24 November 2014

Intentional & Essential

Those would be the two words I am AIMING for as we create systems in our new home.  (I love, love, love it, btw!)  I'm not hitting the target every time, but I'm trying.  And there's something to that, no?  

A few weeks ago, I was blessed to speak to the Bellville MOPS group about organization.  Oh, they were lovely, y'all.  So fun, so wonderful, so Christ-centered...they made me want to have another baby (or find one, as my kids would say) just so I can join them.  It took me 3 weeks to follow up, but here's what I sent them this morning:

This is what I really feel called to share with y'all--I'm not thinking we all need to be minimalists, and I do not qualify as one, either. But I do like a LOT of what Joshua Becker posts. His writing (and links) make me think about living more intentionally, and I think that's always a good thing. I think if I were to adopt any "ist" or "ism" officially, I'd want to be an "essentionalist." And "intentionalist." But since there aren't any Facebook groups for those things, Becoming Minimalist will do!
I love having this come across my Facebook feed, where it's so easy to get caught up in the "more is more" mentality of our culture. https://www.facebook.com/becomingminimalist
This is the blog--I love his weekend posts, and look forward to hanging out with a cup of coffee and my thoughts. http://www.becomingminimalist.com
Happy Thanksgiving to all of you, and as we head into a time of year that can be busy and crazy and waaaaaaayyyyy too focused on "stuff" and keeping up with the moms on Pinterest, I invite you to join me in taking some time this week to think and pray about what we want Advent to look like this year.
I know I want to have less to do--so as a family, we chose a one-night trip to Marble Falls instead of our usual weekend to Marble Falls AND a trip to Santa's Wonderland. At church, we decided NOT to do a Christmas program or weekly ornament crafts, but instead to focus on an Advent curriculum based on a book families can use at home to go through Advent. I've already started shopping for teacher gifts--and I'm thinking 12 days of small, $1 type things for Noble's teacher and 1 $5 gift each for Kayci's teachers. I've purchased the ornament for our Bible Study ornament exchange on the 10th (crazy--I usually stress the day of!). (Lest you start thinking I'm on top of things, I haven't actually figured out how Noble's leaving school TODAY...so there's that. I'm still me.) I'm determined to be less ME and more intentional this holiday season, friends. Sure, I'll probably blow it, but I figure if I start out and I visualize a season of peace and focus, maybe, just maybe, we'll hit the mark some days. And those other days? Well, there's grace for that. And there's grace for you, too, lovelies.
Blessings to you, sweet friends, and big hugs. Kristi

16 October 2014


Most days it feels like time is racing by.

I accept that one morning, we'll wake up and there won't be that expectant time while we wait to hear feet hit the floor in the next room. Those feet will be tucked into bed at college, or in a first apartment. Sigh. Suddenly, 18 years doesn't feel like long enough to teach and show them everything they need to be servants of God in this worldly world.

James took off Monday to hang with the kids since I had to work. There's been a lot of that lately--kind of the storm before the calm. But back to them...the weather was gorgeous Monday evening, so they went to the park to play. They ran into our favorite friends and got some bonus together time. The pictures James & Heather texted are just priceless, like this one. When I saw this, it made me think about how time is racing, and what I want for those beautiful children. I pray they will have more.

More happiness.
More love.
More joy.
More fun.
More contentment.
More laughter.
More success.
More satisfaction.
More excitement.
More wisdom.
More strength.
More faith.
More hope.

And I pray that they have enough.

Just enough sorrow, and just enough pain, to make them truly appreciate all of the above.

09 October 2014

Where you go, I'll go...

I love Thursday mornings.  Usually...usually, not always, Daddyboy goes to Bible Study, the kids wake up and hurry to get around so we can run to the donut store on the way to school, and then I drop them off and go have a breakfast date with my Boy.  I love our Thursday morning dates.  

This morning we met at Big Daddy's for our favorite breakfast tacos, then spent a few minutes sitting on the tailgate of his truck eating and talking about our days.  And whatnot.  ;)

Yes, that's a beer truck.  Romantical, no?  

Marriage is hard work.  Anyone who tells you otherwise is a damn liar.  But it's worth it to do the work.  It's always worth it.  

Every morning, we do 3 things without fail:  he makes us coffee, we hug at some point, and we ask each other and the kids, "what does your day look like?" 

