Monday, December 15, 2014

Make a Joyful Noise to the Lord

Yesterday was our Children's Christmas Program at church and let me tell you Bekah performed her little heart out!

First off, I stayed up way too late Saturday night sewing these dresses. They have some major flaws, but no one seemed to notice.

 We were a late add in the program, so we only had a week to learn the songs. That didn't stop Bekah, she lip-synced her way through most of the production.

 I believe she was the youngest (or one of the youngest), so she was put on the front row. This was an open invitation for her to step forward which makes her appear like she was singing a solo.

 Along with her solo, she was moved to add in some serious hand raising!

 The girl was getting into the music! Then she had to march, which became more of a dance then a march, but as you can see it took serious concentration.

And the benefit of having a grandad who is the pastor, you alway know where to wave.
The little girl next to her wasn't have nearly as much fun as Bekah was.

Bekah wasn't the only one who performed on Sunday. Yep, I forced persuaded Shelby to be a participant as well!

 The whole thing was so stinking adorable...I may have cried just a bit.

Big thank you to my friend Andy for capturing most of these pics for me!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

He's Making Beautiful Things


It’s been my intention to write for days now, maybe weeks, well lets just say that it was never my intention to stop writing almost two months ago. Can I have a minute to just say that time passes way too quickly -  how has it been two months already?

Life lately has been pretty normal for my family. Matt took a new job and it’s clear across Houston, but hey it’s a job that he really enjoys. That is such a blessing. Shelby is doing well in school and going through normal 13 year-old behavior. The littles are good. We are STILL trying to master potty training. 

As for me. Urgh. Ehhhh. I am in some kind of mid-life/not so  mid-life (seeing as how I’m just 37) crisis. I’m stuck in a “what do I want to be when I grow up” funk. No, actually, an all around life funk. 

That funk is the reason this blog post by Meg resonated with me on all kinds of levels. Please stop reading and go here:

See what I mean. I wouldn’t say what I am about to share with you is what caused my not so mid-life funk, but it sure did send my funkiness in to a whole new realm. 

Around my birthday I wound up in a head on collusion with my past. Don’t you just hate that? Seriously, God has been working on me for months. I could feel his nudges, him slightly pushing me towards the realization that I had to let some secrets out into the light. It was time to let my husband, my family, my friends know where I come from. I’ve been fighting it for seven years. 

Why fight letting it out? Well mostly because there is a time in my past that is yucky, really, really yucky. There were things I was put through, things I did and things I did to others that I would never want anyone to live through - much less tell anyone that I lived through them. I made mistakes - some big nasty mistakes in my life. Mistakes that came back to haunt me recently. 

I know I’m being vague and you are saying “just tell us already,” but for now, for today let me just heal and then I will share. I can tell you this that the one singular thing that I want you to know out of all of this is I AM NOT MY MISTAKES! Yep, I’m screaming it - mainly to myself. 


The other night I was getting ready to go be an ambassador for our church by greeting people who were visiting for Christmas program. The devil had a hold of me bad. Thoughts ran through my head like Why would they want me there. I am just trash. I don’t belong there. 

I have tears in my eyes right now typing out those thoughts. Oh man, I can’t stand them but that’s what I’m facing - I’ve got to be nicer to myself. I have to believe what I tell you  - that I am not that girl from seven years ago. It’s not easy and God is working on me hard. Somedays it’s easy for Him and somedays I fight everything He wants me to be. 

I AM NOT MY MISTAKES, but my mistakes are my story. My past is my story same as my process of getting through all of this is my story. I so want to share it, I so want it to matter for something more that a deep dark yuckiness that a carry with me each day. 

I am more sinful and flawed than I ever dared believe, 
more loved and welcomed than I ever dared hope. 

Elyse M. Fitzpatrick

That quote was pulled from The Greatest Gift by Ann Vozkamp. I’ve been reading it this month. Let me tell you something positive - when I came clean with secrets to my husband and my family I was so scared. I just knew that I would be seen as a fake, that they would second guess my intentions or my love for Matt. Or maybe they would freak and be appalled. Want to know what I received without any hesitation? Love. Pure, grace filled love. (Again, crying as I type). That is so what I’ve needed for years. I needed to know that even when I show all of my yuck that I have kept closed off that I am still loved. 

