Shine, Poet!

The first week of November holds BIG memories in my life. It feels big enough to call for my first blog post since the birth of my 2nd daughter in May. (Woohoo! Thank you Lord for baby Lucia Jeanne!) And it feels big enough for the first post since January. JANUARY. (Don’t hold typos against me. I’ve been trying to write this post for over 24 hours and keep getting interrupted.)

10 years ago TODAY, my parents and I pulled into Phoenix after two days of packing and driving. I was 24 years-old and moving out west ALL BY MYSELF. I don’t think I intended to stay here for this long. I was chasing adventure and following a call that was somewhere deep in my soul. Just two months prior, I began a job hunt to see if I could possibly use my degree (Theatre Ministry) and unique passion somewhere in the world. I had a specific skill set and I found a job in Surprise, Arizona that felt like it was created in my journal: Children’s Creative Writing Specialist.

Chasing Adventure, November 2006

I interviewed, prayed, and then accepted this new journey writing and producing children’s video curriculum for large group teaching. I spent my weekends teaching God’s Word to hundreds of elementary school students and my weeks writing scripts and filming on location. It was creative and full and fun. I tried not to think too much about my quiet Friday nights. I was adopted by an amazing Arizona family, treasured by friends, and cheered on by countless members of my church. Like most young people in their 20’s, I wondered if I was doing the right thing, if I had made the right move, and how long I should stay in this desert. I considered moving back home to Texas several times. At one point I boxed up all of my possessions and planned to spend a year in Uganda. I attempted dating on I auditioned for local theater and joined a young adult small group. I started writing journal entries in hopes of one day turning them into a book. I shopped a lot at Trader Joes. I saw a lot of movies. I hiked, ran, and took photography courses. I accepted jobs to speak and teach. And every so often, I swallowed back loneliness and asked, Is this where I am supposed to be?

In my first months of my transplant, a friend mailed me a canvas with the words of 1 Corinthians 7:17 from the Message inked in gold. I hung it where I could see it every day.

“And don’t be wishing you were someplace else or with someone else. Where you are right now is God’s place for you. Live and obey and love and believe right there…”

That’s good, right? So good.

7 years ago this week, I pulled into a parking lot and convinced myself to GET OUT OF THE CAR. I had signed up for a month of eHarmony and November 2nd was my first date. We had been communicating for a month and now we would finally meet face to face. The day before I had shared with my mom the fact that he reminded me of my dad. I confessed that I really thought that this would be a significant relationship in my life. Our emails and phone calls had led me to believe that there was something different about the connection I was making with David.


November 2, 2009, I walked out of my car and met my husband for the first time.

The view from November 2016 seems less glamorous than years past. I don’t have vacations planned on the horizon. I don’t even have any speaking opportunities until January. I have a lot of sleepless nights, floors to clean, diapers to change, and games to play. Life seems a bit small at the moment. But my friend Katie recently encouraged me not be discouraged in the smallness or seeming monotony. The beauty of the Gospel is that it redeems every aspect of life. The gospel touches even the mundane and our eyes are opened to the goodness of God and the little tasks that hold our families together.

So right here, right now, I give thanks. I give thanks for the coffee, the dirty floors, and the opportunities to do the good, hard work of today. I am thankful for the ministry to come and the ministry that exists to my little people right now. I can’t beat myself up for not writing a blog post in 9 months because I have much to do right in front of me. It matters. It all matters.

Whether you find yourself at the beginning of an exciting chapter, the slow middle, or even a sad ending, know that this day is a gift. This present is such a gift. Don’t waste it. Shine now.

