Monday, December 31, 2012

Lydia is 5!

Our sweet Lydia turns 5 today!!  

She was born weighing 7lbs and appeared healthy.  

After a couple of hours, we learned that one lung had collapsed & was filling up with liquid.  The other lung had pneumonia.  I have never felt such sorrow as I did during this time.  

She fought hard and was able to come home much sooner than the NICU doctor originally thought.  This is her holding her daddy's hand.

Best cheeks ever!

Taken by Journeys with Barefeet Photography

Taken by Fran's Photography

Taken by Moments Captured by Emily

She is absolutely amazing!

Happy "5th" birthday to our sweet Lydia!!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

K-Mart, a transgender, & prayer

It’s Christmas Eve.

I’m frantically walking the aisles of K-Mart.

I turn down the baking aisle and I see him standing at the end of the aisle.

Call it curiosity, or what have you, but  I was drawn to him.

His dark, long hair, deep eyes, & pale skin.   Who was he?  What is his story?

He must have felt my stare and simply gave me a smile.  With sincerity in my eyes, I smiled back.

We passed by each other and I went back to looking for sugar.

He must have been as curious as I was for he came back around to make conversation with me.

“The choices are slim tonight aren’t they?”  he jokingly asked.

“Yes, they are.  It seems as though I’m out of luck when it comes to finding what I need.”  I replied.

With a 6-pack of Blue Moon and a few cans of soup, he said, “It looks like my items will have to hold me over until after Christmas.”

“Do you not have plans for Christmas Day?”  I genuinely questioned.

“No, I don’t.  I’m new in town and am not partial to celebrating holidays.  They’re not really special anyways.”  He said.

By the tone in his voice, I didn’t buy it.  He stood in front of me in despair.  His life seemed to take some dark turns.

“Why don’t you come over to our house?”

As the words slipped from my mouth, my heartbeat soared.  I began to question myself.  I don’t even know this guy.  Some may call me foolish.

But, I don’t really care what the world will call me.

“Oh, no.  I couldn’t do that.  I’m so shy that I would just sit there.  I wouldn’t want to intrude.”  He gratefully explained.

“Oh, but you won’t intrude.  Trust me, all of us need someone to spend Christmas with.  If you change your mind, let me know.  I‘ll be in here for awhile.”

With that, we said our goodbyes.

I walked a few more aisles.  My thoughts were consumed with him.

As I turned down one end of the chips aisle, he turned down the other end.  We faced each other again.

My palms became sweaty & I looked into his sad eyes and smiled again.

“Hey, what’s your name?”  He asked me.

“I’m Jackie.  What is your name?”

“I’m Jayme*.”

We shook hands.

“It’s very nice to meet you, Jayme.  I’d like to give you my phone number.  If you change your mind, our dinner starts at 4pm tomorrow.  Give my husband and I a call.  We’d love to have you over.”

He handed me his Iphone & I plugged my number into his cell.  It wasn’t until I left the store that I realized  I had made a mistake.

I didn’t get his number.

In our brief interactions, I realized that most of us celebrate Christmas as the day of our Savior’s birth.  The day that brought us hope, love, peace, joy….


It is a fruit of the Holy Spirit, coming just second on the list behind love.
It captivated the focus of Jesus Christ. For the joy that was set before Him, He endured the cross, scorned the shame and sat down on the right hand of the throne of God.


Joy stakes everything on the truth that death could not hold Jesus Christ in the grave. Any circumstance, past present or future, cannot alter that.

For we will one day be reunited with Him.

But to some, like Jayme, it’s just another holiday without any real significance.

I desire for his phone call.

I desire for Jayme, born a man, but now a ‘woman’, to come into our family.

The radical love inside of me wants to share with him the hope that Christ brings.

We don’t just get together on Christmas to celebrate his birth.

No, we celebrate His life, love, & resurrection on a daily basis.  For He is that GOOD!

