Thursday, April 29, 2010

A Few (un)Important Points

I am having some real trouble putting together a blog post today. I think the problem lies in the fact that I have entirely too many things running through my brain right now.

Hence, the list:

1- We have our foster care training this weekend. I'm excited about taking the first step in the adoption process. But I am totally paralyzed by trying to write my "autobiography." I keep looking at the page, starting to write, then deleting and staring at the blank page for a while. How are you supposed to sum up your life? It's harder than it sounds, apparently.

For those who don't know, Adam and I have planned on adopting for a really long time. We decided after working with our kiddos that we want to adopt through DFCS (the state) rather than overseas. Quite simply, when we were faced with the depth of the need in the inner-city and the sheer number of kids who desperately need a loving home, we felt strongly that we could help in some (very) small way but opening our home and making one such child a part of our family. I will keep you posted on our journey, because y'all know I can't keep my mouth shut about these sorts of things.

2- I may have mentioned a time or twenty that my best friend is moving. They closed on their house yesterday, and I've been a hot mess about it. Poor Jayci is too. She keeps saying "NURNER!" every time she sees a picture of any little boy. Here the two little munchkins are dancing together. They have some sweet moves.

Jayci and Turner from Becca Stanley on Vimeo.

3-I found these pictures on my computer the other day, and I could not be more delighted. She's such a little model, seriously. Adam would tell her what to do, and she did it immediately. Strange how that works when Adam does it, but not me. When I tell her what to do, she looks at me with an impish grin, and does the opposite. It's a good thing she's cute.

4 - Immediately following our 30 hours of foster training, we are leaving for the beach. Which I am very excited about, but also slightly stressed by the possibility of wearing nothing but bathing suits, tank tops and shorts for a week straight. Someone should have warned me that bathing-suit-season was so close when I was eating that second (or fourth) helping of ice cream.

5 - I don't actually have anything else (OK I probably do, but I can't remember anything at the moment), so I will leave you with something that's been sitting on my brain this morning:

"Our greatest fear should not be of failure but of succeeding at things in life that don't really matter."~Francis Chan

The End.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

A winning post. Or something like that.

Today has been a long, fun day. I take that back: This afternoon was fun, and this morning was just long. I worked all morning in the office (which, as it turns out, is a skill easily lost from lack of practice) and then went downtown to visit with a friend who lives in the city. We walked through the neighborhood and talked and dreamed about being intentional neighbors, and about which streets were safe and which were sketchy. For house hunting purposes. Then I got stuck in traffic on the way home, which constituted reason #579 that we need to live downtown.

Reason #580? Our best friends moved out of the house down the street and I don't even know what to do with myself anymore.

All of that to say that I'm sorry this isn't a more coherent post. I simply popped in to announce the big winner from my natural bug killer giveaway.

Here are your random numbers:
Timestamp: 2010-04-28 21:40:57

Which makes the winner Candace, who said: "Natural bug killer? Bring it on!"
Congrats Candace! Send me an email and I will send you your prize.

At some point in the near future, I will attempt to string some thoughts together in coherent sentences, and maybe even paragraphs. Maybe.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Loved People Love People

I mentioned that this past weekend, I had the chance to hear Beth Moore speak on insecurity. Her message, and the entire experience, was just fantastic because every word was exactly what I needed to hear. I have so many insecurities, it's a little ridiculous really. It has been interesting for me to read the blogs of some other girls (some of whom I even got to meet this weekend) who wrote about how they struggle with insecurities of their own. Yet, when I look at all of these girls, I can NO reason for them to be insecure; in fact, I spend so much of my time comparing myself to them and worrying about how they are so much cuter, better dressed, funnier, prettier, skinnier, and blah, blah, blah . . .

Anyways, I have plenty I could say on the subject of insecurity, and how much I learned about my own struggles with it, throughout the weekend. Luckily for you, I'll spare you all those gory details (for now at least). There was, however, one thing in particular that I cannot get out of my head from the simulcast.

