Friday, February 28, 2014

Five on Friday - Links I Love, Hail Mary

Hail Mary pass or Hail Mary route is a very long forward pass in American football, made in desperation with only a small chance of success, especially at or near the end of a half. - Wikipedia

Last night I threw a Hail Mary pass of sorts.
I was close to the end of my rope, but there was no time for such tomfoolery. There is too much to be done and no way to slough off any of it.
So I asked for prayers on FB and Instagram. Even though I don't deserve them.
 Because it's my own damn fault that I am worn out and overextended. 
But you know what happened?
People heard my pleas.
And they showed up and you showed up.
And this morning I felt a tiny ray of hope shinning through.
A tiny ray of hope that I can make it through the next ten days without a full body collapse.
Without losing my mind or running away.
A ray of hope that your prayers and God's mercy will carry me through even though I should be horse whipped for letting things get this bad.

The them that has risen this week from my links is all Hail Marys.
All about desperation with a fierce dose of hope.

Out of words?
Just use one of these.
They work for so many occasions.
And will bring a smile to your face.
And there is nothing more Hail Mary than Holly and Cat in the rain.

50 Quotes From Breakfast At Tiffany’s, In Order Of Awesomeness

“Thursday? Oh no, it can’t be!  It’s too gruesome.”

“…Do you think she’s talented, deeply and importantly talented?”
“…No. Amusingly and superficially talented, yes. But deeply and importantly, no.

(photo from Bob Shaw)

This is it. This is beautiful and magical and made me cry. In a good way.
We need more of this sort of lightness.
More of this sort of laughter.
Just think what the author - and us - would have missed if he had not risked.

The skier, who had no idea that the 14th incarnation of the Bodhisattva of Compassion was crying out to save his life, made a crisp little check as he approached the pylon, altering his line of descent, and continued expertly down the hill.
With an expostulation of wonder, the Dalai Lama sat back and clasped his hands together. “You see? Ah! Ah! This skiing is wonderful sport!”

I am an addict of Rehab Addict.
I want to be Nicole Curtis when I grow up.
I love that she brings great style, hard work, a passion for saving old homes, and amazing strength to her show. It's part This Old House part Design Inc part Linda Hamilton from Terminator 2.
IT's all awesome sauce.
Every house she tackles is a Hail Mary project.

When Jesus spoke of “walking the second mile,” he was referring to an oppressive Roman law that allowed a traveling Roman solider to demand that a stranger carry his pack for up to one mile.  No doubt some of Jesus’ first listeners had been forced to do just that, to drop their farming equipment, fishing nets, or carpentry tools and carry a heavy pack, losing hours of work in the process. The law allowed the soldier to demand from them a mile, no more. Jesus told his followers to walk two. 
Rachel pretty much lays it all out in her beautiful way.
I have had pie with the gal.
She is the real deal and her heart is wide and deep.
Love her mix of scholarly grace.
And her willingness to throw this pass, despite the huge risk that it will be dismissed and discounted.

And so my message to you is never: be better. I kind of wish we’d stop obsessing about improving ourselves all the time. I’m simply suggesting that maybe you can show up for life as you are. Maybe you don’t need to wait till you have it “all together” to follow your dreams and serve other people. I’m worried that if you wait ‘till you or your people are less messy to start showing up –  you’ll never show up. Because life never, ever stops being messy. It’s messy the whole way through. And so I think we gotta show up in the middle of the mess.  

I love, love, loved this series.
And not just because it featured some of my best girls - Shauna, Sarah, Jamie - sharing their deepest fears - raw and and honest and tender.
But because it was really real. With no perfect, tidy bow to tie up all the loose ends and feelings.
Each post included a picture of the writers with no make-up, no soft lighting, no hair-dos.
Just the real-deal mess
An each one is it's own sort of Hail Mary.
Which is exactly what I am bringing to the table today.
Lots of mess. One big fat Hail Mary.

Because I am sacred scared as well.
Sacred that I am not doing it right.
Any of it. Blogging. Mothering. Wife-ing. Writing. Friending. Homemaking. Career-ing.
Deep down, I often feel like a little girl lost in a grown-up world.
I don't get the jokes.
I don't choose the right outfits.
I don't know the rules.
I feel too awkward to ever be accepted or successful.
I am sure I will never fit in.
During the darkest moments there is the little voice that whispers that I should be MORE. Smarter. Quicker. Tougher. Thinner. Funnier. More cleaver. More business savvy. More relaxed. More able bodied.
That I should know how to navigate this world better. 
That there is no excuse for not knowing how. For not doing it all better.


