Friday, August 1, 2014

First Things First: July/August 2014

I know people who post their goals at regular intervals, and others who write about what they learned each month... this is kind of a combination of the two. It's a monthly Sabbath of sorts, reevaluating current goals and projects in light of building God's kingdom instead of my own - and for the sake of consistency and thoroughness, I'm dividing it into three categories:


Erhm. Well, the free apartment internet has been exceptional (in a bad way) this month, meaning that you can only get a signal if you're as close as you can get to the source of said signal, when it's even working at all, so trying to load If : Equip discussion videos has been more frustrating than renewing and I'm a couple of weeks behind. I have, at least, been reading one of the Psalms for the day and praying through it - so renewal has happened and in combination with that wanting to pray more bit.

Last month a flurry of bloggers that I follow all started talking about Annie Downs' newest book Let's All Be Brave at the same time. It sounded appealing so I acquired a copy then quickly read through it (in keeping with my desire to lift up the good rather than bash what I perceive as bad, I try not to mention a book before I've read it in case the book and I don't click). Because I'm mentioning it now, you may infer that it was good - and I'm hoping to reread it more slowly over the course of this month. It's very much in line with my quest to rediscover my sense of adventure.


Not-square pictures were taken and posted (not enough by some standards, but I did what I could with the time that I had. Sometimes you have to put the camera down and live your life, instead of just documenting it), but Monthly Update Letters were not written. I wanted to wait until after my appointment so I'd have a little more to write, but then it's been extra-busy since then.

I have been keeping up #fmfpartysnailmail, though - two letters have been written and two received, and I need to write/send out another today. (Semi-unrelatedly, I was delighted to find a sheet of cute stamps with 11 remaining on it while cleaning yesterday - that's gold!)

The city has been explored, loved, photographed, blogged about, and shared with Adam (that last one was an unexpected bonus). Since he'll be out of town for most of August and I plan on spending part of that time in Fayetteville, I don't know how much exploring I'll get to do this month - I'd at least like to try to cover The Green Corner Store (and Loblolly Creamery :)

A knitting class at church has actually made it to the date-finalizing stages, so hopefully that process will continue to move along this month!


The sky, it has been grey. And I am out of grey yarn. So the sky has not been knitted this month - but I've kept track of what each day's weather was so that I can catch up once I get the yarn I need.

Due to a lack of dedicated sitting-down time, I've only made a little progress on my other projects, but knitting is supposed to be enjoyable not stressful and I can't use that shawl for a few more months, anyway.

The third bedroom. Y'all, it actually kinda looks like a bedroom now. That is infinitely more than I hoped for when I set last month's goal of "make visible progress." Thanks to help and moral support from a friend, visible progress has been made. All of the boxes are neatly stacked in the closet, with the ones I actually get stuff out of on top so that I can empty them one at a time as I have time, the floor is almost completely clear (sans a few items I need find homes for), and I'm actually to the point of having enough maneuvering room to move furniture. Which is going to require male assistance. This month, I'd like to empty my dresser and get everything ready to go so that it can be moved when Adam gets back.

- Go over If : Equip when the internet allows, otherwise read/pray through a Psalm each day
- Read/journal Let's All Be Brave
- Write and mail Monthly Update Letters, and continue responding to letters/sending #fmfpartysnailmail notes
- Love the City (and ice cream - love ice cream)
- Get furniture ready to move

How often do you stop to (prayerfully) reevaluate your goals and projects? What are your reasonable goals for this month?

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Finish - and Begin Again

It's Five Minute Friday! A weekly gathering of bloggers, all joining together to write for five minutes flat (no stopping, no editing!) on a prompt provided by the lovely Lisa-Jo, then linking up and sharing a little comment love. She's no longer hosting FMF after this week, but it will be picked up and lovingly carried on by Kate. For more details, more posts, and/or to join in, head here!

As a side note, this is last week's prompt combined with this week's prompt, because I was otherwise occupied over last weekend.

[This picture is from my summer with Vogue Knitting. I had designed a blanket for Knit Simple and it ate my September. I locked myself in my room to work on it (because my roommate had cats that shed as all cats do) and when I came out at the beginning of August she was so happy to see me that she took me to dinner and then lent me an enormous tote bag so I could get it safely to work, by way of the crowded subway.]