It was funny because Beth said something that I'm pretty sure she stole from my "future blog post" file. Never mind that it only exists in my head. Because last week at church, our pastor mentioned in passing how John always refers to himself as "the disciple whom Jesus loved." When he said it, I had this fleeting thought about how that seemed a little arrogant. Yet, when I took the time to really think about it, all John was doing was stating the Truth of who He was. Because Jesus did love Him. And I let my mind wander for a little while (sorry Jimmy!) about how powerful it would be if I lived out of the Truth that I am the daughter whom Jesus loves. And what if I could get my kiddos downtown, and my own daughter, to live their lives grounded in the Truth that each and every one of them are the one whom Jesus loves . . .

Then Beth said the same exact thing. I kid you not. It was weird really. She went on to talk about how if we recognize our true identity, we will be freed up to love other people. Because people who know they are loved, love. People who are forgiven, forgive. Those who know how deeply they have been covered in grace, will extend grace to those around them.

And y'all, I was hit like a freight train with the fact that this is exactly what our kiddos (well and ALL of us) need to learn. One of the girls we work with told me the other day that she never tells anyone she loves them (because I tell them all how much I love them all the time and she asked me if I noticed that she never says it back). When I asked her why, she said "it just don't feel right." The problem is that she doesn't fully believe that she is LOVED, so she doesn't know how to love other people. Think what a difference it would make in her life, in all of our lives, if we were so secure in our status as LOVED that we were willing to make ourselves open and vulnerable by showing love to those around us.

The thing about it is that walking out of our security in Christ looks different in every life. For me, it means a willingness to give up my "stuff," to let go of those things I've been dependent on for security (because what are they but idols designed to mask my unbelief?) For the girl we work with, maybe it will mean walking a different path. Maybe recognizing her worth and security in Christ means she will value herself enough to finish school. To go to college. To stop the cycle of welfare and prison and poverty. . .

My prayer for each and every kid we work with, for myself, for my family and friends, and for Jayci is that we would take every step in the security that comes from knowing that we are the beloved disciples. The daughter or son whom Jesus LOVES. Because if we grasp that fully, I'm pretty sure our lives are going to look dramatically different. And that might just change the world.

*A few post-script notes:
1-Here's the ONE picture I took this weekend. ONE. Seriously, good job Becca.
*With the lovely Megan and Jenna. Aren't they just the cutest things? Some other new friends who aren't in my one picture: Erin, Mandi, Lauren, Faith, Dina, Rachel, Amy, Lianna

2-Don't forget that today's the last day to enter my giveaway for some natural bug killer. Which sounds lame, but is actually pretty cool.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Smiling's My Favorite

After my big win last week at I Heart Faces, not to mention being fan of the week, it's inevitable that I have nowhere to go but down. That said, I have been agonizing over choosing a picture to enter this week's contest. The theme is "smiling," which, hello vague? I kept coming back to this one of my little munchkin. Because have you ever seen a cuter grin? It makes me happy every time I see it, and I hope it makes you happy too.

All of us here at the Stanley Clan have a big week ahead. Why? Well, let's just say that we triple-booked our dinner plans on two different nights this week. Oops. Somebody get us a calendar already.

And this busy week will end with 30 hours of foster care training, followed by a much-needed trip to the beach. Where maybe, just maybe, we can relax a little. If we're lucky.

*Don't worry, at some point I will recap the Beth Moore simulcast in some way, shape, or form. But again, no promises.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Some Links and WOHOO

First of all, BOOYAH. Y'all know how much I love entering the photo contests at I Heart Faces. But with over 500 entries every week, many of which are from extraordinarily talented professional photographers, I always feel like my chances of actually winning are slim to none. So imagine my surprise this morning when I visited I Heart Faces and saw MY collage in the first place spot. First place y'all. Yay!

Here are a few more things I've enjoyed reading this week:

The Journey

10 Things I Hate About Motherhood and One That I Love

Since I promised that I'd post more pictures of Metro Kidz, I figured this was as good a time as any for that. In celebration of my Metro Kidz collage winning first place, here they are:

And now I'm off to the Beth Moore conference. And i don't know anyone else who is going (besides through blogs . . . ) which, yikes, makes me feel sick to my tummy a little. I hate feeling so insecure. Which is ironic, since that's the topic Beth's talking about today.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Some might call her a playa

Lately, Jayci has been loving playing pretend. It's been such a treat for me to watch her talk to her animals, feed them her apples, and carry her cute pink sock monkey everywhere.

