Sunday, December 4, 2011

Advent Hymn

For the majority of my life, I've spent every Advent season in United Methodist Churches. So when Advent would roll around, we would sing the same familiar hymns each year. Advent is perhaps my favorite time of year. And I love the songs of Advent.

For the past year and a half, however, we've been involved in the life of Hope Fellowship of Waco, which is not a United Methodist Church. This is our second Advent season with Hope Fellowship. During this season, I've missed some of the familiar (to me) songs of Advent, and singing from the United Methodist Hymnal (one of the best hymnals there is, if you ask me!).

But along the way, I've picked up some new favorites. Including this one, Hark The Glad Sound! This year's Advent theme at Hope Fellowship, is Jesus, Our Jubilee, with Isaiah 61 as our main text for these 4 weeks.  It has been a meaningful time of growth and anticipation already, and I love this Advent hymn below, as it reminds us that Jesus is in fact, our jubilee. 


Hark the Glad Sound!


Hark, the glad sound! the Savior comes,
The Savior promised long;
Let every heart prepare a throne,
And every voice a song.

On Him the Spirit, largely poured,
Exerts His sacred fire;
Wisdom and might, and zeal and love,
His holy breast inspire.

He comes the prisoners to release,
In Satan’s bondage held;
The gates of brass before Him burst,
The iron fetters yield.

He comes the broken heart to bind,
The bleeding soul to cure;
And with the treasures of His grace
To enrich the humble poor.

His silver trumpets publish loud
The jub’lee of the Lord
Our debts are all remitted now
Our heritage restored.

Words: Phil­ip Dod­dridge, De­cem­ber 28, 1735. 

Monday, September 19, 2011

The Table

We've lived in our house almost 6 months now, having moved in on April 9.  A couple of days before we moved in, we invited the members of our small group over for a time of dedication and blessing over our home. Together, we walked through each room of the house, and said a prayer in each one. We used the House Blessing found in Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals.  It was lovely. We closed our time together with singing and worship, all sitting on the floor of the living room in our empty house. The echo of the hymns being sung in our house was moving.

There's a lot that could be said about these past 6 months. Our house feels like home now. A lot of days I'm still giddy as I pull into the driveway, and see our cute little green house. We've laughed (and cried) a lot here already, and last week we finally hung curtains in the living room. It's starting to really come together.

But one of the deepest desires that Billy and I share for our home,  and one of the things we prayed when we dedicated it, is that it would be a place where hospitality is extended. We don't want our home to be just ours-- we don't want to not know our neighbors, and we don't want to live the kind of secluded and private lives Billy and I have tended to live, in other houses we've together called home. We want our home to be a place of kingdom in-breaking, and love-outpouring.

For the first 8 months that we lived in Waco, we lived with another family -- members of our church fellowship. We were the grateful recipients of their hospitality.  And now, we have a home, and we get to share it with others. We don't know what it will look like over the years, just how our home will be shared. 

But for now, one practice we have committed to, is once-per-week, inviting someone into our home for dinner. We have a regular night of the week that we invite someone over. We try as much as possible to protect that time, and to be faithful to it. For us, it is one small way in which we can intentionally share life in community.  It's just once-per-week, so it is still easy to maintain our own boundaries for family time. I sometimes get so excited about an idea or a practice, that I find myself overextended. In theory, I'd like to have people over for dinner every night. In practice, that wouldn't be healthy for our family. So keeping it (for now) as a once-per-week commitment, helps me maintain a healthy pace of life.

We've enjoyed this weekly rhythm. My heart is truly full when there are others gathered around our dining room table and when kids are running circles through the house. Additionally, doing this as a regular practice has been transforming to me in some unexpected ways. I've always enjoyed cooking for others, but what I've found in cooking for these weekly dinners, is that on some level, part of my motivation has been to impress others. Over the past couple of weeks, however,  that has shifted for me. I've been much less focused on what I'm cooking, and much more focused on why I'm cooking. As a result, I've found great joy in preparing these meals, and I look forward to the laughter and conversation that happens as we feast with others at the table.

Through this rhythm of love-outpouring, we have experienced the kingdom in-breaking.

