Oh, How I Love That Man

Thursday, May 31, 2012

This is a quick post to check in.

I'm pretty sure Addison is still lying awake waiting for me to come snuggle her.

We're at my mom's tonight. Well Addy, Luke, and I are.

This morning, Brian woke up before I did (letting me sleep in), fed and dressed the kids, and determined that the foster babies needed to go to the doctor.

He came into our room to tell me that he was taking the babies to the clinic and that Addy and Luke were playing happily. {At this point we have completely forgone the babies' pediatrician simply because he can never get us in and he's in Yukon.}

So, off he goes with the babies, and up I get to start the day.

He calls a little while later to inform me that both babies have strep, and that they'll be contagious for the next 24 hours.

And then my wonderful husband came up with the generous idea of me packing up our kids and me and heading to my mom's house until tomorrow. He would stay home and get the babies' prescriptions filled and take care of them all day and night.

What a wonderful, wonderful man I married.

He didn't have to do that. We could have easily all stuck out the sickness together and prayed that it didn't spread to everyone else. But he was worried about my weaker than normal immune system (and our kids, too, of course), so he sent us away.

He is so incredibly selfless. I often don't know if I would be able to sacrifice the things that he does for our family. And that is what makes him one incredible, husband, daddy, and friend.

Oh, how I love that man.

Thank you baby for doing your best to protect us. You are so very sweet.

.....day 293 of a year of writing.....

The Hope Link Care Basket Project

I have only once ever walked into a Children's ICU with my own child. And by the grace of God, we were only there for 24 hours, but it felt like the longest 24 hours of my life.

Having a very sick child must be like your worst nightmares coming true. It's always been my biggest fear....what if something happened to my babies?

And luckily I have never had to walk that path besides that 1 day when Luke was just a few days old.

But there are families who occupy the rooms of children's hospitals every day and every night. There are children in ICU with their parents sitting in the chair next to the bed simply waiting.

Often times these families don't know that they're being admitted for a serious stay at the hospital until they're admitted. It happens fast. It's not like they had bags packed ready to move into the ICU. No one waits for that to happen.

Luckily, I know some amazing moms who have unfortunately spent far too much time in the rooms of children's hospitals who decided that they could do something to comfort families in their times of greatest need.

Ryan McLaughlin and Amy Haas, the creators of the non-profit organization Hope Link, came up with an incredible project that we need your help with.

The Care Basket Project is designed to support and pamper families who are admitted into children's hospitals or children's ICU halls with sick kiddos for long term stays.

A Care Basket is very much what it sounds like. It's a basket meant to care for these families while they're in the hospital caring for their children.

But this is a mighty, mighty project and you can help. (And I promise, there just may be something in it for you just keep reading.)

I know you've heard the saying Many hands make light work. That's the idea behind this post. Hope Link needs lots of "things" to make this Care Basket Project a success, but with lots of us helping, the work won't be hard.

Here are some of the items needed for Care Baskets:

To occupy children while in the hospital (ages 5 and under)

  • coloring books and crayons
  • books
  • music 
  • dvds
  • small toys
  • bubbles 
  • stickers
  • temporary tattoos, etc
For older children: 
  • dvds
  • books 
  • journals
  • disposable cameras
  • tissue (kleenex)
  • toiletry items
  • snacks in individual packages, etc
For the parents:
  • gift cards (Sonic, McDonalds, Starbucks, etc)
  • tissue (Kleenex)
  • toiletry items
  • lotions 
  • journals
  • devotionals (simple)
  • bottled water 
  • snacks in individual packages
  • and anything else you think would make them feel special
  • Bags or baskets to put all these items in
Here is what you can do to help.....
Find an item above that you have easy access to, and donate! 

Here's what I'm thinking.....

Are you a Scentsy consultant? Donate a few Layers by Scentsy items that you purchase with your free and half price hostess rewards. What about a Scentsy buddy or baby buddy for the kids? Scent circles, scent paks, hand sanitizers, and room sprays are also perfect additions to these Care Baskets. 

Are you a Perfectly Posh consultant? Donate anything from your catalog to help these moms feel special and pampered! 

Are you a Thirty-One Gifts or Initials Inc. consultant? Donate a bag or tote for us to fill up with goodies for these families. 

Do you sell Usborne books? The kids occupying these hospital rooms would light up over a few new books. We'd love for you to donate some. 

Are you a Discovery Toys consultant? These kiddos would be blessed by some of your smaller toys to keep them occupied. 

Are you a Couponer? Donate some of those extra toiletry items you collect as you bulk buy. Or snacks in individual packages....that would be fantastic! 

Are you a mom who goes to the grocery store every week? Stop by the travel aisle and pick up a few extra items to add to our Care Baskets. Or pick up a magazine that you think a mom might like to flip through while sitting in the hospital. 

The goal: Make these children and families feel special and pampered during a very hard time. 

