Thursday, March 31, 2011

How we began...


Many have asked me to put my wedding story in writing.  So here goes...:)

Six years ago, I lived in New Orleans and served in full time ministry to inner-city girls.  I loved my job, my life, and many of the girls were like they were my own.  I also strongly desired to be married and have children.  Devoted to the girls, and living in the inner-city, it was hard to meet guys that were following after God's heart.  So after six years of ministry, I tried out the online dating scene.  I kept this secret for fear of being teased, until one day I actually met someone.

This someone happened to also live in New Orleans about ten minutes away from me.  We chatted online and it was strange that we seemed to get each other and finish each others sentences.  After connecting so well online, my online pen pal gave me a phone call.  We talked on the phone a couple of times and then we decided to meet (at a public place during the day).  We met at the Audobon Zoo, had lunch, and then went to the Aquarium.  During our full day date, we really hit it off and were together almost every day the following week.

My first impressions of him that I can remember:  Tall with blue me there!  Very smart, he named every species of bird and fish that we saw.  Outdoorsy and adventurous...a fun match for me!  Also a believer, he had come to Christ in college as did I.

My girls really liked him too.  They called him Tim McGraw.  Because, of course, he looks just like him.  Well not really, but to some all white people look alike. :)

We talked and got to know each other pretty quickly.  From the start, our relationship was not about just going out and having a good time, but about discovering if we could be life partners in marriage.  So we talked about our ideas of family, our backgrounds and baggage, thoughts about ministry and race, thoughts about adoption, thoughts about Christ and church.

I convinced him to move into the ghetto and room with a guy friend of mine.  The purpose was two-fold, one so that said friend could get to know him and give approval and two so that I could see if he would live out what he said about willingness to live among the poor.  He passed on both accounts.

We also visited each others families and after dating for less than six months we were engaged.  I believe in short engagements and low cost weddings.  Our wedding date was set for Oct. 1, 2005 with an engagement of less than four months.  We made plans and spent little to have the perfect wedding with a jazz band and soul food in Audobon park under an amazing canopy of oaks.


Monday, March 28, 2011

Gratitude list.

298.  Emptiness that only God can fill
299.  that He is reliable
300.  my birthday boy!
301.  Celebrating with friends and family
302.  Hopeful news
303.  Date night, movie and the beach.
304.  Nana- a set of helping hands for me and a playmate for the boys
305.  Exersaucers, bumbos, and boppys

Friday, March 25, 2011

Project Simplify- Week Three

This week our Project Simplify focus was on kids toys and clothes.  Because this is an ongoing project at my house with two rapidly growing little boys, my results are not as dramatic as Week One or Week Two.

I did find this project a little more difficult in the sense that I couldn't work on the project at night and it was hard to see progress as toys sorted were continuously unsorted and played with.  Being a little more scatter brained, I missed out on a few photos.

Here is the closet before. Big brother's nice shirts are hanging on the left and little brother's are on the right.  Underneath, between the baskets and the hanging clothes, becomes a catch all place for things without a home.  The baskets on the left have t-shirts and the right have shorts.  The baskets fall out continuously dumping their contents on the floor. :(

Not much change to be seen.  I was able to get rid of some of the clothes and a little of the clutter.

At the top of the closet are space saver bags full of clothes waiting for the boys to grow into.  It's not the prettiest thing in the world, but it is hidden in the closet and when the clothes were in bins they took up 3x the space.  With limited space, these bags are my best solution.  However, if I had it to do all over again, I'd probably weed out some of the clothes.

The rest of the clothing resides here.  Labeled bins for socks/underwear/hats.  Drawers for pjs, onesies, baby shorts and pants.  One drawer at the bottom is devoted to big brothers pants and long sleeves. On top there is a basket for stockpiled diapers and one for wipes (all bought when on sale or given at showers).

One drawer of baby clothes before.

Clothes pulled out to be sorted and stored or gotten rid of.

Clothes now sorted and gone.  Baskets house shoes, burp rags, wipes and diapers.

Toys before.
Toys after.  Books sorted. A few to sell.  A few that were falling apart to trash.  Toys sorted. A few to get rid of.  Broken ones to trash.
I keep toys to be rotated in stored here.

