Monday, February 1, 2016

Reading Goals

A few years ago I set a goal for myself to read 52 books within the year.  I was teaching 7th grade English at the time and was reading lots of young adult novels which made it fairly easy to meet and surpass my goal.  

For one reason or another it seemed like I read less and less books each year after that which makes me sad.  I have always loved to read, but lately it seems I tend to pick up my phone rather than a good book.  

This year I decided to see if I could meet that goal again.  

52 books in a year.

A book a week.

Thanks to snow days and sick days I am off to a great start.

I have finished 6 books so far.

I am keeping track of my books with Good Reads.  I have tried to use this website once before but didn't really see much purpose in it.  I'm still not sure I see all the benefits of it, but I'm trying it again.  I don't write reviews for the books that I read so I'm mainly using it to keep track of my books.  


I'm currently trying to read through all the books that are sitting upstairs on a bookshelf.  I have books that I've had for several years and have never read.  It is time to remedy that.

One of those books is Alibis in Arkansas.


I bought this book probably five years ago.  I found it on a clearance rack for $5 and bought it for no other reason that the setting is Arkansas.  I read it over the weekend and really enjoyed it.  Well worth the $5 I spent all those years ago.

Christian novels are my comfort zone.  

This year I want to read more nonfiction...biographies, parenting books, teaching books.

I hope to read at least one nonfiction book each month.  

In January I read It's Not What you Think by Jefferson Bethke



and The Connected Child by Dr. Karyn Purvis



Neither one of these were 5 star books in my opinion so I'm hoping February will bring a great nonfiction read.

Any suggestions?


Saturday, January 30, 2016

Life Lately

A couple of weeks ago we took our yearly visit to the see the trumpeter swans.  We love these mouthy birds.  This year my parents joined us for the fun. 











Last week we got a little bit of snow and a little bit of ice that resulted in me only have to work on Tuesday. 

 I enjoyed every day of sleeping in, wearing PJs all day, and reading good books.  Warm bubble baths were also a necessary part of snow days.


Lincoln Baxter didn't feel the same way about those warm baths as I did.


Giant cups of hot chocolate make for good snow days.



At one point I got motivated and decided to clean out one of the upstairs closets.


I pulled everything out and then pretty much lost all motivation.  I did manage to get a few things sorted and either thrown away or put back in the closet.

But that bedroom pretty much still looks like this.


This week I decided to get an ear infection.

BAD IDEA!

Ear pain is not any fun.  Not too mention I can't hear and feel like I'm in a tunnel.  I went to the doctor Thursday and he prescribed some meds.  Hopefully this will be over soon. 

On a happier note I get to have dinner with lots of family tonight.  BBQ nachos.  YUM!

Sunday, January 24, 2016

A Step Forward

Yesterday was a good day.

Andrew and I drove nearly two hours south in anticipation of meeting a sibling group at a small adoption event.

It was a pretty quiet ride as we each tried to figure out what we were thinking and feeling about walking down this road again.

As soon as we walked into the event my eyes began to scan the room wondering which children we had been matched with.  There was a beautiful little blonde who instantly captured our attention.  She seemed to be very outgoing and appeared to be having the time of her life in the bounce house.

These events can be incredibly awkward so Andrew and I found a place to sit down and just sort of take it all in.  As we were sitting there observing our surroundings a woman walked up and introduced herself.  She was the adoption specialist who had contacted us.  She informed us that our sibling group had not arrived yet and she encouraged us to mingle with some of the other children who were there.

Andrew and I remained seated.

We haven't figured out to mingle at such events.

A few minutes later she returned to our table to let us know our sibling group would not be coming.  The snow would not allow them out of their driveway.

In an attempt to salvage our trip she told us of another sibling group present that she wanted us to interact with and consider.  It was the beautiful blonde, her sister, and her brother.

As we ate lunch we watched these three beautiful children and talked a bit about their story, what little the adoption specialist had told us.

We realized that our hearts were already gravitating to the sibling group we had originally come to meet.  Despite the fact that we hadn't met them or even seen a picture of them, we felt led to continue down that path before considering any other children.

Our hearts are not capable of considering more than one possibility on this journey.  We feel like the only way to do that is to make a pros and cons list and then we are discussing lists instead of people, instead of children.

It takes the humanness out of it.

Our hearts simply do not allow us to do that.

We called the adoption specialist over and told her how we were feeling.  We told her we were so glad we made the trip and were able to meet and speak with her.  Our conversation allowed us to learn a little more about the sibling group we have been matched with.

She told us she expects to have all the needed paperwork within the next week or two and then she will visit us in our home to have the full disclosure meeting.

She mentioned that if at that point we decide not to pursue the adoption of this sibling group she has another sibling group she would want us to consider.

