Thursday, February 25, 2016

theology over meatballs...

Can you spell your name?

And how about we try some of your catechism questions we're working on over lunch?

So, like, while you chew up a meatball and act silly, we'll be talking theology...

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

the white mama at the race discussion...

Being a transracial family often feels culturally homeless.  

We don't quite fit here.  We don't quite fit there.  

But our hope is that more folks of every color will become passionate about the role of reconciliation and bridge building in our community.  

What was originally going to be a weekend out of town unexpectedly turned into a weekend of delving into black history and culture.  (due to a vertigo attack late Thursday night)

A local urban ministry hosted a panel discussion called "Why do Black Lives Matter?" featuring 5 distinguished African American leaders in our area.  Questions like "Do black lives matter or do all lives matter?" and "What can an everyday person do to affirm that black lives do, indeed, matter?" were addressed, and there was good (yet uncomfortable) discussion about the subjects of race and poverty in our community. 

Unfortunately, an event like this that is SO needed, was not well-attended.  I'd guess there were 30-40 people there, and only 8-10 were white.

(I'm much more comfortable now than I used to be in a setting where I'm the minority by far, but to think, that is almost always my Jameson's experience...)

As I sat and listened to the shared experiences and struggles of being black in America, even from PhD's, it was honestly very difficult and uncomfortable.  Honestly, this was a world I knew nothing about until just a few years ago.  And even though my eyes have been opened to see and my heart opened to caring, it all feels so heavy and overwhelming at times.

But I must continue learning,
must continue listening,
and must join up with others in the slow road towards reconciliation.

I have a son who needs me to understand.  A son who needs me to prepare him to live in today's world as a black man.

I do not pretend to know what I'm doing in the least.

But it's important that I'm doing everything in my power to try.

In addition to the panel discussion, we were able to visit a multi-ethnic church downtown, just blocks from our house.  As a worship director, it's rare for me to get a week "off," so we took the opportunity to visit.

Of course, as expected, the small congregation was amazingly welcoming.  Everyone spoke to us.  People we'd never met gave us hugs afterwards.

At one point during the music, Jameson pointed to someone up front and said, "Brown!!"

I whispered in his ear, "Do you mean brown skin?"

"Uh huh!" he said with a smile.

Finally.  A Sunday where my son was in the majority.

It was a beautiful picture of the Gospel to seeing all nations, all ethnicities, all ages, all socioeconomic levels worshipping Christ together.

Out of my two children, I guess I thought Jameson would stir up the most attention at the multi-ethnic church.  (And he did get lots of great attention, don't get me wrong!) But it was my daughter's bald head that drew several people to ask her how she was feeling, etc.  One older gentleman, whose intentions were nothing but kind, asked to pray with us, and IN FRONT OF CAROLINE said, "God, we pray that you would give her hair.  We know she is so pretty without it, but God, you'd make her prettier with it."   (!!!!)  

(You better believe I brought that one up later in conversation with Caroline... I think she's just used to all of it at this point...)

After church, the four of us headed to a diner downtown, and as Marc walked up to pay for lunch, the cashier told him, "This bill has been erased.  Someone else has already paid it for you."

Thank you, sweet stranger.

And thank you, God, for this simultaneously amazing and crazy life you have given to me.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

8 is great...

"Mom, this was the BEST birthday EVER," she told me at the end of the day.

It started with a lunch visit at school.  We LOVE this girl.

Aaand it was ice cream day!

After school, we took Caroline and her best friend, Lizzie, to the children's museum in town and the girls had a blast playing.

Afterwards, we came home for dinner, cake, and presents!

Sweet Lizzie got Caroline the perfect gift, "Best Friends" necklaces!  They proudly wore them to school the next day.

I could not have hand-picked a sweeter friend for my daughter.  Thank you, God.
And the present she'd been hoping for and had NO idea she'd get.... Samantha, the American Girl Doll.  She was SHOCKED and so, so happy. (if you can't tell from her smile...)

We kept the actual birthday simple because we had plans to party hard with our South Carolina family this weekend, but I became sick and was dizzy and vomiting late Thursday night, canceling our trip.  We were so bummed, but we will get down there as soon as we can and make up for it! 

But even a seemingly simple day with a friend was MAGICAL for my Caroline.  I love how grateful she is and how easy it is to make her day.

Happy birthday, sweet Caroline!  
We hope 8 is great for you!

Friday, February 19, 2016

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

8 years ago...

8 years ago tomorrow I became a mom.  

Not in the traditional way, but through the loving, gut-wrenching sacrifice of another.

The story of Caroline isn't complete without her.

And neither is mine.

As Caroline turns 8 tomorrow, my mind is flooded with so many wonderful memories.

Meeting Megan for the first time.
Eating mexican food together the day before she gave birth. (pictured above)
Going to the hospital to have a baby, but not because I was in labor.
Rushing back into the room just before it was time to push, and watching Marc cut the cord.

I'll never be able to fully express my thankfulness for the opportunity Megan gave us to be present for Caroline's birth.

8 years ago we were all huddled up in a hospital room, taking turns diapering and feeding her through the night.  (truly a bonding experience...)

