Friday, December 10, 2010

This is my Christmas present to you :)

Pure. Worship.

I have been so moved by what happens in this food court that I just can't not show you.

(If you've already seen it again!!!)

It's not just that I'm a music's that we ALL are created to worship and the God of the bible, the Gospel, all these great truths we hold on to is the God of MUSIC, ART, DANCE and all creative expression.

He's artsy and creative and musical and brilliant because He is THE Artist and THE Creator and THE music and all the ideas behind it.

And frankly, it's pretty awesome to see Him show off like this. :)


(actually, just click on the title since my blog wants to cut it in half. :))

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Tour De Ornaments!!!

Our tree is fake. It's us-lit...not pre-lit. There are lots of places where you can see the actual pole in the middle. And the ornaments? They are a complete hodge podge of colors, shapes, sizes, styles and theme whatsoever.

But we love it.

There is MUCH sentimental value in it. And I'm sure most of you would say the same about your tree. I love decorations that have history. A story. I think they should bring up joyful memories that we will treasure in our hearts forever.

So, I thought it would be kinda fun to show you a few of our ornaments that mean so much to us....and get ready cause I want to see yours too!

I have quite a few of great-grandmother crocheted them. She was a spunky, fiesty lady, the mother of one of my most beloved people on earth, and I love having something that came from her hands.

I also have a lot of these cute, retro, wooden, hand-painted ornaments. My Mom painted these for my parents' first Christmas together. I love them!

This one brings tears to my eyes. It's probably my favorite of all our ornaments. Yes, I know it's just a McDonald's straw stapled together, but it's symbolic of God's faithfulness to my parents. When my parents got married, they didn't have money to go buy ornaments for a tree so my mom used straws from McDonald's to make their first ornaments. The Lord has provided in amazing ways for them....and us.

My first ornament. :)

Then, when I was two and my sister had just been born, my mom painted this for me. She also painted us dresses (that she also made) and shirts; had her own wood saw that she used to make and paint goodies that she gave as gifts and sold at a craft store; and sewed, stuffed and painted our own baby dolls.

What do I do? I blog about it. That's what I do. Hope you're proud, Mom.

Made by me at age 11. I'm surprised mom could get me to stop thinking about boys and New Kids on the Block long enough.

This was one of my favorite gifts we received when we got married. I make sure it gets a very prominent spot on the tree each year.

Bought in a street market in Nassau near our cruise ship. An AMAZING honeymoon. I can still hear the steel drums when I look at this.

4 years ago we had a little baby and so we did what every new parent does at Christmas. We stripped him down and stuck his foot in white plaster over and over and over again until we captured that little foot print just right. Today he wears a boys size 13 shoe.

2 years ago we had another little boy with an apparent fondness for Spock. Live long and prosper.

So there you have it. I've showed you mine and now I would like to see yours. :)

I really love hearing other people's stories behind their treasures and since we can't all go to each others' living rooms let's have a virtual peek! Show as few or as many as you like!

Please feel free to leave a comment OR, if you feel so inclined, leave a link to your own post so we can see it!

Let the Tour De Ornaments begin!

Monday, December 06, 2010

How will we die?

I just finished watching this man preach his heart out.

He asks over and over, "Will we die in our religion or will we die in our devotion?"

I can't unpack this sermon for you and it's a time commitment to watch it (35 mins), but every single minute is WORTH IT.

I don't have much to say right now. I feel like God, in one way or another, has been asking me this same question. This blog, though wonderful for many things, can be a huge temptation to write about things and not live them.

I hear a refrain in my head over and over and over asking the question,

"What if no one could see you, Dana?
What if no one was there to give praise and approval?
What if no one was there to hear you and possibly criticize in their hearts?
What if no one had an opinion?
What if no one knew about your sacrifices?
What if they knew you didn't sacrifice?
What if the only people affected were you and the ones you were reaching out to?
How would you live?
Would you still do it?

Would you even start doing it?"

David Platt: SBC Pastors Conference 2009 from Todd Thomas on Vimeo.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

A quick announcement of cheer and joy

Hi, there.

How YOU doin'?

