11 months with Liam.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Liam Worth,

This has been one of the more difficult months of our life together. It's not because of anything you've done, but simply the fact that we're still living out of suitcases. Amazingly, you haven't been fazed. You're quite content to mosey around in places you shouldn't: pulling things out of kitchen cabinets, off of book shelves, and out of trash cans. And then you look back at me with an impish grin when I tell you "no touch" for the hundredth time. Still, your joy and contentment challenge and encourage me.

The other day at the park, you stood for about 3 seconds on your own before falling back into the grass. The look on your face seemed more confused than proud. You take steps easily when you hold onto our hands, so I know it isn't long until you're on your own. You've also been trying lots of new foods, and there isn't much you won't eat. It's quite a contrast to the Liam we knew a few months ago! Your favorites are watermelon, black beans from Chipotle, smoothies, and little bites of just about everything off of our plates. 
You've recently become that staff kid at church who's there almost every time the doors are open. You've learned pretty quickly that you don't enjoy going to nursery (which is a necessity at least 3 times a week) and the tears start before we even turn the corner to your classroom. I know it's just a season and someday you'll look forward to playing with your friends, but right now, it's a little heartbreaking to watch. Hearing "he only cried for 10 minutes this time!" is just about the best news we've gotten. 

In just one more month, you'll be turning the corner into your second year of life and will be surrounded by all four grandparents and so much love. I can't even fathom how an entire year has passed. 

We are so smitten with you, Guy.


Eating gluten free at friends' homes.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Imagine this scenario with me... 
You have to eat gluten free (due to Celiac or a gluten intolerance) and you're invited over for dinner at a new friend's house. You'd love to accept, but you hate being high maintenance. You know the person may have no clue a.) what gluten is, and b.) how to make a meal that's safe for you to eat. It's the predicament I've found myself in, so I've come up with this basic list that will help them when thinking about what to prepare. It is by no means exhaustive, but it's a great place to start for people who have no idea what gluten is or how to avoid it. If you find yourself in the same predicament, feel free to copy and paste this list into an email! It's also really helpful to offer to bring something.

Here are some foods that are naturally gluten free
Corn, rice (white rice, brown rice, basmati rice), potatoes, quinoa
Vegetables - as long as they don't have sauce or breading (grilled or sauteed or steamed is all fine!)
Any meat
Any fish/seafood
Nuts, seeds, dried fruit
Beans, legumes/lentils
Any oils
Jello products/puddings
Sugar, maple syrup, honey
Any drinks 
Any spices

There are only three things I cannot eat: wheat, barley, and rye. Unfortunately, there are LOTS of foods with these ingredients: any breaded/floured meat or vegetables, soy sauce (which contains wheat), bread, muffins, pasta, cake. 

There are some things that are "maybe" foods: soups and sauces. Sometimes wheat has been used to thicken them, which makes them risky if they aren't homemade.

Really, the simpler the better. A roasted chicken with herbs, vegetables, and mashed potatoes would always be safe. Salads (without croutons) are great. All of that is naturally gluten free. If there are questions about specific ingredients, it's safest to look on the food label and near the bottom of the ingredient list, you should be able to see "contains wheat" if it does. It doesn't have to say "gluten free" on the label to be gluten free - lots of foods are naturally gluten free and aren't labelled as such.

Thank you again for accommodating me! You are a blessing.

The gospel. {Free printable}

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

If you've been reading the blog for long, you know that Timothy Keller is a hero of mine. He's been more instrumental in my understanding of the gospel in the past few years than anyone, and I'm so grateful for his faithful teaching of God's Word.

I love this quote of his, and I decided to do something fun with it so I could print it out and frame it in our home. I think it would look great in a white mat with a white frame, like you can see above.

I thought you might like a copy, too? I've made it with a coral background, a blue grey background, and a lime background - whatever might look best in your home. If you'll click on the images below, it should take you to a larger version that you can save to your desktop and print at home.

Monday thoughts.

Monday, September 23, 2013

... We are set to close on our house this Friday. Between now and then, there's a very large, very dead tree in our neighbor's yard that hangs precariously over our house that absolutely has to come down. God is big enough for that. If you think of us, please pray that the tree comes down before Wednesday and doesn't inflict any (more) damage to the house in the process.