Do you have a Hail Mary that you need to throw out into the universe?
A prayer you need to have prayed?
A risk you need to take?
A sacred scared you need to share?

I hope this weekend you find a safe place and the courage to throw your Hail Mary out there.
That you can show up no matter how messy things are.
And that you find buckets of grace waiting for you.

Much love.


Sunday, February 23, 2014

Sunday's Song - Salt and Light, Generously and Graciously

38-42 “Here’s another old saying that deserves a second look: ‘Eye for eye, tooth for tooth.’ Is that going to get us anywhere? Here’s what I propose: ‘Don’t hit back at all.’ If someone strikes you, stand there and take it. If someone drags you into court and sues for the shirt off your back, giftwrap your best coat and make a present of it. And if someone takes unfair advantage of you, use the occasion to practice the servant life. No more tit-for-tat stuff. Live generously.
43-47 “You’re familiar with the old written law, ‘Love your friend,’ and its unwritten companion, ‘Hate your enemy.’ I’m challenging that. I’m telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer, for then you are working out of your true selves, your God-created selves. This is what God does. He gives his best—the sun to warm and the rain to nourish—to everyone, regardless: the good and bad, the nice and nasty. If all you do is love the lovable, do you expect a bonus? Anybody can do that. If you simply say hello to those who greet you, do you expect a medal? Any run-of-the-mill sinner does that.
48 “In a word, what I’m saying is, Grow up. You’re kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you.”

Matthew 5:38-48

Friday, February 21, 2014

Five on Friday - Links I love, True Colors

I know I have been absent this week.
 I have started a few post and abandoned them, unable to string more than a sentence or two along.'m still alive.
Work and extra work and serving and family things have filled my week.
I may have bitten off a little more than I can chew.
Or maybe more than I can juggle has been thrown at me.
Sometimes the lines are blurry between choosing and obligation.

Tell me you get this.
I think you do.

So  here we are again, together on a Friday.

The themes for these Five on Friday post seem to rise up out of the links themselves. I put up the post and then before long a common thread becomes evident.

Today's thread seems to be about showing parts of my true colors - things about who I am and where I am on my journey.

I adore this house.
Mostly the walls.
The walls are killing me.
I am in love. 
For the record I have love these sorts of walls long before planking was a thing and I will love them long after.
I am looking for space.
It's surprising
And I have to confess that we have the farm bug again.
Ironically my Lenten reflection this year is going to be on Stillness and Waiting.

The Problem With Little White Girls (and boys.)

Our mission while at the orphanage was to build a library. Turns out that we, a group of highly educated private boarding school students were so bad at the most basic construction work that each night the men had to take down the structurally unsound bricks we had laid and rebuild the structure so that, when we woke up in the morning, we would be unaware of our failure.

I am an educated, upper-ish middle class, life-long evangelical turned liturgical hybrid Christian,  white girl. 
My skills and experience do not qualify me for everything, no matter how big my heart or good my intentions.
Let's be honest about that.
Let me also be honest and say that the term "making disciples" turns my stomach.
It smacks of something in between the Industrial Revolution and Stepford Wives.
As if the job of all Christians is to produce forty more just like them.
A pyramid scheme on steroids.
It's a church term that leaves a bad taste in my mouth.
And don't even get me started on the terms "winning souls."
As if missions and evangelism are games of ski ball and we are all set on winning tickets to turn in for prizes, for bigger diamonds in a our crowns and such.

Of course there is a caveat to all of this.
I was raised on Week Long Church Revivals and I share a healthy bit of DNA with several evangelist.
My best friends are missionaries or missionary kids or married to missionary kids.
We support people all over the world who are trying to bring relief to hurting places.

I don't mean to sound harsh.
I just want to make sure we are having conversations.
That our help is actually helpful.
That people are not seen as numbers.
That souls are not seen as goals.

What the Hell Just Happened In Kansas? 

As for the allegedly Christian nature of this legislation, let’s not mince words. This is the inversion of Christianity....The idea that Christianity approves of segregating any group is anathema to what Jesus actually preached and the way he actually lived. 

My Grandaddy is famous for saying "I may be wrong but I am not confused."

That is where I stand.
I am not confused.
I suppose I could be wrong.
But I believe, outloud, that hate and discrimination and fear and intolerance and bigotry are not of Christ.
They are not acts of Loving My Neighbor.

I love love series from Whitney Loibner
love this series so much. My personal favs are Days 5, 7, 8, and 13. Well, really I love them all. But if I HAD to pick...

