Thursday, June 08, 2017


Today is the last day of school! It's one of my favorite days of the year. I remember the last day of school as a kid. It was magic! I remember the sweaty classroom and signing yearbooks and surprise ice cream treats.

But obviously the best part of the last day of school is that tomorrow is the first day of summer vacation! Last year at this time I came across a blog post by Amber Salhus where she declared that they were going to embrace that summer as the "Summer of Fun." So we did the same! We embraced the chaos and the mundane, the sunny days and the rainy ones. And it was the best thing we could have done.

Because guess what? Being a mom isn't always an easy ride. I have a toddler who never stops moving, a daughter who never stops talking, and a tween whose increasing independence is giving me indigestion. We have tantrums, extracurricular activities, and chores all around.

***Spoiler alert! Embracing "Summer of Fun" doesn't make any of those things go away.***

But finding the joy in every day makes even the boring, difficult, busy days much easier to stomach. And it also changes everyone's attitude. When you are intentional about being grateful for the simple things, your eyes will be opened to how amazing life really is.

And I don't know about you, but when I signed on for this mom gig, I signed on for the good and the bad. And sometimes I forget that. We obviously live for the highs--the first words, the honor rolls, the choir concerts, the soccer goals. But it's kind of a package deal. We also get sleepless nights, puking kids, picky eaters, defiant toddlers, endless laundry, sibling arguments, and attitude problems.

I could let that stuff get to me. Or I could remember that God chose me for this job--to shepherd these three little (or not-so-little...) lives on this earth. I can either fight it and make it much more difficult than I need to, or I can embrace every part of it and make the most of these days He's gifted us.

Feel free to join us! As I did last year, I'll be posting a photo every day on Instagram and Facebook. Buckle up! It's #SummerOfFun!

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Spring Top 5

It's spring. Sure, it's 37 degrees and there may or may not be snow in the forecast, but I promise--according to the calendar anyway, it IS spring.

SO, here's what is happening in my SPRING world right now.

1) Books
I'm still plugging away at my long list of books. Here are some of my faves. :)

Scot McKnight's A Fellowship of Differents was recommended by a couple of friends and it did not disappoint. He writes about church and community and what those things have become and what they're supposed to look like, based on the apostle Paul's teaching.

I don't remember where I recently heard about Richard Rohr's Falling Upward, but something I read had referenced or recommended it, so I requested it from the library. I haven't read anything of his before, but I loved it! From the book jacket: " Rohr offers a new paradigm for understanding one of the most profound of life's mysteries: how our failings can be the foundation for our ongoing spiritual growth....We grow spiritually more by doing it wrong than my doing it right."

A couple weeks ago I got on the library waiting list for Anne Lamott's new book, Hallelujah Anyway. But in the process, I stumbled upon Small Victories which I had somehow totally missed. I've read all of Lamott's nonfiction (and a few of her novels), so I was excited to have a "new" one. :) But I was a little nervous for two reasons. One, I did not love Lamott's two books before this one--Help Thanks Wow and Stitches. They were okay, but they felt a little forced and they were both super short. Second, it's "advertised" as "new and selected pieces." (I feared that this would be like reading Glennon Doyle Melton's Carry On, Warrior, which was literally almost ALL previous blog posts that I'd already read). Anyway, Small Victories is a wonderful collection of essays, most of which were new to me (and the couple of stories that were familiar were fun to read again). I adore Lamott's writing and it's been a while since I read anything by her, so this was a fun few days of hearing her voice again. :)

2) Call the Midwife
I've been reading more than crocheting lately, and therefore watching less TV. But over the last few weeks, I did manage to catch up on season 5 of Call the Midwife on Netflix and have also caught up on the season that's currently airing on PBS on Sunday nights. I started watching this show when it started in 2012 and it's still one of my favorites. It makes me want to live in London in the 1950s and 60s. :)

