Friday, August 29, 2014

2 Years!!!

Two years ago today we bought our house! I love it more today than I did on the day we bought it... and believe me... I loved my house A LOT on that day!

It's been a good two years.
We haven't been able to pay down our mortgage as quickly as we want to due to some unexpected financial situations. But we are still ahead and haven't given up on a super early pay off. We also haven't been able to update our kitchen so yes... we still have those metal cupboards that don't get used. But I think the smoke smell is fading. Perhaps in another year we will be able to use them!!!

There is still plenty of things "not right" with our house... but I don't really care. I love my neighborhood. I love the people. I love the ministries we are connecting with that also love my neighborhood. I love the school and the kids. I love when I walk past the playground and hear "Hi Liza's mom!" or "Mrs. Wick!" or "Hey Laura!" or "What up Laura?" I love when someone walks in my open door, sits down in my living room and tells me about their day.

I am right where I am meant to be.

In honor of my two year house anniversary I want to reshare something I wrote February 21, 2012. It was just after we had decided to look for a house to buy. It gave me goosebumps to reread it!

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Yesterday I wrote about how we are finally ready to start looking for a home and I asked for any tips or advice on home buying that you might have. What surprised me was that several of you were all "Location! Location! Location!" I guess it just surprised me because it's not really an issue for me.

Now! Before you go thinking I'm all crazy let me explain myself. :)

Actually, let me start by saying that I KNOW that I am going to go about looking for a house differently than most and I understand why location SHOULD be important. It's ok if that is important to you and I in no way think that anyone else should just forget about it like I am willing to unless you come up with your own set of convictions.

So...

I'm honestly not worried about location at all.

I've felt strongly for a while now that there is a neighborhood that we are called to. Some people do their missions outside of the United States. Some do their missions work within the United States. I believe that God will have our missions work within the neighborhood that we move to. There are families that need us.

And so I will go to whatever location God shows me.

I don't care if it isn't the best school in town. God won't just give Mike and I the grace we need but He will also give my kids the grace to not only survive but to thrive in their environment as well. It's a family mission. And as far as school goes... I'm the parent. I am the one who is responsible for my children. If the school is lacking then I just need to pick up the slack and make sure my kids are getting what they need.

I don't get the sense that God will stick us in the ghetto but I do know that it isn't going to be the prettiest, most successful neighborhood either. And I'm ok with that.

You can try to convince me that location truly is important but I'm not going to be convinced. Last night I read all the comments that came in and I emailed back and forth with a good, understanding friend who had offered up some thoughts. But here's the thing...

(If I pull out parts of your comment and share my thoughts on it it's not because I think you are wrong... it just helped me settle my convictions even more and I want to share it with others to help them understand.)

Someone said "You can always paint walls... you can't paint surroundings."

I know where she was coming from so it completely makes sense that she should share that tip. But my surroundings will simply be something along the lines of a neighborhood. Nothing spectacular. Probably some crazies. (But who hasn't called ME crazy at some point!?!?) I may not be able to paint the surroundings but the surroundings that I end up with will be able to be covered in prayer and changed by the grace and love of God!

I'm not worried about whether or not the house will sell when I am ready to move either. If I go where God sends me he isn't going to trap me there when He says it's time to move on. Plus... we plan to buy a cheap house and pay it off quickly. Once it's paid for we will begin saving for our next house. We should have nothing owed and plenty saved when it comes time to move again. I know. I know. Plans don't always work out. Either way, God's going to bless us for our obedience. I'm not worried about it.

This is an issue I am completely settled on. I have so many ideas in my head and they only fit within a neighborhood. I want to be the home where kids hang out all the time. Where they feel safe. Where they find love. (Not saying they won't be safe or finding love in their own homes.) I want to welcome in the kids who's parents are working and can't be home when school lets out. I want to use those education degrees I slaved for and help kids with their homework. I hope that I have a covered porch and that the bus stops right in front of my house so that I can invite the other parents to come up for coffee and hot chocolate while waiting for the bus to come on those cold mornings. And then just maybe we will all start talking and sharing our lives and maybe before you know it we'll be having Bible studies in the morning after the kids get on the bus.

Who knows!!! I know they are just ideas. Dreams. Thoughts. But God knows! God knows what will happen when we move where he wants us. It's an adventure that I am so excited about! I know it might not always be easy... but God didn't promise easy.


I imagine God scanning the whole earth... and saying, "I don't need the person who has a perfect background and perfect qualifications and everything all arranged and organized. I don't need [only] the woman who has her spices alphabetized and never gets them out of order. I just need a woman who will say yes. That's the woman I can use to change the world."  ~Lysa TerKeurst

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Back to School

Yesterday was the first day of school.
Jason is in first and Liza is in second.
6 1/2 hours every day.

I miss them already.
I'm kind of lost without them.

The house is calm and quiet... and actually starting to get cleaned up.
But it doesn't feel right.
It feels empty.