I am a dogged Finisher of Things (my mother will laugh at that, remembering all of the stacks and piles of things that I left, and still leave, unfinished in my wake - but it's because they're not finished and I want to finish them that they get left out! Ahem. Moving on...) As such, I work pretty well under the pressure of a deadline. Take that blanket, for example. I had a start date, a finishing date, a number of motifs that needed to be made, and then I timed how long it took to make one and multiplied. And then I shifted the finishing date from the proposed deadline to the day before the photoshoot (because I knew when that was) and starting looking at "days" in 24 hour segments. Between an actual full time job, the blanket, and two other deadlined pieces, I worked between 8 and 18 hours a day for 28 days straight, with 4 hours of sleep a night (yes, I bit off more than I should have; no, I haven't done anything like that since; you're only 22 once and New York City does things like that to you) and by dint of probably shortening my prospective lifespan by several years, I finished several days before the shoot.

I don't do that sort of thing now - on purpose, though a small, sentient Adventure was born to me that seems bent on having me relive those days, without the gratification of a deadline met and a project completed. Some days, I'm finished. Not the "completed" kind, the "I really don't think I can continue to function if this is how it's going to be" kind. I think I get over a phase about a day before she does, but in a different sense. Because not knowing when the end will come drains my ability to hold out hope until it does.

But I've resolved to be finished with that, and to begin anew. I'm finished with relying on my own strength to make it through a day - and I'm going to begin relying faithfully on God through prayer. I'm finished with listening to (and crying in the car over) the parenting comments of the bitter women at the table next to ours - and I'm going to begin doing what works for our family without shame. I'm finished cropping my photos and my life, trying to match an ideal that no one else is really matching, either - and I'm going to begin living authentically out loud, so that maybe others will be emboldened to do the same. I'm finished trying to be someone I'm not, in order to please people who don't matter - and I'm going to begin embracing the person God made me to be and the purpose He designed me for.

What do you need to finish so that you can begin afresh?

A Friend Indeed

This week's gifts...
710. Roadtripping to Hot Springs for an Army-funded "marriage weekend"
711. Chick-Fil-A's updated grilled chicken - an extreme improvement! (still not as good as the original stuff, but that's sadly not gluten free)
712. Gelato and an evening walk with my Bear before we picked Brooklyn up from childcare
713. A 2am drive down a winding country road - stars!
714. Adam's sacrifice in taking Brooklyn for a walk so that I could get a few more hours of sleep
715. and his supportiveness (even through exhaustion) and tireless devotion to lifting me up after I was reduced to a puddle of tears by some audible comments on my inadequacies as a wife and mother from a neighboring table at dinner
716. Church together as a family
717. Confession, forgiveness, healing, redemption, and a renewed bond
718. Adam pausing in his cooking process to measure ingredients so I could share one of his amazing recipes
719. An entire day at home with Brooklyn - she completely took apart every room she had access to, but it was still restful
720. Adam forgetting to transfer the carseat from his truck to my car, and staying for lunch since he was home and all
721. Staying up until 2am, talking, two nights in a row (completely by accident) - totally worth it!
722. Free internet (even if I do secretly suspect there's a usage limit that they conveniently don't mention)
723. A toaster oven - you can get so much more accomplished (putting away dishes, picking up the living room...) while your lunch warms up than you can with a microwave (and it tastes better)
724. Being able to make chicken in the crockpot - a necessary component of Brooklyn's next batch of baby food, cooking itself while we napped
725. A clean freezer - even if it did take an exploded soda to get me to clean it
726. Brooklyn's first few steps being to me (to some extent, it made up for a really cantankerous morning)
727. Adam's willingness to come home for lunch - and then spend most of his time helping me with household tasks so I would be able to nap when Brooklyn did
728. His late meeting being at the Armory and not on Camp Robinson - that meant that Brooklyn and I were able to leave a note in his truck to surprise him
729. Finding the Reese's that I got three days ago, then put in the freezer and forgot about

730. A friend who was willing to daytrip to Little Rock from Fayetteville, after spending entirely too much time the day before in airports with a two year old

You know how people will ask for advice or help on Facebook and then get a whole lot of not-help? "Can anyone babysit for us tomorrow night?" will bring out several people who live out-of-state that wish they could, and several more who live in town but have other plans and feel the need to say so. I think the only time that's worked for me (helpwise - I've gotten some good advice on several occasions), I was baiting someone that I already had in mind but didn't want to feel pressured by being asked directly, in case they were going to be busy.

