Week 2: Rome Summer Mission

imageTwo weeks down and three to go! I feel like this photo from our Mid-Project Retreat sums it up perfectly. Magnificent scenery and smiles all around with an occasional torrential downpour and short-fused parents learning to flex and obey.

It has been a great project so far. Joel and the staff are working hard to lead the charge and students are faithfully building friendships and sharing their faith. The kids and I are homeschooling in the mornings, enjoying the park near our apartment, hosting the team for meetings and meals and joining them on campus as we can. image It really is going beautifully, but I WILL say that city life is kicking our tails.

It’s the little things really.

Like waiting on Bus 61 that is supposed to come to our neighborhood every 15 minutes, but that rarely shows up and has now earned the name, Cuss 61. image

Or getting chewed out by grocery store employees for not first weighing our fruit and printing out price tags before we get to the cash register. Cue hot tears of frustration. Forgive my fruit faux pas, guys.I don’t even use the suggested plastic produce baggie in America, so it’s highly unlikely that I will wear the recommended plastic gloves. And HEAVEN HELP US ALL  if I hand the money to them, forgetting that they STRONGLY PREFER for me to put it in the little money dish for them to pick it up from vs. take it from my hand.

Brief episodes of harshness is so culturally fine and they totally move on knowing it’s not at all personal. Meanwhile, my harmony-loving self has spent 3 days not being able to shake getting screamed at (in English–which, mind you, is much, much worse than being screamed at in Italian) by a man who scolded and belittled me for bringing my kids into his restaurant to go potty during a thunderstorm.

Let’s just say it really is wonderful to learn a new culture and enjoy the beauty of new surroundings, but it ain’t all Colosseums and gelato.image imageIt has been really fun to watch the kids embrace city life and learn a few great life skills.

For example, the art of taking a selfie. (Nailed it.)image How to ride the Metro and read a city map. (D is better at directions than me. I consistently rely on him to get me home from our Metro stop.)image How to stick close(ish) in a crowd. (Let’s just say, my children have been described as “free range children”. But they are learning, nonetheless.)image And most importantly, how to find chicken strips and french fries in a land flowing with pasta and pizza. (We may or may not have broken down and gone to Hard Rock Cafe.)      imageSo while we are trying not to cuss at the bus, offend the neighborhood, take things personally or lose sight of the mission, we are asking God to help us learn and grow and depend on the Him.

We are also learning that Nutella-filled croissants cover a multitude of city-life sins. image


Mud Stories Podcast

For those of you who are new here, WELCOME! And, for those of you who’ve been here since the beginning, well, bless your heart. You’re very kind to have stuck around.

If you’d like to hear our story from the beginning and some of what God’s been teaching me, my new friend Jacque Watkins interviewed me for her podcast Mud Stories. Click HERE or the image below to listen along!

“Mud Stories is a podcast dedicated to bringing you inspiration in your muddiest moments, hope to make it through your mud, and encouragement for you to know, you are not alone.”

Mud Stories

I’m so thankful to Jacque for hosting me. Here are a few of my other favorite Mud Story episodes.

Hope you are encouraged in the thick of whatever you find yourself in today! 

Week 1: Rome Summer Mission


Greetings from 7 hours into the future, our first day on campus and my attempt to blog via a cell phone. We shall see how this goes. Ciao, nonetheless!!!

I’m not sure how the passengers around us felt about a full rendition of Frozen, complete with song and dance, but to us, D & EG were rockstar travelers. They were so excited about their first airplane ride that they didn’t complain about  it lasting 8.5 hours. EG’s favorite part was “the blast off” and D was amazed that “God made all this. He’s a smart dude. He’s 100% smart. My Daddy isn’t even that smart!”


As we made our approach to Rome, we were greeted by reports of a fire in baggage claim and the potential of being reroute to Milan, but thankfully, our plane and luggage arrived safely. Thank you for your prayers! The ease of travel with the children was a direct answer to prayer.

My initial reflections are as follows:

1. I am all of the sudden really good at Spanish which does absolutely nothing for anyone in this country. Also, I am responsible to keep two small humans alive in a city in which I can’t navigate any form of transportation  nor can I communicate anything past “BAMBINO NECISITO POTTY NOWO”…we’re working on this one.

