The Sunshine Award: The Sunshine Blog Award is awarded to bloggers whose positivity and creativity inspire others in the blog world.

Thank you for this award, Que!

Que and I have been reading and commenting on each other's blogs for a little while now, and I have to tell you, his posts are the ones that I laugh at every single time. (Well, there was that one time when he wrote about computers, and I didn't get anything he said. That time I didn't laugh, but all the other times I did.) Que's Daddy Mind works EXACTLY the way Jeremy's mind works, and so I just can't help but laugh when I read something on Que's blog that Jeremy has ranted about repeatedly to me through the years. Also, Que and his wife have three girls, the two youngest are the same ages as my two, so their antics crack me up. (It also helps to know that while I'm reading Bad Kitty fifty-eleven times every day, some other poor soul is likewise enjoying that book on a daily basis. And truly, it is a fun book. It's just that after the nine-hundred-twenty-seventh time reading it that week, it can start to lose it's charm.)

The rules for accepting the award are:

1. Put the logo on your blog or within your post
2. Pass the award to 5 bloggers
3. Link the nominees within your post
4. Let them know they received this award by commenting on their blog
5. Share the love and link to the person from whom you received this award
6. Share 5 things about yourself

Step one: Logo in my post, check.
Step two: Pass the award to five bloggers
  • My new-found blogging friend "PJ The Great" writes Confessions of a Sugar Addict where she mixes humor with some real-life issues like infertility and self-esteem. I love the fact that she keeps it real about what she's struggling with, but she also keeps it funny.

  • Tiffany Anne from In Pursuit was the very first blog on which I ever lurked. (I'm famous for my lurking abilities.) It just so happened that I was bored one day, and I clicked the blogger link "Next Blog." After a few clicks, I landed on Tiffany's site, and the rest is history. I loved the glimpses she gave of her heart as she followed Jesus in daily life. I've followed her through almost three years now, and enjoyed reading as she met the love of her life, then dated, broke up, dated again, and now they are married! Somewhere along the line, the two of us began emailing each other, and now I count her as my friend. The lines between blogging buddies and real life friends begin to blur. Once when I was having a bad day, she sent me some free beautiful jewelry from her Etsy shop! You MUST go there. Her creations are gorgeous and very affordable! Right now, she and her husband are spending their honeymoon on a mission trip to Bangladesh, so her posts are especially exciting lately.

  • My "real life" friend Cathy and I grew up together. We enjoyed sleepovers, giggling and passing notes in elementary school, but we spent less and less time together after she began attending a different high school. We still kept in touch and occasionally spent a weekend together at the mall or playing with my herd of brothers and sisters in our backyard, but when my youngest brother Peter became sick, most of my friendships died off. Not because we didn't care about each other any longer, but because no one really seemed to understand the strange emotions I was now dealing with. One day, Cathy showed up on my porch to tell me that she was pregnant and a little scared. We sat and talked for hours. After her son John was born, she came over again, and I got to hold him. A few months later, he passed away from SIDS. Once again, the two of us stood on that small concrete stoop together, dealing with deep emotions, deep struggles, deep issues. I can't tell you how she was feeling, but the twisted sick feeling in my stomach and the tears choking my throat and burning my eyes at the news were NOTHING compared to her grief. This time it was she who felt compelled to pull away from her friends, not because they didn't care, but because no one our age really understood. Through the years, we have kept in slight communication with each other, and recently through facebook (and my lost phone) we have reconnected. Twelve years have gone by since her bland announcement on my porch stoop of John's death; Cathy has a husband, two more children and a blog, Life After SIDS; she is majoring in psychology, and passionately pursuing her dream of helping others live in their grief. If you haven't yet guessed, I am glad to call her my friend, and thankful that through all of our ups and downs, twists and turns, we are still able to enjoy long phone conversations and heart connections.

  • I met my friend Liisa in college; in fact, she and my husband Jeremy dated briefly. (I took steps to ensure that it was briefly! I'll have to tell you that story later.) Liisa married our mutual friend Dan, and after graduation, the two of them successfully carried out their "Six Year Plan." It was to have six children in six years, but during their seventh year two unexpected things occurred: a seventh pregnancy and Dan's home-going. He went home to heaven after a brief fight with a hole in his heart. Liisa's blog, Remembering Dan, chronicles their family's journey since Dan's death. Liisa tells you exactly how she feels, and at times the grief is raw, the anger strong, the questions unanswered, but the peace that passes understanding always shows up. The powerful truth that GOD gives us hope and joy that cannot be defeated by death and pain reassures again and again. I just tested the link above, and found that Liisa's blog is temporarily disabled. Come back and check this link again later until you are able to get through. It will be worth your time, I promise.

