Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Not Crushed.

I'm going to attempt the story of our house situation so we can gently lay it to rest, and while I do that, I'm going to post photos of our family cooking lobster together.  It's not at all connected, and it makes no sense, which actually kind of does make sense, if you know me very well at all. 

For the past year, we've been on an amazing adventure, trying to change our environment, our lifestyle, and our mission in life, bit by bit.  To do some of that, we felt led to sell our house and get a less expensive one.  We had so many arrows pointing us this direction, we were confident it was the path God wanted us to take.  We were sure He would work out the details and make all the pieces come together.  Little did we know that our idea of "pieces fitting together" can differ somewhat from God's idea of the very same.  We hunted to find just the right, more affordable house, and then when we found it, we discovered that it was also connected to the sweetest couple doing life in a similar way.  Everything just seemed to "fit," from our perspective.  We were so excited.  We did a lot of waiting on God, and as most of you remember, we jumped for joy when we finally got an offer on our house.  We were sad, yet trusting when our "cash offer" turned out to be a misled elderly woman's conviction that she had won some money through the Publisher's Clearing House Sweepstakes.  Looking back it's almost laughable.  Almost. 
 Most of you know that she didn't win, and we spent three months tentatively unpacking, all the while hoping our home would still sell.  It didn't, but somewhere in there, I was flailing about for the faith to believe that God was still going to sweep in and rescue us at the final moment.  Wasn't that kind of God's specialty? I was convinced that it was, especially since we really felt we'd been led to this point.  Our contingent offer on the house we wanted, was drawing to a close, and in the midst of everything, we were experiencing a private storm on our home front with one of our children that was leaving us clutching one another, crying out to God, and drawing daily ragged breaths. 
 We cocooned ourselves in our home, attempting to fix what was wrong, and the exhaustion level has been reaching new heights.  We were (and are) beyond ourselves, as decisions about disorders, schooling, special ed programs, psychologist evaluations, assessments, and so much more began swirling around our heads.  Words could never do the past three months justice, so Adrain and I decided to do something we'd never done before when facing a decision of ginormous magnitudes.  (In our case, the first decision of the many awaiting us, was to "Keep the house on the market or take it off and focus our energies fully on the situation with our child?")  We fasted and prayed for three days asking for absolute clarity one way of the other.  We were fully willing to do whatever God wanted, but we asked for a very clear shout as to that, with no guessing games. 
 It would require an entire post to walk you through those three days, but we both felt dumbfounded when nothing but more silence ensued.  There were no lightning bolts of confirmation in either direction from God.  No "finding Me when when you seek Me with your whole heart moments."  We were left questioning, "Did we do this wrong? Is there a Dummies Guide to Prayer and Fasting that we should have read beforehand?"  Everything in us wanted to scream that God was letting us down and forgetting about us.  But then one small thing happened and we both knew that God wasn't speaking in ways we wanted Him to, and He wasn't directing our paths in an outrightly obvious way, but He was speaking softly into our situation. 
 The thing that happened, was that we were hashing things out, trying to make sense of our situation with our child later that same week, and I mentioned two specific names in history to Adrain that had been brought to my mind over that week, and I'd been unable to stop relating them to my son.  I know this probably sounds insignificant in the retelling, but Adrain had been thinking about the exact same two people I'd mentioned, and we'd never talked about it with each other!  The names were just offbeat enough that we knew this was not coincidence.  Our "Change the World" mentality has always begun with our family, so it seems possible that God is once again refocusing the span of our energies and reminding us of what we've always known;  That our children are our number one mission field and our main priority.
 I'll be honest, and admit there have been moments when both Adrain and I wondered if God was rejecting us for service somehow, not that the sale or non-sale of a house could indicate such a thing!  We wanted to be used in His plan but so often, we think we know His plan, and how exactly we fit into it.  It's awfully easy to make each moment about us... Isn't that funny?  Those are moments of raw human frailty and of course when the day is done, we know that our ways are not His ways. It's all about Him.  Every little thing, is for His glory alone.   Tears fill my eyes as I begin down the path I've walked before when it comes to my son. I don't want to take this path right now.  But on the mama front, I wonder if a change of neighborhood, house, and school would have all been too much for him. Too much for me even?