For Christ can redeem even the worst of sinners, trust me on this.  I once was one of the worst.

I believe without a doubt that Christ can do this for Jayme.

So until I receive his call, I will pray.

Not like a “I’ll pray for you” type of statement, but a bold, begging woman prayer.

A prayer that sends a nagging tug on his heart for something greater.

A prayer that ignites a bush to catch aflame and make his knees tremble.

A prayer that strips away despair  and replaces it with joy.

For it is our Mighty God that can move mountains.

And without a shadow of doubt, I know that He can tap the shoulder of one man.  A tap that turns him
around and into the arms of His grace.

Of His mercy.

Of His forgiveness.

As Jayme left the store, he shouted out to me, “If I see you again, don’t be a stranger, Jackie.”

I smiled and secretly promised, “I’m going to carry you to the feet of Jesus.  You deserve just that.”

*Name changed.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Christmas, a devil tattoo, & the ICU

This year, our Christmas started off like any other Christmas morning.  Our kids woke up at 4:40am anxious to dive into their Christmas presents.  Sergio and I frantically opened up boxes, put in batteries, and played with each child.  At around 10am, we kicked cleaning & cooking into high gear to prepare for our dinner guests.

Oh, our sweet dinner guests.  Let me introduce them to you...

Our friends, "K" and "J", joined us tonight.  We have a deep respect for this couple and our kids absolutely adore them.

We also welcomed two homeless men, "J" & "D", into our home.  We've developed a strong relationship with both men over the past year.

Our final guests were the "L" family.  While eating at Moe's Restaurant one day, Sergio became acquainted with the manager, "E".  After talking for a little bit, Sergio invited his family over to our home for Christmas dinner.  My husband is amazing like that.  He can talk to a stranger and in a matter of minutes, they are friends.  I admire this about him.

When "E" and his family arrived at our home, I was curious about their story.  I immediately noticed on his neck a tattoo that stretched from his shoulder up to his ear.  His neck displayed a picture of a devil with the words "El Diablo" (devil in English) inked into his skin.

Our dinner began shortly after our guests arrived.  I sat at the table in silence.

I admired each guest sitting in my dining room.  For we are the "once was".

Let me explain that a little better.

Each one of us could say one of the following...

"I once was a drunk."

"I once was in prison."

"I once was addicted to porn."

"I once was an adulterer."

"I once was a harlot."

"I once was controlled by my anger."

"I once was a liar."

"I once was ruled by pleasing others."

The list can go on.  For we are a table of sinners; recovering addicts of deception. 

Shortly after our dinner ended, "D", experienced a series of seizures.  I watched my husband care for the 53 yr old, homeless man as if he were his own brother.  I watched "E" step up and genuinely help a man that he did not know.  And as I called 911, I watched "J" take all the kids upstairs to play until the paramedics carried "D" away.  

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. 
Rather, in humility value others above yourselves,
not looking to your own interests 
but each of you to the interests of the others. 
-Philippians 2:3-4

The evening is coming to a close and I sit here alone.  All our guests have left, the children are asleep, and Sergio is by "D's" side as he lies in the hands of the ICU doctors & nurses.  

And my mind drifts to Jesus. 

Oh, sweet Jesus, you know us all far too well.  
We most certainly resemble those that are listed in your own genealogy.  
For we are sinners in need of you, Emmanuel.  
Come, Lord Jesus, Come.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Oh, how I want to be a better wife....

Sergio & I were married young.  He was only 20 & I was 22.  We dated off & on for less than a year and engaged for only 5 months.  It was a whirlwind of an adventure.  We grew up fast that first year of marriage.  

We had no clue what we were doing.  

Sergio and I were are highly, overly-passionate adults.  

We fought passionately.

We made up passionately.  

We didn't really know how to respect each other.     

The word "submission" was not in my vocabulary.  I was a strong, independent lady who thrived off of freedom.  I learned quickly that this doesn't work well in a marriage.  

