How To Make A Date Night Happen…without hiring a sitter!

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Mr. and Mrs. Hurdle, here. We were attempting to have a “date night in” tonight, but then we called an audible and decided the most loving thing we could do for each other was to put a movie on for the kids and let one parent get an early start on some beauty rest… lame but it’s reality at the moment.

We really want to be consistent and intentional about dating each other, but we struggle on the follow-through. Especially now that we have the kids home for the summer and tend to naturally default to a good ole fashioned family night vs sitters and sleepless nights.

With that said, I love learning from others who do make it work! I hope you enjoy hearing from Bri, a friend whose marriage I’ve admired for years and who is one of my most treasured friends. Enjoy!

How To Make A Date Night Happen…without hiring a sitter!

I am thankful for friends who spur you on in your marriage, Amen? Kitty and I have had many discussions about how to stay connected with our husbands during this critical season of raising little ones. I love when she texts me every so often and asks, “What are you doing today to move toward your husband?” It’s so helpful and so refreshing to keep that kind of discussion going.

After almost ten years of marriage, and two kids, ages 7 and 5, we have found that it is shockingly easy to drift apart for certain seasons. Babysitters are so expensive. Family commitments are becoming more frequent. And husband’s stress at work keeps increasing. But not surprisingly, we find that if we prioritize face to face time with each other, all those other things feel ten times more manageable.

So I am excited to share with you today the single most beneficial way that my husband, Mike, and I have managed to stay connected this past year. It’s a simple thing really…. we have a standing commitment to at-home date nights every Friday night. But we do it a little differently than you might think. We actually take our kids out to dinner with us first! Yep. You read that right. We go out to a restaurant and bring the kids along with us for an early(ish) dinner together.

Why, might you ask, would we include our kids for a portion of date night? The reason is pretty strategic (and somewhat selfish to be honest)… First of all, it gets them all loved and filled up with that critical quality time they desire. And because of this, they are very easy to get to bed later. And secondly, not having to cook and clean up a meal for the entire family makes ME so much more relaxed and able to focus on Mike the rest of the night.

I try to look nice for this dinner by the way. Nothing over the top, but I like to wear something cute and fix my makeup before we go so I feel pretty for my man. And of course, it’s always nice for your kids to hear their father tell their mother that she looks beautiful. We choose a restaurant that Mike and I actually want to go to (ehem, not Friendly’s or Red Robin). And we have a no devices rule when we’re out together. No phones, tablets or games at the table. This has been beneficial for so many reasons. The kids learn how to behave in a restaurant. They learn to read menus and place their own orders with the waitress. And guess what… we talk the whole time!

After dinner, we head home and we put the kids to bed right away. Then Mike and I put on our pajamas (or something more exciting than that, wink wink), grab some snacks and after-dinner drinks, and go to our basement where the nice big flat screen tv is located. I know watching a movie together isn’t super exciting for some people, but Mike and I hardly ever watch tv together so it feels like a treat to us. We are working our way through the 2015 Academy Award nominated films right now. This alone time in the comfort of our own home has been so fantastic. We’re just not in a season where going out on the town all night is very appealing. It’s more the simple joys that fill me up…. no cooking, pajamas, a couch, and my husband. That spells ‘luxury’ to me!

Date Night = Great Night

I encourage you to think out of the box when it comes to connecting with your spouse. We know our kids won’t be coming with us to Friday night dinners forever. So it’s an easy modification to include them for this season. Regardless of how connection happens in your marriage, it’s a rhythm of intentionally moving toward each other on a weekly basis that feels so good.

I would love to “meet you” over at my personal blog, Woven, where I like to photojournal our little life in words and photos. Please come say hello!

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Could they be any cuter? I hope this post encourages you to make the most important things happen. Even if it’s creating a standing coffee date with a friend, there’s great delight in making what matters most happen! Happy dating, yall!

