Wednesday, December 19, 2012

sweet moments

A few special pre-Christmas moments at our house:

A few days ago I commented to Tucker that Maddox doesn't know what Christmas is about since he was not even one last year. Tucker exclaimed "I will tell him about Christmas!" I was curious to hear his take on what it's really about, so from the other room I heard him explain it to Maddox. "Maddox, I'm gonna tell you what Christmas is really about! It's about Jesus birthday! It's not about whining and wanting to get more stuff." Oh it melted my heart. The last line was a direct quote from Veggie Tales movie called "The Toy that Saved Christmas" so hats off to the folks at Veggie Tales for helping instill those values.

Another moment was watching Tucker write  Maddox's name on tags for two little matchbox cars he bought Maddox with money out of his piggy bank.

And then last night, we heard Tucker tossing and turning for an hour after he went to bed. When I went in to check on him, and asked why he was not able to go to sleep, he said "I am just thinking about Christmas! And its so hard to sleep when I'm thinking about Christmas!" Oh I remember the sleepless nights leading up to Christmas when I was a little girl. 

So thankful for these sweet moments in the midst of the daily chaos!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Death by shorts

I have been reading a book called Grace Based Parenting by Tim Kimmel. Its a must read for all parents! It has challenged me in many ways, but one is to not make a big deal out of opposing small things that are a big deal to Tucker.

So this morning, (yes its Dec 3rd) Tucker insisted on wearing a particular pair of shorts and favorite short sleeve shirt, with crocs. Now its Dec, and we have to go grocery shopping and to the library. I started to insist he changed, but he suggested he could go outside to see if he was cold. He has lots of sensible ideas and this seemed like one of them. We stepped out, realized it was 60 degrees at 9 am and so I relented. I have to say I was a little afraid of people thinking I am a terrible mom for dressing my son in summer clothes in the winter.

Fast forward to when we are leaving Kroger. There is a elderly lady sitting on a bench inside, and she sees Tucker and says "Where are his clothes? Where are his pants and shirt and coat?" I reply "this is all he wanted to wear today" to which she shoots back "Fine! Just let him die and wear what he wants!!" I replied as calmly as I could muster "Its 60 degrees today, I think he will be fine", but she was still huffing about it as we hurried outside.

So my fear had come true, someone had actually voiced there opinion that I was killing my child by allowing him to wear summer clothes in December. And guess what i discovered? It didn't really matter.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Our Thanksgiving

Here's a little peek at our Thanksgiving last week. We have so much to be grateful for! We had a great time with my family, and I am so thankful most of them are local this year!

Pre-thanksgiving crafts

I remember my mom making us Indian headdresses when I was young, so I made some for the boys using feathers I had and leftover fabric.

Tucker asked for Maddox to be a naked Indian baby. We compromised and kept on the diaper.

Steve smoked a turkey-up at 5:30 to get it started. He doesn't mess around when it come to meat!

Our failed attempt at a family picture

Maddox has just started cheesing it up for the camera. Holy cow he is so cute. He kills me with cuteness!  
This is what we get when we ask Tucker to smile for the camera. HUGE eyes and a scary laugh!
Sweet grandma

Tickle attack from uncle

One of my biggest thanks this year is that my sister and her hubby moved to the burg. She's a keeper, that one!
We finished it off the day with Home Alone 2-Lost in New York. Let the Christmas festivities begin!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

fall mantel

So its time to stop ignoring that it's no longer summer, and admit that it's actually fall. Last weekend we went to a pumpkin patch, which helped me make the mental switch. Its not that I don't like fall, I actually really do, but I really don't love winter. Except for Christmas. If I could have Christmas without winter I don't think I would complain. But enough of all that. I decided to switch up the mantel for fall. Now until we bought this house I never had a mantel to decorate. I have to say I love it!

So I gathered up anything fall/rustic/oldish looking from the house and the basement, took down the enormous mirror that weighs almost as much as I do that was hanging there, and came up with this... (please forgive the terrible photo quality)

I made this wreath last year, and it has moved a couple times, but it works for fall so its back on the mantel.

I have been eyeing this board thing in our basement for a long time. There was all kinds of junk left when we moved in, junk like a super cute desk that is in the foyer, several end tables that are now painted and living in our living room. Cool junk. Anyway, chalk writing makes anything cute, right? Even if your handwriting is less than beautiful.

