Sunday, September 30, 2012

Prayer

I'm going through the study Prayer by Philip Yancey with a group at my church. Reading this book was on my to-do list for this year and when it came time for me to pick a study for the group I was continuously drawn back to this one. So I picked it. :)

We've done two weeks of the study so far and I'm trying to read the book as we go even though it isn't necessary. I always get so much out of the books that go with the studies... so I read them. It gives me a fuller experience and understanding and often challenges me in deeper ways.

I have questions about prayer this year. Just things that I am working through with God. I know prayer is right. I know it works. I still pray. But I have questions. I'm hoping that throughout this study some of my questions get answered. While waiting for answers I'll just keep learning.

One of the things that Yancey said is that he doesn't like to think of prayer as a discipline. Instead, he calls it a privilege.

This just floored me. I've always heard it called a discipline... something we must discipline ourselves to do. While that is true it never really helped me. I could read books about how to have a quiet time. I could follow those cute little things like praying through the word ACTS (adoration, confession, thanksgiving, supplication) or using my fingers as reminders of who to pray for... Always leaving myself for last.

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The honest truth... I struggle with prayer. I do it. I pray. And I'm learning to pray continually as I go throughout my day. But there are days when I miss it. Lots of days. I'll say some quick prayers here and there throughout the day but I often just don't stop to have some real time just hanging with God. I need that time.

Yancey's words have changed my thinking on prayer.

No longer am I striving to have this "discipline"... no... I'm now recognizing that I have the PRIVILEGE of speaking and listening to and spending time with the Creator of all things. WOW! What an honor! I GET to talk to the King of kings! The one who was here from the beginning. The God who knows all. I get to sit with Him and just be... just be me as I am right now. Mess and all. And He will listen and He will love me and He will direct my steps.

What a privilege!

Yancey says, "It occurred to me one day that though I often worry about whether or not I sense the presence of God, I give little thought to whether God senses the presence of me."

I want to forget about the discipline and live in the privilege. I want God to sense the presence of me... the depths of my heart and soul as I share my life with Him... every day... every moment... every breath.


Sunday Song... A Great Great Love

This morning in church we sang How Great the Father's Love for Us and it just wrecked me. 

Perspective.

Love.

Agape. Unconditional. Undeserving love.

I'm wrecked as I listen to it again. It brings me to tears.


How deep the Father's love for us
How vast beyond all measure
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure.

How often I take for granted what was done for me.
Forgive me Father for not always appreciating the greatness of your love and sacrifice.


Saturday, September 29, 2012

One Month

August 29th... one month ago today.

One month ago I bought a house.

I can't believe it has only been one month since that day! It seems like it has been much longer but maybe that's because I squeezed so much into that one month.

On August 29th Liza had her first day of Kindergarten

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We picked her up from that and then headed to our house closing

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I spent the next two days cleaning cleaning cleaning the new house and then that Saturday we took a day trip to my parents' house to visit because my sisters were in town.

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We came back home and continued cleaning the new house. Eventually we were able to start with the painting! Woo hoo!! I spent days and days painting. I'm sill not done and the hallway might just remain with its coat of primer for a while. I'm too tired to think about painting it!

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About three days before moving I finally decided that I should start packing.

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Oh yeah... somewhere in the middle of all of this Jason also had his first day of school and Liza had picture day and a fundraiser. Geez!

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Two weeks ago today we moved into the new house and I've been attempting to unpack ever since. But we are exhausted! And I had to take a second trip to my parents' house this month (2 hours one way) for my cousin's wedding... which I photographed.

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(Are you tired yet??!)

We had Liza's birthday to celebrate and mine.

I had a kickoff party to organize and throw for the women's ministry at my church.

I totally slacked when it came to helping Amy with Butler Praise and Coffee this month.

I met some nice neighbors.

This month has been INSANE! My brain is totally fried. My body is exhausted. I still have a lot of boxes to unpack. Ugh!