Over the next two weeks, we are going to see just how many Care Baskets we can create. Beginning today and ending on Wednesday, June 12th, we'll be collecting as many items as we can to create wonderful Care Baskets for families enduring stays in children's hospitals or ICU waiting rooms. 

To participate, share this with your friends, family and anyone you know who would like to help out. Then simply send your items postmarked by Wednesday, June 13th, to the address below. Also, comment on this blog post and let me know what you're sending and why you felt moved to donate. 

Hope Link Care Baskets
c/o Allison Dalke
1805 Lancaster Circle 
Edmond, OK 73012 

I can't wait to see how we many baskets we can put together. 

Oh and one more thing....do you ever feel like you need a little pampering? Well, donate to our Care Basket Project and then comment below, and you'll automatically be entered into a random drawing to win the ultimate summer survival tote. Also, make sure you click the blue Join This Site button on the left side so you'll know when you're announced as the winner. 

If you're the lucky winner, you'll receive everything pictured below (sorry for the awful pic...I took it with my phone). The winner will be announced on Wednesday, June 20th, from the comments posted below once we have received all donated items. Remember, items being donated need to be postmarked no later than Wednesday, June 13th. 

a Shop-A-Haul-It Scout bag (perfect for the beach or the pool!) 
an Ice, Ice Baby insulated Scout bag (for your cool summer drinks)
a Tote-All Package I.D. (and phone) carrier by Scout
a double walled insulated drink cup 
a paperback copy of Janet Evanovich's entertaining book, Explosive Eighteen
a pocket bible 
an iota chic journal 
a copy of Southern Living June 2012
eos lemon drop lip balm 
a 2 pack of Burt's Bees Replenishing lip balm 
vapur the anti-bottle (foldable, freezable, reusable, water bottle) 

So what do you think? Are you in? Can you help? 

I know that we can't do everything, but we can each do something. Please share this project with anyone and everyone you know. 

And thank you in advance for helping in any way that you can. 

.....day 292 of a year of writing.....

Because YOU Need To

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

What on earth is the sweet Lord doing to me? Doesn't He know that I have four kids in my house, plans to move this summer, and a baby on the way?

He doesn't care, and I kind of like that about Him.

I wrote a few weeks ago about an online Bible study that I'm starting in connection with Beth Moore's Summer Siesta Bible study over Kelly Minter's study called Nehemiah: A Heart that Can Break. I'm very excited about that group and the community that we're going to build online.

But to be involved in that group, you had to be able to commit to three of our four meeting dates, have a webcam, and all that good stuff, and we had to turn people away because we wanted to be able to connect with a small group of women.

It occurred to me today that we could do something similar if we created a group of women and worked through a study on our own. The idea is the same: build a community among women and hold each other accountable to studying God's Word.

But this one will be on your own time. There will be no "meeting times." We will simply stay connected via a private Facebook group and use that forum to connect and share and discuss.

So, if you're interested in studying God's Word this summer and you're not in the midst of any other study, let me know. Leave a comment below and I'll find you on Facebook and invite you to our group.

We'll be working through Beth Moore's Believing God study. If you've never studied God's Word before or if you've been through a million Bible studies, this study is truly incredible. It's a great place to start as you build a foundation for who God says you are.

All you need to do to participate is comment below so I can add you to the Facebook group and purchase your member book. You can find it here at Lifeway for $14.95 or here at Amazon for $14.95. You should also be able to find a copy at your local Mardel store or Lifeway store.

Once you're a part of the Facebook group, I'll ask for your email address. If you're interested in watching the session videos (on your own time), I will add you to an email list where you'll receive access to them. You can also work through the workbook without watching the videos, but I personally love the videos and get a lot from them.

It's just another opportunity for you to dive into God's Word.....You really don't have any excuse this time. There are no time restraints. You work at your own pace. And you get a community of women working through the same homework as you for you to connect to online.

If He's been calling you to His Word, this may be exactly what you need. If you've never done a Bible study, this should be your first. If you've done a million, add this one to the list, and join us as we seek God's truth through His word this summer. Why? Because you need to. Trust me. It just may change your life....this particular study changed mine for sure.

.....day 291 of a year of writing.....


Monday, May 28, 2012

Here it is....things you may not know:

*I'm watching the Bachelorette this season...{actually as we speak, I'm getting sucked into this stupid show once again}. Yes, it's a pointless show, and it definitely has some debatable moral issues, but I'm a hopeless romantic, and I really hope she finds a great guy.

*My kids have not been to bed before 10 p.m. since summer has started. So what?

*My other TV show for the summer is absolutely (hands down) So You Think You Can Dance. It's way too good to miss. I guess I should also tell you that those are the only two shows I watch during the summer. I am not a TV junkie at all. I don't watch TV throughout the day or ever unless it's a show I am planning on watching.

*There are days I'm ready for the foster babies to be gone and for our family to be our family again, and then there are days that I don't want them to leave ever. This is definitely a hard journey. We have a hard time getting a hold of the babies' case worker sometimes, and there are times that we feel in the dark about what is next for them.

