Friday, February 27, 2009

Friday's Fave Five #9

Read more entries over at

Living To Tell The Story

(written on Thursday evening)

1. My baby shower invitations arrived this week!! They are soooo cute! I won't give away the surprise, but I stamped each envelope with blue baby footprints.

2. Two new paper punches (umbrella and butterfly) for 40% off and new spring confetti! I can't wait to make some Spring cards!

3. Beautiful weather her in Arizona. Andrew and I spent a lot of time this week in the back yard, soaking in the sun and playing--plus I got to finally flip through some of my favorite magazines!

4. Time to Springify! I saw a picture of a mantle in one of the magazines I read with white dishes and I thought, "Hey, I can do that!"

Here's how it started. Kinda...random. Not very springy.

This was my first attempt.

Then I tweaked it a bit, added a bird, etc. I'd like a nest with eggs to go under the glass dome.

Here's the shelf AND the desk after the "makeover."

It makes the whole room feel lighter and fresher!

5. My grandmother sent me this fairy (from one of the "before" picture). I told her over the phone that it's a "shelf sitter" and almost said a bad word! :) She said it was a "congrats on the great tea party" gift. I know she wishes she could've been here for it!! Now she needs to find a permanent home...

And as a P.S., I hit 30 weeks of pregnancy this week! I feel like I'm finally entering the home stretch! Here's me (after sitting in the sun a lil' today)!

I hope you had a beautiful week, too!!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Where do YOU go to be with God?

Matthew 6:6 "But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who [is] in the secret [place]; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly." NKJV

Do you have a "secret place" to go to be alone with the Lord? Maybe a special spot for your daily devotionals or for when you really need to meditate and pray without distractions? Maybe it's a place in nature where you retreat to when you really need to leave the world behind and meet with God.

Growing up in Southern Baptist churches, this place was often called your "prayer closet." I always imagined actually being on your knees or huddled down with your Bible in the bottom of the closet...but now I think it's a lot more open-ended!

It seems to me that it's easier to make a daily time alone with God a habit when there's a specific spot you can go to, especially if it's "stocked" with your favorite tools. I like to imagine the Lord waiting for us in this spot, beckoning us to meet with Him so that He can speak to us and show us His truth through the Word. How irresistible!

My father, who was my pastor for many of my childhood years, uses his office every morning. He has incense, his favorite books and his prayer notebook at hand and has a view of the front yard from the window, providing a quiet, soothing space for his daily quiet time.

My mom has a corner of her bedroom that she retreats to every day and refers to as her "sacred space." It's a small Chinese table and a floor cushion where she keeps special candles, prayer reminder cards and favorite mementos from her spiritual journey. Seeing this spot every morning reminds her to take time to meet with the Lord, and all the tools she needs are easily accessible, leaving no room for excuses! She has a favorite incense, too, and says that when she smells its familiar scent, it helps her focus and tune out the rest of the world.

I have a favorite chair where I keep my prayer notebook, devotional books and Bible, but I find that spending time there is a rare treat, not a daily ritual. Plus, it's a challenge to have any time to myself, distraction-free.

So! Do you have a "secret place?" If so, tell us about it! Maybe those of us without one can get some ideas! :)

Monday, February 23, 2009

worry & fear, part 1

I've blogged about the topic of fear before, although very few people I know...know. It's one of those "dirty secrets" I don't share a whole lot. And y'know what? The enemy looooves it when we keep our struggles to ourselves. No one can join us in prayer, we feel alone and "weird," and we have to battle it alone. Which only adds to the fear and worry!!

I have made a commitment to God that I would be open about this, in the hopes that it will help someone out there on their journey. Plus, the freedom to share about it lessens my burden and has the added benefit of encouraging people to pray for me! Plus, when we're open about these things, it takes the wind out of the enemy's sails.

After I finally shared about my struggle with two trusted women at my church, one said, "Oh, I bet the enemy just hates it that you told us that!" I like it when I can tick him off.

So let us begin this journey together. Let's take a look at FEAR.

