Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Wherever the River Runs: Review and Giveaway

It is an unusually cold and rainy September day, as I stand at the sink washing dishes. I turn the facet from cold to hot with a turn of the wrist, easily pouring warm water over my hands, sponge, and dirty pots. I look outside the window, seeing kids pedal their bikes past my fence sending my dogs into a barking hysteria.

I see a neighbor drive by, pull into their drive, and close their garage door before they even turn off their car. I wonder where they came from. I wonder if they had a difficult day. Then God nudges my heart.

Do I know my neighbor's needs? If I answer truthfully, no. I can't even tell you their names. I justify my disinterest by reminding myself we don't live here permanently. I brush off the desire convincing myself how awkward meeting strangers is. But a voice deep within speaks confidently. Nudges gently. Tells me to go.

God has told me to love. To open my heart, home, and life. Not under the conditions of convenience or recognition. Not so I can stamp another box in my passport as I visit dark countries. Not so I can check off my good-doer list.

But so that I can love. Like He loves me. So that I can share life, hope, mercy, grace, and forgiveness. 

I blame Kelly Minter. I blame her beautiful words, her witty humor, and her obedience to travel to the depths of the Amazon, and to then write a book about it. I can't un-read, what I have read. I can't un-know what God has revealed to me.

Wherever the River Runs is Kelly's story of how God lead her to the Amazon, to tribes of forgotten people, and opened her eye's to God's heart. It is a story of seeking. And finding.
"I wasn't sure in what ways my life would change, but my 'normal' life - my American one with the catalogs and dreams, the bills and closet full of clothes - could no longer remain the same... I'd soon realize I wouldn't have to reside in the Amazon to live amid a river of people whose burdens needed carrying. I needed only to look around me."
You guys, I can't recommend this book enough. Kelly is such a beautiful and amazing writer, and her heart is even better. Her words so capture this remote and forgotten land that you feel you are right beside her, swinging on a hammock, looking at the stars, and dreaming God size dreams.

And luckily, I have 1 book to giveaway courtesy of Family Christian (US only).

You can enter to win by:
*Commenting on this post, telling me how much you really want to win. 

*Share this giveaway on Facebook and/or retweet on Twitter.

*For additional entries you may follow Family Christian on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, or Tumblr. Leave a comment on this post for each link you follow. 

A random comment will be selected Wednesday, October 1 at 8:00pm. I will contact you via email.

You guys. Seriously. Get this book. Like, now.

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Family Christian. I wasn't compensated in anyway, except for receiving Minter's book to review. All opinions are my own, of course. 

Giveaway closed.

The winner is: Dede
Congrats! Please contact me with your information. 

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Lend Me Your Hope

Sometimes I don't know what to say. I don't know how to express what I thinking, feeling, and needing. I know you feel the same. What do you say to someone like me? What do you say to someone who has lost. Someone who has deep, unspeakable pain.

This anonymous author explains my needs so well.

Lend Me Your Hope

Lend me your hope for a while,
I seem to have mislaid mine.
Lost and hopeless feelings accompany me daily,
pain and confusion are my companions.
I know not where to turn.

Looking ahead to future times
does not bring forth images of renewed hope.

I see troubled times,
pain-filled days,
and more tragedy.
Lend me your hope for a while,
I seem to have mislaid mine.

Hold my hand and hug me;
listen to all my ramblings,
recovery seems so far distant.
The road to healing
seems like a long and lonely one.
Lend me your hope for a while,
I seem to have mislaid mine.

Stand by me,
offer me your presence,
your heart and your love.
Acknowledge my pain,
it is so real and ever present.
I am overwhelmed
with sad and conflicting thoughts.

Lend me your hope for a while.
A time will come when I will heal,
and I will share my renewal,
hope and love with others

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Stitch Fix: My September Box

This week I received the best package at my doorstep- my September Stitch Fix. I cancelled my box for August, so I was starting to go through withdraws.  
(Ps. You can cancel, adjust, and move around your delivery dates, free of charge. No hassle friends. Amen.)

