Forgiveness Saves Friendships


I am thrilled to be a guest writer on DaySpring’s (in)courage blog today, sharing some thoughts on friendship. Their online community for women has been a blessing to me and I’d encourage you to visit (in)courage on a regular basis, like their page on Facebook, or subscribe to receive their content in your email. I am privileged to have my thoughts featured there among some truly gifted women and Christian authors.

You can visit my post here.

{Photo by Jake Olson Studios}

Christmas at Home

We were anxious to decorate our new home for Christmas this year.  I like to keep things simple, so we stuck with trees and wreaths.  Here are a few pics of our holiday home!



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A Sweet Gift for Daddy


I hadn’t involved Sweet Emory very much in selecting her Daddy’s Christmas gift this year, so decided to give her a little chance to choose something of her own for him.  Judging from success I had letting her spend a dollar in Dollar Tree in the past, I thought this was just to place to turn her loose (kind of) and see what she selected.  To set the record straight, I want to point out that Brandon’s other gift is quite nice and that we didn’t get it at Dollar Tree.

So off we went on our mission.  She was excited about the prospect of choosing something for her beloved Daddy and I expertly steered her to the “household things” aisle.  I showed her a number of very useful items, such as a microfiber cloth to clean electronic devices (now is  probably a good time to point out that Emory often sneezes on her Daddy’s iPad).  “Look Emory!  This could clean Daddy’s iPad!”  “Look Emory, these are called bungees!  Daddies love to use bungees!”  “Look Emory!  This is a cloth to clean your car.  Daddies love to clean their cars!”  She buzzed right through the aisle with little interest, so I asked her if she would rather look for a treat for Daddy.  Yes!  Yes!  A treat for Daddy was what she wanted.

On our way to the treat aisle, she spotted an end cap of Fireside mini-marshmallows.  “Marshmallows!  I want these for Daddy!”  Certainly, this couldn’t be what she really would want.  But we needed some marshmallows at home (it IS hot chocolate season, after all), so I tossed them in the cart over the carseat containing snoozing Meredith.  I showed her a Mrs. Freshley’s peanut butter and chocolate wafer delicacy, a chocolate chip cookie mix, chocolate bars, granola bars.  All kinds of things.  Each time, she told me she chose the marshmallows (the girl knows what she wants!!).  She began to get a little exasperated and it was clear we were going home with the marshmallows, so I gave in and we paid for the cute little guys.  On the drive home, I decided to buy a nice hot chocolate mix to pair them with.

Brandon met us in the garage when we got home to help carry things inside, and I carefully hid his gift in our mudroom.  That was obviously a waste of time, because as soon as Emory had removed and stored her shoes, she ran into the kitchen and said, “We got you marshmallows for Christmas!!!!”  Brandon looked perplexed but kept quiet as I whispered to her that maybe we should wait for Christmas.  Wait for the hot chocolate.  Wait until they were wrapped.  She insisted on giving them to him immediately.  I decided we had to do it up right, so I took her to the Gift Command Center (formerly known as Papa and Grandma’s Room, which is known to normal people as the Guest Room) to select a nice gift bag and tissue paper.  I explained to Brandon what he was receiving and she proudly handed him the festive and full bag.

He was thrilled and so was she.  It was perfect.  Best dollar we’ve spent in a long while.  And maybe we’ll still pick up that hot chocolate after all.

Becoming Sisters

Of course, they’ve been sisters since there were two of them…but it is precious for me to watch these two little girls interact and love on eachother more and more.  I should know…I have two older sisters so I know the joy it is to have those deep sibling friendships.  Meredith adores Emory.  She watches her every move and perks up when she hears her voice.  And that Emory is protective of her sister.  She runs for a burp cloth the second Meredith drools (and trust me…there is A LOT of drool) and gives a proper dirty look to anyone that suggests Meredith might come live with them because she’s too cute.  Emory says, “No.  She lives with me.”  They are connected and happy and I am so grateful that they have eachother.

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Happy Meredith



I had to share a new picture or two of our darling, happy Meredith.  This little doll is all smiles, bubbles, and drool.  She loves to give kisses, laugh, nap with her little doggie, watch her big sister, and be toted around by Mommy and Daddy.  She has a chin that feels like buttah and the prettiest twinkly blue eyes.  What. A. Dolly.

We’ve got Christmas in 3….2….1….

I was thrilled to be invited by my creative girlfriend Kate to participate in an Advent ornament exchange with 23 other ladies from my church.  Called A Meaningful Christmas, each woman creates 24 themed ornaments that correspond with their assigned devotion to be read on a particular day in December.  Then we met at a swap party to exchange ornaments with eachother, each coming home with 24 unique ornaments and a cute keepsake box for our family.  Kate and another friend Allison had seen the concept online in a variety of fashions, and took the initiative to purchase devotionals and get us organized.  And especially after our Swap Party last night, I am so incredibly glad they did.  I am beyond excited to share these gorgeous little ornaments with my sweet girls and I am grateful to the ladies that hand-crafted each one.  I pulled out each of the ornaments to share with Brandon as soon as I got home and wrote each lady’s name beside their day in the devotional.

