Jack of Many Trades, Master of None

I think I've shared before about being a whiny junior higher. I vividly remember a conversation with friends where I complained about the travesties of  being ME in 7th grade. I nagged on and on during our choir class because during our voice range testing, I'd been placed as a "second soprano". Ah the days of non-sense drama.

Jack of Many Trades, Master of None

I explained how awful the assignment was. I apparently couldn't sing high enough to be a 1st soprano or low enough to be an alto. This was reassurance of one of my biggest fears: I'm mediocre. I was the middle child. I was in a middle class family. I considered myself not "hot" but not "ugly" and not "fat" but not "skinny". I was average height. I made average grades. I had friends but they were all from different "group" that I wasn't necessarily in.

I was ordinary. 

Okay, maybe a bit extreme but I think some of you might relate. Somehow, made in the image of the amazingly, loving, thoughtful, creative, extraordinary God to simply turn out ordinary. I felt, and often still feel like I'm missing something. My "calling". My "thing". My way to ooze all that God has pour into my creation as a way to shine His glory.

Chewbacca Mamma, Candace Payne described it best when she reassured students {and me} recently when she said, "...sometimes I wake up and feel like a jack of many trades yet master of none."

{you can skip to 7:00 minutes to get to the part I'm talking about}

That "creative buzz" going on constantly; stirring so many ideas and sometimes not allowing for completion before another one takes over sometimes makes me feel like a flake with no follow through. Maybe that's why I'm mundane- my passion shifts?

Then, amidst my devaluing thoughts, it occurred to me again and again. Adding up all the seemingly random things I've been involved in up until this part of my life have all been mixed into a casserole. A couple years ago, I would have thought that casserole was The Valley church that my husband and I planted her in central AR. I saw how God mixed in our years of youth ministry that included fundraising, creative/cheap space creation, sexual integrity programs, baby sitting, substitute teaching, community involvement, organizing trips, organizing/renovating/decorating multiple homes, leading volunteers, making videos, starting a blog, utilizing social media outlets, dabbling in graphic design, learning wise financial practices and the list goes on and on. Even living in multiple places around the state has created a large network of support in what we are doing at The Valley.

Let me just say, I will be 32 in a couple months and God's not done with me yet! I have decided I am refusing to let helping planet a church at the age of 28 be my High, life goal, sole purpose in how God wants to use my life. Not even this amazing journey as a foster family is the end-all be-all of what God could use my minuscule life for.

I recently found The Find {budumpbump}.

Listening to the stories in just season 1 made me realize that God prepared those families to through their thirties for what His ultimate plan was for them. They talked about unfulfilled dreams, mastering skills, saving, and then moving when the time was right. I'd even be willing to bet that even what they're doing now is NOT the end and all the things God used to prepare them for now can stand alone as significant in the ripple effect they have in God's plan.

With all that being said, this is me. Today. The day I am pouting once again. Believing the lie that I am ordinary and God might just leave me that way with all my hard head, dark heart, and lazy spirit. Wondering if I should... stick with blogging {I do love writing and rambling}, refinishing furniture {we could benefit from replacing another vehicle}, embark on new endeavors further within the Foster Care system {I do love babies}, finish and attempt to publish the books I've started writing, or so many other random trades I've dabbled in. Waiting for further direction and dreams to play out that I didn't even know I had.

How about you? Have you found your "thing" or are you a wanderer like me?

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Foster Family Organization: Our Kitchen

Being ready for new fosters for me means having the essentials ready. Some things we can keep stocked are kitchen items.

Foster Family Organization  Our Kitchen

We store all our dishes in lower cabinets to make it easier for our kids to do the dishes chore. we also make sure we have plenty of plastic plates and silverware for up to 6 kids. Although, some of them have disappeared...probably eaten by the trashcan. I would LOVE to have enough for 6 kids and 3 meals but we're not there yet.

