Weekend Wrap-Up: 10.15.16




This is one of those lazy weekends in the best ways.  We had nowhere to go and nothing pressing to do.  Travis and I had a nice dinner date on Friday.  After Judson performed his early morning ritual of waking us up around 5:00 a.m., he eventually settled down to sleep for another couple of hours. I made some oatmeal chocolate chip banana pancakes for breakfast to start our Saturday off right.  The kids played some, we watched the Clemson football game while biting our nails to the final second in OT, and I got some reading and housework in.  Tomorrow we gear up for another enriching day of worship with our FBC Gallatin family.  We are prayer walking neighborhoods in the afternoon while inviting people to worship with us, followed by dinner and the Renew service back at the church in the evening.  Should be a great day of worship and fellowship!

What I am listening to

There is just a lot of great music coming out right now.  This week I’ve been listing to The Corner Room (beautifully captivating songs for worship and meditation- all Scripture settings), All Sons and Daughters’ new album Poets & Saints (melodic and rich both lyrically and musically), Joseph (I’ve been listening to this trio of sisters for about a year now, and their new album is just terrific- vocally on point), and Johnnyswim (their newest album just released yesterday- just a great duo- fun with a lot of depth).

This podcast:  I just got back into listening to Karen DeBeus.  I listened to her a lot last year.  I love how she is so Christ-centered and doesn’t get all wrapped up in the trends, hub bub, and hype regarding food, education, home, etc.  Her message is just as her podcast and blog state- Simply Living For Him.

What I am reading

I’ve been in Acts some in my Bible reading, and I love the cultural contradiction of this verse: “All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers.”  They just saw Jesus ascend to heaven, and this is what they were compelled to do- agree together in prayer.  May this be so in my home and in our churches.

I just finished reading a book and I’m about to finish several others.  Many of the books I read are with my girls, so that is how I read several at a time.  The book I finished this week was Ruth Reichl’s Delicious!  I thought it was so-so.  If you care to read my review on it, you can see it on Goodreads.

I’m digging into a few children’s fiction right now- Strawberry Girl by Lois Lenski and The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale Of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy by Jeanne Birdsall.  I enjoy kid lit, and I like to get a head start on some great books before I read them aloud to my children.

What I am watching

I’m in the last season of Parenthood on Netflix.  Sigh.  I also started watching Stranger Things…by myself!  At least when I jump no one is there to laugh at me.😛

What I am learning

“Let the peace of Christ rule in [my] heart”…and in my home (Colossians 3:15).  Peace is not a physical, tangible, evidential thing that I can pull out and say, “Here!  Here it is!  My peace!  See, it is right here.  Now we can all breathe.  Ahh…”  No.  It is something deeper than that, and far richer.  I am humbly learning that Christ is the One who brings the peace- not me.  Not my regimen, schedule, structures, control- none of it will provide lasting peace.  I cannot form character in my children.  Yes, I can teach them, lead them, correct them, but I cannot change their hearts.  That is the work of God, and I am not Him.  Dispensing lessons, completing curriculum, and checking off boxes does not educate my children.  I educate them with various methods and tools, but the tools are to serve us not master us.  Peace is a practice.  It is found on my knees in prayer, not in a planner.  I make the plans but I hold them up in surrender to One who is Sovereign over my plans and over the people that I love and lead.

Need some peace?  God is there to meet you and He gives generously to all who ask for wisdom.  We don’t have to have the answers or have it all together- we don’t and we can’t.  But God does, and He amply supplies all that we need.  Trust him.

I can’t give you peace, but I can give you pancakes.

Here is my recipe for Oatmeal Banana Chocolate Chip Pancakes


The Flavors of Fall

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Oh my, how I love fall!  The crispness in the air, the changing leaves, the pumpkins, the mums, the hay rides.  I love it all.  But what I probably love most about fall are its flavors.  And no, pumpkin is not the only flavor of fall, but it is the standout flavor.  They are pumpkin spicing everything now.  Cheerios I can understand, but I saw pumpkin spice Triscuits the other day while I was grocery shopping and well, I think they went too far this year.  Anyway, I digress…

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So, here is what I am baking this fall.  Most of these recipes are part of a yearly tradition that I only cook/bake this time of year.  None of them are original by me, but I have tweaked some of them to suit my family’s tastes.  If you want to add to your fall recipe repertoire, go ahead and give these a try.  They are for the most part simple, and usually a crowd pleaser.

