Category Archives: Love

How to #HAGS (Have a Good Summer ;) )


Happy First Tuesday, sweet sister friends! It’s FINALLY summer break!  I’m so, so happy about this for, like, a million and fifty-seven reasons. But Reason Number One is (drumroll please):  this beautiful family of mine needs a break.

Yours does, too? I thought so.

Don’t worry. We aren’t the only ones.  It’s been an issue for millennia.

mark 6

He knew we’d all need a break at times.  Thank you, LORD!

So here’s the practical application and importance of this – at least in my world.  For me, summer break means a break from the “control” of school days because it’s totally structured FOR us, but not necessarily BY us.  The school system decides when the kids will be in school.  The coaches and activity leaders decide when practices and games and recitals are held.  The tutors decide what hours they are available.  The teachers decide what homework is due and when.    The moms at pick up decide who is playing with whom afterschool and where…AHEM.

The order of our days is predetermined by the forces around us and, for the most part, we need to get in line with it in order for there to be order, if you know what I mean.

Graciously, summer dances to a different beat.

And so today, at the start of what is summer break for many of us, I am giving you a little advice on how to have a good summer. It goes something like this:



 Peony 1 Talmud

Is that awesome or what?! So often, we think of indulging in things we enjoy as something we will judged for.  But God (don’t you just LOVE Him?!) basically turns that thought on its ear and says, “Girl, if it’s permissible  –  and tons of amazing and fun things in this life are – you might as well enjoy it because I made it just for you.”

I don’t know what it looks like for you because He wired each of us so beautifully different. For me, it’s a big girl glass of wine on a starry night sitting by the outdoor fire.  Or maybe it’s just an extra half hour by myself at the pool with my Bible.  Or hey – it’s even ordering pizza two nights in a row just because I don’t feel like cooking.  But whatever allows you to have some seriously permissible fun this summer, I say GO FOR IT!

Bring Me Wine

(Photo from Pinterest)

Girlies, let’s shake things up for a couple months. Change your schedule and include something new you’ve been wanting to do.  Try taking after dinner walks with your spouse, or maybe early morning coffees on the deck.

Ask your boss if you can shift your work schedule to come in an hour earlier for a week or two so you can earn a little flex time and take a few extra days off to just kick around in your garden or in the city. Get creative with your time.

Let your kids “drive the boat”, so to speak. Have them choose activities that allow exploration of their passions and interests.  Let THEM choose their playmates and embrace their own choices and decisions (within reason 😉 ).  Consider ditching those dreaded “summer skills books” in favor of comic books and silly novels and even Netflix (did I just say that out loud?!). Volunteer at the food bank and make blankets to distribute to those in need when the cold weather returns (because  – SPOILER ALERT – no matter how hot it gets this summer, that Chiberian chill will be back).

Go get lost on a road trip. Swim in a lake. Wear cut-off overalls.  Go to a concert.  Call your college roomie. Hang out with your mom. Show up at your best friend’s house with some flowers and iced tea just because you can.  Talk a walk with Jesus.  Smooch a puppy on the lips (this one might be my favorite!)!

Have your own church service in the park. Eat a humongous cheeseburger, for Heaven’s sake, and wash it down with a cold beer or soda in a glass bottle.  Have a popsicle at breakfast and ride the Ferris wheel…three times in a row!  Eat sweet cherries and spit the pits on the ground.  Embrace simple things that bring mega-doses of joy.

Yeah. These are the things I wish for you AND for me this summer because even the smallest, simplest things reveal God’s great love for us.  And we are blessed to be able to experience them. Be aware of your gifts and use them to better this world.

I guess what I’m saying, love bugs, is that I wish you the happiest summer break ever. Like, EVER.

Stop making your summer bucket lists and just go do all the things you were going to put on them. Sometimes the spontaneous stuff is sooooo much better anyway.

Okay. Enough screen time.  Go on now. Get on out there.  The world is waiting.

What are you still doing here?!?!? I mean it – GO!  Get outta here!  I triple dog dare you.


Peace, love, and JOY!


PS – See you back here on July 4th for the next First Tuesday post…!

PPS – If you are local to the Chicagoland area, I encourage you to check out a great resource:  “Glen Ellyn Moms Village”!  They have awesome social media sites for ideas and inspiration for your summer… AND year-round!! Be sure to follow them so you can  keep updated about local happenings and musings regarding Glen Ellyn and the surrounding communities; the sites are run by one of my favorite sister friends!!!

Play Like a GIRL!!!


I know what you think this post is about.  You’re wrong.

It’s NOT about “Girl Power” in sports or school or the working world, or even about feminism in the gender equality sense.

You need to know I wholeheartedly support those agendas; it’s so important for our voices to be heard, our accomplishments to be recognized, and our contributions to be valued just as much as anyone else’s.

But this post, sweet girls, is about the power of gal pals and our uniquely special friendships.

