Links + Thinks

What are you up to this weekend? I am really, really excited to head to the beach (my favorite place forever and ever) with some of my best girlfriends. We started going to the beach together as soon as we had our licenses, so that means we’ve been making great beach memories for 12 years. It’s fun to see how the dynamic changes over the years as we each enter different seasons, and yet it stays the same too.¬† I like watching how we are all turning into our parents (OK, our mothers) in one way or another. Having that longevity to our friendships and knowing each others families and backgrounds is such a sweet familiarity that I can take for granted, but am learning to appreciate.

I love my parents and my friends’ parents and I imagine they must have all prayed similar things for their daughters. Because if I ever have a daughter, I would want her to have what I did (and still do) in my high school girlfriends. We hung out together and at each others houses all through high school and were good influences on each other. My friends families were great influences on me too. There are eight of us, and as far as I remember not one of us dated in high school. (And I’d argue that my friends are all ridiculously beautiful, but I don’t think I’d even need to argue – you can just look at them.)

Sure, there were plenty of times in high school that I wished I was popular, had a boyfriend, or didn’t go to prom with a bunch of girls in a limo that almost didn’t make it in my mile-long gravel driveway and then got lost on the way to the venue making us late. But that prom story is the type of bizarre experience that becomes hilarious after the fact, and those frustrations in high school? They are so awesomely minor.

If I ever have a daughter, I would want something like that for her: a haven of loyal friends who love Jesus and make life hilariously fun in high school and for years and years to come.

Shew. I think I just gave myself a pep talk to pray for Dax’s future friends! And for his spouse. At Meagan’s wedding (one of the blondes of our crew) her father-in-law gave the sweetest speech, and I mean SWEETEST. He shared how even before he had children, he began to pray for their spouses. Maybe I just love the peace of knowing that others are covering me in prayer, but wowzers – how cool is it that Meg had another set of parents praying her through life and for her marriage? And you know they were praying some rocking prayers for their son too, if they were that committed to someone they hadn’t even met yet.


I haven’t posted in such a long time, so I have a hoarders amount of fun links for you to check out at your leisure. Enjoy and let me know in the comments which you liked best.ūüôā Happy weekend!

This Stage of Life? It’s Hard.¬† And this stage of life is beautiful, too. Like, really really beautiful. (This sums up how I feel so well that I wish I could say that I wrote it!)

A letter to moms from Joanna Gaines.

Obituaries My Mother Wrote For Me While I Was Living In San Francisco In My Twenties. (The yoga one. Hilarious.)

“We chase after some elusive dream of superficial happiness,¬†when¬†no such thing has ever been promised us.”

5 Heart Tips For New Mamas.

Sheryl Sandberg’s (really insightful) commencement speech at Berkeley.

“It‚Äôs true: I believed I was good or too whatever to live my own ordinary life. I thought God was only ‚Äúout there‚ÄĚ ‚Äď in the important work of the Kingdom which I had somehow come to believe was only visible or important or famous or set-apart.”

On Danish parenting and the importance of reframing as a parent.

Recently Read


Glitter And Glue – By Kelly Corrigan

I went into this book with high expectations because The Middle Place by Corrigan is one of my all-time favorites. Glitter and Glue was good, but I think since¬†I couldn’t relate to her mom-daughter dynamic as much as I could to her dad-daughter one in the other book, I wasn’t as captivated. Still a fun read with great writing.


The Rosie Effect – By Graeme Simsion

This sequel to The Rosie Project was another funny, fast read. Not quite as good as the first book, but I have yet to think any sequel is. The lovable Don and Rosie move from Australia to New York and find out Rosie is pregnant. Some of it is frustrating to read and I wasn’t crazy about the ending, but overall I liked it.


The Royal We – By Heather Cocks & Jessica Morgan

An American moves to England for college and falls in love with the prince. I’ve been in the mood for lighthearted fiction, plus I’ve always been fascinated with the royal family, so this story that imagines the behind-the-scenes of a couple that’s not William and Kate, but could be, was PERFECT. It was a bit lengthy, but I highly recommend to any other fans of romance and the royals.


