1000 gifts · favorite things · linkups · writing

What’s Saving My Life :: Winter 2016 Edition

What's Saving My Life Right Now __ Winter 2016 EditionI adore that Anne of Modern Mrs. Darcy says this about the Saving My Life posts…

The idea comes from Barbara Brown Taylor’s wonderful memoir Leaving Church. In it, Taylor tells the story of when she was invited to speak at a gathering, and her host assigned the topic: “Tell us what is saving your life right now.”

This is one of those six-degrees-from-Kevin-Bacon moments. (Did you ever play that in high school?) Barbara Brown Taylor is a professor at a local college here, so I see her and read her writings in the way that frequent small towns do–without much recognition that greatness lives among us. I haven’t read her memoir, but I might add it to my #60in2016 Reading Challenge.

But anyway…

Saving my life right now doesn’t look much different from last year about this time when I penned a post for the same link up with the same theme. But this time last year I was drowning in fear over my daughter’s neurological diagnosis and every moment seemed a blessing in disguise.

This year I’m aiming for renewal–of my soul, my hope, my joy, my focus. Last year was hard on us emotionally and many times, the year was as crushing as it was uplifting. For all the strides I made publishing-wise I still found myself floundering for my purpose, wondering how I could really be called to much beyond these four little souls (who try my temper daily) and making sure everyday physical and spiritual needs are at least acknowledged.

But there’s a call to not just write but share. And I hope that’s what this little corner means to you–that it’s a place I share the real and just write life.

Saving My Life Right Now :: Winter 2016 Edition

  1. The Trampoline. Seriously best Christmas present ever. Keeps them all occupied with something that’s not digital for longer than 20 minutes. Netflix, you’ve been replaced.IMG_0964
  2. My Reading Challenge. I love this group that came about because so many of you said you wanted to read 60 books in 2016 with me. I’m six down: Gone Girl, Dear Mr. Knightley, Jane Eyre, Raising Grateful Kids, The Extroverted Writer, and Restless which leads me to…

    On the nightstand for February.
  3. Scripture. Which, I know, is the point of believing the Bible is God-breathed, but when you’ve been a good church girl your whole life, like me, you run the risk of letting the familiar become… familiar. Which is why I read Restless and why I’m exploring some verse-mapping ala Kristy Cambron (and also I’m an author blog stalker). Also why this one is on my reading list. IMG_5278
  4. My Better Life Bag. An early birthday present (twenty days until I tip early-thirties and into late-thirties) from my patient husband who appreciates a specific request. And, you know, a list for him that’s been commissioned as a blog post.IMG_8875
  5. This boy and his trucks. He both saves me from days of uninterrupted computer time, which would undoubtably result in back spasms and poor eyesight, and drives me batty because we’re trying to sell the house and piles of dirt and rocks don’t exactly say curb appeal. But that grin? It’s kind of irresistible.


Tell me about you–what’s saving your life right now? And if you want in on #60in2016 let me know!

favorite things · summer

When You’re Finally Able to Really Rest {Some Recommendations}

I think every blogger I follow is writing on rest right now. Rest and saying yest to whatever plan God may have up His sleeve for you next.

I’m not going to talk about that right now. Mostly because I haven’t really had any rest lately and we’re just in a season where it seems that I have to get what I can, when I can, however I can and accept that right now God’s plan for me may look like chaos to every one else.

I’m okay with that because I know we’re going to work through this busy season and a period of quiet, intentional work is coming.

That being said, we are done (DONE!!!) with The King and I at the community theater. It was great fun and my first experience being in a big musical, but I don’t think we will do another summer play any time soon. Or a Christmas play either, for that matter. However, Madelynne was cast for Alice in Wonderland this October, and I’ll be directing again in the spring (Thornton Wilder’s Our Town–hearkening back to 11th grade literature), so we’re not really on a theater break at all. It’s fun, though, and I’ve always seen this as a place where we can serve and use the gifts God has given us in unique ways.

The advantage to being part of the ensemble in a big show is that I got lots of down time backstage. So I took along my ipad and finally got around to reading some of the great ebooks I purchased through the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle last year. Oh my word–so much goodness! (And so much fluff, too. Honestly, some of those books made me wonder why I haven’t taken the plunge and written an ebook yet because they were 30 simple pages of tips I already know. But the bundle was still worth it because the good ones were so, so good.)

