Monday, June 11, 2012

Some days I feel selfish for wanting this.

What makes me so convinced that I am called to parent, that I do not just yearn as every barren woman through time has yearned?

In a world with starving children, homeless families, hurting people, what makes me entitled to something that costs more than the average person in the world makes in a year?

How do I have the audacity to spend my time coordinating fundraisers to fill the rooms in my home with children, when those same fundraisers are being held by other organizations to fill the bellies of starving children?

Lord help me to hear you and to never lose sight of your Kingdom, it's purposes, and it's call to take up my cross. Do not let my heart grow faint of your will and your work.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Patriotic Craft Time!

My husband can finally see something come from one of these old windows I've been carting around through the move, hahaha, yay!

I've had this project in mind for a while and I was glad to finally get around to it this weekend! I used all leftover or free materials: Leftover acrylic paint from a painting party for a friend quite a while back (a great idea for a housewarming party for a friend's first place, fyi), a wooden star as a guide shape, leftover tape from garage sale, and a neighbor's old window that they left curbside when they got new ones.

After thorougly cleaning the glass and frame, I started by measuring out stripes.

If anyone knows how to effectively clean "chippy wood" without breaking off the paint chips or soaking the wood so that it swells or needs a long time to dry, please let me know. I may love shabby chic decor, but I am not one of those people who thinks shabby means dirty. I want things to look antiqued, but not dirty. Going into this project, however, I knew that this was destined to hang on a wall outside, so I didn't stress too hard over the dirt that was super-stuck in the cracks of the paint.

Then I taped all the way across. I made sure to start with red paint first and do the white second because I knew if I painted red on the backside of a white stripe by accident, it might show through.

Now if you're doing this project yourself, you might want to invest the dollar into a foam stamp for the star. I just happened to have this wooden shape handy and really didn't want to hike it to the mall (my nearest craft store...yarg mall parking) just for a stamp. So I used this to give me my outlines, then painted them with a brush after that.

Obviously it's pretty important to make sure your first layer of paint is dry before painting the next color. With the acrylic a few times I thought it was dry, went to add a second coat and then accidentally messed up the first, non-dry coat. Woops. That's the great thing about this style, though, streaks are at home.

Let it dry in the near-summer sunshine....

Grand reveal.....





Definitely a little more schoolhouse-style than I was going for, but that's alright, I still like it!

Now to add some hooks to the backside and hang it up outside!

Hope you had room to have some creative fun this weekend, too!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Our First Big Fundraiser!!!!

many of you know, we've been asking people to donate things to our "adoption rummage sale" for quite a while now. We figured that we'd try to start out with the fundraisers that required the lowest amount of cost or effort from other people, and what could be cheaper than the stuff people were already planning on getting rid of?

I have to say, I was incredibly humbled and am incredibly grateful for this fundraiser. We picked a sunny forecast, which turned out to also be the weekend of the Little League Baseball Parade across the street.

My mom came down to help, which was a huge help! She's so organized! It was also cool because she got to stay with us for a few extra days and she was here for Mothers Day :)

People donated tons of stuff, all throughout the weekend even, and came by to help organize, shop, and offer encouragement. How blessed we are with a beautiful, supportive community!

I was honestly surprised how much little stuff we sold. When I was a kid, the town we lived in was the kind where the "big ticket items" in your ad were the things that brought people out, and a few other people would come by for kids toys etc. Here it's the complete opposite: people come out to buy clothes and little stuff, and all of the mid-sized things were gone by the end, but we had most of the big stuff left. That's great though, because now we can sell it online or use it again in our next yard sale in late summer/early fall. Because with this kind of success, who wouldn't want a repeat?!

I was also very surprised by the success of the bake sale we did at the same time. I had at least 4 pans of cakes or brownies, 3 dozen chocolate chip cookies, 2 dozen oatmeal cookies and 4 dozen cupcakes all out the first day, and had to bake more that night because we ran out!

It was nice to socialize the pups with lots of unknown people at their house. I was proud of how well they did, especially our little scardy-cat Kiwi who actually came out to visit people on her own accord!

So, the results? Drumroll please....

