Victorious Surrender

    I overslept! Oh crap, I overslept because of the rain! I could hear the horses hooves as they ran past my window, back and forth, communicating in their own way that we were late for breakfast and they were starving! I sat up in bed and just took in the sweet sound of raindrops and horses hooves beating the ground at the same time. Two of my favorite sounds and it was like music to my ears. 

   I went to wake the girls, just to find them nestled in their blankets, eyes open and mouths curved into satisfied smiles as they listened to the very sounds I just marveled in. My presence meant it was time though and they crawled out of bed and threw their jackets on. After a quick trip to the loo, they slid on their boots and joined me outside.  

   As I slid my arms, one by one into my slicker and snapped it shut for only the second time of the season, I realized just how much I love the rain even more when I can stay relatively dry while out in it.  Instantly, my thoughts went to my husband. “I hope he remembered his rain gear.” I remember thinking to myself, knowing that even if he didn’t, he would continue working hard in the elements. He is an amazing provider and works every day to keep us alive and well. My heart was so full, I couldn’t have put it in words even if someone had asked me.

  Gear on, we set out to feed the animals, each being eager for their breakfast.  We said our apologies for being late and heard forgiveness with each chomp on their food. We were even welcomed by hugs from the dog and swirls around our legs by the cats.  The ducks stood back in the far corner, holding their ground, letting out an angry quack or two but their resilience broke as soon as their feed hit the ground and their gate was opened for them to set out on their wild adventures for the day.  The chickens pecked at the ground as if they were already wasting away due to the late feeding. As I tossed handfuls of feed at their feet, they began chattering and gobbling up their food like a bunch of hens in a henhouse. 

   Heading back to the barn, I saw my third child, Jade, coiling up the hose as the bunnies she just fed, nibbled on their goodies. When I stopped and inquired as to her busyness at the hoses, she simply stated she was getting them ready for winter freezes so we don’t have to worry about it once it is upon us. It stopped my heart. All these years of communicating the need for logical thinking in this life and the importance of thinking ahead had finally settled in yet again.  “She is growing so fast.” I thought to myself and pride filled my heart.  It is the little moments like this that God gives me just a peek of my fruits being harvested. I am reminded that without Him, my fruits may not even be fruit, but weeds sucking the life out of everything around it. I am so grateful for His grace and all the times He has forgiven me for not hearing his communicating the need for logical thinking and the importance of thinking ahead.  I smile at my beautiful daughter and praise her for her wisdom. Her smile widens to match mine.

   In the barn, I find Faith, my youngest, dropping hay from the hay pile so she can give the horses their second flake for the morning and realize that even just a year ago, she would have asked for help to do this task. Instead, she just worked joyfully, playfully visiting with the kitten at the top of the pile. The thought that she didn’t need me, not because she was able to do it easily, but because the efforts to do the job herself didn’t seem like such a burden. Above that, she was smiling and finding joy in her morning. I felt God was again showing me the importance of having joy even in the smallest things. It really is what allows us to love our lives, no matter our lives.  

   I remember working at a bakery when I was younger and everyone I worked with hated their jobs but I loved working there. I loved working with my hands and I loved greeting the early risers as they filed in for their pastry breakfast. It’s not for everyone, but it was a beautiful place for me.  Just like here and now, it’s not all it’s cracked up to be sometimes.  Yes, sure, the animals are so beautiful and who doesn’t love petting kittens every morning, but this is a job nonetheless. There are hooves to clean, tails to untangle, poop to scoop, medicine to administer, steps in manure, hay in your bra… hair… pants… boots… everywhere!  When you are in the middle of dinner and your dog decides to bring you a chicken she accidentally killed by playing with or your horse looks at you through your window and you see the fence down behind him, you stop eating, get your boots on, and get out there to deal with the issue at hand. When you are just getting in the shower and you hear a shout from the barn, “Come quick!” you throw on the necessary clothing and slip on boots with no socks and haul butt! It’s a glorified life style and some who try it, back away slowly from the reality of it.  I have lived both lives. One fit, one didn’t.  

   A LITTLE FLASHBACK…

   I struggled living in town. In just 2 years, a lot happened. I dealt with depression for the first time in my life.  I felt like the walls were closing in on me all the time. It was weird. I went from being a happy morning person to not wanting to get out of bed. In hopes of making a purpose for myself, I filled my days with tasks and volunteer positions and pursued a career in sales as well as homeschooling my kids still.  My husband went to work out of state and we accepted two foreign exchange students into our home.  I was no longer thinking logically and I surely wasn’t finding any joy in my days.  I was fighting with my kids and welcoming the fact that my husband could not see me this way. I was a mess.

   I had begun to have medical issues. I was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes, I was having serious kidney issues which were always followed by passing stone after stone, and was having what I later learned were panic attacks. Being sick was a very foreign thing for me.  VERY.  AND… I was failing… at everything.  My balance had been shifted and I no longer had any at all. I had lost my way.  Thanks to some amazing people in my life, this was brought to the surface.

