Friday, July 31, 2015

Casual Fridays

So I haven't blogged this week. Sorry to disappoint. But I've been slugging my way through TR: The Last Romantic by H.W. Brands (seriously slugging my way. I've been reading this book off and on for over a year now. it's not the easiest one to get through), and my brain just had enough and it's been raining a lot (hello July in Florida), and this was just kindof a do laundry and watch movies week. For real, I've probably watched at least seven movies this week. Don't judge me. And don't ask me what they were because it's been a shameless chic flic marathon. There may or may not have been a pint of Ben & Jerry's Half-Baked involved at one point. 

Anyways, how about we do what I am dubbing a "Photo-Prompted Post" where I just throw a bunch of pictures from the past week up and then write whatever comes to my mind when I see them. Sounds fun and easy, right? And hopefully entertaining. Here goes nothing.
First up, Rice Chex because important stuff first, amiright? I know that many, many people might claim that this is the blandest, most boring cereal in the world and that it tastes like cardboard, but I legitimately love it. It's my favorite cereal ever. Or at least this week it is. I'm not kidding when I say that you could ask me my favorite cereal every week and you would get a different answer each time. I love me a bowl of cereal. But if we are talking about the Chex family, give me the Rice Chex and only the Rice Chex. Get your honey-nut, corn or whatever flavored Chex outta here.
Last Friday night, I had a Girls' Night Out with my girl Amelia Bedelia and it was totally fabulous. We started the evening off in a big way at Moe's where I consumed an ungodly amount of queso. Then we browsed several fun shops and Amy introduced me to Versona which is a super-organized (just the way we like it) accessory shop. Seriously, everything in there is perfect. We hit up Coldstone because GIFT CARDS and I had a cup of Watermelon Sorbet. Nothing mixed in. Boring, you say? Hello. Did you see the part where my favorite cereal is Rice Chex? Sometimes I like a simple flavor. Sue me. 
We browsed around Claire's because I will never grow up and found all these super-adorable sister necklaces and I seriously contemplated buying my sister and myself some because I love her more than life but she would never ever wear it so I contented myself with texting her a picture of the most special one I could find and telling her it was her birthday present. (How's that for a run-on sentence?) But Sarah, seriously, if I bought us sister-bestie necklaces would you wear it ever(?) because there actually were some cute ones and I love you!
We finished our Night Out off at Books-A-Million because how could we not?! And I found this adorable set of books which I almost spent a small fortune on, but I remembered in time that food is important and we need money for that so I bought a candle, a new game, and a 2016 Peanuts calendar instead. The cutest calendar ever actually, and I wish it was already 2016 so I could start using it. 
My brother-in-law practically lived at our house last weekend, and he, Cody, and I played two games of Scrabble: one on Friday afternoon, one on Saturday. I totally won both games like the champion that I am. Caleb was pretty upset that we wouldn't let him use the word "za" in Friday's game because according to him it's in the Scrabble dictionary. I'm sorry, but if you have to make up your own special dictionary to use hard letters in a game of words, I call foul. Use a real dictionary and real words. 
My honey finally has a running buddy. How sweet are they? He doesn't love this picture and he's probably not going to be bursting with excitement that it made the blog, but they both just look genuinely happy and that makes me genuinely happy. Especially since it means I don't have to run.
I mentioned last Friday that my husband was taking me out for a Date Night Saturday, and he totally delivered. We drove over to the Mall at Millenia where I nearly died with frustration trying to find a freaking parking spot. Once we got past that though, it was the best night ever. He took me shopping and spoiled me mercilessly. After we finished our shopping spree, we went over to The Cheesecake Factory for a late dinner. Let me just say that at this point, it was 9:45 and they informed us we would likely wait over an hour for a table. Are you kidding? Why are that many people waiting to eat that late at night? We decided to cross the street to my favorite Olive Garden, were seated immediately, gorged ourselves on breadsticks and alfredo sauce, managed to eat our entire dinner, pay, go to the bathroom and start heading home before The Cheesecake Factory texted us our table was ready. Ha! I didn't get my Wild Blueberry White Chocolate cheesecake, but I actually like the food at Olive Garden better (true story) so I wasn't too bent out of shape about it. My man knows how to show me a good time.
My BFF Erin texted me this picture yesterday. She and her sister are apparently on a roadtrip and they stopped at a Fazoli's in Missouri to eat and of course, she texted me a picture. Because she's cruel. A little history here: there are no Fazoli's left in the great (but obviously lacking in the Best Restaurant Ever department) state of Florida. They converted the one in my hometown to a Verizon store. I now curse Verizon vehemently every time I drive by it. Fazoli's breadsticks are the best and I could eat them for days. Anyway, anytime Erin or I eat at a Fazoli's, we torture each other with pictures. It's ok, we love each other, really.
Let's end with this picture because be. still. my. heart. These two! When Cody gets home from a long day of work, his dog just wants to be on him and it is the sweetest thing. They make my life full.

Have an awesome weekend! Hopefully I will have some book-related material for you next week, but don't hold your breath or anything. In the meantime, what's your favorite cereal? Favorite restaurant? Your biggest shopping weaknesses? Your thoughts on a Scrabble dictionary? What did you think of the Photo-Prompted Post? Just comment, okay?!

Friday, July 24, 2015

Casual Fridays

This post is probably just going to be all over the place so try and stick with me. Wait? What's that you say? All my Casual Friday posts are all over the place? Well, I'm tapping into a serious stream of consciousness today so it might even be more random than usual. Don't judge me.

