Happy Go Stuckey


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Not much has Changed. (FMF)

Seven years. That’s how long it’s been since that warm late August day. People tell me it was unbearably hot but I really can’t say that I noticed. All I remember is… everything else.

The smile on my face as the alarm went off that morning. The early morning Starbucks run and sitting in the salon chair with a stomach full of spastic butterflies. The morning hours spent with best girl friends, much makeup and even more laughter.

The hours that both flew and creeped by until 5:00PM.

IMG_0884Standing in an empty hallway with only my sweet Dad to steady me as we waited for our turn.

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The swell of the music. The smell of the flowers. The moment of quiet. The deep breath and the opening doors and the first step.

And then it all melts into seeing your face and a beaming smile. I knew. Never had I been more sure of the next step to take.

Vows said with shaky voices and certain hearts.                                                                                                                                                                And everything we had known changed in a swaying lilt of “Will you?” and “Yes.”

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Then we danced like the crazy kids we were and dined on stuffed mushrooms and root beer floats.

Often it feels like yesterday that we headed out together, a family, into the balmy night.

But a few things have changed in seven years and sometimes it feels like a million lifetimes ago.

Our flower girls and ring bearers are now amazing teenagers with driver’s licenses.

Our newlywed apartment is a cherished memory and the halls we now walk are beautifully littered with the effects of 2 twirling girls.

Seven Years. 84 Months.  2,555 Days. Some of them have been harder than others and every now and then I forget what it was like to be the new bride.

But looking at that girl in all that white in our wedding album, and the way she looked at him–

And looking at me looking at you as you come in the door and are met with a chorus of girls and hugs– I see her.

She’s still here. A few more laugh lines and just as many butterflies. And she still feels the exact same way and the answer is still “YES.”

You and Me. Forever. Nothing has really changed. 

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Celebrating 7 years of Marriage to my One and Only and Happy to Link up with my Five Minute Friday Friends!!! 

 

** Photos captured by the amazing Casey Chappell**


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My Top 10 from Declare

I could write a SERIES of posts on all the Declare Conference goodness. I could tell you every session I went to and all the amazing words that were shared. But, I usually get overwhelmed trying to summarize after a weekend like that and unfortunately stay that way for days. However, since I have successfully unpacked my suitcase, (I KNOW?!!! Breakthrough!) it’s officially time to share. No more putting it off.

My Top 10 of Declare

1. The first five hours of my time in Texas. I arrived, found my suitcase and headed out into the warmth of the Dallas sun and the hugs of this girl! Casey is an extremely gifted artist in several areas and a genuine lover of people. We ate fantastic pizza and talked for hours. It was incredibly soul-filling for me to be with such a kindred spirit and the absolute BEST way to begin the weekend. I’m holding out hope that we end up in the same state one day, or even the same coast would be nice. :) IMG_4295

2. Meeting people I “knew” from online and finding them to be every bit as lovely in real life. Right away I was bumping into faces I recognized and getting to know them better. This one. This one. This one. This one. This one. This one. This one. There are so many more and I could go on and on, but the thing you need to know about something like this– connections will be made. Stories will be shared. And you will love the community that grows.

3. My Roomies. All three of my roommates were from the area, but I’m so glad they decided to stay at the hotel, thus giving me the chance to get to know them better. Fabulous women. Each with a different story to tell– and they were transparent, real and kind. I cannot believe we neglected to get a group photo. Bummer! Check out my amazing roomies here and here… and one more fantastic friend is in the beginning stages of a fun blog idea! Can’t wait to see it, Jessica!

4. The session on Wild Obedience- Stewarding Life Well by Logan Wolfram completely rocked me. I love her heart and all that she gives as the leader of the Allume Community and this session was nothing short of a gift for me. Logan spoke about our need to be faithful and obedient in the little steps that God gives us, and the value of not viewing our calling as an ultimate goal to be reached. (And let me just say, I’m in a stage of life– where it ALL feels like little steps. ) My main takeaway is the need to follow God– little yes by little yes. Saying yes to the things that He asks of me, even when (especially when) they seem small. So thankful for this session, Logan. (P.S. want more amazing blogging conference goodness? There are still a few Allume tickets left– head here!) You will not regret it!