Last week, I had the amazing and super awesome privilege to have lunch with two of my college roomies. These are girls I love; as in LOVE LOVE LOVE.  I met both of them the very first day on campus at Butler.  And there hasn’t been a holiday, birthday, special event, or heartbreak we haven’t walked through (or belly-level crawled) side-by-side since.  Thirty years, ladies.  It’s a beautiful thing.

Kappa Al-Potatos!

( Junior year…I’m the ADORABLE brunette farthest to the right on the bottom row.  While I love ALL these ladies, my lunch girls (Chappie Sue and Reenie) are the beauties just above my right shoulder.  Blondes.  Yep.   I had to throw the hair color thing in.  Because you NEED to know we all had the SAME amount of fun, regardless of hair color.  Just saying.)

What’s our secret?

We play well together.

We get along famously. We finish each others’ sentences.  We love on each others’ children and reprimand one another’s husbands (and we adore them, too…!).  We show up for milestones with bottles of champagne and heartfelt presents/presence.

And, conversely, we sit quietly, holding hands, in grief or fear.  We’ve shared clothes, pizzas, money, tears, giggles, bedrooms, viruses, recipes, lip gloss, beers, vacations, card games, and even argued a time or two along the way.

I pray you have some “same age-same stage” friendships like ours. I love these girls to the moon and back, infinity times infinity times!  There is such great camaraderie and comfort in these crazy friendships…and a WHOLE LOTTA FUN!

But you know what? I’m equally in love with cross-generational sister friendships.  The ones where we not only are loved on and brought up by ladies a bit more experienced and seasoned than we are, but ALSO the ones in which we are doing the bringing up!

Maybe she’s an aunt, a neighbor, your mom. Or maybe she’s a niece, a younger sister, a daughter, or even a new tennis partner.  It doesn’t matter how you are connected, you know?

It just matters that you connect.

sister friend selfie

Me and She

God places special people in our lives as an extension of His love for us and our innate need for relationship. Regardless of age, stage, circumstance, and standing.

It’s how we are meant to do life.

NTS Week 5

Girls, if you don’t know the story of Naomi and Ruth, I urge you to stop what you are doing and read it right now in the short, but power packed book of Ruth. Click here. No worries; I’ll wait here while you do…!

Where you go, I go. Where you stay, I stay.  Your peeps are mine.

Yep, that’s good stuff.

Sophie Hudson (author of our July book, Giddy Up, Eunice) reacts to that kick butt verse by saying this:

“It’s one of those passages that takes my breath away a little bit, because it’s a level of commitment we don’t see modeled often in our current culture.” (Sophie Hudson, Giddy Up, Eunice)

To play like a girl means to demonstrate that “LEVEL OF COMMITMENT” to our treasured friendships.  Whether through mentoring, discipling, walking alongside, or just plain and simple “gal pal-ing”.

Let’s make that model a bit more mainstream, okay?


That’s how we stick together. That’s how we do LIFE.

My prayer for you this week is that you take the time to appreciate the Ruth’s and Naomi’s in your own life. Call them up.  Tell them how much you love them.  Share a pizza (or some sushi, or whatever your thing is)!  Thank God for their presence in your world and your presence in theirs.  If you are having trouble identifying a true sister friend right now, ask God to open your heart and mind to the possibility of making a new one.  He will not disappoint you, sweet one.

Following along with our easy 2016 series?! Click here for the following goodies:

  • Link to the FABULOUS book, Giddy Up, Eunice by Sophie Hudson!  It’s what we’re reading this month!
  • Print up/display our scripture and mantra card for this week!
  • Hungry? Print up our menu idea and recipe – veggie sandwiches!  Super yum!
  • And click here for a link to our fun song and video for this week: “Breathe” by Johnny Diaz (it’s a fave for many of our girlies!)!

Come on back next week and read about our ideas on trying something NEW! TRY IT…YOU’LL LIKE IT!  😉

Peace, love and JOY!


P.S.   Thetas rule.  (Mic drop…)

P.P.S.  We love our guys, too.  Thought I better throw that in.  Smoochies, Bo!  😉





Why a Broken Heart is a Good Thing


I’ve had my fair share of broken hearts and, if  I’m honest, probably been the cause of one or two along the way.  But the only GOOD broken heart I’ve ever experienced came from the most unexpected source – GOD.

I’ll give you a new heart, put a new spirit in you. I’ll remove the stone heart from your body and  replace it with a heart that’s God-willed, not self-willed.

Ezekiel 36:26, MSG


(art and photo credit:  Tammy Miller, 2016)

Without a broken heart  (or maybe a better way to put it would be a “softened heart”) it’s impossible to let God’s word penetrate the calloused layers that often protect it.

How do those callouses get there in the first place, what happens?  We weren’t born with them.  It’s just that life happens.

“The soul is covered by a thousand veils.” Inayat Khan

In other words, layer upon layer, our true purpose get covered up by the circumstances and situations and experiences of life.  Disappointments hit, layers get added.  Slighted by someone we trust, more layers.  Fearful moments, hard fought – but lost – arguments, hurtful comments, scary circumstances.  Layer.  Layer. Layer.  And we eventually begin to wonder if we’ve honestly been put here for a reason.

