Friday, October 28, 2011

Full Term (Full Heart)

This morning Dekker and I are getting ready to head out to have a fun-filled fall morning with our friends.  I told Dekker about it over breakfast and since then he has been asking for Max and Quinn.  Oh how I love our friends, and their mama's.  I love doing life with them so, so much. 

Today is Friday, October 28th.  Today I am 37 weeks, 2 days.  I posted something on facebook last week about being 37 weeks and frankly that was a stretch.  I really do forget and get kinda messed up, especially with all the weekly appointments, which are never on exactly the day I "turn"-- which is Wednesdays.  So this Wednesday I woke up and said to Dave "I'm full term today!"  I celebrated with a leg cramp, night sweats, unquenchable thirst, 3 hours of sleep broken up by five potty breaks, heart-burn, sweating through all my shirts in the armpit, hip pain, restless legs, sore feet, swollen hands, roller coaster emotions/hormones/tears, and diarrhea.  In all seriousness, we have a family friend in the Women's Hospital trying to hold off labor at 26 weeks, so I don't take this Full Term stuff lightly, even if it is uncomfortable.

Here is how I really celebrated reaching Full Term: I hugged my sweet baby boy a little tighter and a little longer.  He won't be my baby much longer and that about makes me burst into tears. (Oh Hormones!)  I enjoy him so very much.  I love how much he likes to read.  I will let him stall naptime and bedtime for a good "five more books" any afternoon or night.  He knows it, too.  I tell him "pick out three books" and he'll pick out two, then load his arms up with as many more as he can hold for number "three."  We laugh and sing songs and brush teeth and talk about nose burgers and toots (oh boy, it's already starting), and at night we review our days and pray for the people we spent time with, the people on our hearts (like our friends Tim and Mindy-- is there anything you can do to help??), and our family, friends and baby brother.  I try to cherish my days at home.  I try not to be a crab, not to be house-bound.  We get out and go and do-- to our friends, the mall, the park, the store-- even though all I feel like doing is laying on the couch and turning on Elmo and eating dairy before the MSPI diet hits full circuit!!  He is too sweet. He has learned to say "I love you" which is ah-mazing, and has started to announce that he wants to "dance" and that he "misses" certain people, at random.  He told the post man he loves him Wednesday, which was awkward, but still totally adorable.  He plays with the dog and sits at the table like a big boy and independently plays with toys and can pull a stool up to the sink and wash his own hands.  His rare temper-tantrums are because he loves playing outside so much (thank you God for this great weather) and just hates coming in!  If we turn off the TV, or radio, or leave the park-- we say "bye bye Elmo" or whatever and walk away like it's no big deal.  He says please and thank you and thanks, Mom.  We are so, so lucky to have him-- thanks for letting me brag!

I also celebrated being Full Term by putting the stuff that has been piling up in the corner for the hospital into an actual half-packed bag.  And I am still decorating, slowly, the nursery.  And last weekend we did a few projects in the garage that includes the FINAL touch in Dekker's room.  I can't wait to get it up on the wall so I can take fancy pictures and show you all.  Maybe this weekend :)  You will love it, if you haven't already lost interest.

Tonight, we are celebrating late pregnancy with our "Friday Night Friends."  Steve and Suzanne and Campbell are coming over with dinner (seriously, the sign of a bestie!) and we plan to put our kids to bed (because we have a crib for Campbell or a pack n play) and watch baseball and play cards.

If you are wondering about my job, I am still loving it!  I have next week left before my maternity leave starts.  Next week I have a guest speaker and lecture on Tuesday, and final presentations in both classes Thursday.  I really would love to make it through the week-- but I know that whatever timing God chooses for this baby is perfect.  Actually, I would love to go into labor at like 6PM on Thursday.  :)  If only we could order it up like that!  This week I crossed some important things off my list, which I am thrilled about.  I hate leaving things "hanging", and I think I would hate even more sitting in a hospital bed thinking about the fact that I never got that Field Supervisor the Internship Agreement for one of my students.  Seriously!

Have I mentioned how much I love my OB.  I hear horror stories about OB's, and my doctor is NOTHING like that.  She is laid back and relaxed and believes that our bodies know what to do and how to do it and that she has the privilege to "peak in on nature" from time to time.  She's funny, and a half-marathon runner which about makes me want to punch her skinny self these days.  Ha!

Here's to being "Full Term" with a full heart!
On the journey,

P.S. In case you're wondering, my water broke with Dekker at 37 weeks, 6 days. 

Monday, October 10, 2011

Chapel 1.0

Each Tuesday the NCC students and staff gather for chapel at 11:00AM.  It is a wonderful and warm time of worship and teaching, especially to this newbie.  I _love_ that this is part of my "job" and I'm so glad that I work on Tuesdays so I can join.  This year they asked each of the new faculty members to offer a "get to know you" message-- a little about yourself and how you ended up at NCC, and what God has been doing in your life.  Sounds simple enough, but we all know it's not!  And for some reason, anytime anyone asks me to do something post 32-weeks pregnant, it feels bigger than it is!