And this is my day today...my least favorite kind of day, the stuck at the computer working all day kind of day.  So I escaped from my desk and came into the living room.   At least I can listen to bad tv while I work.  :) 

11 September 2014

Used to be...

The other day, Noble and I were laying on the couch watching "Mom's Night Out."  The main character had a freak out when her family trashed their house and she admitted her clean freak tendencies.  Noble looked at me and smiled, "you USED to be like that."

My first response, that I'm not proud of?  I was like, what?  Is this kid saying I don't like things clean?  But I realized, he said it totally without judgment.  Don't you just love kids?

That was cool, that he accepted me both as I was and as I am.

And you know what else is cool?  That our kids know who we are, that they know our stories.  They know where we come from and where we hope to go.  They KNOW us.

Isn't that all any of us wants, to know and be known?  To be accepted?

What a blessing, all from a simple statement and a smile.

PS--this made me think about my favorite workshop to present back in the day...I dug this out of the closet!  Those are transparencies, people...

01 September 2014

A tale of two houses...okay, three. Technically four if you count the little green house...

I would be remiss if I didn't stop and write down what's in my head this weekend.  It's Labor Day, and this year that coincides with the opening of dove season.  Happy September, y'all!  We've had a great weekend with Ronny's family here and Timmy's family came up on Saturday, too.  It's been a good mix of productive (finally got our DVDs catalogued and have about 120 ready to go OUT THE DOOR!) and lazy, with lots of family time.

Oh, and we closed on our house Friday.


It feels...pretty awesome.  It will be at least a month before we can start moving in, but with everything else going on, that's okay by me.  We're so blessed to have a landlord like Amy, who's willing to roll with whatever we need.  Let me say it again:  this lady has blessed us in ways she'll never understand, by sharing this little green house with us these past 8 years plus.  Leaving the little green house is absolutely the only hard thing about this process.

Our tale starts with our decision last winter to start looking into our options--did we want to live in town, out of town, build, buy, big, small, new old...and how much house could we really afford without affecting our quality of life?  (Read:  eating out.  Buying clothes when the kids need 'em.  Starbucks.  Man, I sound like a douche for that last one, but it's the truth.)  So we started looking in February.  James and I searched for rural properties first, and spent a few lunch hours driving around to see what it felt like, how long the drive was, etc.  Well, it didn't feel right, I know that.  And the more we thought about what living out would mean at this point in our lives, giving up lunch together, limiting my volunteer time at the kids' schools, etc., well, it just didn't work.  But in the searching, one day I came across a listing for a house in town that appealed to me.  And the closer I looked, I realized I'd BEEN in the house before several years ago.  It belonged to a local architect and I wanted my Boy to check it out, like, yesterday.  So we went, one Friday evening.  Granted, we didn't have a down payment, yet, but we figured if it was meant to be, the finances would work out.  And we loved the house, although we had reservations about the location.  It wasn't exactly what I wanted, but once we started thinking about the house we wanted to buy now as a "right now" home, until the kids are out of school, it made it easier to think about what's most important.  What's important to us:  room to entertain, but not so much room that we live separate lives, rooms enough for everyone to have their own space, but not so spread out that everyone can go to their separate corners, room for James to work, space for all of us to be creative, a great yard for entertaining and living, and it needed to be pretty close to the places we spend most of our time.  That house, and a bungalow that we'd looked at when we moved here originally, were the only two homes we looked at in February.  And Elizabeth's house is the only one that felt right.

So we handed it over to God, and we quit looking.  It felt like He'd answered our questions about where, and the clear answer was:  in town.  We felt like we had a good idea of budget and what we needed to save for a down payment, and we figured it would take us until about December 2014 to save up.  And we waited.  And before too long, it was obvious that God was moving, and way faster than we ever expected.  At the beginning of May, we had the down payment (okay, okay, James earned the down payment by working crazy hard at all of the opportunities God threw his way).  That same week, Elizabeth's house sold to another family.  And it was okay...we immediately knew that it wasn't our house, and God had gently closed that door for us.  And truly, I haven't looked back until I started this post because it doesn't seem right to talk about this process without mentioning the house that started it all, for real.

