Jesus Frosting

October 4th, 2015

I mentioned in my last post that I’ve been in a weird place lately.  I didn’t elaborate much because I wasn’t even sure what to say.

I’m probably still not totally sure, but I am committing myself to speaking out more.  To telling my story.  To sharing my perspective.  To contributing to the epic narrative by saying my lines.

There’s no bravery in shrinking back and staying quiet and hiding out on the sidelines with a million things on your mind and no balls to say them.

So here I am.

It’s embarrassing for me to even start like that.  I’ve written multiple posts about how I have so much to say and how I feel my words are trapped inside me and I’m going to let them out.

Blah. Blah. Blah.

It’s always the same thing after that….maybe one or two heartfelt posts and then radio silence.  Still putting words to my thoughts every single day, but shrinking back from posting any of them.

After finishing Elizabeth Gilbert’s book Big Magic, I had a revelation…

I enjoy writing enough that I feel it’s worth doing even if no one ever cares and even if people think it’s crap or that I’m a narcissist.  Writing is one of the few things that brings me to tears.  I cannot get my hands on enough writing about writing and I’m moved deep inside when I think or dream about writing and much of the time when I sit down to write.  So I’m just going to do it.  For real this time.

Why am I even telling you this???

I have consciously decided not to care what you think.  This is nearly impossible for me, but I’m making the decision.

In fact, much of the odd place I’ve been in lately is a little prison of my own making.  The prison of worrying about what I should be doing or how I should be living or how I am living looks to the world at large.

The best part is…no one even cares!


I’ve heard the quote a million times, but I’m finally starting to believe it.

“You wouldn’t worry so much about what others think of you if you realized how seldom they do.”

you wouldnt worry

Thank you Eleanor.

I’m convinced I also wouldn’t worry so much about what others think of me if I realized what God really does.

That He fully knows me and deeply loves me.

THAT is what life is made of.

I’m so grateful for my church.  Grateful that I somehow managed to get myself and the 3 kids there at 9am despite the fact we all got out of bed at 8:27am.

That right there was a straight miracle.

And there was even room for Drew in the nursery, which is not always the case.

The Lord must have known I needed a little uninterrupted time to hear from Him.  That I needed to be reminded of the truth.

Life is to be found in Christ.  Not anywhere else.

The most interesting thing about this idea is, I thought I knew it.

I thought my heart knew it, not just my mind.

But it turns out I had forgotten.

Maybe not even so much that I’d forgotten, but I thought I was going to Him for life.

I thought because I knew life was only to be truly found in Him I was doing it.  I didn’t think I was going to lesser things to satisfy me.

But I was deeply unsatisfied.

Granted I’m in an intense phase of life raising 3 kids, homeschooling one of them, and holding down the fort while my husband is gone for months at a time.

That is draining and it won’t always feel satisfying.

I should probably accept that truth and allow myself to acknowledge the hard thing I’m doing.


I was living a life lacking joy.  I was battling anxiety and dread all day long.

Little things were setting me into a panic.  I felt overwhelmed from the moment I opened my eyes in the morning until the moment I closed them at night.

I was daydreaming about what I thought might make me happier.  I was thinking about how my life would be different (happier?) if I wasn’t a stay at home mom to what feels like a gaggle of children.

What if Andy and I didn’t have kids?  What if I worked full time?  What if I was the writer I dream of being?  What if I was doing a better job parenting and it was therefore easier? (myth)

Lots of what ifs.  Lots of trying hard to just be happy.  To be content.  To be satisfied.

I even would go so far as to tell God, “Ok, I’m here.  I’m not going to food or wine or tv or whatever to fill myself up, so what do you have for me?”

::waits two minutes::

“Nothing?  Ok then.  I guess you just feel like being quiet. I guess I’m just not positioning myself properly to get what you have for me.  Fine.”

I figured I’d just wait it out.  I’d just keep moving forward, probably edging God out a little until He was ready to get to me.  I was feeling pretty hopeless too.  Feeling like I must have the answer to the problem and that it just wasn’t working.

But this morning at church I realized what I was doing.

Jesus frosting.

Follow me for a minute…

I’m pretty sentimental and very nostalgic.  Fall tends to bring this out in me more than most other times of year.  Certain meals, smells, sights, activities, family time, decor, have made impressions on my memory and I feel like I’m always trying to make sure this fall is as sweet as those in my past.

Adding more decorations to the living room, pumping fall scents throughout the house (cannot wait for my cinnamon, clove and nutmeg oils to arrive!) and making cozy dinners like roasted chicken and spicy chili with corn bread are all attempts at creating a reality that makes me feel warm, fuzzy, and happy.

I’ve daydreamed about how fun it would be to homeschool my children one day.  I pictured us smiling at the kitchen table, working on handwriting, phonics and math with smiles on our faces.  I imagined me being the best teacher ever and them being so thankful that I was taking the time to be their teacher.

I used to fantasize about being a mother.  Staying home with my children and loving every minute of it.  Meal time, bath time, play time.  All of it was idyllic.  They were obedient and grateful.  I was patient and compassionate.

I think it goes without saying that my reality is different than those rose-colored imaginations.  That has left me a bit disillusioned and frustrated.

I just have to try harder.  I have to do more and be better.  Then it will all work out.


I have fallen into looking for life in:

  • my home and it’s cleanliness and cuteness
  • my homeschooling experience
  • my children’s behavior and attitudes
  • and as a dear woman at church put it, the experiences of my 5 senses

True life, abundant life, is only to be found in Christ.