  • My most recent blog addition has been Snoodlings by Whimzie. Whimzie's posts are generally just as light-hearted and funny as her name suggests, but Whimzie, too, has gone through and is currently walking through the valley of the shadow of death. Her father lost his fight with cancer a short time ago. (I'm not sure how long ago, since I am a new follower of hers, and I haven't read her archives.) Whimzie and her husband have three children aged about five to ten years old (again, I'm not sure on my figures). She grew up in a Bible-believing church and embraced it's teachings whole-heartedly, but watching her father's decline into the pain and suffering that eventually took his life shook her faith to its core. Since then, she has been questioning what she believes and why she believes it. I love the honest way she faces her questions head-on, diligently searching for TRUTH, not just platitudes. Her light-hearted posts are enjoyable and will have you laughing out loud; her truth-seeking posts will cut straight through and resonate in your soul.

Now I'm supposed to tell you five things about me, but that's crazy talk. We all know I wouldn't be able to choose just FIVE wonderful-slash-interesting things. There are simply too many, and I would be doing you a disservice by limiting my self-promoting list. So I'll skip that step! Have a great time reading my friends' blogs!
I'm in a writing sort of mood, but my manuscript guessed storage. I can't seem to do anything else but dream of fictional characters, right now.

And laugh at Jeremy's computer game.

He is playing Age of Empires II, which means he commands an entire race of people, builds towns and cities with them, then TRIES TO TAKE OVER THE WORLD (said in my best Pinky & The Brain voice). Just now, he commenced yelling at his troops, "NO! DON'T KILL THEM!!" His hands flew off the keyboard in the universal frustration gesture familiar to gamers everywhere. I glanced over to see his own Trebuchet operators attacking his own foot-soldiers. All the frantic mouse-clicking in the world could not save them. A few minutes later, when he had finally regained control of his army, I noticed a lone Brit taking a casual stroll around his fully armed French regiment. Incredulously I asked, "Is he seriously just walking right past your guys? What, does he think his bright red coat might not be noticeable?"

Then I remembered the American War for Independence, and I took back my last question.
Our lender notified us that the funding is dwindling in the lending program that we are planning to use to purchase the yellow house. This means that we need to begin the loan application paperwork within a week and a half, or we will not be able to purchase our home. (And even then, the funds may not be available to us anymore.)

I called the Short Sale Department at the bank that holds the mortgage and told them that we may have to cancel our offer unless they are able to hurry up the paperwork (MAJORLY hurry up the almost impossible speeds).

The agent that I spoke with named Danny was unable to pass my message on or tell me who the case manager for our house is because I did not have the seller's loan number or social security number (security measures with which I whole-heartedly agree). I asked him if my realtor could call him, and he gave me his phone number to pass on.

When our realtor called that number, she reached a lady who told her that there was no one by the name of Danny in her Short Sale Department but that there were Short Sale Departments all over the US. The woman listened to the message that we wanted to pass on to the bank, and then she responded that for security purposes, she could not pull up the information on "our" house or pass the message on to the appropriate personnel.

We have now exhausted every avenue available to us. It looks impossible, or at best, highly, highly improbable. The rest is up to God.

Jesus looked at them and said, "With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God." Mark 10:27
"What's happening with the yellow house?" people ask me on a regular basis. I love getting those questions because it shows that you care, that you're interested in our lives. Or that you're just nosey. (But that's okay; I like nosey people, because I'm one.)

It's been a long and exciting wait due to complications that have come up. In fact, the wait has been so long that Jeremy and I had started looking at other houses, hoping that one would speak to us. Surprisingly, they all spoke to us. Each one told us, "Wait for your yellow house. Don't waste your time looking elsewhere." We finally decided to wait in quietness and peace, and the past several weeks have been restful to my soul.

But the wait may be close to ending!

Our realtor called the other day to say that an appraisal has occurred which will allow the bank to set an acceptable minimum bid limit. The paperwork is in progress to give the bank rights to sell the house, and soon (hopefully) the call for "highest and best" bids will go out to the two parties interested in the house. (We've been praying that the other party will choose to drop out.)

What can you guys do? Well, if you want, you can ask God to put a specific bid price on our hearts to submit when the highest and best call comes, and as always, ask God to help us remain content with whatever He chooses to give or not give us. Also, Jeremy and I refer to the house as "God's House" because of all the ways He has worked throughout the twisting circumstances surrounding it. Whether we get the house or not, God is obviously using it to draw others to Himself. We know for sure that some hearts are being spoken to by the Holy Spirit through these events. You can pray for those hearts along with us.

