December 25, 2012

{Virtual} Christmas Card

Merry Christmas, dear friends!

"He is sending us a Light from Heaven / To shine on us like the sun / To shine on those who live in darkness" 
 [Jesus Storybook Bible, SLJ]

 
MUCH love, from Porter Rd.
xx

December 7, 2012

Bump Update

I know.. A teeny bit predictable.. It's a requirement as one living overseas from female family relations!

Taken last weekend, baby boy bump at 26 weeks -


He continues to be a mini acrobat (or boxer), rolling & punching around in there, very happy to spend all day saying hello. 

(Oh, and since I've only JUST stopped sweating after a brief look at prams today, I hope he likes being carried everywhere.)

Here ends my bump report!

xx

December 4, 2012

8 Years Wedded

Thank you for 8 years and counting, my beloved.

{2004}

Thank you for being my absolute best friend and the one I never tire of spending time with.

For perfecting the making of pancakes on a Sunday morning.

For forgiving my faults.

For being the best travel companion.

For staying so close when I'm entirely useless.

For loving and missing my dad so deeply.

For liking British television and tea-drinking as much as I do. 

For listening and listening. And then listening some more.

For still being the one who makes me laugh until I cry... (most impressively when I'm trying so hard to be mad.)

For loving Jesus.

For inspiring me creatively.

For your patience and grace.

For all this, and SO much more, I'm incredibly thankful.

8 years and counting, my beloved. 

xx

November 23, 2012

Friends

"Assemble in your imagination all the friends you enjoy being with... the most delightful of shared experiences, the people with whom you feel completely alive - that is a hint at heaven"*

-- Laity Lodge Food Retreat, Nov 2012 --
 {Sally, Amy, Steven, Katherine, Me, Nate, Keely & Gabe}

This is a collection of some of the most wonderful people I know. They are a creatively talented bunch, deep thinking, generously kind and hearty joksters. They each seek to love well and journey with wonder - and I'm the lucky duck that gets to hang-around by virtue of a talented husbando!

We are spread across the country from top to bottom (or traveling across it, frequently absent from Nashville), so the chance to all be in one place, at the one time, is a treat.

And, oh, the women folk... I believe I strained facial muscles, laughing non-stop at their immense silliness.

 {Don't be alarmed.. Keely is simply demonstrating her mastery of mime - a basic teeth removal move for Sally's squeamish delight}

I'm very thankful for these lady-loves and the wisdom and joy they share with me. While absent from my sisters, they help fill a void here on the other side of the ocean!

xx

[*Eugene Peterson, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction]

November 19, 2012

Blue Knit

How is it that a small bundle of blue knit can turn me cluckety-clucky.. It makes me smile and sigh a little, every time I look at it... So small and soft.


This teeny item has me as eager to meet our little guy as anything. And I've been told there are more to come, thanks to my Granny's expert knitting skills!


She makes these beautiful items without blinking an eye and I'm a very grateful recipient, especially considering my own questionable knitting efforts.

Let's hope the TN weather stays cool long enough for him to sport a variety of stylish sweaters & cardy's about town.

{Thanks Granny, baby boy is already so spoiled.}

xx

November 15, 2012

I spy with my little eye...

I pretty winter coat.


My sister was late-night internet surfing & spotted this lovely army-green coat over at Emerson Made. Into my inbox she sent it this morning, to which I responded "yes! I do love it!".

We both work from home and mostly dream of the need for this street-wandering, urban chic number. But girls can dream...

xx

November 3, 2012

Bump On Board

Porter Stories is back from an unplanned, poorly communicated hiatus, and we return with glad tidings to share! There is a baby-boy Tasker bumbling away.

We are in hopeful expectation of this new little life, due to arrive early in the new year.


I am almost 22 weeks along and each check-up has gone smoothly. We are very thankful for a healthy looking baby, all limbs accounted for!