IF thou indeed derive thy light from Heaven, 
Then, to the measure of that heaven-born light, 
Shine, Poet! in thy place, and be content:– 
The stars pre-eminent in magnitude, 
And they that from the zenith dart their beams, 
(Visible though they be to half the earth, 
Though half a sphere be conscious of their brightness) 
Are yet of no diviner origin, 
No purer essence, than the one that burns, 
Like an untended watch-fire on the ridge 
Of some dark mountain; or than those which seem 
Humbly to hang, like twinkling winter lamps, 
Among the branches of the leafless trees. 
All are the undying offspring of one Sire: 
Then, to the measure of the light vouchsafed, 
Shine, Poet! in thy place, and be content.
– William Wordsworth

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All for now-


P.S. for more current updates, pics and posts, follow along via Facebook or Twitter.

All the Things 2015

I started writing my 2016 goals yesterday. I used this great dream guide by Jennie Allen, which took me through some deep processing and analyzing. Highlights, lowlights and everything in between ended up in my journal. Here are some moments worth mentioning.


With Joy Retreats: BE

There’s nothing like starting your own business to put your heart on the line and dredge up unknown fears and idols. Carey and I entered 2015 with less than 10 attendees for our very first women’s retreat. Personal obstacles, devastating circumstances in the lives of many of our friends, and the enemy tossing around defeating words at every corner all caused my hope to dwindle and my faith to falter. But from the dark moments of late winter came the life-giving fulfillments of spring.


44 women gathered in Prescott, AZ for a weekend that was of the Lord and for His glory. Carey perfectly summarized the 2015 experience with one word: beautiful. What a joy to see women from so many states, so many ages, and so many chapters from my life connect in one place. Through art, nature, and worship we all were given the opportunity to let go, be still, and know God.

Because our first retreat was both enjoyable and soul-filling, we decided to do it again! This April 2016, With Joy will be hosting our 2nd retreat. We had the same space to fill – up to 60 women. As of January 1st we only have 11 spots remaining! Carey and I could not have imagined such a response at this time last year. We have an incredible team joining us for 2016 that we will be announcing in the next few weeks!

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The theme is one close to my story and my heart. As someone who was both a believer and a prisoner to a sin stronghold for many years, my passion is to see all women set free to live in the freedom given by Christ. 11 spots left. Would you consider joining us?


Man to Man defense

On Labor day, my husband and I learned that we were pregnant with kiddo number two. Another little girl will be joining our family this May! I’m delighted and terrified at the same time. I find working from home, parenting one toddler, and simply taking showers to be (at times) ridiculously challenging and completely rewarding. I want to look at other women and say, “HOW DO YOU DO THIS – DO ALL THE THINGS SO WELL?” Truth mantra: no one does everything… at least without a lot of help.

So, I made 2016 goals through the end of April, and then post-baby I’m going to reevaluate my new reality. That’s one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned about parenting. I get a good 4-5 months in a routine before something else shifts and changes. Adaptation is my middle name. Or at least I want it to be my middle name so I don’t go insane!

In between writing outlines and dancing to “Let it Go” for the thousandth time, I hunt for baby names, pin nursery ideas, and think about what this new little one might bring to the world. I think she’s a mover and a shaker.


Good Reads

I managed 12 books this year. I have the most free time when I’m traveling, so I got a few really interesting reads in on some long flights. My top picks?

Invitation to Silence and Solitude by Ruth Hailey Barton. This made my list because it was a completely refreshing and new spiritual discipline for me. She’s serious about bringing silence into your communion with God. I loved the scripture and stories she walked through. If you’re interested in the practice of stillness, this is a great read.

Sea Biscuit by Laura Hilenbrand. I was moved and fascinated by Unbroken in 2014, so I thought this would be a good follow-up. I know I’m late to the Sea Biscuit party (I never saw the movie) but this was excellent and so very interesting. I am a sucker for books with historical photos included.

For the Love by Jen Hatmaker. This was my first read by Jen and I completely get her appeal. She’s refreshingly honest. I underlined the entire first chapter. This one is set up like a book of essays on various topics generally tied to love. Some I enjoyed more than others, but over all, this was the perfect fit for some of the thoughts my own heart was wrestling through.

