Monday, January 25, 2010
Seems in that span my brain entered some sort of strange dream....one of those real ones where when you wake up you are completely thinking it is still going on. Here's what was happening for all of you dream interpreters out there.....
I'm waking up with the girls. We head into the kitchen to have some breakfast and there is someone standing there looking a lot like me (they had on a hooded sweatshirt, so it was hard to see). She was standing in my kitchen looking through a stack of books, different ones from religion to inspirational ones...and scoffing at them. "Hmm, interesting" and putting them aside.
At this point, I'm standing there with my kids not knowing what to do. I stay back and ask who she is and how she got in my house. She answers saying she used to live here and thought she might come back for a while and see everything that has changed. She goes and sits on the couch looking around and stops and just stares at me, waiting for an answer. I am stammering, trying to figure out how she could have lived here before when we built this house new.
At this point, I wake up. Of course when I look around and it's exactly how my dream started (kids in bed asking for breakfast), I'm scared. Will there be a complete stranger standing in my kitchen when I open my door? (You should have seen me looking out!)
I cannot get this dream out of my head this morning. I very rarely remember dreams. Who is this girl that looked like me, who was laughing at my books and said she used to live here? I've been praying a lot lately for God to show me the person He wants me to become and what that might look like (family, job, home, etc.). I believe a lot of the time you have to understand where you have been to know where you are going. I think I was shown the person I used to be. I know, this is crazy right! What was crazy was that I didn't do anything, we just stood there starring at each other...I didn't beg her to leave or call the police or ask her to stay or fix her breakfast. I did nothing. I am doing nothing. It was an impasse.
Maybe this is my complete lack of sleep talking this morning. Maybe it's as simple as the meatloaf I had last night or the complete exhaustion from grocery shopping until 10pm, but what if it's not. What if it's my sign I've been looking for and I discredit God's communication as spicy meatloaf?
Anyone had crazy dreams that really spoke to you?
Monday, January 18, 2010
The following is a journey in pictures of my 4 year old's attempt at what I have to guess is a female mullet. Join me will you...
Evidently Kyleigh thought she did a better job of hiding things like scissors and glue from Reece than we do and hid a pair of her own we didn't know she had. Well, sneaky Reece found them and decided while I was on a call she would give herself a stylish new do. Lord help me! It could have been worse I suppose. I remember when I gave myself a hair cut and only left about 1/2 of bangs! That was a good look!
So now Reece looks like she is growing out a mullet and it's only Monday! Sigh :-)
On Friday my father in law came down to help Bobby with some work on his car, but unfortunately they ran into some trouble and didn't get done what they wanted to. Bobby was pretty disappointed, but hopefully they will be able to get together again soon to get it finished up. His dad stayed the night on Friday, much to the delight of my girls who love their "big Papa". Here are some pictures of them playing in the big red truck:
On Saturday, we headed to Wilmington to my friend Whitney's baby shower and see the infamous baby Aaron! When we come into Wilmington, a smile just comes over my face. I met so many great people while living there and have so many great friendships from it. Here is a picture from Whitney's shower. All us girls worked together in the office!
Bobby dropped me off and took the girls to Monkey Joes to play. They had a ball and daddy still got to watch his Carolina game :-) After that, we headed to Meredith's house to meet Aaron. Abby was pretty upset with me last time I came and didn't bring the girls, so I think we made up this time! The girls played while we got to know little Aaron and listened to Meredith tell us about her trip in Ethiopia and showed us lots of great pictures. Here are some of the little man!
I was so happy to see Meredith and have her home and so thankful they had a safe trip!
On Sunday after church we set out to the Extreme Home Makeover site. They are doing a home for a family that lives about 45-hour from us. Bobby went out last week and did some volunteering, so he watched the girls Sunday afternoon while I got my chance (did I mention how much I love this guy?!). This family has an unbelievable story and is so deserving. I didn't get to meet any celebrities or anything, but that's ok, the experience was great! Keep your eyes out for the SC home with guest Jeff Gordon. Here are some pictures of me in the line moving the furniture in the house!
