Tuesday, September 8, 2009

so that we might model in humilty...

For a long time I attributed the financial challenges we had to the industry in which we labored. We were in sales, owning our own real estate business. When the economy first started showing signs of a downturn with real estate revealing the first indications, we hoped that it was a short season and believed we would weather the storm. We had not the life experience of down-turned market. We just hoped for the best and sought out wisdom and council. The encouragement we received aligned with our own thoughts about buckling down, spending less, and remaining strong through this challenge. We wrongly assessed the severity of the downturn and while, we had no debt, $30,000 in savings and a consistent 5 figure monthly income, it was not enough to carry us through.

Our saving disappeared within months, our debt rose to $50,000. We decided to sell our home, cut our losses and start anew. We listed our home for sale, waiting for a buyer, but the equity we had in our home was gone within a month as the market continued to plummet. We felt as though we had the rug pulled out from under us and we were struggling to catch our breath. We had no more room on our credit cards and our income was pretty much non-existent. We saw our only option was bankruptcy. There was no way we could recover from the hit we were taking in a time frame that would be passable.

The road of bankruptcy was laden with guilt and shame, especially since we did not personally know anyone who filed because of a failed business in a bear market. The only people I knew who filed bankruptcy had done so promptly after running up their credit cards, buying enough toys to fill a shop. While our friends and family were supportive, we were really the first in many of our friends' lives to hit financial devastation so they were not really sure how to encourage us. Awkward support through veiled judgments was the majority. But, as we met God in our quiet times, we felt nothing but love, compassion, and acceptance. We received powerful words of life in that season that will be a treasure for years to come. Though we felt the shame of failure, He clothed us with beauty for ashes. He sifted through the ash of our burned out life and salvaged our most precious treasures and uncovered a legacy that would not be tarnished by fire.

Matthew was offered a job at the Rock of Roseville, our church, right when our income was about to completely run out. We did not have to go without food due to the love and support our friends provided in that season. Though we were making about 1/4 of our prior income, we were so grateful for the Lord's provision in giving Matthew the job at the Rock. (We actually ended up earning in 2006 what we tithed in 2005.) We moved in with my mother and her husband who graciously opened their home to us for 15 months. We paid off some of the debts we felt called to pay off, though we had technically been "forgiven" by the bankruptcy, and paid off a tax debt of $16,000 not forgiven in the bankruptcy. We established a savings again. 5 months ago we moved to rent a small house about 1/3 of the size of our prior home.

It has been 2 years, nearly to the day, from our bankruptcy settlement. In my quiet time today, I felt the Lord say, "Did you ever wonder why you were a forerunner in this economic crisis?" Again, I say I thought we were some of the first casualties because of the industry in which we labored. What He said next surprised me but at the same time resounded with truth in my heart. He sent us ahead so that those around us who would travel the same road would have a soft landing, a place of peace. He "shot us out of a canon", a prophetic word given to us by Bill Norton in 2001, so that we might model His love and grace to a weak and faithless generation. Like a comet in the sky we led the way for many, our failures "on display" so that those around might see the glory of God. We shone as put-out ash being breathed upon to reveal fire inside. For that, I am grateful the Lord used us and am glad for the road down which he led us. For us, there is no other road but the straight and narrow.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Luciana Noel


Luciana,

I am so blessed by you! Tomorrow is your 4 week birthday and I can't believe you are almost one month old already! The time has gone so quickly. But don't worry, my love! I have savored every moment of your newborn-ness. Though life is busy, especially with a 2 year old in tow, I have thoroughly been enjoying you.