(I went and ordered her book Interrupted as soon as I finished, as she said that THIS was the book she most wanted her readers to open. I just completed the final chapter last night. It’s almost completely underlined. I also made my husband stop reading his book so he could listen to me read it aloud. All this Jen Hatmaker is likely what caused me to dream about being invited to the Hatmaker’s for dinner. I turned them down. Apparently it was the night of the season premier of Downton Abbey. Because, #priorities.)

You Can Change by Tim Chester. My pastor recommends this book about three times a year. And I will agree with Him: wonderful book, iffy title. The title might lead you to believe that this is a self-help book. Instead this is an incredible dependency book about ditching the sin in your life utilizing means of grace: service, hope, suffering, prayer, worship, the Word, and community. Convicting and challenging, this is a book to add to your reading list.

Bread & Wine by Shauna Niequist. This one did wonders for challenging my ideas on community and hospitality – as in– total paradigm shift. Some basic observations.

  • Hospitality is not the same as entertaining.
  • I want a tribe of people who know which drawer holds my spoons.
  • There is something sacred that happens around a table if I will simply take the time to notice.

The thoughts, words, and recipes found within have pushed me in ways I could have never expected. My heart yearns to be a woman with the gift of hospitality. Maybe that’s my word for 2016. I’ve prayed and pondered about finding the word. I made my lists, dreams, and goals. Free, fruit, earnest, yes, gentle, sink, lower, others, give, release… all of these fall under an open door policy. I want to be inviting, welcoming, and free with all I’ve been given. Bread & Wine sits on the shelf with my cookbooks, and aside from the Bible, it’s the book I’ve pulled out most regularly in 2015. I want it close to the heart of my home and ready to prod my own heart once again. Left to my own devices, I will care for my little family and call it a day. I don’t want to open my home to the neglect of those living in it’s rooms, but I do know there are 6 chairs around my table and only 3 of us filling them. Commence hospitality.


Other Random Favorites

Ellie Holcomb. I’m late to this train! The lyrics. The melodies. A playlist of Ellie Holcomb is what I use to focus and prep before I speak. This was my theme song for the fall. I am a little starstruck (FINE, a lot) to see her live in February.

The No Fuss Calligraphy Starter Kit. I am not a crafter, but I do love words and handwriting. Ashley Gardner has a beautiful Etsy shop called Printable Wisdom. I have several pieces of her design in my daughter’s room. So this Christmas I asked for and received a kit to help me learn to work with a calligraphy brush pen. It’s proving to be a fun and random challenge. (For the record: Ciminello is really, really hard to write in calligraphy.)

My latest Stitch Fix win. Once or twice a year I take myself shopping with a delivered Stitch Fix box. I usually have enough credit (WOOHOO!) through referrals to get one piece for FREE. In July I scheduled a fix for September, not knowing that I would be pregnant when the box finally arrived. This definitely limited what I was going to keep, but the red shirt has been a staple for speaking engagements this fall. I also loved the gold clutch, but I can find something similar for $30 cheaper at TJ Maxx. So that was out. The other pieces were too small for the maternity version of me. If you are interested in signing up for a fix, may I recommend using THIS LINK? Thanks! (Also, I need a new stance for photos, right? Hello. This is my arm. It goes on my hip.)

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Favorite WHOOPS moment on Social Media: OY! An old friend kindly alerted me to the fact that I had been repping WithOYretreats for many weeks.



Speaking. From women’s retreats, Mops groups, mother/daughter weekends to jr. high retreats, this has been a gem of a year. I feel so blessed to not only love what I do, but to continue to have opportunities to share. Speaking God’s Word is my absolute passion. I can’t wait for the new adventures in 2016, including both the Aurora Girl’s Conference and There4 Gathering. (If you are in OK or TX – check them out!)

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And with that – my kiddo is up from nap time, so here’s where I close. Thanking God for 2015, the highs and the lows – and everything in between. Now to nail down those 2016 goals!