 

Week 2: Rome Summer Mission

imageTwo weeks down and three to go! I feel like this photo from our Mid-Project Retreat sums it up perfectly. Magnificent scenery and smiles all around with an occasional torrential downpour and short-fused parents learning to flex and obey.

It has been a great project so far. Joel and the staff are working hard to lead the charge and students are faithfully building friendships and sharing their faith. The kids and I are homeschooling in the mornings, enjoying the park near our apartment, hosting the team for meetings and meals and joining them on campus as we can. image It really is going beautifully, but I WILL say that city life is kicking our tails.

It’s the little things really.

Like waiting on Bus 61 that is supposed to come to our neighborhood every 15 minutes, but that rarely shows up and has now earned the name, Cuss 61. image

Or getting chewed out by grocery store employees for not first weighing our fruit and printing out price tags before we get to the cash register. Cue hot tears of frustration. Forgive my fruit faux pas, guys.I don’t even use the suggested plastic produce baggie in America, so it’s highly unlikely that I will wear the recommended plastic gloves. And HEAVEN HELP US ALL  if I hand the money to them, forgetting that they STRONGLY PREFER for me to put it in the little money dish for them to pick it up from vs. take it from my hand.

Brief episodes of harshness is so culturally fine and they totally move on knowing it’s not at all personal. Meanwhile, my harmony-loving self has spent 3 days not being able to shake getting screamed at (in English–which, mind you, is much, much worse than being screamed at in Italian) by a man who scolded and belittled me for bringing my kids into his restaurant to go potty during a thunderstorm.

Let’s just say it really is wonderful to learn a new culture and enjoy the beauty of new surroundings, but it ain’t all Colosseums and gelato.image imageIt has been really fun to watch the kids embrace city life and learn a few great life skills.

For example, the art of taking a selfie. (Nailed it.)image How to ride the Metro and read a city map. (D is better at directions than me. I consistently rely on him to get me home from our Metro stop.)image How to stick close(ish) in a crowd. (Let’s just say, my children have been described as “free range children”. But they are learning, nonetheless.)image And most importantly, how to find chicken strips and french fries in a land flowing with pasta and pizza. (We may or may not have broken down and gone to Hard Rock Cafe.)      imageSo while we are trying not to cuss at the bus, offend the neighborhood, take things personally or lose sight of the mission, we are asking God to help us learn and grow and depend on the Him.

We are also learning that Nutella-filled croissants cover a multitude of city-life sins. image

 

Mud Stories Podcast

For those of you who are new here, WELCOME! And, for those of you who’ve been here since the beginning, well, bless your heart. You’re very kind to have stuck around.

If you’d like to hear our story from the beginning and some of what God’s been teaching me, my new friend Jacque Watkins interviewed me for her podcast Mud Stories. Click HERE or the image below to listen along!

“Mud Stories is a podcast dedicated to bringing you inspiration in your muddiest moments, hope to make it through your mud, and encouragement for you to know, you are not alone.”

Mud Stories

I’m so thankful to Jacque for hosting me. Here are a few of my other favorite Mud Story episodes.

Hope you are encouraged in the thick of whatever you find yourself in today! 

Week 1: Rome Summer Mission

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Greetings from 7 hours into the future, our first day on campus and my attempt to blog via a cell phone. We shall see how this goes. Ciao, nonetheless!!!

I’m not sure how the passengers around us felt about a full rendition of Frozen, complete with song and dance, but to us, D & EG were rockstar travelers. They were so excited about their first airplane ride that they didn’t complain about  it lasting 8.5 hours. EG’s favorite part was “the blast off” and D was amazed that “God made all this. He’s a smart dude. He’s 100% smart. My Daddy isn’t even that smart!”

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As we made our approach to Rome, we were greeted by reports of a fire in baggage claim and the potential of being reroute to Milan, but thankfully, our plane and luggage arrived safely. Thank you for your prayers! The ease of travel with the children was a direct answer to prayer.