   Dropping to my knees in the middle of my living room, I surrendered my life again. I prayed something like, “I have failed, God. I have failed because I am trying to go my own way. I am trying to fill my anxieties with busyness so they will be hidden. Lord, I have begged for your help but I have not waited for your answer. I  don’t even know what is right for my own life. I don’t even know who I am right now. Whisper your wishes in my heart, Lord. Tell me what to do, even if it means doing nothing at all.”  I gave up everything. I stopped doing everything. God cleansed me. He led me to places I never even knew existed. I held positions but was not doing anything in them. He literally halted my life.  Then, He helped me see.  I sent out a plea to every committed position I was in, that I was overwhelmed, I was physically deteriorating because of it and that I was needing to make some changes.  

This is where it gets interesting…  

   I received VERY different responses to this plea.  They were two very different extremes.  It was split in the middle. There were no gray areas. Over half of them responded angry or put out. I was a bail out to them. I didn’t understand what position I was putting them in. I was ungrateful for the things they had done for me (remembering that these being things that benefited them in some way. Business helps, things they could share to show the nature of their character, etc.).  I would say probably 90% of them turned on me, discarded me and even spewed hatred toward me for saving my own life.  (I’m not kidding. That is probably a generous guess) I was shocked. I look back now and see I shouldn’t have been, but I was.  It was the very clarification I needed.  

   Let me tell you about the 10% that responded differently though. This is really all that God wanted me to focus on at that time.  This group of people had a completely different reaction!  I began hearing of others who had gone through this exact same thing and had come to this exact same fork in the road of their lives. I also began hearing people say things like, “Angie, we are so happy for you. We have been praying for you to slow down.” and “Angie, we have been so worried about you. You just look so tired.”  They devised plans to hold me accountable and refused to ask me to volunteer for anything.  They encouraged me to make a plan to do nothing that God wasn’t specifically telling me to do.  I was no longer allowed to volunteer for anything that someone else could do even if it was differently than how I would do it. I was no longer allowed to volunteer without praying about it and waiting for God to answer me clearly.  I was reminded that God had given me 4 beautiful children that were entrusted to me and a husband who worked so hard so I could be home with them.  This 10% cared more about me than the fact that they were going to have to find another volunteer, leader, and/or planner.  I received encouraging words, phone calls and visits to make sure I was staying on track and to let me know I was loved.  A response one NEVER forgets.

   Next up, I realized I was not good at choosing friends.  I tended to choose friends that required extra grace all the time. I have always been drawn to people who needed lots of patience for some reason. I was in no place to help anyone else and really, I was a dry well because I was never getting anything back.  Well, God weeded my friendship garden and I realized, the only real friends I had just happened to be in that 10% and the rest were taken away from me. As I got stronger, they started leaving, one by one. It made me even stronger, and I began to feel a peace I hadn’t felt in years. 

   Then, the owners of our home lost it, sold it, and we were in need to relocate. My husband and son were in North Dakota working, my oldest daughter was not speaking to me and my two youngest daughters were all I had.  We packed and got rid of stuff and packed some more. One evening I felt really terrible and knew my kidney was the culprit. I called my daughter, who not speaking to me, was still there within minutes to take me to the emergency room.  It was kidney stones and a kidney infection. I was sent home medicated and unable to even walk up our stairs, let alone pack. As time got closer, and we still couldn’t find a place to live, I should have been panicking but oddly I wasn’t.  1 week before we were due to be out, my illness which I had pretty much kept from others so they wouldn’t feel obligated to help me, (Gotta love stinky pride, right?) I started to get a little freaked out.  I was nowhere near packed and really was so tired that I almost didn’t even care anymore.

   I had been calling around to realty places and asking for anyone who met our needs on a short notice but hadn’t turned up anything so I was so grateful when our neighbors came and asked if we would be willing to stay at their place for 2 weeks after we were all moved. GOD. I got a call from a realtor that informed me she didn’t know what property I was talking about in my message but she had something that hadn’t even gone on the market yet and she thought we would be interested. Wrong number. GOD. My church called and said that my husband notified them that even though I wasn’t asking for help that I needed it and they would be sending people to help me move. GOD. While moving, I was contacted by a new friend with a horse trailer that they would like to loan their trailer to us for moving. GOD. Friends flooded my home to help me move almost everything into our storage unit. GOD. One gal from church whom I barely knew never left me. She came day after day to help me, brought us lunch and worked side by side with me until the last night I had to be out. We celebrated by eating a burger in my car at almost midnight. The most a friend had ever done for me without expecting anything in return. GOD. He weeded and then planted beautiful kindness into my life. I don’t think that it was any coincidence that the home God gave us is in the country, just 5 minutes down the road from hers. GOD.  My husband came home unemployed due to his refusing to leave me to move twice without him. I was so relieved. GOD. The new house provided a shop and a friend called and offered (We hadn’t even pursued loan options yet) a personal, interest free loan so he could go out on his own. GOD.  We moved out to our new home which costs way more than what we were seeking and yet, we have always made rent. GOD. 

   I look into my daughters eyes, and remember all this and I thank God for all that He has done for us. We have lived here for just over a year and in our 17 years of marriage, we have finally settled.  We are satisfied because He guides us and we are listening.  We probably won’t live here forever. It really isn’t feasible and we feel Him telling us that this is a step in a plan, but we are so grateful to be here. Here being physically and spiritually. 

   I am reminded of other blessings that have come from letting God be in control of our lives. This Summer, my son re-dedicated his life to the Lord and has made vast changes in his life. He gave it all to God. He is no longer a boy, but a man in my eyes. My daughter not only is in constant contact with us but is a beautiful friend in addition to being our daughter. She took the hard road and it is such a blessing to see her choosing to return to God one step at a time.

