Monday, June 27, 2011

Queen Anne's Lace

This weed is one of my favorite flowers. When we lived in Kansas City there was an abandon house that sat along a road I traveled often that had a front yard surrounded by a white picket fence. Inside the fence the yard had gone wild and was filled with a graceful carpet of Queen Anne's Lace. For years I thought that someday maybe we would buy that house and live in it, but alas, that never happened. Still, in my wishing I had thought to myself I would probably leave the front yard mostly alone. Perhaps I would have only carved a small walk way down the middle of the Queen Anne's Lace and paved it with natural stone set in sand. Oh well, I say all of that to give you a picture of one of my very favorite flowers.
The blooms are a simple white and it grows best in poor soils and areas left to themselves. It is also known as the wild carrot, very close in kin to our edible varieties. On my list of favorite cut flowers it ranks right up there in my top three, the other two being white Casa Blanca Oriental Lilies and white daisies. Um...I guess I love the simplicity of white flowers.
Anyhow, since moving to South Carolina I am pleased to find that Queen Anne's Lace grows here also and graces the shore around the lake behind Morning Star. We walk around this lake as a family almost nightly and lately I have taken to picking a few stems of lace for my table. It is amazingly beautiful in my opinion and the blooms last a long time. I keep adding water to their little vase and they keep drinking it up and blooming their little hearts out. One of the numbers in this vase you see is over a week old and still looks as new as the day I picked it.

Ah, simple pleasures.
You know every flower has a meaning, especially in bouquets? Well Queen Anne's Lace represents 'sanctuary', and I think that makes it even more lovely a bloom in my world right now.
Here is a little poem I found about the flower that I love:

Queen Anne's Lace II

A table on which the bees
may sup
For them by His grace
God has raveled out of
a table which has merged
with its 
cloth of lace.
                                                  by Saiomi Shriver

Live near a field? You probably can find some of these growing there. So enjoy them despite their weed status.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

The American Dream

Today as I cleaned up my kitchen and listened to an intercession set on the Prayer Room Live, I heard the prayer leader pray against the American Dream. It immediately drew my thoughts to Luke Wood's song in which he sings the words, 'Wake me up from the American Dream, I want to be with You where You are!'
Yes Lord, wake me up from the American Dream today.
I sang these words over my own heart because I needed the reminder to desire the things of the Kingdom above the physical things necessary for living.
Since we have moved it has been hard not to continually be worried over how we would pay for all kinds of 'things' since we had stepped out in faith to move here and do ministry at Morning Star. Our savings has begun to dwindle and in the last few months we have lost two supporters. Some may say that is a good recipe for worry, but not with the Lord on our side. The Lord has continually confirmed our decision to move and has even now been blessing us with new and amazing connections that confirm the move for us. Yet a lot of days I spend worrying. It is a wrong way to focus my days.
I know in my 'knower' (that place in the pit of your stomach that is calm when you are sure of yourself and the One who  leads you) that we are suppose to be here and that the Lord has plans for us here. I also know after years of living by faith how to trust the Lord better to provide for us. He has done it so well over the past four years, especially our second year at IHOP.

A snapshot from that year:
   I had a new baby and had quit my job to be home with her, Ken was in school and could only work part       time doing nights cleaning theaters. We tried to raise support, but no one really understood our vision and the few who did send us financial support were not enough to fill the gaps in our budgets. It was just supernatural that year. Our monthly expenses were probably around $2000 per month and at the end of the year our income tax return was less than $6000 total!!! In all logical-ness there is no way we should have survived, but we did and we lived comfortable. Not luxurious, but comfortable, we always had enough somehow. Again I say, it was Supernatural.

