Monday, October 21, 2019

Bryant Jack Burns

It still baffles me that I am actually, finally a mom. For this season of life, I have prayed numerous times over, I have dreamt about, and have even planned for (I read parenting books far before I was ever pregnant. I have a problem). All those years, and now we are here. My little Bryant. The son Kevin and I had named long before babies were really a serious conversation, is finally here. I am so thankful. God has given us such an answered prayer through this boy. There have been some hard moments, nights, and days even, but when I see that little boy's face look up at mine I know this is just who I was meant to be, mommy to this boy.

This is his birth story.

Thursday, August 16th We had our final doctor's appointment before our due date, but I was hardly dilated. Unsurprisingly as I had experienced no contractions or any type of early labor. An ultrasound that day told us the amniotic fluid was concerningly low and he was potentially a large baby. We talked about our options and landed on coming back Monday to re-visit the amniotic fluid level and likely proceed to be induced that night. I cried in the parking lot. I had tried to have very little expectations or any kind of "birth plan" but I had so hoped to not be induced. On our drive home, the doctor called us again and changed the Monday appointment to Friday.

Friday, August 17th We got up per our normal morning routine and did a pre-natal approved workout with our favorite, Nancy, then we both went to work. I updated my office with the latest information, worked hard to tidy all loose ends up, and left fully anticipating that I'd be working from home that afternoon and on Monday.

Our doctor looked at me in the ultrasound room and said, how about we go have a baby? I didn't fully register what she had said. I'd accepted that we were going to probably be induced, but in my head that was still not happening till Monday night. I looked back and said, so then is Monday still an option. My sweet doctor, in the most gentle way told me no. We were sent home with instructions to eat, pack up and go to the hospital. One moment, we thought we were still waiting and had a whole weekend ahead of us, the next we were in our home for the definitive last time as just the two of us.

It was so weird to be back at home. We were both quiet as we tidied up, finalized the bags for the hospital, and ate a big lunch. The planner-type-a in each of us was freaking out. To be honest, there was a part of us that was disappointed. As strange as that sounds. This wasn't how we pictured all of this happening. Our main doctor was not on the call over the weekend, she was on Tuesday. So this played into our disappointment as well. As we drove through a full-on thunderstorm to the hospital we talked and prayed and our frustration began to turn. This wasn't what we had imagined but God always knew how it would play out. Like it or not, we were going to the hospital early, but this also meant we would meet our little boy even sooner than we thought. That called for praise and joy. We committed to be more joyful through the rest of whatever would lie ahead for us in the induction process.

At the hospital, we didn't wait too long until we were walked into the room where we would meet our baby. I was instructed to go change in the classic hospital gown. I hope I always remember standing in the bathroom for a moment and looking at my rounded belly in the mirror. I'd been uncomfortable in the last month, but suddenly I felt like I was very much going to miss that baby belly.

At about 4:30pm, I was set up on attempt number one to get my body into labor gear. This was a 12 hour process and was intended to soften my cervix to hopefully get me on the road to dilation. Those 12 hours were weird. It's strange to be in a hospital and feel pretty much just like normal. We just hung out. We watched Hard Knocks on Kevin's laptop, my sister and her husband came to see us (brought Kevin Chik-Fil-A), we read, and eventually, I fell asleep.

Saturday, August 17th  I was woken up by the nurse who was ready to check my progress at 4:30am. While the nurses were encouraged, we were disappointed. We were officially at only 1cm. I remember wondering just how long this process would take. The doctor shift was changing at the hospital at 7am, so in the meantime, we were just to relax, and eat a breakfast, again hang out feeling relatively normal. We took a walk around the hospital floor and did another Nancy workout in the room. Close to 9am, the doctor came in ( a gift from the Lord! It turned out that of the group I saw we got one of our top favorites on call that weekend) to talk about options. The best option was a medication that went in my mouth to bring on contractions and a balloon method that went up inside of me. She told us this would be hard but effective, and my goodness she wasn't kidding. It was definitely painful but sure enough, I started to feel contractions almost immediately. I labored through them for about 4 hours then opted for the epidural.

