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Year of Jubilee

They say the 7th year is the year of Jubilee.  A year where debts are cancelled and everyone knows and breathes freedom.  A season of celebration.

It’s been 7 years since our son Noah passed away.  God has already shown Jason and me how this year is going to be profound and special, though we don’t know all, or any, of the details.

We are almost out of debt, thank you Dave Ramsey and Financial Peace University, so that is one part of our personal jubilee.  Financial Peace University should be a required AMERICAN course, WOVEN INTO OUR EDUCATION, and then maybe a refresher course senior year of high school before the next phase of life.  We were late to the game, but thankfully we’ve been able to pay down debt quickly.  (side note…)

This almost debt-less-ness is good news in light of what happened two weeks ago.  You see, debts are usually paid off with money, at least monetary debts.  And in most cases, money comes from an income, ie, a job or selling of wares.  Well, I don’t make any money, don’t take a salary as the President of Bevy, and no longer take the proceeds from my jewelry business for personal use, those all now go to Bevy, too.  So, all this to say, during this season of our lives, Jason’s income covers our daily living.

But God is in charge of the banks of the world…and He is our Provider.

So when Jason’s entire department was eliminated at work 2 weeks ago, (his last day being 3/15 unless another position opens up within the organization, new president did some re-organizing, and, unfortunately, his position was part of the re-org, though he is welcome to re-apply within for another position), we were more than puzzled for a few days.

We both went through every emotion, because we walk together in this.  Grief.  Shock.  Disbelief.  Rejection.  Confusion.  Anticipation.  Excitement.  Dreaming.  The thrill of the unknown, and the anxiety and HOLY COW-ness of stepping out onto the water and trusting God without the comfort of false stability, but with faith in a humongous God.

As a family we have been praying and dreaming.  We’ve sat around the table, asking Emily and even Ryan (3), what their dreams are for our family, brainstorming together possibilities of “What if?” and “If we could go anywhere…” and “What is God telling us to do?” and “What have you always wanted to do?” and so much more.  And then putting it all, even our desires and deepest wishes, all the ideas, every dream, at God’s feet, and trusting Him with the sorting out and sifting of the details.  Em and I were ready to sell everything and just start traveling around the world, sharing God’s love…

When a harvester brings the grain to the threshing floor, it’s during a certain season and at a specific time of day when the wind blows.  The harvester stabs the mound of grain with a pitchfork and lifts it into the air as the wind comes up, allowing the chaff to blow away and the grain to fall back at the thresher’s feet, ready for use.

Trusting God as He sifts our lives...

Trusting God as He sifts our lives. Photo: bibleplaces

The direction for our lives is currently up in the air, chaff and grain and dreams and all, but not haphazardly.  We trust God with the big picture…

Moving to Switzerland, Thailand, Australia, or London, for non-profit or NGO work, staying here, working from home so we can have more family time, selling our house, taking people on exposure trips, traveling the country in a motor home, living near family, homeschooling, circuit preaching/preaching revival, writing a book, pastoring and mentoring, getting certified in Holy Yoga, walking alongside Emily as she launches Bevy Kids, downsizing, going to Israel for peace talks with women of other faiths, buying land to build a family camp where we can host Bevy retreats and have chickens and a horse, sneaking off to a warm, warm secluded beach in Mexico or Costa Rica, connecting with other non-profits for Kingdom work, travel for fun, and so much more.

All of these are things we’ve placed at God’s feet, and we’re willing to do what He wants and go where He says.

So, yeah, we are asking for your prayers.  He has already done some very specific answering over the past weekend, including the cancellation of one of our debts by an anonymous donor!!!  But much is still up in the air.  We aren’t praying that it’s easy, because easy isn’t best, or even vaguely interesting.  We are praying we land at His feet and are put to use, where the way we are wired and gifted brings glory to Him.

Thanks, in advance, for praying us through this harvesting season and into this year of Jubilee!

The Tortoise and the Hare

When I think of turtles, images from Eric Carle’s books come to mind since I have a toddler and these are on my shelves and in my hands most afternoons before nap time.

If I said the word “turtle” to my husband, I bet you a zillion dollars visions of pecans covered in caramel covered in dark chocolate would immediately come to mind.

We’ve all read it, had it read to us, envisioned it play by play.  I’m not talking about Eric Carle or nuts and chocolate, but instead, “The Tortoise and the Hare.”