Who Do You Love – By Jennifer Weiner

A girl and a boy with very different backgrounds meet as teens, fall in love, go their separate ways, and reconnect at various points as adults. Might sound like your basic chick lit, but the characters have a lot of depth and the story is enthralling. Absolutely LOVED it and wish I could read it for the first time all over again.


All The Light We Cannot See – By Anthony Doerr

Maybe¬†due to so much hype, I found this one underwhelming. It tells the stories of both a young blind girl and a young soldier during World War II. Certainly excellent writing and details with vivid imagery, but I kept hoping I would hit that part where I just couldn’t put it down … and that never happened.


Big Magic – By Elizabeth Gilbert

A great read to inspire you to do whatever creative thing you’ve been thinking about, or maybe even completely forgotten about. I like how she split it into a bunch of short, conversational essays.


Have you read any of these? What did you think? Or if not, what are you reading right now?

Quoting Lance (Round III)


As usual, this is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the hilarious things that come out of my husband’s mouth. If you missed the previous posts, you can read¬†those here and here.¬†Even he¬†laughs when he reads the stuff I write down because, “I don’t know where I¬†come up with this stuff.” I only wish I would remember to write more of it down. Enjoy.


“No! It’s not OK! I don’t like being lied to by the internet.”

“They send you inspirational quotes? I hope it’s like the ones with the kittens that say hang in there. I love those.”

“I don’t know what it is about the bathroom there, but people spend FOREVER in it and you always have to pee when you’re there.”

Couple Convos

Me: “EW! Why do you have to gross me out?!”

Lance: “It’s part of being a husband, babe. I’m not even as gross as most people.”


Me: “Why did you get a bunch of brown bananas? Do you like them brown?”

Lance: “Well, I don’t know what happened. I saw that, but they did NOT look like that when I picked them out. I thought I picked the perfect batch.”


Lance: “It’s like it said in that Hobson book or whatever -“


Lance: “Yeah whatever, I haven’t had a chance to read the whole thing yet …”


Me:”I didn’t know what kind of cake to get because I don’t really like cake, so I just got yellow. They had marble, but I don’t really like marble. Do you?”
Lance: “Like the superheroes?”
Me: “MARBLE. Not Marvel!”

After telling me about the Mark Bell PowerCast, a podcast where¬†weightlifters are interviewed …

Lance: “I really do hope I get famous enough that he interviews me for his podcast, because I have so many good stories about pooping. He tells a lot of stories that I’m like, ‘I’m not really all that far off from that.'”
Me (cringing): “With pooping or working out?”
Lance: “Pooping.”

On Manheim > Lititz

Background: Lance is from Manheim. I could do a whole (extremely irrelevant and largely pointless) post on these two little towns. I like both, but they each have their pros and cons. This was after the Fire & Ice Festival in Lititz (which really was anticlimactic) …

“Classic Lititz – all hype and no substance. Versus Manheim, where it’s all substance and no hype.”


On balding at age 27 …

“It’s not that bad. You don’t really think about it until you see pictures of yourself, and then you’re like, ‘Oh my gosh, is this what I look like all the time?’ And you remind yourself that you’re lucky you’re married, because you wouldn’t be able to get a date with that bald head when you’re 27.”

Links + Thinks


Hi friends. What are your plans for the weekend? Besides enjoying the gorgeous weather, we will be cheering for¬†Lance¬†as he competes¬†in a local powerlifting competition. It’s a lot of fun to watch. The hard part will be trying to convince¬†Dax that sitting still and watching is just¬†as fun¬†as trying to run out and lift everything himself.ūüėČ

Hope you have a good one and enjoy these links!

How hiking changes our brains.

In love with the Tiny Canal Cottage. Just my style!

“How many of you go to that place when something bad happens? The first thing you want to know is whose fault it is …”¬†Brene Brown hits the nail on the head¬†(again!) on the subject of blaming.