We kept our eyes open, and in mid-June we looked at a house that had TONS of potential.  Like, I could SEE the before and afters being posted on a blog somewhere.  Great price, great lot...meh location, but I figured to get a great house on a great lot we had to compromise somewhere, right?  Visions of new plumbing and designing a kitchen and moving rooms and walls danced in my head.  Yes, I was temporarily insane.  But where the old Kristi would have plowed on and made it happen and lived to regret it, I knew to keep myself in check and remember that God was in control.  We were very grown up and consulted experts and all signs pointed to...this house needed much, much more cash than we could ever hope to put into it.  And truly, I was more interested in the house itself and the possibilities (oh, the possibilities!) and the story than I was the life we would live there.  Because you know, the life we would have lived there would have revolved around renovating and figuring out what to do with the awesome lot that had zero landscaping and no fence and...needed lots of work.  It was pretty easy to face the truth:  that house wasn't our house.  So we left for vacation and I gave myself a vacation from house-hunting.

And then we got back, and I looked at new listings and there were a couple of promising ones.  When we were looking at one (that we hated, btw), we ran into a lady who mentioned that she owned the home across the street and was looking to sell it, and she also owned a home around the corner that she MIGHT sell.  She invited us to look at either or both, and we politely thanked her and went on our way to our listing appointments.  Dead end, dead end.  So we went back and took a risk and pulled into her driveway.  I immediately realized that I'd been in that driveway before.  A friend of mine lived there before this family, and I had dropped her off after Bunco or something.  I'd never been IN the house before, but I'd been in that friend's new house and it was lovely.  So I hoped that would be the case with this house, as well.  And when we walked in, that was pretty much it...I felt like I was home.  And James felt the same way.  The kids weren't such an easy sell, as this house only has 2 bedrooms and they wanted their own rooms already.  But it felt right, so we went home and wrote up an offer.  Twenty four hours later, give or take, we had a contract.  That's how it happens here, sometimes--and now we're one of the lucky few who can say we got a great deal on a great house that wasn't even for sale.  This is God's math:  the house payment is almost exactly equal to our rent.  Which means I don't feel guilty for that Iced Caramel Macchiato I had this morning.

It will be a year before we can add the master suite, but that's okay--truth be told, I don't think the kids are ready to sleep apart yet, anyway.  And that will give us time to figure out what we really want/need, and to save $$ for the addition.  Can you tell we're really against being house poor?  I don't want a beautiful home and an ugly attitude...and I want the life we already have, just in a slightly bigger space.  (And trust me, it's only slightly bigger...I think people think we're a little nuts for buying such a small 2/1, but we've learned we're small house people.  We'll be thrilled when it's  a 3/2, but we're pretty happy in the meantime, too!)  The house is great as-is, but we've budgeted $$ for painting the interior (after all these years of taupe, I long for white walls!) and will do a couple of small things before we move in.  But really, we could move in the same day they move out.  If you've been house hunting in Brenham before, you know what a rarity that is.  It's a great house, y'all. And it's a great lot.  When I think about it, I don't think about how the house looks as much as how it feels...and it feels like a place where we're going to have a great life...pretty much like we do now, but with enough room to have friends over for dinner.  And a yard where kids can go and play.  And a patio where James and I can enjoy our coffee.  And a space where he can work, uninterrupted and without me moving his stuff (maybe).

I love this house, and the idea that it's about to be our home.  I hope you'll be able to join us at our table one day soon...I can't wait!

25 July 2014


We have a contract on a house we love, on a lot we love, in a neighborhood we love. But, these things aren't over til they're over, so while I hope to be moving in 6-8 weeks, that may not be the case.

You know what? After so long of living in limbo, I finally got fed up and got moving. So we're decluttering (or declittering, as my phone keeps autocorrecting) and paring down and preparing to move only the things that are necessary or loved or both.

While this is one more thing in an already crowded schedule, it's a very satisfying thing because I've needed to do it for so long!

Yesterday we sold our dining room set. We've already bought a new (possibly 100 year old) table...but we don't have chairs, yet. That's something we need to work on--the irony of all of the wood chairs I've collected over the years that we've shared with friends. Sigh. It was satisfying to do a belated spring cleaning on the table...now this morning I have to find a temporary home for all of my scrapbooks & Noble's candy science stuff.