I polled the internet on what I should keep and it was really fun reading everyone's opinions. Luckily no one said, "Ugh. You look terrible in everything. Send it all back." Everyone was so sweet and encouraging, making me feel like I actually picked these things out on my own. Here are the final standings:
1. Knit Cardigan 
2. Polka Dot Dress 
3. Sheer Kimono 
4. Blue Tank
5. Jeans

I weighed each comment heavily and after a deep mental turmoil finally made my decision. The dangerous thing about this service is that it is so hard to send back items you actually like; but I forced myself to keep only the things I really really wanted. 

1. Skies are Blue Knit Cardigan $48
Guys, I really liked this cardigan. The color isn't as annoying as the picture shows and the thickness will be perfect for fall. However, I already have so many things like this so it just wasn't worth it. I could easily keep this and wear it weekly, but I'm trying to step outside my solid-color-wearing box. So, while this was a fan favorite, and rightly so, I didn't keep it. Send back.

2. Pixley Polka Dot Dress $68
Adorable. Comfy. Soft. Good quality. All the things I look for in a cute little dress. And if Arkansas was experiencing typical weather, I would probably keep this. But alas, the weekend this box arrived it was cold and rainy... and there was no way I could imagine wearing this little number, layers or not. I just can't justify spending $68 on a dress that I won't wear until next spring. Send back.

3. Papermoon Sheer Cardigan $38
Now this is what I'm talking about. This kimono has a fun, colorful pattern that can work for fall or spring. I have absolutely nothing like it and the price is just right. Everyone who chose this top wins. The prize is bragging rights. This was an easy decision for me. Keep.

4. Papermoon Cross-Back Tank $38
You guys didn't get to see the back detail, but I loved this tank. The length was perfect, I loved the color blocking style, and the price was good. But again, I couldn't justify buying such a summery top when the weather is getting cooler. Cardigan...layers...blah blah. I know. But it just wasn't worth it. Send back. 

5. Cut From the Kloth Sonja Straight Leg Jean $78
It has been so hard from me to find jeans over the past few months. My pre-pregnancy jeans are fitting again, but my body isn't the same shape as it use to be. Hence, I've hated shopping for pants. So when I saw this pair of jeans my stomach dropped. However I sucked it up, literally, and slipped these babies on. And I loved them. Like, seriously, I reeeeally liked them. But they were about a size too big, which was a nice surprise and a good problem to have. I tried to persuade myself to keep them but I could slide them off without unbuttoning them; not exactly reliable coverage. Sad day. I plan to adjust my pant sizes on my profile in hopes of receiving better fitting jeans next time. Send back.

And that's a wrap. I'm surprised how much I liked every item. While I didn't keep everything, I really wanted to and it just goes to show how great this service really is. The person who invented this is a genius...I want to be their best friend.

 Did you like the kimono? Don't you love trying on pants to realize they are a size too big? Is the weather strangely cold where you are too?

Please use my referral link if you want to get your own Stitch Fix. It will give me $25 to put toward my next box and you will get a fun and personalized box at your front door. And let me know what you get in your box too!

Friday, September 5, 2014

This post was meant to be about something

As the title suggests, this posts was meant be about something. Fall. Football. Memories with friends.

But you guys, I'm sick. Like, unable to get out of bed, stomach churning sick. And it sucks. No matter how old I get, I still feel like a child when I'm not well. Please tell me I'm not the only one.

I think I caught the stomach bug that is going around and it is no joke. So I reluctantly called into work and prayed that this would be over in 24 hours like "they" promised.

So, now I'm writing this post to tell you I'm not able to write a post. Stupid, yes. But I hear sickness can do that to someone.

Until next time...

Monday, August 25, 2014

Cold Brew Iced Coffee Recipe

You guys, it is finally feeling like the Arkansas summer I know and love dread. Humid. Muggy. Hot. I mean, it's hard to complain though. It is late August and, since we have had such a mild and pleasant summer, I suppose we can bear through a few weeks of 120 degree heat with 150% humidity.

But to get you through summer's last hoo-rah, I thought I'd share a new-found secret of mine: cold brew iced coffee! Ree posted it on her website ages ago and I've been dying to try it ever since; if the Pioneer Woman says it is good, you better believe it as truth.