This book had to be included of course, with Thanksgiving and Pilgrims and all that. Its a great read too. Do you think the skull attached to the antlers is a little creepy? I haven't decided but Tucker loves it, so why not.

So thats what I have up there for now. I have no doubt it will change, (maybe as soon as tomorrow) but for today I'm loving it! What have you done lately to put yourself in a fall mood?

Thursday, August 23, 2012

uganda: "is simple"

As I reflect back over my time in Uganda, the one theme that was consistent to me throughout was simplicity. Simplicity in so many ways. Simplicity in how these beautiful people live. Hard? You bet! But so basic. Each day, working to provide for that day. 1 change of clothes. A hut. Dirt floors. Work. Simple. Walking miles to get water. Basic needs everywhere we looked. It is simple to meet a need so basic. Clean drinking water. Knowledge of how to grow food, care for livestock, bake bread. Not easy, but simple. These are the simple needs we have the opportunity to meet in Pugwini village. Just the well that has been drilled is life changing! As is the daycare, the piggery, and whatever other projects are in the future for us to partner with this village in doing.

Well in Pugwini provided by Brentwood Church (Photo by Ben Young)

So this is a little fuzzy, but notice she is carrying a baby on her back, and the load on her head. Common sight.

All these photos were taken by my friend Meghan Mason. Thanks Meghan!

Meet Mama Florence:

This is an amazing woman. Full of wisdom, so perceptive, so in tune with the Holy Spirit. She provides spiritual discipleship, mentoring, family counseling, financial counseling, business counseling, just to name a few of her roles with Sports Outreach. On top of being a wife, mother of 4, and 5 months pregnant. Kind, gentle, but bold. After hearing stories from various Sports Outreach staff about her, one of my teammates asked her "Mama Florence, how do you have such faith?" She replied with 2 words, "Is simple". That was all.

As we worked in Pugwini village, as we visited a slum in Kampala, and an IDP camp (Internally Displaced Person camp, where people fled to during the war), over and over I was struck by the simplicity of the gospel. I could see Jesus here. In the childrens beautiful faces. So beautiful! I could clearly picture him walking from hut to hut. Healing. Loving. Laughing. Playing with the children. Sitting with the old men. Sitting at the well as women come to get water, saying "drink from me and you will never be thirsty again." Everywhere I looked I saw the face of Jesus reflected back to me.

Sam-loved this solemn little boy

So beautiful-loved this little girl

I miss this

Again, thanks Meghan for sharing your pics!

Such basic needs everywhere. Just staying alive is such work here few have the luxury of dreaming of what they will be, what they will do, in the future. They survived the war, but each day is still survival.

In stark contrast to the hopelessness in many peoples faces was the joy in those who knew Jesus. As Mama Florence put it "The only happy Ugandan family is the Christian one". Such joy! We had the privilege of worshiping on Sunday with the church at Koro farm (farm supported by Sports Outreach). What an amazing experience. I have rarely seen such joy! Dancing, singing, more dancing. These people don't have a lot, but yet they have so much more than I do. I long to be like them, not the other way around! All the "blessings" we have in our lives are more often distractions.

Dancing-such joy!

So beautiful (Thanks Ben Young for these pics)

I had the opportunity to share my testimony with a small group of women several days into our time in the village. I had been so nervous about sharing the gospel...crazy I know, having heard it my whole life! As I prayed and gave it to the Lord He gave me peace. Whatever opportunity would come, He would provide the words. His strength in my weakness. Its the ideal place to be at. My testimony is not exciting. I would even venture to say its boring compared to most. I never have felt like its enough, really. But I shared it, as they requested that we "testify" to each other, shared what the Lord has been doing in my heart the last year or so, and in my marriage. Simple, really. Then my interpreter said "this lady here would like to know Jesus". So simple. I had the privilege of praying with her to accept Christ. So humbling, that God allowed me to have this small part in her story. I did not lead her to the Lord, He had been drawing her and she was simply ready. And so gracious of Him that in my fear, my hesitation, He already had done the work. I don't know why I thought it would depend on me! Her name was Teresa, and I will never forget that moment. It started to thunder, lightning and downpour, and as we all scattered, they to shelter and us to our bus I missed the opportunity to take her picture. Its my biggest regret from the trip.