I am grateful.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

An Interview

An interview with the 3-year-old version of my child. The plan is to ask her these same questions every year around her birthday. Here are the 3-year-old-answers to the questions:

My favorite food is: Pizza
My favorite game to play is: Baby & Mommy
The best TV show is: Yo Gabba Gabba
The coolest person I know is: God
My favorite thing to learn about in school is: Music
The thing I am the best at is: taking care of my babies
If I could go anywhere in the world, I'd go: Home
My favorite Color is: Purple
When I grow up I am going to be: a Ghost (??)
My favorite Song is: Jesus Loves Me
My Favorite Book is: The Kissing Hand (truly an excellent book!)
Three words that describe me: Eisley, Girl, Big Girl
When I was little I: talked like a baby
My favorite time of year is: Winter
My favorite Snack: Gummy Bunnies
One food I don't like: Tacos (what?!)
My best friend is: All my friends are my best friends (wise girl!)
My favorite memory is: My baby blanky
My favorite Place to Go: Lydia Blue's House
If I had one wish it would be: to wish on a star

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Bedtime Prayer

E's bedtime prayer tonight:

Thank you, God, for Chick-Fil-A. And for the whole world. And, God. You ARE my favorite God. And thank you for the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Yes. Amen.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Featured

The Pajamas & Pancakes Party we did for E's 3rd birthday was featured recently on the Calligraphy, Etc. blog. Calligraphy, Etc. (based in Lubbock, TX) did the great invitations for the party.  It was fun to see the little write-up about the party, but mostly I pass this along in case you're ever in need of custom invitations yourself. Calligraphy, Etc. always does an outstanding job... you won't be disappointed. Plus, they sell all kinds of great goodies besides invitations. Stop by their website if you're so inclined, and do a little bit of shopping.

Click here to see the feature on Eisley's party.

Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

My Secret Ambition

I want to own or work in a bake shop. I'm not good enough/talented enough to actually do this right now. But maybe some day.

I find myself wanting to bake sweet things all the time. Mostly just cupcakes. I don't care to eat sweet things all of the time. In fact, I could take or leave them. But if I had to leave behind the actual baking of sweet things, I wouldn't be happy.

The cupcakes I baked for my birthday party this year

Chocolate-Coconut (front) & Peanut Butter (back)

Chocolate-Strawberry

Maple Cream


The sweetest cupcake of all.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Reading Again

I'm reading again. I go through phases. Sometimes all I want to do is read. And other times I go weeks without picking up a book.

Last week I read all three books in The Hunger Games series. Loved them. Very captivating story (Thank you, Jessica, for loaning me the books!).

Yesterday I read The Catcher in the Rye. It was clearly an engaging story, as I couldn't put it down once I started. But at the end of it all I was, naturally, a little depressed. Certainly glad I read it, though.

What are your must-reads? I've started a list. I love a good book recommendation. And if you recommend something to me and it stinks, I promise not to judge.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

3 Years, 4 pictures

Birth Day
August 1, 2008

One Year Old
2009
Two Years Old
2010
Three Years Old
2011

Friday, July 29, 2011

The Farm

I work for World Hunger Relief, Inc. I've been there for six months now. I first learned about WHRI (the farm) in December 2009, when Billy and I first became interested in moving to Waco. We visited Waco that December in a whirlwind (less than 24 hours) trip during the Christmas holidays. We came to visit Hope Fellowship. Hope Fellowship supports the work of the farm and has a close relationship with the farm, so while we were in town, our hosts made arrangements for us to visit.

When we toured the farm, I remember thinking that, in theory, the farm was a good idea. But when it came down to it, I didn't want to have any part of the farm. For starters, the farm is a flush-free farm (we have composting toilets, not flushing ones). That grossed me out. The day we visited, the farm was muddy, some people I met smelled bad, and the food we ate wasn't all that good.  I thought the farm was best-suited for hippies that didn't shave or shower, and who were a whole lot more "granola" than I. 

Billy, however, saw the farm with a completely different set of eyes than I did. He loved everything about it. He was ready to move in that day and get to work. When he told me this, I rolled my eyes, and said, "Let's just go home."

And now I work at the farm. And I've loved every minute of it. The composting toilets aren't all that bad, and are a really good idea. Sometimes the people still smell bad (they work really hard!). And some days (though certainly not often!), I don't love what's served for lunch.

But here I am being transformed. I'm working alongside people of differing cultures, and learning a great deal from them. I am experiencing the joys and frustrations of eating seasonally. I'm learning how to manage people, and I find myself caring about things I never thought I'd care a bout. Six months ago, I couldn't have spoken to you intelligently about composting, or goats, or really anything on the farm. But now I can... sort of.  I have a great deal to learn still... and that's the beauty of working at the farm! The farm is a place where I will continually learn new things.

Today I'm grateful for the farm. And feel privileged to be part of its staff.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

A lovely moment

Yesterday, Eisley and I gave some new friends (when the trip started, we were strangers) a ride to the airport in Dallas.  Two women from Haiti. They are the wife and daughter of the executive director of World Hunger Relief, Haiti. They were visiting the farm where I work (World Hunger Relief, Inc.), and were headed back home yesterday. Eisley and I were already going to Dallas for dinner with my cousin, so we ended up giving them a ride to the airport.