Sculpture by Nancy Schon, on display in Boston, MA

And it’s funny how in my own life, on different occasions and varying settings, the story of The Tortoise and the Hare keeps crossing my path.

But I’ve always been a hare.  Good starter.  Up for a challenge.  Fired up energy and especially boastful declarations of certain victory with time to spare.  This mentality is one I’ve coasted on for years, gleaning past strengths as resource energy, sometimes it working seemingly in my favor.

But pride comes before a fall…and I’m the most prideful of all.

I’ve applied this hare mentality to losing weight.  I’ve applied it to prayer.  I’ve applied it to temporary dietary changes, expecting long term lifestyle changes.  I’ve applied it to leadership positions and relationships and solving problems and test-taking and studying and college and more things than naught.

Because the turtle was a schlow-mo.  And schlow-mo is lame-o.  It’s just so…slow.

photo courtesy npr

But turtle is:

  • Intentional
  • Determined
  • Steadfast
  • Diligent
  • Faithful
  • Enduring
  • Consistent
  • Disciplined
  • Strong
  • Focused
  • Persistent
  • Comfortable to be turtle, pressing on, not too slow but steady as she goes, accomplishing much
Recently while taking a Financial Peace University class, Dave Ramsey said he was having dinner with a billionaire and asked him how he made all his money.  The guy said that everything he ever learned about making money he learned from his favorite book.  Dave got a pen in hand to write down the title and author so he could go get his own copy…because Dave doesn’t have enough money?
Anyway, the guy told Dave that he reads the book every chance he gets and loves reading it to his grandkids…
…his favorite book, “The Tortoise and the Hare.”
I have a dear friend whose journey has been modeling this very thing to me.  Her blog is called, “The Girl Who Cried Skinny” and her journey is one to stop crying wolf and to press on towards health through diligence and determination, by walking and making healthy food choices, one day at a time.  Inspiring is just the start of a snowball of words which come to mind to encourage and challenge me not only in the area of taking life and health one choice at a time, but allowing that same turtle discipline to flood the other areas of my life, especially in prayer and studying God’s word.

Hares are:

  • Intense
  • High-strung
  • Fast
  • Jumpy
  • Twitchy
  • Lean
  • Nervous seeming
  • Quick
  • Agile
Did you know the average life span of a hare is 8 to 12 years?

Did you know the average life span of a tortoise is 100 years?
I don’t know about you, but I’m ready to slow down and start living my life with intention…because if I remember the story correctly, the tortoise wins.

When Dreams Come True

Jason and I took Dave Ramsey’s “Financial Peace University”class recently.  All I can say is literally every person should take this class at some point in their existence.  There would be no financial issues on this earth or in any government.  Just sayin’.

That being said, one of our cash envelopes is set aside each week for eating out.  I’ve enjoyed this because prior to Dave’s class, we ate out a ton and our monthly budget seemed to be slipping through our fingers.  Plus, my thighs were bigger.

Now we stick with our “Eating Out” budget and it’s like money has magically appeared in our bank account.  Crazy stuff.  I now believe in magic.

And I’m using my treadmill more and lifting weights, so that’s likely why my thighs aren’t as large.

White man overbite, November 2012

Anyway, I love our little “Eating Out” envelope.  Every once in a while when Ryan and I are out on the town running errands we’ll stop for a lunch date at our favorite spot and use about $8.00 of our “Eating Out” budget.  A couple of months ago there was a sunny warm day and Ryan was a hungry little lion, so we headed over to our favorite spot, ordered, got our food, and found a cozy 2-top outside in the sunshine where we shared our plate of goodness.

It didn’t occur to me then.  Nor had it occurred to me all the other times the two of us had shared a lunch date at this same little place…

Fast forward to a few weeks ago when the whole family was running errands.  It was my turn to choose our lunch spot.  We rotate who gets to choose where we are eating among Jason, Emily and myself.

I chose “Garbanzo’s”.

And as I spooned a mouthful of hummus into Ryan’s sweet little lips, I realized a dream of mine had already come true.  And as we shared the last falafel, I knew it had…

He may not have dark hair yet.  And at 3 feet, he certainly doesn’t tower over his mama, either.

But, I am so very grateful that unknowingly, Ryan and I found our favorite spot, and it’s there where we laugh and cry, or whine, over falafels.