My initial reflections are as follows:

1. I am all of the sudden really good at Spanish which does absolutely nothing for anyone in this country. Also, I am responsible to keep two small humans alive in a city in which I can’t navigate any form of transportation  nor can I communicate anything past “BAMBINO NECISITO POTTY NOWO”…we’re working on this one.

2. Speaking of the potty…we are also working on a few cultural norms.

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3. The child you think will really struggle is having “the best day of his life” every day and the kid who could eat pasta and pizza every meal in America suddenly has an aversion. Also, meltdowns are universal and my children in Rome are the equivalent of Buddy the Elf in NYC. image

4. My Fitbit hasn’t seen this much action since ever. And I wish it could track how many more calories I burn when I’m lugging 9 liters of acqua and trying to convince my children not to pet the stray dogs or pick all the trash up off the street. Bless them.

5. College students are amazinly resilient. But even they have jet lag. The kind that eerily resembles the stupor of a sleepless mother. It made me feel saddistically understood.

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6. Italians don’t smile a lot. (Perhaps they are hangry bc they don’t eat dinner till 9 pm, that’s my best guess.) And we are those strange Southern people showing up for supper promptly at 5, wearing bright clothes and smiling at peoole like we are at Disney or something. But, in all seriousness, I thought it was shocking to see the wear and tear of city life combined with the hopelessness of spiritual depravity, economic struggle, a dying country and a culture of suspicion.

7. Italians use their hands very aggressively in conversation. Which explains why  I got smacked in the face within an hour of being here. Funny how a casual stroll by some fierce “girl talk” can leave you with a busted lip.

8. The darkness and spiritual need here is great. Today, after Italians asked us, “Why are you here?” we were answered with responses such as, “I’m an atheist.” Or “Well, im not perfect.”

9. One must pace themselves on the amount of gelato one enjoys in one day. Regardless of how many badges one’s Fitbit is giving oneself.

10. Did I mention I have to keep two small humans alive? It’s a new found level of dependence and all I can say is “Christ within me, Christ before me, Christ behind me. Kids, HOLD HANDS AND QUIT LICKING THE HANDRAILS!!!”

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Ministry + Motherhood {When It Feels As Awkward As The Hokey Pokey)

Today, I am sharing about one of my favorite yet trickiest parts of life over at ThriveMoms.com,  Here’s an excerpt that I hope blesses you or someone you know!

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Have you ever gone months plowing through diapers and dishes, not even having the perspective or energy to consider how God might involve you in His rescue mission?

Have you ever felt a nagging question mark in your heart when you’re ministering outside the home at the cost of the mission field in your own living room?

It’s no secret that I love my job. I’ve spent ten years meeting with college women and sharing with them the joy of knowing Jesus and it has been 100% amazing. As much as I love the lifestyle of vocational ministry, I’m also a mom and every single week I am trying to figure out how to do the hokey pokey of motherhood + ministry.

Each season is a new dance with steps to learn and discern. What does my husband need? What do my kids need? What does the ministry need? And, what in the world do I need (Besides needing a full-time house keeper, a weekly massage, and an intravenous Red Bull drip…can you relate??)?

There are lots of partial solutions in this sweet season of life, plenty of hunkering down and plenty of swinging open our doors. Lots of trials, and errors, and coming to terms with the fact that if I commit to meeting with students during the precious hours my kids are at school, the scrambled eggs will still be on the kitchen floor come bedtime. If my husband is slated to preach, the social calendar will need to be frozen until further notice. Missional mommas must maintain healthy, holistic, realistic boundaries…(And, it turns out, boundaries are actually more enjoyable than they initially let on to be!).

But, what I’m finding is that this is more than a scheduling issue. For me, this is a heart issue.

Motherhood is ministry, and it’s my fierce passion. But sometimes it’s easier (and more fun) for me to overwork “out there” because there is a clear-cut clock to punch and box to check. It’s measurable and it’s gratifying (Interestingly enough, oftentimes, I’m actually a sweeter, more intentional mom for my kids after I’ve spent time ministering outside the home!). Then again, there are times when I neglect the mission of ministry because it’s far simpler for me to zone out and troll around at home than it is to check in with the soul of another. On both sides of my treasured motherhood + ministry coin there is an issue of fear; and that fear is rooted in a false view of God.

