The Ends of the Earth and Other Places I Cannot Find


  • I am dropping my kids at their grandparent’s farm in 10 days and flying to HAWAII with my man!!
  • [Related] My husband and I updated our will in case the plane crashes and I might have lay awake at night WITH ALL THE THOUGHTS. Am I the only mom who  can actually put a damper on going to Maui (for free)? Yes, I think I am.
  • I’ve spent the summer getting caught up on personal health maintenance. I’ve had a mole check, eye exam, (I still flinch at the dreaded eye puff), blood work, dental visit, B12 injections and a mammogram later this week. You know that saying, “It’s hell getting old?” I get that now.
  • I’ve said this 44 times this summer to my kids:  “You are in trouble” (and we both know I have no idea what the punishment is going to be). Ah, summer…
  • I walked into a music store to ask what my son needed for 6th grade band (percussion) the other day and ended up with a large bill and a rented marimba. Giving birth to musical kids is expensive. And noisy.

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  • My six year old went to an afternoon DIVA sing-a-long camp at the YMCA last week and came home singing every song from the 80’s I wasn’t allowed to listen to. “Mom, why didn’t you tell me about Madonna and material girl?” Um.

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  • I snuck off to an early morning breakfast with my former neighbor, Bridget and she brought me cookies. When I got home, I hid them in the kitchen and ate them one by one without even telling my family.


  • She dressed herself for church yesterday. She was totally serious about the “shoes” (which are actually gloves from a favorite. Tickle Monster Laughter Kit).

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  • Things come out of my mouth and I have no idea what they mean: What really happens after counting to 3 anyway? The other day I grounded my oldest two to ‘the ends of the earth.’ I have no idea what that means. My mom used to say it. But it did make me feel better. My son replied, “The earth is round, Mom.” He had a point.
  • I handed my son his lost hair comb (he’d been borrowing my brush for two days) and he returned to my bedroom with wet spiked hair. “Mom, you can lend a boy a comb and give him good hair for a day. But give him a comb and he will have it for a lifetime.” I don’t know where my kids get their sarcasm.
  • I think this is the 3rd time I’ve mentioned  this book  in the last two weeks, but it is rocking our world. We read 3 chapters just last night! We still have a few to go, but I cannot recommend it enough for family reading (ages 6+)


DIY: Pallet Headboard



She saw a pallet headboard at a flea market and had to have it.

I saw the price tag and said keep walking.

But my 13 year old daughter didn’t forget the bed and she showed a picture to her Dad and batted her long lashes for months. She didn’t know if he could make it, but she knew he would try.

Because he’s that kind of a Dad.

Supplies for our $50 Pallet Headboard:

2-3 weathered pallets

2 2×4’s

light kit (optional)

Old barn wood would have worked well, but we couldn’t find any. So my husband asked a local store for a couple of pallets and got them for free (score!) Prying off the pieces of weathered wood was the hardest part of this project. But Terrell had plenty of helpers.

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Once the wood was off the pallet, it was nailed to the 2×4’s.

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My hubby found a cool vintage-looking lamp kit at Home Depot and cut a hole to attach it. It plugs into the wall.

We lightly white-washed the wood for a funky feel and moved it upstairs to my daughter’s room.

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She is thrilled with it! And she’s pretty impressed with her Dad. “Mom, I’m going to marry someone just like him someday. A man who can do anything!”

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I think she likes it.

And I like him even more.

WFMW: Stock Up Sale {Dayspring}


I’ve written about my gift stash before. I keep a box of items to give for birthdays, teacher gifts, encouragement and appreciation goodies to others. It’s come in handy for years! I don’t have to run to the store when there’s an opportunity to lift someone up on their birthday or on a hard day.

I also keep an assortment of clearance gift bags, tissue paper and Dayspring cards. This month is the perfect opportunity to create your own gift center or stock up with these amazing deals. Plus, use the code SUMMER25, you can get an additional 25% off your entire order!

Stock Up Today at Dayspring:

Teacher Gifts & Back to School

Redeemed – Truly Loved – Coin Purse Reg. 9.99, now $3.99 w/coupon $3.01

Redeemed - Truly Loved - Coin PurseRedeemed – Truly Blessed – Insulated Lunch Bag Reg. $24.99 Now $9.99 w/coupon $7.52Redeemed - Truly Blessed - Insulated Lunch BagChristmas in July

Love Came Down Trio Tea Light Holders – Reg $19.99, Sale $9.99, w/coupon $7.52

Love Came Down - Star Tea Light Holder

Love Came Down Reversible Table Runner – Reg $24.99, Sale $12.49, w/coupon $9.36

Love Came Down-Names of Jesus-Reversible Table Runner

Redeemed Christmas Wooden Blocks – Reg $29.99, Sale $14.99
Redeemed Christmas - Christmas Wooden Blocks, Set of 6
Birthday Cards 30% off!

