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Friday, October 30, 2009

Fat Burnin' Friday

Lost another 1.2!! I've determined that for me, the most important piece to this puzzle is eating right. I can be in the gym for hours but if I can't eat well, it doesn't matter. Also, I like going to the gym, and I don't like exerting the self control to eat well. All this to say, it's harder for me to eat healthy than work out.

Anyway, now I have about 3.8 lbs to my goal!

Holla!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Ghetto Rant part 2

Scene: Our apartment complex, Portland, Oregon. Late at night, approximately 11:30. Mark and my bedroom. It is quite warm outside, so we have our window open, but the blinds are still drawn. We're exhausted after a long day. Mark had to work the swing shift (12-9pm) in order to get a fuel cell up and running. We're almost asleep, then...

She who bares it all: What the (*^&$ do you think you're doing? Get the He[[ back inside now!

Sad man: No. I'm leaving.

SWBIA: (crying) no, please, just GET IN THE HOUSE!

At this point, Mark and I are both awake. Being the nosy neighbors we are, we peek through our blinds down at the parking lot below. We see a sad man, trying to leave, and a woman restraining him from leaving. And she's wearing a little tee shirt. JUST a tee shirt. No pants, no chonies, just a tee shirt.

The fighting continues. SWBIA is crying, loudly. Sad man trys to get past her and she shoves him into the wall. The yelling and crying continues for about 10 minutes. The minutes begin to feel like decades.

Various lights in the complex are turning on. Oh goody, we're not the only creepy looky-loos who live here! I think to myself. I watch for a couple more minutes, and start to pray that someone would go down and help them. They are obviously not getting anywhere by themselves, someone of semi sound mind should really help them. Come on people! I silently rage at my neighbors, GET OUT THERE AND DO SOMETHING!

A still, small voice speaks to me. Get out there yourself, Jenni. You can't solve their problems, but you do have a drawer full of clean PJ pants. She could use some pants.

Yes, yes she could.

So, I pick up a pair of clean PJ pants, throw on a sweatshirt of my own and get ready to head down to join the circus.

Mark is about to die of embarrassment.

As I was getting ready to come downstairs, the following happened:

Sad man: I need to go. I need space.

SWBIA: Fine. Go. I'll give you space. (She turns and heads into the apartment.)

At this point I'm relieved. I don't have to go down there after all. YES!

Sad man backs his car out.

The apartment door is thrown open!

"NO! Go back in the house." I silently plead.

SWBIA runs out and (still in just the tee shirt) and throws herself in front of his car, crying and screaming, "See, I gave you space. Don't leave. Come back inside with me."

Crap. There went my chances of climbing back into my warm cozy bed and falling asleep. I head downstairs.

I make it out to the car. She is still blocking his car from leaving, thus leaving nothing to the imagination.

I offer her my pants. She tells me to get back in my house and go to he[[. Sad man tells her that she's completely crazy. Only crazy people go out in public without clothes on.

He's very right.

And we're going on about 30 minutes since this whole shebang has started. It's getting late. She's been naked for a long time.

I set the pants down near her door and wait and pray for them. After what seemed like about 38 years, I could tell that this was going no where. There was no solution to this problem. He only wants to leave, she only wants him to stay and hear her out. This is a lose/lose. We're looking for a win/win/win.

God, help me find a win/win/win, I pray.

Then it came to me. Invite them to our apartment. It's neutral, they can have a short conversation, and then he can leave if he still wants to. It seems like a win/win/win.

I propose the idea. We agree. They will come to our place. She will get 5 minutes, and he will listen. She will put on pants. He can leave after 5 minutes.

She puts on the pants. They come up to our apartment. Mark rolls his eyes at me.

They talk for 20 minutes. Mark and I sit on little kiddie chairs because they are sitting on the futon and that's all we have here. We all look a little crazy. I think we all are a little crazy.

Turns out, SWBIA has a valid point. She's tired of being a booty call and wants Sad man to really care about her, not just use her. He doesn't care about her and just wants to leave.

It's sad. Very, very sad.

Sad man gets up to leave. Then SWBIA says that he can't drive. He's been drinking.

My wonderful husband drives him home. He gets back here around 2:30 in the morning and we fall asleep, exhausted, but thankful that we could at least try and help.

And that's the end of the story.

A week later we see Sad man's car parked outside her apartment again. I guess some things never change.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Introducing Gus, the Bus.

The sticker says,
I love Jesus.
How perfect is that?

He's currently at the Doctor, but Dr. Mike called us and said that he's in great shape! He's getting a tune up and he'll be ready for the open road!
Welcome to the family, Gus.


