What I’m Crushing on for Christmas


I know. It’s still two days before Thanksgiving. But y’all. There’s shipping to consider and handmade gifts from busy moms who are also entrepreneurs are well worth a little early shopping.

And crushing.

These items are on my favorites list for Etsy and Santa. Hoping you’ll find something to love–and just know purchasing from these shops directly funds small businesses with big dreams and great goals. Like empowering women, adopting children, and trusting the creative spirit that enlivens us all.

And there’s a little something for you at the end.

What I'm crushing on for

For My Tree…

I love these seriously sweet ornaments from One Less Lonely Child (formerly Black Tag Studio). We bought one last year for our tree, and this year I’m giving a couple as gifts. But the real gift is that your purchase helps fund my friends Lance and Julia’s adoption of Zara from Uganda.

For My Walls…

This wall statement has been on my list since Jennifer, 163 Design Company owner and designer, was my roommate at the Allume Conference in 2013. She and her parents handcraft these gorgeous pieces of jewelry and home decor from their home in Maine, but don’t let the address fool you. Jenn’s a southern girl at heart. Hence one of her newest creations that needs to find its way to my kitchen, Sweet Tea and Grits. And I’m forever in love with my necklace–Well With My Soul of course.


For My Kitchen…


My family is seriously talented, y’all. My beautiful cousin, Jocie, launched her own business this year making her passion–beautiful, unique,  and functional pottery pieces as Jocie Pots. For my sister’s wedding, she pressed lace from the invitation into individual pieces for us, in addition to being our florist and designer. She’s got a cake stand standing by for me, and I’m thinking some of those perfect size mugs need to make their way into my cabinet as well. Because the only way to prepare for edits on my first book is with lots and lots of coffee.

For My Laptop…

Screen Shot 2015-11-22 at 2.48.23 PM

When we were graced with a gift that enabled me to purchase my own laptop this year, I went on a search for the perfect bag to accompany me to writers conferences (like FWCW and BRMCWC) and to my weekly “office”, a booth at our local Chic-Fil-A.

I’ve yet to make this purchase, but when I do, I’m hoping it’s the 13″ laptop sleeve with leather strap from Better Life Bags. This company’s vision is why I’d be willing to shell out big bucks for a quality bag I can use for a lifetime. Every piece is hand-sewn by a woman in the Detroit area with a barrier against traditional employment.

For My Kids…

My sister, Katy, will monogram anything that stands still. But how cute are these shirts? She’ll make you anything you want with the use of her heat press and a roll of glittery (or not) vinyl. That softball shirt cracks me up because we actually had a sister who played softball, so some of us didn’t have a life outside of tournaments. She can customize, so you just insert your passion. Right now ours would credit community theater, but come spring it will definitely be all about the track. You can find Katy hanging out on Facebook way too much as BoardHouseWife Crafts.

Now onto the real reason you read to the bottom of this post–


Julia will be giving away a personalized swirl ornament, Katy will monogram you a leather cuff, and if you’re local and order from Jocie Pots, I’ll make the trip to pick up your goodies so you don’t have to worry about shipping. (Well that last one’s just a freebie for all.)

Just leave me a comment here on the blog about what’s on your Christmas Wish List–and if you pin this to Pinterest or share on Facebook and tell me, you’ll be entered twice!

I’ll choose the winner by random selection on Black Friday. Happy Thanksgiving, Merry Christmas, and may the cash be with you.





Friday Night Pizza

We make pizza on Friday nights.

And by “we”, I usually mean me. Last week I made the mistake of letting Gus make his own without the extra hands of a daddy (who was late coming home from work) and I nearly lost my mind.

Three year olds do not understand the moderation of mozzarella.

Letting them help–eight little hands with four different ideas–doesn’t always come easily to me. I do much better when I’m in charge and they’re occupied with something else. You know, like Netflix.

But Friday Night Pizza has become our family tradition, our tiny constant in a world of great upheaval, and letting them rock my sanity (and drop olives on my kitchen floor) is part of this sacred sharing of life.


I knead my dough and spread homemade sauce and arrange pepperoni with methodical measures that bring order to the chaos constantly surrounding my days and invading my mind. For half an hour on Friday nights, I block out everything but the ratio of cheese to meat to vegetables and my only concern is sliding the pizza from the board to the stone in one smooth move.

