>> my classroom

Summer is over, and I'm a week into the new school year. I was super happy that the teaching bug hit me weeks before it was actually time to go back, as opposed to my hanging on to every last moment of summertime freedom like I normally do. I went to a summer training session in July that really rejuvenated my love for teaching and reminded me how blessed I am to have this job that allows me to pour into the lives of children.

First order of business before the new school year started was to go in for a drastic hair cut. I had been growing my hair out for years and it was so long. I loved it, but it was so dead on the ends, even after regular trims. It was also super tangly and a nightmare to style after being washed. So, I got what I like to refer to as my "teacher haircut." 

Next order of business was to get my classroom all set up. I added a tent to the reading area, scaled down all the small random toys, and added a plethora of new table activities to my white cabinet. I also found a white board/chalkboard easel and art drying rack on a local yard sale site to add to my room. The little red, white, and blue table was a freebie that I painted for my kitchen center. Oh, and I can't forget to mention my new valance curtain I made out of chevron fabric. Needless to say, I made lots of fun changes to my room this year that I deemed worthy of a photo shoot. :-)


>> enough

Dear God,

This morning I walked by this chalkboard hanging in our hallway just as I have hundreds of times before. The message on it "Bless This Home" read differently to me this time than the generic sentiment I wrote it as. It hit me that in the midst of my longing for something I don't have, our home is already so abundantly blessed. Why am I asking for something that already exists? Why am I expecting more?

As you know, I desire to be a mommy. I believe you put that desire in my heart and that it is a good thing. However I admit that my focus on this one desire has blurred my vision on what it is you most want me to see. Forgive me for looking past all the beautiful blessings you placed daily in my line of vision that I've failed to acknowledge because I've been too busy peering past them towards the unattained. All this time I thought I was doing you right by telling others:  "I'll still praise Him, even though I'M WAITING; I'll display patience WHILE I WAIT." While I believe this is an honorable stance to take when "in waiting," my eyes are now open to a new revelation:

Who says there's an end to THE WAIT?

My saying that "I'm waiting" implies my expectancy of a reward, doesn't it? And how long do I really want to spend "waiting" on one blessing when I already have 1,000 blessings around me? God, the things you've given me are way too good to let go to waste.

My husband is a gift from you, and he is more than good enough. My health, this house you've given me, my wonderful job, my sweet dog, loving family and friends -- all of it is more than good enough. If the blessings ended right here, today, you would only deserve nothing short of my eternal praises.

If you had never given me any of the things I just listed, and all you ever gave me was the promise of eternal life with you, you would still deserve nothing short of my unfaltering praise and gratitude.

Sometimes, the more gifts you give a person, the more they come to expect. I know I have become entitled because you have been so good to me.

God, I'm handing all my unattained desires to you, and I'm entrusting the outcome to you. Your will for my life, your knowledge, your plan -- it's all sovereign. Your understanding of the big picture is impeccable. You give and you take away (Job 1:21) and most of the time, we don't understand. That is ok, though, because God, YOU KNOW. Your will, even when it hurts, is perfection.

I'm saying this: My desire for YOUR WILL for my life is stronger than my desire for a baby. Your will for my life is better than any agenda of my own. There is NOTHING lacking in my life--no void waiting to be filled--because I have you. I say this with sincerity because, God, you truly are everything good, everything wonderful.

"Every good and perfect gift is from above..." (James 1:17)

Your name alone is a strong tower (Proverbs 18:10), and no matter what my circumstances, you are enough. Even when I forget. Even when I'm struggling. Even when I don't understand. You are enough.

You are the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8). You always have been and always will be...enough.


>> eight years

Thank you, God, for being the glue that held us together when we didn't have it in us.
Thank you for the painful glimpses we had of our lives without each other, the hollowness we felt, and for the beautiful restoration that came from the storm.
Thank you that the bond between a husband and wife is sacred and meant to be unbreakable--a picture of your everlasting love for us--full of mercy and grace.
Thank you for the man you've placed alongside me with which to worship and to hold my hand as we walk closer towards you.
And thank you, God, for promising us a brighter tomorrow when today already holds more good than we could ever ask or imagine.