After about another 2 hours, we removed the balloon method and got me started on pitocin. The day was starting to feel long and I drifted in and out of sleep, shifting from one side of the bed to the other with the peanut ball in between my legs. Kevin delivered two hand-drawn Bible verses to encourage me as the dulled contraction pain came in waves. We began to wonder if our baby would actually be born on his due date.

Sunday, August 18th Sure enough, around midnight I was checked and to our surprise, I was 9.5! I got permission to prepare to push as soon as I was ready. With the moment finally here, I began to get nervous. Kevin handed me the final verse he had prepared for me and I cried. We prayed and cried some more. Here were were, 33 hours into this and it was time. It was the last time it was going to be just Kevin and I. We were so close to meeting our boy.

Two hours went by before I finally decided it was time to get moving. Kevin turned on the music playlist he had prepared and more tears started to swell up in my eyes. They prepped the room, turning on the light above the bassinet. Everything felt so surreal.

A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when a baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world. John 16:21

Pushing was nothing like I expected. I guess the epidural helped quite a bit, but I had very little discomfort and really enjoyed the whole process. Kevin kept encouraging me sweetly and holding my hand. When I wasn't actually pushing, my husband and I were casually chatting with our nurse/realtor/all-around-great-friend and our doctor. Our conversation weaved between a variety of topics and even had me laughing occasionally. It was fun and joyful and I loved every moment.

Kevin watched, I felt our baby's head and before I knew it, I was helping lift my little baby up to myself. I fully anticipated I would cry but I was just so bewildered and excited, no tears came. I looked over at Kevin who had the most amazing smile on and just beamed at him. Our Bryant Jack Burns was born at 3:02 am on Sunday, August 18th. His due date. He was 7 pounds, 5 ounces. Kevin and I were overwhelmingly happy and content all at the same time. Our baby was here and he was absolutely beautiful.

As we stared at him and enjoyed the moment some miscommunication out in the lobby led to my sister, her husband, my brother, and his fiance walking into the room not too long after we had baby cleaned. My sister was the first in the room and I'll never forget seeing her face. She didn't realize they were seeing the baby. She nearly fell to her knees, gasped and threw her hand to her mouth, tears welling up in her eyes. Them coming in so soon was not quite what we had intended, but what fun it was to share our little baby with their weary eyes. They'd waited for a couple of hours in the waiting room and were just about to leave and give up before they walked in.

My sister prayed the first prayer over our boy. Then, it was just us and one nurse. It was quiet. The baby fell asleep in Kevin's arms as I got a little more cleaned up. The nurse helped us pack up and we after all the times we heard the lullaby go off (signaling a new baby had been born), it was finally our turn to hit that button and announce our baby had arrived.

We stayed in the hospital until Monday, late afternoon. Our hospital time together holds some of my favorite memories. We had requested only parents or siblings be allowed to visit, which left for most of our time to be just the three of us. We often cuddled up on my bed and held our new baby. Just looking at him, so incredibly thankful for his safe arrival. We cried tears of joy. We took photos. We slept. We ate. We relished in the newness of being a family of three.

Our world now forever changed.

Saturday, November 24, 2018

The Accident

Back when I trained and ran a half marathon, I found myself just in awe of the way God made our bodies. The way it can grow and strengthen to accomplish feats such as a long distance run. I found myself often thanking God for my body on my runs. I praised Him for making me able to run. I praised Him for changing my body and helping me lose weight, which made running even better, more enjoyable. I praised Him for the strength to fight through some challenging runs. When I saw someone who didn't have an able body, I thanked Him for mine. That may sound hurtful but that person reminded me of what a gift an able body is, and I just didn’t take it for granted. I found such gratitude and deep thankfulness for my body and the way it grew in strength as He designed. When the accident happened, I was incredibly frustrated and broken-hearted. Like never before, my body was far from able, and I fought that pain in every way. My mind knew the accident was not God taking away my able body, but my heart was hurt and I just didn't understand. My spirit was tormented by the loss. Through wisdom from God, through my husband, and so much scripture, I was set right but gosh, was it hard. Honestly, there are still many days that are hard.