P.S. THIS from Shauna Niequist… I <3 this.

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Stitch Fix: For the Win


I don’t particularly enjoy shopping for clothes. I’m not hardwired to spend the day floating through the mall and just browsing. Two times a year my husband and I go to the outlet malls for the morning and stock up on any basic needs. That’s typically all the shopping for my year. I’ll pick up an occasional item from TJ Maxx or Target if I’m looking for something specific, but generally, that’s it.

I’m also the gal who if I like something, I will just buy it in 2-3 colors. I own the same cotton dress from Wal-Mart in both black and red. If you find a good $15 win, why not make it last that much longer? Hah!

This year is providing so many opportunities for me to speak to my peers. I’m honored for the chance to address Mops, Moms, and various women’s ministries in my area. More engagements also means a need to dress like an adult, at least occasionally. (I’ve told you before, a daily goal is to be out of my pjs by noon -> perks and curse of working from home.) A quick survey of my wardrobe and you would discover lots of solid-colored cotton tops and pairs of dark-wash blue jeans. Nothing wrong with those items, just not always ideal for my job.

Enter Stitch Fix: an online personal stylist.

The Stitch Fix Website will summarize the process better than any lengthy paragraph I could write! Here’s how it works:

1. Create your style profile.
2. Pay $20 styling fee toward your box. (You can use toward your final order – any of the 5 products you keep!)
3. Schedule your box.
4. Open you box and try on the clothes. Take awkward selfies in mirrors and send the pic to your friends and family members. (Each item also comes with styling tips on how to best wear the products.)
5. Once the box arrives you have 3 days to decide what you are keeping and what you are returning. The returns are all free and super easy: drop the prepaid envelope in any USPS box.

Other noteworthy pieces of info: If you keep all 5 items you get 25% off. The more info you provide on your style profile, the better matches your stylist will make. Most items are about $65.

My initial qualms: $65 is a lot for a gal used to buying at TJ Maxx. What if I don’t keep anything?

My answers: This was a birthday gift to myself (using $ from grandparents! THANK YOU!) – I was hunting items for speaking, pieces I wouldn’t normally choose for myself. Worse case scenario, I’m out $20. Best case, I find something I love.

Without further ado, here’s my box experience!

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My box arrived on a Thursday afternoon. I had until end of mailing day on Saturday to figure out what I was keeping and what I was returning. (Forgive the cell phone pic from the floor of my daughter’s room.)

The five items in my box were priced between $32 and $88. I liked the looks of everything and was very pleased at the various fabrics and prints. The dress was really the only thing I would have picked up off a rack and tried on. It just also happened to fit the best out of everything. I text my friend Carey and said, “I HOPE THE DRESS FITS!”


Although I liked the vest and bird shirt, they were just too big. I’m not sure if it was the fit or if I’ve gone down a size, both just looked like big boxes on me. I also really liked the floral shirt, just not $58 like it. Had it been less than $40 I might have considered it.


In the end I kept the necklace and the dress. I almost talked myself out of the necklace, I’m not big on flashy jewelry, but it just went so nicely with the dress. The work was already done. My husband told me to keep it just so he didn’t have to hear me say that I WISHED I’d kept it. The $20 styling fee went toward my purchase, essentially making the necklace $12. I can do a $12 necklace. :)

All in all it was a good experience. I didn’t get a speaking top, but I also hadn’t bought a new dress in almost two years. Well, I had, they were just maternity dresses. I would definitely do this again, I’m just going to wait for a credit to do it.

A credit, you ask? Why yes! If you sign up for Stitch Fix using this link, I get a credit toward my next box. (OR use this referral code: 3310293). Lovely, right?! That’s what I thought.

