Meal Planning Monday


I've been absolutely horrible at this meal planning business. And do you know what that has done? Made "what's for dinner" an absolute nightmare. I obviously thrive on structure and planning ahead. So, meal planning Monday is making a return.

Monday - Beer Can Burgers on the grill and Cabbage Steaks

Tuesday - out of town

Wednesday - Breakfast for dinner {bacon, eggs and homemade bread for toast}...my girls have been working overtime and I'm overrun with eggs but I'm not complaining!

Thursday - BBQ Bacon Sushi Rolls and Broccoli with Cheese

Friday - Fried Cabbage with Bacon and Onion

Saturday - out of town

Sunday - Oven Baked Chicken, Smoked Bacon Wrapped French Vidalia Onion and Broccoli Salad



Facing Criticism


Well, thankfully this is a post I haven’t really felt compelled to write until now. As someone once wisely told me "You can be the ripest peach on the tree and someone will come along who hates peaches, and they will be sure to tell everyone just that". Somehow… despite all my efforts to cover bases and state disclaimers…. people will still find a way to be offended.

That’s just the world we live in! The more you grow, the more people you reach, the more likely you are to offend someone. Since I’m the emotional one of my family and always have been, this poses an interesting scenario for me. When I get a pretty harsh blog comment that judges my character, my natural reaction would be to 1. Tell Joe 2. Have a little pity party for myself and then 3. Doubt myself and want to quit.

The last criticism, which was offered in a roundabout way, came from someone close to me. And that, my friends, hurt my heart. It made me second guess every word I typed. I wanted to just give up, and for a while I have done just that.

I share my heart on this blog. Every day I write blog posts to inspire others and make them smile; to share hope, grace and truth; to share my own mistakes and sins; to share my heart; and to share Jesus and His amazing love with others around the world.

I write for Him. I write because He has given me a passion and a heart for marriage. I write for broken hearts. I write because I stumble. I write to help marriages that are hurting as well as help strengthen healthy marriages. I write to help you enjoy and grow in the beautiful covenant that God created. I write to let you know you aren't alone. Ever. I write because I'm not perfect. I write to share that we all have our own story and our own past. I write to share my pain and joy, my struggles and triumphs. I write in hopes that my struggles will help you in your own walk. I write to honor God with my words. I write out of love. I write because He nudges my heart. I write because He is still working on me. I write because He knows my heart. I write because He has a plan for my life. I write because He has called me to write. I write to give God the glory, not gain attention for myself. I write because life isn't easy, not because I want to be a victim. I write to share love, not anger. I write to heal, not cause conflict. I write to share harmony, not criticism. I write to speak truth that is sometimes hard to hear. I write because I believe. I write simply out of my absolute love for Him.

I absolutely want my blog to be a happy, positive place. A place where you know, even on your worst day, you can leave it with a smile on your face and feel refreshed. A place where the heart of Jesus shines through.

But...

I will not let the world, and critics - even one that proclaims to be Christian - dictate who I should and must be. There is only one source of truth to define what a Christian woman is. That truth is in God’s Word.

In His Word, Christ dictates my identity. He reveals my need. He teaches me patience and dependence and submission. I’m waiting for Him to reveal His will in His time and in His way.

I may not be your typical Christian woman, but I know who I am. I am the loudest one at nearly any table. I loudly laugh like a fool. That laugh will happen at inappropriate times. My hair is huge. I love to wear quirky t-shirts. I think I'm super funny. I speak fluent sarcasm. I wear bright lipstick. And I can be rude on occasion. But I am a Bible-believing, Christ-following Christian woman. And I refuse to accept anything less than His Word and His best in my life.


{Semi} Wordless Wednesday




Hello. Goodbye.


Hello March, goodbye February
Hello first little hints of spring {I hope}, goodbye winter
Hello walking everywhere I go, I've missed you so


Hello new Younique products that I'm dying to get my hands on!
Hello daylight savings, goodbye early sunsets
Hello spring cleaning, goodbye clutter


Hello clean car, goodbye salt covered car
Hello girls weekend, goodbye boys
What are YOU saying hello and goodbye to?

