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The Sabbath for Servants

SundayGraphicBy 7:25am on Sunday I had already cleaned up two little messes, changed one diaper, fixed 2 sippy cups of milk, folded up the blankets, made the beds and was half way through breakfast prep.

And standing there in the kitchen I pondered the word, Sabbath and it immediately led me to Remember the Sabbath to Keep it Holy…

As the youngest of five children, I saw my mom rise before the sun– clad in her pink robe and bare feet, standing watch at a skillet of scrambled eggs and smiling over her coffee cup as we padded in the kitchen one by one. Sometimes, the happy dusting of flour all over the counter tops and a quick peek through the stove window confirmed what we thought we smelled, homemade biscuits!!

Sometimes it was a piece of nearly burnt cheese toast hastily served up while we all ran out the door, pulling on shoes and tucking in shirts and smoothing unruly hair– but either way, she was always at the helm of our ship– making provisions for us all as we made our way to church on Sunday morning. Once or twice I wondered… when was her Sunday? Who would make her breakfast so she could enjoy a break? When would her Sabbath come? But mostly, I just ate my own breakfast, filled my seat in the family grocery-getter and never questioned the way things were.

And many trips around the sun later, I’m the mom. Biscuit baker. Cup-Filler. Smile-bringer. Hair-smoother. And to be truthful, sometimes it feels like I also wear the label, Non-Sabbath taker.

And as I struggle with the push and pull of being both provision-maker and desperate needer of a Sabbath myself– I know there are things we can do to cut back on all the doing– and make time for the resting. And sometimes we do them. Takeout Sunday lunch. Extra planning on Saturday. Frozen waffles. And just letting some things go until Monday.

But I also know that life just is. And Sundays are a day that little people still need the same help they need the other six.

Whether a mother or a Minister or an ICU nurse, not everyone can take a service-free Sunday. And I’m just not sure that is what Sabbath means after all.

The hands that serve others for God are hands that worship simultaneously. Perhaps we are the best multi-taskers when we first put our hands up toward Heaven to offer up our first bits of sacrifice.

I know that if asked, my mom would not say she missed out on those few extra hours of Sunday morning sleep. More likely, she would say that God gave them back to her twenty fold in watching her children grow to know Christ.

And some might say that the two are not related. But as one of those pajama clad kids who always woke up to such Sunday mornings, I would disagree.

Nothing is secular when done for the honor of the sacred. Nothing is ordinary when done with the hands and feet of Christ. And for all the moms (and dads!) standing in all the kitchens today, for all the grandparents who are doing it again for another generation, it matters. For the policeman standing guard instead of sitting with the paper, it makes a difference. For the leaders in our churches who get up and get at it so Sundays can happen, we need you. We need you all. 

So go hard after it for the Glory of God.


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Better Life Bags

Have you ever wanted to support an ethical, missional company but did not *love* their product? I have.

That was definitely NOT the case when I was introduced to Better Life Bags on Instagram last year. I noticed the most beautiful custom bags featuring buttery-smooth leather and bright beautiful fabrics, but my instant love of them went up several notches when I noticed their “Custom–for a Cause” tagline. Two things I absolutely adore, being able to customize something to my preference– and being able to spend my money on products that will improve someone else’s life.
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When the lovely staff at Better Life Bags contacted me with an offer to review a product, I had been using my Brynnda Bag for a month! While watching their products online, with a little birthday money burning a hole in my pocket, they had a great sale I could not pass up– so I jumped on a cute style in their ready-to-ship section. I have used it for months almost every day– as an airplane carry-on and and as an every day bag. It’s fantastic and so fun to carry.

A few months ago, they gave me the opportunity to customize an i-phone wallet case to try out. I chose the traditional brown leather (so soft!) and the classy and traditional black stripe with chambray. And let me just say, it was even cuter in person– I’m pretty sure I squealed the day I opened the mailbox and pulled out the package!

The i-phone wallet is well-padded and offers great protection for your i-phone. An additional zipper pocket is perfect for your drivers’ license or credit cards. This year at Allume, I was able to fit several business cards and my Rosebud Salve* in the front pocket nicely. I have this case* on my phone and it fit great.

This i-phone wallet would be also be perfect if you had a diaper bag to carry as the leather strap snaps open and closed. It’s also a great tool to have handy when running quick errands and a big bag is too much.