*I have totally taken advantage of my hubby being home and me being pregnant, and I sleep in most days while he feeds all the kiddos breakfast. I have the best husband ever.

*I've been listening to some old school Rascal Flatts lately. Songs like: "Like I Am," "I Melt," "The Broken Road," and "These Days."

Maybe that's it. I'm sure I have other things to confess to you, but those things will have to wait for another day.

.....day 290 of a year of writing.....

Week 15, Day 7

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Well, apparently I fell asleep during the Thunder game, which sort of sets you up for how helpful/entertaining/inspirational this post will be. {Don't expect too much.}

I have been walking/jogging this week. I was originally trying to walk every single day, but I have realized that that is probably not a realistic expectation. So I decided five days a week would be a good goal to shoot for. 

All was well until I fell asleep during the game. I had intentions of walking at halftime, and that obviously didn't happen since I was knocked out on the couch. 

The past couple of days I have felt pregnant. Some of it's good....like feeling this baby move on a daily basis.....that's my favorite part of all of this. 

But some of that "feeling pregnant" is annoying. Like lately I have not been able to eat much at one setting, so I have basically been grazing. As a result, it feels like I never really eat a meal, but snack all day long.  I lose my breath really easily and get worn out way too quickly. I guess that all comes from carrying and growing a small human inside me. That's just part of the territory. 

All my pregnancies have really been great, but I can tell a difference in this one and the other two. I was 22 when I got pregnant with Addison and 23 when she was born. With Luke I was 24 when I found out I was pregnant and 25 when he was born. 

Now at 28, I feel older all of the sudden. I know I'm not that much older, but I just feel like this pregnancy is wearing me out a bit more. Granted, that could be the four children in my house, but who knows? 

Really, they aren't that hard to handle. They're busy and cause us to be busy, but I take that to be a good thing most of the time. 

But every once in a while, I just wear out and do something crazy, like fall asleep in the middle of a Thunder play-off game. 

I'm anxiously looking forward to finding out if there is a little boy or a little girl in there. I'm claiming it's a girl, and Brian is claiming it's a boy and Luke of course, says there is a big black baby girl in there. Ha! We'll find out at our ultrasound appointment at 19 weeks. 

Until then, I'm working on getting fatter everyday because that part is kind of fun. Tomorrow I will be 16 weeks pregnant. That means that tiny little baby will be roughly 4.6 inches (about the size of an avocado) and weigh about 3.5 oz. 

It's pretty incredible what the human body can do in such a short amount of time. 

With that being said (sorry to bore you with pregnancy details), I'm going to bed to work on growing a human. It's exhausting work. 

.....day 289 of a year of writing.....

A Little Bit of Everything

Saturday, May 26, 2012

It's been a while since I've given you a little bit of everything at once, so I thought tonight should be the night I catch you up.

About the blog:
So some of you were a little worried about me when we were really in the thick of figuring out the foster care thing (aka God was dealing with me and my selfishness), but please remember, I'm not attempting to sugarcoat anything. What you get here is me. So when you read things that sound like I'm upset or frustrated or annoyed, then I am, but remember, we all have those feelings (most days), we just don't always choose to broadcast them to the world.
I'm okay. I'm actually better than okay. I'm wonderful.
The Lord has walked us through a lot lately, but all is well in the Dalke house. So don't you worry your pretty little heads.

About the babies:
The babies (foster babies) are still here. Hopefully they will be until the end of the summer. We have requested that if adoption is in the future, that they begin looking for prospective adoptive parents sooner instead of later to make the last move as smooth as possible.
We have basically drawn a line in the sand and said that we can only keep them until we move (see "about the house" below for more information).
And while we're being honest, there have been days when I have thought that I would adopt him (Wade, the baby who is 16 months old) if it were just him. I know that's awful, but it's the truth. We just simply can't do both of them, and we know that they need to be together if at all possible. Don't hate me for being honest, it's just the truth.

About our kids:
Addy and Luke are already enjoying the summer. They have stayed up late and gotten up too early every day since school has been out. (They are also both napping everyday, so that's a plus for everyone.)
We are loving our lazy summer days.

About the house:
As of right now, our plan is to build! Yeah! We have found an addition that we love. And we have a builder that we love and trust. Now we just have to wait and see if our builder can be approved to build in the addition. That's sort of what it all hinges on.
If all goes well, we'll buy a lot ASAP. Rent a house ASAP and hopefully move in July before school starts. Then we'll put our house on the market and hopefully get it sold. We'll pay off the lot and then break ground after the baby is born.
That's the plan. I like a plan. (But you already know that, don't you?)

About the travels:
We are coming up on a travel season, and we feel so blessed to be able to travel the way we do (all thanks to Scentsy). Brian and I are going to the Dominican Republic for a week. Then we'll be home for four days, and we'll head to Mexico with our kids for my sister's wedding. That's fun, but also a lot of packing. But if I get to hang on the beach for multiple days in a row, I'm down for anything.

I think that's about it. I'm sure there are other things, but that's enough about us for tonight.