One of the women spoke only French. The other spoke mostly French, and some English as well. She rode in the back seat with Eisley. The ride to the airport (about an hour and a half) didn't involve a lot of conversation between us-- the two women spoke mostly to each other in French the whole time, and every once in a while Eisley would ask me a question, and then I would find Eisley staring at our new friends, mesmerized by the sounds (words) they were speaking.

In the background, one of Eisley's worship CDs was playing, and the song "Here I am to Worship" came on. Eisley said, "Mommy! This is the song about Jesus that I love!" And then the woman sitting in the backseat with Eisley said, "This is the song that I love, too! Can you turn the music louder?"

And Eisley and her new friend belted out together, the whole song. They were singing "Here I am to Worship" with all of their might and smiling at each other.

We dropped our friends off at the airport and Eisley said, "I like our new friends. I like that they don't speak English, and I like that we sang about Jesus together."

It was a lovely afternoon.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Jesus Stuff

I didn't intend for this blog of mine to be a place where I only tell Eisley stories. Mostly I know that there aren't many of you out there reading, so it's mostly turned into a place for me to jot down these stories and "journal" about them in a sense, so that I won't forget them. And so that I won't forget to tell Eisley about them when she's older. I have such good intentions of journaling, but I never stick with it.  I hate writing things by hand anymore. It makes my hands hurt, and my thoughts come faster than I can record them. When I type, I can keep up with my brain. Usually. I can't tell you how many unfinished journals I have in my closet right now. Some of them with 5 or so pages filled in, others with a few more than that, but mostly they all have a lot of empty pages. I sometimes think that getting new journals that are pretty and that I'm excited about will help me stick with it. It doesn't work.

So that's the preface. This little site has turned into a journal of sorts for me, and I think I'm okay with that. Most of the things I feel like writing down have to do with my child. So there you go.

This happened today...

Eisley loves to play "Mommy and Baby". Most of the time, she's the mommy and I'm the baby. Today I had the rare opportunity to play the role of the "big girl", while her stuffed animals played the roles of the babies in our family. She told me to take a nap and asked if there was anything I needed before bed. I told her I wanted her to tell me a bedtime story.

She said, "Okay, big girl. I'll tell you one about Jesus."  And it went like this. This is pretty much her exact wording, as best I can remember it:

Well. FIRST, Jesus saw Bethlehem. And then he saw Jerusalem. He had his special friends and they traveled all around. Then, he washed all of his friends' stinky feet. And then he broke the bread.  And then there were the soldiers that got really mad at him and he died on the cross. But then he comed back to life and everyone was real happy. Goodnight, big girl. I love you.

And then she gave me a kiss. I adore this child so much, and through her, God's kingdom is being revealed. To me and to many others that know her.  She is such a gift, and my heart overflows with joy and love and richness because of her.

She got her story about Jesus right. In the right order (Okay, she failed to mention the part about how Jesus was present at Creation, but still...). And in the first place, it made my heart happy that when I asked her to tell me a bedtime story, the story she wanted to tell was Jesus' story. I love that at night, she wants to fall asleep with her CD of hymns and bible songs playing.  My heart is happy when I hear her sing while she plays;  the songs she sings are about God and his love. I love that when she makes up songs, they most always say something about God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit.

Thank you God for this precious child.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

My Approach to Cooking

My approach to cooking is this: I know how to follow recipes, and I'm good at following recipes. I also know how to select good recipes.  I menu-plan for the week, by finding recipes that look/sound good (I have a few "standard" places I check), and then buy what I need to make them.

The problem is that when I'm in the kitchen, if I don't have a recipe to follow, I'm sort of at a loss. It's like the recipe is my security blanket, and I can't cook without it. I don't like to experiment in the kitchen. What if I mess it up? What if all the time and energy (and ingredients) I put in to a meal don't pay off with a  tasty product?

But since I've been working at the farm, I'm loosening my grip on the security blanket a little bit. Every day, the farm community eats lunch together, and lunch is cooked, on a rotating basis, by the Live-In Volunteers and Interns on the farm. They use what's available to them at the time-- whatever staples are on-hand, and whatever vegetables have been harvested from the garden that day or week. You don't always know ahead of time what's going to be available. But some really great meals have been served at the farm. These folks have inspired me.

I'm not quite "there" yet in my own cooking, but I'm working on it. Last night I stood in my kitchen at home, no idea what to cook for dinner. I hadn't been to the grocery store for the week, and I still had vegetables not yet used, from last Tuesday's CSA harvest (To read more about what a CSA is, click here: http://www.localharvest.org/csa/ ... note, this is not our farm's website, just a site I found that gives a brief overview of how a CSA works). We pick up our CSA veggies every Tuesday, and knowing I would be getting more veggies the next day, made me determined to use up whatever we still hadn't used from last week.

