A Marriage Recycled

I’ve never been a good recycler. I aim high with my recycle bins and fabric grocery totes, but since I’m usually multi-tasking and running behind, I generally remember to recycle after the fact.

It’s just not my ministry. Ya know?

But I love recycled things. Go figure. I’m glad someone is responding to the high calling. I love love love trash to treasure stories.  From Mercy House to my marriage, I’ve learned to view God as the ultimate recycler. He is the master of taking rubbish and redeeming it.

This month my husband and I are celebrating 18 years of marriage. I’ve written about our testimony and I’m so thankful He transformed the garbage of our lives into something for His glory. Our marriage isn’t perfect, but it’s evidence of God’s hand.

One of the things I love most about recycling? You get something new. There’s still a trace of the old, but when it goes through the fire, something different, often better is created. After God recycled our marriage, 7 years ago now, we took my engagement ring, wedding band and an anniversary band and had them melted down. The three pieces were beautiful and I loved them, but we both wanted a new ring to represent our new marriage. But my original set was very special and we wanted to keep it.

A local jeweler crafted one new gorgeous ring from the materials of my 3 separate rings. It was the same, but completely different, better, just like my marriage. And that’s exactly what God is able to do in your marriage too.

When my friends over at Union28 sent us their new new shirts, I smiled. I love knowing after all these years my marriage STILL rocks; It’s getting better with age because God is the ultimate recycler.

Want to see my new (old) ring, click here.


Does your marriage still rock? Get the t-shirt or tote to prove it! Union28 is helping us celebrate 18 years with these awesome new Recycled shirts. Use Code: U28MMSR20 This code is an exclusive offer just for WeAreThatFamily readers!  It’s good for 20% OFF 2 or more Regular-Priced tees & will be valid Thursday & Friday (12/6 & 12/7).

WFMW: 10 Affordable Gifts for Teen Girls Under $19

I’m about to have a teenager.

Seriously, y’all. We are weeks away from a 13 year old in the house.

How did I get this old?

Last weekend she went to her first teenager sleepover party at her best friend’s house. They did crazy makeovers, stayed up half the night singing and dancing, you name it. Ready or not, here it comes.

If you’re like me, you might be looking for fun and meaningful gifts for a teen girl in your life. We are sticking to our three gift rule again this year, but Santa needs ideas for stocking stuffers, so I thought I’d share my top ten list:

  1. LemonHead: Get a grip on your hair. I bought my daughter one of these headbands at a craft show and it’s her absolute favorite one. The no-slip ribbon headbands come in hundreds of styles and colors are are super cute.
  2. Cute JOYN Geometric Block Printed Clutch – Green for $19 and stylish fabric bracelets and necklaces (fair trade group that rescues women in India) on clearance right now! I love Joyn and have one of their bags and I’m giving my sister one for her birthday. I love shopping fair trade.
  3. A Charm for a bracelet or necklace. We are adding one charm at a time to a silver bracelet we are giving our daughter)
  4. Urban Soul BE JOYFUL Photo Holder
  5. Fair Trade alpaca cable knit fingerless gloves  My daughter is very aware of things made in other countries and one of the first things she asks is “Is this fair trade?” It just takes a few conversations to make our kids aware. We can’t/don’t buy everything fair trade, but we are trying to be conscience consumers.
  6. EOS lip balm-according to my daughter, you can never have too much lip gloss. 
  7. Beautiful plaque: Love from the Center of Who You Are. I love to give inspirational gifts that build up a teen girls self esteem.
  8. A Mustache cowl scarf  
  9. iTunes gift card–always a safe bet with music-loving teens!
  10. Gorgeous fair trade journal-I love it when I see my girl jotting down her thoughts and writing me little notes. 

Is there a tween boy in your life? I have a delightful one. I loved the ideas on this gift list. {There are a few affiliate links in this post}

What works for you?

Sing Like Never Before {Giveaway}

Congrats to the following winners: comment #207 Hannah, #211 Robyn, #200 Linnea, #63  Niki  and grand prize winner #138 Vicki

I grew up sandwiched between two singers. My sister and brother were in choirs and had voice lessons and were definitely gifted in that area.

And then there was me.

Tone deaf.

I don’t sing in the shower or have a massive music collection, but some music makes me forget that some people aren’t supposed to sing (out loud). Matt Redman’s new CD is one of those for me. I feel the worship songs all the way to my toes!

