Tuesday, April 24, 2018

A new book for you (and a giveaway!)


Many years ago, I attended a blogging conference. Before I attended, I believed that the conference would answer all my questions about blogging and that I would leave with everything I needed to become a highly successful blogger, blah, blah, blah.

Honestly, the conference was pretty good. I most certainly did not have all my questions answered, but I was glad I went—not because of the information I collected, but because of the people I met. And here's one of the best of those people:


This is Shelly Wildman, and today I'm especially proud to say that I know Shelly. Because today, Shelly's first book launches into the world. First Ask Why: Raising Kids to Love God Through Intentional Discipleship isn't a typical how-to-parent book (I'm not a fan of typical parenting books, actually). This book is different.


I met Shelly when were both in the thick of parenting teenagers. Shelly has three daughters who are almost the same ages of my three sons, so we had lots to talk about. And I quickly ascertained that Shelly was remarkably intentional about how she was raising her daughters. More than anything else, Shelly wanted her kids to be followers of Jesus, and it seemed that all her parenting decisions were made with that in mind. This is what Shelly shares in First Ask Why: the wisdom that she's gained through years of intentionally raising her kids to be disciples of Jesus.

I've known Shelly long enough to know that she's the real deal, and I'm so glad she's written a book to share her parenting wisdom with the world.

I was blessed to receive an advance copy of this book, and I can tell you that it would be an especially good read for parents of kids ages 2-12. But it would also be helpful for parents of kids of any age. It would be a great book for grandparents to read. I'm also thinking that it would make a great baby shower gift!

I don't have to purchase my own copy of the book, so I'm going to buy a copy for one of you. Just comment below or on Instagram or Facebook if you'd like to win a copy. I'll order it and have it sent straight to you. (Bonus: Shelly is donating all the proceeds from the sale of the book to a wonderful organization that is dedicated to helping kids who live in high-risk, inner-city neighborhoods have abundant life.)

You can order the book through Amazon.comBarnes and Noble, or Christian Book Distributors, or ask for it at your local bookseller. (These are NOT affiliate links; I just believe in this book and want to make it easy for you to order.)

Happy reading!

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Grace at Home No. 295


Hi y'all! (Every now and then I have to break out some Southern language. If you were here in person, I'd want to hug your neck!)

Last week I was in Grand Rapids, Michigan for the Festival of Faith and Writing, and I think I flew out on the last plane that actually stayed on schedule. Many of my friends got stuck in Michigan because of ice and snow. I'm really grateful to be back in the South!

I'm so glad you're here for the Grace at Home party. Here are some nice springy links from last week's party I hope you'll enjoy.

Michele from The Scrap Shoppe Blog designed this lovely printable and she's offering it as a free download! Isn't this wonderful? I just love that old saying: "All the flowers of all the tomorrows are in the seeds of today."


Jeanie from Create and Babble showed us how to create custom chargers to match any china. This tablescape is so pretty and springy, isn't it?


Paula from Sweet Pea gave us a tour of her living room decorated for Spring. Paula is an expert at using antiques, vintage finds, and family keepsakes in her decor for every season. Here's one small vignette:


If you're trying to get some Spring cleaning done and you have LEGO fans in your home, you'll be glad to see this tutorial for building a DIY LEGO table from Vineta at The Handyman's Daughter. Full instructions and a video at Vineta's blog.


Okay, I really do want to learn how to use an Instant Pot. Anyone else still have one in the box? I was glad to see these instructions for roasting a whole chicken in an Instant Pot from Joy at Artful Homemaking. See? Here's proof that the pot will hold a whole chicken!


And Dr. Michelle Bengtson shared some extremely wise words on how not to give up when you're going through a difficult times. Really helpful.


A big thank you to everyone who joined last week's party!  I'm so grateful for each person who links up each week. If you've been featured, feel free to grab the "I was featured" button.  I'd be so proud if you displayed it!

