May 31, 2012

Embrace The Pace

So as I was running last week, I realized that the motto of the town we're currently living in is "Embrace the pace."

This is not a coincidence.

Then, I started to look around. Everyone really does "embrace the pace." (Did you know that was possible?) Maybe it's summer... maybe it's the average age of town residents... or maybe it's just small-town Indiana... but whatever it is, it's therapeutic.

Anywho, you know you're Embracing The Pace when you find horse and buggy parking at your favorite hometown grocer...

And anyone who has time to shingle their mailbox is certainly Embracing The Pace...

My Father-In-Law, henceforth known as FIL, delicately Embraces The Pace as he gives his grand kids "tractor rides"...

And I have found that the world's most gigantic playpen will allow me to Embrace all sorts of Paces this summer as The Boy is trapped in one location *insert evil laugh*...

I don't know if it's a Pace that we're Embracing as MIL and FIL do this gigantic addition on their house (aka Temporary Dwelling #1), but we're certainly enjoying watching the daily progress...

And, how can you not Embrace The Pace as you watch your laundry spin in the sun?

Life is good. I'm Embracing The Pace.

May 30, 2012

It is finished

It's hard to believe we've been living in our new digs more than a week already, and yet at the same time, it's hard to believe its only been a week. Youknowwhatimean?

Anyway, the move was quite eventful...

At first we were being cute and silly

Nothing like some Martin's doughnuts to energize you on moving day!

Then, The Hubby pulled in with the BIG truck.
(FYI- It did not have the air-brakes he was hoping for.)

At this point, the piano movers hadn't showed up, so there was still time for cute photos.

Fast forward about four hours. So many of our dear small group friends showed up and we unloaded the house in nothing flat! Unfortunately, we loaded the truck in nothing flat and realized we'd have to make two trips to West Lafayette. That wasn't on the weekend agenda, but we were thankful for unlimited mileage!

So, with tired kids ready to sleep their way to Memaw's, I took off in our fully-loaded van (not fully loaded as in DVD players and automatic doors... think over sized framed art). I was about 7 minutes into the 2+hour drive when Hubby called.

Hubby: The truck is stuck in the driveway.
Me: That's so funny. What did you really call about?
Hubby: I'm not joking. I can't go forward or backwards. It's wedged in.
Me: So..... what are we going to do?
Hubby: You need to come back here and we need to start unloading the truck.
Me: ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME? We just spent 4 hours loading it with the help of ten people!
Hubby: I'm not sure what else to do. Just come back.

This is what I saw when I pulled up. An exasperated Hubby... and Neighbor Man with a jack.

 It wasn't looking good, no matter what angle one chose....

That would be the divots in our CONCRETE driveway from our weighty load. 

Well, in a short 6 minutes, one very wise neighbor came up with the idea of putting something under each rear tire to give it just enough lift that when Hubby gunned the engine the truck would come loose. (All I could see was the rear bumper coming off the Penske.) Luckily, Neighbor Man was much smarter than me and we were FREEEEE. On the road... again... for real...

I'll spare you ALL the details of the unloading in West Lafayette. There were three different drop off locations (everything is in storage) and minimal helpers. Needless to say, when our 14-hour day ended at 11:30pm we fell asleep quickly.

At 8:30 Sunday morning we were on the road again. We were on a mission to be at 11am church (our last time of worship with our peeps) and then to a sweet, sweet going away open house. I will never forget the words that our friends spoke to us. So much encouragement and truth and Jesus.

But enough of that... time for truckload #2 to be loaded. There's not much, I thought. Thankfully some dear (ie WISE) friends showed up to help us a second day in a row, and we packed the truck again... full.

 Meanwhile... the kids found places to nap...

And, for the second time in one day, I saw SR 25 from Rochester to Lafayette. Trust me, this is not something to put on one's bucket list.

Here's drop zone #2 of three...

The hilarity came at 11:30 Sunday night, as me and The Hubby made our way to Embrace The Pace at our temporary home #1. There was quite a lightening storm going on in the distant countryside around us (think summer storm, fun to watch on a porch.) It was super windy, but not raining hard. As we slowed on SR 25 to turn on to US 31, I asked if Hubby would mind taking over the wheel. Without hesitation, we did a Chinese fire drill. However, we forgot to establish who would be taking which route around the exterior of the car and then ***BAM***, we cracked heads. I'm talking full-on, no-time-to-stop, leave-a-goose-egg-or-black-eye contact. We both climbed back into the van with a hand over an eye, and laughed. We gut laughed. We could hardly breathe because of the hilarity of that moment... or that day... or that weekend... or that event.