You see I am a romantic. I really am. It is something I used to feel the need to apologize for, but no longer.
I love love.
I love love that fights for itself.
That works hard and gets dirty and is honest.
I also love love that is joyfilled, that delights, that is fully of belly laughter.
I love love that is quiet, and steady and rooted in humility.

Whitney did a wonderful job of showing off all of these aspects of love and so much more in this series.

My father is a poet... Did you know it?

Shortly after Christmas my siblings and I received this email from our father, that explains a bit about why I am the daughter of a writer.

Children, you are all now old enough -- or, rather I am now old enough-- for this side of me to be more fully revealed unto you, and (I fancy) for you to enjoy my writing or at least have an OMG moment.  Being a RETIRED minister also is a factor, lol 
 I THINK you all know that I was chosen Arkansas's first "Poet of the Future" in 1969 when a senior in high school, by the late Rosa Zagnoni Maranoni, Arkansas's first official Poet Laureate. 
Finally, for what it's worth, I am NOT asking your mother's permission to share this with you. 
I love each of you dearly! 
Love, Dad
The email included an attached collection of poetry that he wrote during his Air Force years, 1971-1974, while he took a creative writing course at Solano Community College in Suisin, CA while stationed at Travis AFB in Fairfield, 1970-73. 
Unbeknown to all of us, Daddy  self-published this work, Moving Through the Darkness, on Kindle in 2008, where it remains for sale on Amazon to this day. Go buy a copy!

Here is one of my favorites from the collection
Winter Burial
Last night the house burned quickly,

a private death
shared only by trees that gathered to warm their hands.
This morning
enormous crowds wait behind fences while
the trees bury their dead.
Seven mounds of frost.
J. Jackson
Today, I hope you'll breathe in hopefulness and joy in your parenting. Let go of fear and anxiousness and simply enjoy that adolescent. Laugh at a fart joke. Try a new hairstyle with your daughter. Drive through Sonic for a 1/2 price slush.
I am a mom of (quickly growing) older kids. I am blessed that I am not lonely, that I have a community that rallies together around our shared experience. But it is still hard. The lines of our public lives are different for each of us based on who are kids are and who we are. Our stories are interwoven. Some I will tell. Some I will keep.

So there you have friends. A little bit about who I am and where I am at, and plenty of links to keep you busy reading for the weekend.

Sweet Man and I are running away with friends for some much needed R & R tonight and I cannot get packed and out of here fast enough.

(I love you Mom and Jemimah! Thanks for holding down the fort!)

Have a lovely weekend dear friends

Friday, February 14, 2014

Five on Friday - Links I love

As you know this has been a rough week.
So for this weeks Five on Friday I am keeping things light and encouraging around here.

44 Stock Photos That Hope To Change The Way We Look At Women

I love, love, love, this movement and these images.
Mostly because I either know these women or I want to know them. Which I think is the point.

I am a crazy fan of British television. I burn up the Hulu, Netflix, PBS and Amazon Prime watching all the British television shows (particularly period and mystery genres) I can.
Something about British accents is soothing to me.
So this list of real-life British actor couples was such a fun find.

The Last American Man, the original 1998 GQ article by Elizabeth Gilbert about Eustace Conway, which led to the book.
Sweet Man found this article and printed it out for us to read aloud together and delight in the inspiration that is Eustace Conway.

Go grab this download my pal Christa Wells' album Feed Your Soul. Love this record. Particularly the track More Than I Am (featuring Carolina Story.)

And then I stopped talking to my husband from Laura Tremaine (aka Hollywood Housewife) 
Such a realistic and tender look at how easy it is to co-exist inside a happy marriage, growing apart even in good times.


Have a great weekend!

Thanks for all your sweet and encouraging messages regarding our situation with K, it has meant the world to know we are surrounded by all your love and prayers.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Go Home

"In Luke's gospel, there comes a point when he turns around and says to the large crowd of those trailing after him, "Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and even life itself, cannot be my disciple" (14:26). Make of that what you will, but I think it was his way of telling them to go home. He did not need people to go to Jerusalem to die with him. He needed people to go back where they came from and live the kinds of lives that he had risked his own life to show them: lives of resisting the powers of death, of standing up for the little and the least, of turning cheeks and washing feet, of praying for enemies and loving the unlovable." 
— Barbara Brown Taylor (Leaving Church: A Memoir of Faith)

The past ten days have been filled with heartache. 

We are learning how to put one foot in front of the other, as we turn around and walk back home. As four again. No longer five-sometimes.

We are going home.

 To live as Christ.

