Friday, April 26, 2013

A Sun Shower

I stare at the screen on my phone ... Thailand??

I roll onto my side, barely awake, and focus my eyes on the little words in the email ...

We detected a login attempt with valid password to your Yahoo! account from an unrecognized device on Fri, Apr 26 ... Location: Thailand.

I roll out of bed and start following the directions on my phone to reset my password. As I walk towards the desktop computer in our home office, Sperry hears me moving around and comes barreling down the hallway. 

David follows from the kitchen, "Good morning," he says as he welcomes me into a new day with a big hug.

"I got hacked," I mumble back at him staring at my phone.

David is steady. He's never easily excited. He looks at my phone as I explain that I've already reset the password and that I'm going to check some other accounts that could have been affected. 

It took about 5 minutes to check into everything else, and thankfully it all looked okay.

Several hours later, Sperry and I listen to thunder boom outside while jungle-like rain pours out of the sky...

"Thailand has jungle regions," I think as I look out the window.

I go back to drawing a picture for the girls to color tonight at the Dream Center while we talk about peer pressure. 

The thunder booms again. 

"What was the purpose in that, Lord? We've been hacked before ... thankfully everything worked out, but are you trying to teach me something this time? Or maybe each time?"

The thunder booms again.

I scan the picture into my computer and send it to Nati to print for tonight. 

The sun breaks through the clouds, and I look out the window and cast my eyes about a beautiful sun shower.

Maybe the lesson is that you never know what each day is going to bring. No matter what, we have to trust that God is in control of the things that are out of our control, the things that happen while we sleep, and the things that happen without our knowledge, permission, or preference. 

That there are people who don't want what's best for us. That hard stuff happens. That the enemy comes to steal, kill, and destroy. (John 10:10) 

That after the events we suffered through last week as our friends and families in Boston and around the country endured terror... goodness, justice, and love won. 

That we shouldn't get all frazzled and excited when the dark storms set in, because they will. We know they will. We've been warned. 

But, God's got it, and the Son is going to come out again.

"Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also." John 14:1-3

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Crock Pot Teriyaki Chicken

I am all about sharing the love when it comes to an easy, yummy, healthy dinner recipe!

I'm honestly not sure how healthy this recipe for crock pot chicken teriyaki is, but it was definitely easy, yummy, and healthier than if we'd ordered take out!

Mandy Warford (my super cool aunt-in-law) totally turned me on to the idea of cooking with chicken thighs. I never ever would have picked up a package of chicken thighs until this one night when we were over for dinner and she'd made them. Oh my, they were delicious!

So, I had been waiting for the perfect recipe, and when I stumbled upon this one via Pinterest, I knew it was time to take the plunge.

Notes on This Recipe:

- I put my thighs (about 7 all together) in the crock pot frozen and cooked them on low for 4.5 hrs, then turned it to warm until I was ready to serve dinner. Next time, I'll probably only let them cook for 4 hrs tops (they were teetering on the dry side at 4.5 hrs).

- I didn't use ginger, and we didn't miss it.

- I only used 1/2 cup of sugar instead of 3/4 cups.

- The sauce turned out great and reminded us both of an asian chicken dinner we used to eat weekly when we were first married from Trader Joe's. So good!

- Instead of serving over white rice, we fried up our brown rice with a couple eggs, about two cups of broccoli, and a green onion.

It won't surprise me if we make this again next week, and I'm pretty excited about getting to eat the left-overs for lunch tomorrow!

Let me know if you try this recipe and like it as much as we did!

Crock Pot Teriyaki Chicken 

Calendars

I love being organized. I have calendars everywhere. There's a monthly, dry erase calendar on our refrigerator. I have a weekly menu on the counter in our kitchen. I have an adorable Lilly Pulitzer day planner. I use the calendar on my phone to keep up with appointments. I have an online calendar just for work deadlines.

Can you tell I love calendars? They're so helpful, organized, and I dare say fun!

