26 October 2009

Hello and welcome to Part 3 of me answering your questions from my "Ask Me Anything!" post. I really am planning to answer all of your questions, so hold tight if you haven't seen your question answered yet - it may be here or it may be still coming in Part 4. (Either y'all have a lot of questions or I am just really long-winded in my answers!)

Let's get started:

How do you stay so strong in your faith?

Fair question.

Let me start by saying that I have worked hard to be as transparent as possible on my blog. I think it's important to share my strengths and weaknesses - the mountaintops and very low moments of grief. (Yes, I've shared some rather un-lovely moments because it is a part of the process.) That to say, I am weak and a I fail often. More often than not oftentimes. I am in desperate need of God's grace every day as I fail to seek Him first, fail to call on Him in trouble, fail to give Him glory in triumph. The great thing is that God's good and perfect Grace is faithful to cover my multitude of failures.

How do I continue to standfast through it all? (As I said above, I don't - I fail. But I can tell you where I find my hope!) The truth is, over the last year and a half I have realized more than ever how uncertain almost everything in life is. Life is not certain, income is not certain, neither is safety, health, human relationship or even having pureed pumpkin at the grocery store when all you really want is to make a pumpkin pie. There are no guarantees. No guarantees that positive pregnancy tests will result in healthy babies. No result that healthy babies will grow up to become adults. And when we are faced with the reality of all of that, life can become more than a little overwhelming and hopeless. What can we actually count on - just death and taxes?

How do we standfast in the face of these odds? How have I continued to breathe in an out in the wake of burying my daughter, losing several babies to miscarriage and the deep and wounding betrayal of a friend? When all else seems to be spinning around me, sometimes in the moments of being completely overwhelmed, I just remind myself of the things I know to be TRUE. In the middle of the night when I can't breathe -let alone sleep - and I've checked too many times to make sure Oliver is still breathing and that the doors are locked and the alarm system is on - in those moments of overwhelming fear and uncertainty - I am reminded to ask: What do I KNOW? I don't know that my children will live another day, but I do know that God created me and them. I don't know if we will be able to make our mortgage payment, but I do know that God has promised, "I will never leave you or forsake you." I don't know who to trust or who to believe, but I do know that I am called to trust in the Lord with all my heart and lean not on my own understanding.

Ryan is not my source of truth. Medical tests are not my source of truth. The Word of God is my only source of Truth - the only thing I can KNOW when the rest of the world is spinning around me. The Word of God does not change. His promises do not change. It is not I that stands fast at all, it is His steadfast love and promises that endure forever.

Sorry if that was super long, I tried not to write a book - hope that was brief enough yet clear.

On to a lighter question:

Okay, I've always wanted to know...what do you do with all your stuff? I mean, you always seem to have a place for all the neat things you buy. Does it clutter up your house? Do you store the stuff you are no longer displaying? Do you ever have your own yard sale?

Good question! A couple of things keep all the "stuff" at bay:

1. I am intentional when I garage sale (and definitely when I shop at retail stores) to buy only things that I know I will use right away. If it is a decorative item, I like to have a place for it in mind. The only exceptions really are things like candles (I do keep a stash of these in a closet because we use them all the time and I like to pack them away so I have enough to use all winter long) and children's clothes (every summer I try to buy not just summer things but up to two seasons ahead and up to one size ahead).

2. I am a compulsive purger. I get rid of things in my house just as quickly as I bring in new things. I regularly attack rooms of our house on the hunt for things that are no longer useful or pretty. A lot of times this stuff goes to Goodwill, the garbage, friends or our own yard sales. We actually had one two weeks ago in conjunction with our neighborhood-wide sale. We had lots of things out there but didn't have the time or the stamina (it was COLD!!) to stay out there, so we just put out signs that said "EVERYTHING IS FREE!!" and by the end of the morning almost everything was gone! It was a great way to get rid of a lot of stuff without having to haul it to Goodwill, plus it was fun to get to bless people with a bunch of free stuff that they'd have to pay for at a resale shop.

3. I also store some things that I love but cannot use immediately for one reason or another. Obviously seasonal decorations are stored. My whole house has a fairly cohesive style so that any one item should be able to move from room to room and work nicely (this includes all of our furniture). I keep a bin or two of non-seasonal items that work well in our house but have just found themselves out of rotation for the time being. (We like to rearrange furniture and accessories among rooms every couple of months).

**a note on seasonal storage: I do reevaluate our stored seasonal items yearly and purge things that don't make it out that particular year. I figure that if I can't use it this year, I probably won't use it the next.

***a note about purging: yes, there are times when my compulsive purging comes back to bite me. I have had moments, even recently, when I have looked high and low for something I want/need only to realize that I gave it away several months ago. It happens and I move on. But purging remorse does happen. :)

I am just learning to sew. I just took my first sewing class two weeks ago. I would love to hear ANY sews tips, tricks, or secrets you have!

I'll confess that although I took a few sewing classes in college, I too am still learning to sew. I guess my best advice is to take on projects that you love (and aren't too advanced if you're a beginner) and won't be sick of looking at after a day or two. Surround yourself with beautiful things and useful projects and start small. Be patient with yourself and expect to spend a good percentage of the time not actually at the machine (i.e. cutting, planning, un-doing seams :) and pressing).

What suggestions do you have for those (read: "me") who do not live in great yardsale towns but still want to find great bargains?

Hmm... Craigslist in most cities is still useful for buying and selling things (if you are looking for something specific). I've also heard of a site called FreeCycle where folks post things they're ready to be rid of and other folks post things they'd like to acquire. Matches are made, people are happy, and money rarely exchanges hands. I've never used it myself, but close friends of mine have had good success. I believe the way it works is that you subscribe through Yahoo (I think) to a local group so you only search items that can be picked up locally. (I'd love to hear if any of you have had good luck with this!)