God was faithful in providing help... safe travels... and moments to cling to Him.

He. Is. Good.

So tomorrow, it is finished. We officially close on our house and walk like the Israelites did. No home. No certain future. Just us and the Lord.

The Great Adventure is in full swing.

May 22, 2012

the Real me and the Purple Dress

I was invited to speak at our final MOPS meeting of the year last Thursday, and this is the message God laid on my heart to share. It's just a glimpse of the real me...

I am obsessed with time.

I am a planner, and I’m pretty sure I’m OCD- a lethal combination. But this year, God has been refining me in this area.

In August, after months of prayer, with a 3 month old and 3.5 year old, God called me into full time ministry as a full time mom This was not an easy decision to come to. Not only was our household income going to be cut in half, but … What does that even look like? I don’t know how to be a full-time stay-at-home mom. I remember calling a girlfriend and asking, “So, what do you do all day? What is your routine?” Some women are born to be moms. They’re cute, and crafty… they’re the ones behind Pinterest! And, though I like to be cute and creative with my kids, I often need an example of what or how.  

Ez 36:26 says, “ I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” What I didn’t realize was happening this year was divine heart surgery.

I  had established myself as a Real Estate expert. I thrived on a full schedule of showings, closings, listing appointments, training new agents… and then came everything else… including my husband and kids. I didn’t realize how stony my heart had become until I was asked this question: For what kinds of satisfaction are you investing time, energy and money?

What kinds of satisfaction? Well, honor, name recognition, prestige… everything was about my three favorite people… me, myself and I. It was about the business I had built… the connections I had made… the clients I was taking care of… the money I was bringing in…  

2 Chronicles 7:14 says, “If my people will humble themselves & pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” I wanted God to hear me and I wanted to be forgiven and healed, but I didn’t want to be humble, pray or turn from my selfish ways.

I decided I needed to make more of an effort in scripture memorization. The first verse I chose was Philippians 4: 4-8, which says, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your request to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” Let your gentleness be evident to all. I am anything but gentle! I'm not super compassionate, busy, forward-focused… no time to slow and certainly no time to be gentle.

Shortly after starting to pray about this decision to be home fulltime—before the actual decision had been made—I went to a conference in Indy with some girlfriends called “Women of Faith.” One of the speakers talked about the pain of staying same v. pain of change. I had never thought about that. We all think of the pain of change… like I mentioned… giving up income… giving up business suits… and luncheons. But what about the pain of staying the same? If I kept on, I would miss so much more… and things I had never even considered at that point in my life. Another speaker at that conference talked about “pruning your life.” Stepping back and looking at everything and then asking yourself a tough question… well, tough for someone like me who wants to be involved in everything and not “waste” a moment of the day. The question was: What is God calling me to end?

Okay, okay, Lord. I’m getting it. I don’t have it yet, but I’m getting it.

I had asked for a lot of people’s wisdom and advice as I was making this decision, and someone told me this: Watch out for compulsion, God’s ways are orderly. That was so good for me to hear, as I’m a very quick decision maker! Then I read Ecclesiastes 3:1, which says, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven…”

Okay, Lord. I got it now. I have my whole life to work… and make contacts… and do what I’m passionate about outside of the home. But right now, there are two little people that are growing up and I’m missing it.

This decision to stay home was confirmed later into the fall as I started a bible study on Acts with a group called Bible Study Fellowship, or BSF. It has had a HUGE impact on my life this year—and my decision to be home full time. As the teaching leader gave her introductory lesson on the book of Acts, she said “Acts is about ordinary people doing extraordinary things for God, empowered by the Holy Spirit.” She then posed two questions: Am I so busy that I miss what God has for me? Um… yes! And, what am I busy doing that will last for eternity? Ouch. Not much.

2 Timothy 2:21 says, “If a man cleanses himself from the later, he will be an instrument for noble purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work.” I had made my decision. I wanted to be ready to be used—can’t be tired, over committed or distracted.

So this last year has been incredible. God has used my husband, our kids, my girlfriends, our financial situation, my calendar, and so many other means to speak to me and remind me of His presence. I read this quote somewhere, and I think as moms it’s so true: Great opportunities may come once in a while but small opportunities surround us every day.

