Thursday, December 8, 2011

His Bounty

Leap of Faith

Things have been pretty tight financially since quitting my job.. (actually who am I kidding... they were tight before quitting my job!) and this month they were the tightest they've been.  I wasnt' sure how Rent was going to get paid, but somehow things always work out... So, I wrote my roommate a check and told her she couldn't cash it. It was a long weekend as I prayed and tried to figure out what I could do to make up the money. Monday came around and my circumstances hadn't changed. Actually- I'd had 2 photoshoots cancel over the weekend where I would have gotten pd.  I was super discouraged.  Well luckily on Monday, I had some stuff come in from previous work and was pd in advance for a couple other things I'm working on - so Rent got pd in the nick of time and I had $3 left in my bank account after the check was cashed - but I felt RICH! I was thankful! Relieved. I didn't' know how other bills/gas/food was going to work out- but I paid my roommate and God provided.


However, through this process the last few weeks, I started to really question God's love for me. And Sunday was my breaking point. I've always been a person full of hope and faith, but on Sunday I was just telling Him I'd had it and he was not being faithful to His promises to provide for me, or the word he gave me in 2007 of having "financial Abundance in order to not just meet my own need, but to bless others."  Its been hard since I took the scary leap of faith that I felt He called me to (quitting job) but never as hard as it was this month... at Christmas.. .when I have a 6 yr old who I want to provide for. 

 So at church Sunday during ministry time, they were singing "How He Loves Us" and I was just sobbing- not bc I didnt' have money bc I knew that would work out some how... (it kinda always does in my world thankfully) but bc I felt like he didn't really love me.  I started to believe that song wasn't about me.  I was the exception. He had forgotten me. My family struggled financially as I grew up and now I was following in their footsteps.  I started to believe that he called me out onto a tree branch to just saw it off behind me and I was sad and more than that, deeply, deeply, hurt. I sobbed more than I've cried in a year. And it wasn't about the rent.  It was just about feeling forgotten and unloved.  

I cried most of the day on and off.  Couldn't stop. Was just so hurt and sad. 


So Nate was around and knew I wasn't ok, but just kinda played, etc.  Well, towards the end of the day, I had been doing ok but then a friend called to check on me from earlier and I started crying again.  Nate got in my lap and just stared intently at my face.... every time a tear would roll down my cheek, he would wipe it off. So sweet.  So when I hung up, he told me everything was goign to be ok.  And then he prayed for me.  It was simple - "God, please bring my mommy a husband so she doesn't have to be alone. And God help her to not be sad because she thinks you dont love her - because it isn't true, you do love her. And Jesus Name amen."

And then he told me some knock knock jokes to make me laugh.  So so sweet.

Then he got in bed and asked me to come in and pray w him. 
He prayed: "God, thank you that we have this house and thank you that we aren't poor like the people that don't have a house. And thank you that we have food.  And God please help them to not be poor anymore so they have a place to live and food to eat.  In Jesus Name, Amen." I started crying again... I love that kid. He is so empathetic and he truly has wisdom beyond his years.

I think that was the turning point for me.  He put things in perspective.  We have a warm home, we have clothes, we have a fridge full of food, we have transportation, and we are truly RICH.  My heart started to soften then. I started to relax and His peace overwhelmed me.  I was still in Need, but it just didn't seem so big anymore. 

DAY OF LOVE:: WEdnesday

So during the day yesterday, a girl I used to disciple called and said she wanted to take me to shop for Nate for Christmas. I was thrilled $and so thankful and had a blast getting him stuff that I prob wouldn't have this yr (like a super cute robe and adorable jammies from Children's Place!) I was blown away and just felt like God was showing me He was going to provide for Nate even when I had JUST told my roommate that I wasn't sure I would be buying Nate presents - but that he'd just have to be ok w stuff from extended fam, grand parents, etc (which honestly would be plenty!). But God met a need that I didn't even ask for. He went over and above and He blessed my sweet little boy through this friend. 

Then last night, we had a great lg at my house.  I was supposed to lead worship and though I didnt' feel like I had much to give after all of the crying, etc this week, Holy Spirit showed up and guided our worship and it was a sweet sweet time singing about spending time with him and His love for us.  

So then, a close friend showed up at the end of LG to supposedly talk... but after a few minutes, one by one more and more of my single friends showed up at my house and came in. I was pretty surprised to see everyone and not sure what they were doing here, but then when everyone got situated standing in a big circle alll smiling and staring at me, they just said something like "We just wanted to let you know that God does love you. And we do too. So we all got together in the last 2 days and raised some money for you" And then they pull out this huge posterboard check in the amount of $2090.00. 