P.S. This is our first "paid for in cash" kinda car, and we are stoked! Gus came with a bunch of stuff for his renovation (which we're also paying cash for) so we got a great deal. I'll keep you all up to date with his progress!


Saturday, October 24, 2009

Thoughts on a New Church

Mark and I attended the membership class today at City Bible Church.



Wow. It was beyond incredible! We were so blessed, and are so excited to make this our church home. The Holy Spirit is there, leading his people and there is an incredible vision there that we are excited to be a part of. I won't lie, though, there were parts of the class that I felt sadness. One of the pastors talked about old Italian bridges made of stone, and how each stone has a place and the bridge isn't as strong as it should be if a stone is out of place. The church is like that bridge, and sometimes stones aren't in their right place. They could be not attending at all, attending but not in ministry, or just in the wrong ministry and this prevents them from being used to their fullest potential, but also prevents the church from being as strong and useful as it can be. The pastor said that God moves stones and shifts things around, and that's wonderful, but stones aren't supposed to move themselves.



I thought a lot about Believers during the analogy. We loved being there, and it will always have a special place in our hearts. We can rest assured that we didn't move ourselves from there, that God did the moving, but I still wish that we could be a part of what is going on there. We believe in the vision of the church, we LOVE the people there, and still miss being a part of what God is doing. I guess that means we went to the right church, huh? Anyway, it made me excited for Heaven, where there won't be a 3000 mile gap between us and our fellow Believers (and all of our other friends spread here, there and everywhere), where we can praise God together again EVERY MINUTE of our heavenly lives.

We are so excited to see how the Lord is moving in our lives, and here in Portland. Being a part of a local church is such great thing. I encourage you, if you're not a part of a local church, find one that fits your needs, your lifestyle (we love Saturday night services now!) and get involved!

I'm working on a post (it's taking a loooooong time) about where we've been, where we're going and how everything seems interconnected. CBC is a part of that. I can't wait to share with you how I feel God is taking these parts of our lives that made little to no sense at the time, and is weaving them into this beautiful tapestry of our lives. Hopefully that post will come soon, but we'll see.

For now, I am just so happy to be here. I know that I'm where I'm supposed to be, and doing what I'm supposed to be doing. Ahhh, such a great feeling.


Love to you all,
Jenni

Friday, October 23, 2009

Fat Burnin' Friday

Well, I maintained this week, so the same 4.5-5 pounds to go. I worked out REALLY hard this week, so hopefully I'll see the fruits of that labor soon. I think I'm becoming a little too obsessed with the scale (I'm weighing every morning) so I need to back off a little bit. I think twice a week is good for me-it keeps me honest but not obsessive.

How are you doing?

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Tate Quote of the Day

Tate: "Mom, he's a piggy pig pig."

Me: "Tate, it's not nice to call people pigs."

Tate: "Ok, he's a giraffe then."

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Movin' on out

We've got a rental house!

We move in on the 9th of November!
It is PERFECT!!!
We even have a hot tub!
And,
It's a great price.
And most importantly, we have peace about living there.
It was worth waiting to be where we're supposed to be.
Thanks, Jesus, for blessing us with this house!
Help us use it to glorify your name.
(And, by the way, I'm really digging this whole Autumn thing. It's my favorite time of the year!)

Monday, October 19, 2009

Old Friends

Old Friends,
Sat on a park bench like bookends

A newspaper blown though the grass
Falls on the round toes of the high shoes
Of the old friends.

Old friends
Winter companions,
The old men
Lost in their overcoats

Waiting for the sun.


Can you imagine us
Years from today,



Sharing a park bench quietly?





How terribly strange to be seventy.





Old Friends. Old Friends.

These are our several attempts at getting a good shot this last weekend. So much fun to see you, Dear Christine. Let's do it more often, OK?
XOXO,
Jenni

Friday, October 16, 2009

Fat Burnin' Friday

I'm tired, sore, grumpy (and whiny), but I'm 1 lb. lighter! 4.8 lbs to go to my 1st goal, and 9.8 to my second.

I'm getting there!

As far as the other resolutions go, well...I guess I can just break it down this way:

1. Reading the Bible: I finished the prophets this week! A major accomplishment for me. I've done pretty well having my quiet time since we moved here. There's always room for improvement, but I'm very happy that this is becoming a habit. I'm learning a lot and feeling like God's my buddy.

2. Print off pictures: Not so much. I'm on a printing reprieve. I need to do more, but I don't want to until we have our stuff together again. Nothing worse than printing them off and losing them.

