About Last Night

We had chili for supper last night. The kind with beans, cheese, onions and Fritos. It was our second day in a row of cool weather and so we wore boots and ate food that makes it feel colder than it really is. We take what we can get for Fall down here in Texas. Because you never know when it will be 85 degrees again.

Everyone shared their highs/lows for the day. My kids had a day off school (teacher work day) and my hubby caught up with the mountain of paperwork for MH. It was my turn and I got a lump in my throat. I told my family about the comments from my 5th anniversary post yesterday, about how y’all made me feel so loved and appreciated. And then I said, “I feel bad because so many women look up to me. I hope they know how much I struggle and how imperfect I am.”

And then I started to cry, right there in my chili.

My family looked around awkwardly and my oldest said, “So, I’ve noticed you cry a lot more now. Is that because you’re getting old ? Because you also pee when you jump or laugh too much. I’ve just noticed there’s a lot of water going on.”

The moment was over and we laughed (the truth hurts) and I dished out more chili.

So, all that to say, thanks for your comments. They really encouraged me.

Just before we closed our Gratitude Journal, my daughter mentioned something about college. She’s been thinking a lot about it lately  since entering junior high and with cousins now in that phase. She said, “Ya know, I only have 6 summers left before I go to college.” Somehow we moved from that to places we’d like to visit as a family before she graduates. I flipped to a blank page and my hubby gave me a “why not?” look. My kids started shouting out destinations and these places made the short-list of dream trips we’d like to take. I have no idea how we’d pay for them or ever make it happen, but it felt amazing to write it down and dream together.

1. Disney World (to show our youngest)

2. Washington D.C. (day trip to NYC and Philadelphia)

3. Grand Canyon (camping)

4. Colorado (outdoor adventures)

5. Yellowstone National Park

6. Paris, France (layover by way of Kenya)

We left our chili bowls piled high in the sink and my hubby aired up bike tires. We rode into the sunset in perfect weather and lived happily ever after.

Only the real story: The 5 year old fell off her scooter (because she refused to ride her bike because she wasn’t wearing long pants, which she also refused) and skinned her knee. About that time my big kids started racing and arguing for the whole neighborhood to hear, then my hubby turned his bike over. Oh, and there was dog poop on shoes, tracked through the house. And I yelled some. So, yeah, just a normal day with quality family time.

And I was worried y’all might think I was perfect.

And Then My Blog Turned Five Years Old {Party!}

UPDATE: Congratulations Donna Livingston you are the lucky winner!

In the 8th grade, my Language Arts teacher, Mrs. Abernathy, a heavy, somewhat grumpy teacher, peered over her glasses and  told me  (without smiling) that I was a good writer. It took just those few words of encouragement for me to decide I wanted to grow up and be a writer someday. She was my favorite teacher–not so much for what she taught me, but for simply believing in me when I didn’t really believe in myself.

Eventually, my love for writing (many rejected manuscripts, critique groups and writer’s conferences later) morphed into blogging when I was 34 years old.

Today this space turns five years old. 5. That’s half a decade.

And the best part of blogging isn’t a platform or occasional free stuff, it’s you, the reader. Because an unread blog is just a diary. But when you take the time to laugh, cry and dream with me, we change the world, my friends.

What I’m trying to say is, I love you. We make a great team. Let’s do another 5 years, shall we?

In honor of you, I’m giving this WATF Reader Appreciation “Basket” to one blessed reader. Your comment entry:  Tell me why you read here.

Basket contents:

Valued $200


AND, SUPER BIG, AMAZING DEAL in honor of 5 years, Dayspring is offering one of my top favorite items for ONLY $5<———insane price!

Ever Grateful – Memo Board with Easel for only $5!

It’s valued at $34.99 and makes a fantastic gift. {Christmas is coming!} There is no limit on how many you can purchase (while supplies last) and shipping does apply, but you get FREE shipping for spending $50 or more. So, basically, you can knock off ten people on your Christmas list for $50 and get a value of $349.90. Amazing, huh? This deal expires Oct.15 , but supplies won’t last long. Use code at checkout: WATFmemo

Don’t forget to leave a comment for the basket and then grab this deal. I just ordered 5 for $25. Merry Christmas to all the teachers in my life!

