Tuesday, January 17

Porch Dreams Really Do Come True!

Hello lovelies! it is a dreary, rainy day here in Washington, DC. Perhaps a little foreshadowing of the week ahead? Sigh. We'll leave politics aside.....instead I am dreaming of sunny, summer days and longing for some porch time. You know that feeling when you've been at the beach all day and you come back to the house, take a shower, throw on a summer dress, grab a cocktail and find a comfy place on a porch to just stare at the water and enjoy the breeze? Ahhh....I call that porch dreaming. How's that for specific? It's truly my happy place and I'd give just about anything to be there right now.

My love for porches comes from the porch around my grandparent's oceanfront house in Gloucester, MA. I have so many great memories sitting out there every night, wrapped in blankets, listening to the adults talk and the waves crash. Those years sealed my love of porches for the rest of my life. Check out some pictures of the house known as Fiddler's Green. I know, I know...I was a lucky kid to spend holidays and summers at this place. I so wish it was still in our family!

So of course, when we were renovating our house three years ago...I desperately wanted to add a front porch. Not that our view, a few miles from downtown DC, is anything even close to oceanfront, but the idea of sitting and watching the kids play in our (small) front yard, and having porch parties with friends, was important to us. And let's face it, our boring Colonial needed a little punch. Even though we couldn't afford to put it on during the main construction phase, our architect drew up the plans for us and we loved it. Here's the virtual design.

And drum roll, here is how it turned out....

We absolutely love it! It was completed last spring and of all the building projects we've done, this was by far the easiest. Three weeks from start to finish. Well...that was after two years of saving the money we needed to do it, a ridiculously lengthy and complicated permitting process that took 10 months to complete and then three weeks of construction. But who's counting right? Here are few more shots. 

To save some moola, we decided to have them put fieldstone over the existing concrete path and steps. This saved us several thousand dollars over ripping the whole thing out and starting over. And it looks pretty good!

We also landscaped the yard ourselves - again to save some money (noticing a theme here?). 

The best part about the porch, other than sitting on it and drinking a lot of wine, has been decorating it for holidays.
Fourth Of July 



So there you have it! Our porch is a favorite spot and makes the house feel bigger. Is it a gorgeous, wrap around porch overlooking the Atlantic Ocean? Ok...maybe not. But it is a place to just sit and contemplate the state of our nation. HA HA HA....just kidding!

Tuesday, January 3

Some Tough Questions for Chip and Joanna Gaines

Hello lovelies and Happy New Year! Let's all let out a huge sigh of relief that we survived that trainwreck of a year that was 2016. Am I right? We are now 3 days into 2017 and I want to ask my old friends (loose terminology) Chip and Joanna Gaines a few tough questions. 

First - some background. If you've read my post from a few years ago, I Want To Be Joanna Gaines, I love these two and their show Fixer Upper on HGTV. They are funny, they are best friends to each other, their family is ridiculously sweet and they are fantastic designers. I love their show. I love their style. I love their dedication to making their community a better place. 

Photo courtesy of HGTV.com

In November, they came under fire for being members of the Antioch Community Church in Waco, TX. This church, and specifically the pastor, Jimmy Seibert (who apparently really IS friends with Chip and Joanna) have taken a strong stance on homosexuality and gay marriage. According to this Buzzfeed article Jimmy has been quoted saying: 

“Truth No. 1: Homosexuality is a sin. The lie: Homosexuality is not a sin. The statistics say that 90% of people who are in a full-blown homosexual lifestyle were abused in some way. Physically, sexually, mentally. We have people and young people that never had any intention of a same-sex attraction et cetera, who have seen sexuality up front in pornography and now are trapped in the addiction of it.”

While Chip and Jo chose to remain primarily quiet after the article was first published, yesterday Chip put up this blog post. Click on the image to read it. 

In it, he talks about learning how to lovingly disagree. While he doesn't say it directly, one has to assume that either Chip and Jo don't agree with their minister and that is the harmonious discord that he refers to. OR that they do agree with Pastor Seibert and they want us all to accept that they have a different point of view on this particular topic. Meaning, they too believe that homosexuality is a sin.

So let's break it down. 

Let's say it's Scenario 1: Chip and Joanna go to a great church that's become a major part of their lives. Like many of us they find comfort and community there and a place to talk to their God. Presumably, they use the church as a place to teach their children how to be faithful, loving little human beings. But there are certain aspects of this church that they don't agree with - ideologies that are old, out of date and that make them uncomfortable. 

In this scenario, wouldn't it have been incredible for them to use the blog post to say to the world, "We love our church but on this topic we respectfully disagree." Or go a step further in their conviction and ask the Pastor to set a true example of acceptance and understanding of those who are different by eliminating dangerous and unfounded statements. By staying silent initially, and then publishing a vague blog post, they have missed a fantastic opportunity to effect real change in the hearts and minds of their most conservative followers. 

But let's say it's Scenario 2: that Chip and Joanna agree with their church that homosexuality and gay marriage are condemnable acts that lead you away from God. Their faith and their background, their strong belief in traditional values have led them to the conclusion that being gay is, like the minister says, a sin. They are certainly entitled to their opinion, but to then post a blog about understanding and acceptance, saying that they as a family want to "operate from a position of love in all things" while inherently believing that certain types of love are sinful, is hypocrisy. 

Chip says in his blog that "Jo and I feel called to be bridge builders. We want to help initiate conversations between people that don’t think alike." Ok..so start at home. If you don't agree with your church's stance on this issue, encourage a public conversation with the church asking them to consider the damage their controversial statements can have. 

If though they agree with Seibert's statements, such as the one where he calls the Supreme Court's decision to legalize same-sex marriage in 2015 a "biblical admonition", then they must own it. Do not hide behind grand proclamations of acceptance and understanding while practicing discrimination and exclusion in your own home. 

So my dear friends (again, loosely used and not intended to produce a restraining order) Chip and Jo - what do you really mean when you say "fear dissolves in close proximity. Our stereotypes and vain imaginations fall away when we labor side by side"? Are you speaking to your real friend, the minister of your church, asking him to open his heart and mind to the concept that members of the LGBT community are not sinners, and are instead misjudged and persecuted widely? Or do you, deep in your heart, believe that they our gay brothers and sisters are dangerously close to being beyond redemption based on their life "choices"? 

Uniting a house divided as you suggest requires clarity and the work cannot begin until the depth of the differences are truly understood. Yes, you are correct when you say that "disagreement in not the same as hate" but the judgement and condemnation that the LGBT community has endured, partly because of vitriolic remarks like those of your pastor, has been nothing short of hateful. 

I fear you will not say where you truly stand on this issue because you are afraid it will damage your brand and you may lose fans. And that is certainly a possibility - either way.  But part of the reason for your huge fan base, and the subsequent success you've had, is because you wear your hearts on your sleeves and share everything. 

So share this, Chip and Jo, so we can all fully understand the differences between us and work to bridge the divide - as you say you have been called to do. 

Sincerely, Your Best Friend That You've Never Heard Of - Allie