Monday, February 28, 2011

Have You Ever Seen the Rain?

I am totally in love with these two swatches of fabric. TJ's granny makes blankets for all the grandchildren, and now great-grandchildren, and sent me a several swatches to choose from for Baby Ballet's blanket. I picked these two, and then she'll use some green and burgandy (the color in the flowers in the top swatch) for the solid accent patches. I carry these around in my purse so I can show someone, or just to look at. I love them, and I love the sweet, vintage feel this blanket will have. I'm just getting more and more excited about having a little girl. :-)

Today it has been pouring since I woke up, and I'm not complaining. I like rain, especially when I don't have to go anywhere. I don't know what it says about my personality that I enjoy weather that depresses a lot of people. Of course, after a week of it, I might feel differently. I'm not moving to Forks anytime soon. (Kudos to you geeks who get that reference). I'm also in a great mood because I'm feeling like a good wife today. My kitchen is pretty clean, I hand-washed a bunch of dishes the dishwasher decided to only give half its attention to, and I saved our family $5.97. Well, I will have when I go to back to Walmart with my reciept. I'm not a couponer or anything, (I probably should be), but I was looking at my receipt and noticed a weird charge that was only a series of numbers and didn't seem to be the right amount of anything I had gotten. As my husband has *ahem* encouraged me to stop buying things (that we need) without paying attention to how much I spent, I was very proud that I checked the receipt closely enough to notice this mistake. So I came home, went through my bags and checked things off, and sure enough, this is an extra charge. So I called the manager of Walmart, who told me to come up with my receipt and they would fix it. Give the girl a gold star!

Well, I'm going to go bask in my responsibility. Hope you are having a great day.

Friday, February 25, 2011

February Cherished Outreach

This week has been surprising, and really reassuring, and strange all at the same time. Being raised Mennonite, I've never really been around a lot of people who were into the gifts of the Spirit, i.e., speaking in tongues, healing, prophecy, visions, etc. Basically things that are more supernatural. I've actually always had a very healthy dose of skepticism for people who do speak in tongues (do they have an interpreter? do they just want attention?) and felt like visions and prophecy are just as likely to be the desire of the person rather than a real Word from God. And I think obviously there will always be people out there abusing the gifts of the Spirit just as there will always be those who abuse the name of Christ by calling themselves his followers and living otherwise. But over the past year, I've been exposed to people who have experienced these things in a genuine way, and it's been changing my thought process about the way the Holy Spirit can move and speak to us. I start with all of this because I believe God gave me a vision the day before our outreach. It wasn't anything to do with the future, but rather a glimpse of the truth about this ministry instead of the "reality" being what we see and experience when we go into the club and interact with people. I believe God showed me what's really going on, not what I see. So I'm going to share it with you, with my interpretation and understanding of what it means.

I was in a strip club, there to do an outreach. It wasn't the strip club we go to, just a nondescript club. There were a lot of people there, but no girls dancing on the stage. I was trying to start coversations with the girls I was talking to, and it wasn't easy, but we were getting there. I sat down at a booth with 3 dancers. They (and all the dancers there) were dressed in nasty, over-sized sweatshirts and sweatpants and the girl across from me was huddled in one of those NFL starter jackets they sell at Walmart. All the girls had messy hair and no makeup on. I could tell the girl I was sitting next to was high, her eyes were extremely red. While we were talking, a wimpy, pathetic, high-school aged kid with bad skin sat down less than a foot from our table and just stared at the girl sitting across from me. I quickly sent up a prayer, something about the spirit of lust, but I don't remember my wording. I could feel, but not see, a darkness attached to him, like a leech. He continued to stare at the girl, and it was clearly the time for her to get up and ask if she could do anything for him, and try to make some money. But she shrank back and whispered to the girl beside her, "I really don't want to. What do I do?". The girl beside her looked at her with dead eyes and just shrugged. I turned to look at the kid and in doing so, caught his attention. He turned his chair toward me, thinking I worked there, and tugged on my arm. I meant to politely, but firmly say "No" (which I've done before without any problems) but when I said it, it came out with a menacing, scary growl, and louder than I had meant to speak. The only way I describe it is that underneath the layer of my voice, was another voice/sound that was more of an authoritative, startling, growl. I could never make that sound, and honestly it intimidated me a little, but I wasn't scared of it. I felt like it came from something big behind me, but I didn't turn because I knew there was nothing behind me but another booth and more people. But sound made me jump, made the girls sitting with me jump and the boy immediately jumped up from his chair and left as quickly as possible. Even as the sound came from me, I knew that it wasn't directed at the boy, but the leech. The manager came over to see what the disturbance was, and I started apologizing for making a scene. Then I woke up.