2. Speaking of the potty…we are also working on a few cultural norms.


3. The child you think will really struggle is having “the best day of his life” every day and the kid who could eat pasta and pizza every meal in America suddenly has an aversion. Also, meltdowns are universal and my children in Rome are the equivalent of Buddy the Elf in NYC. image

4. My Fitbit hasn’t seen this much action since ever. And I wish it could track how many more calories I burn when I’m lugging 9 liters of acqua and trying to convince my children not to pet the stray dogs or pick all the trash up off the street. Bless them.

5. College students are amazinly resilient. But even they have jet lag. The kind that eerily resembles the stupor of a sleepless mother. It made me feel saddistically understood.


6. Italians don’t smile a lot. (Perhaps they are hangry bc they don’t eat dinner till 9 pm, that’s my best guess.) And we are those strange Southern people showing up for supper promptly at 5, wearing bright clothes and smiling at peoole like we are at Disney or something. But, in all seriousness, I thought it was shocking to see the wear and tear of city life combined with the hopelessness of spiritual depravity, economic struggle, a dying country and a culture of suspicion.

7. Italians use their hands very aggressively in conversation. Which explains why  I got smacked in the face within an hour of being here. Funny how a casual stroll by some fierce “girl talk” can leave you with a busted lip.

8. The darkness and spiritual need here is great. Today, after Italians asked us, “Why are you here?” we were answered with responses such as, “I’m an atheist.” Or “Well, im not perfect.”

9. One must pace themselves on the amount of gelato one enjoys in one day. Regardless of how many badges one’s Fitbit is giving oneself.

10. Did I mention I have to keep two small humans alive? It’s a new found level of dependence and all I can say is “Christ within me, Christ before me, Christ behind me. Kids, HOLD HANDS AND QUIT LICKING THE HANDRAILS!!!”


Ministry + Motherhood {When It Feels As Awkward As The Hokey Pokey)

Today, I am sharing about one of my favorite yet trickiest parts of life over at ThriveMoms.com,  Here’s an excerpt that I hope blesses you or someone you know!


Have you ever gone months plowing through diapers and dishes, not even having the perspective or energy to consider how God might involve you in His rescue mission?

Have you ever felt a nagging question mark in your heart when you’re ministering outside the home at the cost of the mission field in your own living room?

It’s no secret that I love my job. I’ve spent ten years meeting with college women and sharing with them the joy of knowing Jesus and it has been 100% amazing. As much as I love the lifestyle of vocational ministry, I’m also a mom and every single week I am trying to figure out how to do the hokey pokey of motherhood + ministry.

Each season is a new dance with steps to learn and discern. What does my husband need? What do my kids need? What does the ministry need? And, what in the world do I need (Besides needing a full-time house keeper, a weekly massage, and an intravenous Red Bull drip…can you relate??)?

There are lots of partial solutions in this sweet season of life, plenty of hunkering down and plenty of swinging open our doors. Lots of trials, and errors, and coming to terms with the fact that if I commit to meeting with students during the precious hours my kids are at school, the scrambled eggs will still be on the kitchen floor come bedtime. If my husband is slated to preach, the social calendar will need to be frozen until further notice. Missional mommas must maintain healthy, holistic, realistic boundaries…(And, it turns out, boundaries are actually more enjoyable than they initially let on to be!).

But, what I’m finding is that this is more than a scheduling issue. For me, this is a heart issue.

Motherhood is ministry, and it’s my fierce passion. But sometimes it’s easier (and more fun) for me to overwork “out there” because there is a clear-cut clock to punch and box to check. It’s measurable and it’s gratifying (Interestingly enough, oftentimes, I’m actually a sweeter, more intentional mom for my kids after I’ve spent time ministering outside the home!). Then again, there are times when I neglect the mission of ministry because it’s far simpler for me to zone out and troll around at home than it is to check in with the soul of another. On both sides of my treasured motherhood + ministry coin there is an issue of fear; and that fear is rooted in a false view of God.

 Small God = Big Problems

My workaholic heart fails to believe that God is big enough and strong enough to do all the things needed to sustain “my” family and “my” ministry; and instead, believes He is clearly dependent upon “my quality performance.” Meanwhile, my disengaged heart fears that my casual comfort is far greater (and safer, tidier, and more relaxing) than the place God is calling.

Neither place of unbelief produces the Spirit-led ability to work heartily as unto the Lord while being still and knowing that He is God. Neither side truly believes that He will be exalted among the nations through the good works He has prepared in advance for us to do.



Pin It

Getting Ready To Rome

hurdle happenings

The Girl Scout in me had big plans to have mastered the language and be fully prepared, but ready or not, in 4 short days, our family and team of students, professors and Cru staff will board a 15-hour flight to take the love of Jesus to college students overseas!

