Friday, September 26, 2014

5 Favorite Things

I can't believe that September is already coming to a close. On the last day of this month, my next to the youngest turns 15! How did that happen? How is is possible that this little chunk can now drive??

I'm linking up today for Friday Favorites! Just to let you know...I'm already in the Thanksgiving spirit:)

First of all, I saw this photo and it made me smile.

Don't you love a little Brady Bunch Thanksgiving on this Friday?

2. I love Pottery Barn, especially in the fall. It's funny that I don't have a lot of interest in going there any other time of year. But when it's officially fall, I could browse forever! I bought these turkey plates last year and here they are on my Thanksgiving table last year. They are available this year, too.

I like these plates that I saw on their website, too.

3. This garland was on Pottery Barn Kids website. It would be pretty on a mantel, wouldn't it? It's $22.

I get a little Thanksgiving on the brain in September. But I do love all the holidays and especially anything Charlie Brown related.


5. Finally, this book is great! I bought it for my Kindle and I've been recommending it ever since. It is by Shauna Niequist. It's a beautiful book about hospitalilty.


Have a wonderful Friday!

Monday, September 22, 2014

A Mother's Fear

Photo by Evan Olson

What is fear?

It can be defined as:

(fear for) A feeling of anxiety concerning the outcome of something or the safety and well-being of someone:

Our little boy underwent a 3 hour surgery on his ear this past Wednesday. Even though the outcome wasn't what I had hoped before, I am just so glad that he is here! I have felt giddy with relief.

You may or may not know that we lost a 4 year old son in 1996 due to a respiratory difficulty. You can read about our son here in this post. He has been with the Lord for eighteen years, now. That is so hard to wrap my mind around.

I was terrified of losing another child. I kept getting hit with intense feelings of panic and fear for 2 weeks before this surgery.

I tried my best to stand on different scriptures that came to my mind. My favorite one that I kept repeating out loud is, "I will contend with those who contend with you, and your children I will save." (Isaiah 49:25)

But there was always a question in my mind. Will something go wrong? Will we lose him, too?

Our son has a genetic disorder that requires a lot of blood draws and medications, but this condition with his ear came out of nowhere and was not connected to his ( primary) genetic condition. I have to admit that I asked the Lord, "Really? Something else? I think one thing to deal with is enough." I think we can talk honestly with God and I do.

This present condition with his ear is called cholesteatoma and is a growth inside the ear. It  had grown over the hearing parts of his left ear - not a good thing if you want to hear. The surgery entails going behind the ear and folding his ear down to remove the growth. The growth was bigger than the ENT expected and had destroyed some bone. He attempted to use cartlilage within his ear to build something for his eardrum to rest on. In 3 months, he will undergo surgery again to see if this surgery was successful. He has lost some hearing in this ear already. I am praying for a miracle.

My fears for him during surgery was that his primary diagnosis (the genetic disorder) can also cause problems with blood clotting. His ENT (ear, nose and throat specialist), his genetic specialist at the University of Iowa Hospitals, his pediatrician, and a blood disorder specialist at Blank Children's Hospital, all spoke and planned this surgery together. They went over all the information that was available for his genetic condition, as it is rare. But even with all their expertise and knowledge, I was still terrified.

The Sunday before his surgery, I pulled into the long driveway at our church, and as I did, the thought came to my mind, "What if this was my last Sunday with him?" I knew that wasn't a thought that I should just sit and entertain, and yet, I couldn't seem to shake it. I looked at the church and the parking lot and prayed, " Please God, don't ever let me see this place with cars for his funeral."

It's the NOT KNOWING with God, I think. I know His character. He is kind. He is so loving with me. Yet, I've experienced the death of a child. I know it can happen.

I cried, I prayed, and I bargained. I pleaded and I prayed some more, I spoke scriptures out loud as I went about my day doing laundry and preparing meals.

I tried my best to believe.

I received a facebook message from my aunt Brenda. All of my memories of her will always circle back to these words - a cheerful faith. I don't think she ever thinks of the worst case scenarios. She is always bright and happy and believes for the best outcome. She wrote me and said that she was believing and expecting for his healing. Those words seemed to soothe my fears, at least for a time.