But not Kayla (I introduced her during the blog hop last week, and she is also counting gifts, new every morning, and posting about it) - she lives in Kentucky now and we haven't seen each other in over a year and haven't hung out in over three, and she flew to Northwest Arkansas to visit family, then took a day out of her precious time there to drive to Little Rock. We got to talk and catch up a bit, she was extremely gracious about being served scrambled eggs and cinnamon toast for dinner, and she and her darling two-year-old got me started on that "storage unit" that needs to become a bedroom by January (I usually keep that door closed - it's a mark of our friendship that I trusted her enough to open it and let her see the disaster area that it is/was), and then after 6 lovely hours they headed home but left me deeply encouraged and sufficiently energized to dig down to the floor, create a bag of trash and several of donations, and organize everything to the extent that I can start moving furniture.

Words are valuable to me, but only inasmuch as they lead to action (I refused someone Adam suggested as a mentor once because we had arranged several meetings for a different reason and she had completely spaced one, then postponed several times, then forgotten what it was we were even meeting for) - that her desire to visit, and to bless, went deeper than just words, means more than she may ever know. I'm grateful that God brought us together - but also that she has chosen to stay.

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness! The Lord is my portion, says my soul, therefore I will trust in Him.
[Lamentations 3:22-24]

Won't you join us in counting (and recounting!) His mercies anew? Just grab a journal or notebook (it doesn't have to be fancy) and a pen and write them down, then join us each week to encourage each other by sharing all of the blessings we've spotted. Catch up on everyone's posts and if you don't have a blog, feel free to participate by commenting, instead!

Check out these #NewEveryMorning hosts, as well, and don't forget to use the hashtag on Twitter so that we can find each other:
   Kayla [at] Renown and Crowned
   Kelsey [at] Faith Fun and the Fergusons

When has someone surprised you by going against a viewpoint of jaded cynicism that you may have held?

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Reclaiming the Note

Even an ordinary handwritten note is better than the best email, and a good handwritten note on the right occasion is a work of art. It says to the reader, "You matter to me, I thought of you, I took trouble on your behalf, here's who I am, I've been thinking of you in the days since this was mailed, I want to share with you the textures and colors and images that I like." And that's just the unspoken messages, the pleasure anticipated before before the reader even reads the words that the pen and paper have inspired you to choose. The reader can reread what you sent and think good thoughts about you. A note can deliver all this for less than a dollar's worth of materials and ten minutes of your time. 
[from The Art of the Handwritten Note: a guide to reclaiming civilized communication by Margaret Shepherd]

Yes, yes, yes! I don't know why even I own this book - it's not so much something that I need to read, as something I'd like to give everyone I know. To post one page of it every day as a status on Facebook until maybe, just maybe, at the end of 145 days some sort of positive change would have been effected and everyone would exchange addresses as a final act before deleting their accounts and switching to paper and pens.

The written word - especially the handwritten word - excites me. The artistic part of me revels in calligraphy and hand lettering, in choosing the pen and ink and style and canvas that best augments the words themselves. The Sherlock-Holmes part of me is fascinated by handwriting analysis, and the ability to gauge mood and temperament and so much about a person and the kind of day they were having just by their penmanship. There is more ability to accurately read between the lines and far less danger of misunderstanding through the handwritten note, I think, than through any digital (even typed and printed) form of communication.

And in a world where it is so easy to fire off a hastily typed reply without having fully comprehended the other's point or had time to accurately word your own perspective, misunderstanding is sadly prevalent. If we would slow down... look through another's eyes... carefully phrase our own view and articulate it with kindness and mutual respect... I think we'd all find that there are less things to disagree about than we think there are. Ms Shepherd chose her title very well - the art of the handwritten note is in danger of being lost and so must be reclaimed, and with it the respectfully openminded ability to fully and lovingly express ideas.

I'm linking up with Kaitlyn Bouchillon to write about the written word - and joining other #fmfpartysnailmail ladies in this and in the joy of sending and receiving folded rectangles of handwritten encouragement every week.

All's Well that Ends Well

We had an adventure over the weekend. It didn't go as planned (one of us had a mental ideal - the other was cautiously optimistic) but it was lovely nonetheless.

On Friday afternoon, we packed our bags and drove the hour to Hot Springs for a military marriage retreat. Brooklyn promptly won the heart of one of the childcare girls, who made it her especial task to carry her around and look after her, the first session was enlightening, and they let out early so we were able to go for a walk through the old, pretty part of the town and get gelato (to be eaten by the flickering light of fireflies on a park bench) before we picked up Brooklyn. We tucked her into her pack 'n' play with her fuzziest pink blanket for comfort and snuggled up under a down comforter...

