Saturday, July 14, 2012

That Wall

This one's going to be long, but it's going to be good. I promise. You will laugh, you will feel my pain; heck you might even share a tear or two with me... and if you do- thank you. So pull up a seat, grab something cozy to sip on and read on, if you dare.

This is a story about a wall. Simple enough, right? They have been pretty crucial over the years to modern civilization. You're already bored. Okay, don't click away yet. There is one in particular I'm talking about. It was a life changer.

But a little background information is necessary first.

This story starts at a Christian camp called Centrifuge in the summer of 2004. I was about to enter my senior year of high school and was pretty sure I had life figured out; cause we all do at that age, right?! *rolls eyes* Anyways, I had been to this camp the year before and it totally changed my relationship with the Lord. I learned the difference between calling myself a Christian and actually living my life with Jesus, seeking His will for my life and living accordingly.  Big difference.

I was very excited to go back. Super duper tee totally excited!! I had good reason- lots of really fun stuff happened. I got to participate in a mullet drawing contest and won!!! (So if you ever need someone to draw a mullet onto poster board blindfolded I'm your girl!) My prize was a trucker hat. Oh yes. Rocked it. All of us students were split into groups and each group had a name that corresponded with that year's theme. The theme was 'Driven' and we were "Legends". I thought it was pretty cool. I thought my leader was pretty awesome too. She was motivated, energetic, and encouraging. She was even more so when it came time for team building.

You see, team building was fun. I enjoyed working with the people in my group, accomplishing tasks and winning points and whatnot. Until that dang wall. It looked something like this:

So, the way this particular activity worked is that two of our group members had to scale the wall and then they could help one person up at a time. Our leader was adamant that every person would be going over the wall. Well, she must have forgotten about me because surely she didn't expect me to be pushed up and pulled over that thing. Ohhh no. I'm chunky. Chubby. Flabby. Fluffy. Big. Whatever you want to call it, and I knew without a doubt at the tender age of 16 I was NOT subjecting myself to that humiliation. As I began moving slowly toward the other side of the wall so as not to be noticed, I was intercepted and put back with the group. Drat. I was going to try again when more people had gone over and hope everyone would forget about me until they decided they needed a 'strong girl' to help pull up so they didn't use up all the guys at first.

I don't know what made them think my wide hips and thick arms meant strong, but it was too late to run. They would have caught up to me anyway. I don't run fast. Or at all really. Moving on. As I made my way to the wall, I gave my peers a look that said "PLEASE IF THERE IS A KIND BONE IN  YOUR BODY HIDE ME AND MAKE HER NOT MAKE ME DO THIS PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE". It was no use. They boosted me up. The guys up top took my arms as I hooked my hands onto the top of the wall. And then I hung there. The guys holding me were yelling "Pull yourself up! Pull yourself up! Pull yourself up! You can do it!" while I was screaming "I HAVE NO UPPER BODY STRENGTH! I HAVE NO UPPER BODY STRENGTH!!!!". Please laugh. I laugh now when I think about this part because if Hollywood ever made a story about my life, this would have to be one of the funniest parts!

So I'm hanging on this wall like a dead hog, looking at these two guys who I know are going to need to see a chiropractor when it's over with, and then they begin yelling "Throw your leg up! Throw your leg up!" Have you seen my legs? They are stubs with feet attached. At this point the humiliation I so feared set in and I became angry. Angry at my leader- why did she make me do this? Did she get some kind of sick pleasure out of seeing the chubby girl with obviously no self esteem struggle? Angry at God- What, Lord?! Why?! What could I have possibly done to deserve this public shame of having my derriere out there for the whole Christian camp to gawk at (mind you, all 1,000 something kids are out here at the same time at different stations in this huge area). Angry at the boys holding on to me- Why can't you dimwits just yank me over this thing and be done?!?! And angry at myself- Why didn't you keep up with sports? Why didn't you keep working out? Why can't you be as small as all of your sisters? And then I began yelling again.