 Small God = Big Problems

My workaholic heart fails to believe that God is big enough and strong enough to do all the things needed to sustain “my” family and “my” ministry; and instead, believes He is clearly dependent upon “my quality performance.” Meanwhile, my disengaged heart fears that my casual comfort is far greater (and safer, tidier, and more relaxing) than the place God is calling.

Neither place of unbelief produces the Spirit-led ability to work heartily as unto the Lord while being still and knowing that He is God. Neither side truly believes that He will be exalted among the nations through the good works He has prepared in advance for us to do.

READ MORE OVER AT THRIVEMOMS.COM

 

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Getting Ready To Rome

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The Girl Scout in me had big plans to have mastered the language and be fully prepared, but ready or not, in 4 short days, our family and team of students, professors and Cru staff will board a 15-hour flight to take the love of Jesus to college students overseas!

We would love for you to partner with us in this adventure.

Rome, Italy is home to 240,000 college students; most of which have never read the Bible, never been in a Bible study, and never begun a relationship with Christ. Around 90% of Italian students are atheists or agnostic. Spiritually, the college campus in Rome is a dark place. In all of Italy, there are only approximately 100 Evangelical Christians trying to reach the 1 MILLION college students! 

We believe that Rome is strategic because of the spiritual darkness of Western Europe.  Our prayer is that Italians, with their enthusiasm and influence on culture (fashion, food, soccer, etc.), could be used by God to reach Western Europe for Christ.

The focus of our summer missions project is evangelism.  We will train and lead Ole Miss students in relationship building and evangelism with Italians on campus. Several prestigious professors will be doing presentations about their faith and their field of work. The long-term team will be helping follow-up with the new Christians and these national Italians will plug into local churches.

As exciting as this opportunity sounds, it won’t be possible without your help.  The cost of this missions trip for our family of four includes the international plane tickets, lodging, in-country travel, food, ministry expenses, and international emergency medical coverage, among other expenses.  It is also important to consider that Rome, much like New York City, is an expensive place to live even when you are looking to stay in an apartment appropriate for missionaries.  In light of all those factors for our family, we still need to raise $2,500.

We understand this is a significant amount of money.

If someone were to tell you that they could go into a very difficult country to rescue slaves and they could try to rescue a person, and it would cost this amount, you would think, that’s amazing.   It’s really not that expensive for the sake of those people caught in slavery.  We believe that is the case spiritually in Rome.  Italy is home to the leading centers of Satanism in the world, Turin.  Rome too is a place where you can feel the spiritual oppression.  That’s where we are being asked to go to share the light.

It is possible that we are on the forefront of a spiritual revolution in Italy.  We believe it is worth a great investment of time and treasure and we invite you to partner with us to reach Italians. Would you prayerfully consider investing in this outreach to Italian students by praying and giving financially?

Any amount the Lord would lead you to give toward this need would be appreciated. It’s also important as well, that you would join us in praying for this need to be met. Click HERE to visit our giving website. As always, we are so grateful for your encouragement, prayers, and faithful support of our ministry to college students!

This 2 minute video helps explain more about the spiritual darkness in Italy. Use the password: staffagape

Year 2 With #TwoPigtailsandaCowlick

Dearest Little Ones,

I know it’s a bit hazy to you now, but two years ago, Daddy and I stood before a judge, raised our right hands and promised to love and keep you forever. We said “yes” without a doubt in our minds. You were ours from the first time we met.leavingcola 017

It still blows my mind to think that God so perfectly picked the two of you and the two of us to be together as a family. D, you with your brilliant mind and your tender heart. EG, you with your charming ways and vibrant love of life. God’s gift of you was more than we could have asked or imagined.

