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Category: Personal   |   View all recent posts

Stepping Out Of My Comfort Zone
WHAT: Personal   |   WHEN: May 24, 2012



Dear Family & Friends, 

I am writing to let you know about an opportunity I have to serve people in need in Jamaica on June 17-23.  Some of you may be thinking, ‘Jamaica? That sounds like somewhere I’d go for vacation!’  That was my initial reaction, too, when Chase Oaks (the church Kylie and I call home) first asked if I was interested in going there to help out and photographically document the wonderful work that was being done there.  After some quick research, it didn’t take long to see that a large percentage of the Jamaican population lives in a state of poverty without many of the conveniences or even necessities we take for granted every day.

The timing of this opportunity was of no coincidence.  I had just mentioned to Kylie not too long ago that I felt I was going through a season in my life where I was just kind of coasting and not doing much that was truly impactful in meaningful ways.  God has perfect timing, though, and I decided it was time for me to step out of my comfort zone and serve people in need on my first mission trip.

One of my main purpose on this trip involves capturing images for the church that tell a compelling story that hopefully move the hearts of more people to get involved and serve on future trips. I will also be helping out as we visit work primarily at 3 sites.  We will be doing construction-related work to further the progress in building a new church to serve the Montego Bay community.  In addition we will also be spending time at an a school for the deaf and an orphanage to just love on the kids and give them hope through the story of His grace.

I am also writing to ask for your support for this opportunity.  I want to ask you to consider supporting me one or more ways.  First, I am going on a mission trip and I want this to be His mission not mine, in all this my heart needs to be rightly focused on God and relying on Him to get me through the week.  I really want to be prepared to do whatever God asks me to do, and I believe that I need to be spiritually prepared before I go. So, if you feel inclined, would you be willing to begin now praying for me?  Also, I would like for you to pray for me to be physically ready and healthy while I am there.  Please pray for the families and children we will be serving. Pray that we would be able to meet their physical needs as well as their spiritual.  If you would be willing to do this, it would be very much appreciated. 

The second way you could support me on this project would be to help me with the cost of the trip.  I will need to pay $1,500 in order to attend.  This amount covers, travel, food and lodging, supplies for projects, and supplies to meet some needs in the local community. If you are able to help this way, details are below.  As you can tell this trip is a little less than a month away, so I need to begin as soon as possible.  Whatever you can do will be greatly appreciated.  If you are able to give financially you can simply send a check to me, made out to CHASE OAKS CHURCH.  Then in the memo line put “Jamaica Trip”.  Please do not put my name on the check.  I will turn it in to the church for you so you will get a tax deduction if you desire.  

Thank you for considering partnering with me on this mission trip.  I am looking forward to sharing the stories of how God will use us to show love through using our hands and feet and hearts during this week.

Blessings,
Matt


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We take things one second at a time these days...
WHAT: Personal   |   WHEN: April 18, 2012
I'm fine. I'm not fine. I'm fine. I'm not fine...



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Saige - Year One (in 4 minutes)
WHAT: Babies, Newborns, Personal   |   WHEN: April 8, 2012
Today is a big day for us. Not only is it Easter and my dad's birthday, but it's also our little girl's first birthday. I love her beyond the words I could put here on a page, and it's very difficult to imagine a life without her now.  Not a lot of words today... just a lot of images.  Here's a quick trip through Saige's first year in 4 minutes.



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Honey-Do Project: Oversized Ruler Growth Chart
WHAT: Fun, Personal, Random, Useful Stuff   |   WHEN: April 6, 2012
My wife, like a multitude of others, is unofficially a Pinterestaholic.  And the only reason it's "unofficial" is because Dr. Phil hasn't yet come out and explicitly said there is such a thing.  It's only a matter of time, though.

Perhaps I should actually thank Pinterest.  It got my to do what nothing else has for a month and a half now... a blog post.  My blog thanks you, Pinterest.  And it thanks my wife, too.  She wanted a way to measure and document our kid(s) height(s) in a way that we can take with us whenever we leave this house. [For those reading between the lines and wondering what "kid(s)" means, number 2 is not on the way yet... just planning ahead.]

So, after a quick search of Pinterest, my wife found several examples of oversized rulers as growth charts.  And then came the honey-do look in her eyes, and that's where I enter the scene stage right.  After a quick assessment of skill-level required to do our own ruler, I was confident - even with my, ahem, underwhelming handy-man skills, - that this is something I could do.  And for extra credit, we wanted to Pottery Barn-ize our version by sprucing up the numbers a bit.  Easy peasy... instead of painting them on, we just went out and bought some decent looking brushed metal finish house numbers.

Overall, I'm pretty happy with how it came out. I did have a little issue when sanding the 2nd coat of polyurethane where it fogged over a bit.  Still not sure why, but it wasn't terrible and it was hard to notice unless you got it in just the right light.  It does kinda bug me that something like that happens at almost the very end after all the work I put in on it, but I'd rather just try to ignore my perferctionist tendencies than start over and have to tape off those God-forsaken tick marks again.

Anyway, here it is in it's final (for now) resting place in the kitchen.  And keep on reading below if you're interested in the process and wanna make your own.  



Trust me.... if I can do this, surely you or any other 4th grade shop student can.  The biggest thing you need is patience.  If you're like me, I love instant gratification on projects like this, and I have a tendency to wanna rush the waiting/curing times a bit and move on to the next step.  Patience, grasshopper.