3. Getting out of Debt: Done (a while ago). We've almost got our Emergency Savings done which will be a huge relief. YAY!

4. Spanish: OK. Tate's learning a lot. So is Mark. Mostly, though, I feel like I'm not losing it. We read a bunch of Eric Carle books (think The Hungry Caterpillar, etc) in Spanish, and I'm writing/chatting in Spanish probably 3-5 times a week.

5. Exercising: Great! 5 times last week and going for 6 this week.

6. Supporting Mark: I'm doing ok. We had a rough patch a while ago, but I'm really working on being a supportive, submissive wife. I was upset about something the other night and Mark thanked me for the way I brought it up and how I handled it, so that's a step in the right direction!

Well, there you have it. My progress for all to see.

Have a great weekend, I know I will! Christine is comin' to town...and she's way better than Santa! (When I typed that the "Santa Clause is coming to town" song went through my head).

Love,
Jenni

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Deceiver

I'm doing a Bible study right now by Priscilla Shirer called Discerning the Voice of God.

Oh boy, has it ever been timely. With all of the stuff going on with our housing decision, the Virginia house, and some other stuff I'll explain, it's been very, VERY nice to be doing this study.

One point that she made is that we tend to think of Satan as dressed in a red suit with a pitch fork...but he's not like that. He's a deceiver. He tries to emulate God to pull us off track. He sometimes does things that seem beneficial at first in order to sway us. But the more we know who God is, the more in tune we are with his character, the more likely we are to be able to identify the impostor.

I'm praising God that Mark and I are on the same page on the house here (the one we were building), because we got some news today that they've dropped the house price by 5%. That's great news! They will automatically adjust our agreement to reflect the new price (we are in the process of cancelling the order-it takes a bit of time to go through the whole process. We are sure that we won't be buying it, though).

But I really feel that this is just a tactic to persuade us to buy the house after all-even though we really shouldn't do it right now. This morning I asked Mark if he was still sad about losing the house being built, and he said, "Nope. Doesn't even register anymore. I feel like God wants something else from us right now, and we're making the right choice." Such a huge and incredible change from a couple of weeks ago!

So, what exactly does God want from us right now? We thought we knew but we weren't sure. And Tuesday he confirmed it. Remember these girls (the third picture down)? I think that God wants them to be Stearns girls. We felt very strongly about them when we were in Nicaragua, and circumstance after circumstance led us to believe that we were supposed to pursue adopting them. As a first step we asked the Psychologist if the Grandfather would allow them to be adopted. Her response was, "Well, I don't know. I'll call and ask." This was a week into our first trip. Six months later we get an email saying yes, he'd support the decision. It looks as though God runs on Nicaraguan time!

So what's the plan? Who knows. I'm throwing the plan book out the window. We both feel like it would be a mistake for us to rip the girls out of their culture and just bring them back to live here. So the short term (maybe long term) plan would be for us to go down there and stay there for a while so they can get used to being a part of a family again. We'll see what happens from there. So you see, if we're going to be staying in Nicaragua for an extended period of time, it would be silly to buy a house. Geez, God, you are so smart (Omniscient, maybe?).

FYI-adoptions through Nicaragua take for-EV-er, so we're looking at a 2+ year time frame. Don't freak-we're not moving tomorrow!

So, that's that. Clear as mud?

I thought so. Just wait and see...it's what we're doing!

Love to you all,
Jenni

Monday, October 12, 2009

And Another One Gone...

...another one bites the dust!

Another two, that is.

-First, another pound! Hip Hip, Hooray! until I'm at my 'goal' weight. We'll see if I can get that low. Mark's not so sure. He's not trying to be discouraging, he just doesn't think it's healthy for me to be that low. I've got about 6.5-7 more to go until I'm where I really feel good about myself. About 12.5-13 more

-And, the second is another class! After tonight we'll be down to 6 more classes until we're done with DHS certification. After that we still have a host of things to do (homestudy, etc) but the 24 hours of class work will be complete. It will be wonderful.

So, that's that. Now, onto the laundry. Such is my life!

I hope you have a great one.

Love,
Jenni

Thursday, October 8, 2009

A bunch of Tate Quotes

So, I'm a little behind on Tate quotes, so here goes...
Oh, and sorry if you're on FB and already read this, they are repeats from there.

(Laying in bed, getting ready for a nap)

Tate: Mom, where does Jesus live?
Me: Well, Tate, Jesus lives in Heaven at the right hand of God. But a little part of him, called the Holy Spirit also lives in me.
Tate: Oh, OK. Mom, I need to give you two hugs. One for you and one for Jesus.