First of all, this is my jam lately. I am not ashamed to admit that I love a totally mainstream, upbeat pop hit. In fact, I'm probably the biggest Jonas Brothers fan you'll ever meet. (When they were a cute, brother-band. Not all this ridiculous solo nonsense they've got going on recently. I can't even.) Anyway, this song has got me car-dancing in a major way. I think it's super-fun.
**Disclaimer: I have no idea what else these guys sing so if you're the kinda person who likes one song so then you go and listen to all their music, do not hold me responsible if the rest of it's crap. Just sayin'.**

My mom sent me this little poem this week. (She and my husband totally supply me with blog fodder for days. My husband is probably responsible for like, 63% of the Link Love I shout out here. So thanks, babe. Thanks, Mom.) 
Isn't that perfect and just so true? And speaking of making friends, sharing tears and laughter, can I just say....
I mean, it's just the truth. And why isn't my new Christy book here yet? I'm dying to catch up with her and Todd and the rest of my BFFs. Twenty-two days and counting. Not obsessed or anything.

Can I just share a few quotes from my Jonah Bible study that squeezed my heart this week? Here they are:

"While we may want to find the easiest road to complete obedience, our heart must be set on doing God's will--His way and in its entirety--even if it takes longer than we'd prefer or requires more effort."

"Jesus knows a thing or two about timing...While our insatiable desire to know it all seems to rarely be satisfied, we must discipline ourselves to place confidence in His decision to give us the information we need to successfully accomplish the step we are on in the journey. He doesn't withhold information because He doesn't love you but because of His great love for you."

"Knowing the endless kindness of our God should not only catapult us to our knees to experience it but to our feet, to walk out a lifestyle of obedience that prioritizes submission to His will over all else." (See Romans 6:1-2 to really get a handle on this particular quote.)

So this is where my husband proposed marriage to me on January 13, 2012:
I know, super-dreamy, right? It's only the most romantic spot on God's green earth, and I only wanted to be proposed to in that spot since I was 10 years old. He nailed it.

And this is me showing my niece the exact spot where her Uncle Cody popped the question:
And here I am going in for a smooch because, hey, we were re-enacting the magical moment, ok?
Where is this gorgeous and wonderful place, you ask? The beautiful (and historic) Cypress Gardens. Which is now a part of LegoLand. Which I have mixed feelings about. And when I say "mixed", I really just mean that I don't like it. I don't like change, alright? I wish Cypress Gardens was exactly the same as it was when I was a kid. But I loved going on a spur-of-the-moment trip to LegoLand Wednesday with these chickies (not pictured: my mommy-in-law and my other niece, although Lynds, you made a heroic effort trying to fit her into that selfie. You are so pro.):
Anyone still with me? I'll wrap it up soon. 


I did want to share a Psalm of the Week. So let's do that now.

"The Lord is gracious and merciful;
Slow to anger and great in lovingkindness.
The Lord is good to all,
And His mercies are over all His works."
Psalm 145:8-9

This hit me when I read it because you know what? God is good to ALL, His mercies are over ALL His works. Even those who will suffer His wrath because they rejected Him. He is good to even them. God loves His creation, and He is slow to anger, steadfast in lovingkindness. Why should I be any less? I'm not God. My job is to love unconditionally and show kindness and mercy without exceptions. Oh that I would get this right.

My honey is taking me on a date-day tomorrow. The Cheesecake Factory is on the table as one of our destinations. Have I ever mentioned he's the best? Wild Blueberry White Chocolate Cheesecake, here I come.

Okay, okay, I really will wrap it up now. How about we end this post with a picture of my other sweetie since I feel like he's been neglected on the blog lately and I'm sure you're all dying to know how he's been. 
Early morning walks with the Colonel. Good times. 

Peace out, cub scouts, and I'll just go ahead and tell you that there may not be a post on Monday because jury duty. Yay. (I used the sarcasm font there, can you tell?)

Oh and tell me all your favorite pop songs that I can jam to. I won't tell anyone. Promise.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Let's Bust a Recap : Power Through Prayer

So this past Friday, I sat down and read Power Through Prayer by E.M. Bounds. Let's talk about it.

Edward McKendree Bounds lived from 1835 to 1913 and is known for writing 11 books, 9 of which are about prayer. Only 2 of those books were published while he was still living, and I'm not exactly clear on when Power Through Prayer was put into print. The only year in my copy says 1982 so that's what I'm going with. 

This tiny little book is only 105 pages long and consists of 12 chapters. It took me less than 2 hours to read it. And I'm a slow reader. 

To be brutally honest, I wasn't all that impressed with this book, and I wouldn't necessarily recommend it. I don't know if my expectations were too high going in, but I was definitely underwhelmed. Bounds says a lot of good things about prayer, but the writing is not very interesting or engaging and it seemed overly repetitive. Each chapter seemed to just reiterate the last. 

I also was rubbed wrong by this seeming theme of God's dependence on man. Sentiments such as God's plan is to make much of man, or that God needs man to accomplish His purpose, or that God owed much to Paul turned me off. God's plan is to make much of Himself and His glory. God doesn't need anyone or anything other than Himself to accomplish His purpose, though He does choose to use flawed humanity. And God certainly doesn't owe anything to anyone--not even to Paul. Paul owed everything he was, everything he did, and everything he was saved from to God. Not the other way around. Ultimately, I don't think that's really what Bounds was trying to say. This book was written for preachers, and I think the point was that preachers must be men that God can use mightily by being men who seek after God wholeheartedly, but it didn't always come across that way. At least not to me.