Here’s what I will do differently next time:

1. Update the Pinterest board I shared with my stylist to include exactly what I’m looking for: dressy tops. (DO make a board!)
2. Measure myself so I can better determine my current size.
3. Remove jewelry from my next box. (Check out the profile, you can be super specific!)
4. Request a certain color palate. (I own too much navy.)
5. Stay away from winter clothes – rarely is it colder than 60 degrees here. How often will I really get to wear a warm vest?

In summary: fun, unique experience. I don’t have the cash flow or need to do it monthly, but I might do this for myself each Birthday.Thanks for indulging this random post. So many people were interested in the process that I just had to share.

Happy Thursday!




I’m finally back after a whirlwind trip to Texas. We had a fabulous time seeing family and friends, and I had an encouraging time speaking at the conference. I felt very loved and supported. My child was held around the clock. My book was promoted and I was rewarded with hugs and quick conversations with loyal friends. Other than the exhaustion, I really can’t complain! Making it to the grocery store was a huge achievement yesterday! I have lots of writing to work on, but I’ve taken the past two days to just be with my daughter. We’ve played together, and I’ve rocked her for every nap during the day. It just feels right. My Bible study class was just talking about saying “no” to some things in order to say “yes.” Work has had my yes for almost the past month. My family was due for some quality time!

Random list for the weekend.

1. Tricia Goyer interviewed me on her Living Inspired online radio program. Woohoo! We discussed my book, motherhood, and embarrassing moments. You can find the archive of the interview here. It also looks like if you follow the link and look at the bottom of the page, you can enter a drawing to win a copy of my book. Free = Win.

2. Hubs and I snuck away for an early anniversary date. We went to a movie theater that serves food and enjoyed burgers and the movie, Captain Phillips. It was a tense but really well made movie. I was on the edge of my seat for most of the movie and also appreciated that the language wasn’t extreme. I think we are going to check out Gravity for our post-anniversary date this weekend. Have you seen any movies lately that you’d recommend?

3. Highs are in the 80’s in Phoenix now. Thank you, Lord! We are celebrating the cooler weather a few weeks behind the rest of the country. I did jump on the bandwagon and purchase some pumpkin spice creamer. I made dinner in the crock pot last night. If you are looking for an easy winner, check out this recipe. Delish. (I don’t like the word yummy or the phrase nom-nom. Neither sound appetizing to me. I know… random. You’re welcome.)

4. I spoke at 11:00pm last Friday evening. I KNOW. I’m impressed too. I can’t remember the last time I willingly stayed up past midnight.

5. I have a new favorite song. Build your Kingdom Here by Rend Collective. I made both a Pandora and an iTunes Radio station based on the song. It’s Mumford & Sons meets Gungor. And now that I’ve watched the music video… it’s pretty Mumford. Muy Bueno. What’s your latest new music wins?

6. I think it’s time for a giveaway. Yep. That’s in the works for next week. Check back in on Tuesday for details and the chance to win an e-book version of my book.

7. Wish us luck. We are taking a 3 month-old to a pumpkin patch tonight, because that’s what you do during this time of year, right? RIGHT?!

8. YOU have a fabulous weekend, you hear?!



Friday Musings


I really didn’t think I was going to do this. But, it’s Friday and just for kicks… this is me and Baby C in the midst of the third trimester. We’re both smiling because as of today, we are officially on vacation. The hubs and I are taking our last trip together as a family of two and I am more than ready to read three novels, sit by a pool, and sleep in!

I thought I would just share some random answers to questions I’ve been receiving lately in person and over e-mail/comments/social media.

How are you feeling? Great! Bigger every day, but other than that – just thankful!

What are you craving? Mac and Cheese – the processed blue box kind. I’ve been buying the organic in hopes of curbing the cravings and it’s working thus far.

Do you have a name picked out? We currently have four names that we love and it is going to be quite the “discussion” to get that down to just one! We are keeping the final choice a secret until after she is born. So much more fun to walk into the hospital lobby and tell our families “This is Spackle Trinton Ciminello” and see the shock and joy on their faces than saying anything ahead of time. (No offense if you love Spackle or Trinton. You have my blessing to use them!)