...for two hours, until Brooklyn woke us (and everyone else in our wing, and probably the floors above and below us) with bloodcurdling, hysterical screams. She wasn't hungry, she wasn't wet, she didn't seem to be in physical pain --- but she refused to go back to sleep, even while being held. Out of ideas, we walked downstairs, got Adam's truck (the valet was very kind and understanding, and hoped she would fall asleep for us), and went for a drive. When we got back, she woke up and was fine until we got back to our room. Adam insisted that I go to bed, and he took her down to the lobby to walk around.

He turned back up a few hours later with coffee and an apology. "I am so sorry. I have so much respect for you and what you go through staying home with her, and I am amazed by how much you get accomplished during the day, and by your ability to remain cheerful. I hope you were able to get a little rest - I told the lady at Starbucks what happened, and she put extra chocolate in your mocha."

Half-delirious though we all were, we enjoyed our morning, and a walk over our lunchbreak to a knitting shop we'd spotted the evening before. (Further confirmation of my belief that Knitters are Nice People: the owner put down her knitting and dug through a small basket of knitted ornaments, in order to find a ball that Brooklyn could delightedly carry around while I briefly browsed.)

After a failed afternoon nap, we decided that in the interest of our sanity and safe-driving-ability, we should probably just come home. So we did. I gave Brooklyn a bath and put her to bed, she slept for 10 hours straight, and we were able to go to church together the next morning.

After church we went by the grocery store for a few essentials --- and makings for Adam's amazing baked wings - they're gluten free, dairy free, fairly non-messy to eat, and a perfect food for parties and potlucks. Recipe, as promised!

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and prepare a rimmed baking sheet by drizzling it with a little olive oil. Crush up 4 ounces of chips (this time we used Plentils. We grab whatever's in the cabinet, being neglected and/or about to go stale, so we've also used all flavors of Lay's Stacks and tortilla chips, I think Doritos at one point... sometime I'd like to try Funyuns) and combine with 3/4 cup of rice flour. Season (we used Simply Organic seasonings, 1/2 teaspoon of red pepper, 1 teaspoon each of all seasons salt, garlic salt, and garlic powder, and 2 teaspoons each of minced onion and lemon pepper. Adjust seasonings to personal taste and to compliment whatever chips you used. If you use red pepper, stir it into the chip/flour mixture first, then add the other spices, to ensure that it's evenly distributed). Combine 4 eggs and 1 cup of milk (we used plain almond milk, for a dairy-free version) in a small bowl and coat 3lbs of bone-in chicken (we used wings - you could do whatever you wanted, but might need to adjust the cooking time) as follows: dunk each piece in the egg mixture, then roll in the chip coating, place on baking sheet, and put a thin pat of butter on each one (again, we used vegan butter - whichever you use, this helps create a seal so that your meat is juicy inside and crisp outside). Bake for 45 minutes, or until golden brown.

We make these in massive batches because they reheat really well, but you could easily half the recipe for less leftovers or a smaller crowd.

They've been repaving the highway that runs in front of our complex - for the most part working on it (very efficiently!) at night when they won't cause traffic problems, but lately they've been having to work by day which has everything backed up. Being me, I seized the opportunity of being in park for an indefinite period of time to redeem that time by knitting - which is really a reflection of our entire weekend. A shortened trip, a baby who refused to sleep, sitting stuck in traffic... those things don't necessarily sound good when you just tell them as they happened. But there's always the option of looking at it from the perspective of a better outcome --- coming home early meant getting to attend church and spend some time at home together, being up for most of the night with Brooklyn gave Adam and I hours of talking that we wouldn't otherwise have had and provided him with what he calls "a chance to serve you," and that time in traffic was perfect for praying and knitting, talking to Brooklyn in the back seat and listening to a composition of Tchaikovsky's in its entirety. 

If we were in control of our lives, how much worse they would be, with our efforts directed at making every moment reasonably-not-unpleasant --- by sacrificing the growth that comes from conflict (be that with another person or a battle within yourself) and the ultimate joy of full restoration and redemption that follows.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

The End It Project: let's all be brave [an update!]

Inspired by the End It Movement to live a life free of slave-made goods, the End It Project is my journey toward that goal. I try to post an update on the 27th of each month to commemorate the 27 million slaves in our world today - but if we join together in small acts of bravery, I'm confident we can lower that number!

