June 28, 2011

Old White Dry Bar, Part Two

On Saturday afternoon and evening we put the finishing touches on the dry bar. In order to make the piece look "professional" we used dark and clear wax to enhance the "worn" finish.

Home sweet Home!
The dry bar is back in its corner of the living room.
I decided to leave the original hardware. I painted two coats of Old White on it and used sandpaper to rough it up. Next, I used a dry cloth and dipped it in dark wax, smeared it over the metal and wiped it away.
Once I had the color I liked, I sealed it with clear wax.
The overall finish is a comfy, worn in look.
Once we had waxed the entire piece (2 coats) we used medium grade steel wool to buff it until it was perfectly smooth and shiny.
I enjoyed randomly distressing parts of the piece and making it look
old and loved.
Special thanks to Frank Sinatra, Mumford & Sons and James Brown for providing hours of excellent music while we worked. I would also like to thank 'We the Pizza,' 'Sweetgreen,' and Ben and Jerry's for providing food for us in our time of hunger and sugar cravings.

This was the perfect weekend project. I highly recommend Chalk Paint to anyone who wants a professional and original finish to their furniture. It comes in 24 different shades and I cannot wait to buy my next can and start another project!

June 26, 2011

Dry Bar, Part One

I have spent the past few months researching paint refinishing. I finally came across the answer to all questions: Annie Sloan's CHALK PAINT. Annie Sloan is an artist and author who resides in Oxford, England. She has been painting and refinishing furniture for over 40 years. Annie created Chalk Paint because she felt a void in the market--she wanted a paint that could cover a wide variety of surfaces, be easy to clean, need little before prep and that came in many vibrant hues. It almost sounds too good to be true: a paint that can cover floors, walls, indoors, outdoors, stone, wood, metal, plastic, formica...a paint that required NO PRIMING or SANDING...and comes in 24 gorgeous shades. Look no further folks: CHALK PAINT is born.

Of course I was still nervous. It all seemed so easy...but I knew if something could go wrong it would...or would it?

On Friday afternoon, Kern and I set out to make a masterpiece. I had a light oak dry bar in my living room that didn't really match the rest of the furniture so I decided it was time to give it a new life. City painting has it's extra challenges--for one thing--space. We decided the best place to set up shop would on Kern's patio since it is hidden from the street.

We moved the dry bar from my house, loaded it in to Kern's truck
and transported it 5 blocks.

Next step was removing all the hardware
and being happy that we didn't have to sand!
I chose "Old White"
We painted two coats on Friday night (in between a trip to We the Pizza)
It dries quickly.
It is recommended that you lightly sand between coats

We decided to paint the inside too!
Above and beyond

After the first two coats, I began lightly distressing with sandpaper.
The paint is easy to work with and is not a struggle to make it look "old"
I wanted an old "farmhouse-y" look

This is what it looked like after phase 1. Phase II involves waxing--which makes all the difference! Stay tuned!

June 21, 2011

The Importance of Friends

"In friendship...we think we have chosen our peers. In reality a few years' difference in the dates of our births, a few more miles between certain houses, the choice of one university instead of another...the accident of a topic being raised or not raised at a first meeting--any of these chances might have kept us apart. But, for a Christian, there are, strictly speaking no chances. A secret master of ceremonies has been at work. Christ, who said to the disciples, you have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, I can truly say to every group of Christian friends, you have not chosen one another but I have chosen you for one another. The friendship is not a reward for our discriminating and good taste in finding one another out. It is the instrument by which God reveals to each of us the beauties of others."
C.S. Lewis

I saw a commercial for a movie called "The Adjustment Bureau" last night. The premise of the movie (disclaimer: I have not seen it) is that there is a group of people out there who control your destiny and fate...who you will marry, where you will work, who your friends are. I cringed at this thought. On the other hand, what an incredible thought it is to know that God is orchestrating situation and relationships in our daily lives--seemingly chance encounters that often encourage us, propel us forward or inspire us. As I look back over my friendships (and of course family) I cannot help but marvel at the individuals that God has placed in my life.