In what He has done for me.  In how fully He knows me and how deeply He loves me.

I’ve been looking for life in all the things I’ve mentioned and then I’ve slathered a layer of Jesus on the top and I’ve wondered why I’m not feeling connected to Him.  Wondered why I don’t feel rest and peace and freedom.

It’s not about Jesus frosting.

I cannot just layer Him on top of all the things I’m really going to to make me feel happy.  They are rotten wells with salty water that just makes me thirstier.

He is living water.

Today I drank deeply from Him and have felt more peace and joy that I have in a long time.

Thank you Father for your grace and mercy.

Thank you that you are truly all I need.

no jesus frosting


Travel the World with Netflix

September 30th, 2015

I’m in a strange place lately you guys.

Andy being gone, my sister getting married, continuing to operate within my dysfunctional infrastructure….all of it has done a number on me.

Finally today, after MUCH stubbornness, I sat down and wrote a bunch of it out.  It didn’t make a ton of sense and was all over the place and was peppered with profanity, but it helped me feel so much better.  Like a release valve was loosened and a bunch of pent up pressure was released.

I’m still wrestling with how I’m living my life and what God is inviting me into, but I’m feeling a little lighter.


What does this all have to do with Netflix, you might ask?

Well, I’m trying to awaken to the things that excite me.  Things that spark joy, awe, wonder, and excitement in my heart and soul.

Emo, I know.

There are so many things that do that actually.  I spent about 300 words jotting a few of them down when I was writing earlier.

Much of it could fall under the categories: music, food, stories, people.

That’s where Netflix comes in…

For the past few nights Andy and I have been watching Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown.

And I seriously cannot get enough of it.

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Bourdain is a chef, author and tv personality who travels the world to explore the food, culture, and people who live in places off the beaten path.

We’ve only watched 4 episodes and I’m hooked.  I’m totally captivated by his style and laid back appreciation and reverence for the places he visits and the stories he hears.

The episode we watched last night (about Libya) was sobering and eye-opening.

It’s about so much more than the food.

When I watch this show, I imagine I feel the way people who love musicals feel….the story is progressing and BAM! everyone bursts into song.

Instead of that (which usually annoys me – sorry musical lovers!) the story progresses and BAM! they are suddenly sharing a delicious indigenous meal.

I physically ache when I watch shows like this and also Chef’s Table that I mentioned last time, because they move me.  They make me want to GO and SEE and TASTE and LISTEN to the whole wide world.

I have no idea how to make that happen, but you better believe I’m near constantly trying to figure out a way.

Until then, thank you Netflix for allowing me to travel the world through your incredible original shows, numerous documentaries, and programs like Parts Unknown.

Disclosure: I am a member of the Netflix Stream Team and will be sharing monthly tips and stories about how my family uses Netflix on a regular basis. As a member of the Stream Team I was provided with welcome kit including a voucher to apply towards my Netflix account. I was not otherwise compensated for this post. All opinions are my own.



Round These Parts Lately

September 22nd, 2015

PREFACE: I wrote this post one week ago today.  It’s all still as true as it was that day, but MAN OH MAN that evening was tough!  I didn’t publish the post immediately after writing it because I wanted to check for typos and by the time I had time to post this, all hell broke loose.  I had a crazy evening, planned wrong and missed a meeting, felt completely overwhelmed by the upcoming wedding, everything I was trying to control, and handling the kids completely on my own.  I’d love to say I turned it all over to God, but instead I had a pity party and watched Mad Men on Netflix while drinking wine and eating pretzels and cheese dip. #SoHuman

God in his ever abundant mercy loved me as much then as He does when I think I’m rockin’ it.  Today I’m neither here nor there.  Just kind of in the middle and still feeling all of the stuff in this post…

We’re on our 16th day with Andy being gone.  Boy we miss him!  We’re trying to FaceTime most days, but unless it happens in the delicate window between dinner and bed time, it’s not worth it.

FaceTime with young children is a special form of torture!  The lighting is always off, the kids never stop moving, someone is always shoving their face into the camera or hitting the kid who’s doing that and the baby pretty much just wants to crawl away.  Meanwhile, I’m constantly trying to angle the phone or iPad to show only one of my chins.

Yeah, no thank you.

But we want to see Andy everyday and keep him up to speed on what’s happening and make sure Drew doesn’t forget who is dad is. LOL

So we press on.  In that little post-dinner/pre-bedtime window.

Managing things by myself has actually been going better than I expected.  The regular feeding/changing/wiping/bathing/nail-clipping/story reading/fight breaking up/homeschooling of these three sweet blessings has a tendency to be exhausting.  When Andy is around, we try to tag team a lot of the evening and weekend stuff, and it sometimes still feels a little overwhelming, so I thought for sure I’d be swamped when I was doing it by myself.

By the grace of God I haven’t been swamped.  He’s poured out an extra measure of patience and perseverance upon me that I honestly can take no credit for.  I tend to have a prickly, no-nonsense, compassionless knee-jerk response to challenges, so this is ALL. GOD.

I’m so grateful.

We’ve been finding new rhythms and rituals that have structured our days so nicely.  The kids so well when we’re consistent with our routines and they know what to expect.

Right now that means we wake up and have breakfast, the kids play for a while, Drew goes down for his morning nap, Grace and I do kindergarten at the kitchen table and Avery is thrilled to participate in everything with us, the girls go outside for “recess” (which they LOVE and which CRACKS ME UP since they’ve been “recessing” outside all summer and it hasn’t felt so novel!) while I make lunch and get Drew up and fed.  A little more playtime and sometimes and errand or two, then nap time for Drew and Avery (and sometimes “rest time” for Grace) then back outside for a walk or bike ride before dinner, then reading and bedtime for the kids.  That’s when I clean up dinner, work on laundry, straighten up the house, plan school lessons for the next day, shower, and read blogs on my phone before hitting the hay.