Anyway, this is what I started with... a pre-cut 6' trim/molding board from Home Depot.  I had planned on having to find buy a larger piece of wood, cut it down, and sand it before I could do anything else, so I was pleasantly surprised to find this score.



The next step was to lightly sand the edges of the board to soften them up a bit since they were pretty sharp when I bought the piece of wood. 



After sanding, I wiped down the board to get rid of the dust from sanding and then applied a coat of stain.  I used the "Jacobean Bean" color because I wanted something darker and a little more sophisticated.



The next stage was the worst part of the whole process.  I tried to think of every shortcut I could think of to make quick work of the tick marks, but in the end I knew I wouldn't be happy if they didn't look good.  I'm sure there's probably an easier way to do them, and if you know of one, I'm not sure I even want you to tell me because I don't wanna be annoyed by how much time I might've been able to save.  I used a ruler and a pencil to mark off tick marks at every inch and then drew each tick mark on the board with pencil. Then I used painter's tape and masked off the edge of the board exposing only the areas I wanted to paint. I'm not gonna lie... total beat-down.  I wish the NCAA men's championship game woulda been a little more exciting to distract me from the monotony of taping.



Next up, painting!  I chose an oil-based glossy black paint to make sure I got a durable finish that would stand out enough against the dark stain color. I put on 2 coats, and let dry overnight.


After letting the paint dry, I removed the tape (tons more fun than putting it on), and brushed on the first thin coat of polyurethane for a protective sealant.  I let it dry for about 4 hours, and then lightly sanded the board with 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the rouch texture of the polyurethane and then wiped the board with a damp cloth to remove the dust.  Everything looked great at that point.  I wanted to put one more light coat on for a little extra protection against anything the kiddos might try and do to it, and this is where things got a little hairy.  I used the same exact process to apply the 2nd coat of polyurethane as I did the first one, but this time when I sanded the second coat and wiped it down, I got some fogging over parts of the board. Boooooo.  

At this point I had 3 choices.  1) Dial down my anal perfectionist inner voice and let it ride as is.  2) Try to fix the fogging with some kind of ad-hoc, cross-my-fingers-and-hope-this-doesn't-ruin-everything rework process. 3) Start over.  Option 2 got eliminated pretty quickly after talking with a couple people about how I could and most-likely could not easily fix it.  Option 3?  Pffft... Not gonna happen.  I'd rather light my hair on fire and then throw gasoline on it before having to do all those tick marks again.  Sooo... option 1 it was.  And rather than call the slight fogging in a couple places defects, I'm calling them character.  Besides, they really are hardly noticeable once you get them the board outta the sunlight.



The last step was to attach the brushed nickel house numbers to the board and hang it.  The numbers were self adhesive, so... bonus!  I marked the board 3/4" from the opposite edge of the tick marks for my baseline for each of the numbers to make sure they lined up.




And voila!  Here's a closer shot of the final product after hanging it in the kitchen.



I think each year where going to put a small image of each kiddo on the board at the location designating their height for that year.  And I'm also marking my height on the board this year when I turn 40... so I can see if I've started shrinking yet.


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Recap: Christmas in Indiana
WHAT: Personal   |   WHEN: January 15, 2012   |   WHERE: Princeton, Indiana
Like seemingly everything in my life these days, this post is running is just a tad late. As a friend told e not too long ago, it's amazing how one little piece of humanity (a baby) can require so much stuff and disrupt your own humanity. There. I listed my excuse. Now, let's move on.

Kylie and I and Saige went to Indiana to visit Kylie's family for Saige's first Christmas.  As you might imagine, Saige got no attention from anyone back home at all. None. [grin] Actually, I think as long as we bring her, Kylie and I's presence is optional these days. I kid, I kid. We had a wonderful time watching our little girl experience the wonderment and magic of what to everyone else was Christmas. To Saige, it was just another day... except with wrapping paper and bows!  But it was special to us nonetheless.  In fact, Kylie and I kinda joked that we kinda felt a teeny bit guilty for not having gotten Saige anything other than a first ornament for her first Christmas. Then we laughed and blew it off knowing the grandparents and the rest of the family would take care of that. And they did. Hugely.   

Such a great time just to relax and hang out with such wonderful people.  Here's a few images from our visit.



Saige's newest talent, blowing raspberries, was hilarious... except at the dinner table.  In fact, my father in law Garry and I got "excused" from the kitchen one night for encouraging Saige by laughing.



Love those eyes.



The in-laws: Bryce, Tina, Saige, Kylie & Garry.






[The BIL] Bryce and his dog Phyllis.  Somebody wants a kiss... and somebody doesn't.




Christmas day!  Saige got in a little exercise with "Grandfather Garry" before show time with the presents.




As expected, Saige was all about the paper, and especially the bows. The gifts? Ehhh... not so much.








Bryce gets a little testy when I don't give him photo credit, so here it is.  He took these next two.



Saige's first camera!  Won't be long 'til I've got myself a cheap 2nd shooter.



While we were in Indiana, Bryce, Garry and I took a little trip to New Harmony, IN.  It was founded as an experimental Utopian society in the late 1800s.  The Utopian part didn't last, but the historic, cool little town did.  

The next three images were from a roadside find on the way there.





The whole town had this kinda feel to it.





The town's been partially flooded a couple times, and the water was a little high in some spots the day we were there.  Bad for the residents. Good for photos.






Bryce and Garry looking "normal" on a bench.




Kylie and I stopped over to Nana's one day for a little visit. Nana is Saige's great grandmother.




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