Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Kara Tippetts

Mom, what is with all these posts about that woman who died? Do you have cancer? 

The question I got from my thirteen year old yesterday. 

No, I do not have cancer, but I did say to her that Kara was an amazing soul and since she was so awesome I want to make sure that other people know her, too. 


Shelby has gotten used to me knowing people, but not really “knowing” them in everyday life. I wish I could say I knew Kara a lot longer that I actually have. 

You all will probably remember Kara Tippetts mostly from the open letter she wrote to Brittany Maynard through Ann Voskamp’s blog. You can read it here: http://www.aholyexperience.com/2014/10/dear-brittany-why-we-dont-have-to-be-so-afraid-of-dying-suffering-that-we-choose-suicide/

That’s when I first “meet” her. To be completely honest I was touched that day by her words, but did not actively seek her out or her blog out. Even YouTube knew that I would benefit from Kara’s testimony since daily I received suggestions to watch this video.

I hate to say I avoided it though. It feels like lately I just could no longer stand to hear the word “cancer” again. I have a dear sweet friend facing breast cancer today, Matt’s godmother (Aunt Renee) is also facing the same battle. That with the reminder of Matt’s first wife, Nici, and Matt’s aunt, Barbara. Man, we now live in a world where everyone knows at least one person (if not many people) who have battled cancer. Even my father has had his battle. 

Anyway, on Sunday a post came across my Facebook feed that included Kara’s obituary and I thought “Damn it” (is that honest enough for you?). It’s sad and it makes you question God’s plan for a moment, but then you really meet Kara (not in person of course) and you learn that God had a plan - a BIG ONE. 

I found this talk that Kara did in December and I am asking you to carve out 30 minutes of your day to watch this please because I believe her message is amazing for each of us. And really it just has like 13,000 views, wouldn’t it be amazing if it could get 130,000 or even 1.3 million. (I am happy that say since yesterday this video has increased to 14,000 views) That’s how important I believe her message is for everyone! And it’s not all about her battle with cancer, it’s about your story and what you do with that story. 

Kara’s legacy has touched me profoundly and I believe that God gave it to me at just the time I needed it - just the time that it sank in perfectly. No, I do not have cancer and No, Kara was not a real life friend to me, but Kara has left an impact on my life and I will carry a piece of her  message with me as I spread the good news of Jesus’ grace to other women. 

Please pray for Jason and their four beautiful children. You can get to know Kara better through her blog, too: http://www.mundanefaithfulness.com/

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

No Longer "New Here"

Today marks one year since we loaded two Uhaul trucks (plus one trailer) and made the move to NW Houston!

Today is the day that Matt and I bought our first home (well, our first home together).

So on this one year anniversary I just want to look back at the fun we've had in our new house.

It wasn't the easiest move, but at the same time it's been amazing. I am thanking God today for our family, for this move and for all of our family at St. John for being so welcoming!

And a year later, my garage is still full and I am looking at six boxes in my closet that never got unpacked...isn't that how it aways happens?

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Muddy Shoes

So yesterday my friend, Emily, and I took our four kids to the park around the corner. Since we had two straight days of rain it was pretty muddy and since Morgan is Morgan she jumped in every muddy puddle. So, by the end our time at the park Morgan's Nike's looked like this.

I knew that washing them was an option, but I had never washed shoes on purpose in my washing machine before. I did wash one of Matt's shoes a few months ago...big trouble. It dried fine, but is a slightly darker color than his left one. Sorry Matt!

So I found this tutorial: http://www.sportsmomsurvivalguide.com/2015/02/20/the-best-way-to-clean-tennis-shoes/#_a5y_p=3387142

From that tutorial this is what I did:

First, remove the shoe laces.

You can see from the tongue just how white her shoes were. I would be more concerned (freaked out) if I paid full brand new pricing for these cute shoes, but I picked them up at the thrift store for $3.50. Yep, they were hardly used.

Next, I put them in a sink with warm water and soap. I used my Myers Dish Soap and just used my hands (not a toothbrush because we didn't have a spare) to get all the lose dirt off.

After that I used  my Shout gel with a scrubber top to really scrub the fabric. Looking better all ready.

Then I popped the shoes and laces into a lingerie bag. If you do not have one of these or are washing adult sized shoes then you can use a pillow case.

and threw them into the washer on the hand-wash cycle.

Let's all cheer for snazzy washing machines! They make life so much easer!

Bekah was super concerned about me putting shoes in the washing machine.  We've had many talks lately about washing machine safety.

So, while those were washing I dealt with this mess. 

So, maybe washing dirty mud filled tennis shoes in the bathroom sink wasn't the best idea. I really hope I am not calling my father in-law to come help me unclog another drain.

Once the shoes were washed I popped them into the dryer. We have this great rack that you can use for things like this (and sweaters, it's great for sweaters).  In the tutorial I linked above she will show you how to dry them if you do not have one of these. 

I ran them for about 70 minutes on medium heat and then 70 more minutes with just an air dry. I also let them sit in the dryer over night (because I forgot about them).

So, let's see my end results.

Here is the before:

and here is the after

They aren't completely back to their original perfectness, but they are great for a two year old!