We would love for you to partner with us in this adventure.

Rome, Italy is home to 240,000 college students; most of which have never read the Bible, never been in a Bible study, and never begun a relationship with Christ. Around 90% of Italian students are atheists or agnostic. Spiritually, the college campus in Rome is a dark place. In all of Italy, there are only approximately 100 Evangelical Christians trying to reach the 1 MILLION college students! 

We believe that Rome is strategic because of the spiritual darkness of Western Europe.  Our prayer is that Italians, with their enthusiasm and influence on culture (fashion, food, soccer, etc.), could be used by God to reach Western Europe for Christ.

The focus of our summer missions project is evangelism.  We will train and lead Ole Miss students in relationship building and evangelism with Italians on campus. Several prestigious professors will be doing presentations about their faith and their field of work. The long-term team will be helping follow-up with the new Christians and these national Italians will plug into local churches.

As exciting as this opportunity sounds, it won’t be possible without your help.  The cost of this missions trip for our family of four includes the international plane tickets, lodging, in-country travel, food, ministry expenses, and international emergency medical coverage, among other expenses.  It is also important to consider that Rome, much like New York City, is an expensive place to live even when you are looking to stay in an apartment appropriate for missionaries.  In light of all those factors for our family, we still need to raise $2,500.

We understand this is a significant amount of money.

If someone were to tell you that they could go into a very difficult country to rescue slaves and they could try to rescue a person, and it would cost this amount, you would think, that’s amazing.   It’s really not that expensive for the sake of those people caught in slavery.  We believe that is the case spiritually in Rome.  Italy is home to the leading centers of Satanism in the world, Turin.  Rome too is a place where you can feel the spiritual oppression.  That’s where we are being asked to go to share the light.

It is possible that we are on the forefront of a spiritual revolution in Italy.  We believe it is worth a great investment of time and treasure and we invite you to partner with us to reach Italians. Would you prayerfully consider investing in this outreach to Italian students by praying and giving financially?

Any amount the Lord would lead you to give toward this need would be appreciated. It’s also important as well, that you would join us in praying for this need to be met. Click HERE to visit our giving website. As always, we are so grateful for your encouragement, prayers, and faithful support of our ministry to college students!

This 2 minute video helps explain more about the spiritual darkness in Italy. Use the password: staffagape

Year 2 With #TwoPigtailsandaCowlick

Dearest Little Ones,

I know it’s a bit hazy to you now, but two years ago, Daddy and I stood before a judge, raised our right hands and promised to love and keep you forever. We said “yes” without a doubt in our minds. You were ours from the first time we met.leavingcola 017

It still blows my mind to think that God so perfectly picked the two of you and the two of us to be together as a family. D, you with your brilliant mind and your tender heart. EG, you with your charming ways and vibrant love of life. God’s gift of you was more than we could have asked or imagined.

It feels like 5 minutes ago that we met you for the first time, yet it seems like you’ve always been a part of us. It’s taken time to get to know your hearts and your hurts and it’s taken time for you to learn to trust our love. I can’t wait to see all the progress and growth and bonds that continue to form as we continue this ordained adventure together.

Thank you for the grace you so freely give, the laughter you infectiously create and for finally starting to sleep through the night.

All My Love & His,


P.S. Your Aunt Heather made you this fabulous video :)

Year 1 Video

Hurdle, Party of 4 Video

De Nigris Balsamic Addiction = Bacon Roasted Balsamic Brussels Recipe

It’s 100% accurate to say that I am officially addicted to balsamic vinegar. As in, I might have to start a series of recipe posts in which I share the 101 ways I am currently guzzling balsamic vinegar.

I know. It’s a strange love affair, but it’s sincere.

A fancy shmancy oil and vinegar shop opened on our town square and it’s all the rage. They pair olive oils with flavored balsamics and host fun little tastings. A friend and I popped by to see what all the fuss was about. And we fell in love.

I got home that evening and found a huge box on my front porch. I didn’t remember having ordered anything, so in a flurry of packaging popcorn, the kids and I unwrapped…drumroll…12 bottles of balsamic vinegar from a company I had previously agreed to collaborate with and review their product! I freaked out and sent a quick text pic of the balsamic jackpot to my balsamic lunch buddy.


I was pumped, but in the back of my mind I was CERTAIN that since they were free samples, they would taste, well, free. Or at least reminiscent of knock-off ketchup.