Now for this week's party!  Grace at Home is a place for you to share anything related to making your home a place of grace. I invite you to link posts about

  • DIY projects
  • decorating
  • recipes
  • hospitality
  • homemaking tips
  • parenting
  • marriage
  • faith
  • self-care
  • soul care
Whatever you do to make your home a place of grace, I'd like to hear about it.  Here's what I ask of you.  Please include the permalink to your post, not your blog's home page.  Please let people know that you've linked up.  No more than three posts per person, please.  Note that if you link a post here, you are giving me permission to share your post, including a photo.  And visit at least one of the other party participants--that's what really makes it a party!





Thursday, April 12, 2018

Grace at Home No. 294


Hello, friends! I'm so glad you're here for the weekly Grace at Home party, where we celebrate all the ways we make our homes places of grace.

My own home is a place I have scarcely seen this past week. If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook, you might have seen this photo of me in the airport:


Since I've been traveling so much, I haven't had a chance to choose features from last week's party, but I so appreciate every person who joined.

Now for this week's party!  Grace at Home is a place for you to share anything related to making your home a place of grace. I invite you to link posts about
  • DIY projects
  • decorating
  • recipes
  • hospitality
  • homemaking tips
  • parenting
  • marriage
  • faith
  • self-care
  • soul care
Whatever you do to make your home a place of grace, I'd like to hear about it.  Here's what I ask of you.  Please include the permalink to your post, not your blog's home page.  Please let people know that you've linked up.  No more than three posts per person, please.  Note that if you link a post here, you are giving me permission to share your post, including a photo.  And visit at least one of the other party participants--that's what really makes it a party!





Thursday, April 5, 2018

Grace at Home No. 293


Welcome! I hope you had a wonderful Easter. I'm so glad you're here for this week's Grace at Home party, where we celebrate all the ways we make our homes places of grace.

Here are some links from last week's party I think you'll enjoy.

Victoria from Dazzle While Frazzled developed a way to hide unsightly washer/dryer connections with a DIY corkboard. Brilliant!


Vineta from The Handyman's Daughter showed us how to build a pantry cabinet.


Nadine from The Kindest Way gave us food for thought about why minimalism is worth a try.


Andrea from Living on Cloud Nine shared a recipe for Butterfinger Bliss Bars. Don't these look scrumptious?

Marva from Sun Sparkle Shine inspired with a devotional based on "When I Survey the Wondrous Cross." You'll be glad you read this!


A big thank you to everyone who joined last week's party!  I'm so grateful for each person who links up each week. If you've been featured, feel free to grab the "I was featured" button.  I'd be so proud if you displayed it!

Now for this week's party!  Grace at Home is a place for you to share anything related to making your home a place of grace. I invite you to link posts about

  • DIY projects
  • decorating
  • recipes
  • hospitality
  • homemaking tips
  • parenting
  • marriage
  • faith
  • self-care
  • soul care
Whatever you do to make your home a place of grace, I'd like to hear about it.  Here's what I ask of you.  Please include the permalink to your post, not your blog's home page.  Please let people know that you've linked up.  No more than three posts per person, please.  Note that if you link a post here, you are giving me permission to share your post, including a photo.  And visit at least one of the other party participants--that's what really makes it a party!






Friday, March 30, 2018

The message of Good Friday



When we were visiting Florida one beautiful spring day, we experienced the blessing of seeing a skywriter perform.  Here's what the pilot blazed across the sky:


Some of the lettering had faded by the time I snapped this picture, but perhaps you can still see that the message is "Love God."

A year later, we saw a skywriter perform once again.  This time the message was a little different:



We didn't get to see the finished words here, but we knew what they would be.  The skywriter was spelling out "Jesus loves you."

On this Good Friday, I'm pondering these two messages, blazoned on the sky by courageous pilots. Two messages about the Lord we worship.

I was watching TV footage of a street demonstration of some kind. One of the participants held a poster stating, "Jesus loves you but God is holy." I have no idea what the demonstration was about; it could have been any number of hot-button issues, I suppose.

That sign broke my heart.

It contained two important facts, of course. Jesus does love you--no matter who the "you" is. And God is holy. But why would those statements be linked with the word "but"? As if they are in contradiction to each other? As if God and Jesus were in disagreement about something!

