Last Tuesday afternoon, I finally tackled the gargantuan task of weed-pulling on our property. After receiving our first penalty notice from the HOA and enduring several nights of losing our dogs in the forest formerly known as our backyard, we decided enough was enough. Three hours later, I had definitely made a dent (I wish I had before and after photos to share), but there is still a lot to do to make it look nice. I pulled and pulled until my hands were swollen and tingly and my back was numb; and all the while, the same words of a particular song played over and over in my head: "Yesterday I felt so angry, and today so insecure. I hate it that I wrestle with the God that I adore. Your presence always heals me, so I wanna drink it in. You know where we're going, God, and you know where I've been..." I hummed this tune the whole time, and as I weeded, I noticed a dramatic difference in the types of things that were taking up residence in our otherwise bare yard.

There were giant, hideous, mutant weeds, several feet tall, with spikes and fuzz, growing in the corner of the yard, where there was never any shade and the ground was dry, dusty and hard. There were also smaller, fern-like plants that grew next to the house, where the ground was damp and soft and always shielded from the harsh effects of sunlight. No matter what technique I used to pull the mutant weeds out of the ground, they all snapped off at the base, leaving what I am sure is an intricate root system tucked securely in its dry, rocky home, and I am left holding a useless, disgusting, prickly mess in my hands. The more lush weeds (if you can even use the word "lush" to describe a weed) came effortlessly out of the softer ground next to the house.

Now, when you pull weeds for that long, in virtual silence, one of two things will inevitably happen: you start to have imaginary conversations in your head, or you start to hear from God. It's funny, the ways that God will speak to us. On this particular day, the words to that song played over and over, words that are very relevant in my life right now, and I needed some time to let them sink in and take shape and transform my soul. I needed a reminder pounded into my head that Christ is my rock when important things seem to be spinning out of control, and there was one situation in particular on my heart that, in spite of my best efforts, I cannot just let go.

But back to the weeds. I can't help but laugh that God used weeds to make an important point to me. If weeds are sin, like bitterness, pride, and unforgiveness, in what kind of ground will they most thrive? What kind of heart is fertile ground for these pests? Once weeds take over, they suffocate everything else that tries to grow around them. If I tried to plant anything beautiful or useful in that part of the yard, it wouldn't stand a chance. It was in that moment that I realized my heart was resembling a breeding ground for weeds more than a haven for beauty and health.

This realization didn't come full-circle until I went to my Wednesday night Bible study and heard a piece by Beth Moore that was not only timely, but downright true. For several months now, I have been struggling big time with forgiving the way that I know I am supposed to. Details are irrelevant, but some important people in my life have hurt me in a way I never thought they were capable of, and the chain of events over the last several months has left me confused, brokenhearted, and at a total loss. I have never been faced with anything like this before, and it has done a number on the condition of my heart.

I was so thankful to hear Beth Moore validate my struggle with this. That it is human nature to not want to forgive someone because then they "win"... that we don't want to forgive someone until we get what we want from them. Very true, and I've heard it before. What she said that was different was what made me realize that forgiveness is unconditional, especially when we are in disagreement with a fellow sister in Christ. I do not need any more from those who offended me than what I got, because I am never going to get it. Just because of Christ, I am going to get over it. And just like that, I felt the roots of the weeds that held a suffocating grip on my heart loosen, and finally I could breathe again.

It's not easy to forget what happened, although I hope to someday. It's hard to imagine what the coming days will look like in light of this situation, but with God's help it will become what He wants it to be. I have hope because I am surrounded by reminders of the power of love and forgiveness in restored relationships, some that belong to me and some that I was merely witness to. I am sure I will make my share of mistakes along the way. But for now, I refuse to let the enemy win this thing, at least on my end. Only God can change hearts, and who knew? He would change mine on a sunny Tuesday afternoon, weeding the yard.


Today I fell in love.

...with Orangette. I was meandering around Barnes and Noble today and came across the blogger's book, sat down and started reading. Before I knew it, it was 6:00 and my poor husband had been waiting for me an additional two hours longer than I intended to come home with a smoothie, most likely the only thing he would have been able to keep down since he came home sick with the stomach flu or the like today. I am in love with her writing and was instantly sucked in. Yet another inspiring book on my must-read list.


