W is for Watercolor

I tried out a tip from Pinterest for the letter W: diy watercolors. I'd noticed in our supply room that we had a huge bucket of markers just sitting in the corner, waiting to be thrown out. When it came time to plan for our "W" week, I was scrolling through Pinterest for ideas and came across Artopotamus' (via Apartment Therapy) idea to use dried out markers to make watercolors. We had the usual watercolor trays but as usual, the colors were all mixed together and there was more brown than anything else. So I grabbed a few handfuls of old markers, put them top-down in plastic cups filled with water, and let them sit for an hour.

By the time we were ready for our "W is for watercolor" page, the water had become really bright-- except for red, which I forgot to fill up, so it was more pink than red. Once dry, the colors were really pretty pastels. It worked so well that after the W page, I let them create another watercolor. But first I gave them white crayons and let them draw whatever they wanted on the page. Then we used the watercolors to bring out the "magic" drawing, which they thoroughly enjoyed. The kids had fun layering the colors and making oranges, greens, and purples. Surprisingly, no one ended up with an entirely brown picture!



A Long Time Comin'

I've been meaning to show y'all my "latest" (I'm using that term loosely) painting project for a while...actually, for about four months. I finished in early January.  Why thank you, I am good at procrastinating! It's an art, really.

I saw a painting done by Ashley at The Handmade Home and decided to recreate her sign:

She painted hers for a baby girl's nursery, but with some different colors it could really go anywhere. I used leftover wall paint (the tan from our dining room/foyer and the brown from our kitchen) for the chevron which made it very easy to wipe it away to get that aged look. The acrylic craft paint I used to write our name was somewhat harder to rub off-- I actually had to scrape it off since it dried so quickly.
(I apologize for the quality, but my phone actually captures the true color better than my camera. The front door is to the right, which explains the inconsistent lighting.)

The painting hangs in our foyer, directly across from the hallway to our bedrooms, so we see it every time we walk down the hall. I contemplated for a while over what to hang in that space because I didn't want to hang something I'd quickly get tired of seeing multiple times a day. So far I'm not sick of seeing it (and Deric hasn't said anything either) but you never know. If need be, I'll just have to switch things around. It's not like I have 144 ideas waiting for me on Pinterest or anything, and at my current pace of approximately four months per painting, I should finish somewhere around never. ;)


A Getaway

Thanks to some very generous friends of ours, Deric and I got a free night's stay on Friday at a hotel in Pigeon Forge. We've ventured out to PF/Gatlinburg plenty of times before but have never stayed the night. We chose TGI Friday's for dinner (solely for their dessert nachos, which apparently they don't serve anymore) and then crashed at the hotel and watched cable tv, a luxury for us. Saturday morning we ventured out for a quick run along the main drag and arrived back at the hotel just in time for waffles and omelets. After getting cleaned up, we drove to the Apple Barn Farmhouse, a local favorite and tourist hotspot, to reserve a table for ourselves and our two aforementioned-generous friends. If it seems like we went straight from breakfast to lunch, I can assure you we really didn't. A huge conference in town meant waiting at least an hour for a table, so my waffle was long gone by the time we ate those delicious apple fritters.
Our last stop before heading back home was the indoor ropes course at Wilderness at the Smokies. It was awesome- I felt like a kid again. It really put to shame all the ropes courses I've done at various church camps in past years. Once we wore ourselves out climbing and racing each other across tightropes, we made our way home. Although we were barely gone 24 hours, it was a perfect time for Deric and I to recharge and connect with each other, something that can easily get pushed aside during the daily grind. We're very thankful for a spontaneous weekend date!

1// Deric upon hearing they no longer serve dessert nachos 2// our substitute dessert, peanut butter cheesecake 3// a "scenic" run, mostly traffic and billboards 4// view from the hotel 5// the Apple Barn

1// my newest favorite picture of us-- its rare we're both genuinely smiling! 2// ropes course! 3// ice cream to tide us over on the way home


Picking & Choosing

Deric and I ventured to Atlanta this weekend with three of our middle schoolers to attend CIY Believe, a Christian conference designed specifically with middle schoolers in mind. And it was awesome. The trip was full of all the good things youth group trips should be: inside jokes, loud music in the van, too much fast food, a van that quickly starts to smell like stale fast food, late nights and early mornings, swimming in the hotel pool, middle school boys purposefully trying to skip showers, and of course, getting honest with one another and with God. We did the convention, the World of Coca-Cola, Stone Mountain Park for a laser show, and Passion City Church before heading home on Sunday afternoon.

As for the conference itself, it was an Indiana Jones-esque journey to discover where we got the Bible and how it evolved to the versions we have today. We traveled (via video) from Jerusalem to England and on to the United States, following the journey of the Hebrew scrolls into the English leather-bound Bibles we all have today. It was a perfect topic for middle schoolers who are just starting to explore the Bible independently, and a perfect refresher for a Bible college grad who may or may not have forgotten most of her freshman year Bible courses. I'm not sure what stuck out most to the kids, but I walked away with renewed motivation to really study God's Word and let it change my life...because it can, if I let it. I have to commit my time and study, mull things over, find answers to my questions, and ask God for His help in understanding what He says. And then I have to do what God says to do, which is the hardest part for me. I was baptized when I was twelve--twelve years ago--and I've gone those twelve years just picking and choosing which of Jesus' commands I wanted to follow. Thankfully, my eyes have recently been opened to the realization that picking and choosing doesn't count. Its all or nothing, in or out.
(Wondering what the bottom right picture is? The speaker had the kids write down a verse they could memorize on their food wrappers from lunch and bring it back to the session. An artist took some of the wrappers and made a painting to describe that while its important to feed our bodies, its also important to feed our heart/soul with God's word. Good visual, huh?)