I've been on the couch the last 2 days with various mugs of hot tea and a roll of toilet paper because my nose and sinuses hate me, but I'll be back soon with a post and pictures of our Thanksgiving won't believe how fierce of a football player I am.

But that's not why I'm here. I wanted to drop by real quick in between nose blows and sinus washes to let you know that my friend Carrie aka

is doing a GIVEAWAY for my shop today over at her blog Little Llamas!!!!

Carrie and I have known each other since college (I think we met in '98) and even spent a summer in South Africa together so it's really cool to me that she's doing my first giveaway. She's got an adorable blog over there so go check her out and enter to win your own lovely and a great discount!

I even made my own button!!!

So, here's your proverbial slap on the behind....go get 'em, girls!!

Winner, winner, chicken dinner!!!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Why I'm an idiot and is awesome

You are now connected to Elias from

Me: Hi. I am trying to apply gift cards from swagbuck to my account. I have 5 of them and have never used them before (this is my first time ever doing this), but it keeps telling me that I've already redeemed the code. It let me enter the first code, but none of the other ones.

Elias :Hello, my name is Elias. I'll be happy to help you today.

Elias :
Let me check this for you .

Elias :
May I have the name on your account?

Me:Dana Hartness

Elias :Thank you. Your email address is _______________, correct?


Elias :Can you hold for a minute or two while I research this for you?


Elias :Thanks for waiting.

Elias :I've checked and found that you do have $5.51 to your Gift Balance, I said, it allowed the first code but none of the others

Elias :I've checked and found that only 2 are unredeemed, $5 + $0.51

Me:no...I'm saying that I am trying to APPLY codes that I've earned from swagbucks and it only let me apply one of them. I have 5 total. It tells me that I've already applied them, but I haven't.

Elias :Can you hold for a minute or two while I research this for you?

Me:YEP (1:12:44 PM)

Elias :I'm sorry to keep you waiting. (NOTE...1:23:14 PM)

Elias :You will not be able to use more than one Gift Card to the order.

Me:I'm not trying to USE a gift card. I'm trying to APPLY them to my account.

Elias :I'm sorry for not being able to assist you much.


Me:What do I do?

Elias :okay

Elias :Is it Amazon gift Card?


Elias :Please may I have the claim codes?







Me:I've already redeemed either the first or second one...not sure which one it accepted.

Elias :I'm sorry to keep you waiting. I'll just be a moment longer.

Me:ok (1:31:50 PM)

Elias :Dana, I'm sorry to disappoint you but all the Codes has been claimed. (again, NOTE....1:39:59 PM)

Elias :I'm sorry for this.

Me:i just don't understand how that's possible if I've never used them.

Me:how do I get this resolved?

Elias :I'm sorry for not being able to assist you much.

Me:ok, is there someone else I can talk to? I have earned these gift cards, have never applied them to my account before and they should work.

Elias :If you'd like to talk then please give us a call, our phone number is 1-866-216-1072. We're available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Elias :I'd like to issue you a promo of $10 as an exception for you.

Elias :Will that be alright with you?

Me:what does that mean?

Elias :It is equal to $10

Elias : This amount will automatically apply the next time you order an item shipped and sold by You won't need a claim code. For more information about using your promotional certificate visit:

Me:thank you. I appreciate your offer, but i just went through my order history and I believe either my husband or myself used the codes back in August...

Me:I see an order where a gift card was used and that's the only thing I can think of

Elias :It has been used you.

Me:I want to be honest and not just take money from amazon

Me:i just saw it.

Elias :I understand and believe you

Elias :I've issued $10 to your account.

Elias : Is there anything else I can do for you today?

Me:no, I appreciate your time and help.

Elias :You are welcome

Elias :Thanks for visiting We hope to see you again soon! (1:52:56 PM)


***and now for that slice of humble pie. :)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Small update and organization envy

Hey ya'll. Just wanted to pop my head in for a quick minute and let you know that I haven't gone AWOL on you again.

(I realize that we may have trust/abandonment issues for a little while so I'm trying to be sensitive to your needs. I'm a good blog momma like that.)

