a few of my favorites

It’s been awhile since I last shared a few favorite links with you. So on this Sunday morning, there’s no better place than here and now to invite you to read along with me.

For all of my fellow write-in-the-margins readers, this poem by Billy Collins speaks right to us.

grocery list notepadThis grocery list by BrimPapery. (I *heart* all things organizing and all kinds of paper. Love her design and I just found this: a gorgeous 2016 calendar).

When you feel mom guilt (and what mom doesn’t?), Sara Hagerty (author of Every Bitter Things is Sweet about finding God when life stops working for you) offers these words to encourage our hearts in The Best (and Most Resisted) Words A Mama Can Say: Help. I Don’t Know What I’m Doing.

On those who share my feeling of weariness, this is hope-filled and honest: Lay Your Tired Stories to Rest by Charlie Howell, a student at The Seattle School of Theology and Psychology.

Enjoy your Sunday, friends. May it bring you rest as you step away from the busy, frenetic pace of life for a few moments or hours. And may you find that a God who is there in these still moments.






links I love {this weekend}

photo by Seth Nelson (my talented husband)

photo by Seth Nelson (my talented husband)

You know that moment when you read something that answers the question you’ve been asking yourself? That happened to me when I read How Pursuing Your Gifts Impacts Your Kids over at Ann Voskamp’s “A Holy Experience” – answered the question of, “Is it wrong/should I feel guilty for pursuing art in this season of mothering young children?” (Spoiler alert: Jessica Turner gives a resounding, “no!” – and I’m excited to see that she’s written a book on this topic, “The Fringe Hours“)

In Why You Should Resolve to Regress at OnFaith, Jeremy Bouma addresses the topic of what we can learn from becoming “regressive” in our faith – such a personal challenge to one who loves all things new, shiny, and progressive:

I believe that in order for my generation of Millennial Christians (really all Christians) to move forward in our spiritual journey, we need to go backwards.

To get regressive.

After all, that’s what regress means — the act of going back, a returning to what was before.

What would it look like to commit to being regressive in 2015, to go backwards by rediscovering and retrieving what the church has believed, about our origins and identity; why things are so messed up and we are, too; the person of Jesus and the fix he bore; about faith, life, and everything in between; even about God himself?

Good words from Paul Tripp addressing The Idol of Control as it relates to parenting.

In The Art of Presence, David Brooks (columnist for the NY Times) speaks about how to come alongside someone grieving. The featured family happens to be a former Wheaton College professor who has endured wave upon wave of tragedy, and these words point to the hope of our God of all comfort while inviting us to offer better comfort.

Convos with my 4-year-old: shopping YouTube will give you a good laugh, especially my fellow stuck-in-the-snowy-trenches parents out there.

Jen Pollock Michel (author of my #1 favorite book of 2014: Teach Us to Want) writes beautifully, and her words always resonate with me. Doing the One Thing That Matters is no exception. I’ll close this post with a quote from it:

I suppose if there is one take-away for me personally from McKeown’s book, it’s this idea of emotional courage. It takes courage to admit to yourself that you can’t do it all. It takes courage to bear the pending disappointments of the trade-offs we must make to live essentially. It takes courage to say ‘no’ to other people.

It takes courage to live into your limitations.

May you rest in the midst of your limitations this weekend, dear reader, and find much grace and rest for your soul.

a guest writer and favorite Christmas posts

merry christmasDespite the sorrow and grief you’re carrying, there is reason for hope and even joy this Christmas.  Joy not as the happy-paste-on-a-smile type, but joy as what anchors your soul amidst the storms of life. Joy that tells you it will not always be so hard, and that there is a shore to which we are sailing. Sometimes it’s discovered in the small grace-glimpses. Like a retelling of the Christmas story by my 4-year-old daughter, Lucia. And so this becomes her first featured post – and a gift to each of you, that you may pause for a moment and savor the Savior whose birth is making all things new. (And oh, how we need that in a broken world of grief-weary hearts!)

Mary and Joseph walked to Bethlehem ‘cuz there were no cars or busses in their time.  They were tired!  They wanted a bed to sleep in. They went to the inn.  “We want to have a bed”.  The innkeeper said there was no room.  He said they could sleep in the barn. That night Baby Jesus was born. The shepherds got scared ‘cuz the angels came. “Don’t be afraid ‘cuz Baby Jesus is born in Bethlehem!  Go to the stable to find him”. They ran to the stable.  They went in quietly, ‘cuz Jesus was sleeping in Bethlehem.

Other Christmas posts worth perusing:

So I’ll end by saying – Merry Christmas, y’all! And to all a good night …

A few of my favorite links lately

It’s been awhile since I have shared some of my favorites, so here’s a list of some of the *many* that have spoken to my heart and captivated my mind recently.

