Saturday, August 30, 2008

A Picture Update.

Here are some photos of things that have happened in the last few days. Enjoy!

My kids rockin' out to "We Wanna See Jesus Lifted High". LOVE IT.

Auntie Cate and Baby Roxy, enjoying some quality family time.

My niece is getting so big!

Inside playing with the dogs while everyone else socialized in the kitchen. This is after we got in trouble for reading Jess's "journal". We look a little mischievous.

Debra and I at Jess and Nate's bonfire. The guys were all playing guitars and singing and we were taking pictures, talking and goofing off.

So there you go. A little peek into my not-so-eventful life. Until next time...

The Small Things.

Lately I have been noticing little ways in which God has been blessing me. This past week he gave me an overwhelming sense of peace and joy. But it was actually more than that. To me joy is a constant feeling that stays with us whether we are going through sorrow or if we are having a great day. There is an inexplainable "joy" that comes as a result of having a relationship with God. I remember this feeling even as I endured some of the hardest times of my life. But the last few days God has allowed me to feel happiness again. Happiness is a different type of feeling. It comes and goes and is usually a result of our circumstances. Lately I have felt free. I haven't felt this way in a long time. My friend Jess told me that God has been "refining" me. She has said, "I don't know why He is choosing to do this in such a painful way but He is doing it and the result is going to be something amazing." She is so right! God is working on me. He is forming me into the woman that He wants me to be.
I guess the theme of my past week was contentment, laughter and satisfaction. It didn't come from anything huge, just a lot of little things that made a HUGE difference. I tried to record these things so I can look back on them and remember how God cares so deeply for me.
Here is my list:

  • Last Sunday, August 24th
    • Spending time with my small group after church. We went out to lunch and then all went to Sam's club. I enjoy spending time with these people. For 2 and a half months I avoided John and Danielle when they invited me to small group activities. I was intimidated and insecure for some reason. Now I'm a little upset at myself because I see that I missed out on 2 and a half months of blessing.
    • John, Danielle, Zoey (their dog) and I took a nap in their living room before we headed back to church.
    • The staff/board meeting last Sunday night. It was so awesome for me to be able to see and hear the hearts of the board members at our church.
    • Jess came over and spent some time with me. We sat on the couches in my house and talked about nothing for three hours.
  • Monday, August 25th
    • I usually have Mondays off but I worked this day. Danielle and I accomplished a lot of stuff for the Children's Ministry. I left work with a feeling of satisfaction and pride.
  • Tuesday, August 26th
    • One of the first graders in my after school program read me his entire reading worksheet. He was learning the sound of the letter "A" like in the word "cat". He was so proud of himself that he knew all of the words! I loved being able to connect with this child.
    • I met Jess and Debra at Starbucks after work. They both had things to do because they're in school. I was a complete annoyance to both of them as I distracted them from their work. We ended up staying there for a couple hours laughing and talking.
  • Wednesday, August 27th
    • I had chapel with the preschoolers at the daycare. I taught a lesson on anger and they all paid attention and were very engaged. They are so precious!
    • Danielle, Bill, John and I went to lunch and laughed so hard we cried as John told us a story. I had heard the story before so I knew what was coming but it was Bill's first time hearing it. I looked at him and his face was bright red. He had tears streaming down his face and he was laughing so hard he could barely breathe. Every time I looked at him I laughed harder. We all had sore abs by the end of the lunch.
    • I got to have a great conversation with one of the parents from the daycare. She cried when I told her how well her son was doing and how he was blowing me away with his great behavior.
    • I spent some time in the kindergarten room. One sweet little boy in that class makes me laugh so hard because he's so cute and he says the greatest things.
    • God gave me renewed energy as I spent some time with the kids of the youth group volunteers. We watched a movie and hung out while their parents were upstairs with the teens.
  • Thursday, August 28th
    • Danielle and I had an awesome meeting with our senior pastor. We were able to share with him all of the great things that have been happening in children's ministry and he was very pleased. It felt so good!
    • My after school kids are doing better and better everyday. The program is really starting to become what I knew it could be and it makes me proud to know that I had a part in it.
    • Jess took me on my first trip to the Goodwill Outlet. That's right people, I said OUTLET. It is a crazy experience. Here's a little clue to how insane it gets in there: everything costs 59cents per pound! Ha!
  • Friday, August 29th
    • I had the day off and got some much needed cleaning done at my house.
    • I spent the afternoon/evening with friends. We had dinner and a bonfire at Jess and Nate's.
  • Today
    • I slept in and just got back from two hours at the pool. Relaxation, anyone?

