Change Your Attitude For the Better Right Now! (Plus, a giveaway–scroll for details)

Jan

18

Posted by on Jan 18, 2019 in Life Philosophy, Personal, Uncategorized | 0 comments

Change Your Attitude For the Better Right Now!            (Plus, a giveaway–scroll for details)

I had totally missed it — noticing I ended 2018 similarly to how I began: writing about an attitude of “getting to” do this or that instead of “having to” in both January and December. Maybe once the idea slipped into my psyche, it quietly settled there and began changing my entire outlook from that point forward. I’m a fan and advocate for choosing a Word of the Year, #OneWord that sets a compass point (in contrast to a destination), a trajectory, a direction for life. It’s not a think intended to confine or box you in. On the contrary, it’s liberating. If you can love a word, I loved my entirely-made-up word from last year–OYTO. Sweetly inspired by a tee shirt a friend gave me, OYTO was a fierce battle cry, wrapped opportunity-gifts that begged to be opened. My intention stirred awareness that led to results. Simply put, I saw things differently because I wanted to see things differently, and that affected how I responded. The same is true for being a Get-to Girl. Shifting my attitude from having to do everything — even needing to do anything — gives me a sense of control because I understand I have a choice about my attitude. Necessary chores that could potentially seed resentment, martyrdom, or leave you feeling taken for granted suddenly become opportunities to serve your family. Irritations that stem from people being so human and imperfect are a catalyst for you to remember everyone is fighting a battle, and this is your chance be kind, to live the gospel by your response. We aren’t always able to control our circumstances or the obstacles and opportunities that come our way, but we can control our response. That’s powerful. To me, the essence of being a Get-to Girl is 1 Corinthians 10:31: So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God. (CSB) Every move you make, including the attitude that companions action, can be offered to the glory of God. Should be done for the glory of God. It’s one thing when we’re facing opportunity or favorable circumstance; that’s when it’s easy. But there have been seasons when my life feels out of control, when a situation is bearing down, or relationships that matter to me are fractured, or grief feels unshakable, or I don’t know what else…. Knowing I can choose how I respond gives me at least a modicum of control, which is incredibly encouraging and empowering. This is much more than turning a frown upside down. It’s an intentional decision to frame your life and everything within it in light of The Light. Even if “Get-to” isn’t your word of the year, will you join me? Giveaway time!! Today, DaySpring is releasing A Workbook Guide to Bible Journaling, “filled with fun techniques for painting, hand lettering, stickering, and stamping…” and I’m here to tell you, SO MUCH ENCOURAGEMENT FOR THE NEWBIE BIBLE JOURNALER. But the content is substantial enough to offer the long-time journaler plenty of new tips and ideas. If you’ve wanted to try your hand at Bible journaling but didn’t have a clue where to start, consider this a master class featuring Shanna Noel and others at a bargain price. The first 600 people who order...

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How Can a Dessert Be So Delicious, Fancy, AND Simple?