I am giving my heat press and all of the vinyl to a sweet friend who will use it and love it. I don't have time or the love for it that I did before...honestly, once I got going with it I realized that silk screening is what makes my heart sing, but I don't have the time or space for that. Maybe someday, but for today, it feels good to release these things.

They say that sometimes you have to give up good things for better things. That's in the back of my mind as I picture this next year...I picture saying no more, so I can say yes to what matters most.

This is my quiet time view today...projects for this morning
on my work table, unfinished journaling because I can't concentrate, stuff that needs to go to other people and some that just needs a new home after yesterday's decluttering frenzy.

It feels good, this letting go.

It feels good to picture our new home all simple and clean, with only the most important things out and about. I did what I promised I'd never do again...I quit working on the little green house once I decided a move was in order. Furniture shopping this week has been so freeing, and so fun...and so easy because I know exactly what I want! :) Ahem, we. What we want.

I've got to get to work, but I felt like I needed to take a minute and document where I am right now. It's been 16 days since we made an offer on this home and started the process, but in so many ways it feels like it's been months and months. And then in other ways, it feels like the blink of an eye! Time is funny that way, isn't it?

10 July 2014

Reimagining Home

In February, my car was in the shop.  (Ironically, it's in the shop today, as well.  Unrelated.)  James picked me up for lunch and as he was taking me back to the church, we saw a realtor putting up a "for sale" sign in the yard of one of our favorite houses in the neighborhood.  We were not in any position to buy a house, with the car bill, but seeing that sign go up lit a fire in us.  We'd been TALKING about buying a house for years...after we do this, after we pay off that, and most recently, after Disney...but this inspired us to get serious.

So we did.

And then, the next day, I came across the listing for a friend's house that was for sale--a home I absolutely loved.  And we looked at it, and we all loved it, but the simple fact remained:  we didn't have the money in the bank to buy the house.

So we didn't.

But we saved and we searched and we saved and we searched...and here we are, 5 months later.  I know God is moving in this because we thought we needed 6 months to save a down payment, and James got a ton of jobs out of the blue and basically had a down payment in 6 weeks.  Yes, that's right.
God is good.  All the time.

The problem we've had, and it's not a problem so much as a question, is, where do we want to live?  How much house is enough?  What about land?  In town, out of town?  Big or small?  New or old?  That's just the tip of the iceberg.  We told a homeowner yesterday, it's both a blessing and a curse to be so wide-open in this process...we believe that God will lead us to the right home for us.  So we're trying really hard not to picture how the home will LOOK, but instead focus on how we want the home to FEEL.

The irony?  We have made an offer on a home that's HALF the size of the last home we looked at seriously (to the point of bringing a contractor out for a remodel bid...I really, really wanted that house, even though it was waaaaaaaaay bigger than what we need).  The home we're considering right now is less than 100 square feet bigger than the little green house, it's still a 2/1, and the office isn't attached to the house.  But it feels GOOD, y'all.  It feels like a home, and we can totally see ourselves there.  If it's meant to be, it'll be.  And I might be able to tell you in a month or so that the payment totally evens out with the small amount of rent we're paying now--we met with a banker yesterday, and if the numbers we went over hold, our new house payment would be our rent here + the difference in utilities + what we pay for our storage unit.  God is good, y'all.  That's His math.  Now, we're budgeting to spend more, but the cool thing is we can use that surplus to save for the addition we know is coming just as soon as we can afford it.  Or just use it to put in savings for when the AC breaks or the roof leaks or anything else that comes with home ownership.  Those are the things I haven't missed.

The things I have missed, and probably have never really had?  Roots.  I've loved the little green house, but in the past few years I've felt like we've been poised to jump up and move out of here.  So I've quit decorating, changing, updating...it's been stagnant.  It feels stagnant.  And I'm so over that feeling.  I'm over the Texas stars everywhere, and the color scheme of wood & red.  I'm over the clutter, and the dust under stuff because I don't feel like deep cleaning if we're just going to move, anyway.  I'm broken, I know.  

I look forward to dreaming about our new home and seeing ourselves living our lives in a new space.  Will our lives change?  No, but the landscape will.  Here's the thing, and I couldn't have put this into words until this week:  we looked at a beautiful home on a beautiful lot that would have taken all of our money for years to come.  And all of our time bringing it up to code and then keeping it up.  It's not like we have lots of spare time and money, and I'm sure I'm crazy for considering it.  