As I have this book sitting in front of me let me share these words from Ann:

What was intended to tear you apart, God intends it to set you apart. 
What has torn you, God makes a thin place to see glory. 

Deep breath in, breathe out.  I need those words. 

Speaking of words, if you know me you know that music (not that I can sing at all) is such a healing force for me. Last week we sang this song during service. Please listen to words. 

All this pain
I wonder if I'll ever find my way?
I wonder if my life could really change at all?

You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of the dust
You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of us

Read more: Gungor - Beautiful Things Lyrics | MetroLyrics 

I leave you with this video. Thank you for your prayers and thank you for your love.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

My Help Comes from the Lord

I don’t watch the news. I think I stopped almost 10 years ago, maybe. The news is what you watch when you really want a sobering look at the world we live in. There are murders, child abusers and sickness that kills you not to mention that political spew that doesn’t mean a hills of beans when people are dying. It’s enough to cause me to never leave the house again. 

Lately, I don’t have to watch the news to know how scary the world is at this moment in time. Or may not “scary”, but sad. Just plain heart breaking how some days can be this year. This morning I sat in prayer for a friend of an Instagram friend (oh the joys of the internet) who lost her 6 year old son suddenly. He developed a cough and lost consciousness on the way to the hospital. By the time they got him intubated he had been without oxygen for awhile and tests showed that he had no brain activity. Can you imagine? As a mother I could just sit and cry all day thinking about this family and others who have lost their babies. 

Man, life just stinks sometimes. 

So what do we do? 
How do we deal with when it seams like the world is spinning out of control and we are just hanging on with all we have? How do with live normally and not just hug our babies every second of the day in fear that they will be taken from us? I ask in tears as I type this - how? 

About a year ago I was visited by two older women (late 60s I believe) who knocked on my door and asked what I thought about the shape our world is in and all the sin of the world. I told them that “this is not my home.” I mean it was my home that I was standing in, my husband owned it and it was where I lived. I meant this earth, here, anywhere besides Heaven in not my home. And I believe that it won’t get better until Jesus returns and takes us all to our true home. We will continue to face the trials, the heartaches and the fears while we are here. 

Can you believe that one of the women wouldn’t take it. She had the nerve to tell me that Jesus isn’t enough. Now, I am not going to go into a religious debate right here and I didn’t with her. I politely said that is what we believe in our home and you may want to mosey on to the next house, but we aren’t interested in anything that tells me other than Jesus is my savior. Thank you. 

Let me come back around to my point and I hope I haven’t lost too many people. Oh man, I know it’s hard to hear that God never leaves us during the hard times and he has plan for our growth from all the crud that we live through. Trust me when I say I know. I have lost people who meant the world to me, I’ve gotten down on my knees and begged the Lord to please make it all be a terrible dream. I’ve also come out of the other side of grief when I never thought it would happen. I wish I could tell you exactly how I lived through the pain of losing one of my best friends. It’s not easy I still ache for him today, but it’s different. 

Urgh, that is not where I wanted to go with this. You can read all about James here: click here

Let’s go back to trials because we all seem to be in one, some are shaped differently than others. I’m actually reading through my bible as a type trying to find morsels of things to keep us (you and me) going. 

Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, (oh yes I know that is a tough pill to swallow during the first stages of grief)

because we know that suffering produces perseverance: perseverance, character; and character, hope.  

So, Suffering (the bad stuff) produces Perseverance (steadfastness in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success - we continue to get up, to live, to push forward in life with a broken heart). 

Then this Perseverance builds -or creates- Character (oh, is that where I get it? Seriously, though, Matt lost his first wife to cancer and he is an amazing man today because of that loss and because of the mark his life (yet short) with his first wife made on him).

Character then brings Hope. That hope is what I tried to share with the women graced my doorway. 

And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. Romans 5:3-5

So, I’m telling you (and myself) to not lose Hope in the world in which we live. Though, this is not our home, and things will not be peaceful until He returns, know with all your heart and soul and mind that He has this. He’s got it - He knows the beginning and the end to each of our stories. 