I watch and wait to learn what time they will be outside for recess or gym class just so I can get a glimpse of them and toss them the "I love you" sign. My heart skips a beat when they send it back. Not yet too cool to be seen telling their mom "I love you."

What will I do with 6 1/2 hours five days a week????
I have plenty of work to do. Books to read. Movies to watch.
But none of that stuff matters.

I miss my babies.
I miss their laughter.
I miss their sillies.
I miss their hugs and snugs.
I miss hearing their thoughts and being there for them when they need me.



Remember what I have taught you Liza and Jason.
Be kind... always.
Do what's right... always.
Give people second, third and fourth chances.
Listen to your teachers.
Learn to love learning.
Work your problems out.
And always ALWAYS be yourself.

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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Our Little Free Library Grand Opening

Most of you know that we now have a Little Free Library in our little front yard. We love it! The neighborhood loves it!

A lot of people have walked by and looked at it. It's interesting listening to them and peeking out my window. Sometimes I go outside and talk to people and tell them about it. Sometimes I let them figure it out. The books are changing so they are getting it. But I wanted to take some time to make a big deal about it... draw attention to it and let people know that not only is the LFL there but it is there for them to use.

So... I had a Grand Opening. We pulled all the books from our attic. Friends donated books. Neighbors made cookies, let me borrow canopies and tables, helped me set up and clean up. We had boxes upon boxes of books that we gave away for free. There were two prizes that people could enter to win. The cookies were delicious. I had a craft table where people could make bookmarks... which turned into the table where kids made whatever they wanted... and I was ok with that. :) The kids blew through six gallons of koolaid. And since the LFL that we have is a partnership with our Public Library we also had Mr. Peter come and read a book to the kids. (Best book reader EVER!)

We had a really great time and met lots neighbors. Someone came by that wasn't even from our neighborhood. She just read about it on the Butler Area Public Library's facebook page and decided that she and her son needed to take a trip to the outdoor library! I loved meeting everyone and giving away books and I'm looking forward to finding good books in our Little Free Library to read myself!!

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We couldn't have a book party without giving away a copy of the book that Mike wrote!
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Monday, August 25, 2014

Becca and Phil ~ Married!

I love how every wedding is different. I love meeting the families. I love all the details and decorations. I love the love!

Becca and Phil's wedding didn't disappoint! They got married at Thiel College where they met and then we headed to The Oak Tree Country Club for a great reception. It was a beautiful summer day with lots of sunshine and laughter! I think my favorite part of their day was the anniversary dance. When the dj asked everyone who has been married for 25 years or less to sit down the dance floor remained crowded with couples. Becca and Phil are lucky to have wedding longevity surrounding them! They will never lack advice on how to make it last.

Thanks Becca and Phil for allowing me to witness your day and your love and the opportunity to meet your families!!

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Looooved how unique Becca's dress was!
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Becca's brother is serving our country and was unable to make it home for the wedding. They skyped him in!
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The spot where Phil proposed.
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Sunday, August 24, 2014

Our Little Free Library

A few months ago, while browsing pinterest, I saw a Little Free Library (LFL) for the first time. I showed it to Mike, told him I thought it was super cool and then said, "we should do this!!"

And then I never did anything about it.

A few weeks ago I got an email from our friend Peter. He is the Children's Librarian at our local public library and we met him when the kids were younger and we were taking them to story time all the time. Anyways... the email from Peter was asking if we would be interested in having a Little Free Library in our front yard. He had been trying to come up with a good place for one in town for the past two years and it finally hit him that we live in a great place with lots of people...especially kids!

I didn't even have to think about it. I was pretty much all "Mike, you have to say yes to this!!!"

He did. :)

Last week the LFL arrived and Peter came over to help install it. We filled it up with books and the neighbors started checking it out!!

I'm loving it already! On Tuesday I've decided to have a "grand opening". I'll sit out front all day and talk to people who walk by. We'll give them free books to take home and cookies and lemonade. And we'll make bookmarks... because they go so well with books! :)

I've always wanted to have a library in my house but I guess I can settle for having one on the outside!

Thanks to the Butler Area Public Library for bringing the Little Free Library to our downtown neighborhood! Without them we wouldn't have it because the only thing we did was give them a place to put it! They did the rest. Our public library is awesome!!!

The way the LFL works is that you take a book and leave a book. There should always be something new to read!

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Mike cut out a chunk of our bushes while the kids watched.
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Peter got some help.
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Almost done!
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Checking out how it works and making sure the kids can reach.
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Our first "customer"!!!
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If you live in our town come check it out!!!

Friday, August 22, 2014

Jake and Sarah ~ Engaged

Sarah and Jake booked me for their wedding in September but we decided to get together for an engagement session before that comes along. The first time we scheduled ended up being a rain out. (Story of my summer!!) I was afraid that our rescheduled date would be the same but we managed to beat the storm.

We went to one of my favorite locations and I can't speak for them but I know I had a lot of fun! They had me laughing a lot... and I enjoy laughing! I can't wait for their wedding because I'm certain it will be a good time!

Congrats Jake and Sarah! I'll see you in September!

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