aaaaaaand we’re back!

The past 3 weeks have been full! I mentioned a little bit of our activity here, in case you have no idea what I’m talking about.

I wanted to give you a little re-cap of our missions trip to Brazil. Most of it will just be in picture format. Our main goals were to help the missionary family we were working with by assisting with VBS, a youth rally, tiling in several church rooms, and other outreach activities like English classes & canvassing.

Naturally, I didn’t take pictures of every activity. But I chose several that I thought you would enjoy and would give you a little taste of what happened over the past couple weeks. I’ll give a little recap at the end in case you wonder what in the world is going on in these pics:
brazil recap

1. chillin’ in the Charlotte airport, just waiting for our flights…
2. the chillin’ got boring for some people, so they proceeded to do pushups. I was totally content to be bored.
3. we made it! this was a sign in the Brazil airport that I just thought was too cool to pass up.
4. this sweet family had us in their home for dinner. the food = amazing. I was a little nervous about it, because I was planning to eat whatever they served. there was no need for nervousness. everything was delicious & there were no adverse effects. in case you were wondering. ahem.
5. this guy. love him. and hats are awesome too. especially when you’re shoveling sand + dirt and you look like a hot mess.
6 -7. these kids were just about the ages of my kids. and so I hung out with them a lot. I took videos of them being silly and Anna Grace loves watching them!
8. snack time at VBS. this little guy’s smile and laugh were so contagious!
9. I looked over during the youth rally and saw Jonathan protecting this little girl from the big ball. I mean…I just had to take a pic. #whataguy
10. some friends I met during the youth rally. they taught me Portuguese & I taught them English. thankfully, they knew way more English than I knew Portuguese, so we were able to communicate pretty well.
11. Big Ball at the youth rally! they loved it!
12. the flight home. AKA discarded food trays & a fun movie.
13. first sighting of my beautiful Charlotte.
14. okay, this was clearly the best part about coming home. these 3 precious kids stylin’ in their Brazil shirts while Daddy reads them a story.

Overall, the trip went well and we’re thankful for the many times we saw God answer our prayers. He gave much grace and we are so grateful!

 

you don’t have to understand

Before my kids take a nap, I usually read at least 1 story to them. Sometimes it’s Curious George or Madeline. Sometimes it’s a few chapters out of Proverbs. Lately, I’ve been reading some stories out of this Bible story book. We’ve already gone through it a couple times for our evening devotions, so the stories aren’t new. But I’ve really enjoyed reading through them again.

Recently, I read “The Present” – which is the story of Abraham preparing to sacrifice his son, Isaac. If you haven’t heard this story, you can read it here

A couple sections from this story stood out to me:

“Put his boy on the altar and kill him as the sacrifice? How could God want him to do such a terrible thing? Abraham didn’t understand. But he knew that God was his father who loved him. And so Abraham trusted him.”

and again with Isaac:

“They built an altar and laid the wood on top. Abraham asked his son to climb on top of the wood. Isaac didn’t understand but he knew his father loved him. And so he trusted him.”

Do you see how their belief motivated their actions?
Abraham believed God. And so he obeyed even though he didn’t understand.

You don’t have to understand in order to obey. You don’t have to know how everything will turn out in the end before you take the first step. That’s what faith is. People who believe in Jesus don’t live for what they can see. They don’t make decisions because they see the final product. They live their lives based on what they can’t see.

Weird, right?

In a culture obsessed with the visible, God calls believers to be consumed with the invisible.

I don’t have to understand. I don’t have to be strapped to people’s opinions and my ever-changing emotions. Like Abraham, I can choose to obey based on who God is and what He has said.

Goodness. That’s who I want to be.
How about you?

 

 

taking stock

The next several weeks are a bit packed, so I’m trying to be super strict about vitamins, water, rest, hand-washing, etc. to keep the germies away. And of course, that means I’m upping the healthy routines for my littles as well. Thankfully, they love the taste of their vitamins + drops {wrote about them here}, so that makes it easy all around.