The Song I Love Right Now That Always Makes Me Cry

The first time I heard this song in the car I cried. I still get tears in my eyes every time I hear it; it just resonates with me THAT much. Kind of embarrassing, because when I looked up the story/meaning behind it I found out that he had written it for his 13-year-old daughter. But he goes on to say that his wife said that she hopes he realized that what he was writing to his daughter is the same thing she tells him all the time when he’s being way too hard on himself.

I’m a longtime fan of Andrew Peterson, but this song gets me like no other in that rare way where it feels like whatever you’re hearing or reading was spoken or written or sung directly for and to YOU.

I love you just the way that you are
I love the way He made your precious heart

Be kind to yourself
Be kind to yourself

I know it’s hard to hear it when that anger in your spirit
Is pointed like an arrow at your chest
When the voices in your mind are anything but kind
And you can’t believe your Father knows best.


Links + Thinks

Hello friends and hello month of April! We sort of had a rough month of March (fell down the steps and hurt my tailbone, took Dax to ER for croup, pulled a muscle in my back, and all got a stomach bug) and are in a fog of sleepiness as someone learned how to climb out of their crib and is now learning how to stay in his own bed and fall asleep. But it is spring and I believe we’re on the up and up.

In one of Jamie Ivey’s podcasts (one of my new favorite things) she mentions that she never felt like a good mom of “littles,” and felt like she was drowning when her kids were toddlers and babies. That sums up how I feel a lot. There are days I feel like I am drowning, looking for air or someone to rescue me; but then the good days come along and sort of make up for the drowning.

The older Dax gets, the more I feel like I’m in my element. His imagination is starting to shine and I L-O-V-E it. His personality is the tops. He loves to feed his toys and other people. Last night I was cleaning up and I heard him say, “Here ya go bulldozer” as he fed his bulldozer spoon some avocado, moving his own mouth like he was chewing for him. The sweetest. The little things, oh I love them so much. The different smiles and laughs he has, and the shy smile he gets when he’s trying not to smile but is so excited he can’t help it. I even (mostly) love that he gets toddler road rage and yells, “Go car! Go car go!” when we’re stuck in traffic. (Actually, not even stuck, he yells every time we’re at a red light …)

I’ve discovered that even when I’m not getting enough sleep and all I want to do is crash into my bed after I’ve finished what I have to do, it’s important for me to still fit something fun or creative into my day. It makes me feel more alive and more like myself. Doesn’t have to be anything major – repotting plants, writing someone a note, decorating or rearranging things – even the smallest nod towards creativity will brighten my day. And there it is again – the little things.

With the way that Dax loved hunting Easter eggs and taking apart the plastic eggs and putting them back together, I think that Easter might end up being his favorite holiday. Easter 2016 highlights:

  • The food at my parents. Particularly the salmon, red potatoes with chives, red beet eggs, and beet-walnut-goat cheese-spinach-with-heavenly-vinaigrette salad.
  • Dax wandering outside while everyone else was eating dinner (unbeknownst to me) and Colby spotting him and asking, “How’d Dax get outside?!” Dax just stood there and I knew he was waiting for someone to approach him so he could sprint, and sure enough he laughed when Lance went outside to get him and had to chase him to the neighbor’s yard.
  • Lance’s grandpa getting in Dax’s face and asking if he wanted a chocolate rabbit and Dax staring back, pausing, and saying: “Yeah” in his nonchalant, cool guy voice. Pop howled and said, “I like him!” (Probably not funny unless you were there, but Pop is the greatest.)
  • Dax sitting in my lap for dinner and eating an entire slice of hamloaf, saying after every bite: “I want meat.”
  • Chocolate peanut butter eggs made by Lance’s aunt.

And now, praise the Lord that another weekend is here. What will you be up to? Thank you for stopping by and reading. Enjoy these links …

I may be in the minority, but so far I’m loving Fuller House. Clean, lighthearted TV with a huge dose of nostalgia – what’s not to love?!ūüėČ

“Sometimes, the asking is more important than the answers, because it reminds us that we still have a voice and we are not alone, even in the midst of the great mysteries of our lives.”

