Overwhelmed and Overjoyed

Well hello blog world, how I've missed you!!!  Do you also find that it's so hard to get back into the blogging swing of things once you've been away for awhile??  I have definitely been busy.  I have also had many moments of feeling a bit overwhelmed, which I have started to see as a privilege and a reason to be thankful.  I'm finding that often the stresses of life are the very things that show us how much we have to be grateful for!

I'm sad I missed Miscellany Monday because that's just what I need after being away from the blog for more than a week!  So I'll make this "Random Tuesday" instead:

1.  I am overjoyed because I had the privilege of baptizing my friend Jessica on Sunday!!!  What a special, wonderful day it was, and a powerful moment that I was able to share with her.  We met last year at the school where we both taught.  She has been such an encouragement to me, and I'm so thankful for her friendship.  Like I told her on Sunday, I know the angels are rejoicing over her decision, and I am rejoicing with them!  Praise the Lord - I am in awe of his awesome work!

2.  I am somewhat overwhelmed because...Kevin and I are moving within the next couple weeks.  This has previously been my opinion on this matter: Grrrr.  The apartments we have lived in for 2 years are raising our lease, and it has challenged us to come to terms with making the wisest choice.  This has honestly been what has preoccupied me more than anything over the last few weeks, as the unknown always seems to be an opportunity to either trust completely, or be overwhelmed with stress.  It has actually turned out to be a great opportunity for Kevin and I to see God moving and answering our prayers, and to learn to come together and work as the team God intended us to be.  We truly desire to be faithful to him in every way, and we have no idea what he is preparing us for.  We are learning to be thankful for having to learn how to make necessary sacrifices now, and we know many more will be required in the future.  And we've come face to face with how blessed we are, having way more than we need, even while often struggling with the sinful nature to want more.  Without getting into lots of details, we already know God is using this part of our story to increase our faith in him, as he is showing us how He's the great Provider.  So while at first this seemed like a terrible time of year to go through this, it's actually quite appropriate.  Rather than grumbling my way through this season of joy and generosity, I am starting to see this is really not a bummer...it's actually a blessing that I'm truly thankful for.

3.  I had an awesome opportunity to speak at a high school girls' "True Beauty" retreat a little over a week ago.  It was an awesome weekend, starting with oatmeal facials!  (Recipe for that to come soon!)  I spoke to the girls 3 times, and I was inspired by their hearts for living for Jesus.  I was also reminded what a difficult and confusing time that season of life can be, and how we struggle as women to see ourselves as God sees us: unconditionally loved, and unbelievably beautiful.  I encouraged them to believe and cling to the fact that God is for them, he is pursuing them, and he has a plan for their lives that he longs to lead them through.  Hopefully I will have a better recap on my messages soon!  Thanks, girls, for having me and sharing your hearts that weekend!  I am praying for you and was privileged to get to share my heart with you!

4.  Kevin and I had fun celebrated our anniversary in Nashville...thank you for your advice on some fun things to do!  It was a great time...and will get its own post soon!

5.  Thanksgiving was spent at my Grandma's and we had a fabulous time.  She was a beautiful and gracious hostess.  While there I made a couple pumpkin rolls...yum!!!  I think the best recipe is the one from LIBBY'S pumpkin, found here..  It's so much easier than you think, and it makes a great gift!  (Perhaps I'll do a video blog on how I make this!)  I love this time of year, and I am loving learning from all of your creative ideas how to make it even more special!!

6.  Finally, I am participating in my first craft show this weekend!!!  I will be so excited next week to unveil my vision for these creations with you.  And I'm excited for my first experience of this kind on Saturday.  That said, please forgive me if I'm absent from my blog and yours more than usual this week!  Between teaching, creating, and packing, this week is turning out to be quite the adventure! :)


Song for the Sabbath - "You Can Have Me"

Love, love, love this song...and it is my prayer.  I hope you all enjoy this beautiful Sunday!


An Anniversary Update

Kevin and I had a fun anniversary night on Tuesday, celebrating with dinner and a movie.  I love the Cheesecake Factory, so we ate dinner there and I ordered Stuffed Chicken Tortillas.  Yum!  Kevin had chicken and asparagus.  3 more days until his diet is done!!!  Trust me, cause for rejoice around here!  (By the way, he's lost 15 pounds!!)  I'm amazed and so proud of his perseverance.