So I feel as though we may be coming back into one of those season. We are missionaries, we are living our lives for the Lord's service and working full time in ministry. He has called us, we are sure, and although I stress sometimes to convince others of this calling, it really isn't my job to convince others.
I need to just relax and be calm in what the Lord has asked us to do and that is to trust Him with our all and do ministry at Morning Star serving in their new prayer room!
The lake at Morning Star which we walk around almost every night.
Also in the picture are a few of our duck friends
whom we love to feed bread too, they have such funny little personalities.
Our lives will not look like the American dream I have a feeling, and a lot of people may misunderstand what we are trying to do in this season. I think I hear the Lord saying that that is okay. I don't have to worry about what people may think of us.
We aren't being irresponsible (I'm declaring that to myself today), we have waited, prayed and listened for the Lord's leadership and now we are walking in it. Some days our reality terrifies me though, because it represents so many unknowns and there is no map for me to follow (I like straight roads), but the Lord is way more creative than I am. Probably if He even tried to show me the whole picture it would make me feel queasy just to look at it.
So this post is about a personal declaration that I will not fall for the trap of the American Dream. To have more money is not the answer to happiness and wholeness. Happiness it is to be within the will of the Father and for now that equals Morning Star for the Brooks family. From the beginning of this move I've used the line, if it's His will, it's His bill. Although I know we are required to do our part and ask the Church (which are the people within the Body of Christ), I know it is His job to move on people's hearts to respond to our ask. He is as faithful and trustworthy as all the scriptures say He is and I am going to try to live my life to please Him. That also means that I can't keep worrying about what other people think. He hasn't called us all to the same things and being misunderstood is not the worse thing that can happen.
Today is a new day and I surrender my life and my will to You again Lord. Thank you for being so long-suffering with me. Amen.

Friday, June 24, 2011

New Office Space

Remember how sad I was to give up my little sewing desk as we prepared to move from Kansas City. It was where I kept all my creative treasures and spent a lot of time pondering new creative endeavors. Ken assured me that we could buy a new desk for cheap when we arrived in Fort Mill, and of course he was right.
Although you can't get much cheaper than free!
See Ken had an old desk he used for a work bench in KC, and when we moved here he had no place to put it, so I snatched it up and found a spot for it. Wait 'til you see where I've put it. I think it is terribly clever, but not original by any means. I got the idea for my new office from a recent article I read online at Country Living about small office spaces.

Besides the original photo that inspired me, here is a simpler version and another.
Our new home is blessed with a big master bedroom with his and her closets which are big enough to walk into. Immediately I thought back to that closet office article and we measured Ken's work desk and made the move.
I wish I had before and after photos, but I don't, all I have is my mostly finished space.
The main view, including my new shoe rack holder thingy.
Better insider view.
The other end of the desk, and a few of my clothes.
....and more storage up above.

In the photos you will notice I didn't take any photos of the drawers or the lower storage, that is because the desk drawers are missing. Ken's tools are still being stored in them in another closet. Yet you may note that I have three different plastic storage drawer systems that suit me just fine for now. This is an office, craft station, home school supply storage, prayer closet.
My clothes still needed to be housed in the closet too, and I had to use the upper shelves for my other personal items. In the photo that shows the upper storage you may notice my new 20 gauge shotgun and compound bow. Those deer had better watch out this fall when they come into season, I'm fixing to get me at least one to put in my freezer.
Now back to office spaces.
In addition to all the storage space, I want to focus in on my love for the hanging shoe rack on the door. It has a double function and lots of potential.... Right now it is storing my extra shoes and extra skeins of yarn. I'm sure I will find more things to store in the extra pockets though, since I don't plan to invest in any more shoes at the moment.
I love this space, and to top the space off, it has an outlet inside so that I can plug in my sewing machine and a lamp. How wonderful!
When my sewing machine isn't in use, I plan to store it on top of a gray set of plastic drawers I have under my skirts and pants, which will free the desk top up for other projects.
Thank you Lord for providing such a special place to work. Help me to be even more creative and not use my chair as a catch-all.
For the future of this space I'm seeing colors and bright patterns like my inspiration from Country Living. At the present though, it is functional and well fitted for all kinds of uses.
Hope this inspires you to discover and reinvent space in your own home!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Our Mountaintop Experience