A seasoned pediatrician talks about how some babies are just easier than others. (And I breathe a sigh of relief.)

These pictures are all great, but I’m especially crazy about the first one.

This basement redo inspires me to do something fun with our unfinished basement.

I’m so proud of my cousin and his wife and their awesome new business space.

Links + Thinks


Last weekend I attended a local IF:Gathering in Lancaster and it was fantastic. Definitely a long time to be sitting, so my friend and I jetted out early on the second day, but the teaching was SOLID and stirring and I’m so glad I was able to go.

Some of the things that stuck out for me:

  1. Two women who were friends with Nicole Matthewson, who was brutally murdered in ¬†her home in Lancaster two years ago, shared about their experience from the day before at the plea hearing for the man who killed their friend. Dozens of her family members and friends¬†spoke to him in the courtroom, each one sharing a different thread or version of the Gospel message, and many of them telling him that they forgive him for what he did. I didn’t know her, but the news of what happened to her shook me … and yet, this story of major forgiveness was even more powerful. The judge and district attorneys were in awe of the forgiveness unfolding as well.
  2. “The gift of suffering is that now you can recognize in others the pain that you have experienced.” [Jennie Allen]
  3. “Jesus was not worried about whether people agreed with what he believed in. He just loved them. He ate with them, he touched the lepers, he healed …” [Jo Saxton]
  4. These thoughts/truth from Eugene Cho: Idolatry in our world today is that we make God into our OWN image with our own opinions,etc. Is it possible that we are more in love with the IDEA of Jesus than actually following in the steps of Jesus? For example, someone can say they love to exercise … but actually they love the IDEA of exercise. They belong to a gym but don’t go, have a treadmill they don’t use, subscribe to fitness magazines but don’t read or follow them, and so on. Are we doing this with Jesus? We need to MOVE in our relationship with Jesus so that we are not just his PR people, but DISCIPLES.
  5. Criminals prey on the world’s poor, because they expect no one to defend them.
  6. Take what is in your hands and use that. We are all called to a different role, but we all have a role.
  7. “Jesus’ strongest charge was the command to LOVE WELL. It was easily his bottom line.” [Jen Hatmaker]¬†Jesus loved people with¬†touch, presence, proximity and dignity. There was no patronizing, shaming, superiority, sanctimony, etc. If we love well we love people as friends, as human beings.
  8. “If you are loving the people Jesus loved, you are going to have some serious TENSION in your life- from the outside or from within … Who would you stand by if you were not afraid? What are you afraid to lose? … Loving people like Jesus is the most fulfilling, thrilling way to live.” [Jen Hatmaker]

Eek, I could keep¬†going! But I didn’t intend for this to turn into a long-winded recap of the conference.


What are you up to this weekend? I’m looking forward to sleeping and relaxing as much as possible, but I think I say that every weekend. I’ve been trying to create a photo book of Dax’s first and second years before his birthday next weekend, but thus far it’s been a time-consuming fiasco. In a perfect world the photos would finally upload correctly and I’d finish that this weekend. Dream big, right?

Enjoy these links and have a happy Valentine’s Day!

Awesome vacation video from Dax Shepard and Kristen Bell.

To the sons and daughters of divorce.

I finally tried Stitch Fix and I like it! It’s a lot of fun, and the perfect service for this season of life, as in: Anything To Avoid Shopping With A Toddler.

I’m also newly OBSESSED with a podcast called The Happy Hour with Jamie Ivey. I’ve been listening while I make dinner and when I’m cleaning or doing dishes. It’s such a fun distraction, and I want to be friends with Jamie Ivey and pretty much everyone she interviews.

Lessons From My Dad’s Completely Questionable Parenting


To know my dad is to love him. Scratch that. To know my dad is to love him and ask yourself over and OVER, “What was he thinking?”¬†(And several¬†variations of that.)¬†Questioning could also be applied to his parenting methods, but somehow my brother and I turned out okay. Then again even my dad will readily attribute that “somehow” to actually-we-all-know-how: my mom.