I think my appreciation for calendars might have something to do with being a hands on learner. 

If you tell me something, honestly, I might not remember it. I HAVE to write it down. With so many calendars to choose from, which all serve their own organizational purpose, I always have one to write my plans/need-to-do's/reminders in. 

Writing it down will help me remember, and having it written down will help me remember. {Do you see the difference? If so, you and I are so similar. : ) There certainly is a difference.}

David isn't really a calendar guy. Although he's tried to, he's never used an agenda or calendar. He just remembers everything he has to do. (It totally baffles me!) Since we have the dry erase calendar right there in the kitchen, he'll write personal appointments down on it, but not really for his benefit - but for mine.

So, yesterday, when David said it was time to try using a joint, electronic calendar, I was pretty surprised. We'd tried it once right after we got married. It lasted about 5 minutes. 

But, David's got so much going on this summer with law school and an internship and out-of-town weddings, he wants to be sure nothing gets over-booked or over-looked. 

So, David quickly got our iCalendars synced up and I went to work entering his summer class schedule, our travel schedule, family get togethers ... The calendar began to fill up so fast that I realized our white board never would have been able to handle this summer. 

And, as I look at the happy plans and blessings we're about to step into during the coming months, I can't help but smile and remember the verse Malachi 3:10...

"Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the LordAlmighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it."

Is that what our summer is? An outpouring of blessings so great that we don't have room to store it up? Or enough room on our calendars to hold it all?

If so, THANK YOU, LORD! Thank you for the blessings. Help us to daily see the opportunities, the travel plans, the visitors, the classes, the papers, the books, the suits, the new glasses, the demands of the job, the time we spend cooking dinner together, the walks with Sperry, the hot summer sun, the hardy green plants ... all of it is a blessing from you. Even when we're so busy keeping up with the calendar, remind us that every breath is a blessing. 

Thank you for the blessings.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Sewing Table

For as long as I can remember, my mom has had a sewing table in her kitchen at the bottom of the front staircase. It's been one of those constant pieces of furniture/decor. Even though she's changed lots of the rooms in our home over the years, that sewing table has never moved. It's been a canopy the dogs have slept under and has been the display case for dozens of birthday cards, holiday decorations, vases of flowers, piece of art work, Easter/Valentine's Day gifts, etc ... So many memories began with that piece of furniture, that in itself, it has become a memory.

Here in our little red house, we have a long shelf between the kitchen and sun room that's become the spot I've chosen to show off birthday cards. So, as I was arranging the cards I'd received for my birthday over the weekend, I thought about that sewing table and how it would be cool if I could have one of my own, but just like my mom's. 

As mentioned in previous posts, I'm in the middle of trying to finish decorating our living room (spending as little money as possible). I had decided on a couple DIY projects I'd found on Pinterest and asked Brenda yesterday if she'd come help me hunt through our favorite antique store for a mirror and large picture frame to get me started. I had written down a list of the things I needed to complete this little projects to keep me focused. And thank goodness I did, because we stumbled upon a few really cute things. But since they weren't on my list or related to these simple projects, they remained in their booths.

And then, half way through the store, I saw it.

It wasn't the same color, but everything else about it was exactly the same.

A sewing table.




Even though a table of any kind wasn't on my list, I had to at least take a closer peak. 

"Please be a good price," I whispered as I lifted a variety of rooster plates and bowls off of it.

And it was.. Just $32. : ) 

So, the picture frame and mirror we'd already found went back into their booths, and I checked out with my very own sewing table.

David like it when he saw it after coming home from school, and I think it looks really good in our living room.



I did have to nix one of the DIY project ideas on my list for now since I'd used all of it's money on the table, but I think it was worth it. 

This little treasure from the antique store might end up being more than just a table in our living room. It could be the beginning of many memories for our family. Who knows, maybe just like my mom's, it will become a memory of it's own.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Happy One Year, Red House!

