Monday, April 28, 2014

The Morning After - Arkansas Tornado

Last night horrible tornadoes ripped through Arkansas devastating communities very close to where we live.

The same communities that we have been house hunting in.

Watching image after image, constantly refreshing my Twitter feed (Central Arkansas has a tight Twitter community,) listening to the sheriffs voice crack on the news as he told of the devastation, I remembered a day very similar to this 17 years ago.

17 years ago my parents home was flattened by a tornado. My mother, father and sister were inside and blessedly survived.  So did my brother who was in a store downtown, where he helped get everyone to a safe place then worked the rest of the day and night to move perishable merchandise across town.

There is nothing that can compare to seeing your home and your neighborhood reduced to rubble. To seeing soldiers stationed on every corner, to standing in a line in the rain for food that you will eat under a tent. To lining up in a school gymnasium to "shop" for clothes, toiletries, flatware, tupperware. Having to replace almost everything you need. From toenail clippers to sofas to a bowl for the dogs food.
 It is surreal.

This time the storm passed by us this time, but we know people who were not so fortunate. 
A family from our former church has lost every single thing except their lives.
A friends house barely missed, when the ones to the right were destroyed.
Homes and lives taken in a blink.

Please pray for all those affected by last nights storms. 
Their pain will be large and small, it will be communal and personal, it will be physical and spiritual. And it will take a long time to heal - long after the cameras and bulldozers have rolled out of town.

And if you can, please give.
Give to the Red Cross, who ALWAYS shows up to help.
Give to local organizations like The One Inc or local church efforts because they are on the front lines and will remain there for weeks.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

When It is More Than Just a Big Box Bathroom Upgrade

Some of you may remember when Sweet Man and I tried to sell our house several years ago.
You might remember all the trauma and drama that I went through trying to shove our square -peg house into a round-hole marketplace.
You might remember my mopey post.
You might remember my half-hearted attempt to update* our bath and kitchen.
(*And by "update" I mean painting. Ahem.)
Or maybe you are new here and you missed that whole saga (lucky you perhaps?)
That season of my life and the one following quickly on it's heels (the season of The Broken Foot,) were dreadful.
And worth it.

Dreadful because my heart broke.
Dreadful because I behaved like a spoiled brat not getting her way.
Dreadful because I kicked and screamed so hard that I eventually broke my foot in three places.
(Here is where my cousin Matt is rolling his eyes. Enough with the damn foot he is thinking. But unlike Matt, breaking bones  is NOT my normal. So I will continue to wax on about it if I please.) 

But it was also worth it.
Because I learned a lot.  
Because I got still and I listened.
Because I grew a few more inches towards the light. 
Towards grace and mercy and responding to all things through love.

(Inspiration for our "Big Box Bathroom" - as we are buying most everything from big-box stores.)

So this time.
This time I am trying to approach the whole selling of our house from a different place.
A place of gratefulness.
A place of stewardship.
Instead of seeing our house it as something that is blocking me from what I WANT NOW INSTEAD, I see it as something that I am blessed to have at all.
Instead of treating our house as something I cannot wait to be rid of, like a nasty toddler booger off a finger, I am treating it as a precious gift that I have the amazing honor of passing along.

When the day comes that we give over the keys, we will not just be giving over a city lot, four walls, and a roof.
We will also be giving over a home.

And so, like I do with any gift, I am trying to do my best to create a gift worthy of giving.
I am doing my best to care for what I have, to use our resources to improve on this home we have been entrusted with, and to leave it better than how we found it.

This probably sounds like a funny way to get a house ready to sell.
Call me dramatic-romantic-crazy-touchy-feely-lady, I know. It's a little odd.
But honestly this is the only way that makes sense to me anymore.
To see this house as a gift we are passing along, instead of a burden that we are glad to be rid of.

I know that these improvements will make it more sale-friendly.
And of course that is a consideration. A motivation to invest in some improvements.
But upgrading the bathroom and choosing a new roof has become about more than just the resale value for me.
It is also about being a good steward with all that we have been given. 
It's about not doing things half-assed.
It's about leaving something we can be proud of.
Something that was cared for in love.
Instead of slapping lipstick on a pig of a house and trying to pass it off as Audrey Hepburn.

So as I have gone about choosing the new tiles, cabinets, countertops and curtains, I have not just thought about resale value or what I can get cheapest (though you know I am keeping my eyes open for a bargain,)
I am also thinking about what is lovely.
What fits the era of the home.
What looks cheerful and inviting.
What goes well together.
What makes sense.