5. Being given the freedom to say ‘No’ and be a little foolish in the world’s eyes. Lisa-Jo Baker spoke on Wildly Foolish Obedience and the fact that obedience is not a formula with success as its’ result, but rather obedience IS success in God’s eyes. He does not desire that we are big fat successes, rather that we are faithful servants. Lisa-Jo so appropriately said, “Wild Obedience does not equal publicly awesome acts of service.”  Good Stuff, ya’ll. Also, I received another copy of her book, Surprised by Motherhood* and plan to host a giveaway soon– so keep an eye out. 

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6. That morning that I had an important meeting and my roommate, who I had ‘met’ exactly three days prior, took me aside and prayed over me with all the care of a lifelong friend. I was completely humbled by the love and I will not forget it.

7. Meeting wonderful sponsors like CK Design Mission. Seriously. Chris and Cassandra have this heart for Amsterdam and are moving their sweet family there very soon to plant a church. They also happen to be beautifully talented artists with a print shop!  Keep your eyes peeled for a giveaway of one of their pieces– gorgeous art, I tell ya!

8. The Coffee Bar. No, really. (In)Courage  sponsored a beautiful coffee bar for us on Saturday afternoon and it MADE my day. But, then when does fresh coffee next to a vat of real whipped cream and bowl of chocolate curls not make my day? Never. That’s when.

9. The Variety. In just one short weekend, the Declare Conference offers such a huge range of topics applicable to a large range of bloggers. Sessions ranging from Blogging Efficiency, Waiting on God’s Timing, Writing more with Less, Affiliate Marketing, Publishing Helps, Stewarding our Lives Well, and the list goes on and on! Each time I attended a session, I wanted to be in at least one more place at that time because it was so hard to choose. Whether you are a brand new blogger or a seasoned writer– you would be blessed by this weekend.

10. The Main Focus. As much as I appreciated the variety, there was no question of what the heart of the Declare Conference was and is. It was crystal clear that the call to WILD OBEDIENCE began with the hosts and trickled down to every detail of the weekend. I came away refreshed. Overwhelmed with God’s goodness. Ready to keep writing, following and obeying– whatever that looks like today. I came home tired and with a full cup. I came home grateful and changed. 

Declare 2014 Blog

Want to hear what other people are saying about the Declare Conference? You know you do. :)

 

*Affiliate Link. Thank you for your support! 


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Tell them there is Hope. (FMF)

So the internet. It’s been really LOUD this week. Perhaps I’ve struggled more with the noise since I returned home from the Declare Conference on Sunday. All I’ve wanted was a good long bit of quiet — time for processing and time with my three loves. But,  Life.

Certainly I could have turned it all off, stuck my head in the sand and avoided the pain and the struggles and the sadness. But sadly, I do that far too often.

Last night as we readied ourselves for bed, I was overwhelmed. So much hurt. So much despair. So many sad events in just one week.

I absentmindedly said to my husband, “Wow. We (as a country) really need some good news. Something happy. Something positive.”

As I drifted off to sleep, it hit me like a blast of cold air in the face– We HAVE that good news. Something positive HAS happened. We have hope.

We have the hope of Christ and that changes everything– if we let it. We have the gift of prayer to a God who hears– but we have to go to Him. We have the biggest reason for crazy joy and peace and gift-counting ever– but we have to TELL THEM.

It’s hard not to feel utterly and completely helpless, because people are still hurting. Many of them love God and know true peace– but they are still HURTING.

And my arms don’t feel long enough to wrap around them all. My words feel as though they fall flat when I open my mouth to speak love. My fingers stayed paralyzed in front of a keyboard when I look at all else that has been said and wonder which of it matters. Is this even helpful? What can I do? I’m one small voice with a handful of followers.

But I’m choosing obedience today. And joy. And I’m choosing to tell everyone, every chance I get. That there is Hope. And there is a God who does not look at us in our brokenness and sadly shake His head. 