I really enjoyed and was truly challenged by chapter 6 ("Great Men of Prayer"), chapter 7 ("Early Will I Seek Thee"), and chapter 12 ("What God Would Have"). In fact, if you picked up this book and only read chapter 12, it would be so worth it. I almost forgave everything else because chapter 12 was so good. (Way to end on a high note, E.M.) My favorite parts of this book were actually the quotes from other great preachers at the beginning of each chapter and throughout the rest of the book. I was challenged reading about how many hours these great men spent on their knees. I was convicted about my own laziness in not getting up early to pray. And I was reminded once again of how vital it is for me to pray for my own pastors. 

One quote that particularly stood out to me was this: 
"Praying is spiritual work, and human nature does not like taxing, spiritual work. Human nature wants to sail to heaven under a pleasant breeze, and a full, smooth sea. Prayer is humbling work. It abases intellect and pride, crucifies vainglory, and signals our spiritual bankruptcy. All these are hard for flesh and blood to bear. It is easier not to pray than to bear them...The little regard we give prayer is evident from the little time we spend in it."
Like I said, this book says a lot of good things about prayer. But I think it could have said everything it did in 5 chapters instead of 12. Some claim that this book is the greatest book on prayer ever written, but I think there must be something better out there. 

Has anyone else read this one? What do you think? 

Monday, July 20, 2015

Let's Bust a Recap : For the Love

Update: Since the release of this book, Jen Hatmaker and her husband Brandon, who are both influential in the Christian community, have publicly defended homosexual marriage and have stated they believe a homosexual relationship can be holy before God. I fundamentally disagree with this and because of our difference on this issue, I can no longer in good conscience recommend her books. I still think For the Love is a good book, but I would hate for someone to be led astray from truth by the Hatmakers because I recommended a book that Jen Hatmaker wrote. 

So there you have it. Have you been dying all weekend to know what book kept me up all night? It's called For the Love: Fighting for Grace in a World of Impossible Standards by Jen Hatmaker

Before we get started on the recap, I have a few confessions to make. First, I totally ordered this book on a whim Thursday. I was blog-surfing, and I somehow ended up on Jen Hatmaker's blog (it happens every once in a while since she is a fellow adoptive mom) and all of a sudden I was signed up to be her e-mail friend and had pre-ordered a copy of her newest book. I'm not sure how it all happened, but it did. She sucked me in with all the freebies I'd get for pre-ordering. 

If it hasn't been released yet, and I only pre-ordered it, how did I end up reading it, you ask? Well, that's a great question and it brings me to my second confession: I read the entire book on my phone. I always said I'd never be one to read a book on a device. And I still feel that way which is why I'm conflicted about telling you this. But as you all know, we recently became iPhone people, and one of the freebies for pre-ordering was that you got a PDF download of the book immediately for your reading enjoyment. Well, I figured out how to download it on my phone and started to skim it just for fun and approximately 12 hours later (after breaking for a few hours to go on a dinner-date with my Dad who is the best in the whole entire world, and spending some quality time with Cody when he got home from work because I'm a wife and that's important), I had read the entire thing. I just couldn't stop. I'm pretty sure I will now go blind prematurely for squinting at that tiny screen for so many hours, but oh well, I'm fine.

Now, let's talk about the book itself. I first heard of Jen Hatmaker a couple years ago when a friend gave me the book 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess and told me I had to read it. So I read it and it was okay, but it wasn't my new favorite book or anything. Jen Hatmaker is an engaging writer and she is hilarious, but I wasn't a diehard fan after my reading of 7. 

Well, on Thursday as I was reading her blog and realized the premise of this new book was extending grace to each other, I figured I'd give her another try. 

I was not disappointed.

Y'all, I could not put this one down. Chapters like "On Turning Forty", "Fashion Concerns", and "Thank You Notes" had me laughing hysterically. Out loud. Seriously. I may have inadvertently woken Cody up in the middle of the night because the entire bed was shaking because of my uncontrollable laughter. (It's cool, he doesn't even remember. He sleeps hard, you guys.)

And then other chapters like "Worst Beam Ever", "On Calling and Haitian Moms", "Marriage: Have Fun and Stuff", and "Poverty Tourism" had me nodding in agreement and even shedding some tears because it was just too relatable. Jen takes you on this whirlwind ride writing about the deep, hard things and then on the very next page, the most ridiculous, laugh-out-loud funny things. 

I don't necessarily agree with every single thing Jen Hatmaker says, but ultimately, this book was a homerun. Like if I was grading it, I'd give it a 98%. She hits topics on marriage, parenting, missions, church, fashion, and getting older. When my hard copy comes, I am fully willing to pass it around among all my girlfriends, because you should totally read this book. So if you want to borrow it, holla at me. 

To wrap this up, I'll share a few quotes that hit me square between the eyes:

"If it isn't also true for a poor single Christian mom in Haiti, it isn't true. Theology is either true everywhere or it isn't true anywhere." (can I get an "Amen!"?!)

"Married tongues should be shredded with the amount of ugly words bitten back." (probably my favorite line from the whole book)

"Our children can press extremely hard on the gospel and it will hold." (talking about how our kids need to feel safe asking us the hard questions without us getting all defensive and snappy with them)

"Online life is no substitute for practiced, physical presence, and it will never replace someone looking you in the eye, padding around your kitchen in bare feet, making you take a blind taste test on various olives, walking in your front door without knocking." (yes, yes, yes)

"You can't pour antidote into poison forever and expect it to transform into something safe, something healthy. In some cases, poison is poison, and the only sane response is to quit drinking it." (on choosing our friends wisely and dealing with difficult people)

"If folks don't recognize God is good by watching His people, then we have tragically derailed." (we're supposed to love one another and build each other up!)

