Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Real life, midsummer edition


We knew in advance that the summer of 2019 was going to be a busy time for our family. Our family calendar included so many red-letter events, we ran out of red ink. We knew it was coming. We tried to prepare ourselves.

But wow.

How do you prepare yourself for so many things happening all at once?

Over the course of the last few weeks, every one of our sons has experienced a once-in-a-lifetime event. Here's photographic evidence.

One wedding:


One college graduation:


One master's degree graduation:


Sandwiched in there somewhere, my husband and I celebrated our 34th wedding anniversary. (34 years! Can you believe that?)


And in the middle of these big events, several other notable things took place, too:

The funeral of my beloved aunt (in Kentucky).


The high school graduation of my precious niece (in Mississippi).


 A charity gala (in Washington, DC).


The annual Renovaré Ministry Team Retreat (in Colorado).


An author photo shoot to prepare for the October release of my book, Mythical Me: Finding Freedom from Constant Comparison (which is available now for pre-order!).



And boom! Just like that, it's the middle of July!

That's a lot of pictures of me, huh? Some of these I posted on social media. If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook, you might have seen some of them.  But even this many pictures don't tell the whole story of the past few weeks.

I strive to be utterly authentic on social media, but I've only posted a few times over these past weeks. I've hit some highlights, and that's about it.

When I was writing Mythical Me, I studied social media. I discovered that peer-reviewed studies have now confirmed what many of us have long suspected to be true: social media posts share mostly "best-foot-forward" moments. This is one of the reasons that comparing ourselves to what we see of others' lives on social media is so dangerous. As one author put it, we're "comparing our behind-the-scenes to others' highlight reels."

There have been so many behind-the-scenes moments in my life over the past few weeks, you'd hardly believe it. In fact, we're living in a protracted behind-the-scenes time right now. One of my sons has been seriously ill for the past three weeks, and he's been living at home so that I can care for him. We're praying for healing and hoping for the best, but these weeks have been tough–the sickest I've ever seen him.

I just realized that I haven't posted anything on social media since my son got sick. It's not that I'm trying to hide the messy details of my life. It's more that I've been too busy to attend to Instagram or Facebook.

But if you were looking at me strictly from my social media presence over the past few weeks, you might think my life is practically perfect.

Nope. Far from it.

Here's the truth: my life is deeply blessed. I have a precious family, dear friends, a great church home, meaningful work to do. In addition to that, I have the stability and security of a loving marriage, a good job for my husband, a lovely home, health insurance, money to pay our bills. So my life is not only blessed but also highly privileged in many ways.

But perfect? No.

No one has a perfect life, no matter how their lives may look from afar. But as my friend Myquillyn likes to say, "It doesn't have to be perfect to be beautiful."

We all have blessings, and we all have struggles. My life is a mixture of both, and I know yours is, too. God give us the grace to be thankful for our messy, beautiful, real lives.

Tell me: what has your summer been like? I'd love to hear!

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Grace at Home No. 342


Hello, friends, and welcome to this week's Grace at Home party.

I've been AWOL a lot lately, and this past weekend was the reason. I haven't processed everything yet, but here's a summary in one photo:


That's my son Will and my new daughter, Christiana, at the Naval Memorial Chapel in Pensacola, Florida.

Y'all. Our lives will never be the same, and I'm so glad!

I'll try to write about everything soon. Right now we're still weary from travel and celebration, but now we have a lifetime to reflect upon this wonderful event.

So what have you been up to? I know there are all kinds of ways you're making your homes places of grace, and I want to hear about them!

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!

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!
Click here to enter


Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Turn, turn, turn


When I was a tiny girl, a group called The Byrds recorded a song written by folk artist Pete Seeger. It was called "Turn! Turn! Turn!" Maybe you've heard it:

To everything
Turn! Turn! Turn!
There is a season
Turn! Turn! Turn!
And a time to every purpose
Under heaven.


You may recognize those words from the third chapter of Ecclesiastes, one of the Bible's books of wisdom. The Byrds' popular song echoed the words of the King James Version:

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:

A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;

A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;

A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;

 a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;

A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;

A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;

A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.

No one would argue with the wisdom of those words. The tricky part is remembering them, don't you think?


I've written before about how quickly time passes. In fact, I firmly believe that a better motto for parents than Carpe Diem is Tempus Fugit. Not every day is worth seizing; some we merely survive. But wow, does time fly.

Here's one of the first pictures ever taken of me and my oldest son, Will:



Just three weeks after this photo was taken, I took baby Will to visit my mother. Very vividly now does a scene come back to me. We took Will for a walk in his stroller, and as we walked, my mom told me that I should savor the moments of his babyhood. "Turn around," she said, "and he'll be leaving." Then she quoted one of those sweet Kingston Trio songs she always loved:

Where are you going, my little one, little one?
Where are going, my baby, my own?
Turn around, and you're two
Turn around, and you're four
Turn around, you're a young girl
Going out of the door.

At that point I still had the swollen tummy of a new mother, and I could hardly imagine fitting back into my skinny jeans, much less having that little baby big enough to leave. So I did a pirouette on the sidewalk and giggled at my mother. She just gave me one of those wise smiles and said, "Wait and see."