*Dayspring Affiliate links

Happy birthday to us.

25 Family Ideas for a Meaningful Fall

    1. Our number one favorite fall activity for one-on-one time? We lay in this together. Oh my goodness. Every family needs a giant hammock. But an old blanket in the yard will work too. It’s the perfect place to whisper and read books and be together.
    2. Get outside-toss a football or chase each other. We gave this very fun outdoor game to my husband for his birthday. It’s a favorite for all ages!
    3. Go on a walk, hunt for leaves, acorns and fall flare
    4. Create this [framed leaf art] or make a nature garland with your finds.
    5. Visit an orchard
    6. Make applesauce or something apple-y. Apple crisp, bob for apples, This little toolmakes it easy.
    7. Pick out a fat pumpkin for the front porch.
    8. This activity is a huge Thanksgiving memory-maker.
    9. Visit a local farmer’s market. Eat fresh and choose a new veggie (our latest: Spaghetti squash. This healthy recipe.)
    10. Invite friends over for s’mores. I love this s’mores in a jar idea!
    11. Have your family devotion outside. Anytime we can read a few scriptures or an inspiring story away from our normal routine, we engage so much more with our kids. Some days we lay on the trampoline or just take a long walk and talk (We are going verse by verse through Philippians as a family right now).
    12. Rake the leaves just to jump in them.
    13. Go camping. I’m not much of a “happy camper.” I love my bed too much. But we try and go at least once a year and I’m never sorry when we do.
    14. Bake bread. Make bread bowl soup (kids love it!)
    15. Create a family tree (get messy) fall hand tree art or family tree wall art.
    16. Decorate with a homemade pinecone swag.
    17. Send these puzzle letters to someone who needs encouragement.
    18. Keep fall trail mix in an easy-access jar for snacking
    19. Collect acorns, put them in a simple jar and call it a centerpiece. Lovely.
    20. Create a thankful tree
    21. Write in your Gratitude journal
    22. Make handmade thank you notes to give
    23. Pick something from this list to do this season
    24. Go on a family bike ride
    25. Don’t feel pressure or guilt to DO anything on this list. Just be together and be grateful.


Why We Aren’t Meant to Know the Future

It was just an innocent question. It came from someone I didn’t know. Or better, someone who didn’t know why on earth I founded a maternity home in Kenya, Africa.

Fair question.

My short answer: God kind of tricked me into it. 

Kidding. Sort of.

She wanted to help me with strategic planning, big picture, longterm sustainability, non-profit management.

Y’all: I had no idea what she was talking about. And then the question:

“What is your plan to keep this going?” She motioned to the picture of sixteen people I love on the other side of the world.

I smiled and said, “This is all a miracle and none of it was my plan and I honestly don’t know.” I said the words with a confidence that spoke of the supernatural, but when it hit me like a ton of bricks in the middle of the night, I only felt the natural.

How will I keep this going? How did a small yes turn into $150,000 + a year and  dozens of lives looking to me for direction?

I got out of bed and started crunching numbers, looking through notes of a new project and future development, and everything ended with a big question mark.

I tossed and turned myself back to sleep and woke up hung over with the heavy burden that comes from trying to see into the future and not being able to.

Then I opened my Jesus Calling devotion to these words, “I did not design the human mind to figure out the future. That is beyond your capability. I crafted your mind for continual communication with Me. Bring Me all your needs, your hopes and fears. Commit everything to My care. Turn from the path of planning to the path of Peace. “

Humble yourself under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. 1 Peter 5:6-7

And I felt Jesus calling me (again) to give it to Him. We aren’t meant to know the future. We are meant to live in such close communion with Him that He makes the future known, one step at a time.

I love these words by Corrie Ten Boon–

“Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.”

I don’t know. I’m saying it out loud and would wear it on a t-shirt if I could.

When this updated picture landed in my inbox this week, I took a deep breath. I couldn’t help but grin at those beautiful sassy faces. I touched each one, leaving smudges on my screen.  I couldn’t stop the tears as I prayed over each girl and her baby.

I still don’t know how I’m going to keep it all going.  But that’s usually the best place for God to show up.

Are you facing the unknown in life? Technically, we all are, we just have the illusion of control. Let’s say it together. I don’t know. Group Hug.

But it’s okay, we’re not supposed to.