Today I am completely exhausted from all of the madness of the weekend, but it was all so great! I smiled and laughed so much this weekend my cheeks still hurt!
Friday, January 15, 2010
Everything about this verse makes me stop in my tracks. I've casually ran across it many times while reading...in my short sight taking these words very literally and thinking they did not apply to me, like I am exempt from ANY part of God's word. I've grown a lot and I'm still growing....and wondering if anyone else is like I was/am.
Christianity has not come easy to me. Most of my life was spent being abused in one way or another by other "Christians"....you can say my image of what Christianity and God are were warped. I wanted nothing to do with it. I knew people that were doing unspeakable acts to others and then talking about knowing God. I knew people that were going to church just to sleep with other people or keep up an image. I knew people that were changed so much by the world that I didn't even recognize them anymore. And it hurt. I wanted no part of it. Why would God let these people do and say these things...hurt others with no recourse while others were at the mercy of it all? I just didn't understand.
I think the last time I went to church was around the time I was 16 or 17. I was at one of my lowest points. No faith in anyone or anything. Why bother, it was always a disappointment. People I thought that loved me didn't....people I thought I could trust had been betraying me for years. A pity party full of bitterness and acting out.
I really didn't have another interaction with Christianity until I started working where I do now. I had friends that wore it on their sleeves proudly, which made me uncomfortable....it was in no way that they were showboating their religion, they were just so completely in love with Jesus they couldn't keep it to themselves....just as we all have been with any love in our lives. I became friends with them, but I was still very guarded. I still didn't feel like God loved or cared about me and I didn't believe anything they were saying.
Two years ago, my life was filled with lots of distractions....relationships that needed to be mended, but it was easier to pretend that everything was OK, lots of friends and activities, moving up the company ladder, daydreaming about what our lives could be in 5 years...etc. The fluff of the American life...I had bought into the American dream. 2.5 kids, house, job, money in the bank, husband. Not to say we did not have our share of struggles to get where we were, but still, we were there, we had made it. Wasn't that enough? I had it all....right?
Not exactly. One by one things started to fall apart in my eyes. My job that I had received so much joy from, was not so joyous anymore. My husband got a promotion, but that meant we would have to move...away from everything I knew. Everything. I even had to switch jobs. All of it was new. In a matter of 2 months, my life (outside of my immediate family) was unrecognizable....and to top it all off, my dad would be diagnosed with stage 4 cancer only a month later. I was depressed. With my job, I was working from home. No more comforts of gossiping with the office ladies or going out to lunch. I was alone. No more shopping therapy. The nearest Target was now 40 minutes away. Nowhere to go. Nothing to do but sit and think about everything. Before I knew it, I was praying. I wasn't sure how I felt about everything, but this time I was relying on my own journey and impressions and not someone else's.
When the passage above talks about tearing out and throwing away parts of you, there is a literal translation to be had surely, but also one that I had failed to look beyond. In my sin, I was too weak to throw these things myself and God knew that. If it was up to me, I would have never made such drastic changes to my life in that way, but thank goodness it's not up to me :-)
By the end of the year, I was going through a huge transformation. It was all becoming clear to me...and the more sick my dad became, the closer to God I grew. It would have been easy to fall back into that same thought process. Why would God keep my dad from me all my life to reconcile us 23 years later...and then take him away so quickly again in just a few years? Why was I still carrying around so much hurt and displaced bitterness and guilt from things that happened so many years ago with other people in my life. I remember clearly today falling to my knees in the chapel at the hospital and just giving it all up that December 2007. My life has never been the same.
I started going to church shortly after my dad's passing. I started reading the bible daily. I started praying daily. I started forgiving and letting go. I started cutting off all of those things that bound me to that previous life I wanted nothing more of. I started becoming the person God always knew I was. I started LIVING.
Our pastor did a series not too long ago about Living Against the Grain. I'm not going to lie and say it's easy. Sometimes that old part of me just wants to say "NO MORE" when I am trying to work through a troubled relationship. It's easier to to give in than push to the root of the problem or forgive something or someone. It's hard to get rid of those things you are so familiar with....those distractions in your day to day life that are keeping you from the kind of relationship that can totally turn your whole world around.