"DROP ME!! JUST DROP ME!! IT'S OKAY! DROP ME!" I wanted no more of this. They could just drop me and be done with it. I would go sulk in silence and accept my defeat. Then my leader got involved again. She absolutely would not let them drop me (they weren't going to anyway, they were sweet guys, but come on- they had to have been tired by this point). I was humiliated, angry, on the verge of tears, screams, and giving up. I felt so incredibly full of shame.

I don't remember how it happened, but I somehow got one of my feet to catch the top of the wall. That was the leverage I needed and I gave one last push while the guys gave one last pull. I will never forget the feeling I had when I (quite literally) rolled over the top of that wall and collapsed on the planks of the platform on the other side. The next words I heard were from my leader:

"Get up and cheer. Get up and celebrate. Look how many people are cheering you on!"

At first I mumbled "no", but then the last part caught my ear. What?! Slowly I peered over the wall and saw every. single. person. in that place had crowded around that stupid wall. Hundreds and hundreds of people celebrating the single most humiliating experience of my life. And I smiled. I cheered. I hooped and hollered, tears pouring down my face. I saw my friends from my youth group that had come here with me, I saw the guy I was crushing on, I saw my sister (who says she pretended not to know me- haha! Can't blame her!) and so many others clapping and cheering for me.  
It didn't end there. I went on to help two more heavy people have their moments of struggle and frustration and embarrassment, but every single member of our group made it over that wall. And you know what? We won the spirit award that day!

Have you ever had moments like that? Where you are so mad at the universe, at God, at people in your life, at yourself? Stuck in the middle of a humiliating life situation, wanting to just scream at the sky "JUST DROP ME! I GIVE UP!!!" It's amazing how God can take that pain and turn it into the sweetest victory. If you haven't ever let Him in, you should. Even if it's just once. It will rock your world.

It's no wonder that when the movie "Facing the Giants" came out and I watched it for the first time, I was brought to my knees during this scene:

Seriously, y'all. I cried the ugliest, loudest, snottiest sobs I have pretty much ever let out. I could not think of a more perfect illustration of the way God pursues, encourages, and allows us to face trials and the uncertainties this life brings. He is there the entire time; sometimes screaming, sometimes whispering in His still, small voice- "Don't quit! Don't quit! Don't you dare quit!"

No matter what life brings your way, come Hell or high water, do. not. quit.

Sweet victory is waiting.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

2 Birds, 1 Lovey Dovey Stone

I adore efficiency. Absolutely, positively, 100% without a doubt- I am a teacher after all. Efficiency gives me happy feelings. Take from that what you wish.

Something else that gives me said happy feelings:

Oh, yes!

I found a good one this time too. See, this project not only qualifies for the Summer Pinterest Challenge hosted by Katie from Bower Power and Sherry from Young House Love, but it also puts another knotch on the bedpost that is my Burlap Project. Huzzah!

In keeping with the theme of efficiency, this project knocks out (cause I would never want to kill...) two birds with one stone. I'm trying to find decorative uses for the seventy-something feet of burlap used as the runner in my wedding-

So far I've used it to mat photos and a program from our wedding as well as a canvas for a sharpie picture, and as a cover for the bolster on our bed. Awesome, eh?

In keeping with the framing idea, I found this on Pinterest, originally from Domestically Speaking:

Her tutorial is awesome! However, I had to tweak it to fit my stupidity. First of all I'm no pro in Photoshop Elements so I just simply used Microsoft Word and created this image of our initial and wedding date:
I then was going to try her method of adhering the burlap, but I made a boo boo. I bought wax paper instead of freezer paper. Duh!!

So it was back to the drawing board for me. Then my teacher brain kicked in and I thought "Why not try a glue stick?"

So I glued the heck outta the burlap to a piece of cardstock (it's sturdier and less likely to jam) and made sure the top being fed into the printer had a nice clean edge to keep from snagging.

And whaddya know???

This photo is from the Instagram Photo a Day July Photo Challenge
It came out so much better than I thought! So I popped 'er into a frame and she got hung on a wall in our hallway.