... Sundays are loooong days for us with three services and usually a Sunday evening service, too. But we are loving our church and basking in the warmth of Christian community here. We've only been here a month and we've met more incredible people than we even have time to get to know. I'm not sure if I should chalk it up to the perks of being on a church staff (and, therefore, having a ready-made community) or just that our church is amazing. Probably both. Either way, I'm grateful.

... We've been park hopping around Raleigh, trying to land on our favorites.
Here's the current lineup:
1. Lake Johnson: a 5k loop, water views, hills, boat rentals (!), concession stand with coffee and tea and snacks (!!!). This park is pretty perfect in our minds.
2. Lake Lynn: beautiful lake views and ducks!
3. Shelley Lake: pretty busy on some days, but still so beautiful and safe, too.
(Pullen Park is in a category of its own, and deserves a post of its own, too.)
 Any fellow Raleigh friends have other suggestions? Preferably stroller friendly?

... My sister is starting to make these amazing made-to-order fabric maps in her Etsy shop. Check them out. You can even customize them and giver her a color scheme to go with. I love this idea for a kid's room!

Happy Monday to you!

PS - The photos of Liam? They have nothing to do with the post, but were taken past midnight when he was in too much teething pain to sleep. Poor little man. But it's still so easy to make him smile, even when he's hurting. I love that about him. 


Friday, September 20, 2013

In Shawn's new position, he has Fridays and Saturdays off. We're trying to make the most of this extra time on our hands before we move into our house, so after a trip to Marbles Kids Museum this afternoon, we headed to the new Yellow Dog Bread Company to try it out.

As we hopped back in the car to head home, I took a sniff of the strong, dark roast coffee Shawn brought with him in a paper to-go cup, and it triggered a hundred memories. It brought me back to the earliest days of Shawn-and-Whitney, when we attended Grace Chicago in a small theater space just west of our school. We'd catch the #66 bus down Chicago Avenue on so many bitter cold mornings to attend the service.

There were low lights and velvet seats. There was a table full of fresh pastries, inviting congregants to feast. There was strong coffee swirled with cream, steaming from orange paper mugs. There was pensive worship, with a lead singer and a string consort who led with excellence and poise. There was a pastor who cried at the mention of grace.

The smell of that coffee brought me back, and it felt like I could've been back on Chicago Avenue, sitting quietly in that dimly lit room. The memory was so sweet it was painful. Painful because, even after many years, I still really miss the city.

What's sweet, though, is that I don't have to be alone in the remembering. I don't have to be alone in the missing, either. Shawn was there, too, tasting the coffee and the worship.

He was there when we'd bundle up and trudge through snow to the nearest Argo Tea to "study" - which actually involved a lot more learning about each other than learning our school curriculum.
He was there at the McDonalds on Ohio Street when he asked me on a real date and my face flushed red before I could even say yes.
He was there on our comical honeymoon cruise to central America when "jungle adventure" actually meant "incredibly depressing tour of hurricane-ravaged Mexico."
There when we photographed a wedding for a bridezilla and nodded in agreement: never again.
There when my water broke all over the seat of his car and we nervously knew it would be a matter of hours before our lives changed forever.
There in so much hurt, and there in so much joy.

He's here for the memories we're making today, too, and hopefully libraries full of memories we have yet to make. Here as we pass the days living in a basement, waiting not-so-patiently for the keys to our first house. He's here when I pull him into Liam's room to watch him sleep, while we smile with happy tears just under the surface. He's the one person in the universe who effortlessly understands when I ask, "Remember when ___?" and I hardly have to continue.

Traveling this bumpy, winding road by his side is so much better than going it alone.

Some more "before" of our Raleigh house.

Monday, September 16, 2013

The living room, looking into the kitchen and dining room, with the guest bathroom right behind me.
We had the chance this past week to see our house empty for the first time. It's been rented for the past 6 years, and for every showing we've had, it's been covered from floor to ceiling in the tenants' stuff. (For one showing, the tenant actually sat on the couch the whole time while we looked around. That was interesting.) So it was refreshing to finally be able to picture it as our home. To think about paint colors, where furniture will go, and do some dreaming.