"Food Fight!!!!!"

A couple weeks ago Jason was rude.  And I mean, weird rude.  

To me it seemed totally irrational and out of nowhere, and in 20+ years of knowing him, I should know…because Jason’s not rude.  It’s not his nature or in his character to be rude.  He’s the most thoughtful man I know.


I mean, I had bought extra hot dogs and sausages.  For most guys, I’d be wearing a “Bonus Wife” crown and sash, maybe even holding a bouquet of flowers.  Any woman who bears extra hot dogs and sausages is automatically enrolled in the “Wife of the Year” club.  Clearly everyone knows this…except, apparently Jason?


I pulled into the garage from running to the grocery store.  Our dear friends were coming over to celebrate birthdays and Jason had decided we’d have burgers and brats…they’d bring a big salad.  I’d make yummy cupcakes.


By JC Harrington on July 4, 2012 at Full 500 × 333 pixels


Since starting Dave Ramsey’s “Financial Peace University” I am almost exclusively our grocery getter.  I’m the one with the cash for food purchases, where Jason’s cash is allocated for lunches during the work week.  Emily had gone with me to the store, and as we assessed who would be having dinner, I asked Em if she wanted burgers or brats for dinner.  She said, “Can the kids have hot dogs, instead?  I said, “Sure, no problem.”  She shouted an emphatic “NICE,” gave me the “gag me with a spoon” face she always gives me when the word “brats” is mentioned, and then said, “ As long as the hot dogs were all natural without additives, nitrates, or nitrites.”  You know, no lips and asses.  We laughed and gave each other that, “I don’t even WANT to know what is in those other hot dogs!” look.  

Anyway, back to the story…


So, it was a Sunday afternoon.  Ryan was down for his nap while Em and I were at the store and Jason was hanging out, watching a little football.  He came out to the garage to help carry in bags once he heard the door open.  As he grabbed for several bags in the trunk he quietly said, “Why did you buy hot dogs?  Why do you alwayssecond guess me?”


I was all, “Whoa…are you okay?  Why are you being passive aggressive?”


Jason, “I’m not being passive aggressive!  I decided we were having burgers and brats and you second guessed my plan and bought hot dogs.”


I said, thinking to myself what on earth is going on with Jason, “Emily asked if she could have hot dogs.  We only had a pound of ground beef and 3 brats, so with 4 adults and three kids, 3 of which don’t eat brats, I decided to get some hot dogs, and a little extra ground beef, too, just in case.  But what’s really going on, why on earth are you so upset about hot dogs?”


Jason, “I’m not upset.  I just don’t like how you always second guess me.”


Me, “Sweetheart, I am really, really sorry.  I’m really sad that you feel I second guess you!  I totally trust you.  As the one who usually does the hosting, I just wanted to make sure we had enough food.  Have you felt like this a long time?  I’m really sorry.  I had no idea you felt so strongly about this or that you’ve been feeling this way for so long…you did use the word, “always.”  If this is how you’ve felt all along why haven’t you told me?”


Jason, “No.  Nothing’s bothering me…it’s fine…it’s not what I meant, it came out wrong.”


I froze, really sad in my heart, like grieved-ish, that I did something to cause my non-reactive husband to be so distraught over bratwurst.  I started to throw up my walls.  Jason was dressed in his mountain biking gear, so I told him to leave and think about what was going on and we could talk about it when he got home, but we both needed space…over an 8-pack of nitrate-free hotdogs…and a little extra ground beef.


After about an hour and a half Jason came home from his bike ride.


He said, “I’m sorry I overreacted about the brats.  When you got home you opened the garage door and Lady started barking, Ryan wasn’t going down for his nap, and the Redskins had just lost.”


OH.  MY.  FRIGGING.  WORD.


Me, “Are you kidding me?!  This was all because the Redskins suck?  Sweetheart, the Redskins haven’t been good ever since you liked them in the ‘80’s.  I’m just glad it wasn’t something more serious!  You are lucky I love you and realize you had a moment of sheer stupidity to treat me like that because of the lack of athletic performance from a football team.”



“Stupid” Stuff Skins Fans Say or Do



Oh yeah…AND, guess what EVERYONE but Emily wanted for dinner? 


Burgers.  

