September 14, 2014

24 Hours | Washington D.C.


I have been to D.C. once in my life and that was this past August. I fell in love with the atmosphere of the city. The streets were alive with energy, yet people and traffic seemed to move about quietly, as if chaos in the city was unheard of. I knew I was in the city by the brownstones and by the distance between the floor and ceiling of all the buildings, but the feeling was quite quaint. It seemed as if we were in a small town instead of a bustling city. In my mind I wrestle with two things about D.C.. One is that this city is really not as magical as it seemed and we merely visited at the right moment in time. And two, that it really is as wonderful as we experienced. I choose the latter.

From the moment we arrived there to the time we departed, we spent a total of 24 hours in D.C.
We traveled on foot the entire time, visiting the zoo, the Lincoln Memorial, the White House, the Vietnam Memorial, the Washington Monument, and spent our afternoons in Georgetown visiting the small coffee shops, bakeries, and taking in the scenery. The people were friendly and I couldn't get over the cool breeze and pleasant weather that accompanied us throughout our time on the streets. We really couldn't have asked for a better 24 hour family vacation. 

Looking back at that wonderful time, I am mostly happy that Meredith can experience new places at such a young age. She is able to see so many things that I did not get the opportunity to see as a child. She is able to fall in love with places and keep those childhood memories with her parents in the picture. It is so important for for her to have those moments in time with us, to look back and say that we were with her. As her mom, I love seeing her experience new adventures. Her response to new things hasn't changed in her eight years of life. She still raises her brows, wide-eyed, and gasps in awe and wonder at the inexplicable and marvelous. She has done this all her life. As a parent, seeing your child do this never gets old. 



 






































August 16, 2014

When your child rides a bike | Two wheels



I'm going to point out the obvious. Meredith's bike was way too small for her. Her training wheels had been off for more than a year and she had no interest in learning to ride it without the security of the noisy little wheels that accompanied the back tire.

For the longest time I worried if she would ever learn. When she was just a toddler the pediatrician cautioned me not to be that parent who pushes her child in everything instead of letting time take it's course. Her advice was simple, yet priceless. It is better to be a helping hand to your child when they are ready to learn rather than a forceful hand in the face of your child's fear. Andrew and I heeded that piece of advice on nearly everything from learning to walk to potty training. We were the guiding hand when Meredith was ready.

I don't know why I didn't follow that simple rule with bike riding. Mostly I was scared that she would never learn. I was afraid she would be like the adult who never learned to swim out of fear the water would soon swallow her whole. I didn't want her to be afraid, but she was. She was scared of skinned knees, blood trailing down her skin, and tears brimming her eyes. She was scared of the pain that would come with falling.

All her fear led me to frustration. Many nights we came inside with hands raised to the sky, surrendering to God for any glimmering sign that our child would learn to ride, and preferably before she turned 9. Meredith simply had no interest in the two wheeler and no force could make her. We were frustrated and she was too. So we stopped forcing her hand.

It wasn't until Meredith witnessed her friend down the street go from two training wheels, to one, then none, that she also wanted to get back on the balancing act. It was in that moment something kicked in and she either didn't want to be the last of her friends to learn or she was inspired by her friend's fearless motivation. I didn't care which one motivated her. All I knew is that I didn't want to wait for the moment to pass by, so we grabbed the bike and headed out to the streets.

It still took Meredith about a month to learn to ride the bike. The most difficult thing for her was balancing and keeping the wheel straight. After the first few times of me guiding her, she decided she didn't want help. So I sat back and watched or jumped on my bike, taking care not to overly correct her bike skills with my words. It was something she had to feel out. The less I spoke the better she did. Meredith was taking time to get to know her bike, and I was OK with that.

On August 5th Meredith rode her bike for the first time. She and I were both elated. She screamed "oh my gosh! I love riding bikes!" within a few minutes of staying steady. I jumped for joy... For her. She had finally done it and it was just like the pediatrician said so long ago. Your child will learn everything in time. I don't know why I forgot that. Sometimes parents can hinder with their frustrations toward their children, or even their expectations. This was a lesson for Meredith and myself.