Lets see... where to begin. Your birth... On the Monday before your birth, I started having very regular contractions every 10 minutes. I really though you would come on Monday night. Tuesday morning, I was expecting you as well. But alas, Wednesday morning, my water broke at 9am. Daddy and Evelina kept me company as I labored at home until about 12 noon. We decided it was time so we dropped Evelina off at Aunt Charlotte's house at about 1pm. By 1:30pm, we signed in at the hospital. They checked me at that time and said I was dilated to 4 cm and was fully effaced. I asked for an epidural straight away because I was expecting to be in labor for a long time as I had been with Evelina. The anesthesiologist came in and was inserting the epidural while I sat slumped over the edge of the bed and endured the most painful contractions so far. As soon as the anesthesiologist left, Dr. Ho came in and checked me. It was about 2:40pm. She looked at Daddy and said "we are going to have this baby right now!" I was dilated to 10 cm after only 30 minutes of really painful contractions! I had about 10 minutes of pushing. I remember Daddy asking me if I want to know what color your hair was. I asked if he was kidding because things were happening so much quicker that I was expecting. I was not expecting to meet you so soon! He told me you had black hair. Dr. Ho said, "Wow! You have a chubby baby!... a REALLY chubby baby!" And in a minute after that, she placed a beautiful, black-haired beauty in my arms. You were stunning! After weighing you, we found that you were 8lbs 15 ozs. I was amazed to have had such a big baby. Every ounce of you was so snuggly and cute! I called you my snuggly-buggaly because you were soooo snuggly. You were very peaceful!

That is the word that I keep feeling over you. You are just so filled with peace! You smell so sweet and you are just such a joy to have. You are a quiet baby. You rarely cry and when you do, it is more like a scream, then a grunt. You are so beautiful with your dark skin and black hair. Evelina calls your hair "fluffy" (She thinks "fluffy" hair is beautiful.) You really do resemble your sister. But you have your own look as well. I think you look more like me in your eyes where as Evelina, looks more like Daddy in the eyes.

You sleep so peacefully and at night, I have to wake you to feed you. God is so amazing that he wakes me every three hours to feed you. He cared about you the moment he made you and he cares about you enough to wake me to feed you at the exact time you need.

Evelina is so doting and loves you so much! She loves kissing you and holding you. She helps me with your diapers and gets me thing when I am feeding you. She loves to pick out your clothes for the day. When you do cry, she always is concerned and says "Mommy, please get her!" I asked Aunt Charlotte to hold you while I took Evelina to the bathroom and she could not stand to be away from you. She was crying and did not want to leave you. She ran to the bathroom so we could get back to you quickly. She loves to tell people that you are her sister!

When Evelina is napping and when she goes down at night, you and I get to have some quality snuggle time. Sometimes we nap and cuddle, other times we cuddle on the couch. I love it when you look at me with your bright eyes and coo. Your sweetness is so SWEET!

I am so excited that God chose me to be your Mommy! I look forward to knowing you and raising you to be all that He has made you to be. I already feel His presence over you. I feel peace and closeness with Him while I am holding you. I know you and He will have a very special relationship. I also felt Him lead me to pray that you would have your sister's ear. I know the calling and destiny He has for you will be so significant.

Luciana, I am so in love with you! I an overjoyed with the knowledge that I get you have you for a lifetime! I am truly blessed to be your Mommy!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Who daydreams at 4am?

While I confess I would rather be SLEEPING, I might as well use my time awake doing something completely productive - coveting vacations. I have always held the Ivory Coast as one of my top locations but I would definately take Belize...

http://www.mrandmrssmith.com/luxury-hotels/central-america/belize/cayo-espanto/gallery

You, too, can stay here for $999 per night.

I had never seriously considered Thailand but this makes me want to reconsider...

http://www.mrandmrssmith.com/luxury-hotels/thailand/krabi/rayavadee/gallery

This place could be fun too...

http://www.mrandmrssmith.com/luxury-hotels/indian-ocean/maldives/huvafen-fushi/gallery


I guess I should try to get some sleep again... who knows when I will have this baby. Looking at vacations is fun but I guess I should get practical...

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Good Sleep, where have you gone?

I used to have problems sleeping as a youth. So many worries and stresses in my life in that season. After God so faithful healed me on so many levels, I really have not had difficulty sleeping. For the past 9 or so years, I hit the pillow and I am OUT! There has only been one thing that has sabotoged good sleep over the years. My husband will tell you too... I HATE being hot. Being hot is a terrible way to wake from otherwise glorious sleep.