The obvious question we begin to ask is something like, “If God put me here for a purpose, why didn’t He clue me in on it?”   The answer is, He did.  Scripture tells us that He ordained it even before we were conceived and that He places that purpose deep in our hearts from the moment of our conception.

We come into this world knowing our purpose, even if it’s at an infantile or immature level.

Think about your kiddos and the first time you start asking them what they want to be in life.  Have you ever stopped to think they know what they are here for, but may not be able to articulate it fully?  If you ask kids what they want to be and why, they are pretty darn insightful.  So, I thought it’d be interesting to take a little survey with some of the children I know.  I used the question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”, and followed up with, “Why do you want to do that?”.

I LOVE the answers I got…

Five year old:  “I want to be a doctor so I can make people better on the insides.” (Translation – I am here to heal people.)

Six year old:  “I want to be president because I know important things that people should hear.” (Translation – I am here to lead people in the way they should go.)

Eight year old – “I want to be a teacher because I am smart and other kids like me so they would listen to me.” (Translation – I am here to share wisdom and show others how God wants us to live.)

Nine year old:  “I want to be a model because I’m pretty.”  (Translation – I am here to share the beauty of God’s creation! Ahem… 😉 ).

Twelve year old:  “I want to be an actor because I’m funny and make people laugh.” (Translation – I am here to boost the spirits and heart of people when they are down.)

Fifteen year old:  “I want to be a therapist because I’ve experienced that life can be really hard and I know how to get through it.” (Translation – I am here to use my experiences to show people the way out of the dark and into Light.)

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(Good Lord, I love this kid…)


Twenty-One Year old (this one is priceless!):  “Anything I want to be.” (Translation – I’m a cocky college senior.)  😉

I realize I might be taking a bit of poetic license here, but I bet I’m not too far off the translation.

But now listen to these:

Thirty year old:  “I have no idea. Ask me when my youngest turns 10!” (Translation – I’ve lost touch with what I’m supposed to be doing and I’m too turned around to see it right now – no worries, I figure out later.)

Forty year old: “I need to get back to that, but I’m too busy volunteering.” (Translation – I’m sure it’s important but I can’t take the time right now to figure it out because helping people is taking up too much of my time.)

Fifty year old: “I’m a little freaked out about that right now! What in the world AM I here for?”  (Translation – I need a purpose, I’m sure I had a purpose, but has it passed me by?)

Elizabeth Lesser, who is sort of a new age thinker with a Christian bent says that “True , honest, spiritual work is about uncovering your soul and peeling back all those veils. And, prayer”, she says, “is a tremendous veil buster.”

I agree with that 100%. The only way we are going to remove all those layers of veils keeping us from returning to a place where we can begin to remember God’s call on our life is to talk directly to Him.

Prayer. The first step in this process of remembering why on Earth we are here is to return to the Source – to GOD – and ask Him to remind us.  To help us break the layers that keep it hidden and enlighten us once again.

I recently heard a story about an old rabbi who ended every sermon with this affirmation, “…now let the words of God rest upon your heart.” One day, a member of the congregation asked him, “Rabbi, why don’t you ask us to take those words INTO our hearts.  Wouldn’t that be more beneficial?  Better for our hearts to absorb the words than to merely have them sit on top of it.”  The rabbi replied, “Only those who have allowed their hearts to be broken can let His words IN.  Most of us refuse to let that happen because we fear it might hurt. But for those who dare to try, their hearts are reborn and soften enough to grace them with the humility to become what they were always meant to be.”

“Your heart will continue to break until it finally opens.” Rumi

This journey we are taking together right now is a chance for us to throw off any veils that have been tossed on top of our souls. It’s an opportunity to let our life-hardened hearts break just enough to let a little light shine through.  It’s a time of possibility in meeting God in sincere prayer to glimpse even a sliver of what He has planned for us here, this side of heaven.

This whole thing about “figuring out our purpose” is just another way of saying “figuring out how to return to God”.

So let me leave you with one more – “What do you want to be when you grow up and why?” example.  I asked a dear, 80-something year old woman those questions, and just listen what she said:

“I’m here to bring glory to God by sharing the love of Christ with everyone I meet, and to enjoy every moment He gives.”

Yeah.  I want what she’s got.  Amen?

I’m excited to do this with you. To unveil our souls, to soften our hearts, to hear God speak over us and to us!  So if you are following along with our study, read Days 8-14 in our main book, A Purpose Driven Life, by Rick Warren.  Complete Week 2 in your Inspiration Book.  (Our scripture for the week is that one waaaaaay up there at the top of this post from Ezekiel 36:26!).  Our Inspiration Quote for the week comes from Charles Spurgeon:

a bible that is falling apart usually belongs to someone who isn't Charles Spurgeon

” A Bible that is falling apart probably belongs to someone who isn’t.”  Charles Spurgeon

And, finally,  check out this awesome song by  Natalie Grant, “Be One”!