I'm beginning to get excited, and I don't even know for sure if the wait is ending.
It's the time of year when the bloggers that I read begin telling of their gardening habits. People, you need to know something about me.

"My name is Missy..."

long, shameful pause



"and I kill plants."

My grandpa has a green thumb. No, forget that; his entire arm from the elbow down is green -- vibrantly, lusciously green.

Mine is black. BOTH of my arms are.

I have adored the idea of gardening for as long as I can remember. When I was fourteen(?), I talked my dad into letting me dig up a patch of grass near our house so that I could plant flowers. I used a shovel and a hoe and tore up that sod myself. Then I pulled out the clumps, churned up the soil, mixed in beautifully black fertilized dirt, and finally raked it all into a smooth, fertile-smelling canvas. It took me at least a week if not longer. I drew up garden diagrams; I poured over gorgeous full-color seed magazines; I chose my seeds, and I bought them myself. I planted those seeds according to the package directions and according to the diagrams I had dreamed up. I watered, fertilized and carefully guarded that garden. (With seven younger brothers and sisters who love mud, guarding was a full time job.)

Then I waited.

And waited.

And waited.

After three months, I asked my dad how long it should take before my seeds started sprouting above ground. That patch of dirt remained barren, mocking me the entire year. The following spring, I pulled up the weeds that had crowded in, and started all over again. With the same results. I can't explain it. My dad couldn't explain it. Not one seed sprouted. Not one! And I planted a lot!

When I moved into my first apartment, my mom gave me a potted African Violet. (We have a running history with African Violets, she and I, and the plant was the PERFECT gift.) She told me how hardy they were and easy to care for.

I killed it within three days, and I promise you I followed all the instructions to a T. My mom was flabbergasted. She questioned me thoroughly about my care for it and told me it was impossible to kill that plant so quickly.

She bought me another one.

It lasted a week.

Then Jeremy took pity on me and presented me with some fake daffodils in a pretty pot. I still have a storage. (But we won't go there, right now.)

There are many more deaths that I could report, but I think you're getting the picture.

Anyway, I say all that to tell you how excited I am about the possibility of moving into a house (hopefully) soon. I plan to kidnap a real, live gardener, and have that person show me step by step how to garden.

Or I may just have the gardener plant everything for me while I dig in the dirt nearby pretending to plant so that my black arms don't destroy the seeds before they even have a chance.
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Saturday, we strapped the girls into the car and drove to a gorgeous outdoor mall where we laughed, held hands, skipped and chased each other in the sunlight between stores. Truthfully, I would have rather been at a park, but Jeremy loves shopping. Or at least his version of shopping which includes trying on everything, choosing which items he plans to purchase, carrying them around the store, asking salespeople intricate, involved questions that require researched answers and then putting everything back and leaving. It used to frustrate me to no end, but now it just frustrates the sales personnel who haven't had thirteen years to get used to his oddities.

I found a wonderful shop called The Rustic Hutch and took pictures of all the home furnishings that I loved. The owner of the store came to me and inquired hopefully, "Are we about to be featured in Architectural Digest?" I laughed and informed her that my friend told me to take pictures of anything that I loved so together we could name my decorating style. (I'm anticipating a house, you see.)

When the girls became tired of walking, they sat in the double stroller and took turns kicking each other's backs and pulling each other's hair. They had a lovely time.

We stopped for lunch at a Chik-Fil-A with a playground and ended up staying for a few hours. The other kids were friendly, and a rousing game of hide-and-seek entertained them a while.

Then back to shopping again where Jeremy had a major realization, and upon his announcement of it, I sang the Hallelujah Chorus. Loudly. To the amusement of the passersby. He has decided that the T-shirts he wears to relax in are stained and holed beyond wear-ability! Can I get a testimony? I've tossed them into the trash on numerous occasions, but he insists on rescuing them. From that point on, we shopped for T-shirts. Since this has never occurred in our relationship before, I assumed that T-shirt shopping would be different from normal Jeremy shopping, but no. It is not. We returned home late that evening with nothing but groceries to show for an entire day of "shopping."

But he's MY man, and I love him.

He'll just have to go shirtless next weekend when he discovers that all of his ratty old T's have been burned while he was at work.

Hmm, shirtless, I like that idea.

Today, we slept late and missed Sunday School. I read to the kindergarten and first graders then to the second and third graders during church service, and afterwards we enjoyed a good, old-fashioned potluck with a table full of friends. I discovered that my children are finally at a stage where they can be trusted to sit in a chair and feed themselves. They can also be trusted to excuse themselves and run and play nicely with friends! Can you imagine that? It's been my dream for lo, these many years. I rocked my friend's baby to sleep, and enjoyed that snuggly warmness as she cuddled into my chest (the baby, not my friend). I also enjoyed watching Jeremy serve us all and clear off the table himself since my arms were full. What a nice man I married!