Fun Gifts

Abide in Him – Metal Wall Decor
 Reg. $36.99, now $16.99, w/coupon $12.76
Abide in Him - Metal Wall Decor

Memo pads, by 2 get 1 free. Reg. 9.99, $20 for three sets, w/coupon $15.00

Stock up and saving works for me!

Redeemed - Chosen - Tiered Memos

Don’t forget to add code: SUMMER25 at checkout (affiliate links are used in this post)

Finding Beauty in the Ashes of Our Lives

If I close my eyes, I can travel back to the hellhole where I was redeemed. I can smell the sewage and feel the slippery, muddy path beneath my feet.

We pass a dump and I see a woman and child bending low, digging for something of value in the trash. The mom finds a half-eaten apple, wipes the dirt with her sleeve and slips it into her pocket. She pats her child’s arm as if to say, I’ve found another meal.

When I look at the dump, I can’t find anything of value, only trash and waste.

But that’s because I’ve never been hungry.

I have been desperate though and it turns out I needed rescuing from a pit just the same. Mine only looked like the American Dream. But it’s just as smelly.

God reached into a slum and found Esther, one of our new moms at Mercy House. She was hopeless and hungry, pregnant and afraid. She was desperate. But just like the queen she was named for, God had a plan, a promise for a hope and future.


He would once again use an Esther to save people from despair.


Against all odds, God rescued her and she gave birth to a baby girl. Esther named her daughter Jennifer, just two days after this precious Jennifer left this earth. This baby was born during a time of sorrow and pain, a tangled mess of mercy and glory, sorrow and joy.

But her chubby cheeks, pretty in pink life, her very name reminds us that He has a plan to create something beautiful from something broken. And even when we don’t understand it, we are not alone or forgotten.

He turns our sorrow into joy.

He trades the ashes in our lives for beauty.

How to Give Our Kids a Dose of Gratitude

It’s the halfway point of our summer. Most days my kids are rolling out of bed past 9am, living in pajamas or swimsuits and putting the L in lazy. It’s been a fun summer so far and everyone is fairly happy until momma asks them to do something. So, you know, normal.

I’ve talked about the challenge of raising grateful kids in an entitled world. I’ve learned that thanksgiving is a journey, not a destination and that the old saying “Gratitude is the shortest lived emotion” is absolutely true.

The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

Because most days I’m thankful and then about 45 seconds later, I’m not. If I feel down or grumpy, if I’m complaining or wishing for something I don’t have, 99.9% of the time it’s because I’m not being thankful and when I take the time to count the gifts in my life, it changes the way I feel about the situation.


Here’s why: a change of perspective changes us.

The best way to give our kids a needed dose of gratitude is by altering the way they see their life.

My 11 and 13 year olds spent 20 hours serving last week.

And we all got way more than expected.

Way back in April, the smart momma in me coerced them into applying to be Junior Volunteers at the popular Science Camp their little sister was attending at a local church, I was thinking it would give them something to do in the middle of the summer.

I was also thinking about 20 hours in which all three of my kids would be occupied at the same time. Some might call that a miracle in July. I spent every glorious hour working on finishing my book (50,000 words. Yo.)

Every night my kids would share funny stories and their adventures. I heard about the highs and lows of playing with preschoolers, assisting teachers, wiping tables, holding sticky hands, answering 186 questions. But instead of complaining or dreading it, they were enjoying every minute of it.

It felt good to serve. It was fun to be needed. It made them appreciate those who served them. It showed them how hard some kids have it in life. It completely changed their perspective and reminded them of all they had. Serving altered their view and seeing the world a little differently made them thankful.

Amazing, huh?

Give your kids (and maybe yourself) a change of perspective.

For the last two weeks, we’ve been reading Running for My Life by Lopez Lomong after dinner. It’s the story of an Olympic runner who was a Lost Boy of Sudan. My kids are mesmerized and beg for my husband to continue at the end of every chapter. It’s a painful story to hear–so much suffering, but it’s also miraculous and amazing.  We are only half way thru and the book has done something crucial in our home: it has changed our perspective.

It’s hard to complain about dinner or cleaning up dishes when you’ve just read about a 6 year old boy who digs sand out of his handful of grain he gets every other day, as he’s being forced to be a child soldier.