  • When you’re a mom waving the white flag on erstwhile dear

The muchy muchness of two knocked me totally on my back last week. I could not seem to refresh, no matter what I did. Conversation at the playground usually does it. Or sunshine. Maybe a podcast and a pastry treat on the way home. But not last week. Their needs seemed to be growing like basil on the windowsill—long, droopy tendrils reaching out to brush you, desperate for water every time I looked over. …

When we stood in the check-out and you leaned over and said, “What? I can’t hear you?” I could read it right then in your eyes.

Right there by all the glossy magazines screaming at you like a pack of jockeying hawkers.

If you listen long enough to all the loud voices about who you should be, you grow deaf to the beauty of who you are.

[from Allume] I let the accolades of others fill my soul and speak to my worth. I loved the recognition, however small, and craved more. And I slowly took the reigns of my writing career away from God, and placed them firmly in my own hands. … Not consciously, of course, but I did it. Instead of praising God over the growth of a ministry, I stressed over the numbers that still weren’t “enough”. I slowly stopped writing what was on my heart, and started writing what I thought people wanted to hear, what I thought might have a shot at going viral. …

Two recent bloggers I’m following after finding them through Five Minute Friday: Sara at “poets and saints” – particularly love her latest “the fearless list”

I wrote down several ideas of fun and somewhat nerve-racking things I wanted to “try” this summer.  Then I wrote down several more that will be real challenges for me. All of them are scary for me in some way and that’s how the Fearless List was born …

and Kim at “dappled things” 

When I grow up I really want to be a writer, but probably more than that I want to be human, as fully human as it is possible to be. So I practice both these things, writing and being human, on this blog which I call Dappled Things, borrowed from a poem by Gerard Manly Hopkins. Here, I will share some stories, grapple with some problems and bring a little faith encouragement, some knitting and friendship whenever I can.


Happy reading, everyone!


Easter morning: “be free and have fun”

“Hear the bells ringing, they’re singing that you can be born again!” That melody floats through my head this morning. The melody that drew me into salvation as a child of 4-years-old who inquired what it meant to be born again, and then was … Keith Green’s invitation set to music.

Another phrase that seems to capture what Easter means for me this year, today:

Be free and have fun!

I overheard these words spoken by a grandmother sending her grandson off to play at a park a few weeks ago. And they have reverberated through my mind and heart ever since. Not only as such a good (different) parenting focus, but the words I need to hear from a resurrected Jesus this morning, every morning.

Easter means I am free and so are you who are united to Jesus by faith. Free from sin, free from slavery to the effects of my sin and others’, free from anxiety and worry, free from performance on the treadmill of perfection, free from my past and my failings, free from others’ judgments or opinions, free to say “no” to doing too much, free to love – to serve wholeheartedly – to create.

Free to have fun in the truest sense of fun. To be creative, to delight in a world that can be as delightful as it is broken. To have fun doing harm to evil (thank you, Dan Allender, for this poignant phrase from the “To Be Told” seminar I attended last month).  To have fun with my daughters and not only be a disciplinarian. To have fun with my husband and in so doing make both of our loads lighter. To take myself more lightly and laugh a little easier. To have fun doing what I don’t give myself permission to do in my quest for achievement and success: to have fun painting, reading novels, blogging, sharing a cup of coffee with a close friend, making life and our home beautiful.

What about you? What could it mean to live in the light of Easter morning? Of the empty tomb calling out to you – “be free! and have fun!”? Where are you still living under the weight of “Silent Saturday”? Of the agony of Good Friday?

Three posts I recommend for your perusal. “We are the Sunday morning people” by Lisa-Jo Baker, “Woman, Why?” at (in)courage, and “We Need All the Days of Holy Week” at Grace Covers Me.

Enjoy … be free … have fun! The tomb is empty; Jesus our Lord is risen; death has lost its darkness and sin has lost its power. 


First post of 2014

Oh, the pressure! It’s the first post of a new year. Granted, this “new” year is about a week old – but nonetheless, it’s my first 2014 blog post. Do I reflect on the year past, make grand resolutions for the year ahead? Do I give advice to myself and you about what I learned, and what I hope not to repeat in 2014?

Or do I share my favorite links with you of new year’s posts? Ones who have written so eloquently that I fear I have nothing to add. Like my friend Rachel, post “this year, I resolve nothing” whose words resonate so much with me, the one who has tended to make too many resolutions based on the foundation of too much trust in self-power to complete them, with the result of February disappointment as I feel like a failure based on my own standards. What a very long sentence – hope you didn’t get lost there!

