Sunday, January 31, 2010

The Post That Wasn't

I've been so excited to write you guys a fantastic blog post about how God provided exceedingly abundantly for our little family. I couldn't wait to tell you all about how we sold our house without putting on the market. How he worked out the timing perfectly with camp and we would be all moved downtown by August . . . Unfortunately, the "100% sure thing" ended up falling through tonight (but don't get me wrong, I don't blame the couple at all, I'd rather them tell us now then somewhere down the road where we're stuck with 2 mortgages).

This disappointment came on the heels of an emotional week/weekend for me. I have been struggling more than a little (understatement of the year!) with Jayci's behavior lately. Pretty much anytime I pick her up when she'd rather me not, or make her do anything she doesn't want to do, I have to utilize my cat-like reflexes (ha) to avoid her hitting me in the face. Time out after time out after time out, she is defiant and I am tired. Weary really.

And then I told you about how my best friend was in Waco for a missions conference. I think I was secretly hoping it wouldn't go well, because then she wouldn't leave me. But it went well (which is an amazing, wonderful thing and I am so glad -- but sad too!)

So combine all those factors, mix in a little emotional IS-SHUES, insecurities, and depressive tendencies, and I've been a mess over the whole fallen-through house situation. Unfortunately, our Enemy knows just when we're vulnerable, and he takes that opportunity to start whispering in my ear:
Not good enough
Less than

I immediately felt like we're never going to sell our house (on paper, the numbers just wont ever work), we will never move downtown, I'll never make another friend, Jayci and I will be fighting with each other forever and she will be knocking me out cold before long . . .

Here's the thing: when the Accuser starts accusing, the ONLY thing we can do is stand on Truth. Luckily, I have some wise friends who reminded me that God is sovereign and there is no Plan B. He knew exactly what was going to happen with our house, even before He laid the foundations of the world, and HE IS GOOD.

Not only that, but here's a few things that He says are true about me (I have to write them down because I am literally FIGHTING to believe them right now)
Free from condemnation
Always led in His triumph
Heart and Mind guarded by HIS peace (and peace is knowing, not necessarily feeling)

I have to trust in and surrender to the Truth that God has given us a vision for a ministry in the city. A vision of a home where kids can come and see how to live as a family, especially a family with a father. Where they can be safe and be 100% themselves without fear. Where they can do their homework, play the Wii, and sit down for a family dinner. A place where parents can come when they're overwhelmed. Where friends from the suburbs can experience community with the least of these. A place where God's infinite Agape love can pour through us onto some people who are living in broken homes and in poverty. A home where we can work with people (not for them) to alleviate poverty and restore LIFE.

If I am truly committed to following Christ, that means I have to trust him whether things go exactly how I'd like them to or not. Even when I don't get it. Even when I can't see any way for things to "work out," I must continue to have faith that the Lord has some greater purpose to fulfill in our hearts and in our lives. Because He is good. And He is sovereign. And He loves us.

"The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged."
-Deu. 31:8

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Linky Love

I'll be honest, I've been a hot mess today. I dont even know what my issue is but just about everything I've been reading/hearing/doing/seeing (ok that's basically just everything - I told you I'm a mess) today has reduced me to tears. Good tears. Happy "look what God is doing" tears, and some sad but hopeful tears too. Anyways, just thought I'd share some good reading and more.

*Matt Chandler on his cancer . . . I can only hope that this is what my heart would look like if I was facing what he is facing.

*Our best friends are at a conference in Waco, TX right now called World Mandate. They are moving there this summer. But I try to avoid that thought seeing as they currently live a few houses down the street and I would prefer it to remain that way. Nevermind that God has called them to something bigger. Oh I kid, but seriously it is really hard for me to even think about them leaving.

Anyways, they met this girl at World Mandate. And she is just about the coolest 7 year old ever.

*This story sort of reduced me to the ugly cry. Pray for them.

*I also figured it was probably time to update my links on my sidebar to some of my favorite reads. Check them out . . . you wont be sorry. And I'm not even playin' yo.