Forgive the quality... no natural light + iPhone= :(
On either side I plan to hang an 8X10 frame matted with a 5X7 photo of bride me on the left and groom hubby on the right. I just gotta find the right frames! Sweet, right? :)

So thar she blows! The next few weeks are going to consist of getting ready for my twinsie's couples shower and preparing to head back to school at the beginning of August. Jeez is summer almost over already?!

I hope you've enjoyed this project and I look forward to sharing lots of neato burrito shower ideas later this week!

Until next time,

Thursday, July 5, 2012


Man life has been SO busy the past few days!! It was hectic to begin with being a holiday week, but we just purchased a beater truck for Josh to drive to work in and fix up. Well, doing what beater trucks do best it broke down on Tuesday. *rolls eyes* Since I'm the one not working right now (thank you Summer Vacation) I get to be the gopher with the privilege of driving EVERYWHERE to fix things. Don't get me wrong- I love doing what I can to see friends/help people/plan events, but the selfish side of me cannot deny that there are things that I was hoping to do on my summer vacation that I'm not going to be able to afford or get to do because I have a problem with the word no.

Busyness and over-committment to the side, I can still dream. I love my house and look forward to it being a place where my children look around and feel safe and comfortable; where company loves to drop in for a cup of coffee or tea and a chat; where I can put my feet up at the end of a long day, take a deep breath, and relax; where Josh and I can continue doing one of our favorite things together- cooking!

I LOVE our kitchen. It was one of the big selling points to me when we bought this house because of the tall ceiling, beautiful laminate flooring, tons of cabinets, and wide open space- not to mention what I secretly wanted most when we were looking at houses- a window above the sink overlooking the yard. I love being able to watch Josh play with Scooby in the backyard. I love being able to see trees and the sky and birds, and one day our children playing in the yard. Insert a sweet, dreamy melody here. There's only one problem I have with our kitchen: the color of the cabinets.

It's not that they are awful- they really aren't. But when the previous owners installed the laminate flooring they did not take into consideration the tone of the wood in the laminate with the tone in the cabinets.

Case in point:

If you look at the floor vs the cabinets at the top of the photo you can see the orange tone in the cabinets is nothing like the red mahogany tone in the floor.

This probably would not bother most people... but I'm not most people. It bothers me. Not so much that I haven't lived with it for a year, but I have a dream for this kitchen!

These photos from my Pinterest board "Mi Casa" are the inspiration:
And this is a poorly Photoshopped image of the beginnings of my plan:

I CANNOT WAIT! Oh man. My kitchen has so much incredible potential and I cannot wait to see the result! My plans ultimately include:

-Paint the cabinets white (Sherry and John at Young House Love have an awesome tutorial!)
-Install molding up top (and in the whole house, really)
-Install molding on top of the cabinets
-Replace the formica counter tops with butcher block (any recommendations?)
-Update our appliances to stainless steel (this one will definitely be a slow and steady wins the race deal)
-Purchase this baker's rack from Target for storage and to showcase our cookware
-Purchase this island for more workspace (I'm still undecided on an island... decisions, decisions)
-Possibly replace some or all of the top cabinet doors with fiberglass or real glass. (thoughts, anyone?)

This will take a while, but I can't neglect the fact that I am so blessed to have a home of my own to work on. I'm so excited!

I hope everyone here in America had a wonderful July 4th! I got to spend the day with Josh and one of my college roommates stopped in to hang out for a bit en route to see her family. She helped me make an apple pie that I took to the in laws where we dined and feasted and enjoyed some great fireworks!

The pie was a hit!

Photo from my Instagram. Loving the July Photo a Day Challenge!

All I used for this pie was refrigerated pie crusts (the red Pillsbury box with two of them) and two cans of no sugar added apple pie filling. My friend helped me pat the first crust into the bottom of the pie dish (hubby bought it for me because it matches our cookware. sweetie!). To make the adorable stars on top I used a cookie cutter on the other crust and layered them on top of the pie filling. I then baked the pie in the oven on 425 F for 25 minutes, placed tin foil around the crust to keep it from getting too brown and baked it another 20 minutes. Super easy and delish!

Until next time,