First of all, here's a great acronym for F.E.A.R.:
False Evidence Appearing Real.

As Christians, as Christ-followers and friends of God, there is truly nothing to fear.

Worry comes in many forms.

While sick with a stomach bug Friday night (during the one night my hubby was away from home in months, how does that work??), I had somewhat of a "fear attack." Less panic, more fear. And nothing super-specific, just a vague unsettled feeling. It didn't end there, however. It tapped into a deeper fear of being sick and alone and it was hard for me to shake for a couple days afterward. The sickness hit me in waves, too, much like labor, which also tapped into my fears concerning my upcoming birth. Great combination, huh?

I take incidents like that and call them "spiritual wake-up calls." I tell myself, "You're out of balance, girl. Get it together." I know that isn't how God wants me to live my life.

I know my fears are based on non-reality and lies of the enemy. But still, especially when I'm sick, it's easy to let my mind wander and to allow the worry to creep in.

I'm purposely using fear and worry interchangeably here, and I think that's appropriate. When I'm worried, it's because I'm scared and when I'm feeling worried, the root of it is fear.

So. I set myself on a path to make myself right again with the Lord. I had a loooong talk with my husband (thank you, Love, you are my rock) and picked up my Joyce Meyer book, "The Battlefield of the Mind." I went through and read the applicable chapters and the chapter entitled "Our Responsibility--God's Responsibility" had a truth that stood out the most made a brave statement:

"Worry is a sin against God."


My fear, my's not "normal?" It's not "just part of being human?"

A sin!! Against God! Reaaaaalllllyyyy???

And the more I read, the more I talked to my husband, the more I listened to the Holy Spirit...the answer was clear. Yes. Worry is a sin against God. It's nothing to be taken lightly. While it may be common and while it may seem normal and like everyone else is doing it, it's still a sin! If you want to argue that point, then I'll say it's a sin for me.

So that lead me to two objectives:
1. Get right with God again. Basically, renew my mind.
2. Fight off the enemy's attacks with this fear and worry nonsense.

1. Repent of the worry. Ask for, and receive, his peace.

2a. My hubby, Drew, gave me a great suggestion and he called it a "prayer target." Choose something to pray about. Something I feel strongly about, something "close" to me, something that that really matters. And every time I feel the fear or worry creeping in, PRAY. The line of thought goes that if you're praying every time you feel attacked, the attacks stop. The enemy doesn't want to be met with prayer, especially when it edifies the church and brings glory to God! My prayer is for our church, that is is truly a light to the community and is serving people's needs. More specifically, I'm praying for our pastor and for the women's ministry leader. For their ministries, for their protection, for vision, etc. The enemy won't like that one bit.

2b. Drew also encouraged me to take a look at those moments when the fear does creep in, to see what's setting it off. There's probably a root to it, be it a lie or an emotion, and knowing that will help me #1, see it coming and #2, fight back even more.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Friday's Fave Five #8

Read more entries over at

Living To Tell The Story

1. A chance to hit a few stores with my mom. Without a car, Andrew and I are home-bound all week, so it is nice to get out! Andrew was a complete angel, which I never take for granted! Target popcorn and a new train we found for 50% off didn't hurt, either! heehee.

I scored this crystal-studded tee for about $8 at Ross! I wore it to Bunco Monday night and won back my $10!! This is me at 29 weeks.

2. More goodies from our shopping adventure. My mom got Andrew the shoes for his back yard adventures, after seeing his "good sneakers" caked with mud!! The sprinkles will be hard to find in another month, so I snapped them up! And I desperately needed measuring cups and I love the color!!

This was the "find of the day!" A pink tea pot, WITH a strainer, for $4!! I'm amassing a good collection and my goal is to have 8 or so for tea parties, so each lady can have her own pot.

3. This delightful surprise from my dear friend, Chrissy. It almost made me cry when I opened it!! It is so sweet, I will always cherish it. It's so fun to see "the brothers" names together!!

4. My mom brought over an origami card-making book so I tried my hand at this big envelope with a toothpick closure (meant to "Wrap" a scarf or tie as a gift)...