Dec

28

Posted by on Dec 28, 2018 in Uncategorized | 1 comment

A Tiramisu Recipe ANYONE can make I still remember the first time I heard the word “tiramisu;” I didn’t even know what it was and had to ask our friends Christi and Frankie to repeat themselves a few times before I finally understood. They had returned from a trip to Italy, and if memory serves me correctly, they were raving about one of their favorite things–a decadent, delicious Italian dessert I have since come to know, love, and make for special occasions, or really, any occasion that calls for a smidgen of fancy. The first time I tasted tiramisu was when my friend, Isabel, made it. It’s possible I had more than my share of dessert. This is telling because typically I want only a bite of something sweet after dinner. To devour a complete serving (or two) is high compliment to its maker. The benefit of a dessert’s enjoyment has to outweigh the cost of its calories. In other words… Mercy! Just look at those layers of deliciosity!! Mmmmm! Tiramisu’s deliciousness > the cost of its calories. Since then, I’ve lost count of the times my dinner has ended with tiramisu. I’ve had it at chef-owned restaurants and large Italian chains; I was lucky enough to order it in Italy and Germany the year we lived abroad. And, remarkably, this ridiculously easy recipe stands up to them all (or maybe I’m just lowbrow with a common, unsophisticated palate). A more traditional recipe calling for eggs and milk is all well and good, but for the taste and simplicity, I really do prefer this recipe. If you’re looking for a magnificent dessert to wow your family and friends, do try this one! A New Year’s gathering would be the perfect time to try it. And if you do? Please come back and let us know your thoughts. Tiramisu Ingredients: Ingredients: 1 8-ounce container of mascarpone cheese ½ cup granulated sugar 2 ½ cups of whipping cream, divided 1 cup of strong coffee/espresso* 1?4  cup of Baileys Irish cream (coffee liquor) 2, 3-ounce packages of lady fingers 1 teaspoon cocoa or shaved dark chocolate Instructions: Beat 2 cups of the whipping cream (not all!) until soft peaks form; be sure they’re stiff enough to hold their shape.In larger bowl, beat cheese, sugar, and remaining ½ cup of whipping cream at medium speed until incorporated and creamy.Fold whipping cream into cheese mixture.*Stir Baileys into coffee. Carefully split lady fingers in ½. Place one set (one quarter, depending on your package) in the bottom of a trifle bowl or on a platter.Evenly and generously brush the cut side of the lady fingers with the coffee mixture (use about 1?4 cup per layer). Top with 1?4 of the cheese/whipped cream mixture. Repeat layers three times.Chill at least two hours and sprinkle with cocoa or chocolate shavings just prior to serving. Additional notes: Isabel’s original recipe called for 1 tablespoon of instant coffee granules. If you don’t have espresso/strong coffee, that substitution works fine.The lady fingers will be very moist; don’t let that intimidate you. Use the entire amount of liquid in your recipe. A silicone pastry brush is preferred to nylon or natural bristles; I’ve found they’re less likely to shed when using.I don’t quite spread the cheese/cream mixture to the edge of the...

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How Ringing Bells Puts the “Merry” in Christmas

Dec

19

Posted by on Dec 19, 2018 in Uncategorized | 1 comment

2018 with one of my favorite humans in the world. Six years ago I began a tradition that would immediately become a beloved holiday favorite: Ringing bells for the Salvation Army’s Red Kettle fundraiser.  I had no idea two hours could pass by so quickly, or that I had so many misconceptions about bell ringing and would learn so much (See 10 Things Salvation Army Bell Ringers Want You To Know to see what I mean). The first two years I flew solo, but ever since I’ve had a few partners in crime. Ringing with special friends had added great joy to the tradition.  I’ve learned a few more things since that first experience, and my great hope in sharing is that I might persuade a few more friends to join this happy little army of neighbors helping neighbors. 1. Ringing the bells with friends makes the time go by almost too fast! 2015 fun with friends young and not-so-young. As is the case in so much in live, we really are better together. 2.  Ringing the bells is leading by example. 2016. I suppose I had to wear lipstick to keep up with S’s and EC’s darling sequined Santa hats and flashy Christmas light necklaces <3. Every single year since I reported for “duty,” at least one passer-by has remarked they’ve always wanted to be a bell ringer. A joyful countenance, a kind word, and looking folks in the eye is an invitation to join this lovely work. I tell everyone who mentions it to Just Do It! You can find information about your local organization by starting at the national homepage and searching your Zip code.  3. Ringing with children is an incredible secret weapon. Ringing with twins is almost unfair. 2017. It’s usually mild in middle Georgia, but last year we were chilllllly! When I asked my friend Courtney if her twin daughters could ring with me a few years ago, they were only five years old. Who knew that little girls would be such a magnet to people’s wallets? More often than note, generous givers put dollars or coins in each girls hand to stuff in the red kettle. Miss EC and Miss S have become expert dollar-and-coin-stuffer-inners.  4.  A Chance To Mentor 2018. What a precious way to watch these girls grow up through the years! The twins are now eight years old, and they have me wrapped around those little pinkies now more than ever. They’re chatty and they tell you lots of things, but an hour together is a chance for me to encourage and affirm them, too. This year, their mama didn’t need to tell them what to do and neither did I. They immediately told every gift-giver “Thank you!” and “Merry Christmas!”  I get a bonus “paycheck” of the best hugs ever, too. That THEY have come to revere this as a special Christmas tradition is the sweetest gift back to me.  5. Making it a family affair triples to joy. 2018 with my baby boy. I gave birth to a giant apparently. I wish we had begun this tradition when our children were young and we could have volunteered as a family. But you don’t know what you don’t know, and since you can’t do a thing about the...