Psalm 121
I lift up my eyes to the hills-
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
the Maker of heaven and earth. 

He will not let your foot slip-
he who watches you will not slumber; 
indeed, he who watches over Israel will not slumber nor sleep. 

The Lord watches over you-
the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
the sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon by night.

The Lord will keep you from all harm-
he will watch over your life; 
the Lord will watch over your coming and going
both now and forever more

Take 3 minutes (and 32 seconds) and let this speak to your heart, please. 

Let me end with a request: Pray for me. Pray for Michelle Smith who I mentioned above. Pray for the Smith family as they process and handle the passing of young Luke. Pray for the sick, the lost and man just pray for everything on the news. And let me know how I can pray for you. 

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Tuesday Morning (really Sunday Evening)

Happy Sunday Evening. 

Matt got in this afternoon from a men’s retreat. That meant I was at home with the three girls alone. I’m running on very little sleep, but it was an okay weekend. Yesterday the girls built a fort - meaning I helped Shelby build a fort - in the dinning room which was quickly demolished (the littles just didn’t get it). 

For the past two nights I’ve worked myself up in to huge anxiety/panic…well I wouldn’t say panic attacks, but I’ve worked myself up enough that I finally passed out around 3 am each night. Last night I think was worse than Friday. I double checked doors and made sure I had the outside lights on even though the street light is at the the end of our driveway and it looks like mid-day all night long. I sat in bed after watching a few episodes of Grey’s Antimony on Netflix and played through all the “what ifs” that could happen. Then I prayed - a lot. This is normal stuff for me. I should be used to what my anxiety does to my body, but sometimes it catches me off guard making me stop and think “Am I really getting this worked up?” I know it’s not “normal”. I know it’s not “healthy.” All I can say is I’m working on it. I make a pretty strong effort to do things to not set off my anxiety and I also pray - lots of praying. 

Funny thing is after sitting up most of the night worrying about someone breaking into my house, I woke up feeling tired (of course) and not in the greatest mood. I got the girls fed and everyone ready for church (a little behind schedule because Morgan’s pants kept falling off). We get our things together to leave and I can’t find my keys. We search and search then finally decide to take the spare one which means we have to leave through the garage. We all get in the van, pull out of the drive way and Shelby yells “There are the keys! They are in the front door!” All night long, I tell you, my keys with my car key, hung neatly in the deadbolt on our front door with the porch light shining right on them. I felt so stupid about leaving my keys and I felt stupid worrying about someone breaking in when I left the key for them. Oh Man!

So, a week ago as Matt was wrapping up our Bible Study he reminded everyone that he would be gone and then announced that I would be leading the bible study. (insert a stunned looking emoji here) I am not sure what part of “we are holding a bible study together” meant I wasn’t going to ever lead a study. I don’t know…I thought maybe he’d forget about it and just lead all of them. He’s good at it - He doesn’t have to look at the book for questions and he sure doesn’t read his closing prayer from the book like I do - the prayer he usually writes for me. 

As I’m writing this and thinking “not really sure what the big deal was, I’ve lead this exact bible study before and I lead another group that focuses on talking about God at home with your children.” I think it’s the whole following my husband thing. You see about a month ago as I was leading the before mentioned study, on my own, one of the study members said “Don’t worry, You’re a Bahn, you can do anything” to which I cringed. I love being a Bahn and I do believe that Bahn’s can do amazing things, but oh man I am not one of those Bahns. When I said “I do” in October 2010 I wasn’t magically filled with talents like my father in-law or my husband. I do believe I have many, many talents of my own, but unfortunately being able to answer all your questions about the bible is not one of them (at least not yet). Neither is praying out loud even though I’m happy to report I didn’t it twice today without a script. 

So today I prayed (again…see a pattern?) and I decided to just be me. I am very transparent and try to not be too self deprecating, but I want the room full of 30 somethings to know that hey, I didn’t really get the chapter either, but we are in this together, so let’s see where this leads us. I also admitted that I got lost somewhere after Deborah stabbed a man with a tent stake and Gideon asked God, yet again to prove himself. Gold star to whomever can tell me what chapter we were studying. 

