's hard to hear the comments and questions that come from their young hearts.
I remind myself daily that it isn't just the parents that suffer.
They need extra loving on.
Extra hugs to know they are loved, safe, and protected.

Now when we go out and take pictures we take the "M" with us.
She is always included in a set of pictures.
She is always with us and with them.

The Red Basket is Madelynn's basket.

She was a little sister.

If you know a family that has experienced loss,
would you take moment to say a prayer for the brothers or sisters of that baby?
Maybe get them a little something with the baby's name or initial.
Something that tells them that they are important and their feelings are valued.
To remember that the baby was a little brother or sister.

Finding the blessings,

This post is linked up with Casey Wiegand.
Come see what others are sharing from their hearts.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Two Projects Done

Well, I've been a busy bee.
Last weekend I started a project for my master bedroom.
Our room has a double door entrance. 
When you walk in the door there is a wall that you see.
My plan was to make a gallery type wall display.
The focal piece is an oval mirror with small frames around it.
In those smaller frames I want to black and white things and pictures.
As I'm prepping this post I realized that I didn't take pics of the final looks of the frames and mirrors.
So, guess that means you'll have to wait until next weekend.

But here's a special treat to hold you over.
I added a drawer pull to the chalkboard from last weekend to serve as a chalkholder.
I picked up the beauty from a picking trip with some friends.
It completes the chalkboard.
Thanks Jaime from the Baeza Blog for the idea.

Now onto yesterday's project.
My parents gave me this end table.
It was my first furniture project.

Here's the details:
My family room colors are turquoise and red.
The plan for this piece was to sand it a bit.
Then paint it in ASCP old white.
When that I dried I did a lime wash of  ASCP's emperor's silk (red).
After that dried I painted it in ASCP's Provence (turquoisey blue).
I waxed, distressed, waxed, dark wax for added history, and then waxed again.
I love how it turned out for my first piece.
I like the rusticy, vintagey, look.
Hope you like my new words there.
So here's a picture tour:
(sorry about the pics.  They're not my best.  
My computer is running slow and I'm impatient and don't want to
wait to edit them before I post.)

 (See example of impatience)
Who wants to watch paint dry when you can help it along?

 I was on a mission last evening to find the right things to set on it.
I want a red lamp and something vintage to put in the cubby area.
Just like the chalkboard, I'll finish it and then post a completed pic later.

Well, now onto bigger and greater things I suppose.
I'm telling you it is fun to work with this paint.
I'm figuring out little things along the way.
I got the Annie Sloan Chalk Paint at Embellish and Restore.
Check them out on Facebook too.
They have a studio downtown.

What fun projects are you working on?
If you have any questions about this project let me know.
This post is short without a lot of explanation today.
I'm tired.  The Niners/Giant took it out of me. :)

Finding the blessings,

I've linked up these projects to these blogs:
Go check them out for lots of fun ideas!!

Thirty Hand Made Days