So you see, it's the little things that have been bringing me so much happiness lately. Nothing huge has happened. Nothing monumental or life changing. God has just been showing me his love through the way he provides ways for me to smile. I am so content exactly where I am. I know that God has placed me here for a reason. I feel so unworthy to be in such a great place, surrounded by incredible people working at a job that I love. I am so thankful for the small things.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Friends Like That...

Here are some pictures from our recent photo shoot.
Jess, Nate, Debra, Tim and I were hanging out a couple of weekends ago and we decided it was about time we documented our adventures. These are my friends. They're the kind of people that bring out the best in me, allow me to be myself, make me laugh and love me through it all.

Meet my friends:

Jess and Debra have been there through it all. They've seen me at my best and they have definitely seen me at my worst. The crazy thing is, they always come back for more.

And...I rest my case.
We love to laugh.
All of us...
You may not understand it...but it makes sense to us.
There are no words.

I am constantly amazed and humbled by the way that God has provided for me. I realize that not everyone has the opportunity to live life with such amazing people. Why do I deserve this? I have no idea. But I do know that I am truly blessed to know these people.

Saturday, August 23, 2008


Lately it’s been difficult for me to gather my thoughts. I feel like I’m running about a million miles a minute and doing everything I can not to get burnt out. God has been teaching me again about what it means to trust him. It’s easy for me to trust and believe when everything in my life is going well. In fact, usually when life gets “easy” I try to take control of things for myself. I like to be in control. I like to think that I am the one with the wisdom and knowledge. But then God reminds me, sometimes painfully, that my plan is worthless. I am immediately forced to place my trust back in him and realize that I am nothing without my Savior. I don’t know why it’s so hard for me to remember that.

I don’t want to be the kind of person that pushes God to the side when things are going well and only calls on Him when my circumstances get difficult. The thing is, you’d think I would have learned my lesson by now. I’ve been through some difficult “lean-on-God” type of moments and yet I continually forget that God is there everyday, even when I think I have everything under control. I guess this is where His grace comes in. I am so incapable of being perfect. The beautiful thing is, my God knows that and He loves me anyway. He doesn’t expect me to have it all figured out. He doesn’t want me to be independent. He wants me to surrender my desires and live totally, completely, entirely dependent on Him.

So why is that so hard? Why do I want so badly to take control?

I guess the time that this is most difficult for me is when things happen that I have no control over, when people in my life make decisions that I hate but can not change. I’ve realized more than ever before that just as much as I can not control everything about my own life, I also can not control the hearts, actions, or wants of other people. It’s a challenging thing to surrender relationships and expectations to God but I KNOW that that is exactly what he is asking me to do right now. It’s hard to make boundaries and it’s even more painful to stick to them. And yet I know that without certain boundaries in my life I can not function the way that I am supposed to. Sometimes I wonder why God allows certain things to happen in our lives. Why does he allow people to die unexpectedly? Why does he allow our families to fall apart? Why does he allow us to love people that don’t love us back? Why does he allow us to have faith in people that don’t deserve it? I have so many questions that I’m not sure will ever be answered. The only thing I can think to bring me comfort is the fact that if I didn’t have all of these questions I would not need God. If I knew the answer to everything, if I was capable of keeping everything under control then God would be worthless. However, my lack of knowing, my lack of perfection and my incapability (as incredibly frustrating as they may be) keep me humble. These things remind me that God is totally, absolutely, without a doubt in control. He is the same always, never changing and always loving. I am so undeserving of His grace and yet he continues to shower me with it. Now there’s a lesson in humility.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

This too Shall Pass

"I've achieved so much in life
But I’m an amateur in love
My bank account is doing just fine
But my emotions are bankrupt

My body is nice and strong
But my heart is in a million pieces
When the sun is shining so am I
But when the night falls so does my tears

Sometimes the beatings so loud in my heart
That I can barely tell our voices apart
Sometimes the fear is so loud in my head
That I can barely hear what God says

Then I hear a whisper that this too shall pass
I hear the angels whisper that this too shall pass
So I walk in faith that this too shall pass

The one that loved me the most
Turned around and hurt me the worse
I’m doing my best to move on
But the pain just keeps singing me songs

My head and my heart are at war
Cause love ain't happening the way I wanted
Feel like I’m about to break down
Can’t hear the light at the end of the tunnel

So I pray for healing in my heart
To be put back together what is torn apart
And I pray for quiet in my head
That I can hear clearly what God says

Then I hear the whisper that this too shall pass
I hear the Angels whisper that this too shall pass
So I walk in faith that this too shall pass

All of sudden I realize
That it only hurts worse to fight it
So I embrace my shadow
And hold on to the morning light

This Too Shall Pass
I hear the angels whisper
that troubles don't have to last always
I hear the angels whisper
Even the day after tomorrow will one day be yesterday.
I hear my angels whisper.
I hear my angels whisper.
This too shall pass."


Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The Hawkeye State

My dad and I at the '09 Harley-Davidson roll out. They introduced all of the '09 models to the public for the first time. There were tons of people at the Harley shop waiting in anticipation to see the updated bikes. Every time I go to a biker event I am absolutely fascinated with the culture and the people that show up there. There are some funny characters at these things.

I recently took a trip home to spend some time with my dad. He has had a rough couple of months and I knew that I could cheer him up. I packed up my car, went to work and left Indiana straight from church on a Wednesday night. I got in the car at 6pm Indiana time and arrived home at 12am Iowa time. Needless to say, I was going crazy! I love driving. Usually it is very relaxing to me because it gives me a chance to be alone with my thoughts. I put my iPod on shuffle, turn on the cruise control and just chill. However, this time I didn't want to be alone with my thoughts. My thoughts have been kind of crazy lately with everything that's been going on. By the time I made it to the Iowa border I was ready to give up but I bravely persevered and made it back to the 'Loo safe and sound. My poor dad was sound asleep by the time I got there because he had to get up and work at 5:30 the next morning. I said hi to him, put my stuff in my room and headed over to the newlyweds' house for the first time since they unpacked all of their stuff. Jennie was waiting for me at the front door. We both screamed and ran to each other like we do every time we reunite. We're best friends. It's what we do.
Jennie, Dave and I rented a movie on Friday night and started to watch it at their house. However, now that I am a real adult and have a job which requires me to keep a normal schedule, I fell asleep and ended up having to leave before the movie was even half way over with. Oops.

This is us, being best friends, doing what we do.

Their house is beautiful! The best part is their awesome porch area. We sat out there for about ten minutes, until Dave got home and then moved our little party inside to avoid the sticky, wet, disgusting Iowa humidity. The three of us sat together like we always do, laughing and arguing and laughing and talking and laughing some more until finally I couldn't handle one more second of social interaction. I headed home to bed and woke up the next morning to an empty house. It was nice to be home and relax for a while until my dad got back from work. Of course as soon as he got home we jumped on the motorcycle, went for a ride and went out to eat. It's great to spend time together just the two of us. We had a lot of time to talk through some stuff that's been going on and I know it was good for him to have someone to process it all with. My dad constantly amazes me by the way that he handles the tough stuff in life. He constantly says, "We can't control what others do but we can control the way that we react to what they do. My response is my responsibility." That is a typical Dan Stephens phrase.
All of the Bauers came over on Friday night for a cook out. It's pretty typical for them to come over once a week in the summer. I miss our family get-togethers so it was great for me to see them! Levi and I went into the den and sat in the big chair together while he practiced his harmonica. I turned off all of the lights in the room except the one that is over the chair. We called it his "spotlight" and he ended up doing a concert for all of us on his "stage." We were all dying laughing the entire time.

After spending a couple of much needed days at home I jumped back in the car on Saturday and drove back to my new home in Indiana so that I could be here for church on Sunday morning. We had a great time in Kid's Church and then enjoyed a picnic with all of our VBS volunteers. I love spending time with the families in a relaxed and casual setting. I always end up playing with the kids while the adults talk. I can't help it though! When a sweet little four year old boy begs me to play on the playground with him I just can't say no! One of my sweet little boys asked me if I would hang out with him after he finished his lunch. I knew that I was supposed to be socializing with the parents so I tried to stay out of his eyesight as long as I could, hoping that he would forget about me and leave me to be with the adults. But then after about 30 minutes he came up to me and said with a sad face, "Miss Cady, did you forget?" It makes me want to squeal right now just thinking about it! I politely excused myself from whatever conversation I was a part of and joined my little pal on the playground. It was well worth it! I have so much fun with my kids every time we're together.
Things at work have been pretty much insane. We are planning for our fall programs and we're right in the middle of recruiting volunteers (which is BY FAR the most difficult part of my job). Right now I am praising God because we have had such a great response and have had a lot of people sign up to help for the fall. I am praying for about four more adults for Sunday mornings and 5 more for Wednesday nights. I have faith that it is all going to come together and our kids will be blown away when everything starts up again! Until then I have a lot of busy days at work, crazy weekends full of church activities and sleepless nights. I think I'm going to start sleeping with a notepad next to my bed because I wake up at least once a night with new plans and ideas that I need to write down. Gosh! I feel like I'm going a million miles a minute! I know that soon things will slow down and I will get into a regular routine but until then I just thank God when I make it through the day.