July 30, 2012

Under the Umbrella.

The past couple of weeks have been brutal.  The temperature gauge is soaring and the triple digit heat is making itself quite comfortable around here.  In fact, it has unpacked its bags and I heard it on the phone earlier, making plans for mid September!  The nerve!  Our beautiful green land is quickly browning in the sun and the plants and trees are curling in upon themselves.  They look like they are in pain.  A few days ago, the thought crept in: why did I not flee to the mountain air when I had my chance one year ago?  Why did I allow myself to stay in this place of unbearable Summer heat and dryness?  In the face of obvious providential leading, doubt screams.  It screams and it undermines- taking the goodness of God and attaching it's worth to the painted lines on a thermometer, the drawn elevation lines on a topography map.  Much like a conniving serpent attached it's worth to a piece of dangling fruit at the dawn of humanity.

If He is truly GOOD, He would let you eat that fruit, because you want it!
If He is truly GOOD, He would have led you to cooler air and scenic overlooks, because you want it!  You deserve it, after all, don't you?

Is He more good in Colorado than He is in Oklahoma?  Is He more good in a luxury loft than a forgotten prison cell?

Reason may argue yes, but God Himself tells us no.  His goodness is limited by no circumstance on this earth.  It is FOR us and nothing can raise itself up against it, try as it might.  Not trouble nor hardship nor persecution nor famine nor nakedness nor danger nor sword.  (Romans 8:28, 35-39)

I can not allow myself to do this again.  I can not allow myself to feel soul-dead and angry and miserable from the months of June to September.  It happens every year, and I'm starting to see the immaturity of it... the blatant distrusting of God in it... taking the pleasant from His hand and rejecting anything that smacks of discomfort or displeasure.

I feel the tiniest spark of hope, sitting here at my kitchen table, watching the sprinklers out front as they battle for green.  Everything is brown and crispy, except for where there has been regular water.  HELLO, SOUL! Are you listening?  WATER THYSELF!!  Duh.  I may be dry and weary, but that doesn't mean I can't ask God to show Himself to me- even in this (seemingly) brutal and ridiculous season of heat.

Does Summer teach us what it means to long for something?  To desperately wait for something like the earth waits for the rain?  Is it set-up to teach my self-gratifying soul what it means to actually THIRST?  To experience something in life that has no quick-fix or on/off switch?  Is it meant to draw me to a source of living water- one that isn't dependent upon fleeting clouds- as I watch the ground outside my window crack and split open like a gaping wound?

If it can help me find these things, even in the slightest way, then... God, let it be Summer all year long!  I need all the help I can get in bringing this soul toward maturity and casting off the wavering loyalty of youth.  This soul of mine is far too quick to stomp around its room- longing for mountains and wanting its mommy- the moment things get hard.

Would mountains or mommies finally satisfy this cavernous, aching soul of mine?  Would it bring the rest that it so unceasingly searches for- every day and with every breath?  No. Of course not!  There is only one thing that brings true rest and true satisfaction to a soul, and that is the One who authored it... who called it into being and knit it together in secret places before the world was formed.

I believe that God is in control of every drop of rain and every gust of wind and every shifting of a degree.  I also believe that He is good.  Consequently, I believe that I am in this place, in this season, for a purpose and a reason, and I'm ready to stop grumbling about the heat that comes with it.  I will choose to give thanks in the midst of heat domes and record breaking temperatures and brown overtaking green.  I will lift my eyes UP, and be grateful for the lesson of thirst, knowing the water I truly long for is ALWAYS raining down on me.  All I have to do is put my umbrella away.

"As a deer pants for flowing streams,
  so pants my soul for you, O God.
  My soul thirsts for God,
  for the living God.
  When shall I come and appear before Him?"

(Psalm 42:1-2)

July 20, 2012

Before & After: The Kitchen!

The first room I am going to show you is the kitchen.  When we first walked into this house, I had a really hard time seeing past this beast.  Luckily for me, however, my husband is a genius-pro-expert at "seeing past the colors" and really catching a vision for a room, even while it still looks like this:

The walls were yellow, the cabinets were red, and the counter tops (which climbed allllll the way up the back splash) were blue!

It needed a fresh coat of paint. On EVERYTHING.

My husband just so happens to be the best painting contractor in town, so he spent a lot of nights up here before we moved in spraying the cabinets and ripping the counter tops OFF OF THE WALLS. heh.