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Day in and day out, it’s pretty much the exact same thing.

This is what is working for us right now and as long as it does we will continue.  I’ve been resistant to routines much of my life (Just ask my mom!  I’m always picking on her for all of hers) but there is something comforting and peaceful about them.  I always want to leave room for promptings from the Holy Spirit or helping someone in need or abandoning the entire plan for fun and adventure, but on the very quiet and ordinary days, I often smile as I’m coming full circle on one of our daily rituals.  I find gratitude in those moments.

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It’s like my heart and mind aren’t cluttered from worrying about what’s next or getting the kids on board for whatever needs to happen, so I have space to think and be thankful for this life I have.  For God’s mercy on me and all of my shortcomings.  For the way I get to stay home and do this work day after day.  For each of my beautiful and healthy children.

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We aren’t guaranteed anything in this life, except God’s goodness and his presence and the promise that He will make all things right in the next life.

There’s no promise that things will be easy or people will stay healthy or tragedy will be avoided.  Those things happen and they’re no respecter of persons.  I want to be thankful every minute for these beautiful things in my life that I don’t deserve.

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On the flip side, I want to grow in intimacy with God so that I will continue to be thankful when the hard times do happen, knowing He is good no matter what the circumstances of my life are screaming at me.

Part of growing toward Him is maintaining margins in my life.  Not overcrowding every day, but rather leaving room between the kindling so that His spirit can circulate and feed the flame of my relationship with Him.

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I find that lately I’m obsessed with how I’m spending my time.  Anxious about what to say yes to and what to turn down.  Worrying about not spending enough time with friends and worrying about how to make time to spend with them.  Worrying about not texting or calling people, worrying about what to be involved in at church, worried about missing things God has for me.

I knowcan’t miss the good works He has prepared in advance for me to walk in, but, practically speaking, I must believe I can miss them.

I keep reaching my heart to Him, asking for wisdom, remembering how much He loves me just as I am, over-extended or hermitting at home.

He loves me.

What good news!

2015 South Carolina Pilgrimage

September 9th, 2015


There are about a million pictures in this post, but you know what they say…

A picture speaks a thousand words.  So maybe, just MAYBE, I’ll let the pictures do all the talking and spare you my 1000 words ;)




















































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Until next year…

Soul Food with Netflix

August 31st, 2015

In June I mentioned the Netflix programs I wanted to check out over the summer.  And between the long days outside and the fun vacations we’ve taken, I’ve almost watched everything on my summer Netflix bucket list!

Hands down, my favorite thing all summer has been the Netflix Original Series Chef’s Table.

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I cannot even express how inspired I’ve been by this show.  There are currently only 6 episodes and I haven’t even allowed myself to watch them all because I cannot bear the idea that they’d all be viewed.  I’m currently hoarding the last 2 episodes.

I can tell you that I was emotional, to the point of tears, for the first 4 episodes.  Featuring chefs from Japan, Patagonia, Italy, and the all-American farm, each episode has been drenched in beauty and passion.

They have made me want to travel the country and the world to experience the creations of each chef featured.  I’ve been inspired to continue loving and pursuing food in new and exciting ways.


Some simple manifestations of this have been buying purple potatoes at the market instead of the usual white or sweet potatoes I buy.  In fact, the sack of baby purple potatoes I bought at Whole Foods traveled all the way from Michigan to South Carolina where I roasted them with olive oil, salt, pepper and fresh rosemary leaves and plenty of garlic.  Paired with roasted carrots, steamed broccoli and filet mignon smothered in blue cheese butter, they weren’t too far a departure from our normal weekly fare, but there was just enough variety and adventure for me to credit the Netflix Chef’s Table for the inspiration to branch out and try new things :)

It doesn’t take much of a nudge to get me to try new foods, but it’s also easy to get stuck in the same rut week after week.  I love Food & Wine magazine and after watching several episodes of Chef’s Table, I feel that much more likely to try recipes that call for new ingredients like White Balsamic Vinegar and fresh figs.

With Andy being out of town for the next couple of months I feel even more adventurous to experiment with meals that may not be crowd pleasers (I can always fix oatmeal or random chicken & veggie dinners for the girls) so I’m tearing pages out of magazines and remembering the joy and passion that each of the featured Chef’s Table chefs cook with.

Whether it be over an open flame in Patagonia or my GE range in Michigan, I know that good food is medicine to a weary soul and the catalyst to all kinds of friendship and community.

If you haven’t checked out this series yet on Netflix, I highly recommend it and would love to hear what you think about each episode!



Disclosure: I am a member of the Netflix Stream Team and will be sharing monthly tips and stories about how my family uses Netflix on a regular basis. As a member of the Stream Team I was provided with welcome kit including a voucher to apply towards my Netflix account. I was not otherwise compensated for this post. All opinions are my own.

Vacation Reset

August 30th, 2015

There’s just something about being on vacation that gives me a total reset.  I see the world differently.  The wheat in my life separates from the chaff and I have clarity about what’s important and what I’ve gotten caught up in that is draining the life out of me.

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The ocean is some of the best therapy I’ve found.  When I walked onto the beach the other morning just as the sun was rising, it felt as though God himself was saying good morning to me.  I saw the giant orange sun coming up over the horizon and my heart smiled and instinctively I said out loud, “Good morning, Lord!”