Maybe it will be a long time before I understand everything about this dream, but here is the understanding of it that I feel God is telling me. Like I said before, I believe this was God showing me what's really going on, and what the true state of people's souls are when we go into do these outreaches. I believe that the girls' clothes and hair showed their desire to be covered up and not looked at in a sexual way. The girl who was stared at shared her true feelings about what she was there to do. She didn't want to dance, and when she tried to turn to a fellow dancer for help or escape, none could be found because they are all in the same situation. The patron was a scared, pathetic boy who if I would feel compassion for if I ever met in real life. He just wanted love and was being sucked of life by the leech I felt. I think this is true of the clients that are coming in, and that they are enslaved to demons or the hold of lust over them. Finally, I believe that the sound that came from me was either an angel or the Holy Spirit God sends with us. I know in my head that this it is spiritual warfare everytime we go into the club, but I think God was letting me know that I'm not going in with a puny cherub that maybe has enough juice to withstand the darkness and the demons that own that place. I go in with the full authority of a child of God, and that means some very serious power. It made me think of all the times in the bible that people interact with an angel. They're terrified. And I was a little nervous about the source of the noise, even though I knew it was with me. So it's really encouraging to know that that is what God is sending in with us.

For me, this dream was an encouragement and validation that this ministry is God's, and it's what he's called me to do. It felt like a reminder of why we're doing this, and a bolstering of my passion and compassion for everyone involved, dancers and patrons alike.

So now, on to the outreach.

It went so well. Amanda Dennison, who started this ministry with me, went along with me this week. We took cards for the girls that were gift certificates for a free haircut with my favorite hairdresser, Ms. Stephanie Liby, and we took small heart-shaped cupcakes for the bouncers. As soon as we got there, the 2 bouncers greeted us warmly and asked how our week was. Usually they're friendly, but not overly talkative. So we talked to them for a while, I told "M" about Josiah starting to sleep in a toddler bed, and he told me about his twins and how they've been sneaking out of their cribs at night. I ended up giving him a card for his wife, and I wondered how he would take it. I've heard that sometimes bouncers and male staff look down on the gifts ministries bring the girls as charity that they're above, and I didn't want to offend him, but he was very grateful and said his wife would love it. It was a good connection. Then we headed back toward the dressing room, but not before talking to a waitress "T" (who seemed a little embarrassed), and then Amanda was able to give one to the other waitress and chat with her a little bit. "D", the dj, was there, and I hadn't seen him for a few months, so I wondered if he still worked there. He was very happy to see us, and we had a good time talking to him. He said he and his girlfriend are definitely going to make it to church sometime, but "those sheets get awful heavy in the morning when you worked all night". I told him I'd keep pestering him until he comes, and he laughed. We gave him a card for his girlfriend as well.

The girls weren't spending any time in the dressing room, as it was pretty busy when we got there, but Amanda put our extra cards on their makeup counter. Then while we were in the dj booth talking to "D", two of the dancers came over to us when they got there to say hi and give us hugs before they started working. "C" and I had a good talk about our kids, and she rubbed my belly and asked how I was feeling, when I was due, etc. It was really great, because she's usually pretty shy and stand-offish. Everyone we talked to seemed excited about the cards, and I really hope they use them, and that God is able to use Stephanie to speak more love into their lives. Thank you all for praying for this ministry - keep it up!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Comeback Kid

I love when a bad morning makes a comeback and turns into a good day.