Andrew and I really liked this adoption specialist.  We had a very frustrating experience with the adults working with us last time.  Things that flat out made us angry with the whole system and tainted the process.  We are both relieved to be working with an adult who we like and who seems to want to do what is best for the kids as well as help us find the kids God has for us.

Yesterday was such a big day for us.  It felt good to step out and to start working toward adoption again.

In a couple of weeks we will have a full disclosure meeting and learn more about these precious children.

In a couple of weeks we will have to decide if our hearts are ready to take this journey again.

My desire is that we would know God's will without a doubt in this particular matching and that we would have the courage to trust Him no matter what He calls us to do.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Returning to the Journey

This time last year Andrew and I were spending several hours each day looking at a photo of ten beautiful children and dreaming about our future.

Though we knew in our heads that our dream was not a guaranteed outcome, in our hearts it felt guaranteed.

"Our kids" were two words that came so quickly into our daily conversations.

In our hearts, they were ours.

And they always will be.

Though it doesn't occur as often, I still occasionally notice Andrew or myself saying "our kids" when we talk about the eight children we were blessed with for such a short time.

Our adoption was disrupted - that's the system's way of saying it didn't work out.

It didn't feel like a disruption.

The word disruption, at least to me, indicates a small bump in the road.

A short break.

A TV commercial is a disruption.

An adoption not working out?

It is so much more than a disruption.

In the moment it feels life shattering; you don't know how you will get through your next breath.

It hurts.

It hurt more than anything I have ever experienced in my life.

It's been almost five months since the kids left our home.

And for the most part life is back to normal, back to the way it was before the children.

I still have moments where I cannot control the grief.

Moments where I cannot control the guilt.

There are a million emotions that come with a failed adoption and unless you have experienced it, there is no way you can really understand.

We have received phone calls from three different adoption specialists about three different sibling groups in the past five months.

We've said no to two of those adoption specialists for different reasons.

It's hard saying no.

I want to want to say yes, but I simply couldn't.

I was not ready.

I had no desire to walk down the road of adoption again.

I was finished.


The third adoption specialist, the one we haven't said no to, called for the first time in early December.  There wasn't a lot of information at the time, just the number of children in this sibling group, their genders, and their ages.

She did say something that was a pretty big turn off to Andrew and me.

And then we didn't hear from her again so we figured we were not an approved match.

Last week God began to change my heart.

Through social media I watched a friend and her family finalize the adoption of four beautiful girls.  

I began to feel ready to step out there and try again.

I begin to feel ready to actively start working toward finding the children God has for our family.

On Thursday we heard back from the third adoption specialist.

We have been approved as a match for this sibling group.

The thing that was a big turn off to us....she explained it a little more and it is something that is not  a deal breaker for us.

She invited us to an adoption even next Saturday to meet the children in anticipation of a doing a full disclosure meeting.

All of a sudden we are back on this path to adoption.

It's exciting yet so very scary.

It feels different this time.

We are meeting the children in a week and they are not "our kids" yet.

Our hearts aren't as quick to jump into feeling guaranteed yet.

We are hesitantly tip-toeing down the path this time.  

Our dream is coming back slowly.









Sunday, January 10, 2016

Bible Journaling 101

Bible journaling seems to be all the rage these days.

Everyone is doing it so of course I jumped on the bandwagon.

I was scared to start it.

I am not an artist by any means.

I mean I can't draw a straight line with a ruler.

Seriously.

I let my brother have all the artistic genes because I'm just a nice sister like that.

I think my fear was the same as a lot of people's before starting.

What if I mess up and ruin the page?

Well let me just go ahead and show you my favorite tool for Bible journaling.


A white eraser....and yes I think it's important that it is white.  This minimizes any eraser residue left behind.

I have to admit I was still nervous even with an eraser in hand.

I'm a bit crazy about my handwriting and erasers.

I would rather just start over than to erase something.  You can always slightly see what it is you erased.

I was the person in high school who would take notes in Physical Science only to go home and rewrite them so they were nice and neat.  If you had Physical Science with Mr. Smith you know how crazy this is.  We took PAGES and PAGES of notes each day.  

Back to the topic at hand...

I want you to know you do not have to be an artist or even have beautiful calligraphy style handwriting to journal in your Bible.

Before buying anything I spent several hours looking on Pinterest at all the beautiful Pinterest-worthy pages and the supplies people used to create them.

As it is with most things, Pinterest can make Bible journaling seem like a daunting task while at the same time inspiring you to try it out.

Let me tell you what Bible journaling is not.

It is not about creating Pinterest-worthy pages with calligraphy style handwriting.

It IS about spending time with God.

It IS about mediating on the Word.

And that's what I remind myself every time I sit down to Bible journal.

It doesn't have to be perfect.

You don't need to be able to create a masterpiece.

You just need the right heart attitude.

Getting started doesn't have to be overwhelming either.  

I started by purchasing a journaling Bible.