{Semi} Wordless Wednesday




Soaking in These Moments


This morning I stood at my office window and watched the first glimpses of sunlight.  I watched as the sun peeked up over the trees and kissed the sky.  I can't remember the last time I did that, yet it is a daily ritual for the sun.

As I stood there savoring the first glimmers of sunlight, I asked myself: what have I been stopping to savor in place of moments like these?

And the was clear and came quickly: the wrong things.

Like the cat vomit I stepped in before I had even wiped the sleep from my eyes or how easy it feels for people to walk out of my life.

Savoring. Soaking in. Replaying those moments. Not because they are good, but because they caused me pain and I rather enjoy feeling sorry for myself.

If there is one thing I'm good at, it's holding a grudge. Actually, I might even be considered a professional grudge holder.  If I don't have time to think over the bad right then, I'll tuck it in my pocket to pull out later.  

Good things happen every day along with the bad. And with a simple refocus, it's up to me what I choose to soak in. Enjoying the good moments make the bad a little more bearable.

These tiny treasures of moments aren’t loud. They aren't obnoxious. Maybe that’s why it's so easy to miss them. They speak softly and get crowded out in the mad jumble of a hurried life.

Today. Today I'm taking the time to savor and soak in these priceless moments. Holding them softly in my hands like precious gifts.

  • The sweet phone call from my 19-year-old, excited to tell me he bought me a canning pot at a great price.
  • The excitement on my 17-year-olds face, covered with special effects makeup, asking me to take a photo of it.
  • Walking out my door and being greeted by 42 happy, hoping-for-a-yummy-treat chickens.
  • My daughter throwing her hands around my waist for a Mama hug in the kitchen.
  • Holding my husbands hand as we walk down from the chicken coops after feeding.
  • The morning phone chat with my Mama. And our across-the-yard chats in the summer.
  • Cooking my husbands favorite childhood meal, and sitting around the table as a family to enjoy it.
  • The always-happy-to-see-me greeting from my two sweet dogs.
  • Tickle wars in the living room.
  • My husbands gracious spirit and always, always being willing to run to the store for me.
  • Hearing my Dads backhoe or truck running from across the yard.

I'm not naive enough to think these moments will last forever.  And today, I'm soaking every one of those moments in.

These are the things I need to fill my mind with. These moments are tiny treasures that serve as a reminder that this too shall pass and that, yes, it really is all worth it.

Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise… Then the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:8-9

Relationship Goals


My husband and I have heard, time and time again, that we are other peoples "relationship goals".  And while flattering, it has sparked many conversations between us on not only why but how we got to where we are...and how we could help others as well.  I've made a list of ten things God has taught us throughout the ridiculously blessed, hard years we've been married.

Keep God at the center of your marriage.  This is a lesson we learned the hard way. Marriage is difficult. Actually, difficult is an understatement.  Let's be real here, there are going to be days you hope he chokes on his cereal.  The hardness of marriage is obvious when you see how many couples end in divorce. It's two imperfect people living together, failing daily. The only way to make your marriage truly work is to center it on Christ. You have to rely on God for wisdom, power, love and strength for your marriage.  And forgiveness, for that one time you hoped he would choke.

Allow him to lead without stepping in the way.  This was a hard lesson for this stubborn, independent girl to learn.   Um, hello...I took the words honor and obey out of my marriage vows. I know, not my most stellar moment.  I would tell him I wanted him to lead but then tell him he wasn't doing it right.  Sure as the sun rises and sets, I'd step in and take over.  I wish I could say it was easy to stop, but I'm stubborn.  And it took lots (read this as an abnormal amount) of life lessons from God and probably the hardest heart work He's ever done. 

Never stop trying to improve your marriage.  We've been married for 21 gloriously hard years, and we are still looking for ways to improve.  Keep reading, keep learning, keep improving and don't ever get comfortable and let your guard down.  If one thing doesn't work, try something else.  The best advice I've heard is to run your marriage like a business.  Successful businesses are successful because of the amazing foundation they're built on.  