It wasn't so much that we had a horrible morning. TJ was having trouble getting to sleep, and needed Siah to not jump around downstairs (because in our bedroom, his jumping sounds like a herd of elephants are downstairs). And it seemed that the only things Josiah wanted to do this morning were as follows: jump from the last step to the floor, run, stomp/march, and dance. Which, you guessed it, consists of jumping. So we decided to make a trip to the library, and ended up at Siah's friend Asher's house for a few minutes to borrow some super-glue for a wall hanging that I'm fixing. The 15 minutes at Asher's house were great, and helped Siah get some energy out (and I got to hold new baby Amos, total plus) and then we came home to take a walk before Si's nap. Naturally, I am more tired after the walk than Siah is. But it is so brisk and nice out, and I'm really glad we did it. I've been hesitant to walk around our area because there aren't sidewalks for most of it, and I feel like a hobo. But a manic toddler will help anyone get over worrying about what a bunch of college students think of you. So I think this walk will have to be a daily or every other day activity. It's just nice to get out.

Siah started sleeping in his new toddler bed two nights ago, and he's doing so well. I can't believe how big he's getting. When he gets the potty thing down all by himself, I'm going to feel like he's a teenager. His bed is so cute, TJ's parents got it for us, and it basically looks like a miniature sleigh bed. It's a pretty cherry that matches our furniture and the crib perfectly and I just can't get over how cute a little person-sized bed is! It's an adult bed, shrunk to fit Josiah! I think of Goldilocks and the little bear with the perfect-sized bed everytime I look at it. The rule for sleeping in the bed is that he gets 3 chances (of getting out of bed) before he has to sleep in the crib. The last two nights he's gotten out of bed twice, had a spanking, and then stayed in bed for the rest of the night. Today for his nap (so far) he's only gotten out of bed once. Last night though, we had an incident at 3 am.

I was awake because TJ had called to tell me he was on his way home from work, and I usually get up and hang out with him for a little bit before going back to bed. So I was in our room, and I heard a door open. I thought it was Joe maybe going to the restroom, but I finally dragged myself out of bed just to check. The second I turned the light on in the bathroom, Siah came tearing up the stairs as fast as he could go to race back into his bed. Of course, I cornered him and started to tell him he had to have a spanking because he's not allowed to get out of bed, and the poor guy looked at me and said, "Mama, diaper." And sure enough, he had somehow twisted his diaper around in his sleep and then it leaked when he went to the bathroom. So apparently my little self-starter went downstairs to get himself a diaper rather than risk getting put in his crib for the rest of the night if I caught him up and out of his room. (I base this on the lack of toys on the floor that he could have been playing with if that was his goal). I'm still trying to figure out what he was doing when he actually leaked, because the sheet was only wet on the very edge of the bed. I'm thinking he was either about to fall out of the bed again (which happened the first night, in his sleep, lol) or he was trying to get up to go 'potty' when he leaked everywhere. Either way, I love him so much. He's such a good boy. Daddy came in while he was getting his new diaper and jammies on, and after a hug, he marched upstairs and got in his bed to go right back to sleep. He makes me smile.