So for now, we continue down the path we are currently on. But we do so with heads lifted and hearts changed in many ways. Adrain has an amazing chance to go to Africa this summer, and once again, I'm excitedly anticipating what God might have in store for our entire family.  I bet it doesn't look a thing like we think it will.  And right now, (today anyway) I can live with that.  I appreciate your comments, encouragement, and support so much.  I've been the worst at reaching out to you blog land gals, and have inadvertently pulled away from so many of those of you I know in real life, because it's just been excruciating.  Yet you all continue to shower me with friendship, love, and words of affirmation. 
 Thank you for pursuing me.  Thank you for continuing to read and pray for our family.  Thank you for not giving up on me.  You mean so much to me.

"The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.  A righteous man may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all...The Lord redeems his servants; no one will be condemned who takes refuge in him." (Psalm 34:18-19 & 22)

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Over the past week.........

 Wow.  I've really missed you guys! (Which is why I can't quit blogging even though I threaten it at least every other month.) This past week was wild and busy and I took millions of photos and they've got to go somewhere! 
 First of all, we de-listed out house. I suppose I'm going to have to share more on that sooner or later, but not today. I spent the first half of our week fully unpacking and putting things away.  I will say, the one positive about selling your house to an elderly woman who (Surprise!) admitted to making a cash offer because she thought she'd won the Publishers Clearing House Sweepstakes, only to find out a month later that she didn't and can't afford your house at the last minute, as your entire household is packed and awaiting a move into the cutest red house ever... is that when you do finally gulp and unpack everything, you know exactly where it all goes.
 I decided it was time to quit changing my pillows with each season.  (Gasp!  Can she really mean that?  Can she really stick with it? Time will tell my friend... time will tell.) Well, that's my goal anyway.  So I thought long and hard about what I really wanted.  And then I poured over the many looks in my Pottery Barn magazine.  And then I counted my cash.  And then I found many coupons in the newspaper and online.  And then I went to JoAnn Fabrics and splurged on the good (expensive) selections that I've been drooling over for months.  Months, I tell you!!  And then I sewed them all closed (instead of an envelope opening which makes it oh-so-easy to change) and my husband smiled and approved.  (Wild cheering all around, please?)
And then I hung up twenty one photographs.  No one was injured in the hanging of these photographs (which is quite an accomplishment, let me tell you) even though it took nearly two hours to complete the task.  Suddenly, it felt like home again.  I really needed that. My kiddos really needed that.  I even think my man really needed that. I hung these photos on the opposite wall they used to hang on, because I wanted to be able to see them from the kitchen. After mucho unpacking, box smashing, and bubble wrap popping, I looked around and went, "Alright God.  Here we are." And that was that.  Then I dove into wrapping up school, and filling your Etsy orders. (You can click here to view all the items I've listed!)
First of all, 10% of every order I receive will be donated to the Red Cross, to benefit the tornado disaster relief.  My heart absolutely goes out to everyone in that area right now.  As I talk about my house situation, I'm so aware that there are hundreds of people with no place at all, to call home.

That said, here are a few of the items I listed, along with a little cookie party I gave my kids!
 I also made a ton of button accented pony tail holders.  I made them, in all different colors and patterns.  (Click here to see them all)  They are perfect for a polished-looking pony tail, for woman or girls of any age!  I can't wait til my hair is long enough to really enjoy these.  They come in a coordinated two pack and are only $6.00 for a pack of two!  How cute would these be for a summer day when it's too hot to do anything to your hair?  (For a second there, I felt like we were out shopping together.)
 And these...I couldn't forget to make these! (Darling little Mr & Mrs pillow slips, just in time for wedding season, in case you're looking for a good gift idea!)
 And I made more of these adorable "eat" napkins.  I can't get enough of mine.  I love them to pieces, and use them every chance I get.  They are a truly fun table accessory.  I'm not saying you can't live without them, but they are pretty cute...
 I couldn't create and not include a few "surprises" right?  So I created a few things just for fun.  Because I'm a big fan of fun.  Ask anyone, they'll tell you.   I made packs of big wooden magnet sets.  Monday- Friday magnet sets so you can organize your week, and packs of misc. magnets like "Grocery" and "To do" and "Don't Forget."  So fun.  So functional.  Love that.