I was just in shock! 30 single people 12 days before Christmas all gave enough money to get me 2 THOUSAND 90 dollars! And you have to understand, the demographic of these sweet friends is quite varied - from ages 22-31 with all different types of jobs & responsibilities... from Students to Businessmen.  And THEY gave to ME abundantly, unselfishly, extravagantly.  I couldn't laugh or cry or even talk - (sorry friends for the anticlimactic response!). I was just so surprised! And SERIOUSLY SPEECHLESS - which as most of you know RARELY happens for me.  I was just so thankful - but soooo overwhelmed and truly blown away by community. It just couldnt' sink in. 


Acts 2:42-47 which is our vision for life groups, talks about how the church in Acts all came together and gave to one another as they had need. If this isn't an example of that - I'm not sure what is!!

Its also finally setting in today that God does truly love me and he isn't ignoring me and I'm not forgotten and I'm definitely not alone. And i know that HE WILL provide for me and not just measly scraps or leftovers- but LAVISH gifts fit for a daughter of a King. 
I read in Jeremiah this morning as I was worshiping and trying to process the depths of this, I was led to Jer 31.  The end of Verse 13 -14 says:"I will turn their morning into gladness; I will give them comfort and joy instead of sorrow. I will satisfy the priests with abundance, and my people will be filled with my bounty," declares the Lord.

So what stuck out to me in that verse was the word BOUNTY.   I looked up the word to see what exactly it meant and I found: 
Definition of BOUNTY1: something that is given generously
2: liberality in giving : generosity
So that fits - huh? My community filled me with His BOUNTY.  They were the fulfillment of this Promise from the Lord to me. 

My roommate in all her wisdom last night said that she thought I would continue to process and unpack this and that it would sink in slowly all that this gift means to me and Nate.  But more importantly probably is that the revelation is sinking in that I'm not the red-headed step child - the one that may not actually starve but only gets His leftovers. I'm not destined to be barely getting by like my family when I was growing up.  No, that is a lie.  I am a daughter of the King.  I am a Princess with Keys to the Kingdom. I have a seat at His banquet table.  I have access to His riches...  and finally my Daddy loves me and He will goto EXTRAVAGANT links to make SURE that I dont ever doubt that for too long!

I. Am. Loved.  Its still sinking in. But I know today without a doubt that its true. 

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

My 6Yr Old!!

So it was  6 yrs ago today that I was in the hospital waiting for my little guy to make his appearance... he actually wasn't born till 2:39am on the 27th, but it was at this point 6 yrs ago that I was about to become a mom!  I still remember thinking about what he would look like, what his personality would be, and thinking about all the unknowns of motherhood.

Now, 6 short years later, here I am, the proud mom of a Kindergartener!

I have learned so much in this short time and I can't imagine my life without my favorite little man in it.  I'm feeling nostalgic, but I only have a little bit before I have to go pick him up from school... his last day as a 5 yr old!

So here are some random thoughts (in no order) that I have as I think about the last 6 yrs:

  • I'm so lucky to have been blessed w such a sweet natured baby.  He has always been so good natured and people compliment me on him wherever we go. 
  • Nate is an independent little kiddo.  If he wants water - he goes to the kitchen, gets his cup out of the (low) drawer and fills it up!  He's super resourceful too!  If he wants something on the top shelf, he WILL figure out how to get to it!
  • He has the BEST laugh!  Another thing folks have always commented on.  When he gets going, everyone around has a smile because of my little guys' laugh.
  • He's very mechanical - he LOVES building and creating.  I love watching his little mind work - esp when it comes to elaborate creations involving train tracks, or legos, or Trio blocks.
  • He is creative! He loves to dress up! He loves to color and make cards for people and is super meticulous. 
  • He is super smart - loves to learn!  He is one of the top 3 readers in his class and the teacher is impressed he reads and writes really well (usually if kids read well, they need help writing, etc)
  • He may not love dogs, but he pays attention to babies - he loves interacting with kids that are smaller than him! I love watching him with 1 yr olds!
  • He is highly relational.  Love that he loves our neighbors and is happy playing from the minute we get home till its dark!  
  • He loves Jesus! I love that he has already asked Jesus into his heart (last yr) and loves to jump up and do our devotional in the morning.  I love that when he sees people at church worship, he wants to imitate them - whether it be by lifting his hands or kneeling on the ground.  So sweet. I love that he has faith that God will heal when I tell him I have a headache and that he'll pray for me (and others) in such a sweet way. 
  • He loves music! He would be happy if his playlist on the ipod was on ALL DAY LONG!  He also loves to listen to cd's and I'm pretty sure he would have one on all the time if he could!  He also always comes home from church singing the new songs he's heard.. one time and he has them memorized! So sweet!
Ok Thats about all I can think of at the moment about my kiddo... he's pretty spectacular!!  I'm so blessed God chose me to be his mommy! He is truly my little GIFT!! (which is what his name means in Hebrews)

Happy Birthday Sweet Boy!!