She's also been loving playing with her friends more than ever. Which is adorable, but also a little bittersweet since her best friends are moving out of our neighborhood this week. But I'm not ready to talk about that yet. Tear.

*Don't forget you have until Tuesday to enter my giveaway!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Apparently, I am a Matron

A few weeks ago, I was the "matron-of-honor" in one of my best friend's weddings. Doesn't "matron" sound like a nice, portly 65 year old? Cause that's how I felt. Not to mention that I was the only bridesmaid (er, brides-matron) with flats instead of heels. Old I tell you.

Other than feeling old, the wedding was just delightful. My friend Gini was a beautiful bride. It helps that she is the most creative, encouraging, loving person ever. And I know this well because because we lived together for 2 years. Without a single fight, or even a disagreement really. It helps that she likes the yellow and green sour patch kids and I like the orange and red ones. A match made in heaven.

Here is the lovely couple.
I told you she's creative: she had the bridesmaids wear black dresses with all different color shoes. Like I mentioned, my shoes didn't make the cut for this picture because they're flats. Lame.
My husband and me at the wedding. Isn't he so special? And in need of a hair cut?
This is the oh-so-much-younger MAID of honor and I giving our "please don't make us give the toast in front of all these people" looks.
Gini's sweet parents watching her first dance as a married woman.
If you take a look at how they decorated their getaway car, you'll see why she's a girl after my own heart. . . diet coke cans galore.
And they're off to Hawaii. I'm not jealous. Ok, maybe a little.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Who wouldn't want to win some natural bug killer?

Today's post is going to be guest written by none other than my hubby, the famous and elusive Adam. Why? Because todays post involves a special giveaway of things like organic pesticides and natural home pest control, which honestly I could care or know less about. Adam's the one who cares about organic and stuff. Me? I'm more of the comes-from-a-can-ic side of thing. However, I do try and feed Jayci organic as much as possible, and we do buy organic and natural cleaners and so on and so forth. So I thought that y'all might appreciate the chance to win some natural bug repellent and cleaner-type products from EcoSmart, especially with summer (and mosquito season!) right around the corner.

What's up interweb world? So, Becca asked me to help her out on her blog...I hesitantly agreed. I'm certainly not the writer she is! In fact, I am a former chemistry teacher so the written communication I normally do is in symbols, illustrations, and stick-figures. As Becca mentioned I do like the organic stuff. There's something about studying molecular structures and biochemistry that has made me hesitant about what we feed Jayci. The even scarier thing is we can't control a lot of the thing that go in to Jayci's body! Studies have been done on families and young children have the highest levels of unnatural chemicals coursing through their veins. All of the things that seem like they are great (fire retardant chemicals in carpet, sheets, clothing, etc.) are ingested by our little ones and there's nothing we can do about it because it's an industry standard. I'm afraid I may be boring you...

So, having the option to use a product that uses natures defenses to rid my house of unwanted pests is a huge plus. I mean hasn't nature been working on defending itself from pests longer than pesticide manufacturers? The active ingredients in EcoSMART's pesticides are from the same plants I use to season food...Rosemary oil and cinnamon oil! I certainly feel comfortable spraying ants and roaches knowing my toddler is not exposed to hazardous chemicals.

I love the outdoors! I love it even more when I am not being bitten by all those blood sucking boogers! Check out the ingredients in the insect repellent -

Rosemary Oil ……………………………………… 0.5%
Cinnamon Leaf Oil ……………………………… 0.5%
Lemongrass Oil ………………………………….. 0.5%
Geraniol ………………………………………………. 1.0%
Other Ingredients*………………………………. 97.5%
Total …………………………………………………. 100.0%

*Isopropyl Alcohol, Isopropyl Myristate, Wintergreen Oil

Sounds like a dual purpose product...insect repellent and cologne. Check out their website to see their products and feedback from others.

I hope I didn't bore you! I tend to explain to Becca all the details about things I get excited about, and Science and the outdoors are two of those things. We will get back to your regularly scheduled programming tomorrow!

Ok now here's the fun part: EcoSmart is offering one of Y'ALL the Safe Home Value Bundle, which includes all sorts of fun bug killers that are natural too. What's not to love?