I acquired a copy of Annie Downs' new book Let's All Be Brave last week (more on that later). It's sort of an expansion of the "saying yes in your mess" concept that Kristen Welch introduced in her book Rhinestone Jesus (which I studiously did not read last month, even though I said I was going to) - but apparently it's a concept that I need to think about (drat). As I was reading it, I was feeling somewhat convicted about not having written an End It post last month - I was busy, research takes more time than I have, no one responds to my emails, is anyone even reading these posts? I bet nobody actually cares about this besides me... excuses, excuses.

But, seriously, I did get discouraged by the utter lack of enthusiasm (even in my own household) about something that seems (to me) to be very much worth approaching enthusiastically. Annoyed with the book (or, the thoughts and feelings that it sparked), I set it down and wandered off to do other things, among them, checking my email.

There was a message from a name I didn't recognize, with a long and complicated ID number attached to it, so I at least knew that it was the result of trying to contact someone through their "contact us" form on their website. I opened it up. OPI's director of regulatory compliance began by apologizing for taking so long to get back to me ("so long" being several months, since I originally contacted them before writing April's post) - but he actually had a decent reason for it. Their supplier attested that the mica they supplied was slave-labor free ("Of course," he said, "how can you really know without personally going there yourself?"), but he was appalled by the preliminary research on mica mining that he did on his own and promised to do some more digging. Side note: have you ever seen "synthetic fluorphlogopite" on a cosmetic label? That's the official name for synthetic mica - slave free!

I later received another email confirming that their suppliers have taken "concrete steps with three party verification" to ensure that no slavery is used in the acquisition of their mica. So, yay OPI! That puts them on the safe list.

But more than that, I was encouraged by the power of one person asking questions. He didn't know that mica mining ethics were an issue until I asked - it didn't take a protest, a boycott, or even an inundation of questions and complaints in order to lead, if not to change, at least to verification of ethical practices. Companies are dehumanized by the need to keep up with unreasonable demand - but the inner workings of those companies are still made up of real people, who care and can be reasoned with. Now that they know, that will push them toward transitioning to the synthetic alternative perhaps more quickly than they otherwise would have.

One person being brave. One voice speaking out. Now, imagine the effect of two - of ten - of a growing and multiplying movement of people who realize that their convenience is not more important than someone else's freedom. That is the path to breaking chains and ending slavery - so, let's all be brave!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Acting on the Faith I Didn't Feel

The weekly reckoning...
686. Living in an apartment - when the dishwasher breaks, I can call the office with a maintenance request and then go run errands while they fix it (that's more than worth not being to paint the walls whatever color I want)
687. Tiny Brie - exactly the amount (and the price) that I needed!
688. That every day ends
689. Brooklyn's chair collection - everywhere we go, she wants to see the chair backs. Because they're all different (oh, to be so easily amused!)
690. Getting a delayed response from a company on their supply ethics - delayed, not because they were stalling, but because they were researching
691. Sitting in Adam's chair while Brooklyn brought me books to read together
692. The yarn I needed being half-off (those particular colors have been discontinued - but they're still pretty!)
693. Getting to try a new Mexican restaurant (with gluten-free options!) with Adam, and both thoroughly enjoying it
694. Three handwritten letters in the mail in one day
695. Stopping by the Farmer's Market on the way to church for peaches and coffee
696. A Sunday afternoon drive to Conway for blizzards
697. That Adam only has to work three days this week before he's off again (huzzah for leave!)
698. Adam teaching Brooklyn how to drink from a straw (the proper way, as opposed to having it dripped out the bottom)
699. Going for a drive to get Icees with Brooklyn while Adam vacuumed our apartment
700! First #fmfpartysnailmail letter - very sweet and encouraging!
701. The GoGoSqueeze I needed for Brooklyn being on sale - 3 boxes of four ended up costing less than 1 box of 12, and we got our choice of three different flavors this way
702. Getting a follow-up call from someone at church about teaching a knitting class (we've made it to the finalizing-dates stage!)
703. Adam getting home late from volunteering with STEP after work, so I didn't feel bad about taking a bath and enjoying every minute of a long soak
704. A delicious grilled cheese sandwich with aioli from Dempsey Bakery - reminds me of the grilled cheese at Little Bread Company in Fayetteville (best grilled cheese ever) that is sadly not gluten-free
705. The peaches still being on sale at Kroger (not as good as farm-fresh, but still pretty good)
706. Having a gluten free/dairy free gingerbread cookie in my bag to share with Brooklyn while we sat in the car and waited for the rain to let up (also, the really-pouring not starting until after we got in the car, so we weren't trapped in the grocery store)
707. Brooklyn poking me in the stomach and saying "tigga, tigga!" after reading about tickling a baby gorilla in her touch-and-feel book (I think that's the first time she's heard the word)
708. A beautifully cool July morning to spend at the zoo all together (no rain,  and we weren't sweating by the end!)