With a garage still full of items for next time, this fundraiser brought our adoption fund up over the $1,000 mark!!! WOO-HOO!!!!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

A New Kind Of Bucket List

There are bucket lists floating all over the daggon internets. Today I even saw one on a friend's facebook that was a to-do list by the time you turn thirty. That means I only have a few short years to complete a list of someone else's priorities and ideas of "fulfilled life." Yikes, I'd better get on that!

Ok clearly you hear the sarcasm in my voice. As a midwest minister's wife, who works with kids, loves to bake, has 2.5 dogs and hopes to be at least a half-time stay at home mom, I'm the quintessential traditional female role. Not because I felt pressure, but because it's what I really truly wanted.

That being said, I'm constantly fighting to find contentment. Everything American says to long for more, aim for bigger, higher. When I'm indulging in girliness (read: at a bar or perusing Pinterest), there are women and websites giving all the new lists on how to be more fit, what to do by the time you're 20, 25, 27, 30. When I'm indulging my home-making side, I'm barraged by the newest products, the running to-do list of projects and diy that my home should be in seemingly everyone's eyes. At work everything is about the newest method, the latest training, and how many letters you can rack up to follow your name.

The problem is, the calling of the kingdom is to contentment. It is to sacrificial love, to making future plans only based on your current calling, to prioritizing others over what you would like to do, and others' needs and desires over your own.

But that doesn't make it less exciting or less fulfilling. It only makes it more so.

So then, I'm going to keep a new kind of bucket list. A list of all the wonderful and ridiculous things the Good Lord has allowed me to experience before I kick the bucket. A list of what He has brought me to, not a list of where I will go. Because where I will go is unknown and that is exciting and wonderful, because the One who holds my future is perfect and exciting and magnificent, and so my life with Him will be those things also if I am obedient to His calling.

So here it is so far....

My Bucket List:

Fall madly in love.
Completely relocate to a new place almost completely on my own.
Completely relocate to a new place to follow my husband's calling.
Change my Friday-night plans to eat dinner and drink coffee with a (probably schizophrenic) homeless women who was moments before cursing at me and the rest of traffic and the world at the top of her lungs.
Work in a scary at-risk area.
Let a homeless stranger move in with me.
Make friends with random neighbors, and piss random neighbors off by being trashy.
Learn to use gum paste.
Learn to make an icing rose.
Visit another country (3)
Visit another continent (1)
Go to a ballet
Go to an opera
Get a real black eye.
Ride a rollercoaster.
Adopt a dog (2)
Go on a mission trip (4)
Learn another language (Spanish)
Go to extensive lengths to rescue a stray (3 flea baths, 2 car rides, and bug bombing my car for one: currently on month 2 of housing another)
Commit to something totally out of my comfort zone and follow-through. (VOD choir, Zumba)
Pick up and move to another state for a strange job I have only been promised/told of.
Be a camp counselor.
Be a manager.
Learn to make espresso.
Learn to cook. Like, foreal cook.
Learn to ballroom dance.
Stay in a hospital.
Preach a full sermon.
Move in with strangers. (housemates!)
Pay someone's rent.
Get in a car wreck.
Go snorkeling in the ocean.
Hike a pyramid.
Get cussed out by a friend in a public place.
Gain weight. Lose weight.
Pray with a dying man.
Pray over a man while he died.
Seen someone healed of cancer.
Gone foreal camping. (boundary waters)
Give a recital.
Graduate college.
Heard a child's first words.
Give a testimony.
Been a waitress.
Been a nanny.
Have an P.O.Box
Helped with disaster relief.
Ride a bicycle built for two.
Balance my checkbook.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Why I Stink At Blogging And That's OK

I was really excited about blogging, but it turns out I'm really bad at it. I mean, you're supposed to put up pretty pictures of your life in easy how-to directions on a regular schedule, like "Tasty Tuesdays" and "Wordless Wednesdays." And those things totally fit some people's lives, and they are not a bad thing. But they are a bad thing for me.

I mean, take out the fact that I don't own a camera that's not on my phone. And take out the fact that I somehow thought that I - the embodiment of an adult with ADD - would somehow transform into a schedule-keeping, regulated blogger.