I loved it, and the promo video was right: this book is for every woman. 

Friday, July 17, 2015

Casual Fridays

Y'all. I bought a new book yesterday and proceeded to read the whole. entire. thing. I may or may not have been up until approximately 2:11 AM devouring every word. I have a problem. Cody doesn't understand this about me, and he thinks I'm a total nut-job. He's an early-to-bed-early-to-rise kinda guy, and I am a Night Owl who is the opposite of a morning person kinda girl. Somehow we make it work. 

What book, you ask? Not telling. And it's not on my book list. You'll just have to check back Monday for the recap. *mwahaha* How's that for suspense? 

In other news, I have been in a cleaning craze this week. I have scrubbed and vacuumed and mopped and bleached and febreez-ed every surface I could get my hands on. When the inclination hits, I just go with it. My house and our cars smell fabulous. Now if only it would last longer than 10 minutes...

In light of this recent cleaning frenzy, I think we'll do a new segment of my Favorite Things: Clean House edition.
Ok, first up: Febreeze Air Effects with Gain : I guess it's only fair to tell you that I like for things to smell nice. And half (alright more than half) the things in this picture are air fresheners. If you come to my house and say something along the lines of, "Wow, it smells great in here" I will take it as the highest compliment and you will be my new favorite person for life. Or at least for that day. I spray this stuff everywhere, all the time.

Lysol Toilet Bowl Cleaner with Lime & Rust Remover : When we first moved into this house, I innocently squirted down the toilet bowls one day with my whatever toilet bowl cleaner that I always bought and walked away to let it do it's job. When I came back to scrub them, I nearly died from the toxic fumes emanating from our Great White Throne. I'm pretty sure our pipes are old and very rusty, and, on a sidenote: we're probably going to die prematurely from drinking rusty water. It's fine, we're fine, we run it through a Brita. Anyway, back to the point: I immediately went out and found this toilet bowl cleaner that has "Lime & Rust Remover" and it is perfect. It gets the job done without killing my brain cells, and it smells awesome, which, if you read my first point, you know is important to me. I recommend it.

Febreeze Car Vent Clips with Gain : I mean, this tiny little pod makes my whole car smell divine. What more could I want? Do I even need to say anything else about this? You just stick it onto one of your AC vents and voila: fresh, sweet smelling vehicle for up to 60 days. Winning.

AirWick Freshmatic Ultra Automatic Spray Refill: Island Paradise Fragrance : What can I say? For our wedding, someone gave us an AirWick Freshmatic. I'm sure they had no idea it would be one of my favorite gifts. You stick a can of air freshener in it, and it sprays by itself every 36 minutes. (Or 9 or 18 minutes, but I set it to 36--gotta get the most bang for my buck, ya dig?) This is the best summer fragrance out there. I'm convinced.

Febreeze Noticeables with Gain : As if my neurotic impulse to spray down the house with febreeze every few minutes and the AirWick Freshmatic weren't enough, I also have a febreeze wall plug-in right by the front door. You know, just in case. (Oh quit judging me, at least my house will never be accused of smelling like a trash heap.) Between this plug-in and the current AirWick fragrance, my house smells like an island paradise fresh out of the dryer. Seriously. The two fragrances in the plug-in are dubbed "Gain Island Fresh" and "Tropical Sunrise". Bless all the air freshening innovators in the world. They're doing it right.

Swiffer WetJet Multi-Purpose with Gain : Have you noticed a trend here? I have a total crush on Gain. Whatever genius decided to partner Gain with all the cleaning and air freshening products in the world: he has my undying devotion forever and ever, amen. And to the other genius who created Swiffer, thank you for giving me an excuse to never fill another bucket with soapy mop water that instantly turns disgusting again. I love you too.

And finally, Lysol Disinfecting Wipes : Probably the best find of my adult life. Why spray down all the countertops with cleaner and then have to wipe it all up with rags creating laundry in the process, when you can just swish one of these babies around with the same effect? Give me easy cleaning and less laundry any day. The Clorox wipes work equally well, but apparently Lysol was on sale last time I was buying.

And there you have it. You are now privy to my obsession with Gain and all the smell-good things of the world. I hope you still love me.

With today's theme in mind, let's close with a most fitting Psalm of the Week:

"Create in me a clean heart, O God,
And renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me away from Your presence
And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of Your salvation
And sustain me with a willing spirit."

And all the youth group kids said "Amen" and sang the song. Have a clean-tastic weekend!

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Quotes from Little Women

Y'all, I've had these four quotes from Little Women sitting in drafts for weeks now. I wanted to write a post about each one similar to how I wrote some pretty great posts from quotes out of Vanity Fair (not to toot my own horn or anything, but seriously).

Honestly though? I'm just not feeling the inspiration. So rather than trash them all, I figured I'd combine them together here for your enjoyment. Maybe this will be the last little nudge you need to go read this wonderful book. All of the following quotes are from Part II of the novel.

Quote #1:
"Wealth is certainly a most desirable thing, but poverty has its sunny side, and one of the sweet uses of adversity, is the genuine satisfaction which comes from hearty work of head or hand; and to the inspiration of necessity, we owe half the wise, beautiful, and useful blessings of the world."