Nonetheless, here are a few life lessons and – if you’re ever in a bind – a few ways to entertain your kids from just a small sampling of field-tested¬†experiences with my dad.

  1. Teach them to help others. Pick up hitchhikers as often as you see them. Bonus points if you pick up the same drunk Amish man on multiple occasions and have your kids ride in the back of the pickup truck.
  2. Turn what used to be a chore into a lengthy¬†amusement experience. Instead of washing your car yourself or letting the kids do a half-ass job of it, announce that you’re going to splurge and go through the automatic car wash. To drag it out – and I mean really drag it out – insist on getting cash via making a purchase for yourself at a Turkey Hill convenience store. Break into a sweat if the bill is not flat enough, for fear that the machine at the car wash may not take it. Afterward, get out of the car to make sure the car wash didn’t ding the car. Swear that it did and threaten to wash it yourself because machines can’t be trusted, but continue to go back to said car wash on a weekly basis.
  3. Lighten the blow of bad news with a pleasant distraction. When you have to tell your kids about, say, some bad news about your health, first treat them to¬†something they love. Steak for you, burgers and fries for them. Then while they are sipping on milkshakes take a serious tone and say, “Well kids, I’ve got some bad news. This might be the last time we can ever do this.” The straws will drop out of their mouths like they’re about to hear you tell them you are getting a divorce, but since that already happened they’ll think surely now you are actually dying. Instead you will continue,¬†“The doctor says I’m a borderline diabetic. So this might be our last milkshake for awhile.”¬†Days, months, and YEARS LATER¬†you will all still be drinking milkshakes at every given chance.
  4. Instill the value of taking your time. Turn a short hike into a day-long experience by threatening to make your kids carry you because,¬†” I¬†don’t think I¬†can make it any further, but it’s too late to turn around now. We’re going all the way to the river even if I collapse and you have to carry me.”¬†This will slow them down and shut them up for fear that you may actually be on the brink of a heart attack with the way you’ve sweated through your button-down leisure shirt, or that your “borderline diabetes” has finally caught up to you.
  5. Pop in unannounced to visit people you know.¬† If¬†the kids start to whine about going to see someone they don’t even know, launch into a familiar lecture.¬†“Do you know what’s wrong with the world today? People don’t visit each other anymore. People are so busy that you can’t even visit them, you’ve got to plan it ahead and put it on the calendar, and I don’t have time for that. I just want to visit people …” The lecture is guaranteed to stave off any whining they may have had left in them, for fear that you may never stop talking about it. The lecture can (and will) take any number of turns depending on which oft-repeated rant, pet peeve, or piece of wisdom you feel like offering them on any given day.
  6. Children are never too young to have their horizons expanded.¬†And what better way to do that then by visiting stripping rooms. That’s a TOBACCO stripping room for all of my non-agriculture friends, but you can be sure that the calendars and conversation can¬†make these barns nearly every bit¬†as inappropriate of a place to take a child. Insist to your kids that, “You might never meet characters like this again, this is a real privilege.” You won’t be lying about the first part.
  7. You can have your screen time and use it to teach your kids responsibility too. When your three-year-old daughter comes downstairs at bedtime to tell you that there is a mouse in her room, pry yourself away from the television just long enough to take your shotgun off the gun rack on the wall. (Merica?) Hand it to her and tell her to shoot the mouse. She will struggle to carry the heavy weapon up the stairs in her quest to be obedient, buying the mouse plenty of time to escape. It will also delay time long enough for you to finish watching your show before her mother yells at you for giving a gun to a child and asking: what were you thinking?

Links + Thinks


Hi friends, how have you been doing? We had a blizzard here two weeks ago, but thankfully the snow is almost all melted already. It was a record-breaker for our area with about 30 inches.

When it was snowing, Lance and I were talking about how long it had been since we had a blizzard. Me: “1996. Wow, that’s ten years ago!” Lance: “Wow, yeah that’s crazy!” And it was not until HOURS later that it hit me that no, no, no. 1996 WAS 20 YEARS AGO. Getting old is a very weird thing. I’m glad my husband is already as confused as I am.ūüėČ


Usually I dread snow but maybe part of that getting older thing is enjoying being at home. It’s not like in high school in college anywhere where I felt claustrophobic and HAD to get out of the house to be with friends because that’s what I did every night. Now I’m content to cozy up inside, make chili pie for dinner and watch Cars and eat popcorn with my boys.