...then I got addicted to making these origami note cards! These are made of a traditional origami paper and are such fun to make!

I tried the origami envelope, too, and made one for the note cards to go in as a gift! Delightful!

5. New paper in the mail and a head full of ideas on what to do with them!! The best part is, I paid for the paper from what I've made on my cards! Yeah!

Can't wait to see what you all were up to this week!! Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

10 minutes with The Nester

To see all the entries today, click on the link:

The Nester FINALE

I looooove a good ten-minute makeover! That fits in nicely with my schedule!

I will say that, of The Nester's four ten-minute rooms, (family room, bedroom, bathroom and kitchen), my kitchen #1, gets used the most and #2, needed the most help. My kitchen is BIG--people that actually cook are a little jealous when they come over! So my challenge is keeping it organized, as uncluttered as possible, and storing all my dishes and entertaining pieces while keeping it as user-friendly as possible. My live-in sister-in-law and my hubby are up earlier than I am so they need to be able to make their lunches and get their coffee without extra hassle. While I'm not one to go for beauty over convenience, I DO like for things to look nice--so it's a hard balance!

I'm also still recovering from a tea party I had two weeks ago so rather than cram everything back into cupboards, I set out to rearrange and purge so everything would fit back nicely. Plus I wanted to use some of The Nester's tips, of course!

Following her tips in order, here goes:

1. Unclutter. PHEW! I have a major "hot spot" in my kitchen where all the odds and ends tend to accumulate so I decided to just get rid of the paperwork I usually keep there and clear the space. Now there's just the utensil crock and a pretty mug with pens and scissors. Phone and camera charges go in the cabinet below and my paperwork goes to my desk...imagine that! I probably still need a basket to "collect" the odds and ends that will still end up here without it looking cluttered. We have to be realistic, right??

My live-in SIL's mail also tends to pile up by the microwave...

...but it does need a home, so I moved the mail sorter over there for her. The big tea cup holds her medicines and such. This spot is much better! Notice, too, that the fridge clutter got moved to this "hidden" side!

2. I'm a graduate of the Fly Lady's 28 day "program," so the shiny sink wasn't new to me, although I hadn't officially shined it in a while. You don't realize how grimy they get until you take a fine-toothed comb to it!! Here's the after.

And that whole area, looking into the dining "room"

3. I also cleared off the fridge and moved the stuff I really like/use to the hidden side (see the last after picture in #1).

Here's the before:


It may or may not stay this way! People actually like to look at the pictures on the fridge but then again, it does look nice all cleared off.

This is the change that made the biggest difference...and the one my hubby noticed right away!

4. Add fabric. Any ideas on how to do this one, ladies???

5. Seating. Our son's kiddy table where he crafts and eats is in our kitchen and out dining room table is three steps away so I didn't want to add a "grown up" table. We ARE fortunate enough, however, to have a high counter with an over-hang and we do keep two stools there...but there wasn't much motivation to actually sit, so I added place mats, a plate and cup and napkin to encourage breakfast or snack dining at the bar. It looks nice!

6. Lighting. Ooo. This one is a work in progress. My lamps are all in use, except one really tall one without a lampshade so my new mission is to find a lil' guy for the kitchen. I do enjoy a cozy little lamp!!

7. Beauty. Easy. I have one of my favorite angels by my coffee station.

I also have this fun black shelf with my Willow Tree collection and some other pieces I love to look at (including the cream and sugar set from my wedding china), plus a lovely tea towel.

Next to my tea kettle, which we do use almost daily, I keep this pretty metal tray with my favorite teas for people to choose from. I find this to be a very nice touch and our guests enjoy picking their teapot and tea.

And there ya have it!!

As a side note, this took me longer than 10 minutes but I rearranged my cupboards to hide some items and to fit others I use more often.

This one holds a lot of my entertaining pieces and tea party paraphernalia.

And this one is above the coffee station where my dishes go and where I hide away the tea and coffee-making supplies.