I am totally looking forward to October. I don't have any really big plans on the calendar. I'll be heading to St. Marys again for a wedding but this time I'm simply a guest and I'm going to kick back and enjoy it! I want to have a girls night. And I want to take some time to unpack... if it happens hooray! If not, there is always November. :) I'm ready for a slower pace of life.

I need a few weeks to catch my breath.



Friday, September 28, 2012

Bittersweet



If you've been around this space of net for more than a day you know that I bought a house a month ago. And this is how I truly truly feel about it...

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Bittersweet.
Both pleasant and painful.

Oh man. I haven't had any debt for about five years. This. Is. Hard. We actually sent in our first mortgage payment yesterday. Hooray for it being a little less than 54,800 now haha. 15 years of payments? I think not. I'm already trying to figure out how quickly I can erase that debt.

Just yesterday I was all "Oh... we can just leave our mattress on the floor. Instead of buying that $250 thing to get it off the floor we could put that $250 on our debt."

I get a bit ridiculous sometimes.

And I know that me just straight up saying I have $54,800 in debt might make some of you uncomfortable but oh well. I talk about life and this is part of it.

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Proverbs 22:7
The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is the slave of the lender.

I love my house! But I hate being a borrower.


(Pictures from the lovely Kim at A Fresh Perspective. Edited by me because she didn't have time. :))
 

Trust

Last night was just what I needed!!... An encouraging night out with 18 other awesome ladies! Me and my friend Amy began Butler Praise and Coffee earlier this year and it has been such a blessing to me! I have met so many great Christian women from my town and they are all so wonderful and uplifting!

Last night we gathered at The Net for a discussion on Proverbs 3:5-6...

Lean on, trust in, and be confident in the Lord with all your heart and mind and do not rely on your own insight or understanding. In all your ways know, recognize, and acknowledge Him, and He will direct and make straight and plain your paths. (AMP)

Amy gave us some questions to think about. Am I leaning on and trusting Jesus, or am I leaning on and trusting my own insight? Am I recognizing and acknowledging Him in everything I say, do and think about? In what areas of my life could I trust Him more? What has God promised me in this scripture?

Of course, when you have a group of 19 women sitting around some tables you never have to worry if a discussion will start up. It will. :) And it did.

This has been an interesting year for me. One of learning to just trust God. To NOT worry. I've never been much of a worrier anyways but this year has stretched me for sure! In my own understanding it does NOT make sense to buy a house since Mike hasn't had much work and paychecks are smaller than ever. There is a lot of uncertainty. BUT I KNOW that God has said this is the step to take right now... even though it doesn't make sense in my own understanding. I could spend all my time worrying about it... but I don't. Sure there are some days when I focus on what I know instead of Jesus and I panic a little but as soon as I remember that this is where God wants us, that HE is the one who directed this move I know I don't need to worry. My God will take care of me.

Someone raised the question "how do we not worry? What does that look like practically applied?" After discussing this for a while I realized that we were asking the wrong question. We shouldn't be focusing on how to NOT WORRY but instead we should be asking HOW DO I LEARN TO TRUST? As we learn to trust the worry will fade. Don't spend your time trying to shut down the worry. Spend your time learning to trust.

And how have I learned to trust?

Well... I just turned 33 and I have known God all my life. Grew up in a family that lived for Him. As I look back over the past 33 years I can honestly say that God has NEVER let me down. Not once! He says He will never leave me and as I look back I can see that He was always there... even when I was unsure. He was there. Everything He has said in His Word that He will do... He has done. He is trustworthy and faithful and therefore I can trust.

Proverbs 3:5-6 in my NIV reads:

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.

I thought it was interesting that the word "submit" was used. Lisa Bevere has the best definition of submission that I have ever heard. "Sub" means to come under so we are simply "coming under the same mission." When you come under the same mission as God, when you walk in His ways, when you seek first His Kingdom... when you live like that it's easier to not worry because you have to trust.