Proverbs 14:23 says that all hard work brings a profit, and in Colossians 3:23-24, Paul encourages us to work heartily knowing that our reward is from God. That "genuine satisfaction", those "wise, beautiful, useful blessings", come from working mightily as unto the Lord rather than bemoaning what we lack. Keep on the sunny side, always on the sunny side.

Quote #2:
"'I almost wish I hadn't any conscience, it's so inconvenient. If I didn't care about doing right, and didn't feel uncomfortable when doing wrong, I should get on capitally. I can't help wishing, sometimes, that father and mother hadn't been so dreadfully particular about such things.' Ah, Jo, instead of wishing that, thank God that 'father and mother were particular,' and pity from your heart those who have no such guardians to hedge them round with principles which may seem like prison walls to impatient youth, but which will prove sure foundations to build character upon in womanhood."

I couldn't help but think of Proverbs 22:6. "Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it." I'm so thankful that my mom and dad were particular, and I truly do pity those who don't have parents loving enough to instill Godly principles in them. 

Quote #3:
"...a woman's happiest kingdom is home, her highest honor the art of ruling it--not as a queen, but a wise wife and mother."

I mean, isn't it just the truth? In this age of female empowerment, isn't it just nice to rest in our God-given roles? For men, to protect and provide for their families. For women, to respect their husbands and raise their children in the fear and admonition of the Lord. It's not easy, but it's simple, and I'll take God's way no matter what the world thinks of me and my "backward" notions. See Ephesians 5, Colossians 3, Titus 2:3-5, and 1 Peter 3, for starters.

Quote #4:
"Rich people have no right to sit down and enjoy themselves, or let their money accumulate for others to waste. It's not half so sensible to leave a lot of legacies when one dies, as it is to use the money wisely while alive, and enjoy making one's fellow-creatures happy with it. We'll have a good time ourselves, and add an extra relish to our own pleasure, by giving other people a generous taste."

I can't even start picking out all the verses that exhort us to give to the poor, but I will quote that "it is more blessed to give than to receive" (Acts 20:35) and remind you of the parable in Luke 12 of the foolish rich man who tried to store up all his wealth for himself, only to have his soul required of him and realizing his labor had been in vain. "Do not lay up for yourselves treasure on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." (Matthew 6:19-21)

Happy Wednesday to you! I hope you enjoyed a few more wise quotes from Little Women today. Which one was your favorite and why?

Monday, July 13, 2015



According to Elisabeth Elliot, "Patient waiting does not come naturally to most of us, but a great deal is said about it in the Bible. It is an important discipline for anyone who wants to learn to trust." And boy, am I learning this the hard way right now.

Cody and I have been waiting 16 months, 3 weeks, and 1 day for a referral. And that's not even including the 8 months of paperwork it took prior to our names being officially registered in Ethiopia. And I guess while I'm at it, I'll mention that there were still 4 months before that of researching agencies and countries, begging God to reveal His will for our family, and numerous phone calls made and pre-applications submitted. So to add it all up, it's been nearly 2 and a half years since we began this process, and today, there is still no end in sight, no light at the end of this very dark tunnel. 

When we started this process, we knew that this waiting, this uncertainty, was a very real possibility, and if you asked us then, we would have said that things could change anytime and we were prepared for that if it happened. We also thought that our wait for a referral would be approximately 3 to 4 months. 

16 months. 3 weeks. 1 day.

I don't know how rusty your math skills may be, but that's more than 4 times as long as we initially thought. I'd be lying if I said that I haven't gotten discouraged, that I've trusted God perfectly through all these months of waiting. 

I've gotten discouraged.

I've had my doubts.

In her book Passion & Purity, Elisabeth Elliot says:
"I do know that waiting on God requires the willingness to bear uncertainty, to carry within oneself the unanswered question, lifting the heart to God about it whenever it intrudes upon one's thoughts."
And as a result of all this waiting, I can honestly say that I am willing to bear the uncertainties, and I'm learning to carry my unanswered questions to God. Notice I didn't say that I've learned. I'm still learning. It's a day-by-day exercise. This stretching of faith is not exactly comfortable, but I really believe it's worth it. I want to trust, and if the discipline of patient waiting results in a deeper trust in God, so be it.

In reference to her courtship with Jim Elliot, Elisabeth wrote, "Tomorrow was not our business; it was His. Letting it rest with Him was the discipline for the day, and it was enough." She was writing about a day that they were able to spend together, and how in order to enjoy that time, they couldn't be agonizing about the future. They had to trust that it was in God's more than capable hands. During this time of waiting for our children, I have learned to thank God for this special time with Cody. This time that we get to learn more about each other as husband and wife without the responsibilities of keeping other little humans alive. It isn't always easy to be thankful. It is, as Elisabeth says, a daily discipline, but letting it rest with God is far better than worrying about it or falling into despair. That's not helpful to me, or my husband, or my children. 
"It is not that everything that has anything to do with ourselves is in itself wicked and deserving of death. It did not mean that when Jesus said, 'Not my will...' There could not have been even the smallest part of His will that was wicked. It was a choice to lay down everything--the good He had done and the good He might do if He was permitted to live--for the love of God. The same choice is offered to us."
This was encouraging to read. I was reminded that my desire to bring these children home as soon as possible isn't wicked. I'm not wrong to will that God give us a referral soon, that the process would go smoothly and quickly. God wills that we place the orphans into families. That we love one another the way Christ loved us. That we esteem others and their good better than our own. But even though I'm not wrong to want any of that, I'm called to lay aside my own will and prefer God's. If I love God, that's what I'll do. It's not easy. Sometimes I don't understand it. But I want to love God, so that's what I must do.

