Monday, January 31, 2011

Update and Such

First of all, can I just tell you guys again how GRATEFUL I am for all the kind words and encouragement y'all give me? Especially when I throw a yucky pity party . . . you are the best!

Several people have been asking how things are going, if I'm feeling any better etc. And I WISH I could say that YES, now that I'm officially "out" of my first trimester, things are just peachy. Unfortunately, I wouldn't be telling the truth. And I'm nothing if not honest. Usually.

However, there have been a few "glimpses" and reminders of what it's like to feel normal again. On Saturday morning, the sun was shining and I managed to keep down my breakfast AND lunch . . . but things haven't been great nausea-wise since then.

I went to the doctor this morning. So far I've lost 15 pounds. And I'm a pretty slender-ish person to begin with, so I'm basically just looking sickly (with a small pooch that is-in-fact a baby bump). In other words, my clothes are all too big except I can't button my pants. Hence the yoga pants and/or pajama wardrobe I'm constantly sporting these days. The doctor said he is putting off hospitalizing me another week, and he prescribed me another medication with strict orders NOT to google it. Which, of course, only made me desperately curious as to WHY I shouldn't google it. Now if only I could read his handwriting, so I could know what to google. I guess I'll have to wait until they fill the prescription and see. I go back to the doctor next week for another check-in. So I'll keep you guys posted.

In much happier news, things are actually progressing nicely on the home and ministry front. When we decided enough was enough and walked away from our contract, the investor decided it was finally time for him to sign the contract, and we were able to start some demo work on the house this past weekend. It will still be a few more months before we're move-in -ready, but at least things are finally moving forward! And the lawyer finally got everything set up with our non-profit, so we are all official and can start accepting tax-deductible donations directly to Blueprint 58. Feel free to mail us checks.

Other than that, I've been trying to spend time with this little one. . . she's such a cutie these days. She's also exasperating and exhausting, but has been quite the trooper considering how awful I've been feeling (and as a result, how NOT FUN I've been). The other day we were coloring and she said for me to draw mommy (ahem, me) and to make me lying in my bed because I'm not feeling good. Oops, poor Jayci needs her mommy back. We all do really.
 In other news, she's still obsessed with me taking her picture. Now if only I was feeling well enough to really take advantage of her obsession and dress her up and take her cool places for photo shoots. . . . But the couch to the bed to the toilet is about as far as I get these days.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Get to Work!

Can you tell we're ready to get to work on our house?!!

Which, by the way, we somehow ended up FINALLY getting a contract on. So this time I really do mean it when I say that we are starting tomorrow!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

It's a Party

I've been having a little pity party over here the last day or two. And trust me, it's not any fun. Because there's nothing I hate more than letting myself get sucked into the black hole of feeling sorry for myself. Why is that hole just so darned hard to get out of anyways?

I went to my 12 week doctor's appointment yesterday, and unfortunately he said that if I continue to throw up and lose any more weight in the next week, he's going to hospitalize me. So please pray with me that I can stop throwing up and starting gaining some weight. And maybe, just maybe, that I might even WANT to eat again. I don't know what to do with myself when I have no desire for cheese dip. It's like I dont even know who I am.

And then our house deal fell through. Well, we thought it did. We are giving it one last attempt, but I'm trying not to get my hopes up too high. See, the investor who owns the house never got us a signed contract -- so every time we tried to start working, he never ended up signing it and sending it to us, which means no work could be done. Finally we said enough is enough, and started looking at other houses in the neighborhood. All that to say, he came back to us and apologized and we re-sent him a contract to sign today. But if he doesnt get it signed and back to us by tomorrow, then we're going to have to re-evaluate the whole house situation.

Needless to say, this is more than a little disappointing, and confusing. We've been working on getting this house since we got back from camp -- 6 months ago! I'm at the point where I can't tell whether or not God is shutting this door, or we're facing opposition and just need to keep fighting.

I should have been asking people for help with Jayci long ago, considering I've been throwing up 5+ times a day for 7 weeks now. But I hate asking for help, I'm always afraid that people wont want to be friends with me anymore if I impose too much.

In the same way, I never want to write blog posts like this. Because no one wants to read a depressing debbie-downer blog. I'm afraid people wont like me or my blog anymore.

But then I can't stop thinking about something our pastor mentioned a few weeks back. He quoted a guy from Alcoholics Anonymous who said that he has never experienced in church anything even close to the community he experienced in AA. And I immediately thought: that's because of the vulnerability. Everyone knows you get up front at AA and declare from the outset: "My name is _____ and I am an alcoholic." No pretense, no pretending, and no judging. No hiding who they really are.