I love the the Ikea kids' plastic tableware! 1. It's awesome bright colors. 2. Microwave and dishwasher safe. 3. There are 6 different colors! Why do the colors matter? I may or may not color code my children...and I have 4-6 kids at any given time.Foster Family Organization dishesFoster Family Organization silverware

I also found cheap water bottles in the Target dollar spot {they didn't have them this year but I found the same ones at the Dollar General for ~$.50 more}. My kids get milk for breakfast and watered down juice for lunch and dinner so water bottles are a must for any other time during the day. We have like 6 extras right now because water bottles are one of the things we send with our fosters when they get to leave.

extra water bottles

I only let my kids have one cup a day. If they can't find it then they don't get a drink until they find it OR they get their water bottle. The next thing we started when we had 6 kids, most of whom were bigger, was "cup spots". My kids knew they were supposed to put their cups on the counter next to the fridge but if they weren't using "their color" that day, they could't remember which one was theirs. Soooo, I put scrapbook sticker letters on the counter. You can't see them from far away but they're easy for the kids to see up close.

Foster Family Organization daily cup storage

Foster Family Organization letters on the counter for daily cups

I'm hoping to find more and more things that can help us function with more ease and be ready for what foster care may bring us.

 

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Enjoying My Supporting Roll in God’s Story

Two years ago, a traumatic thing happened in our small town- an F4/5 tornado took out most of the businesses, tons of home including an entire neighborhood, and many lives were lost. This happened just over a year after my husband and I moved our family here to plant The Valley church.

We constantly pray for God to teach us how live missionally: to love the community we live in, show new ways of share His love right where people are at in their lives, and grant us favor so door will be open to lead people to Him. That night in April, God handed us just that, on a filthy, demolished platter perfect for serving the hurt and searching town He sent us here to server.

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The days following the storm, my husband and I were overwhelmed with the support from all the networks we had been apart of, long and short term. I was too much to keep up with. I often felt like I'd been given this huge responsibility and I was failing by not being able to manage all the help He was sending our way. Things have slowed down over the past two years...well, in comparison to those crazy couple months to after the storm.

This year as I scrolled through my archived private messages and "memories" on Facebook, I was overcome with guilt all over again. How I didn't answer some of the lost messages from friends and acquaintances, timeline post I wasn't sure I handed well enough, and most of all the lack of appreciation I didn't show those how fought through the pile off notifications to help us. I had high hopes of sending formal Thank You cards, letters of how prayers were answered, gifts were used, and just how very loved I felt. Even now, satan is making my insides hurt with remorse because I am so VERY thankful to be a minor character in this beautiful thing we are living.

God has taken these two years to reassure me that while we are all just supporting rolls, in God's story, that all points to Jesus, they're all important I have shared before that I often give up on things because I see someone else doing it, and likely way better. BUT God has plans and invites us to join the adventure of going on it with Him.  We aren't called us to compare ourselves to others but rather support one another's part in the story.

Don't become arrogant when God's story starts playing out in front of you.

That's where focus is changed from what's most important or players get pulled.

Don't forget that the sun doesn't revolve around you.

The ONE who created light without that sun is where our focus should remain so we stay in the light.

Keep at the front of your mind, that EVERY story in this world points back to Jesus; whether it's acknowledged or not.

I want to make sure the story I'm in gives all glory where it belongs.

I guarantee you that this high schooler in our town was organizing volunteers sent her direction way better than I was. BUT God sent certain people along my path in life for such a time as this. He ask that I play a part in their story involving my town.

I know many of the women who worked the Play Place with me after the storm could have run it better, shared our story better, and accomplished more. BUT God ask that I run with it amidst my poor relational, communication, and organizational skills.

I promise, there were hundreds of other kids in our town that could have offered input on the new playground. BUT God saw fit to have my daughter and I as part of that planning team.

From schools, trips, camps, ministries, neighborhoods, and places we've passed through in live all showed up when God was ready for things to pan out that He's been writing since before I was born. Do you ever feel like you're not playing the part you want in the story of life? Be encouraged! Every [seemingly] small part in a story is valued.

When God ask you to play a repetitive, type-cast roll, Say Yes! When God invites you to play an unexpected drop-in roll, Say Yes! Because you never know when your story will change and there will be a big BUT GOD right after your YES!