All you have to do to win is leave a comment saying why you need or want the value bundle. Easy as pie. I will close the giveaway next Tuesday and announce the winner on Wednesday.

*ps-Ecosmart is not paying me, giving me things etc to do this giveaway. . . unfortunately. I just thought their product would be something you'd like to try, I know I will be trying the heck out of it while we're at camp this summer. Because camp = lots of bugs.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

A Metro Kidz Collage for I Heart Faces

This week at I Heart Faces, the theme is "collages." Let me just be honest for a minute, and tell you that I have NO idea what makes a collage "good" artistically. So I just put some pictures together that I took at Metro Kidz this past week. And I'm going to go with it because, well, I dont know what else to do really. And plus, could these kids be any cuter? Nope.
See that little one on the top with the cute little smile? He LOOKS cute and innocent, but in the span of less than an hour, he bit me twice and told me he's in a gang. Nice.

For more collages, visit I Heart Faces. And for more Metro Kidz pictures, check back soon (please also recognize that "soon" tends to be a relative term around here).

Saturday, April 17, 2010

The Lakehouse. Epic.

I know, I know. We went to the lakehouse FOREVER ago. Or last week, but it feels like forever. In fact, I nearly forgot to even blog about our time at the lake because I just assumed I already had. But you know what they say about assuming . . .

Anyhow, we had a great time at the lake. Seriously, the weather could not have been more perfect. It was HOT and sunny the whole time, which is a plus when the water is so COLD. Not that I'd know, since I dont particularly enjoy cold water and I tend to stay out of it when the look on faces registers shock after jumping in.

The kids, however, loved swimming and tubing and fishing and eating. And mean flirting. Because I will say that taking two middle school boys and two middle school girls is basically insuring there will be flirting going on, probably involving teasing, poking, pushing into the lake, and so on and so forth.

Despite that, we had a good time and there was plenty of adult supervision to ensure that nothing inappropriate resulted from the flirting.

Anyways, here's a photo recap of our time at the lake. Enjoy!

Oh hi middle school boys and girls. This is the best group shot I get? Thanks for that.
The girls.
My baby girl. I love this picture. Not sure why exactly, but I do.
Zack being a show-off.
Jay all ready for a boat ride.
Night fishing after the girls left. Much better conversation with the boys without the girls around. It was a sweet time and the night seemed almost magical with their laughter ringing, the lake glittering with reflective light, and quiet splashes breaking the night every once in a while. Beautiful time.
And look at the monster fish Zack caught. Impressive.
Blessing fishing earlier that day. Yup, these are all out of order, because that's how I roll.
Have I mentioned that Adam loves fishing? He does. Seriously, anything in the great outdoors has a special power over him. Let's not even get started talking about REI and his addiction.
Boat-riding. With a sunburn - sorry mom! But at least I remembered to put sunscreen on Jayci right?

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Reflecting on the Journey

While I was in college at UGA, I was involved in a campus ministry called the Baptist Student Union (BSU).

As a completely unrelated side-note, one of the girls we work with is in a clique called "BSU." When I excitedly told her that I was in BSU too, she said her BSU stands for "been swagged up" . . . Hmmm, not the same thing.

Anyways, BSU has since changed their name to Baptist Campus Ministries, and they asked Adam and I to come up to Athens and speak at their Gathering last night. After I threw up from fear of public speaking, I agreed. Because typically when Adam and I "speak" together, he does all the talking and I just sit there awkwardly. Because we all know how awkward I get when things get awkward (Modern Family anyone?)

We went up to Athens late afternoon and met my sister (the pastry chef) for dinner at Taqueria del sol. Because large quantities of Mexican food mixed with nerves and getting up on stage is ALWAYS a good idea. Or not.

Before dinner, we took a few minutes to walk through beautiful North Campus with Jayci. She was slightly enamored with the fountain:
Me and Jay with my beautiful sister. Seriously, her hair just DRIES like that all on its own. I'm not bitter or anything.
My new favorite picture of Jayci. Check out those toofies.
Regardless, it went really well. Shockingly well, actually. And I even talked too. Well, I read blog posts, but that counts right?