People prune back trees to make them grow....what needs to be cut off to make you grow? Is that bitterness you are holding onto worth the eternal sacrifice you are making? How does it really affect your life and others? Can you take all of that money you are making and hording with you when you die? Can you see something better to do with it? Could that hour of playing on the computer have meant more if you would have spent it with your kid? Are you living the way you are saying you are? Do your words match your actions? Could you be a better listener, follower, friend, parent, person? Now is the time my friends. Don't look back...in a few years you wouldn't recognize yourself even if you did.....now wouldn't THAT be something....
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
My contact information is saved on the main website, and I get a pretty good number of emails a day to respond to. There are several groups all around the state doing stuffed animal drives right now to mail to me, which is pretty exciting! I am also on a few local Yahoo groups where folks can contact me about donation opportunities. I usually get in about a package a week on average I would say. These folks that are donating are AWESOME! Instead of throwing out these stuffed animals, they will go to a child that really needs that comfort.
So, then they sit in boxes for about a week or two (depending upon how crazy my life is at that point) in the corner of my bedroom. I'm actually looking at 2 boxes and 2 trash bags full right now to go through :-) Once I'm ready , I look through each of them for cleanliness and wear and tear and then cut the tags off. This was a SMALL PART of my December stash!
For Christmas, the rebates on washers and dryers were so great, Bobby and I decided to get a new set, complete with the steam option. In just 15 minutes, I can pop my animals in my dryer and they will be steamed, sanitized and ready to go!
Then they go to their temporary home in our garage, which my hard working husband and father in law cleaned out and organized just for this purpose
Of course you know I have a nice, neat Excel spreadsheet for all of this! I am currently contacting organizations and agencies across 3 counties to donate too. Anything from the county DSS to foster homes, homeless shelters, highway patrol, etc. Hopefully I can finalize a few drop offs this week so I have room for the next boxes that are waiting my touch!
If you know anyone (or if you) have stuffed animals you do not need or use anymore, please consider donating to SAFE (the website is on the left side of my page). If you are close to me, I'm happy to pick them up :-) Also, if you know of an organization that could use them, please let me know! I'm hoping to extend my reach with this, but I'm taking it one week at a time!
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
Sunday morning: church. Great service, great message....God must have known I would need to hear that particular one to prepare me for the next day ahead? Drove back home from church, ate very quickly, and then headed out to Goldsboro for the 2.5-3 hr ride there. Ride was actually pretty good. It's always hard to tell family that we are only going to be there for a very short amount of time. We did not have a lot of time to visit everyone for any extended period....we were on a mission to get this fingerprinting done! There was some irritation around that point, but what can you do. I have given up on trying to please everyone.
Actually, it was nice to have so much going on because it really kept my mind off the day. It was a year since my dad passed away. Exactly a year ago on Sunday, I was spending the night at my mother in laws...laying in that exact same spot...feeling and thinking the exact same things. That I have to admit was a little strange. I miss my dad so much, but I know he is in a better place and not feeling an ounce of pain right now.
On Monday, we left about 8am to head to USCIS (US Citizenship and Immigration Services), which was another 1.5 hr drive. Our Garmin has been working pretty much when it wants to, so we got really lucky that morning that it decided to turn on and work for a change! Neither Bobby nor myself do well in traffic like that trying to find our way around. We only got stuck in traffic once and made pretty good time getting there. We had to go through security to get to the main waiting room. This was where the fun began.
I can count on one hand how many times I have had to do the security thing. I've flown twice in my entire life. I know, sad right? Anyway, I get nervous! I had to show the guy my additional paperwork because my license had expired and they hadn't come in the mail yet, then I emptied out everything I thought would set the security off. BEEP BEEP. Searching again...BEEP BEEP. By this time I can feel the ever increasing line of people behind me getting irritated and nervous..like I was playing dumb about what I had and was trying to blow up the place or something! Finally Bobby had to take my entire purse back out to the car to stop the holdup in line. The culprit you ask? My dad was a big smoker and I have been carrying around the lighter that was in his pocket when he went into the hospital in my purse since then. I completely forgot about this. I'm sure my dad got a great laugh out of that one!