And I realized that's what's missing so often in the church. The opportunity and ability to be vulnerable. To stand up and declare: "I am Becca and I am struggling right now." To admit our insecurities and shortcomings. To share about the times this week I've wanted to give up. To curl up in a ball and ignore my daughter and forget all about our calling and wallow in my pain.

So here I am. Being vulnerable, and hoping that this community can be Christ and accept me and love me anyways. Because that's exactly what God wants me to do downtown with our kiddos. To accept the them, to love them, but not to let them stay in their sin. And how can I do it for others if I am not willing or brave enough to let others do it for me?

I have no answers, really. I'm not sure how to claw my way out of the darkness I'm in. Or how to start trusting again. Or what God wants us to do with this house stuff. Or why I can't stop throwing up.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.  Proverbs 3:5,6 (NIV)

Friday, January 21, 2011

New Beginnings Part 3

So far in this little series, we've talked about a new home (which is a continuing saga/drama that we STILL haven't started working on!!! Argh) and then we talked about a new baby on the way. . . But that is not all my friends, oh no, that is not all.

Because like I mentioned, we're apparently all about "go big or go home" (aka we're a little crazy), we are ALSO in the process of starting a brand new ministry. The past few weeks, months even, have been a roller-coaster for us. With lots of exciting changes and shifts on the horizon, we have been seeking the Lord, spending a lot of time in prayer, doing research, talking to those who are much wiser than us, and trying really hard to be patient. We have discovered through the process of working with families in the inner-city over the past few years that the depth of their needs, and the heart of the problems plaguing our city, are much deeper and harder to overcome than can be transformed without a drastic shift. 

As we prepare to move into the city, we've experience a new desire and a new framework for the way we are viewing our mentoring ministry. “Living the gospel means desiring for your neighbor and your neighbor’s family that which you desire for yourself and your family. Living the gospel means bettering the quality of other people’s lives spiritually, physically, socially, and emotionally as you better your own. Living the gospel means sharing in the suffering and pain of others” (CCDA). 
With this move comes a shift in the way we see ourselves doing ministry. And so it is with much excitement, fear, trepidation, and anticipation (because aren’t our emotions always a little complicated?) that we announce our decision to leave Vision Atlanta and start our own 501c3 (non-profit), called Blueprint 58. Our goal in what we’re doing with Blueprint 58 is identical to what it was at Vision Atlanta: to start a mentoring program. Some of the implementation will look a little different since we are working from within the neighborhood to transform it. We’ve changed some of our philosophies of ministry as we have experienced first-hand the depth of need and the tangles of darkness which have taken root in the city. With Atlanta being the #1 city in the nation for sex trafficking, and our new neighborhood specifically being labeled the 22nd most dangerous neighborhood in the nation, we recognize that we will have to implement a ministry that is sensitive to these needs and holistic in its approach. We firmly believe that transformation best occurs in the context of relationship, and that’s why mentoring is the foundation of our program. 

We have realized that there is some confusion regarding our decision to leave Vision Atlanta, and we really don't intend for that to be the case, so allow me to try and explain it for you quickly (ha! As if I ever explain anything quickly and concisely). We still believe in and love Vision Atlanta and Camp 100%. I'm serious about that. We are committed to working for camp this summer for sure, and our new ministry has nothing to do with a falling out or anything negative at all related to Vision Atlanta. We just feel strongly called to mentoring as the best way to carry out long-term transformation. We see kids make amazing decisions at camp to follow Christ. But then they have to go back into these terrible environments where they are unsure what that decision means, and they have no model to follow as to what a "Christian" even looks like, or how Christ can transform their life in practical ways. That said, we feel personally called to set up a mentoring ministry as the best way to help them live out their faith. However, because Camp Grace is still in the process of being built (meaning they are still having to raise millions of dollars to build awesome things like a gym and dining hall and to finish the cabins . . . ), Vision Atlanta realized they were not in a position as a ministry to devote time and resources to also developing a mentoring ministry in addition to their current camp ministry. And because we feel called to mentoring, we mutually decided that the best course for us to take was to start our own ministry built on a foundation of mentoring.

