Monday, March 31, 2014

Apple Trees for Maggie

Last week we decided that we wanted to plant something in memory of Maggie Mae. For those of you that have been following the blog for a while or just know us in general, you know that each year we plant a garden and relish in the beauty that is our backyard. Maggie LOVED the garden...she loved helping us plant and following me outside each spring and summer morning to water and check the progress. As we thought about the best way to remember her, we could think of nothing else than to plant something special for her in the backyard. While driving home one evening, Matt had the wonderful idea that we should plant an apple tree. 

Mags loved to eat apples--straight off the core nonetheless! 
And so the decision was made.

We had actually been looking at fruit trees at Home Depot last week so it wasn't a wild and crazy thought at all. But it turns out you can't really just plant one--like many other fruits, apple trees produce better (and more) fruit when you cross pollinate. And so we walked away with TWO trees!

Our Fuji apple tree

And our Gala apple tree (my all time favorite)

In addition to the apple trees this year, our backyard is also now filled with the beautiful sounds of the Corinthian chimes my parents gave us for Christmas. I love them. When we kept the house quiet last Tuesday morning to grieve and rest it was so comforting to hear them blowing in the wind. 

Next up in the backyard? Planting garden #5! 

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Why Maggie was so important to us

Like I said in my previous post, Mags was with us through some of our happiest and scariest of days together. She was by our side through so much of our life thus far it's been difficult to figure out life without her. This post is mostly for Matt and I to remember. So here's a list of some of the major events Maggie lived through with us:

-my graduation 
-Matt's first job (after he deferred his first appointment and we weren't really sure where life would take us because of that)
-our engagement!
-our marriage!
-both of our ordinations 
-both of our first positions in ministry
-our travels around the world (including Spain, Japan, South Africa, and Australia)--and of course we always brought her back souvenirs :)
-Matt's appendectomy only 1 month after we married
-our move from Atlanta to Birmingham
-buying our first house and helping us love it and love it well
-painting and making minor renovations to our new home
-our first several gardens
-Matt's transition to pastor at Church of the Reconciler (which was a very difficult transition)
-my dad's near death sickness and road back to health
-my sister's wedding
-many trips to and from Texas
-my sister's and then my parents' move to Virginia 
-Matt's 3 hospital stays for pancreatitis (I seriously don't know how I would have made it through some of those long hard nights at home alone without Maggie by my side)
-bringing home our first puppy, Lennon
-many sick days, rainy days, and snowy days 
-many days filled with sunshine and working in the yard 
-thousands upon thousands of car rides--which were her favorite thing ever! 

She was my best bud and kept me company even in times when I didn't feel like I had many friends. She was Matt's greatest comfort when he didn't know how the road ahead would play out. She was our biggest cheerleader and she knew just how to make us smile. We will carry pieces of Maggie with us for the rest of our lives because she was with us for so many pivotal moments in our life as a young family. She taught us so many lessons about life, love, and being family. And for this I am forever grateful. We love you Maggie Mae! (the link is to the first time I introduced her on the blog)

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Saying Goodbye to Maggie Mae

Yesterday we had to say goodbye to our sweet Maggie Mae. While we know it was the right thing to do, it was by far one of the hardest. We miss her SO MUCH. Because I don't want to forget, here are some more details about the way the day rolled out. We've known she's had Congestive Heart Failure since August and that this day would be sooner rather than later so we had already established some things about how we would know when it was time. We had always said we didn't want her to be in pain. We also knew and trusted that she would let us know and yesterday she definitely told us it was time to let go. 

We had a hard morning from the get-go. She wouldn't take her pills, she was a bit wobbly on her feet, she threw up, and she just seemed really off to me. I eventually decided I wasn't leaving her side. So we laid on the bed and listened to NPR...Lennon even came and snuggled up with us. We looked like this for most of the morning....(this is one of my favorite pictures of the two of us)

I eventually had to get up and get a tissue because I was so sad....I could just tell that the end would be closing in sometime soon. When I got up she all the sudden started to bark/howl in pain and when I ran back in her head was arched back and she was sitting in a puddle of pee. I still regret that I got up when I did but am thankful Lennon was still on the bed with her. I quickly scooped her up and held on to her as tight as I could. Her back right foot was paralyzed so she couldn't really stand well on her own. She was also really disoriented and her eyes were just darting back and forth. I called Matt and he called the vet who thinks she had a stroke. We decided to just try to get her comfortable and attempt to get her to eat and take her pills. 