709. An actually-not-bad doctor visit

I despise going to the doctor. In all fairness, only a small part of that actually has anything to do with the doctor and the rest is insurance and billing. There is the small part of me that resents being patronized and not listened to, but what really makes me tense is the hassle of finding a new doctor (if I would visit one more regularly, then it might be less of a stresser, since I wouldn't be looking for something that I need-right-now, however...) and of making that quest ultimately align with an insurance system that cannot be properly researched or fully understood.

(I apologize for the level of detail that follows - the preliminary unpleasantness is necessary contrast to understand how much better the outcome was.)

For example... because we are within 50 miles of a military base with a medical facility, we are required to go there. Except that they don't have an OB/GYN. But in order to see one off-base, I have to have a referral. They won't just give you a referral - you have to go in and get a blood test to prove that you're pregnant (because that's something a lot of people fake so that they can see a very specific type of doctor at 2-4 week intervals for 5-7 months..?) Ennyhoo, that required coordinating a time when Adam and I could meet at the Air Force base so that he could look after Brooklyn. Blood test complete, automatically generated referral received via snail mail a week later... for the least convenient location of the three major hospitals in Little Rock. I called and had it changed. Then I called a more convenient clinic to schedule an appointment --- and they refused to see me because I was past 12 weeks.

Then I hung up the phone and cried (I promise this is going to get better in a second). Then I got re-logged-in so I could see the list of acceptable doctors, called and spoke with a lovely receptionist at a different clinic, set up an appointment, then called and got my referral changed (see, I'm learning!) Again.

That was almost a month ago. My appointment was this morning - and despite the trepidation that I felt, I set up this post yesterday planning on making gift number seven-oh-nine about how the trauma was all for a reason and God worked it all out - an act of the faith that I wasn't really feeling. I got there 45 minutes early (because I was working against the flow of morning traffic and would otherwise have been 30 minutes late) and sat in my car in the parking lot, knitting and praying, listening to the local classical station and watching the city wake up. When I went in, I found a friendly receptionist sitting behind a bouquet of orange gerbera daisies (that turned out to be ink pens for signing in) and a waiting room with no TVs (I am not a fan of a television that I cannot escape, set on a channel I cannot control). The nurse was lovely - the doctor was great, laid back, listened well, didn't mind pushing the next appointment to 5 weeks from now since Adam will be out of town for most of August, wasn't worried that Baby [side note - Brooklyn was Little Bee. Taking suggestions for a nickname for this Tiny Person!] was too squirmy to get a good heartbeat ("all that moving around is good - we're fine"), and got me a picture of a little head and back, rebelliously curled into a ball in protest at being poked so early in the morning, to take to Adam. And the sign-out girl congratulated me (I think the sign-out girl at our last clinic was in depths of some major relationship issues for most of the time we were going there, and it was negatively affecting her attitude, work ethic, and client relations).

Due to my deeply-set dislike of such processes, it was going to take something borderline spectacular to win me over - and this was, and did. As an added bonus, I also found out that Dempsey Bakery supplies this hospital (UAMS) with gluten free/dairy free meals - so I won't have to worry about food later on. So ultimately, yes, the trauma was all for a reason, and I may never know what we were saved from by not going to the other clinic. And I'm definitely less worried about next time - which is a gift in itself.

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness! The Lord is my portion, says my soul, therefore I will trust in Him.
[Lamentations 3:22-24]

Won't you join us in counting (and recounting!) His mercies anew? Just grab a journal or notebook (it doesn't have to be fancy) and a pen and write them down, then join us each week to encourage each other by sharing all of the blessings we've spotted. Catch up on everyone's posts and if you don't have a blog, feel free to participate by commenting, instead!

Check out these #NewEveryMorning hosts, as well, and don't forget to use the hashtag on Twitter so that we can find each other:
   Kayla [at] Renown and Crowned
   Kelsey [at] Faith Fun and the Fergusons

God always has a plan - but sometimes it looks like a plan I'm not going to like. How have you come around to His perspective through a similar experience?