We've got a slew of visitors coming in the next 2 months, Hallelujah! I've been cleaning and sprucing getting this place ready for a party.

The entryway now has a fun new greeting-board.

I used an old frame we had lying around and some fabric Mom and Mel bought me in Glen Rose last year.

I also never showed you the vintage-tablecloth curtains I referred to a few months ago. They turned out great and keep that marvelous 5am sunshine out of our eyes.

At this rate, everything should be perfect around here just in time to move out come March :)

But no matter. Guests, bring it on! We offer you a happy 'Bienvenue!'


A fun weekend.

A Sirin weekend, hooray!

We walked all around Verviers, watched a chick flick, and ate chips and guacamole. I am so thankful to God for my friend Sirin and the fun girl-time we get to have together.

The boys joined up with us and we headed to 3-Borders, the place where Belgium, The Netherlands, and Germany intersect. Our cell phones were going crazy with all the roaming in and out of different countries. Awesome.

There was a labyrinth. Has anyone done a labyrinth lately? Why don't more places have these? We had a blast.

It even had water spouts blocking certain paths that you had to wait to jump over.

We were thankful to be with our brilliant friends who know German (and French, Dutch, Latin, Greek, and Turkish for goodness sakes!). Without them we never would have noticed the 'Exit' sign. We would probably still be trapped in all those hedges if it wasn't for them.

Ah Belgium.

And friends.

We love you guys!


He blew me a kiss.

Willie Nelson just played in Brussels! It was so much fun to see and hear some Texas!

We laughed a lot. Not many people knew the English lyrics and he kept asking the crowd to sing along, so we gave him some Texas love and sung along with him as loud as we could. The men in front of us didn't really appreciate it :)

But then we didn't appreciate being the 2 shorties behind a couple of giants either. Here is Clay expressing his short-guy woes.

It was a great night. The crowd was small and we were really close to the stage. It was also a very calm crowd so we tried to stand out as much as we could and get some attention. We were ridiculous, so glad none of you were there, but it paid off! During "Good-Hearted Woman" Willie blew me a kiss. Like for real. And I blew him one back. And then he smiled his little old-man smile at us. It was way worth standing on my tiptoes and yelling at the top of my lungs for an hour. Hopefully the 2 giants in front of us thought Willie's kiss was for them and will forgive the obnoxious shorties for proving every annoying-American stereotype true. This was no time for diplomacy. This was Willie for pete's sake.

Still feeling the happy affects of the Texas fairy dust, we strolled around Brussels and enjoyed the city. We love this town.

The next day it was back to Huy for some serious World Cup action.

Can you guess where the Americans live?

Living over here is pretty great, but hearing the National Anthem sure does make my heart swell.

Go get 'em, boys.


Today is the final day for exams and also the beginning of a big music festival in town. The streets are hopping!

This is a club near our apartment. You can see the crowd of kids in front, and the guy out back delivering more alcohol. It's going to be a long night for us I'm afraid. It doesn't look like this party is letting up anytime soon.

All the shops in town are having sales, too, so of course I high-tailed it down to my favorite 2nd-hand shops. I found a really cute rug/blanket/table cloth. Not sure what it is, but it does a good job of hiding the junk by our front door.

Of course it does nothing for the view from the door.... still working on that. Not sure what can be done.

This is our city trash can and the BBQ grill is behind it. Add all the barbeque supplies and some recycling stuff, and you've got yourself a messy entryway mix. P.S. Clay loves carrying that trash can down 2 flights of stairs every week :)


We love Brussels.

It seems we've been back and forth to Brussels a lot recently.

We were there recently with Daniel shooting for a project Clay and he are working on with several other Belgian pastors.

When we aren't working one of our favorite things to do in Brussels is catch breakfast at Le Pain Quotidien. Clay really loves the bread basket with all the jams, chocolate spreads, and honey. I usually go for their yummy scrambled eggs.

Last time we were in Brussels, I hit the jackpot at one of my favorite little health stores. Not only did they have stevia (a sugar substitute that isn't as common here in Europe) in powder and liquid form, but they had stevia tablets!! This is HUGE! I can now enjoy sweet tasting tea or coffee when we're out and about!

I feel so liberated.

Brussels has become one of our favorite cities.


His and Hers.

Can you tell which one is gluten AND sugar free?

Somedays I get the urge to drag myself back into the swamp of gluten-free baking. It usually occurs after a long enough period has passed that I am once again convinced that I can actually pull something out of the oven that resembles food. Or when I am simply desperate for something bread-like.

Well today was one of those days.

After a year of hockey pucks and saw dust, I give you:

The Zucchini Muffin:

I used this recipe as a guide and did some tweaking and substituting to make them sugar-free. For the first time, I had something edible and actually enjoyable. I am pretty excited.

I dug into my Lakanto stash for this one- the big dog of sugar substitutes (in taste and price). These muffins are worth it.

I think Clay is going to stick with his above-pictured bran muffins (and I don't blame him), but for me, these stocky zucchini-guys are just the ticket.


It involved a flight home from Budapest last fall.

And my favorite cardigan.

Cabin pressure + gel pen= sad day for said cardigan.

It's been wadded up in a ball ever since.

Until today.