The house looks pretty big in these pictures, but the whole thing (3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms) is 1300 square feet. We like little houses with smart design, and this one feels just right.

We're hoping to have almost every interior wall painted before we move in. It's currently a warm beige/yellow color, and for the most part, we're wanting a cooler shade of very light blue/grey throughout.
Hall to master bedroom 
Master bedroom, with the door to the back deck
Master bedroom, looking toward the front of the house
Master bathroom - I don't mind the color in here, so it may stay.
Dining room, with doors to the back deck

Living room, with our realtor. Hi Amy!
The future home of Brighter Day. We're picturing bright white paint in here. 
Liam's room
Guest bathroom
Kitchen (and dining room to the right)
So the immediate changes are just to paint. Our next step will be to redo all the kitchen cabinets. We'd love a white, more modern look. We aren't sure if we'll paint them ourselves, have them painted, or go a completely different route. I would also love to add some white beadboard on that short wall around the kitchen. We do love the black granite that's already there. 

Besides that, there are little cosmetic changes to make here and there, but really, we just can't wait to make it our own. Lord willing, we'll be all moved in by the end of the month!


Thursday, September 12, 2013

On the surface, this summer has appeared as smooth as the glassy water on Shelley Lake. There have been day trips to the beach, sunny picnics at the park, and lots of time spent with grandparents and cousins. There's been the purchase of our first home, the start of a new job, and a very welcome and exciting move to a new state.

Underneath that placid fa├žade, however, it's felt much more like a churning ocean in the midst of a storm. Shawn and I have been hit by so much at once that it feels we can't catch a full breath before the next wave overtakes us. There has been move upon move, time apart, expensive car repairs, and a host of other ordeals that remind us that life is just not easy.

Just this week, it seemed like things were going smoother. Liam and I made it safely back to Raleigh, to our husband/dad that we hadn't seen for 16 long days. Yes, we're still in boxes, but with the promise of a closing date two weeks out, our situation felt more palatable.

And then sickness hit. It hit all of us. On top of what we thought were just bad head colds, we found ourselves at 9pm on Tuesday night rushing Liam to an urgent care center when he couldn't keep anything down. Seeing him so violently ill was unnerving. I'm a nurse and should've realized that, by all indications, he'd be ok. But when it's your own child you're dealing with, you feel pretty helpless - nurse or not.

By 10pm, we were home with a very sleepy boy and hungry bellies as we hadn't had a chance to eat dinner yet. Shawn whipped up some eggs and heated up frozen pancakes, and we stared blankly across the table at each other with a look that said, "Can you even believe how hard this has been?" The nearly four months of living out of boxes, the sickness, the uncertainty over our new home - it all hit us hard, and we felt defeated.

Shawn flipped open his Bible as we ate and landed blindly on Psalm 142.
"Read this," he said.
"God really knows how to deal with hurting people."

I lift up my voice to the Lord for mercy.
I pour out before him my complaint; 
before him I tell my trouble.

When my spirit grows faint within me,
it is you who watch over my way. 
In the path where I walk
people have hidden a snare for me.
Look and see, there is no one at my right hand; 
no one is concerned for me. 
I have no refuge; 
no one cares for my life.

I cry to you, Lord; 
I say, "You are my refuge, 
my portion in the land of the living."
Listen to my cry, 
for I am in desperate need; 
rescue me from those who pursue me,
for they are too strong for me.
Set me free from my prison,
that I may praise your name. 

Then the righteous will gather about me
because of your goodness to me.

I am so thankful for a God who allows me to pour out my complaints. He isn't intimidated by my questions, my frustration, my anger, or my impatience. He is big enough to handle all of it.

And more than that, He doesn't just sit idly by and watch us hurt. He isn't impervious to pain. As a man, Jesus wept with Mary and Martha when Lazarus died. Though he could've bypassed the deep pain and sadness he experienced by just healing Lazarus right away, He showed us in that those two tiny little words that he wasn't beyond experiencing our sorrow and our hurt. Jesus wept. Tiny words with such magnificent impact.

God doesn't always rush to fix things right away, and I'm learning to love that about Him. He could've rushed to Lazarus' side and healed him in an instant. He could've avoided even a trace of pain. But he didn't. That's such a comfort to me, to have a God who is near, who feels my pain, who carries my sorrow, and asks me to burden Him with all of it.