Another beautiful post about the importance of soaking in beauty to be truly beautiful v. pretty – Glennon’s “don’t be pretty – be beautiful in 2014” says it SO well.

Why the disappointment? For one reason, it’s because too often as a mom of littles-still-at-home, there are not many “measurable goals” I can complete. Enter Lisa-Jo’s beautiful post that is making its rounds among fellow mom friends – asking the question, “how do you measure a year in the life of a mom?” 

And then there’s just a few helpful tidbits I wanted to learn about this year, like 12 ways to tie a scarf (I’m so stuck in my scarf habit!), how to interact with the introverted (my dear husband, e.g.), how to raise a kid who isn’t whiny and annoying, and my personal favorite to start trying soon: freezer crockpot recipes (really? could it get any easier than that – combining the ease and convenience of freezer + crockpot = genius).

For now, I’ll leave any 2013 reflections to my blog archives, and any resolutions to a future post. I think this picture pretty well sums up what I want 2014 to hold for me – growth in relationships with these, my three favorite people ever:







links to savor on your Sunday

Good morning, friends! This Sunday morning, I am lighter than I’ve been in awhile because of completing yesterday’s retreat speaking on wisdom (and being reminded of the beautiful gospel truth I had the privilege of telling to these 70+ ladies yesterday, that I told first to myself – wisdom comes in a Person … more posts to come, I’m sure); and coming back home from our last week at the beach with family. A last week to soak up sunshine, the unmatched glory of an ocean-meeting-sky horizon, the break from go-go-go to simply be free from schedule and appointments and work, to focus on what (who) is most important: the sun-kissed faces of daughters; my tanned face husband; parents-in-law who shower us with love; my Creator-God as the giver of the gifts of this week.

And now, here comes the week out of its double-barreled shotgun. Church is up and running and in full fall swing for our pastor and counselor family. A little voice urgently summons me next door a full HOUR before normal wake-up time (really?!), and there are words I wanted to write and a week I wanted to pray through. And it’s easy to feel like vacation has evaporated like a morning mist. Oh my.

Then I read these words as another wife and mom anticipates her week, and I smile in recognition and I know I’m not alone, and that there will be grace for each challenge.

And a thought-provoking post on what I really need this September, which exposes my own similar struggles.

Finally, another pastor’s wife talks about finding Sabbath rest when Sunday’s the biggest work day of your week and your kids are young.

Enjoy, friends … now on to step 1 of this week: get some caffeine and try to love all the people in my house on my way to the coffee pot …

links to love, linger, and learn from

It’s just about vacation time for us, which will involve an inordinately long time in the car with busy 3-year-olds, about 200% more potty stops than we’ve had to take before, and some quality time with family which will make it all worthwhile. It will also include a small blogging break. In my absence, I leave you with the following posts to enjoy –

Read this about the writing practice of “morning pages” on Chatting At The Sky

Need an internet break? Glennon bravely leads the way here.

My life in the preschool/lego stage in a quote by Gretchen Rubin

As one born and raised in the South, I say – “Can I get an Amen, y’all?” to this article on the Gospel Coalition Blog: The Kind of Churches We Need in the South

on motherhood:

On the importance of not rushing through life: The Day I Stopped Saying ‘Hurry Up’ And a good follow up on how to savor the summer on Simple Mom: Be like the sunOne final link on this theme, connecting how anger and hurry are tightly connected: Slow to AngerObviously a message that I need to hear!

For those of you who, like me, love your kids but sometimes struggle with what you’ve “given up” in terms of career/education/conversation depth to be a mom: When you’re not sure if you want to be a mom

The title says it all: a prayer for the mom who’s worn

And one last one to send us (and perhaps you?) on your way – 4 tips for vacationing with your family

on my August bookshelf


Three books, all very different from each other. I’ll start with the devotional I’ve been reading for the past several months, Grace through the Ages. Not only is this written by my former counseling supervisor and colleague, Bill Smith, whom I respect and have learned from immensely, but in his typical way, he seamlessly connects Scripture (all of it, Old and New Testament) to my day-to-day heart struggles, doubts, fears, and hopes. Every day that I pick this book up to read a one page devotional thought, I am met with a glimpse into God’s heart for me: his desire to be in relationship with his people and the great lengths to which he goes to bridge the gap of my sin and folly. Here are a few nuggets for you to savor.

On suffering: 

Suffering burns away self-deception by making us aware of what we turn to apart from Jesus to make our lives work.

On communication:

He [God] made you in his image and when you properly fill your role, you will talk to others about how to live in his world, in the same way he’s spoken about it to you.