   When I came in from feeding, I saw my disheveled house.  I saw muddy footprints from Jade forgetting to take her boots of at first. I saw the decks of cards on the table from our family time when my daughter was visiting the day before.  It felt wonderful to know that while I don’t necessarily love cleaning, that I have time to do it and I really wouldn’t rather be anywhere else.  I am grateful for a small house that draws us all close together and is a perfect trade off for my husband being able to work out of the elements from time to time in a shop.  I am so blessed that while we all have to work hard, we are working hard right where God wants us. I am SO grateful to not be living in town. Not because town is bad, but because it is just not where I belong right now.

   I now have peace that reaches all the way down into my soul. The only kind that truly satisfies us. The peace of Christ being the ruler of our heart.  The peace that comes from not having all the answers ourselves but knowing Who does. There aren’t many things that make me afraid anymore, but when I am afraid, I know that I am not listening…

 

   Thank you God, for always loving me. Thank you for seeking me when I refuse to answer. Thank you for not giving up on me. Thank you for giving me peace that allows me to face the horrors of this world and know that You and only You have the victory. Thank you for allowing me to write so I can share the before’s and after’s of this life You have given me and saved me from. Thank you for all the people who will read this today and be brave enough to surrender their lives to You.  Thank you for the support I receive from them. Thank you for my family, my friends, and the HOPE You have given me through your grace and word.  In the name of Your Holy Son, Jesus Christ, Amen.

“…and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”
Philippians 4:7

A Visit With Friends!

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In the hustle and bustle of everyday life, sometimes I forget how important it is to spend time with friends.  A recent visit from friends brought this fact to the top of my awareness bubble.  It was so sweet to just sit and relax and visit.  Even though the visit felt like it ended too soon, it was such a blessing!

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I am surrounded by people every day, all day, but what I don’t do enough is just embrace special moments with those people.  I get so wrapped up in what ‘needs’ to be done that I forget what really matters. Taking the time to absorb life rather than just doing life.  There is just something about an absolutely adorable, sleeping baby that makes these realizations surface.  Isn’t he cute!

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Think of how you feel when you see a beautiful smile on a friends face.  It’s like a little ray of sunshine piercing through the window, making the whole room brighter!

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My favorite part of having friends with kids is the atmosphere.  I remember my parents being distraught when we had friends over and wholly expected to feel that way as an adult as well, but I don’t. There is so much life and humor in these kids, that I can’t imagine a life without them.  I love their laughter, excitement over tiny things, corny jokes, and silly stories.  It’s a priceless addition to living!

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Life… Drink it all in…

Proverbs 27:9
The heartfelt counsel of a friend is as sweet as perfume and incense.

True Friends Strengthen and Help Each Other 
Ecclesiastes 4:9–12 
Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone? A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken. (NLT)

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Here’s to visiting with friends!

~Angie~

Meet My New Pal!

For those who are sick of hearing about diets and what to do and where to go and all that jazz, this is where you need to be.  I struggle so much with a lot of the weight loss programs out there and I just feel like they feed off of the fact that people just don’t think they can do it themselves. Well, guess what? You can and I have proof!

Here is a little tip for health hopefuls that is not only simple and informational, but FREE!  Yep! Free…

Meet My Fitness Pal. It’s a real simple way to go about informing your self, managing your own diet and exercise, PLUS… here’s the good part… All you have to do is put in your information and it tracks everything for you! You just enter foods as you eat them into your food diary and it fills in the rest.  The phone app is really cool because you can scan the bar codes with your cell and make it even easier!

It’s so simple that you will really feel like you are using minimal effort to keep on track.  I look forward to entering my foods and seeing how many calories I have left for the day.

Another feature I really love is the exercise help.  It actually allows you to enter in how many minutes you work out, from walking to intense workouts and in turn, it tells you how many calories you’ve burned.  At the end of the day, when you total out your days activities, it tells you approximately how much weight you will loose at the current rate.  It is WONDERFUL for keeping reasonable goals, no matter how high or low they are!

Something you need to know about me is that I am not a huge calorie counter kind of person.  I originally started this just to prove that I was already doing it right. We eat pretty healthy in our house and I just thought there was something sneaking in my room at night and causing me to eat all those extra calories! Nope, it was me!

Eating is not bad…

And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food. Genesis 1:29

Abusing our body is…

But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified. 1 Corinthians 9:27

I may be new at this and I may not be the best health guru to talk to but what I can tell you is that there are real results happening just in my being more conscious of what foods and how much foods I am sticking into my mouth every day.

Here’s a HUGE bonus! You can do it with your friends and family and you can even blog about your journey.  This is all on ONE website and right at your fingertips, so go check it out!  Here’s the address!

http://www.myfitnesspal.com/

Now go have fun with this!

So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. 1 Corinthians 10:31

If you are already using My Fitness Pal, please let us know what your experience has been and offer some good tips!

Happy Days!

Angie

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Ready To Love Home Again!