Mama needs a nap.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Down With The Sickness

So we are finally (hopefully) at the end of the Hood Home Epidemic. First, Joe came home from work a week ago with type-A, potentially H1N1 flu and was down for almost an entire week. I was so happy when he started feeling better and aired out his room. The smell of death of starting to spread into the hallway. :-) Then TJ and Siah both caught colds. For Siah, it's just been a run-of-the-mill cold, but TJ's turned into bronchitis. So he had to stay home for a couple of days this week to get some rest. I fully expected him to cough up a lung several times. He went to see the same doctor Joe went to earlier, and she said Joe had gotten the sickie-of-the-week award the previous week and TJ was definitely in the running this week. She told him that if she took x-rays she would probably call it pneumonia, but she was going to just give him antibiotics and told him to stay home and rest. Somehow, by the grace of God, I managed to escape all of it. There is no way I could have taken care of all the invalids around here if I had been feeling like they looked. I was so glad when TJ started feeling better and the weather was so beautiful that I was able to throw open all the windows yesterday and totally air out our house. So now we are fresh, clean, and almost all healed.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day!

Well, Happy Valentine's Day to all. My poor Valentine is hiding in his room trying desperately to get better. I really really hope I don't get his illness. It just seems to be a really really bad chest cold, but as he almost never gets sick, it's kind of a concern about what it would do to someone with a normal immune system. :-) Somehow, I have escaped it so far.

On the House Hunting Front: We looked at another house on Friday, but no go. I'm going to send a realtor a list of houses we'd like to look at though, so hopefully we'll be looking at a few more this week. I found a house online that looks great and affordable, but the issue is that it's kind of in the country a little bit, and is north of Richmond, which puts TJ farther from work. All the other houses we've looked at have been in town. We'll just keep praying that God puts the right house in front of us and that we know it when we see it. And that we're patient until then. Which I think we're doing ok with. We both like our apartment enough to live here longer if we need to while we search for a house.

In other exciting news, Baby Keeling #2, Amos Keeling, made his appearance this week. We're taking them food tonight, and are really excited to meet him. I'm curious to see Siah with such a little baby. He's never been around one so new.

I think that's about it. I can't wait until I get my sewing machine, because today feels like a project kind of day. TJ's parents were so great and got me one for my birthday, but we haven't been able to find a day to meet up yet. It's probably best though, because I need to focus on cleaning my house. Maybe it's pregnancy, but my house never feels clean enough. Even when it is clean enough, I then think of the closet/cabinet/drawer organizing that needs to be done. That will be my favorite part of moving. Not only the organizing, but then getting into someplace with more storage space and a better system. Because stacks of boxes that get messed up every time you need something from one of them is making me crazy.

Off to clean!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

House Hunting, Potty Training, and Attitude Shifts

Birthday week was really great, for several reasons. TJ and I celebrated early, but then he ended up getting the whole weekend off! It was so great to have him for 2 whole days (and I'm not being facetious!). We got to watch the Super Bowl with friends and some awesome local pizza, and Joe even rented Dance Central for me so I could play it this weekend. :-) I love it. On top of all that, we were approved for a mortgage and then looked at 3 houses on Thursday. None of them were winners, but it was great to finally get to look at actual houses instead of just looking online. By the way, pictures can be extremely deceiving. Holy cow. We got to look at another house yesterday that we both really like. There is some fixing up to be done, but nothing that seems urgent or immediate. It's a 3 bedroom with hardwood floors, kind of an older bungalow feel (which I LOVE) and a full, unfinished basement that we can work on to make into good living space. We'll see though. I guess for the loan we're looking at we need to make sure it would even pass inspection before we try to move forward too fast (there are potential moisture problems in the basement). But more than anything, it was just really nice to see a house that we liked after the first three striking out. I do have to remind myself that it's ok if this is a longer process than I'd like. I'm the girl who bought a car in one day right after TJ and I got married. And that did not turn out well.

Just for the record: Azteks suck. No thank you, Pontiac.

In mothering news, I found out this week that 2 of Josiah's friends can already recognize numbers they see or count to like, 20. Siah likes to count, he just likes to mix the numbers all up. And he couldn't read the numbers to you, he just knows they're numbers. Except 8. He really likes 8. SO, yesterday I started sitting down and making him count with me for a while and showing him this little flashcard book we have with numbers on it. I know I shouldn't worry about it, and by the time we have 3 kids I'll probably just depend on books and Sesame Street to help me out with the counting. Maybe when you're just working with the first one, you're more worried about what other kids their age are doing and making sure you're keeping up. But I'd like to see those other kids be able to point out all the components of a motorcycle. Which my son can do.