Things around here have been a little crazy. Thankfully, the shop is keeping me hunched over my kitchen table for hours and hours on end making lovelies (in fact, I stopped making one to type this), Josh and I just celebrated our 7 year anniversary (DE-lightful) and, well, Thanksgiving is tomorrow. TOMORROW.

Tomorrow night we will head to the beach with family and my mother-in-law and I will gear up like the crazy Target lady and hit the outlets at midnight. I'm already tired with anticipation.

So, since ya'll have nothing to do I thought I'd post something I was saving for a busy time like this...but deeply care about. Seriously. I need considerable help in this area so when you come up for air, I'd love to hear what you do....


....I'm sitting here in la-la land dreaming of a day when this could be a (closer) reality.....

(instructions for this layout here. instructions for obtaining a kitchen
suitable for the magazines was not immediately available.)

Just throwing this one in for the less conventional among us. :)

Here's the honest truth: I'm not a systems/process/organized kinda girl. Most of my close friends can tell you that I would rather get on my hands and knees and scrub something clean, then straighten up or create any kind of organized system.

I (on most days) am not a hap-hazard, never-know-where-anything-is kinda girl either. I fall somewhere in the middle, but I also feel a great need for more organization.

Specifically, on the side of my fridge. I have very little space to work with in my kitchen and so I would really like that little area to...

--house our calendar
--keep our grocery list
--display my meal plan
--have a space to display the boys art and little
things that mean something to them
--display pictures of friends overseas we're praying for
--keep coupons, invitations, etc.
--hang Isaiah's chore chart

Somewhat similar to this....

but cuter. :) (I think my blog is cutting half of the picture off, but if you click on it you should be able to see the whole thing.)

Obviously, since it's going on a fridge it all needs to be magnetic....and it also needs to be economic.

I really like the idea of using cute ribbon and dividing the space into nice, clean sections and having super cute magnets like these:

(buy them here.)

or maybe like this...

(again, click to read it all OR get your very own here. tell your kids they're welcome for me.)

I also wouldn't mind having some cork board up there but that's not a necessity.

Here is a current picture of the side of my fridge. Now, try to contain your underwhelmedness please.

The main needs I have as a human being in this scenario is that it be clean and cute. Ok?

I'll keep you updated on what I end up doing, but in the mean time I need some ideas....what's working for you? Or, if you're in my boat, what ideas are thinking about?

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Thankful Tree

In the beginning, I thought I would do this at the very beginning of the month so we could use it every day leading up to Thanksgiving. I wanted the boy's hearts (and mine) good and thankful.

I hate that Thanksgiving gets skipped over so often so my desire was to create a tradition in our house that would stick in their little minds...much like the Christmas traditions do. I really want to cultivate gratefulness right before we shoot headfirst into a predominately "gimme" season.

(I want my boys to be grateful all year, of course, but also to make this season a little special. You get what I'm saying.)

So, when is Thanksgiving? Oh yes. Exactly one week away. This is the story of my life.

Some of you may do things like this too....there are tons of great ideas out there that are similar to this one.

Here's what we did.

Yesterday we went to the park with some friends, and picked up these branches (this picture hates me and won't obey me so just turn your head, ok?)....

I found some leaf templates online, printed them and had the boys color them whatever their little hearts desired....

While they colored, I wrote down what they told me they were grateful for. Then I cut out all the little leaves (see, if I had planned ahead I would have used my mom's cricut) and wrote some of the things on their grateful list on the backs....

Punched holes in them and made loops with ribbon through them. There REALLY should be a machine for that.....

Let the boys enjoy hanging them up....

"Is this what you want me to do, Mom?"

"Hello, ladies. I am amazing and surprised all at the same time. I'm on a horse."

Manny freaked out a little here but he's fine now....

And there you have it.

The goal is to take a leaf off each evening at dinner to talk about what we love about that thing/person and then turn our thanks to the Lord who lovingly gives it all.

I'm flirting with the idea of leaving it up through December when we'll badly need the reminders to have grateful hearts.

So, now I want to hear from you! What do you do/want-to-do to cultivate thankfulness in your home?

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Will someone please bless my heart?

Last night was the 2nd or 3rd night I spent several hours trying to get one of at least 12 templates to work on this here blog.


Nothing worked.


