20 May 2014

an anniversary

Today is the day Josh + Alyssa were married.  I confess, I didn't know when their anniversary was until earlier this month. I wasn't there when they promised vows, I didn't even know them then.  Our friendship isn't that old.

I'm only becoming familiar with their history because I've waded into the depths of grief with Alyssa. I won't share her story here, it is hers to tell.  I can only share what I am learning as I bear witness.

Today would be their anniversary.

Tomorrow will mark 3 months since he last breathed earth air.

I still find myself at a loss.  I can't draw any conclusions about how this is good.  I can't.

But everything in me still believes God is good.  And there are days when I wrestle with this tension.  I shake my head and wipe my tears and beg God to be so near Alyssa and each of her precious children.

I've held her hands and prayed those desperate prayers, begging Him to be present, to be near, to hold close, to protect, and guard and make new.  I've desperately asked Him to just come back. . .to rescue us from this broken world.  I've flipped through His word, seeking Truth to share -- the kind that gives Hope on the darkest days.

I've cried so many tears.  And prayed so many prayers.  I know my offerings are just a sliver of what others have cried and prayed.

Nonetheless, God remains faithful.  The weight of grief is heavy and the darkness is deep.  The waves continue to crash for this family. 

Even so, I've seen these glimmers of His glory.  These faint shimmers of goodness and light.  This hope rising and this beauty emerging that is beautiful.

I recognize God's Spirit within Alyssa.  She writes these profound and moving words on FB from time to time that just about take my breath away.  All I can do is offer praise to God because it is evident that He is holding her.  So close.

I don't have any understanding.  Yet my faith finds this soil fertile too.

Please pray for Alyssa today, and tomorrow, and as often as God brings her to mind.

"Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal."  2 Corinthians 4:16-18 NIV

If you haven't donated to the fundraising page, it is still active.  The goal is $25,000 per child so there is more to be raised. 

19 May 2014

work day

We had our first work day at the office of Brad's new job.  Let me explain that a little bit because I was asked a few times about this.  The organization, The Cora Reid Greene Home for Children, has two facilities.  One is a house {where we will live!}, the other is a commercial building.  The commercial building is home to:  Brad's office, a kitchen, a meeting room, and a clothing closet.  It has been used for a number of purposes and has been the catch-all for donations and other "useful" items.  It is 4000 square feet.  It hasn't been used on a regular basis for about a year.

Brad's daily work over the last few weeks was getting the place usable again.  It took him a day or two just to get his office space cleared out enough so he could begin to make phone calls and take notes.  He knew he would need help in getting the rest of the 3800 sq feet in working condition.

He set up a FB event and spread the word.  He arranged for a dumpster to be delivered. Thankfully, I think God sent the exact right number of people to help.  Too many more people and we would've been stumbling over one another.

Later Saturday evening, I asked Brad to really consider what it would've been like if it were just our family trying to clear out the place -- or just our family plus the family that volunteered to watch our littlest dudes.  The work would be so tedious and our progress would be so slow.  Shudders.

But like I said, there was the just-right-number of helpers.  The kitchen got a good deep cleaning.  The chest freezer from Montgomery Ward was removed.  Broken desks and well-worn couches were carried out as well as the surplus furniture that filled the common space.  The furniture that was still in good condition was placed near the road in hopes that somebody would be able to use it. The bins of toys were sorted so there were no longer broken and random parts mixed in with the good toys. The damaged books were removed from the shelves.   We began sorting the bags + bags of clothing that lined the walls of the clothing closet.  We didn't even begin to sort the clothes or shoes that were already on display.  The stuffed animals were all piled into a bin, they had the familiar smell of musty old building that is near impossible to remove.  The building was getting empty and the dumpster was getting full.

Eventually, people came to look at the furniture pieces near the road.  Children came to play with the stuffed animals and broken toys.  People started peering over the side of the dumpster.  There was a little confusion inside-the-building about what was happening outside-the-building. I looked out the window from the second story and was mildly surprised by the scene.  There were easily 15-20 children climbing on the furniture, each carrying a stuffed animal with them.   I saw one child carrying a chair upside down over his head.  I think he turned around about a-half-block-away to bring it back.  Cars pulled up to the curb and rolled their windows down to inquire about this furniture the kids were climbing on.  Some of the guys went out to let people know they could take whatever furniture they wanted.

Before long, lunch was delivered.  We stopped the work to give thanks and break bread.  It was nice to hear just a bit more about some of the other volunteers' stories.  There were a couple foster parents present as well as foster-parents-to-be.  There were board members too, and I was grateful to finally meet a few more of them.  One of Brad's former co-workers and his wife came out to help.  There was a good mix of folks from Cascade Hills, the community, and hard-working kiddos too.  I enjoyed just looking around the room at the people that were gathered.

