writing on my own time

It's bedtime soon...

...but there's something on my mind and it just won't go away!

I'm supposed to be a writer. 

Well, I am a writer. I write every single day. I write scripts. I write promos. I write voice-overs. I write devotionals. I write CTAs.

And, honestly, it's been a fantastic learning experience and it's helped shape so much of what informs my worldview, as well as my faith, and it's molded me into a quick-thinking writer who knows her own voice.

But I rarely ever use it for anything beyond this blog and my work assignments. 

Have any of you other writers out there felt this way? 

I write on my own time when it comes to the things I want to write. I'm so not disciplined about making a schedule for myself, and I've talked (er...written) about this struggle here before (is that irony?). 

And, usually, after a few weeks of hating myself for not sticking to a definitive writing schedule, I'll hunker down and grind out a few chapters, or even another 15,000 words, and then...


I'll go on a self-imposed hiatus of the most detestable kind (the kind that sounds like procrastination) and forget all about that story that supposedly meant so much to me. Actions speak louder than words here, friends. And, lately, my words ain't been saying too damn much.

I might write for a living. But I'm not the writer I want to be. I always find other things to fill my time with (like reading my favorite blogs or books...or cooking...or doing absolutely nothing). 

I don't want to keep talking about this to you guys. I mean, I love blogging. I love sharing my thoughts with my absolutely fabulous 43 Google Readers. But let me put it this way: y'all have become those friends I go to when I want to vent...and then continue on my merry way, doing little to change my circumstances.

And I do NOT want to be that friend anymore.

So I'm zipping my big mouth shut. And until this manuscript is finished, I'm not saying another word about it. I will not call this hole I've put myself in "home".

P.S. Thanks for listening.

happy belated memorial day!

This weekend the Hubs, my momma, my baby sister, and I drove out to Ft. Riley, Kansas to surprise my nieces with a Memorial Day weekend visit! Of course, my big sister, Beth, and her husband, Jonathan, knew we were coming but Mary Grace and Laci had no idea...and the smiles on their faces were totally worth the 15-hour drive from Georgia (whew!).

It was kind of perfect visiting the base during this particular holiday, and getting to know more about my sister's life there with other military families.We got to listen to them share stories about their husbands serving together in Afghanistan, and some of them were really tough to comprehend. I can't imagine waiting on pins and needles like that every day for my husband, hoping and praying he wouldn't be hurt or killed in combat. But I'm grateful for their service- both the women and the men- and for what they've sacrificed to care for their families and help protect our nation.

More than anything, it was such a blessing to have my sister open her home to us and do so much to make our visit as wonderful as it was. I spent most of our time there with my little sister and our nieces, just playing around, taking pictures, singing songs, and getting dressed up.

Laci borrowed my glasses for most of the weekend and hardly ever took them off.
I'd say she knows how to rock them way better than I do! 

We all went swimming and fishing, took a trip to the fair, rode the Ferris Wheel (and maybe had a funnel cake!), and ate lots of hamburgers and cupcakes. We also tried our best to catch a little turtle, but it was too smart for us. And then just maybe we played the Wii and I beat husband at canoeing.

I was pretty proud of my victory.

Oh, and on our way home yesterday (we left my sister's house at one a.m.), we drove through St. Louis and we got to see the famous Arch! Pierce and I were like little kids, hopping out of the car and running across the street to take some quick pics in our pajamas.

And then, when we FINALLY got home to our apartment in Atlanta at 6:30 p.m., Hubby and I said hi to my cousin, played with the animals for about 5 minutes, and passed out. We slept straight through the night until our alarms went off at 7 a.m...and, I tell ya, that 12 hours of uninterrupted sleep was fan-freakin-tastic.

Hope y'all enjoyed your weekend!

Q&A with Heather from Finding Beauty in the Ordinary

Hi friends!