Today, Good Friday, we commemorate the greatest act of sacrifice ever made—the crucifixion of Jesus. After taking on a human body, after living a life free from any kind of sin or guile, after teaching and loving people and reaching out to those most despised by society and healing the sick and restoring sight to the blind, Jesus allowed himself to be put to be tortured and put to death.  Jesus died so we could live. Yes, Jesus loves us.

And that radical plan for the salvation of humankind—the son of God living on earth as a human, teaching people how to live, allowing Himself to be killed—that plan wasn't just the work of Jesus. That was the work of all three members of the Trinity. God is ONE God in three persons, and Father, Son, and Spirit love us. There can never be a disagreement within the Trinity.

Yes, for sure, God is holy; Father, Son, and Spirit are holy. But let's not take the idea of "holiness" and turn it into a word that means distant, far off, or unapproachable.  Because that's not the way God is at all. God is right here. God is good. God is full of love and compassion.  The words are so familiar that they can seem trite, but they're not: "God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life" (John 3:16).

Years ago, when I was participating in a retreat for Christians, I heard something that I'd never thought about before, something that imprinted itself on my very soul. A number of us all had our heads bowed in prayer, and then the leader asked us to say out loud what we knew to be true about God. From around the room came one comment after another:

"God is good."

"God is merciful."

"God is gracious."

"God is glorious."

Those were all good and true statements, and we all murmured our assent to each one.  Then one member of the group, a very wise man, softly added, "God is Christlike."  I'd never thought about it in just that way before. My head snapped up and my eyes flew open—and I wept. Of course this is true. God and Jesus and the Holy Spirit are one. They are all like one another.

If you want to know what God is like, look at Jesus, the one who allowed Himself to be put to death for our sake.



Thinking about the love of God reminds me of my grandmother. She was a precious woman, one of those sweet ladies who sent birthday cards to every young person she knew. She worked for many years at an elementary school and was loved by hundreds of kids, so she sent a lot of cards. She usually tucked a $2 bill into those cards. And she always signed them the same way.  On every card, she wrote, "Smile. God loves you. So do I."

As I remember the events of this day, that's the message I'd like to see on a poster.

Smile. God loves you. So do I. 

Dear God, may my life proclaim the message you proclaimed so loudly on that blessed Friday so long ago.

A blessed Good Friday to you, my friends.  What message would you like to share on this day?


Thursday, March 29, 2018

Grace at Home No. 292


Dear ones, it's Holy Week! I hope your week is blessed as we remember the great love of God, who loved the world so much that he sent His son. Because of His grace we are alive. It's His grace we celebrate every week, His grace that enables us to make our homes places of grace.

Here are some links from last week's party I hope you'll enjoy.

Colleen from Life on Kaydeross Creek shared lots of tips for decorating a mantel for spring. I really like this one of her combinations.


Laura from Decor to Adore shared some easy, inexpensive tips for updating a bedroom for spring. I've never made seasonal changes to our bedroom, but Laura's post makes me want to give it a try.


If you're still trying to add some Easter decor to your home, you'll be glad to get these easy instructions for making a cute moss bunny from Diane at An Extraordinary Day.


If you need a good laugh today, you'll love this Spring Break horror story (with a happy ending) by Karmen at Chairs from the Curb. It's hilarious!


For some wonderful Easter inspiration, I highly recommend this post by Michele Morin from Living Our Days. 


A big thank you to everyone who joined last week's party!  I'm so grateful for each person who links up each week. If you've been featured, feel free to grab the "I was featured" button.  I'd be so proud if you displayed it!

Now for this week's party!  Grace at Home is a place for you to share anything related to making your home a place of grace. I invite you to link posts about

  • DIY projects
  • decorating
  • recipes
  • hospitality
  • homemaking tips
  • parenting
  • marriage
  • faith
  • self-care
  • soul care
Whatever you do to make your home a place of grace, I'd like to hear about it.  Here's what I ask of you.  Please include the permalink to your post, not your blog's home page.  Please let people know that you've linked up.  No more than three posts per person, please.  Note that if you link a post here, you are giving me permission to share your post, including a photo.  And visit at least one of the other party participants--that's what really makes it a party!






Sunday, March 25, 2018

Inspiration for the week: Palm Sunday


This month in North Carolina has been frustrating.