Before we knew the error of our ways, if Josh and I wanted iced coffee we would brew it hot, throw it in the fridge, and wait for as long as possible (aka: 30 minutes) to fill the cup up with ice and call it good. Oh, how we've entered the light.

This cold brew method leaves us with better coffee and more time in the morning to sleep in. (Cause, you know, using a Keurig takes sooo long.) But seriously, the coffee is way better. It can last a month in your fridge, in a tightly sealed container, but it only has lasted us 2 weeks. What can I say. We like our iced coffee.

You may need to tweak your coffee:water ratio and how long you let it sit to find the perfect strength you like, but here is the basis.

Cold Brew Iced Coffee 
(adapted from Pioneer Woman)

12oz ground coffee. I recommend a medium roast
6 quarts of cold water.
a big bowl/bucket/trough
a pitch with a lid

In a large bowl, combine the coffee and cold water. Gently stir to make sure the coffee in submerged in the water. This bowl might be deceiving, but it is huge. 

Cover and sit a room temperature for 8 hours. I let our's go to 10 and it was a tad too strong. 

Once it is ready, using a fine-meshed strainer and cheese cloth, pour the coffee into a pitcher. I had to use two pitches because I didn't have one large enough to hold all the coffee. Think ahead people; don't be like me. 

It may take it a bit to drain, but be patient. And definitely use cheese cloth. The grounds will get through if you just use a strainer. And nothing is worse that drinking coffee with grounds in it. Yuck.

Put a lid on your pitcher and stick it in the fridge. When you wake up in the morning you can pour yourself a wonderful glass of iced goodness. 

And of course, Half N Half makes everything better...

Friends, you must try it. You'll thank me for it. I swear. 

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

A decade ago

10 years ago today I said "yes" to a date with a young, funny, and persistent blue eyed boy. Today, I am married to the man God knew I needed; the man that makes me smile, calms me down, and truly lifts my spirits. 
Josh, I am honored to be your wife and I am lucky to call you my best friend. 

Thanks for asking me out, all those years ago.












Sunday, August 17, 2014

Library Love: Pursue the Intentional Life

I am apart of a Lord-loving, food-eating, and laughter-seeking girls group that has been meeting every Thursday for the past several years. They've grown together, grieved together, and have opened their arms and hearts to me.

This summer we read Purse the Intentional Life by Jean Fleming. And you guys, it changed my life. I want to shake each of you and demand you read it. Jean has concepts and thoughts that I have never considered before and she writes so beautifully. It's like snippets of her diary, a window into her heart.

The title explains what the book is about- how to live our lives with intention. How to slow down, redirect, and focus on what God really wants from our brief time on earth. Jean shares with us from her "old woman file" lessons God has taught her and questions she is still pursuing. Her searching ignites my hunger.

"I find that contemplating the end of life leads not to depression but to clarity and invigoration. Setting my life in parentheses and holding it at arm's length helps me to think more critically about the direction of my life..."
"...Life is short. Soon my life on earth will give way to my life in heaven. Rather than leading to panic, the reality leads to a peaceful and settled urgency. Although thoughts of heaven are so lovely to consider, the Lord reminds me that my short stay on earth is my only chance to honor Him with faith and faithfulness."

In my 19,000 some-odd days left on earth, Lord willing, I want my life to be intentional. I want my actions, my words, and my thoughts to be spirit-filled and God-led. I want to constantly refocus my gaze, realign my heart, and point others to the only hope we have. 

Monday, August 11, 2014

Family weekend: Lake house edition

With summer sadly coming to a close and the school year/fall quick upon us, I was glad to take a long weekend away with my family at our lake house this past weekend. The whole crew came, minus my cool aunt, and we couldn't have had a better time.

We all arrived on Friday and immediate got in the boat to warm up our tubing skills and dare the driver to flip us off. 
Uncle Scott and my mom are the two best drivers of the group. Want to die on a tube? Just put them behind the wheel. 