From the day we said, "I Do", we promised that the word "divorce" would not be in our marriage vocabulary.  And for the most part, we've stuck to that promise. 

But, it's been difficult.  In our almost 12 years of marriage, we've had our share of difficulty and have matured greatly.  Thankfully, we rarely fall back into our "younger" habits of communicating.  

Except for today.

I became quick to anger, spoke harshly, and went back into my old habits that disrespect my husband.  

My attitude lit a candle of filth that filled up our lovely home.  

It wasn't pretty.  

I was, by far, the ugliest girl in Nashville by my words & actions.  

He deserves so much more.

But, how do I become a better wife?!  

So, like any other question I have, I opened up my Bible, I asked Google.  (It's okay to laugh!) 

I read a million articles on 'How to be the Perfect Wife' (Pah-leaze!), 'How to be a Good Wife', & 'What a Good Wife Does for Her Husband'.  The lists were exhausting, but a few had some good 'food for thought'. 

Here's what I've either learned or been reminded of this afternoon:

  • Fight Right!  Don't let anger take over because it may cause you to speak words that you'll later regret. Even when you don't agree with your husband, you need to respect his opinion/viewpoint.
  • Humility!  When you're wrong, ADMIT it.  You need to learn to respond to arguments and remain rational so you can recognize & apologize when you've made a mistake.
  • Be Understanding!  You may never agree on certain issues.  That's okay.  It's not the end of the world when you can't agree on an issue.  What makes a huge difference is how you resolve and come to a conclusion.  
  • Talk to your husband, not about him!  When in a discussion, speak your frustrations to him respectfully.  Do not mock him or make fun of him.  Do not talk at him, but to him.  Express your needs in a gentle way.  
  • Send "I messages"!  Instead of accusing him of not meeting your needs, focus the conversation on yourself.  For example, "I feel less important when you don't arrive home on time as promised."
  • Listen to him speak before responding!  Listen to what he says and graciously repeat back what he has just said to you so that he knows you are hearing him correctly.  We all have our filters that can alter our view on a situation.  Our counselor from a few years ago called this the "Drive-Thru Method".  You pull up, tell me what you need/want, & I then repeat it back to you EXACTLY as you've said.
  • Avoid passing judgment!  After he is done speaking, offer any solutions that may help in meeting your need.  Be realistic and kind when speaking.
  • Give each other the benefit of the doubt!  For the majority, your husband loves you and wants you to succeed.  Don't be quick to think the worst.  He isn't out to get you, but to help you.  Honor him in that. 
This is not an exhaustive list, but rather a good place to start (after reading your Bible, of course!).  

Now, if you'll excuse me, I must go light candles to fill our home up with the mixed scents of love, humility, and apology.  

Sunday, October 14, 2012

It's Hard to Love the Unlovely

Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers,
for by so doing some people have shown hospitality 
to angels without knowing it.
Hebrews 13:2

It's Sunday afternoon.

We went to church this morning and heard a great message.  I left there with a simple challenge that I've heard often.  "Who am I going to be when I am not at church?"

You've heard that same message, I'm sure.

Are we the same person Monday-Saturday as we are on Sunday morning?

You know, it's easy to sit in a church, hear a message on service, nod your head, & then rush out to our lunch plans.

It's easy to give a few dollars to the homeless man on the corner selling a newspaper.  (Or it's even easier to pretend that you don't see him.)

And it's easier to go through a drive-thru and purchase a meal for a beggar.

"He who is generous will be blessed, for he gives some of his food to the poor."
Proverbs 22:9

But, it's hard to love the unlovely.  It's hard to make relationships with those who are homeless.  It's challenging.  It's emotionally draining.  Why get involved when the chances of them "succeeding" is extremely low?  (I hope your heart is telling you that you'd do it b/c that's what Jesus would do.  But, is your head aligned with your heart?)