Joel and I were invited to dinner with friends the following Saturday and I was asked to bring bread. I took this opportunity to load up my prized balsamic collection, hit up Panera for some Asiago Cheese Bread and BAM, I was party ready. 


I laid out tasting bowls and poured samples from each bottle so friends could taste for themselves. Everyone loved it. And would you believe that THIS BRAND tasted EVEN BETTER than the gourmet store on the Square?


The more I learn about the world of balsamics, the more I appreciate the chance I have to review this product. Who knew that balsamic vinegar begins with the crushing of sun-ripened grapes which produces grape juice called “must”? It is then concentrated through simmering in copper caldrons over wood fires until it is reduced to about 40% of its original weight. This densely concentrated liquid is placed in wooden barrels of oak, cherry, mulberry, chestnut and juniper for aging. As the years go by some of the liquid in the barrel evaporates and some is absorbed into the wood. Each year the vinegar is transferred into smaller barrels of different woods. It’s really a science and yet an art! I loved learning how the higher the percentage of grape must, the thicker the consistency and sweeter the taste! Put the aged 65% must over vanilla ice cream and your taste buds will sing! And if you want to fall in love with cheese or strawberries all over again, drizzle the aged balsamic fo shizzle.

That dinner party was 3 weeks ago and I haven’t stopped drinking enjoying this stuff! I’ve been experimenting and pinning my little heart out looking for more ways to incorporate these flavors (and the health benefits) into our meals, so I thought I’d share a current favorite that I came up with recently!

De Nigris Balsamic Addiction =

Bacon Roasted Balsamic Brussels Sprouts


Layer a baking sheet with aluminum foil and spread out bacon on prepared sheet.

Starting with a cold oven, set the temp to 400 and let the bacon cook until the oven is preheated.


While the oven is preheating trim the stems of the sprouts and cut in half. Toss Brussels, olive oil, salt, pepper in a glass bowl to evenly coat.



When bacon is finished, drizzle 2-3 tablespoons of the rendered bacon fat off the baking sheet onto the Brussels and toss again.

Remove bacon from baking sheet, chop. Spread out the Brussel sprouts onto the sheet that held the bacon, but now just has rendered fat.


Cook Brussels Sprouts for 10-12 minutes or until nicely browned.

While the Brussels sprouts are roasting, place the balsamic vinegar in a small saucepan and bring it to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer uncovered for about 15 minutes or until it is thickened and lightly coats a spoon

Toss roasted Brussels sprouts with the crumbled bacon and drizzle all that yumminess with a heaping helping of De Nigris Balsamic Vinegar.

Serve and watch even your husband and children scarf down their vegetables!


Bacon Roasted Balsamic Brussels


  • 1 1/2 LB Fresh Brussels Sprouts (outer leaves discarded, bottom stems trimmed, cut in half)
  • 1/3 DeNigris Aged Balsamic Vinegar
  • 3 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 Teaspoon Salt
  • 1 Teaspoon Freshly Ground Black Pepper
  • 4 Slices Thick-cut Bacon, Cooked and Crumbled
  • 2-3 Tablespoons Rendered Bacon Fat


  1. Layer a baking sheet with aluminum foil and spread out bacon on prepared sheet.
  2. Starting with a cold oven, set the temp to 400 and let the bacon cook until the oven is preheated.
  3. While the oven is preheating trim the stems of the sprouts and cut in half. Toss Brussels, olive oil, salt, pepper in a glass bowl to evenly coat.
  4. When bacon is finished, drizzle 2-3 tablespoons of the rendered bacon fat off the baking sheet onto the Brussels and toss again.
  5. Remove bacon from baking sheet, chop. Spread outthe Brussel sprouts onto the sheet that held the bacon, but now just has rendered fat. Cook Brussels Sprouts for 10-12 minutes or until nicely browned.
  6. While the Brussels sprouts are roasting, place the balsamic vinegar in a small saucepan and bring it to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer uncovered for about 15 minutes or until it is thickened and lightly coats a spoon
  7. Toss roasted Brussels sprouts with the crumbled bacon and drizzle all that yumminess with a heaping helping of DeNigris Balsamic Vinegar.
  8. Serve and watch even your husband and children scarf down their vegetables!
Schema/Recipe SEO Data Markup by ZipList Recipe Plugin

For other great recipes using De Nigris products (all of which I have fallen in love with) follow the #DeNigris1889 hashtag. And come back, because I can’t fight the De Nigris Balsamic Vinegar feeling and will be using them in plenty more dishes! The whole De Nigris line is available at your friendly neighborhood Walmart and/or Amazon.com and while this is a sponsored post, y’all know all opinions are my own! xoxo

How To Host A Missional Progressive Dinner

You know that feeling when you walk into church and \see a ton of semi-familiar faces, but you don’t know the names of any of them? Or maybe you recognize a person’s name from your Homeowner Association’s Facebook Group, and you know they only live a street away, but you’ve never met face-to-face? I find myself a year and a half into a new town, so people are familiar but still unknown.

