Thursday, December 29, 2011

We Are Grafted In

Thank you to for posting my recent blogpost "The Beauty" . This site is pretty challenging ......through a Christian worldview, it encourages and supports adoption and orphan care through different author postings, forums, etc.

Even though we are not in the process of adopting, this was a great opportunity to give a shout out once again to a ministry that lives in my heart - Sixty Feet. Visit either of these websites and you'll be challenged to do more for Christ's Kingdom. Promise.

* Also, as a side note, many might notice a change of % in the contributions made toward Sixty Feet. That is just my way to simplify things a bit. Figuring out exact profit per piece is tricky. You factor in furniture cost, paint, materials, etc. then add in the cost of my booth space rental, then save a little $ for future purchases, then finding profit = headache! So I decided to simply say 25% of each furniture sale, not the profit, will benefit Sixty Feet. I can handle that calculation. Much simpler.....

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Christmas at 7 and 3....

I have to say, this probably was one of my favorite Christmas mornings. The girls are just at that great age....the age where everything is magical and going to bed on Christmas Eve is next to impossible. And Sophie was just the cutest bunches of oats once she finally figured out what was going on!

Grace's Hallway Run...

Sophie's Hallway Run...
Santa visited. This year there was no "big gift". We wondered how the girls would respond, and as always, it turned out to be something that us 'ol folks worried about for no reason. Coloring books, some clothes, a game or two.....all were a hit.

That microphone produces some of the most annoying sounds ever, but hilarious they are!

I hope your Christmas was full of wonderful memories, as well. Happy Holidays!!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Grace's First Hunting Trip

So my sweet hubs and his dad took their annual trip hunting wayyy down in South Texas. But this time, they inducted Grace. I don't know about you, but these pictures show how much she enjoyed the trip.

A little reading on the long drive...

They didn't shoot anything - saw bunches, but not "the one".

My hubs says "Sonora gives you what you need". Apparently, Gracie needed rest.

I'm so glad she had the opportunity to see the bigness of God's artwork right before Christmas........

Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Friday, December 16, 2011

Dresser Before & After.....

Not the best pictures sweet hubs had to load it up quick to take to Winnie's. I think it turned out quite nice! A little coat of ASCP duck egg blue and some distress. Much improved!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

I Got My Brush On...

It's been close to two months since I've pulled out the paintbrush. That seems like a long hiatus to me. With football season dusting off the "football widow" sign on my forehead every September and sluggish sales at my booth thanks to a lack of, well, effort on my part.........thankfully, these past few weeks have perked up the sales and my empty booth ushered in the need to get my brush on!

This bad boy has been just waiting to get distressed and fabulous.....

Unfortunatly, drying time is a lot longer thanks to our colder no after pics yet. But on the positive side, ASCP works even better in lower temperatures (slower drying time = more time to smooth out the lines). Guess I'll have to learn to enjoy painting with my gloves and scarf....

Monday, December 5, 2011

The Beauty....

"Mommy, do they have stickers in Africa?" my Grace asked.
"Um.....I didn't see any. I'm sure they do though."
After some thought, she continues, "It's got to hurt those kids...walking on their bare feet like they do...."

I smile weakly and think, I'm sure it does.

I received an email this week from a young man I came to know while in Uganda. We met briefly at the M's (the children's prison). He spoke English. He was 18. His name was Kiyemba Walter Trevor....I spoke with him for just a moment, and after a short introduction, he was already a kindred spirit.....warning me of some boys who were talking about stealing my things....telling me about his school and love for art and drawing (kindred spirit indeed!).....describing how he came to live for the past two weeks in this one room prison with 30 other boys.....and when I gave him my bible, he cried that it was the 'best day of his life'.

There was so much beauty in that moment. Beauty I'll never be able to describe. It didn't come from me, or even him necessarily. It came from being directly, immediately, in the stark center of God's will. Doing exactly what He purposed me to do....using these inexperienced hands to fulfill a prayer from Walter who had prayed just days earlier for a bible of his own.

I miss that. In the days of this Christmas season, I find that there is nothing I'd rather think about or talk about or read about, than that very subject. Trying to figure out how to be brave. Bold. The Matthew 16:25 kind of bold....."for whoever tries to save his life shall lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it."

The ability to lose your life, but find it. The Beauty of being in His fullness.

Grace asked that question because she knows it has been on my mind. She, in her own way, is trying to bond with me, figure me out, share an experience with me - it's sweet. I hope this Christmas, she'll understand why mommy kind of gets quiet everynow and then.

Beauty in Pictures....