So there is actually 2 things that have kept me from glorious sleep. One I despise - being hot, and the other I love, Evelina. For the past month or so, I have been remembering the sleeplessness that comes with being a new mom. Having trouble sleeping is God's gift to mommies because if we had glorious sleep while pregnant, imagine the shock after giving birth.

So here I am... up for about 2 hours now. It is nearing 4am. I am chatting with an east coast friend who is up because for her, it is time to be up. I remember texting other new mom friends in the night as I nursed Evelina and they nursed their babes (You know who you are ; )

Hmmm... it also could have been the really spicy salsa I had for dinner. I am convinced that really spicy foods and late pregancy do not go well together.

I do plan to go back to bed and try to get some more sleep before I wake to a beautiful face telling me she needs to poop.

Friday, May 22, 2009

A few Mother's Day Favorites...

We went on a walk through some really big trees for Mother's Day. What a fun and relaxing day! Daddy and Evelina went shopping for some things for Evelina to pick out for me. So cute! She picked 2 garden stakes - one, a cute little pinwheel and two, a yellow flower. We put them in our little herb garden together. She also picked a lovely windchime that we hung on the patio. She had a great time picking presents for me.

I kinda spoiled the present buying fun a bit because I bought my own gift this year. While I am excedingly happy with my purchases, it wasn't quite as fun. I will get some pictures of my gifts soon.

Here are some favorite pics...


Gotta have matching outfits ; )


The Happy Couple... we are 8 1/2 months here.


The dogwoods were in bloom and beautiful!

Daddy taking her through a big tree!

She loves to play pirates with sticks... It was really cute until she poked my backside for the 50th time ; )

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Abide

This has been the word for me from the Lord. I have had the hardest time understanding what has been going on with me and Him lately. My usual "read the Word and get some great revelation to journal" method was not working. I have been going to the Tuesday morning sets at RHOP (who is that worship leader! he is amazing!) but have not really been able to enter in. I felt that I have not been able to connect because of the agenda of those sets but I think it is more than that. I have been coming with an expectation to meet Him and experience the amazing relationship I have had in the past. I have come to realize that while having expectation to meet the Lord is good, having an agenda on how that should happen is not good. It has been my agenda that has gotten in the way of me connecting.

This past weekend at the women's retreat, I had some time to reflect and pray. The Lord met me and said I am in a new season in which my old methods will be rendered ineffective. He said he wanted me to just abide in Him. I have known that His presence always surrounds me. Now, he wants me to abide with Him eternally. I can go through a day and not acknowledge Him at all. Sad but true. He wants me to abide and acknowledge His presence continually.

Jill Prado, a pastor at The Rock and one of our retreat speakers, likened the stages of the Christian life to stages in an eagle's life. She really helped me to put words to some of the things I have been feeling. I have felt for some time now that I lack vision. I know I am called to raise my daughter and care for my household but on a deeper level, I lack vision. I have been struggling to see what God is doing and what I should be doing on a daily basis. This has caused me pain and discouragement. I feel disconnected from God and unsure of what He is calling me to do in this season. It has even caused me to feel discouraged about how to reach my daughter.

Jill said that one of the phases an eagle experiences is the molting phase. This is when the eagle starts loosing feathers and can not fly. He is drawn away to a high ledge to let nature take its course. He not only looses feathers but his eyesight fails and he gets depressed. He can no longer find much live prey so he has to rely on other eagles who see him to drop him food.

Once this phase is over, he will have new feathers and will be able to fly higher than ever before. But until then, he just looks pathetic. I can so relate to how this eagle feels. I feel like I have been in this phase for some time now. Having this picture now of the eagle is helping me to understand a few key points. One being that the eagle's molting state is not a result of sin but a natural occurrence that all eagles experience. It feels good to know that God is carrying me and is not saying that I am enduring a consequence of wrongdoing. Instead he is encouraging my heart with love and tenderness and I endure these "growing pains".