*Oh and some of my favorite eye candy (and by that I mean photography not Mexican food. Although I am now deeply in love with this restaurant): DrewB, Altmix Photography, Amelia Lyon Photography.

*And speaking of eye candy, here are some of the most heart-breakingly gorgeous pictures I have ever seen. Remember to keep these beautiful people in your prayers.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Remember My Addictive Personality?

Hi, my name is Becca and I am addicted to taking/posting pictures of my baby girl (who may or may not be a baby anymore, so what?)
Here she is in her cute new hat from this Etsy shop.Have I mentioned I'm a little addicted to putting Jayci in cute hats?

And that I'm also in love with (aka addicted to) Etsy. So much talent there. For realz y'all.

My sweet friend Erica has one. My friend Candace from college has one. My college roommate has one (oh wait, that one's mine too . . . )

Speaking of my Etsy shop, I think I'm going to add some new stuff over there soon. I mean, don't hold your breath, because we all know how great I am at keeping up with my promises on this blog lately. Anyone still waiting for my Catalyst notes? Or Photoshop tips? My bad.

It's my addictive personality. I'm too busy eating Mexican, taking pictures of my baby, and drinking Diet Coke. It's pathetic really.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Clearly We Are the Next Big Thing

Jayci @ 16 months old from Becca Stanley on Vimeo.

A few notes about this stellar video:
1- I know you are all super-impressed by my tower building skillz. Especially the way I promptly knock over everything I add to the tower.
2- I am slightly appalled by the levels of dust on that side table. And if I'm appalled, it must be bad.
3- I'm thinking I should have wiped Jayci's nose before deciding it was a good time to film her for all of blog-land to see. I dont want to doom her to social suicide before she even starts preschool.
4-Jayci may or may not be wearing a 3-6 month old size sweater. I thought it fit, but now that I see it on video, I'm rethinking my position. This is what I do with nearly every outfit I put on. I think I look GOOD until I see it on film of some sort.
5-Please ignore my "singing." Clearly if I was actually trying to sing well, my voice would sound a lot more like Kelly Clarkson.
6-Jayci keeps trying to pick/wipe her nose. I think it's a hint that I should wipe it.
7-Please also ignore the tipped over space heater. It's very safe and not a fire hazard at all.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Moderation is Key

Have you ever heard someone say that they have an "addictive personality"? I've heard it before and was never quite sure what it meant, exactly. I mean, I understand the gist of what they're saying (despite what Sabo and Zack say, I'm not really that "slow"), but what exactly does it look like?

But now I'm thinking I might have one. Why do I think that?
Exhibit A: Diet Coke. Just look at the plethora of empty cans in my car and recycling bin if you want to know how bad that one is.
Exhibit B: Cheese, and cheese dip in particular. Because cheese literally makes EVERYTHING taste better.
Exhibit C: Mexican food. I can eat it every single day of the week without getting sick of it. And I proved that two weeks ago.
Exhibit D: Whipped cream from a can. I love it. I will have hot chocolate, coffee, pumpkin pie, ice cream . . . just so I can load it up with whipped cream on top. We're talking like a can a week, and Adam barely uses any. I blame my mom, she's the one who taught me (along with my sisters and various cousins) to spray it directly into my mouth.

I feel as though my problem is mostly a matter of knowing when to stop. My best friend always tells her son to "listen to his body" (he's potty training) and I'm pretty sure that's what I should be doing. But my body gives me mixed signals. My stomach might say "Stop. For the love of all that's good in the world, stop." But my taste buds? They're singing a different tune.

Unfortunately, I think I may have passed my inability to use moderation or self-control in food consumption onto my daughter. Because this is her "I ate too much cake" face . . . And trust me, I recognize it because I know just how she feels.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

I Heart Faces: I Heart Texture

As it turns out, I REALLY love texture in photography. I just think it's absolutely gorgeous and stunning and I wish I could get better at doing it. Apparently practice makes perfect though, so I've been playing with it a lot lately. I'm no pro like Gina or Jessica or Kelli, but I do love the depth you can bring to your photography simply by adding a little texture.

That said, here's a picture of little Jayci-face with a little added texture.