We were on a limited budget so we wanted to make sure we tackled the most important things first. 

The appliances were much newer than anything we'd ever had before, so that was a bonus.  (My previous appliances were older than brontosauruses' mothers!)

Truman didn't seem to mind the circus colors too much.  Oh, the innocence of youth! hahaha.

This may not look like anything too exciting to you, but let me tell you why this is one of my favorite parts of the new house: I can do laundry and still be inside!!! My washer and dryer in the old house were out in the garage.  You know... like where the bugs all lived.

I can now do laundry in a bug-free zone!  It definitely needed a little sprucing up, though.

My husband worked very hard, and this was our end result:

I'd like to get a colorful rug for the floor in front of the oven in here!

Our neighbor had passed away a couple of months before we moved, and his family was kind enough to share some of his beautiful belongings with us.  This kitchen table was one of them.  We loved him so very much, and the fact that we get to have some of his treasures in our new house means a great deal to us.

We will eventually completely re-do the counter tops and add a fun back splash.

yellow accent explosion!


My freshly painted INDOOR laundry area! Squeeeeeeeee!

These large free-standing corner pieces were in the living room at the old house.  They work perfectly in here as kitchen pieces, I think!

Knick knacks for dayzzz.

I love my cozy kitchen!

More rooms to come soon! :)

July 19, 2012

In Hope of a New Day : Epilogue.

"The Celebration"

 Hello darlings.

I said I'd be back in a few days and it turned into a few weeks, and for that I apologize.

Things have been... batpoop crazy.  In greatly magnificent and also gut-wrenchingly low sorts of ways.  You understand how it goes...  The culmination of moving + summer break + husband working all hours for a few weeks + being out in the country + packing & unpacking all on my own + turning THIRTY = many many many weepy meltdowns for this here mama.

The "end-in-sight" for all of this chaos was the big giant birthday/housewarming/barn dance party bash that we had planned for this past weekend.  Both Chris and I felt like this party was going to be the exclamation point at the very end of this incredible one year journey we've been on... the one I recently told in eleven chapter installments here.

If you'll recall, I mentioned in the last chapter of that series how two friends in different parts of the country had dreams on the same night about a birthday/housewarming party for me that was being thrown in a barn.  Little did I know then that my husband had already been scheming just such a party, even though the house with the barn wouldn't officially be ours for another few weeks.  My friend Kathryn had told me that in her dream, I had been wearing a yellow dress.

Allow me to pick up the story where I left off a few weeks ago...

I hunted for that darn yellow dress for MONTHS.  I ordered a couple different ones, but they just weren't "it", so I sent them back.  I was starting to get frustrated and give up hope, when one night my husband and I got away for a bit and ended up wandering around in a thrift store right before they were closing.  I was in the middle of telling Chris about how Ezra (my seven-year-old) had told me earlier that morning that he had been praying that I would find my yellow dress, because he knew it was important to me and that I hadn't been able to find it yet.

As I was telling Chris this sweet story in the thrift store that night, I had casually leaned up against a rack while I was talking to him.  When I turned back around to keep looking at the clothes, I let out a little gasp.  My had was resting right on top of a YELLOW DRESS!  And not only any yellow dress, THE yellow dress!  I knew it instantly.

We bought it and brought it home, and kept planning for the big birthday bash that would be taking place a couple of weeks after that.  Chris' sister was going to fly in from Reno to be here for my birthday party, and so were two of my dear friends from Denver.  We wanted everyone to be able to come out to the new house out in the country and celebrate and commemorate all that God had done in our lives.  In the two weeks before the party, however, life got really hard, as it often times will.  Chris was working himself into the ground, and yet the bills were piling up from endless unexpected expenses.  I was barely making it through the days with the boys because I was feeling so overwhelmed.  There were still a million things to do to the house to make it "perfect" and no time to get to them all.  A few nights before the party, Chris and I found ourselves sitting across from each other, talking about the possibility of calling the whole thing off or at least postponing it for a while.  We were at the end of our ropes and so bummed out.