I can see clearly now why people are drawn to long term missions. I miss that clarity that we served with each day. Meeting needs that are so basic and in your face that its a no brainer to meet the ones you can. To give love where you can. To wash a childs face. To offer water. Work alongside them.You can't ignore it. Simply living the gospel each day.

Her name is Daisy. What a beautiful smile! (Thanks Ben Young for these pictures!)

Over and over throughout the week in the village, God spoke to my heart. Its so simple. Show love. Love is patient. Love is kind. It doesn't envy, doesn't boast, isn't proud. Its not self seeking. (1 Cor 13)  John 15:12-14 says "This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you." Love is a command, not a suggestion. This is what it means to abide in Him: we are called to love by laying down our lives each day, depending on Christ daily to do so. We certainly can't do it on our own. Love is always asking the question "What is for the other's good?" instead of "what is for my good?" In my marriage, to my children, to my family, friends, and strangers. In Uganda, around the world, and at home. Is it easy? Heck no. Daily dying to ourselves is no cake walk. But simple? Absolutely. That is the life we are all invited to, and that is the life I want to live.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Uganda, here we come!

So I leave for Uganda this week. In two days. I have been wanting to post about it, but honestly never sure what to say. People ask if I'm ready....yes, I have everything ready to pack. But am I ready emotionally? Ready to see people who live in poverty I can only imagine...people who know the love of Christ and find that it is truly enough. People with faith and joy, but none of the material blessings that as westerners we somehow tie into the equation of God's favor on our life. Am I ready to see those who have lost hope. Those who do not know the love of Jesus or the hope they can have in Him. Am I ready to see children who have no family. Those whose lives were torn apart by years of civil war. People living in slums. Friends killed by the LRA...parents killed in front of them. Stories...stories, stories....I'm guessing I'm not ready for that. I know they will break my heart. I will want to bring little kids back in my luggage. Pretty sure that's not allowed by TSA! I am so excited and nervous all at once!

We will he helping a village that Brentwood Church has adopted in Gulu, up in the northern part of Uganda. Helping build a piggery that will provide a means of income for them to continue on their own. Just as importantly, we want to build relationships...connecting people to Aloysious, a local missionary from southern Uganda who runs a farm teaching villagers the basics they lost in the IDP camps for 20+ years. He is there day in and day out, has been for 10+ years, and we are so thankful for people like him and the long term impact he has. I had the privilege of hearing him share in person a few months ago. It was refreshing to hear him say "Ugandans don't need lights, and fancy houses, etc. All they need are the huts they have lived in for decades, an education, a sense of community restored, Jesus Christ, and to be taught the things that have been lost in the last generation while in IDP camps(baking, farming, etc)."

We depart July 19th, and return on the 30th. Provided we have internet, you can follow our global blog NOW10/ for real time updates from our team. Thank you for your prayers!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

cabinet and living room makeover

So for the last year and a half, I have longed for a better solution for our tv situation. For the whole living room arrangement. Let me show you what I mean.

 More specifically this....

 (Please note, I don't take intentionally bad before pictures, I just never remember until the last minute and then its just not worth it to stage a good before. Also as you can see I had lots of man power to help move everything, so I didn't want to waste time!)

Its just not a pretty site. Also not functional. Maddox could (and loved to) pull everything out at will...which is to say he did so every day. At least once. I also never loved the whole layout with the tv against that little wall. It meant that we were always looking sideways when watching tv, and that just gets old. A pain in the neck - literally. The tv was on a pub table, and obviously  at an awkward height.

So all that to say I really wanted some sort of storage cabinet that the tv could sit on and everything else could be inside. Behind closed doors. But the thing is I am cheap. Like really cheap. Like I wanted to spend $20 on one I could paint. Now that isn't very realistic. Unless you have a sister who lived in Fredericksburg that had access to AWESOME thrift stores. A sister who could find such a unit a mere 2 days before moving to Lynchburg...and talk them down to $19. That's the kind of sister I happen to have. Eat your heart out.

Now unfortunately I don't have a before....its a long story and involves the fact that the camera eats batteries in 5 minutes. Anyway, picture yucky old wood colors, but beautiful detailing. Picture sticky worn finish, but solid wood. After a few coats of primer and paint ($2.50 oops paint from Lowes to be exact). That makes it sound like it took 5 minutes to complete. It didn't, it took several days...waiting for it to dry, etc. Anyway, here is the much more impressive after.