Each day, we will read the appropriate devotion and hang the corresponding ornament on the Christmas tree.  Initially, I was going to wrap each ornament but we’ve decided instead to place them inside a snowman canister that we’ll hide around the house each day for Emory to find.  It will be our own “Elf on the Shelf”, which is a concept that I love…but more fitting for our home since we are not planning to introduce Santa (thus no need for a stray elf from the North Pole).  Brandon grew up with Santa and I did not, and each of us feels that Christmas is magical either way.  Our little Emory is very logical and tough to fool.  When we do something silly to surprise her, like placing one of her toys in a silly spot in the house, she quickly realizes that Mommy or Daddy did it.  So it almost seems awkward to begin talking about Santa, when we’ve been trying to teach her about Jesus.  So for now, that is the direction we’re headed.

But I digress…

I was assigned the devotion about Promises and was to make an ornament with a rainbow.  After searching high and low for a complete rainbow (when I was a kid, the world was COVERED in rainbows…where are they now???), I was forced chose to create one with strips of scrapbook paper, stick-on rhinestones, and lots and lots of modge podge.  (Modge Podge is my spiritual gift.)  After much cutting, glueing, and quite a few episodes of Duck Dynasty, I love how they turned out!  Other favorites are a meticulously pieced and glued wooden donkey, a felt sheep, a puffy paint grape vine, and my very favorite — an inverted solo cup with an elephant and giraffe inside (representing God’s creation).

Here is a link to pictures of the original ornament exchange:

So, we’re off on our Meaningful Christmas adventure.  I’ll post another time to show our completed tree and share how it went.

The Crafters

The Crafters

Keepsake Boxes

Keepsake Boxes

Rainbow Ornaments

Rainbow Ornaments

Rainbow for God's Promises

Rainbow for God’s Promises

Our Ornament Delivery Vehicle

Our Ornament Delivery Vehicle

Christmas is Coming


Brandon did something this past week that he has always wanted to…hung Christmas lights on our home for Christmas. It’s beautiful and his girls are thrilled!


We took a little walk to see them at night and Emory loved it! Someday, Meredith will too!

Happy Birthday to My Beautiful Mom!

God blessed me with a most spectacular Mom and today I get to celebrate her birthday.  It is no secret that I’ve always loved my Mommy — I had a hard time being separated from her when I was young.  It took bribes to get me to stay with a sitter (I remember a My Little Pony, in particular) and much convincing to go to school (although many tummy-aches required her to pick me up to come back home…sorry Mom!).  Through it all, she provided many hugs, many laughs, a listening ear, and lots of encouragement. 

Here are some reasons my Mom is special:

  • She’s a Christian woman who taught her children (and teaches her grandchildren) about Jesus.
  • She beat breast cancer (5 years cancer-free!)
  • She loves dressing up and has an affinity for all things sparkly.  Especially gems.  Big ones.
  • She loves her daughters equally (or at least she pretends she does!).
  • She knows how to get to Muffin Pass, and she has sat by the Bones of the Dead Yellow Horse.
  • She’s a hard worker!  She has worked outside the home, inside the home, inside the neighbors home, in a greenhouse, in an office, in a store, in the yard, during the day, and in the evenings.
  • She danced with her daughters in the kitchen.
  • She loves my Dad and takes good care of him.
  • She’s a MacGyver Mom — she can sew, glue, tape, clean, or jimmy-rig almost anything!
  • She always puts family first.
  • While Pansy Moms would be afraid after their car fish-tailed on a gravel road for a quarter of a mile, my Mom screamed “Wuhoo!”
  • She is compassionate and always thinks of others first.
  • Each year, she plants beautiful flowers and grows a vegetable garden.  She follows it up by swearing she won’t plant so much the following year.
  • She taught me almost everything I know about cheese.
  • She has a servant heart and faithfully cares for her family and friends.
  • She brought me oatmeal in the tub so I could eat and get clean simultaneously in the first week after my firstborn arrived (don’t ask…those baby blues are the pits…).
  • She can and does successfully use a chainsaw.
  • She sent me many cards and letters throughout my college career “just because.”  I probably received mail from her most weeks.
  • She gets down on the floor and out in the yard to play with her grandkids.
  • She laughs until she cries.
  • She can always be convinced to order a pizza.
  • She’s perfect the way God made her.

Mom, I loved you then and I love you even more now that I am a mom and see how hard it must have been to balance all of your responsibilities.  I love you dearly.  Happy, happy birthday!

Isn’t She Lovely?

The Times They Are A-Changing

Life has been wild these past few months, and today I had a moment to finally download some old photos from my camera and look through them.  I loved these two, which relate to one major change in our lives.  These are pictures of Emory swinging from the tree at our old house, in our old yard.  In other words, we’ve moved.  And although the new house and yard are lovely, we no longer have a tree from which to hang our swing.  By next summer, we’ll have to rectify that.  But in the meantime, these are two pictures that represent the sweet, wonderful life we started in our first home.