.....day 288 of a year of writing.....

287 Days In

Lately, I've been thinking about where I've been over the past 286 days of writing. Sometimes it's hard to believe it's been this long.

There are things that I love about it, the first being that I can look back and see what my life has looked like over the past nine months and how God has so clearly moved in it. 

I love being able to look back and see how He was going before us and preparing the way for what He had planned for us. It makes me more confident about the future. I know He'll lead us always. I know He will walk before us always. I love that. 

I also love seeing how the Lord has so greatly changed me. He has a lot more work to do, but I can look back and see how I have more faith now then I did. I'm more obedient now than I used to be. I am more on fire for God's Word than I have ever been, and I can see all that clearly as I look back over the past 280+ days. 

I also love how this blog has chronicled the lives of my children and our family. If I don't write it down, I forget it. And now I have it all here and by the end of it, I'll have a year of our life chronicled here. I love that. 

I am beginning to look towards the future, too. 

I'm wondering what it will look like. 

I know that the Lord clearly asked me to do this for a year, and there are so many stories I have heard from many of you that have made it worth it. You usually seem to get the most out of the nights that I write out of exhaustion and frustration. You like the real, raw me, and you only get that because I agreed to do this everyday for a year. 

I've figured it out. Day 365 will land on Friday, August 10th. 

That's basically only three months away. Ironically, when I started blogging, I challenged myself to write for three months straight {a post a day in March, April, and May}. And that's how it all began. Then I thought that three months was forever, and now I feel like I'm nearing the end of the road with only three months left to write. 

I don't know if I'll still write everyday. Everyday? Can I do that for longer than a year? I guess you can do anything you feel called to do. 

I really don't know what it'll look like after August 10th. I guess I have a lot of praying to do over the next three months. Maybe I'll write 3-4 times a week. Who knows? 

I guess we'll see.

I was just thinking about that tonight. 

287 days in.....three months to go. 

.....day 287 of a year of writing.....

From the Mouth of Babes

Friday, May 25, 2012

A conversation between my son Luke {age 3} and me earlier this evening.

Me: Luke, what's in Mommy's belly?

Luke (with a sweet dimple filled grin): A baby.

Me: What kind of baby?

Luke (with that same dimple filled grin): A big black one.

Me (holding back laughter): A big black baby?

Luke (still with that grin and this time with his hand on my belly): Yeah. A big black baby gurl. (aka girl)

Me: You think Momma has a big black baby girl in her belly?

Luke: Yeah.

God is funny and can do anything, but that one would be a shocker all around. Ironically, I've always wanted a black baby. I just think they're so pretty, but I don't think that's going to happen.

I hope that made you smile and didn't offend you.

From the mouth of babes......

.....day 287 of a year of writing.....

All That Matters Is Why

Thursday, May 24, 2012

I've basically been begging the Lord to speak a word to me over the last month or so regarding where on this beautiful Earth He would like us to live. And ya know what? He won't say anything!

You know this is a girl who likes a plan, and I left my house today in tears because Brian and I got in a disagreement over what was next. I was pretty sure we were set on building. I mean he spent the entire morning looking at floor plans. To me, that means we're building.

And then suddenly, he pulls me over to look at a house for sale that he just can't believe he hadn't seen yet in all of his searches.

Wait a minute.....I thought we were building.....not buying....what happened to that?

And before I know it, we are arguing over nothing.

I leave the house to head to the grocery store in tears. {I have very high suspicious that my overly emotional reaction to a small disagreement has to do solely with my pregnancy hormones....and you better believe I'm going to play that card as many times as necessary.}

And suddenly at a stop sign, with tears streaming down my face, I just cry out to the Lord,
"Would You just say something!" 
I was mad. I mean like angry mad.

For crying out loud, just say something....anything......

You see, I so desperately want to do whatever His will is for my life, that I beg Him to speak and to lead. And sometimes, He is simply silent. But I firmly believe that the Lord is just as intentional about what He doesn't say as He is about what He does say.

His silence, is our opportunity to act on that which He has called us to be filled with and that is faith and faith alone. In those times that He chooses not to answer back, not to offer any signs or signals, we must simply act out of faith by following His word and doing what we believe He would ask us to do.

And the more I thought about all this acting on faith business, the more I kept thinking about the house we almost bought in Piedmont just a month or so ago.

We sought Him over and over again about whether or not this was the house, and one night Brian had a dream about it.

He was in a room with nothing in it but what looked like a day calendar hanging lonely on the wall. You know the type that you rip off a page for each day... Some have inspirational sayings, or jokes on a square pad. Well, this one simply said "500 days."

While he was in this room, He was asking the Lord if we were supposed to move into this house. And oddly enough, the Lord didn't seem too concerned with whether or not we moved there or not because when Brian asked if we were supposed to buy this house by the lake, the only thing the Lord said was, "Will you sacrifice something for me?"

And Brian asked him if he needed to sacrifice something for this house, and the Lord said, "No. You can move into that house. It's not for the house. Will you just sacrifice something for Me?"