The Source of the Nile (the very beginning of this beautiful river)

Preparing Our Meal - no granite, no fancy cookware, but look at her smile.


Sunday, November 27, 2011

Twice is a Tradition!

Last year, we cut down our first real Christmas tree. I didn't know it then, but we were starting a tradition. We loved it. It's a shedless, allergy free tree (Leland Cypress) that makes my hyper-sweeping side happy.....and it's au'natural.......a side of life that I'm starting to like a bit more these days.

I also like seeing my cute hubs' handiwork with a saw....

Dragging our tree.....

Our Christmas Cuties....

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Football Season = Sad Booth....

I hadn't paid attention to my booth all football season. With daddy gone coachin', momma didn't go junkin'. Sales creative muses were taking a seasonal nap......I was facing the decision of could I, should I, try and keep this up?

So. With the final loss of our football team Friday night (dare I place a happy face ?... : ) ....I dareth), my reinforcement came, and I went straight to Winnie & Tulula's and did my best to Christmas it up with the few items I had in storage.

I know alot more now about how football season will affect my ability to go and do for this 'bidness. Maybe I can sustain myself better next year.....

One great bit of news though - $900 has been donated so far (whether through sales or painting services) to the organizations of Amazima and Sixty Feet. That's a holiday cheer right there!

30 % off all furniture, now through the holidays!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Christmas Two-fers

I think every year I - we - struggle with the mindless spending and consumption during Christmas. Don't get me wrong - I love the holidays. I love the smells, the food, the lights, the music.....the way my girls get excited that they get to watch their Christmas movies (we put them up Jan.1 and they aren't allowed back out until Thanksgiving!).

But now, especially after Africa, and even more after truly pondering this thing we've made Christmas into.....well, you know the story. I always have this image of Jesus walking into one of the White Elephants we all have and knocking over a table with fury. Bloggerville is blowin' up with mommy's blogging about this very subject.


I thought I'd share how we plan to attack the materialism this year. We're gonna just do it.

Yes. I said "just do it". And by that, I mean, materialism with a meaning. Most of our adult gifts will be in the form of a Christmas two-fer. There's adorable, adorable tees out there that either directly support a mission we believe in or promote awareness of it. At around $25 bucks each, 1) we can't think of anyone in our family who wouldn't love to sport one of these fresh tees and 2) it's a gift with double meaning and purpose.

Here's a few examples: (If you buy one of these, you are also registered for a free mission trip like the one to Uganda that we went on this summer!)
These baseball tees are so cute and my niece already has one and loves it!

Another example of a cool guy's tee.....

and of course there's the fabulous

I wasn't able to save a shot of their tee, but you can see my post about it here.

I realize with this post I gave away ALL the element of surprise for my family....but it was worth it if means one extra tee is bought this Christmas!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Top Dawg Reader....

Gotta give kudos to my Grace (the lone gal in the middle) at her 2nd grade award ceremony, she won the "Top Dawg Reader" award. 5 students were chosen out of the entire grade. I'm a proud momma.......really proud.

We're knee-deep in the middle of her first real school project - her life timeline. I must say, doing these together makes me really sad for those little ones who's parents aren't involved much. As a teacher, and seeing some of the school projects I've seen, I just have a soft spot in my heart for the kids that make it work despite their environment.

Blessed abundantly.....for sure. Great job, Gracie!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Spicy Chicken Taco Soup

It's been a while since I've posted a recipe, but this one I threw together.....a literal dump in the crock pot and let 'er rip......and it turned out so yummy! Beware - it's a tad spicy...that rotel does it all the time. Pair with cheddar and chips, and you gotta cold weather meal!

1 can chicken broth

1 can beef broth
1 can mexican stewed tomatoes

1 can mild rotel

1 can pinto beans

1 can corn

1 pkg. taco seasoning

1 pkg. ranch dressing seasoning

4-5 chicken breasts ( I don't even thaw mine...I put them in frozen) for about 4 hours on high shred the chicken when cooked and return to stew.


Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Blown Away!

I kinda am!.....Blown away, I mean. That last post about finances triggered more emails and wonderful email convos than I ever, ever would have thought. So many people were open and wonderfully honest about their situations....their habits....and were obviously excited about the steps they had already taken, and were about to take, to get back on track financially.

It IS all God's. He wants us to use any blessing He gives us (our health, our children, our very breath) to glorify Him......easy enough said, harder to be done. I tell you, that sneaky, sneaky green "money" issue is one of the hardest blessings to ever relinquish fully as His. To this very day, I like to think of it as mine. I earned it...what can I do with it that would make me "happy"? That really has been my thought process in the first two decades of my life. Thankfully, God....Africa....friends......have slowly started renewing my mind as to how can we, as a family, can use His money in a way that glorifies Him. Quit being wasteful ......start figuring out ways we can help those that are close to His heart....widows, orphans, the needy.....the least of these.

