"For you shall go out in joy and be led forth in peace"

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

a note to Gracie at 10 months old.

Buggy (your ever-changing nickname),

I cannot believe that in less than 2 months you will be one year old. I cannot believe how quickly time has flown. This time last year I was pregnant with you- anticipating so many things to come! Fast forward a year and I now have a hard time remembering what my days were like spent without you.

This age you are at has been so much fun. Your personality and spirit are really beginning to shine through. You've got a stubborn streak- but who can blame you. You're a tad bit dramatic at times- genetically passed down from your mama. You are a total sweetheart. It makes my heart swell with love to see how much you love people. Specifically kids. Like last night at Walmart you were sitting in the cart and spotted a kid (you've got a radar out for them or something) and you started going crazy...seriously. You started bouncing and trying to bend yourself sideways so you could see around me (thank goodness for seat straps in the cart) and exclaiming "oooo!" "ooOO!" "OOOOOO!". You make me laugh out loud in the store because of the overwhelming excitement you exude when you see a child. You also love adults- you were winning over that check-out lady and were eating up all the attention. I love your love for people. I am excited to watch God fashion this into something incredible for His glory.

A habit i'm not loving so much right now is your new-found love to grind your teeth. Oh my dear. My head hurts just thinking about it. That phase can pass quickly, please.

When we pull your sippy cup with water out of the fridge and do our sign language for "water", you laugh and get all excited. It's really the little things in life. And you're showing me that everyday.

The joy you find when you spot a tennis shoe across the room and, determined, crawl over to it with giggles and smiles or the way you think it's hilarious to knock over the garbage can e.v.e.r.y. night when i'm cooking supper or the fascination you have to open and shut doors- all these things are amazing & fun to you. I had to stop myself from getting frustrated the other night when you, yet again, tried to knock over the garbage can for the 4th time that night, and had to step back and praise God for your curiosity. Though it is not always very convenient for me and obviously needs protection from danger, it's really incredible to watch. You're showing me what it really means to have faith like a child. And I imagine that lesson will continue as you communicate and grow more.

I love when you lay your head on my shoulder and cuddle in. I feel this protective and amazing love for you wash over me. And I want to keep you here, this age & safe forever. But baby, I can't. And that scares me to the core sometimes. But we pray. And trust you to God- even if that is with shaky hands sometimes. Because He loves you more than we ever could come close to loving you. And His plans for you are beyond the good we could imagine of giving you.

God is using you to refine us. To show us our sin and areas of "improvement". We want to model Jesus to you. And we hope that in spite of our sometimes failed attempts at that- you can see Jesus and that you will love Him with everything you have.

Dolly,  as I end this note, I look in the monitor as you are sleeping, sweetly cuddling your giraffe and curled up in a very uncomfortable looking way and i'm thankful for today and God's goodness.

I love you buggy.

Since fall is my FAVORITE favorite time of year I am trying to soak up as much of it as possible. We did a quick photo shoot this weekend!

Monday, October 7, 2013

we bought a house. (!!!)

It has been quite the week.

We bought a house! Well, sort of. We have an accepted offer. We don't own it yet but the pending sign in the yard is there because WE are going to buy it. Ah. I think i'm still slightly in shock that we have an accepted offer...I thought it would never happen. But 3rd time is a charm. Or something like that.

It's actually quite the God story.

When houses came on the market and looked slightly-semi appealing we would call up our Realtor and go see them. By now he could basically read my mind..."you want to take out this wall here", "put an island in here", "tear this out".......you get the idea. With what we could afford and what we desired we knew we were going to need to buy a fixer-upper. And we were really excited about homes with "potential" (that's the nice word used for homes that really aren't that pretty looking).

So a little over a week ago I got an email from our Realtor about a house that had just come on the market...that day. The description said "tons of potential", sold "as is", "charming", etc. I figured we needed to see it to either check it off of our list or maaaybe fall in love with it. I texted Seth and then our realtor and like that we were meeting in a couple hours to go see it.

We walked in the front door and liked what we saw. With each room we went in we went "hmm, this is neat" "hmmm, I like this" "hmmm this could be...." and the excitement caliber kept rising as we walked around. "Oh I know!...we could tear down this wall", "Oh, I love this!", "Oh imagine this...". The wheels were turning. And we found plenty of "potential".

It was far bigger than anything we looked at. Not to mind there is no air conditioning, the bathroom and kitchen are complete gut jobs- and that's not just me being picky. The deck is falling down and there is not flooring in some rooms. We really *liked* it when we left...but we didn't want to say love yet. Because with all the work it needed and the price it was at, we couldn't afford it.

We took Seth's parents to look through it and got their ideas and advice. We talked about it and then just let it go for a few days. Almost like we had forgotten about it. Partly because I think neither of us thought it was realistic.