My favorite backstage reads are hopefully going to help me give my days some more structure AND flexibility. If you’re looking for a great book on intentional motherhood, I’m recommending Steady Days for Jamie’s simple, practical approach to mothering. Yes, there’s emphasis on “routine” which is something I’ve always struggled with because I want to be that spontaneous, fun mom who isn’t bogged down by what has to be done between certain chunks of time, but let’s be honest. A routine is something we all have–even when we say we don’t. I like that I can take some of her ideas and suggestions and maximize them for my family and my needs. Plus, I’m getting focused on writing as an income source and in order to do that, I have to carve out intentional time. Another plus for having a steady day with a simple routine that we can all live with. You can read more about this over at Steady Mom.

I also delved into some crazy cooking goodness with Kitchen Stewardship. Her book Healthy Lunches: Sandwich Free Secrets to Packing a Real Food Lunch has inspired me to think outside the standard ham&mayo combo that my kids eat almost everyday we pack lunch (they get to choose school lunch once a week, it’s a cost effective, nutrition concern, keep the peace decision). I enjoyed the book so much that last Saturday when I spent the night in the hospital with my grandmother, I stayed up way too late reading recipes and interesting perspectives on real food. We’re not totally on the bandwagon (this week there was a meltdown when I tried to suggest something other than Aunt Jemima syrup on the waffles), but I do think we already make pretty good decisions involving what we eat around here. But we could always do better, and with my sister’s and nephew’s recent diagnosis of allergies and ulcerative colitis, I’m wanting to up my repertoire of foods I can serve when they’re here so Ash doesn’t have to worry about dairy-egg-soy-gluten making them sick. If you’re interested in any of Katie’s great books, I encourage you to check them out here and visit her site. Today she’s giving away a $100 lunch package to make lunch packing fun on even the most hectic of mornings.

Finally, as our first week of school post-play is winding down, I’m trying to re-establish my Sacred Hour. It’s been challenging with Gus and Amelia crawling into bed with us the past few nights at 4 a.m. (not sure if this new room situation is working or not), but I’m committed to getting back in the Word. I know now that I am never going to reach some great spiritual plateu and get to consider myself a graduate of understanding the great grace that is Christ, but I also believe fully that the more time I spend in the Word God has given us, the better I will come to know Him and have peace with things I just cannot understand. One of my favorite devotionals right now (and what I’m using until Good Morning Girls kicks off) is the Jesus Calling devotional app. If you have not read any of Jesus Calling I highly recommend the app or this beautiful hard copy from DaySpring. And if you follow me on twitter, you might notice that I’m trying to regularly post a line or two that speaks to me each day.

It’s such a simple little book with enormous capability to point me back to the living Word of God. Which is where I always find my best rest. Oh, and by the way, stop back Monday for a link to all of the Jesus Calling collection at DaySpring and a great coupon code!

So tell me–what are some of your recommendations for establishing routines, packing school lunch, and having a quiet time? I’d love to read about what works for you in the comments below. Or you can find me on Facebook and join the conversation there!

Coming Next Week:
A Trip to LeConte Lodge
One Family’s Story of How They Didn’t Grocery Shop for a Month
A Reflection on Depression

Pretty sure it’s impossible to keep up with my sporadic posting? You can always subscribe via email. Put your address in that little box under my picture. Easy.

favorite things · http://schemas.google.com/blogger/2008/kind#post

A Few Friday Joys

The more kids one has, the less hands there are to juggle the expensive Canon camera that requires focus.

Got a few this week though….

Little man is learning to hold up his head and actually getting some tummy time…

and he loves his fingers a lot…

she made a train with the kitchen chairs…maybe she’s hoping to go see Marmie?

It’s really unfair that this is what her hair looks like in the morning.

The love him to pieces.  Sometimes I fear that will be literal.

I’m totally in love with him these days…

and Millie is totally in love with Madelynne.  They’re entirely too much alike.

So maybe these two will be best buds?

Tomatoes galore from the garden!
Linking up at Finding Joy

friday favorite things | finding joy
amelia · favorite things · joshua

Favorite Spring Things

We’re reveling in spring around here.  Except it’s 80 degrees and climbing so spring feels a bit summer like, except in the mornings when it’s still below 50 and my girls are shivering in their short sleeves and flip-flops.

That’s why they wear funny hats.

Okay, not really.  Really they just like to pose for pictures.


Amelia’s really into hide and seek right now.  As in, I’ll hide my face from you and you can’t see that I’m eating a Lalaloopsy toy.  Again.

Gus’s name is long.  I don’t love it.  But I love all the people we’ve named him for, except I never met Joshua’s grandfather’s father (who was Augustus).  I do love Harmon (Joshua’s grandfather) and he’s excited to have a Gus again.  I love my grandaddy too. He’s the Deforrest and he told me not to saddle this child with that name.  Ah, well.  Maybe he’ll be a big-shot lawyer who needs four names.  Or a missionary in Africa who is glad Gus is easy to say and spell.

