Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Guns and Grit

Aka "sander selfie".

I started a new project this week, which was spurred on by moving around furniture. I'm really hoping gray spray paint will stick to this lightly sanded white paint, because I don't have the guns or grit to fully strip this cabinet that we picked up from the flea market several years ago. It seems the cabinet has been rehabbed at least once before. The current (dirty, chipping and smelly) white is just too punchy for the rest of the room. I took off the doors Monday, sanded Tuesday, and left it sitting in the driveway Wednesday. When it comes to house projects, I don't have the best follow through. The cabinet is old enough that the standard hole spacing for pulls has changed from 2.5" to 3", so I'll likely have to shop around some reuse places or fill and drill holes for new pulls. I'm not sure what to do for the hinges either. Ideally those will will replaced and get new holes since some of the old screws weren't installed straight. Those doors still need sanding as well. 

Dirty paint and pulls have got to go!

Glass doors are off!

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Am I doing this right?

When I was a brand new mama, I spent the first six months seeking answers from google, online forums and a friend who was a couple months ahead of me and had read far more parenting books than myself. I struggled to have confidence in the job I was doing. The strength of opinions coming at me from all sides undermined what little confidence I had in my abilities to be a good mom. Other than other panicked mothers on baby forums posting pictures of odd rashes and five-minute play by plays of their baby's fevers, I came across very few parents who would, in a place of vulnerability, offer up that they too questioned their own choices and longed for a little validation. Parents instead came off so confidently when they shared their decisions (like a school, or a meal plan, how they discipline,or a diapering method) and could likely rattle off a list of justifications for their decision. This was overwhelming. When my first son was around six months old, a switch finally flipped and I quit comparing my mothering to others' and started to trust my instincts. Eventually, my mantra became, "Is the baby alive? Is he fed? Is the booty clean and dry? Yes? Then you are doing a fine job." Babies were fairly simple. Meet their basic needs and snuggle as much as possible.

Now, several years down the road, I struggle with new choices and similar insecurities. I find myself trying to develop a list of justifications for the choices I make, and I'm not sure whom I am trying to convince that I'm doing this right. There are still those basic needs, and we never start or end a day without some snuggling, but there is a lot more in the middle. Opportunity. Practice. Deep spiritual conversations. Discussions about ethics. Reconciliation after fights. Supporting growing independence yet demanding obedience. Nurturing and pushing forward. Honoring commitments. Re-assessing privileges. Personal pursuits and family time. In each of these areas, I'm trying to figure out when I need to be soft, and when I need to be hard. When I need to be a stone that sharpens a knife, and when I need to be a salve that eases the pain of a wound. When I need to send out, and when I need to draw us in.

We take things slowly. I keep feeling the pressure to push push push, try try try, and worry that there is some opportunity/camp/lessons/special test that I've failed to provide them. And maybe I have, but childhood is barreling by us, and soon they will be young men. So for now, we lean into family. One sport at time. One after-school club. Not so many play dates. Not every single church meeting. No banking on any particular talent as the ticket to anyone's future or thinking progress reports define the child. We work on defining love and encouraging character. We talk about how the love they show their friends may be the only picture of Jesus's love some of their friends see. We talk about their friends' behavior or hurtful actions and try to understand what may have motivated them and figure out how we can better live with them. We admit when we've been jerks. I pray they don't fall into my personal trappings. I keep telling myself I need to get them more dental floss. I try to not be emotionally manipulative or check out, but I am and I do and I come back for extra snuggles.

Am I doing this right?

I will fail, over and over.

Are you doing this right?

There are no forums, no friends, no family that can satisfy that question we all carry to the grave.

It's why often my prayers aren't requests but simply acts of surrender.

"God, I give you this child. See my open hands? He is yours. I trust that You love him more than I ever could. I need Your mercy. He needs Your mercy. You are my confidence."

From Hebrews 4:
"Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need."

Monday, September 21, 2015


The greatest waves of guilt I've ever felt have been over my words. There's no way I could recall all the times my heart has seemingly fallen into my belly while reflecting on a conversation and my own ill-spoken words. I've thrown curse words at loved ones, I've criticized friends behind their backs, I've shared stories that weren't mine to share. Sometimes these words were simply poorly chosen, but many times these words were from my own internal darkness, pain and critical nature.

Thanks to all the ever-expanding avenues of connecting with people, it's so much easier to apologize and attempt to make things right than it was when I was in middle school. It also means there are more ways to over share. So while I may not have gotten better at thinking before I speak, but I am quicker to ask forgiveness. What eludes me though, especially in marriage, is that I can mentally prepare myself to be silent and not speak the words in my head and still have them spill out. I can visualize the pain my words are going to cause, maybe manage to sit on them a minute, and then my mouth just starts moving and out come the words.

One of the verses I memorized as a child came from James 3.
James 3:2-11
For we all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body. If we put bits into the mouths of horses so that they obey us, we guide their whole bodies as well. Look at the ships also: though they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things.

How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water?
So the problem isn't just the lack of control of my words, but the nature of my heart. This is the struggle I face every day. How can a heart that is redeemed by Jesus cause so much pain and destruction through its words? How can I in one breath speak of love and grace to my kids and in the next express my exasperation with them? Words have so much power. I should use them wisely, with love, and always to bring life, yet I daily falter in this struggle.