Don't put your kids first. Hear me out on this one. Don't allow your mothering to take precedence over your marriage. Is being a Mama important? Well, absolutely! Pour your heart into those littles, but don't neglect your man. Oh how many marriages I've saw fail because the kids were made top priority. The kids grow up, move out of the house and the parents look at each other like strangers. You have to nourish your marriage!  As for us, both our kids will be moving out in six months.  We're already planning the things we'll do together!

Let others know he is yours.  I don't mean buy him one of those "I love my wife" shirts and making him wear it every other day.  Although once upon a time I may have bought my husband that exact shirt.  I mean post on his Facebook once in a while, shout out a Tweet to him, take a snap of the two of you watching a movie and just let it be known, he is yours. 

Sex is important. No, it's not everything...but it's one notch below.  God designed sex and marriage to go hand in hand. God intended sex to create a oneness within our marriage. We don't want to feel deprived and neither do our spouses.  I read a book a few years ago that was a sex game changer and I highly recommend it to all married couples.  It was Intimacy Ignited by Dr. Joseph and Linda Dillow and Dr. Peter and Lorraine Pintus.  Also, The Passion Principles by Shannon Ethridge.  

Most fights are over stupid things. Honestly, stupid things that don't really even matter.  I once spent an entire day furious at my husband for buying me the wrong value meal from McDonald's.  I mean, after this long he should know what I like...right?  I could fill this blog post and four others with the absolutely ridiculous, stupid things I've gotten mad over.  When I was younger {okay, and even sometimes now} I always wanted to prove my point and have the last word. Not one of my most endearing qualities. I've learned it's more important to prove your love than your point. And what's the best way to do that?  Not arguing over dumb things.  And eating that burger, even though it has onions on it, and you hate onions, and he should know that. 

Never stop pursuing him. Write him love notes and tuck them in his lunchbox. Send him a racy text (I highly suggest knowing the location of his phone before this one. Remember...on smart phones, said text will pop up on the screen.) Tell him how much you appreciate him. Buy the stinkin' lingerie that he likes on you, even if you feel it's a waste of money. Kiss him and hold his hand, even if you're in a horribly long checkout line at WalMart.  Pursue that mans heart daily.

Don't be disrespectful. Each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband. {Ephesians 5:33} I've read this verse over and over again trying to find a loophole.  There isn't one.  It doesn't say respect your husband only when you feel he deserves it, it doesn't say he has to GIVE respect to GET respect and it's certainly not up to us to deem when he is worthy of it. God was pretty clear with this verse, the wife MUST respect her husband.

Have fun together! One thing I can say about my husband and I is we know how to have fun {and laugh ridiculous amounts} doing anything!  Some of it may be at inappropriate times and places but at least we're laughing.  You need to make sure you have fun together too! Fun is a key ingredient to a successful friendship. No one wants to spend time with a Debbie Downer (or someone that gets super mad over onions on their burger). Laugh. And laugh. And laugh some more.

Praying With Him


First, a confession.

I struggled with praying.

For some reason, I grew up thinking praying for everyone else was what God wanted but praying for myself was selfish.  For years, I took the petitions of others to God but never my own.  I would gladly pray for everyone else but when it came to me, I just couldn't do it.  I wish I knew where this thought process came from or what moment in time formed it.  And more than anything I wish I had changed it sooner.

I struggled with this on and off, until I read a comment that changed my prayer life forever.
If we want to pray for others in powerful and effective ways…if we want God to work in and through us for His glory…we must first pray for ourselves. 
Thankfully, with Gods grace, my prayer life has changed.

Then He decided to stretch me again.

Another confession.

I cannot pray out loud with other people without crying.

Remember me, the ultimate crier?  Praying out loud is just one more thing to add to my makes me cry list.