The little guy has made sure not to go unnoticed, moving & poking around every day since early-on, and it's been a gracious gift to calm my nerves as we count the weeks.

We have definitely experienced moments of anxiety... Unexpected loss has a way of planting the niggling thought that something will go wrong.

As in all things, we pray that we can leave this with God & trust His plans. Baby-boy is His, from beginning to end, and we prayfully anticipate that this rascal will be a keeper.

I look forward to sharing the coming months with joy & thanksgiving.

xx

September 17, 2012

Honduras - circle of friends

Our Honduras visit was spent in the company of other artists, speakers, writers and Compassion staff.

I did have a touch of tour-group panic before leaving, with 4 days of snug bus rides and shared meals ahead with total strangers.. You just never know. You know?


Thankfully, after making the rounds of introductions, I was utterly relieved to discover a wonderfully normal and interesting combination of people to spend time with! They made the whole experience that much richer and deeper, with their individual, unique perspectives and thoughtful discussion.

There was Melissa, Natalia, and Sean (part of the band Bellarive, from FL) -


Dan (a writer, from CO) & Jaden (a musician, from CA) -


Michael Jnr (son of Michael, & all-round great guy) & Michael (Speaker & 2-time "Survivor" contestant, from MI) -


Dominick (a musician, from CA) -


Steph (on the left, dear friend & Compassion rep, from Nashville) -


And Jeremy and his wife Julie, who's on the right (Jeremy is part of Nine Lashes, from AL). We missed snapping a picture with them as a couple, thwarted by slow immigration!

We processed the hard & uncomfortable with all these precious people, along with laughing at the super fun & silly parts of each day. Like the lime & spoon race -

{I was pipped-at-the-post by sneaky Julie}

{Nate dropped his lime...}

The sack race, followed by the kiddies turn - 


The 2 Michael's teaching the chicken dance -


And an impromptu jam session with one of the local Pastors -

 {On the drums is Spence, our second, kind-spirited Compassion staff rep, from CO}

We couldn't have asked for a better group of traveling companions, and new, far-flung friends.

Oh, & here we are! Sharing these trips as a couple is a real gift. It can be hard to process alone, hard to describe to others. I'm continually thankful that we can journey together.

xx

September 9, 2012

Sharing Spring Favorites

Pop-on over & check-out the lovely Miss Emily's blog - Each Peach Pear. The name alone makes me happy! Emily is a dear friend from Sydney, who snaps charming pictures & shares stories of daily life, with her adorably chubby-cheeked little ones in-tow.

Most recently, she was kind enough to let me take-over her blog for a day & share some Spring fashion favorites. I had a grand time flicking back through my memory bank and pulling out the best of what I'd spied during our travels this past Spring*.

{A Taster: High-waisted, pleated skirts}


So dreamy.

To all you lucky Southern Hemispherer's (not word, I know) enjoy the slowly warming sun & pretty blossoming trees. 

xx

*on the other side of the equator.

September 4, 2012

Honduras - Compassion at work

It's not altogether easy to put our Honduras visit with Compassion into words. I'm not sure I can adequately describe the heat, the smell, the mud hut homes; the hundreds of young, smiling faces that greeted us; the broken but hope-filled lives connected to ours (& yours!) through child sponsorship. 

I will leave it to the pictures to do most of the describing and fill-in the gaps with an edited version of everything we experienced.


We were just a hop-skip-jump from Miami, yet we were worlds apart - amongst some of the poorest of the poor - taking a look at the life-changing work Compassion, together with local Pastors and volunteers, is achieving in Honduras. In the name of Jesus, they are putting hope into the eyes of children & pushing back against the darkness, with lasting impact. 

Over 3 full days we visited various Compassion student centers, primarily to LOVE on the children that attend (easy!), to see first-hand Compassion at work, and to speak with the amazing men leading the church’s that host the centers. These are men of deep faith, prayer & great vision, who are changing their communities by changing the lives of children, both practically and spiritually [meals, clean water, medical care, education, bible teaching, clothing/supplies, and so much more].