On community: 

The same grace that embraces me also calls me to share my life with people who are dramatically different from me and to live with them in small groups of people that look remarkably like that first one 2000 years ago.

Second is Susan Cain’s book, Quiet. I’ve mentioned it on here previously, and it’s a dense book that will take some time to peruse. I was drawn to read it because I find myself both longing for quiet in a way I haven’t before (probably something to do with the constant noise involved in staying at home with twin toddlers), and I also find myself drawn to introversion as a way of re-energizing rather than big groups of people. I’m a mix of both, to be sure, but I am increasingly embracing my “inner nerd” whose ideal day would be spent in a quiet coffee shop reading a few really good books, and then writing about it. Thanks for providing me with an audience. 

The final book in my stack is along the lines of funny-parenting-real-memoir, Carry On, Warrior, by Glennon Doyle Melton of Momastery. She is telling her story, and telling it in a brave, vulnerable way that invites me to do the same. And in a way that all of us can relate to. She begins by talking about what began this journey for her: opening up about her less-than-ideal past (that included addictions and jail) to a fellow mom while at a playdate on a playground. Now how’s that for inspiration to have different sorts of conversations the next time you gather with a friend? From her intro – an invitation to all of us –

The more I opened my heart to the folks in my circles, the more convinced I became that life is equal parts brutal and beautiful. And/Both. Life is brutiful. Like stars in a dark sky. Sharing life’s brutiful is what makes us feel less alone and afraid. The truth can’t be stuffed down with food or booze or exercise or work or cutting or shopping for long. Hiding from the truth causes its own unique pain, and it’s lonely pain. Life is hard — not because we’re doing it wrong, just because it’s hard. It’s okay to talk, write, paint, or cry about that. It helps.

9 things I learned in July

This is a fun link-up I’m enjoying on a monthly basis, from Emily Freeman over at Chatting At The Sky. Love her blog, her book, her link-ups. Love that she’s also a mom of twins and that I have some teeny tiny connection to her through her friendship with my BFF, Katherine.

Drumroll please? Here you are …

1. David Kirk and Daniel Kirk are two different author/illustrators of children’s books. David  is of the “Miss Spider’s Tea Party” fame; Daniel created “Sam the Library Mouse” series. Both series are favorite picks from the library for my girls (and for me to read – please, no more Dr. Seuss, can I get an “Amen?”).

2. I am really obsessed with lost things. Although I had already bought a replacement pair of Target Crocs for Lucia because we thought one of her pink ones was missing, when I found the “lost shoe,” I spent about 30 minutes searching everywhere for the original un-lost one. Alas, I had thrown it away already. This scenario repeats itself daily when we have (gasp) lost a lovey or a Lego piece or a doll outfit or … I wish I could say that there was something spiritual about my obsession, as per the Father who awaits the prodigal (lost) son, or the woman searching for her lost coin, or the shepherd searching out his lost sheep [seek Luke 15]. Usually I am more frustrated in my search for the lost thing than inspired by the value of what’s lost. I think it’s more about me wanting to be on top of life and have it in order than my passion to seek what’s lost.

3. If I’m starting something new I don’t mind leading (prefer it actually), but if I’m joining something that’s been in existence for a while I prefer to watch and observe before jumping in with both feet. Definitely seeing echoes of this tendency in one of my twins.

4. My cross-cultural experience helps me in counseling, friendships, and marriage because every relationship involves bridging the gap of individual cultures. For example, I learned in training and experience of a few summers overseas in Mexico and Ireland that it’s important to listen first before talking, to contextualize truth to the shape of that particular culture, and not to rush in too quickly with my own ideas.

5. There’s a local gym membership that includes a monthly parents’ night out for free! You better believe we joined it, and have already used this privilege once.

6. Proclivity to express yourself better in writing points to introverted tendencies. My personality finally explained – outgoing yet processes life best when writing. Thank you, my new favorite book, Quiet

7. I like to trash pick. My husband doesn’t. I’ll let you imagine how I found out that little tidbit. Let’s just say it involved a large dresser on the side of the street that I spotted next door to a friend’s house, and then asked [begged] him to return to pick it up in our car at 9:30pm. We don’t have the dresser. We still love each other and have our marriage. I will not trash pick in the future. Enough said.

8. Lulu.com is a self-publishing website. So perhaps my dream of publishing my own book doesn’t have to be so far off after all? Any writers out there want to give tips on how to get published v. self-publishing?

9. “Peacock” is a term that refers only to the male variety. A female f.k.a. “peacock” is actually a “pea-hen.” In the plural, they are “peafowl.” Thank you, Ann, for that enlightenment at the zoo this afternoon.