It feels like 5 minutes ago that we met you for the first time, yet it seems like you’ve always been a part of us. It’s taken time to get to know your hearts and your hurts and it’s taken time for you to learn to trust our love. I can’t wait to see all the progress and growth and bonds that continue to form as we continue this ordained adventure together.

Thank you for the grace you so freely give, the laughter you infectiously create and for finally starting to sleep through the night.

All My Love & His,

Mommy

P.S. Your Aunt Heather made you this fabulous video :)

Year 1 Video

Hurdle, Party of 4 Video

De Nigris Balsamic Addiction = Bacon Roasted Balsamic Brussels Recipe

It’s 100% accurate to say that I am officially addicted to balsamic vinegar. As in, I might have to start a series of recipe posts in which I share the 101 ways I am currently guzzling balsamic vinegar.

I know. It’s a strange love affair, but it’s sincere.

A fancy shmancy oil and vinegar shop opened on our town square and it’s all the rage. They pair olive oils with flavored balsamics and host fun little tastings. A friend and I popped by to see what all the fuss was about. And we fell in love.

I got home that evening and found a huge box on my front porch. I didn’t remember having ordered anything, so in a flurry of packaging popcorn, the kids and I unwrapped…drumroll…12 bottles of balsamic vinegar from a company I had previously agreed to collaborate with and review their product! I freaked out and sent a quick text pic of the balsamic jackpot to my balsamic lunch buddy.

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I was pumped, but in the back of my mind I was CERTAIN that since they were free samples, they would taste, well, free. Or at least reminiscent of knock-off ketchup.

Joel and I were invited to dinner with friends the following Saturday and I was asked to bring bread. I took this opportunity to load up my prized balsamic collection, hit up Panera for some Asiago Cheese Bread and BAM, I was party ready. 

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I laid out tasting bowls and poured samples from each bottle so friends could taste for themselves. Everyone loved it. And would you believe that THIS BRAND tasted EVEN BETTER than the gourmet store on the Square?

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The more I learn about the world of balsamics, the more I appreciate the chance I have to review this product. Who knew that balsamic vinegar begins with the crushing of sun-ripened grapes which produces grape juice called “must”? It is then concentrated through simmering in copper caldrons over wood fires until it is reduced to about 40% of its original weight. This densely concentrated liquid is placed in wooden barrels of oak, cherry, mulberry, chestnut and juniper for aging. As the years go by some of the liquid in the barrel evaporates and some is absorbed into the wood. Each year the vinegar is transferred into smaller barrels of different woods. It’s really a science and yet an art! I loved learning how the higher the percentage of grape must, the thicker the consistency and sweeter the taste! Put the aged 65% must over vanilla ice cream and your taste buds will sing! And if you want to fall in love with cheese or strawberries all over again, drizzle the aged balsamic fo shizzle.

That dinner party was 3 weeks ago and I haven’t stopped drinking enjoying this stuff! I’ve been experimenting and pinning my little heart out looking for more ways to incorporate these flavors (and the health benefits) into our meals, so I thought I’d share a current favorite that I came up with recently!

De Nigris Balsamic Addiction =

Bacon Roasted Balsamic Brussels Sprouts

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Layer a baking sheet with aluminum foil and spread out bacon on prepared sheet.

Starting with a cold oven, set the temp to 400 and let the bacon cook until the oven is preheated.

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While the oven is preheating trim the stems of the sprouts and cut in half. Toss Brussels, olive oil, salt, pepper in a glass bowl to evenly coat.

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When bacon is finished, drizzle 2-3 tablespoons of the rendered bacon fat off the baking sheet onto the Brussels and toss again.

Remove bacon from baking sheet, chop. Spread out the Brussel sprouts onto the sheet that held the bacon, but now just has rendered fat.

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Cook Brussels Sprouts for 10-12 minutes or until nicely browned.

While the Brussels sprouts are roasting, place the balsamic vinegar in a small saucepan and bring it to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer uncovered for about 15 minutes or until it is thickened and lightly coats a spoon

Toss roasted Brussels sprouts with the crumbled bacon and drizzle all that yumminess with a heaping helping of De Nigris Balsamic Vinegar.

