Sunday, April 27, 2014

no time...

Hello friends,

Just a quick note to say I miss you.  And I'm still here.

I haven't even packed a single box yet, but even the process of liquidation is a full-time job.  I'm so exhausted, y'all.  And the work has barely just begun.  We're thankful for the opportunity to downsize and get rid of all the accumulating STUFF around here, but whew.  It is never ending, on top of keeping my house in tip-top shape to show potential renters/buyers.

Which leads into the next issue... what to do with our current house: sell vs. rent.  So many options to weigh, information to gather, and decisions needing to be made rather quickly.   Our niece and soon-to-be husband (who are moving here this summer for her to go on staff with RUF) are also in the same boat with housing decisions as well.  Would covet your prayers for God's guidance and wisdom in these things.   I know He will make the way clear.  I just want to know what to do.

I'm not sleeping well.  Everything in life feels like it's turning upside down or getting packed away in a box soon, and it's very unsettling physically and emotionally.  I'm about to leave my comfortable, suburbian life for that of the "hood."  (which is funny that the locals here would call our neighborhood the "hood"... you know, I'm starting to wonder if that's just a code word for black people...)

Lots of changes ahead, for which I'm excited, but I need a break, I need to process, I need to BLOG!, but there is just no time.  At least not for now.

So bear with me.  Promise I'll be back when I'm able.

Sunday, April 20, 2014


Mamie, you have outfitted us well yet another Easter.

Only a real man can pull off pink like he did.

This beauty is growing up so fast right before our very eyes.

This picture perfectly captures Jameson.  Always the engineer mind, figuring out how something works with all the patience in the world.

This gal has all the ENERGY in the world, skipping through the yard on the hunt for eggs.

Until another idea popped into their heads...

Even more fun than hunting for eggs would be THROWING them up in the air.

Thank you, Mamie, for keeping us dressed so sharply.

Happy Easter!  He is risen!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

won't you be my neighbor?...

Cue the drum roll....  finally!  The house reveal!

It all goes back to 1851, (yes, you read that right... 1851!) when a classic colonial red brick home was built for a pastor and his family.  The First Christian Church of Lynchburg got its start meeting in the home.

Years and years later, during the riverboat era in Lynchburg, the home was transformed... but this time, into a brothel!

Later, during Prohibition, it was a neighborhood speak-easy.

This home has been alot of things to alot of people over the years.  (with lots of rebelliousness included...)  ;)

And now, in just a few months.....

It's going to be HOME to us.  

To a minister and his family again.  

Like coming full circle.   (hey, I'm sure there'll still be a little rebelliousness in there, too...)

It's an antebellum house in front with a large modern addition (2004) in the back.

Dining Room
Inside, just about everything has been gutted and redone beautifully, while still maintaining touches of its history.  

Living Room

The house is about the same size in square footage as our current house, except that we'll have two less bedrooms.  So we'll be in the business of downsizing and enjoying life with less STUFF.

Of course we love all the new and modern...

Original staircase and bannister

...along with the charm of the old.  

The subtle bricks mark the transition where the antebellum house ended and the new addition began.

You can feel the history as you ride down the street.

Who has a slate roof anymore??

Our children's rooms will still have the original wood floors from 1851!  (Oh yes, and fireplaces, too...but they are just for looks.)  

On front of house

The old...

and the new!  

Upstairs porch

A downside to this house is that there is unfortunately no garage, so we'll be bringing a nice-sized shed onto the property for outdoor storage.

From our backyard, you can see the view to downtown three short blocks away.  When you walk down the sidewalk from our front door, you hit the Blackwater Creek Trails, a series of twelve MILES of paved bike/walking trails that take you through downtown and along the James River.  

We will have miles of recreation and tons more culture including the downtown farmer's market at our fingertips.  Not to mention, there's an amazing children's museum just a five minutes' WALK away.  Caroline is most excited about that!

This little park is across the street
The house is great, 
the access to downtown is great, 
but we think the neighborhood is great, too.  

It's an integrated neighborhood-- black, white, poor, wealthy.  It's not necessarily a neighborhood that white suburbanites would flock towards.  (give it 10 years with all the revitalization happening downtown...)   But for us, the communal and cultural diversity aspect of the city is appealing to us and precisely what we wanted for our family.  

Would ya believe, we met and TALKED TO our street's MAIL MAN!  (I know, right?!  Funny me, I thought a mailman was the guy that drives down your street, dumps some envelopes in your box each day, maaaybe waves at you if you're out in the yard, and quickly drives off.)  But Roy is our guy!  He walks from house to house to deliver the mail.  And he's awesome.  

Also, directly across the street from us, there is an interracial Christian family about our age.  We met them the other day and instantly loved them-- white husband, black wife, with two adorable little boys, the oldest being ALMOST TWO.  

Y'all!  My little Jameson already has a little buddy with brown skin waiting for him across the street. 

My kids will see with their own eyes what we tell them already... that families don't have to match.