I'm not anywhere close to where I want to be in that endeavor. We're just starting down this road, and could use some guidance of our own. But getting a balanced budget, to ease minds and marriages, which frees up more room for thought on how to use His money's just a win/win.

Budget helpers!

Cheap forms of entertainment - a $30 garage sale ping pong table!
Thanks for your comments and honesty!!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Goin' Green - Financially

If I could say that my husband and I have an area of our marriage where we've been through the ringer and back, it would be in the area of finances. We've done it all - the good, the bad, and the ugly. I'm so open about this area now to anyone who wishes to 'talk shop' because, well, I feel like wherever you are - we've been. I wish I could tell the whole's a good one. But the gist is.....

We've had plenty. We've been lean. We've had just enough. We've had not enough. And we've survived with our marriage intact (and even a few battle scars). In the past five years, my hubs and I have "Dave Ramsey'd" ourselves debt free (except mortgage) and it felt good. Unbelievably good. Since then, we've loosened a little with extreme "budgets", but the motivation for simplicity stuck.

Then came Africa. I came back to my remodeled home and Lexus SUV.....and I just felt stupid. Then came budget cuts from our schools. We both are teachers, so take every healthcare hike and teacher salary freeze and multiply it times two - not fun. Then comes ballet lessons, food cost increasing, rising gas prices.....whew! We both realized we needed to get in "Dave" mode again before we were right back to where we used to be.

My point is......whatever you gotta do to get your budget in order - you just gotta do it. I know so many people who are struggling financially, and as someone who's 'been there' I say - swallow your pride and just do it. Whatever needs to be done, sold, taken on, etc. - just do it.

Five years ago, to get Dave Ramsey debt free, my hubs and I sold our nice (expensive) house and two nice Tahoes and bought a tiny 1200 sq.ft home and two cars that cost less than $8,ooo combined. We drove those stinkers until they nearly fell apart, but we got debt free in the process and never felt smarter. It did hurt and we were embarrassed at first.....but only for a little while. We just felt smarter the less 'out of debt' we got.

Fast forward five years..... a medium sized affordable home and two used (but paid for) larger cars. Better, but still not 'green' on the gas budget. Africa helped me let go of any attachment to my "Lex" so, a few days ago, we went to one dealership and traded in both our guzzlers for greener cars. No financing, just a sign on the line deal. Once again - we feel smart. A little snug, but smart. ; )

$35 fill ups rock.

This really isn't a 'pat us on our back' post. I hope it doesn't come off that way. What I do know, is that there are 150+ readers out there (some of who may be newly married, in financial trouble, about to have kids, etc.) and maybe, just maybe, this post might encourage some to 'go green' financially in their own way.

Marriage is hard enough. Money stress only magnifies it. If you are out there and any of this sounds familiar, email me. We have an excel file that we've crafted over the years and it really helps when it comes to planning your month.

Again - just a helpful post today. None of this is eternal anyway....

Thursday, October 27, 2011

If You Have a Daughter...

.....then I highly recommend this book - "Women of the Bible" by Spangler/Syswerda. About a year ago, my 7 year old and I started this book together. Now, we are on our last few women, and I look back and realize what a blessing it has been - for both of us.

We read one woman at a time and discuss so many different things....what a vocabulary word meant (it's not designed for children, so I have to stop and discuss quite often!).....why many women in the Bible make bad decisions.....what Godly quality some women possess.....and it's been a refresher course for me, too.

I absolutely am challenged by the widow of Zaraphath - what rational mind would give away their last meal before death by poverty & starvation to a complete stranger? Unbelievable faith and the absolute mark of true obedience.

The widow with two coins. Again - a woman in utter poverty giving all she had out of obedience and faith - giving sacrificially, not just giving a sliver out of abundance.

And Dorcas, (yes, I, too, laughed along with Grace when I introduced that night's reading subject ; ) - a woman who lived a life for Christ. Doing the practical, helpful things she could while here on earth, until she one day would be with the Lord she served.

Obedient, sacrificial living....... shared with my first daughter.

Monday, October 24, 2011

I Hate to Say This....

....but sometimes you gotta know when to hold 'em, and know when to fold 'em (Kenny Rogers, you were so right!).

I overestimated myself.