And I realize how perfectly executed is our world, the falling of the leaves and the changing of the tides and the pricking of the stars in the darkest nights. And I remember, even as I long to make my tiny creation perfect without the imprints of impatient little hands, that my great God lets me create with Him. 

Children. Words. And even pizza.

Tell me what are your favorite family traditions? and favorite pizza toppings?

Hmmm…I should take some new pictures since I have fancier equipment now. But it still tastes the same!

Our Favorite Pizza Recipe

One recipe Pioneer Woman’s Pizza Dough 
1/2 cup Best Tomato Sauce Ever
1/2 cup (each) chopped black olives, diced peppers, chopped mushrooms
12-15 slices turkey pepperoni
1/2 cup browned Italian Sausage
1-1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese (tip: shred your own 8 oz block)

Make dough according to directions. Divide in half and roll out on a pizza board sprinkled liberally with cornmeal. Spread sauce on dough. Top with vegetables and sausage. Sprinkle cheese to desired preference. Top with pepperoni. Transfer to pizza stone in preheated oven. (Make sure there is plenty of cornmeal under the dough and it should slide right off your board or cookie sheet and onto the stone.) Bake at 500 degrees for 7 minutes until crust is lightly browned and cheese melted.


What I Will Tell My Kids about Paris

I want to raise heroes. Warriors. Light bearers. So I will tell them about Paris. And I will tell them about Jesus.


So far, that’s what I’ve told my kids about Paris.

I’m never sure just how much they need to know. I’m never sure just how much they deserve to know.

They’ve heard from friends that ISIS is here. That because we are Christians they’ll come after us. But they believe me so utterly, so completely, when I say we’ll be okay that the conversation is quickly lost in the next recounting of playground drama.

I’ve always tried to fill their world with light. With fairy tales and superheroes and sweet love stories on Hallmark. We watch and read as characters overcome hardships and we talk a little about what always gives them a happily ever after.

Love. It’s the only one way to combat fear. 

I want to raise heroes. Warriors. Light bearers. So I will tell them about Paris. And I will tell them about Jesus.

Ironic isn’t it? Paris, the city of love. A place renowned for sparking happiness, romance, and joy.

A place known for an underground movement that never caved to hate. 

I think that’s what I’ll tell them. That hate is never stronger than love. That suicide bombers and gunman who come in the name of God do not come in the name of Jesus. 

I’ll tell them the same thing I said after Sandy Hook: We have to live and be and love and weep and pray. For every bad guy, there’s a hero who overcomes.

I want to raise heroes. Warriors. Light bearers.

So I will tell them about Paris. And I will tell them about Jesus. And I will tell them  we live in a world that is full of evil–BUT–

“Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I [Jesus] have overcome the world.” John 16: 33

And the law of physics per Newton agrees:

For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.

For every act of hate, there is an act of love.

That’s what I’ll my kids. Find the helpers. Seek the light. Be the love.


What Makes a Marriage


A few weekends ago, we gave away my nineteen year old sister.

When you’re the youngest of seven children, it’s perfectly normal to have ten nieces and nephews participate in your big day.

Young, and  as innocent as she is worldly, she’s known for a long time her heart belongs to a four-wheeling country boy I’ve hardly ever heard speak. So my daddy walked her down an aisle of grass amidst a backdrop of autumn, and gave her over to a young man who must have been shaking in his boots when he asked permission.

Because respecting your wife sometimes starts with respecting her daddy.


I declined the title bridesmaid; after all, there are six of us sisters and I wanted to choose my own dress. But when she asked me how I’d like to participate, I didn’t hesitate.

While the sun shone and the wind blew, with the sky for a cathedral, I spoke about the sacredness of promises made.

Love is patient. Love is kind. Even when Monday morning is running late, and one kid can’t find her shoes, and someone forgot to wash the socks.

Love is not jealous or boastful. Even when you’re right, and he’s wrong.

Love bears all things. Yes, young couple, remember that. Love puts up with temper tantrums and ugly fights that can’t always be undone. Love bears the load of worry and fear and panic when the gurney holds one of you

Or one of your children.


Love believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. I told them they think today is the happiest day of their lives. Today they’re committing to a physical and spiritual intertwining, and they’re surrounded by family and friends, so today love is easy. Today hope is easy.

But a wedding is really just an ending of the lives they’ve known and the beginning of the one life they will create.

A wedding is not the happiest day.

Instead, that happiest day will come upon you in the most ordinary of moments. That’s the endurance of love. When you wake up and look around and realize you’re surrounded by little people and loads of laundry and life.