Peace, love, and JOY!


Up Next Week:  “Delightful!” – and why it’s one of my favorite words (thanks, Mom!  😉 )

The 2016 Manifesto of Friday (which is WAY better than any New Year’s Resolution!)


Well, hello there 2016!  Nice to meet you, new friend.  And may I say – I can’t wait to get to know you better.

I know you probably have a lot in store for each of us this year. And I know there will be ups and downs with each day, month, and season. So instead of one, impossible resolution to try and keep this year, I’m taking a few suggestions from our boy, Friday, and making myself a 2016 manifesto.

The 2016 Manifesto of Friday:

Everything that is supposed to become BIG must begin quite small.

Everything big must start small



Anyone can fly if they believe they can.

Believe You CAN Fly


Sleep is really important.  Like, SUPER important.

Sleep is super important


Sometimes life is going to get messy, and that’s okay.

Dont be afraid to get messy


Create a little mischief from time to time.

Create a little silly everyday


ANYTHING can be a treasure if it means something to you.

Everything is a treasure



Hugs make everything better.

Hugs Make Everything Better


Relax.  Everything’s going to be okay.




Protect what’s important.

Protect what's important


Don’t be afraid of the dark.  The light always wins.

Don't be scared of shadows


Always make new friends – even if they look bigger than you and stand on the other side of the fence.

Make new friends even if they are bigger than you


Spend time with your “people”.

Love your family - biological and otherwise


And…spend time with your people.

Trust the ones that love you

Happy New Year, sweet friends.  From our home to yours.

Peace, love, and JOY,

Wendie (and our guy, Friday, too)



I’m So Sorry


“The Church is where Jesus heals, not where He measures sin.” Pope Francis.

In studying the first Beatitude from Matthew 5:3 last week, we learned to empty ourselves of ourselves and take a posture of total reliance on Jesus as our savior. This week, we build on that premise and learn that coming to Him with a repentant heart makes all the difference in the world in our healing.

Golden Frond

Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.  Matthew 5:4

Jesus himself does not specify or indicate precisely what kind of mourning He was referring to here. BUT, as we are beginning to understand, the Beatitudes are not necessarily speaking about emotional states of mind or physical states of being. Instead, they refer to our spiritual state.

We live in a fallen world; one in which sin has made a home. Foundationally, sin is the root of things that cause us all kinds of pain.  Simply stated, sin is something bad that separates us from something good.

The kind of spiritual mourning Jesus is most likely referring to in Matthew 5:4 is not from the loss of a person, possession, personal power, or even a position in life.  It’s about mourning and grieving as a result of sin.  And believe it or not, that’s a blessing.

berry in the sky

“The Spirit of the Lord God is on me. The Lord has chosen me to tell good news to the poor and to comfort those who are sad.  He sent me to tell the captives and prisoners that they have been set free. … He has sent me to comfort those who are sad, those in Zion who mourn. … I will take away their sadness, and I will give them the oil of happiness. I will take away their sorrow, and I will give them celebration clothes.”  Isaiah 61:1-3, ERV

Man, I love it when God repeats himself in scripture! That’s a big deal – like, a really BIG deal. And Jesus KNEW his audience (the disciples, remember) would know He was quoting this gorgeous piece of comfort from the prophet Isaiah when He delivered the first two Beatitudes.  They would also be aware Isaiah was relaying a message that directly referred to the repentant hearts of the people of Israel over the exile their own sins has caused.  And because of their repentance, God assured them of His comfort once again.

What does a repentant heart look like, practically speaking and in a bit more “modern terms”?  If you did the Romans study with us (and even if you didn’t!) you are most likely familiar with the story of the Prodigal son.  You can click here to for a refresher on that story!  He wants us always to come home.


Scout comfort and joy

“God’s children are hardwired to run home when the storm comes. It is the heaven-born instinct of a repentant soul to seek shelter from all ills beneath the wing of our Father.” Jennifer Dean Kennedy, Set Apart.

Many a lost soul has been converted on the doorstep of a crisis, and you should know God is MORE than okay with that – it may even be His plan for some of us!  Life has a way of tripping us up. We have a way of falling for it (and on a regular basis)! Sometimes, we create the sin. Sometimes, sin creates itself. Either way, we don’t like it and, therefore, it brings us grief and mourning.

But Jesus hasn’t forgotten you. If you’ve come to Him with a heart of sorrow and repentance, He’s already working on “it”, whatever it may be, and He knows what your heart feels today.

Whenever I think about human, spiritual mourning, I think maybe Mary, the blessed Mother of Jesus, had it the worst, really. She didn’t ask for “this”. She didn’t wake up one day and head to the fertility clinic and ask to be the Mother of God as an unwed girl.  She didn’t ask to raise a child that others would mercilessly mock. She didn’t ask to watch as her son was brutally murdered – all as a result of the sins of human beings.    She didn’t ask for any of it.  But, she accepted her assignment. Only to be told the following by a prophet named Simeon:

“Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother…A sword will pierce your soul, too.” Luke 2:34-25

Sin brings so much brokenness and grief and pain and mourning to this world. But I pray you find comfort in the FACT, the TRUTH, that your God sent His son to save you from it; He came to offer you comfort through reconciliation to Him and eternity.