But something deep down in our guts told us to hold on.  Something told us to fight for the celebration that GOD himself had set in motion all those months ago.  We just knew that we couldn't call it off... just because things suddenly felt so difficult! Not after all the dreams and joys and miracles we'd seen!  We were going to FIGHT for this party as if our lives depended upon it, and that is exactly what we did.  Over the next few days, both of us experienced an inexplicable increase in energy and strength and we were able to pull together and make everything happen that needed to happen.  We both knew this was going to be a very important night for us, and the expectation was building with every passing day.

July 13th finally came.  My two friends from Denver pulled up to the house in a rental car and proceeded to pull 30 giant yellow balloons out of the backseat.  Things were starting with a bang! Literally. Because I popped a couple of them trying to get them in the front door.  haha.

My sister-in-law, Candace, and my friends from Denver, Courtney & Rebecca, all pulled together with Chris and I and helped us get everything set up for the party.  They made a big vat of yummy sangria and helped me decorate and made the whole day completely joyful and fun.  We could NOT have done it without their help!

The time came for me to get all dolled-up.  I was excited to slip into my yellow dress and put the fascinator in my hair that I had ordered from ModCloth for the occasion. :)


We all took some goofy pictures in front of the fireplace before the guests started arriving, because, well... because we are so very awesome! hehe.

People started to arrive and we chatted and showed them around the house and ate yummy treats and it was a wonderful time.  The one thing that was weighing on my heart was the fact that it was such a blaring-hot day outside.  I had been praying for months that God would do a miracle and make it some freakishly cool day in mid-July for the party so that we could all be cool enough to dance in the barn and roam outside and enjoy the gorgeous property.  All that day it had been HOT, and there was nothing in the forecast indicating that it would cool down at all that evening.  I tried to resign myself to the fact.

But, wouldn't you know it, right before sunset, some clouds started building to the North of us, and a cool breeze started blowing through the trees!  We could see lightning far off in the distance and felt a few tiny drops of rain.  The temperature dropped significantly, and the clouds created the most spectacular sunset for all of us to enjoy.  It was the most amazing thing!!!!  I was jumping up and down for joy and every fiber of my being was praising God for answering that prayer of mine.  I couldn't believe it!

Chris had worked so hard the night before getting the barn all decorated and ready for the big dance party.  He hung up Christmas lights and organized all of his work stuff and set up make-shift tables and got some tiki torches in place.  The end result was absolutely magical.

More people started to show up, and Chris gathered everyone together to tell them how thankful we were that they were here to celebrate such a special time with us, and he showered me with love in front of all of my friends, making me blush and giggle and snort with love and gratitude.  I have never felt so loved and cherished as I did on this night, surrounded by the people I love so dearly.  It was the best birthday party in the history of ever.

Once the sun went down, the dancing started.  And it. was. EPIC. 

My husband DJ-ed the evening and everyone was dancing like crazy.  We were hot and sweaty and loving every minute of it!  I felt the joy of God and His pleasure on us as we jumped around like crazy people and allowed ourselves to cut loose and really celebrate all He'd done!  It was amazing and I will never forget it.

When I got too hot, I changed into another dress I had on hand that was a bit more airy and easy to dance in. :)  At the end of the crazy dancing, Chris had everyone sing happy birthday to me, and I felt like the luckiest girl in the world to have such friends and family as these.

To end the night properly, we put on some sigur ros and got ready to launch some hugenormous fireworks into the sky.  It felt so surreal, seeing those explosions of color over my head, and knowing that every detail of this celebration had been orchestrated by a God who loves me so.

That night, after everything was mostly tidied up and I finally fell into my bed after 1AM, I could not fall asleep because of the giant smile on my face.  And traces of that smile are still lingering on my face even as I type this. It was the best night of my life, aside from the night that I finally got to marry Christopher Clark.  :)  A huge THANK YOU to all who came and joined us, to Rebecca and Courtney who came all the way from denver to be a part, to my sweet sister Candace for making the whole week special, and to my husband who worked tirelessly to pull everything together... just so I could feel like the most special girl on the earth for a night.  And, oh!  I did!!!  God is so good for allowing me to have such a closing chapter on a story that began 365 days before this night, and I hope and pray that HE gets all the glory for bringing my family & I into this amazing new day.  May He bring all of you who've reached out to me over the past few months with similar feelings of stirring and restlessness into your new days as well!  Thank you so much again for reading along and being a part of the past year of our lives!


ps. the before & after pics of the house will be up soooooon! woo hoo!  :)