Is the room ready? We are about halfway there! It’s painted light blue and we have the furniture, but nothing is up on the walls or washed and in drawers yet. The drapes need to be hung and lots of items found or purchased. But I’m not worried at all. All in good time!

Anything unique going on during this pregnancy? I like to play a Bach sonata on the piano from time to time. She seems to really like it and start kicking. I think we have a musician in our midst. :)

That’s enough from me for now. I hope you have a FABULOUS weekend and I will look forward to catching up after some much-needed R&R.

Happy Friday!


Easter Memories

How time flies! Can you believe that next weekend will already be Easter?

Easter has always been a wonderful time to be a member of my extended family. The cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents, and many dogs head down to Galveston, TX to spend the weekend together. 21 people in any house can be a good time… as long as it’s not raining.


We’ve always had good times in Galveston. The excitement of Easter derived not only from the Celebration of the Resurrection, but also from the Easter Egg Hunt and the Cha-Cha Church. The Church isn’t actually called the Cha-Cha Church, that’s just what a majority of my family calls the church. We attended the gathering one Easter morning and were quite the fish out of water. Perhaps it was the electric organ in place of our usual pipe organ, or the excited sopranos in the front row… whatever the case, my brother asked the next year if we would be attending the Cha-Cha Church again.

We attended the little church many times over the past decades. Our large family would absorb half of the seating. There was always a rush to be the grandchild lucky enough to sit with Grandma. Not only would Grandma tickle your arm with her fingernails until your skin almost fell off, but she is a guarantee for a great laugh during the service. For if any soprano in the front row should make an excited expression we were all in for it. Three rows of shaking family members who had been trained to listen with respect and silence were now losing it as they watched their matriarch with tears of laughter rolling down her face.

I remember one particular Easter when we decided to attend the early service. Usually our enormous clan could file into the sanctuary in shifts not really making a blip on the radar. The early service was almost empty when we arrived. We filed in taking our usual seats on the right and gasped as we noticed a new organist and the absence of the Island Choir. We all waited to see what this would mean for the service. As usual, the Pastor offered for any children to make their way to a special class and no one from our section obeyed. We do not leave our formation, no matter how much aunts and uncles prod. Don’t make me leave the pack! So we remained and the sermon proceeded and everything went as usual. That was until the end came too soon for the Pastor. He looked up from his hymnal and looked at our crew and said, “Well, I suppose we have time for some special music. Does anyone here sing?” In unison, 19 heads turned and looked my way. Oh joy. I was pulled up on stage to sing a duet with the Pastor. He offered to let me choose the song. I picked the first Easter song I could find, “Victory in Jesus.” We prepared to sing when suddenly the little organist cried out, “I don’t think I know that one.” Well, we didn’t let that stop us, now did we? My dad was sent up to accompany us and that morning I sang “Victory in Jesus” with the Pastor of the Cha-Cha Church.

The next year a similar situation came about, but I was not about to be sacrificed by my family. I stepped onto the stage with at least five cousins in tow.

“Christ the Lord is Risen Today…..”


Love Is.

Love is a post-it note in a lunchbox.
Love is patience with slow drivers and cashiers.
Love is warm food on a cold day.
Love is returning your grocery cart.
Love is retrieving the piece of trash in the middle of the park.
Love is doing the dishes… again.
Love of others isn’t very fashionable.
Love is often lived more than it is spoken.
Love is given, not guilted.
Love is a choice.
Love often comes without flowers.
Love is thankful.
Love does not only take the form of chocolate and balloons.
Love is a gift.
Love does not always appear in handwritten love notes.
Love is felt… and seen… and given as we live our lives.
Love is HIM.
Love is here.
Love is today… but love is also tomorrow… and every day that comes after.
“Your very lives are a letter that anyone can read by just looking at you. Christ himself wrote it — not with ink, but with God’s living Spirit; not chiseled into stone, but carved into human lives…” 2 Corinthians 3:2-3 (The Message)
“…No matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love. Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back, But keeps going to the end. 
Love never dies.
Inspired speech will be over some day; praying in tongues will end; understanding will reach its limit. We know only a portion of the truth, and what we say about God is always incomplete. But when the Complete arrives, our incompletes will be canceled. 1 Corinthians 13:3-10 (msg)
We are loved. Happy Valentine’s Day.Following,