12185269_979805842062642_265660025408713117_oOn that day you realize this is what a marriage is. It’s not fancy flowers and yards of lace. It’s not white chairs and first dances.

A marriage is not “I do”. A marriage is “I will.”

A marriage happens because you get up every day and promise that person you love (but sometimes dislike) that you will, all over again. You will when the bills are overdue, and the dishes stack high, and you can’t remember the last time he brought you flowers.

Love never fails.


Because love is an action, a conscious doing, not a state of being. Love requires work, sacrifice, the molding of yourself to another person. That is how you build a marriage. That is how you create a life. That is how you make your happily ever after.

But these three remain: faith, hope, and love. An endless circle, like those rings exchanged. Love begets faith, and faith begets hope.

And the greatest of these is love.


A version of this originally appeared in The Northeast Georgian, October 23, 2015.

Professional photography courtesy of Candice Holcomb Photography.

One Way I Get It “All Done” (and get free stuff!)

Pumpkin Bow Orange Clove

I’m cracking open my Robert Frost lately for writing inspiration and a slower pace. This line resonates in my soul right now even though October flew the coop this weekend and left behind that non-stop rush toward all. things. holiday.

O hushed October morning mild,
Begin the hours of this day slow.

Begin the hours of this day slow. Yes, please.

In my critique group last week one of my fellow writers commented that she just doesn’t know how I find time to write and mother and you know, do all the things. I’ve been pondering on that a little this week as I wrapped up 31 Days and listed some story ideas for National Novel Writing Month.

Truth is, in order to write like I do, I’ve had to let some other things go. Big things. Like dishes. And laundry. And clean floors. And couponing.

But my go-to solution for the busy season of my life right now–in which no morning seems to creep in slow–has been ePantry. That one decision to jump on the bandwagon and order cleaning supplies online, supplies that don’t make me question if I’m heaping toxins onto my kids, has helped me freshen my house in less time and with less stress.

Our chore chart helps with that too.

This week ePantry is offering my readers the opportunity to get festive–and get clean–with Mrs. Meyer’s Seasonal scents. Available in Cranberry, Orange Clove and Iowa Pine so you can imagine yourself in that yellow wood of Frost’s while in reality, you’re doing the everyday drudgery of a blessed life.Seasonal Scents

Sign up for ePantry this week and receive a Mrs. Meyer’s hand soap, dish soap, multi­-surface cleaner for free with a $20 minimum purchase. That’s a $20 value which is pretty good payment for five minutes of shopping between school pickup and Christmas play rehearsal.

When you sign up, ePantry will ask you a few questions to help predict what you and your family need and how often. Then, each month, ePantry sends a reminder email before your order ships so you can easily review and customize it. Especially during the holidays, I am grateful for reminders! 

How ePantry Works in 5 Simple Steps:

  1. Sign up for ePantry through my referral link. ePantry is offering the lovely Mrs. Meyer’s 3 piece set free to my favorite readers who sign up through my referral link!
  1. Answer a few quick questions about your family and how clean your home is (be honest)! This only takes about 30 seconds and customizes your first basket.
  1. Once you’ve answered the questions, you can finalize the basket of products ePantry and I  have tailored to your needs or you can create your own basket of awesome products by adding or removing. For some of my favorites, check out this post. 
  1. To receive this offer your order needs to total $20. Choose the combination of products and scents you want to receive in your first box for all your holiday cleaning needs.
  1. You made it! Click finish & pay, place your order. Then wait for the mailman.
  1. Already hooked on ePantry? Existing customers click here to get a free seasonal hand soap in your next order.

Don’t forget this special offer is only available until November 19 or while stocks last.

And while you’re online treat yourself to a little poetry. Because life is more than just getting it all done.

This post contains affiliate links that buy me coffee while I’m writing, but opinions are 100% my own. Always.

3.1 Things I’ve Learned from #31Days

That’s my now 11 year old baby in the pumpkins her first Halloween. Time doesn’t fly, y’all. It sprints on ahead and dares you to keep up.

I truly love the #31days movement. Really, I do.

I just can’t do it.