The waves crashing onto the shore and nothing to see ahead but the sky and water brings a sense of peace and calm to my heart.  My mind is always going 100 miles an hour and I struggle to quiet and be still.  When I’m facing the ocean it’s different.  The sound of the water, the salt air blowing on my face, the tapestry of seashells along the shore, the seagulls and sand pipers flitting and flying around are all a symphony of God’s creation and I wish I could bottle up the effect they have on me and take it home.

I’d love a sip of that around 2:00 on a random Tuesday afternoon when I’m home, worn out by the activities of the day and my ever mounting to-do list.  What a pleasure that would be!

Reading and watching the kids play has also been so peaceful.  It’s easy to become exasperated by all of the normal kid antics, but if I stop and just watch them…memorize their sweet little faces as they play or dance along the shore, I’m completely overwhelmed with gratitude for them.

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In Tattoos on the Heart, one of the guys says, “The duty to delight is to stare at your family as they eat, anchored in the surest kind of gratitude – the sort that erases sacrifice and hardship and absorbs everything else.”

Not having any of my regular household stuff or social obligations has provided me much time to just sit and stare at the kids.  It really does provoke a sense of gratitude for them that erases any sacrifices I make to take care of them and it absorbs everything that normally seems challenging.

I want to take more time at home to say “NO” to other things and YES to staring at my children and feeling gratitude.

I also need to slow down.  I cannot keep saying yes to everything that comes along.  It’s robbing me of important things.  It makes me edgy and irritable with the people I’ve been called to care for and it doesn’t allow enough margin for things that feed my soul.  Things like seeing the morning sun and having my heart cry out “Good Morning!” to my father in heaven.

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Vacation helps me see things.  It awakens possibility inside me.  Challenges the way I normally operate.  I tend to get a million and one random thoughts and I always want to write them down…try to harness them like wild horses, but I almost always talk myself out of it.  While journaling on the beach last week I wrote:

The control freak in me wants a smooth transition to the next journal topic.  She wants neat handwriting and even rows of text.  But that’s not me.  I’m a hurried scribble.  I always have been.  Will I ever be ok with that?  When I am, will it mean that I write more?  Can I blog like that?  Stream of conscious?

I would love to read that.  It would comfort my messy aching soul.  No catchy openers.  No tidy wrap ups.  Just raw words.  Emotion.  Dreams.  Passion.

Have I blogged for 10 years, no…11 years, just to get to the place where I finally find my stride?  I love the raw and even cryptic writing of Flower Patch Farmgirl.  It awakens something in me.  It comforts me.  I need to pursue this.  Without warning.  Without preamble.  Without disclaimer.

Adoption has gripped my heart.  I’m consumed.  I’m terrified and thrilled at the same time.  I’m so comforted and reassured by Jaclyn’s story.  Thank you God for this vacation.  For the two cold Miller Lights that give me an exhale as I sit here on the beach. For the sand on my heel and the waves crashing in my ear.  Choose my babies for me.  Start now.  I’m ready.

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Comfort-Seeking Missile

August 4th, 2015

Last night Andy and I sat on the patio with plans to discuss the next couple of months.  Specifically he wanted to run a few travel questions by me and I was all too happy to hang out with him under the patio lights in the cool summer evening air. I think we may have gotten more use out of the patio this year than any year before, but it still never feels like we’re using it enough.  I’m such a nut about seasonal experiences…have I done enough summer stuff?  Grilled out enough?  Gone swimming enough? Have I done enough fall stuff?  Eaten enough pumpkin stuff? Enjoyed the colorful fall leaves enough?

Never.  I never seem to do any of it enough.

But I digress…

We sat outside enjoying the evening and tossing dates and travel options back and forth.  Which residency interview will be a phone call?  Which will be an in-person visit?  When will you fly?  Drive?  How will that fit in?  Where are the residency spots for that specialty?  How many are there?  How does that work?  What’s a GMO tour?  How likely is that to happen?

You guys.

There are soooo many decisions to make right now.

My head swirls with the thought of it all.  For the most part I just offer feedback in the way of, “Whatever you think will be best, babe.  I’m totally on board with anything.  I trust your choices.”

That usually is my gut feeling.  Plus, I can tell myself what a good and supportive wife I am.

If I slow down and really think about it all though, I get nervous.

Not so much about Andy’s upcoming travel and interviews and rotations.  But about our life.  The trajectory it is going to take.

I may convince myself that I’m ok with whatever and I’m totally up for the adventure of it all and I completely trust God to lead us and keep us as we move forward.

But once in a while, like last night, it all really hits me.

We are moving away.

It’s not pretend.  It’s not just a long vacation.  It’s not even far away anymore.

It’s right around the corner and it’s happening and we aren’t coming back.

Even typing those words gives me a lump in my throat.

Even if we do come back when Andy has fulfilled his obligation to the Navy, we are looking at like 10 years from now.

A decade.

I’ll be 45.

Grace will be 15!  Avery will be 12!  Drew will be 10!

Lord have mercy.

That’s forever and no time at all.

When we decided to join the Navy 3 years ago, we prayed and thought long and hard about it.  It was the option that made sense to us.  Andy felt proud to serve his country.  I felt hope at not having to be the primary bread winner throughout Andy’s school tenure.  We felt relief that there was some way for us to move forward with our family and his career.

I still feel that way.  I’m beyond grateful for all the Navy has provided us over the past 3 years.