This is an after shot of our other toy space.  The basket housed books that are now on the shelf to make room for baby toys.  Some new toys were rotated into the bins.  An empty bin awaits new toys.  Bigger cars are parked on the shelves.

All in all this was a good week to keep the system I began a few months ago running.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Who's on the throne?

I've been reading The Pursuit of God, by A. W. Tozer,  on my Iphone (most ereaders have a version of this for less than $1). I am being challenged beyond anything I would have imagined. Chapter two, The Blessedness of Possessing Nothing, really hits home and has me examining my heart in many areas.

I realize that there are many idols in my heart.  The past few months I've thought about this and tried to change some of these ways.  It is, however, impossible for ME to do, as strong as my resolve may be.  So these few months, I have been more aware of them, and acknowledged them, but haven't gotten much further in the process of dismantling them and having God reign on the throne of my heart.

Now I am entering a great struggle, a struggle to surrender.  It would be so much easier if there was a step by step plan that I could follow to get my heart right.  However, only through surrendering, will anything be accomplished.  I simply have to loosen the grip on all that I treasure and allow God to have it all and for Him to occupy the throne of my heart.

This has been a very emotional process for me as I struggle to trust Him as Lord and His ways higher than my ways.  I'm praying that He would open my eyes to the idols I construct, and that one by one, I could let go of them and He could reign in their place.

Here are a few quotes from the chapter:

"There is within the human heart a tough fibrous root of fallen life whose nature is to possess, always to possess. It covets "things" with a deep and fierce passion.  The pronouns "my" and "mine" look innocent enough in print, but their constant and universal use is significant.  ... God's gifts now take the place of God, and the whole course of nature is upset by the monstrous substitution."

"There can be no doubt that the possessive clinging to things is one of the most harmful habits in the life."

"We are often hindered from giving up our treasures to the Lord out of fear for their safety; this is especially true when those treasures are loved relatives and friends.  But we need have no such fears. Our Lord came not to destroy but to save.  Everything is safe which we commit to Him, and nothing is really safe which is not so committed."

"Let him come to God in full determination to be heard.  Let him insist that God accept his all, that He take things out of his heart and Himself reign there in power.  It may be he will need to become specific, to name things and people by their names one by one.  If he will become drastic enough he can shorten the time of his travail from years to minutes and enter the good land long before his slower brethren who coddle their feelings and insist upon caution in their dealings with God."

"If we are set upon the pursuit of God He will sooner or later bring us to this test."

Monday, March 21, 2011

So many gifts

278.  Encouraging words
279.  Lots of other kids for my boys to grow up with
280.  Boys on tricycles, big wheels, and scooters
281.  A clean desk, one more step in decluttering
282.  Forgiveness
283.  Warm honey/lemon water
284.  Sunglasses
285.  Learning about photography and software
286.  Seeing through a lens
287.  Covenants and the great covenant keeper.
288.  Mothering my boys through sickness in the middle of the night
289.  God's glory displayed all around me
290.  That He can transform those who faint into those who soar
291.  Little artists
292.  Bike and Car wash
293.  Andrew asking for us to read his storybook Bible to Him.
294.  Tummy-time
295.  Books, devotions, and Bibles to read on my phone
296.  A growing relationship with my Lord and Savior
297.  A family's expanding heart as they welcome in a little girl orphaned no longer

Friday, March 18, 2011

Project Simplify-Week Two

This weeks challenge for Project Simplify was paper clutter.  I've actually been working on reducing paper clutter for months and so this before picture is really a 60% already done picture.  Though I attempt to declutter my desk often, I never finish.  I always have a pile (or piles) that I cannot find a home for or plan on getting to soon.  This pile moves from place to place and from declutter session to declutter session.

I also wish I had taken more before pictures.  Underneath the desk is stuffed full of things that have no home in my house.  To the right of the desk, there is a basket piled high with small gifts to give to the kids and other random objects.

The desk is my official black hole and hasn't seen daylight in about six years.