What if you receive a call from a man who is needing a hot, fresh shower and a place to do laundry?

Do you bring him into your home?  What about your own privacy?  What about your kids?  What about your "Sabbath" with your family?  What about your stuff?  What about....what about....what about??!!

For the sake of privacy, I will not share his name, but I'd like to tell you a story about "J".  Our family has known "J" for over a year now.  My husband met him while our son, Josiah, was passing out sleeping bags to the homeless last December.  "J" is not your average (if there is an average) homeless man.  He has his master's degree, ran his own business, and then fell into some very difficult times.  He has worked alongside a ministry that has helped others who are without a home.

Our children love him.  He is a dark, African American man that stands over 6ft tall and is as slender as can be.  I describe him for you because our children see him as a friend.  In a small way, he has become part of our family.  I want you to see him as part of our family and not just a homeless man.

I have had my own hesitations about letting him into our home.  I have questioned and entertained all the "what ifs".  But, in reality, I know "J".  Do I trust him?  No, not completely and I will stand on my guard.

After much discussion and a few phone calls, Sergio and I decide that it's okay for him to join our family today.  He needed a shower, a place to do laundry, a decent meal, & just a place to see family in action.

"Do not conform to the pattern of this world,
but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  Then you will
be able to test and approve what God's will is-
his good, pleasing and perfect will."
Romans 12:2

There's a fine line between being wise and being a fool.

"Be very careful, then, how you live-not as unwise but as wise,
making the most of every opportunity, because
the days are evil.  Therefore do not be foolish, 
but understand what the Lord's will is."
Ephesians 5:15-17

As soon as Sergio brought "J" over, our son, Eliah, greeted him with the warmest greeting.  "Hi Mr. "J"!  Want to play catch with me?"

While "J" took his first, hot shower in days, I sat downstairs watching our kids play football in the front yard. They don't know what it's like to live a hard life.  I'm not even sure that I can grasp it myself.  I've lived without utilities growing up, lived off of welfare & food stamps, but my family always had a roof over our heads.  I've always had someone to love & someone to love me back.  I've never walked this earth alone, cold, and hungry.

I watched Josiah outside playing with the neighbor boys and I'm grateful for his heart.  If he wouldn't have started Operation Sleep Tight, I'm not sure if we would know "J" or the many others that we've come to love.

"J" is more than just a homeless man.  He is a professional landscaper.  He is a college graduate.  He is a friend.  He is a brother.  And he is part of our family.

I am grateful for "J".  He reminded me today of Jesus.  If I put up a strong wall between my family & the world, I would miss opportunities to share Christ's love with others.  I would raise my children to only love people "like us".  And I would not relinquish control of my day to the Lord.  Essentially, I would live my day for only me.

It was hard to see "J" leave tonight.  Our kids rushed out of their beds to tell him goodbye.  They love him with a deep, genuine love that I wish I knew.  I want to be more childlike in my love with less fear & more joy.

As my husband was getting some food for him to take, I looked around my pantry for things that didn't need silverware or electricity.  We threw in a few apples, bananas, crackers, & fruit bars.  He has a place to stay tonight.  It's an empty house that was provided in return that he keep watch over it.  It has no utilities & I'm not sure if it has furniture.

It's a hard life.

My heart hurts for "J".

Just like I tell my kids on a daily basis, "God gave you hands to serve and a heart to love."  I pray that I, too, can remember this and live it out.

For Monday is coming around the corner & I want to worship Jesus the same on Mondays as I do Sundays.

"Now this I say, he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly,
and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. 
Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart,
not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God
loves a cheerful giver.  And God is able to
make all grace abound to you, so that always
having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance
for every good deed.
2 Corinthians 9:6-8

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

"It hurt my heart, Mom"

Here recently, I've been overwhelmed with house renovations and parenting our four children (ages 8, 4, 3, 22 months).  It seems that if I'm ahead in one area of my life, I'm behind in the rest.  I've felt strongly about finishing our home, but in the process, I've become easily frustrated with my kids.  The fighting seems constant, the tears are hourly, and their desire to be held seems stronger now than ever. 