But back then things were different.  I was working full time and I was stressed out.  I was striving for, yet failing at, work-life balance.  I was disconnected with many of my friends.  My family had just been divided by my parent’s divorce.  I was living out my faith in more of a token way and I wasn’t plugged into my church.  I felt like I was an island.

Back then moving away didn’t sound so bad.  In fact, it sounded like relief.  An escape.

In theory I knew, “Everywhere you go, there you are” and that my issues wouldn’t go away even if I did, but the cost of having the Navy decide our whereabouts seemed like a bargain for what we were getting.  Plus, it was 4 years away and that felt like a lifetime.

It’s not a lifetime.

I’m staring down this final year and last night, under the patio lights, it all felt very real and very close.

Friends have recently moved away.  It was real.

Family is moving away this week.  It is real.

The lump formed in my throat as we were talking.  My eyes became wet with tears.

We sorted out various dates and travel ideas for the fall and then we prayed.  Just as we have every night for the past couple of weeks.  Andy has been really torn about which specialty to pursue, so we decided to pray together consistently for 30 days to seek God.  Ultimately we say our lives belong to Him, so we wanted to discipline ourselves to hear from Him about the next chapter.

As we prayed I listened to Andy’s words.  I heard Him thanking God for going before us and walking beside us and being all around us.

The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Deuteronomy 31:8

I’ve heard this verse before.  I’ve belted it out as I drive my car around my familiar neighborhood, to and from all the same places week after week.

I know it to be true and it comforted me last night.

But I still felt anxious and afraid.

I asked myself why.  Why, if I know He will be with me wherever I go, am I still afraid and anxious and uncertain?


I’m comfortable here.  I know the area.  I have friends and family who love me.  I’m plugged into a church.  I’m living in community with people around me.  I know this place and these people.  I’m comfortable.

And, as much as it pains me to admit it, I value my comfort more than I trust God.

say I want to follow wherever He leads me and that I’ll trust whatever He has for me, but when the rubber is meeting the road, I’m scared.

The things I’ve been learning and mulling around in my heart and mind have been powerful.  I’ve convinced myself the truths God has been illuminating for me are rooted deep in my heart.  I’ve imagined various scenarios that might test my faith and I’ve imagined myself clinging to God and not freaking out.

But once again, the minute I feel confident that I’ve “arrived” somewhere in my faith is the minute something happens to shake me up.

To remind me of my humanity.  My selfishness.  My weakness.

Before that prayer time last night, I honestly didn’t see this comfort idol.  It was a total blind spot for me.

As much as I examine and re-examine myself, my thoughts, and my motives, it always catches me by surprise when the Lord reveals a blind spot to me.

Last summer it was pride.  This summer it’s the way I idolize comfort.


I’m so grateful for these words…

Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

2 Corinthians 12:9-10


How We’ve Been Enjoying Netflix This Summer

July 31st, 2015

Tomorrow is August.


In my mind that means 30 more days of Summer.  The minute September hits I’m all, “Bouquets of sharpened pencils, come hither!”

To me, September = Fall.

Here in Michigan it will likely be hot and humid, our mitten not having received the memo that brisk red and gold days are in and muggy hot nights are out.

I’ve got 30 days to cram in as many twinkle light patio nights, barbecue dinners, chlorine scented afternoons, and after dinner family walks as possible.

When I’m not sucking the marrow out of summer, I’ve been checking out some of the movies from my last Netflix post.

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I had a chance to watch Chef and while the language was intense, I really enjoyed the story line.  Food, friends, family, and a happy ending.  I was all about it.

I also watched the documentary Fed Up.  Oh my goodness.  I used to be a sugar nazi, but I’ve really upped my game!  The film focuses on the childhood obesity epidemic and how so much of the problem is related to sugar consumption.  It’s everywhere.  Not just foods you think of as being sweet.  We’re talking crackers, condiments, marinara sauce, bread, everywhere.  You know how nutrition labels tell you how much fat, protein, calories, sugar, etc is in an item?  You know how they also tell you what percentage that is of your daily recommended intake?  Well they don’t give you the percentage for sugar.  You know why?  Because you’d be shocked at how your innocent looking yogurt is like 200% of your daily allowance of sugar.  Yeah.  It’s cray.  Check it out!

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I haven’t yet had a chance to watch the other items on my list, but Andy and I did stumble across a really cute movie.  Over the weekend we popped some popcorn and watched a fun romantic comedy starring Michael Keaton (who has somehow gotten old…like really old) and Diane Keaton (who continues to look fabulous).  I loved the setting, the storyline, the humor and the warm fuzzy family feelings.  We went in with low expectations and really enjoyed this one.  Check it out :)

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Grace and Avery have their regular favorites and a few newer ones like these….

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I can’t exactly figure out what makes them like a show.  Each thing they get really into is different from the next and some of them I just don’t understand.  But I’m happy that the Netflix kid profiles really are full of decent programming.  I still closely monitor what they watch, but so far there hasn’t been anything sketchy.  Thank you Netflix!

Have you been watching anything good on Netflix lately??  I’m always looking for recommendations, so leave them in the comments! :)


Disclosure: I am a member of the Netflix Stream Team and will be sharing monthly tips and stories about how my family uses Netflix on a regular basis. As a member of the Stream Team I was provided with welcome kit including a voucher to apply towards my Netflix account. I was not otherwise compensated for this post. All opinions are my own.



Summer Lovin’ (Happened So Fast)

July 20th, 2015

More than halfway through July.

Makes me want to cry.

