Sunday, October 28, 2012

The things she says!

Lately Ava has been saying hilarious things that really make me laugh a lot.  She has also been having some behavior issues that make me want to cry a lot!  Since I hope to forget some of the struggles we have been having and no hold them against her, I wanted to write down some of the funny conversations we have been having!  Since I write this blog for myself and my mom, it's the perfect place to record them!

After spending hours of the day in time out for many behavior issues, I asked Ava was she learned.  Her response "well, I learned to be nice to  my friends.  I also learned that you shouldn't trick people.  Like if I say that I am going to take someone to the theatre, and then I don't take them to the theatre, it wouldn't be very nice."  Seriously, I think I must be doing an amazing job of teaching her life lessons!

Ava loves Spanish!  During a prayer in Guatemala she prayed "Thank you God so much for making Guatemala and for Spanish because I love it."

In a conversation with my sister about a song she learned that was partly in Spanish and partly in English, Ava said "I will sing this song partly in Spanish and partly in the language that you and Brandon speak."

After being the flower girl in Catherine's wedding Ava says "So, everyone was telling me how beautiful I and Catherine looked so beautiful together...but she did have the better dress though."

We have been having attitude issues and so I told Ava she needed to work on being more respectful to me and talking more kindly to me.  She said "MOM!  God made everyone different and made us all feel different things and I just feel mad right's just the way God made me!"  Oh dear Ava...many converstation followed this statement. 

While in Ohio, she was upset about something and her Aunt asked her to sing "If your happy and you know it" to distract her from being upset.  She agreed and after a while, I noticed she wasn't doing any of the motions like "if your happy and you know it, clap your hands..."  I asked "Ava why aren't you clapping your hands?"  She responded "Well mom, I am not happy.  I can't clap my hands if I am not happy.  It would be a lie." 

My dearest day when you have grown up and are using all your energy and passion to love the world around you, I pray that we will laugh at all these funny conversations and remember what it takes for God to refine us.  I also pray that we will know how to best lead you toward the love of Christ and into a relationship with him that transforms your heart.  You are truly a delight...even if you spend half your life in time-out right now!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

All things new...

For the last 5 years Caleb and I have lived with our kids in a two bedroom, 1 bathroom house.  I was pregnant with Ava when we bought this house and we thought it would be a good house for about 5 years.  We figured after 5 years, we would outgrow it.  Who would have known that after 2 years, Anniiyah and Makayla would come to be a part of our family for a while?!  Our house felt really small during that season with all three girls sharing 1 room (and did I mention we don't have closets...we have 1 half closet)...but it worked.  I won't go into detail about the creativity needed when three small people all need to go to the bathroom at the same time and you only have 1 toilet.  We have put a lot of offers on houses over the years.  We have tried to buy houses in our neighborhood, our friends neighborhoods, random neighborhoods close to ours, etc.  We have only ever been slightly motivated to get another house (which meant putting really low-ball offers on houses) because we really didn't know what neighborhood made the most sense for us to stay in.  This year though, we have felt GREAT about staying in Pittsburgh.  We know that this is our home.  I am not saying that nothing could or will change, but at this point, we are here and and we love our community.  We realized that where we lived was more important to us at this point than what we lived in (but please don't get me wrong, we wanted more space! We just wanted to be wise about where we looked).  So, we waited.  About 2 months ago we put an offer on a house only a few houses away from ours, but the process was taking forever.  About a week after we submitted an offer, we found another house about 4 blocks away from our current house.    It took me a lot to want to even think about moving away from our current neighbors on Coleman St!  I LOVE my street.  I felt a strong pull though from God through prayer to consider other options for houses in our neighborhood.  We decided to put an offer on the house that was 4 blocks away and we prayed for peace in where God was leading us to move.  Long story short, we got rejected from the house I really wanted.  I was incredibly sad and didn't understand.  I tend to get overly excited about things, and in my head I had already started dreaming and planning for this house.  Shaqwanda had talked about having a room in this house where she could live and work on homework while she works to finish senior year.  I was already planning the block parties we could have, the new neighbors we would meet, the guests that could stay with us, the babies we would now have room for, and a lot of other things that would allow us to share life with the people we love.  We continued to pray for wisdom and I kept telling Caleb that I was holding out hope that something was going to change.  I got a call from our realtor a week ago saying that the deal fell through and she asked if we still wanted the house.  YES!!!!  And so I calmly said "I think that would be good."  Our offer was accepted on Wednesday of this week and we are now moving toward closing in a couple weeks.  Something that seemed to drag out for forever is now actually happening!  Wednesday night we always have dinner with our neighbors.  We have been doing this for a year now and I look forward to Wednesday night every week.  This week was really special for me because we all got up from dinner and walked over to our new house together.  Everyone was excited with us and I am glad we got to share our joy with so many people that we love so much.  I am thankful for this new house but I don't want to forget the joy that our Coleman Street house has been for us.  Regardless of space, so much life has been lived in this house.  We have brought home our babies to this house, we have spent most of our marriage in this house, we have met and gotten to know the most important people in our lives, in this house.  We have played hundreds of games of Elimination in THIS kitchen.  We have eaten countless meals with WAY too many people sitting in THIS dining room.  We have worn down the carpet with all our clothes always being on the floor in THIS bedroom.  Every inch of this house represents a significant piece of our story and our journey.  I will always love this house.  BUT I am excited for the "new."  I start a new job on Monday.  Though it was hard to leave something that I had loved so much behind, I look toward the amazing opportunity that is up ahead...a job that I thank God for providing to me.  I don't feel like a new house was "necessary."  I do however want to be thankful to God for ordaining our steps and going before us.  I do want to trust in his plan and his purpose for our family.  I do want to use this new space to be a safe and warm place where are all welcome and a place where "family" is known and extended to anyone that wants to be part.  And to be really honest...I am super excited to have closets!