I hope everyone had a fantastic Memorial Day weekend. I went out of town with my mom, sister, and husband to visit my sister and her family in Kansas (Fort Riley, to be exact). We surprised my little nieces, Mary Grace and Laci, who had no idea we were making the fifteen-hour (!) drive up there. It was a jam-packed, amazing weekend. But more on that later...

Today, I want to introduce you to Heather, a super sweet momma-to-be who blogs over at Finding Beauty in the Ordinary. She was kind enough to do a short Q&A with me about gearing up for motherhood and, as someone who has been praying with my husband about moving in the direction of starting a family, I am SO excited to share her thoughts!

Take a look at Heather's Q&A below, and then stop over at Finding Beauty in the Ordinary to say hi!

1. Tell me a little bit about yourself and what's at the heart of your lovely blog.
Hi! My name is Heather and I blog over at Finding Beauty in the Ordinary. The real heart behind my blog is to find beauty in all of life's moments-- the ordinary and the extraordinary ones-- and document them. I love to share what's on my heart and what God is teaching me. I love to share some recipes, document glimpses of our new life in Arizona, also share the adventures of being new homeowners, and most excitingly, soon-to-be new parents! 

2. What have you found to be beautiful through your pregnancy? Has anything surprised you about being pregnant?
Oh man! Everything! Pregnancy is an absolutely beautiful experience. Even all that morning sickness, goodness, I would do it all over again. I love feeling her move and kick inside me. I love how she reacts to cold drinks and loud music. I love planning her nursery, daydreaming about what she'll look like, all of it. I think the biggest thing that has surprised me about pregnancy is the horrible heartburn I've had-- why did no one warn me?! 

3. What excites you about motherhood? What are you looking forward to?
I know I sound redundant, but everything excites me. Even the sleepless nights and dirty diapers. I'm so excited to take her camping, on evening walks, and trips back home to San Diego. I'm looking forward to all those milestones, but especially watching her become a daddy's girl, because we all know she'll be wrapped around Joshua's finger :).

4. What is the best pregnancy and/or parenting advice you've received?
Regarding both pregnancy and parenting-- it would be to just enjoy the moment and be present. 

Thanks again for stopping by, Heather. I'll be praying for you and your growing family in the months to come! God bless you guys.

If you want to learn more about Heather, please visit her blog! Or you can say hello on Twitter or Facebook.

Jennifer's Garden: A Review

Hi friends!

Today I'm so excited to share my review of Dianne Venetta's beach read Jennifer's Garden! Summer is just around the corner, so if you're looking for something to toss in your carry-on, read on...

Jennifer's Garden: A Summary

In a race against time, cardiologist Jennifer Hamilton is caught between her mother's dying wish and taking the risk of a lifetime with Jackson Montgomery. He's the man hired to complete the landscaping for her new home: the venue for her upcoming wedding. Jackson's everything she never wanted in a man, but as the job progresses, his lure pulls strong. It's an attraction she cannot deny...and one that puts her career on the line.

Jennifer's Garden: What I Think

This is the kind of book that reminds me why I'm a girl. I love watching (or in this case, reading) the drama of someone else's life unfold without actually experiencing it myself. Jennifer's Garden appeals to me in the same way Emily Giffin's Something Borrowed did (does): I get to experience Jennifer's anxiety about "choosing the right man" without having to deal with any of the guilt about making the wrong decision. 

I'm always a little concerned whenever I read a book that's been self-published because not every author takes the time to get a professional editor (or even use spell check!), but Dianne is, thankfully, not one of those authors. Jennifer's Garden was well-written with even pace, and not only was her protagonist an evolving character, her relationship with Jax paralleled this personal journey, as well. 

I think it's crucial for a story to take its readers beyond external situations and put them into the heart of the matter, where the tension of the relational experience is really happening. I felt that with Jennifer and Jax, and I can't wait to read Dianne's follow-up Lust on the Rocks!

To get your own copy of Jennifer's Garden, visit Goodreads or Amazon, and then stop by Dianne's official website and get to know more about this fabulous author!