Hey! I’m a poet and didn’t even know it ;)

But seriously.  Summer is my absolute favorite and I feel it slipping away.  I want to hold on tight and never let it go.  I want to slow down and say no to every single thing but lazy mornings and afternoons outside and dinners on the grill.  I want to memorize every drop of perspiration falling from my girls’ foreheads.  I want to mentally snapshot Drew sitting in the grass trying his hardest to munch on a single blade of green.

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Over the weekend I bought a citronella lantern and new string lights for the patio.  I’m sitting outside right now and want to spend every night out here knowing colder temps and darker evenings are on the horizon.

It’s been a cooler than normal summer and while part of me has appreciated the milder temperatures, there’s another part of me….the summer lovin’ little girl who wanted to swim every day and stay out till after dark every night.

That girl wants to recreate those memories with her daughters rather than spending time inside.  I’d love to wake up every day and eat breakfast fast so we can all head outside.  The girls would run around, climb the playscape, ride their bikes, play in the sand and splash in the baby pool.  The boy would wear his sunhat and bounce in his Johnny Jumper while I sipped my coffee and wrote in my journal.

We’ve had a stretch of hot days that have been more conducive to that dream, but my kids haven’t gotten the memo ;)  They’d rather talk me into a few shows while I doze on the couch.  They’d rather putz during breakfast and insist they aren’t full after 2 helpings.  So I get a third and refill water cups and finally get around to cooking up my own breakfast.

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By this point I’ve accumulated enough dishes that it’s time to tackle them before they get unruly.  By this time Drew is up from his morning nap and ready to eat again.  Diaper changes abound.  Poopy bottoms in triplicate.  Bickering and unkind tones arise from the girls room.

I want to yell up the stairs to make it stop.  I’m working at taking a breath.  Uttering a prayer of surrender to my Father.  Asking for grace and mercy that it might flow through me to the girls in all of the many arguments that will inevitably occur throughout the day.  I’m reminded that the Lord desires transformation and restoration more than punishment.  Am I seeking to restore them or just dole out punishment after punishment?  It’s often the latter, but I’m asking God to give me wisdom as to how to restore two small girls who are steeped in sibling rivalry.

I have 18 years to raise these children.  My perspective on those years recently changed.  It occurred to me that I could become frustrated when it’s necessary to teach each lesson over and over and over again, sometimes without any apparent progress.  OR I can understand that it may take 18 years, give or take, to learn some of these basic virtues and each time I teach the lesson, each time I ask God to help me restore them, is another drop in the bucket of them becoming men and women of good character.

I know I’ve only just started to fully embrace the character and virtue I always wanted to look like I had.  Seems to me these sweet little sinful humans ought to be given grace as they navigate these rough waters.

All that and so much more has been swirling in my mind these summer days.  I’ve been waging war against the anxiety that threatens to gain footing every day.  Prayer and journaling have helped.  Vetiver oil has also helped, despite my skepticism that it would.  I also happen to adore its woodsy scent.

It feels like I’m climbing great mountains in my mind each day while I am going about all the regular things.  Laundry, dishes, grocery shopping, cooking.

I’ve been working on my grilling skills and also trying to come up with healthy, Whole30 compliant, summery dinners.

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Grilled veggies and organic rotisserie chicken fit the bill the other night and made the most scrumptious lunch today. (Throwing the chicken carcass into my crockpot and covering it with water on low for 24 hours makes the easiest bone broth!)

i dont always

LOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOL!  I made this comment to Andy the other day when I got the crockpot set up to make the broth…it cracked me up then and even more now that I made the meme!  HAHAHAHA!

This shrimp, zucchini and pesto zoodle dinner was also very tasty.  I’ll be making it again for sure!

We had our first date night in far too long about 2 weeks ago.  We dined at Green Dot Stables and loved everything that crossed our mouths.  I chose four different delicious sliders with a tiny wedge salad and ridiculously good truffle and herb fries.

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We loved the restaurant music and atmosphere and had a great time talking and getting really caught up with each other, free of interruptions from our little minions :)

Just this past weekend we enjoyed sushi and a boat ride with friends we haven’t hung out with in over 4 years.  Where on earth does the time go?

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It was an absolutely gorgeous night and we loved being out on the water filling our bellies and our hearts in good company.  Too bad it takes us 4 years to get around to hanging out with people.  I know life isn’t going to slow down so lately I’m consumed with trying to figure out how to spend time with everyone we love without being constantly on the go because these years with little ones are no joke.  My kids do very well with predictable routines and plenty of time at home with both parents.  I cannot seem to find balance lately and I so wish I could.

It’s time for bed and although I could keep writing and writing about our summer so far, I’m going to head to bed for a little reading before it gets too late.  And before I break 1000 words.

I’m in the running for the ultimate verbal processor.  The competition’s got nothing on this wordy woman! LOL

Grace Turns Five

July 9th, 2015

It is almost beyond my comprehension that my sweet baby girl, pictured here on the day she was born, is now a tall, beautiful, smart and spunky 5 year old.

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Where did the last 5 years go and can I please slow down the next 5??

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For all the emotion I feel about Grace growing up, I have to also admit that I’ve gotten a glimpse of what life will be like with bigger kids and I’m honestly excited for the changes ahead.

Five years old is very different than four or even four and a half.  Grace’s personality is in full force and she’s so fun.  She’s also a handful, but on good days I can view her high passion and emotion as a strength that will take her far and allow her to be a powerful force in God’s kingdom.

On bad days I feel overwhelmed and terrified that I’m doing everything wrong and I want to run away screaming. #truestory

Remembering that God sees her, that He loves her more than I even do, that she is His masterpiece and He has prepared good works for her to do (Ephesians 2:10), and that He is faithful to complete His good work in her until the day of Christ (Philippians 1:6) gives me such hope and it calms my fearful heart.