(After a nap. Different than the one above)
Me: Tate, did you have a good nap?
Tate: Yep! I talked to Jesus.
Me: Oh, that's great! What did you say to him?
Tate: I just left him a message.


Tate: Mom, I have a message from the Lord.
Me: Ok, Tate, what is it?
Tate: God made the clouds.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Getting back on the horse

Tonight is a big night for us-sort of. We've been here before, but this time it's different. We're different.

Tonight we are going to an adoption orientation meeting.

It's a really big step for us. After the loss we experienced last time, I wasn't sure when I would be ready to pursue it again. But here we are. I [think] we're ready. More important than that, I think we're being called to pursue this again.

This time it's going to look a little bit different. We're going through the foster care system. The entire process looks different. But the idea is the same, and we could be setting ourselves up for a lot more hurt. With foster care, there is guaranteed to be some level of hurt, and we are knowingly putting ourselves there.

I can honestly say that I don't think we'd be up for this if we hadn't experienced the loss last time. I think God had a plan, the birth mom chose to do things her own way, and God allowed that to happen to show his glory in a dark situation.

So, to him be the glory.

Wherever it is that he leads, we will follow.

Monday, October 5, 2009

A Theo-centric post

My son, Theo. I actually made myself giggle with the title of that post because it brought me back to my year of Bible school...anyway...my little Theo. I just love him to bits. He's SO feisty these days!

These are Theo's adorable little legs. I love them. I love the little rolls. I could just eat them up. All too soon they will be gone, but for now I will enjoy them!
He's got some beautiful blues, and some lips like his daddy. Love them. His hair also looks a bit red in some light.

He loves playing with his dad and brother. They are so fun to watch!

He is rocking back and forth a lot! He's already mobile, though, because he can army crawl better than anyone I've seen! He started before 6 months! Unbelievable! He also loves to make pterodactyl sounds when he moves. I choose to believe it's his form of a siren-warning everyone he's coming.

Oh dear boy, I love you!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

In the Ghetto Rant part 1

Ok, Lt. Wonderful (aka Mark, my husband) isn't here today. He's playing Navy in Portland. Since he's gone and the two other friends I have here are in church, I have no one to help me use the 35,000 or so words that I need to get out today.

But I do have a blog. Bless you, dear blog.

Seriously, what is up with my neighbors? Let me introduce them to you...I'll keep in anonymous in case they every stumble across the blog, but I doubt it matters. They don't even know our last name (thank goodness). I'll probably only get to one today, so be sure to check back later for more news from da 'hood. Maybe that should be the new name of our blog "The Stearns' News From Da 'Hood". Hmmm...I'll have to think about it.

First up we have Mom of the Year [MOTY]. I'm not even sure if she qualifies as a neighbor, as she's not listed on the apartment lease, but she lives there with her three young kids (3,4,6). She lives with the woman who does have the lease and her two young kids (I don't know how old they are). So, if you're counting, that's 5 kids and 2 adults in a 2 bedroom, 1 bathroom apartment, which is not allowed. She moved in, oops, I mean came to visit a month ago, and has yet to leave. I have several gripes about MOTY. First, she lets her kids run WiLd all day, every day. Second, her oldest is old enough to be in school, he should be in school, but she's decided that she doesn't want to send him. He started the year and then they had to come for their visit, and she just hasn't gotten around to enrolling him here. He's six. He really needs to be in Kindergarten or first grade. I really hope that this is his first year of school and he's not falling too far behind, but it's been a month. I'm losing more hope every day.

I'm going to take you on a rabbit trail now-just because it's my blog and I can.

I realize that I have several flaws when it comes to being a mom. I'm too selfish. I snap. I have a quick temper. My mom was concerned for a while [before I had kids] because I wasn't naturally a nurturer. Even so, there were several basic safety guidelines that I didn't cross-such as: do not allow children to play in the street. I feel this is self explanatory and very necessary.

Ok, back to the rant.

I was sitting in the grass the other day with Theo watching Tate play. MOTY was up on her balcony chain smoking and drinking beer [per the usual] and her kids were riding their bikes [without helmets, but I wouldn't expect anything different]. At first they were riding them on the lawn and sidewalk area in front of us. No problem, great location! Then, they got the idea to move up to the parking lot. SERIOUSLY! A parking lot. Let me tell you, this lot is busy ALL day EVERY day. People are always going in and out in a hurry. Kids on bikes are a very easy thing to miss when you're backing out. They are shorter than the trunk of the car and it would be really easy to hit them. It's DANGEROUS! MOTY didn't care, she was just sitting there, mostly talking and drinking beer...occasionally looking out to see if they were ok. Then, the kids venture out into the street-a four lane road. Lucky for me, MOTY does have some sense of danger because she yelled,

"DON'T BE STUPID KIDS! DON'T YOU KNOW IT'S DANGEROUS TO PLAY IN THE STREETS?"