Love you!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Why Use a Travel Agent? -- Part 3

Again -I DID NOT WRITE THIS - but thought it was good.  Find the original article here.
Why Use a Travel Professional? 

Let's finish with a little story...
No different than most of the rest of us, Bill wanted a fantastic vacation at a fantastically low price. Bill is pretty web savvy, and he had spent hours searching for the vacation he wanted. Our agent went to work and coordinated the entire trip: Airfare, rental car, the resort, and all the excursions. When all was said and done, Bill was presented with anincredible value.

However, Bill was convinced that he could get a better price. So he went back out to the web in search of a better deal. And indeed he found it-airfare that was $20 per seat lower than what our agent had found for him. So he booked it.

Problems:On the way there...
•  Bill's flight arrived at the airport in the middle of the night (after several delays and connections)
•  By the time he landed, the car rental company was closed for the night
•  Bill's bags didn't make it to his destination

On the way home...
•  His flight left very early in the morning
•  Due to the distance from the airport, he had to leave the resort at 3:00 am
•  The car rental company was not open yet

Physical Results:•  Bill had to spend the first night near the airport
•  Bill had to spend the last night near the airport
•  Bill had to rent his car from a more expensive company
•  The web site that Bill booked his travel through didn't offer travel insurance to pay for replacing his missing items
•  Bill's 7-night stay at the resort was now a 5-night stay

Monetary Results:Bill saved $40 on the airfare by booking it himself
Bill spent an additional $300 on:
•  The two nights near the airport
•  The rental car
•  Replacing clothes and other personal items that never made it to his destination

Net Result:
•  Bill's vacation was $260 more than it would have been if he had just booked the package that our agent had coordinated.

Travel agents know what it takes to coordinate a great vacation that is the best value for you. We live by the motto "you get what you pay for" so, do you want to spend a little more for a great trip or waste a couple thousand on the cheapest option?

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Why Use a Travel Agent? -- Part 2

This is a continuation.  If you missed Part 1, click HERE.

I found this on another agent's website (here)- but thought it'd be good to share w my friends:

Why Use a Travel Professional?

3. Show me the Money (I saved)
Saving money is not just about price. It is more about value. If the hotel was not the right location, if the cruise line was not the right cruise line, if the golf course was not the right golf does not matter how much you saved. One can save a ton of money and be miserable or spend a little more to be in heaven. A travel agent can recommend relevant offerings and also provide cost saving strategies. Moving a date, changing the location of a room/cabin, being open to flight options, etc., all can save money. Nobody wants to pay more than necessary so an agent will help you find the best value without the sacrifices of a cheap trip.

4. I already have a Job! 

If you have an agent that you trust, then you don't need to spend what little free time you have, scouring the web, trying to piece everything together-- flights, cars, rooms, etc. In addition, your agent might be working with transfer and car rental companies that you simply don't have access to, and in many cases, even hotels and airlines that you don't have access to. An agent is someone who has taken the time and made the commitment to be the best so you don't have to make planning your vacation a second job!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Why Use a Travel Agent? -- Part 1

I found this on another agent's website (here)- but thought it'd be good to share w my friends:

Why Use a Travel Professional?
In the technology age of find it quick and easy on-line, you may be thinking, why should I use a travel agent? So to help you answer that question here are our favorite reasons:

1. Who Ya Gonna Call?
What would you do if the hotel has lost your reservation? What would you do if the car rental agency has run out of cars? Specifically, who are you going to call? Who's going to help you? The hotel? The car rental company? They don't care. You're just one person. Losing you as a guest or a customer is no big deal. Basically, you're on your own. About all you can do is hit the streets and hope that something comes up...
If you book through a travel agent, all you have to do is make one simple phone call. And everything will be taken care of. Will the hotel assist your agent? Will the car rental company assist your agent? Of course they will, because now they're dealing with someone who has the potential to send either hundreds of guests, or no guests at all. From a purely business perspective, a travel agency can send thousands of dollars (or even tens of thousands of dollars), or no dollars at all...

2. It is not just about price 
You look to travel agents to provide the best overall solution to your individual travel needs.  By asking tons of questions up front, an agent can provide a relevant needs assessment. This can include dates, quality or location of accommodation or stateroom, cancellation policy, recreational amenities, the ease of doing business, etc.  No two customers are alike. What works for one may not work for another. 