Today I’m giving away his new CD Sing Like Never Before to 4 people and one grand prize winner will get the album, plus his four other albums:

 10,000 Reasons

We Shall Not Be Shaken

Beautiful News


Listen and tell me you don’t feel like singing too.

Leave a comment as your entry. This giveaway ends on Thursday.

Don’t Play in the Sprinklers and Other Truths

We all make mistakes. I think it’s good to learn from them. This impromptu shot was not one of them.
 Here’s what I learned last week:

  1. (Truth #1) When you’re in a hurry and you pull out the big roaster pan to slow bake a giant pork butt, potatoes and carrots, you should check the pan to make sure it’s clean before throwing the full pan in the oven (see Truth #5).
  2. When you move into a house with a septic system, you should schedule an orientation right away (Truth #2). Because if you do all your laundry in one day for a family of five, you’ll overload the system which proves to be stinky (Truth #3). Oh and make sure your kids don’t play in the sprinklers! The water is um, recycled (Truth #4). Welcome to the country.
  3. Remember that roaster pan? (Truth #1) Everyone piled around the table for dinner and our Advent devotional and we ate delicious pot roast and start talking highs and lows of the day. About that time, we discovered a very large, slow-baked cricket that ended up on my husband’s plate, under a yam. He got an extra serving of protein and a new low for the day. (Truth #5) Dinner was over VERY quickly and nobody wanted to save leftovers.
  4. When you drop your kids off for midweek youth group after a dinner nightmare and sneak off to Starbucks for a quick date with your hubby, the church will call 15 minutes later to say your son is being seen by a medic for a head injury. (Truth #6)
  5. And with a staple to his head gash, you learn that’s why it’s never funny for kids to pull someone’s chair out from underneath them. (Truth #7)
  6. We should have made more of these people. (Truth #8)

 2012 Christmas card photo:

photos by my friend, Suzanne Box Photography

Blessings Unlimited FLASH Sale

Blessings Unlimited (a Dayspring store) is having a huge Christmas sale from 50-85% off!

Some of my favorites:

I have this huge metal memo board to keep track of school papers and important notes:

Sale $13, Regularly, $58

Set of 3, Beautiful Trivets

Sale $6, Regularly $24

And I love my weathervane!

Sale $28, Regularly $79

And I think we might be doing this little activity on Christmas Eve:

The Story of Christmas Puzzle:

Sale $12, Regularly $29

There are a ton more items on sale, but there are limited supplies, so hurry if you’re interested. (These links are affiliate).

30 Ways to Keep Christ in Christmas

Our world makes it challenging to keep Christ in Christmas.

Anyone else notice that?

Don’t get me wrong: I love this season. The lights and festivities. I’m a Christmas baby and I find this time of year magical. I love experiencing it with my kids…the excuse to wear Christmas pajamas days on end, reading holiday books, sipping hot chocolate and eating cookies for lunch

But more than anything, I want to make it meaningful. I want Jesus to be the focus. I want my kids to know what the day and all the celebrating is really about. They won’t hear it at school or see it in the sales advertisements. They will know because we will show them.

Here are some ways we make Christmas meaningful (and a few ideas we plan to implement):

  • Set up a Nativity and make it a focus in your home. [We put ours front and center on the entry table in our home].
  • Hide baby Jesus and “seek” Him Christmas morning before opening gifts. [I did this first thing last year. Here’s how I found it half an hour later. Turns out Mary had a little Snowman. I love little kids].