I'm loving all of these small changes and the kitchen definitely FEELS better. Thanks, NESTER!! :)

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

...or am I origami?...

...fold it up and just pretend...demented as the motives in my head...

Yeah, lyrics to some song from, oh, the 90s?? It's stuck in my head now. And I've probably got them wrong. And, no, I can't remember the rest of the song. Grr. mom got "us" a book on origami cards so I've been trying my hand at it a bit. I had this square paper and it's just right to make a 4" x 3" little note card!! How fun is that?? I made something like twenty of them at the kitchen table last night, it's addicting!

This is from black and white paper. I think it's rather chic. The point tucks into the little square to secure it closed.

They open up to this. Perfect for tucking a note inside or better yet, a gift card!

Cool, huh?? A little more interesting than a typical folded-in-half card!

Then I had to make a set out of Amy Butler paper!!

These are itty-bitty ones from smaller paper. Cuuuute!

All available in my Etsy shop! Get 'em while they last (click link below)! :)

** Blog readers get a free gift with every purchase from my shop! Just write "blog reader" in notes to seller upon checkout!! **

Roots & Wings on Etsy

Friday, February 13, 2009

SWAK carnival

We are THAT Family for the big carnival event!!

This is my hubby. My best friend. The father of my boys. My soul mate.

Well, actually, I'm not convinced that we have "soul mates" or even that there's one person out there, meant just for us....but I DO believe with all my heart that Drew and I were brought together by God. He is MY MAN! And I can't imagine my life without him. This is DREW.

And this is our story.

I started attending a Bible college in Phoenix in January of 2001. That fall, I applied to be an RA. My roommate's best friend, Sarah, also applied and we both made it. She was an RA in the dorms, and I to the apartments. At the RA retreat that summer, we hit it off and not long after, she told me I should meet her brother because she thought we'd git it off, too. So she invited me to go to Thanksgiving with her at her aunt and uncle's house in Globe, Arizona. In the meantime, I'd also met Sarah's sister, younger brother and dad and thought they were all pretty terrific. Before leaving that Thanksgiving weekend, I told people, "If he's even half-way decent, I really want to marry into this family." One gal in my Old Testament class asked what I was doing for the holiday weekend and I said, "Meeting my future husband." She laaaaaughed!!

Well. I was quite nervous as the trip approached and when we arrived, he was standing in the kitchen. I think we shook hands. My first thought was, "Ok, he's not bad." My type is the tall, dark-haired, dark-eyed guy--just like my dad. Drew was about 5'11 (I'm 5'9" so to be "tall," you've gotta be six-foot-something!), with sandy blond hair and green eyes. Uh-oh.

That first night, we talked, played Monopoly and he...I kid you not...gave me a foot rub. He cheated at Monopoly and still cheats at most board games. That should've been a clue. Heehee. He joked about having been engaged before to a man. We talked about relationships and were both a little fed up with the opposite sex.

In the two days that followed, we did more talking. Lots more. We even took a drive and had a "DTR," or "defining the relationship" talk. He wasn't sure where his life was headed and certainly wasn't ready for a relationship. I was fine with that. I figured we'd have an e-mail relationship after we got home and just see what happened. We both even left notes for each other on the morning that we parted ways. We both said about the same thing: "Nice to meet you, maybe we'll cross paths again."

During that time, I evidently managed to impress his uncle and I even told his mom, "Your son is amazing. I know a lot of guys and believe me--you've done a lot of things right." Just laying the groundwork, people!

Let me pause here to say that it didn't take long for me to figure out that Drew was a real man and the guys I'd been dealing with were mere boys. That was a major realization for me. He was smart, witty (not just funny but actually clever), articulate, well-mannered, kind, sensitive, thoughtful and affectionate. Not to mention CUTE, in his light-haired, pale-skinned way!

So. He went back to Albuquerque and I went back to school. The Sunday after Thanksgiving, I was shocked and thrilled that he called. The first proof that he was, in fact, into me. I remember my mom raising an eyebrow. I think she was starting to clue in, too: this might not be a "weekend fling."