One of the texture masters is Shana Rae, and she's the guest judge this week. So be sure to stop by and see all the wonderful entries at I Heart Faces!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Saltines + Toffee = Yummy

I'll admit I was a little skeptical the first time my mother-in-law offered me some of her toffee with saltines. I wasn't sure how good it was going to be, but since I'm never one to turn down sweets, I tried it. And I am so glad I did. Because y'all, it is delicious. Let's just put it this way: last week she brought us a ziploc bag full, and I ate it ALL without even telling Adam she brought it over (oops, I think I just let the cat out of the bag on that one).

Anyways, Tiffani mentioned this saltine toffee the other day, and I have been craving it ever since. We had some sweet friends over for dinner last night, which gave me the perfect excuse to make some for dessert. Although mine doesn't ever look as good as my mother-in-law's, it still tastes delicious. Which means it is super-easy to make, seeing as I'm slightly impaired in the kitchen.

All this to say (my English teachers always begged me to be more concise. I just don't have it in me apparently) that I thought I'd share the toffee-love and give y'all the recipe. Because I'm generous like that.

And no, I don't have any pictures. That may or may not be because we ate it all before I had time to even get out my camera.

Toffee Nut Crunch
1 stack saltines
1 c. butter (NOT margarine - go for the good stuff people)
1 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. chopped nuts
1 pkg milk chocolate chips
Combine butter, brown sugar and nuts in large saucepan and bring to a boil. Boil for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Spread over saltines in foil-lined jelly roll pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. Sprinkle chocolate chips over top, and then spread when melted. Cool, break into pieces, and enjoy!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

For Jayci, Just Cause

I was reading over some of my last few blog entries and came to 2 conclusions: 1-I'm weird; and 2-Jayci might read this some day and think all she is to me is a cute face that hits me sometimes. Needless to say, I decided I needed to remedy that by telling Jay a little bit about herself and our lives right now.
Dear Jayci,

I'm not sure if you know this, but your daddy and I fall more in love with you every single day. All of a sudden, at 16 months old, you've blossomed into a little bundle of spit-fire energy and personality. It's almost like you just realized exactly who we are: You love pointing to yourself and saying "JJ" and then pointing to me and saying "mama" and to dad and saying "dada." It makes me heart swell with gratitude when I realize that you love me (almost) as much as I love you. And that you know you can trust us. And that you've discovered this confidence in yourself, despite remaining quite dependent on us for all your needs and your security. This stage is definitely separation anxiety 101 for us, and the kiddos at church think you're mean because you only want your mommy or daddy. Secretly I love it. Zack and Sabo (aka "Ack and Bo") are the only ones you'll trust and let hold you. Which also warms my heart.

One thing you probably know by now about your mommy is that she tends to ramble. And lose things, including her train of thought. And this letter is surely no exception.
Anyways, you LOVE reading (like your momma) and are a little obsessed with personal hygiene (clearly unlike your momma). Maybe you get that from your reformed germ-phobe daddy. Every time the water runs, you sign "wash hands" or "brush teeth." And after I let you brush your teeth chew on your toothbrush for 30 minutes or so, you arch your back and throw yourself on the floor in despondence when I take it away (I know right, how could I be so mean?!) Not to mention the fact that you are insistent on having a bath every single night. Not like me, who's lucky to shower once a week. Oh I kid, I obviously shower at least every 3 days or so . . .

You're a signing machine, and I could not be more grateful to my bloggy friend Rachel for suggesting it (the Baby Signing Time videos worked like a charm for those of you who are wondering). I can't tell you how many times every day I tell you to "chillax" and tell me what you want rather than just, you know, throwing a royal fit. Half the time you just sign "please" which doesnt really help but it's better than "falling out" (as the kiddos call it).
You totally crack me up on a daily basis. I literally LOL (see? I'm a cool mom, it's sorta my thing) at you multiple times a day. See exhibit A, the face I get when I tell you to smile:
You've also recently discovered your voice, and we have long gibberish conversations throughout the day. Your "talking" mostly sounds like some African language, especially when you see something you think might be a horse and you click your tongue (because that's what you think the horsey says. Not neigh. Click.) Your favorite words are "hat" and "ball' and pretty much every animal sound. You're quite good at them actually. Well, except horse; we're still working on that one.
Thankfully, you have finally discovered that sleep is NOT the enemy. Tonight, in fact, you practically begged me to put you to bed at 6:30pm. Bliss, sweet baby, that's what it means for daddy and me. Eating, however, is not your favorite thing. I'm not sure who you belong to when you even turn down cheese and chick-fil-a. But seriously, lets work on that one ok? It's driving me crazy.