A few minutes after the work resumed, a gas leak was discovered.  That put a quick halt to the work.  A handful of us sat outside chatting awhile, waiting for the gas-leak-checker-guy (not the correct job title) to arrive.  A very animated man inquired about the furniture that remained.  I didn't hear Brad's answer, but I heard the man reply, "Good Lord, I'd love to have that in my living room!"  They moved aside his selection and he made plans to come back for it shortly.  And he did.  Whoever he found to pick up the items took a few pieces as well.

There were a few items still sitting in the parking lot near the building when I left.  I figured they wouldn't be there the next day {which was fine.} 

The gas-leak-checker-guy did end up finding two gas leaks.  He was able to shut off the gas and thankfully it wasn't worse.  Brad, Wilson, and Walker were the only ones around when he left so they just shut everything up for the night.

Brad went by yesterday to pick some stuff up that he had left.  He spent a good chunk of time re-collecting trash from the dumpster that had been distributed throughout the parking lot and the adjoining yard. He said it took him about 40 minutes.  He did the same thing this morning, too.  There was also additional trash added to the parking lot near the dumpster.  Thankfully, the dumpster should be picked up today.

Brad was really encouraged by the amount of work that was accomplished (even with the additional trash collections).  It was encouraging to me to see him so encouraged.  There is still so much work to be done, but it is obvious that God will send the right workers at the right time. 

I'm not yet able to put words around how proud I am of Brad, or how grateful I am that God chose Brad for this job.  Exciting seems like such a flimsy word to describe how we are feeling, but these are definitely exciting times.

02 May 2014

celebrate the small!

I'm celebrating some small things today.  Join me?

  1. Operation-run-with-the-jogging-stroller-again is underway.  I've done it twice now and I can still walk and talk.  Celebrating that!
  2. Two little dudes are dressing themselves -- two days in a row without being told!!  I can't even begin to tell you what sort of freedom that is for me.  Sure, some things were on backwards and nobody had underwear on today but I'm still celebrating the progress.
  3. Brad is home for breakfast.  For four-and-a-half years, Brad had to leave the house before 6am almost every Mon-Fri.  Now that he is has begun his new job, and still gets to have breakfast with us, we're all pretty happy.  Although, the non-morning-people are still non-morning-people even when he is here every morning.
  4. Post-wide garage sale tomorrow!  Half of our garage has been full of half of our stuff (slight exaggeration) for some months now.  We weren't sure if we would be here still for the post-wide sale or not. But we are!  Naturally, we are hoping to sell, Sell, SELL!!
  5. I wrote my five-minute-friday post on Friday.  Its the little things, I tell you.  You can read it here.
  6. Happy.  I just cannot hear that song and not feel happy.  I don't care if its cliche, we'll shake it like freaks up in here every time we play it. Every. Time. Thank you Pharrell.  
  7. Speaking of music celebrations.  You can't make me stop playing the new NEEDTOBREATHE album.  Or the Ellie Holcomb one.  Back and forth, over and over with those two.  Perfection.
  8. It's May.  My favorite month of the year since birth.  It's my birth month, Brad's birth month, Mother's Day, the end of school, and the beginning of summer all rolled in to 31 days of lovely.  What's not to celebrate?
What are you celebrating today?  It can be small, or big, or just fun.

five minute friday:: mess

I'm writing my five-minute-friday post on Friday, AGAIN.  Although I skipped last week, so maybe I shouldn't pat myself on the back too enthusiastically.

Five Minute Friday 

 If you would like to join in on the fun, check out all the details here.

Today's prompt is :: mess.


Messy-bessies.  That is what I call my boys sometimes.  I, myself, am a self-proclaimed messy-bessie on most days.  We often find ourselves in a state that can be classified as a "mess."  I've come to be at peace with that.  Which technically, wasn't all that hard of a struggle because I have never been called a "neat freak."  Ever.  But as a stay-at-home mom I always put a certain amount of pressure on myself to make sure Brad came home to a clean house.  OK, clean-ish house.

A home with twin toddlers is a bit more of a challenge to keep clean-ish, I think.  One particularly rough day, Brad came home and nobody was happy.  Crankiness, shouting, pitching-fits -- and that was just me.  After the bliss of bedtime rolled around Brad and I kind of unpacked the day.  I talked about how frustrating it is to try and get things done before he got home and how I hated that I never felt like I could keep up.

He said, "I would rather come home to a messy house, than a bunch of screaming."

Y'all, that about set me free.  I no longer put pressure on myself to try and get things done, nor did I let guilt settle in if I saw unfolded laundry in the basket or tons of freaking grass on the carpet.  Peace in the home was a better choice.

Don't get me wrong, I'll always struggle with keeping a clean-ish house and I certainly didn't accept his statement as a free pass to never do any housework.  It just set me free to do the work at my pace and with peace.