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The Reason It’s Crucial to Put On Your Oxygen Mask First

Dec

10

Posted by on Dec 10, 2018 in Art of Simple, Health, Uncategorized | 2 comments

The Reason It’s Crucial to Put On Your Oxygen Mask First

If you’ve flown commercially, you’re undoubtedly familiar with standard safety procedure; it goes something like this: In the event of a loss in cabin pressure, secure your own oxygen mask first, before helping your children or others.The reason is simple and practical; a deficiency in the amount of oxygen reaching your brain (hypoxia), will render you useless. In almost no time you could begin experiencing blurred or tunnel vision, hot and cold flashes, euphoria, numbness, tingling, apprehension, nausea, dizziness, headaches, fatigue and belligerence (source). How in the world can you help a panicked preschooler if you’re vomiting and loopy? It is critical to take care of ourselves first in order to be able to take care of others. Well beyond flying, the principle has application in daily living. What first comes to mind when you consider what it means to take care of yourself? Diet? Exercise?  A creative outlet, cultivating a hobby, or indulging in a day at the spa? Mental wellbeing? All of these are important, true, but there’s something else so critical it is potentially life-saving: hearing what your body is trying to tell you. Are you listening? For years I struggled with insomnia. I chalked up my sleeplessness to age, hormones, stress–you name it, but I never considered I might be hurting myself by ignoring the issue.While I suspected I suffered from an actual sleep disorder, I kept holding out that over time my issue would resolve itself (spoiler: it never did). When I finally got around to talking to a doctor who specialized in sleep-related issues, I learned there were reasons to be concerned about my health. If, indeed, I had sleep apnea, I was at greater risk for high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, atrial fibrillation, Type 2 diabetes, and hormone fluctuations resulting in cravings for carbs and sweets. After a little education, I realized my body had been practically screaming at me to pay attention. Routinely, I was waking up from frantic dreams and sometimes nightmares, often including alarms, sirens, and even occasionally me screaming at myself to WAKE! UP! Once roused from sleep, I’d find myself out of breath with my heart jackhammering like I had just run a marathon. It (slowly) dawned on me these dreams were my body’s way of telling me I needed to breathe. My body may as well have been shouting Danger, Will Robinson! because I had literally stopped breathing long enough to deprive oxygen to my brain and raise my blood pressure. Ignoring the warnings wasn’t just stupid; it was potentially dangerous and even life-threatening. The thing is, especially when you’re younger, you don’t expect a “worse case scenario.” But you and I are always our best advocates for our own health. We cannot be satisfied with hearing what we want to hear just because it’s good news. My sweet, young friend Stephanie died in her early twenties, leaving behind a newborn, because her doctor had dismissed an ongoing issue she experienced while breastfeeding as something to do with a blocked milk duct when, in actuality, she had an aggressive form of cancer. One Friday morning another friend, Louann, at the time a mama to two young toddlers, woke up and couldn’t see. While alarmed, this otherwise very smart nurse-friend of mine dismissed it due to work fatigue, the stresses of little sleep and family demands,...