As I speak, I am in my 6th hour of editing, listing and uploading pictures of new lovelies into my etsy shop. Our internet is ssss....lllll....oooo.....wwww and I am looooosing it. I feel my nerves slowly unraveling like a sweater.

Sometimes (a lot of times) when I'm frazzled like this, my good friend will say "oh. bless your heart" (cause she's a good southern girl) and I'll say, "yes! please bless it because, by golly, SOMEBODY needs to bless it!"

That little phrase has so many meanings to us southern folks, but, for me, it pretty much falls into 2 categories:

1. It can be a cover up for a slam (because we can't bear to hear our true thoughts out loud) like, "bless her heart, she's.... uglier than a mud fence....unfortunately dressed....losing her ever lovin mind, etc."


2. It can be sympathetic like when my friend and I see a poor woman wrestling with her kids in the middle of the mall, " that woman needs a LARGE glass of wine, bless her heart."

And I am deeply convinced that my friendly southern neighbors and bystanders (and probably yours too) have indeed uttered this same phrase on my behalf many, many times before and you know what? I welcome it! Yes! Please bless my heart! It needs to be blessed. In fact, I'm asking you to.

Because right now I am wearing a brown dress shirt with navy blue sweat pants (sexy), my kitchen table is absolutely COVERED in branches, leaves and necklaces from my business (story on that later), my kid's bathroom is growing all kinds of interesting science projects (not on purpose), I haven't bought new underwear in years and IT SHOWS, my hair has been in the same knot for a couple of days now, I'm being forced to listen to Frog and Toad sing with Mexican accents and I'm pretty sure my 2 year old just told me to sit in the trash can because I'm yucky.

And my kids? Did you see how they were dressed today? Their dire need for hair cuts? Did you know that they have eaten a box of crackers for dinner tonight because I'm too tired to get off my tail? Oh! And one of them plays with his nipple incessantly and I CANNOT GET HIM TO STOP.

So, while you're at it....bless their hearts too.

And my beautiful, hard-working, well dressed husband gets to come home to us, bless his heart.

For all of the above reasons and MANY, MANY MORE, I am delighted to tell you that from here on out, our little corner of the blogosphere will be called....

"Well, Bless Their Hearts"

I'm also pleased to tell you that the majority of you voted for it! You guys are so stinkin smart! I loved seeing what you guys voted for, and since no one voted for "rode hard and put up wet" I feel the need to tell you that the real meaning refers to a horse. I will say no more. :)

I ran across this further explanation on my favorite southern saying and so I will leave you with it. But before I go, know that if you've lived in the south for any extended period of time, and you have gone out in public, chances are your heart has been generously blessed. Embrace it.

And please come back so, in the middle of it all, we can continue to bless each other's hearts as well. :)

"Like I said earlier, I used to think that everybody knew what "bless your heart" meant, and it wasn't until a friend of mine from out West started complaining about it that I realized that the term could be confusing to foreigners. So, here are a few simple definitions you can use the next time a Yankee or Westerner starts carrying on about the way we talk.
  1. "Bless your heart" is a form of empathy. It's like giving someone a great, big hug. When a friend starts complaining about her rotten boss, her no count husband, and how the kids are driving her crazy, we just shake our heads and look her in the eye and give her a heartfelt "bless your heart." It's our way of saying "Honey, I'm so sorry. I know just how you feel, and I'm glad that today it's you and not me."
  2. When your cousin Susie does something just plain dumb, and your aunt Margaret calls you up to tell you about it, you just listen real close and utter a few "bless her hearts" when she pauses long enough to draw in a breath. That way you'll both know that even though Susie doesn't have enough sense to blow up a pea, she's still family after all, and we love her anyway.
  3. In the South, we believe in being polite even if it kills us. So, when we just can't fight the urge to say something nasty, we follow it up with a "bless her heart" just to make us feel better. "Look at that poor woman trying to jog around that track. Her rear-end is dragging a trail, bless her heart."
  4. Probably the most important way we use "bless your heart" is so we can identify each other. When I'm far from home and feeling all alone, I just throw out a few "bless your hearts" into the conversation and see what happens. If the person I'm talking to gets this confused look like I've just sprouted another head , then I just go on to the next person and do the same thing until finally I hear that familiar twang that's sweeter than a melody and then come those beautiful words "Well, bless your heart." That's when I know I'm home-- even though I'm a thousand miles away."