Flexibility is important in my life. Messes are important because, as a ministry wife and a full-time non-profit worker, every pile of dishes and dust bunny can be counted as a tally to investing in the real people in front of my face. I know that on the other side of the internet there are real people. You are a real person. But God intentionally put me inside a whole bunch of flesh-and-blood communities.... my job, my town, my neighborhood, my family, my church, my gym....and those people take real face time. And quality time over a cup of coffee, or crying in a pew, or hitting the gym with the Zumba girls? Well it's not a neat, photographic how-to. It's messy, and spontaneous, and sometimes leaves me worn out with a messy house.

And it is not just important,

It Is Imperative

that I, and every woman around me, remember that perfectly repurposed furniture and the perfect crock pot stew and the perfectly decorated home does not make any of us better women, better children of God, better wives, better mothers, and the list goes on and on.

Blogs are for inspiration. Not guilt.

Romans 5:8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

If God loved me in the middle of my depraved sinful self, and still loves my in my depraved sinful state which He covers with His grace, He certainly loves me in the middle of my stanky, messy kitchen.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

There Are Not Words

Please find a way to help. Donate. Pray.

That truck on it's side was one of the only indications that a home used to be near it's place.

That big object in the tree is a tool shed.

Everywhere there are roads like this one, which no longer lead to a home and instead lead to a pile of rubble where one might find a group of weary, shell-shocked people working hard to salvage what is left of their belongings.

This is where souls groan. This is where people need to see His hands and feet. This is where only a greater one, the Greatest One, can sustain both the grieving and those serving them.

I have often shuddered at blessed are the poor because I am not poor, and at blessed are the weary because I am not weary. But this is where I learn that to be blessed, I must join side-by-side with the poor and weary until I become one with them, until I am truly sharing their burdens. It is here that my soul learns to groan, that my heart learns to trust, and that I learn what it takes to sacrifice until I too will inherit the Kingdom of God.

Monday, February 13, 2012

How Jesus Taught Me at My Job

This past few weeks I have been working with a client who hoards items and in some regards, people. He tries to carry everything from empty cereal boxes to toys in his backpack and his tiny, overflowing arms. When forced to leave these items behind some pretty nasty behaviors ensue, some that hurt others, some that hurt himself, and some that serve no purpose other than to draw attention to himself. He displays the same behaviors when forced to leave people he cares for, and will start repeating “bye-bye Kendall” if he thinks someone else is leaving because I came, or even if I am taking up too much of his loved one’s attention.

I have been practicing leaving preferred items and people with this child for a while. We use lots of different strategies to get him through very short-term transitions where, once he has successfully transitioned away, he is immediately returned to his hoard of items or his preferred person. The idea is that through high repetition of very short intervals he will start to realize that these items and people are always returned. After a certain number of successful trials we will start slowly lengthening the amount of time before these things are returned in hopes that he will start making the connection that if his movies were returned after 10 seconds, they will also be returned after 15, 20, etc… We also have to practice these short transitions with many items and in many locations. That’s because individuals with Autism generally have trouble generalizing. In other words, my client does not realize that I will consistently return his items whether at home, in the office, or in a car. If it only happens at the office, he does not assume that things will also be returned in the car; if movies are always returned, he does not assume that books will be also.

Essentially, I am teaching my client to trust.

At a painstakingly slow rate, I am putting my client in uncomfortable situations - situations that are scary and even painful to him - in order to teach him that I am trustworthy. If I were to just tell him, “you can trust me,” it would not be something he could understand, because he is learning what trust is and how to experience it.

Recently in church I was struck by the parallels of this child’s behavior with my own.

I have been challenged by some trust issues lately. Sitting in church I listened to the pastor talk about some people who have not had reason to trust the church. I watched a young family dedicate their baby boy to a God who has allowed them to find themselves both unemployed and fighting the wife’s cancer just before their child was born. For most people that situation is one that proves such a God untrustworthy.