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Stand with Secret Believers This Christmas

Nov

30

Posted by on Nov 30, 2018 in Brand partnership, Christmas, Do Something!, Faith | 4 comments

Stand with Secret Believers This Christmas

Today, through a sponsored partnership with Open Doors, I’m sharing their message about something important to know. This is a season when many Americans have already begun decorating their homes for the holidays, a lovely tradition most of us take for granted. Please read and then act if you feel led to support this worthwhile initiative. In North Korea, celebrating Christmas is illegal and believers must celebrate the birth of Jesus in extreme secrecy or risk arrest and life in a hard labor camp. For the citizens of Brunei, celebrating Christmas can get you five years in prison and owning a Bible will get you nine. In countries like Somalia, Christmas was banned several years ago. An announcement goes out every year reminding citizens that it’s illegal. And in countries like Saudi Arabia, churches, crosses and Christian meetings of any kind are illegal all over the country. All over the world, Christians will celebrate the birth of Jesus in late December or early January. But in many places, like Somalia, Iran, North Korea and other areas where it’s dangerous to follow Jesus, openly participating in Christmas can be extremely difficult, if not impossible. For these Christians, celebrating Christmas must be done in secret. There will be no parties or gift exchanges, and no church services or worship gatherings allowed. In places around the world, Christmas can be a time of fear and isolation instead of a celebration. One believer from a Muslim background in Southeast Asia says, “We can’t celebrate Christmas openly…We can’t go to church and join in the celebration. Why? Because we are wanted by the government. Some of us can’t even tell our families we are Christians.” Nevertheless, faithful Christians remind themselves that “the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” (John 1:5). This Christmas, we have the opportunity to illuminate that light and remind isolated Christians around the world who must worship in secret that they are not alone … that the worldwide Church stands with them.   You can make a difference today for secret believers this Christmas in specific and practical ways: Pray with them. Visit OpenDoorsUSA.org/SecretChristmas for prayer resources from secret believers around the world. You’ll find videos, prayer points and unique ways to connect to your persecuted family. Enter their stories. Open Doors has created two resources to help you explore the stories of the persecuted church and to connect with your brothers and sisters in Christ around the world. You can download a free Secret Christmas eBook and even a Secret Christmas children’s book to read to your kids this holiday season. Join the fight Don’t make persecution a seasonal issue, make it part of your daily life. It’s in the very DNA of the church to care for those who are suffering. Through Open Doors you can download a Prayer App, sign up for regular prayer updates and stay connected to the stories and needs of your persecuted family. Together, we can make a significant difference in the lives, families and ministries of secret believers this Christmas and beyond as we stand with our persecuted...

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A New Month, A Special Opportunity! #1000Mercies #OYTO

Nov

01

Posted by on Nov 1, 2018 in #OYTO, (in)courage | 4 comments

A New Month, A Special Opportunity! #1000Mercies #OYTO

  Soon enough I’ll share some thoughts about what I learned by writing a book (surprising lessons, by the way), but for now, I’m coming out of my deep, deep book-writing hole to share something that well may be one of those “thousand points of light” President Bush spoke of three decades ago: (in)courage and Mercy House Global are “linking arms to provide a brighter, dignified future for God’s daughters in need.”  We’re looking for 1,000 women to join (in)courage in partnership with Mercy House Global. Please say you’ll join us?   Our goal between November 1st and November 16th is for 1,000 women to donate $15 or more to Mercy House to help provide sustainable, dignified jobs for women in poverty around the world. This is one tiny, practical thing we can each do — in Jesus’ name — to make a huge difference in a woman’s life. If you aren’t familiar with Mercy House Global founded by Kristen Welch, please, please take time to read Changing a Life, Changing the World by one of my oldest blog friends, Mary Carver. You’ll understand why it’s a no-brainer to ask for your support; this is important work making a tangible difference in the lives of those who are impacted.  I’ll have a post up at incourage on Tuesday that tells you a little more about Kristen’s story, but until then I really, really hope you’ll take a few minutes to learn more about the #1000mercies Movement. The first 1,000 friends who make a minimum $15 donation to this initiative will receive a darling Christmas ornament as a thank you gift, hand-stitched by a beautiful Kenya woman who is part of the Street Hope artisan group. What a lovely token of remembrance. Don’t think you have to wait to put up your Christmas tree to display it, either. To keep Mercy House Global and its important work present in my thoughts, I’ve hung my little ornament on my desk lamp; if I’m not mistaken, my miniature disco ball is casting a thousand points of light in its direction.     This is an OYTO moment, Lovies, it’s time to seize an opportunity! DO let me know if you take part, and regardless, would you consider sharing about #1000mercies with your friends and family? I’m hoping we’ll shatter that $15,000 goal and need to come up with an alternative thank you gift because so many of you say “yes” to this special cause.  ...

