Friday, December 31, 2010

BLOOM holiday update {and giveaway!}

many of you know that we have a non-profit - BLOOM project.  this is our little way of promoting orphan care and adoption in our community.  despite the craziness that the holidays and our impending move and sick babies has brought over the past month, my friend minette was still able to talk me into attempting our first holiday fundraiser.  boy, am i glad she did!  

we kicked off our alternative gift-giving  at a holiday party a few weeks ago.  but...the giving didn't stop there!  many folks continued this movement by spreading the word to friends and family, posting about it on their blogs, hosting events at schools and other venues.  what started as a simple idea raised nearly $2000 and resulted in the collection of even more items...all for the orphans we support in haiti and dr congo!!  one local elementary school class even made a personal contribution by writing letters to the orphans of haiti to share encouragement and love!

i wanted to make sure that i give a personal shout-out to our vendors who participated in this year's event...

::baubles and bags::
::heraldry clothing::
::wood by chuck::
::little joy company::
::madison lane photography::

with this much success the first year...we can't wait to see what next year holds!  

and speaking of next's almost here!!  we have gone crazy brainstorming ideas for growing BLOOM over the next 12 months...
what ideas do you have for supporting orphans worldwide through community events and outreach???  i will stick a starbucks giftcard in the mail to the best idea posted in the comments section of my blog (or the BLOOM blog).

Sunday, December 26, 2010

white christmas {almost}

our whole family was delighted when we woke up to the winter wonderland that surrounded our house this morning...
a few highlights from yesterday...
one last breathing treatment for mr. o - ain't no rsv spoiling his christmas fun!
he had places to go on his new supercool scoot-n-zoom
the doodlebug woke up yelling 'JESUS!' and could hardly wait for our birthday party celebration...
...when we opened the last gift under the tree and found the baby inside...
...our nativity {and our christmas} was complete...

christmas blessings all year long from our family to yours...

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

the toddler chef cooks::christmas cookies

these are seriously the easiest christmas cookies ever.  they are actually a variation of a halloween cookie that my sister-in-law made using candy corn instead of marshmallows.  making them was just what lucy and i needed to really get the christmas spirit flowing around our moving box-filled home.
step-by-step from the toddler chef herself...
get some candy cane kisses {we also used 'hugs' because i can't resist their deliciousness}...
line {or, if you're 2 - 'scatter'} a baking sheet with the square 'snaps' pretzels...
this is the tedious part...unwrap the kisses and place them on top of the pretzels
stick them in the oven {300 degrees} for 2-3 minutes...just long enough for the kisses to get soft.  remove and gently press marshmallows on top of each one.  put them in the fridge for 10-15 minutes to let them set up {this was the hardest part...waiting...}.  then - as lucy would say, 'ta daaaaaa!' yummy salty/sweet goodness! 
and if baking these doesn't get you in the holiday spirit you can always dress up like a reindeer...

Saturday, December 18, 2010

our house on the {snowy} hill

joey and i spent a few chilly days in tennessee this week.  we are now the very grateful owners of this pretty little snow-covered home...
everyone keeps telling us that it's REALLY not usually THIS cold in the tri-cities this time of year.  i guess we'll find out if they are telling the truth.  just looking back at some of the pics i took makes me shiver...
these were taken at the eureka inn in jonesborough.  we learned that this is the oldest town in tennessee and apparently the inn is about as old as the town - which would explain why we had NO HEAT...seriously...thank goodness we booked the room with the fireplace!  beautiful, quaint little town.  i can't wait to check out the local charm a little more once the weather warms up this spring.  i have a feeling the kids and i will find some fun things to do here.
soo...the countdown is on...3 weeks to move-in.
but first...a little thing called CHRISTMAS.  we are committed to stepping out of 'moving mode' this week so that we can fully observe this most joyous of seasons with our little ones.  we have a birthday party for jesus to plan, decorations that still need to be displayed, cookies, crafts, and much more ahead of us.  reports on all of these festive events to come!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

fashion on the farm...

{note: regular ole southern girl + video shoot = not the most professional thing you've ever seen...thank goodness they guy behind the camera IS a professional!}

we recently had a little out-of-the-ordinary excitement on the farm. my friend and very talented video guru, grant haun, captured a little bit for y'all...check it out...