  1.  Double Apple Whole- Wheat Scones with Caramel Glaze (I made these last night for breakfast.  Let’s call them what they are, though.  Cookies.  And I am okay with that.)
  2. Pumpkin bars (more like pumpkin cake…bad on the diet, but good for the soul)
  3. Apple Butter Pork Loin (I can’t wait to make this one this year with the apple butter I bought at Sky Top Orchard in NC)
  4.  Pumpkin Curry (trust me on this one…I usually make this a few times in the fall/winter. I use less red peppers and very little to no Cayenne- for the kids’ sake)
  5. Pumpkin cookies.  I made these the other day and used 2 eggs instead of 1. They were still delish!

There are several other dishes I like to cook in the fall like good ole chili and cornbread, apple dumplings, vegetable soup, baked potato soup, and well, a bunch of other soups.  Chicken tortilla soup is on the docket for next week.  I just love soup.  Don’t you?  I would be okay with eating soup every week.  That with a good loaf of crusty bread for dipping.  Heavenly.

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One last thing.  If you are into essential oils, try blending orange, cedarwood and clove in your diffuser and let fall fill your home.  I did this the other day and it gave all of us the warm fuzzy feels.  This was necessary since the roasted pumpkin seeds smelled and tasted like burnt toast according to Kara.  And, she was right.  They were nasty.  Well, I tried.  The thing with pumpkin seeds is that once you smell them they are already overdone.  Bleh.

Happy Fall, Friends!  I won’t say ya’ll…I just can’t.😉

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Rhythm and Adjustments

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In work and in life there are always adjustments to be made.  We begin with a system that suits the particular needs of whatever we are setting out to do whether that be a project for school or maintaining our yard at home.  When the system works for some time we fall into a comfortable rhythm and everything is easy breezy.  But when the system fails or certain elements change, then adjustments will have to be made if we are to reach our goals.

Motherhood is like this.  We set boundaries, discipline our littles to learn to obey, and develop routines.  As children grow however, parenting becomes a little more complex than that (so I hear, and beginning to understand).  So we make adjustments.  Lately, I am personally recognizing how my own personal philosophy of parenting and educating my children at home is not practiced as much as I would like.  Philosophy is the easy part, practice is a little trickier.  I am making adjustments, and probably will until my kids leave home.

For my family, the adjustments that need to be made are somewhat out of my comfort zone.  I am a first born, type-Aish mama, a formulaic rule follower, who sometimes focuses on the process instead of the little people I am leading.  I love how Charlotte Mason respects children as persons, not as projects to master.  Sometimes educating children feels like a problem to solve, when children are not problems, but born persons made in the image of their Creator with minds and souls ripe for cultivation.  I know this.  I embrace this.  But lately, in my hurried pace to get through lessons, complete weekly agendas, and skill development, I have not allowed enough space in our day for creative play, rest, and time outside.  We do those things, but not as much as we should or as my kids at their age really need.  So, we are making adjustments.  Eventually, we will find our rhythm, but until then we are simply exploring what works until my kids change (and they will), or I change (and I will), or our season of life changes (and seasons always change).

How about you?  Are you in a place of rhythm, or are you finding yourself having to adjust to change?  Maybe it is a new move, new job, a personal loss, a new family dynamic, or something else.  Maybe you are changing an unhealthy habit, a routine, or you are beginning something new.  Change is scary, and stepping out into the unknown makes us feel vulnerable and even awkward at first.  But, if adjustments need to be made and we don’t make them, then we will just keep repeating the same mistakes.  So, taking the plunge into the right change maybe just what we need to find our rhythm again.