In the afternoon we went on "home visits" with several of the children, meeting their parents and seeing the conditions of where they live. Typically, it's too many people in too small a room - 1 bed, no loo, a dirt floor, possessions we would place in the rubbish pile. At this point everyday my heart was heaviest and the realities of poverty made me light-headed. The smell got under my clothes and the lack of light made it feel like hope had left the room. Early-on in the week, I was overwhelmed by the tide that needed to be turned and felt a bit defeated, wondering if the young lives effected could actually be rescued long-term.


In those moments I was forgetting the great Rescuer.

At the center of each home is a child known & loved by Him, who is coming to understand true Light and Life, and a future that doesn’t have to be defined by poverty. The intervention of Compassion plays an enormous role, and the proof is in the pudding! At the weeks end we got to talk with two former Compassion children, now both enrolled in college*. They shared remarkable stories of redemption, representative of so many others just like them.

I realize it's a well-worn story for many of us... Poverty can settle-in amongst us and we become immune to how to be involved. The images are either all too familiar, or from a place so far away that it stops being real. That's why I wanted to share about it here. These children are very real. I’ve hugged them, kissed their small, dark-haired heads, held their hot little hands, heard about favorite subjects & best friends at school.


If there's one thing I want you to know from our Honduras visit, it's that Compassion are the hands and feet of Jesus amongst these children & their impoverished communities. Each of us have the wonderful opportunity to partner with them in this work - our smallest offering from here at home brings remarkable change for those on the receiving end. If you haven't already, please sponsor a child today. And if you already sponsor - thank you!

 

Oh, and the letters! I can't sign-off without a huge reminder to WRITE to your Compassion children. They treasure your words of encouragement. You may be the only dad or mum they know... the grandparent that remembers to ask about school... the older brother or sister looking-out for them and cheering-on from afar. 

 [Carlos, with a letter from his sponsor]

I pray in some small way this helps refresh your interest & excitement for Compassion. And I hope these precious faces are a delight and encouragement to see!

xx

*talking with the students gave us a glimpse of what Compassion graduates are achieving all over the developing world, whether it's going to college, receiving skilled labor training or finding full-time employment - the cycle of poverty is being broken.

August 25, 2012

Read & Eat

A slow Saturday morning date with the Nate [& Jamie Oliver].
 

I've decided Jamie's too passionate about food, & interesting in his food discoveries, to not read this new recipe collection like a book. That's a first for me.
 
Fittingly, I began with the breakfast chapter, & it didn't disappoint!


Oh, & the actual food - YUM.

After years [years, I tell you!] of searching for the "just right" Banana bread recipe, Jamie's is the winner*.


Get. In. My. Belly.

xx

[*the extra twist in Jamie's recipe? wet & oiled parchment paper.]

August 22, 2012

Working Girl

This girl's been working 9-5. Clocking-in & out. Hence my silence down the line. The last 3+ weeks have been spent at Charlie Peacock's studio helping-out, while one of his team is away.

Usually, if I wanted to work in my pajamas all day* & tell my boss to stop interrupting me, I could. If Monday needed to be a "personal day" for movie marathon's or time to catch-up on blogging, then hoorah for me! So, this recent set-up has felt most grown-up.

While I'm quite behind on grocery shopping & house cleaning (kudos to full-time, out-of-house workers) it's been a wonderful experience. I feel very lucky to live in a city of creative people, embarking on artistic endeavors that I get to help out of the nest & into the big wide world. None more-so than Charlie Peacock.

After 13+ years, Charlie is re-entering the world of album releases & tours, & I can't wait to watch it all unfold. It's going to be a blast! [Check-out pre-release glimpses of Charlie's songs & sights here.]

xx

*Charlie is a solid supporter of pajamas, but probably not as my chosen work attire. Early days still...