A few days ago, a friend who bought and loves a fixer-upper put it into words for us:  they spend all of their free time and free money working on their house.  He said it out of love, because that's his thing.  And they have a beautiful life in their fixer-upper that's now a beautiful home that's well-loved and well-lived.  

But it's not our thing.  I'm not comparing our family to theirs and saying they don't do any of the things I'm about to say--I'm just saying our situations are different.  I work 2-3 jobs, James has a full-time job and an almost full-time side job...our time is finite.  Our resources are finite.  Our time with our kids at home?  Also finite.  Sigh.  

Oh, the rabbit trails.

Walk with me, here.  Yes, we want to live out in the country.  But we're thinking now that's a "someday" dream...because we would be on the road back and forth to town a LOT.  There would be no more lunches together on the days I work at home, or popping in to the kids' schools to work on PTO stuff or have lunch.    Living in the country would make us think about every single drive, every trip, every activity.  And if that's what's meant for us, I know God will help us work it all out.  

But truly?  We've released the dream of a dream home on a dream piece of land...for now.  

What we keep coming back to is this:  we are not looking for a new LIFE.  We are looking for a new PLACE to live this life that we love.

The thing that's most important to us:  living a good life, making every day count.

I do have certain things I'm looking for in our next home:  space to entertain, to be able to have more than one family over comfortably.  Space for the kids to have their own rooms (which may be an eventually thing if we get this house).  Space for James to work comfortably, and to have privacy and be able to play his music as loud as he wants while he creates.  Space for us to be together in the kitchen while we make healthy and not so healthy food.  A cabinet for Kayci to store her baking stuff.  A laundry room I can actually walk into (I know).  A garage or decent shed for clean storage.  A carport or garage where we can keep our cars (or at least mine!) a little cleaner, or walk out in the rain and not get soaked.  A yard for parties and gatherings, and places for the kids to just BE outside.  Maybe room for a decent garden, as our commando gardening efforts seem to fail here again and again.

Sure, I'd love transoms...but the homes we've looked at that come with transoms don't come with central air and heat.  Not a deal breaker, but also not where we want to put our limited $$ right now.  Sure, I'd love a fireplace.  I'd love a big ol' kitchen with enough room for my red couch.  I'd love a space to spread out my scrapbook stuff and my craft stuff and leave it out for more than a few minutes at a time.  It'd be nice if the current owners could be mind readers and have it all painted in my favorite colors, too.  :)  But these things aren't deal breakers.

Deal breakers?  

A house that's so big and spread out that our family can choose not to see or hear each other for hours--I don't want us to live separate lives.  And yes, we'll still only keep one TV.  (The horror!) 

A house that will eat up all of James' limited free time and limit what he's able to do with our family.  I love that we quit working at 5 and just spend the evenings together, whatever that looks like.  I love that we nap on Sunday after church.  I love that he doesn't *usually* have to work on Saturdays, unless he's got a job booked.

A house that will eat up all of our money, so we tell the kids no, we can't go, or do, or we don't have enough...not that we don't tell them those things now, but I want to CHOOSE where we spend our budget, not be FORCED to spend it.

A house that I am so proud of that I lose sight of what a blessing it is, and Who that blessing comes from.  

A house that we choose to impress people with what a great step up we're making.  

A house that's perfect, just as it is...is there such a thing?  

Oh, and a house without a garage/shed.  Or with a small, crappy yard.  Or that smells funny.  

I've been thinking and praying about STUFF a lot...and what I do and don't want to move with us.  I don't want to carry over the stuff that's been in storage for 10 years.  Surely if I haven't used in in 10 years, I don't NEED it.  The clothes we never wear aren't making the trip.  The toys nobody plays with will find new homes.  A lot of my work stuff can go to work--or go away.  It literally just. Sits. There.  We have a lot of stuff that we spend a lot of time managing and dusting and moving around to make room for new stuff, and I'm so over that.  

We were considering buying a house with enough rooms for a guest room JUST to have a place to put this extra bedroom set we have.  Seriously??  

So, all this to say:  I don't know what's next.  We may be right here a year from now, which would be okay because that'll give our down payment time to grow.  Who knows.  

But what I do know is this:  wherever we are, we'll still be US.  

And that's enough.