Years ago, a special prayer meeting was held at our church specifically for our Pastor.  We prayed all together then eventually broke off into groups to pray.  As soon as others started praying, I could feel the tears welling.  And then it was my turn.  With a lump in my throat I tried to talk.  The words just wouldn't come out.  At this point I was close to sobbing.  Bless their hearts, they were patient with me.  I was a complete mess.  A sobbing, snotty mess.

And then God started nudging my heart to pray with my husband.

One thing I had always loved was slipping my hand into my husbands when the Pastor prays before the sermon.  It just felt special, intimate and right.  I knew I had to obey, I knew I would feel all those things and more, but I also had no desire to be a mess every time.

And let's be real here.  Praying as a couple can be challenging. Many of us aren’t comfortable praying out loud, and so we’re not sure how to bring prayer into our marriage.

Just as being intimate reminds you of your oneness, so does praying together. When you pray as a couple, you are communicating with God and each other. You can learn so much about one another by sharing prayer requests and listening to each other pray.

All marriages, mine included, have problems.  We are two imperfect people that daily fail each other.  My husband, bless his heart, he's married to a strong-willed quick-tempered girl with a big mouth.  But thankfully when we add the presence of a perfect God, we have unlimited possibilities for drawing closer to what God intended for marriage. The more you pray together, the more you will see God do great things!

Praying together helps remind us that there are three of you in this marriage (you, your husband, and God), and God wants to be a part of it with you.

Here are a few tips to get started.  And believe me, I'll be reading this list over and over to help us.  

Be honest.  Talk about it beforehand and be honest about your feelings about praying together.  I think being nervous and intimidated is normal, at least I think it is.  My goal was to pray with my husband without being a sobbing, snotty mess.

Pick a time and commit.  You'll never get started praying together on a regular basis if you don't make this definite commitment to a specific, agreed-upon time.

Decide who will do what. Know ahead of time who is praying first, where you are praying at and how long you will pray for. 

Be comfortable.  If neither of you are comfortable praying out loud, start by just holding hands and praying to yourself.  And set a time limit for how long you will pray.

Prayer doesn't have to be out loud to be real and heard by God.  You can pray together silently, you can write your prayer down and read it when you're together or pray while you talk.  

Praying doesn’t have to be a long, drawn out thing. Sometimes “sentence prayers” are more effective.  When people feel awkward or nervous, understanding that it doesn’t have to be a big prayer can take the pressure off. So you could just use a few sentences to start, and go back and forth. Even if it’s just a minute or two together, it's a start!

I’d love to hear from you about your prayer life as a couple. What works and what doesn’t?


The Lord's Prayer {Book Review}


The Lord's Prayer
Words of Hope and Happiness
By Rick Warren

About the book:
This iconic prayer is paired with flowing illustrations by award-winning artist Richard Jesse Watson and thoughtful insights by bestselling author Rick Warren, resulting in a book that rejuvenates the familiar prayer for a younger audience. Using poetic scripture from the King James Version, The Lord’s Prayer: Words of Hope and Happiness helps familiarize children with real biblical text while also presenting contemporary illustrations and insightful words that make this beautiful prayer come alive.
I'm always so, so excited to take new books into my Sunday School class.  The little ones get so excited when I pull a new book out of my bag!

I absolutely loved this book, and so did they!  On one page, there is a verse from the Lord’s Prayer featured. On the next page, a child friendly description of what that verse means.  It was a great way to break down The Lord's Prayer and explain it to them in a way they would understand.

The illustrations are fabulous.  Richard Jesse Watson illustrated the book and let me tell you, they are beautiful. They made more relatable to kids.  The little guys loved looking at the pictures and pointing out something new they saw in each one.

This book is definitely one I would recommend.  It would be a great asset in teaching little ones to pray!  And would be a fabulous addition to any classroom.

This book was provided to me free of charge by Book Look in return for my honest review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

{Semi} Wordless Wednesday


Daily Love


I am no stranger to storybook romance. Marrying at twenty to the sweetest man, I am blessed to be familiar with this form of love - love as a falling and a pursuit and a passion. We were introduced for the first time on a cold February evening, bundled up as we stood outside while snow gently fell around us. We stood there with our cherry-red noses, enamored with each other.