We can all identify people who have been placed in our lives to nurture us, test us, expand our horizons--and we often end up taking tiny bits of pieces of what we learn from these friends and adding them to ourselves. The Christian individual can say with confidence that no relationship is a coincidence, but an opportunity to expand oneself and to encourage a better another person's life.

Take the time to thank someone in your life (I'm sure we all have more than one person) who has impacted you. We can all use a little encouragement!

June 17, 2011

Mississippi on the Mall

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Hope to see you there!

June 15, 2011

Honoring Heros

I often think about my grandparent's generation and how their lives were so radically affected by war. Every aspect of the economy shifted into "war mode." Everyone knew a brother, son, father, nephew, cousin or friend who was off fighting. It's different today. We hear about the troops all the time and pray for them daily, but at least in my realm, I do not have any family members actively serving and only a few friends.

Through my work in Congressman Harper's office, I had the privilege of meeting CJ Stewart--a young man from Madison who served in the 101st Airborne. CJ is really good buddies with one of my co-workers, Jimmy. A year ago today, CJ was very seriously wounded. Since then, he has gone through 39 surgeries and endured untold pain. Our office has been following CJ's progress and helping him with some casework and combined with the unique angle Jimmy provides because of his friendship with CJ, we have all gotten very interested in his case. Jimmy shared with me a summary that CJ's dad wrote and posted on facebook today. Through tears I read it and knew it needed to be shared. This is a great reminder that we live in a country where people are ready and prepared to sacrifice their lives for us--but also a reminder that God is in control and can use situations that we view as "bad" for GOOD! Mr. Stewart does an excellent job (as does their entire family) of giving the glory to God--and that is truly uplifting and so encouraging.

Continue to pray for CJ as well as our military members and their families.

"One Year Later" by Chuck Stewart

365 days ago Satan tried to destroy our world. But as He always does, God took what Satan meant for evil and turned it into good.

1) CJ should have died in the explosion. Because of the position of his body his right arm prevented the RPG from hitting his unprotected heart. I say “unprotected” but we know God had been protecting his heart for 21 years.

2) He should have bled to death. He lost 40% of his blood and it was a miracle they were able to slow it down enough to start transfusions that saved his life.

3) He should have lost his right arm. Two days before his injury a 2nd medic was added to their platoon. “Ski” had only been there 2 days and CJ was his 1st patient. His quick, calm, and decisive action gave the doctors a chance.

4) Before his 1st operation the doctor noticed him moving his fingers. She stated that the x-rays indicated enough damage that she would have removed his arm if she had not seen his fingers moving. He later told us she saw him waving good-bye to his hand.

5) In Germany two of CJ’s best friends from Medic School were on staff and took great care of him. Robin was worried he would be alone and God showed us His universe is pretty small and He has no issue putting people exactly where they need to be to protect His children.

5 miracles in the 1st 2 days. Many more to follow. We were advised early that CJ would have some horrible months, weeks, and days. They were wrong. CJ’s had a few bad hours, but he never got depressed or angry. I NEVER heard him complain one time that getting hurt wasn’t fair. Every person who touched him said he was the best patient they ever had. That’s after 39 surgeries (36 in 4 months).

CJ has touched so many people with his faith, attitude, and bright smile. The Under Secretary of the Army left CJ’s room in tears and told me, “I will never be the same after meeting CJ Stewart!” Ned Yost, Manager of the Kansas City Royals told me he needed to bring his entire team to meet CJ because he was such a tremendous example of trusting God and dealing with adversity. Sen. Bob Dole told me that CJ’s has more tenacity and determination than any wounded warrior he had ever seen.

A lot of people have been there for us. 99% of the people at Walter Reed have been wonderful. The other 1% ensured I prayed every day. When they brought CJ to his room June 20th I will never forget his nurse walking to his bed and saying, “Thank you and welcome home hero!” That is how they viewed him and you could tell as they helped him get better. Executive Services & Wounded Warrior Project have been amazing! Operation Homefront came to our rescue a couple of months ago and have been super.