He knows we are broken. He loves us in spite of it.

He knows we are flawed. He is the only One who is not.

He knows we are helpless. He is our only Help.

So as we look for some shred of good news in today, remember this:

“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.”

1 Peter 2:9 (ESV)

 

 Linking up with Kate for Five Minute Friday! Same lovely group– new home!!! 


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4×4 for Declare

In less than 5 days, I will be headed to the Declare Conference!!!! (YAY. Seriously. YAY!)

This will be only my 2nd Blogging/ Writing Conference and my first ever Declare. I am absolutely beside myself excited to go and spend time getting to know these other women with  similar passions and hearts– but other than a few that I’ve met virtually, and a few that I met last year at Allume– I really don’t KNOW too many women going. Which makes the FUN link-up that the Declare Hostesses planned even more exciting. I have spent so much time going through and “meeting” other attendees, I’ve failed to write my own 4×4 post– so here it is (finally!)

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4 Things About Me: 

  • I’m the youngest of five children, (all brothers!) and still absolutely LOVE making the drive and going “home” to my parent’s house. Something about standing in my Mom & Dad’s kitchen in my socks, drinking coffee from “my” mug while my mom cooks breakfast. It’s simply perfect.
  • The moment I first met my husband is forever frozen in my mind just like a scene in a movie. We both worked for the same professor and I vividly remember every single detail of that afternoon when he first walked in. Goosebumps, I tell ya. Oh, and Aviator Sunglasses. Those too. I’ll never be the same.
  • I am the proud Mom of two little girls, ages 5 and 2. Our days are full of squealing and every bit of princess paraphernalia known to man. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
  • I very often hear songs in my head as a sort of soundtrack to certain moments. I’m an idealist and I do not care. I overuse explanation points. And maybe instagram. I over-gram. Be warned.

4 of my “Endearing” Quirks:

  • I have a problem unpacking suitcases. If I don’t do it in the first 12 hours after returning from a trip– it’s usually a real struggle to get it unpacked. It’s a problem I’m working to fix, because– you know… stubbed toes.
  • I am unspeakably horribly geographically challenged. I struggle with knowing where places are. It’s laughable, really. I can find my way around a city just fine– it’s more knowing where cities and states (and ok, countries) are. I’m pretty sure it’s because I sat right next to my best friend in 7th grade Geography and I don’t remember ANY learning going on. I blame that.
  • I’m hard to win over on new things– restaurants, foods, clothing trends, hairstyles, etc. and then once I’m won over– I’m the biggest champion for that thing. My husband rightly explains it this way: “You HATE something. Until you don’t. Then you LOVE it more than anyone.” I’m not this way about people though. I generally love everyone I meet. :)
  • I have so many quirks, I recently wrote an entire blog post about them. 

4 Things About my Writing:

  • I’ve always enjoyed writing but I started writing a blog almost 8 years ago as a way to tell people directions for our wedding. From there it just never stopped.
  • I have written more in different seasons of our life than others, the happy and the difficult, but in the last 18 months writing has changed from an occasional hobby to a calling and an act of worship. It’s a life-giving exercise.
  • I write about... encouragement. Life. Grace. Mothering. Trust in time of difficulty. The hardest things I write are… affiliate posts. I’m trying to work at them, but they stretch me for sure.
  • Some day I would love to write a book about hospitality. I love cooking. I adore feeding people and I always have– even in college, I cooked meals for everyone and my apartment felt most like home when it was busting at its’ seams with friends and family sharing a meal.