All of a sudden during the sermon, I remembered my client. How much fear he exhibits during our short trials. How much pain he is in when he engages in self-destructive behaviors during the trials and how much pain he can cause to me and to others…this week was one where he and I both came away with marks that bore witness to the pain he was experiencing. In addition to feeling the pain he had caused me, my heart was also breaking for this small child. His family member asked me, “how can you keep doing this?” She wasn’t telling me I was being mean, she was asking me how I could keep going without giving in or even changing jobs.

And I told her. “Because I know this works. I have seen it work with him in the past. I know that if I stick to my guns and am consistent, he will keep improving. I have seen the same growth in other children from the same exact procedure. And most importantly, no matter how hard it is to keep consistent, I know that he needs to learn now while he is small, rather than when he is 6 feet tall and 18.”

I know that this therapy is good for my client and he needs it right now, not later.

Even if it hurts me or is difficult for me.

Even if it hurts him.

Thinking about trust in God, I think I am the same way. I say that I trust God, but my heart doesn’t actually. When things in my life are damaged or destroyed, when people die or go away, I am not just hurt. I throw a fit, I try to find someone to blame even if it means hurting someone. I post on facebook and talk about it and yell about it. I get angry at God and engage in self-destructive behavior, gorging on sweets, allowing myself to stop housework or exercise or community with others because I “need a break.” I hurt myself and my God by ignoring Him and trying to fix it myself because I don’t actually trust Him to give me what I need, and I don’t trust Him to bring back the good things, or that I will see the people I loved again.

All the while through my fit God is trying to keep me from hurting myself as much as He is able without interfering with my ability to make free-will decisions. The same way that I try to block my client’s headbanging without ever restraining him or giving him any tranquilizing meds to gork him out.

The same way that I take a deep breath and say “are you ready?” to my client, and seemingly keep coming back for more, God waits until I am done throwing my tantrum and then I feel a small whisper enter my heart…. “Are you ready? Are you ready to let me help you now?”

Not to say that these trials wouldn’t still be uncomfortable. My client would rather have his toys in hand. He would rather not see a loved one walk out the door. I would rather not see an empty pantry. I would rather still be able to call my grandfather on the phone or hug Phil on visits up north.

But the worse fit I throw, the more I only hurt myself because I’m not allowing the strength and grace of the father to sustain me. And God will not remove these difficult trials from my life just because they hurt me. He knows they are essential to my function in the Kingdom, my function as a Christian able to let go of things and people around me in order to make others’ lives easier. They are essential to our relationship, to developing a lasting intimate trust, not some arm’s-length mirage built on the lip service I try to give Christian buzzwords just to keep me out of trouble and looking good. Because they are not just good for me but necessary He will allow them to continue; but only while protecting me as much as I allow and always continuing to ask “are you ready?”

Lord, grant me a willing and trusting heart. Give me the spirit of a child. And if you need to use painful trials to do it, Lord I trust you. Put my words and my heart to the test.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Adoption Fundraising Update

I've had a lot of questions about our adoption lately, and thought it might be helpful to give a little update.

The Crazy Minister and I have narrowed it down to 2 adoption agencies. They are by far the cheapest options I have found, and they are also both fairly local. When I say "cheap," I mean by comparison: one agency I liked charges over $24,000 not including legal fees or birthmother expenses!

So I'm sure this has you wondering much as I was, what in the world is all this money for?

Well here's a general breakdown of what we will be paying for along the way, and the ranges of cost from the agencies we're considering:

Application fee and orientation: $150-300
Homestudy: 1,250-1,300
Agency Fee: 12,000-14,040
Birthmother Expenses: 3,000+
Legal Fees: 2,500-8,000

Agency 1: 21,140
Agency 2: 19,400-24,400

A homestudy is the part where someone licensed by the state comes into our home and decides whether we are fit to be parents, and includes background checks, financial stability checks, interviews with us, looking over our home, and even references.

The agency fee pays for agency staff, operating expenses, advertising, and finding birthmothers who are willing to adopt instead of have an abortion.

Birthmother expenses: This is if she can't afford prenatal care etc. This one makes me a bit nervous - there is a $3,000 cap in Indiana, but no cap in Kentucky, so it depends on where the birthmother is from.