In the last few months, He has sat by while we've cried out to Him for mercy. He's been there as we've hit our breaking points. And honestly, I've never loved Him more. I've never clung to His promises with a tighter grasp. I open the Word and find fresh hope and peace that I've never seen, because the contrast of our suffering against the weight of His glory is so poignant. And He does bring joy. His mercies are new every morning. But it doesn't mean that at times, He's ok to sit with us in our hurt.

Oh Jesus,
In my weakness, may You be proven strong.
As I am brought low, may You be lifted high.

The Gospel Transformation Bible.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Have you heard about this new Bible, friends?

It's the ESV Gospel Transformation Bible that Crossway is releasing at the end of this month. It emphasizes the truth that all of the Bible - from Genesis to Revelation - points to the Gospel. To the culmination of God's redemptive work in Jesus' death and resurrection and how it transforms our lives. Even as a longtime Christian with a Bible degree under my belt, it's a perspective that's shockingly new to me.

Maybe you're thinking, "Well, that seems pretty obvious. Of course it points to Jesus." But when you're reading through a book in the Old Testament like Judges, you wonder, how does this point to the Gospel? To grace? To Jesus? It all seems to be about rules. But if we're missing the truth that the Bible points to the redemptive purposes of God in Christ in every book, we're missing the whole point.

As the Crossway website articulates much more clearly, "This specially prepared material outlines passage-by-passage God's redemptive purposes of grace that echo all through Scripture and culminate in Christ. The notes not only explain but also apply the text in a grace-centered way. Focusing on heart transformation rather than mere behavior modification, their points of application emphasize the Hows and Whys of practical application to daily living - in short, how the gospel transforms us from the inside out."


This isn't a new version of the Bible. Nothing has been added to the English Standard Version of the text. But the addition comes in helpful study notes written by Bible scholars and trusted pastors who all believe that the entirety of the Bible points to the Gospel of grace. I'm proud to say that one of these pastors is our former pastor in Nashville, Ray Ortlund, who was the contributor to the book of Proverbs.

Consider this at the top of my Christmas wish list.

PS - There are lots of different covers available here.

Lane Messengers.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Today in the shop, you'll find 6 new messenger bags (2 of each color: deep sea blue, mocha, and lime) that are all ready to ship! They are the perfect size for your daily essentials: phone, wallet, keys, books (and diapers and burp cloths, if you're like me). They also feature an adjustable strap and an inside zipper pocket to store your valuables.

For my favorite blog readers, use this code to get 10% off this week: TAKEOFFTEN. Coupon code expires Monday, September 16.

The humble beginnings of our new home.

Monday, September 9, 2013

It's a terrible picture, but it's just about all I have of our soon-to-be house in Raleigh. I'll definitely be taking plenty more "before" photos as soon as we have the keys.

This is taken from the open living room at the front of the house, looking into the kitchen, and into the dining room at the back of the house. We're thankful that even though the house has the charm of a home built 60 years ago, it was completely gutted and redone just a few years ago, so there's not that much to be fixed up. We'll be having the interior painted before we move in - it's a soupy beige/yellow throughout right now - and eventually painting the kitchen cabinets, too.

I've been careful not to succumb to scouring Pinterest for hours as I have to remember this whole making-a-house-a-home thing is a process. With our limited budget and time, it may take a few months (or years?) to get it to where we really love it, and that's ok.

But here are a few ideas of what we're going for...

Love the paint color and airy feel of this living room (thank you, Kelli, for reintroducing me to The Lettered Cottage!):
I love this bathroom wall (in my dreams!):
These simple bookshelves for Liam's tiny room:
These chicken wire cabinets:
This bedroom (and pretty much everything from this blog):
Also, I adore this home tour:
Kalli's home tour 
Kitchen & dining room
Rest of Kalli's house

Do any of you have paint color suggestions? We're looking for a very light grey that leans toward blue/green more than toward beige. Any ideas?

Can you tell I'm excited?! We've been in boxes since the end of May and in transitional housing (including my parents' house and now a basement apartment) since then. Our stuff from storage will arrive just a few days after we close, and I'm sure it will feel like Christmas. Maybe even better. Two more weeks can't come soon enough!
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