Thank you, thank you God.  

Just a few short weeks ago, we had NO idea we'd be packing up and moving downtown to the very house we'd admired from afar for years.

I'm not naive to think there won't be challenges ahead.  
(Y'all will hear about it, I'm sure.)

But right now we're excited about what God is doing in our lives and 
working hard to start this crazy new chapter in our story.

Sunday, April 13, 2014


Since the big announcement from our last post about moving downtown, things have kicked into high gear.  The to-do's are piling up and so many details are consuming our minds!  Home inspection is tomorrow (I'm waiting to share pictures with you guys until everything goes through with that), we've been showing our current home to prospective renters, (since we'll be keeping this property) and we've begun the overwhelming process of downsizing and cutting out the "excess" in our lives.  It's crazy how much stuff we acquire and consume!  I'm actually looking forward to living more simply with less. 

I think the initial shock of "what?!  we're moving?!?" is now wearing off and I find myself becoming more and more excited at the thought.  

In the midst of all the moving preparations, it was so refreshing to enjoy an afternoon at the park with some of our RUF students yesterday. 

This boy was happy if he was playing ball of any kind.
This gal was happy being outside, swinging and playing on the playground.
 The students were happy enjoying the perfect weather and each other's company.

And I was happy and thankful to witness all of the above.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014


Sometimes God moves like a quiet, unassuming stream gently rolling down the mountainside.  At other times, He works in loud, turbulent life-altering crashes that disrupt and disturb.

He did the latter in us this past week and honestly, I'm feeling quite rattled, as though a tornado has blown through my life and turned everything on its side.  It reminds me back to the shock I felt in 2012 when Jameson's birthparents selected us to be his adoptive parents, and then he was born LATER THAT SAME DAY!  It was great, exciting news!, but life quickly went into action, with only nine days to adjust to the news and prepare for his arrival into our home!

Well, here we are again, but this time it's not an adoption...

For many years in our quiet moments together, Marc and I have dreamt of living in (or near) our city's downtown.  All of the mission trips to Southside Chicago over the years have built a love for the city and its people into our hearts.  We knew all signs were probably pointing us there long-term.

But we never dreamed it would be NOW.

What originally started off as an innocent look at craigslist to help our niece & her soon-to-be husband find housing downtown quickly turned into an opportunity to trust God and GO DOWNTOWN ourselves.

Just after we moved to Lynchburg, we saw an old antebellum house in a historic district pop up online that we loved.  Though it was so old and rich in history, it had been completely renovated on the interior.  We gawked at pictures of it on our back porch with some of our very first RUF students back in 2009.   We even drove by the home to see the house itself, but then soon found out it had gone under contract.

Then, a few years later, we found out that a couple in our church was actually renting that same antebellum home!  They absolutely loved the place and the accessibility it had to downtown (3 blocks away).

Fast forward to last Tuesday night when Marc saw that same house come up for sale on craigslist, and immediately he approached me about it.

"Umm, there is NO WAY I am moving downtown right now," I told him.  I guess it sounded nice as a far-off thing, but it was much different when it became tangible and real.  There were (and still are) many fears and worries for me to face as the thought of leaving my beautiful suburban home for a much more urban environment.

Nevertheless, I still agreed to take a look at it.  Why not, right?  We'd been interested in this house for years.  Never harmless to look.  (or so I thought...)  :)

The house was beautiful.  Charming.  Historic.  I liked it, but for several irrational reasons, I didn't want it.  I blamed it on the "flow" of the house not being what I wanted.  I blamed it on the smaller size and how much our lifestyle would have to downsize.  I blamed it on the lack of storage and the lack of a good view out my kitchen window.

But really, I know I was mostly scared, and hesitant of such change.

Marc asked me to continue to pray and keep the option open.  Really, he knew that house was for us all along, but he wanted me to be onboard with it, too.  (My personality is naturally much more cautious and less risk-taking, to say the least!)  We called the couple in our church that had lived there and discussed the house and the neighborhood with them.  We prayed, we deliberated, and we lost a TON of sleep in the process tossing and turning at night.

I had my own demons to battle.  Moving to this neighborhood wasn't going to be the white-picket fence, stable middle class neighborhood that I am used to.  (You know, the one where we all drive up to our homes and close the garage door before anyone might dare talk to us.)   The possibility of leaving what I "know" caused me to start seeing the massive idolatry I carry in my heart.  I felt the tension between valuing my own security and sense of stability ahead of going to the places where He wanted me to go.

In our downtowns and cities, problems certainly do abound.   But as I looked across that neighborhood, I could see the Kingdom abounding even more than the problems.  There was both rich and poor.  Black and white.  Professionals and unemployed.  Old and young.

I saw house after house being renovated and transformed, homeowners working tirelessly to improve and breathe life back into the city, similar to how the Lord restores our own hearts of stone and constructs them into beautiful trophies of his grace.