It’s the same within our campus ministry. It’s so easy for adults and students alike to mingle with the friends they know and never venture out to make new connections. Because we’ve been praying for deeper community for our students and because this translates just as easily into our church and neighborhood, I wanted to share “How To Host a Missional Progressive Dinner”.

The staff women on our team had a great time planning this simple and affordable event that helped many girls connect more authentically. 

First, we chose a home and hostess for each course of the meal. We did some simple publicity, handed out invitations at our weekly outreach meeting, made a grocery run, and that was that!

Everyone arrived at my friend Amy’s house at 6 and we served appetizers and salad. She made a delicious Bruschetta, Caprese and Caesar Salad that got the evening started off deliciously!

We knew we wanted to be intentional with conversation throughout the evening and since deeper community is what we’ve been praying for our women’s ministry, we centered our questions around that topic.

We had the girls turn to discuss these questions at Amy’s house:

  1. Describe your best friend in 3rd grade.
  2. In your opinion, what stands in the way of authentic community?
Then we loaded up into cars and headed to my house for lasagna (thank you, Stouffer’s) and a balsamic bread dipping bar. (More on that Wednesday…I am in love.)
At my house we asked the girls to pair up with people they didn’t know and discuss the following questions:
  1. In what setting do you feel most comfortable talking about deep things? (On a run, on the phone, online, over a good meal, over coffee?)
  2. With what type of person are you most likely to open up?
  3. Share a time when someone else’s honesty gave you permission to be honest too. What made them feel safe?
Our grand finale was decadently drool-worthy desserts at my friend Meg’s house. We asked the following questions to the group at large this time (instead of them turning to the people around them to discuss):
  1. What are some signs or markers that a community is reaching a healthy level of vulnerability?
  2. How do you feel the women of Cru are doing at this?
  3. How could you help increase honest, transparent community in your sphere of influence? In Cru?
As the discussion naturally progressed, I shared a few devotional thoughts from 1 Peter 2:9-10.
But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.

We printed out 1 Peter 2:9-10 in the NIV and walked word-by-word through the verse discussing our observations, interpretations and applications. Then I read to them from The Message, which added another layer to our discussion.

1 Peter 2:9-10The Message (MSG)

9-10 But you are the ones chosen by God, chosen for the high calling of priestly work, chosen to be a holy people, God’s instruments to do his work and speak out for him, to tell others of the night-and-day difference he made for you—from nothing to something, from rejected to accepted.

We talked about Western Christianity being very personal, individualistic and disjointed but how God has called us together as a people and a priesthood.
We discussed the perfect unity and community that existed within the Godhead, how that was broken by sin, how the story of the world is a story of redemption (using God’s Big Picture principles CAN’T RECOMMEND THIS HIGHLY ENOUGH) that rights all the wrong and heals all the brokenness.
We talked about the Church Age which is the community in which God’s rule and blessing are known and are on display so that in the Perfected Kingdom every tongue, tribe, and nation will be God’s people in God’s presence, enjoying God’s rule and blessing. The day is HERE and the day is COMING.
Why did we tell them the story of the world?

Because it’s too easy to live for the dot instead of for the line.

It’s too easy to be consumed with OUR schedules, OUR comforts, OUR egos, OUR images and OUR stuff and not live in light of what God’s been building up to all this time!
By our love for one another (community) they will know we are His.
By our investment in each other we will be spurred on toward love and good deeds and will be pumped up to reach the lost.
By being honest about ourselves and our sin in community we can leave the darkness and walk out into the His marvelous light.
But it doesn’t happen in a vacuum. It happens in community.
We challenged the girls with a call to action knowing that He chose us “that we may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”
For our intent and purposes our challenge was as follows, but you could tweak it according to your needs:
  • If every student leader is leading others we will reach the campus. (Sr–>Jr–>Soph–>Fresh)
  • If you’re pouring out, we want you to be present for us to pour into you through monthly womens’ discipleship times, leadership meetings, conferences, retreats and small groups.
  • If you come to Cru and wonder if it matters, make it matter for someone around you.