It’s a good thing the grass-fed ground beef was on sale, thankyouverymuch, Dave Ramsey!

Your Peacock…Your Peacock!

Let me see your peacock!

I couldn’t resist.

Unfortunately I’ve heard the song.  I have another post for another day regarding my affection for Katy Perry, but not today.

Let’s just say, since I don’t really know what I’m doing before I go into a project like this, unfortunately I’m not able to write a DIY type of blog post.  That would be cool, but to be honest, I really DKHTDIM (Don’t Know How To Do It Myself) except for winging it…All I know is, recently in a few books and when I heard a person speak, the questions were posed:

  • What makes you feel alive?  
  • What memory from your childhood do you have of yourself being really happy while doing something you enjoyed?  
  • What do you LOVE to do?

At first I wasn’t in a place where I even knew or remembered how to answer the questions.  I LOVE to be with my family.  I LOVE to be with my friends.  I LOVE to be alone.

Oxygen makes me feel alive…

All great answers, but not exclusively “me”…but when I’m in my basement, tearing things apart and re-creating, well, that’s when I see glimpses of what makes me feel alive…

Creating.  Art.  Designing.  Making it up as I go.  
And doing it on a dime.  It’s fun for me!


I’m not bragging.  I’m just so excited I’ve found something I love to do, something that gives me inspiration and energy to face the laundry and piles of dishes.

Here’s how it’s going so far.

First we cut strips of tan ultra-suede we had left over from Em’s Sacajawea costume,  celery green ovals from some upholstery, kelly green ovals from a Baja Expedition t-shirt, and royal blue spots from an oversized man shirt Jason got from a work softball game.  We added tassels from upholstery cording my mom had given me years ago that was sitting in a box that. whole. time.

These are for the feathers that will make up a bustle type thingamajigger on Em’s tushy.

Em had a navy blue t-shirt she wasn’t wearing so we used it as the base for the bodice.  I sewed royal blue feathers for the chest out of more of the oversized man t-shirt.

Remember “Caboodles?”  Yep.  That’s my Caboodle from Junior High which once housed my electric blue mascara, now posing as my sewing box.  And that lavender tulle is going to be a bolero.  I had to have my mom come over and tell me how to work with elastic.  There are some things I can totally wing.  But elastic stumps me every time…I don’t know why, but my brain freezes and I’m not sure how to use it…it’s weird.  Maybe I got flicked by too many flying rubber bands in elementary school???

And this is my favorite part because it’s entirely Emily’s design and creation.  We got the peacock feather with a few others attached in the floral dept of Wally World, but she did all the rest, complete with gold embossed feathers and all the bling.  The kid’s got an eye for this stuff!

As the “feathers” for the actual skirt were starting to come together, Em said, “Mom, this is actually going to be cool!  I had no idea you had something like this in mind…”

Thanks, kid.  Apparently she hasn’t been that impressed with my other impromptu costumes.  Smack.

And since the creative juices are flowing in the basement, Em’s gotten out her sketch book and started designing gowns and other fancy numbers.  It’s fun to see her put her dreams on paper…one day she and I will put her paper dreams into material.

A Brief History of Em’s Halloween Costumes

Hindsight is 20/20.

2005, Em’s 3rd birthday party with recycled skirts made from daddy’s pant legs.  Flower hats made from recycled upholstery materials.

Apparently I’ve always been a recycle-er.  I was “green” before “green” was even cool.

With jewelry I love to take old pieces apart and repurpose them into something fun and modern, which is what I mainly do with bebe and boo.  As far as sewing projects, I’ve always been a fan of cutting something up that I haven’t worn in a while and making something new.  When Em was a baby I took a pair of Jason’s old khaki pants and cut the legs off.  (I think he wanted shorts to mow the lawn in…???)  Anyway, with one of the legs I ripped out the seams, added some lime green and raspberry material strips, a zipper, and random flower petals and made myself a skirt.  With the other pant leg I put a strip of elastic in the hem, added decorative buttons, ribbon, and a fabric flower and made Em a skirt.  I’m not a fan of patterns, but throwing stuff together is just fun for me.  It makes my mom crazy.