Where we will continue to stand up for the little and the least.
Turning cheek, after cheek, after cheek, again and again,
Even when the stinging and the tears seem as if they will never stop.

We are praying for our enemies through chapped lips and dry tongues.
We are praying to love the unlovable.
We are praying for the one caught in the fray.

Because there is no other option.
This is all we have left.
These burning cheeks.
These hot tears.
These hoarse prayers.

As of right now, though not by our choice,  K is no longer living with us.

And our hearts, (and her heart if I were to venture,) are broken.


When the boys were little Sweet Man and I developed this saying.

"There's no good way to leave the playground."

This phrase is invoked whenever we choose to engage in a worthwhile endeavour that we know runs the  risk of ending in some sort of meltdown, some sort of fit, or crisis, or disappointment.

It's like taking a toddler to the playground. And then making that toddler leave the playground.

It doesn't matter how much fun the toddler has had, or how tired the toddler is. There is never a good way to leave.
Someone - be it parent or toddler -is always going to cry.

We knew our situation together was temporary. That it was a tightrope we were walking.
It was always just a matter of time.
Before the meltdown came. 

We always knew that there was never going to be a good way to leave the playground.
But it still hurts like hell.

So here we are.
Back home.
Resisting the powers of death.
Praying for grace and mercy. 

much love my friends.

Sunday, February 09, 2014

Sunday's Song - Do This

“This is the kind of fast day I’m after:
    to break the chains of injustice,
    get rid of exploitation in the workplace,
    free the oppressed,
    cancel debts.

What I’m interested in seeing you do is:
    sharing your food with the hungry,
    inviting the homeless poor into your homes,
    putting clothes on the shivering ill-clad,
    being available to your own families.

Do this and the lights will turn on,
    and your lives will turn around at once.
Your righteousness will pave your way.
    The God of glory will secure your passage.
Then when you pray, God will answer.
    You’ll call out for help and I’ll say, ‘Here I am.’
Isaiah 58: 6-9

Friday, February 07, 2014

Five on Friday - Links I love (oh, the randomness that is me)

Okay people, I may be over winter.
Even though I love it. Even though I crave it's arrival each and every December. 
Even though I complain that everyone is always trying to rush into spring, the way you they try and force bulbs.
The fact is that I like a long winters nap, all curled up at home, in bed. 
During the week I go to work, I come home, I eat something steamy and comforting and I crawl into bed where I create a little nest of books, snacks, remotes, and devices.
And mostly I like this about winter. It is a nice reprieve from the busy of Christmas and a sort of preparation for the coming spring with all it's cheerful endeavours.

But right now there are some things that I need to get done.
And the freezing temps are not helping me accomplish my agenda.
And there it is.
The truth.
Me and my agendas. We get into trouble every single time.

They are predicting wild winter weather at some point over the next few days. 

I am going to try and breathe deep and release all my agendas.
Release all my anxiety and fear and worry into the wind.
Breathing in mercy, and grace, and the gift of stillness.

And if that doesn't work I will have Sweet Man track me down some Xanax.

In the meantime, here are a few links that are bringing some calm to me today:

I love the contrast of the torn burlap and the glittery heart

"I am filled with the kind of Grace that restores broken things, and being super broken means I'm super filled. Try not to be jealous. Grace is the glue that holds this hot mess together. "

 Encouragement to Linger from Ashley (I covet her sister's chalkboard artistry!)

Jason Isbell - Southeastern
Especially my favorites -
 Songs She Sang in the Shower
and New South Wales 
Which features my favorite line, "God bless the busted boat that brings us back." 

Amen and amen.

Cheese Blitzes from Smitten Kitchen.
If we get snowed in for real, these are happening people. These are happening. They may happen regardless.

On the chance that I don't make it back here before Monday, have a lovely weekend friends!

(PS- Have you reviewed A Homemade Year on Amazon yet?  I would really appreciate it! Thanks friends!)

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Winner, Winners, Blogger's Dinner

 Ok, so today I am going to explain a little bit about my online life.

But first this - winners!

Things have been so busy around here that I had completely forgotten to announce all the winners from the recent book giveaways.

So here they are at long lost!

Laurel - Spirit Led Parenting

Ywilken - Everyday Justice

Mammamisia - A Homemade Year

Sarah Osburn - Pastrix (Donated by

Jessica Paulsen - Jesus Feminist  

Leslie Bailey - Evangelist of the Future

Thanks again to everyone who entered and to the folks at The Thoughtful Christian for donating books for this project. I noticed that much of their stock even beats Amazon prices!