August 10, 2012

12 months, 2 words


There are probably lots of words I could use to describe how I feel 12 months on from losing our twin babies. The two I keep circling around this morning are time & thankfulness.
Time... It adds-up & pushes forward. It places days & months between ourselves & our heartbreak. It’s like padding around the edges… Instead of having the sharp, harsh realities of shocking loss weighing constantly on my heart, I have some protection against the hurt. Time helps hide the memories in the recesses of my heart, where I have to choose to find, unpack & reflect on them.
I believe time is a gracious gift from God to help us recover, giving us space to breathe & the chance to see life put itself back together again. 
Thankfulness… To be here now, living & loving well, where previously our life felt like a barren desert. In the days following Jack & Lucy’s arrival it scared me how hollow & pointless I felt. I kept asking Nate – will we ever feel like ourselves again, will we actually recover ourselves from under the mountain of grief? I’m incredibly thankful to answer yes. We are whole & complete, even if we are an altered version of ourselves.
And I am thankful for the countless opportunities we’ve had to share the story of Jack & Lucy and receive in return the stories of others. It’s been both humbling and nourishing to experience the family of God in this way. We truly carry one another along the way.
Honestly, I’ve not reached a place of being thankful for the overall, entire journey from the last year. And I’m not sure time will change how I feel about that. I would trade in a heartbeat the lessons I’ve learned & the connections we’ve made with people, to have 2 babes crawling over my feet right now. And in twenty years time, maybe I’d trade even quicker, if it meant getting to know the people Jack & Lucy would’ve become. 
But that’s the perspective of my own small self. How wonderful to have a God who’s eye sees so much further & whose plans are so much richer than we can ever imagine or understand. That is where I choose to rest. 
xx
{To read the twins story from the beginning, please click "Twin's" under topics, just to your right, & scroll down.}

August 7, 2012

Scenes of the Countryside

Australia's fun, bustling & sparkling cities aren't quite complete without the miles of country road that links them together.

We took to the road this visit, instead of the air, & it gave us the chance to see once again just how beautiful & special Australia is.


I used to think of my homeland as a dry, sprawling country that looked the same as almost anywhere else. But having been to a few other "elses" over the years, I now know that the bright, crisp colors of Australia are unique. The varied & open landscape, uninhabited for miles, is a rarity. The peace & quiet of a country road is hard to find.

We loved every kilometer.. Even if another living soul wasn't seen for hours on end, & when they were, they ran a single-pump gas station with a resident budgerigar in the bathroom. Thank you township of Keith for your feathery bathroom attendant.

xx

July 30, 2012

Travelling 'round the countryside #3

It all leads South, to the bottom of the country, where our travels came to an end in my lovely hometown of Adelaide.

With blue sea on one side & green rolling hills & vineyards on the other, it's easy to find beauty in Adelaide. And winter seems to have a charm all it's own, even as I keep my coat & scarf on inside cafes & shops (love-me some American heating!).

I left Adelaide 10 years ago, happy to fly away & see what could be found outside the familiar (turns out, what could be found was a boy who would lead me even further away). We return each year now and it's become a place of retreat & rest for us. There is much that holds my affection here, top of the list being the precious people I miss most. 

{ADELAIDE}

This city is all about time & no set plans. Time with mum, my sisters, brothers-in-law, & the littlies. Time to sit by the fire & read. Time to bake & break bread together. Time to play with Legos & watch local footy.

Oh, & did I mention the GINORMOUS bowl of Aussie chocolate?! Yes. More than a small village could consume. It wouldn't be Adelaide without it.

I'm thankful to end in this small, pretty city, even as I rail against it's slow traffic, odd store opening hours & under-aged mall rats! There's something good about home.

The finale in this little travel series are scenes from the road, coming soon...

xx

July 26, 2012

Travelling 'round the countryside #2

Leaving the sparkling waterways of Sydney behind & revving our rental, we hit the highway for Melbourne.