Serve and watch even your husband and children scarf down their vegetables!

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Bacon Roasted Balsamic Brussels

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 LB Fresh Brussels Sprouts (outer leaves discarded, bottom stems trimmed, cut in half)
  • 1/3 DeNigris Aged Balsamic Vinegar
  • 3 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 Teaspoon Salt
  • 1 Teaspoon Freshly Ground Black Pepper
  • 4 Slices Thick-cut Bacon, Cooked and Crumbled
  • 2-3 Tablespoons Rendered Bacon Fat

Instructions

  1. Layer a baking sheet with aluminum foil and spread out bacon on prepared sheet.
  2. Starting with a cold oven, set the temp to 400 and let the bacon cook until the oven is preheated.
  3. While the oven is preheating trim the stems of the sprouts and cut in half. Toss Brussels, olive oil, salt, pepper in a glass bowl to evenly coat.
  4. When bacon is finished, drizzle 2-3 tablespoons of the rendered bacon fat off the baking sheet onto the Brussels and toss again.
  5. Remove bacon from baking sheet, chop. Spread outthe Brussel sprouts onto the sheet that held the bacon, but now just has rendered fat. Cook Brussels Sprouts for 10-12 minutes or until nicely browned.
  6. While the Brussels sprouts are roasting, place the balsamic vinegar in a small saucepan and bring it to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer uncovered for about 15 minutes or until it is thickened and lightly coats a spoon
  7. Toss roasted Brussels sprouts with the crumbled bacon and drizzle all that yumminess with a heaping helping of DeNigris Balsamic Vinegar.
  8. Serve and watch even your husband and children scarf down their vegetables!
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http://joelandkitty.com/denigris-balsamic-addiction/

For other great recipes using De Nigris products (all of which I have fallen in love with) follow the #DeNigris1889 hashtag. And come back, because I can’t fight the De Nigris Balsamic Vinegar feeling and will be using them in plenty more dishes! The whole De Nigris line is available at your friendly neighborhood Walmart and/or Amazon.com and while this is a sponsored post, y’all know all opinions are my own! xoxo

How To Host A Missional Progressive Dinner

You know that feeling when you walk into church and \see a ton of semi-familiar faces, but you don’t know the names of any of them? Or maybe you recognize a person’s name from your Homeowner Association’s Facebook Group, and you know they only live a street away, but you’ve never met face-to-face? I find myself a year and a half into a new town, so people are familiar but still unknown.

It’s the same within our campus ministry. It’s so easy for adults and students alike to mingle with the friends they know and never venture out to make new connections. Because we’ve been praying for deeper community for our students and because this translates just as easily into our church and neighborhood, I wanted to share “How To Host a Missional Progressive Dinner”.

The staff women on our team had a great time planning this simple and affordable event that helped many girls connect more authentically. 

First, we chose a home and hostess for each course of the meal. We did some simple publicity, handed out invitations at our weekly outreach meeting, made a grocery run, and that was that!
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Everyone arrived at my friend Amy’s house at 6 and we served appetizers and salad. She made a delicious Bruschetta, Caprese and Caesar Salad that got the evening started off deliciously!

We knew we wanted to be intentional with conversation throughout the evening and since deeper community is what we’ve been praying for our women’s ministry, we centered our questions around that topic.

We had the girls turn to discuss these questions at Amy’s house:

  1. Describe your best friend in 3rd grade.
  2. In your opinion, what stands in the way of authentic community?
Then we loaded up into cars and headed to my house for lasagna (thank you, Stouffer’s) and a balsamic bread dipping bar. (More on that Wednesday…I am in love.)
At my house we asked the girls to pair up with people they didn’t know and discuss the following questions:
  1. In what setting do you feel most comfortable talking about deep things? (On a run, on the phone, online, over a good meal, over coffee?)
  2. With what type of person are you most likely to open up?
  3. Share a time when someone else’s honesty gave you permission to be honest too. What made them feel safe?
Our grand finale was decadently drool-worthy desserts at my friend Meg’s house. We asked the following questions to the group at large this time (instead of them turning to the people around them to discuss):
  1. What are some signs or markers that a community is reaching a healthy level of vulnerability?
  2. How do you feel the women of Cru are doing at this?
  3. How could you help increase honest, transparent community in your sphere of influence? In Cru?
As the discussion naturally progressed, I shared a few devotional thoughts from 1 Peter 2:9-10.
But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.