And baby girl makes FOUR...

{via Pinterest}
...nieces, that is...

I just found out that my brother, Tommy, and his wife, Marie, are having another little GIRL! I'm getting a fourth niece and I couldn't be more excited!

date night

I think it's official.

I think the Hubs and I...are old.

Last night, I was really craving some good Southern comfort food, but I wasn't really sure what we'd be able to find up here in Brookhaven. Most of the good places are closer to downtown. But I found a restaurant called The Colonnade on Yelp and we decided to give it a shot.

Well...that was a bust. Not only was it was smack dab in the middle of a street overflowing with strip clubs, it was filled with people aged 60 and above and did not take credit cards. I guess they wanted us to make it rain for some fried chicken, but we don't really like carrying around single bills.

So we finally ended up at Roasters, which was the best choice anyway, seeing as how it's right on Piedmont and we've eaten there before. Plus, they've got some amazing macaroni and cheese and that's all I need to hear if you ever want to make me eat somewhere. Just say "great macaroni and cheese" and I'm sold.

Double D

No, not THOSE kind of double Ds.


I'm talking denim-on-denim. That's right. I went there.

I haven't worn this style since...oh...third grade, but I think it's making a comeback.

And if it's not, well, then I just spent the whole day walking around looking like an eight-year old who belongs back in 1993.

Maybe that's why that mean guy yelled at me today. He was confused by the sight of an eight-year old driving a car.

It all makes sense now.

Please forgive my terribly lacking toes. No polish, no buffing, no nothing.
They are not pretty, but my shoes are, so there.

It's Friday, don'tcha know?

I love Fridays.

And today has been a mixed one, so far, but I am determined to make it awesome before the day is done.

I'm wearing denim on denim and it looks pretty cute. It might be shallow that dressing nice makes me happy, but I think it's important to have things that brighten your day, no matter how insignificant they are in the grand scheme of things. I might have to blog about it later, but for now, my outfit simply serves to make me feel better about the fact that, on my lunch break, some douche bag pulled out in front of me and when I honked my horn he slammed on his brakes, GOT OUT OF HIS CAR in the middle of the intersection, and shouted through my (closed, locked) window that he "had the f***ing right of way!" Which he did. Yes. I will admit I was wrong. I thought he had a stop sign, too, so I suppose he didn't actually pull out in front of me so much as I started to gas it when I shouldn't have. Regardless, I just waved him on with my hand as though he were merely a fly in my face when, behind my sunglasses, I was actually tearing up because, seriously? Stuff like that hurts my heart. 

Maybe he was having a bad day. Maybe some other blonde girl enjoying Usher on her radio had already ignored his right-of-way and I was just the straw that broke the camel's back. Or maybe he really is just a douche. Either way, I hope his day gets better. And I hope, wherever you are, your day is wonderful too!


...was my one-year anniversary as the Senior Writer at Legacy.

Yesterday...I got cake!

Yesterday...we made an offer on this house, and now we're waiting...

Yesterday...Chelsea and I took more fun pics outside of work. Because that's what we do best (see evidence above and below).

Yesterday...I wore bright blue skinnies, the cutest gray tank with black polka-dots, and my hair stayed curly all day. 

Yesterday...I felt kind of like a rock star.

Yesterday....I watched the season finale of SMASH. And it was amazing.

Yesterday...I went to bed at 9:30 and got almost nine hours of sleep.

Today...started off on a shaky note, but I've got my iced coffee and my hair is STILL curly! So go me.

How is your day going?

house or home

The thought of owning my own home is exciting...and similarly terrifying. 

Do you own your own home?

My friends who do tell me it's kind of stressful. I'm not so much worried about that. I can  handle stress. I do not like it, but I can handle it.

I suppose what worries me about it is this: What comes after the house?

Let me re-phrase the question: What does God expect from Hubby and I after we move into a home of our own?