We're also continuing to work on potty training. It's going well, as long as I remember to make him go to the bathroom every 15-20 minutes. Sometimes he does great and lets me know when he needs to go, but we've gotten to the point where some of the fascination with the potty has worn off, and now he'd rather keep playing than stop to go. I think this whole experience is going to teach me more discipline as much as it teaches him to use the bathroom.

This Sunday Papa preached a great sermon about attitudes, and he said something like, "Everyone wants to feel important and special, and that's ok, but we need to work to have an attitude that puts others first, trying to make them feel important and special." Something like that. At least, that's what I got out of it. On New Year's Day I wrote in my journal that humility was a character trait I'd really like to grow in this year. Not the kind of humility that puts itself down, but the kind of humility that makes people walk away from you feeling special and cared about. A humility that doesn't wait for its turn to talk, but looks for ways to get to know the other person better and hear what they have to say. And I've noticed that I am in a much better mood (and therefore, everyone in my house is in a better mood) when I'm not focusing on my needs and getting mad at the person who isn't meeting them the way I want.

Well that's all I've got for today.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

I love my husband. And he loves me.

Can I just start by saying that there are probably few things creepier in life than sitting downstairs by yourself late at night and hearing the training potty in the bathroom start singing for no reason? It's only supposed to sing when Siah uses it. And there have been several instances late at night when it just starts up for no reason. It's perfectly clean and dry - I have no idea what's triggering it. It's makes me feel like it's going to come to life and attacks us soon. Like Chucky. Which I've never seen, but he looks really scary.

It's Birthday Week!

TJ found out last week that he will most likely be working every single day for the month of February, so we celebrated my birthday last Sunday night. Somehow Richmond has managed to get a new, swanky restaurant called Hangers that is definitely for special occasions, and it is SO fun. I loved it so much. We got to sit by the fireplace and the atmosphere is super romantic with low lighting and candles. It was a great date. I couldn't decide what I wanted as a present for my birthday, and I've desperately been needing glasses, so we just decided that that could be my present. I'm usually not one for practical presents, but I really couldn't think of anything for TJ to get me. So I went to get my exam and pick out frames, and the whole thing ended up being way cheaper than we expected. You can say what you want about TJ's crappy work schedule, but they sure have blessed us with great health insurance. I feel like, "Sure Josiah, climb that tree. If you break your arm, we'll be ok." :-) Not really, but close. So anyway, we went out to eat and then stopped by Walmart to pick up some floor mats for my car when we wandered past the electronics section. As we walked past the Xbox stuff, and I mentioned that someday we should get a kinect, because I really would love that dance game that's on the commercials, and it would be a good workout. And my wonderful husband looked at me and said, "I'll get it for you right now for your birthday." And I almost cried. Unfortunately Walmart was out of all the versions of the kinect dance game, so I'll get it later, but we have been having so much fun with the new game. And it really is a total workout. I haven't really worked out since the beginning of my pregnancy, so just jumping and leaning and punching is a lot. :-) I can't wait to get the dance game though.

In other birthday news, my awesome mom brought me a cupcake from GiGi's to kick off brithday week yesterday. I am eating it a little at a time so it lasts. I love their giant cupakes. It made my night at lot better, as Josiah decided to regress in his potty training last night. I've been putting him in underwear at home in the hopes that he'll be more likely to want to use the potty if he doesn't have a diaper on. Last night he couldn't have cared less. I changed 4 pairs of underwear before I finally gave up and put him in a diaper. I was totally feeling like a failure. So the cupcake helped. But this morning, as of 10:30, I am happy to report that we have been awake for 2 1/2 hours with no accidents yet. Probably because I'm more focused on making him try more often, but whatever works. I'm going to be so glad when potty training is over.