The picture below is actually a kind of after picture.  There usually is a pile of papers consisting of mail and coupons to be dealt with that grows and breeds clutter right next to the microwave.  I cleared it a couple of weeks ago, it was about half the height of the microwave.  On the counter in this picture is urgent paperwork.
I now have an outgoing slot on my desk for such paperwork.

Having a clean counter makes me smile and is so hard to keep up.  Random objects from home projects, junk mail, trash, and toys always end up here.  I have decided to have a "put away" box just inside the garage.  Whenever I find thing not in their place, they will go there.  If someone comes looking for said objects, they will be pointed to the box.

The desk picture below is unreal to me.  I have a strange sense of unfamiliarity about it, because I have grown so use to seeing clutter there.  And as I look closer, there is a piece of paper to be thrown away peeking out from underneath the desk.

Most of this project consisted of putting away and filing piles of important paperwork.  I did however fill a recycle bin and a trash can full of items that were not needed.

To see what others are doing or to participate in Project Simplify,  click on the button below:

Hope of Renewal

Ever feel like you just can't move another step, you're just to tired.  The finish line awaits before you, but nothing of yourself can get you there.   I'm so tired and still in survivor mode.  I don't think clearly and move from one place to another step by step, but almost lifeless as I am just trying to get through the day.  Anger and impatience have gotten the best of me.  I have forgotten to be thankful, to count the gifts graced to me.

While decluttering I make several trips outside to the recycle bin and the trash.  Late in the evening, the clear sky almost beckons my name. Similar to Isaiah 40 (my favorite chapter in the Bible).  

"Look to the heavens..."

Breathing in the crisp night air I freeze in my tracks. Looking up, my soul says, "Wow! Look at that!"  Bright light from the moon reflects off of clouds to look like white caps in the ocean.  Stars scatter between them.  Coolness of the air helps me breath new life.

"Who created all these?"  
"Yes, I know, Lord, I'm so sorry.  You amaze me and I wander so far still. I am so so sorry.

"He who brings out their host by number,
calling them all by name,
by the greatness of his might,
and because he is strong in power
not one is missing."

I don't want to go back inside, back to the chaos that I create for myself.  I remain still, on my sidewalk somewhere between my front door and the garbage bins.  "I need you, Lord."

 "Why do you say, O Jacob,
and speak, O Israel,
'My way is hidden from the LORD,
and my right is disregarded by my God'?

So true.  I try to manage on my own, like You are not even here.  I run in my own strength, only to fail.  Foolishly, I think this path is to hard.  Indeed it is-- for me.

"Have you not known? Have you not heard?
The LORD is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint or grow weary;
his understanding is unsearchable."

But God, you make burdens light. Everlasting One, how amazing that you do not faint or grow weary! Creator of all, often I think I know the plan and how to execute it, but You KNOW for it is your own.  My understanding is so limited and yours is unsearchable. 

"He gives power to the faint,
and to him who has no might he increases strength.
 Even youths shall faint and be weary,
and young men shall fall exhausted;
 but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
they shall walk and not faint."

This brings so much hope every time I remember it.  Lord, help me REMEMBER!  Thank you for your power given to the faint, to me.  I'm amazed that you can change me from almost lifeless to soaring on wings like eagles.  I need you now.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Counting Gifts

I've been in a daze lately.  Exhausted.  I've quickly learned that having two children means having quadruple the sickness when someone comes down with something.  On top of that, my husband's busy work schedule makes it more of a challenge.  So, I've fell behind in this new habit of thanksgiving in the moment and truthfully have not lived each moment fully.  I've been in more of a survivor mode.  Thankful for GRACE and praying for a renewed mind and spirit.

266. Sleep.
267.  My "big boy" sleeping in his "big bed"
268.  Four boys and two Mamma's in my Tahoe for a playdate.
269.  Alarm clock that turns green for my son when it's ok to get out of bed.
270.  A clean wardrobe.
271.  A restaurant gift card from a friend providing a family night out
272.  Clean clothes.
273.  That He does not get tired are weary
274.  Depending on the One who is most dependable.
275.  Memories of friends lost.
276.  New Orleans, the time I had there and the way it changed me.
277.  The ability to reconnect with family and see old family photos on facebook.
My Great Grandmother and Great Grandfather

Friday, March 11, 2011

Project Simplify- Week One

In my previous post, I mentioned project simplify and that I needed to participate in this fun way to clean my home.
So, brace yourself, here are my results of week one's project.  