Winners -please email me your addresses so we can get the books shipped to you! You can email me at ahomemadeyear (at) gmail dot com.


Okay, back to the task at hand.
Explaining myself a little.
If you follow me on Facebook or Twitter or Instagram you will notice that sometimes I write about faith and sometimes I write about family and sometimes I write about crafting, or food. or books, or our traveling, or whatever has gotten stuck up my crawl of late.

But you will also notice from time to time, that I seem to be doing a lot of publicity-esque hashtagging and picture taking of one particular, and sometimes seemingly random, event.  Like last night at the #BloggersinBloom event.

I blame all of this on my Arkansas Women Bloggers group.
A beautiful, motley, hodge-podge, hilarious, warm, and generous group of gals from all over the state of Arkansas, that I have the wonderful pleasure of getting to hang-out with, every few months, for various press junkets.
These gals are bloggers of all kinds - Mommy Bloggers, Fashion Bloggers, Faith Bloggers, Lifestyle Bloggers, Food Bloggers, Health Bloggers ... AWB has it all.
But like a lot of things in Arkansas, even our blogging community - diverse as it is in many ways -has a make-yourself-at-home-pour-yourself-a-glass-of-something-and-take-a-load-off feeling.  

AWB is not a community driven by competition and blog stats and who's who. 
It is a community driven by friendship and encouragement and the sharing of a big-enough-for-us-all road.

And so many of us, no matter what our blog focus, often jump at the chance to attend special blogging events, in large part because we get to see each other. (Also there is often great SWAG at these things. I cannot lie.)

Last night was just one such night.  About twenty AWB gals gathered at a very posh home in Little Rock, to to learn all about the Arkansas Flower and Garden Show that is coming up in just a few weeks.

We learned about the scholarships and grants that AFGS provides.
We learned about tablescapes and caring for indoor plants and how to make votive holders from crystals.
We had a wine tasting, heard local youth symphony members perform, and ate conspicuous amounts of stinky, runny cheeses.
We took hundreds of pictures with our phones and caught up on all the life news we could.
We laughed, tweeted and photo bombed and tried all of the wines.

So if you follow me on Instagram  or Twitter and you wondered why I was suddenly all about the Arkansas Flower and Garden Show, this is why.
They invited me and all my friends over.
And where my friends are, I like to be.
The fact that they fed us great food, poured us great wine, gave us a bag full of goodies, and talked about something I am trying to learn more about - gardening - was just icing on the cupcake.

peace friends,

PS -If you are a blogger and you are not in a supportive blogging community, think about starting one. They are such a gift. 

PSS- Watch my Instagram feed in the next two weeks - I have some SWAG that I am going to giveaway - including tickets to the show!

Monday, February 03, 2014

Monday's Mess - Underneath the Pretty

Sir–A thought to help us through these difficult times: Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle. -Ian MacLaren
"Be kind. You never know what is in someones knapsack." - Amy Hawkins (one of my besties)
"Be kind. You never know what is underneath the pretty." - Jerusalem Greer

This is how my house looked Saturday before our Candlemas party. It was so clean and cozy.Isn't it pretty?

It's good for me to remember how lovely it is.

All too often, all I see are the imperfections. All the ways this house is failing me and I it. 

But on a day like today I am so grateful for this lovely, imperfect, house that has become our home. A patient constant comfort despite all my unkind words about the sideways stove top and single bathroom.

Today was hard y'all. The mess was big and real and at times I thought I might be buried alive under it. And I am not just talking about the laundry.

I am talking about all the mess of human hearts and insecurities and issues of control and scantly filled emotional tool boxes of life.

This mess that comes when you are trying to do what's best and yet, somehow you keep missing the mark, or maybe the mark keeps moving, or maybe the mark was never clear.

Trying to be Jesus hands and feet upon this big, beautiful, broken earth can be brutal. Right now I am flailing around like a kid who hasn't learned how to swim in his life vest.I am drowning and floating all at once.

The lines between my own inadequacies and the complicated circumstances I find myself in, are blurred and fuzzy.I can do better and I can do nothing more and there are no easy answers.

So tonight I am grateful for a dry roof, for a fire, for a hot dinner, for the a place to rest my weary soul. 
For a home to come home to.

I am thankful for family and friends who see past the pretty, and are not overwhelmed by the unfinished, tangled, mess that is underneath. Who circle around me and sing songs of peace and hope and light, when the darkness threatens to fill ever nook and cranny.

For a tribe that believes, that in the end, Love always wins.

peace and blessings friends-
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