Wednesday, May 13, 2015

a simple facelift and a pretty summer porch

While our home still feels so new to us, I have to constantly remind myself that it is pushing 8 years old. I know that's not OLD by any means, but some places are showing their age.

Our porch definitely needed some attention. Our HOA turned our decks and windows/doors over to us last year, but our siding and roof still belong to them. They repainted all the siding last year which was a happy surprise, and the roof still look great. But our porch had seen better days.

We actually use it a good bit. I typically bring my groceries in the front door (since our only other entrance is through the garage/basement). We also have summer dinners out here (it faces east so it's incredibly comfortable on summer nights). Also sometimes the kids play out front so I'll sit here and watch them.

After the long winter and nasty spring pollen, the porch was looking a little... tired. #pollenprints
The wood porch was past due for a good cleaning and a coat of paint/stain. The decking of the porch that is covered was in pretty great shape but the steps were pitiful. The front door also needed to be polished.
I used a product called Scott's Liquid Gold on our front door. A few of our neighbors have given up with the "real wood" upkeep and have painted the doors a wood color. BUT I have found that the polish REALLY livens it up. I have to polish it about 3 times a summer and once in the spring after the winter since it dries out. It really does make the world of difference!
The paint/stain we used was from Behr. It's called "Solid Color Wood Stain" and the color was Chocolate. A neighbor actually gave it to us. Since we live in a townhouse community all the porches on our row are made out of the same stain/color. So we help each other out ;) He moved and left us the paint since we mentioned once that we wanted to do something similar. It also gave us an idea of what it would look like since we could see the finished product on his house!
It went on as dramatic as this picture looks ^^

You know how you don't realize how bad something ACTUALLY looks until you make it pretty and then look back at the before? I couldn't believe how badly the deck was in need of a fresh coat until it was finished. WOW!
This paint/stain was nice because we didn't have to sand anything. We just cleaned the boards really well and brushed it on. No wiping necessary. It was dry to the touch within minutes and I was able to walk on it a few hours later. We let it sit overnight before moving the furniture back.

(I had AWESOME luck last year with geraniums, so I'm hoping for the same luck this year! The porch faces east so it gets intense morning sun but is gorgeous in the afternoon). 

Speaking of furniture...
We kept the bistro set and I trashed the old green covers that weren't doing this porch justice. I grabbed a few summery throw pillows instead. Much better! (and if you look close enough we hadn't finished the far side- that is done now though ;) )

The door freshly polished looks stunning! I am planning on keeping the Americana decorations up until July 4th. Then I'll swap it out for something more bright and summery.
And for a full view...

Monday, May 11, 2015

Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me, you've never failed and you won't start now....

It's way past time for an update on life. Here goes nothing...

There are days when I feel as though life isn't suppose to be this hard. There are days/months/years that just stink. Anyone else?

As we've plowed through Hebrews 12, along with Daniel and Abraham in our sermon series, I have been lost in deep thought. Sorry if I've seemed out of orbit; spacey even. We've been learning about starting, stopping, staying, and going and how that relates to "My Story." And while sometimes it's easier to "go" when instead you should stay, I've found that going is more difficult than staying. At least how it relates to our situation.

Maybe it's my extreme dislike of change.

It has caused me to reflect on the last few years. How we were SO SURE we were making the right decision to go. And we did. We quit amazing jobs (when I was 9 months pregnant), uprooted our family, left friends, and our home. We said goodbye to familiar and embraced unfamiliar. Through that there has never been a shadow of a doubt that going was the right step. But why has life still been hard? Like REALLY hard?

One year. My husband has been in excruciating pain for a year. If you've never really been around someone in chronic pain then be grateful. It's incredibly difficult to watch. I have prayed for healing, for tolerance to endure.  I have prayed for peace. That if things aren't going to get better that we will have the strength to keep going. 