Not to be rude, ma'am, but, how exactly would you expect them to know? The parking lot leads right to the street. Both are busy and there's not much of a barrier in between the two.

The kids return to the lawn at this point, but they decide that it would be fun to ride their bikes down the concrete steps to the sidewalk below. The 4 year old tries it and falls on her back. She starts to whimper and MOTY looks up and says, "Well, what do you expect? That was a really unintelligent thing to do." No, I'm not making this up.

So, I'm looking for cheap helmets at the store. I figure I can at least supply them-if they choose not to wear them, that's their decision.

In the mean time, MOTY broke her ankle yesterday (she fell into a trench here at the complex. I got an earful about how she's suing them. Not sure what for-she's on state medical insurance and she told me she isn't having to pay the bills...we'll see how that works out) so I'm going to bring her dinner. Good, Old Fashioned, Home made Mac and Cheese. Even though I don't agree with her parenting, lifestyle, or really, anything she does, I know that she needs a good old dose of compassion. So, if you think about it, please shoot up a prayer for us-I need an extra measure of grace when dealing with her.

Thanks for listening, friends. Next time I'll introduce you to She Who Bears (or Bares) it All.

Love,
Jenni

Saturday, October 3, 2009

We're going to a Party...

...in Nicaragua!

The whole family!

In November!

For 10 days!

We've had the tickets for a while, but just talked to the boys at Casa Bernabe. (Like how we do that? Buy tickets then confirm!? It helps that we have an open invitation).

We are so excited we can hardly stand it.

We get to see our kids again, in less than two months!

yyahhhhhhhhhhhhhooooooooooooooooooooooo!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Updates

Just some quick ones:

-It's the state of VA who froze our manager's bank accounts. I guess she has the money, but hasn't paid us yet. And who know if she will be able to. We'll just wait this out. She is in big trouble as far as the state is concerned, and there isn't much, ahem, anything we can do. We're ok with that.

-Our wonderful renters cancelled the October rent check and deposited it into our account. Praise the Lord they were willing to do that for us (we made it worth their while, of course). It worked out well for everyone.

-I know I've neglected to do weigh in posts lately. There's a good reason for that. Two weeks ago I threw my back out and last week I was super duper sick. So I didn't work out. I have eased back into it this week, though, and dropped a half a pound! Woo hoo! I was sure I had gained over the last two weeks (I probably did) but it came right back off when I started working out again.

OK, that's it. I'm going to go and watch The Office with my love.

Have a great weekend!

Love,
Jenni

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Holding Hands

For far too long now I've been holding Jesus' hand with my right hand, and with my left hand I've been holding onto whatever brings material comfort.

Like, for example, our property manager's hand. We don't rely on that money to pay our must pay bills, but we've been using it to make ends meet for other things. Important stuff. Medical stuff. Security stuff. Not looking like you're ready for a flood stuff. Go on a date stuff. Get a second car stuff.

But that stuff is not as important as Jesus.

Today our management company went out of business. They still owe us from August and September rent, as well as October. I doubt we'll ever see any of that money. It's gone. Just like April, May and June's rent. It was gone because our renters never paid.

(Sidebar, our current renters have paid everything on time. Our first renters we simply AMAZING. It's just the last string of stuff that's been a disaster).

I don't know why we've had such a problem with this house. Maybe it wasn't in God's plan that we bought it in the first place. I don't know. But I do know this.

God is Bigger.

We aren't going to be able to buy the new house in December. We're going to lose even more money.

God is Bigger.

We aren't hungry. We aren't lacking. We have health insurance. Mark has a job.

We are blessed.

Do I feel like we've been sucker punched in the stomach?

Yes, Yes. A thousand times, Yes.

But I keep coming back to the Word I got yesterday from the Holy Spirit. I was laying on the floor, it was [mostly] quiet because it was nap time. I was praying for direction with our house situation, unity for Mark and myself, and a word from the Holy Spirit. All I kept hearing was Abide in Me.

So, I will. I will stop holding hands with everyone else, and just hold hands with Jesus. I will turn to face him, look him in the eyes and hold both of his hands. Because the bottom line is that I don't need the security the world is offering. It's not real anyway.