The 101st Airborne has demonstrated daily that CJ is 101st for life. Maj. Gen. John Campbell and his wife Ann have cared for us more than I can explain. Walter Reed tried to get CJ to give them back his Purple Heart so Pres. Obama could “present” it to him when he visited. I’ll never forget his reply. “I was given my Purple Heart by Maj. Gen. John Campbell, the Commander of the 101st. No offense to the President, but that means more to me than receiving it from anyone else”.

The rest of the 101st has been awesome. Too many names to mention between the liaisons, retired warriors, Moms and Wives of CJ’s commanders and teammates, Rear Command from Ft. Campbell, and so many others were there daily to take care of CJ and Robin. We are honored to be part of the Screaming Eagles. And Stacy Davis, we will never forget you and others responsible for finding our cross!!!

Facebook has been a wonderful tool to share information with all of you. Some of you I may never meet on this earth, but will see you in heaven. Thank you for standing with us.

Our friends in Louisiana have been so faithful. Many related but many more who have been friends for life interceded daily to the Father on our behalf. So many words of encouragement from people I respect more than they know. West Lake Baptist Church has been a great friend thru all of this.

The State of Mississippi has become our home. The media paints her a certain way, but she is home to some of the finest people we know. Gov. Haley Barbour, Senators Thad Cochran and Roger Wicker have all been so gracious as well as generous in providing anything we needed. Rep. Gregg Harper has been a great friend and has gone so far out of his way to take care of Robin and CJ in DC. Our Mayor, Mary Hawkins Butler and her team in Madison have been so supportive. We will never forget October 28, 2010 (CJ Stewart Day in Madison, MS…thanks Mayor Mary). Jimmy Stringer is not a public official (yet) but he has been our glue in Washington DC. Thank you Jimmy for ALL you have done!

I knew Scott Steele from church, but when CJ got hurt he became a friend and then a part of our family. He shared CJ’s story on his radio program on a daily basis. He introduced CJ to Mississippi and Mississippi responded. We have hundreds of new friends and supporters because of Scott. His interview w/Drew Brees where Drew talked about CJ is now a family heirloom.

All our Christian friends have carried us this year. I told someone the other day I am so glad I don’t have a lot of “proper” Christian friends…you know the ones who pray those sweet little proper prayers. Our Christian friends know how to pray and they pray with fervor and without ceasing. They bombarded heaven on our behalf, touching the heart of God and inspiring us daily with words of wisdom and encouragement. We will spend the rest of our lives earning that back.

Broadmoor Baptist Church in Madison is so much more than “our church”. Pastor Rob Futral has been a great mentor for CJ and me. Gary, Harvey, Tommy, Mike, Josh, and our other pastors stood in the gap with us and refused to let us get discouraged. I cannot walk thru the church without MANY people grabbing me to tell me they are praying every day!! Our Life Group has been awesome. We don’t get “hugged” there…we get “held”. If God ever asks me to move, my plan is to put wheels on Broadmoor and take all of you with us!!

Our parents, brothers and sisters, and all the “extended” family have done what a family is supposed to do…but it is still greatly felt. Becki, you were with CJ during his worst week. That wasn’t a coincidence and Robin and I will never forget!

DB – Robin and I know God placed you right where you are for a reason. I see CJ at his best when you are around! We love you an awful lot and want you to know how special you have become to us!! Thank you!

Megan is the best big sister in the world. I love watching her love her little brother. She has also done a great job in Mississippi keeping it all together for us. And thank you for spending so much time with me in the last year. I know you have a life but blessed you want to spend time w/Dad. I get to eat dinner once a week with my 26 year old daughter. Luckiest Dad in the world!! I love you!!

I have always called Robin the “queen” because there is no one like her, but watching her deal with this and allowing God to use her to touch so many hurting people has been amazing. A lot of us talk about our walk with God, but not Robin. She just walks. She is loved at Walter Reed by everyone (except those who mistreat her son) and I have talked to an endless number of soldiers and members of their families who tell me they would not have made it without her. CJ knows how special Mom has been. She has a Mary heart and a Martha work ethic. Robin…you are more amazing than you can possibly imagine. I love you!!