And Brian's answer was, "Yes."

Then he watched the sheets of paper on the calendar flip and flip and flip, as if God was thumbing through them, until finally they were almost all gone. The He ripped off most of the calendars' pages, and the one left showing said "43 days." Brian asked, "I am going to have to sacrifice something in 43 days?" His answer was simply "Yes."

Oddly enough, Brian had that dream exactly 43 days ago. Today was the day of sacrifice.

Over the next few weeks, we would begin to understand what he would have to sacrifice and why. The Lord would ask Brian to stand up for something he knew was wrong and as a result, he would end up having to sacrifice his position at our church. Tonight was the last night our youth will meet until the beginning of the next school year. It was not something Brian "wanted," but we see the Lord's hand all over it.

After that, when we knew we would no longer be attending the church that we just bought a house to be closer to, the Lord provided a way out.

It never mattered to Him from the beginning what we did about that house. He knew He could fix it no matter what we decided. And I think He wanted us to see that. I think He wanted us to see the way He would work out all the details if we would simply do the things He called us to do.

What I've learned from all this and what kept running through my head tonight on a late night trip to Wal-mart was that it doesn't matter where or when or with whom or how.....all that matters is why.

He wants me to know why I am His child, and why He placed me on this Earth at this moment in time.

Where that happens and with whom and how are all details that He can work out as long as I'm working towards fulfilling His will for my life.

The more I think about it, the more I know that He doesn't care where we live and who we do life with or how we go about our day, as long as we're seeking Him and doing exactly what He has called us to do.

When you know your why.......the small details don't really seem to matter anymore. The Lord can work any small detail of your life into good for the purposes of His kingdom. Maybe we really shouldn't stress over the small things. He can work the big and the small into good when we're living for Him.

.....day 286 of a year of writing.....

If We Build It?

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

So now we're contemplating building. Building a house? Really? There are things I have said that I have no interest in, and building is one of them. I love the idea of it....picking things out and making it my own, but Brian and I are both so stubborn that I'm concerned we would definitely kill each other in the process.

But the more we look, the more we realize that with house prices what they are, we clearly see that in the right addition, we can buy a lot and build and have instant equity in a house, and that sounds pretty good to me.

Luckily, we know a great builder. We have found an incredible housing addition. And maybe, just maybe, it's all beginning to fall into place. I guess we will see as only time will tell. Would you pray that we would clearly understand what the Lord has next for us? We would appreciate that so much.

.....day 284 of a year of writing.....

What Good Is It?

I put the final ink on my James Mercy Triumphs Bible study today, and the phrase that won't leave me is, "What good is your faith?"

James, the half brother of Jesus himself, urges us to not just believe, but to live out our faith through our obedience to the Lord. 

14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them?15 Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food.16 If one of you says to them, "Go in peace; keep warm and well fed," but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it?17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. James 2:14-17

What good is it if we don't actually help anyone? What good is it if we are merely trying to survive this life instead of thriving in the truth that the Lord has called us into? 

What good is it? 

And I keep asking myself what that looks like in our lives? And I'm asking the Lord too? How do you want us to live it out? What does it look like for the Dalkes? 

We sort of thought we knew. We thought we knew what He had for us to do, but then everything changed. With Brian being home lately, we've been able to really seek the Lord. Our relationship is really strong right now, and oddly enough I believe it's because of an event that we didn't know was going to happen; an event that we didn't plan for at all, but now, in retrospect, we see the Lord's hand and blessing all over the circumstance that placed us in the situation where Brian is home for now. It's been a growing and healing time for us, but now we're stepping back and asking the Lord, what's next? 

And it all comes back to that statement....what good is it? What good is our faith if we aren't actively listening to the Lord and helping those He calls us to help?

I think we're getting better at seeking His will instead of our desires. I pray that we continue to get better that constantly. 

On of my favorite phrases from Beth's pen in the last session of James was this:
I want to keep the poor on my radar at all times and stop protecting myself from the pain and plight of others. 
Do you do that? Protect yourself from pain because it's easier?

I do. It's why I don't watch the news. Have you ever heard that song by Matthew West called "My Own Little World?" It's that message exactly. It's about staying in our own little world "where it hardly ever rains."

What's interesting is that the Lord knows that about me. He knows that I do everything I can to keep myself from pain. Most of us do I think. And pain is exactly how He brought me to Him through a little girl named Ellie Kate McLaughlin. You can read about how she changed me here. But Ellie Kate's life and her family's life is not one empty of pain. When the Lord brought the McLaughlin's into our lives, He never intended for it to be a temporary thing. He intended to use something painful to make me fall head over heels for Him. Pain is what made me seek Him and find Him.

Yet, we so often do everything we can to stay in our little world. We don't want to deal with anyone else's rain when we can barely handle our own. But what good is that?

What good is our faith if it's not being lived out through our actions and desires to be the hands and feet of Christ?