I hope that clears up some of your questions. However, I know that I've also opened the door to ALL sorts of questions.  What exactly does "mentoring" mean? Where will the kids come from? What else will you do? How are you going to raise money? And so on and so forth. . . We want to do our best to answer any and all of the questions you might have. For now, I have put up a quick website (seriously, it's bare bones right now) at where we answer some FAQs and also have links to email addresses and phone numbers where you can contact us if you have more questions. And just to warn you, we're a little passionate about all this . . . so if you ask, we can't promise we wont talk your ear off about it. 

We have a lawyer getting us all set up as a legitimate non-profit, meaning any donations will be tax-deductible etc. All that to say, PLEASE feel free to contact me (Becca1612 at hotmail dot com) with any questions you might have regarding the ministry’s structure, budget, goals, board, etc. In addition, if there is anyone else you feel might be interested in the work we are doing, or who should be a part of our support team, please let us know and we would love to talk to them too. 

Thank you so much for your continual love and support and encouragement. We genuinely could not do what we are doing without you guys. We are continually blown away by the way you allow yourselves to be used by the Lord to provide for our ministry and transform the inner-city.

Thank-you from the bottom of our hearts. Oh and wish us luck and pray for us -- because a new home, new baby, and new ministry? Straight crazy I tell you. And if we weren't so sure of our calling from the Lord in this, I would be a little worried about our sanity!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

My little snow bunny

I realize posts have been few and far between around here lately. I am sorry. I promise I will be back to my usual wordy self if I ever stop throwing up.

I DID manage to sneak a few pictures of Jayci playing in the snow before it all melted.

Monday, January 17, 2011

A Dream

First of all, thank you ALL so much for your kind words of congratulations and encouragement on my last post. I wanted to respond and thank each of you personally, but unfortunately me and the toilet had prior arrangements apparently. Basically if I could just crawl in a hole and sleep for at least 2 more weeks until I'm out of the death-trap that is my first trimester, that would be fantastic. Anyways, enough complaining about that.

Despite the major case of the yuckies, we could not be more excited about the little one inside me. Jayci calls the baby "brovther shishter" no I'm not sure whether she thinks it's going to be a boy or a girl or some weird combination, heaven forbid. Anyways, she's really cute about it and yesterday said: "I WOVE baby brovther shisther, want to see it?" And then she proceeded to show me HER belly. Ha.

Good gracious with the rambling, my apologies. I blame pregnancy brain. I'm so glad I can use that excuse again.

Today is Martin Luther King, Jr Day. And I've been thinking a lot about his dream. And his words and wisdom and his hopes for the future. In many ways, his dream for black and white to sit side by side as brothers and equals HAS been realized. But unfortunately, there are so many ways that it also has NOT been realized. I am reminded of this each time we go downtown and realize our faces are the lone white ones in the crowd. Or when kids tell me, "you're the only white person I've ever been around."  Or when I look around the schools and churches are realize just how segregated our lives somehow remain.

And the truth is that King's dream echoes the Kingdom of God. Freedom for the captives and release for the oppressed. So as the church, the body of Christ, I believe we continue to bear the burden to spread this kingdom. To proclaim that it is here now, and to make that dream a reality.

Because I think there are few people who could read King's words about the poor, and not agree that this is a dream not yet realized: "God never intended for a group of people to live in superfluous, inordinate wealth while others live in abject, deadening poverty. God intends for all of His children to have the basic necessities of life, and He has left in this universe enough and to spare for that purpose. So I call upon you to bridge the gulf between abject poverty and superfluous wealth." In 1962, King preached, "I see hungry boys and girls in this nation and other nations and think about the fact that we spend more than a million dollars a day storing surplus food. And I say to myself 'I know where we can store that food free of charge - in the wrinkled stomachs of the millions of people in our nation and in this world who go to bed hungry at night.'"

So join me today in remembering with gratitude and with hope both how far we have come, and how far we have yet to go.

"Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that."

"I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear."

“If we have no peace, it’s because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.”

"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere."

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

New Beginnings Part 2

In the first part of this little series, I talked about starting work on our new home (finally). Unfortunately, Atlanta got hit with the storm of the century (or a few inches of snow) and we've been stuck in our house for the past three days. So NOW the plan is to start demo THIS Saturday and really get working next week. On that note, do any of y'all know about Pinterest? I love it. I might be a little obsessed, because it's a really easy way to create an online "pinboard" when you find ideas and things you love. Mine is full of house ideas.

Anyways, for 2011 to truly be considered the "year of new beginnings," we clearly need more new things rather than just our new house that I've been talking about for months and months and months now.