We printed out 1 Peter 2:9-10 in the NIV and walked word-by-word through the verse discussing our observations, interpretations and applications. Then I read to them from The Message, which added another layer to our discussion.

1 Peter 2:9-10The Message (MSG)

9-10 But you are the ones chosen by God, chosen for the high calling of priestly work, chosen to be a holy people, God’s instruments to do his work and speak out for him, to tell others of the night-and-day difference he made for you—from nothing to something, from rejected to accepted.

We talked about Western Christianity being very personal, individualistic and disjointed but how God has called us together as a people and a priesthood.
We discussed the perfect unity and community that existed within the Godhead, how that was broken by sin, how the story of the world is a story of redemption (using God’s Big Picture principles CAN’T RECOMMEND THIS HIGHLY ENOUGH) that rights all the wrong and heals all the brokenness.
We talked about the Church Age which is the community in which God’s rule and blessing are known and are on display so that in the Perfected Kingdom every tongue, tribe, and nation will be God’s people in God’s presence, enjoying God’s rule and blessing. The day is HERE and the day is COMING.
Why did we tell them the story of the world?

Because it’s too easy to live for the dot instead of for the line.

It’s too easy to be consumed with OUR schedules, OUR comforts, OUR egos, OUR images and OUR stuff and not live in light of what God’s been building up to all this time!
By our love for one another (community) they will know we are His.
By our investment in each other we will be spurred on toward love and good deeds and will be pumped up to reach the lost.
By being honest about ourselves and our sin in community we can leave the darkness and walk out into the His marvelous light.
But it doesn’t happen in a vacuum. It happens in community.
We challenged the girls with a call to action knowing that He chose us “that we may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”
For our intent and purposes our challenge was as follows, but you could tweak it according to your needs:
  • If every student leader is leading others we will reach the campus. (Sr–>Jr–>Soph–>Fresh)
  • If you’re pouring out, we want you to be present for us to pour into you through monthly womens’ discipleship times, leadership meetings, conferences, retreats and small groups.
  • If you come to Cru and wonder if it matters, make it matter for someone around you.

It was a really encouraging night and it was much more simple than I originally thought it would be. Sure you need paper products and drinks at each house, but when all you’ve got to do is one portion of a meal and 2-3 discussion questions?! Easy peasy. You can do it! I want to encourage you and your friends to give this a try! Let me know if you try this. I’d love to know any other ways you’ve seen success creating missional community in your home! 103

Favorite Things For Spring

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It’s been a while since I’ve written a Favorite Things Post. But trust me, I have a long mental list of all the things I want to tell you about. You, or the random person standing behind me in line at Walmart, or really anyone who will listen! I don’t know what it is about me, but if I find something I love I want everyone to know.

I went back and reviewed all the posts from this series and was pleasantly surprised to still be enthusiastic about the products, ideas and services I had promoted!

I’m still obsessed with StitchfixAlessa’s White Balsamic Reduction, Puffy Tacos, Skinny Pop, Eucerin Hand Cream, 

I still love my Ebatesmy Shark vacuum cleaner, If Equip Bible Study and Benefit Primer. 

And don’t even get me started about the Hipster Jesus Kid’s Bible App, cooking bacon in the oven, my upright freezer and organizing my kids uniforms.

More recently I raved about the public library, podcasts, and all things Walmart (cheap jewelry, chocolate covered almonds and pumpkin spice cinnamon rolls)

So, in keeping with the only store in our town Walmart theme…

My Favorite Things For Spring!