CJ – there are only a few Dads in the world who have a super hero for a Son. Being your Dad is my high honor. You have taught me so much about being a man. Your unwavering faith has made it very easy for me to believe with you. I remember several moments in the last year when your body was in so much pain, yet you would smile and tell us you were “great”. At those moments God would speak to my heart and say, “Look at CJ standing like a rock! He has a heart for me. I can use him for my kingdom!” I challenge you to continue to stir up the gift God has placed in you. The world needs men who will stand for what’s right. God has something incredible for your life. He didn’t allow the last year without an incredible purpose. Pursue it with a passion and it will come to pass. “Change the world” while you “Win the Day”! And never forget the Army of young men who watch every step you take because they want to be just like you. That’s an awesome responsibility. Thank you for treating it so sacredly.

I know I’ve missed many, but I just wanted to say thanks to all of you. God is good. I’m reminded of one of my favorite scriptures:

What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?...No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:31-32, 37-39

June 12, 2011

Meg + Bob = Megbert!

Back in May, we had the privilege of hosting a shrimp boil to celebrate the upcoming wedding of Meg and Bob. This past weekend, 12 of our DC friends made our way to Marietta, Georgia for the nuptials. It was a particularly fun weekend for me because so many of my Ole Miss friends were there in addition to the DC crowd.

DC Core Group: we all graduated from Ole Miss in '08 and moved to DC right away!
Me, Katie, Charles, Mary Ellis, Meg

The girls!

The guys
Bob Lynch, Chef Extraordinaire

Kern and Bob

Mary Ellis and me

Laura, Carolyn, Meg, me

Decorations coming together for the shrimp boil

Mr. and Mrs. Robert Watts at the Marietta Country Club!

June 10, 2011

Where have I been?

Great question. I feel like I've been all over the place! After a wonderful and relaxing weekend at Cape Hatteras, work and life roared back in with a particular busyness that doesn't really fit my ideal description of SUMMER. I'm still holding tight to the definition of summer meaning no school, sleeping in, and the pool daily--despite being 3 years out of those good times!

So for a quick update (and I promise more soon!) I've been busy planning two events for the Mississippi Society (we just launched a new site--check it out HERE). The first one takes place this Tuesday evening: John Grisham's novel, A Time to Kill, has been adapted to a play version and is making its pre-Broadway debut at Arena Stage. The Mississippi Society is sponsoring an evening with Mr. Grisham and the Mississippi Congressional delegation. What began as a small idea in February has blossomed into a huge evening--we've sold over 400 tickets!

Read more for yourself about the event here.

As if that wasn't enough for one week, Mississippi on the Mall is 5 days later! This will be the 21st year! We have a new location--right by the Lincoln Memorial. My parents and brother are coming up and I'm so excited for them to experience the event. The George McConnell Band is returning as well as the delectable catfish prepared on site. It's going to be a great day. If you think about it: please pray for sunshine!

Despite these event, (oh and of course WORK) I've also been in the process of adapting to a new way of eating. I will be talking more about this later, but I read Kimberly Snyder's book, The Beauty Detox, and I don't know how to explain it other than to say that the pieces of the puzzle that I felt were missing in my eating habits were explained here. I've been eating primarily vegetarian for the last 6 + weeks and I have NEVER FELT BETTER IN MY LIFE. Food is so powerful and truly has the ability to heal us, make us stronger and give us abundant energy. I'm really excited about beginning to share more of my journey with you in the coming months. If you want to get a head start, check out Kim's blog or purchase the book! It's life changing!

And finally...it's almost time for me to begin a new furniture remodeling project! I have purchased a gallon of Annie Sloan's chalk paint and...well...pictures and details will be going up on this later. I need to get through this upcoming!

In closing, I'm soon heading to Atlanta for BOB AND MEG'S WEDDING! It's going to be an incredible weekend because all of my Ole Miss friends and all of my DC friends will be in once place! I'm also going to get to see Aunt Susan! And Mary Jane and Greg!

Have a good weekend! More updates soon!
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