When it stopped snowing on Sunday we tried to take Dax sledding, but he wanted nothing to do with it and preferred shoveling. Someone driving by made a joke about child labor laws because Dax was out there knocking snow off our car and he’s not even two! What a champ. It was so fun to look down our street and see everyone outside digging out their cars. The snow really did make everything feel so peaceful and quiet. (Minus the asshat driving around on a four-wheeler at 4 a.m.)


What are you up to this weekend? Enjoy these fun links and have a great one!

Here is the recipe for the chili pie I made during the snowstorm. So far I’ve loved all three of the recipes I’ve tried from Zoe’s blog, so check that out if you need new ideas.

The difference between snowstorms in the 70s and today. (Made me laugh a lot.)

Sounds like a fantastic method for memorizing scripture from one of my favorite writers in the Deeply Rooted mag.

Inspiring interview with a mom, now 90, who had four sets of twins. (Hey Mom, you’ll like this!)

The Dumb & Dumber movie trailer recut as an Oscar winning film. So funny!

Love this rustic Tennessee home tour.

Photography 101 Workshop

Almost on a whim, I signed up for the CHAR CO. Photography 101 Workshop last month, and got to spend the morning learning at their beautiful studio this weekend.


Between the class and the book I’m currently reading for book club, I’ve been thinking about how I always wanted to be an artist when I was little. I loved art, creating, writing – and I still do, but I’m rarely brave enough to commit to it or to identify myself as a writer, let alone an artist.


As we introduced ourselves and I listened to a few people introduce themselves as “an artist” I felt jealous, but in a motivated way that inspired me to make my life what I want it to be. I need to work harder at pursuing the things that I love, instead of settling for an office job because it’s easier and safer. My life is what I choose to make it.

I love great photography and poring over blogs, and I want to get better at photography so that 1) I can have pictures of my family that I LOVE and am proud of and 2) so that my blog will be more visually appealing.

When they talked about learning to love light — to see light and respect it — I was hooked. The composition and light part of photography thrills me, but it’s the DSLR basics that I need to buckle down and learn. I took pages of notes.


I would highly recommend the workshop to anyone who wants to learn how to use their camera or learn more about the art of photography. The people were super helpful, informative, and inspiring; the studio is stunning; and the atmosphere was relaxed and conducive to learning. And this is not a paid review, ha! I’m just a very enthusiastic consumer.


They ended with the Henri Cartier-Bresson quote, “Your first 10,000 photographs¬†are your worst” and somehow that makes me feel better about posting my pictures. You’ll never get better if you never practice, and while these don’t look like much I am so proud of myself for taking pictures manually — instead of copping out and using the automatic setting LIKE I ALWAYS DO. Baby steps.

To top the whole thing off, they sent each of us home with an adorable little succulent. I was thrilled to the gills because I’ve been on a huge plant kick of late. (Ask Lance how many times I’ve said, “I just LOVE my snake plant!” since buying it a month ago.)


To top it off even more, I set the plant on top of my car while I was loading my armfuls of stuff into my car, and proceeded driving … even after I heard a noise on my roof that sounded like a sheet of ice. Weird.

When I eventually got to an intersection and had to stop, I heard what sounded like a giant sheet of ice sliding off my car, and then saw the cute plant tumbling down my windshield. Noooo. Got out of my car, thinking I could pick it up, because maybe terra cotta wouldn’t shatter when it rolls off a roof onto a road, RIGHT? It was shattered and scattered all over like a succulent murder scene, and I just hopped back in my car like a horrible person instead of cleaning it up, because I couldn’t even believe that just happened.

Have you ever driven off with stuff on your roof? I have done it before with drinks, but quickly remembered and was able to get them before they fell. This took the cake.