Reading Passion & Purity was such an encouragement to me in this long wait for our children. It was also a challenge. The final arrow to my heart was from one of Elisabeth's diary entries as she wondered what God's will was for her and Jim:
"Today the thought occurred to me, Suppose He should ask me to wait five years? It stuns me to think of it. Yet--could I imagine that the mercy of God which has stretched to me from everlasting to everlasting could be exhausted in five years?"
Surely Your mercy is enough. Thank You for teaching me to trust You completely, deeply, unconditionally.
Christmas 2013

Friday, July 10, 2015

Casual Fridays

First of all, I have the best news EVER! This morning, while my man and I were preparing the house for our bug guy to come spray it down, I found my Gingerbread ChapStick! It was in a back corner in a box of stuff in one of our under-the-sink bathroom cabinets. How it got there, I will never know. I'm just happy that  the lost has been found. 

Cody's thrilled for me, can you tell?

Please excuse the hot mess going on on my head. It is what it is, ok?

Next on today's agenda: jury duty. I am starting to have a hard time believing that prospective jurors are chosen at random. Since I turned 18, I have been summoned for jury duty every or every other year. Not kidding. They've found me despite 7 different residences and a name change. Random? I don't think so. It's been almost exactly one year since I was last summoned. It's like they know I am eligible and immediately send me a new summons. 

Actually, I really don't mind jury duty all that much. I think it's my duty as an American citizen to participate if I'm able, and I think the process is interesting. 

But 6 summons in less than 10 years? I'm on to you, Stacy M. Butterfield.

Alright, y'all. Cody and I have joined the Smart Phone Generation. I have resisted this for as long as I could, but Cody told me that whenever the time came for us to buy new phones, they were going to be iPhones, and my poor little dumb phone sustained one drop on the hardwood too many. So here we are. (Quit judging me for my redneck case. We're already all well aware of my hick-status.) I actually have not completely switched over yet. I'm still rocking my little black LG till next Wednesday because that's when my month is up. But then it's iPhone city for this white girl. Be prepared for a text asking you to send me a pic for your caller ID. I'm OCD about that kinda stuff, and hey, you've been warned. Are there any apps I just have to have? Educate me. I will admit: Trivia Crack was aptly named. I'm addicted.

Colonel's Corner
Would you just look at this little cutie? This picture is actually pre-haircut, but I thought I'd share it anyway. We've noticed that this guy likes to be under things. I don't know if it's the dog den mentality or what, but if he's just chilling, he's usually under the dining room table, or under one of our TV trays, or under a chair, or under our bed. It's pretty adorable. He always picks a spot where he's got a visual on us, but it's typically under something. He's the greatest.

So looking at that picture of our new phones in their sweet cases reminded me I didn't tell you about my 4th of July weekend. 'Cause you were dying to know, right? Well, I was so busy having fun, I didn't take a single photo. So you get the play-by-play minus any visual stimulation. Sorry. On Friday, our sweet friends George and Rachel came over for lunch (taco salad for the win!), and we got to spend some quality time catching up on their lives. They are currently living in VA where George is doing it huge at medical school. I fondly refer to Rachel as my Original Baby because she and her siblings were some of the first kids I ever babysat back in the day. And now she's having a baby! (Quit thinking about how ancient I am.) So while our husbands talked medicine, we talked families, and I got to feel Baby Girl kicking around in that tiny belly of hers. Sweet, sweet times. (Lovey, I can't believe we didn't take a picture together with your baby girl bump! I may have to come up to visit before Baby Girl comes just to remedy that.) After our visit, we spent the rest of our Friday night and all day Saturday out at my in-laws' house living it up. Yummy food, playing games, pool time, and we even watched Divergent. I wasn't really dying to see it, but I stayed awake for the whole movie. So there's that. Also, I don't see why everyone thinks "Four" is so hot. I wasn't impressed. Anyway, on Saturday night, Cody and I split up to do airport runs on opposite sides of the state. He went to get my mom, dad, and gramma from St. Pete/Clearwater, and I went to get my sister from Sanford. We're the best ever. Sacrificing our firework time to pick up loved ones from the airport. No big. (Do you love how humble I'm being right now?) And then finally on Sunday, the whole family (my side and Cody's side) came over for a big Sunday dinner at our house. My awesome mommy-in-law did all the cooking and it was fabulous. We finished the weekend out by gathering at the Lord's Table with our local Body of believers. Independence Day 2015 was a massive success.

Alright, let's wrap this post up with some Link Love and call it a day.

-Going Forward : Because it is a word fitly spoken.

-19 Wise Truths We Learned From Winnie the Pooh : Because I love me some A.A. Milne.

-Kitchen Drawer Drums : Because this is just so cool.

-21 Lost Lady Traditions That Still Apply Today : Because can we just be ladylike, for crying out loud?!

-Doghouse Diaries: Fine Dining : Because this pretty accurately sums up how I feel about the whole organic, gluten-free craze we seem to be living in lately.

Have an awesome weekend and don't forget to educate me on how to be a Smart Phone person. K, thanks.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Let's Bust a Recap : Passion & Purity

Ok, my little blog community, it's time to bust another recap. Hopefully in the months leading up to the conclusion of 2015, I'll be putting these out weekly, because we're already past the halfway mark of the year and I'm not even close to any kind of halfway mark on my book list. I don't necessarily intend to read every single book from my original list, but I at least want to have a decent amount of them (aka: more than half) completed by the end of the year. 