Became this:

Back in Tomball I snatched these sweet hand-stitched flower patches off of an worn-out apron that was among some of my great-grandma's things. I knew I wanted to use them for something fun and special. As I stitched around each blossom and leaf, hiding each and every ugly ink stain on the cardigan, I wondered at the fact that my Mammaw's fingers, her sweet precious fingers, had one day sat and stitched around these very same shapes. She traced them, cut them out, and connected everything together with that perfectly tightened blanket stitch. Our hands, separated by almost a century, worked along the same fabric's edge.

Oh sweet Mammaw, guess what? Your silly little great-granddaughter is now strutting around Europe wearing your apron flowers on her back!

I think she's get a real kick out of this.



I got a fun surprise in the mail from Clint and Mel this past week.

It keeps me smiling while I do the dishes :)

The winter is past.

I feel like so many things are coming back around these days. When I glance back through the blog at the early days here I see so much spunk. So much enthusiasm and excitement. Joy. But for several months, perhaps longer, a blanket of melancholy was sweeping over me quietly. And slowly. So slowly I didn't even notice it until I looked back at how I put things into words at the beginning.

At the beginning things were new. They were exciting. There were challenges to be sure: figuring out how to cook in Europe, a sugar-free diet (holy cow), learning a new language, missing family. But as the months wore on the challenges grew deeper: extreme loneliness, questions of identity (who ARE we anyways?). Questions like: how do you know when to flee from difficult stuff and when to embrace it because God uses it to shape you?, and, What are you going to do AFTER this little 2-year European jaunt you're on? What are you going to DO with your life? The pit got a little bit deeper. The curtains stayed closed. Whew. Tough months.

I think these past few weeks mark an emergence from these days. I feel good. I feel hopeful. I feel an expectancy bubbling up inside of me. God is just so.... God. He has been teaching us such deep and incredible things. Not touchy-feely things, but deep, shape-who-you-are-forever kind of things. Deconstructing us. Beginning the rebuilding phase.

I don't think it's a coincidence that this re-quenching lines up perfectly with the coming of summer. When things turn green here. When we can put our winter coats back in the closet. When the Chacos come out. When people on the street smile more. I look back at the winter months and see what God has done, what he has walked us through. There is no way to doubt him. He knows what he's doing and he's actively involved in each step. It makes me trust him even more as I look back and see all he's done.

All that to say I think we've just turned a corner. I don't doubt that there will be winters aplenty as we continue on in life, but for now I am basking in this time of summer. And basking in the greatness of who my God is. There is no life apart from him.

I recently found this picture taken last year. It was after Clay finished running the annual 10K that weaves through Huy.

Guess what.

Yesterday, I ran it with him :D

I have no picture to document the moment, but I think that's just as well. I know what I'd see there. I'd see the same thing I see when I look deep into my heart after this past year. A slightly altered version of the girl in the above picture- this new chicks's sweaty and red-faced. She's grimier. And she just ran like she never would have dreamed she could a year ago. She's a girl who didn't win the race, not even close, but you know what?

She's smiling.

She ran that darned race.

"To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy— to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen."



Recently we in Huy were able to host some of our friends who work in Africa. It was a blast. We got to spend a whole week learning from these men and hearing stories of some of their incredible experiences. Myriam, Erika, and I were on kitchen duty all week, and the last night we made Tex-Mex enchiladas complete with salsa and guacamole. Oh, was it good!

Just the other day Clay and I were reflecting on the past year we have been here and how global our work has been. That day, Clay had talked to some guys in Atlanta and in Costa Rica, worked on a project for some people in France, received some video footage from friends in Croatia, and put a completed DVD in the mail to Thailand. Whew. Incredible. It's surreal and bizarre. There have definitely been up and down moments over the last year, but oh my goodness, thank you Lord for what you have done in our lives! The people we have met and the places we have been! I can't even express how thankful we are to our God. And to our families who encourage us so strongly even amidst the pain of being apart. How blessed are we? Wow.

This past week we had a picnic with Ali, Nada, and their neighbors Zaira and Ali. We love summer! After such a long gray Belgian winter, you can bet that lunch in a bright green yard alongside a gurgling brook (yeah, like in a fairy tale) was like a dream. A warm fuzzy dream.

It was fun introducing Nagham to cupcakes :)

That night we also got to share one with Sofia (Blanca and Michael's sweet baby) at Sam and Nathalie's. She ate it Belgian-style: no hands, just a small quaint dessert spoon. Very proper, this 2 year-old :)

Oh and while we were there we got to check in on Kevin's bean plant. Sam and Nat were kind enough to plant it for me a while back :) While cleaning his apartment after he left I found this little name plaque:

Yesterday the ladies of the Huy church took to the trains and went to Brugges for the day.

There was a lot of laughing.

This picture is really funny to me. Remember that "One of these things is not like the other" Seseme Street song? We Americans are just so darn perky :) They love me anyways.

Cecile, Marie, and I on the little boat cruise we did through the canals.

It was a really special day to spend with these ladies that have welcomed me into their lives. We got off the train in Huy tired at the end of the day, but still laughing thinking back on our time together.


Sometimes I think I should quit blogging and just start linking daily to her blog. Seriously. She speaks to my heart and shares words that have been stuck on my tongue for months.