So, I decided to read the book "Grace Based Parenting" by Dr. Tim Kimmel (because I need some help).  I highly recommend the book.

Grace based parenting is parenting through a filter that meets the 3 inner needs of your child.  They are the need for security, the need for significance, and the need for strength.  We parent this way by giving our children three valuable gifts: love, purpose, and hope.

"If we've done our job adequately, 
our children should leave our homes with 
a love that is secure,
a purpose that is significant, 
and a hope that is strong." (p25)

I want this for my children.  I want my relationship with the living God to be personal and evident to my children. In order to meet the inner needs of my children, I must refocus my time with God, slow down in midst of renovations, and listen to both what God is saying as well as what my children are telling me.

I was recently faced with a time where my oldest, Josiah, needed me to parent his deep, inner needs.  
It was last Tuesday when I walked into my son's homeschool co-op program to pick him up and saw the downcast on his face.  His shoulders were heavy and his eyes were watery.  We hugged and I waited to talk to him until we reached our van.

"Josiah, why do you seem sad today?" I asked.

"It's just that there is this boy who won't let anyone be my friend.  We were in the lunch room and he was making everyone go on his side and telling them to leave me alone."

"Oh, Josiah.  I'm so sorry, honey.  How did that make you feel?"

"It hurt my heart, Mom.  But I didn't want my friend, "J", to break his friendship with the other boy.  They've been friends for a long time and I'm the new kid.  "J" told me that we can still be friends when the other kid is not around.  I'm okay with that."

He teared up.  I wanted to cry.  I wanted to fix the problem by calling the boy's mom and calling the school, but I refrained after talking it all through with my husband.  Josiah needs to work through this problem at school and we need him to know that we support him, we will protect him, and teach him that there is hope.  If the problem escalates, then we will take further action.

That night, I put the other kids to bed and stayed up late with Josiah.  I didn't want to forget about Josiah's day and leave his heart still hurting.

"Josiah," I said, "I'm sorry that you had a hard time today during lunch.  I don't know the reasons why that boy acted the way he did, but I do know that we have to make sure our response is appropriate.  What do you think your response should be?"

He responded with, "I need to continue to love him even when he is mean."

"You're right, Josiah!"  I always admire his compassionate heart.

"Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time 
we will reap a harvest if we do not give up."  Gal 6:9

"Mom, I think we should pray for him.  Maybe he has a bully in his life or something.  I don't know him very well, but maybe if I do then I can be his friend and help him to be nice to everyone."

"I think that's a great idea.  Let's pray now."

So, we prayed for this boy at his school that night and every night until school the next Tuesday.

I sent Josiah off to school while praying over him and his day.  I even wrote him a simple note telling him to "be brave" and that he was "a great kid."  I spent the day watching the clock and my stomach knotted up when it was lunch time.  "Jesus, protect my son.  Help him to shine your love, your goodness, & your kindness even in the toughest of times. Amen."

I anxiously waited outside of his school until his class was over.  When he saw me, he greeted me with the best hug.

"How was your day?"  I asked.

"Mom, it was great!"

"It was!  Tell me about it."  I replied.

"Remember that boy that I was telling you about?  We played cards together today and I think he wants to be my friend!  He was nice to me."  

"See, Josiah, God answered your prayer!  There will be good days and hard days between friends, but today we rejoice in the good of new friendship!  I'm so happy for you!"

My heart was lifted.

This is the first of many times that one of my children will have their feelings hurt by someone else.  And although I'd love to keep them in a tight bubble sheltered from the world, I know that is not what God intends for me to do as their parent.  It is in these trials that I hope to teach my children about God's grace.