So I didn't look up a recipe. I just started chopping. We had a little bit of bacon that needed to be used up, so I chopped it up, and put it in a skillet. I found some potatoes, so I chopped those up and added them in. We had all sorts of veggies from the CSA, so I started chopping those-- onions, greens, etc. We also had some head lettuce that needed to be used, as well as some radishes, and some spinach-- which combined together to make a beautiful and delicious salad.

When Billy came in the kitchen and asked what I was making, I said, "Oh, I don't know. I'm just putting stuff in the cast iron, and hoping it works out." He said, "Wow. You've been working at the farm a little too long. It's not like you to not have a plan for dinner."

And. Dinner was great! Nothing fancy. We just ate what we had on-hand, and everything we ate was in season and fresh. That's the way we're supposed to eat. I mean, I know everything is "in season" at the grocery store, but we really are trying to be more intentional about eating what's actually in season.

Now. I won't go so far as to say that not following a recipe yesterday was stress-free for me. It was kind of a risk for me, but it turned out well. To help with the seasonal eating, we've found that this cookbook is great. It's filled with simple recipes, and it's broken out by season. My friend Carrie gave it to me for my birthday, and we also sell it at the farm. It's a great resource.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

She Thinks So Much

My child is always thinking. The way her brain processes things is, to me, mind-boggling.  This afternoon we were in the living room and I was relaying a story to my brother-in-law, Bryan.  I said something about my grandmother who had died.

Eisley's ears perked up. She walked over to me with big eyes and said, "Your other grandmother DIED?" I said, "Yes. She died when I was when I was a teenager."

She said, "Well that's not FAIR. Jesus and your other grandmother died!" She seemed very surprised to hear that someone besides Jesus had died. I think she heard so much about Jesus dying on the cross before Easter (we read about it in her Storybook bible, she heard about it at school and in church), that Jesus' death is really the only one she knows anything about.

Her little face was so precious and her eyes were so big, as she asked me about my grandmother;  I smiled at her for a second before I responded. Which of course she noticed, and said, "Mom. I'm NOT smiling. That's not FAIR."

So. There may be some tough conversations ahead with this kid. Conversations I thought we'd have with her when she was at least a couple of years older.  Her mind is always working something out, and she asks questions that sometimes even I don't think to ask. And she certainly asks questions that I have sometimes failed to anticipate.

Prayers are appreciated as we have these very important conversations with our daughter.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

80s Romance

I was born in 1980. Depending on who you are, that either makes me seem really old, or makes me seem like I'm just a baby. I know that I am more a "child of the 90s" than a child of the 80s, in the sense that  I was far too young to remember much of what happened in the 80s-- or to be in to the music or fashion of the 80s. But nonetheless, I have an affinity for the 80s, especially when it comes to the music. Thus, the purpose of this post.  I give to you some of the best "romantic" songs of the 1980s. This list is given in no particular order.  What would you add?

1. Lost in Love - Air Supply
2. Open Arms - Journey
3. Can't Fight This Feeling - REO Speedwagon
4. Never Tear Us Apart - INXS
5. Eternal Flame - The Bangles
6. Suddenly - Billy Ocean
7. Every Time You Go Away - Paul Young
8. Waiting for a Girl Like You - Foreigner

Who Helped Jesus Carry His Cross?

Moments after the candy argument today, Eisley asked this question: "Mom, who helped Jesus carry his cross?"

I told her it was Simon from Cyrene. She said, "Hmm. I don't fink that was his name." I assured her that yes, it was (though, of course she had me doubting myself, so I had to go look it up to make sure).

I asked her why she was asking. She said, "I was just wondering. I fink his cross was real heavy, so it was good someone helped him."

Then she said, "You 'member when he died on the cross? Those sholdiers took his robe and that was real sad. But then he comed back to life, and his mom and everybody was SO happy!"

I like that Eisley is still pondering the events and mysteries of Easter.  Sometimes even I forget to do that. I'm glad she helped me do that today.

Candy: Part 2

Read yesterday's post if you get a chance, about Eisley and the candy. Here's today's edition.

After cleaning up the kitchen after breakfast, I found Eisley in my room again. Again, holding candy in her hands. This time it was Smarties (Side note: where does she keep getting this candy? I think she has a secret stash somewhere I don't know about), and this time she was still in the process of opening the candy.