So, if we were to rewrite Matthew 5:4 to a more modern version, it might sound something like this:  “Blessed are those who have the honesty and humility to admit their sin and their pain and be convicted of it, because in the end, Jesus cleans up your mess, wipes away your tears, and brings you Home.”

Join us next week as we tackle the concept of a meek and mild savior…! 😉

Following along with the homework for our series?  Click here to access the link to Week Three Homework (I really, really love Level 2 Homework this week so if you can find time to delve into it, I highly encourage you to do so!).  Liking our song selections?  Then you’ll want to click here for this week’s music by Third Day, “I Need a Miracle”!

Praying for a blessed week, sweet friends!  Until next week, God bless.

Peace, love, and JOY!


(Photo cred and rights:  Ella Connors and Wendie Connors, 2015, all rights reserved.)

P.S.  Did you like that adorable puppy picture above?!  Then you are sure to love this one!  Welcome to the world, Scout B.!  Who’s-a-good-boy?!?!?

Scout B by back door

simpl.if.I: Be Real! (Summer Series Week #6)


Sometimes you just need to know you aren’t alone.  Sometimes you need reminding that weeping is cleansing and good and painful and hard, regardless of the reason why you’re weeping.

 Be Real Angel Statue

Jesus Wept.  John 11:35

When I read those two words from John 11 above, I honestly didn’t care why he was weeping.   I just needing reminding that Jesus wept and in the midst of it, I realized the healing power of this very short verse.  Jesus wept because he knew what it meant to be broken.  Just like us.  He wept because He knew it isn’t easy being human.  Just like us.  He wept because life is hard and He, Himself, experienced the fact that earthly life deals us blows we aren’t expecting and aren’t even able to deflect.   Just like us.  So He wept.  And therefore, it makes perfect sense to me that we do too.


We each weep because of a catalyst – an event.  Maybe because of a diagnosis.  Maybe because the bottom falls out.  Maybe because we can’t cope with the way it is for one second longer.  Maybe because it shatters our heart to see someone we love in shambles.  But honestly, regardless of the reason, we weep because we have been rocked at our very core.  We weep because we cannot have imagined “this” was coming.  We weep because we didn’t want it to be this way.  And we weep because we know change is coming.  But maybe change is just what we need to heal.


The beautiful flipside to the sadness is that we also weep when we are happy!  Can you even imagine all the times Jesus must have felt blessed tears on His holy cheeks when He looked around and thought, “My heart could burst with joy in this moment!”?  Even with all the heartache, there were most certainly tears of happiness shared around the table, too!  Just like us.


Weeping lets us be real, and being real is a grounding and simple and holy experience.  It puts us on an honest and transparent footing with others and, most importantly, with God.  Being real is a lifelong process that prepares us to intimately share ourselves with Him face-to-face.  To be real means to really know love.

Be Real John 11-35

“Real isn’t how you are made,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.’ ‘Does it hurt?’ asked the Rabbit. ‘Sometimes,’ said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. ‘When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.’ ‘Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,’ he asked, ‘or bit by bit?’ ‘It doesn’t happen all at once,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”

Margery Williams, The Velveteen Rabbit


So today, go ahead, be real.  Do the “ugly cry” if you need to – regardless the reason.  Because remember, sweet friend, you are infinitely loved and understood.


Practical Application:  (simipl.if.I’ed steps you can take to get REAL today!)


  1. Find/print our scripture card for this week: Be Real (John 11:35). Put it somewhere you can see it and read it to yourself over the course of this week!
  2. Read the verse in context of what was happening in the life of Jesus when this was recorded. Realize that Jesus experienced everything we do as humans. What a gift we have in watching how he did things.
  3. If there’s something going on in your life right now that is moving you to tears, let yourself be real enough to weep. Write a letter to yourself giving yourself permission to be mad/sad/happy/elated/frustrated. When you’ve written it, read it to God as a prayer. Tuck it into your Bible or a safe place to come back to once the emotion has faded and the situation has either resolved or lessened in intensity. It serves as a reminder that God brings us through to the other side of all things WITH Him.
  4. Check out this audio/video version of Francesca Battistelli’s “Holy Spirit”!

If you are reading before amen, by Max Lucado, this week you can read Chapter 5:  “Heal Me”.  And, if you are so inclined, complete the Chapter 5 study guide at the back of the book!


Thanks for joining us in this series!  We are growing together in Christ – it’s such an awesome thing!


Peace, love, and Joy!




Up Next Week:  Simpl.if.I week  7:  Let Go!

“Wild nights are my glory!”