I am trying to pour as much intentionality and love and care into this house as I possibly can as a response for all the love and care that has been showed to me and my family. 

Yes, fixing up the house, makes good financial sense.
But as it turns out, it also makes good heart sense.

much love-

Monday, April 21, 2014

Life on this Monday: Pinterest Fashion IRL and Stuff


If you follow me on Pinterest you will notice that I don't pin a lot of fashion but I do pin some.
I pin things that are just amazing - clothing that are works of art.
 I pin things that I would love to own,
 and I pin looks that I think I can pull off based on what is in my closet or what I think I can find in my size and budget.

This gray and black combo is just this sort of outfit.

Pardon the bad phone pic - I was really just snapping it to show Jeanetta. In a perfect blogging world I would re-create the entire Pinterest photo, old steps and all, but I do not have that sort of time these days. But I figured you guys wouldn't care that much.

I think real-life version turned out pretty cute, don't you?
 If it is chilly I add a lemon yellow cardigan or my jean jacket - depending on my mood and season.

Skirt: Isaac Mizrahi for Target bought at Savers thrift store (5.99)
T-Shirt: Target clearance (2.67 or something close to it)
Belt: Thrift store (maybe 4.00?)
Shoes: Bobs from Shoe Carnival, on Clearance (6.50)
Necklace: Christmas Gift from my boys


Lent is over, Easter has come, and now it is time to get busy with the business of getting our house ready to put on the market! If you follow me on Instagram you will notice a lot of photo's tagged #sellthishouse2 as I chronicle the whole process.
There is a bathroom and kitchen make-over in the works, as well as a MAJOR de-cluttering.
I am actually giddy packing up the boxes and moving things to the storage unit we have rented for the duration.
It just feels SO good  to be able to move forward after a long season of WAITING.

BUT before we get too much further down the house-selling-moving road,  we still have some celebrating to do for A Homemade Year's Birthday! I will have another GREAT giveaway on Wednesday and then this Saturday we will wrap up the celebrating with an Ice Cream Social Event at the Arkansas Lit Festival!

AND I noticed today that AHY is at it's lowest price in forever on Amazon - so if you were wanting to grab a few copies for Mother's Day or Wedding/Baby Showers this might be the time to buy!


Happy Easter Monday friends!

Friday, April 18, 2014

Good Friday

“To love means loving the unlovable. To forgive means pardoning the unpardonable. Faith means believing the unbelievable. Hope means hoping when everything seems hopeless.” 
― G.K. Chesterton

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Maundy Thursday

Origin of MAUNDY

ME maunde, fr. OF mandé, fr. L mandatum command, order; fr. the words spoken by Jesus to his disciples after washing their feet at the Last Supper,  Let me give you a new command: Love one another. In the same way I loved you, you love one another. This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples—when they see the love you have for each other.” (John 13:34-35 MSG)

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Lotta Love

There is a whole lotta love around these parts today!

First of all I have to give everyone a HUGE shout out for all your love and support after my big announcement yesterday! I pretty much had a goofy smile on so much of the day and it is because of all the love and cheers I got from everyone.

We are all so excited about the new job and the (eventual) move to the country and having this little space to share the news and celebrate is just icing on the cake.
So thank you to everyone who left post and comments and sent text wishing us the best of luck and welcomiing us into our new community (you know who you are :)

So THANK YOU to everyone who made our news that much more special!


Tomorrow I will begin a series of Holy Week post to lead us into Easter, so today I thought I would just take a few minutes to do some housekeeping of sorts.


One of my wishes for this year has been to find a few goodfit contributor spots on other blogs/online magazines where I can stretch myself a bit.  Having regular writing deadlines is hugely helpful and keeps me on my toes, and I enjoy the interaction and community that comes from writing for a different audience. 
The three topics that I want to find goodfit contributor oppurtuniies are:
Something related to living in the South
Something related to celebrating faith 
Something related to living in the messy-beautiful community that is family

The Patheo's Lenten Series, which ends tomorrow, has been a good fit under both, the celebrating faith and the messy-beautiful community catagories. Even though it was a short-run series, it was great to dip my toes into the practice of writing along the lines of one theme for an extended period of time.