What is your all time favorite garage sale bargain?

Hm... Maybe my brand new $1.50 Pumas or my 19 Yankee tarts for $0.50. I've also gotten some beautiful outdoor light fixtures and bags full of brand name boys clothes for just $1. If you search the Garage Sales label on my blog you'll see why it's hard to pick just one thing!

I have a question! What color paint did you use on your photo wall? I LOVE it!

Thanks! The color is "Nutty Brown" (330F-7) by Behr. I actually chose Benjamin Moore's "Aged Bronze" (231) for the wall but just couldn't bring myself to pay $10 more for the gallon so Behr's Nutty Brown was the closest match and what I have on that wall and our upstairs hallways. I'm pleased!

The next two questions I'll combine:

I love your style, I was wondering if you have or would show more of your house for me to drool over? How do you choose your colors and not go overboard on buying pieces that you like?


Love your blog! Quite possibly my favorite to read! I have a question for you ... where do you find your inspiration in your home decor? I love what you have done in the pictures that I have seen! :)

Wow, I'm flattered! Thank you!

Hm... inspiration... I'll tell you that my dear graphic designer husband LOVES the clean simplicity of modern decor. He subscribes to Dwell magazine and loves furniture designed by famous architects like the Barcelona Chair by Ludwig Mies Van Der Rohe. (Many of these chairs are the inspirations for furniture you see in stores like Crate & Barrel today!) Visit his blog if you just want to see some lovely, modern inspiration!

That said, I love clean, simple design as well, but I like to temper it with a more liveable, traditional feeling. I can't live in a house with all glass walls or have a room with just a sofa and a big piece of art. Because we are both in creative field and have strong design opinions, our home has to be a balance of our styles.

Many of the colors in our home are shades of white/grey/black and if not they're bold statements of their own (see the bold green below). Our furniture is all either leather or solid and has lots of clean lines. Many rooms in our house do not have much "stuff" in them (in keeping with the simplicity of modern design), but we've kept it feeling warm and livable for raising a family.

(Ryan's office in the bonus room)

What's your discipline style with Oliver? Or is his disposition is sweet as he looks and there's no discipline needed :)

Um, discipline is definitely needed! Have I not mentioned that he just turned three!? :)

The short answer to this question: One verse we keep in mind as we raise Oliver is Luke 2:52, "And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man." Those three things are goals for us.

The slightly longer answer: We have surrounded ourselves with people we admire - people we want to learn from and become like. We seek the counsel of our friends, family and church. We encourage one another biblically and are intentional about spending time in each other's homes.

The long but still VERY abbreviated answer: We have been very encouraged by the instruction in Tedd Tripp's book Shepherding a Child's Heart. We've learned that the most important thing is not just training our son's behavior so that he does not embarrass us in social situations. (You can train a dog to behave a certain way!) Sure, it's a (sometimes necessary) short-term solution, but our vision is greater than that - our vision is for Oliver to increase in favor with God!

Again, this is a very short answer to a very involved question, but we believe in training his heart. We teach him scripture (often through song) and when we discipline/correct him, it is a process (that sometimes does involve spanking) of confession, repentance and forgiveness. We talk to him about why his behavior is unacceptable, what God's word says about obedience to God and his parents.

From 12 months of age we have been teaching him the Westminster Catechism for Young Children which walks even little people through why we believe what we believe. We started by just teaching him hand motions before he could talk and now we have a great cd with all of the questions and answers put to music. He loves it and it's a fantastic reminder for us as we sing it in our home and remember those "basic truths" that I talked about in the answer to that first question!


Alright, I think that's all I've got in me for this morning. I have a date with Oliver at Ikea this afternoon and that certainly cannot wait!

I have a list of a few more questions left for my final "answers" post including Christmas gift ideas, our plans for the possibility of more children, marriage and prayer.

Speak now or forever hold your peace if you have any other burning questions!


Sarah said...

I love your tips on what to do with stuff! Once I'm back on my feet I'll have to put them into use. I tried to clean out before I had surgery last month but it turned more into reorganizing and not purging or cleaning, so I have more work to do.

Diane said...

The more I read from you the more I love you, Rachael! You have a beautiful family and a beautiful heart. I hope you'll keep the blogging up. I'd miss you if you ever stopped :)

pinkflipflops said...

Freecycle is awesome. We have gotten a lot of good stuff from there.

Sherri @ Luv a Bargain said...

You are so inspiring me to start going to Garage Sales again. I haven't done it in so long. We have a great flea market about a mile from our house that I go to a lot. And I find fun stuff there but not like you find at garage sales.

Alison said...

Ok I do have a question now that I read through this! If you try not to buy anything you don't use right away, do you not buy anything on clearance for later? For example, I buy things as I see them on sale all year long for Christmas. It saves a TON of money as long as I stay consistant to use the things later.

Kasey said...

Head to my blog. I awarded you the Honest Scrap award!

Melissa said...

Thank you for sharing. You can truly tell that you are an honest, good person. Be proud of who you are!

Christine said...

Raechel! There were STILL garage sales (yes, even outdoor ones) here last weekend! And I tell you what, it's cold enough for winter coats. Chicagoland residents are hardcore.

SLM said...

Congrats to you! I replied to your Twitter earlier today (I'm ShannieLu on there), but wanted to say something here.

It's a wild and crazy ride, being pregnant after a loss (or multiple losses). I'm now 27 weeks myself, and more pregnant than I ever have been.

Finding my own feet and trying to trust God in this all. I will be praying for you as you do the same.

And since you're past the half way mark, and I am as well, my guess is my own due date/gender. 1/23/10 and it's a boy. :-)