But as I mentioned before, Better Life Bags has my heart not just because of their gorgeous products– but because of their mission.

“We hire women, who otherwise cannot get jobs, to work for BLB. We rent them a sewing machine and tools while teaching them a skill set that allows them to become a primary or secondary provider in their families. Most of these women are first generation immigrants from countries such as Yemen and Bangladesh, so we are also able to provide them with much needed fellowship and friendship as we visit their homes to deliver fabric and pick up orders.”

–Rebecca Smith, founder of Better Life Bags. Read more about their amazing mission here. 


Better Life Bags sent me a complimentary Custom I-phone Wallet in exchange for my honest and heartfelt thoughts. But I would have wanted one anyway. :) Connect with Better Life Bags on Instagram to keep up with sales and see beautiful designs!

**Amazon Links to Rosebud Salve and Iphone Case are affiliate links. 


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Meaningful Christmas Books: The Legend of the Candy Cane

Before having children, one of the things I most anticipated was how we would celebrate Christmas as a family with little ones around. When we did add to our family, I remember buying Lucy’s Christmas stocking months before she was even born. I was ecstatic to find a little board book of the Night Before Christmas with sweet Victorian illustrations. She sat there in her Christmas blanket sleeper that first year, 6 months old and all smiles– as we read the Christmas story from Luke 2 and she kept batting at the Christmas lights like a new puppy.

_MG_7645As she has grown year by year, there are some traditions we continue and others we leave behind so that we can grab hold of another– but reading books by the Christmas Tree remains at the top of our list! One year I tried that “Pinterest-y” idea of wrapping up 25 Christmas books and having the kids open one each night to read– but we missed not having all the books to choose from throughout the month. This year, I’m planning to fill a large basket with all our Christmas books and place it under the tree to pick from. Besides, wrapping 25 EXTRA things? AintNoMamaGotTimeForThatatChristmas.

One book I am so happy to add to our collection this year is The Legend of the Candy Cane

The Legend of the Candy Cane by Lori Walburg tells an inspirational story of a little girl named Lucy (!) who discovers the joyous meaning of the candy cane when she meets Mr. John Sonneman and his candy store. Mr. Sonneman moves to town and turns an old building into a wonderful candy store full of all kinds of treats, and allows his new friend Lucy to help set up shop. He takes the time to introduce her to the candy cane and the beautiful meaning of Christmas it points to. The friendly pair then take candy canes to all the residents of the town inviting them to come to Sonneman’s Candy Store Grand Opening. This story takes a simple Christmas treat and makes it something much more meaningful as it rightly ties Christmas and Easter together.

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_MG_7639There is no shortage of whimsical illustrations– the book itself is pure joy to read for both child and parent. The portion with the candy store looks good enough to eat and the pages which portray the first Christmas are serene and uncluttered, pointing straight to Jesus.  As a parent in a stage of life who reads a lot of children’s books– I appreciated the illustrator’s attention to detail. And even though the story is quite complete, the language is simple enough for my Five year old to help read. Another aspect I love about this particular printing of the book, is that it’s a board book– which makes it fairly indestructible even at our house!

I asked Lucy what she liked about The Legend of the Candy Cane and she said, “Well it has Jesus in it. And candy. I love both of those a lot.” 

I received a free copy of The Legend of the Candy Cane (published by ZonderKidz) from the BookLook Blogger program in exchange for my honest opinions and review, but I certainly would have purchased a copy for our house anyway.

If you would like to add The Legend of the Candy Cane* to your Christmas book library, you can get in on Amazon right now for only $9.99! (And if you have Amazon Prime, you can get free shipping in two days. Fun!)

 

*Affiliate Link with Amazon


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Gerunds & Lately

Remember Me? I used to blog here… 

And then October and #Write31Days happened, and I stuck it out (and loved it!)

And then November came and I took a long, deep breath… that has lasted for the last 9 days!!!

It has been so bad that Lance said to me a couple days ago, “Hey– when are you going to blog again???” And we both burst out laughing, because He and I both know how vital it is to my mental health to keep a rhythm of writing.

Meanwhile, lots of thoughts have ambled across my mind to tell you– and I’m afraid if I don’t at least cover them, I will forget all together.

So here goes, an update in List form. Actually in Gerund form. One of my new favorite people, Kristin Schell had a fun Gerund List over at her place last week, and– well I love a good Gerund.