Aunt Calley made this banner by the way.  Isn’t she creative?

She also had a bike accident with Amelia who’s had a rough boo-boo week.  And in Calley’s defense she was injured worse.

Amelia also hung out with Mimi yesterday and somehow sliced her heel open.  It’s worse than the minor arm scrapes from biking.

But don’t worry, she’ll still tell you what to do and how to do it.  Sassafrass of a two year old.

Have I mentioned she loves men?  We are in T-R-O-U-B-L-E.  This is my friend Tiff’s husband, Daniel.  He’s one of those great dads who sits in the little chairs during the preschool puppet show so that Amelia and his own girl, Violet, will behave.

‘Course Amelia’s got a pretty good daddy, too.

He helped her get crafty during the preschool Easter celebration Wednesday night.

This is my favorite Friday picture.

Have a blessed weekend and a beautiful Friday!

friday favorite things | finding joy
faith · favorite things · Home

A Few Friday Faves

friday favorite things | finding joy
We’ve been busy this week.  But all in the name of nesting
and spring readiness
and 80 degree days that call for 
massive wardrobe overhauls.

I volunteered for the annual consignment sale so I could shop early.
Thank goodness.
$1.50 over my budget later and my kids won’t be naked.
Thanks to people who can afford Gymboree, they might even be cute 🙂
I picked up a few things for Gus as well.  
Don’t want him to feel left out.
And shopping that section has inspired a blog post you’ll see next week.
I cleaned out the junk drawer this week in search of safety pins.
Now it looks like this.
Ahhh….organized clutter.
And cheapo baskets from Wal-mart because drawer organizers cost like $9.  

Can you believe these sweet faces?
Kayden up top hangs with Amelia and me a few times a week
while him mom goes to nursing school.
Leah Kate just turned one
and is the daughter of my best friends.
Then there’s my sweet angel who consented this week
that “uh-huh” baby brother is coming to live with us.
Just not in her room.
Proverbs 31: Encouragement for Today
Today’s post from Proverbs 31 ministries warmed my heart.
If you’ve ever been stopped by a well-meaning mother in the grocery store
while your child is shrieking and trying to careen the buggy 
anywhere other than the frozen food aisle
and you’re praying you can just get some milk and get out
and then this person says smiles at you and says,
“Have you read The Strong-Willed Child?”
Then it takes all your willpower to grit your teeth and not throw the frozen peas.
You need to read today’s post over at Proverbs 31.
Be encouraged that you are not alone.
Let’s all raise God-following adults and not just good children.
Linking up with Rachel over at Finding Joy.  Check it out.  Be blessed.  Happy Friday!
favorite things · pinterest

Raindrops on Roses

Friday has been lovely so far, thank you.
Annabelle has pain meds that are working so well she’s eaten eggs, grits, mashed potatoes, ice cream, two popsicles, and almost a whole 20 oz bottle of ginger ale.
Yay for Lortab Elixer which you should request if you ever have to deal with a stubborn child who has had a tonsillectomy.  I pray you don’t.
I’ve been in a bit of a funk all week which is why there’s no blog celebrating my birthday or really much about Amelia’s party.  I figured there was no reason to drag everyone down with me into my pregnancy-hormone induced sadness because I didn’t have a birthday cake.
Seriously, I had plenty that was better.
Like this sweet breakfast my girls and their daddy made.  Ignore the just-out-of-bed mommy hiding behind the flowers (those were Eeyore’s thistle at our Pooh party).
I like how Amelia is too short to be in the picture.
They also made me birthday brownies.
And I’m loving this little project I’ve got going.  It was a Valentine’s banner, then Pooh quotes, now it’s mine and Millie’s birthday love.
Oh, and while Joshua and the girls were making dinner and brownies, I was banished to the couch and told to stay there.  So I actually finished a craft.  Amazing what can happen when you stay in one place longer than five minutes.
I think it will photograph better when I get around to hanging it up.  But it’s my very first yarn wreath.  The next one is about half done.  Who can believe I’d finish something?
Oh, and here’s Amelia’s cake that almost gave me the emotional breakdown last weekend.
Icing and I do not get along unless it’s on a fork headed for my mouth.  And made of cream cheese.  This was neither so we had a bit of a dilemma.  People soothed my feelings by saying it looked like honey.  My mom told me to get off Pinterest and quit comparing myself to everyone else.  That’s why when I saw this I had to share it.

