Monday, April 29, 2013

The cobbler we eat at least once a week

You guys might think I'm exaggerating, as I am (admittedly) prone to do. This time, however, I do not exaggerate. Most weeks, we buy whatever berries are on sale (or ripening on our various and sundry berry-bushes), and then whip up some cobbler. And by that, I mean Adam whips up cobbler and I eat it. I am literally powerless to resist the lure of the cobbler. It's that good.
Without fail, whenever I post a picture or remark regarding said cobbler, someone begs for the recipe. So today, you are in luck. The original recipe we use comes from Pioneer Woman (side note and little known fact about my husband - his official nick-name around here is the Pioneer Woman. Which he obviously loves.)
Beautiful picture from Pioneer Woman
Blackberry (aka "any-berry") Cobbler - a la Pioneer Woman


  • 1 stick Butter
  • 1-1/4 cup Sugar
  • 1 cup Self-Rising Flour
  • 1 cup Milk
  • 2 cups Blackberries (frozen Or Fresh)

Preparation Instructions

Melt butter in a microwavable dish. Pour 1 cup of sugar and flour into a mixing bowl, whisking in milk. Mix well. Then, pour in melted butter and whisk it all well together. Butter a baking dish.
Now rinse and pat dry the blackberries. Pour the batter into the buttered baking dish. Sprinkle blackberries over the top of the batter; distributing evenly. Sprinkle ¼ cup sugar over the top.
Bake in the oven at 350 degrees for 1 hour, or until golden and bubbly. If you desire, sprinkle an additional teaspoon of sugar over the cobbler 10 minutes before it’s done.

Bonus side note: Occasionally, we are extremely desperate for the cobbler, and have berries on-hand but no self-rising flour. Gasp. It turns out Adam knows how to make his own. Which, if you ask me, seems like critical knowledge. You never know when you'll need self-rising flour. Or cobbler.

For your future reference (thanks to Adam!) here's the (extremely easy) way to make your own self-rising flour:
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt 
Stir or sift together the flour, salt, and baking powder. Presto, you've got self-rising flour!
Photo via Pioneer Woman
I had to share Pioneer Woman's beautiful picture of the finished product since I never have time to take my own. In fact, by the time I get my iphone out to snap a picture, it looks something like this. And let's not pretend Adam and I cant eat the whole thing in a single sitting just the two of us.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Throwback Thursday: Our 2nd summer at Camp Grace

It's time again for a quick peek into our past. I love these, as it turns out. I mean, just look at this gem of a picture I found of Adam wearing pink spandex and Zack looking like a little tiny baby. Speaking of babies, that's Jayci in my giant belly.

Camp Grace Again

Once again, I've been trying unsuccessfully for days to write my Camp Grace update. For some reason, I thought it might be easier to describe or put into words the second time around. Although it wasn't as life-changing for us as last year (and what I mean by that is simply that we already know inner-city ministry is where God has us, whereas last year it was a big surprise for us that changed the course of our lives . . . )

That said, camp this year was just as moving as last year - we loved it just as much as we did last year, and we felt confirmed in the direction our life has been moving.

I wanted to share some stories with you, as well as just a few of the things that God taught Adam and I this year about His love, grace and movement through His people. Of course, we all know that I tend to ramble and write long posts, so there's no way I can share all that in a single blog post (unless you feel like reading an online novel, but most people - besides myself - have far more important things to do with their time). So over the next few days I will try and share in small quantities and hopefully your heart will be moved and transformed just as Adam's and mine have been.