My prayer tonight? That He would make my faith good for something. I want it to be more about Him and less about me. I want to be willing and joyful to do whatever it is He calls us to do.

So I have to ask you too.....what good is your faith? Are you seeking His will for your life? Are you letting Him use you for the good of His kingdom? I don't think it's the easiest thing to do, but the easiest thing is never the best. Doing things that are hard is what makes our lives worthy.

What good is your faith?

.....day 283 of a year of writing.....

It's Time for a Plan....Anyone?

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Well, tomorrow officially begins our summer. The kids are out of school, and we're ready for some summer sun.

Tomorrow I will also be fifteen weeks pregnant. The past couple of weeks have really been smooth sailing. I am not having any huge strange cravings. I do love lime in my water and I'm eating a lot of yogurt and granola. I am sort of craving all things salt. We picked up McDonald's for the kids today after church (I know it's so healthy!) and I made the comment that I just wanted to lick the salt off the fries. I've also been craving beer with salt and lime. I think it's a salt thing which is probably really an iodine thing. I know that iodine is something your body needs when pregnant which would explain the typical "pickle" craving that lots of women have when they're pregnant. 

What else? 

I think we're beginning to zone in on where we want to settle down. We've been looking at houses and have even looked out of state some, but after being back at our old church for two weeks in a row now, we feel at home more so than we ever have. 

We were attendees at LifeChurch.tv in Edmond for almost ten years when we moved to the LifeChurch.tv campus in Yukon. And when we came back to Edmond just a couple of weeks ago, I didn't expect for it to feel the way it has. 

We know so many incredible people in Edmond. We have family in Edmond, and it simply feels like home. I honestly didn't expect it to feel that way coming back, and I don't know why. But today during worship, it was like I heard the lord whisper to me, "Did you think I wouldn't be here, too?" Of course He's there. It's where He lead us back to, and it feels so very good. 

I'm ready for a plan. A pregnancy workout plan, a Bible study plan, a house hunting plan. You know me if you've been around here for any amount of time; I just love a good plan. 

My new workout plan? 30-40 minutes of cardio every day from now until that baby makes its appearance. It sounds hard, but it's something I can do. My mom and I went on a walk last night while Addy rode beside us on her bike. I just need to say what I'm going to do, so I'll be accountable, so there you have it....that's the plan....cardio. 

My new Bible study plan? I'm going to get back into the habit of being in God's Word every morning. I have that crazy passionate desire for more and more of His Word again, and I love that. It's a really good place to be. I can't get enough of it, and I need to set aside specific time each day to be in His Word. That means early to bed (no later than eleven) and early to rise. It'll be good. I like that plan. 

Our house hunting plan? Start looking at houses in the Edmond area (which is where we are and where our church is) or near Lake Arcadia. We have not walked into a single house for sale in this area yet, and I'm ready to. I want to see what our options are. I'm ready to get the ball rolling. 

I also think I need a plan for reading for fun. I think since it's summer I should just do it. In all my planning, I've also decided to attempt to start writing in the morning instead of in the evening to free up some more time with my hot hubby and give me more time to read for fun. Why not, huh? 

So what about you? Are you planning anything this summer? Or are you going plan-less? 

Ironically enough when I'm on vacation, I don't do a lick of planning. No schedules. No itineraries. No pre-made plans whatsoever. Just another random fact there. 

Hoping you had a great weekend. Don't forget to wear your Thunder wear tomorrow.....Thunder up!  

.....day 282 of a year of writing.....

A Spring Shower

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Today I hosted my sister's last bridal shower. She's getting hitched in Mexico in just a few weeks, and we're all so excited about our trip.

Today was a great chance for friends to visit over good food and a great atmosphere.

She wanted an informal shower....she didn't want to open presents (I don't blame her), so we hosted a display shower. It gave everyone time to chat and catch up. The only activity we had planned was a blessing ring for people to fill with favorite recipes, scriptures, or advice.



We wanted simple but delicious food, so we decided to go for an omelet bar and a yogurt parfait bar. Everyone helped themselves.


Each guest who wanted an omelet took a cup, wrote their name on it, added the veggies they wanted, and handed their cup to the cook.



I found this handsome guy to cook up the omelets, and he did a great job. They were delicious!





We had a variety of drinks available....coffee from the Keurig, orange juice, mimosas, and orange flavored water (which we have refilled about a dozen times today...everyone loves it including the kids).



We also had cupcakes and bundt cakes for dessert.


All in all, it was really a fun shower. Everyone raved about the food, and as long as you have a cook, it's really easy! (Thanks again, babe!)


Here is my mom, my sister (the bride to be!) and me posing for a little family shot.


Addison wearing her Aunt Knee-Knee's (Whitney) very high heels. She's already a pro with a pair of heels at five years old.


Whitney and her life group girls (Paige, Laci, and Lindsey) sporting her new personalized apron. SO cute!


The Lawton crew (all from high school).


And me and my sister. Isn't she beautiful!?

It was a great, great day. Thanks to the 30+ women who showed up today to shower my sister with love!