There is no shame in these before photos; I can be a real mess inside and out.  But just wait till you see the final product.

Here you have my wardrobe, next to my dresser.  Clothes piled everywhere.  Most of them I don't wear.

Here is a close up of the bottom of the wardrobe.  Mostly shoes I don't wear, clothes I've shoved from the top of my dresser, clothes that have fallen off of their hooks, other random objects.

There is no before picture of the inside of my drawers.  Do you really need one?  More of the same, trust me.

I spent one evening after the boys were in bed sorting, trying on, and tossing stuff.  I ended up with one full garbage bag of things to toss, one full bag of maternity clothes to sale or get rid of, and one full bag of nice clothes that I haven't worn in three years and do not fit into post pregnancy.
 Nice clothes to get rid of that don't fit.

With everything cleaned out, clothes once on top of dresser found a home. 
And I can also see how bad my furniture desires to be refinished.

The few nicer clothes I kept.  Truthfully I only like a couple of the shirts and need to go shopping.

The inside of a tshirt drawer.

Project one- success.  I love the results.
Random finds: 
$6.07 found in closet
one cute dress that fits
one cute dress that doesn't, still with tags on, but I can't part with.  It is the dress that I purchased for my rehearsal dinner.  The wedding plans changed due to Hurricane Katrina and I never wore the dress.  We did get married, just early and different than we had planned, but that's another post. :)

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Project Simplify

I just came across Project Simplify at Simple Mom blog.  This is a nobrainer.  I have to do this!  Basically, 5 hot spots will be tackled in 5 weeks.  She gives an assignment on Monday.  We take before and after photos and blog about it by Friday.  How could cleaning be any more fun than that?

She also gives tips and tasks of how to complete each hotspot.

Here is the first assignment (this week).  Hot Spot #1

So now that I told you, I guess I have to really do it!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Joy in the moment of a Smile

"How do you get anything done?"  a friend asks as she holds my two month old son, enjoying every smile and coo that he gives.  "I'd just want to hold him like this all day!"  

The new smile that lights up his face stops strangers in their tracks at the grocery store.  Everywhere I go, people ask about him, stopping to enjoy a moment of the joy and wonder that babies bring with them.

His smile seems so pure.  He's helpless and doesn't know much. He's needy and can't do anything for himself. However,  he knows how to rest and be joyful in my presence.  He knows that I'll keep him safe, feed him, clean him, and love on him.  He desperately depends on me to do so.  At this point in life, he looks to me for everything, and he smiles joyfully knowing that he has all that he needs.  This simple faith knows more than me.

Every time he smiles at me, I melt.  Lost in the moment, nothing else seems to matter as pure joy reigns and bridles me in from the cares of the world.  I feel full.  Reminded of my Father, I wonder if this may be just a glimpse of the way He rejoices over me. Oh that I would desperately depend on Him for everything I need, rest in His presence, and allow simple joy come from within me, fill all that I am and thank Him for all that He is.    I stand in awe, amazed at the thought of my Father rejoicing in me, His child.

His Word comes to my mind and my heart:

 "He will rejoice over you with gladness;
he will quiet you by his love;
he will exult over you with loud singing." Zephaniah 3:17b

"O LORD, my heart is not lifted up;
   my eyes are not raised too high;
I do not occupy myself with things
   too great and too marvelous for me.
But I have calmed and quieted my soul,
   like a weaned child with its mother;
   like a weaned child is my soul within me.

O Israel, hope in the LORD
   from this time forth and forevermore." Psalm 131: 1-3

Reminded and renewed in my relationship as child to my Father, my joy abounds.

As I admire my son's glowing face, I wonder, "Is there really anything more important that I need to get done?"  I'm thankful that all things important seem to get done as I take my focus off of things and tasks and live fully in the moment of loving my boys.  

In addition, I know that as full as I am in this moment, this is just a glimpse. My boys are a gift from One far greater and in His presence there is fullness of joy.  

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