Legal Fees: We pay for the legal fees for the birthparents and us.

Our first fundraising goal is $2,000. That will allow us to commit to a homestudy with a little leftover to cover costs immediately afterward. While there are grants available, but we can't apply until we have the homestudy done. (Which makes sense if you think about it - they don't want to give us money until we're approved as fit parents).

What can you do to help?
Pray Pray Pray!!!!
Order coffee here, we get $5/bag.
When you order things on, do it through our store.
Donate old things to our Yard Sale, which we will be having this spring.
More things are to come!

What are we doing in the meantime?
Cleaning, organizing, and getting ready for our homestudy
Researching grants so we can apply as soon as possible
Planning fundraisers
Trying to honor God and the people helping us by being the best stewards of our finances that we can
Picking an agency

As always, thank you soo very much for all your love, prayers, and support. Together we can all do something powerful - offer a woman with an unwanted pregnancy a loving alternative to an abortion, and offer an unwanted child a loving home.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

He's Always Been Faithful To Me

For the first time this year, the whole "adoption process" had me pretty bummed out this past week. I've been contacting agencies blind, just calling whoever comes up on a google search of my state, and inquiring about services. Two of the big agencies recommended to me both turned out to be very difficult to work with, requiring work day meetings to answer questions before you are allowed to apply. All of the websites talk about the federal tax credit, which was extended to 2012, but that only applies to adoptions which are finalized in 2012 which will certainly not be us. Does that mean that money goes away next year? Then I found out that what I thought would be about $15,000 is actually between $20,000 and $30,000 almost everywhere.

I was tired. I was discouraged by how hard it seemed to get started; by how much more money I need to fundraise.

Meanwhile, my mom had to schedule a cardiac cath. It's not a big deal for most people but for those of us with Ehlers Danlos, or for people as medically complicated as my mom, that's as close as she'll come to an actual surgery for the rest of her life. Add in being allergic to the elements required for the procedure and the doctor's recommendation to "reduce stress" just barely 2 months after my dad lost his job and you have a very worried daughter.

I was tired. I was discouraged.
I knew that God is still sovereign and will always support me, it was just getting a bit harder to smile.

Then Sunday came.

My pastor's wife said she'd watch our dogs while we went up to be with my parents. A friend encouraged me with her experience with the same procedure my mom was having. Another friend brought items to donate to our adoption yard sale. Still another offered all the resources she and her husband gathered while choosing an adoption agency, and another brought a newspaper clipping of an adoption fair going on in town, with bunches of vendors in one place ready to give me information. My congregation prayed for my mom during the service, and individual friends asked how I was doing and what time to pray. I was overwhelmed with the loving support of this prayer family which has known me barely a year and yet embraced me so fully into their lives.

Right now I'm sitting in my mom's hospital room. Her procedure went off without a hitch, none of the horrible complications that could have happened from the EDS or her allergy have reared their ugly head. And while I know that God's love, faithfulness, and sovereignty do not depend on what He chooses to allow in my earthly state; that His will is perfect and His love is perfect no matter what my perspective is this side of heaven; whether I become a mother or not; whether I lose my mother or not - I have experienced the merciful hand of the Lord today. And I am grateful beyond anything that I can shout from a rooftop or a blog post or anywhere, because nothing compares to the glorious mercy of my Lord and Savior.


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

I Could Not Have Anticipated How Good That Would Be

Oh my goodness, so I saw those freezer-bagged, slow cooker meals on Pinterest and thought, "what a great idea!" I made up some beef stroganoff with recipe from my childhood, and I tried one of the recipes from the originator of the picture, Stephanie over at Mama and Baby Love. I made up the Chicken Curry, and after that success I will definitely be trying some of her other recipes.

Omnomnom, it was soooo good! And super easy. I would recommend being around for the last hour or two if you're making it for the first time, just so you can see how your slow cooker does with it and if you need to turn it off or add water. The recipe does not call for any water or broth and that is correct! Don't doubt it, it's right. 