  5. (by Sandra Poole and Jennifer Youngblood)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


So sorry to be late!!! I'm having significant technical problems with some changes to the blog I'm trying to make so the blog name will be announced as soon as I can get all this techy mumbo-jumbo garbage worked out.

If not, I'm throwing my computer out the window and will catch ya'll in real life. How's that for a "relaunch." I"ll show technology not to mess with me.


Monday, November 15, 2010

Over the river and through the woods

I'm off to spend the day with this amazing lady....

This is my mamaw. She is now my only living grandparent....and, to be completely honest, she's always been my favorite. :) She has 5 daughters and I am her first grandchild. There are 12 of us, a lot of spouses and 7 great-grandchildren. She's a true matriarch.

I'm going to her house where we will put up her Christmas decorations, talk about anything and everything, eat and probably watch something on the Hallmark channel. I love her and I can't wait!

Sooo....the blog name reveal will come later today. Stay tuned and sneak a quick vote or comment in before it's too late!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Keep up the fabulousness!

Thank you so much to those of you voting and commenting. If you haven't done one or the other I'D LOVE TO HEAR FROM YOU!

(says the woman who is NOT hunched over her computer obsessively checking every 2 mins)

I will announce the new name on Monday. Right now "Well, bless their hearts" and "Two bricks short of a load" are closer than two roaches on a bacon bit.

I crack myself up.

I gotta go now. My drink's starting to sweat a little.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Easing back in and a RELAUNCH!

I hope you all enjoyed your Veteran's day yesterday!

We spent the day neck-deep in The Hartness Household Seasonal Clothes Swap Out of 2010.

(If it sounds epic that's because it felt epic.)

Josh and I also spent a large part of the day having somewhat civil marital discussions about all of our that was fun. :) Actually, despite the challenges we had, we got a lot accomplished, some good talking and the day ended well with raisinets, cider and Josh and I watching our favorite Thursday night tv. And did anyone else think 30 Rock was particularly funny this week?

But that's not why I'm here....

I've been wanting to do this for awhile, and that is.....give my blog a good old fashioned makeover! I mean, who doesn't need a fresh start every once in awhile, right?

That is why you'll start to see some changes very soon. You can look forward to a new look, a few new series (exactly how do you make "series" plural?), new pictures, a giveaway, updates on The BM of 2010 (I know you all have been on the edge of your seats for that one), new music and.....A NAME CHANGE!

(Because, well...."4 humans and their blog" just doesn't have the same inspirational and creative zing it once had. Yeah, it never had it.)

Before we do all that though, I'm going to ask the question that every opinionated blog reader LOVES to hear (and the one indecisive girls like me HATE to answer) and that is:

What topics do you like to read about?
What have you enjoyed reading about here in the past?

Please respond! A certain people-pleaser is anxiously awaiting your feedback!

(I'll give you at least 20 mins before I come back and check obsessively. Ha! I kid! But just a little bit.)

And while you gather your thoughts, I'd be OH so entertained to see what you think the new name for the blog will be. It's already picked out, but I'm throwing a little poll up in the side bar just for poops and giggles. Let's see how many folks can guess the right one!

(If you're a fellow southern girl, you should notice the theme of southern euphemisms right off the bat.)

Have fun and happy FRIDAY!!!

Monday, November 08, 2010

The short( long) version....part thrice

[*Catch up on part uno here and deux here.]

It's interesting how typing all this out is effecting me. For a lot of today I have felt jittery, nervous and kind of stressed. Just thinking about it all is taking a toll I didn't expect, but one of the main reasons I wanted to write it all out is so I won't forget. I want to set up a huge Ebeneezer marking where God has provided so that I won't be like the Israelites and quickly forget what He's done.

Ok, here's the rest of the story...... aren't you glad you've tuned in for 7 bagillion pages about my life? :)

In the midst of all this craziness I had this overwhelming sense of dread about returning to teaching. In fact, I felt it all through the school year, but it was even more intense during the summer. I wanted to be home with the boys. Plain and Simple. It was a ludicrous thought in the middle of financial turmoil, but did that stop me from telling (begging) Josh to let me quit?