I know, I know. He expects ALL of me. EVERY DAY. That's a no brainer. I'm not always sure of what that looks like as I'm stumbling through my days, checking off my list of never-ending tasks, but I do know that's what He requires. But what- specifically- does He expect from this new opportunity to serve Him? It makes me a little (a lot) nervous. With a home of our own, Hubby and I can invite strangers in and make a place for them. We can do that in an apartment, too, but we don't have to have permission. And in a city full of strangers- a city full of people who need in many different ways- what will we be required to do with our four walls? 

Will we welcome what comes next? Or will we fight it because it's not exactly what we expected?

A change I'm grateful for- though not always happy about- is the fact that my Father has made me fully, uncomfortably aware of my surroundings. I see someone on the side of the road, holding a cardboard sign, and my first reaction is not to turn away. It is to invite, to give, to ask what they need. If a friend asks for my advice, I search my heart for what the Spirit would have me say. I try not to knee-jerk into douchebaggery at the frustrations of my workplace, or the efforts I make that are sometimes lost on others. But these things are nothing special. They are simple "if-then" statements that reflect only a portion of my majorly tattered heart. And this tattered heart wants people to see Jesus.

So...let's go back to the question of "if-then" and pose the question again: If Hubby and I do- in fact- successfully purchase a house, then what will we do with it?

Let me tell you a story.

When I was little (and not so little) the bedroom I shared with my big sister had window boxes on top of the window. They sort of acted like shelves. And sometimes I would put a flashlight up there, turn off my bedroom lights, and stand in the glow of a singular bulb. I would imagine all the great and fantastic adventures my life would encompass...and I would be the center of attention in every one of them.

I was no more narcissistic than your average eleven (um, twenty) year old. I had wants. I had the confidence to achieve them. I thought my life had a grand purpose outside of cloned, suburban houses, 9-5 jobs, and (eck!) SUVs. This is certainly a dream to some- and good for them if they achieve what their hearts desire- but, to me, it is a virtual nightmare. I want absolutely nothing to do with sub-divisions that have names like Meadow Heights or Willow Bend or cars that drink up half my paycheck or yards with store-bought trees. I'm really no more of an "independent" thinker in this feeling than the thousands of other people who long to buck tradition. Besides, I like tradition. I like comfort. I just like my own version of tradition. I like my own version of comfort.

Which, recently, has come to look nothing like what our world calls comfortable.

And, that, my dear friends, is why buying a house is so gosh-darn amazingly scary. Somehow, the thought of owning something- a lot of land and the house that sits on it- so permanently makes me wonder if the act of buying it means I've caved. I've given in. I've settled for one place. And, somehow, this makes me afraid I'll never do all the things I once dreamed of doing. It makes me wonder what God will require of me in this new stage of life. 

And, most of all, it makes me wonder: Will I do it with a glad heart?

Will I live next door to a house that's virtually falling apart in a neighborhood that's otherwise full of adorable renovations? Will I share what I have? Will I turn away from the peeling paint and dirty front yard and hide away in my adorable brick bungalow? Will I see this home as a place to serve rather than settle?

Will I, despite living in one of the cutest old neighborhoods in Atlanta, feel trapped by four walls? Or will I be freed to serve in ways I never imagined as I stood beneath that flashlight bulb?

My heart makes a little leap as I write that last line...because that's really what I want for me and Hubby. I want us to be joyful for the opportunity to have a home that's seventy years old and still hip instead of thinking that we're settling down. There is no such thing when you're willing to go and do as God commands. He might rip us out of that cute little house in two years simply because we are needed elsewhere. And you know what? I'm so down for that. I guess I'm just afraid He'll ask us to stay. I'm afraid His plans for us will never be somewhere other than Atlanta. And if I succumb to these fears, I will have become no different than the person who longs for an easy life that never challenges, never provokes, never stirs. 

So we've made an offer on a house. And I'm ready now. I'm ready for whatever God requires of me.

(Just don't make me move to the suburbs. Please!)

jamie the very worst missionary

Do you know Jamie?