   Your laundry room is where cleaning happens so why on earth is it always such a mess?! There is just something about when you walk into someone’s home and their laundry room is clean and smells wonderful that just makes you want to slap them and tell them they suck.  Well, that would be terribly rude of us, so instead we must decide… Do we make a million excuses why we long for that, yet never seem to care as much when it is time to clean it, or do we take it on and protect it like a our lives depend on it?!  How was that for a dramatic beginning?  I know, nice, right?

   Okay, but here is the real me.  I love my home being clean and when I have time, I love cleaning it, but there is something really weird that has happened to me over the years.  When my youngest daughter had leukemia, our home was insanely clean.  I was so freaked out about her coming into contact with germs that we maintained a hospital like sanitized environment for  a very long time.  When she hit remission, the doctor made a joke knowing how I had become, about not sterilizing the door knobs every day anymore.  Some weird switch in me said… Relaxed housework symbolizes everything is okay.  It sounds ridiculous and I have really struggled with the way my own mind glitched on me, but it is the honest truth.  That’s what we do here, remember? 🙂

   So, I allowed that mentality to grab hold and within a couple years, I was in big trouble. I had let my house go, I was taking on tons of projects and jobs that consumed my every moment, and I had decided to keep, EVERYTHING! Moving into town was the final straw. I was completely out of my element and depression was sinking in.  I didn’t even know it. One friend after another expressed concern about my changes and how they felt it was affecting me.  At first, I was totally pissed.  I was so mad that they knew all the things I had gone through and thought that I didn’t have control over my own life.  Really, what they were saying is that I was trying to be in control of my whole life!  Even in the areas I needed to surrender, and even in the areas that I needed to say “No”, I wasn’t.  I wasn’t even interested in hearing what they had to say.

  The seed was planted though and God began to work through my heart. Slowly but surely, I began to actually feel burdened by all that was happening and all that should have been happening, that wasn’t.  I came home from a large event for the organization I run here and I thought I had been robbed!  It sounds so funny but it was almost like I was seeing the disaster for the first time.  It was nuts!  That week, I spent the most time connecting with the friends who had expressed their concerns and let them know, YES!, I finally saw it.

   To make a long story just a little less long, I got rid of crap.  Every time I went to town, I took things to donation.  I made sure that no matter how much garbage we had, the trash can was always full.  It took a while, let me tell you! That year, we had more deaths and tragedies in our family than we had sustained in our lives entirely.  It was a very rough year. Just when I was finally getting a grip on surrendering, we got a notice that the owners of our home needed to sell. While it seemed like such a catastrophe considering that my husband and son were working three states away, one child had moved out and it was just me and the younger two girls left to do the packing and the moving.  I got rid of more stuff and finally said, “Enough! I can’t focus on this anymore.” I was so irritated with God that here I was… ‘getting IT’ and now this is thrown into the mix!  I was determined to do it on my own.  My husband didn’t like that idea.  He called our church.  I was sure no one would want to come move our family of 6, plus an organization, plus a home school, plus put up with my exhausted butt!

   They came… they loved on us, they moved our crap, they brought us lunch and went through a couple very difficult situations with me.  They came… God was there… I got ‘IT’ again.  I was doing good until I tried to be in control of my own surrender. I know… what a dork, right?  Yeah, I agree. 🙂

   Anyway, the point of this is that now, we are back in the country, (God made sure of that) and what was already in progress has continued in shorter spurts.  I donated 10+ more boxes of stuff while unpacking in our new home and I continue to get rid of things on a regular basis.  I have 2 boxes in my car right now and another box I am in the process of filling.  I wish I had thought to blog the process of going through our office area and bookshelf… it was invigorating!

   Now… I’m here… with you.  I have officially gotten rid of enough stuff that finally, I can start living again and organizing with pleasure and joy in my heart!  I, my dear… AM READY TO LOVE HOME AGAIN! 

So!  here goes!…

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Here is my laundry room BEFORE.

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Sorry the pictures are terrible from my phone… This is my bookshelf made into shoe rack and ‘organizer’ for quick grabs from outside.  This is the first thing people see when they walk in this door.

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This is our pantry in the same room.  The space is good but the organization is not.  Behind all those plastic bags are cloth grocery bags that I always forget to take to town on shopping day! 😦

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We eat mostly fresh or frozen foods unless I can it myself, which hasn’t happened for 3 years! I need to make room for that because we are building a garden this Spring, you and me. 🙂

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There were OVER 100 plastic bags in my pantry!  These puppies have GOT to go!  Right to the food pantry!  (Anytime you get overloaded on plastic or paper bags, donate them to your local food pantries.  They love them because they store well and hold a lot of food.)

THE TRANSFORMATION…

The reason it is so important to take everything out of the room is because it allows you to really understand how much stuff is in the room, it is SO much easier to clean the room thoroughly and it gives you a clean slate to work with.

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I have this insanely high shelf in the top of my pantry that goes up to the ceiling and allows for a lot of storage.  This is the perfect place to store these tall boxes of dessert mix!  We bake goodies to go with dessert that our Small Group serves at our local homeless shelter once a month. (If you really want to help your homeless community, serve often at a homeless shelter and really get to know them.  You might be surprised who learns more.)  See that space to the right?  That is going to have 20 boxes of brownie mix (The guys’ favorite) after Saturday.

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To save a lot of space in your pantry, after cereal gets down to 1/4 of a bag, roll it up and write the kind of cereal on it.  