I said, "Eisley! Do not open that candy." She said, "MOM. Somebody else already started opening it. I need to just finish opening it!" Which she of course did. So there she sat, with an opened pack of Smarties in her hand. I said to her, "Eisley. I asked you not to open that candy." To which she responded, "Just go take your shower." She muttered it under her breath, but I still heard it (In my mind, I was somewhat angered, somewhat humored, and mostly perplexed. The things she says to me constantly surprise and amaze me. It's the sass. Oh, the sass...).

So I of course said, "Eisley, what did you just say?" At which point she repeated herself, only she yelled it this time. "I SAID, JUST GO TAKE YOUR SHOWER!" We had a little conversation about talking to each other with respect and being kind, and then I asked her to give me the candy while I went to take a shower.  She said, "No. I'll just hold on to it while you shower. I'll probably just eat ONE piece." (At least she's honest, and wasn't trying to tell me she had no plans to eat any of it.)

She kept trying to make her case for holding on to the candy, and just eating one piece. The argument was a weak one, though, so the candy now sits on top of the fridge. MAYBE she can have a piece later. Maybe.

So much excitement in our house already today. This all happened before 7:30 a.m.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

I have to preserve this story

I know I told this story on facebook, but I don't trust myself to remember to write it in an actual journal, so I'm posting it here so I won't forget it.

This morning I walked in to my bedroom to find Eisley with a piece of opened candy in each hand. Tootsie Rolls. I asked what she was doing and why she was eating candy without permission. We have this conversation more often than I'd like. She replied with, "Mom. I'm not EATING it. I'm just LICKING it to see if it's any good for when I eat it LATER."

She had that tone of, "DUH, Mom. I can't believe you think there's any OTHER explanation for what I'm doing."

I of course had to chuckle to myself. But certainly not out loud, and of course I couldn't let her keep licking the candy. This girl is a mess. If she's saying these kinds of things to me now,  I can only imagine (though I don't really like to) what she'll be saying when she's 15...

Friday, April 29, 2011

Strangers No More

I love hymns and I love hymnals. I love to read through hymnals and see what songs are there. I've loved getting acquainted with the hymnal from which we often sing in our new church-- the Mennonite Hymnal. In it are many songs I am already familiar with -- but I've also enjoyed learning new ones. This is one of mine and Billy's new favorites. It is called Strangers No More

For we are strangers no more, but members of one family;
Strangers no more, but part of one humanity;
Strangers no more, we're neighbors to each other now;
Strangers no more, we're sisters and we're brothers now.


1. Come, walk with me, we'll praise the Lord together,
as we join song to song and prayer to prayer.
Come, take my hand, and we will work together
by lifting all the burdens we can share.

2. Where diff'ring culttures meet we'll serve together.
Where hatred rages we will strive for peace.
Come, take my hand, and we will pray together
that justice come and strife and warfare cease.

3. There is a love that binds the world together;
a love that seeks the last, the lost, the least.
One day that love will bring us all together
in Christ from south and north, from west and east.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Easter this Year

For Easter, Hope Fellowship (our church) goes away on retreat together every year. It was a very different way to spend Easter. This is our first Easter with Hope Fellowship, and we didn't know what to expect for the Easter retreat. It was amazing. Such a great weekend with our church family!  We retreated at the Three Mountain Retreat Center in Clifton, TX, which is about 45 minutes from Waco. It was beautiful.

We arrived on Friday evening in time for Good Friday service. This year, we had the Stations of the Cross, and it was very well done. The team in charge of it gathered artwork and images from various persons from the church to create the stations, and to say it was amazing is an understatement. It was emotive, moving, beautiful, and tragic. Billy and I decided we'd take Eisley with us as we walked through the stations, and are glad we did. We didn't know how she would react to some of the images of Jesus' crucifixion. She was engrossed in the experience and asked really good questions. Some of the images would have been difficult for a two-year-old to see, so we didn't linger on those for too long, but for the most part, the team that put everything together went through a lot of effort to make the experience family-friendly. For example, there was a coloring sheet available for the kids at each of the stations. When we got back to our cabin, Eisley said, "I liked the pictures we saw of Jesus tonight, even though they were really sad pictures."  She talked about how Jesus' mommy must have been so sad to see him die, and she said she was really sad for Jesus that he had to be naked. She said, "I don't fink that was very fair, and I don't fink Jesus liked that very much."  She asked if the people that were mad at Jesus and wanted him to die were the same people that were mad about Jesus coming as a baby. Then she asked if we were sure Jesus was going to come back to life. The spiritual insight and maturity of Eisley really amazes me on a regular basis.