I walked past this fabric about five times, but it kept calling me. Something about the pattern and the colors... chocolate brown, pewter, and icy blue.  So I bought it and made a couple of Euro pillow slips out of it. Sold as a set of two, these could go on a bed... or patio chairs... or a couch... or even the floor!  So cute!!

I guess I was feeling patriotic after all... because when I found this old bead board cupboard door I knew that I had to paint a flag on it.
 I kept the original hinges, because they were so sweet, and I thought they would be perfect for hanging it, (or you could just lean it against something too) and then I sanded and distressed it all over.  Talk about a fun project! I was thinking you could loop some twine through the top hinges, and hang it from a window or something.  How cute would that be for a July 4th party? 
 My hoodlums got to enjoy a little cookie party as soon as I was finished photographing this for my Etsy store, because you can't let good cookies go to waste!
I believe they have become fans of photo shoots... well, photo shoots that involve cookies anyway!

And this sign is one I've been planning to make for ages.  I think the idea started with this(And I do love my man...)
So there you have it!  If you want to order any of the above items, click here for my Etsy store.  And as always, if you want a custom order or Family established sign, just give me a holler and I can get it going for you. (lemonademakinmama@comcast.net) You all are such an encouragement and a blessing to me with this, and I appreciate you more than you can ever know!


Friday, May 20, 2011

Evolution of backyard BBQ

 I almost titled this post, "Everything tastes better on a stick," but I wasn't sure what my Google ads would do.  Sometimes it pays to play it safe.  Ahem.  We tend to do a lot of things on skewers this time of year, because you can almost always convince hoodlums to eat food when it's on a stick.  When you're nine years old, skewers = fun.  (Or something like that.) We have to make sure no one starts sword fighting after the meal.  Cause it's all fun and games till someone takes a skewer in the eye.  Ya know?
I love my backyard.  When we moved into our house eight years ago, there was no fence, no patio, no grass, no flower beds... just dirt, as far as the eye could see.  (Well as far as the neighbor's house anyway.)
 We kicked off our first official BBQ with friends this weekend.  I do love me a good par-tay!
I pretty much made the decision that we're going to eat outside every night that we can, so I wanted it to look pretty and be functional outside.  (Think, great outfit with a gorgeous pair of heels that don't hurt your feet.)   
 I hung an Ikea candle chandelier from a piece of rope above our newly painted picnic table.  It felt like a perfect little cozy dining area with that addition.
 I can bring it inside each evening by simply unhooking it from the rope. 
Can you even have a BBQ with out watermelon?  I don't like watermelon, but I think this is a BBQ rule.  My kids suck it down like candy.  So as long as we're on the subject, let's talk about the food okay?
 Veggies on skewers, drizzled with olive oil, salt and pepper.  London broil, sliced thinly, and marinated til tender. (I got this idea from my friend Erin, when we went to stay with her for our girls getaway last weekend.)
To this, we added beer-steamed potato packets.  Yummy!  You just chop up a potato, add a small chunk of butter, some salt, pepper, a splash of beer, and I cut up some fresh chives from the garden.  Put it all into a parchment lined foil packet and plop onto the grill.

For dessert, we did strawberry shortcake on a stick.  I bought an angel food cake loaf, froze it, and then chopped it into chunks. (It's much easier to chop when it's frozen.)  I will do this all summer long, because it was fabulous and easy to hand out to kiddos on the run.  (I mean... don't let the kiddos run with the skewers.  Because that would be very dangerous.  I'm just saying.)
 I let Ava skewer the cake chunks and strawberries for me.  I love little kitchen helpers, and it's a good thing too, because I've always got at least one!
Are you having a BBQ this weekend? 

Once a princess, always a princess.

A few minutes ago, I looked into the mirror.  Looking back at me, was a Mama with tear-stained eyes, at her wit's end.  The peace of the morning, recently shattered by a knock on the door, where I came face-to-face with the places I have failed in my job.  All week long, I've been seeking answers to questions much bigger than my own wisdom. 

Minutes ago, I set my bible on the kitchen table, frantically begged God to speak, and then let it fall open where it would.  Before my eyes, was Genesis 17:15-16  "God also said to Abraham, 'As for Sarai your wife, you are no longer to call her Sarai; her name will be Sarah.  I will bless her and will surely give  you a son by her.  I will bless her so that she will be the mother of nations; kings of peoples will come from her.'" 