This morning I was over visiting Carissa and loved her link up to the monthly photo collage.  Since my 365 is a bit behind, this seemed like a good bandwagon to jump on.  So then I made a January collage for us.  I’m thinking all these would be cute printed as a calendar for family Christmas gifts.
In January
we visited Biltmore
cooked lots of yummy breakfasts
hung out with the Harris family before they moved
prayed for sun
celebrated cousin Hailey’s birthday
and had some cozy moments.
If you’re interested in this project check out Simple as That by clicking below.
So Friday has been full of some of my favorite things.  
What do you think of the new look?
where we stocked a friend’s freezer with tons of frozen meals for her family while she undergoes cancer treatment.
Target’s daily deal was nursing tanks so I couldn’t pass that up.
And Old Navy sent me birthday coupons and I have some mad money, so I think we might need some spring clothes.
Open Windows.
It’s February.  But Georgia thinks it’s spring.  Which is fine with me because spring means we’re getting close to Baby Gus’s arrival.
And it’s raining a bit.  So somewhere there are raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens and bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens…..
Definitely no mittens here.
Linking up with Rachel
friday favorite things | finding joy
cooking · favorite things

Feminist Friday (and Pizza!)

My super-crazy yet very cool (but I sometimes worry about her a lot) sister Calley, who is best known for her fashion statements and naps on my parents’ couch during family events, recently graduated from UGA.  Go Dawgs!

Yeah, that doesn’t get uttered a lot in our non-sports oriented house.

But we love Aunt Calley who majored in Women’s Studies and Music Business, founded the Athens chapter of Girls Rock Camp, and used to tell my girls bedtime stories about Susan B. Anthony.

That’s why this morning on the way to school when I had the following conversation with Madelynne I had to assert just a little feminism in honor of Aunt Calley because the last thing I want is for my girls to grow up thinking they can’t be anything they want to be.

When I grow up I’m going to be the first woman to land on Mars.  Or I’m going to be the first woman president.
You could do both you know.
{Insert short conversation about how and why there isn’t a woman president yet.}
Okay, first I’ll land on Mars.  Then I’ll be president.  Can I get married if I’m president?
Of course.  You know, Jackson (our boy BFF) wants to be president too.
{Let me just assert as a sidenote here that while I believe my daughter can do anything, I really won’t be shocked if Jackson does run for president someday.}
Oh, good!  We can get married and be president together. {pause} Or maybe, he can be president, and I’ll just be his assistant.
Or maybe, you could be president and he could be your assistant.
Okay, let’s do that!
Linking this part of the post up with Rachel at Finding Joy.
friday favorite things | finding joy
This is for Farmgirl Paints.  Thanks to Carissa for linking up so I could find a new blog.  I’m linking up to Feed Our Family Friday, but for some reason couldn’t get that button to work, so here’s another one 🙂
Farmgirl Paints
I’ve alluded to our Friday Night Family Pizza in my posts before, but I haven’t done a whole post dedicated to that.  Come back next week and see if I’ve managed that.  For today, however, I’m hooking Farmgirl up with the best (and easiest) homemade pizza dough recipe ever.  
and of course, I have to give credit to my favorite Pioneer Woman for this, though I’m the one who decided to substitute the whole wheat flour.
Whole Wheat Pizza Crust with homemade sauce, italian sausage, and green peppers.  Hadn’t added the cheese yet.

The Recipe

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 tsp kosher salt
1 teaspoon active dry or instant yeast (1/2 packet)
1/3 cup EVOO
Dump your flour (and use 4 cups WW if you want.  We cheat a little.) in a mixer.  Add the salt.  Stir for a sec.  In another small bowl, place 1 and a half cups warm water.  Sprinkle the yeast over the top.  Let it sit for minute or two and then give it a stir.  While it’s sitting, drizzle the olive oil into the flour letting the mixer stir it up on a low speed.  Then slowly pour in the yeast water.  The dough will form a big sticky ball.  Now transfer it to another bowl that you’ve swirled more olive oil in and toss the dough bowl until it’s coated with oil.  Lay a damp dishtowel over the top and place it in a warm place safe from toddlers.  Like the microwave.  Let it rise 1-2 hours.  Then divide it in half or fourths or eighths and roll it out on a clean surface lightly sprinkled with cornmeal.  We bake ours on a pizza stone after topping it with whatever goodies I’ve found that week.  You can also use a cookie sheet or pan.  Makes two large pizzas.  Or 8 personal ones.  Or in my family, three personal ones, a baby calzone, and one large.  You know, whatever makes you happy.  
Of course, it’s Friday.  What’s not to be happy about?