And I didn't really have to convince him. We've ALWAYS wanted for me to be home for lots of reasons. It was just a money thing. So, one day I get an email from my semi-new boss saying that he wanted to make some changes to my job description. It wasn't an outlandish request, but it was something I REALLY didn't feel comfortable doing. We sent emails back and forth, back and forth, negotiating. We had a meeting. I agreed to it, but my moral was at an all time low. I did NOT want to go back.

Then there was a scheduling conflict that, again, wasn't a huge deal but it would make for a longer day and really interfere with nap times for my boys, making an already difficult routine harder on them, blah, blah. I was told to "just make it work."

I was ready to throw down the gauntlet.

I prayed and prayed that God would either change my heart, my boss' heart or give me a way out. This went on for weeks. Dread, dread, dread.

Providentially, a couple in our community group had a little boy in April and they needed childcare. He (Nate) is the cutest, yummiest little thing and so one night, before I had even really thought about it, I just threw out there that they should let me keep him.

She called me later and said that was the first moment of peace she's had about his care, and asked if I would be willing to keep him on the days I didn't work.

Now, stay with me....while THIS was going on another thing was falling COMPLETELY unexpectedly in my lap. I got an idea off of and started making fabric flower necklaces. It was easy enough, I kinda thought it was cute and so on July 24th I decided to open up a little shop there and see what happened. Happy Little Lovelies was born. On day 4 I had my first sale....and it kept going. People were buying the stuff I was making!

Josh and I projected some numbers, figured out we could save $400 a month if he dropped me off of his insurance and I got my own policy, and with keeping Nate and my Etsy shop....we could make it! I could quit! I have never been happier to send an email in all my life. Not that it was a bad job. It was a great job. But now I was validated in what I really believed the Lord had been speaking to me all summer.

Driving away from Isaiah's birthday party in August, the transmission in the van went out completely. My mom let us drive her car until last Sunday (3 months!) when we finally drove the van with a new transmission in it! My dad had taken it to a guy in SC who did it all in one day. Then my dad cleaned it top to bottom, filled it up with gas and changed the oil for us. I know! AND - knock on wood - the new transmission has seemingly fixed a few of the other problems it was having.

It cost us a chunk and we are still reeling from the summer financially, but God continues to amaze us.

The sermon our pastor preached Sunday was about God taking us out to the love us. How He causes us to be dragged out there by our circumstances and other things because it is more loving to us than if He hadn't. This sermon was like water in the desert. It was a remarkable encouragement to me. Later in the afternoon some precious, precious people to us unexpectedly gave us an envelope of cash that made both Josh and I cry. Gosh, I cry just typing that. He is good.

We are still struggling, but a main reason I wanted to return to this little blog was so that I could report what the Lord has done for us. Now, a little over 3 months later, I look back at that Psalm and truly proclaim:

"Come and see what God has done:
he is awesome in his deeds toward the children of man.
He turned the sea into dry land;
they passed through the river on foot.....

Bless our God, O peoples;
let the sound of his praise be heard,
who has kept our soul among the living
and has not let our feet slip.

For You, O God, have tested us;
You have tried us as silver is tried.
You brought us into the net;
You laid a crushing burden on our backs;
You let men ride over our heads;
we went through fire and through water;
yet You have brought us out to a place of abundance."


The short(er) version....part deux

[*This won't make much sense until you read part one here. :)]

Even now, when I start to think about the level of panic I was in, my breathing pattern changes and I feel my chest tighten. To say it was stressful would be incredibly understated.

No income. No job. Lots of bills. Kid's birthdays. Lots of meltdowns. Lots of tears.

So much of this is a blur now, but I think we just kinda froze and tried to make our life look somewhat normal, scrambling to pull ourselves together. Crying out to God is what I did constantly in my mind and heart (and Josh too), but it took awhile for Josh and I to cry out together. I needed him to act confident that we would be ok, but the reality was that he wasn't always confident. We both knew that God would work it out and that He would provide, but that truth was always in competition with the minute by minute realities that things were due, there wasn't enough money to cover it and real solutions were scarce.

