Wednesday, May 28, 2014

In a Row

(picture taken during Garden2Blog at Moss Mountain)

Friends, I am still here.
Don't give up on me.
I am working hard to get all my ducks in a row, but man they can be a bit hard to tame.

Here is a little bit of what is going on:

Only a few more days left of school/work before the month break between my current job and my new job. 
The bathroom remodel is done.
The kitchen is so very close.
The house (fingers crossed, prayers said) goes on the market this weekend.
I promise to show you it all once everything is all finished and ready to go, but things are completely topsy-turvy at the moment.
(If you want to follow along in real-time make sure to follow me on Instagram.)

In addition to all of this I am speaking at Praxis Conference on June 7 in Tulsa and then I am off for a 5 day writing retreat and I am so ready for it (the retreat, not the conference... That is still a WIP.)

Also on my to-do list is finishing The Nest. We are getting closer and closer to being ready to provide our homeless women and children neighbors with a safe, happy place to land. The back of my car is currently loaded down with donations and the beds and mattresses are all ready at last! It has been so wonderful to see everyone coming together to get this refuge nest "fluffed," and I will be so glad to see it up and running!

So that is a little bit of what is happening.
Oh, and we have all - at various junctions - been sick. Currently it is my turn and I am afraid Sweet Man is following close on my heels.

Prayers that we heal up fast, and can see this kitchen through till the end and get this house listed this weekend! 

We are all ready for some sort of normal to resume (whatever normal is...)

Much love friends,

Monday, May 12, 2014

Technicolor Weekend and a Break

This weekend was full and colorful and wonderful and BUSY.
I think remodeling is taking all of my creative juices so I am leaning heavy on the images here.
The bathroom is done (hurrah!)
And so now we are moving on to the kitchen.
At least you can wash dishes in the bathroom sink, not so much the other in the kitchen sink....ahem.

So while things are progressing nicely around here, they are also wearing me out.
So I am going to take a bit of a blog sabbatical.
My body is telling me that something has to give and I think the blog is one of the things I need to let rest for a bit.
I have a book to write.
A house to remodel/sell.
A job to finish.
A job to start.
I wish I was super woman but I am not.
I am just me, limited, and finite, and always learning how to live in the moment.
As Shauna would say, More Love, Less Hustle.

So, until this house thing has simmered down, until I have wrapped up one job and am ready for a new one to start, until I have rested up a little, things will be pretty quiet around here.

I will still be active on all other Social Media forms - especially Instagram, so we shouldn't fall out of touch completely, but for now I am going to save the writing juices for the book, and my energy for preparing my family - and myself- for our next adventure.

Much love friends - see you in a bit!

Friday, May 09, 2014

For the Girls - Why a hashtag matters

Already there is debate about the usefulness of #BringBackOurGirls.
The Internet is loaded with arguments on either side of the fence.
Which makes me cringe.
There are sides.
Why are their sides??

Don't people ever get worn out of arguing?
Can't we all just do good and be kind? Cut each other some slack?
Can't we all just acknowledge that we feel helpless and that we are doing the best we can to find a way to help?
That we are trying to reach across the gap to the mother's whose arms are empty, to the girls who are alone and scared, saying We See You. We Hear You. We Stand With You. We Are Calling for Help on Your Behalf?

But still there are sides.
And while they each have good points, I have decided that this is one of those times when I have to pick.
I cannot sit on on the fence and get a spiritual wedgie (though I am a self-confessed damn moderate.)
This time I have to choose.

So here it is.

The question has been asked dopes #BringOurGirlsBack change anything?
Does it help in any way?

I think the answer is yes.

Every time I see #BringOurGirlsBack I am reminded that they are still gone.
And this changes the thought patterns in my head.

It changes what I think about when my feet hit the floor in the morning and I go to wake my children up for school. Shaking them in their warm beds, yelling at them for the third time to GET UP ALREADY. Out of their safe beds. Where I can hug them and kiss them.

It changes the conversations I have with the girls at my school.
The 13 and 14 year old girls who come into my office daily bringing their drama and problems. Problems that now seem so much smaller compared to their sisters in captivity across the ocean.

It changes how I talk to my sons about their responsibilities to fight for the rights of women and children and all of humanity.

It changes how I speak about my sisters and my mother and my friends and women in general. Am I building up or tearing down?

It changes my priorities, standing in Target debating whether or not to buy another throw pillow.
Is this what I want to use my voice for? Choosing this pillow? Who made this pillow? What women in what factory in what country made this very pillow? What are their lives like? Are their daughters at risk?

And when  I see #BringBackOurGirls, it changes how I pray. 

And who I pray for.

For the girls.
For the families.
For the captors.
For the men buying the girls.
For the diplomats and the negotiators and the people who make their coffee while they spend countless hours trying to figure this out.

Will a hashtag bring back the girls? I don't know. Maybe not.
Does it hurt their chances? I cannot answer that.

But for me, what the hashtag does do is wake me up to the realization (again, again, again) that - as Hilary has said -  "the rights of women and girls  are the unfinished business of the 21st century."

So I will post #BringBackOurGirls. 
I will repost news and blog post and calls for prayer.
And I will pray.
And I will work however I can to fight for the rights of women and girls however I can.
And I will try my damnedest to be a good steward of the voice and the privilege that I have to make the world a better, safer, kinder, more just place.
Not because I believe it is guaranteed to happen.
But because I believe we are called to try.