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Drop them in, writing side facing the wall of the container, side by side.  You can identify the cereal without pulling them all out.  Keeps the cereal fresher too!

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Hot cereals stay fresher longer in plastic ware as well.  Cut the directions off the box and slide it down the side.  Refill and toss the box upon every purchase!

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Only 20 bags in that laundry bag converted grocery bag holder!  When it gets bulky, we will make another donation!  No more bags on the floor!

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I labeled the shelves because my family is great about unloading groceries… Now, they can actually put them where they belong because they have a well marked location!

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These recyclable grocery bags are going into my car! I shoved all the smalls into the big.

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Portable insulated bags, coolers and lunch packs now fit on the floor in the pantry!

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I actually had extra space even! And look! Nothing on the dryer!

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Shoe rack now is able to hold our dog grooming bucket and has a place for everyone to put there gloves after working outside!  On top is ready for coffee mugs to be set on while boots are going on!  This is the country, yes, we really require this.  I even put a yummy smelling candle on there that I lit and now has made that whole part of the house smell wonderful!

  My laundry room is small, but it is still part of my home. There were muddy boots coming off in that very room just an hour after I took these pictures.  But now, it is just a wipe and sweep away from being clean all over again and I can do it in about 2 minutes!  

   It’s about making your house work for your lifestyle, not adjusting your lifestyle to fit your house.  I had so much fun doing this and I loved knowing that I could share this with you guys to encourage you to start even if it’s small and learn how to make a small space work for you!  Hope you had fun reading!

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See you soon!

Angie

 

 

Pinterest, anyone?

So, I am upside down, turn around hooked on Pinterest!!!

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I don’t know if you have heard of this website yet, but it is absolutely amazing!  I have learned how to make my own laundry soap, use burner covers to build a turn table masterpiece and to style my hair and clothes in hundreds of styles!  You can learn how to do vertical gardening, closet organizing and how to cook a 10 course meal.  There are so many tips and ideas for organizing, that I’m surprised that we even have clutter in our midst!

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The problem is that while I have more information pouring into my brain, I am so obsessed with the website that I keep reading and getting new ideas and planning that nothing is getting done around my house!  I get so busy clicking and tapping, posting and pinning that all I am seeing in my brain is this grand dining room with a glorious table runner, donning tall elegant candles circled with silver garland swirling all around into a glorious display of cleanliness and effortless beauty!  Then, I get off the computer and see on my table, a coffee mug, and unfinished puzzle with a small pile of pieces set aside for the flute of the girl who is playing magical tunes that turn into fairy tale images. I see school books that wait for my grading (I home school), and a friendship bracelet waiting to be mailed of to one of my daughters friends… ~Sigh

I look into the kitchen and instead of the organized and freshly mopped version that was in my head just moments ago, with all those mugs hanging in a row and the fruit stacked wonderfully in that old style colander, I see dishes in the sink, a bread bag left open on the counter and a black banana on a barren fruit stand.  Not exactly what I had in my head.

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Feeling the burden of what could be and probably should be, created a little bit of depression in my heart.  Why had I spent all that time searching for ways to make my home beautiful and yet it still looks like I ran out the door on Thanksgiving afternoon! Why, why, why?

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I drooped my head and moped into my living room which just moments ago had delightful hand sewn cushions, perfectly tossed onto fluffy and splendidly upholstered furniture with a steaming cup of cappuccino along with my favorite book by it’s side on the shiny solid wood coffee table that I made out of my very own log, and instead saw a crooked rug and slip covers that I despise with a smudge from my coffee cup that I forgot to put a napkin under along with laundry overflowing on my chase lounge. Why, why, why?

It’s not due to a lack of my ability to imagine these rooms wonderful and welcoming, but instead the lack of real time and money to get it that way.  See, when I look at my wish list of things to do around this house, I know it is going to take me weeks and money I don’t have to ‘Git R Done’ and that is just so darn frustrating!

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So, I’ve come up with a plan. I am going to take out a small private loan and go through my Pinterest boards and starting from beginning to end just do it all! Oh, sorry, I was in Pinterest land again.  That’s not the real plan…

Actually, I have a real plan!

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I am asking all you Pinterest Pals of mine to join me if you would like because we are going to have a Pinterest Party!!!  Are you ready for this???  Here we go!

  1. With Pinterest plans already decided, pick the room/area you want to do first!  (This should be a room or area (maybe even a closet) that you can do in a matter of hours and have a noticeable result)  The room I chose was my Laundry Room because I have great storage above my washer and dryer but everything just always gets shoved in there so it looks and functions terrible! TAKE A BEFORE PICTURE!!!
  2. Take everything out of the cupboards, off the shelves and out of the closets and put it in another room on the floor to be sorted, cleaned and organized.
  3. Wipe down all flat surfaces, clean the light fixture, wash the walls as best as possible, and sweep, mop or vacuum the floors.
  4. While all of that is drying, bring your rag with you to wipe down anything that can be, in your pile of items from your room. As you are wiping everything down, start organizing all your items into these four piles.
  • Belongs in this room
  • Does not belong in this room
  • Donate
  • Garbage

Now is for the fun part!