Friday Finds: Favorite Things

Just think of today’s post as the “Oprah’s Favorite Things Show”, and if I had unlimited resources I would gift them all your way! A random list of what I currently utilize on a daily basis…


Ginger’s Favorite Things!


1. Flipboard News App. I check the top stories when I wake up in the morning. It’s become my go-to resource for everything that I missed while I was asleep. I try to stay up-to-date on current events. I may not be able to pronounce the name of every world leader, but at least Flipboard gives me a huge scope of stories to choose from.



2. Podcasts! If I’m not listening to music, I’m usually listening to a podcast. While I cook, exercise, drive… you name it. I use the Stitcher Radio App and frequently listen to: Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me, This American Life, Radiolab, Freakonomics Radio, The NPR: Hourly News Summary, among others. Now you know… I’m a public radio fan(atic?).



3. Reading out-loud as a family. Hubs and I have done this off and on since marrying. We take turns reading a book aloud to each other at night before we shut out the light. We just finished “To Kill A Mockingbird” and I was so sad to see it end. (I am especially sad to know that this is the end of my husband speaking to me in a southern accent. He makes a really good Atticus!) Looking forward to starting the next book soon: The follow-up to Lois Lowry’s “The Giver,” entitled “Son.”


4. My Tervis Tumbler with lid and straw. Sure, Willy the Wildcat from my Alma Mater is cool, but even if this was a blank cup I would still love it. It keeps my tables free from water rings, my water cold, and this accident-prone gal from spilling. I use it every day that it’s not in the dishwasher. For real.



5. My house moccasins. Even though I live in Arizona, the winter nights still get chilly. We try not to turn the heater on unless it’s going to get below 35 at night… thus the tile floor is FREEZING. I don’t walk in my house without them. I tried to find the exact design on the Daniel Green website, but no luck. They are super soft and comfy – so I’m sure all of their products will fit the bill.



6. The Valley of Vision. My dear friend Becca gave me this copy three years ago and I pull it out just about every morning. There are over 300 Puritan prayers inside. The humility of the beautiful words always stills my heart before I open the Word. I highly recommend this book.



7. A Mat Kearney Pandora Station. I’ve added in some Mumford & Sons for variety, but this is the go-to station in our house. We might be addicted. :)


8. I LOVE day planners. Blogging and real life friend Jordy Liz made me aware of one of her favorite calendars this year. I couldn’t resist and bought myself an early Christmas present. I was counting down the days to January so I could start using my Erin Condren Day Planner. I carry it with me all the time… it’s my right hand gal.



9. Smoothies. For the past 4 months I’ve been eating smoothies for breakfast at least 5 days a week. Since kicking caffeine, it’s been a nice replacement wake-up to get my day going. My personal recipe: 2 oz orange juice, about 1/2 cup of frozen berries, 1 small banana, 1/4 cup of flavored greek yogurt, 1/8 cup of fresh spinach. Blend that sucker up and enjoy.


10. Writing in my new “Getting to Know You” journal. We returned home from Youth Group one Sunday night to discover a bag hanging on our front door. Sweet friends from across town had left us this book to begin recording our new adventure: parenthood! I’m not sure why I’m choosing this format to share, but there it is. I’m in my second trimester and expecting our first child this summer. This really is my favorite realization each day! “The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy!” Psalm 126:3



So now it’s obviously your turn to share your top picks. What gets the most use in your world?

Happy Friday!