1. Who knew Walmart was ROCKING the maxi dress scene? I’m just saying. I went for bread and left with a $15 Easter dress. IMG_2047

2. I ‘d like to take a general poll, please. Do you people know about this stuff?? Maybe don’t tell me if you do because I was SO mad when I mentioned my recent bath conversion to two friends who said, “Oh yea, I use it every night. It’s too good not to!”

AND DOESN’T THAT MEAN IT’S TOO GOOD NOT TO TELL ME ABOUT?!? JK about being mad. Mostly.

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Friends don’t let friends NOT take baths. And take it from me. I was not a bath girl.

My thinking is, who has time to float around in their own scum? Okay, well, that train of thought has been luxuriously derailed by Dr. Teal.

When I say I feel like I went to the spa after using these bath salts, I am not overstating the fact that 15 minutes of the hottest water and steam I can stand, then 15 minutes with the overhead fan clearing the steam, a quick exfoliating scrub and shower then a good slathering of lotion and essential oils…equals sheer bliss!!!

So heavenly that I feel it my civic duty to tell everyone in the soap aisle at Walmart that THEY NEED TO BUY THE GOODS. (I just started mixing Dr. Teal’s Lavender Salts with the Spearmint and Eucalyptus and using the oil for my feet just before bed.)

Moving along.IMG_2190

3. Okay, one more thing to add to your Walmart list…I like to call this “miracle mousse”. At the beginning of the year, I flew to Asheville for a Writer’s Retreat and asked our hostess, Kristi if she’d mind to let us use her toiletries so we (okay really I) didn’t have too pack quite as much heat. (If you know me, you know I need all the help I can get in the packing department.) Well, I’d seen her post about fine hair, but then BAM, I used her product and realized I could buy it at Walmart and now I have new hair. Namely volume and texture.

Joel walked past me as I was getting ready the other day and said, “Since when do you use mousse?” 33 years later this dog has learned a new trick.

little house4. Audio Books- Seriously, since Spring Break, my children have loathed “room time”. We do Room Time every day! What’s not to love? Well, apparently a lot because I’ve had little people pitching fits to get out of their rooms.

Then, of course, I start to second guess my whole “hold the line on Room Time” philosophy because they’ve flopped around like dying fish and guilted me into believing they are being held as POWs in their rooms.

Nevertheless, thanks to the audio book section at our local library, momma can fold the dang laundry in peace. I can’t recommend them highly enough. You can get real fancy and find picture books and DVDs that coordinate and you can make a whole “unit” out of it. You can also save your sanity during the carpool commute by just slipping in an audiobook! Our faves are whatever the library has on tap AND: Little House On The Prairie, Pippi Longstockings, Rush Revere & The American Revolution, and more!

5. And now…I’ve saved the best for last. Oh my stinking word. Have you heard about Pley.com??? IT’S LIKE NETFLIX (back when you had to mail the DVDs back), BUT FOR LEGOS!?!?

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D decided to use his Christmas money to get a few months of all-you-can-build-enjoy-and-send-back-Legos and we are ALL loving it. People, my kid is in a Lego trance and I am doing the no-clutter dance. Not only can you make your own “pley lists” where you can choose all the sets that you’re too cheap to actually purchase, but they also sanitize the bricks before they mail the sets. This is a fabulous feature because somehow the top of the Eiffel Tower ended up in our toilet…so there’s that.

I’m just telling you, if you come to our house, do not use the silver tweezers. 

So, yeah. We just received our second set and are completely LOVING building, playing, admiring, taking pictures, shipping and getting another set 2 days later!!! But, I know what you’re thinking, but you can lose up to 10 pieces and not be penalized. Also, shipping both ways and a handy dandy zipper pouch is included! WHY did we not come up with this?!? There is some mom out there who’s paid off her grandkids college tuition by now. Plus they have an affiliate program where if you refer people you can get 10% off your next pley. Click HERE!

Those are my faves as of late. What are yours?