Anyway, without further ado, my recap on Passion & Purity by Elisabeth Elliot. I looked online for an image of the book with the cover that's the same as the one I have, but alas, I couldn't find one. Hence, you get to see this lovely little Photo Booth selfie of me holding one of my most beloved books. 
I first read this book shortly after graduating college in 2008 as it was a gift from a dear classmate of mine. I loved it then, but I have to say, this second read-through was much more poignant for me. 

Elisabeth Elliot wrote Passion & Purity in 1984 in response to numerous letters she received asking questions regarding staying pure outside of marriage, the roles of men and women in romantic relationships, and how to honor God while "falling in love". Within the pages of the book, she recounts her own struggles in all these departments during her 5-year courtship with Jim Elliot. Not only is this book chock-full of Scripture and words from encouraging hymns of the faith, it contains entries from her diaries and letters from Jim as well. Her main focus in the book is living in obedience to God and loving His will for your life above all else. She doesn't shy away from the hard questions or conceal the struggles she herself dealt with, and writes plainly and truthfully about what the will of God is. 

I love it.

This is one of those books that I would highly recommend to anyone. If you are single but want to be married someday, this book is for you. If you are single and don't ever want to be married, this book is for you. If you are married, this book is for you. If you are a romantic, this book is for you. If you are in a season of waiting--for anything--this book is for you. If you are a Christian, this book is most certainly for you. 

I think the reason that this reading of the book was so much more touching to me was the timing. This book was written in 1984, but it could not possibly be more relevant to the current generation. With all the recent changes our country has been undergoing in regards to marriage and morality, this book boldly proclaims the truth of God's word without compromising. God's truth is never out of date, never lacking relevance, never not applicable. No matter what anyone says, God's word is always right, even if it's not popular and even when it means denying self. I think any Christian would benefit and be encouraged by the reading of Passion & Purity, especially now.

The other reason I was so affected by this reading of Passion & Purity is because I am currently in a tough season of waiting as Cody and I seek to adopt. Although Elisabeth Elliot writes about the challenges of waiting for marriage, I found my heart being squeezed with conviction about my attitude and my faith while I wait for God's will concerning bringing children into our family. It was challenging and encouraging and emotional to read this book with our personal situation in mind. Don't be surprised if a post pops up soon quoting Passion & Purity and our struggle with the long wait in this adoption process. 

To sum it up, I would seriously encourage you to grab a copy of Passion & Purity and read it for yourself. There were whole chapters I wanted to copy down and share on the blog, and I told Cody while I was reading it that I just wanted to memorize the whole book. It's really good, and I'm so glad I included it on my book list this year. It couldn't have been a more appropriate thing to read as we face so many drastic changes in this country. 

Have you ever read Passion & Purity or anything else by Elisabeth Elliot? Are you in a tough season of waiting? Do you know where you stand on issues of morality and purity, and are you willing to stand alone if it comes to that?

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Hold All My Calls

Sometime during the wee hours this morning, I finished Passion & Purity by Elisabeth Elliot. 
I love her and everything she writes. 
Check back on Thursday for my recap on it.
I'm going back to sleep now.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Casual Fridays

Alright, y'all, let's talk Little Women adaptations. If you caught last Friday's post, you know that I now own three of them: the 1933 adaptation starring Katharine Hepburn as Jo, the 1949 adaptation starring June Allyson as Jo, and the 1994 adaptation starring Winona Ryder as Jo. If you've been reading this blog from the beginning, you already know my opinion on a book versus the movie (hint: the book is always better), but I still love watching a good movie and what better kind of movie is there than one that's been inspired by a classic work of literature? 

Having said that, none of these adaptations can hold a candle to the novel. Really. I have yet to watch any version of Little Women that accurately captures the essence of Laurie's relationship with Jo and the rest of the March family, which is a crime. It's one of the sweetest aspects of the book, in my opinion, and they just can't get it right on film. *sigh* They also leave so much out of the movies. I know, I know: no film adaptation of a book can ever fit it all in. It can't possibly be as well-developed. And I understand that if they tried to truly turn Little Women into a movie chapter by chapter, it'd probably be 24 hours long. I get it. But it's still a shame. 

Enough of this, let's break down each film one by one. 

This film is my most recent acquisition, and, you guys, I hate to say it was a waste of six dollars and thirty-six cents, was a waste of six dollars and thirty-six cents. I hadn't seen this version since I was a little girl, and a lot of people actually claim that this is their favorite version, the version that is truest to the novel, blah blah blah. 

It's the worst. 

It is a complete and total, ridiculously overacted, melodramatic, trainwreck of epic proportions. I wish I was kidding, but seriously? The make-up on the male actors alone is going to give me nightmares for weeks. 

On the plus side, they took a lot of small details from the book and included them in this movie which I appreciated. Beth's kittens, Marmee's charity work, Amy's penitence over her selfishness and getting Marmee a larger bottle of perfume for a present, Meg kissing Marmee at her wedding, and Jo's Christmas play among others are all examples of things done in this movie that weren't done in any of the others and showed the great attention to detail given to the novel. This was the first adaptation of Little Women (okay, actually the third following two silent I mean, they don't really count) made for the big screen, and it won the academy award for Best Adapted Screenplay, but it will never be a favorite of mine.