4 of my Favorite Things:  Only Four???favorite four

  • Chocolate. I recently discovered these Chocolate Covered Almonds at Target and WOW. And BONUS, you get a little protein from the almonds. Score. Find me at Declare– I will most likely have them and will gladly share.
  • Iced Coffee. I almost always prefer making it at home but I love, love, love Iced Coffee. It is, as they say– MY JAM.
  • These Fireball Stud Earrings from the JCrew Factory Store – my sweet lifelong BFF (yep, you guessed it– Geography girl.) gave them to me for my birthday this year and I wear them WAY too much. But they go with everything!!
  • Okay. these chips. IF you live near a Whole Foods Store, (I do not for at least a few more months) you need to go try them. (And no, all other brands are not created equal. They add things like jalapeño powder and sugar???)
  • Honorable Mention goes to this Benefit Cosmetics erase paste concealer (because four really isn’t enough.)
    Such Fantastic coverage. And it lasts for eons. Literally, I’ve had it so long the packaging has changed several times. (affiliate link) I’m definitely packing mine for all those late night Declare chats!!


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Daily Grace Items on HUGE Sale at Dayspring!!!

Ya’ll.

Dayspring is having this secret sale where a few of my favorite items are on a HUGE DISCOUNT. Most importantly, some of my FAVORITE Daily Grace Items are so deeply marked down, I had to snatch a few up for future Christmas gifts, Shower gifts, Hostess gifts, they even great Teacher gifts!

***My very favorite Daily Grace Platter (regular price 37.00!) is currently marked down to $5.00!!!!!

Photo courtesy of Dayspring

Photo courtesy of Dayspring

This is a large 16″ platter that is simply gorgeous. I love it so much, I keep it displayed at all times in my kitchen and use it every chance I get! $5.00 is a total steal! AND, you can use the code save20gifts to save and ADDITIONAL 20% off. Seriously. Wow.

Here’s a photo of the platter the night I used it to deliver surprise birthday cupcakes to a friend– Chocolate makes everything better, right? Order yourself one right now before they sell out! 

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***You will also find the Daily Grace 9″ pitcher on sale for $5.00!!! It has an adorable little chalkboard label to write its contents– I LOVE this feature and have ordered one of these for myself!

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Photo courtesy of Dayspring

 

Also of note—

Shauna Niequist’s book, Bread & Wine is absolutely BEAUTIFUL. Filled with heartfelt stories about life around the table and delicious recipes, I’ve finally just started reading this myself and wish I had started it earlier. It is also… you guessed it– $5.00 with an extra 20% off if you use the code, save20gifts 

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There are several other crazy good steals– just click over to  Visit DaySpring Home Page page HERE and under Sale & Clearance, click on “24 Hour Secret Sale” There you will see all the items in this great DEAL. And don’t forget the code save20gifts to save an extra 20%. Also, check out the book section– many great titles are on sale already even before the extra 20%! (Surprised by Motherhood by Lisa-Jo Baker, The Nesting Place by Myquillin Smith (Both amazing and gorgeous books to give or get!)

This kind of sale isn’t common, especially on these Daily Grace items– so I expect them to sell out QUICK! Happy Shopping!!!

 

** DaySpring Affiliate Links used in this post. Thank you for clicking!!! **


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Finish. And how you must first begin. (FMF)

I’m all alone in a new-found favorite spot. Comfy purple chair. Earbuds streaming the soul-calming sounds of my Audrey Assad Station. Beside me sits a tall iced coffee infused with coconut and a slice of Hawaiian Banana Bread. Apparently, I’m wishing for an escape in more ways than one.

I’m not just here to read. Or to think or relax.

I’m here with a task. Something that I’ve known I had to finish for more than two months. Something for which the deadline is looming. But each time I sit and try to “knock it out,” several things loom larger than my responsibility.

My own inadequacy. My own “green-ness” at this. Some might call it stress-paralysis. My own fear that someone else could do it better. Someone else could say it more eloquently. Truthfully, I’m not very brave am I?

But here’s the thing.

It’s not always ALL about Bravery. Somedays it’s ALL ABOUT OBEDIENCE.

Today is that day.

Somedays you have to be brave, other days you just have to show up and be available.

Here is what I know. I know that when we are given tasks that seem too big for us, it is because they most certainly are. 

Tasks that are too big for us require that we allow our smallness to shrink back a bit and allow God to more clearly show His power. His strength. His might. His ABILITY to equip us where we feel ill-equipped.

But obedience requires the first step. Often the first step is all we know in the way of direction.

But let’s take it. Take the first step to begin in the direction God is nudging us.