"So because you are lukewarm--neither hot nor cold--I am about to spit you out of my mouth."
Revelation 3:16

Verses like that seem harsh to me. I want to shut my Bible when I read a verse about condemnation, judgment, hell, etc. and turn instead to the Psalms that praise God's mercy, grace, and love. But I've come to grips recently that both sides of God exist, and I should not pretend otherwise. I don't like to think about His judgment, but its there. And while I may not understand just how God works, I have to be okay with that. To me, its that same concept of picking and choosing-- just as I don't get to pick and choose the commands I obey, I don't get to pick and choose the attributes of God I believe in. It can be tough, but its worth it. He is equal parts judgment and grace, wrath and love.

(To some of you, this may remind you of a specific book...and yes, I did read Chan's Erasing Hell. And I read Bell's Love Wins before that. If you haven't read them, I urge you to read both. And while you read them, keep your Bible handy. And pray for discernment. Its a tough topic.)


Cooper River Bridge Run & the Beach!

The primary reason I went to Charleston a few weekends ago was to run with Sarah in the Cooper River Bridge Run, a 10k race that starts in Mt. Pleasant, crosses (you guessed it) a huge bridge, and finishes in downtown Charleston.

I signed up for the race about a month beforehand, at the end of February, so I knew from the get-go that I wasn't going to run the entire race. I know what you're thinking- mind over body, it's all mental, you can run it if you think you can run it. But I don't run races to beat my last time or anything like that. I run races to have fun and to give myself a reason to keep running each week. In order to run the entire Bridge Run, I'd have had to double the distance I'd been regularly running, and like I said before, I signed up for the race a month in advance. Doubling my distance in a month is not my idea of a good time and wouldn't have kept me motivated, so I didn't worry about it.

But anyways, on to the actual race. There were six of us running together(ish): Sarah, her three roommates, her roommates' friend and myself. Friday night we carbed up with a spaghetti dinner and then went to bed pretty early because (and this is the best part of the trip...sike) we woke up at 4:30 on Saturday morning. Left the house by 5 and were downtown near the starting line by 5:30. The race didn't start until 8:00 but they were closing off streets at 6:00, hence the incredibly early wake up call.

Fast forward three hours, numerous trips to port-a-potties and lots of cell phone pictures later, and we were approaching the starting line. Not the finish line, the starting line. 44,000 people running one race means we got grouped into corrals and walked one corral at a time to the starting line. At 9:30, we finally started our race.

Sarah's roommate Lesley and I ran together. We took it easy, taking pictures and talking about the crazy costumes people were wearing. I wish I'd gotten more pictures, but it was a little tough trying to run and take pictures. :) I did snap a picture of the runaway bride and best man, and of the firefighters running in full gear and with air tanks.

It was quite a hike up the bridge but the view was so worth it. And the breeze coming off the water was well worth it too.

Once we reached the top of the bridge, the rest of the race was easy. A mile downhill is much easier than a mile uphill, and then the adrenaline kicked in and carried me the rest of the way. I've gotta say, there is no better motivation to run fast than thousands of people watching on the side of the streets. :)

The race ended in a park located in downtown Charleston. After ten minutes or so of grabbing food and water and searching for the rest of our group, we finally found everyone and took some post-race, sweaty, you-don't-wanna-get-too-close-to-me pictures. Friends of ours from our hometown also ran the race, so we got to meet up with them as well.

Later that night, after a luxurious two-hour nap and a shower, we met up with our Virginia friends for dinner. I had to get shrimp and grits, being that we were definitely in the South. (This was my second time eating shrimp and grits-- the first time was also in Charleston, when we moved Sarah in for her freshman year.) Check out Lindsay's meal in the bottom left corner-- not "surf and turf", more of a "surf vs. turf". (I must give credit where it's due-- I didn't coin that phrase; Jez is the funny one.) The food was delicious, the company was wonderful, and all around it was a great day.

On Sunday after church, we finally, finally made it to the beach. I'd been waiting all weekend to get to the beach and after a long day on Saturday, I was craving time to just lay on the beach, relax, and read. We finished off Sunday with dinner and lots of conversation at a seafood restaurant, and I was able to drive home Monday morning very happy.

I'm thankful for Sarah's willingness to host me for a long weekend and play tour guide at the same time. Love you, Foo! Can't wait to be back in Charleston for graduation!


Five Miles in Flip-Flops

Charleston just may be my favorite city in the US. Sure, my hometown is great and I loved living there. And the mountains around Knoxville are gorgeous, especially in the fall. But Charleston...there is nothing prettier to me than brightly painted houses, overflowing window boxes, and cobblestone streets. Add an ocean breeze to the mix and I am in heaven.

I spent the first full day of my weekend visit to see Sarah wandering around downtown taking pictures, reading historical plaques, and breathing in that salty air that I've missed so much. It was a glorious afternoon even though my feet were killing me after five miles in flip-flops.

To be continued: Cooper River Bridge Run is up next!