Thursday, October 6, 2011

My New Job(s)!!

Introducing:: Tiffany Hines - 
Photographer, Travel Agent, & Sign Salesperson

So most of my friends know that I've recently quit a great job at a local church to pursue more of the passions God has placed on my heart.   

I had another BHAP (big hairy audacious prayer) that I could:: do something that I loved, be creative, help people, make more money than I did before in less hours, be able to pursue volunteer opportunities, be able to pick Nate up every day so he didn't have to goto an afterschool program, and be able to invest in people! 

At first, this was really scary! I didn't know what I'd be doing or where I'd make my money - but HE IS FAITHFUL!! 

So - what am I doing now?
Well - a LOT of things!!  I'm juggling all sorts of hats these days and I LOVE it! I'm going to fill you in!

Tiffany Dawn Photography - Photographer
First, I'm working on growing my photography skills and clientele - as well as my portfolio/web presence.  This one is going to be a slow process as I have felt like its something I will enjoy doing (hopefully as a job & ministry to families) for years to come!   I've talked to a few people that have really encouraged me to pursue all that God has for me in this area and I'm excited to see what he wants to do w that!  If you know anyone in the DFW area that would like to do either Fall Pictures w their families or Christmas Card pictures, I'm booking now!!

Send Me Out Travel - Travel Agent
Second, I'm now getting to work in one of the coolest industries - TRAVEL!  So far I've booked trips to Mexico, Iraq, China and can't wait to book many many more! I'm going to be blogging about why you would use a travel agent in the future - just so you know more abut what I do and why, because I had many questions before I got started of why anyone in my generation would want/need a travel agent!  Obviously, I saw the "why" and joined up w my good friend David Gladney as an agent in his company.  And now from honeymoons to weekend getaways;  hotel stays to flights to car rentals;  to cruises and all-inclusive resorts - I can help you with your next trip!

Amplify Designs - Banners/Signs Sales
Third, I am working with another good friend, Kenten Waldrum, doing sales for his sign company.  He specializes in Church Banners & Signs and does great work!  I used this company all the time when I was at Shiloh and now get to help other churches get banners and things for their congregation.  So if you know any churches or ministries that are looking to do some banners, let me know - or have them go online to see some of our stock banners.  We customize all our banners (sizing, adding logos, changing text or background, etc) at no extra charge to the customer and I've been surprised at how fast our turnaround time is!

So as you can see, I'm staying busy - and if you know me, you know I LOVE that!!  I'm also picking up Nate from school every day at 3:15 from Kindergarten which is something I was LONGING to do but did not see any way that would EVER be possible as a Single Working Mom!  BUT my God is bigger than my circumstances! God made a way for me to do this and to have that sweet time w Nate after school as we play on the playground or go get a treat & I get to hear about his day, help with his homework (yes Kinder has homework!?), and play w my little man!  God is SO good!  I am so thankful!

After a month of this, I am LOVING this change.  I feel like I'm exactly where the Lord wants me and its so fun and freeing! AND on top of that - last month I made $45 more than I would have at my old job!  Its just $45, but still- I felt like it was God's assurance that His hand is in this and HE is my provider! 
1 Chronicles 29:11-12 says:    for everything in heaven and earth is yours. Yours, LORD, is the kingdom;    you are exalted as head over all. 12 Wealth and honor come from you;    you are the ruler of all things. In your hands are strength and power    to exalt and give strength to all. 

IF you would keep me in mind as you hear about people planning trips, needing pictures, or displays for their ministries - I'd appreciate referrals!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Contest - UPDATE!

Ok so my last post (almost a mo ago) was about this contest I'm in for a new fancy photography website. Well, the contest is ALMOST OVER (friday) and I had the lead the entire time... until......Last weekend!  My opponent who is quite talented as well has somehow SOARED past me in the last few days and I've been scrambling to catch up.

Right at this moment - I have 388 "votes" (or LIKES) and she has... 461.

I have 1500 friends on Facebook... but I'm not sure how to convince all of them to click on my photo and like it by Friday!  Anyone have any ideas? I need some help!!

If you haven't already voted - I have great news for you! Facebook just made it so you dont even have to like the Host page to vote.  AND if you have a Business page on FB, you can vote under that profile too!

To vote:
*Pretty sure you have to already have a FB acct and be logged in
1. Click link below
2. Click LIKE below my photo
3. Share w your friends/family/co-workers to help me win!!
Vote Here!!