3) Goodie Girl Mint Slims
Jack and I were SUPER excited to find a gluten-free version of thin mint girl scout cookies! They weren't cheap (a little better deal online if you ordered a case of 6 boxes--which we did and have been slowly rationing). ;) Locally, they're available at HyVee and--rumor has it--Walmart. (The brand has other types of cookies as well). :)

4) Beauty and the Beast
I took Jack and Leah to see this the weekend it came out last month and we ALL loved it. (And I'm tempted to see it again while it's still in theaters!) Seriously, it's so lovely and well done. A beautiful nod to the animated original. The music is sublime. And such a fantastic cast (including all of the voices of the household objects!)

5) Cold remedies
Okay, this is pathetic, but I'm two weeks into a ridiculous head cold/cough and this stuff is quite literally saving my life. Or at least my sanity.

So it started as what I thought was seasonal allergies (and I still think that was at least part of what was going on). So I dutifully alternated Benadryl at night and Claritin in the morning. And it worked until I got the worst sore throat of recent memory. So I added ibuprofen to the mix and took a trip to the Minute Clinic to rule out strep. Then I woke up the next day to find that this head congestion/whatever had set up camp in my lungs. 

This meant that I was coughing up a storm, day and night. Luckily I had some Robitussin with Codeine left from a few months ago, so I added that to the nightly routine. Unfortunately, it didn't do much. So I started researching "dry cough remedies" online and tried lots of fun things like dark chocolate, almonds, tea, gargling, and steam. Nothing helped.

Then a very wise FB friend said "Albuterol?" and I thought, "Why not?!" We have a nebulizer for Will, and Leah was recently prescribed albuterol for a lingering cough, so I knew I had some and decided to give it a try. And lo and behold, it actually helped a little bit. I'm still coughing and congested, but this darling seal does at least bring some relief before bed so I don't curse my lungs as soon as I'm horizontal.

So, happy spring! May your skies be sunny, your windows open, and your seasonal allergies short-lived. :)

Saturday, April 01, 2017

Steven Curtis Chapman | 2013-2016

It's our final day of Steven Curtis Chapman music, and quite possibly my favorite. :)

As I mentioned in my original post, while Chapman's album Beauty Will Rise was very meaningful in our grief, Glorious Unfolding was extremely helpful in our healing. I should really just say go here and listen to the entire album, because every song is incredible. But I did manage to pick out my absolute favorites. ;)

Glorious Unfolding was released on September 30, 2013. I know I haven't shared the actual date on any other release, but I had to this time--it's the day our sweet Will was born! How fortuitous for that new chapter of our lives and our grief journey to be marked with this incredible collection of songs about God's faithfulness and the hope we have in Him.

First up from this album is the title track. I seriously can't hear this song without getting chills or crying. Or both. "God's plan from the start for this world and your heart has been to show His glory and His grace. Forever revealing the depth and the beauty of His unfailing love." So good.

Next is "Love Take Me Over."

And "Something Beautiful."
"God's gonna turn it into something different,
He's gonna turn it into something good.
He's gonna take all the broken pieces
And make something beautiful like only He could."

Next is "Only One and Only You." I can't even quite describe what this song touched in me after losing two babies without getting into another very long blog post. Maybe another day. ;)

Finally is "Together," which is one of the best songs to describe our marriage after losing Hannah and Charlie. "And if it wasn't for God's mercy and His grace, there's no way we would be standing in this place. But because He has been faithful every step along the way, Here we are together." Amen.

And of course, honorable mentions to the entire rest of the album, but especially to "Take Another Step" and "SEE You in a Little While."

Chapman's most recent album is Worship and Believe, and I'm not familiar enough with it yet to have a feel for all of the songs, but I can definitely recommend the single that's been playing on the radio! "More Than Conquerors." :)

Thanks for journeying with me this week! I had fun putting these posts together. Hopefully you were blessed or encouraged by some music along the way. :)

Friday, March 31, 2017

Steven Curtis Chapman | 2007-2011

Happy Friday! Here's Day 5!