My mom left this earth nearly 20 years ago, but I've thought of her words often through the years. She was right.

I turned once, and he was 10 years old.



I turned again, and he graduated from college.



I turned once more, and he was commissioned as an officer in the U.S. Navy.



One more time, and he began training to be an aviator.


There will be more photos of Will made this week, but they won't feature my son with his mom. They'll be pictures of him with this beautiful woman:


On June 15, this boy of mine—no longer a boy now—will walk down the aisle in Pensacola, Florida, and vow to love, honor, and cherish Christiana as long as they both shall live.

Turn, turn, turn. Really and truly, tempus fugit: time flies.

Sometimes people ask me for parenting advice, and there's one piece I'll give. You know that phone you're holding? Don't hold it so much, except for one thing. Use it to take pictures. 

Capture the moments, for soon—very soon—they'll be memories.

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Grace at Home No. 341


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

Summer has come to North Carolina with a vengeance! Last week brought us temperatures in the 90's. So I was delighted to see lots of summery posts in last week's link up.

If you're like me, you enjoy all things patriotic in the summertime. For some great patriotic decor inspiration, you should check out Penny's Vintage Home.


If you're looking for ways to add patriotic decor to a porch, you'll be glad to see what Paula at Sweet Pea has come up with. Paula is the master of using vintage items in her decor in every season.


If you're looking for ways to spruce up your indoor decor for summertime, you'll be glad to see that Carol at Comfort Spring  has rounded up 15 free summer printables.


If you have children at home, you may have already run into those feelings of not knowing how to keep kids occupied in the summertime. Nicole, Mama of Many Blessings, offers a long list of fun (and cheap!) summertime activities for kids.
If you're looking for ways to get dinner ready without heating up the kitchen, the Instant Pot may be your best friend this summer. Sarah from Must Have Mom has rounded up a bunch of pork recipes for the Instant Pot. I'm looking forward to trying some of these.


Dr. Michelle Bengtson offers both her real-life patients and her readers wonderful advice and a consistent message of hope. You'll be glad to read her post on healing from John 5: Do You Want to Get Well?


Thank you to everyone who joined last week's party! I'm so grateful for everyone who participates.

Now it's time for this week's link-up!  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!
You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!
Click here to enter


Thursday, May 30, 2019

Catching up and Grace at Home


When I was younger, I sometimes felt that life seemed little dull, that there was too much same-old-same-old. Have you ever felt that way? Have you ever wished something exciting would happen?

These days, I find myself longing for some same-old-same-old days. The past couple of weeks serve as perfect examples of how my heart can be yanked from one kind of event to the next, with scarcely a moment to catch my breath in between.

One of the events was a wonderful one: the high school graduation of my beloved niece Sadie. She's a tiny powerhouse: a brilliant mind and a glorious spirit housed in a beautiful person.


Here she is giving the valedictory address at her school:


To say that I'm proud to be her aunt would be a great understatement. I thought my heart would beat out of my chest as I listened to her.

But in the very same week as this celebration came one of the saddest events of my life: the death of my precious Aunt Laura. Aunt Laura was married to my beloved namesake, my Uncle Richard. She had just turned 70. Seeing my Uncle seated beside her casket rather than with her at his side nearly did me in.


Hundreds and hundreds of people came to the funeral home to pay their respects. Finally we got a photo of some of the family who had gathered:


To say that I'm sad at my aunt's passing would also be a huge understatement.

This is life, isn't it? We grieve and we celebrate. We mourn and we dance. And in the midst of it all, we try to make our homes places of grace.

I'm grateful that you've come here to share the ways you're making your home a place of grace, so even with my heart nearly bursting, I'm privileged to host this party. 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!

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!
Click here to enter


Thursday, May 16, 2019

Grace at Home No. 339


Hello and welcome! I'm so glad you're here for this week's Grace at Home party. This party is a once-a-week chance to pause and celebrate all the ways we make our homes places of grace.

I haven't written about this yet, but my weekend was momentous. If you join me on Instagram or Facebook, you might have seen that my youngest son—my baby!—graduated from college. (By the way, I'm wearing heels in this photo—my "baby" is now 6'8".)


Happy times! But so many mixed emotions, as you might guess.

But we're not here to talk about me; let's look at what y'all have been up to!

Tiffany at A Nod to Navy remodeled her kitchen. Isn't this beautiful? Wait 'til you see the "before" photos!

We've been having absolutely gorgeous spring weather, so I'm excited to jazz up our outdoor spaces. I was so glad to get step-by-step instructions for creating a beautiful hanging basket from Pam at Busy Lifestyle Gal.


I'm always meaning to organize our photos, but never seem to get around to it. If you also struggle with this, you'll be glad to get this inspiring advice from Jen Wise at LifeTales Books and Personal Publishing. 


Do you struggle with meal planning? Me, too. I was glad to find these budget-friendly meal ideas from Robin at Fluster Buster.


And for my next meal plan, I think I'll make Instant Pot beef carnitas following this recipe from Corinne at WonderMom Wannabe.


If you need some inspiration regarding your relationship with God, read this post from Donna at Soul Survival. 

A big thank you to everyone who joined the last party!  I'm so grateful for each person who links up.

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!

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!
Click here to enter