Anyway, I read this post last week and wanted to play along {original post here}, so here’s a little snapshot of my life in a nutshell…

taking stock

Making : cleaning products with this
Cooking : freaky greek pasta & this from this book (that I borrowed from my library)
Drinking : water. and coffee with this creamer
Reading : just finished this
Wanting : people to just follow Jesus instead of their hearts. myself included.
Looking : for a striped skirt
Playing : Uno Moo with my kids {Nate is surprisingly good}
Wasting : time playing Scramble. good game. in moderation.
Sewing : absolutely nothing
Wishing : that I could paint
Enjoying : the sweet smiles + laughs from my baby Miles
Waiting : to see how God will answer some specific prayer requests
Liking : fedoras. like this one.
Wondering : what to get for my husband’s 30th birthday
Loving : hanging out with my fam. especially outside
Hoping : to sell some items on craigslist
Marveling : at God’s amazing love
Needing : to practice this kind of love
Smelling : the black cherry popsicle I just finished
Wearing : pink capris I finally fit back into
Following : this workout program. except not completely because of our crazy schedule this summer.
Noticing : the gorgeous blue of the sky
Knowing : that God is worth trusting
Thinking : about the fact that 2014 is halfway over
Feeling : desperate for wisdom
Bookmarking : this. obvs.
Opening : pickle jars. my kids are in love.
Giggling : actually, I don’t care for the word giggle. My sister and I used to make fun of it. but I’m amused by my kids constantly. and this made me laugh out loud.
Feeling : like it’s time for my kids to wake up and play with me.

Wanna play along?
Just copy & paste the text below into your own post. Let me know if you do — I’d love to read your answers!

Making:
Cooking:
Drinking:
Reading:
Wanting:
Looking:
Playing:
Wasting:
Sewing:
Wishing:
Enjoying:
Waiting:
Liking:
Wondering:
Loving: 
Hoping:
Marvelling:
Needing:
Smelling:
Wearing:
Following:
Noticing:
Knowing:
Thinking:
Feeling:
Bookmarking:
Opening:
Giggling:
Feeling:

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clean + simple

For the past few months, the design of this site has been getting on my nerves. Everything was so cluttered. I kept seeing different sites that I loved and I finally realized what they all had in common. They were simple. Clean. Uncluttered. And they were beautiful.

I am clearly not a graphic designer. Nor am I good at behind the scenes computer coding craziness.  And so I was super hesitant to try to change anything because I just knew it would take a meeellion years.

Lo and behold. The new site design has arrived. And a meeellion years have not passed.

new look

If you’re reading this via email, click here to see the clean + simple loveliness.

One of my fave features is the mobile version. I mean, seriously. How long does it take a girl to get a decent mobile version of her site? Clearly it takes a long time. But now you see this… {excuse the top & bottom parts that I was too lazy to crop out of the screenshots.}

new design BST

And if you want to get to a specific topic, just click on the “Menu” and this drop down list will appear:

new design BST

OR you can scroll to the bottom to either search the site or check out the most recent posts.

new design BST

There may still be some wonky issues, so if you see any, please let me know via facebook or email {brownsugartoast {AT} gmail {DOT} com}.

So far, though, I just breathe a sigh of relief every time I see the new design.
Ahhhh…so clean + simple. I love it.

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grace. and more grace.

Summers are our busy season. Due to Jonathan’s job as youth pastor, we are able to take kids to camp, lead teens on missions trip, and be heavily involved in our church’s summer outreach for kids. It’s seriously awesome!
Like anything, though, it also has parts that are difficult. Like the part where we leave our sweet babies each summer during missions trip.

Rip.my.heart.out. Times 3. Need I remind you how amazingly awesome my babies are?
I will – just in case you forgot.

littleyears3

I mean, I know babies are a lot of work. It’s true. You lose sleep and sanity, non-spit-up-on-clothes and the ability to wear fun accessories that resemble candy. But it doesn’t matter. They’re awesome. And God gives grace to take the good + not-so-good and overwhelm you with the good when the bad seems to outweigh it all.

Speaking of that grace… I’m needing it in a big way as we go through these summer activities.

Sometimes, I try to just muscle my way through difficult things because I think “there are a million people going through harder things than I am right now, so I shouldn’t even consider this ______ a trial.”