So, I have to say after all the mud pond hopping I really thought my girls would sleep all afternoon, but that was not the case AT ALL.

Morgan slept for about 30 minutes.

I can't believe she will be two tomorrow.

This one didn't sleep at all. 


Well I hope this little tutorial helps you to keep you kid's shoes clean and hope your nap time is better than mine!

Monday, March 2, 2015

Dishing on Downton: And That’s a Wrap!

So last night was the season ender (The Christmas Episode) for Downton Abbey and I am happy to report that no one died! No One Died! It was such a great ender that left us with hope for next year. Now, we sit and wait till January 2016 - URGH…that’s always so frustrating. 

So to just catch you up a bit, here is what I wrote last week in regards to Anna that I didn’t get a chance to actually publish:

Shall we begin at the end? Anna. Oh yeah were you right there with me? I was like “what? You’ve got to be kidding me! Are you serious? How? Huh?” and then that led into some serious anger followed by thoughts of “wow…people can now reuse those Free Bates shirts they bought a few years ago.” This week’s episode opens with everyone preparing to head to London for Rose’s wedding (yep that was a quick engagement, huh?).  Anna and Mr. Bates believe this is a great time to look in on their home in London that they’ve been thinking about selling. Then, that horrible investigator shows back up. He now knows Mr. Green has had other torridly (is that even a word?) relationships (if you wish to call them that) with women. Seems like Anna wasn’t the only person he got ugly with (which is what I will call it). Anyway, a new witness has turned up and is saying there is no way that it could have been Mr. Bates because the person they saw was much shorter and more the height of a woman. So of course they are eyeballing Anna. You know who I think it was? 

Ms. Hughes! Come on she may seem all innocent on the outside, but she was spit fire angry after the incident happened. You never know is all I have to say. 

So, they want Anna to stop into Scotland Yard while she’s in London for more questions. Of course Bates is adamant that he escort his wife what husband wouldn’t be. They get there and this “questioning” actually is a criminal line up. So, yep, that is exactly what this picture (that I posted a few weeks ago) was for. How dare they? You already sense that this is not good at all! 

The wedding takes place (more details to come) and then the police show up and arrest Anna. I’m trying to remember, but it seemed like most of the house (Mary and Lord Gratham) were downstairs when Anna was arrested. Mary was full boil and if she had a cellphone she would have phoned her lawyer right there on the spot. And then it was like a few days passed and everyone was at the war memorial. I kept hoping they would pan the crowd and Anna would be there holding hands with Mr. Bates, but she is still locked up in London. Poor Anna. Can you imagine that quiet meek woman in prison? I’m trying my best not to say “well if you associate yourself with criminals - ahem your husband - then you get into these messes.” I have to  remember that Bates was proven innocent in his wife’s death, but this kind of reminds me of OJ Simpson - just saying. I guess we will hopefully and I say hopefully find out everything during the season finally next week. 

Back to this week’s episode. We start out with Mary visiting Anna who I believe looks pretty good for being locked up. I would be a basket case, but we see no tears from her. Maybe she already cried her eyes out. Anyway, we find out that Anna’s stepfather attempted to assault her when she was younger and she stabbed him. She did not kill him, but still it has come to light since she has been in jail. So, it makes her appear to be a lose cannon somewhat. Bates, being very concerned, writes a letter confessing to the murder of Green (which isn’t true) and then runs of to Ireland (or was it Scotland - I can’t remember). He leaves letters for Carson and Lord Grantham  as well. With Mr. Bates confession, Anna is released from jail, but is very concerned that she will go back in again.  Molesley and Baxter take a picture of Mr. Bates around to all the Pubs to find someone who can vouch for Mr. Bates whereabouts when Mr. Green met his untimely death. I am happy to say they did find someone to prove Mr. Bates’ innocence.  I was so happy to see Mr. Bates and Anna back together at the end of episode - it just makes all things right in the world. 

Speaking of all things right in the world  - Mr. Carson and Mrs. Hughes. I squealed! I cheered! Matt thought I’d lost my marbles.  Mr. Carson and Mrs. Hughes have been attempting to purchase a home together which they plan to turn into a Bed & Breakfast until they are able to retire and live there themselves. Mrs. Hughes came clean this week about not having the funds to help purchase a home and how she will never be able to retire since she has used her saving to take of her sister who has a disability. You think well, Mr. Carson will just move along and purchase a home on his own, but he had other plans. Did you see it coming? We’ve know since the end of last season that there was some serious chemistry happening between these two. Now, I can’t even do this scene justice so I’ll just say it: Mr. Carson asked and Mrs. Hughes accepted and they are engaged! Squeal! Please go watch it - it was so so sweet! 

Unfortunately, there were a few hearts broken this week as well. Isobel Crawley decided to not accept Lord Merton’s proposal after all. She said the only way she would marry him was if his sons approved, well that isn’t going to happen and she received a straight out letter from one saying pretty much please stop asking I will never approve of this marriage. I give props to Isobel, she doesn’t want to spend what time she has left stuck in the middle of a family feud. 