Saturday, December 11, 2010

make new friends, but keep the old... is silver, and the other gold.  i wasn't a girl scout very long but i do remember that song from our meetings and camp outs.  it sort of haunts me.  

i've never been very good at the second part.  making new friends...easy...piece of cake...i love meeting new people and getting to know them beyond a shallow conversation.  keeping the old ones...that's another story.

the handful of friends that i have maintained long distance {and long time} relationships with have extended me a tremendous amount of grace.  my friend meg and i joke that we are best friends because we are the lowest maintenance people that we know.  
i'm terrible at returning phone calls.  my email inbox is so junked up that i frequently miss a message or forget to reply.  i write letters and then can't find the address or a stamp so the note sits on my countertop {under piles of other stuff} until i find it months later and decide that it's too late to mail it.

the truth is - my behavior is not in any way a reflection of how much i care about my friends.  i actually believe that i am one of the most fortunate gals in the world when it comes to friendship.  i have dozens of precious people that love me like they are family {and i feel the same about them...even if i don't always show it}.
now that i am about to leave a whole bunch of precious friends behind in charlotte, as we move to johnson city...i find myself with a strong desire to stay connected to these people whom i have shared laughter, tears, and life with over the past 5 years.  they are part of my story.  an important part.  i wouldn't be who i am today without them.  

a couple of weeks ago i had the rare opportunity to see my dear friend kimberly {whom i have known and loved for 15 years} and her brood.  we now have 5 kiddos between the 2 of us.  here we are...
our visit was literally a whirlwind 60 minutes in between thanksgiving travels and football games.  it was definitely 'squeezed' in but so totally worth it.  when you have a friend that is this close you don't have to waste time with the typical pleasantries at the beginning of the jump right in to the good stuff and just soak in the opportunity to be in the familiar presence of someone who knows you so well.
a lot has changed for me and kimberly over the past 15 years.  here we are just 2 1/2 years ago...
...this was when we were 'living' with her family for 2 weeks after lucy's adoption {that's another story...}
i love comparing the pics of our kids then...
{lucy - only a few days old - and cecilia - 4 years old}

and now...
{big girls - 2 1/2 and 7 today...happy b-day cecilia!}

when i reflect back on our times together and that one sweet hour of reconnecting last's way more precious than gold.  

here's to old friends...

Sunday, December 5, 2010

BIG NEWS: the wild frontier

i recently learned that, despite what the song says, davy crockett was not born on a mountaintop in tennessee.  he was born on the banks of limestone creek.  and right up the road from limestone creek in eastern tennessee is a town called johnson city...

we are moving there

i read a quote from davy crockett in which he described himself as 'fresh from the backwoods, half-horse, half-alligator, a little touched with the snapping turtle; can wade the Mississippi, leap the Ohio, ride upon a streak of lightning, and slip without a scratch down a honey locust tree.'  hmmmm...that's someone i think i might like to meet.  
we have all more commonly heard crockett simply called 'king of the wild frontier'.

i looked up 'frontier' {yes - my fascination with words continues}.  here's one way it is defined...
::the extreme limit of understanding or achievement in a particular area::

i like new frontiers.  i appreciate opportunities to be pushed to the limit in knowledge and understanding.  it's the pioneer spirit at work again.

i'm summoning all of that positive energy around pioneering and exploring new frontiers as our family begins to do just that.  because...the truth is...this is really hard.

if i am completely honest - i wasn't planning on moving.  i love our little home in the country.  i love the friends and family that surround us.  i love my job.  i love my daughter's precious school.  i love my church home.  i love the comfortable community that we have established here.

but i love the lord more than all of that.  i love walking in his will and following where he leads.  why?  because in my experience...his plans for my life always turn out better than the plans i had in mind.

there are times in life that God answers a prayer in a way that is completely unexpected yet makes complete sense.  
this is one of those times.  

over only a month's time door after door has flung open to provide an opportunity for joey to begin a coaching career under one of the most well-respected coaches in all of college golf.  and more importantly, for him to step into a role that he is passionate about and completely equipped for.  this is life giving.  and our entire family feels like we have been lifted up and placed smack dab in the most incredibly peaceful and joyful place.  that's why i believe this is a divine appointment.  we could never come up with something this good on our own.

am i sad?  yes.  am i fearful?  a little.  
but i can say with confidence that i step out willingly and with great anticipation about what this adventure will hold for my husband and for our family.

so i'll put a coon skin hat on my head, hop into our covered wagon {a.k.a. the minivan}, and hit the road to tennessee to see where this next chapter of the story leads...
hope you'll join us for the bumpy ride...