He is so good.  My finite mind cannot even conceive all His goodness.

Now that Grace has left her baby and toddler years behind and is barreling full force into childhood, I’m able to see how our life will change as each of our children grows up and enters this territory.  We can talk with them more to understand what’s on their minds and in their hearts, we can share deeper truths with them and help them wrestle through tough things, we can set off on adventures without being interrupted by nap time, or skipping nap and paying for it by 5pm.  We can stay up late and have bonfires in the summer nights when it’s finally dark.  We can push the boundaries of bed time to watch a fun movie and enjoy a little sleeping in the next morning.  We can watch their creativity blossom as they run and jump or color and dance.  We can explore what they are interested in and move forward with extra curricular lessons and activities.

There’s a whole new frontier ahead and even though it’s only peeking over the horizon, I’m excited for what it holds.

In the meantime, I’m still soaking up snuggles and baby rolls and infancy and toddlerhood…

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Well I am when it’s not pushing me to my knees in prayer over how incredibly selfish and demanding I am.  Let’s not gloss over how challenging parenting really is.

But let’s not miss all the ways it is incredibly beautiful.

Isn’t all of life like that?

Excruciating and euphoric.

Maybe just for a highly emotional gal such as myself :)

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But this big girl with all of her personality and unique fashion sense is

We celebrated the weekend before her birthday with a few friends and a small My Little Pony party.  That was the theme she chose when we went to Party City and wandered the aisles.  She had so much fun choosing party favors and decorations.  I’m glad I thought to include her in the process instead of just doing what I wanted.

My mom spent the night before with us and was SO HELPFUL the day of the party…watching Drew, cutting and washing fruit, giving decoration advice and keeping the birthday girl happy while she eagerly anticipated the party start time :)









Grace also chose all of the snacks (ruffled potato chips, Cheez-Its, strawberries, blueberries and juice boxes) and her birthday cake (vanilla cake with pink frosting and pearl sprinkles)

This girl knows what she wants!


I had fun making my mom’s Bonnie Butter Cake recipe and decorating the cake with all of Grace’s decoration picks.  I will say that cake stands really ought to be bigger!  They are only slightly larger than a standard round cake which leaves NO ROOM for any piping or decorating.  This meant I smooshed the sides and bottom of the cake when I put the glass lid on it and I wasn’t a happy camper about that let me tell you.  Fortunately I was able to touch it up the day of the party and I don’t think anyone but me noticed the messy parts.

The girls all arrived and after a little bit of shyness all started to play together.



I didn’t plan any party games, but they had fun blowing bubbles, playing ring-around-the-rosy, drawing with sidewalk chalk, and running around.




A few of the moms stayed and we enjoyed chatting while the girls played :)


Cake and ice cream (mint chip and orange creamsicle) were enjoyed by everyone.



Her sweet friends were all very generous and brought lovely gifts that she’s been enjoying ever since!






Andy and I bought her a big girl bike and helmet and while it’s still a little too big for her (20″ bike) she’s getting better and better at riding it and she’ll be able to use it for years to come!

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On her actual birthday I took her to get her ears pierced.  We weren’t sure we were ready for it, but after getting her a set of clip ons and seeing how cute and proud she looked in them, we decided to go for it.

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I didn’t get any pics of the actual process because I was holding her hands and helping her get through it (it looked painful and was done one ear at a time!) but here’s an “after” shot when she was picking out a stuffed animal :)

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My sister took her to the movies that afternoon and they had fun playing games and eating popcorn and slushies.  That night we had dinner at Red Robin and the waitstaff very loudly sang a happy birthday song to her.  She was totally freaked out and intimidated by the loud singing but enjoyed half of the ice cream sundae they brought her :)

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Overall it was a great WEEK of celebrating and I’m excited to see what this fifth year of life has in store for my sweet Gracie Bear.

Summer Netflix Watch List

June 30th, 2015

This weekend Andy and I did something we haven’t done in ages.

We rented a movie.

It used to be a regular occurrence for us, but with Netflix we usually don’t have any reason to venture out to the video store.

This weekend we were in the mood for something a little different and we both like watching Oscar nominated films so we rented The Theory of Everything.  It was a great film and certainly worthy of the nominations it received.  Eddie Redmayne was absolutely brilliant in the role of Stephen Hawking.  I always find it fascinating to learn more about the lives of real people, so this movie was right up my alley.

(This movie is available on DVD through Netflix, but my Netflix subscription includes instant streaming only which is why we cheated on Netflix with Family Video!)

I really really enjoy movies.  I love the way they teach me things, expand my knowledge base, pique my imagination and take me to faraway lands from the comfort of my sofa.  Watching a movie over the weekend instead of putzing around the house or wasting time on my phone reminded me how much I enjoy movies.  It made me want to put my darn phone down more often and pick up a good film (or documentary) instead.

I do well with lists, so I decided to put together a “watch list” to reference the next time I find myself wasting an evening in the Bermuda Triangle of social media on my phone.

Here are some of the titles that made my list….these are all available to watch Instantly on Netflix:

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The Butler: This is another Oscar film that I remember wanting to watch when I first heard about it.

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Chef: This movie was recommended to me by my dad and it involves a food truck, so I’m basically sold.

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Fed Up: This one is a documentary and I’m a total and complete sucker for documentary films.  It talks about the crazy sugar problem in America.  After doing the Whole30 and being utterly astounded at the amount of sugar in so many foods that aren’t even sweet, I’m a total sugar nazi now and scour nutrition labels to see how much sugar things contain.