Obedience will build trust. When God says... I do. And as I do as He says and stop living by my own understanding I learn that every time He has led me in the right direction. Every time He was right. Every time He took care of me.

The more I walk with God the easier it is to trust. The more I am able to trust the less I find myself worrying.

The amplified says "be confident in the Lord." To be confident means to have full assurance. Today I will choose to be confident in the Lord... because I have learned that most often my own understanding is quite messed up. :)



PS... you all should check out my other friend named Amy. She is hosting Frankly Friday and it's a wonderful link up idea!!



Thursday, September 27, 2012

Who Took the Apples?

Liza is LOOOOVING Kindergarten! She has a wonderful teacher and I'm excited to chaperone their first field trip in a two weeks... to the firehall. :) School has been a really good experience for us so far. Well... you know... aside from the whooping cough and lice scares.

Liza is in love with learning and the other day I told Mike that I am pretty sure Miss E. will teach her more in a year than I have in six. But that's ok. We'll make a good team. Miss E. can teach her the book stuff and I'll continue to teach her the life and heart stuff.

This week in kindergarten Liza has been talking about apples in celebration of Johnny Appleseed's birthday. They all took in an apple and they've been sorting, counting and tasting the different color apples. Tomorrow they will get to taste some homemade applesauce and some apple cider. (Yum!)

Throughout the week they've been coloring a little book and learning a little rhyme. I caught Liza reading it to Jason most likely JUST the way that she perceives Miss E. to be reading it to her. I asked her to "read it" on video and she did. Lucky you. :)





Thursday Thoughts

1. I FINALLY have phone and internet at home!!! Woo hooooo! We wanted to try a new company since we started having issues with the old one. What we didn't know was that in order to keep the same number while switching companies you had to give a ten day notice. We were told they would be coming between 10 and 5 today (ridiculous!) and thankfully they pulled up to the house at 10:45 to connect us! Done.

2. I need to do laundry quite desperately but it's raining. Remember... I have that issue where I have to unplug my basement floor so the washer can drain down the hole but the hole must be plugged when raining so water doesn't come up. This is weird.

3. The light switch in my bathroom is in the wrong place. Seriously! Every. single. time that I walk into the bathroom I reach to the left to turn on the light. Only, it's on the right! Mike gets it wrong every time too so I know it's not just me. It was on the right in our last house so you would think that after 5 years of reaching to the right when I walked into the bathroom that this would not be an issue... but it is. Something about the setup maybe? My brain just knows that the light switch should be on the left. I resorted to using the bathroom in the dark if I reach for the light and get it wrong.

4. My box spring is STILL in the living room and my mattress is STILL on the floor. BUT I found a quilt for my bed that I love love LOVE! I got it at Kohl's on sale plus an additional 30% off. It was originally about $140 and I think I got it for around $50. Awesomeness!! See...

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5. I've decided that it's time to splurge and get myself and awesome set of sheets. I just turned 33 and bought a new house. I think it's time to do this grown up thing and stop buying the cheapies. :)

6. Been an editing fool. Trying to get done with the picture's of my cousin's wedding. I do not enjoy the editing part so much but I have more photo shoots coming up so I need to get it done.

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Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Ashley and Her Baby Belly

I once gave a friend the gift of photo shoots at her baby shower. I did maternity, newborn, 3 month, 6 month, 9 month and 1 year old. The point was for me to get practice with the different stages of baby that people like pictures for while giving them a really great gift. I'm glad I got the practice in because someone booked me for those same sessions because she wanted to gift her niece with photos.

I was supposed to do Ashley's maternity shoot last week but it rained. We rescheduled for yesterday but it was looking like rain again! Thankfully we both had the afternoon free and were able to meet up early and beat the rain. The weather was perfect! And Ashely was so easy to work with. And can I just say that for being 34 weeks pregnant she looks AMAZING! I looked like a blimp at this point in my pregnancies!