.....day 281 of a year of writing.....

There Is No Such Thing as the Perfect Church

Friday, May 18, 2012

There is no such thing as the perfect church.

I've been rolling that phrase around in my head for days now, and it suddenly all came to a head in my Bible study time today.

I know so many of you whom have told me that you just can't find a church that you like or that you feel welcome in. I get it. I understand. It literally took us years to feel at home and comfortable in our church.

But it's our own fault. We walked in expecting perfect people in an imperfect world. We are sinners. All of us. Christian or not, we are all constantly battling sin in our lives. We are sinners by nature. And yes, we are saved by grace when we believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, but that doesn't make us perfect.

A lot of people have a spear to throw at Christians because we often claim to believe one thing and then act in another way. It's true. We do it all the time. And it's because we know and understand the way we should act and live but often fall short of even the expectations we set for ourselves.

The church is simply a body of believers all striving to be more like Christ day in and day out. We all fall, we all sin, and we all fail to meet expectations. The physical building of the church is just that.....a physical building. The name on the outside isn't what makes it a church. It's the sinners on the inside that make it a church.

But our expectations of what a church should be are often too high. We want the church to serve us, to save us, to be the foundation for our lives. In reality, we, as believers, are the church. We are supposed to serve. We are supposed to save. We are supposed to be the foundation.

I love Peter's words in 1 Peter 2:4-10. He says this about Christians:
4 As you come to Him, the living Stone—rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to Him—5 you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.6 For in Scripture it says:
"See, I lay a stone in Zion,
a chosen and precious cornerstone,
and the one who trusts in Him
will never be put to shame."
7 Now to you who believe, this stone is precious. But to those who do not believe,
"The stone the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone,"
8 and,
"A stone that causes people to stumble
and a rock that makes them fall."
They stumble because they disobey the message—which is also what they were destined for.
9 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.10 Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
In this passage, Christ is referred to as the Cornerstone. The beginning of the church and all that we as Christ followers believe.

Peter refers to believers as "living stones"....part of the spiritual church built where no one person or one thing would be able to tear down its walls.

You see, the church is not a building. It's a group of believers (living stones) who have been added to the multitude of other stones laid generations before them to build something stronger than brick and mortar.....something that no one would be able to destroy.

But just because we are part of this spiritual building that Christ has built, doesn't mean we won't be free of sin or disappointment. We will fall short of perfection every single day for the rest of our lives. We were not made for this world. And we cannot live in it with any semblance of victory without a relationship with the cornerstone....Jesus Himself.

We cannot expect for a church to ever be perfect. A church, made up of imperfect people, will never live up to the expectations that we may have of it.

We have to remember that if we are believers in Christ, we are the church. We are the the people who are supposed to serve, lead, and steward others. That doesn't mean that you should shy away from getting plugged into a church. It means that you should absolutely be plugged into a church...serve in a church.....give in a church.  But don't expect perfection from a church. People will sin. The devil will attack, and people you love will be deceived. But as a living stone of Christ's church, you have to persevere. Perfection can only be found in one place. He was tempted and tried and never faltered. Jesus is the only perfect one. On Him we should lean. On Him we should place our trust. And through Him should we serve His church.

{Thanks Ms. Beth for another very timely and necessary lesson for my soul.....today's post came from ideas and writings in Beth Moore's James Mercy Triumphs study....week 7 day 4.}

19 Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God's people and also members of his household,20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone.21 In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord.22 And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit. Ephesians 2:19-22

.....day 280 of a year of writing..... 

Summer Awaits Us

Thursday, May 17, 2012

I hardly know what to do with myself. I forgot what it feels like to not have kids to get ready for school, but tonight, that's exactly where we find ourselves.....snuggled on the couch, catching up on our favorite TV shows, knowing that summer officially begins tomorrow for our sweet family.

Just as I yearn for the beginning of school and the routine and the schedules, I yearn for the end of it equally as much. I'm ready for lazy mornings, and even lazier afternoons. And I'm very much ready for the precious time that Brian and I will be able to spend with our kiddos. 

They have been so incredible through our foster care journey, rarely (if ever) complaining about having to share their house and their toys and their mommy and daddy. But with the babies still going to daycare and our only real job being to find a new house for our growing family and business, we'll have plenty of time to do all those fun and lazy summer things with our two kids, giving them some much needed time with mom and dad and each other. 

Sprinklers, pools, popsicles, and afternoon movies are all making my list of top summer to dos. The library, the children's museum, and lots of make shift arts and crafts projects will also join the list. We'll stay up late playing in the warm summer air until there isn't any light left. I'm absolutely sure of it, and I honestly can't wait for it. 

Oh, and what I'm most looking forward to? Watching my sister get married on the beach with my entire family. It's truly going to be incredible. I can't wait for my babies to see the ocean again. The thought of it brings tears to my eyes. The ocean is my God place. I cannot stand with my feet in the sand and deny Him and His glory. It is my reminder that we are so very very small in this great big world. 