One month later we were engaged. We were married three months after that, with vows breathed in the little country church I was born into.

We both entered marriage in love with being in love. I adored the romance, comfort and support a spouse offered. I loved waking up beside him each morning and laying down beside him each night. I loved that he was my best friend and knew me better than anyone. We had our own unwritten language and could share a look or a word that no one else would understand but WE knew what it meant. I loved how he could make me laugh more than anyone else. 

Throughout the years, I've collected every card and love letter my husband has written me. I have them all safely tucked away but on occasion will pull an old one out and pour over the words. It's in that moment, between the lines, I can see this love of ours has, without a doubt, changed over time.

It isn’t because it's any less. It isn't because we're walking through a valley. It isn't because the laundry is piled sky high. It is something different.

Throughout the past twenty-one years we've made a conscious choice to daily say that we still do, even now, especially now.

He has continued to choose me, even on days I wear sweat pants and a messy bun. He has continued to choose me, throughout every sickness and surgery. He has continued to choose me, even when I'm undeserving.

And I've chosen him.  This is daily love.

Daily love is strung together choices. The feelings, undoubtedly, will rise and fall. Being in love with love will fade as the toughness of life becomes a reality. But marriage is not meant to be a lifetime commitment to fairy tale love alone. Marriage is designed to be a repetitive I do, a daily commitment of choosing us over me.

Marriage was designed specifically by God to mirror the relationship between Christ and His church. In marriage, we are acting out a living parable to help our children and others around us grasp what God is like in a more concrete way.

Over the years God has softened and shaped my heart. He has shown me that I need to love my husband without unreal, fairy tale expectations. He has shown me that marriage means intentionally looking for love. It's in those moments, when I pause and reflect, I am flooded with displays of love right in front of me:

  • It’s in the endless miles he's driven me to appointments.
  • It’s in the washing, drying and folding of laundry he does.
  • It’s in the hug and kiss I get when he walks in the door.
  • It’s in the time we spend together, from grocery shopping to shooting guns.
  • It’s in his understanding when somehow 8 backyard chickens suddenly become 43.
  • It’s in his support of all my crazy ideas.

In these ways and thousands of others, he shows me, he tells me, he loves me.

I am so thankful our love story has so many chapters left to be written in it. As your love story is written by the ultimate Author of love, you might just be surprised at the romance you find. And just how much your husband does, in fact, resemble prince charming. No matter what the situation, or what mess it may hold, he's still my hero and I’m still his girl.

Twenty-One Years Ago

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Twenty-one years ago today, my life changed. I can still remember getting ready...teasing my hair, putting on my jeans and flannel and lacing up my boots.  I hopped in my Chevy Celebrity and off I went. Little did I know what that night would hold. I was about to meet the one I had been praying for since I was a little girl.  I was about to meet the heart God had been preparing for mine.

I wasn't quite sure what to think of this long haired guy covered with tattoos. He was basically the exact opposite of anyone I had dated prior. Which made my heart quietly sigh a hallelujah! He was funny, oh so funny. We would laugh for hours at absolutely nothing. He was a little wild, which my Mama didn't quite care for. But most of all, he was so sincerely nice and he treated me with respect. What an absolute breath of fresh air that was.

Our paths had crossed numerous times before that night. I can still remember the first moment that I saw his face...staring at me...from behind the pizza counter. And I turned to my friend and said "what in the world is this guy staring at". I then promptly gave him a sassy look, rolled my eyes, spun around, flipped my hair and left. Time after time, we ran into each other.

Until finally, I quit looking past him and looked directly into his eyes.

He stole my heart and our life journey began.

That first night we went to Pizza Hut and hung out with friends. I remember it like it was yesterday, from the butterflies in my stomach to laughing non-stop all evening. And from that day on we spent as much time together as we could. One month later we were engaged and four months later we were married ♥

Our life journey has been full of ups and downs, laughter and tears, death and triumph, sickness and health.  But throughout it all, there isn't a single other person I'd rather walk beside through this crazy life.