Despite your quirks, the face-slapping and tantrum-throwing, and that stubborn streak that just came right out of left field, I'm pretty sure you are the best little girl in the whole world. And that's my honest, un-biased opinion.

Love you forever (Although I hate that book. Cause it's a little creepy in my opinion),
Mama :-)

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

This Level of Random takes Skillz

It's really just that my brain doesn't seem to be functioning properly. And when I typed that, I got a bad case of deja-vu. Have I been saying that a lot lately?

*I realized I had made an egregious error in my random television show post. I left out Chuck. Which may or may not be one of the best shows on television. Somehow it manages to meld comedy with action and romance, and it actually works people. Watch it. And please dont leave any comments regarding this week's episode, which sadly I have not yet watched.
I also failed to mention Fringe. It's like LOST meets X-Files meets "what the heck is going on?" Which I love. And I especially love Pacey from Dawson's Creek is in it. I always have trouble remembering what his name is on Fringe.
Peter, it's Peter. And his dad on the show (Walter) totally cracks me up with his crazy. Plus, it turns out that he was a star in the movie "One Night with the King." Anyone catch him in that Blockbuster hit? Something was funky with his eyes though, thankfully he's gotten that issue fixed since then.
(And by the way, I really don't watch that much tv - we cram it all into one or two nights a week.)

*We went to a wedding this past weekend, which was much like a mini-high school reunion. Fun times. I was a little nervous to see some people I hadn't seen in years. Luckily, they recognized me. It was Adam with his grizzly-beard and long hair that threw them for a loop (Adam and I are high school sweethearts for those of you who didn't know . . . )
These girls were my best friends in high school. It was such a treat to see them all again and reconnect a little.

*Jayci loves to read. I have always loved to read, so it warms my heart a little to see her loving it too. It makes me feel like there really is a piece of me somewhere inside her outgoing, blond-headed little self.
*Speaking of Jayci, I really am totally at a loss as to what to do with the whole smacking me in the face thing. Honestly, it's hard for me not to laugh when she does it. Every time she doesnt get her way, I give her a time out, she's throwing a fit etc, she up and slaps me in the face. With a cute terrible little look in her eyes. And we're talking pretty hard people. I've been giving her time outs and holding her hands so she cant hit me again. But it doesnt seem to be working. How do I know? Oh, just because the second I get her out of time out she hits me again and I have to put her back in. It's a viscious, exhausting cycle.

*Our dog, Maverick, is currently sporting the cone of shame (Up anyone?) The problem is that, as Zack and Sabo describe it, he wont stop licking his "no balls" (because he's been fixed . . .) and even the "yuck spray" we bought didn't seem to deter him. So cone of shame it is. Poor guy, he's scared to move very much in it so he just sits there mostly. I feel bad for him and sneak it off when Adam's not home. But then it's back to licky-lick, so I have to put it back on. It's another viscious, exhausting cycle.

*Needless to say, I'm feel exhausted from all the cycles. Not to mention the stomach bug which seems to have bitten me yesterday. Yuck. I dont even want cheese or diet coke, which means something must be seriously wrong with me.

Monday, January 18, 2010

I Heart Faces: Family

No time for a real post. But I wanted to pop in and enter this week's contest at I Heart Faces. This week's theme is families, here's one of my favorite families ever. Want to know more about what they do? Visit their website at Safe Haven Atlanta.

For more family shots, visit I Heart Faces! (ps- the amazing Audrey Woulard is this week's guest judge!)