  • (or) Gift wrap baby Jesus in your nativity and let this be your first unwrapped gift Christmas morning.
  • Take a cue from the Magi and limit the gifts and reminding kids it’s not their birthday, it’s His.
  • Have a daily family devotion that unwraps Christmas, here’s ours for this year; Advent Tabletop Devotional. [This is perfect for families. It offers a verse for each day and a question or two that will hopefully lead to a meaningful discussion.]
  • Participate in Advent. Last year, we did the Jesse Tree Advent. And I love this 25 day free printable Advent idea!
  • Light an Advent wreath each day leading up to Christmas.
  • Have a birthday cake for Jesus or go all out and make it a birthday party!
  • Watch DVDS like Why Do We Call It Christmas? that help you tell the real story of Christmas.
  • Give your kids the gift of giving: Have them shop with purpose. This year we are giving our kids money to shop from the Compassion gift catalog.
  • Or buy something that blesses twice and changes lives (Mercy Shop).
  • Don’t stress about things that really don’t matter this Season. I have been a Christmas hoarder in the past. Last year, I had two newlywed couples come and dig thru my decorations. I saved two boxes of things I value most and gave the rest away. It’s simple this year and I like it.
  • Make the Nativity interactive with tools like What God Wants for Christmas. It’s from the creators of Resurrection Eggs.
  • Do something for someone else on Christmas Day. This will be our fifth year to visit the NICU (with treats) that saved our daughter’s life five Christmas’ ago.
  • Talk with your kids about giving God a gift. What does He want from us?
  • Hang a stocking for Christ. Fill it with notes just for Him.
  • Invite someone to share Christmas dinner with your family.
  • Shop for single mom. This year playing secret santa and dropping off gifts for a single mom!
  • Don’t participate in the excessive commercialism. Enough said.
  • Watch The Nativity Story together as a family. We started this tradition two years ago. I think this PG movie tells the greatest story ever told very well.
  • Help your kids shop for their siblings.
  • Talk about the symbols of Christmas.
  • Be generous as a family at Christmas-baking, giving, doing.
  • Hold a Yule log party: it’s an old European custom to bring in an enormous log on Christmas Eve and it in the fireplace (or fire pit) and say prayers. Today, Yule log cakes and eggnog are served. You can sing carols, read Scripture, tell stories, pray for the new year, and have good fellowship.
  • Bake, make or buy a special gift for your Pastor. We did Pioneer Woman’s Cinnamon Rolls year before last. What a gift!
  • Cherish traditions with your family. Start a new one! Like the next one:
  • When preparing your Christmas meal, set a literal place for Jesus, your honored guest.
  • Attend church on Christmas Eve.
  • Read Luke 2 together on Christmas Eve or morning. We’ve been doing this since before we had kids.
  • Leave a Nativity out all year long. I did this last year and it was really special.
How do you keep Christ in Christmas?
[edited repost]

The Laundry Mantle

Did I ever tell y’all I was in a long distance relationship with my husband-to-be? So, here’s how that happened: We went to college together and became best friends. He graduated and moved across the country to work on his Masters while I finished my degree. After I graduated I flew to see my awesome friend. We “accidentally” kissed (overcome with missing each other??) and started an unplanned relationship that weekend. I returned home to my first (and only year) as a teacher and we got engaged about a month later.


About a month before we got married, my husband-to-be moved in with my parents (I lived in an apartment about 30 minutes away). It was an awesome whirlwind, whiplash season! To this day, it still cracks me up when my husband talks about the time he lived with my parents. He always says the same thing: your mom was serious about the laundry. He said he would take a shower and before he was dressed, she would have his dirty clothes laundered, folded and ready to put away.

I grew up with this and it’s a lot of pressure.

Because clearly, if you soil your clothes in my house, you better not expect to see them back in your closet for a week.

Growing up, my mother set some high laundry standards. She washed every day (and still does!) Her laundry room looks like a washer and dryer advertisement. She’s passed on the Laundry Mantle to an unworthy recipient.

I’m not going to lie, my Maytag Bravos XL make me want to be a better launderer. The cool options (I didn’t even know existed since my last set were duct taped together) make me want to pursue laundry greatness. I love the capacity of my washer and how it uses small amounts of water, but still cleans so well. I love the allergen cold water cycle, especially since my kiddos wash their clothes in cold water in an attempt not to fade clothes.

My mom’s Maytag of old, was sturdy and a workhorse. She owned the same pair my entire childhood. But they had nothing on the Maytag duo purring in my laundry room right now. It’s been a blessing to receive the Maytag Bravos pair and I highly recommend them for your laundry needs.

Excuse me, the Mantle, it is calling.

Now, if I could just get my dog to fold the clothes, I’d be all set.

I’m wrapping up a series of post about the amazing washer and dryer Maytag gave me. Make sure you check out the Maytag PageMaytag Facebook, and Maytag Twitter

Disclaimer: I wrote this post as a #MayTagMoms Dependable Laundry Ambassador through mom Central Consulting on behalf of Maytag. I was provided with the Maytag washer and dryer set to facilitate my post.

WFMW: Advent Roundup

I love this time of year! I’m trying to use this extra week after Thanksgiving, before December starts to catch up, so I can slow down. Dinner time is our time to connect as a family. We also do our Advent during this time. There are so many great options out there. I hope you enjoy a peaceful, meaningful Advent season too.

99 ideas to “fill” your days (and calendars) leading up to Advent

Special thanks to Dayspring for our beautiful Nativity.