The road since the accident has been its own whirlwind of pain and other complicated ailments with my body (hello, emergency root canal). So many times I’ve fallen to frustration and jealousy in my hurt. Yet, I have found there are always opportunities to rejoice still.

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your graciousness be known by everyone. The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. Philippians 4:4


November 24, 2017. The day after Thanksgiving. Black Friday. Last vacation day in Telluride. Kevin and I, along with our two friends, went for a sledding adventure in the morning. It was around 10am, "three runs" we said, and then onward to town. Two runs, then that final one. The third. The one that ended in the accident. My girlfriend and I were on a sled together moving at a pretty decent speed, then hit a ditch which popped us both into the air and landed us promptly on the ground. That’s the short of it. I remember a lot from the whole event. I remember seeing the ditch before we hit and not knowing what to do. I remember the pain of hitting that ditch. I remember fog in my mind after we landed,  and then my friend screaming that something was most definitely broken. I remember her praying loud and with a great pleading in her voice. I can still go into great detail about that moment. It’s so abundantly clear to me even now.

I remember our husbands made it down to where we were after what seemed like forever, as I tried to assess in my mind all that was happening with my friend and me. My husband called 911, I could see the concern in his eyes and I felt so unsure about my own state that I was confused when he asked if one or two ambulances were needed. I could still hear my friend crying aloud and I looked at my husband and said one. I landed on my bottom but had turned over in the moments since landing (this part I do not remember. I do know that I had in my mind to help my friend but did not make much of a difference) but had not tried moving since. When I landed, I thought to myself that it hurt but it would probably just be sore tomorrow. But when I went to roll over again, pain shot through me and I knew I could not just get up on my own. I looked at my husband, who was still looking at me with concern and told him two.

I remember my mom running frantically across the snow to me and my sweet stepdad coming up behind her. He, being a nurse, was incredibly helpful for my friend. Her injury was visible and causing definitive pain. All I wanted was some sort of relief for her. We both continued to pray. When the ambulances came, they took my friend first and I watched, my heart aching for her pain and truly feeling guilt wash over me. It brings me to tears to this very day. The pain in my heart, the pain in hers. My lift into the ambulance was noticeably more painful than I anticipated, but in I went and with that, I took my first ride in an ambulance to the small hospital of Telluride.

I remember we spent a long while in my little open room of the ER. I could hear my friend in agony and my heart was just breaking for her. I can’t explain why but I still thought, I’ll leave here soon and when I do, I’m going to do something special for her. I even told my husband that we were going to town to get a little prize for them. The severity of my situation and hers was incredibly unclear and unknown to me. I remember feeling hungry, thirsty, and needing to go to the bathroom and how all those things were so complicated. We learned our friend would be taken to the nearest major hospital, not too far away. My situation was still unclear. 

I remember getting asked if I was willing to take an X-ray and an MRI. I'm always fearful of hospital bills, (a previous bad experience has caused me so much anxiety in this area and I did the same thing when I injured my thumbso in complete sincerity, I asked Kevin if we wanted to pass on the MRI. The doctor looked at me and said, oh hunny, you're going to meet your deductible this year. Onward with the MRI and X-ray we went. And when the results came back questionable and yet serious, my heart completely broke. It was then that I realized I was not just going to leave that ER and walk into town. More than that, I was not going home the following day as planned.  In that moment, my mind reeled through all things that we were going to enjoy in the coming weeks and how none of them would be happening now. We were moving to Florida at the end of December. We had so many plans with friends in between the coming-home-from-Telluride and the moving-away-forever dates. I busted into tears as we waited to hear where I would be sent. Kevin, being finally convinced, left me with my mom and went back to the house to pack up our things, and our friends' things.

