Uganda 2017

I have been traveling to Uganda to do various forms of mission work as well as social work for the past 10 years. I work with a wonderful, Ugandan-led ministry there called Arise Africa International. Arise supports hundreds of pastors and their wives country wide, has a children's home, a primary school, a secondary school, tons of agricultural projects, is building a clinic, and has a women sustainability ministry. This year I am going to work with the sustainability ministry along with 5 other women from my church back home in Austin. I would love for you to take a couple minutes to read my support letter to find out a little more about what I will be doing this year. If you feel led to support my trip in prayer and/or financially you can do so by contributing to my YouCaring page or sending me a message to find out more about how to help via the contacts page here on UnBroken. 

Dear Friends and Family,

This has been a huge year for me! I got married and moved to a new city, and Nick and I are doing great! Houston is definitely not Austin, and getting used to living away from my family has been hard, but things are going really well overall.  I’ve started an initiative based on a need I’ve seen since moving to Houston, and it has been awesome to see God work at work. (Check it out at unbreakthepeople.com or on instagram at @unbreakthepeople.) While I’m excited about my new ministry in Houston, I still have my long-lived, deep passion for Uganda, and I am happy to say I get to stay connected with Arise Africa even while living in Houston.

Last year I had the opportunity to take Nick to Uganda with me and introduce him to the people I have grown to love over the last DECADE. (Geez, am I really old enough to say I’ve been doing something for for a decade??) It was the most amazing experience, and we believe it  provided a piece of foundation for our marriage. It gave Nick some insight into why and how I am who I am today that he would not have been able to to understand in any other way. While that trip was amazing, it was also very different from my previous trips.  It was fast, and we hopped around doing a lot of different things. This year, I have the opportunity to go back  to to Uganda with my momma to hold a women’s conference. Yea! The focus of of the conference will be to encourage and empower women as spiritual leaders in their homes and communities, while working on basic sustainability concepts with them. My mom lead a team to do this exact ministry last year, but our timing didn’t quite line up for me to participate. Needless to say,  I’m ecstatic that I get to join the team this year!

Our trip is July 17-28th and costs $2600. More than ever before, I am am leaning on God to meet the financial need. (Our newlywed budget definitely needs some Jesus up in it to make this trip possible-haha.) I am making casseroles again, and would so appreciate if  you could partner with me by purchasing one or more for your family or to share with someone else. This year I am asking my Austin friends who are able to pick up casseroles from my mom’s house. I would LOVE to hand deliver every casserole as usual, but I will be coming to Austin to do everything in a quick weekend, so it would be helpful to streamline some of the deliveries/pick-ups if possible. If it’s not convenient for you to pick up, no worries, I will be happy to deliver as usual!

Casserole Info:

  • June 18th--King Ranch Chicken (AUSTIN-for pickup after noon)  

  • June 25th--King Ranch Chicken or Beefy Bake  (HOUSTON ONLY)

  • July 16th--Beefy Bake  (AUSTIN-for pickup after 3pm)

  • Casseroles are hearty 9x13 family size portions

  • Suggested Donation $30 per casserole

To order casseroles, please fill out this form. (I am getting very high tech these days.)

I am thankful for you. It is truly a blessing to have a community of people that has surrounded me for so long and helped make it possible for  me to serve in Uganda for so many years. It truly is SO humbling. Your prayers are what I ask for and treasure most. If you cannot contribute financially this year, will you will please join our ministry to the women in Uganda as a prayer warrior? I will be posting updates throughout our trip under the blog section on my website UnBroken, so make sure to follow along there. I cannot thank you enough for all you’ve done and for who you are in my life!

Love,

Sydney

P.S. If you would like to give financially sans casserole (but I highly recommend getting a casserole-word on the street is they are super yummy, and you can always share the food love with a friend!), you can make checks payable to Sydney Zuiker or send support via my YouCaring page.

I Got It From My Momma

Mother's Day is about honoring the women in our lives who have sacrificed everything so that we might learn, grow, and excel at all things in life. For me, this is absolutely the woman who carried me in her womb for 9 months, and who has guided me through every obstacle for the past 23 years. For others, it is an adoptive momma, a spiritual momma, or even simply an influential woman in their life. I think moms are one of the closest, tangible, pictures we have of God's unconditional and sacrificial love for us. A woman's life changes forever when they become a mother (of any kind), and I am so grateful to have such an amazing momma in my life. I hope this weekend you took some time to say thank you to your momma, whoever she is, for all that she has given for you to be who you are today. I know that no amount of thank yous will ever be enough to thank my momma for all she has done for me, but I also know saying "thank you" is a good place to start to show my gratitude to the most amazing woman I have ever known. 