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, 
but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are
—yet he did not sin.  
Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, 
so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. (Heb 4:15-16)

I do not have all the answers, nor do I parent perfectly.  For this, I rejoice in the grace given to me by God.  Like the Apostle Paul, I have a humbling list of failures, and "although I am the least of the Lord's people, God's grace was given to me" (Eph. 3:7-9).  

However, I consider my life worth nothing to me;
my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task 
the Lord Jesus has given me
—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace. Acts 20:24

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Kelly Green Chest of Drawers

Hello!  I've been on hiatus for a few weeks, but I'm glad to be back blogging.  This past weekend while my husband was in Chicago, I somehow managed to complete four dressers in my attempt to get our home organized in the midst of our chaotic renovations. 

I need to apologize for not taking a before picture!  I've been sitting on this chest of drawers for months now & there are no before shots to show you.  Just picture it an extremely outdated, dark brown chest of drawers w/ brass knobs.

It seems as though the back of my house is at a slope, doesn't it?!

I purchased the dresser off of Craigslist for $20.  It is solid wood and deceivingly heavy!  The previous owner added the new knobs.  You can still see where the old knobs were placed.  I chose not to fix it.  I have a knob obsession & I catch myself wondering what the original knobs looked like on this great piece of furniture.  So, in my weirdness & in memory of the knobs, their appearance still remains.  

I love this green!

Right now, it currently keeps all our puzzles & Doug & Melissa food toys organized.  I haven't decided if I am keeping it since I painted a long dresser the same color, but for now, it is serving it's purpose and giving us some added eye candy to enjoy.

It's not completely perfect, but that's just the way I like it...dents, dings, history, & all!

Linking up here...

primitive and proper
savvy southern style
miss mustard seed

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

One Ugly Sofa Table

This sofa table is one of those purchases that I have not loved.  It was a great deal and I thought 'why not'?  It was super ugly and has been moved around my house over 50 times since moving here in May.

That's not the best picture, but you get the idea of what it looked like before.  It has great, curvy legs, dovetailed drawers, & is solid wood.

I put wood filler over the previous two, drawer pull holes and drilled a new one for the modern knobs.  It received a base coat of white, a coat of black, a coat of light grey, and a ton of sanding.  After that, it was topped w/ a dark wax to blend it all together.  

It's in my "shop"...ok, my den that's been turned into a shop, and is ready to make it's way to The Strawberry Patch Barn Sale!  Go "like" them over on Facebook!  Her furniture is absolutely stunning!

Linking to...
beyond the picket fence
embracing change
tutorial tips and tidbits
shabby creek cottage

Monday, August 13, 2012

A Little Blue Chair

Yesterday, I went on a hunt to see how many items I could purchase with only $20.  I found this sturdy chair at our local flea market for a cheap price.  

Taking the paint that I already had on hand, I gave it a couple of coats, sanded it down, & added some dark wax to tone down the Peacock Blue color.

I really like how it turned out!  It, too, will be heading on over to The Strawberry Patch Barn Sale.  Go "like" them on Facebook to see all the great vendors.  You'll want to mark your calendars for the weekend of Sept 6th-8th!

And yes, those are overgrown flowers that have taken over the back of my house!  Somethings around here have to wait until after the barn sale!

Before & After...

Linking up at:

Be Colorful
between naps on the porch
a bowl full of lemons
primitive and proper
handy man crafty woman
savvy southern style
beyond the picket fence
embracing change
tutorial tips and tidbits
shabby creek cottage
diy showoff

Burlap Wreath

This week, I'm working on fillers for my booth at The Strawberry Patch Barn Sale.  Here's one of the few wreaths making its way up to the sale.

Don't forget to mark your calendars for the sale!

Linking up to...

Be Colorful
between naps on the porch
diy home sweet home
diy showoff
a bowl full of lemons
handy man crafty woman
savvy southern style
beyond the picket fence
embracing change
shabby creek cottage
diy showoff