It was a really encouraging night and it was much more simple than I originally thought it would be. Sure you need paper products and drinks at each house, but when all you’ve got to do is one portion of a meal and 2-3 discussion questions?! Easy peasy. You can do it! I want to encourage you and your friends to give this a try! Let me know if you try this. I’d love to know any other ways you’ve seen success creating missional community in your home! 103

Favorite Things For Spring


It’s been a while since I’ve written a Favorite Things Post. But trust me, I have a long mental list of all the things I want to tell you about. You, or the random person standing behind me in line at Walmart, or really anyone who will listen! I don’t know what it is about me, but if I find something I love I want everyone to know.

I went back and reviewed all the posts from this series and was pleasantly surprised to still be enthusiastic about the products, ideas and services I had promoted!

I’m still obsessed with StitchfixAlessa’s White Balsamic Reduction, Puffy Tacos, Skinny Pop, Eucerin Hand Cream, 

I still love my Ebatesmy Shark vacuum cleaner, If Equip Bible Study and Benefit Primer. 

And don’t even get me started about the Hipster Jesus Kid’s Bible App, cooking bacon in the oven, my upright freezer and organizing my kids uniforms.

More recently I raved about the public library, podcasts, and all things Walmart (cheap jewelry, chocolate covered almonds and pumpkin spice cinnamon rolls)

So, in keeping with the only store in our town Walmart theme…

My Favorite Things For Spring!

1. Who knew Walmart was ROCKING the maxi dress scene? I’m just saying. I went for bread and left with a $15 Easter dress. IMG_2047

2. I ‘d like to take a general poll, please. Do you people know about this stuff?? Maybe don’t tell me if you do because I was SO mad when I mentioned my recent bath conversion to two friends who said, “Oh yea, I use it every night. It’s too good not to!”



Friends don’t let friends NOT take baths. And take it from me. I was not a bath girl.

My thinking is, who has time to float around in their own scum? Okay, well, that train of thought has been luxuriously derailed by Dr. Teal.

When I say I feel like I went to the spa after using these bath salts, I am not overstating the fact that 15 minutes of the hottest water and steam I can stand, then 15 minutes with the overhead fan clearing the steam, a quick exfoliating scrub and shower then a good slathering of lotion and essential oils…equals sheer bliss!!!

So heavenly that I feel it my civic duty to tell everyone in the soap aisle at Walmart that THEY NEED TO BUY THE GOODS. (I just started mixing Dr. Teal’s Lavender Salts with the Spearmint and Eucalyptus and using the oil for my feet just before bed.)

Moving along.IMG_2190

3. Okay, one more thing to add to your Walmart list…I like to call this “miracle mousse”. At the beginning of the year, I flew to Asheville for a Writer’s Retreat and asked our hostess, Kristi if she’d mind to let us use her toiletries so we (okay really I) didn’t have too pack quite as much heat. (If you know me, you know I need all the help I can get in the packing department.) Well, I’d seen her post about fine hair, but then BAM, I used her product and realized I could buy it at Walmart and now I have new hair. Namely volume and texture.

Joel walked past me as I was getting ready the other day and said, “Since when do you use mousse?” 33 years later this dog has learned a new trick.

little house4. Audio Books- Seriously, since Spring Break, my children have loathed “room time”. We do Room Time every day! What’s not to love? Well, apparently a lot because I’ve had little people pitching fits to get out of their rooms.

Then, of course, I start to second guess my whole “hold the line on Room Time” philosophy because they’ve flopped around like dying fish and guilted me into believing they are being held as POWs in their rooms.

Nevertheless, thanks to the audio book section at our local library, momma can fold the dang laundry in peace. I can’t recommend them highly enough. You can get real fancy and find picture books and DVDs that coordinate and you can make a whole “unit” out of it. You can also save your sanity during the carpool commute by just slipping in an audiobook! Our faves are whatever the library has on tap AND: Little House On The Prairie, Pippi Longstockings, Rush Revere & The American Revolution, and more!

5. And now…I’ve saved the best for last. Oh my stinking word. Have you heard about Pley.com??? IT’S LIKE NETFLIX (back when you had to mail the DVDs back), BUT FOR LEGOS!?!?