We knew he would start getting paid again at the end of August, but we were afraid of what shape we would be in by that time, and the spiral of getting behind would definitely follow us for a long time.

It's hard for me to remember all the details and time line, but here's what I remember most about how the Lord met us....

--randomly finding $100 in my car....a check my mom had written me for something a long time ago that I never cashed.

--having our family cry and pray with us....telling stories of how God provided for them in hard circumstances.

--telling a dear friend about what was going on and her husband asking Josh to work with him part time over the summer (in fact, Josh is still doing some things on the side for him). It never once occurred to me that Josh could work with him.

--family and friends sending us checks and gift cards that covered an expense that we needed right then. (Isaiah's birthday party supplies were covered completely with Target gift cards)

--the Lord meeting me in the car on my way to Asheville to see a friend. The car had no air conditioner, I was in stand still traffic on 85 for a long time, it was incredibly hot and I was crying (again). He spoke so, so clearly to me as I cried. I knew He was in control of it all. I knew that He heard every one of my cries and saw every tear that fell. I knew that He loved me immensely. I knew He had a plan. I knew He had brought us here because He loves us.

--numerous sermons, passages, songs, etc that spoke the exact truth and comfort that I needed to hear at that moment.

--a small envelope containing a couple hundred dollars my mom gave me that I was able to stretch and make cover a months worth of groceries. I think God kept putting money in that envelope and caused me to find amazing sales as the month went on...seriously.

--Josh, miraculously, being able to pay our mortgage on time each month. Then paying everything else one bill at a time as the money trickled in....and it did.

--being approved by the bank for a loan that covered the rest of our bills for the summer. Deep breath.

I only journaled once in the middle of it all, but that one entry captures so much....

On August 2nd I wrote:

"I've cried out a lot to You this summer. I feel like we've been kicked in the gut
over and over and over. Jobs have fallen through, we've gone into more debt...
we keep trying to climb out of this hole and it feels like once we get a glimpse
of blue sky, something knocks us back down to the bottom again.
I'm mad and discouraged.

And yet, I keep reading psalms this morning that ask,
'Why should I fear when trouble comes?'

And in reading Psalms 65 and 66 I can see clearly how
YOU are the One who distributes wealth and what we need;
YOU make the mountains and calm the stormy seas;
YOU cause mornings and evenings to come and go;
YOU water the earth and provide the grain;
YOU bless the land with growth and cause hills, meadows,
flocks, valleys and grain to overflow with riches and
'shout and sing together for joy.'

But YOU also 'have tested us; YOU have tried us as silver is tried.
YOU have brought us into the net;
YOU have laid a crushing burden on our backs;
YOU let men ride over our heads;
we went through fire and through water;
yet YOU have brought us out to a place of abundance...
but truly God has listened;
He has attended to the voice of my prayer.
Blessed be God, because He has not rejected my prayer
or removed His steadfast love from me!'

He has met us and heard our prayers. I say that with confidence.

And He wasn't done with us. More would come.

To be continued....

Thursday, November 04, 2010

The short(er) version....part uno.

My last real post was written June 28th. Over 4 months ago. It would be really overwhelming to try to catch you up on what has happened over the last 4 months of our lives so I'm not going to do that. (It would be semi-boring. Ok, really boring.)

What I will tell you is why I left the blog world, the events that surrounded that and why I'm back.

First, I have to say that it wasn't intentional. I didn't mean to just stop blogging. There wasn't a moral soap box under my feet or anything like that. I just couldn't.

A little background for those of you (like, 2 of you) who read this unsolicited by friendship or family obligation:

(you are a special group. yes, you are.)

My husband, Josh, is a 7th grade math teacher. He has been for about 7 years and is very gifted at what he does....and I don't just say that as his wife. I say that as someone who has taught in the public and private school setting for awhile myself. He is a gentle, compassionate soul who carries the weight of his student's worlds on his shoulders. It's not about math for him (though he's incredible with numbers). It's about having a platform to effectively reach kids where they are and love them the best he can. He's not bound by the title of "counselor" or "principal" or "pastor"....he likes the back door approach of "math teacher" best. He has students come back every year to see him. He gets letters from them, emails, pictures they've drawn, notes on his board. I often hear from parents how he is some kid's favorite teacher the grocery store, walgreens, etc.