Kosovo and Inner City Atlanta

This summer at camp, Adam had his hands full with discipline on the boys side of camp. I dont remember it being nearly as intense last year, at least as far as issues and discipline problems go. One of the most frustrating things about working with kids from the inner city is how they respond when they get in trouble or get upset. They either get angry and violent or shut down completely. I was telling Pastor Steve how frustrated I get when they shut down because they wont tell you what happened, why they're upset or what they want; instead, they sit silently (usually in tears) refusing to let you in. I understand that it must be some sort of defense mechanism, or survival instinct where that's the only way they can safely respond to situations where they live. But Pastor Steve opened my eyes to the depths of their situation: he told me about how he went on a mission trip to Kosovo to work with war victims and children who had been affected or displaced by the war. And the kids in Kosovo respond in the exact same way that our kids from down-town Atlanta respond. I was blown away to think that these kids had experienced as much trauma as war victims - what, I wondered, could possibly be so terrible in our city?

So I began asking the kids questions, and paying attention to their responses. One of the boys who kept trying to run away described how he watched his brother shoot and kill someone. Another little boy who Adam kept having to discipline explained that he didn't like where he lived because there was shooting every morning and every night and his sister's house got "all shot up." One little girl had just been evicted from her home, and she woke up multiple times in the night crying and screaming with terror. One boy got in trouble for bringing a gun to school because he was going to use it on his mom's boyfriend who beat up his mom . . .

Realizing the depths of these kids' pain makes it easier to understand and extend grace when they respond inappropriately, angrily or by shutting down. They are victims of injustice, and I cannot help but hear Micah 6:8 echoing in my heart: "What does the Lord require of you? To do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God" 

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Thanks and Linking up

 I have to start off by telling y'all how deeply and completely grateful I have been for all of your comments, emails, notes, real-life-hugs, and phone calls and texts you sent after my post about our marriage being a little (ok a lot) hard lately. The only reason I am brave enough to be vulnerable is because you guys are all so amazing and loving and encouraging. Every one of you means so much to me, and I am so grateful for all your love and kindness. I know that I probably havent sent every one of you the response you deserve, so just know that Adam and I have both read everything you've sent us, and we are grateful.

For now, a few quick pictures from our weekend, and a few links from my reader to inspire and encourage YOU this week.
- This guest post on DL Mayfield's War Photographer series from Sarah Bessey. I was, at first, a little confused by this whole series because I keep expecting to see, you know, pictures from war. But it turns out that the whole thing is much deeper and more beautiful than that. You should for sure go read it. Also, I kind of love Sarah Bessey's writing. AND she's Canadian, which is bonus points for her.
- I love this reminder by Timothy Willard to turn off every once in a while. Or more than that.

- When flourishing is possible and we are on our way at a Deeper Story.

- How to Keep our Babies Safe at Momastery. Additionally, I am currently reading Glennon's book Carry on Warrior. And I love it. I'm apparently a big fan of the blogs-turned-into-books a la Big Mama and Momastery, and soon (yay!) Boo Mama.
- Also, I love The Mindy Project, and I love this post (again from DL Mayfield) on just a few of the reasons why. 

What about you: have you read any posts you loved lately, or books you couldn't put down? Do share!!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

What I want my daughter to learn from Dove

Jayci’s nightlight casts a yellow glow on her cheeks as I kick off my flip-flops and lay my coarse curls next to her flaxen tendrils on her pink princess pillowcase. Her eyes close, but flutter open occasionally to make sure I am still present. Her spine curves perfectly into the space I leave; her arms clutch her pink sock monkey whose stuffing escapes from rifts in legs and tail.

I listen as her breathing slows, evens, deepens. My own eyes close and I think about the video I re-posted on facebook earlier: a brilliant one by Dove. My eyes brim a little bit with tears, and my mind swells with hopes that she will always see herself as beautiful. That she will look in the mirror and see what I see: perfect porcelain skin, soft golden hair, brilliantly blue eyes framed by dark lashes and rounded pink cheeks. Button nose.

But then a sudden fear flashes through me. Because what if she grows up and looks more like the picture on the left than the one on the right? What am I saying about beauty and what matters when the whole premise lies in one face being more desirable and, daresay, valuable than the other?