The dinner dishes are cleaned and put away, the t.v. is off, the plants have been watered, the sun is setting behind our neighbor's house, Sperry is recovering from our walk in the hot sun, David is preparing for class tomorrow, and I am soaking in every sensation I can of what's occurring around me.

It's hard to believe it was a year ago today that we moved into this red house. 

I'll never forget the feeling of terror we both experienced as we opened the door into the kitchen for the first time to find the floor flooded with dirty water while moving men behind us were ready to unload our entire life through that very door ... I was already thankful that my in-laws had offered to make the drive with us the day before and help us move in, but once we realized two bodies couldn't tackle this project alone, we were even more grateful... Dave Sr. must have made 5 trips to various stores returning each time with buckets, mops, and cleaning supplies. Brenda cleaned and cleaned and cleaned (you could have eaten off the bathtubs after she was done with them) and then put my kitchen together. 

Today as I swiffered the sparkling tiles in our sunroom, I remembered the layers of dirt and dog hair I'd cleaned off the windows, floor, and steps of that very room a year ago wondering, "Will it ever get clean? Will this ever feel like a home?"

...

Since we started our law school search almost two years ago, I'd been pretty forward about not wanting to move to Arkansas, even though David definitely wanted to apply to school here. I basically told God I'd go anywhere else. Although I dreaded the idea of moving far from my family, I was excited about the potential to move to a couple other cities where David had applied to school. Just not Arkansas. Anywhere but Arkansas. Call me Jonah. "I'm not going, God!!" 

Thank goodness water doesn't connect Atlanta to Little Rock, otherwise I would have fit the criteria to have made that journey by whale.

...

At that time, I didn't realize we were being called to live and serve here. All I knew was God was moving us here. I knew David's school had something to do with it, obviously, but I didn't consider the rest of it. 

While talking with my dear friend Libba on the phone that first summer, she encouraged me saying, "You are forgetting that it's not all about David. Yes, he's a big part of this. And, yes, you're called to support him on this adventure. But do you really think God's not going to do anything else while you're there?" 

...

Sometimes God calls you to go somewhere. It could be down the street or across the globe. You might or might not know what He's going to have you do when you get there. You just know, God is calling us to go there. So, you're obedient, and you go.

We didn't feel called to move. In fact, it really didn't seem like we had an option either way. God just orchestrated everything, and before we knew it, we were crossing five state borders in my VW Tiguan.

It wasn't until after we moved that God gave us our calling: "I'm calling you HERE, right where you are now."

I honestly can't believe the countless ways the Lord has blessed us since moving to Arkansas. We can both say confidently, we believe this is exactly where God wants us. 

Happy One Year Anniversary, Red House. And thank you friends and family for supporting us in so many countless ways this past year. We appreciate it more than you know. God bless.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Pillows

I just adore our little red barn house, and now that I know we'll be living here in this space for another full year, I've decided to spruce up our living room. 

As my sweet husband can attest, I'm terrible to shop with. I can pick up eight things in a store and before I get to the register put every single item down. I don't need to be talked out of buying things, I need to be talked into buying them!

I'm a big coupon and sale girl. It's turning into more of a curse than a blessing, because sometimes I buy things I'm not in love with (definitely not what my mother taught me!!) or things of poorer quality because they're on sale and then never wear them. So, even though I might have saved $7, I wasted the difference that I spent.

When it comes to our home, I'm very much the same way. Thank goodness Hobby Lobby always has a  40% coupon on their mobile app! The majority of the things (furniture, decorations, etc) have been gifts, items we've acquired on mission trips or vacations in open air markets, or things I've made. (I've revisited my crafty side since our move to Arkansas.)

...