 Also in the mean time, Steve was offered those two club chairs (above) from his office. Uh yes please. He knows me well. It feels so good to walk in and see a functional, organized area, instead of the messy chaos that was there before.

 The remodel/rearranging also called for selling one of the sofas on Craigslist. I wanted to replace it with a loveseat. The same previously referred to sister just happened to no longer need hers and offered it to us to borrow indefinitely. I know, she's a keeper! So it has a happy home now in my living room for a while.

Here's a close up of the cabinet. The color is a creamy yellow (the picture above is more true to its real color). Not a great picture here, but don't you just love the detailing on the doors? I sprayed the hardware Oil Rubbed Bronze. The whole project cost just $36 out of pocket.

There is still lots of accessorizing to do in the living room but I am very happy with the progress so far!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012


For at least 6 months I've been eyeing this image of bookshelves...All those books facing out makes my book loving heart happy!

There was this sad little corner of Tuckers room that barely deserved to even be called a reading nook. Not inviting at all, right? Even the bear is hiding his head in shame.

I knew those shelves would be perfect, but even though the plans looked simple it still seemed daunting...I don't exactly have a background in woodworking. But finally this past weekend I had some spending money and just decided to dive in and give it a go! I sort of followed this tutorial, although I did make some changes.

I got primed pine from Home Depot (YAY! I HATE priming). This cut out so much time that I would have spent painting. I used 1x2's for the front, 1x3's for the back, and 1x4s for the bottom. Am I the only one that things its dishonest how a 1x2 is really a 3/4"x 1 1/2"? I think we are getting cheated. I got 3 8' boards in each length and had Home Depot cut them down to 4' boards. After the first few screws I realized I needed to pre-drill the holes (I'm sure this is a no brainer but its called a learning curve for a reason!), then things went smoother. Until I realized I needed to countersink the screws on the front pieces in order to fill and sand them smooth. Thankfully we had those bits too and my sweet hubs lent me a hand till I got the hang of it. There were some frustrating moments, I'm not gonna lie! I also used wood glue to make things extra strong. I had visions of them being used as a climbing wall....hopefully not! Finally all the holes were drilled, screws were in, holes to hang them predrilled and countersunk, and I was ready to paint! I had white paint already on hand from the trim in our house, so I slapped on 2 coats with Tucker's "help". He used a little paint brush and his paint bib. I got them hung yesterday and here is the "after"! Ta-da!

 And from the side:

I LOVE it so much! I walk in his room just to gaze at them. Haha. Before, Tucker always asked for help finding books, but now he is so excited that he can see them all, and Maddox is pumped that he can reach all the board books on the lower shelves. Believe it or not, this is not all of their books. Yes, we are a family of readers!

Here are a few special books...Mickey Mouse's Picnic was a favorite of mine when I was young, and I buy any copy I find at yard sales. This is our third I believe, but they are so old and are also a favorite of Tucker's so they end up tearing or loosing a cover sooner or later. Usually sooner.  The Puppy Book was mine when I was young.

 Make Way for Ducklings was a favorite of mine also and I found this copy at a used store. Tucker has not come to appreciate it yet. But he does share my love of  Dr. Seuss!

Total out of pocket cost was just under $50 for all 6 shelves. So worth it! I just couldn't be happier. I know we will use this corner so much more than we did! In fact we already are. Is there a project you've been wanting to try but putting off? Do tell!

Friday, May 25, 2012

a step up

So I was given this little stool....

 I'm sure at one time the cross stitch was "in", but I'm not sure what time that was. I had some fabric left over from my headboard so after a 5 minute makeover I had this:
 So much better right? I love that fabric. I also love the shape of the little legs. Then Tucker wanted his picture taken on it and really, how could I resist that sweet face?
 On the bottom of the stool it had this very old tag that was kinda cool.
Maddox's world has been rocked by this little stool. Now he can look out the window by himself, use it as a seat...

reach the light switch...

and the sink...

 Best 5 minute makeover! We also had a super ghetto, super fun wienie roast last night. I remember doing this as a kid. Its so fun to pass on those memories!

 Eating gummy worms together...
Love summer time!