Of course, of course, I always want Jayci to recognize her beauty, to treat herself gently, to love herself with a grace that covers flaws. Because heaven knows I have wasted (and still waste) more than my fair-share of time spent worrying about the extra layer of, ahem, insulation that sits on my midsection since Caden’s birth. Or the new creases in my forehead, and the dark circles under my eyes that speak of too many nights spent tossing and turning on this very princess pillowcase.
But I’m just not sure it’s enough for her to see herself as beautiful when beautiful still means a “thin face” and “pretty blue eyes.” Or when victory lies in a stranger not noticing the lines around her eyes; lines etched by years and laughter, by a life lived.

Somehow, impossibly, I pray instead that she will step outside of the whole construct. That she will believe fiercely in the beauty of her chocolate-skinned friend whose hand entwines with hers on the playground. That she will trace my laugh lines and dark circles and recognize the value in a life lived and fought through well.

That she will find beauty in the pale pink unfurling of cherry blossoms; but also in the dandelion sneaking impossibly through the cracked sidewalks lining our street. In the chippy paint door above our bed: the one whose story is written in layers of white and cream and turquoise. In the toothless old man who grins wide when he rides his bike slowly by our house twice a day, his overalls and cropped blue shirt as unchanging as his smile. In her brother’s rippled scar down his chest, and her “big brother’s” gold patch growing out of his twisted hair. That she will recognize that our dents and scars and wrinkles only add to the beauty of our story, because our pain and stretching widens our capacity for joy and deepens the beauty of our journey.

Jayci’s fingers unfurl from mine, and she relaxes into sleep; and I pray she will relax into life without fearing or bending to the constraints and demands that media and a world try to place on her. That she will be more concerned with being brave and kind, gentle and forgiving, than she is with what she sees in the mirror. That the primary lesson she learns from the Dove video is the importance of extending grace: both to those around her, and to herself. That in a world obsessed with physical beauty, she will stand out as one who sees the loveliness in each person she encounters. One who treats those around her with dignity and grace and love, helping them to see their own beauty with startling clarity and open-eyed joy.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Done: For days when marriage feels impossibly hard

I am the kind of done that gets out of the car. I wrap my sweater tight against the wind and try not to stamp my feet; conscious of how large and childish my anger swells. My favorite boots crush glass shards, glittering under the streetlights and stars. I am grateful for the snarled traffic and police officers directing my steps at every stoplight. I hope in equal parts that he will follow and that I will never see him again.
A string of days and weeks that lead into months have brought us here. Knotted in an endless loop of too many dishes undone, promises broken, words flung from mouths in fits of anger, and too few graces. His eyes speak hurt and mine mirror, flashing with warring emotions of wounded and I-don’t-even-care. And so I march past brake lights, shivering and hoping.

Our relationship has always felt sturdy, trustworthy. We meet eyes and raise brows when friends tell us they want divorce, mirroring gratitude and even, daresay, pride at our own solid friendship. Oh no, we never fight we declare gleefully, entwining fingers over milkshakes and entire seasons of The Wire, and playing card games late into the night. Yet somehow, years tick by and life sneaks between. Teenagers move into our extra bedroom, and kiddos fling cards and the remains of their snacks all over the house. I sigh extra-loudly as I clean up seven pairs of size-14 shoes discarded into corners and under the table and next to the couch.

After my march down the street, I sheepishly climb back into the passenger seat and silently slip under feather duvet and shut my eyes; not repentant quite yet. Sorry, certainly, but not convinced I am wrong. Later we meet with an older, gentler, calmer, and certainly wiser than us, couple from our church. They point us to Jesus. They ask and prod us and remind us that Christ, and not ourselves, is the center of this thing we call marriage. I tug at my own stubbornness, willing it to move; on the precipice, if not necessarily willing just yet to ask Jesus to move it for me. They ask why not and I reluctantly and slowly unearth a fear that perhaps nothing will ever change if I don’t change it for him. I cannot bear the thought.

Ok, so what if nothing ever changes? They ask me. I feel tears silently stream down my face and I dab desperately with a wadded Kleenex, the last one in the box.