Friday, December 3, 2010

a very clemson thanksgiving

{WARNING: this post may contain lots of pictures of people you don't know...but i'm sure they'd love to meet you}
this is my mom and her 3 sisters...
my grandaddy was a coach at clemson.  he always said that he spent plenty of time around boys so it was nice to come home to a house full of girls.  

whenever my mom's family gets together it is a 'lively' occasion to say the least.  this thanksgiving was no exception.  as a little girl {and the eldest grandchild} i always loved sitting in my grandparents' kitchen with the buzz of my grandmother and her 4 girls surrounding me.  it definitely was NOT a quiet house.  everyone was quick to talk over one another.  quick to laugh.  quick to offer you more to eat {and accuse you of 'reducing' if you refused}.  i think i loved my grandparents' house in clemson because it was so 'alive' and i never felt lonely there.
as i said...there is lots of laughter when my family gets together.  you can be sure that we were all busting a gut when my aunt was trying to figure out how to use my camera and couldn't get it out of 'timer' mode.  this was supposed to be a shot of me with some of my cousins...
...nice centerpiece.
this was the best of the 10 that she took... least nobody's head is cut off.

in addition to thanksgiving, our family also celebrated clemson/carolina weekend together.  the result was not favorable for our tigers so i won't waste any time discussing the game.  the important thing is...we all got together to do what we do on most game weekends...
get decked out in purple and orange... lots of food...
...and display our competitive spirits.  
and this year - competition was taken to a whole new level...

introducing the mcfadden sisters' marathon corn hole match...
...don't be fooled...this is not just fun and games...
...this is an intense battle...
...i love these people...

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


this is a post that i have been meaning to write for months now!
if you live in the charlotte area or ever visit this area you MUST check out one of our favorite little getaway spots!  right up the road from our farm is a beautiful place called kilburnie.  as you wind down the country road and approach craig farm you will immediately be captivated.  the first time i saw it i wanted to hop out of my car, roll around on the thick carpet of perfectly manicured grass, run down the flower lined trails into the woods and retreat there for a week (or until someone came looking for me).  i still think i might try that.

joey and i spent a couple of days at kilburnie - the inn at craig farm - this past august and i have been dreaming about going back ever since.  we've visited a lot of bed and breakfasts all over the country but this is one of my very favorites.

our host - johannes - the gracious innkeeper at kilburnie - was delightful.  in my opinion he maintained the perfect balance of being attentive and friendly while also giving us privacy and a chance to truly get away from our regular hurried lives.

the history at kilburnie is rich and johannes can share some amazing stories with you (and also cook up a really mean southern breakfast...yum!).  if you ask 'pretty please' he will also load you on the golf cart and take you on a tour of the entire property and even let you sneak a peek of his own beautiful place across the road...a gorgeous home that is the perfect marriage of old south country charm and big city glamour (he used to be a high profile chef in new york city!).

if you need rest for your soul in a setting that truly inspires visit kilburnie...and let me know what you love about it!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

front row seat

as i was driving into work this morning i heard a question posed on the radio station i was listening to:
'parents are often proud of their kids.  but what makes you proud of your parents?'

i was fascinated as i listened to call after call of folks who shared stories of the ways that they had witnessed their parents overcoming struggles in their lives that ultimately led to redemption and restoration.  i could hear and feel God's glory revealed in these stories...many of which were told through tears.  stories of failed marriages, lost jobs, terminal illnesses...

this is what made children proud of their parents...
the authentic demonstration of God's transforming power in their less than perfect life.  
the admonition that they are weak and He is strong.  wow...fascinating...

it reminded me of a great book i've been reading -
Parenting Beyond Your Capacity: Connect Your Family to a Wider Community (The Orange Series)

in this book one of the authors, reggie joinier, says this:"God is at work telling a story of restoration and redemption through your family. No matter what your family looks like or how limited your capacity might be, you can cooperate with whatever God desires to do in your heart so your children will have a front-row seat to the grace and goodness of God."

last week was a tough week for me as a mom.  i was home alone with the kids and we were all SICK.  we are also going through a lot of transitions as a family right now and that puts added stress on everyone.  

i've gotten in the habit of stopping in the midst of the craziness of a day and getting down on my knees and asking God for help.  even if everyone around me is crying.  even if there is something boiling over on the stove.  even if one of my children is covered in food from head to toe.  i stop, i get on my knees, and i start praying out loud for peace or for patience or for  understanding...really just pleading with God that my weakness would be replaced with his strength...and RIGHT NOW please.  

i think my kids sometimes think in crazy.  especially on weeks like these when i am trying to get the words out in the midst of sobbing.  
my 2 year old comes over and stands in front of me saying - 'mommy - you sad?'.  'yes,baby, i'm sad but i'm asking God for help.'  
i don't know exactly what is going through her little mind.  
sometimes she hugs me.  sometimes she proceeds to throw another temper tantrum.  sometimes she breaks out into 'God our Father' {this is my favorite}.  
whatever is going through her mind i hope that she really is getting a front row seat to God's transformation of my far-from-perfect life.  i hope what she sees doesn't just make her proud one day but I hope that it makes her BELIEVE that our savior can transform her life just as she has seen him transform mine.