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Preorder Your (in)courage Devotional Bible & Receive A Free Leather Journal!

Sep

28

Posted by on Sep 28, 2018 in (in)courage, For All Who Wander |

Preorder Your (in)courage Devotional Bible & Receive A Free Leather Journal!

  Hello darlings.   While I’m anchored to my writing desk racing to complete the rough draft of my manuscript for For All Who Wander (praypraypray!), I wanted to let you know the beautiful (in)courage Devotional Bible is available for preorder now! Order by Sunday and in addition to a 20% savings, you’ll receive a leather journal as your preorder gift.   There is nothing else out there quite like the (in)courage Devotional Bible. Here’s why:   There are four cover types to choose from; each is beautiful in its own way on the outside, but it’s the inside that counts, right?  God’s word (CSB version) is the only thing that has the power to transform your heart, but there are extras that make this Bible special: 312 devotions by 122 (in)courage community writers 10 distinct thematic reading plans 66 book introductions connecting each book of the Bible to the whole biblical narrative stories of courage from 50 women of the Bible Journaling space Plus – FREE (in)courage leather journal and so much more They’re also competitively priced on Amazon but you won’t receive the preorder incentive. Would you please consider ordering through one of my links? As an affiliate, I’ll receive a small referral fee, which I plan to pass right along to Compassion International.  (Invite your friends to order through my links, too–please and thank you) DO check out the video below to learn more, and if you click around the (in)courage Bible website, you’ll get to hear from a few authors about why they think this Bible is special. But, please, pop back over here to order your own copy, and a few more for gifts while they’re on sale and come with your preorder gift.    ...

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Retail Therapy, Divine Moments, and Imaginary French

Aug

20

Posted by on Aug 20, 2018 in friendship, Personal | 3 comments

Retail Therapy, Divine Moments, and Imaginary French

It is rare for me to write a blog post these days. Writing a book demands focus and intention and giving my best effort to the words I feel called to write in that space, as opposed to writing in my tiny square of the internet.  But something happened recently I want to remember, and what better way than sharing this happy little story right here?   To say I’m not getting out much these days is no understatement. If I staple my rear to a chair in front of my laptop, I figure eventually the words will come. I’m doing my part as best I can, begging God to lead and inspire me to write the parts of my story that will encourage and extend hope to readers and bring glory and honor to Him. That’s my target; may it be so.   Yesterday, we found ourselves needing to complete a little home improvement project, thanks to an opportunity that left us little choice otherwise. I decided to tag along with Tad when he headed to our local big box hardware store, wanting to spend time with him but also happy for any reason to get out of the house. I may or may not have also been motivated for a chance for a little retail therapy; one of my favorite discount shops is right next door.   Though Tad loathes those kinds of stores, he indulged me a visit. His simple plan was to circle the parking lot until he found a nice shady spot under a tree to wait. This is the love born of 30-plus years of marriage, finding a compromise with which we’re both satisfied.   It was ridiculous, really. I didn’t need anything, I just wanted to look at all the pretty things. I mean, if something begged me to buy it, I would’ve been happy to oblige, but I wasn’t planning on it…I just wanted to lookie-lookie. Even imaginary retail therapy works wonders.   Wandering aimlessly but blissfully happy, I meandered up and down the aisles, ever-mindful of the time. Since Tad was basically a human amoeba floating in a hot asphalt parking lot sea, I moved quicker than I might have otherwise.   About that time, I stumbled across some darling Rae Dunn tableware. Gah–she is an evil, evil temptress, and her creations are kryptonite to me. I want everything she makes. Clever word art is one of my love languages, all the better when it’s pretty and on something useful.   I was lost in thought, exercising admirable restraint while silently explaining to myself why I did not need to buy any of the things, when my subconsciousness heard something not yet detectable to my conscious brain.   “J’adore…”    If you know me at all, you know I speak imaginary French, and J’adore is one of my oft-used phrases. Somewhere in the back of my head, I heard it again and thought, That sounds like something I would say….   Slowly snapping out of my fog, I turned to see one of my very best friends doing her level best to get my attention. We haven’t seen each other in ages, and she had to miss an opportunity just the other day to join a small group we’re a part of, to...