Next we went to a $5.00 movie, (which only happens on Tuesdays, so we're thankful our anniversary was on that day this year!), and we saw my new favorite, Secretariat!!!  It is a phenomenal movie, with such heart, especially if you love animals at all.  And even more fun for us because we live in Louisville, KY, the heart of horse racing.  Such a sweet story, and one-hundred percent clean - a true rarity.  It was awesome.  If you haven't seen it, take your whole family and go soon!!

Finally, I got my requested dance party.  We leave the radio on for Chai when we leave the apartment, so how crazy was it that 2 min. after we walked in the door "Amazed" by Lonestar came on!!  The song we danced to at our wedding!  I considered it a sweet little wedding gift from God.  Then we sped things up a bit and brought out the hip-hop heart inside me.  Our playlist included "You're Amazing" by Bruno Mars, "Bleeding Love" by Leona Lewis, "No One" by Alicia Keys, and "With You" by Chris Brown.  We had a blast and were exhausted by the end of it.  One of the things I look forward to most about having children is the dance parties we will share as well! 

We are also planning to go to Nashville (because it's fairly close), for a night or two to celebrate.  Any suggestions for fun activities or things to do there??

Happy Thursday to you!!

(By the way, how crazy exciting is it that Thanksgiving is 1 week from today!  Love it!!)


Celebrating Two Years!!

(Taken on our honeymoon)

Today Kevin and I are celebrating our 2nd anniversary!  Our marriage is immeasurably more than I could
have ever asked or imagined.  We were crazy in love on this day 2 years ago, and we are crazy in love today.  We began our celebration at midnight last night with a serenade of the first song we danced to - "Amazed" by Lonestar, and the song I sang during our ceremony - "Feels Like Home" by Chantal Kreviazuk.  (That was one of the most nervous moments of my life, but SO worth it!)  Tonight I'll be requesting a dance party to "You're Amazing" by Bruno Mars! :)  If you want to read a post (one of my first!) that I wrote three weeks after our wedding, click here and a month after that I wrote this.

I love you more than ever my Honey-Love!  Looking so forward to year 3!

"Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen." Ephesians 3:20-21 


Song for the Sabbath

It is such a blessing and a joy to be able to lay my heart bare on a page for all to see, and have it received and encouraged with such love and kindness!!!  I am blessed by how God is using all of you in my life!  Thank you for your lovely comments on my last post.  What motivation and inspiration for me to live my life with an authentic and grace-filled freedom as I seek to honor God with who I am.  I pray today that you will experience great joy in who you are as well!!

Today's song is a reminder that the Creator is singing over you as he delights in his creation.  Have a wonderful Sunday!


I Am Weak but He is Strong

Last night after a leadership small group I have been a part of for the last several weeks, I got out of my car and was walking to the door of our apartment when I thought, "I try way too hard to please people."  I seriously struggle with the desire to win the approval of others.  I found myself exhaustingly convicted, worn out by the mental and emotional energy I have been giving to the thoughts others have or don't have of me.  Lately I've found myself creeping into the pit of feeling like I'm failing.  Self-righteous, I know...yet a struggle that has crept its way into my life many times over my almost 30 years of life.

See, I am not one who possesses the "gift set" that is often touted in our culture as desired or admirable.  I guess I'm a fast typer, but that is the extent of my "administrative strengths." :)  I am often shamefully unorganized, naturally messy, I struggle to focus on any one thing to completion at a time, I have many great intentions that go undone by procrastination, and I am chronically late.  My heart drops even as I type those words, bracing myself for judgment and slander.  I am even a teacher for goodness sakes!!! Yet my gracious, loving husband often gently reminds me that this is who I am.  I immediately scoff at his words saying, "Oh no, I can change!!"  Very often I plead with God to do just that, to change me, knowing that He alone can.  Kevin smiles and reassures me that it is okay to be who I am.  What if this is how God made me to be?  What if it is through all of these things I am able to know Him more, or better yet, if how he made me to be allows me to point others to Christ?  If I were to allow my own perfectionistic, unmet standards to overwhelm me, my so called inadequacies could easily cause me to curl up in a ball, ashamed to think anyone might really know who I am.  But then again, if I had no weaknesses, would I really need a Savior??