Violet successful located Princess Kuragin and helped her to reunite with her husband, Prince Kruagin. Violet also tells Prince Kuragin one last time that their romance will still never be and the past is the past. It is a bit bitter sweet for Violet. She feels like she need to save the Princess, since the Princess (finding out about the affair years ago) saved her life as well. Alls well that ends well. 

Speaking of affairs. Rose’s new father in-law, Lord Sinderby -  need I say more? Wow, don’t get sideways with your butler or he will invite all your skeletons to dinner. He was very luck that Rose thought on her feet and acted like his mistress (with child in tow) was an old friend. Man, I am not saying agree with that story line at all, but I guess the writers thought it was necessary. 

It was sad to know that this was Tom Branson’s last episode since he and his daughter are headed to America. 

Really, you need to just go watch this episode because I am failing in the recap department. Pretty much everyone, but Mary knows Edith’s secret and it looks like Mary may have new man in her life next year. What else? I am not really remembering and I only have a few minutes to breathe before the girls get up. 

I do just want to say that I have loved loved loved writing about Downton this season and I hope to have more Dishing on Downton in January 2016 - oh man that’s a long time to wait. Why do they do this to us? 

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Six Years

Thank you Lord for the bright sunlight streaming through my windows this morning. Those heavenly rays remind me of God's goodness today. Six years ago this day was covered in darkness, darkness that I carry with me each year. I want this year to be different.

Don't you just love this amazing picture taken by James' sister?

I spent yesterday afternoon journalling my feelings about this day and I gave myself a pep-talk about not sitting around in sorrow for what I've lost. My heart didn't listen to my head and this morning I woke up with tears. As I glanced at the clock I saw I still had 6 minutes before I needed to get out of bed. Six - February 26th - Six Years ago. I decided to spend those six minutes in prayer. I prayed for James' parents, his brother and sister, his nephews. I prayed for the families for the two passengers who were also killed six years ago. Those families have been on my mind this year. I pray for the pain they are feeling today and I also pray that the Lord will help them to heal and find forgiveness in all of this. It's a hard situation - oh hell it just completely and totally sucks - there it is. It sucks to lose someone you love. Okay, okay I can not sit here and go through what I've already poured out in my journal. I won't do it - I WILL NOT be sad today. I will rejoice in the time I had and the memories that were made, yet I really can't talk about them today either without tears - I know that will get better eventually.

Let's talk about what I can talk about (without tears).

Yesterday, I finished Raw Faith by Kasey Van Norman and I feel like God was working on my feelings about this tragedy as I finished this book.

This verse that she touches on reminded me a lot of what I went through after James' passing.

You know that when your faith is tested, 
your endurance has a chance to grow. 
So let it grow, for when your endurance
is fully developed, 
you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.
James 1:3-4

If there is any event in my life that tested my faith it was the tragedy that occurred six years ago. I spent so much time in the "Whys" and "How Comes." I couldn't not grasp how God could let this happen. 

Here are also a few quotes that spoke to me yesterday from Kasey's book

When painful circumstances come our way, we're not just called to roll over and play dead in passive acceptance. We're to use the trials to grow our faith and to make it stronger...

...we can see suffering as a season that breeds prayer, compassion for others, a deeper sense of self-reflection, and the kind of humility that knocks out all traces of arrogance and self-reliance. 

The pain doesn't go away, but now our trials have purpose. Our faith is no longer determined by our actions; instead, our actions are motivated by our faith. Life is defined not by "I have to" but instead "I get to" 

Those may not make perfect sense to you and actually I am not sure exactly what I was thinking when I marked them, but they are great things to remember. 

Six years ago I pledged that James' death would not be in vain, that I would make sure that I spread his story, thus the reasoning for a tattoo that stretches down half of my right leg. That message looks different today then what I had envisioned. The message that I want to give you today is this:

You've been given one amazing life and God added to that the amazing Grace that we receive through his son Jesus Christ. One life, it could last 105 years, it could be gone tomorrow - what will you do with your one life? Who will you touch? 

And I believe I say this every year, but now is the time to tell the people you love how much you love them. Tell them today because we are not promised tomorrow. 

To read more on James' death, here is the post I wrote a year after his passing: http://danaraeb.blogspot.com/2010/02/year-later.html

Saturday, February 21, 2015

40 Bags in 40 Days: The Little Girls' Room

We are three days into giving up excess and things aren't going too bad. The first day (Ash Wednesday) I may have over done it and found my self stressed beyond belief with the amout and shape of our toys. So far my house has filled 10 bags in three days. That's pretty good right?

This morning I finished the girls' room. I was able to get one bag of trash, one bag of stuff, a bunch of clothes (not pictured), old shoes, that lamp that I really hate parting with and blanket out of the room for good.

Let's look at some before and afters. Mind you their room was a wreck when I started.

Looking in Before

Looking in After
eeh a bit blurry, but you can see the difference

Bekah's area before

Bekah's area after

Man, my camera really prefers natural light!

The dresser before

The dresser after

I still need to fix that pull. I am happy to report their drawers now look like this where before we had completely run out of space.

Most of the clothes were piled up in the closet, here is the before

and after



Urgh, again my camera!

So one room completely done.

My happy helper on our start day!