I am…

Cooking- with a lot of root vegetables lately. We made this Turkey and Sweet Potato Hash last week and it was fabulous. Hash seems like such a weird word that means so many different things. In this part of the country, there is a popular BBQ side dish called Hash– something like Brunswick Stew that’s been through the blender and served over rice. Not pretty at all. This however– is fragrant, simple and yummy. Give it a try with your Turkey Day Leftovers!

Drinking – Iced Coffee in my new little Coffee cup, I drink one just about every day and my old cup bit the dust. But now I get to stare at this cute little green feather. And, why Hello there Fall in my grassless backyard!!!

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Reading -Longing for More: Daily Reflections on Finding God in the Rhythms of Life by Timothy Williard and Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott

Wishing – October wasn’t quite over yet. I LOVE October, but between our mountain weekend, Allume, and a couple of fun visits from family– October flew by faster than I could buy a bag of Reese’s Pumpkins– which is probably a good thing. November is a close second in my book.

Preparing – to migrate to being self-hosted sometime soon and completely reminded of why I love the writing aspect of blogging and the technical side takes me a million tutorials and many hours.

Needing – Peace. Over the next couple of weeks, our family will be separated for several long days by many miles and I’m slightly dreading the distance. However, obedience comes before comfort.

Getting- a little anxious about the previous one.

Missing – North Carolina. Just a little bit– it must be the time of year. We really have a gorgeous Fall here too– but Wake Forest this time of year is a bit like stepping into an L.L. Bean Catalog. Someone I follow on Instagram posted a short video of driving down Main Street in Wake Forest and it literally made me a little heartsad. Heartsad, is that a word? Probably not since it keeps getting underlined with that red dotted line. But it applies. I can no longer say I feel homesick, because that is not home, THIS is home. I love here. But I still feel a little, “left my heart in San Franciso-ish” every now and then.

Loving – this season. this place. this house. I’m just glad to be in this season of parenting and marriage and life. And also yet a little full of anticipatory butterflies about what is next. Content and Hopeful is a really wonderful place to be.

Remembering – Last weekend and the Women of Faith Simulcast we hosted at church– it was so very fun. I also realized how much I miss the opportunity for occasional event planning. Furthermore, I decided that gold glitter confetti is so far up on my list of priorities.

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Well thats all I have–what are you “-ing” right now???

 

**Amazon Links are affiliate links– this means I tell you about some of my favorites and if you buy them through clicking, Amazon pays me a few cents for advertisement. Thanks for supporting HappyGoStuckey**


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What I learned in October.

#Write31Days in October is O-V-E-R and though I really loved it, I’m joining in the collective sigh that October is completed. To celebrate that November has arrived, I’m linking up with one of my favorite people and writers, Emily P. Freeman over at Chatting at the Sky for What I Learned in October

1. I learned that someone else’s mistake can be my hidden gift. When we took a long weekend in the Blue Ridge Mountains earlier in October, we were excited about the rest, the quiet and the family time. Secretly, I was also planning to get a lot of writing work done while there. I was completely banking on the daily rest time the girls would have, and the early mornings I planned to sneak out of bed and power up the computer and tap away in the quiet. When the listing of the cabin we rented turned out to be a little incorrect, with absolutely no internet and very little cell service, I was pretty frustrated. Naturally, a few minutes of standing out on the deck, breathing the mountain air and looking out into nothing but layers upon layers of brightly colored trees– and I found the calm I was seeking. It was a weekend of deep breaths and rest– and thankfully God knew exactly the form of rest I needed.
IMG_17412. Yellow Jackets REALLY love fresh Mountain Apples. Stuckey Girls really love fresh Mountain Apples. Stuckey Girls do NOT love Yellow Jackets. I learned that you can be smack dab in a picturesque, mountain memory -making moment of Apple picking, and a few stray yellow jackets can really change the mood of those aforementioned little girls and their apples. Add in a little bit of slippery mud, one mommy and her eldest daughter sliding down in the mud and the mood gets even more dicey. Then you take that and raise it with a sudden, and certainly unexpected torrential downpour in the middle of said picturesque Apple orchard– and everything falls apart. You might just find yourself trying to stuff your BetterLife Bag INSIDE your husband’s backpack to save it from being ruined, and then holding your really emotionally charged children under one teeny-tiny cheapo umbrella and trying not to make direct eye contact with your husband so the two of you don’t offend the children by laughing at their extreme hysterics. You might just give up on not laughing and stand in a group hug, in the driving rain and laughing uncontrollably while your children look at you as though you must be either crazy or cruel to take them on such a catastrophic outing. At that moment you will probably take note as to why exactly you married such a ridiculously fun man. 