In the end she learned how to ride at her own pace. I'm not sure if this was more of a lesson for me than it was for her.

August 15, 2014

Ferguson | Not just in Ferguson

There is madness in our world.

We believe the threat lies in Iraq or other countries, not here in the United States. Not here where we send our young men and women to stand and fight for other countries, for their freedoms.

There is war among us. The racial war wages in our streets, as seen recently in Ferguson. Take off your blinders. It is everywhere. Do not be fooled in the illogical conception that fear does not live here in the United States among white and black people alike. To believe it does not exist is to believe in a largely factitious identity of our nation. It might not exist in you, but it exists nonetheless. When you live your life wholly extinct from any other culture but your own, surrounding yourself with nothing less than the familiarity of your own existence, you are bound to be afraid of the unknown.

Although I do not know the whole truth of the tragic incident in Ferguson, with the horrifying death of Michael Brown, I find my heart saddened by the upheaval of a city over the loss of one of it's treasured members. That teenager was somebody's son, friend, love. Michael Brown was a life. Life is valued and beautiful and now his is gone. There will be no more graduation smiles, football victory dances, exchanging of wedding vows, tears over his newborn baby. There is none of this for Michael Brown.

Why? Because of fear, anger, or blatant misunderstanding from behind the mask of the police officer(s) involved.

Now, after Michael Brown's death, Ferguson is a city in disarray. My heart melts for his mother, Lesley McSpadden, who spoke during a press conference, not only to mourn the tragic death of her beloved son but to appeal for justice without violence. She mourns for the loss of her son and the loss of many memories that will never come with him. I find myself grieving with her and at the violence that has sparked like a wildfire since then.

The horrific situation in Ferguson has turned into more than finding justice for Michael Brown. Looters are taking this opportunity to revolt against the authority and take advantage of the upheaval in the city. These looters are fighting fear with fear. They are provoking fear in the name of Michael Brown where those closest to Michael are speaking truth over the situation and promoting nonviolence. They are making it all about war in hopes of gaining from the situation. They are further preventing justice to Michael Brown and his family. My heart breaks for Brown's family.

My hope for the people of Ferguson is that light can be shed on racial conflict there and that they be an example across the country on how to proceed with dignity and healing. I pray that even the police officer responsible for ending Michael Brown's life will find healing in the truth and that he harbors no lies. I pray he confesses his crime at its full severity to Brown's family and I pray it brings a flickering hope of healing to them in the best way possible. I pray mostly that this sets an example for our children on the healing that binds itself to confession among the accused and the wronged.

"Our nation honors her sons and daughters who answered the call to defend a country they never knew and a people they never met."

This quote is engraved on a beautiful stone in Washington, DC at the Vietnam memorial. We stand for other countries in their times of great despair. We employ armies to fight on the behalf of the unjust and the wrongly accused. We pray for truth and we seek mercy. Throughout history this is what the United States has done.

My only question is who will stand up for the United States and demand truth among our own people? Who will employ their voice to seek out justice for those who cannot speak for themselves? Who will pray for their neighbors in such horrifying times as this?

August 11, 2014

A New Blog Design | Down Oxford Street

Recently a sweet lady, Diana, contacted me to redesign her blog. She expressed her need to change her blog because over the years she herself had changed and wanted her blog to show that. We discussed in great detail what Diana desired for the look and feel of her blog. This was her blog before:


Before


Diana was looking for something elegant and professional and even decided to change the name of her blog. I so enjoyed working with her, making the designs in her mind come to life.

After


Go visit Diana at www.downoxfordstreet.com and show her some love for her new design.

July 30, 2014

Moving | A reason


This is the state our house is in at the moment. Nearly everything that reminds me of this place being home is now packed away to be undisturbed for a few weeks. At first it didn't bother me to leave, but now everything seems so uncertain. Was it the right choice to leave this place we've called home for a year?

 Mornings are marvelous here. The sun greets me in the mornings, practically spilling into every window in the kitchen and sunroom. My heart is continuously overflowing with awe at the splendor I witness here.