It didn't make a lot of sense to my situation, and at first I thought perhaps God didn't have much of a message for me today, until I scanned the commentary notes below.  They said, "Sarai...Sarah.  Both names evidently mean 'princess.' The renaming stressed that she was to be the mother of nations and kings and thus serve the Lord's purpose."  This happened 13 years after Sarai had taken things into her own hands, while waiting for the fulfillment of a promised baby of her own.  She had tried to solve this problem, by giving her maid to her husband, so that she could have a baby that way.  (She'd gotten a little tired of waiting for the "impossible" as she saw menopause pass her by, and decided she would fix things for God.) 

Basically, she failed. She failed big, too.  If you look at the history books and what came from her lack of faith and her sin, you can see that the consequences are still playing out today between her descendents and the descendents of her maid. 

But what it boils down to is this; In spite of all that.... God still kept His end of the bargain, and He still called her, "princess," regardless of what she had done. 

I don't know if anyone else needed to hear that today, but I sure did. 

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Having your cake and eating it too.

You know how I said I was being "good" and trying to get a little more fit during the next nine weeks?  Yup.  Well, I'm sticking with it.  I got this cookbook for Mother's day and when I spied a recipe for Fudgy Brownies that were made with spelt flour, and sweetened with things like agave and pure maple syrup, I decided they were within my good eating guidelines. (Since I made them up in the first place. Ha!)  My grocery store didn't carry grain-sweetened chocolate chips, so they weren't 100% sugar-free, but I went with a bittersweet chocolate, and figured it was a compromise I could live with. (I have a tendency to go completely health-food crazy, like you can't believe, and I don't want to go overboard and obsess, so for me, that was good choice for balance. In all things, balance baby!) Anyway, I'm going to share this recipe, for those of you trying to get into better shape by the 4th of July alongside me, at the bottom of this post.  (Because like me, you may need a little bite 'o cake now and again.)
 In my last few posts, I've made mention about the fact that we are facing many huge decisions and we have no direction. 
 Because a good portion of our decisions revolve around one of my children, I can't share much.  Suffice it to say, we're facing a long road as we unravel what I am beginning to think was a mis-diagnosis. I'm not sure when, if ever, I'll be able to fully share what's been going on over the past few months but believe me, it's been a wilder ride than I've been down up to this point.  When I talk about waiting... um yeah.  I'm the queen of waiting.  
 So here's something that's been a crazy huge encouragement to me this week.  "Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, 'So shall your offspring be.'  Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead- since he was about  a hundred years old- and Sarah's womb was also dead.  Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised. This is why it was credited to him as righteousness.  The words, 'it was credited to him' were written not for him alone, but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousness- for us tho believe in him..." (Romans 4:18-24a  Emphasis mine.)
You know that part that read, "without weakening in his faith?"  My commentary says that Abraham had some anxious moments but God did not count these against him.  And further... it also explains that when  it says, "faced the fact," faith does not refuse to face reality but looks beyond all difficulties to God and his promises.  Mmmm... Let's just let that one marinate for a spell while we give glory to God, knowing that He has power to do what He's promised. 

And then let's go eat some "healthy cake." 

Gwyneth Paltrow's Fudgy Chocolate Brownies: 
2 c. white spelt flour
1 c. cocoa pwdr
1 1/2 tbsp baking pwdr
pinch salt
1/2 c vegetable oil
1 c pure maple syrup ("Is there sugar in syrup?  Then yes!"  Buddy the Elf.)
1/2 c agave nectar
1/2 c strongly brewed coffee (I had to get my friend Maria to make me a cup of this since I don't drink coffee.)
1/2 c soy milk (I used regular 'ol 2% cow secretions here.  Can you tell I'm not a milk lover?)
1 tbsp vanilla
1 c chocolate chips
Combine dry ingredients, then the wet ingredients.  Beat til combined but don't over mix.  Pour half batter into a greased 9x13 pan, sprinkle with half the chocolate chips.  Pour the remaining batter over that, and top with remaining chocolate chips, then bake at 350 for about 25-30 minutes.  

Did you guys realize you can go through a waiting period with no answers or solutions, yet still have strengthened faith?  I honestly didn't know that!  What do y'all think about that?  Isn't that huge?