Heading South for the Weekend

Happy Friday, Friends!

This post is headed out late this morning… it’s just been one of those weeks. I had the opportunity to speak to a college group yesterday and am headed off to a middle school this morning after which I will swiftly begin packing! Tonight we will load up the car with toothbrushes, The Jesus Storybook Bible, and medical supplies and leave for Mexico around 3:45am. I think I need to go to sleep right now. ;)

As always, we would love your prayers for safe crossing, smooth travels, and a great clinic in the morning. Here’s where we’re headed



Rocky Point Medical Clinics, a ministry of Family of God Fellowship in Puerto Penasco, sees hundreds of patients each month, providing much-needed health care as well as the Gospel. Begun by two amazing people whom we have come to love, the clinics are staffed by volunteer doctors, nurses and other health care workers to provide patient care and health screenings. The clinics attempt to provide care when no other resources are available to people desperately hurt by the changing economic conditions of the area. In addition, funds channeled through the ministry help to provide surgeries and procedures which could not be afforded by the local people.


Obviously I’m not part of that medical staff. (Nor should anyone want me to be!) I will be bringing crayons, hundreds of coloring sheets (Thanks to Girl Scout Troop 634!), and multiple copies of The Jesus Storybook Bible in Spanish. “Este libro es muy importante.” I’m a kid wrangler for the day while the families wait to be seen by one of the doctors. It’s an amazing privilege to watch the medical staff work, no matter the conditions presented. I’ll be honest, it’s a special window into the life and heart of my husband that I don’t get to see on a daily basis. It might be slightly uncomfortable for his patients if I just trailed around all day, so I definitely take the time to glance over and watch during the clinics.


This is going to be a fast trip. Four hours south, a six-hour clinic, and then four hours back home. All that to say: bring on the prayers! I’ll post a few pics on my Facebook page this weekend if you care to see some of the images from this journey.

Blessings on your weekend, wherever the road takes you!



I’ve always had a flair for the dramatic.  My journals are covered with sketches, photos, and attempts at prose and poetry.  I recognize it’s not very good, but I keep at it.  I started consistently writing in my journal after reading Anne Frank in the 5th grade.  I was sure that if I ever died at a young age my journal would also be placed in paperback and shipped out to school children the world over.  Although not as important to history and literature as the Diary of Anne Frank, I was sure that my entries combined with sketches, photos, and poetry would make for a thrilling read.

My first entry dated 6/23/94 is an original poem entitled “Life” – I was 12 years old at the time.

Through storms of unkind words
We live without a light.
Past memories full of swords,
We balance with all our might.
Though society binds us down,
And values make us sick,
We set aside our frowns,
For together we must stick,
Or apart we will drown.

Apparently life was very hard in the suburbia of North Dallas.  I fittingly entitled my first journal as “My Link to the Past.”  Here’s a link to the 18th of July that same year.

Dearest Sonnet, (Don’t ask, I have no idea.)
Today we traveled from Trinidad to Euray, Colorado.  Euray is beautiful.  The mountain air is refreshing!  We saw a lot of beautiful scenery.  Tomorrow we aren’t going jeeping.  Instead, I have no clue as to what we are doing.  The town is so small and quaint. Last night I was burning hot.  Tonight I will be hot. Well, gotta get some sleep.  I’m extra tired.  By for now my sonnet, Ginger.  9:25pm

As I read through the many journals I have filled in the past 18 years, I can’t help but wonder why I continue to fill them, and why, even now, I am transposing them for others to read.  But perhaps the dream to be a part of a 5th grade reading list still remains.  Publish them now and one day children in classrooms will take tests on the trip I took to Colorado or my plight as Anne of Green Gables in love with the young man playing the role of Gilbert Blythe in the school play.

Maybe the world will never know… then again… maybe so.

Anyone else have some ridiculous fabulous entries written by their pre-teen selves? ;)

Happy Wednesday, Friends.