This week I got to visit the very first friend I made when we moved here to Arkansas: Nikki and her sweet new baby Elliott! The last time I'd been over to Nikki's house was shortly after she and her husband moved into their new home. Of course, we had a wonderful time catching up and admiring precious Elliott, but I couldn't help but be in awe of how complete her home looked. The decor, the furniture (we have very similar tastes in style, right down to our earrings), everything looked so perfectly put together! I was convicted. I've lived in my house longer than Nikki has lived in her's, but my living room still looks like it belongs to a college kid!

It was the spark I needed - the push to get 'er done. 

Now that I had completed the bare white wall challenge, was happy with my kitchen and dining space, liked the vibe in our home office, and had planted a few bulbs (early birthday presents from my mom!) and impatiens in our front yard for this Spring ... it was seriously time to tackle the living room. 

So, I moved furniture around, centered the area rug, printed new photos for picture frames, and borrowed items from other rooms in the house to see if they'd fit better in the living room.

Sure enough, it's coming along. David and I took a trip to Steinmart this afternoon, and I stumbled upon some decorative pillows. I had known for a while it was time for new couch pillows... Let's just say, Sperry likes pillows...

Anyway, I was very happy with the prices and loved all of the colors.





It's a good step in the right direction! Now to peruse that board I have on Pinterest of DIY projects, and maybe a trip or two to the antique store down the street!

If you have any budget friendly DIY projects for living rooms that you enjoyed and turned out well, I'd love to hear about them!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

END IT

I took a wet paper towel and wiped off the collecting pollen before pressing the black sticker onto the shiny red paint of my car. I lined it up with my license plate, hoping it would stick straight. I smoothed out a bubble or two and stood back to look at it.


If you haven't seen any red X's around town or on tv today, or if you have and didn't know what they were for, they're for the EndItMovement. End what? End slavery.

There are more than 27 million people on Earth right now who are slaves. 

What is that like? To live in bondage to another person's will and desires?

It is possible to live in bondage without physical ropes tying up your wrists and ankles. 

The definition of bondage is "a state of subjection to a force, power, or influence."

Many of us live out our daily lives under the influence of something else. For some of you it may be insecurity that prevents you from engaging with other people, seeking out a different job opportunity, or  following a dream.

For others it might be lies that you've been told. They told you that you weren't smart enough, so you're afraid to share your opinion or idea, after all they told you that you weren't smart, so it probably isn't a good one anyway.

Maybe it's your appearance. No one ever tells you that you're beautiful or attractive or notices the attention you took while getting ready this morning. You don't have "the right body." Why would anyone love you? 

Maybe it's an addiction. You know a guy who's brother sells weed for pretty cheep... The alcohol numbs the anxiety, the depression, the loneliness. You've tried to leave it before, but nothing makes you feel like the drugs do...

Maybe it's what's happened to you. The abuse, the neglect, the trauma... The consequences you've had to endure because of what someone else did to you.

These are just a couple of examples of things that hold us in bondage- things that control how we live our lives.

...

I got to visit with my friend Nati this evening. We're both recent transplants to Arkansas who share a desire to introduce children to Christ. She shared with me some of the situations many of the children at the AR Dream Center are experiencing. It broke my heart to hear about children, little children, who've been violated, who've been lied to, who don't feel like they are loved...

And it hit home in a way it hasn't before... it's not just the slaves who need freedom from bondage, it's all of us. Every single one of us has at one time or another lived under the control of something else. 

I lived in fear for two years: the fear of triggers, fear of abduction, and fear of physical violation controlled me.  For two years I believed the lie that I was damaged and a burden to those around me.

I remember the moment when the fear lost it's control over me. Even remembering it now, the sunshine pouring through the front windshield of the suburban, the market place to my right, Hector holding a granola bar to my left... Tears come to my eyes when I remember the moment I was freed.

If your chains haven't fallen off yet, they can. Right now. Jesus died for us so that we don't have to live in bondage.

"The thief does not come except to steal, kill, and destroy. I have come that they may have life and that they may have it more abundantly." John 10:10

Living in bondage doesn't equate to living life more abundantly. 