Regardless of our striving, not one of us will attain perfection.  When it becomes next to impossible to even see or think straight about what the world says about who we should be as opposed to what God says, we must run quickly to his Word.  We must seek the answers to discover if the standards the world has set for us match up to who God has called us to be.  Quite often, they do not.  In our limited understanding and sinful humanity, we have projected expectations onto one another that are stifling.  In our fears that someone might become a complete mess of life if we let them, we feel the need to cover them with our "wise" advice, give them solutions, and remind ourselves of all we have going because "at least we're not like them."  Or maybe we hate on ourselves because we'll never be like "them."  Either way, we neglect the precious opportunity to celebrate each other's uniqueness.  The honest truth is, it often makes us uncomfortable to disagree with one another and to allow each other to fully become who we were meant to be, regardless of how different it looks than everyone else.  In doing so, we neglect to delight in God's specific design of each individual, rather than reflecting Christ and his limitless grace; that which invites his precious children into an intimate relationship with him.

So here's what God is calling me to acknowledge as truth:  I have weaknesses.  Way more than I've shared with you here.  Blaring ones, if you ask me.  Yet isn't that the point??  Isn't this where my faith walk begins?  My Savior says to me that his strength is made perfect in my weakness.  This truth is as old as the song we sing about it..."Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.  Little ones to him belong, they are weak but he is strong."  I am not called to go around dwelling and whining about my weaknesses; instead, I am called to cry out for and acknowledge God's incomprehensible strength.

In 1 Corinthians, Paul talks about how he has been given a thorn in his flesh from Satan, to keep him from becoming conceited about the matter at hand.  Read these next words carefully:

"Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me.  But he said to me,
'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' 
Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.  That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties.  For when I am weak, then I am strong."  1 Corinthians 12:8-10

The Lord loves you dearly.  Grasp that truth with your whole heart and hold onto it.  Quit pointing to yourself and hating what you see; rather, confess your weaknesses to others, following it with, "And yet, look at what my almighty God is doing in my life."  Acknowledge your weaknesses in worship, overwhelmed with how deep the Father's love is for you, and how powerful he is to overcome.  Then go joyfully, praising God for what he will continue to do in the days to come, in spite of your inadequacies, as you surrender to him.  Be who you are...and acknowledge that you need a Savior.  To God alone be the glory.


A Purse and A Picture

 Well, last week I completed my second purse, another from the book Bend the Rules Sewing by Amy Karol.  Due to the unique shape and my inability to sew straight lines just yet, this purse was more difficult than the first.  I did learn several new techniques.  About the fabric...I like it but I'm not loving it for a purse...I'm pretty sure I only bought it because I get so overwhelmed in the store and this one was on sale!  I made the bow from scraps I had at home.  I guess it's all part of the fun of stress free practice projects!!

I also completed something a few weeks ago that I'm very excited about.  I used a canvas to create a gift for my friend Traci and baby Scarlet.  She loved it, and I loved making it!  While I was making it Kevin and I were staying with a teenager while his parents were out of town.  The teenager said, "I didn't know you were an artist."   I responded with, "I am now!"  Loved it.  Definitely a silly moment of joy for me!  Arts and crafts are so much fun. :)

Happy Tuesday to you!

Today I'm linking to New Nostalgia, Today's Creative Blog, and Tip Junkie!

handmade projects


Miscellany Monday

Happy Monday my friends.  I am pumping myself up to get my bloggy rhythm back!  A Monday of miscellany is the perfect place to start.  I'm so happy several of you were excited about those roasted vegetables - we had it again last night, and have placed it permanently on our menu.  Along with a delicious dessert of frozen grapes - yum!

(Picture from the super-cute Weelicious website)

1.  Speaking of menu....let's chat again about the Whole 9 thing.  Kevin is on day 16, with wholehearted commitment, even through a 3 day trip to Chicago!!  Though he's more than thankful this will be over before Thanksgiving.  I made it through 6 days....ish.  My eyes have definitely been opened to how unintentional I've been with what I've put in my mouth for over a year, (about the time when I started my first teaching job!), so now I'm definitely exhibiting much more restraint.  However, I went out of town for 3 days and this time of year is just not the best time to try something so crazy (for me!).  And this cup of pure joy from Starbucks did nothing to help the cause:

Joyful Gingerbread Latte with Soy!!!  Worth every sip!!!