Let me tell you the story of the purple dress.
One day, I revealed to The Girl my stash of bridesmaid dresses, which I keep in our guest room closet. She absolutely LOVES to dress me up in them. She would pick out the whole ensemble and then we'd pretend I was going to a "ball" or we'd just dance around the room. This was fun for a bit, but tending to an infant in that get-up was nearly impossible, and oftentimes I cut the game short. One night she was insistent that I go and put on "the purple dress." Over and over she talked about "the purple dress." Well, I don’t have any purple bridesmaids dresses and just couldn’t understand her persistence. It ended in tears when I told her to stop asking me… it was time for dinner… then bed. We had had fun in the other dresses. End. Of. Story. Or so I thought....

That night I walked into my closet and saw this:

Shoes, necklace, headband and ring…. all perfectly laid out under my purple dress... in my closet.

All I could do was sob, and beg God for forgiveness. And the worst part was I couldn’t undo it with The Girl. She was asleep and by morning, being a 3.5-year-old, she would have completely forgotten it.

So, I’m learning. I don’t have the full-time stay-at-home-mom thing all figured out. I’m messing up daily, like I did with the purple dress, but I’m learning from my mistakes.

About two weeks ago, The Girl started begging to paint my nails. I was always finding something else to do that required dry fingernails… make dinner, change a diaper… clean the house. Suddenly, I thought of the purple dress. As soon as I got Jack down for a nap, I told The Girl to go get the nail polish. She was so pumped. And then, for 20 short minutes, we sat in the kitchen as she delicately held each of my fingers and toes and gave me a manicure and pedicure. I will never forget that.

Luke 9:23 says “Then he (Jesus) said to them all: ‘If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it.”

What really matters to you? When Christ’s return is near possession, status, power mean nothing. It’s all about relationships. Who are you influencing?

May 16, 2012

The Influencers

Things are winding down. The "Michiana" chapter of our family book is coming to its completion. It's so deeply saddening, and yet so confirming as well.

This September it will have been seven years since we purchased our first home in this area. A home we planned to live in two or three years, not because we'd be moving a block away, but because we'd be moving to Indianapolis. But, God, in his infinite wisdom, had something far better for us here. And now, 6.5 years later, I can see it too.

Our lives have been deeply impacted by so many different people. Here, we went from young marrieds to a young family, and God strategically planted His people along the way to encourage and bless us.

Neighbors- Helen, Roger, Gary, Tom, Barb, Muff, Kim, Jason, Holly, Joe... I could go on and on. How is it possible that in owning three homes we could have been blessed by such amazing neighbors?? You cut our hedges that were on your property... made dinners for us as we attempted parenthood... mowed our grass just because... and showered us with free babysitting and endless children's clothing. In a nutshell, you taught us, mere children, how to be great neighbors. We will carry your friendships with us throughout our life.

Pastors- Rick, Brent, Kyle, Jay, Collin... you guys are so amazing! God put us under your wings to learn what it means to be members of a church. You shepherded us through periods of incredible growth in our individual walks with the Lord, and as we figured out what that meant as a couple. We are so thankful for each of you, and pray God's richest blessings as you continue in your various calls to shepherd His flock.

Uprising Class-  Our first friends as Mr & Mrs. We never treasured enough our short time together-- especially those days pre-kids. ;) Game nights, cross-country skiing, dessert at Yesterdays- we cherish the memories. And now, even as we're scattering to all parts of the country, we remain thankful in our prayers for you. Those that are still here, we've clung tightly to... and those that have already moved have given us hope for what's next for us on this earth. We love you.

Grace Church Family- You are our people. You are our family. What can we even say to express how much we love you. You have encouraged us, prayed for us, spurred us on, loved us. We have loved serving with you and for you. Granger is being touched by you. Blow the walls out. We can't wait to come back and worship with you. Pray for us.

Small Group Peeps- Past and present... our brothers and sisters who know our deepest grime, yet still love us and want to be in relationship with us. Tuesday nights have always been our favorite. Doing life with you all has blessed us more than words can express. Thank you for your prayer covering as we go forward.

MOPS gals- It has been a mere two years....not nearly long enough. However, you have taught me that I'm not insane. I walk into that room on Thursday mornings, and instantly I'm normal. Thank you for your willingness to come alongside me.

BSF women- How good is our God? I just had to look around my discussion groups to be reminded. All different walks of life... all different past experiences... all learning about the same God. God used you to teach me so much. Genesis, Romans, Isaiah, Acts of the Apostles... four incredible studies that rocked my world.