There are so many places to point the finger... bad knees, his broken/not broken arm incident from a galvanized trashcan being hurled at him, an injury from a self defense class he took, lifting children who have always been in the >95+% for weight... whatever. Knowing the cause doesn't lessen the pain. 

He has been hurting. Really hurting. We have spent THOUSANDS of dollars seeking relief. And that's with awesome insurance. It's exhausting. Adjustments, needles, traction devices, medication (lots and LOTS of medication) MRIs, and the list goes on.

Oh and the clincher? He could no longer perform his duties as a Correctional Officer in the amount of pain he was in. To do so would be a physical danger. It's not something he was able to "grin and bear it". And the job left him zero flexibility to get better. In order to go to a doctor appointment he had to take the whole day off. When you have 2-3 appointments a week, that gets arduous.

I'm a stay at home mom. He's the bread winner. If he doesn't work, we don't get paid.

My flesh says... why? Why did we uproot EVERYTHING to end up at a dead end. At a job that he isn't able to perform. Surely God knew. He knows everything. So why lead us here? Why the physical pain and heartache?

But God ALWAYS provides. Right?

I'll admit. I wasn't exactly the poster child/wife as we navigated these muddy waters. I was upset. Betrayed almost. Not by my husband. In a way I felt betrayed by God (no matter how hard I tried to tell myself otherwise). Why would He would allow these circumstances to happen? He knows my fears. So why would he allow one of my biggest fears to happen?

Again.

Most people don't face these uncertainties in their life, so why us? Twice in 2 years seems unfathomable. I had to change my prayers from "God please heal my husband" to
                       

But as I've taken our sermon series to heart I have realized that to be led somewhere doesn't ensure peace. Abraham was CLEARLY called by God. Yet his trouble didn't disappear when he decided to go. He still faced the enemy. He still had to overcome trials.

Thank you Lord for that; ointment in my wound. 

See when we decided that Josh could no longer physically be at work, he began first using his paid leave. 12 days. We had 12 days of pay left. 12 days to figure out our future and to hopefully make the right decision. 12 days to cover 2 mortgages, 2 car payments, and life's necessities.

Sometime around the beginning of leave, I got a call from our tax lady. We weren't excited about taxes simply because 2014 was a year of new beginnings. We try to set our finances up so we do not received a tax return (you do realize that's YOUR money to begin with right?). Federal and state usually end up balancing out and we usually owe nothing or very little. It was the first year I was home for the whole year, he was at his job, and I had my embroidery business and the part time job at our church. We had NO IDEA how it would all work.

My heart was literally pounding when she called.

And at a time when I felt completely hopeless, with 12ish days of pay remaining... we found out that not only did we get a tax return, but our tax return was enough to cover a complete month of income. Praise Him. 

I was shocked, speechless, and so thankful. Not that a month of income is nearly enough to survive on... BUT it showed me that the Lord was watching. He cares about the details. He knew what that meant to me and He sent enough of a blessing for me to be assured that he was going to provide. I had to step back and let Him. 

Oh my flesh ached during those two weeks. I wanted Josh to not feel like a failure. I wanted to make ends meet. I wanted to know that things were going to be ok. I'd wake up every morning with that sense of dread. Like a wet blanket washed over every thought. Ultimately it wasn't about the money or the job. I wanted my husband to be doing something he loved. To feel worth in his career. To be able to provide.

And just like Abraham had battles to fight, we have an enemy to fight. An enemy who wants to steal joy and destroy lives. The enemy knows our weakness.

Yet when we turn to the Lord in our time of need, we do something the enemy never did. 

Something I've always admired about my husband is how he surrounds himself with people who build him up. Two years ago when we rode that roller coaster, he counseled with people who truly cared and wanted what was best for him. They asked him hard questions; and he clung to every word. The absolutely crazy thing? EVERYONE told him the same thing. The thing I was pushing against. Since then I have completely questioned my motives. And as I try to figure out why I tend to hold on until the very last second, I have realized that change is still my biggest weakness.