He’s given us a hope and a future.

WFMW: On Finding Balance {Plus E-book Roundup}

I pack a lot into a day:  Between running a non-profit, mothering, wifing, writing, blogging and creating dinner masterpieces (one of these is an exaggeration), I’m busy.

But I maintain strict office hours and work hard not to open my computer before my kids are in school and make sure it’s closed once they get back home, until they are in bed for the night. Some days I fail, but I work hard to be disciplined in this area.

When we moved recently, we looked for a house with a little more backyard space so we could convert a storage building into a work/volunteer space for Mercy House. We are so thankful we did! It has shifted the work and all that goes with it out of our garage and overflowing into our house and has give us just the degree of separation we needed. Except for my dining room table tonight which is loaded with new products for The Mercy Shop.

If you find the same struggle or you’re trying to stretch more hours in the day as a homeschool mom or an at-home business owner, I think you’ll gain a lot from the ebook,Work Shift by Anne Bogel.  Click here to view more details. It offers excellent advice for combining work and family.

I also wanted to share a great deal for only {5 bucks} and it goes to an amazing cause.

This lovely lady lost her husband very unexpectedly and is now facing life and raising her five children without him. As a way to help their family while still providing a great resource for readers, my friend Mandi brought together a small group of bloggers and put together a pretty amazing benefit sale, which includes the 9 ebooks listed below plus the complete set of Life Your Way printables. The set is worth more than $50, but will be available for just $5 for three days only, starting at midnight ET on Tuesday, 10/2.

This isn’t a moneymaker as 100% of all proceeds will go directly to the Barlow family.  Buy and support today  (ends Thursday night)

Be Inspired. {Show Off Arts Giveaway}

UPDATE:  Congratulations Rachel Abbott!  You have been selected as the winner of this giveaway.

Our homes reflect who we are. When people walk thru my door, I want them to see 3 things:

  1. We love Jesus
  2. We love others
  3. We need to sweep more often.

Ha! I might need to work on my number 3.

I absolutely love color. I want  my home to be a happy place that is warm and inviting. Right now, it smells a little like my son’s feet, but I think you get the point.

I am very excited to present Show Off Arts (a long time advertiser) two new lines, the first is called Stripes. I love the message behind the name:

The new “Stripes” series which is built around Isaiah 53:5, “By His stripes, we are healed.”  Each image in the group features a key Scripture verse set against rows of colorful “stripes” to remind us of the great love shown in Jesus’ sacrifice.

There are four different designs in this series, each with a key verse of Scripture. We have the “Fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5); “Be Strong and Courageous (Joshua 1:9); “Love Is” (1 Corinthians 13); and “Whatever” (Philippians 4:5.)

This series also features a Show Offs Art first – a canvas designed primarily for a boy’s room. I had so many momma’s say “I love what you do, but I have a boy.” And frankly I struggled a bit because our colors and style do not often lend themselves to what you would typically see in a boy’s room. But as I began to pray about the “Stripes” series, I started thinking that maybe this was the place for a piece for boys. And so became “Be Strong” which features Joshua 1:9 “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

Super fun and inspiring, huh?

I also love the new bright, colorful Corrie Ten Boom canvas and especially her words. I read her writing when I was a young girl and she’s always been a hero of mine.

I just love the quote from Corrie ten Boom, a Dutch Christian who helped many Jews escape the Nazi Holocaust, featured on this design.  It reminds me that the “why” is that God has a purpose that is bigger than me and bigger than what I can understand.  God’s view is based on the eternal, not the temporary.  He is working all the time.  Nothing is happening in our lives that He has not already purposed for us.  Our responsibility is to trust Him and the plan (the best plan possible) we know He has for our lives.

Quote reads “Every experience God gives us, every person He puts in our lives is the perfect preparation for the future that only He can see.”

The canvases come in these great sizes: Fun Size 7″x11″x0.75″ – Standard size is 14″ x 22″ x 1.5″ – Large is 26″ x 40″ x 1.5″

Show Off Arts sent me the fun size in this canvas. It adds a happy pop of color in my kitchen:

Today, I’m excited to giveaway a $50 gift certificate to one lucky reader. Take a look around and leave a comment with what would make your home look happy.

This giveaway ends on Thursday.