Friday, August 3, 2012


I want to remember today.  I am bad about writing things down.  I didn't used to be but somewhere over the last few years I have struggled to record my thoughts, emotions, prayers, and stories.  Today though I want to remember.  I started working with the homeless population 7 years ago when we moved to Atlanta.  I had no idea then the kind of passion that God was placing in me for serving people who are homeless.   Today began with Jay having some weird eye thing and I didn't go to work until Caleb could come home at 1:00.  I had no motivation for being at work and especially, for doing intake today.  I considered calling off because of my bad-ittude but I didn't.  I got to my office and I grabbed my first client for intake.  We do intake at my office on a first come, first serve basis.  I just grabbed the first client in order not knowing what they were coming in for.  When the young women sat down in my chair, my heart immediately felt broken for her.  She looked 15.  She was hurting.  She was scared.  She was alone.  She had come for help getting her birth certificate.  My office is the only place in the City of Atlanta that you can go for help getting a birth certificate if you don't have a picture ID already. As she started telling me her story, she shared that she had been locked out of her house during the second semester of her Senior year of high-school.  She had no where to go.  She is currently living behind a Texaco gas station.  I could feel God moving in me to care for this young woman.  I was determined to find some resource for her to get her off the streets tonight.  She sat with tears streaming down her cheeks as I spoke with a partner agency.  The shelter I was speaking with (a place specifically for homeless youth) had a waiting list with 118 people on it.  If begging is a spiritual gift, I think I have that one.  By the time we were off the phone, my new friend had a place to go.  I went with her to get her checked in.  She is now sleeping in a bed for the first time in 8 months.  I am so grateful for shelters that care for people when there is no place to go.  A shelter is not the final solution for this young  lady...but it's a step...

When I got back to my office, intake was still going.  I pulled the next client and it was an 18 year old male who had lost everything.  He was living with an Aunt and she passed away.  He was currently staying behind a library in downtown Atlanta.  His high-school was holding his diploma until he could pay for some missing books.  Not being able to get a copy of his diploma was preventing him from finding a job.  Because of some calls I had made earlier for my other client, I had another number to call for shelter.  They had space!  We finished meeting and I sent him with MARTA money to meet with the agency that was going to give him a place to stay until they could find him a more sustainable situation.  He smiled and said "I will actually get to sleep tonight."  I got a voicemail from him at 6:15 tonight saying he had made it. 

My heart feels torn on how to process today.  I felt so clearly God's movement in these two situations.  I felt Him piecing together what needed to happen and when it needed to happen.  I am joyful to see these two young people placed in the hands of agencies who have a passion for homeless youth.  I am torn because my heart is broken by our world.  I am broken over two 18 year olds who don't have an address, an emergency contact, a phone, or family to care for them.  I can't fix homelessness.  I want to commit to working hard though on a daily basis for the people that sit at my desk.  I never want to stop answering God's voice when He is so clearly directing me to do more that my job calls me to do.  I feel like I have become lax in the care I provide.  I have filled out the same paperwork, processed the same requests, and called landlords hundreds of times at this point.   I could do most of my job without even thinking.  I realized today though, that's not care.  That's not the love and passion that God placed in my heart for this work. 