Friday, January 15, 2010

Modern Community of Rock and Recreation

Adam and I are what you like to call moochers good friends who are giving and loving and generous. And we don't have cable. But luckily for us, our dearest friends who live just down the road? They do have cable. And DVR. Hallelujah.

Every Thursday night, we head over there for a fun night of happy-funny-crazy television. Our favorite NBC Thursday night line-up (Parks & Rec, Community, Office, 30 Rock) plus a little gem from Wednesday night called Modern Family.

I just thought I should let you know how much you need to watch these shows. Because that's what I'm here for: to make your life a little funnier. And lets be honest, these shows are far funnier than I am.

In fact, I've been finding myself laughing all day today thinking about last night's episodes of 30 Rock. Particularly Kenneth taking pictures of himself on the computer, and when he heard the noise for people over 40. Oh and Jack Black on Community? Hilarious.

Amy Poehler's real-life husband was on Parks & Rec, playing the bad date. It made me laugh.

And why, oh why, is Modern Family so funny? Last week's episode with the ferberizing totally cracked me up: "Don't talk black to me." And this week was hilarious as well, I couldn't stop laughing at Cam with the dog at the end. Funny stuff people.

OK so this is the most pointless post ever. I apologize for that. But follow the links and enjoy the hilarious fun which will surely ensue.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

A Quick List, hopefully

I say hopefully, because you know how I get once I start talking/writing. I'm liable never to stop.

1 - Adam thinks I should point out something about my little blue box post. See our pastor told us the story of how a little girl one time gave him a dollar, and he saved that dollar for years and years until he lost his wallet. When RayRay gave me my dollar, I might have spent it on diet coke pretty immediately. Don't judge. The blue box, however, I will treasure.

2 - My best friend Courtney and I took our kids to the Children's Museum in Atlanta this Tuesday. We felt very ambitious and savvy, taking our kids downtown for an afternoon outing. It was fun, albeit slightly chaotic (because every second tuesday is free-day at the museum). And afterwards? I was exhausted, reinforcing my belief that I should probably just stay at home with Jayci and remain un-ambitious in our activities.

3 - I cannot stop thinking about Haiti. I hate that we are so insulated and protected that I can go through my day without even worrying for one second about the fact that there are people dying, hurting, afraid . . . As a Christian, I MUST believe that those people are my neighbors, my brothers and sisters, the "least of these" in every way. And like I talked about earlier this week, I need to learn to give sacrificially. For us right now, that means giving financially. Want to give too? Here's a few ways you can be involved:
-Compassion International
-Hope for Haiti (a blogger who is doing raffles to raise money for Haiti relief)
-The Red Cross
All I know is that we need to rally to help those who are hurting, whether it's right here in Atlanta, or half-way across the World . . .

"the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners" (Isaiah 61:1)

Monday, January 11, 2010

I Heart Faces - Birthday Celebration

Would you believe it's been a year since I Heart Faces started? Year, me neither.

I've totally enjoyed being a part of the I Heart Faces community this past year. The wonderful contributors and participants have all been a source of knowledge, inspiration, and encouragement. But the best part has to be all the sweet friends I've made. I heart friends.

The theme for this special birthday week is "Best Face Photo" -- which means no pressure, particularly for decision-challenged people like myself. Luckily (or unluckily depending on how you look at it), the picture has to be one taken recently. I took this one today, so that's about as recent as you can get. And honestly, I'd like to try again tomorrow for a better shot with better lighting. But it's freezing outside, and I prefer to stay warm. And although part of me is screaming: Get out of the house! Run errands! Shop! Go to Target and Chick-fil-a! The other part of me is yelling equally loudly: Stay under the blankets! Turn on the space heater! Drink large quantities of hot chocolate topped with whipped cream! Guess which part wins?

That said, here's my entry this week. And thanks to all the talented photographers and friends I have come to know and love this past year!

The Little Blue Box

Anyone who knows me at all knows that my car is somewhat of a, well, junk-collector. In fact, last time the kiddos rode in my dad’s car they said: “Becca, your car ain’t never been this clean.” Out of the mouth of children comes truth my friends.