Let's be part of the voice that helps bring an end to the bondage of slavery. But, let's also be sure we're not actually living in bondage ourselves.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

EndItMovement.com


“It is now safe to use approved electronic devices…” the flight attendant’s voice trails off as I stare out the window down upon the city I love. If only it were 5 seconds earlier, I would have pulled out my camera to take a picture. What a shot. A bird’s eye view of the city – my university, my dorms, the GA Dome, the Bank of America building, Atlantic Station, the GA Tech football stadium… Special landmarks and memories right there out my window. What a city. What beautiful sunshine, it’s light reflecting off the city.

We ascend a little higher, and soon we’re above the clouds.

I sit back and remember my brother’s words just a few hours earlier as we drove to the airport, “I love this city. I don't think I plan on leaving it.”

I looked back at him and said, “I know what you mean. It’s a great city. I’m glad I got to live down here for as long as I did.”

The clouds break. I look down at the green earth, the houses, the curving roads, the tall pine trees, the tiny cars…

Louis Giglio’s message from this morning is still processing through my mind. I pull out my Bible and flip to Colossians.

“And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” Colossians 3:17

I chew on the words. “Whatever you do.” My mind highlights “give thanks.”

That book I mentioned a while back, “10,000 Gifts” by Ann Voskamp, has challenged the way I receive the world.

Receiving is a choice. If someone hands something to you, you decide whether or not you are going to accept it. Sometimes you choose not to receive something. Like, if someone handed me a piece of spearmint gum, I would not take it. (I’m allergic to mint.) I have that control, that CHOICE to say, “No, I’ll pass.”

I also have the power to say NO to fear. Fear is something I struggled immensely with for 2 years. Two years of flashbacks, panic attacks, nightmares… and other post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms. I lived in bondage to fear. But, I didn’t have to. I didn’t know that I had a CHOICE to say, “No. I don’t accept the fear,” that I had power over it.

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1:7

These past couple months I’ve been awakened to the understanding that just like I have the power to not accept things, I have the opportunity to accept things – like gifts. And, they’re all around us. So many gifts of God fall in our laps every day, and often they go unnoticed. We fail to recognize that every good gift is from God. (James 1:17). And, as a result, we fail to thank Him.

I think about the city I grew up in – Atlanta. I think about the city I now live in – Little Rock. I think about the people who don’t have a CHOICE, who don’t have power over their circumstances, who don’t know that the opportunity for love and freedom exists… I think about the people I’ll never see because they’re hidden behind the cloak of slavery.

I look at my fingernails. Mom treated me and Katie to mani-pedi’s during my trip to Atlanta. Katie and I chose red nails, except for our ring fingers. Those are white, and each has a red X painted on it.



I look at the brochure folded and tucked inside my Bible with red X’s all over it that Passion City Church passed out this morning.

I think about the people we’re wearing and plastering X’s for … children, women, men … slaves.

Just down the street from where Amy and I lived those two years in college was “the street” where most of the trafficking happens.

Just next door to Isaac’s house is a house they busted as a brothel. We prayed that it would end as we learned about the dire situation occurring in our city – the capital for human trafficking in North America. Our city…. Braves Nation, Hotlanta, host of the 1996 Olympics, The Home of Coca Cola, the Falcons, CNN, the CDC … Atlanta.

In two days, hopefully you’ll notice red X’s everywhere. Maybe they’ll be on cars, maybe they’ll be on people’s hands or fingernails. You’ll see them on TV as different celebrities make public service announcements about the End It Movement.

End what? 

End slavery. 

End this situation where people don’t have a CHOICE.

Whether we realize it right now or not, the issue of slavery hits close to home for all of us, for different reasons, that I'll discuss later this week.

Visit enditmovement.com. See how you can become a part of the voice that’s shining a light on slavery. And as you do, realize that whatever you’re in bondage to, you have a CHOICE and through Christ you have the POWER to say NO or YES.