Another catagory that I am excited to be taking on is my something about living in the South catagory I am now writing a weekly post for the Taste of Arkansas Blog - called Sunday Hospitality
(This weeks post is all about Hosting a Porch Sit.)
These post are not particularly deep or indepth, but they do allow me to post pretty pictures and plant seeds of hospitatlity (an often under-looked spiritual discipline btw) for readers. 

The Homemade Year Birthday Celebration continues with Cookies and Ice Cream...


If you live local I hope you will come see me on April 26th at the Arkansas Lit Fest! I will be doing a family-friendly program at 4PM that will include yummy sweet treats from Sweet Love Bakes. The event is free for all!

*And if you have not checked out all the Homemade Love in our Linky Party, make sure to do so - I think Jeanetta is even giving away a copy of the book!*

Also, don't forget to snag a copy of A Homemade Year for Easter (you can get it in time for Easter if you order today!) Mother's Day, Wedding and Baby Shower gifts! 

Thank you again everyone for all your love and support.
On Friday this blog will be 8 YEARS OLD.
So grateful to have spent it with each of you!

Monday, April 14, 2014

The Wait is Over

Hello friends!
Well I know things got awfully quiet for awhile. 
That was because I was doing some heavy waiting and it was taking up all my mental, emotional, and physical energy.
Waiting is HARD y'all.
Waiting on life-changing news is especially hard.

But the wait is over.
And I am so excited about all the adventures that are ahead for our little family.
In July I will began work as the Lay Minister to Youth, Children, and Families for a wonderful church one town over.

This job is more than a job. It is a call. It is another piece (a rather large one at that) in the quilt of my vocation. It is an opportunity to live out my gifts in a tangible way.

It is also a new home.

I adore the church family that has called me and I am beyond honored to be able to serve them in this way. I know that the gifts they have for me far exceed the gifts I bring to them and so I am humbled and grateful for this invitation.

Sweet Man and the boys are also excited beyond measure. I honestly wasn't sure that the boys would be for this - as it will require a move in churches and houses - but their excited has been an extra dose of confirmation that this change is the right thing - for all of us.

And Sweet Man.
What can I say about this man?
Our marriage is as imperfect as anyone else's. It is full of bumps and learning curves and stretching - sometimes there is so much learning how to see the world through each other's eyes that it wears me to the nub as any other marriage.
But this man, this man is so supportive of me and my calling, of my career. Whether it is writing or speaking or ministering - he has never asked me to stop or told me that I cannot do it.
He is not threatened or embarrassed by me (except when I am bragging on him) and he never ask that I make myself smaller so that he can appear larger. 
I am so grateful to have such a loving, encouraging, supportive partner, who stands beside me on equal ground, holding my hand as we walk this journey -wherever it takes us- together.

So here we go.
The waiting is over.
Fresh starts are straight ahead.
A new job, a new book, and (eventually) a new home (we do have to sell our current one first..) are on the horizon.
And I could not be more excited.

Happy Monday friends!
I pray that if you are still in the Waiting season that you are filled with peace and amazing heaps of patience as you wait.
And that if you are in the Fresh Start phase that you are filled with joy and surrounded by a host of cheerleaders.

Much Love,

Friday, April 04, 2014

Seamless Faith - A Book for Families and a Giveaway for You

Just as a I am celebrating a year of having my first book in the world, Traci Smith is celebrating her book, Seamless Faith's birth!

A few months ago I got my first look at this great resource for families and I fell in love with this lovely guidebook for families.

The sections of the book are:

Traditions for Every Day  
Ceremonies for Marking Life’s Transitions
Ceremonies for Difficult Times
Traditions for Holidays
The Spiritual Practice of Prayer
Ancient Spiritual Practices
Other Spiritual Practices 

Each section is packed with practical, easy to use, sweetly written, relevant ways to connect families to faith. Traci has taken concepts that can get a little heady and brought them back down to earth with a fresh simplicity that is also touching and helpful.

Personal, I have already marked several ideas from both of the Ceremony chapters for our family, and I know that is just the beginning of how I will use this wonderful resource.

I think this book would be a great Easter, Mother's or Father's Day gift for families who are looking for the first steps into integrating faith into their families daily routines, and I think it would be an excellent Baby Dedication/Baptism Gift for families of any stream of Christian faith.

And to celebrate this books birth and my books birthday I am giving away TWO copies!
Who doesn't love party favors?

To enter just follow the links below!