>> on being a mentor

Sometimes God pulls on our hearts about something for a long time before we ever realize it's Him. For me, that tug I've been feeling and ignoring for years has been towards preteen girls. I vividly remember that time as being the hardest, most excruciatingly awkward years of my life. So much of who I am today was molded during those years.

I was a nerd, by all social application of the word: quiet, poor, awkwardly shy, insecure and quirky-looking. Those were all labels given to me by my peers, and those labels stuck in my heart with proverbial industrial strength adhesive. To this day, that 12-year-old girl reemerges in times of insecurity or failure, and I immediately see myself through the eyes of my 5th grade classmates and go back into my shell of adolescent awkwardness.

I sometimes wonder what would have been different for me had my heart truly been entrenched in God's truth -- if I had known how to see myself through His adoring eyes instead of the eyes of my peers.

My heart has empathized with the growing pains faced by preteen girls ever since I matured enough to realize my experience at that age did not have to be so painful. I believe God allowed me to experience what I did to give me a heart and understanding for girls at that stage of life now. And he recently spoke through my sister Emily to remind me there is something tangible in all this that I can do for Him. 

A few weeks ago, Emily and I assisted with VBS and got to know a few preteen girls in our church a little better. As we were leaving the last day, she told me she thought it would be fun to get together with a few of those girls and do something fun with them. She recalled how much it would've meant to us at that age to have a woman show interest in pouring into our lives. That's the moment when it all clicked for me and I told Emily how her idea was perfect because girls of that age had been on my heart for a long time.

So, yesterday I think I officially became a mentor! Emily and I had the best day with these girls, ages 10, 12, and 12. We met up at the promenade and did some shopping, ate some pretzels and frozen yogurt, and had some solid girl talk.

I went into this day thinking it would be us pouring into their lives, but it didn't take me long to realize it was actually a dual favor. I had no clue I would have so much fun just listening to them talk, laugh and get excited about things such as chevron backpacks and s'mores friendship necklaces.

Emily and I used every opportunity we could to speak words of life to these girls and let them know it's not about sitting at the popular table, it's not about boys and it's not about makeup. Whether or not those words will stick with them has yet to be seen. I just pray they always see themselves through the eyes of their Father in Heaven. I pray they will be shining lights to everyone around them.

Before we ended our time together, Emily and I gave the girls notebooks to use as prayer journals. We wrote encouraging notes and verses in the front of them, and prayed with the girls about their upcoming school year.

It only took one outing, and I'm crazy about these girls. I love their personalities and enthusiasm. I could see on their faces that they were having fun and that they felt special.

So, I guess this is mentorship. I'm in like flynn.


>> home tour: entryway

Since I'm off work this summer, I've made it my mission to focus on getting our home organized and decorated (on a budget). We have lived here for over 4 years and it is still "a work in progress." But things are finally coming together, so I've decided to share each room or area one at a time as we get them completed.

Today I'm sharing my entryway, which is home to my $15 dresser that I blogged about redoing all the way back in 2010.

The main thing that kept this area from being done for the longest time was my struggle to find the right thing to hang over the dresser. For way too long, I had a $5 thrifted mirror hanging that was way too small for the space. I finally found the perfect mirror at a flea market a few weeks ago. It was priced right and gave me the chance to put my own touch on it.

Everything else in the space was bought over time at different places. I'm happy with how it all came together. Now the only thing left to improve this area is to repaint the baseboards and replace the front door. It's all on the long, ever-growing "honey-do" list.

>> coat rack, mirror, dresser and greeneries: flea market finds
>> lamp: Gordman's
>> picture frame: Tuesday Morning
>> rug: TJ Maxx


>> diagnosis: endometriosis

To just dive right in, I'll start by saying my husband and I have been trying for a baby for almost four years. I am a firm believer that we will have children if that's God will for our lives, and no matter what, this is in His hands.