I know it's not right to have favorites... But just between you & me, this edgy, gritty, pumping city has our hearts in a special way from the rest. 
{MELBOURNE}

Whether it's the amazing coffee, lane-way cafes, street art, endless stores of original design, live football, eclectic population or interesting architecture - Melbourne is hard to beat!

And surprisingly, wintertime is especially lovely. The city knows how to keep you warm as you wander the streets & the it is a hive of football activity, with fans in their team colors from all around Australia.

I have many good memories from visits here with family over the years, being that it was one of my Dad's top places for a weekend away with all of us, & the only real "bucket list" item he had. Continuing the tradition is good for the soul.

Next we shall move further South, to my lovely city of origin, Adelaide. Or RADelaide as the locals affectionately call it.
xx

July 24, 2012

Travelling 'round the country side

While I continue to nap in the afternoons like a nanna, in a pathetic, drawn-out attempt to ward-off jet-lag, I shall take an easy blog route - look-backs! I'm excited to share our beloved homeland with you & glimpses of what made this most recent visit such a joy.

I shall start at the very beginning, because it's always a very good place to start... (thank you, Maria Von Trap.)

{SYDNEY}
This city is truly a jewel! Blue water at every turn, winter sunshine, delectable cafes, beautiful design, green city parks and best of all, deeply cherished relationships. 

With last year & all it's difficulties just that bit further behind us, we found we could relax & enjoy Sydney more than the time before. There wasn't the desire to hide & avoid people or places, feeling uncomfortable in our own skin. Instead, we delighted in walking to breakfast, exploring new coffee spots, catching-up with dear friends & family, cuddling new babies & feeling once again like our old selves.

Sydney will always be Nate's hometown, and to me, a city I feel very lucky to have adopted along the way. It is a cosmopolitan city of the world & definitely worth a visit once in your lifetime!

Up next, mighty Melbourne.

xx

July 21, 2012

Rain for Roots Give-away Winners

Thanks to everyone who stopped-by the blog & read the amazing Miss Sally's answers to my amateur interview questions. I was thrilled to share Sally's thoughts with you, along with news of the release of the delightful children's album, Rain for Roots.
Now, down to business, the pulling of names from a hat (or, more accurately, random.org). The lucky winners* of my first every give-away - a full album download of Big Stories For Little Ones - are.....

1. Jenny Lloyd
2. Christine Gough
3. Rachel Hollister

Congratulations! You are going to love these new tunes & the women who created them - when spin 1000 goes around you may even feel the urge to hug & kiss them!

Again, thank you for being a part of this little endeavor - it is a joy to share on the blog & meet the far-flung community of people who join-in.

xx

{*keep an eye on your inbox for the download details.}

July 17, 2012

Nerf Battles

 {Place & time: Mum's Rec Room, Oakbank SA, July 2012} 

Don't let his rosey complexion & blonde locks fool you... Behind the dubious protective eye-gear - goggles from Big W - is a ruthless Nerf master.


Nate & I had to bring our A-game, loading-up the automatic 20-shooter's for all-out Nerf battles.

 
{admittedly, my a-game face needs some work}

The little dude hides-out behind the couch & waits until we are completely out of fire-power... (that's me, having a blurry, heroic Nerf-war moment}


Then with complete nonchalance, he stands-up & unloads a hail of Nerf bullets.


Sometimes completely disregarding the rule book & running a close-up, right-at-your-back attack. 
Kids can be cruel...



Granny has hit on an absolute winner with the Nerf guns.
I wouldn't be surprised if next Aussie visit there's a Nerf gun rack on the wall & camouflage attire.

And don't forget - there's still a few more days left to win a great new album of tunes for your little Nerf king or queen! Check-out my previous blog & interview with Sally L-Jones for details.

xx

{ Click here to see video of Nate under Nerf gun fire }