2.  Yesterday we celebrated my nephew Jax's birthday.  So fun.  His mom created the cutest cookie monster party, and he was the sweetest 2 yr. old cookie monster!!  Cute, cute, cute.  I'm also quite enthused about the fact that he seems to have a fondness for me at this point in his life.  :)  Love him!  (I'll have to see if I can get a few of my sister-in-law's creative cookie monster pics!)

Our present to him was the "teacher-approved" board book, Chicka-Chicka Boom BoomI loved doing activities with this book when I student taught kindergarten, to get the children familiar with the alphabet.  Yes, I was going to attempt to sew him a sock monkey, but I ran out of time.  There is always Christmas! :)

3.  I need your advice.  I really want to purchase a sewing book with some fun projects to try, but I'm having a difficult time deciding.  These are the ones I think I've narrowed it down to.  Any thoughts on these or some other wonderful thing I don't know about??

Sew and Stow by Betty Oppenheimer

Sew Liberated by Meg McElwee

One-Yard Wonders by Rebecca Yaker and Patricia Hoskins

4.  I am loving holiday gift guides!  There are so many great ideas out there right now on many sweet blogs for Christmas gifts!  Many great tutorials as well!  I am especially loving "12 Days of Handmade Christmas" by Life in Grace!

5.  I had the most fabulous "friends and family" weekend!!!  I enjoyed a much needed 3 day trip to Indiana over the weekend.  I drove up to Fort Wayne on Thursday night to surprise my mom at a church where she was speaking for a ladies' event.  It was awesome.  She was quite shocked, and definitely worth it.  It was awesome to hear her share her heart and encourage women to love and live for Jesus, like I have so many times before.  She is working on a book and I am so excited to read her heart through writing some day!  My sweet friend Staci, who was at the event with her family, invited me to come a few weeks ago.  It was great to see her and her family that night as well!

After spending the night at my home in Wabash, (where I so love to be), I enjoyed lunch with my dad, then traveled back up to Fort Wayne to see Staci's new house and her absolutely adorable boys!  So much fun to spend time with them.  My next stop was Indy, where I enjoyed a delicious and special dinner with my mom, who happened to be there for a seminar.

On Saturday I spent a delightful afternoon in Zionsville with my friends Francie and Stacy, and they let me love on their crazy beautiful new baby girls!!!  I told them I think it would be fun to have twins, (I know moms, laugh your heads off), so they thought I should practice.  Very funny.  I will be honest and say the baby fever is coming on strong! :)  (Yes, that is my mom and mother-in-law you hear rejoicing!)

Kinley on the left, and Meredith on the right!  Love them!

Saturday night I was able to love on my sweet little niece and nephew, Kaydance and Chase, in Noblesville.  Poor little Kaydance slipped and fell, hitting the inside of her lip on the fireplace.  Very scary.  She had surgery on Friday and is such a trooper!  She was giggling like usual, enjoying her popsicles.  She also showed us her awesome new reading skills and we had fun dressing up her baby dolls.  We are praising God that she wasn't hurt worse, and praying for a fast recovery!  Little Chase also entertained us with his amazing memory skills and his cute songs.  A very sweet time, for sure!

I wrapped up my weekend by staying the night with my Grandma in Franklin, (which I always love to do!), then returning to Louisville in time for church Sunday!  Whew!  What a fun and refreshing time visiting so many places that are home to me.  Thank you Kevin, for sharing me for the weekend!! :)

Quite obviously I'm squeezing the most out of Miscellany Monday!  I'll see you tomorrow with a much shorter post and a couple new creations!

Miscellany Monday @ lowercase letters



A Delicious Dinner

Kevin and I enjoyed a fabulous "roasted vegetable" dinner tonight.  It's amazing what extra virgin olive oil, pepper, and an hour in the oven will do to bring out the flavor of vegetables!  We both loved every bite, and it felt just right to eat on a cool Fall evening.  I adapted this from a Nigella Lawson recipe I found awhile back.