Well, let me introduce you.

She is the self-proclaimed "very worst missionary" whose blog focuses on "inappropriate remarks, embarrassing antics, and generally lame observations from a Christian missionary in Costa Rica."

And I think she's awesome.

Jamie is self-deprecating, sarcastic, and talks openly about the kind of stuff that makes most people blush or turn their heads away (i.e. girl farts and, in her latest post, pooping on the table during childbirth). She's also transparent and absolutely head over heels for her children, for people, and for Jesus.

And maybe sometimes she cusses, too. And since inappropriate language is, at times, my vice, I feel a kind of kindred connection with Jamie, The Very Worst Missionary. Sometimes a good "Dammit!" is what you need to get the point across.

You should check her out. 

DIY: Distressed Canvas Photo

Hi friends!

So, for my Mother's Day gift to Mom I tried to do the DIY photo-to-canvas transfer found on A Beautiful Mess. Unfortunately, using a "laser copy" of a photo doesn't mean an actual laser printed photo on actual photo paper. It really means a copy of your laser photo on regular printer paper. I didn't find this out until after I'd already stuck my photo face-down onto the wet canvas. But you know what? It still turned out pretty well.

Let's take a look:

Step 1: Gather your supplies. You'll need a stretched canvas (I used 8x10), an acrylic gel medium (you can find this for $5.99 at Hobby Lobby or $8.00 at Wal-Mart), a paint brush, and your photo (again, mine was 8x10).

Step 2: Coat your canvas with a thick layer of the acrylic gel medium.

Step 3: Place your photo face-down onto the painted canvas. Use your fingertips to press lightly all around the photo so it dries to the canvas. Let it sit for a few hours or overnight.

Step 4: Slowly peel the photograph away from the canvas. Be careful not to pull too hard. You only want some of the dried gel to remain on the photograph. You don't want to rip the photo itself! I actually wet the back side of the photo (which you would actually do with a real photo-to-canvas transfer) to help release the picture better. Then, I took a damp washcloth and rubbed away some of the excess gel that had dried on our lovely faces*.

After you've done these steps, simply glue the back of the distressed photo to the canvas and VOILA! You've got your own special, but still pretty, version of the photo-to-canvas transfer. 

And P.S. My mom LOVED hers. See below:

*I don't really know why my canvas looks blue in most photos and black and white in another. It really does have more of a bluish tint in real life, but hey, this post is DIY, too!

to the moms

Happy Mother's Day!

Pierce's mom is out of town this weekend to spend some time with his sister-in-law, Anni. We missed her today, but we had a blast at my mom's house with my brother, his family, and my little sister, Kati.

I'm so grateful to have such exceptional women in my life. My mother has taught us how to be strong and independent, and yet we learned from her the value of a gentle spirit and a sweet, compassionate heart. She would, literally, give you the shirt off her back if you needed it. She would probably get you a whole outfit, fill up your tummy, and invite you in to stay for awhile, too. I admire her more than words can say, and I hope to be like her when I become a mother, too.

Lunch today was simple, with chicken salad croissants, fruit, and other finger foods, and we mostly just spent the afternoon laughing, playing, and being silly.

(I also maybe have photographic evidence of our homemade Slip-N-Slide, and the resulting grassy, dirty mess, but those photos are under lock and key! It was hilarious, but it looks a little too backwoods for my taste. Haha!)

I'm really missing my big sister and her littles today, but a full afternoon with my sweet, sassy mother and our family was almost enough to tide me over until we get to visit them in Kansas.

Kati made this all by herself in Fibers class. So pretty!
I have officially commissioned her to make my t-shirt quilt.

An old school portrait of my mom's babies, back in 1997. From left:
Me, age 12, Beth, age 15, Tommy, age 14, and Kati, 10 months.

I love my big brother!

Pretty mamas!
Take 1.
Take 2.
Kati's silly model pose.
3rd take's the charm!