Wild Nights quote


I just LOVE that quote, don’t you?!  To me, something magical, practically sacred, happens when you get a group of women together to eat, drink, talk, trust, and share experiences – big and small.  It’s wild, really.  Not in the crazy, college all-nighter kind of way, mind you.  But rather in the unscripted, raw purity that sisterhood brings with it. Guards down, hearts lifted up, and eyes meeting kindred souls with whom you can relate, regardless of your place on life’s path.

THAT is why we gather for our summer series dinners!  And I am so excited to share a little slice of our wild night together this week!  Tuesday, we had our simpl.if.I 2015 Bible study dinner!

Over forty of us descended on Carol’s beautiful home, which had been transformed into a “Farm-To-Table” kind of paradise by our truly talented ministry team!

 dinner collage set up

Dinner Collage Signage

 Tables were set with a chic, farmhouse flair!

Dinner Collage Tables

They were BEYOND gorgeous!

Dinner Collage Tables Up Close


Food and drinks were abundant and flowing, and served by our cherished sister friends!

Dinner Collage Cooks and Bartenders

The smiles were constant (and contagious!)…

 Dinner Collage Fun 1

The conversations were light and deep and meaningful all at the same time…

Dinner Collage Fun 2

Long standing friendships were celebrated and new ones bloomed!

 Dinner Collage Fun 3


And through it all, our faith flowed freely and the joy was tangible!

 dinner Collage Fun 5

“This is the day the Lord has made.  We WILL rejoice and be glad in it!”  Psalm 118:24

Thank you, Lord, for such a gorgeous summer night, on which we could come together to celebrate YOU and one another.  We are grateful to spend time in one another’s company, for Your amazing blessings and provision in our lives, and for the precious blessing of friends.  We thank you for the opportunity to take a breath, to laugh, to listen, to love, and to comfort.  Father, help us to never take our friendships for granted, because we know they are the earthly manifestation of Your love for us!  We praise You in the name of Jesus, Amen!

Thanks for coming, everyone, and a HUGE, big sloppy smoochie of gratitude to our ministry team that managed to plan yet ANOTHER wild, Bible Babe party!  😉


Peace, love, and JOY!



Up Monday:  simpl.if.I Week #3:  Pay Attention (click here to learn more about simpl.if.I !)


My Most Popular Post Ever (My Letter to My Girlie)!


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To My Gorgeous Girl,

I know what you’re thinking. “A letter from Mom?” Don’t groan, or roll your eyes, sister. You might  like to hear what I have to say.

I DO get your reluctance to read this, though. You’re  14. You start high school this fall and the world is truly beginning to open wide with possibilities for you!  You want to fly a little, don’t you? The last thing you want or think you need is a letter from me with opinions and advice, right?

But humor me, will you? I have some thoughts on the miracle that you are that you might just want to hear now, and maybe even tuck away for another day.

Here it goes…

I know sometimes you look around and see girls you think are smarter, prettier, funnier, or more popular than you believe yourself to be. But here is the honest to goodness truth:

YOU ARE GORGEOUS. Inside and out. You have an awesome sense of humor and make me laugh all the time (in a good way, of course!). You have more smarts up in that beautiful head of yours than you give yourself credit for. People honestly like you and are drawn to your kindness, goodness, and compassion. (And, BTW, I’m not the only one who thinks so.)

Now.  I’m going to let you in on a little secret about those other girls you’ve been looking at: they feel the exact same way you do. It’s true. Right now, their minds are running wild, just like yours, wondering if there’s food stuck in their teeth, if their outfit is cool enough to fit in without sticking out, if the boy in the second row of math class has noticed them, if their butt looks too big in those jeans, and what YOU (yes, YOU) think of them, too.

Here’s the BIG NEWS you may not know: You are ALL a part of something crazy big, something amazing, and something completely and beautifully orchestrated by God.

It’s called “life”.

In this life, the world needs you to become just exactly who God created you to be. To turn your back on that, or to act without the authenticity of who you are, will only lead you to unhappiness and leave you feeling empty and wanting something more.

I only know this from personal experience, my sweet girl.

And while I have your attention for a moment, I’d love to share a couple tips for living this life that I’ve happened to pick up along the way:

  1. Be God’s girl. Remember how much He loves you and never forget to thank Him for all the blessings He places in your life. Act like He’d want you to act.  Make Him a proud papa, honey, and you can’t go wrong.
  2. Don’t stoop to the level of people around you who hurt you or hurt others. The “low road” is quite literally beneath you. Maintain your dignity by remembering who (and whose) you are.
  3. As tempting as revenge is (and as fun as it might be to imagine), keep the Golden Rule tattooed on your brain! It’s as simple as this: Treat others the way YOU want to be treated. Let God take care of the judging and the consequences. He’s got it all under control and He doesn’t miss a thing. End of story.
  4. Notice the people around you and encourage them with your smile, your words, and your behavior. Laugh with friends when they are happy; cry with them when they are sad. Bring them a treat when they are discouraged or sick. Hug them when they need it, and back off when they need distance. Forgive them when they’re sorry. And, you know what?  Even forgive them when they act like they’re not sorry! Forgiveness is a gift God gives you to share. Your true friends will return the favor, my beautiful girl. You can count on it.
  5. Stay away from the things you know are bad and wrong. While we will all slip and fall sometime or another (and maybe even more than once…;) ), stick to what you know is right and you’ll be just fine. (And, um, as a side note here, you should probably be aware that I always pray that you will get caught the very first time you try something outside the realm of what I’d deem “acceptable behavior”. And you KNOW I’m a pretty powerful prayer and know lots of other ones, too, that I’m not afraid to call in for the cause. I’m just saying… 😉 … !)
  6. Stick up for those who are less able and/or less fortunate than you (and by that I mean ALL of God’s creatures!) Everyone needs a hero now and again. You have a gorgeously strong heart of compassion; don’t neglect it. The more you use it, the more others will see God through you. Be “that” girl – you know, the one people can count on as being fair and kind. Surprise people with your goodness, Elle Belle, and you will be rewarded beyond what your mind can even imagine.
  7. Lead by example, but don’t be bossy. Nobody likes a “know it all”. Let others feel important by listening well. Respond by using your intellect and lots of encouraging guidance. Never make anyone feel stupid.
  8. Be yourself. No one can “fake it” forever. It makes you too tired to try and you’ll find you won’t be able to keep it up. Besides, you were created by a glorious and perfect God…so what does that make you???!!!
  9. Life can get hard from time to time. Don’t let yourself get burned out. Take care of your body by resting when you are tired, eating (nutritiously!) when you are hungry, drinking (again, nutritiously…) when you are thirsty, exercising your body and your mind regularly, and praying all the time.   Seek help whenever you need it; never be afraid to ask for it! Important decisions require prayer, expert advice, and your own brain power. You can do it – no matter what “it” is! Relying on God in the tough times grows your faith and your spiritual endurance. He is always with you.
  10. Finally, Ellie Bean, remember that people – good, honest people –  are to be celebrated, not just tolerated, even when they don’t agree with you. God put you here for such a time and place as this, so use this time wisely, joyfully, and in celebration of the life you’ve been given. Life is a great, crazy gift of a ride from God, girl. Stay on His road and it will take you to places you haven’t even had a chance to dream of yet. I can’t wait to see where it takes you.

I love you so much, girlie-cue. I will always be here for you, no matter what. And more importantly, so will God.  These next few years will have plenty of great times and a few challenging ones, too, so let’s just keep talking, okay?

In the words of Bob the Tomato, don’t ever forget: “God made you special and He loves you very much”. 😉

Thanks for listening, baby girl.

Oh.  And remember how you used to always ask me how much I loved you?  Well, my answer remains the same, love bug:

Momma loves every single millimeter of you

to the moon and back…

infinity times infinity times.

Yep.  THAT is how much I love you.



Originally Posted 11//6/2014

Just Get Up, Already. You Can Do It!


When Jesus saw her and knew she had been paralyzed for a while, he asked [her], “Would you like to get well?”

 “I can’t, sir,” [she] said, “for I have haven’t a clue how to rise up from this mess.”

Jesus told [her], “Stand up, pick up your mat, and walk!” John 5:6-8

It seems almost absurd that anyone wouldn’t want to get well, doesn’t it?  But it honestly happens.  Sometimes we tend to just sit in the mud and mire that surrounds us because at least we “know” it.  We can “own” it.

We know how to work it, if you catch my drift.  It’s what everyone is used to seeing us do and has become a way of thinking and behaving (albeit faulty) for us. We trick ourselves into thinking we’re stuck in this scary place forever, so we just better just get used to it once and for all.

Fear paralyzes us from the inside out.  It begins as a jolt to our system when something so extraordinary happens that our mind can’t make immediate sense of it.  And so, in an effort to sort of “self-protect”, we begin to shut down.  And sometimes, we end up settling into that space for the long haul.

Maybe, after a while, we almost forget what it was like to live more freely; without that feeling of anxiety.  We begin to believe that it’s just easier to keep ourselves lying flat-out in fear than to fight it.

If we aren’t careful, fear has the power to keep us down.

But then, in the middle of our settling into a pattern of learned helplessness, there’s this thing that happens when Jesus just simply points out, “Um, you know, it doesn’t have to be this way.  If you just get up, you can start moving.”

And if you trust Him, you try to raise yourself up a little to see if He’s right.  And joy-of-all-joys…you realize He is!

Suddenly, your surroundings don’t look so scary anymore.  So, then, that little, ice-cold hand that grips your heart starts to melt ever so slightly and your blood starts pumping a little easier.  Then the fog starts to clear, your sea legs stabilize, and you stand up for the first time in a little while and see over the top of the hole you’ve managed to get stuck inside and hope shines just a smidgen brighter than it did a moment ago.