Current Obsession: Macy's European Coffeehouse

This past weekend on our latest girl's trip to Flagstaff, we visited Macy's on Beaver Street. After a glowing recommendation from Joe of Joe's Real BBQ/Joe's Farm Grill/Liberty Market fame, I finally got around to trying the world-traveling coffee connoisseur's favorite stateside coffee shop. I must say, it exceeded my expectations! If you ever find yourself in Flagstaff, don't miss Macy's. Not only is the cappuccino top-notch, the food is pretty tasty too. I had the granola with yogurt and fresh strawberries and bananas, a half order of the vegetarian biscuits and gravy, and a Cappuccino Royale, served in a giant cup with the most perfect milk foam I have ever seen. As a fellow barista, I have to admit that it may be a while before I master the art of milk foam the way the experts at Macy's have!

We also saw our favorite band ever, Stampead. It would be a crime to write a blog about Flagstaff and not give props to their amazing music. However, nothing I could ever write would do justice to Katie's description of our latest Stampead experience. If that's not love, I don't know what is.

New craft room!

We moved in about three weeks ago and I immediately set to work on the craft/guest room. I am super excited to put it to use! All I need now is the sewing machine my dear grandmother has bequeathed to me to put on the table-formerly-known-as-the-dining-room-table. I am in desperate need of some wall art or shelves, but for now I think it's off to a good start:

Also, here is our bedroom setup:

On another note, I am SO stoked to visit Knit Happens in Scottsdale. My mom made me pinky swear not to go without her, which shouldn't be too hard since it's right down the street from Mom and Dad's! I'll be dropping off the fur-kids and going yarn crazy with the madre in no time.



This book is one of the most beautiful additions I've made to my home library, ever. It's chock-full of creative inspiration and makes you feel good about wanting to do nothing but sit around at home and knit, or sew, or bake, or garden, and that it's not wrong or degrading to women to want to do these things, it's a lost art. I LOVE IT. Mom would be proud.

We close on our house this afternoon! As of this weekend, I will finally have my own kitchen where I can get my cook on, and a craft room where I can read, write, sew, knit, and collect snippets of inspiration for future projects. Then Elska Aprons may actually launch one of these days. Score!

Update: As it turns out, we did not close on the house this afternoon. The bank wants to do a three-day review of the documents, so now it won't be until next Tuesday. A week late. This is indeed a frustrating process. All I can say is that I hope all the putting off of the paperwork resulted in the lower interest rate we were told we could get.


Untitled, 1/5/09.

I don't even know what I'm doing awake right now, because it's almost midnight and I don't feel well and Cody is downstairs baking cookies for a work "retreat" tomorrow and I have all this stuff on my mind. I just read 1 John 1 and one verse in particular jumped out at me in such a way that I can't help but beg for God's help not to be this person anymore:

If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. (v. 6)

I have been walking in my own darkness for longer than I ever should have; dark enough that I feel like I'm not who I say I am, and I know there are others who have thought that of me because of it, others who are as imperfect as me, just in different ways. I have been hurt and judged and gossiped about behind my back and turned into something I'm not by people who are supposed to love me because I messed up and yes, I am guilty of less-than-godly behavior. I could go on and on to justify myself but the bottom line is that I need to forgive. I don't know how but I must, because God knows that bitterness will shred me to pieces until there is nothing good left in me to show what happens when we actually live out the life He has for us.

For now, I am so thankful to have dear, dear friends who are living proof of God's redemption, because they give me the hope I need, and that's the first step.


It's been a while...

I gotta be honest, I haven't felt like doing much of anything lately, especially blogging. All of my creative energy has been zapped by some pretty crappy and hurtful circumstances that I won't get into here. And besides that, Obama won the election- that's enough to send any true conservative into hiding for a while, no? Anyway, on to the actual, non-political reason for this blog... shocking, I know.

Yesterday was an exiting, life-changing day for Cody and I... we got news that the bank approved our offer on a house! We have been searching for a couple of months now and every time we found something we loved someone else had beaten us to the punch. Let's just say that when the media tells you that the housing market is frozen, they are full of it. Haha. But seriously. The process was becoming so frustrating it was beginning to feel like we would never get a house before we had to move out of here. Well, it turns out God had a plan for us indeed.