Monday, August 29, 2011


I need your help!!  There's a facebook contest for a free Photography website valued at $3500!  I submitted a picture and need you to LIKE it on Facebook!

This is what you do:

  1. Click this link
  2. I think you have to LIKE the hosting page (Exquiture)
  3. Like my actual photo (is a little girl w a hat and has a watermark that says Tiffany Dawn Photography)
  4. Share with your friends so I have a better chance of winning!! :) PLEASE!

The one w the MOST like's by SEpt 30 wins the free blog.  It would be FABULOUS if I could get that since I'm pursuing photography more now!

Check out a sample of what my site could look like here:
Fabulous right??



Friday, July 15, 2011

crib crafts

So I dont post a lot... but I never really intended to.....and kinda only talk when i have something I think is sorta significant.

HOWEVER, today - this blog post is to share a link i discovered today!  I think my bloggie friends might like some of these super creative ideas!!


Monday, June 6, 2011

Birthday FREEBIES 2011

Ok so I have ALWAYS ALWAYS loved birthdays.  I actually dont even know why... but they just get me excited! I like planning parties and going above and beyond to make them special, unique, memorable!

Last year was my 30th and I LOVED my bday party.  The party was PERFECT - almost like a Mini-Wedding! So fun!! So this year, I'm turning 31 and realized my excitement is not quite as high as it usually is.  (Case in point- its 1 wk from my bday and I haven't even really thought about the party a whole lot.  No ideas.  Its just blank!)

This year I've decided its my goal to use as MANY bday Freebies as I can before they expire!  Here's a list of Freebies I've gotten so far. Most are by EMAIL from email clubs.  I'll be updating this at the end of my attempts to use them all!  Stay Tuned!

Hint: To join these, simply goto the website and look for their "club" links and sign up.  I use a separate email address so as not to clog my NORMAL email with offers and coupons all the time.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Mommy Moment

On the way to school this morning, Nate's in the backseat (duh) and he starts a convo:

Nate: "Mom, today after school can we goto White Rock Lake? Just Us?"
Me: "Maybe.  But how come?" (he NEVER wants to goto the lake - even when I suggest it!)
Nate: "So we can talk."
Me: "oh really?  You want to go talk?" (the last time I suggested that he and I just hang out and talk - he wasn't too fond of that idea either.)
Nate: "Ya.  Just you and me.  We can goto the lake and talk for a little bit.  And then we can go home."
Me: "well, sure Nate.  We can stop at the lake on the way home today.  I'd love to hang out with you and talk."
Nate: "Yay!!"

Ah the sweet moments that make the more difficult ones not matter anymore. I can't tell you how much I'm looking forward to our little lake date this afternoon to "Talk" to my baby boy!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Knocking on Doors

 Ok so I blogged a while ago on Ask, Seek, Knock - if you missed it, it was a 4 part blog of history and current thoughts on the verse in Matthew that you're probably pretty familiar with. See earlier blog here: part 1part 2part 3, and part 4.  Today I was thinking about knocking and how you knock on different doors in different ways.

I realized the other day that a part of me (with little faith) thinks that the door pictured above is essentially what I'm "knocking" on.  A Triple Locked metal door surrounded by hard tile, covered by a fence so you can't even knock on the actual door. You'd have to POUND for a while to be heard... OR be expected in order to get in.

I'd like to believe I were knocking on something a little prettier... simpler... maybe less hurdles (read: locks/gates/security devices) like this cute little door:

But then if I'm honest with myself... I really still think I'm at LEAST knocking on something like this... maybe not a gate on the outside- but several places that need to be unlocked by one with a key to get in.

This one might be better... it still has a lock but just one... and the door looks like its pretty worn and prob easy to get through.

But then why should I expect it to be SO hard, locked SO tight?  I'm gonna have to pray about that one and why I expect God to keep things from me.

Today I'm hoping and choosing to believe for the time being that the door I'm knocking on is like this one.  This looks like a place I wouldn't mind standing outside of for a while.  Its not too intimidating, scary, and looks like it could inspire creativity.  Its simple... but it has beauty in its own way.  This is my door.

I'm ready for it to be unlocked...

or to at least get a glimpse what's behind it.

*all photos taken by me in Peru last Summer.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Look alike?

So i couldn't figure out who I thought Nate looked like today in his little bowtie... then it hit me...

remember that little guy that says "Ze Plane, Ze Plane" on Fantasy Island?  Ya... that guy!!

Found a picture to prove it.  Its a bit uncanny! :)

Picture Day

Ok so maybe I'm getting a bit of the blog 'bug'... but i just wanted to post about a significant event in the life of my little man!

See this face!?

Notice something new?  A LOOSE TOOTH!!!