While I internalize my emotions and handle them inside my head, he externalizes them. So talking with people is the best thing he can do for himself. During those 2 weeks of leave he had more lunch meetings, counseling sessions and coffee dates than I've had in the last year. #okmaybefiveyears But it taught me that when you surround yourself with the right people that we really do carry each other's burdens. We aren't here to do life alone.

I heard this example a few years ago and I have never forgotten it. It's the idea that everyone has a front porch that figuratively represents the space we are willing to open to others. So while people like my husband have antebellum and plantation sized front porches, I am stuck over here with a cottage sized porch (do cottages even have porches?). A porch only big enough for a select few. That doesn't mean I don't have friends. But large groups exhaust me. I have never felt the need to have a lot of friends-- I trust very few with details. I crave depth. You know, the front porch rocking chair friends. Those comfortable enough to sit and have a glass of lemonade with. My yard may be huge, with room for many, but my porch is sacred. And while I want to open myself up, and share what's on my heart, I usually don't. I was almost caught off guard by myself as we went through this difficult time and how much I just wanted to internalize EVERYTHING. How I didn't want to be around people just in case "they asked". Yet I found myself confiding in those 2 or 3 who I knew had my back. Who I know will encourage me. I can only PRAY that when they need me that I am half as supportive as they were to me.

I share this because surely I'm not the only one who struggles with this small porch phenomena.

As I watched the first week of leave pass, I began to get really nervous. Like stomach sick. I'd cry to God, knowing that He was going to provide but just not seeing the pieces coming together as quickly as I'd like. And as I sat there having a spiritual battle with myself, knowing that God doesn't work on our time, yet truly wanting what was best for us, I would hear that still small voice saying that it would all be ok. #thistooshallpass
You know, it's funny that I felt so led to add this saying in my home. It's meaning is twofold. We hung it over our front door a week before we lost our dog. And that silly little sign has been such a source of comfort. Reminding me that these tense times will pass. Life will settle again. But it also reminds me that the good times are passing too. These years are slipping like sand. And as much as I will to stop the clock, it still runs.

Tuesday April 21st was the day that we would no longer have our main source of income. Josh had a few leads. He'd been on a handful of interviews. And had one lead that seemed the most promising. Ironically it was the one he wanted the most. He was supposed to hear whether or not he was hired by 3pm Monday April 20th. The minute hand ticked gracefully by the 3 with no regard for my emotions.

At 3:47, 13 minutes before his paid leave technically ended, he got the phone call. And yet again, the Lord reminded me that He will ALWAYS provide. It was in that moment that I saw the pieces fall into place and I felt that my prayers were answered.

I call it post traumatic stress (and absolutely no disrespect to people who have been clinically diagnosed). I can't allow my heart to be totally content where we are. The feeling of the rug being pulled out from under me is all too familiar. And I don't want to be caught off guard ever again. But I have to believe that every situation in the past 2 years, even down to taking a job that didn't work out had to be part of the plan.

This new step didn't come without sacrifices. We've had to put private school plans on hold. I also will most likely be returning to some sort of full time work in the fall. What that looks like I'm still not totally sure.

But I am so thankful where we are. These amazing new friends we've made have carried us. They care.

God puts people in our lives for such a time as this. 

I'm not going to lie- the part of me that has such a difficult time trusting, is only having a more difficult time. But I am clinging to His word that requires me to trust and obey.

So the real question... has this change been for the better of our family?

Yes.

A thousand times yes. 

I truly believe that had he stayed at the prison that his back would never have gotten better; regardless of the treatment he received. When you are in a toxic situation and paralyzed by mental fear, there is no amount of treatment that will help. And let me be clear... Josh was not scared of his job. He was fearful of having to defend himself and being unable to do so. Big difference.

It's sad, but I had to hear this from his Neurologist. He told me that if Josh got in one altercation where he couldn't defend himself that the outcome might not be good. Permanent damage. Paralysis. #whyischangesohard

So where are we now?