Around lunch time Matt came home to sit with her while I went in to work for a bit (although there is still a part of me that wishes I would have just stayed). While I was away at work she just got progressively worse. She wouldn't eat, she wouldn't lay still, and eventually fell off the couch. Her breathing was extremely labored and Matt said at one point she was even whining while she was breathing. He called and told me to get home. He was right. When I got home I picked her up and took her outside to enjoy some sunshine which she loves (see below!). She was finally still while we were out there and she looked up at me and looked right into my eyes, remember she's mostly blind, but I felt like she could really see me, and I could really see her. And she was telling me it was time and that she loved me. 

We are so thankful that our vet, Dr. Stowe, was able to come to our house to help us say goodbye...that was something we had decided a long time ago as well....that we wanted her to be peaceful and surrounded by warmth and all of the people and things she loved most. We are thankful we could honor that. I laid with her while we waited and she licked away my tears even in her discomfort. She didn't look or act like herself all that much but I wanted to savor every moment. When Dr. Stowe finally arrived we were able to gather around her, pet her, and hold her head as she was put under and as she eventually was able to find peace and rest. 

We are still grieving and will be for quite some time. Maggie was with us throughout all of our major milestones as a couple/family and was with us during some of our hardest and most difficult days. I'll write another post about that later but I didn't want to forget the details of yesterday as we said goodbye to our best buddy and first child. She was an amazing dog and our life has been so much better since we made the decision to bring her home with us five and a half years ago. We thought we would have so many more years with her and mourn the time we won't get. But we are more than thankful for the time we DID get with her and for all of the love and joy she brought to our home and to our family. 

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Stitch Fix #1

A break from Lent to share about my first Fix which arrived Monday! So if you don't know about this yet, it's like BirchBox or BarkBox but for women's clothes. I've been pondering the idea for quite some time and finally decided to take the plunge. And even though I only kept one item, I feel like Fix #1 was a success and am already looking forward to my next Fix. 

Each box contains 5 items. It can be anything from pants, dresses, shirts, to bags and jewelry. Here were my five items (see above). 

1. A t-shirt material dress with pink stripes and twisted detail. The dress was cute and had a good fit, I just didn't feel like I needed it in my wardrobe. 

2. A pair of Kensie skinny jeans. The fit was ok on these. The size was right, it's just that I'm very particular about my skinny jean fit. They were super soft material. 

3. Fold over purse with zipper detail. I loved the style of this purse but bright pink is not what I'm in need of right now. But it was a super cute look. 

4. Black and white striped dress. I loved this. But talked myself out of it because I always buy black and white! 

5. Navy striped tank. I loved this. And I bought it to add to my summer wardrobe. I have the perfect cardigan to pair it with and can't wait to wear it someday soon. 

So that's what I received in my first box and I think they pretty much hit the nail on the head. The sizing was good, the clothes were fun, and I loved getting it all dropped on my door step! I definitely recommend giving it a try. 

Should you want to give it a shot, use the following link (b/c I'll get a credit for referring you): 

Lent, Week 2 Reflections

We failed. Big Time.

I think I did days one and two....with day 1 being to spend 5 minutes in silence at noon. I read through my book of Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals and spent some time being quiet. Easy enough. Day 2 was to look out the window and find something beautiful that you haven't noticed before. I looked out the window but didn't really take the time to recognize the beauty.

The rest of the week? Well, we only did a few of the challenges.

We did not give clothes to Goodwill, not because we don't have any or don't want to, it was more a matter of taking the time to sort through clothes and drop them off. Sad, but true.

We were only half way successful at no bitching.

And we couldn't really figure out which chores we should switch up....we are pretty good at balancing the work in our household.

Nor did we buy $5 gift cards for the homeless--although I really do plan to do this at some point.

So, week 2 was a flop for us. I'd make excuses but really they aren't all that valid. But I suppose this is part of the journey too. Sometimes we just don't practice or live like we'd hoped.