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The solution to my man's out of control BBQ utensils.

I feel a rather deep post about life coming on, so I thought I'd do one about nothing to kind of balance things out a bit. 
 I don't know about you, but my man's got his own set of utensils for BBQ season and they are always in the most random of places.  On top of the freezer.  On top of the washing machine.  On top of the kitchen counters.  Hanging from chairs.  Being wielded by ten year old boys who want to sword fight.  (Like to drive a girl crazy!) So I'd had enough, and I decided they needed a home.  I got to rummaging around, and found this crock that I've used off and on for my own kitchen utensils and decided it was perfect. I wanted to label it (because I'm addicted to labeling things, and will forever swear that labeling is my love language) so that Adrain knows this is his stuff.  That's the sort of logic that makes marriages last. 
 I know there are gazillions of better ways to do this, probably just ordering a vinyl label from Leen would have been the cutest solution... but... I needed something today.  Right now.  I used a piece of masking tape so my "label" would be straight. 

 Then I yanked out my rub on letters, and rubbed "BBQ" right onto this crock.  (I'm sure it's not water proof, so don't leave it outside permanently.  Not that you would... but I'm just saying in case you're forgetful or something.)
 Oh, and please ignore the fact that I haven't given myself a manicure since November.  (I do realize, that by saying that, you're all checking out my overgrown cuticles suddenly.  I also realize you might not have even noticed them if I'd kept my mouth shut.  And now we're all thinking about this and wondering why I don't stop talking.  I have no answer for you.)

It turned out cute, didn't it?  And at the end of BBQ season, I can wash those letters off and reclaim my crock. 

Got a good idea for backyard dining and BBQing?  I'd love to hear yours! 

Monday, May 16, 2011

Decision time...

This week is kind of a big week for us.  We have several decisions to make, that can't be put off any longer.  We've been rolling around possibilities and various scenarios, but we must come up with our final answers on a few different things at this point.  I can't tell you how many questions with no answers we've still got!  (My photos are from a recent realtor tour we hosted.  The house was so clean, and looked so nice I couldn't help snapping some photos even though they have nothing to do with this post!)

I'm so bad at making these kinds of decisions.  I'm one of those people that can think something passionately one moment, only to be filled with doubt, the minute one little thing happens that might possibly be a "sign" or road block.  I'm so anxious not to miss a closed  door or a "no," that I find myself frantically on the lookout for anything at all that might point us one direction or another.  (I drive myself bonkers in the process.)  

That's what happened to me this morning.  I woke up, filled with joy.  Nothing has gone as expected recently, yet I'm confident nothing has come as a surprise to God.  How can you not be filled with joy if you believe that? 
I was going along, and flipped open my memory verse cards.  I'd pre-written a bible verse passage that I've been memorizing little by little, and the verse for today (that I pencilled in three months ago) read "He reveals deep and hidden things; he knows what lies in darkness and light dwells with him."  (Daniel 2:22)  Oh my word!  I can't tell you how many times I have mumbled this verse as a prayer already this morning, asking God to reveal the deep and hidden things of the darkness we are in.  I couldn't believe this was my bible memory verse!  It couldn't have been more perfect...
Adrain and I banded together this morning, and we are giving our many decisions serious prayer.  We know God doesn't really do deadlines.  But we also know that He's completely aware of the ones we have looming ahead.  (He's completely aware of yours too...just so you know!)
It's hard to come off a weekend of fun like the one I just had (previous post) and be struck with, "Okay, so what now?" 
Left on my own, and in my own strength, I'm a panicky, emotional mess about all these decisions.  Terrified of making the wrong ones... afraid to miss opportunities and sure my thinking is all twisted up.  Boy, it's a good thing I'm not left in my own strength, isn't it?
 When facing deadlines, all I want to do, is curl up and let someone else make the decisions....do you ever feel like that, or is that just me?
 We've prayed for open or closed doors on so many of these things, and felt like for the most part, we've gotten cracked doors. 
I don't know what the end of this week is going to look like.  I don't know if God will reveal the deep and hidden things that are hidden in the darkness right now, but I know that He surely can if He chooses to.  So right now, I'm going to soak up that thought and keep on repeating my verse as a prayer.    

Thanks for having this little heart to heart with me... You guys are great listeners!  (giggle.)