I remember my second ride on an ambulance to the Telluride airport. It's on the side of a mountain and by this time, the sun was setting. It was beautiful and I can still see the view in my mind's eye. I thanked God for it. A small gift in a moment so very outside of my understanding. I held onto that view as they lifted me twice, painfully transferring me to another bed for my little med-flight airplane ride. My mom, sobbing loud tears, ready to jump into the plane the moment I said okay, stayed by my side till the very end. I didn't let her come. A peace that could only have come from God came over me, and I convinced her to go home with her husband. I had an unreasonable amount of peace considering the fact that I was about to be alone with strangers in a tiny airplane.  God knew what was coming. I'm confident of this. (The short side story is days later my stepdad would have a sad loss in his family and would be heading to a funeral with my mother. She wouldn't have been able to be there with him if she hadn't left me). In the tiny airplane, I could barely see the sun closing behind the mountains through the little windows and the medicine gave way as I drifted in and out of sleep.

I remember the flurry of activity entering the ER of Denver Health. People everywhere. I saw my socks flying in the air and I was being asked if I would give permission to cut my shirt. That's okay,  I said, but please, don't cut my sports bra. The shirt, a Walmart purchase my freshman year of college, could certainly go, my brand new sports bra from Victoria's Secret, umm no. They acquiesced under the conditions that there was no wire in it. Clearly, my budget-conscious-self was still very present.  I was warned of this flurry when we landed and I was lifted out from the airplane under a pitch black sky at an airport into another ambulance, my third and final for the day. No warning would have prepared me for those crazed several minutes and then the silence and unknown. After all the activity, they left me with no information in a dark ER room.

I remember my stomach growling and being rather frustrated about not being able to get food even when I finally learned that I would not go right away into surgery that night or even the next day. I called Kevin from my now still and quiet ER room, a warm blanket piled on top of me, and some random tv show on. He sounded concerned but his voice was steady. I told him about my hunger, they'd finally brought me saltines and a tiny cup of water. He had only a couple hours left in his six hour drive from Telluride to Denver. He made it just in time for my move to a permanent room. We met the most wonderful nurses there. And they fed us.

I remember my mother in law arriving the very next morning. She had purchased a flight the moment her son called her in tears during his drive to me. She brought comfort, sweetness, and sense of ease. I'm still so thankful for her presence that whole week. I laid in bed from the moment I entered my first ambulance ride through much of the next 12 days. I prayed but felt so conflicted in my heart. This accident was too much. The injury too grand. I could not understand what God could do through it.

"And we boast in the hope of the glory of the God. Not only so, but we also glory in our suferings because we know that suffering produced perseverance, perseverance character, and character hope." Romans 5:3 (From my journaling on November 25th. Any time I opened my Write the Word journal, the verse was very relevant. Only God.)

I remember Facetiming our friends as they found themselves also stuck in a hospital with no direct route home fully understood. We sent each other encouraging messages all day. She and I bonded over our confusion and hurt, both physically and emotionally. She had prayed for protection that day on the mountain and while it was hard to see, we knew that God has given us protection. Even though it was not quite the protection we would have expected. Our hearts hurt and we needed each other through every step.

I remember the day before the surgery, 3 days after my night arrival when the surgeon came in and shared all the possible risks of the surgery I was about to endure. He left the room and we all cried. Deep, concerned, confused tears. They flowed hot and heavy, fast and uncontrollably. The surgery was an option, a choice, but also it wasn't. The reality of my accident and the possibilities of a risky surgery poured over and the tears came for several minutes following that news. I had fractured my sacrum and as a result, it had disconnected from my pelvis. The surgeon was going to put two stabilizer bars into my body to hold me together and give me the opportunity to walk again. There were several risks associated with the surgery but if it proved successful, I'd walk again and return to other activities. I also could have the possibility to have the bars removed some time later.

"We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit intercedes for us...and we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him." Romans 8:26,28 (From my journaling on November 27th).

I remember not fully awakening from surgery and being very confused, cold and uncomfortable. The moment from starting to awaken to finally being taken back to my room was the worst part of our stay in Denver.

I remember the nerve in my leg shooting incredible pain down my whole right side of my body. The sciatic nerve was causing extreme pain down my leg and the first time it happened was, without a doubt, the most horrifying pain I'd experience in my life. I screamed loud and uncontrollably. There were so many people in the room but no one was really helping me. My nurse who tried to help, hit the bed buttons with her pregnant belly causing the bed to come inward, making the pain even worse. I screamed more in terror. In my agony, I shouted at everyone in the room that I was tired of their questions and I wanted help, now. My husband still pokes fun at me at how horrible I was.