Never-the-less, I did want to "get to know" the students better as I have so few in my two classes.  I am one of the first female faculty at NCC, and I am very proud of that. I was thankful for an opportunity to talk to the student body, especially the women.  So here are a few highlights:

First, the "get to know" you section-- I included several pictures of my parents, my roommates at NCC, baby R2, Dekker, and Dave and me.  I made a joke about taking a cruise approximately 34 weeks ago, and it was particularly funny.  Here are a few of the pics I showed and talked about...

The second half of the message was "What has God been doing in my life and how did I get to NCC."  Here is that section: 

To begin, let me say this: I have never quite felt like I fit in much, especially in the Christian culture of women. I don’t sew or sing. I don't knit blankets or booties. I will bring you a meal, but it won't be fancy. I don’t particularly enjoy helping with big crowds of children—I have never been the VBS volunteer of the year (or day, or hour-- because I'm not there). I work part-time by choice. I am simultaneously reading a book by Michelle Dugger, and Tina Fey. I like Lady Gaga and Husker football...

My first week of class at NCC I remember sitting around in the dorms and the question was raised “What is your dream car?” I went first, and I said that I wanted a shiny, new, dark purple/almost black 4-door BMW with leather interior. I was quite proud of my answer. The person next to me said that she wanted a used mini-van full of kids. This illustrated in my mind exactly the way I was feeling in my heart-- what's wrong with me? Why can't I want that? Why can't I be more crafty? Why do I forget the tuna in my tuna casserole? Why do my cupcakes always stick to the liner? This started an unhealthy trend in my life, bouncing back and forth between being secure in how God made me and the unique ways He has wired me up, and feeling constantly insecure that I didn't “meet the mark” of my "more Christian" female friends. So, I started praying that God would change me and help me be “right” like a Christian lady should be. And it has been exhausting journey, both mentally and physically.

My story, and what God is doing in my life, is that He is helping me understand that He made me a unique, and wonderful being—and that embracing that brings genuine security. The Word I have received from God over the last few years, and even particularly this last month and week... is this:

God is more interested in my being, than my doing. In other words, it's not what I'm doing, or not doing, but who I am.

See, part of my wrestle the last several years-- and really most of my adult life-- is over the “doing.” I have measured myself on a scale similar to the one Pastor Cahill talked about last week. Except that instead of “I'm better than you are”... the scale I sang was “She's more spiritual than I am.”  I looked at women around me who have amazing talents to do things like sewing and knitting and running 14 kids around looking calm and collected while they simultaneously made fancy meals with crafty center-pieces.  And I thought-- “They are surely more spiritual than me! Get it together!” And here's the kicker-- “That's how Godly women act!  What's wrong with you, Stefanie!

But then God started teaching me less about what I do, or don't do, and focused my attention on my being. On who I am on the inside. I'm fairly certain that God could care less about my precious cleaning lady, Bibi, (who drives an Esclade by the way)-- or my Schwan's meals paired with boxed mac and cheese, and my un-craftiness. Yes, He is much more interested in my spirit (my being)-- my gentleness, patience, graciousness, courage, self-control-- the way I receive my husbands leadership, and the way I grow in my faith and understanding of God. I'm learning that my highest calling in life is NOT to be the ideal wife or mom, to somehow try to have it all together, or to try and fit a mold that I never will. My highest calling is to be a fully devoted follower of Christ. This is my true security-- not what I do, but who I am.

I also want you to know that sometimes I look in the mirror and I see things about my being that I want to change. For example, for some time I prayed that God would make me less selfish, that He would give me opportunities to practice selflessness, and point out to me my error. So we got a dog and I learned a lot. And then I became a Mom-- and I began to understand the joy of emptying out myself for someone else. I couldn't imagine loving parenthood, but I do, even on the hard days.

On another occasion I prayed to God that He would give me a desire to open up my house more—not in a Betty Homemaker, Better Homes and Gardens way—but in the spirit of true hospitality. My husband and I leaped out and started a small group, who, six years later we now consider extended family. 

Again, my focus is not on “doing” here-- but rather my focus has been on my being, on who I am as a woman of Christ. These are both examples of things I have done, but as an overflow of God's great mercy and grace and power changing me from the inside out.

My goal is to be more like Christ, not more like the ladies in the magazines, or at the park, or on the internet.

Finally, I started praying that God would help me find fulfillment at work. I was lonely at my private practice. I missed co-workers and staff meetings and being a part of a team. I admitted this to my friend Troy Backuus, who introduced me to a friend of his from Grace, who generously asked me to teach a class in the counseling department. I loved it. And that started a trail that ended with Dr. Krause in my counseling office casting a vision about NCC, and its incredible students. Friends, I am humbled to be here. I sometimes feel unqualified. I am very much still learning my way. And when President Milliken stood up at Faculty Orientation and said that we were all here in God's perfect timing I wanted to shout “Not True For Me!” But I am learning to trust that that IS true. God is writing the next chapter of my life, even if it sometimes feels like an awkward and very pregnant chapter!