4 Ways to Change Your Child’s Perspective and Spontaneously Create Gratitude:

  1. Exposure: let your kids see those with less–take them on a missions trip, even if it’s to the nearest nursing home or homeless spot under the bridge. Take blankets and food and share them. Sometimes we are reminded how much we have, by simply seeing how little others have. It’s powerful. 
  2. Service: There’s just something extraordinary that happens when we serve others.  Not only can everyone serve, everyone needs to. It’s the key to unlocking fullness in life. Check out this list of 100 Ways to Make a Difference with Your Family.
  3. Work: Complaining is the opposite of thanking. When my kids are griping about things in their life, it’s often best to combat it by turning the tables and letting them try a hand at hard work (laundry, making dinner, cleaning, etc). It immediately changes their perspective because it’s often not as easy as it looks!
  4. Introduction: Read books to your kids about different cultures. It easy to live in a safe, abundant bubble. Step out of it through reading and stir up gratitude. Books that will do just that: Kisses from Katie: A Story of Relentless Love and Redemptionand The Hiding Place.

Gratitude is a way of life. Thankfulness is stopping long enough to say it or show it and making sure we pause in our busy day to receive it. In our abundance, being thankful is an act of beauty and acknowledging and appreciating the gifts in our lives makes us want to give them away.

DIY Happy Sun Catcher

sun catcher

We love the sun even on cloudy days around here. Catching it can be tricky, but these super easy DIY sun catchers help. They cast some happy light in our home and we used items we hand on hand.  It was the perfect, simple project for a summer day. And these sun catchers are perfect for outdoors!

Supplies Needed:

Plastic pony beads-any color

Round metal cake pan


Fishing line

Three Easy Steps to Catch the Sun:

1. Put plastic beads in a metal cake pan (we also tried glass, but metal is better). We also put some beads in muffin tins to make smaller versions.


2. Heat oven to 400 degrees and bake beads for 30 minutes. (The beads do smell as they melt, but we left the back door open to let the sun in :)

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3. Cool and hang with fishing line. Some catchers had “natural” holes where there were spaces where we strung the lines. The rest, we drilled a small hole. And by we, I mean my son.



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Have a happy weekend!

Grace-Based Motherhood: A Fishy Tale

I got seasick.

The wind whipped my hair on the 45 minute trip from the shore to the middle of the ocean in a large fishing boat. It was thrilling for my family, a first for us, until the boat anchored and the waves dipped the craft up and down.

Down and up, with 3-4 foot swells.

I only cast my fishing line one time.

The rest of the four hour fishing trip, I longed to lay down on the metal floor of the hot, stinking ship. Instead I sat perfectly still with my eye on the only constant in the waters around me: a buoy about half a mile away. As long as I didn’t take my eyes off of it, I didn’t throw up.


I had planned this little outing for my family-we love to fish, but rarely get the chance and I knew our little vacation to the coast an hour and half away would be the perfect opportunity to relax and enjoy each other.

Only life doesn’t go as planned and I was green around the gills, irritable and counting down every miserable minute.

After one harrowing trip the ship’s bathroom (my one mistake), my kids met me at the door, “Mom, isn’t this fun?” I could smell the squid bait on their hands and I snapped ugly at them. “Go away!” I demanded as I ran for fresh air

And I searched for my buoy.

I was so disappointed that I couldn’t enjoy the trip and even more that I was too miserable to watch my family enjoy the trip.

About halfway thru the trip, this happened:


Thirty pounds of dinner and one very happy husband. And finally some expired motion sickness medicine I bought on the boat brought enough relief for me to snap a picture.

My kids fed tiny squid parts to nearly seagulls and their giggles almost made my nausea worth it.

My family offered grace. The kind a mom desperately needs to receive when she’s too hard on herself, when life doesn’t go as planned (does it ever?) and the kind I want to give them when I can’t stand their fishy hands.

“If grace is an ocean, we’re all sinking.” —favorite song

Grace is my buoy in this motherhood journey. It keeps me afloat when I’m drowning. It’s the life preserver on a hard day. It’s the constant in this ebb and flow. Grace keeps me going–it gives me the power to forgive others, to forgive myself, to keep going in rocky waters and threatening gales.

You know what’s crazy? I would get out on the boat again in a second.

Because grace is what I remember most.

WFMW: DIY Chalkboard Paint


I’ve been wanting to paint my piano for years. It was given to us by a kind older couple and my son loves playing it. He’s always pecking out tunes.

But I’ve always been afraid to paint it. Because it’s A PIANO.


I’ve been hearing a lot about chalkboard paint and not just for creating chalkboards. I learned that it adheres really well to slick wood, but it’s kind of expensive.

I discovered you can add plaster of paris to the paint (1 part powder to 3 parts paint, stir very well) and make your own chalkboard paint for a lot less. So, that’s what I did a few weeks ago.

I used a self-priming paint from Home Depot and without sanding or priming, I simply painted two coats on the piano.


I like an aged look, so next, I dry brushed stain glaze and wiped it off with a damp sponge.


It took about 3-4 hours for the entire project and I love:


DIY Chalkboard paint works for me!