"Faith is learned as it is woven seamlessly into the fabric of daily life. 
I don’t intend to ever sit down with my children and “teach” them 
about the importance of asking God for healing, but they will grow 
up with that belief as a part of their everyday experience. "

Congrats Traci on the book release! 

PS- Have you linked up with the Hokey Poky Homemade Year Linky Party yet?

Thursday, April 03, 2014

1 Year in the World: A Birthday Celebration

Guess what has had a lovely first year in the world?
A Homemade Year, that's what!


What an amazing blessing this whole journey has been.
Each day I am so grateful for for each and ever one of you who has supported me, encouraged me on this exciting journey.
Knowing that this little book has touched hearts and homes is the best gift of the whole experience.

 I am continually humbled by the sweet words and response that people have to this book.
To be able to do something I love, to put my stories and ideas out into the world, and to have them honored with such loving and kind words never ceases to amaze me.

I can never thank each of you enough for all the encouragement, support, and cheering you have done for me and this little book over the last year!

But A Homemade Year's first birthday isn't just about me  - it's about all of you who are trying to find creative, joy filled ways to celebrate the Story of God in our homes, right where you are!

It is about each and everyone one of you who are honoring the creative spark that God has planted in your hearts,  and it is about how you are using that spark to sow Christ love to those in your homes and communities!

So let's celebrate, shall we?


To celebrate this fun birthday  I have asked several blogging friends to blog over the next month about what A Homemade Year has meant to them - what they love about it, what it has inspired in their hearts or home, or to just share a favorite image, recipe, or quote with readers.

y time I get an email or a comment about what AHY means to one of you I cannot help but tear up.


There are also going to be several fun giveaways during the month long party!
I will be linking  these here on the blog, on the AHY Pinterest page, FB and Twitter each time a post goes live - so STAY TUNED!

How about we do a virtual Hokey Poky Linky? 

If A Homemade Year has meant something to you - if you have enjoyed a recipe, if you have read a sentence that captured an unspoken truth in your heart, if you love a certain image, if you have celebrated one of the holidays in the book, I would love for you to share about it here! 

Tell us, how you are celebrating faith and grace and beauty right where you are - no matter the messes, no matter the imperfections!

Link-up your post, send me pictures of you and your book to my Facebook page, or pin your favorite craft or recipe to the AHY page! 
I can't wait to see what you have been up to!

Again, thank you to each of you for being such great friends and readers!
Thanks for buying my book, giving it away, and sharing it - it means so very much to me!

Love always,

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

A little decorating project

One of the things I had to do during Spring Break was to finish a decorating job for a client from my design days. 
I only come out of retirement for Liz and her lovely log home.
She has been such a loyal client and good friend over the years that I can never say no when she calls, no matter how hard I try.
These a just a few pictures from my iPhone, snapped before I was completely finished, but they give you an idea of how things looked.
Not the best quality, but I am glad to have a small record of it.
It was a lot of fun to see it all come together at long last, and it was a lot of fun to venture back into this part of my past.  It's like exercising a muscle that you forgot you had, and it is comforting to know that I can still pull it off when needed.
 But it was also a lot of work (there was a complete kitchen remodel involved,) and I am glad to be finished with it!
Also I am glad that Liz and her husband are pleased - that is the best part of course.

So there you have it.
A little decorating project.

Much love

PS- Keep watch - there is going to be celebrating happening around here soon as we celebrate a certain books birthday!

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

It was a very good break

Spring Break was really lovely. Really, really wonderful.
I finished some big projects that had been looming.
I mailed things, wrote things, cleaned things.
I had dinner with friends, I did some flea marketing,  I ran away to the mountain, I slept in, I picked flowers, I went fishing, I got sunburned, a few times I even threw out my agenda and followed my bliss - which actually turned out to be quite productive. 
I practiced stillness and I practiced listening.
(And learned that I am still a novice at both.)
Mostly I enjoyed the freedom of a week with very few obligations and the space it created to think and pray and just BE.

There are some changes ahead for our little family.
Changes that are good, but still very much undefined.
This is one of the reasons that I have been a little quieter around here.
I am waiting.
Concentrating hard on being patient and trusting God.
Apparently these things take up a lot of room in my heart and brain, because at the end of most days there is very little room left for anything beyond what must be done. 
So thank you for showing up here to this little space, even when I don't have much to say.
I promise it won't last forever :)

Even though I was quieter than normal around last week here I did have a few post other places last week. If you didn't catch them the first time around, here are the links:

much love friends,

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