Curry is different depending on where you buy it or who made it. It's not a specific spice, it's actually a spice combo. Like pie spice or taco seasoning. I prefer this stuff from above, which actually comes in tablets like CandiQuick. It's super tasty, I've been able to buy it in the international foods section at Kroger and Meijer both, in a few cities, so give it a try. The curry box is only like 2.50 and the recipe makes 2 dinners.

And there you go! Super tasty and super easy! Head over to check out the recipe here. 

Monday, January 23, 2012

Cake Pop Tips (and the last Christmas wrap-up)

Things I learned while making these cake pops, and while failing at making the batch before this.

1: If you're making the kind of cake pops that are baked cake mixed with icing like I did (not baked in a special pan), make sure you refrigerate and preferably freeze your pops (with stick already in them!) before dipping them. Only take some out at a time to dip, they should be as cold as possible so they stay solid in the hot coating and don't leave crumbs in your chocolate.

2. Make sure your chocolate is deep enough to cover the entire cake ball easily, including where the cake pop and the stick meet. You will probably end up with extra melted chocolate when you're done and that's better than making crappy cake pops, so just roll with it even if you're a "waste-not/want-not" fanatic like me. 

3. When you dip the cake pops, lift them out of the chocolate by using a fork to scoop them out. No one will see the bottom and it is just one more thing preventing them from falling off of the stick. 

4. The chocolate will set quickly after they are dipped, because the cake pops are cold! Add your sprinkles etc quickly after dipping them. You can dip oreos in the leftover chocolate and they'll be more forgiving. 

Some general chocolate dipping tips:

A double boiler will always work best. If you don't have one, just lay a tight fitting glass bowl over the top of a saucepan. 

Chocolate with a higher percentage of cocoa solids will melt at a lower temperature and be easier to keep at an even consistency. Conversely, chocolate with a higher percentage of cocoa (i.e. the dark chocolate bars that boast things like 65% cacao) will melt poorly and burn easily. Use a creamy milk chocolate for best dipping results, or semi-sweet baking chips if you want a "dark chocolate" coating (since they're made to melt in cookies). My favorite bars of chocolate to dip in are Hershey's Symphony bars. 

An easy thing to use if you're dipping in chocolate for the first time is the "candy coating" you can find in the baking isle. 

When chocolate goes from melty and smooth to crunchy and starts getting solid again, it is called "seizing." Any addition of water or cold milk will cause your chocolate to seize. If it starts to happen, try adding a little bit of vegetable oil and mixing well. (If I were melting most of a 12 oz bag of chocolate chips and they began to seize, I would add about 2 Tbs of oil and mix). 

We liked chocolate cake mixed with chocolate icing and dipped in white chocolate the best, it was very "cookies and cream." I was shocked when I tried these and found that one box mix of cake and one store bought icing container made 50 cake pops! Nom nom nom. Happy Dipping!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Pinterest Hack FTW

The Better Homes and Gardens picture:

The hack I made for free using supplies around the house and an overdue trim of the holly shrub in the front yard:

My apologies for comparing a professional photo with one from my iPhone. It's not that it was complicated, I'm just glad it turned out cute!

Happy Sunday and Some Cookies Pictures

Hello Again! What do you think of the new digs? They are free compliments of The Cutest Blog on the Block, with super easy directions, too.

Thought it was about time to finally post some Christmas pictures, I'm going to have to get the hang of keeping up with busy seasons and still posting about them :).

I made tons of mini cutouts for gifts and to bring for family, they were super fun! Being ever short on time, I opted to use the Betty Crocker decorating icing bags which were on sale for 1$ at Aldi! They were great, set just as quick as homemade royal icing. 

Those white sparklies are from Wilton, it only takes a little and I love them for snow! I've had the same 1 oz container for years because I've only used them for cut-outs, so they have lasted all this time. 

The stars with sugar remind me of the stars in the Macy's day parade, don't you think? I used the flooding technique for the icing, where you outline the edges of the cookies and then fill in the middle, spreading the filling icing around with a butter knife or a toothpick. 

I also used the Basic Rolled Cookie recipe found here, without superfine sugar or a food processor to make it in, and it worked great. A soft cookie that's still firm enough to keep it's shape with a detailed mini cookie cutter has been hard for me to come by, so I was pretty excited!