Anyway, the actual fingerprinting took no time at all...probably moved right along in 5 minutes and were out the door. It's a bittersweet thing. So glad to have it done, but it is the last thing left to do until we get our referral. Now it really is just the waiting. At least we felt like we were accomplishing something by seeing our paperwork pile decrease or marking off our to do list.
We ate lunch and then headed back to Goldsboro and then back home. I was so tired last night and it was such a whirlwind of a trip! Hope everyone is having a good week!
Saturday, January 9, 2010
I've been overwhelmed with anticipation and emotion for my friend Meredith as she left Wednesday for Ethiopia. She has told us they have made it safely there, praise God! She gets to meet Aaron today and hopefully through the sketchy Internet access we will get to see pictures too. Please continue to pray for them! She also sent a wonderful snack attack basket to me filled with all kinds of chocolate to let me know she was thinking of me this weekend on the anniversary of my Dad's passing. I cannot even begin to describe what that meant to me...completely out of the blue for that to arrive at the door (I even waited to answer the door because it's usually stuffed animal shipments!). Thank you Meredith! People like you make this world better everyday.
Also a busy week because cookie selling for Girl Scouts starts today (if you live in NC and would like cookies, Kyleigh set her goal for 500 boxes....this girl is CRAZY!) Anyway, we would love to help you with your need for sugar, just let me know :-)
And in big news, Bobby bought a car. He has been back and forth looking at cars for months trying to make a decision. He has worked very very hard this year and it has paid off. For the first time, he could really look at ALL of the cars and decide. I stepped completely out of this process because I wanted it to be his decision. Our lives have changed drastically these last couple of years and Bobby's final decision certainly showed this. Instead of buying a brand new...very expensive...car, he instead decided to do some much needed work to the car he already had. And, yes, he did buy another car. Bobby has always been a car fanatic. He reads car magazines for hours, he can rattle off car parts that sound like a foreign language to me, he can name all of those cars on that crazy auction that always comes on TV (you ladies married to other car guys know the one I'm talking about!). His brother does auto cross and Bobby got to go to a couple last year and even got to drive in one...and he loved it! What more can you like? Cars..family...friends..comradery? Anyway, in a twist of fate the very car he had so much fun auto crossing in last year was up for sale. Bobby ended up with a BMW after all....and for a tenth of the price of the other ones :-) Introducing the "purple turtle" below:
Monday, January 4, 2010
So, I cooked about 2 or 3 batches of my homemade spaghetti sauce on Saturday and had it all ready to go. We had also gotten a few outfits, a couple of bags of the girl's clothes and some cans of formula to donate to the orphanage. When I got to Meredith's house, there was already so many bags of clothing and formula people had donated. What a blessing to that orphanage! We worked to go through a few of the bags and toys and then planned to head out to Wal-mart to get some containers to put them all in. They will be traveling with these containers full and then leaving them all at the orphanage. I just cannot describe the love felt. People reaching out all over from their church, friends and community to help these kids. It's an unbelievable thing.
Abby (their 2 year old daughter) woke up and was NOT impressed that I was there without my girls! (not that my girls were impressed with the fact I left them home!). She wouldn't even talk to me for a good while...so funny seeing that personality come through! I promised the next time I would bring them, so hopefully we have made up!
After the Wal-mart trip, we went and ate and J. Micheal's Philly Deli, which was one of my most favorite places to eat when I lived there. Oh, it was delicious! And the company made it even better. Just to be able to sit and talk about anything and everything was great I think for the both of us.
They leave out on Wednesday and I'm just asking for any of you that read my blog to please keep them in your prayers for safe travels. If you would like to follow their journey, their blog is on my blog roll (From Ethiopia to Wilmington, NC).