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The Mind of a Chef: Anthony Bourdain interviews renown chefs to learn about their creative process.  There are two seasons of this show and I’d like to try a few episodes to see if it grips me as much as I think it will.  You know me and food :)

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Chef’s Table: This is a Netflix original 6-part documentary series that peeks inside the kitchens and minds of 6 international food stars.  Netflix has proven itself pretty awesome at creating original programs and again, this one is about food, so sign me up!

I’m realizing the bulk of the items on this list aren’t even movies at all which kind of negates the point I was making in the beginning about how I want to carve out more time to enjoy movies.  But they are about food and that’s another passion of mine, so you can see how I couldn’t resist them when I was making my list!

What about you?

Have you streamed anything awesome on Netflix lately???  Hit me with your recommendations, I want to add to my list!



Disclosure: I am a member of the Netflix Stream Team and will be sharing monthly tips and stories about how my family uses Netflix on a regular basis. As a member of the Stream Team I was provided with welcome kit including a voucher to apply towards my Netflix account. I was not otherwise compensated for this post. All opinions are my own.




Cucumbers and Jalapeños

June 24th, 2015

A while back my friend Kristi wrote a blog post about the days when parenting is awkward.

I remember nodding my head through the entire post.

“YES!!” I kept thinking, “Yes, I do usually feel like a traveling 3 ring circus when I take the kids out.”

It was oddly comforting to know at least one other person felt the same way.

You know that expression “as cool as a cucumber”?

That’s how I want to feel when I take the kids out.  Whether I’m alone or out with Andy, I just want to feel put together and cool and breezy.


I feel more like a hot mess.

I’m as “hot as a jalapeño” instead.

Including the sweat.

I’m constantly sweating.  Whether it’s winter, spring, summer, or fall, I’m usually sweating profusely as I lug the kids in and out of the car, in and out of the church, in and out of their coats, in and out of the store, in and out of the carseats.

Falling breathlessly into my seat when it’s over, I almost always feel like I need a shower.

I also feel like I’m doing something wrong.  Like all this should be easier.

I’ve blogged before about how I white knuckle my way through each of my days.  Pushing so hard.  Always so intense and focused. Trying to accomplish just a little more.

It’s the same way when I’m on the go with the kids.  I strive SO HARD to keep it all together.  To keep track of everyone.  To have fun.  To be safe.  To look cool as a cucumber even though I’m hot as a jalepeño (literally and figuratively).

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Now that summer is in full swing, my outings often lead me to parks and pools with all 3 of my babies.

Before leaving the house, I carefully pack our bag, making sure I’m fully prepared for every situation…thinking this might help me stay cool while we are there.

Inevitably I forget something anyway.  But, even when I don’t, I still feel like a hot mess juggling everyone and everything.

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I look around at the other moms (and nannies) and everyone else seems to be running well-oiled machines.  They look fashionable not flustered.  Breezy not sweaty.  Perfectly prepared not hairy canary.

Just the other day I was at the park for swim lessons experiencing all that I’ve just mentioned.  While I was sitting on the edge of the pool sweating and stressing, it occurred to me to take a step back (or maybe 30,000 feet) to look at myself.

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I too rolled up in a double jogging stroller with 2 out of 3 kiddos buckled in and reclining peacefully (no one else could tell Drew had been up since 6am crying constantly and that I was worried Avery would start melting down at any minute from also being up too early).

I too had a cute duffle bag packed to the brim with everything but the kitchen sink (which no one else could tell was digging into my shoulder, making me sore and angry with every step I took).

I too was sitting on the edge of the baby pool talking to a friend while my kids played in the water (no one else could tell I was experiencing full-on ADD trying to watch both girls play while keeping Drew out of the sun and attempting to have a soul-bonding conversation with my friend, all the while feeling like I was failing at all three).

I too packed a lunch for my kids and sat feeding the baby while they mostly ate everything set before them (no one else could tell that I was doing complex algorithms in my head to determine whether the girls were getting enough veggies and protein in relation to what they ate for breakfast and would be eating for dinner or that I was extremely self conscious giving Drew a bottle in front of my friend who only breastfeeds).

From the outside things didn’t look so bad.  No one could see how much inner turmoil I was experiencing at every turn.

It occurred to me that maybe I looked cool and breezy to someone else!  That maybe all of us are frantically schlepping our kids all over town and feeling like a hot mess in the process!

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I love love love Glennon Doyle Melton and I remember taking a huge breath of relief when she suggested that life isn’t hard because we’re doing it wrong.

It’s just HARD.

But we can do hard things!

I’m starting to figure out that life is not an “us” and “them” situation.

There isn’t a group of moms who have it all together and those who are a complete disaster.  We are all a complete disaster sometimes.  We all have good days where we’re shining and feeling full of life and hope too.

We don’t know much of anything about anyone else from what we see on the outside.  We could be catching them on their best or worst day.  We could watch them looking like a cucumber when they’re really feeling like a jalapeño.

This makes me want to give us all the benefit of the doubt more often.  Not to criticize someone who’s having an outwardly bad moment.  Not to idolize someone who seems to have it all together.

I want to remember that we are all standing side by side on a level plane.  We’re all desperately human.  Flawed and magnificent all at the same time.

Created in the image of a holy God and rescued from our endless sin by his very own Son.

Cucumber or jalapeño, we need him and we need to love, accept, and encourage one another.

This is all giving me something to chew on lately… (no pun intended ;)

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