Do you know what happened when I was me and showed them that “hey I might not know everything that my husband does about the bible, but I’m pretty fun to listen to and I’ll even give you some deep stuff about me”? They opened up. A group that had been pretty silent in the past started talking, and breathing, and relaxing. Oh man that feeling when the room changes and people enjoy the sound of their voice during a bible study - I love it. It’s what makes me want to be just like my father in-law, to learn as much as possible and teach others the good news. But at the same time I flinch back…man that means I’d have to pray out loud, right. 

The chapter we are studying focuses around this:

God is in the business of bringing sinful people back into relationship with him; sometimes to accomplish a god, he calls on surprising and unexpected people to help in the process. 
{taken from The Story}

I admitted to the room that I am one of those people and that’s when the mood lightened. I shared my testimony (parts - abridged) to a group of people I’ve known about a week. 

I have no idea what I’ve done to deserve the life I have today, except that I turned my life over to God. I was unmarried mother at 23. I got married early in my daughter’s life. My marriage ended in divorce. When Matt’s profile popped up on eHarmony and he said he was a pastor’s son I thought “well, at least we could have coffee, but I am sure that’s as a far as he would want to take it with me.” You see my list of sins (which at the time I kept a running list of and beat myself up daily over) was so drastically longer than Matt’s. Matt had a great stable, upbringing and I was a wayward child who lived in a station wagon on the beach when I was 17. I did nothing to deserve to be part of a pastors’ family (not really sure what I mean by that - we are a normal family). This is something I struggled with a lot during the start of my marriage and I went through a lot of healing. Because of that feeling of being unworthily due to my past sin I have the word “Restored” tattooed on the inside of my left wrist as a remind for me - a daily, sometimes hourly reminder - that I have been restored from my past. My slate has been wiped clean. I have been restored through Jesus Christ. So, I am one of the people that God brings back and he has called me to do surprising things, things I wouldn’t have even dreamed of 10 years ago. 

I think that’s what I told them…maybe not word for word. I glanced around the room, thinking I’d see a bunch of people attempting to not make eye contact with me, but instead I was filled with faces of love. Oh man, I love that. I love sharing my story and sharing how God can work in people’s lives. I really don’t know what else to say, but it was amazing. Now, I hope that they all come back next week and that I didn’t drive anyone away. 

Tonight I sit and think, Am I Gideon? Do I keep asking God to prove to me that I should be in ministry? That I should sit with His word more and absorb more so I can reach others? I hope, like with Gideon, he is patient and continues to confirm even when I ask over and over again. 

Matt created the title of this post…just so you know. 

Friday, October 10, 2014

Time with Bekah: Fire Station

I absolutely love having alone time with each one of my girls. Today, Bekah and I met a bunch of her friends at our local fire station.

I knew that this probably wouldn't be the best place for Morgan, so she stayed at home with Matt. I wasn't 100% that Bekah would enjoyed it, but she absolutely loved every moment of the tour.

We started out with a short run down on fire safety - don't play with matches, stop drop & roll, and 911. Not really sure how much Bekah retained being three and all, but she did ask if we could have fire so she could maybe she got parts of the idea.

I was stunned how quiet a group of 3 and 4 year olds could be. They all listened and paid close attention to everything the Fireman did around the big truck - I know it's a Fire Engine and he should probably be called a FireFighter.

I love this picture! Look at that face - I'm not sure if she's embarrassed by all my picture taking or making sure I didn't leave her there.

They helped each child walk the cab of the fire engine. 

Then my friend, Shanna, (who arranged the tour) got the honors of putting on the heavy, hot gear. She was a trooper as always and made it fun for the kids. Again, they sat perfectly still and quiet taking it all in.

It was such a great morning and I am so glad we went. 

Afterwards, we came home and took the opportunity of Morgan napping to break into play-dough for the first time. 

Bekah kept asking me to make a giraffe, but I told her the best I could do was a snowman. 

She trumped my snowman with an awesome caterpillar. 

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Library Books with Late Fees

Before I start this evening can I just ask - Why is it so bloody hot? Saturday was an absolutely GORGEOUS Fall day and since then it’s gradually gotten hotter to where I now break a sweat walking out of HEB. (where I picked up some pumpkin spice stuff as any girl should do during the first party of October). I love Fall - I dislike Summer. Can you tell without me actually telling you? 