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Hero

Jun

25

Posted by on Jun 25, 2018 in Memoir, Mom stuff, Parenting, Personal, Uncategorized | 1 comment

Hero

  I couldn’t take my eyes off of him. His skin was the color of summer and youth, beautiful and smooth and the stuff of a 1970-something Coppertone ad, minus a black Boykin Spaniel. This wasn’t his first day at the pool. He couldn’t have been much older than three. His head barely reached the top of the diving board. To reach the platform he had to crawl up the stairs. This one whose smile was permanent fixture already understood joie de vivre. Fearless and free and fueled by adrenaline, he went off the board a dozen times. Increasing courage quickened his pace. He shifted the aim of a spotlight he wasn’t even aware existed. “Hey, watch my Dad!” he called out to the others when his father mounted the stairs. His face beamed awaiting the show, his eyes twinkling love, admiration, and joy. His dad did a one and a half gainer with marginal success. He awarded his approval in laughter and applause, and gleefully asked everyone in earshot, “Did you see my Dad?!” Olympic gold doesn’t come close.        ...

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Have We Forgotten That Love Is Kind?

Jun

20

Posted by on Jun 20, 2018 in Faith, Inspiring, Life Philosophy, Personal, Uncategorized | 3 comments

Have We Forgotten That Love Is Kind?

  Love is patient, love is kind. Love does not envy, is not boastful, is not arrogant, is not rude, is not self-seeking, is not irritable, and does not keep a record of wrongs. Love finds no joy in unrighteousness but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 (CSB, emphasis added by me not Jesus 🙂 )   It should never be a surprise when lost people behave like lost people, but it is shocking to my core when those who profess Christ act like lost people. Is it wrong to expect more? Salvation doesn’t guarantee sinlessness, so it’s not that I expect perfection from believers. But it breaks my heart to hear the vitriol spewing from opposite viewpoints of the hot-button issues of our day. Blistering lava destroys what it touches. Pick any comment thread of your favorite news outlet or open a tab for Facebook or Twitter. Why would anyone value what you have to say if it’s mean or rude? Why would I listen to anyone who pummeled me with contempt while trying to make their point? It was disconcerting to me when Tsh Oxenreider, a good friend and trusted colleague, posted a thoughtful and reasonable essay, Child-Parent Separation at the Border and What You Can Do, only to be hammered on Facebook. Those who didn’t agree with her thoughts were angry and loud; when I skimmed comments, no one who disagreed seemed kind. Recently I was startled by the effect of wearing my Kindness is Golden tee shirt: strangers talked to me. No lie, half a dozen people  initiated a conversation with me about what it says, telling me why they agreed with the sentiment, why we need more kindness, or even about similar tee shirts they own. It was weird. Now, granted, I was in a place where I encountered more people than usual (an airport and then hotel lobby with lots of folks taking advantage of a free continental breakfast), but it was interesting to me so many different people (diverse men and women) approached me.   Who knew my tee shirt was an invitation to conversation? I suppose it’s because it demonstrates something important: Kindness is powerful because kindness is an incarnation of love.   When you lead with love, I will listen to you. You have instant credibility with me. When you lead with love, as manifested in kindness, it tells me that you value me, you care about others, you’re listening as well as speaking, and what you have to say warrants my listening…even if I don’t agree. When you are hostile, antagonistic, or condescending, the effect is la-la-la (fingers in ears) I-can’t-hear-you. I don’t even mean to do that; it’s a by-product of being disrespected. In John 13:34-35 (CSB), Jesus could not be clearer:  “I give you a new command: Love one another. Just as I have loved you, you are also to love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” Loved people love people. Could it be that many of us are simply forgetting how dearly we’re loved? Galatians 5 has a compelling passage describing the difference between walking by the Spirit or...

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