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  1. First, bag up any garbage and take it immediately out to the trash.  
  2. Then bag/box up all the donation items and immediately take them out to your car.  (Don’t try to save things or you will end up putting them back into your home.)
  3. Put everything that doesn’t belong in that room into a box to be organized or put away later.
  4. Envision, the clean, organized room/area the way you want it.  Don’t loose focus!  Pull up the Pinterest page that applies to this room if needed. 
  5. Organize one area at a time and remember that if you can’t make all your stuff fit as you had hoped, consider getting rid of more!
  6. When you are finished, SMILE and TAKE YOUR AFTER PICTURE and say this to yourself… “I am not just a dreamer but also a doer. I am one step closer to living in an organized and clean home that not only is welcoming to guests but that I am safe and comfortable in.” 

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  You may even want to pray this prayer.  “Thank You, God, for giving me a home and many things that so many others don’t even dream of having! I know that you will always provide my needs and I promise not to be consumed any longer by my wants. Thank You for granting them to me and please help me to remember to always be grateful for everything You give. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”

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Repeat these steps every day until you have gone through your whole house.  Remember not to neglect your finished rooms while working on your new rooms.  I suggest giving your bigger projects 2 or more days so you have time to avoid neglecting your daily chores.

I hope this blog has been helpful for you!  I will post my before and after pictures in my next blog!

Me

Happy Pinning!

Angie

Just say my name… please…

How many times a day do you see your name written? On a note… on a document… on an email… on a list of sponsors…  How many times a day do you hear your name?  From your spouse… co-workers… friends… family… How many times?  What do you feel when you see and hear your name?  Do you feel acknowledged, recognized, familiar, loved?  What do you feel when your spouse whispers your name in a chuckle?  What about when a friend calls for you by name?  How about when your name is in bold letters on that certificate you worked so hard for… do you feel accomplished?

I would like to take a minute of your time to tell you about someone I met today. A man that has gone through troubles in his life like many of his friends.  Some time ago, this man looked in the mirror and saw something… A stranger.  He didn’t know who he was anymore.  He had lost his family in almost every sense.

I have to be honest. I was surprised to hear him say he had spent the whole first half of his life, knowing who he was.  He had dreams and enjoyed doing things for other people.  He loved watching his kids grow and admired his wife. People knew who he was.  He was the neighbor people appreciated, the dad of the hitter on the baseball team, husband, father, friend. He was part of the same community for years and had many friends.

What seemed overnight, he no longer saw himself. He lost touch. He lost his dreams. Slowly, one by one, people forgot his name… People… forgot him. He became the part time employee, the single guy next door, the drunk, the tweak.  He became ‘that’, instead of ‘who’.  You would think this would be a tragedy, but his life being in such distress… it didn’t really matter. Until one day… something was different.  He looked all around him and realized no one knew his name and he was all alone.  Habits continued… depression set in… confusion took over… helplessness prevailed.

Then, about 7 months ago, he knew… something… had to change.  Placing his hand on his own reflection, hiding his face from himself, just wasn’t working anymore. He needed to be human again.  He needed people to know he was alive, to remind HIM he was alive.  He needed it… now.  Somehow, he visited a soup kitchen that offered a program to help him get on his feet. A program that allowed him to, not only fill his belly, but to fill the void in his heart.

Like most homeless men and women, who have been robbed of their identity in some shape or form, there is no one around to remind them WHO they are.  There is no one to say their name because no one even knows it. The truth is, people avoid even making eye contact with them, for fear of being begged for money or that gnawing feeling that tells us we don’t live in a perfect world. Knowing this, I usually like to say hello and ask people how they are doing, even when I can’t help them.  You would be amazed at how many people in terrible times of their lives are still able to have a ‘good’ day, and they are more than happy to share that fact if just asked.

If they smile, they are a fraud… if they are forlorn, they are guilty… if they are passive, they are ungrateful…  If this is your mentality, YOU may be one step away from not knowing YOUR name.  Scary, isn’t it?

Anyway, tonight, I met a man.  David.  Just say that name. David… He had a story in his eyes that was hard and cold and painful… softened by the lines around his eyes that said he was no longer that man that didn’t know who he was.  He is now the man that wants people to know him again. His heartache is wrapped in the love of the Lord.  He knows where he wants to go, and will never forget where he came from.  He is David… the man who wants to succeed.  David… the man who is mending his relationships with his children.  David.

The most captivating moment of the evening for me was when they were trying to find people who wanted the last cups of lemonade and apple juice and somebody saw David raise his hand and shouted, “David will take it!”  It immediately took hold of his whole posture.  He stood taller, and he had a smile of familiarity, of acknowledgement, of friendship… of LOVE.  It made my heart soar to see his lines around his eyes crease even more as he broke into a huge grin. It dawned on me right then.  This man isn’t a day older than my dad. Funny how he seemed so much older when our conversation had begun.

I was reminded of something, meeting David tonight.  I was reminded that no matter how many people I know, and how many people know my name, there is only One who really knows me, and it is solely through His grace that anyone knows me at all.  I was one step away from this man once and I was saved.

So, the next time you see your name on a document, note or letter.  The next time you hear your name leave the lips of a loved one… say a sweet prayer of praise that someone knows your name and know that it is not because of how great you are, but how great God is.  And the next time you pass someone who looks as if they have no name… introduce yourself.  Ask them how they are doing. Who knows… Maybe all they need to be reminded of who they are is to hear their very own name spoken back to them. Maybe they will be YOUR reminder!