Directly across the street from the antebellum house, I saw a small park with basketball courts filled with athletic boys and men that look just like my son.  I teared up at the thought of giving my son the chance to not always be the brown speck in a huge sea of white.

People were outside, and they were communing together, picnicking together, laughing and sharing their lives.  

It was intriguing.  A scene for which our hearts have longed.  With trepidation I agreed to make a very low offer on the house.  If nothing else, let's just get it off of our minds and be done with the thing, I thought.  And if it did work out... well then, I'd still be okay, too.  :)

You can probably guess what happened next.  Piece after piece of the puzzle quickly came together, and within 36 hours later, I had just bought that house.

To be continued...

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

through his lenses...

After you have a child, the world looks much different than before.  Things you otherwise didn't notice  or care about before suddenly become exciting.  "Look up there, buddy! A plane!"

The same is true for me after adopting a black son.  The world looks much different than it used to as I see it now through his eyes and through his cultural lens.

In many ways, it's exciting.  It's enriching and beautiful.

I see color, and I feel connection.  And pride.  Those are my people now, too.  (though I'm sure they don't think that when they see little pale-skinned me coming!... he he he....)

I see their camaraderie, their solidarity, and their strength amidst struggle, and it draws me in.

I see the way they would do anything for one another, and I'm convicted.

I see a fighting spirit against tumultuous circumstances, how they persist and never give up hope, and I admire.

I see them in "menial" positions often times working harder than the professionals.

I see their laughter and joy, and it's highly contagious.  Things don't feel so stuffy and serious anymore.

I see the depth of their faith through the trials, the way they call out to the Lord, and I am truly humbled.

It's so beautiful to have this new world opened to me.  But, you know, it's also a curse as well. 

I'm learning there is a very sad and dark side to this world my little Jameson will experience that I honestly didn't know much about before.  Simply because his skin is brown.

But now that I'm putting on his lenses, it's like an entirely new world comes into focus.

I see endless children's books, movies, television shows, and it's overwhelmingly a white world.  (This week, I saw a fact that in 2013, of 3,200 children's books published, only 93 were about black people.) Almost 100% of the time, the "hero" of a story is white.  My little boy's lenses are literally scanning the pages and the screen.  What is he to think?  Where are the "heroes" that look like him?  

Through these lenses, I begin to see an underworld of systemic oppression that is so big and far-reaching, it can never be fixed.

I see privilege I never knew I had before.

I can't help but see my own culture differently, too.  I see the deeply implanted blinders that cover our eyes, and how unaware and often un-accepting we are to those outside of our own color. Somehow we think racism is a thing of the past.  We don't seem to understand how hundreds of years in our nation's history could still hold such widespread ramifications today.

It's funny, I feel the smiles that the sweet, white mamas on the playground give Jameson while he's cute and innocent. But every mama of a black son knows this reaction will change the older he gets.  They're prepared.  I am not.  What will you think then, sweet, white mama?, I can't help but wonder.  Will he be so cute when your daughter wants to date my son?

I see a society where my son will be held to a stricter standard, judged a little faster, and believed to be guilty until proven innocent.  He'll have to learn to dress a little nicer, smile a little wider, know where not to be after dark, and display his best behavior if he cares to be "accepted" into the white majority.

These lenses, oh these lenses.   Good and bad, everything is so different through them.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

we meet again...

 Well, hello again!

Sorry it's been so long.  Really.  It's not you, it's me.

My camera is being repaired and life has been crazy and overwhelming as of late.

I've had to focus on important things first.  You know, just small things like real people...   :)

But I just want you to know I'm here.  I haven't left and I'm not meaning to ignore you.  Forgive me for the silent treatment as of late.

Things will be okay and we'll be stronger than ever.  Absence makes the heart grow fonder, right?  ;)

In the meantime, here's a few recent shots off of my phone I can share with you...

Jameson wanted to comb MY hair for a change.  I'm relieved to say that it was just as difficult for him to figure out my hair as it is for me to figure out his.

I gotta give this kid credit, though.  He's beginning to take some ownership in the hair care department.  
Like when he smears peanut butter all through it, at least he'll assist in the washing process now.

We were so honored to have THIS GUY come perform some of his music after RUF (our ministry to college students in Lynchburg) one evening.  So, SO good.  (He and Jameson have the Haitian connection going.)

Caroline's been so busy and in love with school.  (as you'll see if you click on the picture above to see what she said)  Just last night she was asking us about September 11th because her class had just learned about it in their timeline of western civilization.  (Geez.... hard stuff to chat about over dinner.)  

(Here's Jameson checking out his cousin Elijah's new wheels.)

This weekend we made a quick trip down to South Carolina to visit our niece, Laura, who mysteriously suffered a stroke last week.  It was scary, and though she is recovering well at home now, our family would covet your prayers for Laura's continued health and fears.

And just in case you haven't had enough "Let it Go" in your life, here's a fun little rendition I captured when Caroline and her cousins were singing in Nanny's kitchen.  Even Jameson tried joining in the singing...