Having the "hobby" of furniture refinishing is one thing. Taking on being a dealer at Winnie & Tulula' wonderful as it another. I'm sinking......sinking fast. 6 months ago, the spring was dwindling into summer. Free time galore for me. Lots of time to pick interesting items and refinish oodles of furniture....all was sold quickly (sometimes too quick!)....but I had the time to replenish.

I always wondered how I would do when "real school" began. Well, it's begun....and I've stunk. I haven't had time to refinish anything, much less shop for the interesting items to fill my space. My "presence" at my booth has been lackluster. I'm sad about it, but it also has helped me think deeper about the purpose of "Goin' with the Flo".

I haven't made any final decisions yet, but I know this....."Goin' with the Flo" began with humble aspirations of selling just one piece. It then transcended from selling that one piece to several pieces....then I had over 100 followers encouraging each piece finished. I love that. I don't want to quit that. But I do want to find the best way that I can do what I do, with the time that I have, with the capacity of the many roles I play (wife, mother, teacher) - and do it well.

These two precious pumpkins deserve that.

We'll see what comes of all this "thinkin".......

Friday, October 14, 2011

"My American Mother"

It's 5:15 am in Uganda. It's 9:30 pm here. Right about now, the Muslim call to worship would be sounding over the town speakers.....the roosters would be crowing.....a baby would be crying in one of the nearby slum villages. My friend, Emmanuel, just 15, would be waking in his children's home - the only home he's known. He would start his morning prayer and then get ready to ride in the back of an open truck to his school.

I know this because I saw it. I heard it. And from what my friend Emmanuel says, it's what he does everyday.....and has done everyday....since he came to live at Canaan Children's Home.

"Kisses from Katie" has stirred my mind. It's brought back the severe memories of poverty. Of dirt floored homes and babies with distended bellies. Of bare feet and fevered malaria. It also has brought to mind the beautiful smiles and gorgeous worship. Of reliance on God. Of the rawness that comes with no distractions.

It also has brought to mind "help the one in front of you." - which is Katie's motto, if you will.

Lately, I've messaged back and forth on, yes, Facebook, with Emmanuel a few, short times. I have NO idea how he found me, but he did. I have no idea how he has access to FB, but he does. And I have NO idea why he chooses to say things like, "God bless you" and "I am great you are my American mother thanks". (Bless me???) He's an amazing kid.....

I've also been thinking alot about Charlie. A baby boy at an American orphanage in Uganda. He's in the video below (in the yellow diaper and shoes!). A doll. I couldn't stand to leave him that day. I remember peeking into the window of the home, for one last look at him, before we left.....

I am longing to find the answers to my thoughts. They never end. Especially on weeks like this one, where, try my best, teaching just gets harder and harder. Not because of the kiddos, but because of the true lack of good parenting going on in our country. I'm not sure which is better - to be orphaned or to be raised in complete homelife disarray.

.......answers to the thoughts, please? I need to dive in the Word.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Red Dirt

I'm one chapter into this book by Katie Davis of Amazima Ministries and I'm spent. If any of you don't know, this young woman at the age of 18, took a trip to Uganda and it overhauled her life as she knew it. She now lives there permanently, with 14 adopted children of her own, and runs a feeding program that feeds thousands daily and sends hundreds to school.

I saw her while I was in Uganda. I was at the local internet cafe in Jinja.....taking an hour break from playing with children (much needed), and all the sudden, in she walks with one of her daughters. Fresh off a run (here I was scared to walk the streets and she was out for a jog...shame on me), she came in to visit some friends. Not wanting attention, she didn't stay long. I don't blame her. I was a little starstruck....

I watched as she got into her white, 16 passenger van and drove off like it was nothing. Not afraid of the crazy traffic. At ease in this country where I was so not-at-ease.....and then later, when we visited her feeding program. It seemed so simple.

Her book has already hit me with lines like,
"I am living in the midst of uncertainty and risk....because I am running from things that can destroy my soul: complacency, comfort and ignorance."
"My heart found its joy as I served the beautiful people the world calls 'poor' but who seemed so rich in love to me."
Already, as she reflects on her love for the 'red dirt' of Africa, I think about the red dirt that is still packed into the bottom of my shoes that I took. The red dirt of a place that I know little about, but forever impacted my heart. Will I walk the red dirt again.....this year? Next?
I don't know. But I do know God's call on Katie's life isn't too different from the call on help and serve "the least of these".

Monday, October 3, 2011

This Is Fall ....

My favorite season.

My Sweet Girls Outside (not saying, "It's hhhooootttt.")

Decorating Their Pumkins.

The Friendly Scarecrow.

I love this time.

Design by Deluxe Designs