So, back to my story. 

A few months ago I got the brilliant idea to get a library card. There are books that I see on Instagram (you can follow me @danaraeblog) and through bloggers that I really wanted to read, but I just couldn’t bring myself to add another book to the hundreds that reside in our house already. (mostly Matt’s - he has trouble letting go of things - especially books). 

So, I loaded up all three girls and we took our first trip one day before school started. I made sure the littles were in the stroller since we were going to the college library. I went straight to the front desk and got a library card - I was instantly transported to going to the Central Library in my hometown with my Meme to get my very first library card. With my card in hand I hit the nearest computer armed with my Amazon Wish List (where I keep all the books I want to read). I guess I was pretty dumb to think they’d have books readily available from some of my favorite bloggers - nope just one copy for all of the Houston area and it was checked out with an extra long wait list (which is even longer now, but more on that latter). 

My bliss in the public library lasted all of two minutes. Then Morgan’s dislike for the library hit her - hit her hard. I took her out of the stroller and tried to hold her hand which made her throw herself into the floor until I let go and the she bolted through the non-fiction section of a very quiet college library. Every time I touched her she screamed bloody  murder. I grabbed her and bolted outside. Then I realized I just left my two other children in the library. 

This is one of those times that I am so thankful for Shelby. She came to front doors, but couldn’t leave the building because there were library books in the stroller that she was pushing. I am not sure if we actually selected them of if they were put there by a two-year-old with a fascination for vampire books (at least that’s what she grabbed). Oh that stroller (it a sit and stand or in our case a sit and sit) it’s roomy enough for my kids to attempt to shop life. I kid you not, Morgan was throwing all kinds of items in there while I was trying to check out at H&M the other day. 

Ok where was I? Yes, Shelby front door trying not to set off the alarm, me on the outside with a then quiet toddler. I composed myself and carried Morgan back inside. We didn’t get two steps past the door and she started flipping out again. And again, I bolted, this time to the bathroom. Poor Shelby was so confused. Morgan gets ahold of herself in the bathroom, so I step out (into the biography section) whispering “Shelby.” I could feel Morgan’s heart starting to race - I guess she’s not going to be a reader - and I find Shelby, dump a stack of books on the nearest cart and head for the door. Not fast enough for Morgan, though, as she lets out one more blood curling scream which I am sure could be heard all the way upstairs. 

We’ve tried her again since the incident and she flipped again, so needless to say I go the library alone or when Matt’s mom watches the girls. 
I’ve also learned to request (have the library find for me and hold) the books I want to read. The problem with this arrangement at first was I went back to my extensive (I mean 100+ books) Amazon Wish list and just requested everything I could. I would go into the library every week and pick up over five books at a time. This is where I remind you that have ADD - severe, untreated ADD, so there was no way I was going to make it through that huge stack of books before they were due back (about two weeks). I wound up rechecking most of them until my limit of re-checks ended. 

So, here I am about two months later I have have read two books. Wait I read one all the way through which I intended to discuss during this blog post, but since I’m already up to 800 words (thanks for sticking with me) it may a post for another day. Then I started reading one, paid a late fee (of a whopping .30) and returned it even though I had only gotten half way through. 

Can I tell you that right now as we your read this (or as I type this) I am late fee non-paying, wait list violator. Yep, it’s really nothing to brag about. Sorry Harris County Public Library system. On my honor, I will see if there are volunteer opportunities so I can make this up to you (and maybe read a few books while I’m there). 

My loaned copy of The Antelope in the Living Room by Melanie Shankle is now about two weeks (or maybe more) late. I attempted to “re-check” it, but was told that since so many people are inline to read it I wasn’t aloud. Oh, man I feel like a terrible person even typing that. I promise I’m almost done. I would have completed it soon, but I had a busy Thirty-One month, did a lot of volunteering at Shelby’s school, have toddlers and did I mention ADD?