Although we overlook a golf course, from this top floor we've spent many days watching the wonders outside this wall of windows. Favorite moments we've spent together, enjoying a winter filled with snowfall. Watching the snow drizzle and drape across the dormant lawns in our backyard was a sight only those from condos above could appreciate. As the snow blanketed the earth, we also covered ourselves with anything bringing warmth, never realizing all those memories would never be duplicated again. Never would we sit there in that warm place and watch the cold surround us. There would never be another winter at those glass windows. They are cherished memories now. Memories from this special place for one excellent year.


So many memories were made for our family in this place. Maybe this is why I find leaving it so bittersweet. It was merely a rental, but it was home because we made it to be.

I don't know why I'm more attached to this place over the others we've been in. But I am. Maybe because now Andrew and I are growing up. We are ready to settle instead of wandering. We are ready to root our being into one earth and watch the soil settle, sprout, and blossom into the likes we've not yet had the vision to create ourselves. We are ready for a permanent place to change with the backdrop of our life. I'm ready for a place to call forever, that will be home to some cold, but mostly warm memories. I do not want to make memories, but I want to build on memories.


July 28, 2014

Humbled | Worship


I love my church. I love the pastors and I love the people who congregate there. My church is not perfect.  In fact, they are a people who you will find many faults in. Yes, you and I both have them: faults. That is why you should feel welcome there.

Over the recent weeks, the church has been diving into and listening to sermons on worship. This is a subject so near to my heart. I am so humbled in worship by how much God longs to be intimate with me, and it tugs at my heart strings. Worship is so powerful in song and with the giving of our lives. 

Place value in Him. When we are sincere and true in worship, when we allow worship to move beyond a command and into a response to a worthy God, it is in these moments you find your feet dancing, your hands welcoming, and a song bursting forth from your lips. Your acts move from command to a spiritual response, not because of obedience but because of awe. He wants you to come to him in worship because you are in awe of him.

Isaiah 29:13  The Lord says: "These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is made up only of rules taught by men.

Even in Isaiah, peoples' mouth and lips honored God, yet they lacked a heart response to Him. God wants our heart. He is jealous for it. Would you choose the lover with chains or the lover with the sincere heart? God wants our sincere heart.

Worship carries with you wherever you go. Worship is not just a once a week encounter with God during a church service. Although church worship with fellow believers can be powerful, worship carries into our being, our everyday walk through life as we offer up our spirit to the Lord. God wants a spiritual encounter with you all the time.

Romans 8:16: The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children.

There is a heart response in worshipping God. Allow yourself to be humbled by His greatness and enjoy His desire and longing to be closer to you. Allow God to share and reveal things in your life. He wants to do that for you because He is attached to you. He thinks you're lovely and wonderfully made.

Song of songs 2:16: My beloved is mine and I am his... "

July 23, 2014

DIY | Mason Jars | Flowers | Chalkboard










Here's how we did it. I say "we" because a friend of mine also made her own, and later Andrew came home to see we were in need of brute strength for the nails. He devoted his time to helping us arrange the steel clamps and screw them in place. Unfortunately for us, the nails were too long and went straight through the board and into the table. It's a good thing we had a black sharpie to fill the hole in our table. Just to be on the safe side, be sure when you buy your nails that the length is right under the depth of your board.

The first thing we did was paint the board with chalkboard paint. Your board could be old or new, wide, tall, or whatever length you choose. We waited a few hours for it to dry, then screwed in the clamps and tightened the jars into place.

After days of looking at this project against the wall, I decided to rough it up with a sanding pad to make it look worn and dated. Originally I was going to use it as an herb planter, then decided on flower vases. It turns out I don't have a green thumb, but then how could I when I forget to water the poor plants until they're already browning. I'm basically not a planter, but I love to watch things grow.





This project was easy and I am excited to have some fresh flowers on display. Andrew is not a huge fan of big bouquets in the middle of the table, so this gives us both what we want. Not to mention, these jars can literally hold anything. Switching out the flowers for pencils and crayons when the school year begins might be a great option as well.