The older I get, the more people say I am just like my mom. I feel like we have started looking even more similar than we used to. We talk the same way, we think the same way, we like the same things, and we have very similar passions. In my opinion, mom is  a much wiser, more tempered, more outgoing, grownup version of me. Every time someone says I am just like my mom, I feel so honored. I think she is the coolest person on the planet, and I hope I grow to be as amazing as she is some day. Let's talk about some things I got from my momma:

  • An absolute weakness for flowers. If there are pretty flowers, I don't know what happens, but  somehow I ALWAYS end up buying them. Its Tracy's fault for sure. 
  • FOOOOODDDDD all the food all the time. Especially meat, and specifically barbecue. Maybe I got this from both my parents because my dad loves barbecue too, but mom always finds the best BBQ spots.
  • Quality time with people we love. We're all about it all the time. We are the kind of people that just want to be together. Doesn't matter what we are doing, as long as we are doing it together. 

Since moving to Houston, mom and I have made an enormous effort to plan fun outings in each other's city as well as in cities between the two of us. If I'm being completely honest, I kinda dropped the ball on Mother's Day this year. I have been driving back and forth to Austin for weeks in a row over the past two months for various family and major friend life events, and as much as I love it in Austin, driving back and forth all the time is exhausting. I told mom we would come to Austin to spend Mother's Day with her. Obviously. Mom had been in NY living it up and wouldn't be home until late Saturday night, so we weren't going to go to Austin until then, but I quickly realized that: 1) Nick was on call and couldn't go much further than an hour from his work, and 2) I was SO tired. I called mom last week to talk about Mother's Day plans and the thing about mom is, she always knows what's going on simply from hearing my voice. She's magical like that. So I got on the phone and she knew. She knew I was exhausted and stressed about Nick being on call, but still really wanted to spend the day together, so she SO graciously suggested we meet in the middle for Mother's Day instead of me driving all the way to Austin. Again. Bless that woman. Bless her. 

Again, I was Mother's Day plan failing, so I called mom and said honestly, I have no idea what we can do. The cool thing about mom is that I can say that to her, and she doesn't feel unloved or unappreciated, but instead she knows I am struggling to come up with a plan. We also both say we are better together than apart (is that a marriage thing to say? I promise Nick is my number 1, and we are also better together than apart, but seriously. Mom and I can GET. STUFF. DONE. When we are together). So, I told mom I had no idea what we could do, and she came to the rescue. She said she had heard of a barbecue place in Brenham, TX that was supposed to be bomb and THAT was her pick for Mother's Day Lunch. 

Truth Barbecue did NOT disappoint. Food critiques are comparing it to Franklin Barbecue, which is extremely high praise! If you are a Texan, or at very least an Austinite, you know about Franklin. The thing that placed Truth far and above other barbecue joints in my books, is that not only was their meat phenomenal, but their sides were also to die for. Mac 'n cheese topped with, none other than my favorite food on the entire planet, BACON, good old-fashioned, collard greens, and homemade pickles. Oh man, I love pickles. If you've never made the pit stop along 290 in Brenham at Truth, you need to do it ASAP! They serve until they sell out, which happened around 1PM on Sunday.

 A closer look at that fabulous Mac 'n Cheese. Why didn't I think to add a whole bunch of delicious bacon to my mac until now?? 

A closer look at that fabulous Mac 'n Cheese. Why didn't I think to add a whole bunch of delicious bacon to my mac until now?? 

After our delicious trip to Truth Barbecue, mom and I spotted a nursery down the road, and no surprise here, we bought some flowers. We decided that if we bought the same flowers for our respective houses, it would kind of be like we live at the same house again. Kind of, but actually not really at all, ha. Maybe it will just give us a big smile when we walk outside and see them because we will know the other one sees the same thing when they walk out their front door as well. Call us weird. We probably are, whatever! We ended our Mother's Day meet up by strolling through the adorable downtown Brenham. I think it was an all around successful day!