While Jesus already has my heart, he's still working on it. I'm not helping matters when the words I'm filling it with are everything else on the Internet. I spend a lot of time reading the news, reading about politics and celebrities (they seem like news but are mainly gossip), snooping around the Facebook comment threads, and denying that these words do impact me. They shape my heart. They dictate what will later come from my own lips. I don't believe in sticking my head in the sand, but I also need saturate myself in what is lovely and pure -- words of life.
John 1:14
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.
I would guess that one of my biggest daily missed opportunities is letting God speak words into my life by spending time in the Bible. I cringe at the "I'm on a coffee date with Jesus" culture, and I shudder at the words "daily devo" (short for devotion in case you didn't know), and I forget that God has no interest in pop-Christian culture or that I have Instagram-worthy "Scones & Scripture." He asks that I bring my inadequacies and cynicism, and just shut my trap for a moment and listen. Perhaps I could shift some of my daily communing with People Magazine to communing with God. He can change me with his Word. He can give me strength to bridle my criticism and He will eventually make it so His words are the first thoughts I have.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Statement Culture

We have become a culture of statements.

Jewelry is no longer called a simple "necklace" but a "statement piece."

A couch is no longer a place to sit your butt, but has to also "make a statement."

Our cars, our homes, our clothes, friends, where we eat, the beer we drink have become statements about who we are.

And our 140 characters, parsed statements become our summation of how the world should operate. When news hits, we jump on Facebook or Twitter to essentially release a statement on the event... with the same pomp and air of authority as a government official or chancellor of a university. Sometimes we share the words of others because we want to make a statement, but not carry responsibility for the weight or veracity of such words.

We are told to constantly project who we are, to live authentically, and yet we wonder why we feel so unseen. I'm guilty of this too.

But I tell you what -- these "statements" are no more poignant or an honest representation of our worth than foul gas is a representation of a meal. Usually it is unwelcome, thankfully it is fleeting, and likely bears little resemblance to the soul of the meal.

What we need are conversations. (And don't get me started on "conversation pieces". Yes, I've watched too much HGTV lately). We need hugs, unassuming dinners in each other's homes, and vulnerability. We need to see beyond the physical attire, hear deeper than the audible words, and listen to the heart. We need more than gestures. More than slogans on t-shirts.

As someone who claims to follow Jesus, I need to remember that I don't need to project who I am onto culture. I don't need to find the right words so that I both bring healing and maintain an image of someone "who gets it." It's not about me, I can't comprehend all things. I'm just not that smart. I can't heal all the hurts. Jesus can. I don't need a podium, because what wisdom do I have apart from God's? No matter how much noise I am making or how quiet I have become, I am seen by God who calls me His beloved daughter. My life has already been validated, and the only statement I need to be making is that salvation has come, and God loves you too.

Jesus made a lot of statements, but what He gave was His life. His statements were followed by love. His words brought life. His words forgave and reconciled. His words have not lost their potency in the changing tides of culture. His words are beautiful and they cut deeply.

Yes, this blog post is a long statement. But for me, getting words out onto the screen is a way to call myself out, to release myself from a race I was never called to run.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Syrian Refugee Offering

My church in downtown Raleigh ( is taking up a two-week offering for a church plant in Edinburgh ( that is caring for local Syrian Refugees. All profits from any Paige Puckett Pottery sales from now through the end of 9/27/15 (less sales tax, Etsy fees, and shipping) with be given to this offering and benefit Syrian families who have relocated to Edinburgh. Local friends are welcome to use the code: RDUpickup if you'd like to pick up your purchase in person.

In case you want to donate to this offering but not buy pottery, the offering link I will be using is: Under the drop-down menu for "Giving Type", select "Syrian Refugee Offering." This donation will go to VintageNC in Raleigh and then be sent to Grace Church Leith once the offering has finished being collected.

Friday, September 11, 2015

What's Growing

Yesterday after I shared gardening pictures on Facebook, I realized I probably should have posted them here on the blog. While I've gone out regularly to pick okra and beans, the garden has taken a back seat to the new school year,  soccer practices, and my newly discovered ability to run errands without kids. I do little thirty minute projects here and there like taking down the blueberry nets, replanting raspberry runners and pulling out sections of mimosa weed. I've tried twice now to seed a section of spinach, but some pesky bunnies keep mowing it down. We've been getting a lot of rain over the past few weeks, which has caused both the peppers and okra to get top heavy. I have a lot of tasks ahead as we transition to Fall, but I'm waiting for the cool air before I get too dirty!

I'd love to have a gorgeous fall garden, but I'm tempted to pull everything out and let it all rest until spring, save a small section of garlic and the perennial herbs. I struggle with my own reluctance to week out any "desirable" plant, and the disorganization is driving me nuts. Sometimes I love that dill is popping up everywhere, and sometimes I'd like to take a shovel and turn it all over. Think of it as spring cleaning, but outside in the Fall. 

The pole beans are also out of control. I'm not sure what variety is on the dome (and pictured above), but next year I will only choose to plant a French pole bean, "Emerite" by Renee's Garden seeds. These long, round beans are by far the loveliest and easiest to prepare as they are stringless and snap easily. The beans on the dome may be half-runners that toughen up too soon and are too stringy. One lesson I'm learning is that while it is fun to try multiple varieties, choosing one that works well can be a better use of space!

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Grayson Highlands

We've returned from our Labor Day (Weekend) trip to Virginia, and once again I've taken far more pictures of wildlife than my family. The "wild" ponies were exciting for the kids, and we loved our hike in Grayson Highlands. I did get plenty of cute shots of the boys, but I'll save those for the family.

The first day we hiked, it was foggy and chilly, but two days later it was hot and clear. The ponies had moved from grazing in an open clearing to the bottom of the hill in a grove of trees. Of course, we hiked back to the top of their usual area before a pair of horseback riders informed us that they were back at the base of the trail.

Gold was the color of the season with hints of purple and red. There were still some blueberries left of the bushes whose leaves were already beginning to change color. I've never seen such tiny blueberries, which my boys insisted were the best blueberries ever. Probably in another year or so they will be old enough for a camping trip in Grayson, but not near the ponies since they are rumored to be major food thieves.


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