1-2 Sweet potatoes, cut into chunks
2-3 red potatoes (if you'd like - I didn't use them this time)
1 red onion, cut into long chunks
1 zucchini, cut into chunks or rounds
1 red and 1 yellow pepper, cut into chunks
4-6 whole cloves of garlic (you can even leave the skin on, it will come right off after cooked!)
12 stalks of asparagus (or however many you'd like - I didn't add these in until the last 10 minutes so they wouldn't be soggy!)


-Heat oven to 400 degrees.

-Put all the chopped vegetables except asparagus in a roasting pan or 13x9 inch pan.  Coat with 3-4 Tbsp. of olive oil (not more or they might be soggy!)

-Toss vegetables with your hands to coat.  Sprinkle with ground pepper. (I used a grinder and probably turned it 6 or 7 times.

-Do not add salt until AFTER cooking, or the vegetables will get soggy.

-Cook at 400 degrees for 35-50 minutes, depending on your desired tenderness.  (I cooked ours for about 50 min. and they were really soft, but we liked it!)  Don't forget to put the asparagus in during the last 10 minutes! (You can also sprinkle with feta or goat cheese during the last 5 minutes, until bubbly.

-Add salt when they are finished and serve.  Delicious!!


Miscellany Monday

My brain feels a little all over the place, just what Miscellany Monday calls for!

1.  Yay November.  I am thankful October is over.   Don't shoot me, but I'm not a huge Halloween fan.  Not sure why, just not my favorite.  I do, however love all other things 'Fall,' including Thanksgiving!!  Even better, in about two weeks, Kevin and I will celebrate our 2nd anniversary!  The second year was definitely stronger than the first, and I have great hopes and dreams for the 3rd.  I love feeling like we are catching our rhythm and delighting in this gift God has given us.  He is an amazing man, making me one blessed wife!

2.  Speaking of Kevin, he is seriously rocking out that Whole Nine eating concept I told you about a couple weeks ago.  Talk about cold turkey.  He went from chocolate donut, cheeseburger, pizza lover to super health guy over night.  He's followed the 30 day 'cleanse' program to a 'T', has been cooking up a storm, hasn't slipped once, AND he's lost 10 pounds - crazy!!  I love how he is leading our family in the way of wanting to glorify God with his body and be as healthy as possible during the years we have on this earth.  I have been so inspired that I just might have started following in his footsteps yesterday!?  I actually just made this sweet potato snack this afternoon - yum!! (Who knew coconut oil was healthy??)

3. I had the joy of spending a day with my friend Traci and her 5 kids last week! A workout for sure, but always so much fun to sing to them, read them stories, laugh at their crazy antics, and hold precious little baby girl Scarlet!! Love her!!!

(Traci is showing off her headband...an original by me! :) )

4.  Other beautiful babies that have come into this world lately are Meredith Kate, the second daughter of my friend Francie, and Kinley Marie, the second daughter of my friend Stacy!  I love both these lovely ladies, who were both beautiful bridesmaids in my wedding, (each pregnant with thier first babies at the time!), and who I shared several sweet years of friendship, life, and bible study with in Cincinnati several years ago.  They now live minutes from each other, and amaze me with their timing of these new babies - less than two weeks apart!  I can't wait to meet those sweet little girls!  (You can pretty much count on the fact that I'm planning to sew something for them!)  Congratulations my dear friends!!
(March 2007)

5.  Sewing is expensive...or is it??  Help!  I find myself breaking into a cold sweat each time I enter JoAnn Fabrics or another fabulous fabric store lately, gathering supplies for these projects I long to try.  So I definitely need some help and advice from you experience crafters out there - is it best to buy online?  Do you depend heavily on coupons and sales?  I need some serious guidance at the beginning of this new venture!

6.  A great message.  I had the joy this past weekend of visiting the church in Cincinnati I used to attend.  A phenomenal message for sure.  He is not your typical preacher, (a.k.a. - not for everyone), but I experienced Jesus in a special way during my years of worshipping there for most of my 20's.  Definitely worth your time to listen to, ending with some seriously convicting words spoken from a pastor in South Africa: "Die Empty."  (Seriously check out the last 4 minutes!)  The second video is one they showed during the service about the partnership they have with this pastor's church in South Africa.  I love what God is doing there!!

Praying this is a wonderful week for all of you!
(And with a surprise day off for me tomorrow, things are looking pretty good!)

Miscellany Monday @ lowercase letters