Loving is not easy, though one thinks it easy enough.
Because love is not weak, but very tough.
You must first acknowledge you are loved to the core,
And that your life, is your life no more.
Before you can tell who you are, and play the game,
You must first ask the Creator,

“Lord… what is my name?
May you all find who you are while you still know your names…

And love openly, those who don’t.

~~~ Angie ~~~

For Her…

   About 1,340 children are expected to die from cancer in 2012… About 12,060 children will be diagnosed with cancer in 2012…

   Wait… Let’s try this again…

About 1,000 + 300 + 40  children are expected to die from cancer in 2012.  

   How many people really know this number?  Even more important, how many people are touched by seeing that number?  

 

    Meet Faith

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   Faith was a typical 5 year old girl, who loved to dress up and put on Tinkerbell eyeshadow and pick beautiful flowers for her mommy and daddy.  She had no comprehension of cancer or the terrors that came with it.  Her favorite color was yellow like the sun… her favorite song was Jesus Loves Me and her favorite thing to do was dance and play with her brother and sisters.  She giggled endlessly and loved playing jokes.  She loved princesses and ballerinas.  Faith only got sick on an average of once a year, even during flu season.  Strong, healthy, vibrant and beautiful.

   November… Thanksgiving Day, while playing with her siblings and cousins, Faith fell on a rock pile and scraped her back, leaving a bruise just like any other fall. A few days later, she was fine and her scrape was healing fine.

   December… While preparing for our first Christmas in our new house, Faith seemed to be a little less excited than usual, complaining of feeling tired.  One night, while eating dinner, Faith complained that her tummy was hurting and started projectile vomiting.  While she was getting sick she started crying and grabbing her back.  The bruise on her back was still there, but there seemed to be no other sign of anything wrong with her back from the outside.  A call was made to the bone specialist but they couldn’t get Faith in until the 28th, 3 days after Christmas. The following morning, Faith seemed totally fine and said her back didn’t hurt any longer.

   A week later, the whole family got the flu except Faith.

   Christmas Eve… While celebrating Christmas with her grandparents 100 miles away, Faith complained of not feeling well and asked to lay down. While resting, she began vomiting and the flu was evident. Faith was very pale and we decided to travel back home where we would be closer to the doctor. 

   Christmas Day, Faith still felt sick but was holding down food and fluids. She never spiked a fever, and managed to open her gifts with interest.  By that evening, she was complaining of back ache but her tummy was feeling better.  

   The day after Christmas, Faith felt a lot better and only had mild back pain and only when she bent over. She stayed in bed for the next 2 days to prevent any damage to her back.  

   December 28th, while at the bone specialist, the x-rays showed absolutely no sign of injury. Ribs were in tact, spine was in tact, and there was no sign of new bleeding.  The most concerning part was that fact that Faith was getting more pale by the day.  While the doctor ran his fingers up her neck, he found a lump on the left side and recommended that her pediatrician see her immediately.  She was rushed to her pediatrician who just happened to travel the world, helping countries who are less fortunate medically, to diagnose rare diseases.  He checked her over for about 10 minutes and ordered lab work to be done promptly.

   December 29th, 7:00 am… Faith is sleeping peacefully for the first time in days and wakes up with a sleepy sigh and sweet smile for her mommy.  She says she is feeling “okay”… The phone rings…

   I answer the phone to the doctor, a little confused that he is calling before the office even opens.  “Angie, I need to talk to you about Faith’s lab work,” he says gently. “I need you to listen real closely.”  I stopped pulling cereal boxes out of the cupboard. “You have my full attention,” I reply, fear creeping into my chest.  I knew it.  I just knew she had something wrong with her back.  What I couldn’t figure out is what in the world that had to do with her lab work. “Angie, after looking at Faith’s lab work, I believe she has something called leukemia…” I felt my legs giving out.

   Rewind… September, earlier that year… I sat watching a St. Jude’s fundraiser on television, tissue in hand.  A young boy, bald and pale, yet absolutely adorable, talks in a little voice about how much he misses his sister and daddy and how he just wants to be able to get better and go home… As tears roll down my cheeks, I thank God that I am not enduring what those mommies are enduring and swear that I would never be able to watch my child go through such terror.

   “Angie… Angie, I need to know you are hearing what I’m telling you. Angie… do you understand what I am saying?”  … I keep answering, “Yes, yes.” but he just keeps saying my name.  “Angie, I think you are in shock right now and I need you to only concentrate on answering me.”  I realize that my mind is saying yes, but my voice just won’t cooperate.  I take a breath and I don’t even recognize my own voice anymore.  “I understand.”  That’s it. That’s all that comes out. “There is already a bed ready for Faith at Doernbecher Children’s Hospital in Portland.  They are expecting you by early afternoon.  You need to leave within three hours if possible. It’s critical to get her there as soon as possible.” 

   We packed light and called our friend and youth pastor and my mom and asked them to meet us at the church.  Several church staff members, my mom and sister, my husband, me and our kids all came together to ask God for something we didn’t even know if we had a right to ask… understanding.

 

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   Upon arriving at the hospital, we were flooded with strange smells, nurses, doctors, technicians & fellow doctors (doctors in transition to the floor).  We were overwhelmed by the confidence of the physicians and their thorough testing. Our family of 6, unwilling to separate, found a way to sleep all of us in one room.  I slept with Faith in her hospital bed, Vince slept in the recliner and the other three kids slept linked together on the couch.  I say slept and by that, I mean, in between beeping machines, flashing lights, nurses coming in and out, blood pressure cuffs resetting, and families whispering the nurses enter the rooms beside us.  Our lives felt like a slow moving horror movie.