Our families became forever linked through adoption that day, and I wouldn't change a thing.
Adoption doesn't end the heart-breaking day a birthmother places her baby in your arms. 

Though it was the hardest day of her life, and simultaneously the happiest one of ours,
it thankfully wasn't a goodbye.

8 years later, our story still continues together.

 I can hardly wish Caroline "happy birthday" without reflecting upon all that God was up to in that time surrounding her birth.

Through adoption, we're ALL crazy for Caroline!  Here's to many more years to come!

We love you, mommy Megan and Brayden! (and all the family!)

Saturday, February 13, 2016

odds and ends...

Forts take over the living room.


Imagination rules.

 Colonial Day rocked.
So did his new green shoes.

We've added a new violinist to our church's worship team.

And sometimes nap time doesn't last long enough.

Her prayers amaze us.

He's got a sweet set of friends at preschool playgroup.  
(And an awesome teacher, Mr. T!)

And sharing a big bowl of popcorn for a cozy family movie night is about as sweet as it gets.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

the river house: intro...

 Hello, blog readers.

Meet what we're affectionately calling the River House.

You'll be seeing alot of her and hearing alot about her in the future.

She's only a street away from us!  She's about the same size as the house we have now.

She was built in 1901, and in 2006, a couple began renovations on it with intentions of making it their retirement home.  Unfortunately, life got in the way when the husband developed brain cancer and passed away, leaving the River House abandoned for many years.

You can likely guess why she's called the River House... from the back, this is the beautiful view of the James River.  (to the right, there's also a large working factory on the river, so that's not everyone's favorite to look at, but oh well... we'll just focus on the river...)

deck off the master bedroom overlooking the river
Thanks to an amazing set of providences, (I'm sure I'll share the story at some point!) the River House is now ours and we couldn't be more excited to renovate and restore her.

It will be the largest project we've ever tackled.  It will take years to complete and thousands upon thousands of dollars before it's all said and done.  

But at the end, we'll have poured a little deeper into our neighborhood and our community.  We'll have carried out a couple's dream that couldn't be realized.  And we'll have a house we literally designed and renovated from top to bottom.  (Call us a mini-Chip and Joanna Gaines...)

A peek into the front door tells you this place is going to be a TON of work.

There is no electrical, no plumbing, no appliances, no ANYTHING in this house right now.  (the radiators you see were all ripped out.  Radiators for sale, anyone?)

It's a shell of a house.  The previous owners had begun mostly structural and exterior renovations, and they built an entire addition onto the back of the house, but it is just framed out down to the studs.  Not even windows were installed on the addition.  

So we'll have the honor of tearing plaster off the walls of the original house and gutting it down to the studs.

We'll be knocking down walls and hoping for a mostly open-concept floor plan if it's possible.

We'll be installing everything- electrical, plumbing, heating & air, walls, floors, windows and doors, stairways, cabinetry, appliances, showers, tubs and sinks.  We'll keep and restore what we can, but nothing will go untouched in this project!

Phase 1: the basement
Eventually, our plan is to move into this home as our own.  (Caroline thinks she'll be 12 when that happens.)  It will be years, unless someone like HGTV miraculously comes along and brings an entire crew with them... 

But to be able to design a home for the needs and tastes of our family is quite an opportunity, and I can't imagine not wanting to live there in the long-term.

But our short-term goal is to renovate the walk-out basement this summer.  Phase 1: the basement.  We'll put a bathroom, bedroom, living room, and small kitchen down there and make it an investment property.  By doing that, we'll have some cash flow during the school year when we're not able to work much on the property.  

Phase II will be working on the main house, and because we'll be doing most of the work ourselves, I anticipate that being as slow as Christmas.  (Anyone want to come help?)  Once the main house is finished in Phase II, our family will move in and the tenant in the basement will move out.  

Already, plans and designs are swirling around my head!  I wish this could be a 30 minute HGTV show and suddenly... poof!  There's the before AND after!  Unfortunately, there's something called REALITY.

Since we're embarking on a crazy long journey to restore this beautiful property, I thought it'd be fun to share it with you guys through a series of posts called "the river house" where I can give updates and pictures on how it's all going.  

Nice to meet you, River House!

Thursday, February 4, 2016


 We finally got the first snow of the year, and it was a biggie! (I'd guess we got about 10 inches!)  People around here were calling it "snowmageddon."  School was out for several days, and the kids were SO excited.
 Lynchburg is known as the "City of Seven Hills," which makes it super easy to find good sledding.

 Just off the back of our property and across the street is a nice hill down into a ravine.
 Jameson loved sledding more this year than last, but he didn't want to make the long climb back up the hill.  Which made for quite a workout for Mom and Dad. 
 This year we enjoyed sledding with our RUF intern, Taylor, who is from Memphis and doesn't get to see great snow like this!


Taylor lives one street over from us and like a crazy person, he proudly sledded in CANVAS tennis shoes all day.  

the Queen of sledding herself
Caroline is our snow girl.  The minute the white stuff falls from the sky, she's already suited up and out the door.  

And now a few weeks later, it's all melted and we're wondering if we'll get another snow before the end of winter!