Anyways... on to some pictures of Ashley and her baby belly...

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I'm looking forward to the newborn shoot!!! Can't wait to photograph a baby girl! It will be the first photo shoot in my new house! I want to make backdrops! 



Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Happy Birthday to Meeee!

Today... today I am 33 big years old. And I'm ok with that. :)

I'm also pretty sure that the world is celebrating.

1. Mike didn't have to work. That's a good thing because my rule for myself on my birthday is no cooking and cleaning. Also, if Mike is home I add to that not having parenting responsibilities either. He gets to do it all and I get a real day off.

2. I had Bible study this morning. On my birthday. Happy birthday to me!!! because I just LOVE Tuesday morning Bible studies. :)

3. I had lunch at Panera. By myself. On a giftcard. With $2 off my U Pick 2. Woo hoo!

4. People are randomly giving me cards and gifts. I have great friends!

5. I got to do a photo shoot today and the weather was perfect for me! Thank you clouds for being just right at just the right time.

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6. I got home from the photo shoot and grabbed the mail. Our landlord sent a check for the refund on ten days of rent and our security deposit. We got the full deposit back!!! It was low because we paid it seven years ago when we first rented one of her two bedroom townhouses and when we moved to her three bedroom the security deposit was just transferred to the new lease. Seven and a half years and two kids later and we got the full $450 back! That plus the rent return equaled one month of rent. I was happy!

7. Also in the mail was a bill for Armstrong saying we owed them close to $100. Mike was pretty sure that was a mistake because we returned their box thingy so we should not have been charged. He called the company and they were all "oh. Ok. You can just discard that and actually we owe you money so be looking for that check in the mail." :)

8. Mike cooked lasagna. We've been eating easy meals for a while now and I am just dying for real meals. Lasagna sounds really good! I'm at the library at the moment because if I stayed home I would have felt like I had to do something and well... it's my bday. My rule is that I don't cook or clean. I'll head home in about ten minutes and he should be putting the food on the table!

9. My favorite show has a double season premier tonight! (New Girl in case you were wondering. It's the only one I watch.)

10. I got a gazillion notes on facebook today and it totally made my day! So fun hearing from all my friends!

See... I told you the world was celebrating for me. Everything has happened just right today. 33 is going to be a great year!!!



Sunday, September 23, 2012

Brady and Marissa... Married!

A few months ago my cousin Brady called me... He was getting married in September and needed a photographer. Would I take the job?

I knew I'd be crazy with moving but I figured:
1. He's my cousin. I'll probably be going to the wedding anyways.
2. I really like photographing weddings.
3. I could use the money to buy the paint for my new house.

I accepted the job.

Friday afternoon we headed to my parent's house. We spent the night there and went to the wedding on Saturday. Mike was my assistant (or equipment carrier) for the day and mom and dad helped a TON with the kids. It took a team to make it possible for me to photograph this wedding.

Saturday afternoon Mike and I drove through the mountains of PA into the middle of nowhere. It was a gorgeous day!

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The ceremony was at a cute little church just across the road from where Marissa grew up.

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Marissa was absolutely stunning! Her dress was gorgeous!

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There was a threat of rain all day but it held off for us and only rained during the half hour drive from the church to the reception. Perfect timing! Well... I guess it also rained a good bit after we were inside for dinner. Again... perfect timing! 

Things were wet but we made it work. I had read a tip somewhere on the internet a while ago... take a sheet or garbage bags so they can sit if things are wet or dirty. I was ready with white garbage bags for the bride and black for the groom... we needed them!

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Their reception was at a golf course in the mountains in the middle of nowhere PA. Beautiful!!!

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It was a great day! Lots of family, fun and dancing! These are just a few of my favorite pics from my first scroll through. It was a good photography day for me and I had a couple of situations come up that forced me to learn something new. Good day all around!