That said, here's our next "new beginning" . . . I'm 11 weeks pregnant!!

We are super excited about adding another little peanut to our family, but I'll be honest, this pregnancy just might be the death of me. I have never thrown up so much, I didn't even think it was possible. I found out I was pregnant at 5 weeks, and I've been nauseous beyond belief ever since. Basically I have no energy because I can't keep any food down. Combine that with a needy and whiny 2 year old who is tired of being cooped up, and I'm more than a little miserable. So if I haven't been around here much, or commenting on your blogs, or leaving my bed . . . . now you know why!

All I can do now is hope and pray that it all ends in the next week or two when my first trimester is over.

Sorry this is short and disjointed, I only have a small window of time before I have to get back to hugging the toilet.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Snow Day with Jayci

Well we had another snow day here in Atlanta. It was quite exciting. Unfortunately, I was feeling under the weather and spent most of the day in bed. Luckily for you, blog readers, I charged Adam with taking pictures and video with his new point and shoot camera that he got for Christmas. And he did not disappoint.

January Snow from Becca Stanley on Vimeo.

Monday, January 10, 2011

I Heart Faces: Smile

The theme this week at I Heart Faces is "smile." I have so many pictures of my sweet little girl and her cute smile . . . but I kept coming back to this one. I've been a little worried about my kiddos today and they've just been on my mind. So I chose a picture of this cutie grinning to remind myself of the JOY they have in their hearts despite the circumstances, not to mention the joy they bring to MY heart too!

Oh and I Heart Faces is celebrating their 2nd birthday this week - so be sure to pop over and wish them a happy birthday, plus see LOTS of beautiful smiles too!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

New Beginnings Part 1: The Home

Remember how I mentioned that 2011 is officially the year of new beginnings? Well I thought I'd do a little series of posts updating y'all on WHY exactly that is so. First of all, most of you already know (since I've talked about it ad nauseum) that we are moving into a NEW house. Actually, this weekend we are FINALLY starting that process by beginning with some demolition! Wohoo (ps - shoot me an email or message if you're in the Atlanta area and want to help with that this weekend)

Now if I'm honest, I really love decorating my home. And I like nice things. And I like my house to be PRETTY. Unfortunately, there are a couple roadblocks in these preferences: 1-nice things cost money, which we don't have a lot of (shout out to working in the ministry and living on support) and 2-We ARE moving into "the hood," so I don't want my house to be SO nice that it stands out as either a target for robbers (yikes) or that our neighbors and kiddos don't feel comfortable coming over and hanging out. On the other hand, we DO (sorry for all the caps today, I promise I'm not shouting) want our house to be a home. We want the kiddos to see what it looks like to have a permanent home, a place that is a refuge and a comfortable escape for them. For most of the families we work with, the concept of home ownership is completely foreign. Most of them have lived in many different apartments, dragging along their belongings in garbage bags and never even bothering to unpack, knowing that the stay will only be temporary.

All of that to say (hey I never claimed to be concise), I am planning on nesting in our new place for sure. So one of our new beginnings this year is starting to build our NEW home in our NEW neighborhood.

And here's a little of my inspiration for your viewing pleasure. So you can keep me accountable to actually decorating our little place.

As a side note: 1-I'm not positive where I got all these . . . sorry about that! Some are from Cottage Living, The Lettered CottageHolly Mathis Interiors, Jones Design Company . . . And probably some other places I missed - sorry!

2-I REALLY miss Cottage Living magazine. Which I realize sounds totally lame but it was EXACTLY my style and I just can't find another source of inspiration that I love.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

A Photo Shoot at Her Request

The other day Jayci insisted that we have a little photo shoot. I am not even joking when I tell you that she insisted that I took her picture on every. single. stair. on our (ok our parents') large staircase. Zack was over here and he was cracking up. He kept looking at me and asking "is she serious?" Yes, yes she is.

Monday, January 3, 2011

The Best Face of 2010

This is ridiculous. I simply cannot pick a favorite face shot from the whole year of 2010. Doesn't I Heart Faces realize I am a terribly indecisive person? How can I pick a favorite? A best?

I almost folded under the pressure and didn't even enter a picture, but then I figured that would be a terrible start to 2011. So here it is. ONE OF my favorite face pictures from 2010.
I realize it's probably not technically very perfect - but hello? that shirt with those glasses and my little munchkin . . . looks pretty perfect to me!

I'm sure there are lots of impressive entries at I Heart Faces this week, so be sure to pop over and check them all out!


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