There is hope.  As long as we have breath, there is hope.  Being in process means that God is sanctifying us through the rhythms of life- through the struggles, dead ends, sins, and personal victories.  He is not concerned about all of the nuances of work, marriage, parenting, and relationships that we sometimes obsess ourselves over.  He is all about building His Kingdom and making a people who look more and more like Jesus through the rhythms of life.  So, with this in mind, there will always be adjustments to be made.  The good news is that we do not make them alone or in our own strength.  God is there in the awkward…in the failure…in regret.  He meets us there, but He will never leave us there.  The good work He began He will complete.

Busy Hospitality

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“When my laundry is caught up then I will have that cup of coffee with a friend.”  “Maybe we should meet together at the park or somewhere else for lunch because my house is not picked up enough, or is too small for all those kids to play.”  “If I had them over then I would have to do this, that, and the other before they could come over.”  Ever had these thoughts?  I have.  I used to think that everything had to be in order and that I had to have a practically empty calendar in order to extend hospitality to others.  But then I had multiple children, an increasingly busier schedule, and a fixed space in which to do life that I had no choice but to be hospitable anyway.

Hear me out.  I am no Martha Stewart.  Those of you who know me can stop laughing now.🙂  I like to cook, but I am no culinary artist.  I enjoy keeping house and dressing the space with art, furnishings, and style, but I am no interior designer.  I prefer the rooms to be somewhat in order, but I am definitely no “Merry Maid.”  I like laughter, thoughtful conversation, honesty, and a good cup of coffee, and a place where others can feel free to be themselves.  Once I realized that life was not going to slow down, or that I wouldn’t magically become the “hostess with the mostest,” I relaxed and became hospitable anyway.

There were playdates, mom groups, life groups, marriage counseling, friends, neighbors, and an occasional party in a small, untidy, noisy home that breathed, however imperfect, life.

One one occasion we had over thirty people including kids in our bungalow one night for lifegroup.  That was when we all decided that it was time to divide into two groups.  Sometimes hospitality is tricky like that.  I was sure that one new couple that joined us that evening would never darken the doors of our church again after that loud night (did I mention there were kids?- I should qualify this- the kids were all babies and toddlers), but they continued coming and eventually joined our church.

Here’s the point.  Hospitality is not a science.  It is not an event, or a big “to-do.”  Hospitality is simply saying, “My door is open, won’t you come in.”  Sometimes it is a cup of tea and a box of Kleenex.  Sometimes it is a fired-up grill, and a game of football.  Sometimes it is pb and j sandwiches, while other times it is a beef bourguignon by candlelight.  Hospitality is whatever you make it to be as long as you make it to be.

So if you are nervous about hospitality, here are a few small things that you can  incorporate into your life to begin extending hospitality to others.

  1.  Forget perfection.  Even if you try, you will fail.  There will always be someone who is a better cook, has a more beautiful home, or is a better housekeeper.  That isn’t the point, anyway.  When we show hospitality we are loving our neighbor, and last time I checked the good Samaritan didn’t have degree in Home Economics.
  2. Forget free time.  You don’t have free time, you have to make free time.  Hospitality does not have to take an entire day out of your schedule or even half a day.  Sometimes hospitality is hot dogs at the house after tee-ball practice, dessert on a Friday night, or mid-afternoon tea after school.
  3. Forget uninterrupted quiet.  I had to give this one up a long time ago.  Moms, you get this.  Sometimes having a conversation between moms is like playing pinball while drinking an espresso.  “Hold on a sec.”  “Mommy, is talking, don’t interrupt.”  “Mary, will you excuse me while I get Judson’s hand out of the toilet.”  Okay, well that last one happened while it was just me and the kids, but you get the idea.  There will always be interruptions.  Phone calls, needy children, an occasional accident, or breaking up arguments make hospitality challenging at times, but not impossible.  And to become hospitable you must practice hospitality, so why not start now wherever you find yourself- whether you are married with small children or single with no kids?

Lastly, hospitality is not all on you.  If someone offers to bring a dish, let them.  If someone offers to help clean up after dinner, let them.  I have found that people want to contribute and serve as well.  There is a sort of intimate community that is built when people are hospitable one to another.