That week, on November 29th, I blew out my birthday candles on my 24th birthday and prayed that God would allow our relationship to progress. I've never taken that birthday wish lightly since.

Back at school, we were in the throes of writing papers and taking final exams and every spare moment I had was spent IMing Drew on my roommate's computer or talking to him on the phone. We did a lot of e-mail Q & A as well. About two weeks after we met, I got up the nerve to ask him about his religious views. I knew that he was a God-loving, Christ-follower who'd grown up in a Christian home and attended church, read his Bible, etc. but I wanted to know details about his view on salvation, baptism, eternity, etc. This was going to be a make-it-or-break-it conversation. Plenty of guys I'd known had "sealed their fate" with this one!

And we were on the same page on almost every major point. He passed with flying colors! I was amazed at how much we agreed on. Years later, he would tell me that he thought at the time that I was just agreeing with him to be...agreeable. HA! It took time for him to realize that I actually believed the things I'd said and wasn't just trying to appease him!

Besides that talk, we talked about marriage and finances, among other topics. I was happy with everything I learned.

It was December 13th when we saw each other again and we were both very worried about the "spark" still being there. We'd been talking on the phone for three weeks but who knew what could happen when we were back in person?? Within about two minutes, he drug me off to hug me and we both said how relieved we were--there were definitely butterflies and sparks on both sides!! That night, over cinnamon buns, he asked me to be his girlfriend and gave me a plush frog I named Ponder, and slept with during the rest of our courtship.

Three months to the day when we met, Drew drove all the way to Phoenix just for the day, to ask me to marry him. Leading up to that, he'd been teasing me about not being ready to be engaged for a while longer, so the first thing I said was, "Are you sure????" He loves telling people that I didn't say yes right away. Everyone at school was thrilled--Drew had attended the same school, as had his other sister, so he was known around campus. Even the college president was excited for us!

We spent that entire time, from when we met until June of '02, in separate states, traveling back and forth every two weeks or so to see each other. I believe that's where our relationship got its strong foundation--we were able to talk and get to know each other without the distractions of dating!! Plus, we had agreed not to kiss
until our wedding day so we weren't distracted by a physical relationship, either.

We were married on August 6, 2002, less than 9 months after we met. We returned to Thanksgiving the next year MARRIED! I bet his family hadn't seen that coming a year before! We've been back to Globe every year since, except in 2005, when I was four days over-due with our son and unwilling to risk driving 2.5 hours home while in labor! This year, 8 years after we met, we'll have an almost-four-year-old and a 6-month-old in tow!

Our marriage has seen its ups and downs but there have definitely been a lot more ups. God's hand in our marriage has been evident and daily, I am reminded of how blessed I am to have ended up with such an amazing man. He may not be perfect (who is??) but he is perfect for me. And despite my flaws, I believe I am perfect for him, too. And just when I thought it couldn't get any better, our son came along and I've had the joy of seeing the man of my dreams grow into a wonderfully caring, patient father whom his son adores. Watching them together is probably the greatest pleasure of my life. To top it all off, we've got son #2 on his way in May!

So rather than babble on and on about him, I'll give you my Top Ten list of "Reasons Why I Love Drew:"

1. His Godly character is the rock of our family. When I've struggled in my spiritual life, he's been there to speak truth and help me find my way back. He answers all of my questions, he knows so much about the Bible and he lets his relationship with God play out in his everyday life. His relationship with the Lord and his wisdom in spiritual matters has helped me through two of the hardest times of my life. Serving with him at our church is a tremendous blessing.

2. He gives me the freedom to be myself. I don't think he'll ever appreciate how much this one means to me. I have certainly changed over the lat eight years and he has loved and supported me at every step. He comforts me when I fall apart and he supports all of my many endeavors, even when he knows it won't work! He lets me pursue my own interests and spend time with the people I love without making demands or making me feel guilty. I have surprised myself with my journey as a mother and he has always heard me out and backed me up. That means the world to me.