Just a side note -the truest form of love is simply standing with someone as they are going through a battle. We may not have an answer, but if they know you are there, it means everything. But they do need to know that we are there. We can't just assume that they know. That is something I must put into practice more myself.

A friend from church texted me that she felt the Lord had shown her that I was being tormented by fear, especially at night, and that she was standing with me in this fight. I think during this time, I was too wracked by fear and uncertainty to hear anything from God myself. This timely word from her during this time meant so much!

I found myself watching him all the time. My husband was out of town one night and he always likes to sleep with me on those nights. I woke up in the middle of night and felt such fear. I switched on our lamp and watched him while he slept. Then I got out of bed, grabbed my phone, and took his picture. The reason I did that was I knew I would want a photo of him sleeping. Just in case.

 Just in case God maybe had a different plan. Just in case my plan and His plan didn't line up.

Those kinds of thoughts are tormenting. During the day, I tried to walk by faith. And it was faith - just the sheer faith of NOT KNOWING and trying to do what was right.  But at night...the fear grew in intensity.

I wish being a pastor's wife came in handy at times like these. But it doesn't.

I had real fears. I discussed those very real fears with God. I told Him how I was feeling and that even though I loved Him, I wasn't sure about Him. I had no idea what the future held.

Everything I looked at was through this terrible lens of "What if?" What if I lose him? What if God does something I don't want Him to do? What if I come home and he isn't with me?

There is no money, or job, or ministry, or anything, that can take the place of a loved one in your heart. If you have experienced a loss, and we all have to some extent, then you know what I mean.

God didn't sigh and tell me to be strong and get my act together.

I believe He listened. And I always like to think of Him sitting beside my bed at night, especially when I am afraid, and just watching me sleep.

I never did receive any special answer to my frantic prayers. We brought him to the surgery center and played a game of Head Bands with him before they wheeled him into surgery. I stood and watched until I could no longer see his little blonde head from the doorway. I still just didn't know. And, as they say in the South, I was "plumb tuckered out " from worrying. Now it was time to wait and try and trust.

We waited two hours, then three. Then the doctor came back and said that he was in recovery. I was and am so thankful.

He is home and I am so grateful. We still have things to face and to deal with. But seeing his sweet smile and holding his hand has never meant so much.

I didn't get to experience that with the loss of our son, Alex. My last conversation with him was my last. I sang a little song to him that night and gave him a drink of water. He wanted to know what we would have for breakfast the next morning. I didn't know that those were the last words I would hear him say.

I think that is why these past few days have been like a gift to me. I didn't have to say a last goodbye. I can go up to his room and watch him sleep. I don't have to rely on a picture.

I do understand loss. I do understand if you are suffering through some pain that seems unending. If you are hurting today or feel depressed, I do understand - at least, in some measure. If I could, I would sit beside you and hold your hand and say, "You are not alone."

Sometimes we have questions. I have questions, too. I have fears and anxieties. I haven't reached a point with God of total and complete trust, as you can see.

A thought did cross my mind last week. If my worst fears were realized, what then?  I told God the same thing his disciples said to him, "Where else can I go? You alone have the words of eternal life." (John 6:68) There aren't any other options that I can see. At least, not options that I would want.

Whoever you are, and wherever you may be today, I bless you in Jesus' name. I speak peace over you - a peace that passes your natural understanding. Even though you may be like me and it's the not knowing that is making things so very hard, or you are experiencing pain, sorrow, despair, depression, or fear, I believe that God sees right where you are and hears the cries of your heart. I am asking Him to make Himself real to you and to whatever situation you are in. You aren't alone.

Our days really are beautiful. If you can look around and see your family around you, you are truly blessed. Everything may not be perfect, every solution to every problem may not be evident, but you are rich.

If you have lost a loved one, know that God is with you. Let him walk this pain out with you.