Saturday was relaxed. We took walks, the youth (voluntarily!) led some organized activities with the little kids so that the parents could have a couple of hours to do whatever they wanted, we had lunch, and then a sharing and prayer service in the afternoon. Saturday night we ate dinner, and had a talent show. Sunday morning we had a worship service, and Billy and I were privileged to serve on the worship team that coordinated and planned Easter morning worship. Following worship, we had brunch, and then an Easter Egg Hunt. After the hunt, we cleaned up and went home. A great weekend! We loved being away from everything for a few days. We loved talking with our friends and letting Eisley run loose with her friends to play. We loved celebrating Easter in such a beautiful place, and we loved the authenticity of each of the worship experiences we shared together. Here are a few pictures:








Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Easter Song Eisley Just Made Up

I am helping Jesus!
Helping Him not die on the cross!
But he died anyway! 
But then he camed back to life! 
We were ALL surprised! 


Now I am so happy! 
I'm so happy in my heart! 
Oh Jesus the Lord, It's Easter Sunday!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

God Made Everyfing

Today I picked Eisley up from school and noticed on her take-home sheet that today they talked about how "God made the grass".

So I said, "Eisley. Did you talk about how God made the grass, today at school?" She said, "Well, yeah. God DID make the grass. God makes the grass keep growing."  I said, "Oh, it's true! Isn't it amazing how God takes care of our world?"

She said, "Well. God didn't make just the grass, Mom. Did you know that he made the flowers? And the peoples? And ALL the animals? He made the rainbows and the rain, and the sk...Mom, he just made EVERYFING!"

Thank you, God, for Eisley.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Yesterday, we bought our house.

Done deal. Papers signed (lots of them). It's official. We are now the proud owners of our adorable green house. We move on April 9.  I think I'll make a paper chain for the countdown.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

we're buying a house.

I'm whispering that blog post title, not yelling it. I'm squealing with excitement on the inside, but not quite ready to share that with the world yet. Why blog about it? Because I'm very very excited and feel the need to share our news.  And since much fewer people read this blog than interact with me on facebook, my blog seems like a safer place to share the news. A smaller audience.  I'm not ready to go super-public about the house yet, because somewhere deep inside I still feel like something could come up and it won't work out and we won't get the house. It's unlikely. But possible. We almost bought a different house in December, and it didn't work out, even though I was sure it would. It wasn't very much fun announcing to the world that we had decided not to buy what we had believed to be our "dream" house (turns out, it wasn't really a dream house after we saw the inspection report). But...

We're buying a house. It's here in Waco, in the same neighborhood as our church and most of our church people. We moved to Waco to be actively involved in this church, and now I guess it seems we plan to stick around for a while. We're glad about this. It feels right. We look forward to intentionally sharing life with Hope Fellowship for years to come. We look forward to opening up our home and inviting others in; we look forward to loving our neighbors and sharing life with them. The neighborhood isn't glamorous. In fact, it's pretty far from suburbia. But we love it!

Our house is simple. Old (built in 1915). Beautiful. And ours (almost). It is in the process of being completely rehabed. All of the projects are nearing completion, and our closing date is set for March 31. That's in 16 days.  We went to check on things last night, and they were laying carpet in the bedrooms (all other flooring has already been done); there was sod in the driveway, waiting to find its home in our yard. Fence posts have gone up in the backyard, and appliances are now in the kitchen. It should be finished any day now.

And without further ado, here it is...

Isn't it fun? The front door hasn't yet been painted, but it will be red. 

Here are the living/dining rooms prior to interior paint: 

And here they are after... 


More pictures to come later, once we get our stuff moved in. I will especially need to post pictures of the little one's oh-so-purple bedroom. She picked out the color herself, and it looks great!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

90s Music

Had a blast earlier today at work taking turns with some interns picking 90s music to play in the office as we worked. If you had to narrow it down, what are your top 5 favorite songs from the 90s? Not necessarily the top quintessential songs from the 90s... but your favorite songs from the 90s?

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Miracle Match Relay

Well. I never should have made my inaugural race, one from the Rock & Roll series of marathons. Last November, when I ran in the Rock & Roll San Antonio half marathon, the standard was forever set. That will always be the standard by which I measure all future races. Well, maybe not always, but for now it's all I've got.  More on that in a moment.


Today I ran in Scott & White Healthcare's Miracle Match Marathon, as part of a 4-person relay team. The race was to raise awareness of the Be the Match Donor Registry program, as well as raise funds for it. Our team ran in honor of our friend and fellow church member, Alan Caruthers. Alan was diagnosed in 2006 with a rare bone marrow disorder, called Myelofibrosis. Over the past few years, he has tried several different experimental drug therapies through MD Anderson, and now (and it is really his last option), he is pursuing a bone marrow transplant. My cousin actually works for Be the Match, and she was telling me recently how rare it is for someone to actually be a perfect match for another person, for these transplants to be possible. So raising awareness is good-- it's important. The more people they can get registered, the better the chances for people like Alan to find a match. To keep living life. Today at the race, participants and spectators had the opportunity to get on the national bone marrow registry.

