Summer Review: House Projects

This summer has been incredibly productive. We are in our first house, and the first rental that we can actually paint. I’m not sure how long we’ll be in this house–hopefully for a few years after the work we’ve put into it–but I really wanted to make it our own while we’re here.

Thus, our summer of projects began. Lucy was originally going to go to a two-week board and train program in the middle of June, so we were scheduling paint time during that time frame. Then she ate a bottle of Tylenol and the vet said we should keep her home for another month to monitor her. Great.

So we re-planned paint time for mid-July and invited my parents to help us (or begged… the details are fuzzy), and a week before she was to go to training, the vet said that actually… we need to spay her now. Her training time was put off for another three weeks. The night I called to reschedule her training AGAIN, I heard JD singing, “They tried to make me go to training, but I said no, no, no.” My parents still came to help paint and brought their pups, and we made do with three dogs wandering around.

Look at our colors!

IMG_1422Office with sofa bed (second guest room)

IMG_1423Our bedroom

IMG_1421Living Room


My dad also helped us collect supplies and strategize to make this shelf. We put it up a few weeks later!


Over the summer, I collected a few extra books–some from Half Price, some from B&N, some from Goodwill, some from a warehouse. But we had zero bookshelves working for us. ZERO.

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Then my brother sent his new-ish bed down to us because he was moving into a furnished apartment, and so I gained two shelves for my immediate to-read books. Check.


Along with the bed, my dad sent some pieces of an old Container Store bookshelf to help with our [good] problem, and with some help from Hyunjin, our end-of-summer guest, we put it together. Now about half of our books have somewhere to rest.


We put our old bed in the guest room, carted out the stockpile of knowledge, and set up a retreat for future guests.

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Along with the guest room, we put together our guest bathroom, and my final project was to convert an old pallet I found at school into a decorative shelf.

With some wood stain and leftover paint from the kitchen, it was pretty easy to transform it. We added an old shelf we had used in our first apartment to create a continuous surface in the middle to put bathroom essentials.


This summer has housed friends and family, leisured with a good book followed by a nap, and nested our house with paint and projects. I’m sad to see it go, but I’m grateful it was so full.


Communion Thoughts: A Community of the Spirit

This morning, JD and I had the honor of offering the meditation for the table at church.  The church service was the end of a meaningful Campus for Christ conference, hosted by our incredible church, run by the wonderful Cary and Jinny McCall.  Below are the thoughts we shared at the table.  May we bring the table to our kitchens, our break rooms, our coffee shops, our morning car rides together, and our Mondays-Saturdays.
058As we prepare to come to the table, I want to share a few lines from Rumi, a 13th century mystic, entitled “A Community of the Spirit”:

There is a community of the spirit.
Join it, and feel the delight
of walking in the noisy street,
being the noise.

Drink all your passion,
and be a disgrace.

Close both eyes
to see with the other eye.

Open your hands,
if you want to be held.

Sit down in this circle.

Quit acting like a wolf, and feel
the shepherd’s love filling you.

Today, may we join in the shuffling to the table, the clinking of the glasses, the wiping of the crumbs, the quiet murmuring, the shy smiling, knowing we are a part of the community of the spirit.

May we drink the passion of Jesus, and allow ourselves to be disgraceful.  The table is not always a quiet reverence.  Sometimes it is a bench covered in dried macaroni with a toddler singing in your ear and another using you as a jungle gym as you try to talk with a loved one but instead end up laughing and cleaning up carrots that landed on the floor.  Come be a disgrace.

May we close our eyes in resistance to the constant stream of data in our culture so that we can truly see.

May we open our  hands in surrender and friendship rather than clenching them in possession and self-defense.

May we sit down in this circle.

May we stop acting like wolves–worried about our next meal and attacking out of self-preservation, and instead let the Shepherd love us and protect us.

May we come to the table, raise our glasses in celebration, and let the Shepherd’s love fill us up and unite us together.

What I Learned in July

It’s August 1.  I am refusing to believe August is here for just a little while longer.  To help me do that, here’s my semi-regular monthly list of what I learned in the month of July… the silly, the serious, the goofy, the heartwarming.

1. We all need an activity in which there are no such things as mistakes. In Zentangles, there are few rules: 1.No erasing, 2. There are no mistakes. If you make a mistake, you transform it into something new. Perhaps there’s a lesson there. Regardless, Zentangles are pretty and fun and mindless and perfect for catching up with friends during the summer.
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2. There is something about a stack of books that thrills me. Maybe it’s the anticipation or a Pavlovian response, but thinking about reading all of these books makes very excited. Shoutout to secondhand stores and book giveaways!
3. Did you know people leave amazing things on their curb in south Austin? Like this Crate and Barrel, barely scratched cabinet thing (note to self: look up what it’s called)? They do.
4. Family time gets sweeter as I get older. My parents came down to help us paint and my brother and cousin came down to have some fun paddle boarding and exfoliating. One weekend I’m a grown-up learning paint tips from my dad, the next weekend I’m making pancakes for my youngins even as I feel 10 years old again with them. It’s weird and fun and sweet.
5. Speaking of paint… oops paint is super cheap. I already knew this, but what I didn’t know was that if it has the right hue, you can ask the desk to mix a new color out of oops paint for you instead of opening a brand new can of paint. You just have to be flexible on the shade. We didn’t do this for all of our paint, but we did do it for two of our colors, including the yellow on our kitchen wall!
6. Our church is the place for us. I already knew this in the same gradual way the heat of the afternoon creeps up on you, but this month, JD and I have been a part of some church-growing conversations, and we are so blessed by the prayerfulness of our leaders. These church-growing conversations are not about numbers, but about spiritual growth and our identity as a church, which makes JD and I feel secure in our church family. We are not a number or part of a headcount. We are fellow workers in God’s field.

7. There is a part of me that is a cheerleader. But that is not all parts of me. I spent my last few days as cheer coach at cheer camp last week, and it was really fun and stressful and bittersweet. Coaching cheerleading has been a joy in my life the past two years, watching the girls grow and succeed, having mini-dance parties at 6:30 AM, being a trustworthy adult to some amazing young women. But there is a time to move on. Being at cheer camp last week was the perfect send-off (it was SO fun), but it also affirmed that I had made the right decision in passing the team off to someone else. Closing the door of cheerleading means opening the door to other things.
cheerpicWhat did July teach you?