I read a book about a lady who had lost her husband and two little children in a plane crash. She said her healing came as she entered into their joy. I thought about that a lot after the loss of our son in 1996. When I focused on the joy he was experiencing, the joy of his being able to walk and run for the first time, his joy of seeing Jesus face to face, then I was able to grieve in a better way. I was able to see things from his perspective.

I bless each person reading and send you much love!

(Note:  I actually wrote this several days ago right after our son's surgery. But last night I had the great privilege of hearing a lady's testimony who had been healed of Stage IV terminal cancer. During her long battle with cancer, she actually went to heaven and saw Jesus. Even after that experience, she was not immediately healed. It was a process. She has now been cancer free for 30 years. But something she said has stuck with me today. She said that after that experience of seeing Jesus, any suspicions of Jesus she had ever had were gone. I think that is what I was trying to articulate before I heard her speak. Those "suspicions" are very real to us.We pray, we believe, but then...what will He do?  But I know that He wants to lay our suspicions to rest, including mine. He can be trusted with our lives.)

Linking up to:

Thursday, September 18, 2014

5 (or more) Things I Am Loving Today

Good morning! I am linking up with Erika and Andrea for:

Here are a few favorite things I am loving today.

1. I am getting on one of these soon to go to...

2.  New York City!!!!! My very first time to visit a place that I've always wanted to see! We are going there to celebrate our 25th anniversary. I love the idea of walking through Central Park.

I've seen these necklaces on several blogs. They are Kendra Scott's Rayne necklaces.

                                                                          Kendra Scott here

                                                                             Watch  here

I also love this watch! It is on sale right now at Nordstroms. I don't own this or the necklace above, but think both are so pretty.

4. I love these boots.
Melissa Frye boots  here

5.  And for something totally random...

Source: Thistlewood Farms blog

I really love the old fashioned look of glass doorknobs and transom windows. If I were building a home right now, I would add glass doorknobs to my doors and use transom windows wherever I could. I was very interested  to read about this DIY project above from the blog Thistlewood Farms.

As a bonus, here is a beauty item that I have liked lately...

It really helps your makeup to go on smoothly and de-emphasizes those little lines. Find it here.

Okay - just one more!! 

I have some kind of love for silverware! You would think I owned a lot, but I don't. But if money were no object, I would buy these babies. I don't know, but I think my cooking would just taste better with these.

Pottery Barn - Maxfield flatware  here

Okay, that's it!

Happy Friday!!

Monday, September 15, 2014

First Time Trip to West End Salvage

Happy Monday!

If you love antiques, you would love to visit this place.

It is called West End Architectural Salvage in downtown Des Moines.

I had heard of it before, but have never been until today.

I was actually looking for a door like this one below. I love the whole look of this vintage door with the Christmas wreath - maybe a few white Christmas lights, too?

                                                                    Blog source:  Unskinny Boppy

I didn't find that, but enjoyed looking around so much!

I don't know if you are like me at all, but I always feel a little sad browsing around an antique place. I guess because I know I am looking at things that once meant something to someone. I felt a little like that today. But since the building itself is also very old, I also wondered who used to walk around in there doing their daily job 50, 75, or even a 100 years ago! Do you think thoughts like that, too? And now here I am with my husband and two of our kids, walking through this same building just for fun.

Here are a few highlights of the day.

Old cash registers fascinate me.

I hope that this gives you a feel of what it was like there.

It takes a while to see everything.

                                     I loved the large mirrors, but they were over a thousand dollars.

I love old signs.

                                      Wouldn't old lights like these look great in a boys' bedroom?

We didn't even get to see the whole building. We saw 3 floors and I think there are 2 more!

There is also an HGTV show about West End Salvage.

Enjoy your week and I hope it's beginning to look like fall wherever you are!

Linking up to:

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Hobby Lobby Finds with Fixer Upper Style

Today was a lovely day.

We ran into Hobby Lobby on Labor Day so that I could scope out their fall decor. Somehow though, I had left my phone sitting on the kitchen table. I saw so many interesting things and no way to share what I found. So, today as we decided to run to Sam's Club for milk (why is milk suddenly so expensive at the grocery store? Don't they know I have boys in the house?), I knew that I would probably have time to run back in to Hobby Lobby and snap a few photos. Thank you, Dave. (I have a great husband!)