The good news is that the doctors feel his injury is completely treatable. We just have to give him the time to be properly treated. Mentally and physically. His neurologist said that just being removed from his job environment would do him so much good.

We have opted to do Vax-D therapy at the recommendation of his Neurologist. We are 2 weeks in and he is already seeing relief. He is still on all his pain medication, but 2 weeks ago the pain meds didn't appear to be doing anything. Now he has stretches of pain free times which is HUGE.

We are so thankful for our friends who have come beside us and carried our burdens. Our church has been such source of life and truth for us. No matter how badly he was feeling he always wanted to be there greeting people and making the connections that come so naturally to him (even when I cringed at the thought of being around others). #sorrynotsorry

He has completely changed careers and is a loan officer processing mortgage loans. We are absolutely beyond grateful for this opportunity. To be given this chance means the world to us. And if you are ever in the market to buy a house or refinance, let me know! I'll get you the hookup. ;)
And yet I think that no matter how important or huge these events are to us, I remember that the bigger picture is so much greater than anything I can imagine. That this earthly pain is only for a time. Like I've said before, for each step we are only required to make the next right step. We don't know what the future holds. And while that is absolutely terrifying to my changeless nature, it's absolutely necessary if we truly want what He wants. 

Friday, April 24, 2015

Oh HEY!

Well that was an unexpected break... I'll spare you all the boring details and give you a post of "catch up" pictures instead. Our lives got a little crazy- medical issues and job situations took us on a little ride the past few months, but we are still here... breathing... barely ;) I have been super busy with Create Pretty (etsy and Facebook sales) and I am so thankful for this side gig that I have!

We got a cat! I know right? Our beloved lab, Sadie, died only 11 days into the new year. It was quite the shocker and we were all just really sad. We needed SOMETHING to care for, and Jubilee has lived up to her name. She has brought us all joy and we are so happy that she joined our family. We don't know much about her other than she's about 9 months old and was very sick back in February. All her recent vet bills gave her a clear bill of health and we are so grateful that the shelter took care of her before we could! Even when we adopted her they were so sad to see her go because she is such a sweetie.
Luke is THRIVING. He loves preschool, has learned how to read, and has been registered for Kindergarten. I got two huge thumbs up from his teacher saying he is more than ready and prepared for the big K (although I already knew that) ;) He will go to the Primary School here. Our district has 1 school for just K-1st grade and we are really excited for such a small tight knit atmosphere. 
Emberly continues to grow. She is HUGE and is definitely a toddler and no longer a baby- although she will always be my baby. She is saying WORDS. Partial sentences actually. I miss the baby years, yet look forward to every stage and communicating is definitely something I look forward to. It's nice that she can say "bowl" when she wants a snack or shakes her head yes or no when I ask her a question. 

Josh is dealing with an extraordinary amount of back pain. It's the worst watching him hurt all day every day. We met with a neurologist (this is after consulting with a chiropractor, orthopedic surgeon and having a few outpatient procedures done by a pain specialist) last week who referred him to do a therapy called Vax-D at a neurochiropractor. His pain is not muscle pain, but nerve pain. We are really hoping for some relief. He hates doctors and taking medicine and that's all he's done for the last year. Prayers that this situation improves are coveted. 
No worries- there hasn't been a shortage of DIY projects around here! And I have been documenting to share on the blog shortly. Our master bedroom is the main focus currently and we are in the middle of painting an accent wall, the bathroom, nightstand overhaul, possibly the bathroom vanity and swapping out linens on the bed (eventually). I have it all together in my head, but have to carve the time and benjamins out to accomplish my goals! 
And a VERY little peek of some things I've been stitching! 

{I am crushing on this font BIG time!}

Other than that I am trying to find the time to blog. I love it and truly enjoy it and have genuinely missed it... so I'll be back- probably with a lighter than usual posting schedule but way heavier than the last month or so :)