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the before picture– so serene. 

3. I learned that fresh Apples obtained in such a ridiculous way really do make the best apple pie. And that there is something really magical about standing in your kitchen in a sweater and cozy socks, making the same apple pie for your own family the way the two generations of women before you made it, and knowing Fall has finally arrived– and some things never change. 
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4. I learned that I need to throw more candy. Really. Shauna Niequist spoke at Allume on the topic of True Hospitality and though I wrote down practically every little thing she said– because, well, Shauna Niequist– but I wrote these words in my journal in big fat letters, THROW MORE CANDY. She told this personal story about her own realization that she had become someone who was less warm, loving, and giving and more efficient, busy and productive. And wow. I have to be honest and say that it hit me right between the eyes. In an effort to manage all the areas of our family, home and life well– I have easily forgotten how to play. How to laugh on a daily basis. To just enjoy the moments, all of the moments. If you want to hear the entire beautiful keynote, and hear her explain the part about throwing candy– and trust me you do– Go here and listen.  Also, I wrote about my Allume highlights here. 


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Allume Moments (2014)

Allume. It’s a cross between a weekend retreat for your soul, blogging summer camp, and a crazy fun dinner party with 400 of your closest friends– all rolled into one. If there were an Allume Fan Club I would vote myself it’s #1 cheerleader. I simply LOVE Allume. Last year, my expectations were completely blown away and I came straight home at the end of October and immediately marked off 2014 on my calendar.

Last year was amazing, but this year I came with stuff. I was over the moon excited but more than anything I was expectant. I needed clarity. The direction I was asking God for– I needed my next steps illumined, or even just to be told that my next small step of obedience was to remain exactly where I was. I was in need of hearing from Him in the moments away from the everyday.

And somewhere between hugging familiar necks at registration and that very first keynote, the clarity began. It continued through every single message, breakout session and quiet moment alone– I was, and continue to be– overwhelmed.

Yes, this is the most beautiful conference I’ve ever been to. And it has spoiled and ruined me for all other conferences. But the biggest, most delightful part– is the evidence of God Himself in every detail. This year I loved being with “my writing people” but more than anything I LOVED being ministered to by my God who heard my questions, and lovingly, patiently guided me a few more steps in His direction for me.

The biggest, most wildly wonderful thing about Allume is that it is covered in heaps of prayer, and that prayer shows. Sure, we were loved on, welcomed and spoiled– but we were ushered to the foot of the cross to meet with God and remember just WHY we do all this writing anyway. And now I am completely humbled and full to bursting and ready to get back to it. Thank you, Allume team. You blessed us in such big ways.

Now– for a few photos and my favorite moments–

IMG_1868Every element of Allume pointed to Hospitality. Not a Pinterest-perfect view of Entertaining; but real, honest swing open your doors wide hospitality.

IMG_1834Ruth Simons of GraceLaced designed the artwork for the programs & name badges. She also created that print on the right especially for Allume! It, and all her other gorgeous prints are available here in her shop. (The photo does not do it justice!)

IMG_1870Hearing Shauna Niequist speak on True Hospitality was a definite highlight of Allume. Her most recent book, Bread and Wine has brought me so much direction and joy in the area of Life and the Table.

IMG_1836Another highlight– finally being able to meet this beauty, Kristen Steele! And yes, if you’re wondering, her hair looked that good the entire weekend. :)  I met Kristen through the B&H Publishing Blogger Program and meeting her gave me the added gift of finding her sweet sister Caroline who lives right here in Georgia with me!

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Books, Books and more books! Between the sponsors, our swag bag and some great conference deals, I am SET for reading material for well, all of 2015.

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Tea and Cookies with Sophie Hudson was memorable for sure. She encouraged us in her honest and sweet way and I wrote in big letters across my notes one of the last things she said to us. “Trust God with your Dream, with your Ministry. Trust Him and Go get after it!”  