Even though it rained a little bit each day, that gave us a good excuse to come inside, stuff our faces, and play countless rounds of cards. Seriously, you must learn to shuffle and play cards to be apart of this family. We'll play any card game, but we're partial to Spades and Hearts. 
I'm pretty sure Scott and I won that round, hence his proud presentation of his hand.

We did some fishing without success and attempted to teach Jaden how to ski. It was an all around good time. 

And the last day, with the rain clouds finally away, we decided to get in some last minute skiing and kneeboarding. We threw on swimsuits, said "no" to wallets, shoes, water, and sunscreen and jumped in the boat. As, you know, we were only going to be gone for an hour or so...famous last words. 

Several miles away from the house, with Drake epically skiing, the boat came to a sputtering stop. With multiple attempts and tries, we officially diagnosed the boat as dead. Stranded, we did the only thing we thought to do... pull it ourselves. 
They all three are pulling the boat with ropes. After 20 minutes, we may have gone 300 yards.

But luckily, some good Samaritans with bottled water came and towed us to the nearest ramp where the  rest of the family came to pick us up. Great way to end the weekend. 
"Hey guys, turn around and smile so I can take a pictures of the guy towing us!"

I seriously can't wait to go back. Here's to another weekend of family bonding! 

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Half a year: An eternity

This week it will be 6 months since we said hello, and goodbye, to Olivia. 
Half a year.
My, how we've changed.

One part of me says, it's a day just like any other.
A day that I still don't have her.
I can't miss her any more on that day compared to all the other days without her. 

But in the same breath, my life seems to revolve around these anniversaries.

Such a milestone. 
Such an eternity. 

I can't believe we've made it 6 months.
I can't believe I've made it 6 months.

Life just isn't.
Isn't full enough.
Isn't happy enough.
Isn't good enough.

The only thing that is, is God.
He is fullness, happiness, and goodness.
He is enough.

Or, this is what I scream at my heart.
But my heart is human.
And it hurts.

It hurts so deeply. 

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Stitch Fix: My July Box

You guys. Seriously. This week I received my most favorite Stitch Fix box ever! I had originally told myself that I was only going to keep one thing in my box, but once I opened it I loved it all too much to send anything back. Yes, thats right. I ended up keeping everything. With the 25% discount, I just couldn't say no!

My daily wardrobe consists of scrubs, gym clothes, and pajamas so I specifically asked for "casual summery" pieces. The stylist totally listened to my request and even pulled a couple of things directly off my Pinterest board.

A personal stylist is 100% the way to go! AND I don't have to leave my house. I know I say it every time, but I can't recommend this service enough.

If you need an explanation on what Stitch Fix is, see my first post here, where I explain all about it. 

Even though you know that I kept everything, lets look inside this month's box:

{*Disclaimer: No makeup/just finished running/early Saturday morning photos from the iPhone...please don't judge me.}

1. Papermoon Talia Embroidery Top $48
This was my favorite item in my box. The color is perfect and the embroidered detail at the top is just the right amount. 

2. Sugarlips Arden Keyhole Tank $54
 This was my least favorite item in the box. I really liked the detail in the trim and the quality of the material, but the cut of the neckline is a little weird. However, keeping all the items was cheaper than just returning this shirt.

3. Pomelo Austin Polka Dot/Striped Shirt $48
This shirt is incredibly comfortable and soft. The length is perfect and the change in patterns keeps it fun. This shirt will probably get the most use out of the bunch- I typically just throw on a tshirt (and pants) to run errands, but this shirt will make me feel just a bit more put-together.  

4. Under Skies Kourtney Floral Print Dress $78
 I am in love with this dress. The print is just so lovely. I feel like I should wear a big, brimmed hat and sip tea in a garden somewhere. The fit is perfect- gives me a shape but covers the imperfections. 

5. Emperia Kacie Crossbody Bag $48
I didn't mention anything in my style profile, but I was in desperate need of a new purse. Luckily, my stylist read my mind and sent me this awesome bag! I am totally into the cross body purses right now - I love the style and it leaves me hands free - so this was just what I was looking for. It holds plenty, has great pockets, and I didn't mind the under $50 price tag. 

So, there you have it. My wardrobe is growing and my wallet is shrinking. But I can't wait until my next box. I'm telling myself I will only keep one thing next time, but I guess we can see how strong my will power will be. 

Please use my referral link if you want to get your own Stitch Fix. It will give me $25 to put toward my next box and you will get a fun and personalized box at your front door. And let me know what you get in your box too!

Monday, June 23, 2014

Upon the Water

You guys, this song speaks the words of my heart. It is the prayer of my soul. It is me crying out to God in desperation for help. Yearning for the trust that Jesus will never fail me and for the faith to stand in this ocean.

This year, if I've learned anything, it is that nothing in this world is guaranteed. That my life can go from "perfect" to a disaster in a matter of minutes. It only takes seconds to utter the word cancer or to see your baby has no heart beat.

But I'm not in this storm by myself. Jesus is walking on water saying that, with faith in him, I can walk too. That I will not drown if my feet are planted firmly with him.

You call me out upon the water
The great unknown, where feet may fail.
And there I find you in the mystery
In oceans deep, my faith will stand.

And I will call upon your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise my soul will rest in your embrace
For I am yours and you are mine.

Your grace abounds in deepest waters
your sovereign hand will be my guide
My feet may fail and fears surrounds me
you've never failed and you won't start now

Sprit lead me where my trust is without boarders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever you will call me
Take me deeper than me feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Stitch Fix: My June Box

Last Thursday I received my June Stitch Fix, and guys let me tell ya, it was a good one! 

If you don't know by now, Stitch Fix is a personal styling service that delivers five items of clothing or accessories based on your personal style and budget. You can schedule the box as often as you'd like. You keep the things you like and send everything else back in a pre-paid envelope (just stick it in the mailbox- easy peasy). There is a $20 styling fee that is deducted from the price of the items you keep. And if you decide to keep everything in your box you get a 25% discount.

I feel like my stylist, Shannon, nailed this box! She included so many fun pieces to integrate into my wardrobe. The main reason I love this service so much is the convenience- things get delivered to my door step, I try it on with my current wardrobe, and send back what I don't want.

Plus, the style inspiration ideas are stupid-proof. Perfect for someone like me!

So lets see whats in my box, shall we...

1. Renee C Striped Maxi Skirt $58.00
Even though you can't tell, this skirt is the perfect length; not too short to show my ankles and not too long to drag the ground. The material is light and perfect for summer. It is a tad pricer than I would prefer- if I would have seen this skirt at Target, I wouldn't have even tried it on because of the price- but that is the catch22 of this service. I already had it in my home, tried in on with some shirts, and decided I liked to too much to send back. A definite winner. Keep.

2. 41 Hawthorn Striped A Line Skirt $58.00
I loved the idea of this skirt. It is a good sturdy material, I liked the pattern and loved the length. Although it fit great in the butt/legs, the waist was a tad tighter than I felt comfortable with. Send back.

3. 41 Hawthorn Wrap Dress $46.00
I really liked the price of this dress. The material was a good quality and, though it is hard to tell, I really liked the abstract design. However, the bust and shoulder area were a bit too baggy and frumpy. This was a size medium and I feel that a small would have fit much better. Send back.

4. Papermoon Pasadena Crochet Blouse $48.00
This top is very similar to something on my Pinterest board (which I have connected to my Stitch Fix profile so my stylist can browse through what I've pinned). The crocheted detail makes me feel so dainty and sweet. I love the scalloped trim and the (unpictured) zipper up the back. Although Josh wasn't the biggest fan, this was a Keep.

5. Fun2Fun Gradient Stripe Tank $38.00
This tank is so very me. I love the fading stripes, the silk fabric, and the difficult-to-see pockets on the front. It is very comfortable and light and the material makes it easy to dress up or down. This was an easy decision. Keep.

Seriously, super fun. Right? I've already worn two of the three kept items, and I've received complements on both! Everyone I've talked to really seems to love this idea and I can't recommend it enough. 

Please use my referral link if you want to get your own Stitch Fix. It will give me  $25 to put toward my next box and you will get a fun and personalized box at your front door. And let me know what you get in your box too!