My biggest bone with this movie is the horrendous overacting. I couldn't even handle it. It was 1933. They did their best. Whatever. All I could do was cringe. It was so melodramatic it was almost comedic. I don't think I can ever sit through this one again. If this is your favorite movie and you want a free DVD of it, holla at me. I will put it in the mail to you tomorrow. Don't judge me for hating it. The one other thing I couldn't get over was the casting of the March sisters. No way could any of them have passed for adolescent girls. Please. 

Moving on.

June Allyson is still my favorite. This movie blows the other two out of the water, for sure.

After watching all three films back to back (don't judge me, it was a stormy day, okay?!), it almost seemed that for this one, they took 1933's screenplay and just did it better. These two films follow each other so closely, it's impossible not to compare them. 

In my opinion, the casting for 1949 was far and away the best of all the adaptations. Each actress really became the little women in Alcott's beloved novel. June Allyson is the most convincing Jo I've seen on screen, and Janet Leigh, Margaret O'Brien, Elizabeth Taylor, and Mary Astor did equally as well playing Meg, Beth, Amy, and Marmee. And while I'm touting the phenomenal acting in 1949's Little Women, I may as well tell you that Peter  Lawford is for sure my favorite Laurie. I also have to note that the scene in which Beth receives the piano from Mr. Laurence and immediately goes to thank him is definitely done best in this film and is worth mentioning when comparing all three of them like this. 

A criticism worth noting with 1949 is that Beth comes off as much younger than Amy. Beth is not the youngest sister and Amy is very much babied in the novel, and that doesn't play at all in this film. It's unfortunate, and if I could change one thing about this movie, that would probably be it. But seriously, if you are going to watch an adaptation of Little Women, pick this one. It is, by far, the best and my favorite, favorite, favorite. I cry from beginning to end, and, if you know me, you know that's a good thing. 

Last, we come to the 1994 adaptation starring Winona Ryder as Jo. I grudgingly have to admit that this may actually be the best adaptation as far as staying true to the novel is concerned (taking exception to the scene where Beth receives the piano which does not happen at all like it does in the book and the entire invention of Laurie promising Amy a kiss which doesn't happen in the book at all). 

This movie includes scenes from Little Women that the other two films didn't even attempt to address such as Laurie's induction into the girls' gentlemen's club, Meg's trip to the Moffatts', Amy's feud with Jo in which she burns up Jo's beloved manuscript, and the following scene where Jo and Laurie go off ice skating and Amy nearly drowns when she falls through the ice. This film also keeps the integrity of the book in tact in scenes that the other two films get horribly wrong. The most notable being the ball (Beth and Amy stay home), Amy's punishment and subsequent withdrawal from school (it's about bringing limes, not drawing on her slate), Meg's wedding to Mr. Brooke (they're engaged for years before it happens, people), and Laurie's proposal to Jo (it does not happen immediately after Meg's wedding, for crying out loud). 

Another thing I appreciated about 1994 was that they cast Kirsten Dunst as a young Amy and Samantha Mathis as the older Amy rather than trying to have the same actress pass for a child and an adult in the same film. This could have worked out beautifully if I didn't hate Samantha Mathis so much as older Amy. Also, it's possible that Claire Danes is my favorite Beth.

However, Winona Ryder is the worst Jo in history, and Susan Sarandon is an awful Marmee. I actually prefer Katharine Hepburn's Jo to Ryder's, and did you read my take on 1933? I didn't like it. So that's huge. And I think just about anyone could have played Marmee better, but, to be fair, I think the biggest problem with Sarandon's Marmee was the writing--not her acting. I also didn't care for the way that Winona Ryder narrated this movie. This was probably the biggest difference between 1994 and the other two. I understand that narration in a movie like this can help the flow and development of the story, but as far as I'm concerned, it didn't work at all, probably due in part to the fact that Ryder was such a terrible Jo. Having said all that, the most significant issues with 1994 are the feminist spin they put on it and all the emphasis on the romances of the sisters. This movie didn't get Meg's, Jo's, or Amy's romances with Mr. Brooke, Professor Bhaer, and Laurie right at all. And, I'm sorry, but there was just way too much kissing going on in this movie. Shoot me. I'm a diehard romantic, but don't put in a bunch of crap that's not supposed to be there, okay?! And as for the feminist spin, I understand that they were trying to draw from Alcott's personal life as the novel was somewhat autobiographical, but they took way too many liberties with their liberal agenda--yeah, I said it. 

So there you have it. Some of my comparisons and critiques of the 1933, 1949, and 1994 film adaptations of Little Women. To my chagrin, none of the films get Jo's relationship with Professor Bhaer right. (People, she does not write a novel and send it to him! All three movies did this, and I hate it so much. Where did this come from??) I realize they're trying to make a huge novel into a 2-hour movie, but this is my biggest contention with all of them. 

If you are dying to watch Little Women, once again, PLEASE watch 1949. It is the best! (But, for the love of everything pure, READ THE BOOK!)

And I wasn't kidding when I said I'd give you 1933. I was going to try to pass it off like a great giveaway, but seeing as how I told you how awful I think it is, it hardly seems classy to make it seem like it's something worth winning. But if you want it, I will give it to you. 

What are your thoughts? Have you seen any version of Little Women? Which is your favorite? Are there any big-time Hepburn fans out there that I've mortally offended? Reagan, how did I do? Could I be a Hollywood film critic?

Have an explosively fun Independence Day weekend, and stay safe out there!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015