I managed it (somehow!) in 2013. 31 posts in 31 days on one topic. I was proud of that effort. So maybe that’s why I just don’t have the heart for it here anymore. For one thing, this space for words competes with all my other spaces. Like the Splickety Publishing Group, where I get to edit really great stories and work with really great people. Or the short fiction world which has welcomed me so warmly already that I fear there’s a slew of rejection slips just waiting for my name. Or the hometown newspaper that puts my words in real ink and paper print every other Friday and makes me feel like a real writer every single time.

I love those places. Together with this place, they’ve helped me find my writer’s voice. And they’ve helped me define what I want my blog to be.

I want a writer’s space. An author’s page. A site with a little encouragement, a lot of thoughtfulness, and a dash of humor. This is my place to brand myself in a way that lets me still be myself–in whatever way I feel that day.

So what did I learn from #31days?

  1. I don’t have the capacity to post everyday. Writing is emotionally draining and this month alone I’ve written (and had edited) two short stories, two newspaper columns, and all these posts. There are status updates and tweets and all that Slack convo with my fellow Splicketeers. I’ve edited eleven flash pieces and articles, led my Word Weavers group, and drafted new versions of my info pages. I have to remind myself of all these things because I need to realize it’s okay for my blog to not be updated more than twice a week. And that’s about all I’ve got.
  2. I bore easily. I’ve always known this but it’s even more evident when I have to stick to one topic in my writing. This is probably also why I really like short stories. I get to write one theme, one way, and then move on to the next round of folks rattling around in my head.
  3. Sometimes I would rather watch When Calls the Heart or Friday Night Lights or Friends than write. And that’s ok. Writers are readers, that’s true. I’ve read voraciously my whole life. But you’ll be hard pressed to find a writer who doesn’t also appreciate a well-written television show or movie. This month my girls and I have fallen in love with the love story of Jack and Elizabeth, I’ve learned a few football terms from Coach Taylor and embraced my inner Tami Taylor with a pair of boots, and when I’ve needed a laugh, Central Perk has always been the place to be. The point is, when I indulge in the stories of someone else, I actually become a better writer.

and that .1? I really like reading other people’s posts. My favorite for this season of my life? Jessie Kirkland’s How to Snag an Agent. Real, timely advice for aspiring writers.

November crept in this morning. Here Sunday dawned drizzly gray, and a new challenge–the infamous National Novel Writing Month–buzzed through my social media feeds. I might be there, but I promise I’ll be back here with snippets of our days and in pursuit of my quest to Just Write Life.

Overcoming the Fear of Not Good Enough: 31 Days

Plant where your roots grow deepest.that willbe goodenough.

Plant where your roots grow deepest.that willbe goodenough.I have this problem. Maybe you have it too?

I sometimes say yes to things because I fear no one else will. And because everyone is looking at me. Sometimes I say yes because I want to direct that play or write that post or read that book, but I don’t consider if I’m really ready to handle that situation in my current life.

Then I realize–I’m in way over my head and I’m not equipped to do this thing. Whatever it may be.

That happened when I took the position as MOPS coordinator for our local chapter three years ago. I had a new baby, had been staying home a year, had served already on the leadership team, was the only member of the sponsor church left on the team…of course I would lead this group because I needed it so badly in my own life.

It’s really hard to serve when you want to be served yourself. Just so you know. And I kept being told that God equips the called, rather than calling the equipped. While I do believe that, I also believe that sometimes God is shaking his head when I’m nodding mine.

I can look back on those two years of leadership now and see God’s hand. That he let me be a bridge leader that helped the group transition to the amazing ministry it is now–and not that it wasn’t great then. But He let me lead during a crisis time when everything felt unsettled and He let me see that even when I know I’m not equipped, He is. So he gave me people on my team who buoyed me up, met my soul-hungry needs for spiritual support, and helped me find where my gift truly lies.

It’s not leadership.

And I can be okay with “not being good enough” at that because I’ve found where my spirit truly quickens.

I am a writer.

Saying those words took a lot of over coming that big not-good-enough lie too.

I haven’t published enough.

I don’t have enough followers.

I can’t understand all the lingo.

No one’s really paying me to do this. 

But I’m doing it. I’m saying it. I’m claiming it.

I’m believing that I am good enough for whatever I may be called to do with this gift. And I’m learning everyday that I can do more than I ever imagined.

I’d encourage you to ask yourself–is it that you feel “not good enough”? Or is the true wrestle in your soul coming from the feeling that you’re not where you’re supposed to be?

Because when we let ourselves be planted where our roots can grow deepest, that’s when we become strong and spread ourselves wide–

and are always good enough.