And just one day later - Wednesday- the tooth fell out (at school after nap time).

This is his first toothless pic!! He's super excited.

And guess what? The very next day was Thursday...  PICTURE DAY - OF COURSE!

Here's what he looked like this morning:
He picked out the bow tie and everything.  We even Gelled his hair bc its too long! : )

Here's a pic of him and this cute little girl LOLA (the one nate smiles about!)  She's the only other girl in the class to have lost teeth- so of course they share an instant bond.  I got them to take this picture while waiting for the REAL pics today.... 
AWWW aren't they cute!?  Funny story though- when I tell her to put her arms on his shoulder she says "Uh... this is kinda weird!"  Oh sweet girl!  Ya, I guess it kinda is!! :)

And now for some nostalgia... I think the bowtie might be from nate's 1 yr old pics.  Or if its not, it looks the same anyway.... So it seemed fitting to post a couple of them.  You can see how cute he was (and still is) and how much he's changed!! Back then I think he only had like 8 teeth... now we're starting to lose teeth! CRAZY what changes in just 4 yrs!

He's so tiny!  I kinda think the bowtie makes him look like a waiter.  Too bad the vest didnt' fit anymore but Nate's torso is getting LONG!!

Now for some quick comparison shots:
 Fall 2006

Spring 2011

Fall 2006

Spring 2011
he did this piano pose on his own BTW... I didn't coerce him at all.  But it just triggered the memory of the 1 yr old pic!  Sweet boy!

Oh my!  My baby isn't a baby anymore!!!

What am I gonna do w him!!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Children's Faces

Ok so after editing a few more photos from the Garden party, I realized I really enjoy taking pics of kiddos faces, expressions, etc.  So I've posted a few on my FB page but I figure I'll post some here for those of you that aren't "friends" with me on FB.  Let me just say - My friends have BEAUTIFUL children!! It makes it easy to capture great shots when your kiddos are so photogenic!

First we have a couple more of Sparrow & Eli

Next we have Miss Sarah who is just a doll & super expressive & playful.  
She's definitely used to the camera!  

And then there's her brother- cutie patootie Wilson:

And then there's  sweet red headed Felice - rockin the pink hat!

And of course- I gotta throw in one of my own kiddo from the party.  

 He's pretty handsome if I do say so myself! :)

Ok I'm sure there are more to come.  I'm not even to the 1/2way point on the photos!! But its been so fun to go through and process them!! I really enjoyed shooting this Garden Party!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Garden Party

So last weekend I got to attend my very first "garden Party" - aka a psuedo tea party for a beautiful 3 yr old!

I was excited to be asked to photograph the event with the stipulation that the more photos the better! (my fav!!)

I did my best to document everything from beginning to end and seriously enjoyed trying to be creative and capture the feel of the party.  I am just now getting to edit my photos - so I wanted to post a few of my favs on here.  (per Christy & Amy's prodding to use this space for pictures too! Thanks girls! Ps I love your pics of this same party!)

I'm really just getting started w the editing and dont have a ton of spare time to get through all the HUNDREDS of photos I took - remember - she said "the more the better!!" and I totally complied!!

Here are some of the prep photos from the party.

And of course, we have to have one of the bday girl.  This might be one of my new fav pics of ALL TIME!  I only wish she'd been smiling at the time of this shot.  But I still think the photo is great!

And then just for fun- here's her adorable brother:

What do you think of my first round of photos?

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Ask, Seek, Knock - pt 1

Since my last post, I felt like God wanted me to share something else... so here I am.

Most of us are familiar with the verse in Matthew, but I'll put it here just for a refresher:
  7 “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.
   9 “Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 11 If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!
Ok so after my last post letting you all know the "big secret" - that I'm asking hard core for my husband - I've been pondering this verse.

For a long time I dont think I understood why Ask, Seek, & Knock were all in the same sentence. In my book, they just seemed like a reiteration of the same point.  However, recently, I have come to realize that maybe that isn't the case.

Lets go back to my previous BHAPS and how God worked them out: my car and my home.   They go hand in hand... and its kinda a long story... so  Maybe I'll split them up.

The Volvo:
In 2008 I was working a Commission only job and money came sporadically.  As a single parent, I was having a tough time keeping up with bills on this income and therefore the car that I was making payments on became too much to bear.  It was Repo'd.  I came outside one day and it just wasn't there. That was a bad day!  BUT God had better for me.  My BHAP was: God I need reliable transportation for cheap and SOON.

