Thursday, July 21, 2011

Blessings and Deals

This week my family has been incredibly blessed by a friend of ours from our church. I have known Nicole and her husband,Kevin for five years now. Through our friendship I became aware that Nicole had a business called, ACE OF SPACES. The following is taken directly from her ACE of SPACES website,"When simplicity intersects a woman's life it should effect her home, her beauty, and her fashion. As we shrug of the "before" and live out the "after" we liberate those around us to do the same. A congruent woman can boldly reflect this simplicity to a very cluttered world and share it intimately with those she brings near."
This past week together with Kevin and Nicole we worked to transition our home from one that to me represented chaos,anxiety and was severely underutilized. But before we get to the process of transitioning our home I want to explain how this all came to be.

When I knew that I would be starting the full time MSW program this fall I decided that something had to be done with our office space. It wasn't functional at all. Worse than that, I hated being in our basement. Toys were everywhere, the unfinished side was seriously beginning to look like something out of "Hoarders". Boxes were everywhere. Nothing had a home. There were countless times that we couldn't find things we needed like for instance, the hardware to Ellie's crib! There were so many nights when I would lay in bed stressing about how overwhelming it was to tackle it all!! So I told Jeff that I wanted to hire Nicole to transform our office and basement playroom. She came over and we talked about what I wanted for the space. Then Nicole suggested that we look at the upstairs too. She had great ideas for that space as well. We hatched a plan to tackle it all. I think, and I have disclosed this to Nicole, that she was itching to get her hands on my house because she had a vision of what it could be:) I was so excited, until later that night, when fear crept in and the "What ifs" What if I didn't like it? What if was going to cost too much to buy the things needed to make the transition? What if I couldn't get it all done? I called Nicole the next morning and told her I thought we should just tackle the basement space and maybe do the rest of the upstairs later. She said ok but I will admit I felt like it wasn't the right decision. I was praying about the experience and very much felt like God was saying,
" Do the whole house." Well, apparently He was because the next day I got an email from Nicole basically telling me that is what she was feeling led to do. We decided to go ahead and tackle the entire basement and our first floor.
The process...
Nicole came over and we began the session praying that God would bless our partnership and this entire process, that He would be a part of it all. BOY WAS HE! I have so many stories about the moments that we could see God working in this. The timing was one thing. We had our regular trip to Silver Lake with Jeff's family already planned. But with the summer class I am taking, I wasn't able to go all week which left the perfect opening for time with just Ellie to care for. An added blessing was that my mom was able to come for most of the week to help take care of her while we worked. We also found the most perfect roll top desk in great shape for a mire $60.
Nicole and her sweet daughter Havilah came over the week before we left and took all the wallpaper off the wall in our old dining room. I will admit that the week before the work was to begin I was stressed. My house seemed to be at it's messiest. There was crap literally everywhere. To make matters worse,I was trying to pack Jeff and the big kids to go to Silver Lake for the week so it doubled the messiness. Finally the day of work arrived. Kevin came at 2p.m. and we were still trying to load our cars. He began to paint and just oozed of peacefulness. It was calming to watch him work. We finally were on our way and left the Aces to their Spaces! I can't even begin express the shock and awe I felt when I received photos send via cell phone only 8 hours later! In that little amount of time they had painted and moved ALL OF THE FURNITURE in my house and put all the crap and clutter in the garage. I immediately loved the results but had no idea how much I truly would embrace it all once I arrived home.
I ended up coming home early because Ellie came down with pneumonia(which is an entirely other post!) and so the work of sorting began on Tuesday morning. It was a long process, even though it only took four days! We're talking about going through your stuff, all day long. Hauling crap to the garage, making decisions, etc. But,it was by far the most worthwhile four days of hard work I have ever endured. I realized and I know this sounds kind of silly,that my house is my home. Up until this week, I truly felt like it was just a house. It kept us dry, it costs us money, its where we lay our weary heads each night but real memory making, peacefulness and happy times were sadly few and far between here. This place stressed me out!! I always had chores looming and it never seemed like there was ever going to be enough time or will from either Jeff or me to accomplish all that lay before us.
I truly believe that God used Nicole to show me that even when I don't hold up my end of the bargain in regards to being in relationship with Him,HE ALWAYS DOES. He heard my cries (some figurative and some literal!) to have a more peaceful life. He does know that most days I feel like I am barely going to make it. He chose to bless me even though I fall horridly short nearly every single time. How is that for a big ol' GRACE pie in the face?! Several times over the last month I have been brought to tears over what Nicole and Kevin have blessed me with. I really feel like I have been given a new lease on how to do this thing called mothering and daughtering and wifering:) Ha! I know these aren't words but you get the gist. I feel like a new women. I have so many emotional burdens lifted through this physical transformation that has taken place.
Finally, I leave you with some wisdom gained from a fellow MSW classmate of mine. We had to participate in several mock counseling sessions this week. During one of mine, I disclosed to my "counselor" that I felt uncomfortable with so many blessings being showered upon me. Like I wrote earlier, I didn't feel worthy. My classmate said simply, "Why are you trying to turn a blessing into a deal." "It sounds like God has put this women in your life to bless you. Be careful not to turn a blessing from God into a deal."

Monday, July 11, 2011

God is with us...

Disclaimer: I started this post yesterday but finished it today!
Today in west Michigan all holy hell broke loose around 10:45a.m. I had just finished working out at the gym. My kids and Jaime's two were there too. When we were leaving, and on our way to Hardings when Matthew asked if Avery,Jaime's 8 year old, could come along. I agreed and off we went. Not five minutes into our shopping extravaganza/donut finding expedition the rain started and the wind. Soon after came horrid crashes, bright bolts of lightening. Following that came power lines falling,trees being uprooted, transformers blowing up. Of course we didn't know all heck was breaking loose around us. We all sat quietly in the back break room of our neighborhood Hardings. The kids munching cheap cookies and coloring and me freaking out b/c I couldn't get through to Jaime on the cell phone I borrowed from a fellow storm shelter seeker. I knew that she would be worried that Avery was freaking out b/c well, she tends to do so in these types of situations. The thing is, she was cool as a cucumber. Not one worried look,no questions about if she was in danger. She was downright peaceful. Someone asked the kids, "Are you guys scared." Avery looked up from her picture and said, "No,why would we be scared? God is with us?" I saw several of the adults look at her with thoughtful smiles. I nearly cried. I have known this little gal for four years and that message sums it all up. She has learned through her trials with having a brother with half a heart and all that entails That really at the end of the day, on the stormiest of days,that God is ALWAYS with US! The peace she had in that cramped,stuffy room in the back of Hardings could only come from God. I was so proud to know such a sweet and faithful girl and could hardly wait to get back home and tell her mom what a wonderful example she had been. How brave she was!! Two days later and I am still choking up about it!!
We made it home and on the way we saw all the damage that occured in our neighborhood. I was glad that we made it home safetly. That God was indeed with us and shone through His precious child in the stuffy break room of a grocery store!