It was a literal mountain. Thought I should mention that up front to clear up any confusion you may have as you picture some ethereal, spiritually symbolic experience. Our journey started in Peoria, IL, as my mother, mother in law, baby girls and I set out to meet up with Ken in South Carolina. He had taken our belonging down to our new home four days earlier and we left on Sunday afternoon to join him. Our hopes with leaving later in the afternoon was so the girls would be tired and sleep most of the first day in the car.
It was a mildly successful thought, the girls were tired and did sleep for a good way of the first day...into the night until around 10:00pm Kalei woke up with all the highway lights shining in her face and was mad. It started with a few frustrated grunts and cries, and then, as she kept having the amber colored roadside lights flashing in on her face, she grew to an outraged scream. Soon, she was so worked up that no amount of soothing words from the 'memas' could comfort her and she was eventually reduced to a coughing, choking, crying mess by the time we found a hotel and pulled into the parking lot.
We ended the first day 45 minutes shy of our goal, not too bad. The hotel room was a welcomed sight and soon we were all asleep.
Map of the Smoky Mountain National Park.
The second day started well enough with breakfast at a Cracker Barrel, and for the whole morning we made great time. Such great time that we decided to take a scenic route through the mountains. As a child my parents had driven through the Smoky Mountains National Park and so my mother and I decided we would like to see it again. So I texted Ken that we would be taking a scenic way and wouldn't make it that night, but would find a hotel after making it through the mountains.
First we drove through the touristy towns of Sevierville, Pigeon Forge, and Gatlinburg before reaching the park itself. Those three towns stressed me out, there were people and tourist traps everywhere, the streets were packed and I could hardly wait to put them behind me.
Then up, up, and up the mountains. The scenery was beautiful and the sun was shining down through the trees onto the road, making it feel almost magical as we ascended the heights. Then, as we neared the highest point in the Smoky Mountains, I started to notice a bit of smoke coming from our van. No lights were indicating a problem on the dash, but I still stopped at the next pull off area at the side of the narrow mountain roads.
View from Clingman's Dome, we didn't quite reach Clingman's Dome, bummer.
As I looked under the van to see where the smoke was coming from my heart skipped a beat when I saw liquid pouring from under the van. It was red which I knew to be transmission fluid, and that is when I had this really surreal feeling. Stuck at the top of the mountains with car trouble, I could be living in a movie, it was such a predictable scenario.
Then I checked my phone, no reception, no signal, ugh. None of our phones could get reception, and none of the other people at the pull off had reception. At that point I sat in the driver's seat again and my mom took one look at my face. She came over and held me as I had my mini melt down. I cried silently for about 2 minutes and then I pulled it back together. My mother said we needed to pray for a good Samaritan to help us, and a second later two men from Scotland came up and asked if they could help.
Coincidence, I think not.
They offered to take one of us adults to the top of the mountain to get a cell phone signal and call for help, while one of them would stay with the van. I had a new 20 gauge shot gun under the back seat, so I felt fine with the one sticking close to the van. I felt horrible about waiting to see which Grandma would be brave and go up the mountain. My mom volunteered first, but my mother in law talked herself into the role, so my mother in law went up the mountain to call for help. The man who stayed behind with us kept his distance from us and the van to make us feel more at ease and in a bit the SUV came back with the other Scot and the mother in law, safe and sound.
At the top of the mountain she had called 911 and told them our location, just shy of the summit known as Clingman's Dome near the road construction on the Tennessee side of the mountain.
So we waited. More wonderful people stopped and checked on us and offered to help, but for the most part there was nothing anyone could do. One couple stayed with us until help finally came, and another pair of biker couples were so stirred up that no help had come after 2 hrs that they went down the mountain to their camp and raised a stir with the park rangers to get them into action. Soon after that the ranger showed up, was rude, called for a tow truck from Sevierville and then stuck around just long enough to make sure our babies had water and food. Then the biker husbands came back up with their truck to check to see that the rangers had come and waited with us until finally after another hour the tow truck showed up.
From where we were stranded, this was our view
as we watched the sun set.
Despite our circumstances it was beautiful.
As we parted from the wonderful people who had stayed with us to the end I was all tears and thank you's. The sun was almost completely down and my girls were exhausted after having some bread and water for dinner.
As the tow truck driver loaded the van up he said that Ford Windstars are notorious for having this issue with their transmissions. He predicted that it was a bearing on the transmission that went bad and caused a hose in the transmission to leak as it wore out. He said our van was not the first he has towed off the mountain because the wear of the climb on the transmission was too much for one of those bearings that was already going bad. Sigh.
So he towed us down, and the cab of his truck fit all four of us adults and two babies miraculously. On the way down I got motion sick and then finally he took us to a hotel where we unloaded as much as we could out of the van. We rented the biggest room the hotel had and then he towed our van to the repair shop about a half mile from the hotel.
We spent the next three days in that hotel room with no car and two babies. It was a long stay, but thankfully my mother in law had a friend who lived close to where we were stranded and so she came over and stayed with us and kept us company. We also used her car and the local trolley system to run errands and see around the tourist town of Sevierville. I only rode the trolleys once and ended up so car sick I was in bed the rest of the day.
Still, it was a pretty decent stay for having been stranded. We (the memas and me and Sandy the local friend) played a lot of scrabble and meme Kathy bought the girls some legos which kept them mostly happy.
Then finally it was time to go pick up the van and we made the rest of our way to South Carolina, arriving just in time for dinner Thursday night.
Wow, it was the longest scenic route I had ever taken, hahaha! There were plenty of other funny stories from the experience, but that would only be funny if told in person, so ask me about it sometime and you will get the whole thing then.
It is such an amazing thing to me still how it all happened and worked out that day on the mountain. Even now it feels as though it could have been one of those funny scenes from a movie like 'Planes, trains and automobiles', or 'Tommy Boy', involving those road trip mishaps. My very own comedy which I am just now able to laugh about, because at the time, it was not funny.
Since I am able to laugh about it now though, I hope if made you laugh a bit too.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