I’ve answered this question before, chasing my fears all the way through and staring square in the face of what if. When Caden lay entwined in wires and beeping machines with his chest rent open, somehow I answered my deepest fears with surrender and a certainty that God was not only good, but infinitely near. Answering now seems somehow harder; I stumble over my own seeming ability to change things. But perhaps therein lies the true Gospel: a God who carries and draws infinitely near not only in our moments of deepest crisis, but also in all our daily worries and fears. Who offers hope like a torch at my son’s bedside, and like a candle when I feel suffocated by the impossibility of untangling and navigating the strands of my marriage.

I’m not saying that things shouldn’t change, or even that they wont. But I’m slowly leaning into a Savior who washes me in grace even if they don’t. Truthfully, our marriage still stands sturdy. We don’t teeter on the edge of divorce: we are faithful and we trust and love each other deeply. Most days, we are perfectly fine. I sometimes just lose sight of that fact in the midst of two small children and neighborhood kiddos and running a ministry and working and dishes and the never-ending laundry pile. I forget and we fight and I withdraw and pull away instead of forgiving and moving towards.
So for everyone (aka moms on both sides) who is panicking and worried about us, rest assured that neither of us is going anywhere, nor do we want to. And it's honestly a little scary and vulnerable-feeling even typing all this out. But I have beautiful brave friends who cried with me, their hands wrapped around a cup of coffee with flavored creamer and whipped cream on top (which makes everything a little easier), when their marriage was hard, when they felt done. And that makes being in this place a little easier, less scary. And I had this thought that maybe some of y'all dont have people who have admitted the hard, who are willing to talk about walking through the refiner's fire in their marriage. Maybe for some of you, my voice whispering and trembling as I tell you that we aren't perfect, that we're struggling; maybe that voice will be the one that makes you brave, that gives you hope.  Because I think we need more voices gently declaring that marriage slants hard, and that’s ok.  Sometimes grace finds shape in “me too!” And even more than that, this recognition of shared struggles leads to the novel and frightening realization that perhaps God want to teach us something through marriage that has less to do with happiness and an equitable sharing of chores than it does with our hearts. Perhaps He will use our spouses and our marriage to transform us. Perhaps our marriage doesn’t need to be “fixed” so much as our pain needs to be felt and battled through together. Maybe we will learn the beauty of the Gospel in unexpected ways as we navigate daily disagreements and mundane worries and find a God who stands unchanging in the midst of it all.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Spring Break in Washington, D.C.

We spent last week in Washington, DC for Zack's spring break. Thankfully, my aunt and uncle live there, so we totally encroached on their space for the week and tried not to let our chaos overtake them too much. We were there for the most beautiful cherry blossoms, visited lots of museums and monuments, and ate plenty of delicious food. I'll try not to overload you with words for all the things we got to do and see while we were there. Just lots of pictures instead.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

The time I got featured on a famous blog . . .

Do y’all read my friend Kelly’s blog yet? Probably, since her darling laundry room was in Better Homes and Gardens magazine, and she’s practically famous at this point. But Kelly is totally my IRL friend (which means “in real life,” for those of you who aren’t a cool mom like me. It’s sorta my thing). Anyways, she really is just as charming and hilarious and talented in the flesh as she is on her blog. That’s why I was totally honored and excited when she asked if she could feature our house on her blog. Unfortunately, I didn’t quite have myself (or my home) together enough to send her pictures of more than just two rooms. Oops. So I thought I’d share a few little sneak peeks/vignettes etc from around our house (basically, just some corners and nooks that were clean enough for me to photograph). So if you’re here from Kelly’s blog . . . Welcome! I’m excited to have you pop in, and would love it if you’d like to stick around (subscribe even!)

We recently moved Caden out of Jayci's room, because oh-my-word-with-the-waking-each-other-up-all-night-long. That said, these next two are the inspiration/work-in-progress shots. Stay tuned for a reveal, since we will probably be done in another year or two. No one said we were on top of things around here.
And one quick one from the Capitol steps yesterday. Because, gah, I love my people.


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