We decided to put in an offer last Thursday. My theory was this: What is it going to hurt? The worst thing that happens is we get rejected...it's not like we haven't been through that before. Seth mentioned a couple times "Is it even worth it? I mean our offer is so low it's really not even realistic". But I really felt like we might as well try it...what could it hurt. And he agreed. So we went in with an offer we realized was barely acceptable and we knew the house was definitely worth more than that but this was what we knew we could afford.

And then we waited. That's the part I hate the most about this, the waiting. The funny thing is, both of us woke up the next morning and had completely forgotten we put in an offer. We had tried so hard to stay detached this time knowing that our offer wasn't going to get accepted. But deeeeeeep down there was still that grain of hope.

Then we heard back from our Realtor at 12:00 the next day...there are multiple offers, come with your highest and best by 2:45. Ouch. Again? Unreal. This is exactly what happened on the previous house we offered on. We knew we couldn't compete in a bidding war. We knew our initial offer could have even been considered offensive so how were we going to compete in a bidding war? We came up with our highest and best and laughed as we decided it saying to each other "there is no way they will accept this". I mean it. We truly did not think it was really a possibility...the only way would have been a miracle.

We hung up and then I remembered that I wanted to write a letter to the homeowners to send with our offer. No, not one pleading and begging and saying a sob story but a simple-this-is-who-we-are-and-this-is-why-we-love-your-home letter. So I called seth back and he sent the letter with the offer.

We got a text that evening from our Realtor saying they liked the letter and were meeting that night to discuss it. Are. you. serious?! We are actually still in the running?! Praise God!
Oh we of little faith, though, kept saying to each other to not get our hopes up and to be prepared not to get it. I would say things like "when we don't get it...." and on and on.

And then we got the call.

They accepted OUR offer. OURS. Not the other two offers. OURS. It would have been a miracle if it was just our one offer and they accepted it. But the fact that there were two other offers on the table and they accepted ours...only God.

It is way larger than we thought we would ever be able to get. It has all the "potential" that we have been dreaming of. It has a yard. A garage. A basement, projects to last a long long time...

Yes initially we were shocked and then excited. But more than that were completely humbled. So humbled by God's grace.

Earlier that week we were in some ugly tension and we were being ugly people with each other. We didn't deserve this house. We don't deserve this house. It's not and it will never be about deserving it. God is incredibly gracious and merciful. Saturday morning we sat raw hearts, humbled and soaked in the grace and goodness of God. He is always these things- good and gracious and faithful. He just used a tangible thing like a house to remind us.

We prayed this when deciding to offer on this home: "God please don't give us this house if we can't handle it. But if we can handle it, please do give it to us". So we are stepping out in faith that He heard that prayer and that this list of renovations isn't going to overtake us. overwhelm us. get the best of us. We might get squirrely at each other at times...in fact, i'm sure that we will. But we prayed that prayer on the way to putting in the offer. And on the way to putting in the offer we saw a double rainbow. It's a reminder that God is faithful. And the thing I love about this whooooole house buying process- looking and looking, getting two rejected offers, etc is that God arranged it all so that undoubtedly it all would be pointed at Him and His perfectness. And He would receive glory from it.

SO here we embark on a house renovation project. In the midst of planning an event. In the midst of the holidays. In the midst of marriage and parenting. And all the other stuff.

So if you follow me on pinterest and there have been billions of pins lately, i'm sorry. There might be for a while.

I read a quote this week that I want to remind myself through this process: "Someone else is happy with less than what you have".

Yes. Let us keep perspective through this whole thing.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

I am SO excited!

I. am. SO. excited.

My heart is literally pumping. Well, obviously. But in an adrenaline-induced sort of way.

This post is actually probably premature and being written against all wisdom in the possibility of not even happening.

But I can't help it. My mind is whirling. My heart is beating.

When we were making plans to move from Little Rock to Illinois one of the things that was UNBELIEVABLY hard to leave was PATH. I've written about it before but it is a Human Trafficking organization that is providing a safe home & recovery program for survivors who have been trafficked.

God put this vision on my heart a few months ago and I really really really wanted it to happen. I'm not usually great at follow through with ideas. I tend to be a dreamer who comes up with lofty ideas but doesn't know how to execute them or really, if they are even realistic. But this one has stuck. And I reeeeally want it to happen.

Here it is: I want to fly up the founder of PATH, Louise Allison, and have her share her testimony and share about trafficking and PATH. God has done and is doing incredible things through this ministry. Her testimony is so powerful and God's redemption is miraculous. It will be an incredible evening. I am sure of it. Because if God wants this to happen, He will do awesome things through it. For justice. For redemption. And for His glory.

We've started the planning process. And as long as the doors keep opening we will keep walking.

My heart is to spread awareness of Human Trafficking and to get others involved. To raise money for this incredible ministry that God is using in incredible ways.

I want to be a part of taking back what the enemy has stolen.

Please pray with us and jump on board- we need your help! If you're interested in helping, message or call me.

I'll be posting more information soon!

Please listen to this song...it's my heart behind this.

Check out PATH's website: http://pathsaves.org/

Check out PATH's facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/partnersagainsttraffickinghumans