Why would I read blog posts you ask? I'll tell you why, because I express myself better in writing than I do when I talk (I know, you're probably surprised at this fact judging from my recent blog posts, but I promise it's true). Also, they told us they wanted us to share stuff from the blog, and to tell about our journey. And I always do what I'm told. Seriously, I'm a total rule follower.

The night was quite an encouragement. Just looking back at our journey and remembering the Lord's faithfulness to bring us where we are today was refreshing and encouraging.

Anyhow, in an EXTREMELY round-about way, I am trying to say that I wanted to share the series of posts we shared at Gathering, in hopes that it might encourage some of you as well.

Leaving Stuff Behind
*These first two posts were written before we even went to camp or knew a single thing about inner-city ministry. How incredible to see the way that the Lord was preparing our hearts almost four years ago for what we're doing TODAY. Amazing.

Learning by Serving
Mama D's House
*From some of my first times going downtown after camp. God was continuing to shape my heart and reveal HIS heart for the poor, the downtrodden, the orphan and the widow.

A few from our time in the trenches of ministry, feeling discouraged . . . (from the Broken Voices blog):
Thoughts on Jump
Is it really worth it?

And where we are today:
Cultivating the Soil

Mostly, reflecting back on our journey has re-invigorated my heart and filled me with excitement for what I am certain the Lord still has in store for us!

*For everyone who's here from BCM, sorry to disappoint with the fact that I don't write thought-provoking, insightful posts every day. Or even most days. They're more of a rare treat actually.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Dessert from a pastry chef who happens to be my sister

The theme this week at I Heart Faces is dessert photos. And let me just confess something: Adam and Courtney and I spent a good 5 or 40 minutes scouring the entries for something delicious to satisfy our sweet tooth last night. Luckily, we found the perfect thing: chocolate chip cookie dough cupcakes. Umm, yes please and thank-you. And they did not disappoint; however, one cupcakes smothered in icing was enough to fill my stomach and maybe put me into a slight sugar coma. Here's the recipe if you want to try them yourself. Trust me, you won't be sorry you did.

And see? I told Adam that I Heart Faces is the most helpful website ever. Perhaps now he'll believe me, since they satisfied his insatiable need for chocolate. Seriously, that boy has a worse sweet tooth than me. One time, he did the "brownie diet." But that's another story for another post.

Since I don't usually take pictures of my culinary creations (because they turn out, more often than not, less than pretty), my entry this week is a picture I took of something my sister made. My youngest sister, Emma (not the one getting married), went to the French Pastry School in Chicago last year. She's amazing, and every time she's home I somehow find my way over there in hopes that she is making something delicious.

I mean just look at these homemade, from scratch, cream puffs. Hello perfection. She made these for a baby shower I threw, and I may have eaten a few (5 is a few right?) while I was stuck in traffic on my way to the shower. What? I needed sustenance.
For more mouth-watering deliciousness, visit I Heart Faces! And the amazing Bakerella is the guest judge this week, and you can always get lots of yummy goodness at her site too.

Monday, April 12, 2010

An Engagement Party Extraordinaire

As it turns out, I'm STILL behind on my blog posts, and life in general. You should see the state of the laundry. It's appalling really.

You may remember a while back when I took some pictures for my little sister upon her engagement to Ashish. Well, we had a massive celebration of their engagement on the rooftop of my sister's apartments. A good time was had by all. And since I'm feeling overwhelmed by the amount I'm behind on posting here, I will once again share a pictorial recap.

All the girls . . . my sisters, mom, daughter, and me!
A family portrait.
The beautiful, happy couple.
The amazing cakes that my OTHER amazing sister made. Have I mentioned that she's a pastry chef? It's quite handy. Especially for my waist-line.

Look! Jayci makes the exact same "oh I ate entirely too much cake" face as I do. Classic.After all the eating, including some extra delicious Indian fare courtesy of Ashish's mom, we played a little dodgeball on the tennis courts. And by "we," I don't necessarily mean to include myself in that description. Much to her chagrin, Jayci was also unable to participate. She did, however, enjoy yelling "go dada" from the sidelines the entire time.

Look at this intense action.
And Jayci's intense cheering. So cute.
See my sister? The one with the red shirt, who this whole party is for? This is mere moments Adam nailed her in the head. Good work hubby, way to take out the guest of honor. Luckily, she's a good sport and kept her head in the game. Literally.


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