D decided to use his Christmas money to get a few months of all-you-can-build-enjoy-and-send-back-Legos and we are ALL loving it. People, my kid is in a Lego trance and I am doing the no-clutter dance. Not only can you make your own “pley lists” where you can choose all the sets that you’re too cheap to actually purchase, but they also sanitize the bricks before they mail the sets. This is a fabulous feature because somehow the top of the Eiffel Tower ended up in our toilet…so there’s that.

I’m just telling you, if you come to our house, do not use the silver tweezers. 

So, yeah. We just received our second set and are completely LOVING building, playing, admiring, taking pictures, shipping and getting another set 2 days later!!! But, I know what you’re thinking, but you can lose up to 10 pieces and not be penalized. Also, shipping both ways and a handy dandy zipper pouch is included! WHY did we not come up with this?!? There is some mom out there who’s paid off her grandkids college tuition by now. Plus they have an affiliate program where if you refer people you can get 10% off your next pley. Click HERE!

Those are my faves as of late. What are yours?


Every Day Is An Easter (Basically A Post For The Grandparents)

This one’s for the Grandparents…AND also for those who like to ogle at Southern children in smocked dresses and seersucker (thank you hand-me-downs + consignment sales) AND also for anyone longing to embrace and embody the truth that EVERY day is an Easter.


Every Day an Easter

J. R. Miller, 1899

Easter comes in the calendar only once in a year—but for the Christian, every day is an Easter. Each morning we should rise to newness of life. In midwinter we do not need to wait for the coming of springtime, to get the lessons of Eastertide. Christ arose once for all and the glory of his victory shines everywhere, and the power of his resurrection is felt wherever he is known and loved and followed.

Easter ought to leave in every Christian heart—new inspirations, a new uplift, new revealing of hope. It ought to be easier for us to live nobly and victoriously after we have enjoyed another Easter with its great lessons. A wave of comfort should roll over the world, as the day bears everywhere its news of resurrection. Death has been conquered. A grave is no longer a hopelessly sealed prison—its doors have been broken. This is the message which Easter carries to every home of sorrow, to every lonely, bereft heart.

But that is not the whole meaning of the Easter lesson. Perhaps we narrow it too much. We keep its comfort for the days when death is in our home, when we are standing beside the graves of our loved ones. Blessed is its message then! It tells us that what to our blinded eyes seems death—is life; and that the grave is but a little chamber of peace where our dear godly one shall sleep until the morning.

But the lesson reaches out and covers all life. It sheds a glory over every sorrow. It whispers hope in every experience of loss. It tells of victory, not only over death—but over everything in which men seem to suffer defeat, over all grief, pain, and trial. Jesus himself stated the great principle of the resurrection victory when he said, “Except a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies—it abides by itself alone; but if it dies—it bears much fruit.” The dropping of the grain into the earth, to perish there, is not misfortune, not the wasting, the losing, the perishing, of the grain; it is but the way by which it reaches its full development and comes to its greatest fruitfulness.

The little parable had its first interpretation in the death of Christ himself. Dying would be no misfortune for him; it was but the way to the higher, larger life into which it would introduce him. He was standing then face to face with the problem of his cross. It certainly seemed a terrible waste of precious life, that was demanded. Would it not be better for him to avoid the sacrifice and live on, seeking refuge, perhaps, in another land? Quickly came the answer. The grain of wheat might be withheld from the sowing—but it would be only one clean, whole, shining grain then—without any increase, without any unfolding of its wondrous secret of life and fruitfulness. The only way for that blessed life to reach its full beauty, and for its mystery of good and glory to be wrought out—was for it to accept the cross. “If it dies—it bears much fruit.”

It is easy to understand how this came true in Christ’s life after he arose. No doubt his friends grieved over his dying, thinking it a terrible mistake. If only he had lived on to old age, continuing his ministry of love through the years—what blessings he would have left in the world! But his death in the blackness of crucifixion, had quenched the light of his holy life. That was the end. What a waste! But we know how mistaken were all these grievings and regrettings of love. If Jesus had withheld himself from the cross—there would have been one beautiful life prolonged for a few years more of holy teaching and of loving ministry. But he gave his life—the grain of wheat fell into the ground and died—and we see the harvest today in Christianity, with all its blessings.