I’ll be the first to admit that my randomness doesn’t always pan out.  I’ve thrown a lot of attempts in the trash.  Others are a pleasant surprise, like my Grandma’s old bed sheets I actually have on right now as pajama pants, or a $.25 pillow case and antique handkerchief I made into a skirt for myself.  For me, part of it is using something outside the box, part of it is the thrill of knowing it cost little to nothing to make.  The other part is knowing it’s a one of a kind creation.  It’s just fun!

So, today Em and I headed to the basement to see what kind of random stuff we had on hand to make a peacock costume for her for Halloween.  Thankfully she hasn’t listened to the Katy Perry album so for Em, being a peacock will simply be dressing up for fun as one of the most beautiful creatures on earth.

Jason and I are doing Financial Peace University, so I’m really, REALLY trying to make this costume on a dime.  We found some old t-shirts, old designer fabrics and tassels, and some old drapes (can you say “Sound of Music?”).  Em got out a sketch book and we googled peacock feathers and color palettes.  So far I’ve made ONE feather.  ONE.  It took 15 minutes.  This is actually good for me as I usually wait until the eve of Halloween to even START sewing a costume, so this year I’m ahead of myself I guess, but we’ve got our work cut out for us…

Here’s what we’ve found so far:

The treasures we found in the basement

Cutting stuff apart for a little trial and error 

Recycled T’s

Em’s sketch book 

Em’s sketch of what her shirt will look like

The first practice feather…it’s going to be a heavy skirt!

Who said microsuede (actually from her Sacajawea costume, 2008), upholstery, and t-shirts don’t go together?!

Cutting pieces for mass feather production

Sacajawea, 2008

Egyptian Princess, 2009

Betsy Ross, 2010

Em actually didn’t wear the Betsy Ross costume for Halloween, but for Early American History Week at school.  I’m not going to lie.  I was a little disappointed.  Halloween 2010, Em had it in her head that she wanted to buy a costume, a pirate costume, at that.  After we bought it, and she wore it, she asked me if I would please make her costumes from then on.  I was excited!  My mom always made our costumes, and even if it made her crazy, I think she had fun creating them, just like I do, too.
So, we’ll see how the peacock turns out.  The sad thing is, I won’t even be with Em on Halloween to see her in her peacock glory!  She’ll be in SD with her daddy!  Ry and I are just going to stick a bowl of candy on the front porch and go to bed early 🙂  My costume:  sleeping housewife.

More On: Girlfriends!

NOT “Moron Girlfriends!”  Just to clarify

There are many titles I could have gone with concerning this post:

“Modern Day Miracle!”
“Man Uncovers Ancient Secret!”
“Husband Found His Wife’s Sweet Spot…”
“Mars Finally Moves to Venus to Form a Planetary Merger”
“Jesus Can Come On Back Now…All the Problems in the World are Solved.”
Or, my favorite:
“My Husband is a Better Girlfriend than Me.”

I know what you were thinking when you read the one about the “sweet spot”, but that’s not what I’m talking about here today.  Maybe another day?  Nah.  This isn’t that kind of blog…

Anyway, here’s a snippet of the conversation which took place in the corner of our kitchen the day before I left for my girlfriends’ retreat earlier this month in Austin.  I must preface this to say, anyone who knows my husband knows he barely meets the minimum word requirements that a man may speak in one day…if I’m lucky, the guy spreads his 7,000 words a day out over the course of a week…so when he talks, I listen…

Part II:  Girls Gone Wild in Texas
Jason:  Why are you so stressed out?
Me:  When you ask me that it makes me feel like I’m not allowed to have stress…like, what could be so stressful about my life???
Jason:  No, that’s not it, I just want to know because you are visibly stressed…
Me:  First off, you know how I get when I’m packing and preparing for a trip, but also, I just feel so jumbled right now…I don’t feel like I’ve gotten into the swing of things, like I haven’t had a routine since last school year.  I do well with routine.  Everything is spinning…I feel like I am emotionally ON one-hundred percent of the time…I love, love, love being a wife and mom, I just don’t ever have other adult interaction.  A 2-year old talks at me all day.  Sometimes that gets emotionally draining…
Jason:  Maybe you should get a baby-sitter one day every week and spend some time with your friends.
Me:  That’s awesome in theory, but everyone is busy, plus we’re taking Financial Peace University!  What would Dave Ramsey say about this?  We need to budget in a babysitter…and if we do that, I’d want to use that time to go on a date with you…
Jason:  Adrienne, I cannot give you what time with your girlfriends provides.  Emily and Ryan cannot give you what they can give you.  I am willing to sacrifice one night a week with you where you spend time with friends so that you aren’t stressed…you need time for yourself.
And so there you go.  
My husband is a better girlfriend than I am.  
Let me just go ahead and have you read that again:
“Adrienne, I cannot give you what time with your girlfriends provides.  Emily and Ryan cannot give you what they can give you.  I am willing to sacrifice one night a week with you where you spend time with friends so that you aren’t stressed…you need time for yourself.” – Jason Graves, brilliant genius husband, stellar dad, overall great guy…