When we pulled up to April’s temporary residence the other day, children literally poured from the house and packed themselves into every crevice of my car. They were determined it was going to snow and they could come spend the night at our house. Besides feeling slightly panicky at the thought of Toddrick (who most likely needs some ADHD medication or at the very least a little Super-Nanny) running around my house, I was pretty convinced that Tuesday night was not going to bring snow (and lo and behold I was right. As usual).

Oh my rabbit trail.

Anyways, while the kids were in the car, they discovered all manner of knick-knacks and trash-like items, which they were determined they should keep. In fact, I let them have approximately 19 diet coke cans in order to hide my major slight problem from Adam. Oh I kid. But seriously, sweet little Ray-Ray found a tiny little blue box (which at one point held earrings, which are now lost. Probably somewhere in my car). He begged me to let him keep it. I peeked inside to make sure it didn’t contain my missing earrings, and then readily agreed. Because, you know, one less thing for me to throw away.

After much ferrying and transporting of items and people from residence to apartment and back again (a journey which involved being tailed for a good 10 minutes by some undercover cops. Who were very sneaky and under-cover-like hiding in the Bluffs in an unmarked car holding 4 white guys in black stocking caps and gov’t plates). We finally dropped April and the babies back off. We were just getting ready to pull out of the driveway, when Ray Ray came running back out to hand me the little blue box. Despite my assurances that it was for him to keep forever, he insisted that I take it, whispering in my ear that there was a present inside. Grinning and winking at him, I took the box and hurried to the car in an attempt to escape the frigid cold. It’s like I never even lived in Canada with my low tolerance for sub-zero weather.

Pulling out of the neighborhood, I peeked inside the box, and saw a crumpled up one dollar bill. And in that moment, I melted into a puddle on the ground. I mean that gift, my friends, was one of the truest expressions of loving kindness and sacrifice I have ever received. All of a sudden, I was able to understand Jesus’ words about the widow who sacrificed everything. Giving her few coins when it was all she had. Sacrificial Giving. The kind of giving that Jesus described in Luke when he said: "All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on" (Luke 21:4).

So what does it look like in my life, in your lives, to give sacrificially? I dont even know the answer to that. But I know that we are all living in poverty in one way or another: be it relationally, personally, materially, spiritually . . . So out of my lack, out of my poverty, I will give.

“I will not sacrifice to the LORD my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing." (2 Sam 24:24)

Friday, January 8, 2010

Winter Storm 2010

Yesterday's Winter Storm has really made things miserable for us. We're stuck at home because snow is piled so so high. And there's barely any food so we will have to sustain ourselves on milk and bread since we bought several loafs at the store.
Or not. But it has been a delightful "snow day" so far.
Adam even stayed home from work, made cinnamon rolls (he's the designated maker of the cinnamon rolls around here because I always burn them. Every. Single. Time.) and danced with Jayci to a little Glee music. The "Thong song" in particular. Family values people, family values.

Speaking of Adam, he loves it when there's any sort of weather anomaly. He's almost as bad as the weathermen (weather women? weather people?) You know, the ones who get disturbingly excited about large tornadoes or ice storms?

One of Adam's favorite shows is "Stormchasers" on the Discovery Channel (in fact he could probably watch the Discovery channel 24/7. Me? I prefer more educational and sophisticated tv viewing, like HGTV and Bravo)

And he gets inordinately fascinated by weather of any kind. He will even watch the news stations when they talk about it in incessant loops. And they continually show the one house that had a tree knock a few shingles off their roof. And they name the storms things like "Winter Event 2010." And it may or may not make my ears bleed with all the repetition and exaggeration.

Oh and as much as we've been enjoying the day, Jayci has spent much of it right here on her time out mat. Why? Well, allow me to show you the face.
Defiant eyes, that's what we call it. And lately it's been appearing right before she hits me on the face. Right? Where does she even learn these things? I have no idea where she gets that defiant streak. Or her flair for the dramatic. None at all.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Authentic but not Vulnerable

If there’s one thing I’m not scared to do on this here blog, it’s keep it real. Because, let’s be honest, I’ve already shown y’all my dust bunnies and the 6 month old Christmas tree in the backyard (and look! now there’s a new one to replace it - I wonder how long it will stay there?)