After warm temperatures and beautiful, sunny skies in February that led to early blooms on the trees, March has been full of cold and snow and wind and rain. Folks from the North probably laugh at us, but here in the South we're not equipped for snow in the springtime.

Still, regardless of the weather, Holy Week has come. Today is Palm Sunday, and though I had to wear a coat to church this morning, I want my heart to be ready to welcome Jesus this week.


Perhaps, like me, you could use a little extra preparation for Holy Week. If so, you might enjoy reading this poem from G.K. Chesterton.

"The Donkey"

When fishes flew and forests walked
And figs grew upon thorn,
Some moment when the moon was blood
Then surely I was born;

With monstrous head and sickening cry
And ears like errant wings,
The devil's walking parody
On all four-footed things.

The tattered outlaw of the earth,
Of ancient crooked will;
Starve, scourge, deride me; I am dumb.
I keep my secret still.

Fools! For I also had my hour;
One far fierce hour and sweet:
There was a shout about my ears,
And palms before my feet.


And perhaps you will join me in this prayer: 

Dear Lord, warm our hearts to welcome you. Lord, give us eyes to see, ears to hear, and hearts to recognize Jesus as King of Kings.

A blessed Palm Sunday to you!

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Grace at Home No. 291


Good morning, friends! Welcome to the Grace at Home party, where we celebrate the ways we make our homes places of grace.

Here are some posts from last week's party that caught my eye.

Easter is fast approaching, so I was tickled to see how Lori from Dining Delights decorated her kitchen sideboard for Easter.


If you're doing some Easter decorating, you'll be glad to see how Lisa from Fresh Vintage by Lisa made these "He Is Risen" blocks from Dollar Tree supplies.


If you're looking for some Easter crafts to do with kids, Leslie at From Playdates to Parties has you covered.


Lindsey from Repurpose and Upcycle wrote a tutorial for how to make oversized portraits on the cheap. You know you'll be taking photos of kids at Easter; here's how you can display them.


If you're planning a special Easter breakfast or brunch, you might want to make these adorable lamb cinnamon rolls from Jas at All That's Jas. My kids would love these!


Be sure to read "With Jesus, Your Home Is More Than Enough" from Tiffiney at Welcome Home. You don't want to miss this inspiring post!


A big thank you to everyone who joined last week's party!  I'm so grateful for each person who links up each week. If you've been featured, feel free to grab the "I was featured" button.  I'd be so proud if you displayed it!

Now for this week's party!  Grace at Home is a place for you to share anything related to making your home a place of grace. I invite you to link posts about

  • DIY projects
  • decorating
  • recipes
  • hospitality
  • homemaking tips
  • parenting
  • marriage
  • faith
  • self-care
  • soul care
Whatever you do to make your home a place of grace, I'd like to hear about it.  Here's what I ask of you.  Please include the permalink to your post, not your blog's home page.  Please let people know that you've linked up.  No more than three posts per person, please.  Note that if you link a post here, you are giving me permission to share your post, including a photo.  And visit at least one of the other party participants--that's what really makes it a party!





Thursday, March 15, 2018

Grace at Home No. 290


Hello, friends! It's the middle of March! How did these first weeks of March go by so quickly?

We've been on "Spring" break this week, but if you follow me on Instagram (I'd love to see you there!), you know it hasn't been too springy for me.


Oh, well. Spring is coming, I know!

Meanwhile, here are some links from last week's party I thought you'd enjoy.

Jen at Noting Grace transformed a plain-Jane pantry into a pretty farmhouse space.


St. Patrick's Day is just two days away! If you're looking for a fun and easy treat, you might want to try this "Lepre-corn" from Pattie at Olla-Podrida.


If you're ready to decorate your home for Easter, you'll be inspired by the Easter touches Penny from Penny's Vintage Home has added to her house.


I was tickled to get this recipe for "Preacher Cake" from the LouLou Girls. Apparently this is an old recipe that relies on items you'll likely have on hand so that you can whip up something yummy when the preacher is coming to visit! (Anyone else remember the days of preachers making home visits?)


As for me, I had a rough week last week, which caused me to reflect upon how grateful I am for God's redemption. I'd love for you to read "Hanging on to Hope" and let me know what you think.