Sitting in a Cambridge coffee shop, looking all business-like, holding secret knowledge about women tightly locked up in his brain…WHAT ELSE DO YOU KNOW, JASON?!

He’s, like, IN TUNE or something.  
Who knew?  I MEAN, I knew he was awesome, but for him to see that my heart truly needs, longs for, and thrives on time spent with my girlfriends, well, that’s like “Husband of the Year” material, you know what I’m sayin’!  Maybe even Nobel Prize stuff…
So, ladies, I’m not sure what to tell you at this point…maybe print this off and put it on the fridge, or above his bathroom sink, or in the garage on his workbench.  Print off a copy for his briefcase.  I don’t suggest taping it to his new flat screen, but perhaps erecting an easel just off to the side or somewhere in his man-cave?  Maybe insert your name into the statement, record it, and then play it softly while your husband sleeps?  
Of course, praying that your husband would have his eyes opened and his heart in tune with God’s design for women and friendship is likely the most life-changing route, but do what you gotta do 🙂  
The point is this:  My husband isn’t insecure with the truth.  The truth is that I’m madly in love with him and he is my very best friend and I’d choose him any day over my girlfriends, but that doesn’t mean I don’t NEED or LIKE or LOVE being WITH my girlfriends on a regular basis because it’s good for my heart.
*What will it take for you to understand what, quite possibly, your husband already knows about you?  And, whether you are married or not, what will it take for you to realize that solitude is good for a season, but God made girlfriends for a reason?

Get on the phone and set up a date with some of your friends…ready:  GO!

Girlfriends are MANDATORY!

I just got back from Austin, Texas, where I took part in a girls weekend.  Two friends from college, one from the East Coast, another from the West, dreamed it up and decided to invite their friends from around the country to meet in the middle.  Those friends invited friends, and so on, and so forth…
When I originally received the “Save the Date” I thought, “Man, this sounds like so much fun, but: I only know two of the women, I can’t technically afford to go, and what do I do with the kids?”  
I will say this; only knowing two of the women wasn’t enough of a roadblock.  I love women and love meeting new women and hearing their stories…it’s what makes my heart beat, it’s the whole emphasis of my non-profit, Bevy…but, I am a tight wad when it comes to money.  
Okay, so I’m not a tight wad.  I love to share and I think it’s fun to treat others to meals and such, but I don’t like to be a financial burden to my family.  As a wife and mom who stays at home, it’s important to me to financially steward our cash flow (Doing FPU right now…more on that later…).  So yeah, not to sound like a martyr or burden, but I’m not a huge fan of spending moo-lah on myself when I think of all the other ways it could be spent.  Whah, whah.
 
Anyway…I have to say, the “what do I do with the kids?” question left my mind about as quickly as it entered.  I’m not bragging in the sense of, “In YO FACE!” but my husband really does indeed ROCK.  I knew if I talked to him about this retreat and told him I really wanted to go and felt like I was supposed to be there, he would work with me to make it happen, which would include him making some sacrifices and working from home for at least part of my weekend away.  He knows how much I love to be with girlfriends.
The necessary self-portrait

Where cowboy boots are king…and girls night out mandatory!

With Kim and Jessica, the two friends with “Insane Courage!”

After our time with Kristin

Meeting another bereaved momma-friend
I can’t really explain why I felt like I was supposed to go to this girls’ weekend away, but I knew I wasn’t invited on accident and that whomever God would introduce me to over the course of the time away would fill my heart and inspire me to keep pressing on with the dreams God has put upon my heart for years now.
I can’t even begin to put into words all the things the Lord did in my heart over the course of one hot, but beautiful weekend in Austin.  I’m still processing much of it.  One thing that blessed my heart was the fact that I got to just show up.  I feel like a bit of a slacker writing that previous sentence, but I’ve been a leader among my peers and in women’s groups for as long as I can remember.  I’ve only been to one other retreat that I didn’t plan…and that was 8 years ago.  Ironically, I received the “Save the Date” from my friends, Kim and Jessica, the week after I cancelled a Midwest Bevy Retreat.  It seems I was due for a retreat, but not one I would have to plan or organize. 