I'll share some more pictures soon. What are your favorite go-to Christmas cookie recipes?

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Winter Gloomies be Damned.

Well, winter has officially set in on the Ohio. It took awhile, and even this little cheesehead was relishing the 45* and sunny. While the new fallen snow is something I wished for in December and it certainly makes my heart sing to see the ground twinkle with white, I know that it also means colder weather, grey skies, and that little black cloud that hangs over my head increasingly heavily with every winter.... seasonal affect disorder.

I have been blessed with mental health in my life. I marvel at people who struggle day in and day out in their own mind, to fight big battles with scary enemies like bipolar, schizophrenia, or paranoia. I cannot even fathom the amount of courage it must take to face and fight those demons day in and day out. I thank God every day that those struggles are not my own, and try to constantly remember those whose mental health battles are so intimate and so severe in my prayers.

I also feel like it's my responsibility to be open about my own mental health pursuits, in order to relieve some of the stigma for those whose struggles are greater. It's the least I can do, especially from the vantage point of a minister's wife, where most of my life is lived in a fishbowl regularly examined by Christians and skeptics alike. That's how stigmas die: with openness and honestly, one person's example at a time.

Seasonal affect disorder (SAD) is more than just a bummed out day, and different than typical depression. It reoccurs every fall/winter, and can manifest in many ways. While I don't know a lot of the science behind it, I know it can have to do with decreased sunlight during the day, and messed up melatonin levels during the winter months. I may not be an expert, but these are the things that have helped me. Feel free to try them out or hold me to it when you see me next :)

1) Involve Your Close Friends and Family.
Community is really important, especially with disorders that can cause people to seclude themselves, or lack the energy to seek proactive treatments. The Crazy Minister has been great about helping me keep my diet healthy and getting me back to the gym.

2) Exercise.
Physical activity not only relieves stress and makes you feel better about yourself, it also releases endorphins, literally fighting off depression. If you think you might struggle with following through if your condition worsens, grab a friend and make a schedule to go together!

3) Hit the Tanning Beds.
If there's not enough sunny hours in the day, create some more! It will make your bones feel less creaky and your mood feel lifted. If you're worried about skin cancer risks, try going with sunscreen.

4) Eat Healthy and Add Some Vitamin D.
Fish, milk, Soy milk, mushrooms, and fortified cereals are all very high in vitamin D, the nutrient your body soaks up from sunlight. Eating healthy and even adding some vitamin C also keeps your immune system stronger to fight the cold and flu season which also pervades the winter months.

5) Find Strength In The Lord
We don't know why God lets people struggle with sickness or depression, but we do know that He desires for us all to rely on Him so He can sustain us and shine His light into our lives. Download a free Bible App and listen to it while you drive; get a Christian book on cd from the library; tune the dial to the local Christian station; hit up church on Sunday. The Spirit of the Lord will sustain you as you lean on Him, but you have to plug in.

As always with any mental health condition, see a professional. And a word to the wise: Don't wait until it's "bad enough." You can almost always say "it's not that bad." But what benefit does waiting have that could possibly outweigh the benefit of going? Go. You owe it to yourself and the ones you love to check it out, and it can't waste more time than you regularly waste on Pinterest or Friends re-runs.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Kiwi -vs- The Breadmaker

Oh my funny little one, afraid of anything that moves or makes sound.... That machine runs for like 3 hours, the poor thing ran past it like a little kid runs past the basement stairs in the dark until I managed to coax her so I could sneak some cute pics. :)

Monday, January 2, 2012

I Took The Plunge

Oh my goodness I can't believe I just did that. I mean, I've been wanting to since I was 16. My husband and I have discussed it. I have talked about it with friends and family. But now, with a click of a mouse, I just started the whole ball rolling, I committed to a timeline to all my family and friends....

I just started "the adoption process."

I just set up the fundraising and committed to friends and family that 2012 is actually it. It's actually the year we start fundraising, start our homestudy, and start the process of growing our family. It's actually here.

I cannot believe I just did that. And holy cow am I stoked.