3. He never, ever manipulates or hurts me on purpose. He doesn't pick fights or attempt to escalate things and I never have to worry about him doing underhanded things to get his way. He is never passive-aggressive and if he thinks he hurt my feelings, he wants to make it right immediately. That feeling of safety is immeasurable.

4. Speaking of safety, he takes care of me and our family no matter what. Despite changing jobs and financial challenges, he has always made sure we have what we need. Beyond that, he gives to our church, handles our finances beautifully and even gives money away when he sees others in need. This tangible sense of security is just as important as the emotional one mentioned above. Plus, he indulges me by allowing me to buy the fancy night creams and a new outfit now and then--I never want for anything.

5. His fathering far exceeds my expectations. I remember when Andrew was only a couple weeks old and I was completely smitten with every drop of drool and every movement or sound and I was astounded that Drew and my mom seemed as enthralled and in love with him as I was! I really never dreamed that my husband would be that "into" our kids--I thought he'd just "put up" with them. But that's why I married him, because he's not like other guys!! Even now, he e-mails me every day and asks how Andrew's doing and when he gets home, they greet each other and have to wrestle and play before the evening can continue. Drew enjoys it as much as Andrew does and the pleasure they take in each other delights me. He is exceedingly patient with Andrew and they have so much fun together. I couldn't wish for a better father for my boys.

6. Drew is smart, smart, smart. The smartest guy I know, in fact. And not about any one thing or a few things, either--but with everything. He knows politics and can finish the sentences of the political analysts on TV. He knows religion and the Bible and the Christian faith. He knows history, science, MATH! You name it, he knows it! It makes me very proud and it's sure nice to have a walking encyclopedia to journey through life with! He's a learner, too, and always open to new ideas and experiences. I may have even taught him a thing or two and it cracks me up when I spout off about something that he didn't know I knew about and he gets that secretly impressed look on his face.

7. He never misses a gift-giving opportunity and his gifts are super-thoughtful. Even when finances have been tight, he has managed to come up with the perfect thing for me. When I was student teaching, we shared a car and he worked at a gym within walking distance to our apartment. I returned home one day to find that he'd walked down the hill and back again to a convenience store, just to buy me a rose, a wine cooler, some candy and a little teddy bear. Now, that's love! He's also the best stocking stuffer you could ask for!

8. He is his own man. I don't feel like I define him or like me being a certain way makes him who he is. Of course we compliment each other but neither of us has our identities so wrapped up in the other than it puts pressure on them. We also allow ourselves to be who we are and do what we enjoy without forcing it onto the other person. I don't make him attend every family event or kid's birthday party, nor do I drag him clothes shopping or out to chick flicks, and he doesn't ask me to play paintball or video games and he knows he can hang out with his buds or invite the guys over to watch UFC and I'll be fine with it. We've struck a balance, due largely to his easy-going nature. Plus, he's a quirky and unpredictable fella, which keeps everyone on their toes. I am often asked, "Is he serious??" and I typically reply with, "I don't know."

9. He is affectionate. I didn't grow up in an overly-affectionate family and was never really affectionate with the very few guys I dated. I like my own space! But he is so cuddly and so loving and has really brought me out of my shell, although he stills thinks I like my own space too much! He has influenced our son, too...Andrew is the snuggliest thing you ever saw! I love it when the three of us are all curled up on one end of the couch!

10. He is an adventurous dreamer. He was the first guy I knew who even thought about starting his own business or being his own boss. He always has new ideas for a business or venture and I know he's antsy to see more of the U.S. and the world. He thinks outside of the box and has big dreams for our future, which excites me! We were still newlyweds when we learned of an investment opportunity in West Virginia. It concerned a large, old hotel that needed a lot of renovation but was a gold mine for the right investor. We actually flew out to see it and carefully considered whether to pursue it. Ultimately, it was too over-whelming a task and had too many issues to be realistic--but it was such a fun adventure! That's life with Drew...a never-ending adventure!

And I could go on. But that's our story and some of the reasons why I love my husband.

You are my world, Drew. You are my rock and my provider, my best friend and my confidant. There's no one in the world I'd rather be traveling this journey with. I love you!