Everyone is busy, and there is never a perfect time or space for hospitality.  But, hospitality does not have to be the arduous task we sometimes make it out to be.  When we open up our homes, we open up ourselves and allow those who enter to be themselves and leave the cares of the world at the doorstep or perhaps even in our living room as we listen, cry, and pray together.

Let us be a generation with an open door and open hand who extend grace and love as we are not as we think we should be.  Because when we do this, we are not only serving our neighbor, but Christ Himself who says, “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was a stranger and you welcomed me…” (Matthew 25:35).

For the Time Being


There is an insatiable desire to “know.”  Maybe it is because knowledge brings comfort or peace, or maybe even a sense of control.  I am learning…let me emphasize LEARNING…to be okay with not knowing.  I am not philosophizing here.  I am talking about real life.

Planning comes naturally to me, but sometimes implementing the “plan” does not always play out the way I originally hoped.  This used to bother me.  Somehow I got it into my head that if the plan failed then I failed, or if it took me longer to accomplish X,Y, or Z then the time I spent must have been a waste.

What I am discovering is that the planning is part of the processing even if the plan never carries through as intended.  I create lesson plans for my daughters every week.  Sometimes I follow through with those plans to a T (rarely), but lessons much like life are more organic than that.  I planned for us to do our Monday nature study on birds, but yesterday morning was overcast and there was hardly a bird to be found.  So, we looked at some birds in our field guide and drew Northern Cardinals.  When it got sunny again, we took a walk and then had lunch under the hackberry tree.  The day turned out better than I even planned!


James tells us, “we do not know what tomorrow will bring.”  Does this mean that we quit planning?  Nope.  It simply means that we quit assuming.

…quit assuming that everything will go as planned.

…quit assuming that we are the master of our destiny.

…quit assuming that the plan is the purpose.

…quit assuming that we know what the purpose even is.

When we quit assuming we are then set free to rest in our Sovereign God who declares “the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done,” who says, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose…’ (Isaiah 46:10).

Some days are HARD.  There are those days when everything just seems off and we question what we are even doing.  We want answers.  Solutions.  Results.  And if we are honest, we want to see the end to validate the choices we are currently making.  Not everything is black and white, cut and dry.

fullsizerender-20So we pray.  We plan.  We take steps of faith.  We make mistakes.  There are wins and there are losses.  We learn to accept “not knowing” the end from the beginning, but knowing the One who does.  When we are asked, “What are you going to do about such and such or so and so?” we learn to say, “I don’t know about tomorrow, but for the time being…”  And then we let the peace of Christ rule our hearts.  It is what we must do.

I am learning to be okay with not knowing.  I am learning to be okay with not having an answer to questions regarding my children’s education, my career, how I plan to “balance it all,” or where I’ll be in ten to fifteen years.  What I can say is that for the time being this is where I am, learning, growing, struggling, and processing.  I think it is funny how 40 is the new 80 as if turning 40 is when you truly arrive with a wealth of wisdom to extend to the world.  I don’t see it this way.  There is so much more to learn, suffer, and understand.  The plan is not the purpose.  It is just a plan.  The purpose…our purpose will unfold over a lifetime through celebration and through pain, through expectations and through surprises.  We come into this whole thing so confident only to see over time that we had no idea what we were getting into.  And yet there is One who knows.  HE KNOWS!  And His glory is the purpose.  Let that be our aim as well.


Our First Day of Fall

It is the first day of fall, and September has already been a full month in the most delightful of ways.  Birthdays, cherished visits with grandparents, a little getaway, and more cake than is necessary have made for much thanksgiving.  I bought a kitchen mat at Walmart last week for under 5 bucks that says “Give Thanks” because it was cute, cheap, and a needed reminder that there is so much to be thankful for in every season.


Praising God from Whom all blessings flow.

We are in week seven of homeschooling, and for the most part we have gotten off to a great start.  I find that I have to remind myself, though, to not stress over getting through curriculum, but focus on teaching my children.  My thoughts as of late have turned over the principle that children are born persons and so they are to be addressed with respect, not talked down to or excessively preached at.  I am teaching people, not curriculum.  I credit Charlotte Mason for this.  The heart of my home for me is connection.  That whatever happens, however any of us may thrive or fail, preserving the relationship is key.