And then halfway through {if I make it that far}, I wonder why I’m having such a hard time. And so I pray to God for grace to help me through.

I’m learning to pray for grace and give it all to God before anything even starts. No matter how small it is compared to someone else’s struggle. Jesus has a way of making life situations just for me – things that He knows will push my buttons. And make me lose patience unless I’m getting it from Him.

God’s grace. Grace that will pardon and cleanse within. Grace that is greater than all my sin. Grace and strength to choose God’s way instead of my own.

My way is one of impatience. selfishness. weakness masked as strength.
His way is love. peace. joy. strength that never falters.

God, help me to choose your way. I need grace. and more grace.

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gift ideas for the lady in your life

This week was my birthday {read: way too many calories have been consumed}.

For the past couple weeks, my husband has been asking me what sort of gift/s I would like. And so I made a list of ideas that he could choose from {so there would still be an element of surprise}. I had quite a good time compiling my gift idea list and thought I would share it with you. In case you’re looking for fun ideas for yourself your friend.
gift ideas for the lady in your life

1. this lovely hat hails from Target. I love accessories like this. Neutral-ish colors, but a fun pattern to give your outfit a *pop*

2. because everyone loves homemade ice cream, right? tbh, I haven’t had homemade ice cream for years. but it’s pretty much perfection in my memory.

3. I’ve heard rave reviews about this candle. Is it worth the price tag? I don’t know, but I plan to sniff it out next time I browse anthro.

4. I’ve had a thing for graphic tees lately. And this super cute shirt is just that – super cute. The color combo is definitely my jam. And it looks long. Which is mandatory for this mom.

5. I mean…no explanation  is really needed for this one, right? Especially since it even factored into my love story.

 

So, those are 5 fun gift ideas for the lady in your life. Whether it’s yourself or your friend. Aaaaaand my sweet husband delivered and I’m utilizing one of these gifts today. Can you guess which one? :D

We’re heading out to take our church kids/teens to camp on Monday. So today I’m doing laundry, baby food prep, and general cleaning of my house so that things don’t look like a tornado when we get back.

Hope you all have a lovely weekend!

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pictures for daddy

Last week, I decided to make a collage of pictures for my hubby for Father’s Day.

So, in normal fashion, I did it in the afternoon – perfect timing, of course….hottest part of the day, right before naptime…I’m brilliant, I tell you.

My kids were incredible troopers and we managed to get some cute shots. My hubby loved them and I thought you’d be glad to see them too. But really, I just think they’re the cutest, sweetest babies in the world and had to share…

pictures for father's day on a blazing hot day

Adorable, right? I know. You can tell they’re getting kinda sweaty in the last pics. Even cuter.

If you need some help with taking pics, check this post out for 4 tips on taking your family’s photos!

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it all started with a fight

Last week, Jonathan & I celebrated our 6th anniversary. {I shared our meeting/dating story here if you missed it!} I mentioned on instagram that we were going to have a quick 19-hour-getaway to celebrate just the two of us.

The day we left, I was scurrying around tying up loose ends and getting our kids ready to spend the night with some sweet friends. Jonathan had a pretty big day at work too, so we both kinda collapsed into the car as we drove to our date night.

And that’s when it happened. The great fight of 2014.

It was over something relatively small. But of course we both made a big deal about it. Stubbornness meets anger meets pride…you get the picture.

Praise Jesus, He helped us work things out. In fact, this picture was taken approximately 1 hour after the explosion. See? You can’t even tell we had been crying, can you?
j&me

Why on earth am I telling you this story?

Because it just re-emphasizes what I said at the end of our dating story:

“When Jonathan and I become selfish and start trying to do things our own way,
things start breaking down.
It’s only when we both, by God’s grace, do this marriage thing in His way that God blesses.”

You know what? God reminded me of those words while we were driving. And I was all, “grrrr…why did I write that?” I guess God knew I would need the reminder later on.

I’m always in need of God’s grace. My marriage & family is always in desperate need of it. And the moment I think things are pretty much perfect is when I need it the most.

I’m so thankful for God’s grace. Let’s depend on it together, okay?

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