I really noticed the influence of my favorite HGTV show, Fixer Upper, in Hobby Lobby today. I think you'll see what I mean.

Have you seen Fixer Upper? This is the husband and wife team, Chip and Joanna Gaines. I  love them and their obvious love for each other and their kids. It is refreshing to see.

Joanna is the designer of their projects and uses a lot of vintage, distressed type things in her designs.

But back to Hobby Lobby:)

Here's a few things that caught my eye today.

These metal letters reminded me a lot of  the design style on Fixer Upper.

Chipped, vintage look and I LOVED the glass knobs. If we ever build a house again, I would like glass doorknobs for every bedroom door.

This was a heavy cabinet type door with wire basket and hooks below. It would work great in a mudroom or hallway.

I loved the distressed look of this piece. This would be a beautiful accent color  to use in a room.

                                     Loved that this arrow lit up. It would be so cute in a theater room.

                                       I wish I had a place to put this. My husband is glad that I don't.

                                                                   I love old signs.

                                                   My little boy (who loves atlases) would love this map.

                            Another chipped, vintage looking piece. I've seen a lot of blogs where they use something                             like this for hanging jewelry.

                              A little architectural interest. It would look great in our dining room.

                                           Glass knobs. You can't get much better than these.
                                       I know. I need a manicure. Sigh - I always notice too late.

And this little beauty came home with me today. I just love it! It reminds me of school days and of some of the choices for Fixer Upper (and the fact that it was 40% off didn't hurt either!)

What do you think of the design style on Fixer Upper? Has it influenced any projects in your home?

Linking up to:

Monday, September 1, 2014

Happy September!

At last! It is September 1st! A time for celebration! To me, September 1st is the gateway to the holidays and my favorite time of year. And now, when I go into Target, I will be looking at their back to school displays and knowing that in a very short time, I will begin to see a few random Christmas items appearing on the shelves. This is how I think.

Happy September!!

 Here's a little inspiration with some of my favorite fall things. Enjoy and have a wonderful day!

Images courtesy of Pinterest

Linking up to:

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Summer's End & WIWW

I'm linking up with The Pleated Poppy for What I Wore Wednesday with a few statement necklaces.

left- Stella and Dot
right top - ebay
bottom right - Stella and Dot

School starts back here tomorrow. It is hard to believe that summer is about to come to an end.

Our youngest son took tennis lessons this summer and loved it. He had some great coaches and learned so much.

Our son is in the little guy in the lime green shirt.

We will definitely be doing this class again next summer.

I am also looking forward to this...

Pinterest (Marty's Musings blog)

And especially...

It's not much longer! Have a great Wednesday!

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Saying the Right Thing to Ourselves

I believe that God still speaks to us today. Sometimes God has spoken to me in the middle of the night - not audibly, but in my spirit. I tend to be a very visual person though, and more often than not, God has spoken to me while watching something beautiful, whether it be a sunset or looking up at the stars, or on a couple of occasions, a movie I was watching.

I also believe that at times, God can have someone else share a word with you which will encourage or help you.  This word of knowledge could be defined as:

Supernatural insight about something that you would not know outside of God's intervention. It is one of the gifts of the Spirit as stated in I Cor. 12.

That probably sounds really strange to some of you reading or it may intrigue you. Either way, it is an amazing thing, isn't it? It is an amazing thing that the Creator of the Universe would be very interested in speaking to me or you. But He is. He is extremely interested in you and what is going on in your heart and life right now.

But for some reason, I rarely receive a word like that. I've been in services where people all around me are called out and have some great word spoken over them, but, by and large, that doesn't happen to me. I'm not sure why that is, but I've come to the conclusion that it isn't worth getting all discouraged about.  Those kind of things are great when they do happen, and can be extremely encouraging,  but they just don't happen to me a lot. So, I thought I would tell you what I do.

I speak encouraging words over myself. I make declarations over myself and my family. I say what I know that God is saying over all of us.