I opened up to my co leaders in a lifegroup pre meeting.  It was humbling, humiliating, embarassing.  I was failing at something and needed help, needed prayer.  Because I made my needs known quickly in community, my needs were met!  My co-leader at the time calls me the next day and says "My roommate has a Volvo that has just been sitting at our Apt.  He got a new car a while ago and doesn't need it. I think he will just give it to you."  Uh - WHAT? Who just GIVES AWAY cars?

My dad goes to check out the car & even though its been sitting for 6 mo or so- its in decent shape and we end up spending only $1000 to get the car running, inspected, etc.  The car was a 95, but it was great, safe, reliable, sturdy.  It even had leather seats and a moon roof.   BHAP answered.

The Accident:
The volvo was awesome... but then I was coming home from hanging out with friends one night and a guy backed into me in the parking lot of my apt complex.  That night I cried thinking God's great gift was destroyed and now I was at the end of my rope and was again car-less.  I remember feeling devastated and hopeless.  However, GOD works all things for Good!

It ended up being the other guys' fault.  The car was "totaled" according to his insurance and it was worth $4500.  I got a windfall of money from this FREE car and was able to pay for other things I needed.  I put over half in savings.  I hadn't had savings since my sales job depleted it.  The other bonus was that the car still ran! My dad is an amazing mechanic and fixed the car where I could drive it!

The Turn:
So the accident was in April 09, and I was able to drive the car all the time.  However, it had some body damage - something that didnt bother me a bit, but it did bother my apt complex.  It hadn't been a problem because I was gone all day every day at work and returned when the office was closed.  UNTIL... one random day in August when my son was home sick and I got a note on my car saying I had 20 days to get my car fixed or it would be towed anytime it was spotted on property.  Again- this was DEVASTATING!  I was mad.  I didn't know what I was going to do.  I went and talked to the management and they told me that after the 20 days passed, my car would be looked for... and if found on property at any time day, night, or weekend, it would be towed.  But, GOD works all things for Good.

Stay tuned for part 2....

Ask, Seek, Knock - pt 2

Ok so I'm in the middle of my story about BHAPS and cars/houses... go back to pt 1 if you missed it and read that first.  I'm splitting it up bc its long!

The Camry
So there I am at the apts not sure what the next 3 weeks would hold and how I could get a car.  I did now have savings and felt like the Lord told me I could spend $2000 on a car.  It didnt' make sense to spend that on the current car... so I started looking.  At first I was looking for a Honda, but then after taking one to a mechanic, I was told to look for a Camry bc of their reliability and their being easier/cheaper to work on when they break.  So I search auto mags, talk to friends, make my needs known, look at Craigslist, etc.  I found some cars that were 2500 and up that looked decent but honestly felt like the Lord only wanted me to spend $2000.  I wasn't sure how he was going to pull that off.  I was scared... because everything I found in the 2k range was kinda ghetto, run down, lots of miles, looked unreliable.

Randomly, I just fell on an ad that was for a Camry.  Its the car I now drive.  It was exactly $2000.  It had only one owner for the last 15 yrs.  It had every single receipt from every single tire, tune up, oil change.  It was kept in the garage most of its life.  It even had a brand new (3 week old) cd system installed with Aux input (that I could use w my ipod!)  This was DEFINITELY a step up!!  It was a GREAT car.  I bought it the day i saw it and was giddy with thankfulness!  God provided better than I could have imagined.  Better than I should have been able to afford (like models with same mileage/features were typically 1000-1500 more on EVERY search site).   And this happened in the 20 day time limit!  AND I got to sell the Volvo and made $900 to put back in savings.  EXTRA BLESSINGS!!  BHAP answered!

Stay tuned for pt 3 about the House.

Ask, Seek, Knock - pt 3

The House
Because of what happened w the Volvo and my apt, I was annoyed!  I joked about moving.  My dad said "I wish you would."  I was surprised.  It didn't seem like I'd really be able to afford moving.  I barely got by on my own at the apt and surely a house would be more expensive.  My pastor said "You know, it would be good for Nate to move to an area and stay there for longer than a year. It would provide more stability." And two different friends within two days of each other said "You should look into the area around Stonewall, I've heard great things about that school." It was (not so)  random comments like these that led me to where I am now.  It created another BHAP.

My BHAP for a house was this:  I want a safe place where Nate can play.  I want a backyard.  I want a home where I can entertain and host parties.  I want a small garage or storage of some sort so I can get my stuff from my parents.  And it'd be awesome if I could have an ice maker.

It was a HARD 4 months as I asked God for this new home.  It was faith building, but it was gut wrenching, it was discouraging, it was hopeless at times, it was tiring, it was scary... but in the end - it was so worth it.  