What I actually didn't know prior to registering for the race, is that Alan was selected as this year's Miracle Match Marathon's honorary race chair! So Alan (and his son Sammy) actually got to say "Go!" and blow the starting horn! It was very cool!

The first leg of the race for our team, was run by my friend Jessica. Leg 1 was around 5 and a half miles, and went primarily around and through the Baylor University Campus. Leg 2 (which is the section I did) was around 8 miles, and went through downtown, historic Austin Avenue (gorgeous!) and other residential areas in Waco. Leg 3 was around 6 miles, and was run by my friend Ruth, and it went along Lake Shore Drive and Lake Waco. The final leg was about 7 miles and our friend Joel did that one. It went through beautiful Cameron Park (and up and down its relentless hills!).

There's a lot that could be said about this race. And especially how it met (or didn't meet my expectations). Overall, it was a LOT of fun. I loved running on a team with my friends, and I loved running for Alan!  The race route was quite beautiful, and the water stops were more than adequate. I wasn't sure they would be, once I realized how small the race was. I think there were 300 participants or so. Which may not seem small-- but compared to the 20,000 people in the San Antonio race, it was quite a change!

I was disappointed when I went to the race "expo" yesterday to pick up my packet and there was only a handful of vendors (which is actually fine, since it kept me from spending money). Mostly I was disappointed that there was a problem with our race bibs and I was forced to pick up my race packet on race day, since they were going to have to reprint the bibs (which, if you know me, you know I like to have everything laid out the night before, and I don't like to have to worry about doing things like picking up my race packet on the morning OF).  I was disappointed that I didn't get my own timing chip (which may be normal for a relay team?), because that meant that no one on our team could get their split times. I was disappointed that the "reprinted" race bib was just a blank bib that they had stuck a new number on-- and the new number had been printed on an address label on somebody's home printer (Again, it was no big deal really-- it just didn't look as cool as other bibs do-- ha!).

I was SUPER disappointed in the level of community involvement as spectators! In San Antonio, there were people everywhere. People out on their front lawns, cheering for the runners as we ran through their neighborhoods. People crowded in front of the Alamo as we ran by it. Thousands of people lined up along the finish, cheering people on as they approached the finish line.  There wasn't any of that today. No one was in their front yard, cheering for runners. No one was lined up along the downtown streets as we ran through.  Hardly anyone was lined up at the finish line to cheer on the finishers. The only people out there cheering were the people manning the water stations. Again...it was fine. It just made for a very different racing atmosphere than I had previously experienced. And, while this didn't have anything to do with the race organizers, really, my least favorite part of the whole experience was the stray PIT BULL that was wandering around during one stretch of road. It made me very nervous. And because there were so few people out there, I felt oddly alone as I ran by that dog. I was hoping he'd leave me alone. And he did. But I get nervous anytime I see stray dogs while running. I love dogs... but you just never know about them sometimes!

But what I loved? I loved running the streets that I run everyday. The hills I ran today weren't new to me, and I knew when to anticipate them. While on the course itself, I actually LOVED that it was such a small race (other than the lack of spectators/cheerleaders, of course)! I didn't have to fight crowds. Didn't have to elbow my way through packs of people just to advance.  I didn't have random people coming to a stop in the middle of the course, like happened in San Antonio.  It was so...nice! It was a very relaxing run. I also loved that when I had one mile remaining, the youth from our church were out there, manning one of the water stations! They cheered for me, high-fived me, and gave me water. Just the extra boost I needed for that last mile. I loved that because the race was so small, it was SUPER easy for our team members to drive ourselves to our starting points for each leg of the relay. There was no real traffic to fight, so I actually got to leave my end point, then drive home for a quick shower, AND drive right up to Ruth's end point, and see her finish! Then it was no problem driving to the finish line to cheer on Joel as he crossed the finish line. This sort of thing would have been impossible in San Antonio (or any large race, really). I loved the free fajita lunch (oh so yummy) at the finish line, and above all, I loved the cause we were all supporting.

All in all, it was a very fun morning. It was good to be out racing again...now the countdown can officially begin for Dallas Rock & Roll in March!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Hymns & Eisley

I'm not going to lie. I love hymns. Billy usually rolls his eyes when I say this. But I just can't help it. I love them. They just say so much. The theology is rich. And usually, they take me back to my childhood, and singing the hymns as a little girl.

So...it has given me great delight that Eisley is a musical child. I often find her singing, dancing, or humming to herself as she plays. For Christmas, we got her a collection of 3 CDs-- it contains classic kids Bible songs and an assortment of hymns. She ADORES this collection of music. It's all she wants to listen to.  We enjoy listening to the songs together, and she doesn't just like the kids songs-- she  really likes the hymns, too!