Enjoying My Supporting Roll in God's Story

Thank you, to at least 2 different countries, 14 different states, 37 different US towns, and MORE than 61+ different friends/acquaintances who shared a part in our Vilonia Tornado chapter through asking for prayer from their friends, collecting donations, sending necessities/gift cards/monetary support, delivered items, helped with clean up, and so much more! It's so humbling to be connect to each of you and really hope I didn't miss anyone. These are just the names I could find on my Facebook timeline and private message history not including my husbands:

  1. Brittany Thompson- Ervington, AL
  2. Kelsey Harris- Arkadelphia, AR
  3. Danna Magness-  Batesville, AR
  4. Morgan Smith- Batesville, AR
  5. Shadrack and Mellissa Black- Batesville, AR
  6. Amy Howard- Benton, AR
  7. Kathryn Doland- Bethel Heights, AR
  8. Jessica Colley- Centerton, AR
  9. Kim Stiles- Conway, AR
  10. Morgan Williams- Conway, AR
  11. Molly Jones- Conway, AR
  12. Janna Chaffin- Dalton, AR
  13. Cheryl Patterson- El Dorado, AR
  14. Craig Herring- El Dorado, AR
  15. Dana Rumph- El Dorado, AR
  16. Deedra Nash- El Dorado, AR
  17. Wanda Deason- El Dorado, AR
  18. Hannah Henderson- Fayetteville, AR
  19. Kelly Malancon- Fayetteville, AR
  20. Sally Acosta- Fayetteville, AR
  21. Johnathan Stoner- Floral, AR
  22. Brandi Shinn- Greenbrier, AR
  23. Cristin Jensen- Greenbrier, AR
  24. Terri Nicholson- Greenbrier, AR
  25. Amy Whisenhunt- Greenland, AR
  26. Cindy Brantly- Little Rock, AR
  27. Shane Harris- Little Rock, AR
  28. Samantha Grant- Magnolia, AR
  29. April Winn- Marmaduke, AR
  30. Cathey Griffin- Parker's Chapel, AR
  31. Fran Brotherton- Parker's Chapel, AR
  32. Heather Gilmore- Parker's Chapel, AR
  33. Jennifer McNab- Parker's Chapel, AR
  34. Rita Snow- Parker's Chapel, AR
  35. Rob and Amanda Waggoner- Parker's Chapel, AR
  36. Julie Beavers- Pine Bluff, AR
  37. Jessy Cutrell- Star City, AR
  38. Doreen Keim- Siloam Springs, AR
  39. Ashley Hall- Strickler, AR
  40. Anja Spadoni- White Hall, AR
  41. Candace Achorn- White Hall, AR
  42. Shannon Paldino- Orlando, FL
  43. Kate Stoner- Keokuk, IA
  44. Jam'e Brown- Wichita, KS
  45. Katie Archer-, Ruston, LA
  46. Rebecca Dorobis- Rockport, MA
  47. Patrick Sherrill- Alpena, MI
  48. Karen DeBeus- Hope, NJ
  49. Sami Roe- Midwest City, OK
  50. Scott Jenkins- Norman, OK
  51. Edna Cain- Sapulpa, OK
  52. Betty Lin-Fisher- Akron, OH
  53. MaryAnn Waltz- Milford, OH
  54. Kathy Metivier- TX
  55. Christine Hurt- Orem, UT
  56. Abigail Assam- Lynchburg, VA
  57. Heather Rennie- Aberdeen, Scotland
  58. Jenny Sim- Aberdeen Scotland
  59. Rachael Underwood- Insch. United Kingdom
  60. Betty Pennington- ?
  61. Justin and Crystal Murphy- ?

 Thank You for playing your part in God's story!!!

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Foster Family Organization: Keeping Our Home Ready and Running

I'm a planner for when you couldn't tell. So when we started fostering it was very difficult to keep myself calm when you just never knew how to prepare for the children coming into your home. There are a few things that I've learned that helped us me cope by keep some order and being ready for any age that may come.

2016

It may seem odd but if you know or are a foster family, you understand that each family is unique in what they can handle and who they family will be able to care for. For us, at this time, we are only taking males under Jamin's age. That helps me tons in way of preparation but still leaves a vast area from infant to mature preschoolers. I want to share some things we've learned that can still be pre-planed to keep your sanity in such a transitional life-style. 