I remember every time the nerve acted up, fear crept through my whole body and anxiety took over. I'd cry as the medicine wouldn't be quick enough and I would cry just out of the anxiety of that pain returning. My husband decided it was time to put it into God's hands. We watched Pastor Gregg Matte, my Houston home church pastor, speak on anxiety (if you or ever have struggled with anxiety, listen to it and the second message that goes along with it).  We posted a Bible verse up in the room. Every time, I had to speak it to myself. Every time, I had to remember that God had me, God loves me, God was taking care of me. I failed more times than I was successful but slowly God was calling me out of that anxiety and fear.

"I sought the Lord and He answered me; He delivered me from all my fears." Psalm 34:14

I remember the incredible kindness and sacrifice shown to me by so many. Friends happening to be in Norman but coming to their home in Denver brought our pillows. My cousin in town for a conference came over with a bag of goodies. A friend who had moved to the area brought us Mexican food. My best friend from college bought a one day ticket and flew in to spend time with me. ONE DAY Y'ALL! She got there after breakfast and was gone before dinner. Who does that? A best friend. A generous, kind, and thoughtful friend. Not to mention the flowers, cards, and gifts sent my way. And, the incredible grace that was shown to me by my employer. It blew us away. Our hearts were overwhelmed and amazed.

I remember coloring a little, watching the Sooners football games, some Hallmark Christmas movies, and reading a lot of text messages. I recall actually doing very little from bed, though. Kevin told me I slept most of the time. I do not remember that. Many memories from my time in the hospital are backward from reality. I thought my first sciatic nerve experience, for example, was moments after my post-surgery-room-return. It was actually several hours later in the day.

I remember the nurse who changed everything. She pushed me to take a shower. She pushed me out of bed. Without her, I don't know how much longer it would have taken me. She was firm but loving. I cried the whole way through the shower and I shouted every time I went from sitting to standing (the sciatic nerve was the root cause for my lack of progress). I learned to walk again. I learned to steady myself. I learned to balance again. I learned to take the stairs. It took me a whole week post surgery but slowly, I got there.

I remember the day we left the hospital. My birthday. I remember writing thank yous to my incredible nurses until my hands hurt. I remember the cold air hitting my face for the first time in 12 days. I remember the absolutely amazingly patient woman at DryBar that spent over an hour with my head in the wash bowl untangling the hair that had turned into such a giant tangled mess. The DryBar in Denver gifted me the entire experience. We were floored with their generosity. I remember my husband gifting me time to breathe the air and "walk" into shops (with my walker, of course). I remember getting my birthday gift purchase at Kendra Scott and the women giving me an extra gift just because. Again, we were so shocked. I remember the confirmation of purchasing Taylor Swift tickets for a concert where my very best girlfriends would come to visit our new home. I remember the moment we got in the car to drive home to Norman (#Oklahome). The incredible change and quick timeline that now laid before us.

I remember being home. Our friends had graciously packed our home for us in no time at all and babysat me. My employer who continued to be so kind, patient, and generous let me come in as I could. My mom had come to help too.  My littlest sister flew into Dallas to meet my mom and help drive one of our cars down to Florida as I was not cleared to drive (and as it came to pass, wouldn't be cleared until February).

"Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer." Romans 12:12 (from December 14th) 

I remember one of the last mornings I had at our Oklahoma home, preparing for my first day alone in over a month. Kevin left for work. I did a Bible study in bed and then I was determined to help do some of the final packing work left. I attempted one thing and realized I couldn't do it. I tried another, and again couldn't due to my restrictions/pain. I attempted one other activity and cried tears of helplessness. My favorite moments in those short weeks were eating or sitting with my people and being in my bed reading my Bible. Those moments were slow. The rest was a whirlwind.

"Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good." Romans 12:21 (from December 20th)

I remember driving away from Norman. Our last night spent at a dear friends' home. A light amount of snow graced the roofs. We drove through our alma mater campus one last time then headed southeast for so many changes. I was still shuffling along with my walker, needing to sit on cushioned things, and only really comfortable laying down. I was still very much in recovery. Job changes, home changes, people changes, and most uncertain, my body changes. We didn't know what lied ahead. But God did.