I checked today and I owe $5…that’s huge in  the world of library late fees. I really hope I don’t get black listed - do you think they will take my excuses? I just know there is a great woman in my area (she has to be great because she loves Melanie as well) who is more than likely a blogger too (we gotta stick together) who is so po’d at me because she’ s next in line and I’ve boggarting   the only copy of this book in the entire Houston area library system. 

Can I just ask, why in the world did they only purchase one copy of this book? Note to self - see if the library has a purchasing position open - I know they could use my expertise on books especially ones written by Christian Bloggers. 

Since, I’ve run oh so long I’ll save my love for this book for a later post as well. So if you are keeping track that means I owe you a review on Bittersweet by Shauna Niequist (the one book I’ve made it through since I got my library card) and The Antelope in the Living Room by Melanie Shankle. I also got half way through Bread and Wine by Shauna Neiquist. Let me just say don’t read her books if you are on a “lifestyle change” that includes cutting out sugar and bread. I will also tell you these books are both perfect me (a person living with ADD) because they are all short essays…so much easier for me to read and feel accomplished along the way. 

So, please pray that I will devote the time to finishing my reading because it helps me in so many ways. And pray that the library will take pity on me. I know one thing - I will not take this kid with me…she’s cute here, but she’s not that cute when she’s screaming her head off. Wait, she is, but they may not think so. 

Monday, October 6, 2014

Little Funk Little Fun

I haven’t been doing well. 

I’m not sick. 

I’m just in a funk. 

My husband is funky too. Not in a stinky way, but in a funk. 

If you don’t know Matt then let me tell you, he’s not a funky person. He’s a happy, nothing really stresses him out, very few things get him down sort of guy. 

So, he’s been out of work for over a month now and I think the newness of him vein gnome as worn off and we are both a bit funky. 

He’s been blogging - which is good. I read them sometimes - he doesn’t post pictures and with my condition I do better with pictures - it breaks up the reading some and I’m a visual person. Yes, I read books without pictures. I’m working to finish one today since the library, so nicely won’t let me recheck it - I have a hefty late fee - more on that in another post. It’s a love/hate thing with library books.

Anyway, Matt has been working on scheduling and getting his life all in order and I feel like me is sort of spiraling out of control. Not in a mid-life crisis sort of way, but in a I’ve run out clothes baskets for clean clothes that I haven’t folded in a week sort of way. 

I’m off center. 

And I can admit to you - because I know you care. I’m not feeling as close to God as I have been. I haven’t read the bible in…a long while. Not really praying other than “Please Lord let my neighbors go to sleep. It’s  1 am and are they really having a party in the driveway?”

I’ve been stuck in comparison mode and as I woman I know that is no good for my mood. 

I don’t teach the littles enough new things. 
I let the littles watch too much TV. 
I don’t write enough. 
I don’t create enough. 
I don’t_______enough….just fill it in with anything because that’s my mood. 

I feel like I’m not doing anything enough. And reading blogs (which I’m slowly starting again) helps me to write, but I find I’m saying “wow I should be like her” way way way too often. 

I’m sitting on the fence of should I go back to work? Should I be working harder to make my Thirty-One income cover all of our needs? Their are some women you make upwards of $75,000 to $100,000 a year - that would be AMAZING. 

Should I go back to school? I’d love to be knowledgable like Ann Voskamp. She’s so wise and so wordy - I still haven’t made it through 1,000 gifts. I get lost every time I try, but it’s on my list of books I need to get through. 

So, enough rambling. I much needed break from my computer, made my family dinner which I serve on the patio. 

I’m slowly falling in love with this house. Our backyard was easy to fall for - a large shade tree in the center which serves it’s purpose for much need shade from the harsh Houston sun, but also blocks a good part of our neighbors’ view into our backyard. So we have privacy - not that we are running around naked - trust me that is not happening. We can freely eat a quiet dinner on the patio with candlelight - just kidding. There is a candle going but it’s a huge citronella  candle because mosquitos don’t sleep - can’t STAND THEM - blood suckers. 

Yep Shelby is in her PJs...again why I love our tree. 

Anyway, as I was saying. I was super excited and giddy about my family all sitting outside - I seemed to be the only one though. It’s ok - at least it made me feel better about life. Then I sat and watched my three girls played. We stayed out until dark playing keep away and soccer. We had a blast.