Through the years, the Lord has taught me a lot about the importance of authenticity. I’ve learned this lesson many times over, both through living in authentic community with other believers, and by developing a vibrant and authentic walk with my Savior.

Although it has taken time, I’ve come to feel pretty secure in my quirks (so what if y’all called me freaks and nutty for loving cheese so much?) and I don’t honestly care all that much about having a clean and perfectly organized house (not to say that area of my life couldn’t use a little work). And we all know I’m not a perfect Christian right? I admit pretty quickly how frustrated I get, how tired I am . . . Not to mention the lack of perfection (or even adequacy) in the area of self-discipline: whether it’s in eating right, exercising, cleaning, having a quiet time. . .

This year, I (fearfully) feel the Lord leading me to a whole new level of authenticity in my relationships: with Him, with Adam, with friends, with my ministry partners, and even with the kiddos. The problem is that this new level? There’s a strong possibility it involves vulnerability. And I don’t really like being vulnerable. I prefer safety, avoiding hurt, and staying protected. I mean, I don’t even like having my feet un-tucked at night because they feel so vulnerable (but that’s a whole other post for some day when I’m feeling less serious and far braver).

The truth is that there are some things about me that y’all might not like. And those are things I prefer to keep closely guarded. Like the anxiety that envelops me when I look at other moms and feel panicked that they have it all together and I’m totally unfit to parent Jayci, let alone take in other kids. Or the jealous knot in my stomach when my friends have cuter clothes, more money to spend on boots, better hair, or a more bikini-ready body than me (because let’s face it, it’s a really good thing I still have a few months until I have to cross that bridge).

I’ve mentioned before that I often struggle with comparing myself to others. What I haven’t said is just how crippling that comparison can be for me. It’s made me do some stupid things. Like not eating for a while. Or exercising too much. Or cheating to get ahead. Or lying to make myself look better. Things I’m absolutely not proud of, but only wish I could say I would never get sucked into doing again.

Just this past week, I was ready to throw in the towel, bring the babies (and especially the teenager) home, and try to ignore the fact that they are probably cold and most likely wearing the same clothes they wore yesterday. Or that they have rats in their bathroom, and might not eat dinner tonight.

I feel a little bit like I just exposed my soft underbelly to y’all, leaving myself open to hurt and judgment (two of my least favorite things ever). But I guess that’s what it means to be vulnerable: putting myself out there and trusting that Jesus has made me ENOUGH. That He knew me before He laid the foundations of the World. That He will equip me, fill me, encourage me, and provide for me.

Oh and get excited because I have got some sweet stories of provision for y’all. Trust me; you’re going to be blown away. Let’s just say that, although I’m not sure when we stopped expecting God to show up on our behalf; I, for one, don’t plan on making that mistake again.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

The Worst Combinations Ever

Let's talk for a sec about some of the worst combinations ever.
1: Being busy, but only with boring stuff that isn't blog-worthy.
2: Freezing cold temperatures with no snow.

And that about sums it up for me right now. Lame, but true.

Thankfully, my favorite television shows (Chuck, Modern Family, Glee, 30 Rock) will start up again soon. Unfortunately, we dont have cable so I was unable to enjoy the drama/train wreck which I'm sure took place on The Bachelor last night. I'd be a lot more disappointed to miss it if the new bachelor wasn't Jake, aka the most boring guy ever. I mean, bless his heart, he's super-sweet seeming. But beyond cheese. Which is, in fact, another bad combination: sweet and cheesy. Although now that I type it out, I can think of many things I thoroughly enjoy which are sweet and cheesy. Like cheesecake. Anything with cream cheese icing. Cheese puffs. Cheese in any form really. Here's some cheese desserts I found online. Which, let's be honest, I will never actually make. But feel free to make them and ship them to me.

I will leave you with a short anecdote my friend Danielle shared with me. We have a small car (anyone have a 15 passenger van they want to donate?) so Danielle was helping us by driving Sharonda and Sabo to church. Sharonda was talking about how some boy had hit her friend. And Danielle remarked that boys better not be hitting her, or else Adam would beat them up. Sabo piped up from the back seat, remarking "no he won't, he will sit down and talk to them about it." He knows Adam too well.