There are a lot of quirky things I got from my momma, but something I truly cherish is her deep desire to bring people together. Mom is the small groups pastor at her church in Austin, and she is absolutely incredible at her job. She has a way with people that amazes me. She lives and breathes to connect people with others, and she does a darn good job doing it. I truly believe I have such a passion for UnBreaking people because my momma has shown me how valuable biblical community is for my entire life. My way of doing  it is slightly different than hers, but at the core our passion is the same, bring people together through Christ to live life in community. My way is through food in my tiny house, and hers is through a church. This is what I got from my momma. What did you get from yours?

This One's For The Girls

Let's just start with a couple fun facts about me:

1. Almost every time we have something social to go to or people are coming over, or something of that sort, I tell Nick (or my mom for all the years I lived with her) that I don't want to go to said event or that I would rather just sit on my couch and chill. 

2. I am not one to reach out and ask people to hangout. It is for sure one of my downfalls, and I wish I was better at it, but I'm just not. I think it comes with my love for all things comfy and homey. I like to sit with a candle burning, curled up in a blanket, wearing my stretchy pants. 

3. I do not do it all right. Heck, I don't even do most of it right.

I always like movies, or books--eh, let's be honest, books aren't really my thing, so let's just stick to movies. I like movies that tell you the end of the story at the beginning, and then fill in the rest of the story after that, so, spoiler alert, here is the end of the story. These are the girls that filled my itty bitty house last night (a few aren't pictured), for our first bible study in HOUSTON. 

When I lived in Austin, a group of about a dozen girls flooded my momma's house every Monday night. It was a fast, intense, raw kind of whirlwind, and while I started off being skeptical of the group, I ended up absolutely loving it. It was filled with girls from all different walks of life, and wisdom of all ages. We learned about the face of God while forming friendships to last a lifetime. It was what got us through the hard times, and it was filled with people we couldn't wait to share the good times with. I missed that, no, I mourned that loss when I moved to Houston. 

                    These are my girls, and oh how I miss them. Photo:    Laura Lee Blackburn

                   These are my girls, and oh how I miss them. Photo: Laura Lee Blackburn

It felt like day a million, although it was probably just like day 45 or something like that, in Houston, and it was bad. All the days were bad. I sobbed and begged Nick to take me home to Austin. I said I missed my people, and this place didn't have anything for me. I know, great wife things to tell your brand new husband who is getting up and going to work all day every day, and then coming home to do everything he can to make you feel loved and comfortable. Oops. I sat on my couch and called my mom bawling, but she didn't come to my rescue. Instead, she told me it was time to suck it up and find what I was looking for. It was time to make Houston MY home, not just the place I am living for now, until we can move back to Austin. That was not what I was expecting from my mom, but it was what I needed to hear. It was definitely a bitter pill to swallow, and it didn't happen right away, but eventually I woke up one morning and decided it was the day to find joy in this place, and to do that, I needed people. For that to happen, the best place I could think of was my church. Nick and I have a wonderful church that we love, but we were kind of just attending. Sneaking in on Sunday mornings and hurrying our way out after service. Nick was in a small group through our church that he really liked, but it felt like every time I tried to find something, anything, it fell flat. We tried a community group that I wasn't so fond of because it was a huge group of people that all knew each other, or at least it felt like they all knew each other, and I thought I didn't fit in. We signed up for a newlywed class that ended up not working with our schedule. I asked around about a girls' bible study but couldn't find one. That morning, I decided our best bet for finding people was to go back to the community group. 

Nick got home from work that evening, and I said I wanted to give community group another try. He looked at me very puzzled, and said "really?" When I told him that I needed people and that community group was the only place I knew to go, he agreed to try it again with me, and I agreed to sincerely try to like it. So we went. It was awkward and uncomfortable the first time, but I was determined to make friends and determined to plug in. Every time there was a hangout, we went. Every time someone needed something, I was willing to do it. I would say we started making ourselves known and started plugging in, but then community group ended. For FIVE months. And I still missed having a small group of just girls, so I decided to make one.