While this great law received its highest illustration in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, it is also the law of all spiritual life. Just after he had spoken his parable of the grain of wheat, the Master added, “He who loves his life—shall lose it; and he who hates his life in this world—shall keep it unto life eternal.” Thus the law is made to apply to all men and to all experiences. The way to fullness of life—is through death! We may save ourselves from loss and cost and sacrifice, if we will; we may refuse to make the self-denials which love demands of us; we may indulge ourselves, and decline to do the things for others which we are called to do, and which would require toil and pain. It will seem that we are saving our life—but really we are losing it. The way to our best in character and in fruitfulness, is through death. We must die—to live. We must lose—to gain.

This is the great lesson of Christian life. It is not one which applies only to death and the hope of immortality: it applies to all life’s experiences. It does not come in merely once a year, with its brightness and its joy; it is a lesson for every day, and it has its inspiration for us in every phase of living. We are continually coming up to graves in which we must lay away some hope, some treasure, some joy—but from which the thing laid away, rises again in newness of life and beauty.

Every call for self-denial is such a grave. We come to a point where the law of love demands that we give up a pleasure on which we had set our heart. If we are not ready for the sacrifice, if we cannot make it—the grain of wheat abides alone, with no increase, no fruit. But if we, in quiet love and faith, do the hard duty, accept the self-denial; render the costly service—the golden grain falls out of our hand into the earth, and dies. Yet it does not perish. It lives again, springing up from its burial in new and richer life. We lost our coveted ease, or our cherished possession, we gave up our pleasure—and spent our strength in helping another; we forewent our evening’s rest—and hastened out into the storm to do good—but we have a spiritual blessing whose value to us—far surpasses the little ease, comfort, enjoyment, or rest—which we gave up and buried away in our garden sepulcher.

Every call to a hard or costly duty—is a seed. It lies in our hand—what shall we do with it? Shall we keep our little ease, our piece of money, our pleasure, our quiet hour? Or shall we let it fall into the ground and die? Some one puts it thus: “I was given a seed to keep as mine. When I most loved it, I was bidden to bury it in the ground. I buried it, not knowing that I was sowing.” We know what comes from sowing—the seed springs up into a plant, beautiful, fragrant; or into grain that waves in a golden harvest; or into a tree on which grow luscious fruits.

But it is not easy to drop our seed into the ground. It appears to us like wasting it, losing it, throwing it away. We want to keep it! Well, if we do—it will be nothing more than it is today—a pleasure, a coin, an hour of ease. But if we give it up in answer to love’s call or need—it will grow into a great harvest of blessing.

We do not like the word “duty.” It seems to mean something hard and unpleasant. But when we accept it from our Master and take it up with love in our heart—it is transformed for us into something beautiful. A traveler in South Africa tells of picking up a rough pebble. As he turned it over in his hand—his trained eye saw the gleaming diamond. Just so, duty may have a rough and unattractive crust—but he who accepts it and looks at it through eyes of love—sees it in a service for Christ which will yield the heavenly treasure of peace and joy.

This is the law of unselfish living. We are apt to pity those who are called to deny themselves for the sake of others—but every call to self-denial is a call to a new enrichment of our own life—as well as to a new service of love which shall do good to others. The lower is to be sacrificed, for the sake of obtaining the higher. As in the grain of wheat is hidden, a secret of value and growth which can be realized only through the dying of the grain in the earth; just so, in every fragment of human happiness and comfort, there is covered up a secret of blessing and of good, which can be brought out only through the losing of it, and the giving it up.

Phillips Brooks has put this truth well in these words: “You are called on to give up a luxury—and you do it. The little piece of comfortable living, is quietly buried away underground. But that is not the last of it. The small indulgence which would have made your bodily life easier for a day or two, or a year or two, undergoes some strange alteration in its burial—and comes out a spiritual quality that blesses and enriches your soul forever and ever. You surrender some ambition that had exercised a proud power over you, in whose train and shadow you had hoped to live with something of its glory cast on you. You send that down into its grave, but that too will not remain there.”

Thus everywhere this truth of the gospel comes to us with its divine revealing. We deceive ourselves, whenever we try to save our own life, keeping it back from hard duty, from costly service, or from sacrifice. The only way to the best and the highest—is through the losing of the lower. The rose leaf must be bruised—to get its fragrance. Love must suffer—to reveal its richest tenderness and beauty.

Life is always double. There is an outer form in which it presents itself to our senses; and there is an inner spirit which is the vital quality. But this inner, spiritual, immortal element—can be found only through the dying of the outer and temporary form. The golden grain must be buried in service or sacrifice of love—that from its grave may rise that which is unseen and eternal!