I did not do any research before purchasing this.  I was in Barnes and Noble with a gift card (thanks Alexis and Waylon) and didn't want to wait.  I got lucky.  It seems like this is a popular version to use.

This was our last stop before driving home so I didn't get to go buy lots of fun supplies at Hobby Lobby.  

My bank account is thankful for that.

It was late when we got home but at that point I was all excited so I drove to Wal-Mart for some basic supplies.



Twistable Colored Pencils....not my favorite.  I definitely prefer just regular colored pencils, however these are nice for blending and shading.

Sharpie Pen Stylo...these are working great.  They don't bleed through the page.  I am excited about trying some different pens with different tips though.

Sharpie Highlighers....These work great and do not bleed through.  I love having such a variety of colors.  I'm making myself a key as I go....pink is to highlight verses specifically for women/wives, purple highlight's verses on God's character, and blue is for what my life should look like.  As I continue to study and journal I will continue to add to this.

Pencils....I do everything in pencil first!  And I typically do it on scratch paper before trying it in my Bible.  


Watercolors...I used these on the first page I did.  I HATE how it turned out.  Maybe I'm just not skilled in watercolors but these did not work well for me.  Not to mention they bled through BIG TIME. I will not be using them again.  


In my research I read that the easiest way to get started is to pick a verse that you are familiar with but isn't necessary your favorite.  You want familiarity so that you can easily envision what you want it to look like, but you don't want to pick a favorite because it might be very challenging to include everything that verse means to you.

This has been probably the most helpful thing I've read in getting started.

Here are a few verses that I have done.



 (See that banner..I may have googled how to draw that and then had to practice a few times.  I am not an artist.)


I'm enjoying playing with new lettering styles.  I have been watching how to videos on calligraphy.  I want to buy some fun pens and try that out soon.

This has been a great stress reliever for me. I love spending time in the Word and allowing God to bring it to life in a new way for me.

Monday, January 4, 2016

The Grooming Anniversary

The 25th wedding anniversary is the silver anniversary.

The 50th wedding anniversary is the gold anniversary.

Andrew and I aren't quite there yet.

We are on anniversary number 12 which just happens to be the grooming anniversary.

Or at least that's how we celebrated.

A few weeks ago I told Andrew I wanted to go get mani/pedis together for our anniversary.  I have been prolonging a much needed manicure just waiting for this day.

We decided to celebrate on Saturday, the day before our anniversary.  

We started the day with a quick bite to eat.


I had never eaten here before and I must say it was DELICIOUS!  Unfortunately it really was a QUICK meal because we had to be at a hair appointment for Andrew.

He decided to try a new salon.



It was the cutest salon.  Made me want to get my hair cut and I just got it cut the week of Christmas.  I'm seriously considering bangs.  I want them even though I feel like I won't like them.  Andrew is not a fan of this idea.


After a haircut we went and roamed around the mall for a bit before heading to our appointments for mani/pedis.


This was a first for Andrew.  I think he really enjoyed it.

Maybe I can convince him to go with me again sometime.   

It was getting dark when we finished at the nail salon.  We decided to drive around and look at houses before it got too dark.  We have always loved driving around looking at homes.  

Then we started to get hungry.

We ate at Damgoode Pies.

It is one of my favorite pizza places.

So yummy!

I never have dessert but I could not resist this peanut butter pie.

To Die For!!


We ended our date with a little shopping.  We went to Ulta, Sally's, Target, and Barnes and Noble.

It was the grooming anniversary.  

Lots of new hair products, skin care, and make up was purchased.

I added two new lip sticks to my every growing collection.

Excited about that!

It was a fun day with my sweetheart.  

Twelve years have flown by and I can't wait for the next twelve and the next twelve and the next twelve....

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Happy Anniversary

Twelve years ago today before God and our family and friends I vowed to love you for the rest of my life.  For better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness (despite my slight protest) and in health.

I was twenty years old.  

Young and dumb naive.



I thought I understood what I was promising you.

And I guess in my twenty year old way, I did.

I don't remember anyone ever telling me that marriage was hard work.

But I also don't remember anyone telling me that it would be the greatest blessing.

You make me laugh like no one else can.


You hold me close and wipe my tears.

You teach me how to love others with everything I have.

You protect me even when I don't know I need protecting.

You make me feel beautiful.

You are my best friend


You love me as God as called you to love me.

25For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her 26to make her holy and clean, washed by the cleansing of God’s word.b 27He did this to present her to himself as a glorious church without a spot or wrinkle or any other blemish. Instead, she will be holy and without fault. 28In the same way, husbands ought to love their wives as they love their own bodies. For a man who loves his wife actually shows love for himself. 29No one hates his own body but feeds and cares for it, just as Christ cares for the church.
(Ephesians 5)

Thank you for choosing me twelve years ago and every day since.

Thank you for giving me grace as I learn to be the wife God has called me to be to you


How sweet it is to be loved by you!