And I think that is what changes things.

other post worth reading on #BringBackOurGirls
what Sarah has prayed.
what  A Church for Starving Artist has shared.
what Kristen has shared.
Caitlins reporting

Monday, May 05, 2014

Diary of a Bathroom Update - What I have learned so far

Around our beautimess house, the past two weeks have primarily been consumed with our bathroom upgrade project.
We can see the finish line but we are not there yet.

(Have I mentioned how grateful I am that my sister Jemimah and her husband Adam live less than 5 minutes away? Their toilets and showers have saved our bacon multiple times!)

Since we are doing 99% of the work ourselves I thought I would give you a little  look into what we are doing and share a bit about what I have learned so far.

(Pardon the picture quality. The phone cam is all I have had time for lately.)


Floor pre-grout and my hardworking Sweet Man

I love this faucet. I wanted something modern to contrast with the cottage-y vanity and I think this did a good job. Plus it wasn't a budget buster.

Great  out-of-a-box vanity. Beadboard keeps it cottage, clean lines keep it modern, and the taller height is a welcome change from our previous 1950's vanity.

Oops! Paint. $9 on the sale rack. It's exterior paint but I figured in a bathroom what does it matter?
Also it is a lot thicker and goes on super smooth. 
Thinkin maybe exterior paint is the way to go even inside?

Subway tile going up!

Walls painted, floor grouted.
 Still left to do: Grout shower, change out vent cover, paint trim, add shower hardware.

We are not expert DIY folks, but we are complete novices either. Both Sweet Man and I are pretty handy and creative, but even we learn new things with each project we tackle. Here is what we have learned so far on this project:

Tools: This requires a lot more tools than you would think. Be prepared to spend a chunk of change on things like trowels, gloves, buckets, spacers (if needed,) grout shavers and other random tools that you think you won't need, but you probably will. 

Grout and Thin set Color Choice: Unless you are an expert tiler match the grout to your tile. This will mask all sorts of imperfections in your tile job. Trust me. Also choose a thin set that is as close to your grout color as possible. 

Tiling Sheets: We used mosaic sheets for both the floor and the shower. The good part was it made the job go faster. The bad part was that sometimes it was harder to get the lines all straight and even, because the sheets themselves were not always level. So just be prepared for that. If you are extremely OCD about lines being perfect you may want to pass up the sheets of tile for individual tiles, despite the longer installation. It's all about what you can live with.

Buttering: It's a thing. As is back-buttering. Look them up. You will need them.

Water Bucket: Keep a water bucket and a big ole sponge handy to wash off your hands and a grout brush to clean excess thin-set as you work. 

Other Tips:
Depending on the thickness of your tile etc. you may have to shave  doors in your bathroom down so that they do not get stuck on your new (higher) floor. You may also have to shave your door frames at the bottom. They make a special tool for this too.

While Sweet Man and I love vintage and reclaimed items we are not sure the buyers of this house will feel the same way. So we have gone big-box store all the way with this bathroom. We have chosen mid-range priced items from the major home improvement stores  because I wanted the room to match the era of the house and look nice, not just like we chose the cheapest version of everything and threw things in  regardless of style or function.
We have also left some of the original features such as the moldings, beadboard closet door, and medicine cabinet to give the room some character.  Also our tub itself is in great condition and is cast-iron so we are leaving it as is, just cleaning it up a bit.

The one thing I would have done differently is that I would have painted right after demo instead of waiting till the toilet and vanity were installed.
It would have been much easier to paint a completely empty room. 

So that is our progress thus far. Hopefully by next Monday I will be able to show you the completed bathroom.

(And then it is on the kitchen!)

Thanks for following along this adventure with us!

(PS - you can also follow along on my Instagram and  #DIYHappy)

Thursday, May 01, 2014


  • Y'all life is messy.
  • And it is beautiful
  • This is not news I know.

  • But somehow I have to keep wrestling with it.
  • I have to keep coming back to the truth of it.
  • Because I tend to only see the forest OR  the trees.
  • I have a hard time remembering that they are parts of the same.
  • They are part of each other.

  • So the truth is this.
  • My life.
  • It is picturesque and a complete disaster.
  • It is wide and varied. It is mundane and daily.
  • It is scattered and it is rooted.
  • It is both and all of the above.

  • But it is not stagnant.

  • It is a river that runs.
  • Rushing, meandering, straight ahead and around the bend.
  • Always moving.
  • Water against stone, refining my heart and soul if I let it.
  • If I am open the mercy and grace that is offered.
  • If I can participate in my own soul- transformation by receiving this constant erosion of my false self through grace extravagant, through raw tender honesty.

  • If I can let go of who I am in in exchange for who I am becoming.
  • Letting down walls.
  • Stepping out into the light.
  • Leaving the safety of my plans and preferences.
  • For the adventure of following Christ.
  • Walking as he walked.
  • Loving as he loved.
  • Serving as he served.
  • Giving away buckets and buckets of grace and mercy extravagant.

  • Only then can I see the forest and the trees.
  • Only then do I remember that it is all beautimess.

  • J

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