   January 2, 2007… the test results have come in.  The team of doctors come in and their faces are unreadable. Calm, considerate, compassionate, and burdened, they walk into the room and quietly take a seat. Over the last few days, these people have not only earned our trust by being completely honest with us, but they have also become our only lifeline here on earth and we know it.  As soon as the words ‘cancer’ and ‘leukemia’ left the doctors mouths, we were flooded with paperwork, facts, statistics and plans for treatment.  One thing that our doctor told us that gave me great comfort, was that not only were they very familiar with the type of leukemia that Faith had, but that over the last 10 years, the survival rate had drastically gotten better due to research and modern technology.

   I didn’t know it then, but that little bit of hope would change my life and how I gave back in the years ahead.

   Treatment meant many things for our entire family. Separation, fear, strength, hope, growth, friends, knowledge, patience, FAITH, research, support, love, frustration, education, exhaustion, loneliness, and courage are just some of those things.

FAITH

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  At the hospital and while staying at the Ronald McDonald House, Faith would often fall asleep during prayer so peacefully that we just knew God was comforting her every time we prayed. As a mother, I can’t even explain how this picture still to this day floods my heart with so many conflicting emotions. The memories of her being this sick are still really vivid in my mind. 

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Our first trip home, Faith had a few good days.  We tried to capture them as much as possible. She slept a lot, vomited daily, and cried occasionally.  We tried to keep her as comfortable as possible all the time but the steroids made it difficult for her to get comfortable.  Between the chemo and the medication to keep the chemo from killing her, she was a roller coaster of emotion and her immune system was usually at zero. Often, we had to quarantine our home for months at a time and no one was allowed to visit and trips to town were very rare. The smell of most foods would throw her into a projectile vomiting.  We had to completely adjust our diets and cooking methods.

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Some days were significantly better than others.  This picture is Faith’s first trip into town, non medical related.  She was so excited that she even struck a pose for me!  We constantly saw glimpses of the vibrant, beautiful girl that we knew so well and our hope was high.  We had no reason to believe she couldn’t be one of the survivors we had heard about.

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As time went by, Faith had breaks in treatment that allowed her to have visitors.  (These were usually times that the treatment was subtle to allow her immune system to recuperate so she could be hit again) It was bittersweet because it was such a blessing to see her color return and her spunk to be up, but knowing in the back of your mind, it wasn’t over… but even more, just being grateful that it was atleast life.

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Friends came, bearing gifts, including the bicyclists from Candlelighters For Children With Cancer who rode with Cycle Oregon 2007 and sent postcards to Faith at their stopping points to remind her they were riding for her.  We love this organization.  They are wonderful!  Melissa, the first Candlelighters staff that we met continued to support Faith by coming to every one of her doctors appointments for the first 3 years of her outpatient treatment.

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Sometimes treatment even allowed us to attend awareness fundraisers where Faith was always willing to talk about what she was going through. Her smile is what carried me most days.

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Finally, the doctors cleared Faith to go to Disneyland.  She was so excited that she called everyone herself to tell them. Her Aunt Kristie gave her a Mickey Mouse hat that sat on a shelf until this special day of clearance! Faith had to take chemo even during her trip to Disneyland.  They wouldn’t allow us to take her pill crusher on the plane and when we got there, we couldn’t find one anywhere. She chewed her pills with ice cream.  Not even chemo was going to stop this wish from happening!

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There were good days…

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Crazy tired days…

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But they were days…

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They were life…

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She spent her very last day of treatment admitted in the hospital…

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But we still celebrated life…

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It’s all that mattered…  

   So when treatment ended, people assumed that everything ended, but really, it isn’t over.  We were fortunate to parent a survivor, but there are SO MANY side effects of treatment. Faith may never be able to have children… She is more likely to get a secondary cancer… She has to have continued doctor visits for the rest of her life.

 

HERE COMES THE BIG PICTURE… 

   We have a chance..

Image To help…

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ImageTo make a difference…

ImageIn the lives of these children…

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ImageTo bring giggles…

ImageSmiles…

ImageSeasons…

ImageMemories…

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Support is easier than you think!

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Whether you are a sibling…

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A parent…

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It doesn’t matter how you are effected…

         Maybe you are an aunt or uncle… grandma or grandpa…

                 Heck, maybe you are a neighbor….

Or maybe…

You just have a heart…

That is big enough to give in an area you can’t relate to, but you really feel led to reach out.

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Whatever reason you have… if for no other reason, FOR HER!

 

September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month… won’t YOU help spread the word?

 

Love,

Her Mom ❤

 

If you would like to reach out and don’t know where, please consider this worthy recipients that we have not only benefited from but support and have seen where the money goes!

Candlelighters For Children With Cancer http://www.4kidswithcancer.org

Caring Bridge http://www.caringbridge.org

Shane’s Walk http://www.shaneswalk.weebly.com

 

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