What are you most looking forward to this summer? It's just around the corner you know? 

.....day 279 of a year of writing.....

Helping AvaGrace

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

One of our favorite places to play and unplug is at the fun and creative Unpluggits in Edmond, Oklahoma.

With your daily admission, you get free paint and play all day long. Plus, you can choose extra crafts to complete for an additional fee.

On May 25th, Unpluggits is hosting a fundrasier for the beautiful AvaGrace.

Avagrace (aka "AvaCake") is a beautiful and fun-loving seven year old girl with lots of love in her home from her brothers, sisters, and parents. She's had seizures since she was five months old, but they started becoming more frequent and severe around the age of four. Then last year, it got even worse. She's been diagnosed with Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome, a catastrophic form of Epilepsy that causes mental retardation. Fortunately, she has medical insurance which covers a lot, but not all of the cost of her surgeries and medication. Plus, insurance doesn't cover her medical equipment like helmets and special beds made for little girls who have seizures.

Half of the sales at Unpluggits will go towards Avagrace's medical expenses on May 25th. If you're thinking of  doing a craft, May 25th might be the day to do it. Face painting and carnival games will also be part of the fun! Included will be a Cupcake Walk with cupcakes provided by Heavenly Cakes. Yummm.....I do believe that walking in a cake walk burns off any calories that might be consumed.

       Dad's Deployment Day

As if Mom doesn't have enough on her plate, Dad's busy serving our country overseas for six months.  In spite of their extra burdens and sacrifices, Avagrace and her family keep smiling with a sense of humor. You can tell this family knows how to count their blessings! Let's help them count even more blessings and make this a special day!  

I personally know AvaGrace's mom and dad thanks to the incredible organization Hope Link OKC that Brian and I are involved in. Hope Link is a local non-profit organization that connects mothers who have children with rare or undiagnosed disorders while providing encouragement, hope, and support through fellowship and prayer.

My kiddos and I will be at Unpluggits on Friday, May 25th having a wonderful time playing and crafting all in honor of AvaGrace and the Spencer family. Will you join us? Why not? 

Unpluggits is the perfect place for you and your kiddos to unplug on a hot summer's day. 

If you aren't local to the Oklahoma City area or you'd simply like to make a donation to the Spencer family's medical bills, please contact me directly at allisondalke@gmail.com for donation information. 

Thank you in advance for your support of this incredible family. Remember, anything you can contribute will make a difference to this family. 

.....day 278 of a year of writing.....

Summer Bible Study

By now you probably know how much I love, love, love Ms. Beth Moore. She has taught me so much about studying God's Word and seeking His truth through Scripture. I want to be like Beth when I grow up one day. : )

In the meantime, I'll just keep doing whatever He asks me to do. I have been wanting to start an online Bible study for a long time now, and I think this is finally the time and the place thanks to Beth's Siesta Summer Bible study.

Here's how it will work. We'll meet roughly every two weeks beginning Wednesday, June 27, online via Vokle. All you need is a computer, a webcam, and headphones. We will have a private show so that we'll be able to discuss serious issues and be open and honest with each other without anyone and everyone being able to join in. We'll start at 8:00 p.m. CST and be finished no later than 9:30 p.m. CST.

The online meetings dates will be as follows:

Wednesday, June 27th (Introduction and getting to know each other)
(In the two weeks that follow our first Session, you will do WEEKS ONE and TWO of HOMEWORK on your own and also watch VIDEOS 1 and 2 on your own.) {We will provide the videos via email to those who can commit to 3 of the 4 meeting weeks.)

Wednesday, July 11th (2nd session/discussion of weeks 1 and 2 homework)
(In the week that follows, do WEEK THREE HOMEWORK on your own and watch VIDEO SESSION 3.)

Wednesday, July 18th (3rd session/discussion of week 3 homework)
(In the three weeks that follow, do weeks four, five, and six of homework on your own and watch weeks 4, 5, an 6 video sessions.)

Wednesday, August 8th (4th session/discussion of Weeks 4, 5, and 6 homework/conclusion.)

We will study Kelly Minter’s Nehemiah:  A Heart That Can Break along with Beth Moore and the Siestas. I am so excited! I think this is going to be a great way for us to get connected and stay connected to God's Word this summer. 

Plus, many of you have asked me to do an online Bible study in the past, and I think the time is now. 

The only requirement is that you purchase the member book and commit to 3 of the 4 weeks of online meeting times. We want to grow together as a community of Christian women and consistency is key in making that happen, especially with an online community. 

To read Beth's introduction to the summer Bible study, click here

To purchase your member book from Lifeway's website {they are $12.95} click here

If this is something you think you want to be a part of, please email me your name, address, cell phone #, Facebook info, and the 3 or 4 dates you are committing to at allisondalke@gmail.com. We will limit this first group to a certain # of people (yet to be determined), so please make your decision as soon as you can as we will add people to the roster on a first come, first served basis. 

What do you think? Want to join me? I'd love to have you! 

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