Cressy & Everett Associates- Why you let a cocky, young know-it-all like me in to those doors is beyond me. You are professional, courteous, educated, wise... I could go on and on. Six months ago I hung up my Michiana Real Estate hat, but it will forever hang on your hook. You taught me, and even let me train you. What a blast. And Sue, you're one in a million. There are no words to express how thankful I am for your leadership and example.

WSBT co-workers- In nine years, there have been many of you. Thank you for taking my Hubby in, allowing him to do what he loves, and sending him home relatively unscathed. He has been challenged and grown, and remains passionate about good journalism. Thank you for never making me feel like an outsider... and for trusting me to sell so many of your homes. ;)

Boyfriend, turned Baby-Daddy- You are my very best friend. We started this journey as individuals, and are on to the next adventure arm in arm, and with two beautiful Blessings in tow. How are we this deserving? Thank you for your encouragement as I've attempted to figure out what it means to be your wife, and the mother of our kids. I thank God for every single morning that I get to wake up next to you. My only expectation is that you please keep pointing me to Jesus. If anyone knows how desperately I need that, it's you. Okay? Alright. Lets do this, Love.

Michiana, you've been good to me. My life is different because of the 6.5 years I've lived here. Thank you.

May 8, 2012

The Adventure begins...

The new "normal" looks something like this...

A suitcase? No, no, no, my friends, that's The Hubby's dresser! It's taking everything in me to leave it as-is (and not fold everything properly), but alas, there are boxes to be packed.

In cleaning out said dresser, which had supposedly been recently cleaned out, The Hubby found this...

Yes, it's a sterile urine collection container... from a pre-natal appointment... from when I might have been pregnant... with our now 13-month-old. But, yes, I'm sure he cleaned his dresser out... about 18 months ago.

Meanwhile, I found some snow on top of our game cabinet in the family room...

Lets get serious. You should have been more concerned had I NOT found that much dust up there. I mean, really, when was the last time you cleaned the tops of your cabinets??

And just like that, The Great Adventure has begun.

May 3, 2012

Sweet sweat

Today I went for a run for the first time in 10 days. Between the thick, wet air and a gut full of a delicious MOPS brunch, I thought I might die... or puke... or just pass out. Of the many weird things about me, when I work out, I don't sweat until I stop exercising. I know, bizarre.

So, today was no different, except for the amount of sweat. It was rolling off me. My shirt was soaked. I felt legit in my efforts to be athletic.

The Hubby had to rush off to work, so we high-fived, gave a kiss, and off he went. It was just me and The Boy. And, my sweat. As I let The Boy down from his high-chair, I was surprised that even in my stinky, ringing wet state, he wanted to be held. And not just held, but he wanted to be snuggled.


"I know I'm your mom, and I'm thankful you love me no matter what, but Little Dude, I STINK!"

And then it hit me. It's just like Jesus.

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." -Matthew 11:28

When you stink, come to Jesus.
When you're sweaty, come to Jesus.
When you're struggling, come to Jesus.

No matter what. No matter when.

You don't clean yourself up to go to your Father.

I let myself lay on the floor, and I laughed (not in disgust) as my son crawled all over me. He nuzzled me. He wrestled me. He didn't give one care or concern to my odorous state of being.

Matthew went on to say this, "Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."

So, where are you finding rest? Are you trying to clean up your sweaty-self before going to Jesus? Are you being honest with Him and yourself about the reality of your sin?

Thank you, Jesus, for using the sweet sweat and an adorable one-year-old to remind me of how much you love me.

May 2, 2012

Miss Independent

For weeks, I've been wanting a pedicure.
For days, The Girl has been begging to paint my nails.

So, yesterday I got what I hope will be the first of many precious in-house salon experiences.

I knew it was going be a little... imperfect... when the paint brush strokes went side-to-side on my nail bed.

I couldn't resist taking this next picture (below). In fact, I made her pause her work to go and get the camera for me. (My toes were still wet!) I just love her focus, and the way she so delicately held my aging finger in her tiny hand.

Then, my heart broke a bit. How many of these precious "imperfect" moments have I missed over the last four years?
... when the laundry seemed more important...
... or I had a contract to write with clients...
... or needed to get dinner started...
... or dishes done... or return an email...

I'm wearing these nails with pride... all 20 of 'em. (We had to count them as she blew on each, individual nail bed to dry them more quickly.)

They're messy. They're imperfect. But the time-invested in getting them this way is one of those little nuggets I'll hide in my heart for the rest of my life.

I love you, Sweet Girl. Thanks for your persistence in getting me to slow down.