Last April, we were thisclose to buying a 1300 sf home in Gilbert for $195k. A day before the inspection period ended, I lost my job and our income was cut in half. We had to give up the house, and I was devastated. Cody assured me that we would be OK and that we had to trust God, and after a while I got over it, and we moved into his mom's house. OUR plan was to live there for about a year and pay off the one loan that we had and then buy a house. GOD'S plan was a little different, however. And since only hindsight is 20/20, I was freaking out when I found out we had to move out sooner than expected, and I didn't know what we were going to do.

As we all know, the market has changed dramatically in the past few months. Foreclosures have skyrocketed, interest rates have dropped, the stock market has been frighteningly volatile. All of these things, however, have created the perfect storm for people like Cody and I as first-time home buyers. So we set off on a mission to find the perfect home for the perfect amount of money, thinking we would snap one up in no time.

Fast forward a couple of months, and we were at the end of our rope, with no desire to rent an apartment in the meantime but feeling like it was inevitable. Keep in mind that we have the most incredible agent ever (if you are reading this and are looking for an agent, I INSIST that you employ him!), but often the seller's agents are flaky, lazy, and just plain don't know what they're doing. So the MLS status will say one thing but something entirely different will be going on with the house. Scott, our agent, knows the process better than we ever could, so we trusted his advice and direction as we navigated our options and knew he had our best interests at heart.

Then Tuesday arrives. We get an email from Scott about a bank-owned listing that had just been reduced that day to $150k... on Monday it was listed at $240k. A $90k drop?! I knew the banks were desperate to get rid of inventory, but that seemed a little ridiculous. I called Scott after work and chatted with him a bit, and we decided to meet at the house to check it out that afternoon. Cody was still at work, so he couldn't be there to meet us. When I pulled up to the house, there was a car in the driveway... someone else was there checking it out. My heart absolutely dropped and I thought there was no way that these people were going to leave the place without going straight to the agent's office to submit an offer, it was that nice. So when Scott showed up and opened the front door, I stepped inside and here's my reaction: "OK... we need to leave right now and put an offer down. We can't let these people beat us to the punch... again!" Thankfully, Scott just kept walking through the house and I followed, and the whole time was beside myself with excitement because this place was beyond anything we had ever hoped for. Scott just kept saying, "What is wrong with this place? There has to be SOMETHING wrong with it... $150k? The bank is crazy!" But we found nothing. Just an amazing house with upgrades galore in a beautiful neighborhood in Gilbert.

I thought we didn't stand a chance.

We all headed straight to Scott's home office and submitted our offer. Wednesday morning, Cody sent in the earnest check. Thursday morning, Cody received a message from Scott saying that there was another offer on the house, which didn't surprise us but was a huge let-down. We thought that even though ours was the first to get to the bank, the bank would be foolish not to take the highest offer, if this other offer was higher than ours. Then, just as Cody was about to encourage me with that day's entry from "My Utmost For His Highest" Scott called us again. He started off the conversation by saying that he had good news and bad news. Sounding rather grim, he shared the bad news first: over the course of the day, several other offers had been submitted. Pause for effect. Then he said, "But the good news is... I got a call from the seller's agent. And the bank accepted your offer immediately. Just like that. I almost peed my pants. And the seller's agent is completely shocked that they took your offer so quickly. I don't even know what to say... this was the nicest house out of all the ones we've seen. And it's worth so much more than you guys are paying for it. Congratulations, friends." I was so happy, so relieved, felt so incredibly blessed that I cried. Behind our wedding day, it was the happiest day of my life.

As excited as I was when I was in the house, I knew I couldn't let myself get too attached to the idea of living there. We had been through enough disappointments to realize that wasn't a smart move. But I honestly had never felt that excited about a house, ever. After we submitted the offer, we submitted the process to God in prayer. I almost felt silly bothering Him with our house troubles, but we both knew that God is always in control and we had to believe that He had our best at heart, whether that meant we get the house or not. Considering the circumstances, I can't help but feel that He intervened to make it happen because He wants us to use our home for His purposes. It has been a dream of ours to do so. I must be honest and say that it was the first time I had submitted the process to God since this whole ordeal began. It was the first time I believed that He had the perfect house set aside for us and it may or may not be the one we liked, but we had to trust in His timing and plan. I know it's easy for me to say now because things worked out... but believe me that if it didn't work out, I would have firmly believed that it was because it wasn't the one. It doesn't mean I wouldn't have been scared and wondering what was going to happen... it just means that I know and believe what Romans 8:28 says.

We feel incredibly fortunate and blessed. All that to say... here it is!