Now we are home, and everyone is asleep. The apartment sits quietly; well, except for Jeremy's snoring and whoever is gunning their engine outside and the sound of birds cheeping and a door slamming somewhere and someone running up the steps to the second floor... Nevermind! The occupants of our apartment are quiet and peaceful, and I am enjoying my time to blog.
I feel like I'm embarking on an entirely different life today.

I've been...well, not down really, but more serious, I guess? So many things on my mind. Mostly the house business. We're still waiting on an answer to our offer, but as more and more information has hit us, things have started to look pretty impossible. That weighed me down.

Then this insane idea I had to change my lifestyle, I mean, really! What was I thinking? Thirty years of living a certain way, don't lend themselves easily to change. I'll tell you what I was thinking. I thought I'd make a decision, throw in some determination, and viola! Change. HA! I have - as my friend Donette refers to it - fallen off the wagon, climbed back up, fallen off the wagon, climbed back up, fallen off the wagon... Yesterday, I climbed back up again, and right now I'm searching for some kind of seatbelt. But I made a decision, and I've decided to stick to it. There were a few days in there where I wavered on whether it was worth sticking to. I considered going back to normal because it was easy and stress-free. The learning curve on the lifestyle change is a big one, and I wasn't prepared for that. Now, I'm learning to give myself some grace. Instead of getting down on myself when I fall off the wagon (which leads to more and more bad choices), I'm going to say to myself, "Oops! That happens sometimes, doesn't it?" And then enjoy whatever it was that I jumped off for. (Like that double hanging preposition?) After that, I'll climb right back up. No more wallowing for me!

Also, I changed my blog template from my normal, long-term, comfortable brown to that wonderful, lively, white, red, yellow and purple template. I loved the rich, bold colors and the book idea, but I didn't like the fact that the story wasn't the focus of the blog anymore. Instead my face had become the central feature. I went searching through blog templates; I discussed my feelings with Debbie Awful, and together we (but mainly she) fiddled with this template until everything fell into perfect place. Then I spent the last couple days going back through all my old posts and labeling them so the template would work appropriately. That's when I noticed the difference between my recent posts and my older posts. The LIFE is missing!

During this past week that I have spent not blogging, I've been LIVING! Really living! I've gotten back into reading my Bible on a daily basis. I've decided to go to bed when Jeremy does (except for last night), and I'm cutting back on the book reading that I enjoy after Jeremy falls asleep. I want to be alert, awake, alive during the day so that I can enjoy my daughters and my life. I've started speaking up about what I believe and why to my friends and neighbors. I've gotten involved in a new ministry at church called the Mom's Group. In fact, I led the first get together and bombed utterly. But now I have a funny story to tell, and I learned a lot about preparing and praying and getting over my own self-consciousness. I'm currently planning the next get together!

I'm working on projects in my apartment, and looking into some long-term goals for myself. I'm spending a LOT more time on the floor wrestling playfully with the girls or on my feet running up and down the hallway and up and down the sidewalks outside. I spent most of this morning playing Run & Jump with Liberty and Mercy and the couch cushions, and I taught them how to do jumping jacks (the girls, not the cushions). I wish you all could see Mercy "jumping." Too funny for words!

Yesterday, I explored downtown with my new friend Halima. We walked several blocks, pushing our children in their strollers and talking and laughing the entire time. We shopped! I haven't shopped for anything besides groceries since I've been in Indiana, and it felt so good! I have the urge right now to go into minute detail about what I bought and where I found it and what great deals I got, but I will resist. All you need to know is how full my heart feels to have found a friend who wants to hang out with me (we've already got three other hanging-out plans in the works), and you can be surprised along with me at how energizing I have found it to be able to laugh with another woman at things we both have experienced, to get out of the house and not concentrate solely on my children.

Moms are people, too! (If I ran for president, that would be my slogan. What do you think?)

Anyway, my point to all this rambliness is this: I am embracing my purposeful LIFE again with all of its ups and downs, goods and bads, happinesses and disappointments -- and it feels good!
Everything you see on this blog (besides the words inside each post and the general template) was thought of, designed, or tweaked by my friend Debbie. (I call her Debbie Awful, because while we were in college, I once asked her what her middle name was. She replied, "Ugh! Don't ask! It's awful!" Obviously, I took her literally.)

All these years later, our friendship is flourishing, and as a result, the look of my blog is flourishing. Do you realize that she put the Miscellaneous From Missy title and honeybee picture into some kind of jpg file? SHE MADE THAT! I am so impressed.

And so very, very thankful!