I also take comfort in the knowledge that at some point, I will fly again with more vigor than before. I am not going to die in the wilderness but once His process to groom me is complete, I will rise up. Psalm 103:5 says, "who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's".

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Another awesome giveaway at Design Mom!

A few of you had trouble with yesterday link so here it is ...

http://www.designmom.com/2009/05/mothers-day-giveaway-week-2009-all.html

I love Orla Kiely's designs!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Don't miss this Giveaway, Moms!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Mama's little helper...

Today's breakfast was strawberry crepes. Not that it matters what we are having, my little helper can't wait to assist Mama. She really likes to help with breakfast from the stirring, to the tasting raw eggs, to the yelling for Daddy that it is ready. And she usually says "It's so good, Mommy! Thank you!"

Happiness is...

Vegetable garden...



Herb garden...

Homemade Iced Lattes with beans from Bloom made with a stovetop espresso brewer...

Wearing skirts and no shoes when you are pregnant and hot (notice belly)...



Thursday, April 2, 2009

What is with people who are so lonely they strike up a conversation with you in the line at the store only to tell you you are FAT!

I guess it must be obvious that I have been enjoying more than my fair share of sweets because some REALLY old lady at Walmart just said it looked like I was having twins and if not twins, a really big boy. I kindly informed her that it looked like she just got through sucking a lemon... well, I said that in my head but what came out was "No, I'm having a girl...I am just short". I am just too nice sometimes...

Moved in...

After 15 months of living with my parents, we have moved to our own little cottage! We are so happy to be able to support ourselves once again (even if it is barely). We are gearing up for a huge yard sale this weekend. You can't go from 2600 square feet to 1000 square feet without getting rid of stuff. No reason to hord stuff we can't use. I think the theme for our lives over the past few years (aside from "God is enough!") is cut off the fat. So, we are selling, selling, selling!

Back to the house... it is a cute 2 bedroom, 1 bathroom cottage in Roseville with a small yard for the kids and dog. It has the lovely built-in in the living room which is pretty common for these old homes. I will post pics of the house once the piles of stuff become smaller ; )

Anyways, I am looking forward to growing our love and our little family here...

Design Mom's Ask Week...

Be sure to check it out! http://www.designmom.com/2009/03/ask-design-mom-week.html

Friday, February 27, 2009

The illustrious ultrasound pics...










Tuesday, February 17, 2009

We are having a girl!

I am really excited! I really have wanted a sister for Evelina. A best friend and lifelong companion. I have always wanted that kind of relationship and I am really excited that Evelina and this little one have a chance at such a special thing.

We have been contemplating names and our top choice right now is Luciana Noel. It means Light, Grace and Born on Christmas. One thing that jumps out at me in the meaning of this name is 1) In the beginning, there was Light and, 2)Born on Christmas. There is the first beginning followed by the second beginning. It really speaks salvation.

Evelina's name means life so we would have life and light. I think that would be pretty cool! I am open for God to name her something else but this is the only name that has seemed to fit.

She is measuring a due date of 6/26/09. Soooo... here we go! I can't wait to see your face Little Lu!

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Winter Vacation 2008






We took a little trip to Angel's Camp. A quaint little mining town where we got some much needed R & R. Here are some pictures of Evelina's first snow adventure. We drove to Bear Valley and played at a Sno Park along the way. It was beautiful and the perfect park for a little one.

Friday, January 2, 2009

playing catch-up... a photo tour of some favorites from the past couple months

Celebrating Fall in Apple Hill!


Look out! Runaway tractor with a CRAZY man and a baby driving!


Happy 2nd Birthday Baby Girl!!!


A drive up old Highway 49 landed us in the Tahoe Valley - A huge valley of 12,000 acres in the middle of the Tahoe mountains!

Sillys!

Birthday dinner at La Provance.

Christmas Tree day!

My little snow bunny!