I used my 20 seconds of insane courage (see Game Plan to know what I'm talking about) to make an announcement at our last community group about the bible study I was starting. I said, "Hey, I would love to have community, so I'm going to start a bible study at my house on Wednesday evenings. If you're interested, let me know and I will send you more information about it." That went against pretty much every part of my being. Inviting people makes me feel uncomfortable, and I like my quiet evenings at home. Wednesdays have been my evening at home all by myself since we got married. Nick has bible study on Wednesday, and I watch shows and eat snacks for dinner on Wednesday nights. I had established a routine that I thoroughly enjoyed. After I made my announcement at community group, I got WAY more responses than I was expecting. Girls emailed me saying they have been searching for this but just couldn't find it. They said they desperately wanted a group of just girls to grow with spiritually and to be in community. Last night, I had 8 girls fill my tiny house for some Mam-Maw's spaghetti (recipe coming NEXT WEEK), Nutella stuffed cookies, and a whole lot of Jesus. It was SO good y'all. It was exactly what my soul needed, what I've been looking for, and getting texts from girls last night after group saying things like "so great... needed that!" and "can't wait to see what God has in store for us!" told me that it was good for the souls of the girls I invited as well. 

 

  For the recipe for Magical Nutella stuffed cookies, head over to the recipes section, or click   here  .

 For the recipe for Magical Nutella stuffed cookies, head over to the recipes section, or click here.

I did it, y'all! Yes, it is just the beginning, and yes, there is always the possibility that it will fizzle, but I believe that the Lord is gracious, and faithful, and good. SO good. I believe this group is going to be rich, and I can't wait to love these girls and to feel loved by them. #UnBreakThePeople sometimes means UnBreaking yourself first. 

THE Pie

The old saying that "The best way to a man's heart is through his stomach," could not be more true of my husband. Let me tell you the beginning of our love story...

Years ago, our Wyldlife team (a ministry Nick and I served with that essentially had us hang out with middle schoolers for all of college. Yes, we chose to spend most of our time with middle schoolers. Yes, we are crazy. And yes, we loved every second of it. More on that later.) was coming over for Thanksgiving dinner, and Nick kept asking me if there was going to be pie. Of course there would be pie! I was planning to make an apple pie--obviously, apple pie is the best pie--but the day before everyone was coming over, Nick told me it couldn’t be Thanksgiving without pumpkin pie. For some reason, I immediately panicked and decided I HAD to make pumpkin pie for him, so I did. 

Fast forward to the first time I met his momma. (Let's not forget that this was a couple of YEARS before we ever started dating.) I walked into her kitchen and introduced myself to be immediately greeted with, “Oh, you are the girl who made him the pie!” Apparently, Nick had gone on and on to his family about how beautiful my pie was and how it was the best pumpkin pie he had ever had. (Little did he know, I had never made a pumpkin pie before because I think the texture of them is weird and not my favorite.) But hey, apparently God was working some serious miracles that day that I am mighty thankful for now! Back then I convinced myself I desperately wanted to make that pie for him because he was the only one on the team, other than me, who really cared about food, and therefore, he would appreciate the pie. Now, now I know it was because I secretly knew the way to his heart was, and will always be, through his stomach.

           Photo:    Leeann Funk Photography

         Photo: Leeann Funk Photography

Fast forward some more to November 25, 2016. OUR WEDDING DAY. I know, I know, I skipped a lot of steps, but I'll fill in the rest of the story some other time. Anyway, Nick and I got married the day after Thanksgiving last year, and I knew there was no other option than to make him THE pie for our wedding because, ya know, it wouldn't be Thanksgiving or OUR WEDDING without THE pie. I woke up at the crack of dawn on our wedding day and started making THE pie. When my mom and bridesmaids woke up and stumbled downstairs, they all just stood in the kitchen and laughed because, I mean, what other bride wakes up on her wedding day to make her hubby-to-be a pie? This girl. I wouldn't have wanted it any other way. It made our special day that much more special, and I would do it a million times over if I could. You know I will be making THE pie every Thanksgiving for the rest of our lives!

~Sydney

P.S. One of our sweet friends gifted us these custom coasters to use as decor at our wedding and they featured THE pie!!!! I loved them so much and now have a fun print of the graphic on the coasters framed in our itty bitty apartment. :) Thanks a million times over to the Hallorans for knowing us so well and for such a thoughtful wedding gift! We love y'all.

 

Coasters.jpg

To get these fun coasters for your event click here