Recently, I started with basic fertility testing. I had the blood work to test my hormone level first, and those results came back good. Then I had an ultrasound to follow up on the status of my ovarian cyst that I found out about last September. This ultrasound revealed that not only was it still there, but it had grown from a little over 2 cm to a little over 4 cm in size. My doctor was concerned that it might be blocking ovulation on my right ovary, so we decided it needed to come out.

So yesterday I had my first surgery. It was a laparoscopic ovarian cystectomy along with a chromotubation (aka the "dye test" in which blue dye is shot into my uterus and an x-ray reveals whether or not anything is blocking the dye from going where it needs to go). 

My surgery was at 7:30 am, and my husband and I had to arrive at the hospital at 5:30 am.

I had done a pretty good job keeping my nerves at bay until the night before. I didn't sleep well and woke up around 1:30 am filled with anxiety just thinking about being put under anesthesia. I cried a little bit and prayed, reminding myself that God didn't give me a spirit of fear. Thankfully, I was able to fall back asleep until about 4:30 that morning, when we had to get up.

Once at the hospital, all the pre-op stuff went pretty smoothly. I got checked in, got my gown on, got my IV in and did a lot of waiting. Finally, right on time at 7:30, I said goodbye to Leslie and got taken up to surgery. I think the only reason I wasn't insanely nervous is that I know I was covered in prayer by friends and family.

 {looking rough pre-surgery...}

Here's what I remember about my experience with anesthesia: the anesthesiologist put the stuff in my IV and told me it might make me giggly. I told her that's not hard to do. Then they wheeled me next to the surgical bed and with a slightly wobbly feeling in my head, I slid from the bed I was on onto the new one. I remember thinking to myself that I wanted to stay as alert as possible to remember as much as I could. That's the last solid memory I have. I have a foggy memory of someone holding an oxygen mask over my mouth and telling me to take three deep breaths, and I have another foggy memory of someone sticking some kind of monitor to my left upper side and saying it might be cold. That's it.

While I was out, my doctor made two small incisions on my abdomen, one in my belly button and one right above my pubic bone. Apparently, she told my family afterwards that when she went in to get the cyst, it ruptured. The pictures she took of my uterus revealed something big. I have endometriosis. My doctor told my family that she believes this has been the reason for my infertility. But she was very positive that after some treatment, we should be able to get pregnant! While endo is not something anyone wishes for, to have a solid explanation just feels so good. And I'm thankful for the cyst that caused me to have this surgery that led to the discovery of a problem I needed to know about. I love how God works.

So after my surgery and dye test (which had positive results), next thing I remember is waking up around 9 am and being asked by a nurse what I'd like to eat and drink. Out of the choices I was given, I chose Sprite and graham crackers. Then my family came in to see me and I was so happy to see them. Of course my husband was there, along with my parents, sister, brother-in-law, niece and my mother-in-law. I never, ever want to take for granted that I have people that care about me and love me enough to show up for me. 

My mother-in-law walked around the hall with me for a little bit, which was so sweet and memorable. I was only slightly wobbly on my feet.

{I know what you're thinking. I've never looked hotter.}

Before long, I was ready to go home. I think it was around 11 that morning when I left. I was prescribed pain pills but only had to take one last night before bed. My biggest discomfort during recovery has been the gas in my abdomen and chest leftover from when they "blew me up" for surgery.

From here, the game plan is to get some kind of shot (I believe it's called Lupron) which is a treatment for endometriosis. I've heard it can have some pretty adverse affects, so I'm nervous about that but I'll know more once I meet with my doctor again. Mostly I'm just ready to get the treatment started and face any adversity with bravery and faith. I'm thankful I have a reignited hope for a pregnancy hopefully in the near future. I'm thankful for how God worked through my surgery to reveal answers. I'm thankful I had a positive experience with everything and that my nerves were stable. I'm so very thankful for my friends and family who have prayed, brought food over to my house, texted, and checked in on me. I'm blessed to feel so much love and support and I will never take that for granted.