{for more parenting wisdom from reggie joiner and the rethink group visit one of my favorite sites - orange parents}

Sunday, November 14, 2010

today i showered

today i showered.
today i have spent more time out of the bed than in the bed.
today i consumed something besides grilled cheese, soup, and sprite.

these feats are actually monumental considering i did none of them yesterday...or the day before...
i don't like being sick.  i especially don't like being sick when joey is out of town.  and i have discovered that i downright hate being sick while joey is out of town and my kids are sick too.  it's enough to make you go crazy.

you always hear that cliche - 'God won't give you more than you can handle.'  over the past few days i think i might have slapped anyone who said that to me {of course i would have felt terrible about it afterwards}.

thankfully God does know my limits and he did bring my husband back home to me before the real highlight of the week happened...
i wish i had pictures to show you because words certainly will not suffice.  but the truth is - i never even thought about a camera because it took every bit of energy in my weary body to drag myself out of bed at 7am friday morning and up the stairs where joey handed me my precious 2 year old daughter whom i proceeded to strip down, stand in the shower, and begin scrubbing.  apparently she has really gotten into that finger painting they have been doing at preschool so, being a resourceful little booger, she used the contents of her diaper to paint all over herself and her bed and her wall and her i said...i wish i had pictures.
this was a two man job - me cleaning the child, joey cleaning the room - as terribly sick as i felt doing my part i just kept saying...thank you God that joey is home.  honestly, friends, you would not be reading this blog post or another other one in the near future if i had been up all night with my croupy baby while nursing my own strep throat and then waking up to a poop explosion that i was responsible for cleaning up all by myself...they would have had to commit me...

that day i decided i didn't want any more children.  today we are all feeling better and there hasn't been any disgusting incident, so i've changed my mind...for now...

Sunday, November 7, 2010

the gift of an hour

today will be a busy day.  when you work at a church you find your sabbath on other days...not sundays.  
there is a lot of work to be done on sundays.  
in addition to my regular preschool ministry duties i am also taking some time today to meet with parents who will be dedicating their children at a special service next week {i love supporting parents as they begin the journey of teaching their kids to know and love jesus}.  
i am teaching at our student ministry gathering tonight {let's see how this resident preschool expert handles a room full of teenagers...yikes}.  
and finally, i am helping new charlotte observe orphan sunday along with hundreds of other churches around the world {i think you know my heart on this one!}.

as i was getting ready for bed last night i thought of all the responsibilities ahead of me today and i began to feel overwhelmed.  all of these areas of ministry are important to me but i started to question if i could handle all of these responsibilities on one single day.  {not to mention my kids and husband are not granting me a vacation day from my duties as mom and wife}  

God reminded me of the verse i am teaching our preschoolers this month - 
'my God will meet all your needs' -philippians 4:19

and he did something else...he gave me an extra hour!  what?!?!  you got one too?!?!  wow...isn't that awesome?  for a few brief moments this morning i am showered and ready and able to spend time in prayer and preparation for my day.  {thankfully when he granted me this extra hour he didn't tell my kids...they are still snoozing...}

this morning i prayed for my hurried heart...that it would slow down and be filled with his peace.
for the families that i serve alongside at new charlotte...that they would experience his strength in their weakness as parents and spouses.
for the fatherless around the world {and in particular the ones whose faces i just saw and touched in haiti last month}...that they would feel our Father's love for them today.
for rachel and the haitian mommies and all the other precious people who serve the orphans of haiti...that their spirits would be renewed and their lives blessed beyond measure. hour has come and gone...the kids are calling {mommy - i all done with my nap!  i stay all dry for my nap!}  
it's amazing what an extra 60 minutes can do for your soul...
how will you spend your hour today?

Sunday, October 31, 2010

tinkerbell and captain hook

for most of the evening the fairy wings were hanging sideways off of her shoulders and the aluminum foil 'hook' served as a teething toy, but it was a successful halloween nonetheless!  these are the days when having kids provides you with enough joy and excitement to get you through all the meltdowns, 1AM wake-up calls, poop incidents, and vicious sibling rivalries that you know will inevitably come.  you guys have no idea how much i love these little people {well...if you have your own kids maybe you have a slight idea}

   happy halloween y'all!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

now what?

for some more thoughts about BLOOM:haiti click on the picture below...

Friday, October 8, 2010


for 'family friday' we took the kids to the pumpkin patch to pick out pumpkins...

...but i'm afraid there was more nose picking than pumpkin picking...

{you just can't pose a shot like this!}

oh well...we still had fun...
and even got a family portrait 
{seriously...look closely...we're all in there...}