We drove home after the wedding. Got home just before 1am. I am soooo incredibly exhausted today. I could fall asleep right here on the booth seat at Panera. I think I'll go home instead and sleep on the couch during the Steelers game. Pretty sure a full week of sleep would be good for me!

Friday, September 21, 2012

A Week of Crazy

Let's start somewhere in the middle of last week.

I had a message from the school nurse to stop in because she needed to share something with me. I hate vague messages like that. I spent all night wondering what it was. Are they changing their mind and ready to give me a hard time about not getting Liza her shots? Did we do something wrong?

Nope. She just wanted to let me know that someone in Liza's class had a sibling that had whooping cough so Liza was likely exposed. They remembered that she didn't have all her shots and wanted to give me a heads up. I was told to watch for runny nose and coughing... cold symptoms... and sent on my way.

I wasn't concerned at all.

Until Saturday... My MIL had the kids overnight so we could move. Mid-afternoon she brought the kids back. Liza walked in the door... and coughed!

Oh no! I didn't know what to do. I did some research online to learn about whooping cough. The first stage can last several days to two weeks and it's a runny nose and mild cough sometimes accompanied by a low fever or watery eyes.

GREAT. Really. Just. Great.

I called the on call doctor because the office is closed on Saturday nights. They said I should probably just have her tested for it. So Sunday morning we headed into the emergency room to get some tests done. And let me just tell ya now... this is the first time in six years that I have gone to the doctor/hospital for anything other than a well visit for the kids. This trip to the ER reminded me why I don't... some doctors are complete idiots. (I think doctors in general are good and do a lot of good and people should continue becoming doctors.)

We saw several nurses who asked questions and we kept mentioning that she was not up to date on shots and that she was exposed to whooping cough and now has a runny nose and cough. We just wanted her tested so I could send her back to school without worrying about infecting everyone and having them direct their hate at the non-vaxer... I was going to be a responsible non-vaxer.

DOCTOR: *in derogatory voice* Why did you stop getting her shots?
ME: Because that's what I decided to do.
DOCTOR: Why did you decide to do that?
ME: Because that's what I decided to do.

He dropped it. And good thing because I just planned to repeat myself. I knew that he would not understand my explanation so I just left it at "because that's what I decided to do."

After checking her out...

DOCTOR: I don't even think we test for whooping cough here.
ME: *ready to bang my head off the floor at this point* And where CAN I get tested for that?
DOCTOR: I don't know. I'm not even sure how they test for it.
ME: You take a swab from her nose, send it to a lab and they check for the bacteria that causes whooping cough.
DOCTOR: Hang on. Let me talk to another doctor to get another opinion.

Several minutes later we hear the doctor and nurse outside our room...

DOCTOR: Just take a swab.
NURSE: I don't even know what I'm doing.
DOCTOR: Just swab her nose.
NURSE: Ok.

Yeah... didn't really want to hear that conversation. There was more. Nothing reassuring.

Nurse swabs Liza's nose... a traumatizing experience for all of us and we are discharged. What a morning!! The only thing left to do was wait for results... from a lab in California. I kept the kids home from everything this week because I was waiting on the results. By Wednesday night I was all "screw this. Pretty sure she just has a cold." But I just couldn't send her to school.

FINALLY after I called Thursday (I called every day) the doctors had some results for me... no whooping cough detected.

Life back to normal.

Liza went to school today...

...and came home with a note that someone in her class has lice.

I'm kinda sorta glad that I kept her home this week!!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Thursday Thoughts

It is Thursday right? Everything is running together these days. I have some stories to tell but I'm waiting for some things to play out so I can tell you the WHOLE story and not just part of it. So instead some random



1. It's been a really frustrating week. Maybe next week will be normal?

2. I get to photograph a wedding this weekend! I'm totally pumped about that but nervous at the same time. My cousin is getting married and it's out of town. I do not have a second shooter. I did a wedding alone before and did just fine... but I should have a second shooter.