Here's to a better Week 3! 

Monday, March 10, 2014

Lent, Week 1 Reflections

Well we've made it through the first few days of Lent, so I thought I should write a few reflections about the journey so far. 

Day 1: Pray for your enemies. 
We realized that in our experience, we aren't really sure we have true "enemies" per se. Of course, there are people with whom which we disagree, people we don't like much, or just people who annoy us but enemies? We are working to really dig in deep and understand just what that means for us today. Matt prayed for the drug dealers that continue to show up at Reconciler and prey upon addicts working to recover--I'd say that's a pretty good parallel. I prayed for those folks with whom I disagree--like on the big issues--LGBT inclusion for instance--most days they seem to be my biggest enemies. 

Day 2: No TV. 
We've done this before but it was good to bring it back. The worst part of it really was only upon climbing in bed. I'm one who likes to keep the TV on to fall asleep but it was also kind of nice to climb into a dark and quiet room for one night. I'm sure Matt loved it the most! We will definitely be working to keep this one around. It's always nice to enjoy a TV-free day/night. 

Day 3: Don't turn on the car radio. 
It was so. quiet. Matt said he didn't mind it much but I think I tried to call every member of my family when I headed out for errands :) I did force myself to drive home from a church event that night in silence. It was kind of nice after having been surrounded by 100 hyped up teenagers! This is a good practice but probably not my favorite. 

Day 4: Give $20 to a non-profit of your choosing. 
This was no problem for us. We are regular givers at our respective churches BUT that's not who I chose to give to this time around. It was nice to branch out and think about what other organizations are important to me and where we want our money to be given. 

So we survived the first few days and already feel like we are learning more about new ways to practice devotion in our daily lives. Here's to the new week......

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Lent 2014

If you've been following the blog for a while, you know that Matt and I enjoy taking on a Lenten practice each year. It seems we've captured all of the big ones in years past No Excess, More Time Together in 2013 (the year in which Matt began Lent with a week long hospital stay) Simplify in 2012 (in which we rid our house of excess clutter), living on a food stamp budget in 2011 (I think that one is self explanatory but there are lots of posts on what we learned), and eating rice and beans in 2010. This year we decided to take a different approach.

After seeing this list composed by Nadia Bolz-Weber, pastor at House for All Sinners and Saints, we decided to modify the list and create our own practices for the next 40 days. The plan is to reflect together at the end of each day (and to actually do some of the practices together--the ones that lend themselves to that) and I'll do my best to blog about our experiences to hold us accountable. Here is what we came up with (many of them are the same as the list above but some of the things seemed too easy, as in we already do them, and so we tailored it more for our day to day life):

1.     Pray for your enemies
2.     No TV
3.     Don’t turn on the car radio
4.     Give $20 to a non-profit of your choosing
5.     Take 5 minutes of silence at noon
6.     Look out the window until you find something of beauty you hadn’t noticed before
7.     Give 5 items of clothing to Goodwill
8.     No bitching day
9.     Do someone else’s chore
10.  Buy a few $5 fast food gifts cards to give to homeless people you encounter
11.  Call an old friend
12.  Pray the paper (pray for people and situations in today’s news)
13.  Read Psalm 139
14.  Pay a few sincere compliments
15.  No phones after 5:00pm
16.  Educate yourself about human trafficking (
17.  Forgive someone
18.  Internet Diet
19.  Only use necessary electricity and water
20.  Check out morning and evening prayer (
21.  Ask for help
22.  Tell someone what you are grateful for
23.  Go on a walk
24.  Read Psalm 121
25.  Bake cookies to give to a neighbor
26.  No shopping day
27.  Light a virtual candle (
28.  Light an actual candle
29.  Write a thank you note
30.  Walk, carpool, bus, or bike
31.  Use Freecycle (
32.  Make art
33.  Read John 8:1-11
34.  Experience a different worship service or faith tradition
35.  Pray for Peace
36.  No sugar day—where else is there sweetness in your life?
37.  Give $20 to a local non-profit
38.  Educate yourself about a saint (
39.  Have friends over for dinner
40.  Reflect together on what practices we like and want to keep