"I trust you today, I will trust you, I commit to trusting you more. In your healing Name, Amen" (my prayer from December 24th)


Those memories are hard. Filled with bodily and heart pain, yet blessed with complete kindness from God through the people he surrounded us with. Our bodies are fragile and not a given. The Bible is filled with instruction to persevere through hardships in God's strength for His glory to be known. "But as for you, exercise in everything, endure hardships, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry." 2 Timothy 4:5  God allows painful experiences, not to discipline us but to allow us to grow. Will we choose our next steps in obedience to Him or will we wallow in the pain of our circumstances? This was, and is, a question I am often asking myself when my spirit falls weak and I feel these experiences I've been allowed to endure from the accident and since are unfair. If I can choose obedience, I can bring Him glory. This I can rejoice in!

On Easter this year, I sat in church as the pastor explained the pain Jesus would have experienced on the cross. Do you know what would have coursed through his body and caused him incredible amounts of pain? Sciatic nerve pain. My jaw dropped. I knew that pain! I mean, not the same pain of course, as crucifixion was so much more. The cross though, Jesus' pain, it almost means so much more to me. I suddenly understand his pain in a way I  have never known before. In the smallest way, I can relate to His pain. I feel just a tiny bit of what He went through for me! This I hold onto. This I can rejoice in!

I recently read the whole chapter of Psalm 34 that held the verse (verse 4) that kept encouraging me out of my anxiety. Psalm 34:3 is our marriage verse: "Oh glorify the Lord with me, Let us exalt His name together." It's on our wall and in our marriage covenant. The very next verse was my hospital verse: "I sought the Lord and He answered me. He delivered me from all my fears." I don't know why it took me so long to put those two verses together. The purpose of each verse felt so separate before, I guess. The very next verse, verse 5, gives me even more delight. "Those who look to Him are radiant with joy; their faces will never be ashamed." God calls us to glorify Him, trust in and rely on Him, and turn to Him. Together, that brings us to real joy. Non-circumstantial joy. Joy not contingent on how healthy or able our bodies are. Joy that is rooted in His goodness, His power, His capabilities. Joy in the gifts of care, love and His son Jesus that He gave us. I can most certainly rejoice in this!

There are a number of ways we saw God's hand at work through this whole experience. My friend prayed for safety, and while we still had serious injuries, we were still spared worse injuries. Where I suffered fractures, there are a number of nerves that control many body functions, and I hit none of them. One of those, controlling my urination, for example. My friend ended up at a hospital near the airport my family was leaving from, which meant my family could take our friends' bags to them the next day. Her work graciously allowed her to work from home as she also endured a long recovery. I know she could share many more ways she's seen God's hand. We, on the other hand, were going to be sent to a hospital in a different city on the day of the accident, but the weather cleared just in time for us to end up with a better doctor in Denver. He connected us with a good colleague of his, not-so-ironically working in Tampa, Florida, near where we would be living. That doctor told us that had we not been in the care of the Denver doctor, I likely would have been given an alternative surgery which would have left me in a wheelchair for months afterward. I can't imagine having to start my new job in a wheelchair. That would have been a whole other set of new things to learn. My new employer has offered me flexibility which has been so nice with the plethora of doctor visits I've had this year. I was able to have a second surgery this year to remove the hardware put in my body a year ago. Since the second surgery, I have been able to heal pretty well and return to somewhat normal life activities. There are so many more that I could mention too.

My body is still healing. There are many things that I will likely live with for a long time still or even forever. Struggles on this earth are real, emotional and downright hard. I'm determined to rejoice and continue to thank God for this body. I can choose to remember God's strength when my body isn't strong. I have no reason to fear what could still come from the injury because I know my God. His character has proven Him faithful over and over again through both the Bible and my own life. I can rest in His faithfulness. 