I showed up with expectations.  Not expectations of people or that I’d be entertained all weekend, but anticipation of God’s hand in our time together, and for what each of us would take away.  I prayed a lot during the months leading up to September 6-9.  Prayers for my friends who were coordinating the weekend, prayers for Kristin Armstrong who shared with us on Saturday, prayers for all the women whom I had never met but whose stories I would get to hear throughout the weekend, prayers for my girlfriend living in Austin who would join me in the adventure, and prayers for my own heart to take it all in, hear God’s direction and purpose for my life, and to JUST BE!
The weekend exceeded my expectations!  It was a little tough to transition back into my “day to day extraordinary life”, but not without hope or a course of action to move forward with dreams He has placed on my heart.
I’m just thankful to Kim and Jessica who took Matt Damon’s advice and went for it!
I’m so grateful God knew what my heart needed even more than I did…He’s BIG that way!

*What will it take for you and your girlfriends to realize time together isn’t a luxury but rather mandatory for your heart?!
The night before I left for my trip, Jason and I had a heart to heart in the corner of the kitchen.  I will share more on that tomorrow…

Dave Ramsey is Dreamy

I am so totally in love with you, Dave Ramsey, in a strictly platonic and financial sort of way…
Today I did something I have not done in 19 years of marriage.  It may seem like no big deal to some, but for me, it was epic.  For reals.
I went to the grocery store with cash.
Crazy times here in suburbia.


No, but really, for the first time in 19 years, I grocery shopped without my debit card and used cold hard cash, instead.  Yes, my debit card equals cash in that we don’t spend more than we have, however, the act of using cash weighs more heavily as it leaves your hand and is placed into the hand of another.  Jason and I are doing “Financial Peace University” and I’d say we’re on our way!
I spent $88.56 at the first store, handing the girl five 20-dollar bills.  At the second store I spent $20.09, handing the guy a twenty-spot and a dime.  I was even kind of giddy.  My friend, who I’ve told you about before, was at the next register.  I said, “Hi Friend!  Guess what I have in my wallet?!”  She said, “Cash?!”  We squealed and the guy checking out my groceries just thought I was a desperate housewife.  As if!

I have to tell you what all I got for $20.09 at Natural Grocers.  I was going in there for two loaves of egg free gluten free bread from “Outside the Breadbox”, however, you know how that works, even when Dave Ramsey is sitting on your shoulder…the almond milk was a dollar off and I remembered I needed corn for popping.  And on my way to the check out, there it was!  The DOLLAR BIN!  And by “dollar bin” at an organic grocery store, I mean, they put as much borderline produce in a bag with a tie and call it a deal.  Here’s what I got out of 3 bags, aka, THREE BUCKS!!!!
  • ·       9 avocados
  • ·       13 Roma tomatoes
  • ·       1 lime
  • ·       1 small bunch kale
  • ·       2 yams
  • ·       1 butternut squash
  • ·       1 Pink Lady apple
  • ·       1 peach
  • ·       3 heads Romaine lettuce
  • ·       1 bunch dandelion greens
  • ·       1 bunch Swiss chard

I got home, whipped up some guacamole with 4 of the avocados, 3 of the tomatoes, and the lime (plus stuff I had already).  After peeling the yams, I threw them in the steamer so they’d be ready for Ryan tomorrow for lunch.  The butternut squash joined the one I had already in the oven at 350 degrees for an hour while I went with my friend to a free Zumba class.  Then, when I got home, I chopped up the apple from the BARGAIN BAG, an onion, some celery, and spices and sautéed them with the squash in chicken broth while Jason cleaned the heads of Romaine and threw them in the salad spinner.  After I pureed the soup ingredients in the Ninja, we sat down to a VERY CHEAP AND DELICIOUS BOWL OF SOUP AND PLATEFUL OF SALAD.
And guess what?  I came in WAY under budget!  We’ll have money for groceries next week 😉