And last but certainly not least, being able to spend some quality time with my good friend and Allume roomie, Jacqueline. She is a GIFT and a hilarious riot all rolled into one. So glad you allowed me to talk you into Allume, Jacqueline! It would not have been the same without you.

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Well, those aren’t all my favorite moments– but I don’t have any more photos. At one point early on in the weekend, my husband texted me to ask if my instagram was down because I wasn’t doing my usual over-gramming of every little detail! I only took 8 or 9 photos the entire weekend, but I soaked it all in and sometimes that is so very necessary.

One more thing, a quote from Logan Wolfram on Radical Hospitality–

“As Bloggers, we are often a people of windows– but as Believers, we are called to be a people of doors– a people of living invitation.”

Yes! May our homes and our blogs be open, welcoming places where those visiting are loved deeply!

Linking up with other attendees over here, feel free to hop over and read! 


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Living Free. (#Write31Days)

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In 4th grade, I came home breathless and excited, clutching a blank permission slip and desperately hoping my parents would go for the tennis lessons I wanted. It was the very first time I remember wanting to do something. My mom was hoping I would take piano, like my best friend Heidi, but she agreed to talk it over with my dad. I sat across from both of them feeling nervous and a little giddy that they might just say yes.

Finally my dad said, “Ok– but you can’t quit. Once you start, you have to finish out the year.”

I nodded vigorously and started to picture myself as the next Jennifer Capriati. (Minus the hours of community service she “earned.”)

My mom tried gently one more time, “Are you sure you don’t want piano lessons? Because we really can’t do both..” 

I shook my head no and a smile crept across my hopeful face.

“Okay.” Dad said. “You can do it.” And that was that, I jumped up, gave quick hugs, and excited “thank you’s” and ran off to locate my favorite scrunci and slouchy socks just in time for practice the next day.

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If you’re wondering why I’ve never mentioned my tennis career, there is a very good explanation. It was terribly short lived. About 6 months later, the school had to plow up the tennis courts to make room for more parking and they never were re-built. So that was that.

So here I am, a non-tennis playing Minister’s wife– who consequently doesn’t know how to play the piano, either. HA!

At one point I asked my mom why she let me take tennis lessons on my own little whim, and I’ve not forgotten what she said, “Because we really didn’t know who you would become– and we wanted you to be free to decide. 

Free. That freedom means a lot more to me now that I’m 32 and a mother myself.

At the time, I was the 5th in a long line of sport-playing, tuition-check needing kiddos– and somehow they sacrificed yet again to allow me the FREEDOM to begin to figure it all out with a Jr. Tennis racket and a pair of shiny white keds.

And by the time those tennis courts were nothing but a parking lot– I had gotten it well out of my system, and they didn’t care one bit.

They let me stretch my wings a little, and it taught me a lot about freedom — and being who you are.

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Fast Forward to a couple of years ago when our little family blog was the exact spot where I wanted to spend more time. I wrote as often as I could, and it made my heart beat fast to edit, edit, edit and then finally press– publish. The more I wrote, the more I loved writing.

And when I sat down with Lance and told him how I longed to be… an actual writer– he said this, “Go for it. I think you should.” 

And I felt it all over again, that exhilarating breath of air that comes when the people we love the most create the space for us to thrive. The space for us to continue growing, all throughout adulthood to change and become more of who God made us to be.

He is continually doing a new work in us, giving us fresh life and fresh opportunities to grow and serve Him better. That fresh bit of life brings great Freedom as the seasons of our lives change bit by bit.

I hope that our children grow up with the same space around them that I did. The same space I live in today– the space to become– whatever God has created them to be. 

So naturally, when Dayspring asked a few of us what “word” would be special to us as a family, I chose Free. Namely, Free Indeed.

FreeIndeed Letterpress blocks

Because, if the Son has set us Free–(and He has!) than we are Free indeed. Free from the chains of our sin and self– and Free to grow in Him and in this life He has blessed us with.

The gorgeous letterpress blocks can be completely customized to whatever word, phrase or verse is special to you and your family. The fun part is, you can go to their website and play around with the tool to see exactly what your blocks would look like!

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“The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” John 8: 35, 36

 

**Dayspring is sending me a $25.00 credit in exchange for my honest and heart-felt opinion of these letterpress blocks. I actually won my words, Free Indeed during a Twitter party for #Allume, and the blocks are just as beautiful in person as they are on the site!!

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