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Our 12' Table


A few years back now, Kevin and I hosted Thanksgiving for my dad and Kevin's sister (and her new boyfriend who became her husband and our brother). I really enjoyed planning for this, preparing the food, and having our family in our home. It brought me such joy that I decided in the future, we would be the host home for Thanksgiving. With that, a new dream to build a huge table to fit as many people as possible began. We saw a friend's long table not too long after which encouraged me. I wasn't certain our building experience would translate to furniture-making but we both decided to give it a go anyway.

I did a ton of online research about building outdoor tables. Reviewed all kinds of designs (learning that FAR too many people on Pinterest do not know the difference between herringbone and chevron). Then, carefully planned out a method of building with an AutoCAD plan, which I reviewed with a contractor co-worker (perks of being an interior designer). Soon it was time to go to Lowe's for the first time. We lost count on the number of times we went to Lowe's or Home Depot.

Online table diys I referenced:

This is not really a DIY post. I don't feel like an expert in table building and we made some mistakes that we didn't correct. I also didn't document really well. I did enjoy those of you who followed along with us on Instagram though! We also are not by-the-book project builders. We cut some corners and made some things up along the way. Mostly, we're here to show you the table, give you our learning lessons, and encourage you to go after a big project you want to do yourself!

Our Learning Lessons:
1. Wood glue and extra fasteners and time are worth it. We built the frame first and went with a fastener method we thought would be cheaper and faster than using a kreg-jig but when we went to turn it all over, it completely fell apart. We almost cried and we almost gave up but we stuck to it, went back to our original method, added more wood glue and gave it time.
2. 1x4s will work. So many of the articles I found online suggested 2x4s and it just seemed like a whole lot of weight, which I really worried about with our big table. So we swapped to 1x4s and they worked real well.
3. Deck stain and sealer. Most of the articles I read online suggested a stain and sealer method. When we went to the store, all of them were for indoor only, and required a good deal of dry time and a lot of extra elbow grease. Which, to be honest, we just were not up for after the many weekends it took to build the table. So we shopped the decking stains and read up on them. I wasn't entirely sure I would love the finish but it turned out beautiful. And, I'm confident this method will last longer outdoors.
4. Be patient with the timeline. I think ultimately this took about 4-5 weekends. We didn't do it all consecutively and we took each workday carefully. We chose, purposely, to not work morning to night when we worked on the table. We wanted to give ourselves grace and rest. I'm glad we did. It took longer but ultimately, was worth it.
5. Just go for it and don't worry about perfection. A super big lesson for my kinda-OCD self and designer problems. We also learned to be more patient with each other too. My designer thoughts and his math concepts don't always mix well in a frustrating moment but we worked through it. It's not a perfect table and we changed our method of build several times throughout the process but ultimately we're so glad we went for it.

I foresee so many shared meals here. I listened to a podcast with the author of The Turquoise Table a year or so ago and I'm encouraged to use this table for strangers as well as people in our tribe. I dream of Thanksgivings, birthdays, parties, showers, simple family meals, grilled meals, board games, pancake breakfasts, and so so much more at this table. I can't wait to see how God uses this table for His kingdom.

Monday, August 27, 2018

Here's What You Missed

Last I posted, we were celebrating being DEBT FREE and not sharing about how we were in the middle of a season of waiting. Probably, about three years ago, it became clear to us that one day we would move to Florida. And last year, it became clear that after we'd try to go about getting there by our own plan, it was time to just trust God and try another way. When we took those debt free pictures, we were waiting to find out if I would be taking a job in St. Pete, Florida and thus jump starting us on the move to Florida. And just a few weeks after that, I did! It was an emotional choice that had us celebrating and mourning. Oklahoma was a wonderful home to us and while we didn't have family there,  most of the time, our friends were very much a family to us. We miss them dearly to this day. We've been living in Florida for the last 8 months and it has been such a joy to be near family and enjoying the beach doesn't hurt either. We're still certainly still in transition here, getting to know our community, our church and finding our people but it is good. We are so thankful.

Just this past weekend we celebrated a decade of knowing each other. Pretty wild. Last June we celebrated 6 years of marriage. Being married is one of my favorite gifts the Lord has given. In our seventh year of marriage, we will celebrate four friends getting married, one of which is my sister!