I told people what I was looking for. I talked to realtors.  I looked at places.  I prayed about roommates. I asked people.  I searched online.  I had a friend that went with me one day up and down every single street in the Stonewall school zone and we called every single house with a sign out front.  None of them were valid possibilities. 

Two years earlier before I got into the Apt, I had seen this adorable house at the end of a cul de sac - just down the street from my pastor. It had roses out front and a lamp post.  It had a porch and a back yard.  It was adorable.  I fell in love with it instantly.  BUT we called about it then and it was $1450/mo for a 2 br 1 bath.  WAY out of my price range. When I started searching again, I kept driving down by this house.  It was still for rent but it was 1350. Still too much.  The day we drove up and down the neighborhood, this was the only house we could look at as the key was in the mailbox.  I still loved it.   IT was PERFECT.  God can I PLEASE have this house?? PLEASE?   I hear: This will be your home.

The Process:
So I began the process of applying, packing, etc.  I turned in my notice at the Apt and my move out date was set.  By Jan 10, 2010, I had to be OUT of my apt - there was no going back!  However, there was a problem... we didn't "have" the new house yet.  IT took forever to get applications reviewed, talk with landlords, work out pricing, etc.  Christmas and New Years were in the midst of that time and just made things take longer.  Also, with my bad credit (from the years in commission and struggling to make ends meet), I wasn't the best looking renter.  But I was determined that was my house- the Lord said so.  We made plans like we were moving there even though we didn't get the "Ok" from the landlord yet.

On New Years I was recruiting friends & family to come move us.   "Where are you moving to?" they would ask... I'd just say "Not sure yet.. but I know I'm gonna have to go somewhere that day!"  I'm pretty sure they all thought I was crazy.  It was kinda funny to me.   In my heart I was still believing for this house- but it was also fully submitted to the Lord and I knew that he could say NO or Not right now, or do something different than I was expecting.  STill, I kept planning, packing, and recruiting.  I kept claiming his goodness and tried to keep the anxiousness and tears at a minimum.  I knew he initiated and orchestrated the whole thing (from the day at home where they put the note on my car about towing - all the way to Jan 10th - whatever it would entail!) I knew he would provide for me. 

The Move:
Jan 10 was a Saturday.  The Wednesday before that, I got an email from the landlord saying we were not approved for the house based on my credit and my offer for rent (I offered him 1050/mo and apparently their lowest number was 1125).  My heart sunk... but I still felt peace and like God was saying it was still my house.  It didn't make sense.  I kept packing, praying and planning to move.  

Thursday we emailed back asking if we could do 1125 and pay 6 mo up front to lessen their risk since I did have bad credit.  He FINALLY said ok.  We were going to have to borrow the other 5 mo rent from a friend so that was a whole other ordeal.  Thursday was a SUPER stressful day.  We got the house, but it wasn't all that joyful because of all the crazy details. Friday we keep packing and getting everything ready.  Saturday morning we were set to move in.  My family & friends showed up, I told them where we were headed and we got to work loading.  My roommate and another friend went to the house to clean, etc.  We still hadn't even seen the lease or gotten the keys, but the landlord said it was fine. 

Saturday mid- morning he calls me.  As he's fixing our paperwork, he asks "Are you sure you want to pay the 6 mo up front?" I quickly say ... "well... no... but don't we have to because of credit?" He says "no, I think its fine.  Just give me the deposit and first month today and we'll go from there. 

I was so excited I cried!!  We got our house and we didn't have to borrow any money and it was OURS!!  My God never fails me.  The ICING on the cake was when I got there to unload the first load and checked out the kitchen... THERE WAS AN ICE MAKER!!!!!!!  Oh how my Jesus loves me!  :) 

This house has been a place of safety, its been a place to host parties, its been a place to develop community and friendships among neighbors, a place for Monday afternoon play dates with 4 other kids Nate's exact age.. and I have room for my stuff from storage! And I even have an ice maker! BHAP answered!  

The Moral:
He is teaching me how to trust Him.  He is showing me that he WANTS to provide for me.  He is showing me that he wants to meet my concrete needs as well as my needs for community, for security, for a HOME.  He even wants to give me the silly stuff that I don't need- like a cool CD player in the Camry and an Ice Maker in the car.  (and even my camera that he gave me - see the post titled Good Gifts for that story)

So after stories like this that are mine... not even someone else's story that I overheard... but a story I LIVED...WHY do I still have a hard time trusting that he has GOOD for me or that he will REALLY answer my BHAP?  Its really silly!  I have more proof in FAVOR of an answered BHAP than NOT in favor of it.  The odds are on my side!  :)

Stay tuned for part 4...