A couple of weeks ago, my favorite hymn, "And Can It Be" came on, and she declared, "This is one of my favorite songs, Mom!" This morning I heard her singing to herself, "Crown him with many crowns! The lamb upon his throne!"

It made me happy. It made me happy for lots of reasons. But mostly because the story of God has found its way into her heart through these songs (My friend Chad wrote a post on one of his blogs about the same thing not too long ago). These hymns are now embedded into her memory, and I suspect she won't forget them.

Another thing that we love in our home is The Jesus Storybook Bible. It's really fantastic, and if you don't have a copy, you should get one. I suppose it's technically a kids Bible, but the stories move me, too.  When we read it together, I am often moved to tears. Gods' story does that to me, and the way Sally Lloyd-Jones tells it is simply beautiful. Plus, the artwork is amazing. Anyway, the other day we were reading from it, and Eisley said, "Oh! That's Zacchaeus! Like from the song about him!! Look at that! That must be Jesus walking by and telling him he's going to his house!"  I liked seeing her making that connection.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Seven

On Monday of last week, Billy and I celebrated 7 years of marriage. 7 years. I honestly can't believe it's been that long. We've had our share of ups and downs over the years. But all in all, it's been a great ride. Here is a list of my top highlight from each year of our marriage:

1. (2004) Our wedding day, of course! It was an absolutely wonderful day. One of the most fun days of my life. I loved everything about it, and am deeply grateful for all the people who made it possible.

2. (2005) Our January trip to Washington, DC. We had a blast!

3. (2006) Moving to Kentucky. We spent our first night in Kentucky on our 2nd wedding anniversary. It was a frightening and fun adventure to be there on our own, knowing no one, and having no one but each other (at first). We grew a lot, and I knew during those first days in Kentucky, that the Kentucky years would be transformational for us (Little did we know just how transformational they would be!).

4. (2007) Our summer trip to California. So. Much. Fun.

5. (2008) The birth of our daughter in August of that year! An absolutely thrilling (and exhausting) adventure.

6. (2009) Our trip to Chicago in the summer of 2009. We had a blast visiting my aunt and uncle, and we had a chance to visit our friends Josh and Candace, too. Our time with Josh & Candace launched a very important series of conversations and a period of discernment for Billy and I regarding our "next steps" once I graduated from seminary the following spring.

7. (2010) Starting our new life in Texas, as a part of the Hope Fellowship community in Waco. We really are very happy here in Waco, even though the initial transition was very difficult for us. We love our new church family and are already feeling quite at home here.

Thanks, Billy, for seven great years. I look forward to many more years together.

Life

Life is incredibly busy yet incredibly rich for us right now. The rundown:

I have a job now... and I love it. I think it is going to be a very good fit for our family. I am excited about the job. I believe in the work of our organization. Also, I am delighted to have found part-time work. When we first moved here, I planned to seek full-time employment, but when we started thinking about what would be the best fit for our family, part-time work seemed ideal. I get to work-- which I very much enjoy. And I get to be at home some with Eisley-- which I very much enjoy.  What's the job? I'm the Education Coordinator at World Hunger Relief, Inc. WHRI is both a working and teaching farm--  I'll obviously be involved with all-things-education at the farm, but mostly I'll be doing various things for/with the internship program at WHRI.

While I work, Eisley will spend one day each week with friends, and two days every week in a Parents Day Out program at a church near our house. I am very excited about her being in the Parents Day Out program. When we were in Kentucky, Eisley went to "school" at the daycare at the church where I worked. And she did very well in that environment. She is very social, loves learning, and pretty much constantly requires active engagement. I look forward to her being in "school" again. It's something she very much enjoys, and it is an environment in which she thrives. I went today to see her classroom and meet her teacher, and I think it will be a good fit. I was impressed by what I saw-- it isn't just a babysitting service. They work to provide a rich learning experience for the kids. She starts Tuesday!

Earlier this month, I got to teach at church one Sunday morning. It was a good experience, and I was grateful for the opportunity. I have preached a few times before, but this was my first time to teach here in our new church community. We don't do a traditional sermon on Sunday mornings, but instead do more of an interactive teaching time-- more like Sunday School, I guess, following our worship time. It was also my first time teaching with a translator (ours is a bilingual community - Spanish & English), so that was kind of fun and different to get used to. I taught on Anna & Simeon, and was glad to spend some time in their story.

I guess that's enough for now. I haven't really said much, but it does give you a bit of a glimpse of our day-to-day lives. I feel like I have much more to say, but that will have to come another day.