Her fiance told us in January about his game plan to propose in Hawaii on the family vacation. He got the rest of the family together just before the trip and told them. So yes, we kept that secret for like 5 months. And on the last day of our trip, he popped the question and she was so surprised and delighted. It was such a JOY to be there in that moment. I'll cherish it forever.
My brother got engaged! We weren't there for it but he did it in a special spot in honor of his momma and we are so very excited for these two!

Well, there is a whole story to this and that will come but I had two rather major surgeries after an accident in Colorado, right after Thanksgiving, right before we moved to Florida. It was a wild season of life but God was so very present.

We're excited to share more about this. It's been a dream of mine to have a table big enough to fit my whole or Kevin's whole family at once. I also have dreamt about being the home for Thanksgivings for our families in the future. When we saw the home we're in currently, renting, we LOVED the back porch and knew that it was sure to be the home of the table we've been talking about. It was an epic trial and error game but we designed and built it together. A true labor of love that we have so enjoyed sharing with our people already.

And, I can't leave without a few other highlights:

(my best friends came to visit and we went to see T Swift, so you know, that was a MAJOR highlight)

Friday, October 13, 2017


I haven't opened Blogger to write in quite some time, actually over a year ago when I sliced my thumb. Update: surgery went well and I'm able to do nearly everything I was before. I'm still sorta numb and still can't easily bend my thumb but God healed me and gave doctors and surgeons incredible wisdom and talent to get me here! I'm amazed about how the body can heal.

Today, I'm here back on my little blog to share some news we've been eagerly awaiting the day to share! Many moments of tears, frustration and even anger led up to this day. Also, many moments of gratitude and praise led up to this day. God has walked us through this challenge through every feeling I went through. Admittedly, I've not always had the best attitude. I found myself fighting myself through waves of selfishness and a sense of entitlement over these last few years at times. There's been some serious ugly. But my husband held us strong through it. He drew us to prayer and reminded us of where God was leading us. He opened up scripture and he allowed me to work through my ugly. He reminded me of our early promise to God. From the moment we started talking about getting married, one thing God had definitely put into our hearts was to pay off our college debt. We wanted to create a new legacy of debt-free living in our lives and for our future family. We planned to live small in every way. With that attitude, people gifting us in unexplainable ways, surprises, working extra side jobs, Kevin working over time, and our family and friend's encouragement, prayers, and support, today we get to announce that by God's gift and work within us we are....

There are so many people to thank as they walked through this season with us. And there's so much more I want to write on this. But today, and really this whole weekend, we're celebrating!

I'll leave with this. My small group has been reading through Ephesians lately, and midway through Ephesians 2, God promises to prepare good plans for us to walk through. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time for us to do. Ephesians 2:10. Reading that passage makes me smile and fills my spirit with a sense of peace. I chose God and He's already prepared the way for me to do good things. But I realized, that these good works He prepares, they're not special "fun" or "gifts" for us to enjoy, necessarily although they very well may be fun and gifts. They are work that He's asking us to do. They're challenges that He's walking us through. Because these good works are not for our enjoyment as much as they are for God's glory! John 3:21 says that "anyone who lives by the truth comes to the light, so that his works may be shown to BE ACCOMPLISHED BY GOD." The scripture says it is accomplished BY GOD! We're not debt free and celebrating this momentous moment in our lives because of my or Kevin's works but because God accomplished them for us.God knew this challenge was coming and He prepared us every step of the way. Celebrating the end of this challenge is celebrating the accomplishments of God! And that's my favorite part of today. 

Thank you Lord, for walking us through every season of paying off our college debt over the last five years. Today, we celebrate YOU and what you've accomplished through us. We praise you God! You are good. You call on your children to do big things and you help us get there. Thank you for foriving my sin and for making me clean. Thank you for the millions of second chances you give us. Lord, today may you be honored. May the words that I speak and the thoughts that I meditate on today bring you praise. Praise You God for all your works are good! Amen

So many thanks to Saxon for our photos!
Find her website here: 
And I super encourage you to go follow her instagram because her pictures are just amazing! 
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