Chapman released This Moment in 2007 and it included the very sweet "Cinderella." :)

Honorable mentions go to "Children of God" and "Yours."

Next up was 2009's Beauty Will Rise, which was his first album after the loss of his daughter Maria. So many songs on this album have come to mean so much to me, but I had to go with the title track for sure.

As well as "Spring is Coming."

Honorable mention goes to the very dear "February 20th." So beautiful.

Chapman released another "best of" type album, re-creation, which included some new songs, some old songs, and some remixes of old songs. One of the new songs on the album, "Do Everything," became a bit of an anthem for me as a young mom. Plus, the video is adorable. :)

And the honorable mention for this album is another of the new songs, "Long Way Home."

One day left in our trip! See you tomorrow!

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Steven Curtis Chapman | 2001-2004

Happy Day 4!

Chapman's first album of the new millennium was 2001's Declaration. I had to go with two again here--the first is "God is God."

Second up is "See the Glory." Chapman co-wrote this with his son Caleb!

Honorable mentions go to "Live Out Loud" (which is a cute music video) and "Magnificent Obsession." :)

Chapman released All About Love in 2003, which was an album mostly full of songs he'd written for his wife Mary Beth. It was also the first album that included cover songs--"I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)" and "I'll Take Care of You." My first pick from this album is "We Will Dance."

And the non-"love" song on the album, "Moment Made for Worshipping."

Honorable mention goes to the title track, "All About Love."

Last album for today is 2004's All Things New. I had to pick "Only Getting Started" because it features (sort of) local boy Jonny Lang (who became a Christian in 2000)!

Honorable mentions go to the title track, "All Things New" as well as "Much of You."

Some of my favorites coming the next two days! Stay tuned!

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Steven Curtis Chapman | 1996-1999

Day 3!

1996 brought Chapman's Signs of Life. I had a really hard time narrowing down which videos to share, so I picked two. First is "Lord of the Dance."

And second is "Let Us Pray." :)

Honorable mentions could be to the entire rest of the album, but I'll go with "Children of the Burning Heart" and the title track, "Signs of Life." 

Next up was Greatest Hits, which was obviously mostly previously recorded songs, but there were a couple new ones, and "Not Home Yet" has always been a favorite of mine! Plus, it's another actual music video which is cool. ;)

Last for today is 1999's Speechless. This came out the year I graduated from high school and its songs are definitely part of my "late high school/early college" soundtrack. Again, I had to pick two to share. First is "Fingerprints of God," which Chapman wrote for his daughter Emily who was an early teen at the time. Such a sweet message to a girl in that awkward middle school phase of life!

Second is "Be Still and Know." 

And honorable mentions to "Dive" (which KTIS still plays as though it came out just last week!) and the title track, "Speechless."

See you tomorrow!

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Steven Curtis Chapman | 1990-1994

Welcome to Day 2!

Chapman's fourth album was For the Sake of the Call and I had to go with the title track for this pick. It's such a great song! And our youth choir sang it a million years ago, so it's even more special. :)

I have to share a second video. "No Better Place" was a classic "encore" song in a lot of his concerts and I can still picture him running through the crowd on one of the last choruses. :)

Honorable mentions go to "Busy Man" and "You Know Better."

Next up was The Great Adventure! I obviously picked the title track because it was his very first music video. Please just take in the mid-90s goodness! And also count the costume changes. ;)

Honorable mentions go to "Go There With You" and "That's Paradise."

Last for today is Heaven in the Real World. I have to share the title track because I think it's a really cool video.

I also have to share "Remember Your Chains" since, as I shared in Sunday's post, it's the song I can pinpoint as my "come to Jesus" moment. ;)

Honorable mentions go to "King of the Jungle" and "Treasure of You."

Come back tomorrow as we finish out the 90s!