Foster Family Organization sanity-saving things to preplan in such a transitional life-style {a peek inside a foster family's home}

Some of the things I've already shared about so you can click the images below to read more about those.

The Great-Wall Transformation

Having a simple way to keep shoes, hats, bags, and coats makes life less cluttered. This mudroom system right in our living room is so easy my 2-year-old knows exactly who's what goes where.


Living OUTSIDE You Home with toys #missionalliving

Having a fun "parking lot" set up for my kids riding toys allows for fast and easy clean up after outside playing.

DIY Dry Erase Monthly Menu

Having our dry erase menu and our "boarding" month planned out takes one more thing off my plate.

master bed boy room girls' room guest room

Having bedrooms set up with some wiggle room allows us to not have to over think when a new call for a placement comes in, no matter how late at night it is. Our room is ready to receive an infant. The guest room is ready to receive an infant through a child. Jamin and Ellie share a room currently but we have a bed ready for her if a child needs to share with Jamin and a trundle ready if it needs to be moved into the guest room.

guest closet diapers and bedding guest closet hanging bar guest closet clothing storage

Our guest closet is socked but at the same time trying to make it still feel like a child's own closet rather than a guest closet. We have diapers of almost every size, blankets, baby toys and gear, air mattress and bedding {for guest not fosters}, and a few pieces of clothing for every size from 0-3 months to size 6.




lazy susan centerpiece tray
medicine cupsmedicine log

My biological kids are all on daily allergy medicine and foster kids often come in with their own set of medications. The only kicker is you can't leave medications out to help you remember to give them because they would then be accessible for littles. Depending on the age of the child, I leave the vitamins out on the custom lazy Susan but otherwise everything goes in the locked cabinet and I leave medication cups out to help me remember. Fosters have to have all medicines recorded so we place a clipboard with the medicine log out in the open with a pen hanging on it so we can quickly record everything.

counter cleanup

Babies come with all kinds of things like bottle, formula, burp clothes, and diaper that need to be readily available. Therefore leaving your house in survival mode. That doesn't mean it has to be unattractive. I decided to wrap a formula can in cute scrapbook paper so leaving it on the counter next to the drying bottles wouldn't be a total eyesoar.

I hope this glimpse into our home was fun, helpful, or just interesting. I know I like snooping in other's homes with great detail and thinking through things with them about why they do certain things. Any questions?

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Don’t Work for the Weekend

For a girl who likes routine, consistency, and predictability, learning to breath, take breaks, enjoy the moment, and contentment is surprisingly hard for me.

I would think if I thrive on routine then I would prefer mundane seasons. If consistency and predictability are my thing then why can't I just breath enjoying to moments of rest with contentment. I am learning to find joy in the now. Being a  planner, I fight myself rushing to check the next box in my over-planned life. Some days, I need a good cry to keep me in a position of stillness.

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I guess I'm longing for a permanence. Thinking if I check off a list, which ever aspect of life that might be, I'll get one step closer to never having to change again. All the while being unsettled with the rhythm of now. Trusting God's timing is an issue for most of us.

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As a mom, I routine our days to death trying to trudge through meal, nap, school, bath, bed times. I don't want to miss the bright-eyed childhood full of squabbles, selfishness, and big blunders.

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As a church planters wife I want to rush to throw up walls in our new building to move on to the bigger and better things He has in mind to use us for through that resource. I don't want to miss building relationships in this process.

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As a foster parent hoping to be someone's forever family, I miss opportunities in the now to love every part of the journey, each child's milestone, every family's success. I don't want to miss important lessons that will be invaluable for our future family no matter what that portrait might look like someday. 

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I don't want to live the expression "work for the weekend". I want to fully live the now.

I know God has lessons in the journey. That's the point right?! Why else would we be stuck here after choosing to trust and follow Him with our lives rather than being swept away to spend eternity in His face-to-face presence?

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Proverbs 16:99 says, "The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps." Life is a dance. We can try to plan what style dance that might be but God knows the steps to orchestrate the perfect routine. Only in humbly seeking God's will for our lives can we find comfort in the unknown ahead and thrive in the now.

Anyone else struggling to breath in the sweet aroma of the now?

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