Are you stuck right now?  Are you starting to believe that your surroundings will always be your reality?  Gosh, if so, I want to encourage you today!  Be brave.  Listen to the voice of Jesus.  Get up.  Take that first step.  And BE well!  I’ll be the one jumping up and down, clapping like crazy for you!  You CAN do this; and I can too!

Let the healing begin.

 White Paint - Baby Blue Background. Painting

Speaking of The Best Yes, are you following along with us this session?!  If so, be sure to finished reading the last three chapters of the book and complete Session 5 in the study guide.  Can you even believe we just have TWO little sessions left?!  *Sigh*

Peace, love, and JOY!


See you next week with some thoughts on building your legacy!  😉



The Aroma of a King!


Our sense of smell is something that can trigger powerful emotions and memories, can’t it? The smell of coffee, coupled with bacon frying, instantly takes me back to my grandmother’s house 40 years ago, making me smile with the memory of waking up to her bountiful breakfasts!

The flowery scent of freesia hand soap happily catapults me back 20-some years as a blissful newlywed, and to the smell of a lotion used in the powder room of a hotel in England we lived in for a month waiting for our home to be completed!

The sweet tropical smell of coconut oil transports my brain to the sunny, summer days filled with laughter and friends at Oak Street Beach in Chicago back as a high school student in the 1980’s, when we used SPF2 Hawaiian Tropic suntan oil and burned ourselves to a crisp (ouch…)!

Conversely, the smell of cigarette smoke can cause me to claustrophobically choke on the memory of enclosed spaces in airplanes back in the day when smoking was allowed on planes (can you even believe that was ever allowed?!). The unmistakable odor of diesel fuel triggers a mini panic attack in me from memories of a nasty car accident I was in.

Yes, just like our vision, smells can take us places we cannot (and maybe DO not) always conjure up by memory alone.

Did you know there is a Bible story that plays on that very sense of smell to invoke the knowledge of the people who witnessed Jesus during his last 6 days of earthly life that He, indeed, was the Messiah? I seriously have been chomping at the bit to share this one with you! It seems only fitting to be cracking it open to you right now – in the midst of this most Holy Week!

Mary Annointing Jesus

Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. John 12:3

After Mary did this, Judas accused her of wasting valuable money- he claimed the perfume could’ve been sold at a very high price and the money given to the poor. But Jesus, sweet Jesus, rebuked Him, saying that Mary knew what she was doing and it was alright.

I’d heard that story so many times and never stopped to wonder why Mary chose such an expensive perfume. On the surface, it DOES seem like more than an extravagance that a growing ministry such as Jesus’ could’ve/should’ve afforded. But a little digging reveals, like all things Jesus, there is much more than meets the eye (and NOSE)!

Nard (the perfume with which Mary anointed His feet) was so expensive that its worth was greater than diamonds. Why would Mary have used this? Not necessarily JUST to prepare His body for burial…BUT ALSO BECAUSE IT WAS THE SAME PERFUMED OIL THAT WAS USED TO ANOINT KINGS.

By anointing Jesus with that pungent, sweet smelling, long lasting, expensive ROYAL oil, Mary was placing a scent on Him and His clothing that would be unmistakable as He was led by donkey into Jerusalem as a hero, and led to through the street to His death on Calvary as a criminal. Unmistakable. This man was KING.

There was surely nowhere He went that last week where He could’ve been mistaken as anything but a person of most royal standing. When kings would pass through villages in that day, even if they never left their carriages, their scent was recognized by all as it wafted and lingered through the town, long after the entourage had left. It was that pungent, that recognizable, that unmistakable.

This anointing of Mary’s was a powerful message to all who would come in contact with Jesus during that final week that they were indeed in the presence of the King. Whether it was the people along the parade route in Jerusalem, the soldiers in the garden of Gethsemane, the prison guards who beat Him and stole His tattered clothing; they each smelled it. The aroma would linger and would cling to Him to the very end.

What a cool God we serve, hitting us from every conceivable angle and sense with His amazing love for this world that He would send His son, our KING, to be crucified for us. The sights and sounds are there for us in the reading and hearing of His word. But sisters, it was also there in the aroma.

But thanks be to God, who always leads us in victory through Christ. God uses us to spread his knowledge everywhere like that sweet-smelling perfume. Our offering to God is to be the perfume of Christ that goes out to those who are being saved and to those who are being lost. To those who are being lost, this perfume smells like death, and it brings them death. But to those who are being saved, it has the sweet smell of life, and it brings them life. So who is good enough to do this work?

2 Cor. 2:14-16, ERV.

The sweet smell of a mighty, mighty king. Born so that He would die in order to reconcile us to our Father in Heaven. It makes me tremble with humility, gratitude, and awe.

I wish you all a most blessed Easter this weekend. I pray for wonderful moments of remembrance of what has been done for us in His mighty name. I pray for family and friends to come together not only to celebrate the holiday, but to experience it with ALL our senses.

We  are REDEEMED.  Thanks be to God.

Peace, love, and JOY!


(Reposted from this blog 2014)