Bella Grace Magazine Summer Issue

I wanted to share that I have two pieces in the current summer issue 16 of Bella Grace Magazine - available on their website and on newsstands at a Barnes and Noble near you! They pieces are entitled "Lighting Your Own Candle" and "15 Ways Farm Life Is Surprising Me." The farm life piece includes my photos and some from my talented friend Sarah B. Gilliam. I'm just bummed the magazine didn't credit her photos properly on the pages. But I'm pretty sure you'll know which photos are hers (hint: they're the best ones!). Bella Grace is more like a gorgeous mini-book (ad-free!) than a magazine, so it's the perfect escape while you're on a road trip, sitting by the pool, or just having a cup of coffee on your front porch. Happy summer reading!

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*This post includes an affiliate link - meaning that if you click on any of the links and buy those items, I'll receive a small commission. The price is the same for you, though!

What's Saving My Life Right Now: May Edition

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Our local library. I looked suspiciously from side to side to see if anyone was watching me when I found Capital Gaines, The Magnolia Story, The Road Back to You, and Boundaries all at my local library on the shelves. With no one trying to reserve them! I did have to place a request and wait a few weeks for The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street but it was utterly worth the wait - completely magical. I feel like I've struck gold every time I leave the library. Even if I don't get to keep them.

Getting up early. I've said this before, but getting up early is saving my life right now. I think I'm finally in a rhythm of rising at 5:30am when the first tiny rays of light peek through my bedroom window blinds and my husband starts the coffee grinder. While we're at it...

Nutpods. I love my tiny, perfect cup of coffee with Hazelnut or French Vanilla Nutpods creamer and some Vanilla Creme Stevia. My husband and I preview the coming day before our girls wake up. It's priceless. But oh so necessary.

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Working my body hard again. With spring comes the return of the farm work rhythm here at Kindred Farm. Of course, there was work to do all winter long - tending the pigs and chickens, washing eggs, and keeping up with the lettuce growing in our greenhouse. But early spring is when things really pick up again with all the prepping of new rows, planting, cleaning up the farm, and our first farm dinner of the season in April. The first few week or so, I felt like I was going to collapse as I adjusted to the hauling, squatting, hammering, lifting, and planting literally thousands of lettuce plugs by hand. But now, I'm feeling so much stronger. I'm ever thankful to have a body that works, and I want to honor that by using it to its full potential. My wide-brim farm hat and dirty knees are back, and it feels good.

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Adventuring with my family. We all work so hard Monday-Saturday: homeschooling, freelance writing, farm chores, and my husband works several 14-hour days cooking for his personal chef clients. And then Sunday, we Sabbath hard. Usually, we've been going to the early service at church and then just hanging out at home, maybe having some friends over for dinner. But on Mother's Day, we loaded up the car early with our Keens, Chacos, cooler bags of snacks and the most perfectest ever Simple Mills chocolate cupcakes with vanilla icing that my husband made as a Mother's Day treat. And we had that flutter-of-excitement-in-the-stomach-about-to-leave-on-a-road-trip feeling. Ya know? We wound our way through Tennessee backroads and then into the foothills of the mountains near Chattanooga, where we took a last-minute detour to explore Rock Island State Park, which we absolutely loved!  Powerful falls, lots of hiking over boulders, and an epic swimming hole. We even found a little beach where we swam in the headwaters of Center Hill Lake. It's at this beach where we unveiled the aforementioned chocolate cupcakes. And, ya'll. Maybe it was the fact that I was sunning myself on a rock after swimming in the icy cold lake in the middle of a stunning setting or the fact that I could enjoy a luscious dessert that was also gluten-free and dairy-free. But I actually said, "This is the LIFE" out loud after I took the first bite. Wee bit embarrassing, but it's true. Afterwards, we headed to the cutest little town in Tennessee: Bell Buckle, where we ate at a meat-n-three cafe and then swung by the local ice cream parlor. Completely in love with this town. On the drive home through gorgeous rolling hills, I reflected on how this Mother's Day was everything I wanted: exploring and adventuring with my family. We all need these moments to refresh and recharge, don't we?

What's saving your life right now? I'd love to know!

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*This post includes affiliate links - meaning that if you click on any of the links and buy those items, I'll receive a small commission. The price is the same for you, though!

Eastering

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I wrote these words 10 years ago today, and they ring truer than ever. Maybe you needed to hear them today, too...

Poet Gerard Manley Hopkins said, "Let Him easter in us, be a dayspring to the dimness of us, be a crimson-cresseted east." These words evoke a beautiful image of dawn, light, new life. In her book, When The Heart Waits, Sue Monk Kidd says that "to 'let him easter in us' is to let the Christ-life incubate within the darkness of our waiting." At the end of this time is emergence.

So the darkness of waiting and being changed does not have to be scary. It should not be, if it is a womb instead of a tomb. We will enter the cocoon and emerge again many, many times in this life.

May Christ be born in us today as we remember the beauty of letting go and, if we would allow it, coming alive again.

Lighting Your Own Candle

Do you ever let life happen to you? And then suddenly wonder why you feel so stressed, on edge, and disconnected from your own story?

Me, too.

Author Sally Clarkson said in a recent episode of her podcast, At Home With Sally,

"A wise woman takes care of her soul. And we do have agency. We have the ability to cultivate joy, to cultivate delight, to light a candle in our darkness so we can stay alive. We have the ability to roll up our sleeves and write a great story."

When I heard this quote, I actually pulled over in the shoulder of a winding country road to write it down.

Mamas of small children, I know it's hard to find time to "cultivate delight" in the middle of a crazy day where you're meeting everyone else's needs and reheat your coffee five times and barely have time to feed yourself. I homeschool 3 and 6-year-old girls, and we just started our farm, and I'm trying to foster this writing thing, and we eat three meals a day at home and...and...and...I'm with you.

But we have agency.

So, here are some ways I've found to "light a candle" in the middle of the day for myself so I can keep my soul alive, outside of who I am as a wife and mother.

  • Light a candle. Literally.
  • Put some fresh flowers on the table. If possible, go outside and see how many fresh wildflowers you can find (dandelions count!) and put them in a little jam jar on your windowsill.
  • Listen to an encouraging podcast. Since we live in the country, it takes about 15-20 minutes to get almost anywhere. I let go of the guilt and decided that every few days, it's OK for me to pop in my headphones in the car, let my girls play and talk in the backseat, and have some "me" time while driving. Here are my fave podcasts right now.
  • Invite a friend over. You know those friends who make you feel safer when they walk in the room? Those are who you need nearby. We weren't meant to live in isolation, yet so many of us stay in our own homes with our children all day, and while we love them fiercely, this can also be a breeding ground for discouragement and anxiety. All you need to do is extend an invitation and have some coffee or tea on hand - it encourages my heart so much on tough days to have another mom to talk to while our children play. It takes off the burden for awhile and reminds me we're meant to function as a community, a village.
  • Get up early. I'm so not a morning person. But lately I've made myself get up an hour before my children so I can have some time to myself, and while it's taken a lot of discipline, I've quickly seen the fruits of it.  With two children now, I'm finally doing what so many other friends have been telling me - just having an hour to yourself in the morning works wonders for your entire day.

We are able to write the story of our days - a story of frustration and negativity, or a story of delight and joy. The choice is ours. I choose joy. What will you choose?

Favorite Podcasts Right Now

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Windows down, sunroof open, podcast on. Since we live in the country, it takes about 15-20 minutes to get almost anywhere. Every few days while driving, I pop in my headphones and let my girls play and talk in the backseat while I have some "me" time while driving. When we get to our destination and I take those headphones off, I feel so refreshed, like I was in my old little world for awhile ("inner sanctum" for Enneagram 9!), and I'm so much more prepared to be present.

Listen to a podcast while doing dishes, lying in the grass, during your kids' naptime, or see if you can sneak away for just 30 minutes when your husband or other caretaker is with your children. It can make such a difference! Here are my fave podcasts right now:

What are your favorite podcasts? I'd love to add some new, inspiring ones to my list!

Love Song For Me

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I'll never forget this day.

Not just because I had a prophetic dream last night that was so beautiful, I kept trying to fall back asleep this morning to return to it.

Not just because it was a glimmering winter day, and I got to talk to my children about Martin Luther King, Jr. and diversity and how to love other people well.

Not just because a cloud of ten thousand birds flew over my house this morning, leaving me staring out the window, speechless.

Not just because when I was driving at sunset tonight and listening to the best Switchfoot song, the music was suddenly in perfect cadence with the sky, and exactly as a drumbeat hit, a tree burst open into thousands more birds that began soaring over me like a slow-motion film. 

Today is the day I became an active part of the love story God is writing through me.

Today, I became a leading lady in my own life and put aside all the fear that's been holding me back - crippling me - for so long. I stopped grasping for control and instead let the music sweep me up and away.

Today, I found safety in the Creator of this wild, beautiful world and decided to believe - really believe - that if He can take care of all those things, He can surely take care of me. Because the glory of this world can actually leave you speechless if you have eyes to see. And the best news? There's so much more waiting for us, friends. 

When your fear is currency
And you feel that urgency
You want peace but there's war in your head

Maybe that's where life is born
When our facades are torn
Pain gives birth to the promise ahead

If you could let the pain of the past go
Of your soul
None if this is in your control

If you could only let your guard down
If you could learn to trust me somehow
I swear, that I won't let you go

If you could only let go your doubts
If you could just believe in me now
I swear, that I won't let you go

~ Switchfoot, I Won't Let You Go

What Gathering Around the Table Has Taught Me

 Image: JellyTelly.com

Image: JellyTelly.com

In my latest post, I'm sharing about our magical first Kindred Farm dinner: What Gathering Around the Table Has Taught Me.

On a warm October evening, eleven long tables were set end-to-end to form one big, long table down the center of a meadow. Dressed in white tablecloths, mismatched fabric napkins, clear glass plates, flickering candles and lanterns, magenta and orange wildflowers in turquoise Mason jars, and twinkle lights draped overhead, the table shined like a beacon as dusk started to settle on the Tennessee hillside...