I'm Still Alive

With not much internet time and not much interest in the computer at the moment, I thought I should at least pop in to let all you know that we have survived the move to South Carolina, quite well in fact. After weeks of transition and feeling as though I was in limbo between houses, we (me and the girls)arrived last Thursday and already my new home is mostly put together. The carpets are atrocious, which is another story, but for all of our personal belongs, most of them have found a home, and those which haven't have made their way to the local goodwill store. Moving is a great time to de-clutter I've found.
Escorting me and the girls to our new home was my mother and mother in law, who kept me company on the road trip down. Thank the Lord for those mothers, they made this trip so much smoother and despite having a few minor hang ups along the way, I made the transition with very little screaming and as few tears as possible. In fact I haven't cried as much as I expected, hahaha. I know I am a terribly emotional woman, but the Lord had prepared me so far in advance for this move, that by the time I arrived in SC, I was just thankful to finally be here.
The lake behind the Morning Star Fellowship with lots of geese.
We like to feed the geese around sunset, they will eat right out of your hand
and then proceed to hiss at you.
The hardest day so far was Sunday when I went to the Morning Star Fellowship for the first time. It all started when I was packing Kalei's diaper bag for Children's Church and found our IHOP CEC photo badges for the girls and knew that I would no longer need them. So I cried. Then I went to church, met some nice people, and sniffled a bit as we talked. Then I teared up a bit as I walked to my seat and then sobbed through most of worship.
Then when it was time to take the kids back to Children's Church, I dropped them off and hid in the bathroom and cried a whole lot more. When I came out of my bathroom stall though, the Lord set it up that I would meet two other woman who loved on me and encouraged me and told me of their own hard transitions to the Morning Star Fellowship. It was divine for sure. It at least helped me to stop crying for a bit.
Back in my seat I listed to the Father's Day message and only sniffled and teared up a couple more times and then finally it was time to go eat lunch. Whew, by then I was emotionally exhausted.
It wasn't that the service was bad or anything, but I was missing IHOP so much and thinking of all my favorite things that I had left behind in KC. It is hard to be without all my mom friends and to watch my children asking for their little friends too.
Since then though, it has been getting better and I've met several other moms and already been invited to a mom's gathering this coming Thursday (just a small group that meets in a home). Although I'm hesitant to put myself out there and try to make new friends, the Lord is so good to me, and has already provided a couple moms to ease me back into fellowship. He is just that good!
The girls enjoying some Carolina 'tree ripened' peaches. Yum!
My reason to write all of this is to let all my beloved friends, who read this blog, know that I am doing well. I'm still missing IHOP and all the people that I love there terribly, but at least I am not drowning daily in a puddle of tears or anything dramatic like that. Having babies and being almost constantly needed somewhere has helped keep me from dwelling on my own worries and selfishness, which makes my days a lot easier. Children are such a blessing in more ways than one and my girls are like two little beams of sunshine in my life right now. Nothing dampens their smiles except maybe a lack of oatmeal in the morning and a lack of water in the water table. Ha.
The front of our new home!

So I would write more, but I feel as though this post doesn't really have a definite point, so I should probably stop before it sounds like rambling. I will hopefully post again soon about our mountain top adventure, and then more on the house, but for now, know that I am thinking of all of you my friends, and missing you more than I could tell you.
Hugs from SC!