Begin. And He will take care of the finishing. 

So happy to link up with my other Five Minute Friday Friends HERE! 


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Summer Garden Vegetable Soup

So July is kind of birthday central around our house. I turned 32 on Monday and Lance turns 35- 9 days later on the 30th– and it’s never fun to confine your birthday celebrations to just one day… therefore we basically celebrate for the last half of July! Which makes August National-get-your-nutritional-groove-back month in our house.  But at some point yesterday I realized the amount of… “treat” food I had enjoyed over the last few days and felt the need to cram my system full of vegetables and nutrients for dinner. So, this lovely Summer Vegetable Soup was born. Never mind the fact that it’s about 100 degrees outside– it was still great for a rainy summer evening.

Some notes: 1. Though this a healthy recipe, it does begin with 2 strips of bacon. The bacon lends a nice flavor and when your husband says, “Is there meat in this?” You can say, “Yes! Bacon!” And that just makes most husbands happy. If you desire to make this vegetarian, just substitute a TBS. of Olive Oil to sauté your veggies in. 2. Also in the slightly decadent category, I finish this soup with 1 tbs. Heavy Cream. Feel free to leave that out. I would not sub anything else but you could add a bit of greek yogurt– just allow your soup to cool slightly so it doesn’t curdle.  Anddd….3. I do not like big chunks of vegetables that can get mushy in soup– so things that tend to do that– (carrots, zucchini, etc.) I shred in the food processor (or on a cheese grater) and it makes the soup have the perfect texture– and it’s just beautiful that way! See? 

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Okay for the recipe– You can use just about any vegetables you fancy but here is what I did:

 

Summer Garden Vegetable Soup

  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 an onion, diced
  • 2 strips of bacon, diced
  • 32 oz. Low Sodium Chicken Broth
  • 1 large zucchini, shredded and drained
  • 1 small yellow squash, shredded and drained
  • 3-4 medium carrots, peeled and shredded
  • 3-4 medium mushrooms, diced
  • 2 ears of corn, removed from cob or 1 cup of frozen kernels (Please don’t leave this out unless you really don’t like corn– it makes the soup!)
  • 1 can of Cannellini Beans, drained and rinsed. (set aside 3 Tbs. of these beans in a small bowl.)
  • 1 Regular Jar of Marinara Sauce (Homemade works perfect too!)
  • 1 tbs. fresh sage, diced (or 1/2 tsp. dried sage.)
  • 1 tbs. fresh thyme, diced (or 1 tsp. dried thyme.)
  • a pinch of salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • freshly grated parmesan

In a large dutch oven or soup pot, sautée the bacon. When it is not quite done, add the diced onion and garlic and allow it to begin to brown. When the onion becomes tender and is translucent, add the chicken broth and then the carrots, zucchini, squash and mushrooms. Add Herbs and a pinch of salt and pepper. Bring to a boil while stirring occasionally. While soup is coming to a boil, take the 3 tbs. of white beans you set aside in a small bowl. Smash them with the back of a spoon and then add the smashed mixture to the soup. (this helps thicken the soup.) Now add the whole cannellini beans and stir in. Add Marinara Sauce and stir. Add the corn now. (At this point, you need to look at your soup– to see if it is too thick. If it is, fill the empty marinara jar half-way full with water and then add to the pot. Depending on how juicy your vegetables were, you may or may not need to do this. )  

After soup comes to a boil, Lower the heat and Simmer for 10-12 minutes on low until soup is heated throughout.

Taste for seasoning, add more salt and pepper if needed. If your soup tastes like it needs more flavor, you can add a tbs. or two of basil pesto– delicious!

Remove Soup from heat and allow to cool slightly. Add Heavy cream if using. Stir.

Serve bowls of soup with Grated Parmesan– and this Cheddar Zucchini Cornbread is a great accompaniment (and a great way to use up some more shredded zucchini and get more in your kiddos!)

Both the soup and the cornbread make enough for either a crowd, or plenty of leftovers!!!

Cheddar Zucchini Cornbread

 

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