A big thank you to everyone who joined last week's party!  I'm so grateful for each person who links up each week. If you've been featured, feel free to grab the "I was featured" button.  I'd be so proud if you displayed it!

Now for this week's party!  Grace at Home is a place for you to share anything related to making your home a place of grace. I invite you to link posts about

  • DIY projects
  • decorating
  • recipes
  • hospitality
  • homemaking tips
  • parenting
  • marriage
  • faith
  • self-care
  • soul care
Whatever you do to make your home a place of grace, I'd like to hear about it.  Here's what I ask of you.  Please include the permalink to your post, not your blog's home page.  Please let people know that you've linked up.  No more than three posts per person, please.  Note that if you link a post here, you are giving me permission to share your post, including a photo.  And visit at least one of the other party participants--that's what really makes it a party!







Monday, March 12, 2018

Hanging on to hope


Boy, am I glad it's a new week.

As I turn the page to a new week in my planner, I'm awfully glad to leave last week behind and to look with hope at the unsullied week ahead.


I'm really glad for some hope, because last week was hard around here. More than once I found myself agreeing with Alexander, "This is a terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad day." Remember that book by Judith Viorst?

Maybe you've had days like that, too.

In the middle of those days, I realized something about myself. If you've read the book, you may remember that Alexander himself is telling the story, and the whole thing begins with this sentence:

"I went to sleep with gum in my mouth. . .
   And now there's gum in my hair."

Everything goes downhill after that, but it all started with the dadgum gum.

Which, in my mind, always provoked the question: Why on earth did he go to sleep with gum in his mouth?

Or the admonition: Never go to sleep with gum in your mouth.

Or worse, the accusation: You idiot! You know better than to go to sleep with gum in your mouth!

Somehow, as I surveyed the bad situations of last week, I always landed on the accusation.

You idiot! Why did you do that? Why didn't you do this?? You know better!

The problem with the accusation is that there's some truth in it. Alexander should have known better than to go to sleep with gum in his mouth. I should have known better than to do some of the things I did last week.

But knowing better doesn't always stop us from making mistakes, does it?

I'm thinking there's another way to interpret that first line of Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, one that my soul desperately needs: confession.

I need to sit here honestly and say, "Look, I did some things I shouldn't have done. I messed up, and now we're all paying the price for that."

If I can press pause right there, if I can honestly admit to God and to other people that I did indeed screw up, I can stop the downward spiral.

No, I can't squirm out of the consequences of my mistakes and my sins. It may be that I'll have some terrible, horrible days. But I don't have to go all the way down to "no good."

My very favorite thing about God is that He can take any circumstance—even the terrible mistakes I make—and bring some good of it. The official term for that process is redemption, but I'm not sure that word is adequate. "Redemption" is what I do with coupons at the grocery store. It's what my mom used to do with S & H green stamps.

But the redemption God offers us is not at all mundane; it's miraculous.

I think we forget sometimes that God is quite capable of miracle. It's easy to measure God's abilities through our own feeble means, to hope only for forgiveness, because that sounds so hard to us. We want God simply to disregard our mistakes; we wish only that circumstances could be as if we had never sinned. But God can do better than that.


I made a mess of things last week. To be honest, I'm not even sure how to go about correcting my mistakes. But God doesn't have that problem. He can see the beginning from the end. He can see what contributed to my mistakes. He can see into my heart and the hearts of everyone affected by my sins.

And He can look at all that with eyes of eternal love, through which He can see what needs to be done.

My vision is distorted. I look at myself through eyes of condemnation and reproach. But that's not the way God sees me. Condemnation and reproach are the furthest things from His mind.

I can offer God the truth about myself, terrible as it may be. I can admit my deepest failings.

And then I can ask God to do what no one else can do. God can take even the worst of circumstances and use them to write a different story. He can bring about something new and beautiful from the mess, not despite the mess.

Only God can do that.

With God, there will be days when I screw up royally. There will be terrible, horrible, very bad days.

But there will never have to be days that are no good.

"God is light; in Him is no darkness at all" (I John 1:5). Redemption is His jam. In His hands, we are safe.
*This post contains an affiliate link.