I only have two more weeks of work left at the Georgia Law Center before I move on to another non-profit agency that is serving the homeless.  I feel renewed excitement and energy that this is my vocation.  This is my calling.  I will be managing 7 transitional homes.  Each home has a family in it that is transitioning out of homelessness.  The families will be in the home for up to two years and I get to be a part of their journey.  I get to walk with them as they transition out of homelessness.  I am looking forward to this new opportunity.  I want to go into this new thing with the same passion and energy that I had when I started my life in Atlanta.  I want to remember today because it's a reminder that God is present in the little things.  He is present in working out the details. Things might not get worked out every time but it doesn't mean He is any less there.  Today was also a reminder that I need to be present with people.  I need to hear each person's story, each person's struggle.  I do not want to be lax in my care for people. 

I pray for my new friends tonight.  Please join me in prayers for those who don't have a place to sleep tonight, a family to call, a place to go home to.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

7 Years...

 Caleb and I celebrated 7 years of marriage on January 2nd.  We also realized that we have been in a relationship for 9 years.  I was trying to figure out how to write a blog about Caleb without being super cheesy but I don't think that I can.  I am crazy about Caleb.  He is the perfect fit for me.  He is as calm as I am crazy.  He is as slow as I am fast.  He is patient and slow to speak and slow to become angry.  I am....well, maybe we don't need to go there.  I get excited about Caleb.  I love to call him in the middle of the day because I miss hanging out with him and telling him things that I think are interesting...which might just be that I saw a cool bird or ate a good sandwich for lunch.  I love to go on crazy dates and adventures.  I love that we try and get away on a kid-less vacation every year just to be together.  I love that we talk...a lot!  I love our friendship.  We both know a side of each other that no one else knows  I want to be able to look back on this post when we have been married for 17, and 27, and 57 years (in blog book form of course) and remember the things that we have always loved about each other.  I have some pictures from our wedding and past anniversaries over the years to share. 

Wedding Day.  Huge Flowers!

Cutting our cake on our first anniversary.  Caleb looks like a baby.
Somewhere in the Smoky Mountains with Shaun and Holly on Anniversary #2.

#3 Ava was 11 days old in this picture.  We look exhausted but we went to dinner anyway.

Bucca Di Beppo for #7


So yes, 2012 came.  We spent New Years in bed watching a movie and at midnight I looked at Caleb and said "Hey, wake up and give me a's a new year."  I am ready to see what 2012 will bring.  I think I should do a high-lights of 2011 was a busy year!

New changes on the horizon are that my current job with the GA Law Center will end in March.  When I say that I LOVE my job it's an understatement.  I love working with clients to prevent their homelessness.  I love everytime a person trusts me enough to sit down with me and share their story.  I pray that I will know the right resources to point people to so that they can have the best outcome possible.  I LOVE my job.  When I took this position, it was a 30 month contracted position.  At the time I thought, "30 months is a long time!"  Well, in adult world, it turns out it's not that long!  So a new chapter of work will begin in the spring for me.  I am not sure I am ready:). 

What will 2012 look like?  I have been thinking a lot about my hopes for this year.  We sat around and talked about hopes on Wednesday night at our weekly community dinner.  I loved hearing what people are hoping for in 2012.  Off the top of my head, I shared that I wanted to read more (this was a goal I came up with on New Year's when talking with some friends).  I also realized that to do that, I will have to change some current things in my life.  That led to hope #2...Be less chaotic!  I tend to fill life up.  Each moment has a plan and if that plan falls through, there is usually a back up plan.  Please don't think that this makes me an awesome "planner."  It doesn't.  It just means that we really like people and we like to do stuff so between those two things...chaos happens.  I don't want to change this much.  I love being active and having people around and traveling and dreaming of new ideas!  I just want to have more time to be still...more time to read...more time to sit on the floor and build towers with Ava and Jay...more time to share about the day with Caleb...more time to reflex on God and what He is doing all around me. 

So, I anticipate 2012!  I anticipate lots more dinners with friends and neighbors.  I anticipate lots of dates with my husband.  I anticipate Ava learning how to read.  I anticipate Jay walking.  I anticipate seeing kids I love graduate high-school.  I anticipate talking about God and his goodness with those around me.  I anticipate a new role for work.  I anticipate more neighbors moving into Pittsburgh.  I anticipate growing in depth with friends.  I anticipate growing in my love for Jesus.