Today we trekked over to the Nashville Zoo to say hi to some animals.  This goat was either pregnant or had a real hearty lunch.  It’s debatable.  We all got a kick out of her, though.fullsizerender-18

Judson thought the goats were hilarious.


Analise just may be a zookeeper one day.


 Kara loves an ICEE.


I want to add that I am also thankful for the lush foliage at Nashville Zoo.  We were well shaded and our tempers were down to a low roar.  The first meltdown didn’t occur until we exited the zoo into the parking lot.  This, to me, made it a successful day in my book.

We are learning about the continents this year, and I love how the exhibits at the zoo show a map of the regions where the animals live.  The girls would point to an area marked in red on the map and excitedly say where the animals called their home.  We did a scavenger hunt using a printable I found with about 9-12 animals (I forget off the top of my head), and they had to circle the ones we saw at the zoo.  We found most of them, but we did not get to see all of the animals today so we will have to continue the scavenger hunt on another day.  It was a fun way to engage ourselves in the whole experience.

I debated dragging the kids out to the zoo today, but I am now glad that we did.  We were only there for a couple of hours, which was enough time to see what we could see and then get home to let Jud nap and get some more schoolwork and housework done.  It was a good diversion for me as well, and who doesn’t love animals?!

Resting and Relying

Sometimes you have to get away to realize how much you had to get away.  We have been pushing it between moving out of our house in Memphis back in June, relocating to our new home in Gallatin, meeting a lot of amazing people, getting settled in a new church, and starting school without catching a breath.  So, we took Labor Day seriously and turned it into Labor DAYS!  We spent the week with Travis’ family in SC and made a lot of new memories.  The kids got to spend time with their cousins, explore Nana and Poppa’s house and backyard, and take in some new sights like the Sky Top Apple Orchard in NC.

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We come home well into September anticipating birthdays, projects, Autumn, and a happy visit from Mimi and Poppy.  I am learning that the kids need rest as much as their parents, and sometimes stopping in the middle of everything, even as life picks up speed is necessary to keep a clear perspective on goals and on the work itself.  Family grounds us, and reminds us of who we really are- that no matter what goes on “out there,” here at least, at home, we are accepted and loved.  So when we return to the work we are refreshed and strengthened with a renewed sense that we are right where we need to be doing what we are called to do.

Jesus modeled this best for us.  He retreated to a mountaintop to be with the Father alone.  He pulled away from the crowds just to be with His few disciples for closer engagement.  Jesus knew rest and He gives us that same rest, particularly through His finished work on the cross.  So in our labors we work not in vain, but with purpose knowing that we will reap a harvest one day.  And we can rest because the reaping is not up to us anyway, but the relying is.   Rest reminds us that we rely not on our efforts, but on our All-Sufficient and Sovereign God.

After Jesus rested, He returned to the crowds.  So, I return to my small crowd of littles and the work to which I am called.  It is a good thing, and a blessed thing to live life unto the Author of Life.  He truly restores my soul.

How have you made rest a part of your yearly, monthly, weekly, or daily routine?  Are you intentional with your time?  Do you ever feel guilty for taking a break?  I struggled with false guilt over rest, but I have come to learn that rest is obedience.  Even God rested after He created the world.  He has given the Sabbath for rest.  And He tells us to come to Jesus for rest.  Rest is a necessary discipline that not only renews us spiritually, but physically and emotionally as well.  So, my encouragement to you is to fight for rest.  Make it a part of your lifestyle, and put it on your calendar.  You won’t regret it, but you might regret it if you don’t.  Recently, I read that if you don’t plan your life someone else will for you.  I think rest is something that we have to plan into our lives, otherwise our schedule is up for grabs.  Take time to rest- to be with family, to be alone, and to be with God.  Resting is relying.  What does your calendar say you are relying on?  Consider how you can rest even this week and see it as an act of obedience- as an act of worship unto the One who calls you to rest solely in Him.