Can I say this again? God is interested in your being! When we align our being up with the qualities He seeks of us in His word, our doing is a natural overflow-- but is not identical. Your doing might look different than your roommates, your classmates, or your neighbors, coworkers, family and friends. That's okay. We each have wonderful, unique gifts and abilities.  This life is not about 'doing' in some perfect, manuscripted way-- its about each of us striving to become more like Christ every single day.


It's so interesting to me that after my message I had several women come up to me and say, "I'm just like you!"  Which pretty much seals the deal to me that so few fit the "mold" of a "traditional" Christian woman.  I thought to myself-- where did we get this picture of sewing and knitting and crafting and dozens of kids?  Why have I thought in my mind for so long that that was particularly more spiritual than my gifts?  I'm not sure, to be honest.  Maybe I made it up in my head.  But I'm not alone.  And Praise the Lord, I've been freed to be the woman God made me!

My other fear was that women who do fit that mold, or particularly like to sew or sing or something I mentioned, would somehow feel less valued, or that their gifts aren't just as wonderfully important, impactful and unique.  That is just absolutely the opposite of what I am saying.  I also wanted to throw out a picture of my boot lamp-- in all its crafty glory-- but I just couldn't find a way to fit it in!

Finally, I had a few staffers and a few students stop in my office and tell me that this message personally made a difference in their life in very specific terms.  If for no other reason, that made it totally worth it. 

On the journey,

Friday, October 7, 2011

5x7 Folded Card

Classic Yellow Halloween Card
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Monday, October 3, 2011

How To Make A Boot Lamp

After getting nearly 20 "likes" on facebook-- I decided the boot lamp deserved its own post, and not just a picture in the "Here is Dekker's Room... Finally" post that is coming, I promise.

This blog I am titling: How To Make A Boot Lamp
The Answer Is: Ask Your Husband.

Thank you all and have a good day!

Hahahaha. I am just kidding-- kind of!  But, it was very much a project that "we" did.  And Dave just told me he is considering changing his name to "we"-- because whenever "we" do something, it does end up being more like "Dave" does it.  But I organized it all, bought the goods, blah blah, and married a smart man.

Step One: Call your Mimi for a pair of used boots.  This worked out well.  I was to see her over Labor Day anyway and she had two pair ready for the Goodwill.  Second lucky break, my Papa has small feet, so the boot is not enormous.  My Papa is still alive, in case you were wondering.  But that this is his boot does make it extra special.

Step Two: Drill Hole in boot.  We drilled just in front of the heel (in the arch) to give the bolt room to tighten on without messing up the way to boot sat on the nightstand.

Step Three: Buy "lamp kit" from Menards.  Do not haul your two year old to Hobby Lobby hoping they have one, because they do not. A lamp kit looks like this, but is packaged much nicer and is about $10.  You will find it in the "lighting" section of a home goods store.

Then, take the "rod" from the kit (you might have to buy this separately, but it's right next to the kit) and paint it to match.  The above kit does not include the rod, and that is because they come in all different lengths.  We did cut ours down to the right length.  I spray painted it red--totally optional.  I also painted to bolt that went on the bottom to hold it in place.  Dave oversaw all this buying, but I was quite independent I'll have you know.

Step Four: Attach rod to boot, secure using bolt (and maybe a 'washer') on the bottom.  Dave also used some clear caulking around the hole to make sure nothing would seep out.  Fill boot with Plaster A Paris (is that how you spell that?), which I found at Hobby Lobby.  All they had was the Pottery Plaster, and the kind lady said it was the same.

I wanted to mix the whole container, so Dave helped me with some of his tools-- a drywall mixer and 5 gallon bucket.  For the record, I think this could have been done with a wooden spoon and large Tupperware-- it contained 4 cups water with the jar of mix.  But seriously, best husband ever.

Step Five: Let dry.  It was heavier than we anticipated, about 6.5lbs to be exact.  The boot looked wet in places, but it all dried just fine over a few days in the garage.  "We" put some Styrofoam in the boot to try and hold the rod level.  When it was totally try, I cleaned up the Pottery Plaster around the edges and on the rod, and was glad that it was the pottery kind because I think it cleaned easier.

Step Six: Attach hardware.  You do have to do some very minor wiring, sending the plug-in cord up from the bottom of the boot through the rod.  Thank you again handsome hubby.  The kit had great directions (and cost $9.99-- did I mention that).

Step Seven: Attach lampshade and presto.  You should know that this type of hardware calls for a "harped" lampshade, which is considered more "traditional" and less contemporary.  It is the kind of lampshade that screws on with a little knob on the top.  So I looked everywhere and found nothing that wasn't HUGE or ugly, and eventually bought a cheap lamp and then just took the shade off it.  Dave thinks we could have stripped that lamp for the parts, too, but it was too late.  I am going to try and convert that lamp to a contemporary shade and use it in the nursery-- but we'll certainly see how that goes.

This is BY FAR the most crafty thing I have EVER done, and Dave did most of it :)  It is so, so, so awesome in Dekker's room.  He loves it, and it provides a lot of light for our book-reading, nap-stalling marathons.  Speaking of nap time, I'm almost certain a little someone is almost up so I better run!

On the journey,

P.S. You can make lamps out of vases and wine bottles, too!