3. I get to visit with a good friend of ours from college tonight! AND I get to meet his fiance! I'm so excited for our friend and I can't wait to meet his girl. I'm assuming she is awesome because my friend is deserving of nothing less!

4. My kitchen cabinets still smell. There are a few that don't so I shoved everything into those ones just to get rid of some boxes. My kitchen doesn't make sense at all.

5. Yesterday we cleaned out the house we rented for the past five and a half years. Today I'll give the landlord my keys. It's been a good house and was strange to say goodbye to it. It's the only house that the kids know and so much has happened in the past five years. It was a good house for us but thankfully the memories live in my heart and I can take them with me.

6. I should probably figure out what to do for Liza's birthday since it is in two days.

7. My birthday is in five days and Mike's is in 11. He thought we were turning 32 this year. I informed him it will be 33. He didn't like that. :)

8. I have a gazillion things swirling in my head but I'm too tired to write them out and make sense of it all. I want to talk about the things I am thinking about because of the Bible study I just started... Prayer by Philip Yancey. I think it's going to be a good one and I think I'll have a lot to say about it. I'll save that for when I can make sense of things. I'm too tired and my brain is on shutdown.

9. And I still don't have internet at a home. One more week.




Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Unpacking

Hi Friends!

I miss all of you! Life without internet at home is weird! I've been reading all of your comments when I get a chance and I'm sorry I haven't responded to you! I'll get back to doing that once I have internet again. :)

Here is what's going on at the house...

I really want to get the downstairs sorted so we have a place to relax without looking at mess all the time. The living room is actually quite a relaxing place even though we have a few things to do in there...

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We need to get a closet door and get rid of the box spring that won't fit up the stairs.

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I also need to paint the fireplace but that can wait until the house is unpacked.

This is looking into the dining room from the living room...

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I got more of those boxes sorted this morning! I can't wait to be done with boxes! 

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I might be crazy but I'm thinking I need a smallish tree thing in the left corner of the dining room. And big things on the huge walls. The plant thing is odd for me because I kill plants really well. Not sure I've ever been able to keep one alive. We'll see! I also need flowers or something for the table. It's begging for something!

Some of those boxes in the dining room are kitchen stuff though and the kitchen is currently a disaster. We ran into a small problem. The cupboards stink. Previous owner was a smoker and I just can't seem to get it to leave the metal cupboards. I've washed with lysol. I've washed with bleach. I've sprayed with white vinegar. Right now I have several boxes of baking soda throughout the cupboards. I've left them open to air out. Nothing! Nothing is working! And I can't put all my dishes in until I get the stink out. Slightly frustrating.

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(No dishwasher. Back to washing by hand. Strange.)

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I would REALLY like to be able to put my kitchen away and start using it. If you have any ideas of how to get the smell to go please let me know!

That's all I'm showing you today. The bedrooms are still a disaster. I've spend my time on the downstairs. The upstairs will come soon.

Any decorating ideas for my dining room? There is just sooo much wall space!


Tuesday, September 18, 2012

My Babies

Liza and Jason totally make my life! They are two absolutely amazing kids. Here are two recent conversations...

ME: I'm going to tell you secrets Jason.
JASON: Ok
ME: *whispering in his ear* You're my favorite boy. I think you are really awesome. I love you!
JASON: *whispers in my ear* I love you all the time.



LIZA: *while wanting to know how to spell a word* What comes next?
ME: It makes this sound *K sound*
LIZA: Hmmm. I think I forget.
ME:  You know it. Think for a minute.
LIZA: Maybe the party rockers made me lose my mind.


LOVE THEM!

I decided to take advantage of an empty house with big walls and get some pictures of them. 

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Liza has been rockin the sillies lately...

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I love this next picture. It is so Liza. Simple. Smiley. Sweet.

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(I am soooo incredibly happy to be out of those dark brown walls! They cast an orangish tint on my pictures which made skin tone a nightmare.)










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