He has reached kids no other teacher wanted to reach (and taught with teachers no one else wanted to teach with, for that matter) so his classroom is usually "lively." They like to give him the hard cases and, though they ask him every year to teach the gifted students, he turns them down and instead requests the challenged students. God has just given him a special love for those kids, and it's clear that's where God wants him right now.

Having said that, this profession has been incredibly hard on us. The main reason is that teachers do not get paid very well. Sure. Lots of teachers do fine for themselves, but it's a different story when the teacher is head of household and wants his wife to be able to be home with their children. I have grumbled and complained and begged God to please put Josh in a different that pays a little more. It, in many ways, feels like a thorn in my flesh. There is not a day that goes by that I don't struggle with contentment in this area. I wish that weren't true.

So, back to the story. To make a little more income, I was teaching music at a private Christian school a couple of days a week. They paid me well, Josh's mom kept our boys, I loved the students, it was a great blessing to us.

Then, last spring, we bought a mini-van. (Actually, we traded our truck for it.) It was great. We were officially grown ups. The guy we bought it from had had no issues with it whatsoever. Nope. None.

(you see where this is going, right?)

3 weeks later it basically starts to disintegrate. There was a slight transmission slip. No problem. We had a big tax refund and, while we save that for the lean summer months, we could get the van looked at. Just a wiring big deal. Then the AC goes out. Back to the shop... coolant recharged. Works a few days, goes out again. To the shop....still the wiring issue. Weird toggle switch thingy installed. The battery dies approximately one million times because we forget to flip the weird little switch.

Oh. And in the middle of all of this, a certain unnamed driver in our family has, not one, but two wrecks in 3 months. Both HIS/her fault. One involved 2 other cars and a lady who wanted, like $700 for the SCRATCH on her bumper...which she got.

Then, something else happened with the van that I don't remember because my one remaining nerve blocked it out.

So, needless to say, ALL of our savings was wiped out fixing %$#@ cars. Thankfully, the last several summers Josh has worked for a friend's company that hasn't really been affected by the economy. Josh called him to see if he could work over spring break. He says "great!" We wait it out. Spring break is close. Josh calls. They don't have the work for Josh that week, but can't wait to get him back on board for the summer.

School lets out in June, we go on vacation with Josh's family and Josh is promised that this job is waiting for him when he gets back. We get back. I post all the beach pictures. He calls the guy. Things are slower than expected. Will call back next week. Never calls. Josh calls him. He says there's no back mid-July. We panic. Josh calls lots of different places looking for work. Some empty promises. Nothing pans out.

We panic.

To be continued....

HELLO? {{hellooo....hellooo....hellooo...}}

Just wondering if anyone is still out here????

Please don't be mad at me. I haven't forgotten you and have a (somewhat) good reason for not being here in a while.

I keep thinking about turning the lights back on and dusting off the cob webs around here, but would love to know if anyone is still here?

Anyone??? Helloooooo?????

Monday, June 28, 2010

26,749 pictures of us at the beach

So, we spent last week at the beach. Enjoy the only picture you will see of me.

I'm pretty sure he and God are talking.

Manny met (and therefore I met) at least a dozen strangers. We have no idea who the little girl is on the right in this next picture but she LOVED playing with Manny.

Free babysitting for us. Free entertainment for her. Win-win.

Josh found a mangled crab leg. And then he gave it to the children.

This is what I get from Isaiah now when I ask him to smile. Uhhh....

Who's child is that?

This is what Josh calls being awesome.

(He still maintains that awesomeness is his superpower.)

My view. Not too shabby.


People have asked if they are twins. We say they might as well be.

Manny enjoyed passing his time by bending in half and dunking the top half of his head in the water. I have never seen so much sand in a person's hair.

Well, this.... this is who I married.

Watching a hermit crab who never had a fighting chance once they started "loving" it.

Scar face.

The Tatt.

Mr. Sandman, bring me a dream.