Since this post couldn't get any more boring or pointless (bad combo #4: boring and pointless) here's a quick picture of Jayci. Isn't she cute in her little converse? But way too big. Bad combination #5: cute and growing way too fast.

I Heart Faces

I struggled this week (shocking) to get something creative, especially since Jayci is being a pill and a half. But I couldnt just not enter, since this week's winner gets a brand new camera lens!

“I am submitting this photo into the I Heart Faces logo photo contest. By entering, I am granting I Heart Faces LLC permission to consider my photo for use in the marketing and promotion of their website.”

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Exceed Your Own Expectations

Thanks to my dear, sweet friend Danielle, Adam and I were finally able to enjoy a special date night. Of course, it helped that Sharonda (the 13 yr old who was staying with us this week) was pretty insistent that we go. I think Danielle might be cooler than me. And by "think," I mean "know."

Anyways, we went to eat some Mexican food (shocking) and then saw Invictus. I loved the movie, and may have cried a few times (But I'm guessing that was a result of the following factors: stress + lack of sleep + hormones + extra babies in the household + jealous jayci. Just guessing though).

At one point in the movie, Morgan Freeman (aka Mandela) tells Matt Damon (aka the rugby guy . . . whatever his name was) that for success, "we must all exceed our own expectations." And I couldn't help thinking about the kids we work with. Because not only do most of their teachers, friends, and the world at large, expect most of the them to end up with babies/dealing drugs/on welfare; but often times we are discovering that's all they expect of themselves as well.

The sad truth remains that 90% of African American Youth are living with one parent; 3 out of 4 people on welfare can't read; More young black men from their neighborhood go to prison than graduate high school; teenage pregnancy is concentrated in inner-city and rural areas; But for most of these kids, all it takes for them to overcome these odds is for someone to believe in them. And then to come alongside them and convince them to believe in themselves as well.

Because breaking the cycle IS possible. And I have to believe in myself too, that we ARE making a difference. Honestly? It's been a knock-down, flat-HARD week. Teenage girls are NOT my strong suit. Add in two babies and lots of activities, working, cleaning . . . and I'm bone-tired right now. Not to mention discouraged because we've been bombarded with lies and manipulation with a few of the families we're working with.

But thankfully, we are not doing this for man, for a very big God who knows just when we need encouragement. So in case any of you are doubting that we are making a difference, or that you can make a difference, I thought I'd share a quick story of change and hope.

One of the little girls we work with (Nene. And, well, she's 13 and anything but "little") has a father in prison, and literally has to act as mother to all 4 of her younger siblings. I mean, she calls home to check on the babies when they're with their mom. Nene was one of the first kids we matched with a mentor, and her mentor is absolutely fantastic with her. She's faithful, fun, and gives her the chance to enjoy herself and be a kid every once in a while.

While we were watching Invictus, Nene's mentor sent me a text saying that Nene's dad had just called her from prison. He thanked her for everything she's doing for Nene and said she had inspired him to be more involved in Nene's life when he gets out of prison. Now, that's what I call exceeding expectations on all fronts. What a blessing and encouragement to Nene, her mentor, and to us. Just when we needed it the most.

Oh and one more thing I learned from the movie: Rugby is totally confusing and a little bit a lot frightening.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Oh Hello There 2010

If you're wondering where I've been, let's just say things have been a little crazy around here. It might be because we've added this little guy (along with his baby sister) to the Stanley Clan for a few days a week. You probably read about his family here (or maybe you didn't, but just humor me and let me think you did . . .)
As a matter of fact, I don't even have any time to write a proper Christmas recap/New Years post . . . maybe my new years resolution should be to blog things on time rather than several months late. But I don't want to do anything crazy like committing to that. Follow-through tends to not be my strong suit.

In the meantime, keep our family and his family in your prayers as things get adjusted the next few weeks.

In other news, this is Jayci's new "smile" . . . I could not love it any more.

Oh and happy 2010 from our clan to yours!


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