I haven't read Joel Osteen's book on making declarations, but I do agree with this practice wholeheartedly! One thing that Joel has said that I read recently was this, " You send your words out in the direction you want your life to go." I believe that. The Bible says that "Life and death are in the power of the tongue." That is pretty powerful if you stop and think about it. Both of those things are in our mouth at any given time. We have to put some thought into what we are saying.

If this were a class (making declarations), I would still be in elementary school.  I am still reining in the wrong sentences that I throw out there sometimes, and replacing them with words of faith. It hasn't been easy! I think that it requires little effort to be negative, but a whole lot of effort to replace the negative words with positive ones.

So, this is what I do.

When I feel or sense a cloud of discouragement, gloom, or despair coming around, I say things "out loud" to counteract those feelings or thoughts. I recently downloaded some declarations from Joyce Meyer's website. For example, here are some things that I state out loud.

  1. I don't have the spirit of fear, but of power  and love and a sound mind.
  2. I have compassion and understanding for all people.
  3. I know God's voice and I always obey what He tells me.
  4. I cast all my care on the Lord for He cares for me.
Sometimes your thoughts can be suddenly hijacked and you can feel yourself spirally down quickly. I know that has happened to me. This is when it is particularly crucial to state God's word out loud:

2 Cor. 10:5    Satan, you are a liar. There is nothing true in you. I will not receive or believe your lie in the name of Jesus.

1 John 4:4    I remind you that it is written. He that is within me is greater than he that is in the world. I command you to leave me in the name of Jesus.

At times, I just speak encouraging things over myself and my children as I pray. I've always liked the scripture that says, "But David encouraged himself in the Lord." I Sam. 30:6. If you haven't received any encouragment in what feels like a long time, speak encouraging words over yourself. Things like:

1 .God is interested in my dreams coming true. He will absolutely see my dreams through.

2. My children will, without question, fulfill the destiny that God has for their lives.

3. God is proud of me. God has a plan for my life. He has not forgotten me.

This has really helped me. I also practice saying things out loud to my children. Recently, I told one of my kids,

"I believe you will travel the world and not have an ordinary life."  (I wasn't just pulling this out of thin air. I really do think this.)

There is power in declaring good things over your children. Again, life and death are in the POWER of the tongue. I so much want to get better at this.

Perhaps this won't seem very helpful to you if things are going well, but if you find yourself in a rough spot, try and remember what I'm telling you right now. It will help you and make a difference. God's word is very powerful. It isn't like any other book. There is power behind the words that God says over you. Think about this verse when you feel afraid:

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10

No matter what may be occurring in your life right now, begin to train yourself in saying what God is saying about you and your circumstance. His heart is full of love and concern for you today. He isn't too busy or distant. He really cares.

Sending each one reading lots of love today!

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

August Pin-Spired

Hello August!

I'm not really a summer person. I am a fall person. So it is exciting to me to see how close we now are to September 1st! That is my extra happy time of year with a giddy feeling that lasts all the way through December. There is just a little bit of a sparkle to the whole world during those months.

I'm joining Pin-Spired this month with:

Here are a couple of Pinterest looks that were an inspiration. They are definitely both more for my favorite time of year:)

Courtesy Pinterest

Stella &  Dot necklace - blazer Kohls
Purple top/scarf - Nordstroms 
In other news, I'm in the midst of getting all our home school books organized and ordering any last minute items that need to be ordered. I've really enjoyed having these past few weeks off. We haven't really done anything special this summer, but it's been nice all the same.

We just celebrated our 25th anniversary in July and are making plans to go to NYC this fall! Our church (my husband is a pastor) has very kindly given us a gift to help with our travel expenses. (Aren't they awesome?!) I've always wanted to go and now I can hardly believe that we are going! I've been reading/looking/asking for ideas while we are there and besides all the sights to see, I am definitely going to do this:

A "You've Got Mail" walking tour.  Yes, really!

Duane from the blog, Cottage in the Oaks, has been a treasure trove of resources for me in planning this trip. She is amazing!

Happy August to you and if you have any NYC tips to share, please let me know!

Linking up to: