Archives for October 2015

How I Know I’m Here

I’m at Mama and Daddy’s house for a couple of days, and since I left Birmingham pretty early this morning, I am just as tickled as I can be that it’s almost time for bed. In fact, I was just thinking about how delightful it would be if I were sound asleep by 9, but I’m going to stay awake a little longer and maybe work on some writing.

And when I say “writing,” what I really mean is “watch House Hunters.”

I know I need to be productive, but words and sentences and chapters feel like a big commitment right now.


After supper tonight I was putting a few things in the dishwasher when something that will forever and always remind me of Mama and Daddy’s house caught my eye for about the fourth time today.


An open, well-loved cookbook – with notes.

In case you can’t see it, this note says that Mama made Italian Cream Cake five times in square pans for Family Night Supper. AS YOU DO.

But really, isn’t it funny how just one little thing can immediately let us know that we are in the presence of our people?

Here’s another one.


I don’t think we even have a phonebook at our house in Birmingham, but at Mama and Daddy’s the phonebook is always visible and almost always folded back. Even the sound of someone turning phone book pages reminds me of my parents’ house.

So does a decorated laundry room.


You know what my laundry room looks like?

It looks like the place where organizational embarrassment went to die.

Clearly I have betrayed my strong laundry room heritage.

And then there’s the sight of stuff taped inside the kitchen cabinets.


If I have ever taped anything inside my own kitchen cabinets, I don’t remember it. But Mama? She loves a kitchen cabinet reminder. And she likes to make sure that reminder stays there by GOING TO TOWN with the Scotch tape.

Not even Scotch tape can top Mama’s love for this next thing, though.


Stunt pillows. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: if you spend the night with anyone in my family, you’re gonna work to turn back a bed. You may even break a sweat (not with the bed in this picture, necessarily, but I would consider it an introductory level stunt pillow situation). Maybe it’s a family thing, or maybe it’s a Southern thing, or maybe it’s just a crazy thing, but we believe in pillow shams, we believe in throw pillows, we believe in neck rolls, and heaven knows we believe in pillow formations.

Exclamation point. And amen.

Have a great weekend, everybody!

On A Very Happy Note

So when I’m knee-deep in a writing project I listen to music all the time. ALL. THE. TIME. I’m one of those weird people who can’t write in silence, so that means I need music and more music and lo, even more music. HOWEVER. I am very particular about what music qualifies as “writing music,” because there’s a fine line between energetic and manic. There’s also a fine line between soothing and sleep-inducing. I’ll be the first to admit that it’s a tricky balance, but I know it when I hear it.

When I wrote A Little Salty… I was in an All John Mayer, All The Time phase, so I will forever associate that book with his Queen of California album. For some reason I also listened to Buddy Jewell’s “Sweet Southern Comfort” OVER AND OVER AND OVER when I was writing, and I mixed in a little Mumford and Avett Bros. for good measure. I had a harder time finding my ideal writing music when I wrote Home is Where My People Are, but I finally settled on a mixture of Crowder’s Neon Steeple, John Mayer’s Paradise Valley (“Dear Marie” LAYS ME OUT), Chris Rice’s Peace Like A River (which is about 8-ish years old but stayed on infinite repeat last spring and summer), the waaaaay back A Grateful People album by Watermark, anything The Oh Hellos have ever recorded, and a whole lot of James Taylor.

With this new book I’ve run a couple of different musical courses. Back in the summer I was listening to super upbeat stuff when I wrote: NEEDTOBREATHE’s Live from The Woods, some classic Justin Timberlake, maybe even a little Ben Folds Five thrown in when there was an energy ebb. But as I’ve gotten further along in the book, I’ve gravitated much more to praise and worship / hymns / anything where someone sings about all their deep thoughts.

Listen. The last couple of months have been really good for music related to deep thoughts.

So. In the interest of spreading a little musical love, here are my current favorites. I happen to think that the musical landscape is pretty phenomenal right now – maybe the best it’s been in my lifetime – and I am very grateful that there are so many options for listening while I write.

1) One Wild Life: Soul by Gungor

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I didn’t think I would like this album. I was so very wrong. The lyrics make me cry actual tears, and the melodies are haunting in the best possible way. My favorite song is probably “Land of the Living,” but “Light” could take over the #1 spot at any second.

2) Dear Wormwood by The Oh Hellos

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They are genius people. The end.

3) What Do You Mean? – Justin Bieber

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I can’t explain why I like it. But I have listened to it over and over and over. AND HAVE YOU SEEN THIS ACOUSTIC VERSION?

The Biebs makes me smile.

4) Psalms, Vol. 2 by Shane & Shane

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For the last six weeks or so I’ve been a little in love with the Psalms. It started with Psalm 77, and my obsession / affection seems to grow every day. Given that, it’s really no surprise that I think this collection of Psalms set to music is one of the most beautiful albums of the year. And as a bonus, you’re memorizing scripture as you sing along.

5) The Burning Edge of Dawn – Andrew Peterson

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Melanie mentioned this album on her blog last week, and I agree with everything she said. This music is poetic, tender, and lovely. Andrew Peterson is a master at showing, not telling, and that makes for some fine, deep lyrics. So beautiful.

6) This Glorious Grace – Austin Stone Worship

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This is a worship album that’s truly worshipful – and there’s a tone of infectious joy that runs through each song (the fact that the songs were recorded live adds a little extra measure of happy, I think). There’s a consistency in the sound and the production that makes me super happy, because everything sounds unified and like it belongs together. A mixture of original songs and traditional hymns, this album is going to stay in my personal rotation for a while.

7) Continuum (Special Edition) – John Mayer

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I can’t write a book without him, y’all.

Hope you had a great weekend – and happy listening, everybody!

Footloose & Fancy Free Only Not Really

Well, football practice got canceled this past Thursday night, and it was like our whole world opened up.

Don’t get me wrong. Everybody in this family enjoys football season and football games and football practice and all the other football-related things. But last week was week 10, I think, of the football grind, so an unexpected practice cancellation?

IT FELT LIKE A GIFT. Y’all know that I prefer to be in my pajamas by about 4:30 in the afternoon, and Thursday I got to do just that. I’m almost certain angels sang. There haven’t been a lot of free weeknights so far this school year, so all three of us jumped at the chance to put on pajamas and heat up some leftovers and relax.

And I’m not gonna lie. I’ve been working on the new book A LOT over the last couple of weeks, so when there’s a rare patch of down time, I have a little bit of trouble flipping the writing switch to “off.” I write almost every night until 10:00 or 10:30 (I KNOW – it’s so obnoxious), not because I just happen to love to write while Alex is at practice and then after he goes to bed, but because that’s really the only window-o-time that I can find during the week. SO, when our Thursday night was suddenly wide open last week, my first impulse was to open the computer and get to work on the next chapter.


Instead, I watched this thing called a television, and I enjoyed the fire out of it.

And then Friday night we went to a high school football game, and that was equally as delightful.

On Saturday, though, it was back to the book, and while I did the majority of my writing while listening to college football games through my headphones, I somehow managed to make some decent forward progress. I wrote a little more yesterday after church and Chuy’s, and I was back at it again tonight until I realized that I had no idea how to end a chapter.

So I guess you could say that this post is brought to you by writer’s block.

And as much as I hate to bore you with another list, I have to at least post a teeny list – because when I’m only blogging once or twice a week, I seem to accumulate a lot of links / videos / THINGS TO SHARE during the interim.

Here are a few things I have to mention or I won’t be able to sleep tonight.

(Clearly that was an exaggeration.)

(Because while I have a lot of issues right now – time management being one of the biggest – I am sleeping like a champion.)

(Thank you. Thank you so much.)

1) I posted this on the blog Facebook page earlier, but Y’ALL. THIS SONG. The arrangement is gorgeous and oh my goodness it makes me wish I could sing.

2) The Oh Hellos released a new album last Friday, and it is gorgeous. It is stunning. It is based on the works of CS Lewis (AS YOU DO), and it is crazy good. Here’s one of the songs if you don’t believe me.

3) Now I am probably the last person to know about this particular app, but have y’all heard of Wunderlist? OH MY WORD.

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I actually had to sign up for it because of my job, and I am typically super reluctant to incorporate a new app into my day-to-day. But I am crazy about this Wunderlist business. I already like it as much as I like Notability, and THAT IS A LOT. For example, I have a list called “Groceries,” and since I added David as a user to that particular list, he can add the stuff he wants me to get at the store to my ever-constant grocery list. ALSO, the website is just as great as the app, AND THEY SYNC, so if I enter a bunch of stuff in a list on the website, I can pick up my phone later, open the app, and IT IS ALL RIGHT THERE LIKE MAGIC.

I realize that the Reminders app does that, too. And I know that the Reminders app now has a Family feature. But Wunderlist is much more intuitive to me, and it also allows me to make notes within each list, so that’s a total win.

And if you’ve been reading here for a while, you know that I LOVE to make a list with pen and paper. However, over the last couple of years of using a digital calendar, I’ve learned that it’s oh-so-helpful for my husband if he can get a glimpse of what I have going on schedule-wise. I see that same potential with Wunderlist; I think it’s going to help us help each other. I will keep you posted about that.

4) A few weeks ago I was a guest on an episode of the Deep South Details podcast, and Kendall, Dana, and I talked a LOT about football. Plus, right before we started recording I realized that Dana and I have about 300 people in common, so that made my relational heart ever-so-happy. As did talking a lot about Dak Prescott. Anyway, if you love all things Southern, you will get a huge kick out of Deep South Details (and Melanie recorded an episode, too!).

5) Y’all may remember how I love prints from The Old Try. Well, a few weeks ago my new favorite arrived in the mail.

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Scout Finch never disappoints. Never. Not one time.

Thanks for being so patient with me, y’all. Sending big hugs your way!

Some Current Favorites

Well, since it’s fall, and since I’m not eating gluten, and since I haven’t done one of these lists in a while, I thought I’d feature a few of my most recent favorite things.


Or minimal fun, at least?

Snapea Crisps


So you know how I’m not eating gluten and it’s the weirdest thing but I feel so much better even though I didn’t realize I didn’t necessarily feel great? Well, the one thing I have REALLY missed during this whole gluten-free process is my frenemy the potato chip. And yes, I know that some potato chips are gluten-free, but I DON’T LIKE ANY OF THOSE. I prefer Ruffles Cheddar & Sour Cream OR Lay’s Kettle Cooked Mesquite BBQ, but we have had to part ways. However, these Snapea Crisps are so tasty and totally fulfill crunchy cravings. I buy them at Publix, and for some reason they’re on the edge of the produce section with all the dried fruits and nuts. DELICIOUS.

Redken Wax Blast 10 Finishing Spray


A few weeks ago I decided to get my hair chopped off because why not. I was so tired of blowdrying it to the point that I was burning up hot, and I felt like I had some damaged ends that I could happily live without. My sweet stylist cut my hair for an hour and a half; my hair is super fine, but since I have a ton of it, it requires a lot of layering. After she finished blowdrying it, she sprayed this Wax Blast on it, and I LOVE IT. It’s so good for short hair – perfect for adding some texture and volume but not so heavy that my hair feels sticky or looks like I’ve joined A Flock of Seagulls.


I also use the Aerate 08 mousse before I dry my hair, and it is equally delightful.

– Chapter 3 of Home is Where My People Are

The caption underneath the picture tells the whole story, and I am forever grateful to Pearl and Rose Designs for this treasure. Thanks so much, Shelby!

(And don’t miss Shelby’s hand-illustrated maps; they are awesome.)

Urban Southern Tote Bag


The folks at Urban Southern sent me this bag a couple of weeks ago, and while I thought it was great-looking when I saw it in pictures, nothing could have prepared me for its real-life gorgeousness. This is sturdy, beautiful leather that will only get prettier with age, and y’all, IT. SMELLS. FANTASTIC. The inside of the bag has a big pocket for a phone or a passport or whatever you like to keep handy when you shop or travel.


The inside is perfect for a few magazines, a couple of books, and an iPad; I even used the tote as a laptop bag earlier this week. This bag is expandable, too; there are little rivet-type things (official term) on each side that you can unhook if you really need the tote to hold a bunch of stuff. For me this bag is the perfect size to carry on an airplane. It’s big enough to hold everything I need and small enough to easily tuck under the seat.

More than anything, though, this bag is BEAUTIFUL, and it is timeless. It will never, ever go out of style.

Ben Moon & Britney Shakespeares

You know how something can strike you as super funny and you don’t really know why it’s so funny but you need to watch it about 14 times just to wring out every single bit of the funny?

That is this for me.

A video posted by Ben Moon (@captainahmazing) on

– Andrew Peterson’s “Be Kind to Yourself”

Well. This made me cry an embarrassing amount of tears. I don’t know of a sweeter love song for older kids. So much tenderness and compassion in the lyrics.



Every once in a while someone will ask me if I have a favorite app. It’s not something I think about a whole bunch because I use my laptop way more than I use my phone. But over the last couple of years, I’ve grown super attached to one app in particular: Notability. I use it mainly on my iPad, though I’ve used it on my phone, too, and I love it because it’s a handy spot for me to keep all my notes from church, notes for speaking, notes from work, etc. I typically write out my talks in Word, and once I feel good about what I’m working with, I’ll move it to Notability (via Google Drive – or I’ll just email myself the Word document and then open it in Notability). After it’s in Notability, I can write additional notes on it, I can file it, I can highlight / star sections, I can cut out sections…it’s really, really handy. Plus, all my notations are saved / updated in a PDF that backs up to my Google Drive, so I can search for my Notability documents in my Gmail, of all things, and that is very handy if I need to send someone a copy of my notes.

All that to say: I AM A FAN.

And also: I hope y’all have a wonderful weekend!

Airport Delays, Gum Crackers, & My Ongoing Need For Sanctification

Early Friday afternoon I hopped on a plane for Oklahoma City. Well, really I hopped on a plane for Atlanta, and then I got on another plane for Oklahoma City, but I guess the point is that I utilized air travel in order to get to Oklahoma City for a Ministry Wives’ Conference.

I had the best time at the conference, by the way. The women were so kind and warm and welcoming. I spoke Friday night and Saturday morning, and then I went back to the airport as soon as the conference was over. Now that I think about it I wasn’t even in Oklahoma City for 24 hours, but I managed to laugh a lot AND consume two large drinks from Sonic in that short period of time. So I’d call that a win.

Also, at the conference they kept a beverage station up and running the whole time, and here is what they offered: iced tea, lemonade, lemon water, lime water, and coffee. This is pretty much the best idea in the history of the world and I have since decided that wherever two are more are gathered, we need to do this for each other. I mean, I’m not planning on setting up an actual beverage station in my house or anything, but I do think the third shelf of my refrigerator can serve in a more practical and intentional way with the inclusion of some lemon water and some tea. The water was so cold that it almost hurt to drink it, and I drank approximately 8 glasses of it. Give or take. It was so enjoyable.

Saturday was my birthday (I’m 32!) (Thanks so much for asking!) (I just lied!), so David and I decided before I left for OKC that the three of us were going to have a birthday / dip party when I got home Saturday night. We actually went out for a really nice dinner one night last week when Alex was at a camp with his whole 6th grade class, so the low-key dip idea totally appealed to me. Plus, I haven’t said anything on the blog, but I haven’t been eating gluten for the last couple of months (I know – I feel like such a cliche’ – but it has been a necessary and super-helpful change for me), so birthday cake was out of the question. There’s actually a gluten-free bakery not far from our house, but I don’t really want to get a taste for that kind of stuff because not eating gluten has helped me cut way back on sugar. And I really didn’t mean to discuss this particular dietary tangent so I guess this is what I get for overexplaining.

I had a little time to kill when I got to the OKC airport for my return flight, so I watched a little OU football and then played a significant amount of Candy Crush. After a pretty hectic week it felt like a luxury to just sit at my gate while crushing some candies, and before I knew it my flight was boarding. I had checked my bag because I didn’t want to have to fool with my suitcase during what was sure to be a sprint through the Atlanta airport, so I was feeling pretty light and breezy considering that I only had a purse and an iPad. I found my seat on the plane, opened my iPad so that I could crush lo, even more candies, and prepared myself for a relaxing flight.

And then I heard it.

The person behind me was cracking her gum.

Not chewing. Not smacking. CRACKING.

And of all the peeves that could possibly become my pets, this one is at the top of the list.

It’s fingernails on a chalkboard for me, the gum cracking.

Also, it makes me want to throw things.

And furthermore, it makes me want to scream.

Fortunately, I remembered that I had headphones (real live headphones – not earbuds) in my purse, so I plugged them in my phone and cranked up some music. Every time a song would end, though, I’d hear the gentle gum cracking of my neighbor behind me, and I’d ponder the irony that I had traveled all the Oklahoma City to ENCOURAGE WOMEN WITH SCRIPTURE and yet I was on the verge of damaging my personal testimony OVER SOME GUM.

I got a little tickled about that.

When we finally got to Atlanta, I had to switch terminals, and when I finally made it to the gate (which, of course, was at the very end of the new terminal), I plopped down in one of two remaining seats and pulled out my phone to check football scores.

(This was before the Aggies put the hurt on my Bulldogs.)

(I was mainly checking to see what was happening in the Florida / Ole Miss game.)

And y’all, I’m not exaggerating even a little bit when I tell you that the guy who was sitting beside me at the gate? He let out a big ole belch just like he was at home in his recliner.

He didn’t say he was sorry or beg anyone’s pardon or anything like that, so I just figured maybe he got a little too comfortable, but then a few minutes later it happened again, and he wasn’t even a little bit fazed by it.

And a few minutes later? Big ole belch #3 – still with no acknowledgment on his part.

Well at that point I had no choice but to text my sister.

I mean, I hope he doesn’t have any sort of medical condition that causes that, and I certainly hope he isn’t dealing with anything serious, but I thought, Well, this is where we are, America. The once-glamorous world of air travel has degenerated into a herding process where we openly share all of our worst habits with our fellow passengers and basically expect them to just deal with it.

Don’t even get me started about how it’s like Lord of the Flies trying to get off of a plane. There used to be a little bit of decorum about men letting women out of the rows first, people helping each other with carry-ons, folks stopping to let the rows ahead of them exit – but now it’s like survival of the fittest. You snooze, you lose. You expect that the people behind you will be patient as you remove your bag from the overhead bin, but you turn around and realize that everyone has painted their faces and someone has stolen Piggy’s glasses and the parachute on the mountain looks like a monster.

You can blow that conch shell all you want to, sister. Nobody gives a rip.

It turned out to be another hour or so before my flight left Atlanta; something was wrong with the first plane and they had to bring in another one from the hangar (?!?!) and naturally, of course, we had to change gates. Finally, though, I made it to home sweet home. Alex told me all about his camp trip, and David had made several varieties of dip even though he does not really enjoy dip, and we cheered on the ‘Dogs to no avail. It only took about ten minutes before I reminded myself that basically any form of transportation is a-okay as long as it gets me home again.

No matter where I go, home is always my favorite place to be.

Hope y’all had a great weekend!