When Your Art Feels “Ridiculous”

The other day Jesse came up to me with a solemn expression and made this confession:

“Mom, sometimes when I’m in the bathroom by myself, I make up little songs but then I say ‘That’s ridiculous!’ to myself. And I stop.”

Because this boy lives in a home that values creativity and celebrates all artistic expression, I cannot fathom where this critical response to his song-making came from unless it is the very enemy of his soul sowing lies in order to halt the progress of a would-be worshiper.

Though I was in the middle of cooking supper, I felt this was a crucial moment in my boy’s life, and the Lord prompted me to squat down and get eye level straight with him and take the time to root out these lies and replace them with some deep truths I’ve learned about art.

How even if your art is not ‘perfect’, the effort is a worthy act.

How we must practice our art, and even the clumsy beginnings are important.

I asked him if he thought his favorite Go Fish Guys wrote perfect songs when they were seven?

I asked him if it was ‘ridiculous’ for Lydia to reach for her toys, when her hand eye coordination is so imperfect?

And then (because words of affirmation are my love language and I was bursting with love for this little boy and because I’d gotten on a roll) I told him that I think he’s got talent in this area. I reminded him of how delightful his Chick-fil-a theme song was that he had composed that very afternoon. And I informed him that he has been writing songs since he was three and a half.

when your art feels ridiculous {a conversation with a seven year old songwriter)

I went to find his journal and we spent the next half hour in fits of giggles over the funny things he said and did when he was a young boy and finally I found the page where I’d recorded his first song.

“Just 10 days after he first learned to sing, Jesse composed his first song:

Me wish me be an angel
But me not have wings
Oh, goody, goody, goody
Me wish me be an angel
Or a princess
Oh goody goody goody
Me wish me be an angel today.”

His eyes were filled with wonder, a satisfying change from the shame and confusion I’d seen when he made his confusion earlier.

Oh, Lord, protect my boy from lies and fears that try to keep him from living his art and doing whatever it is that you made him to do!

To read about my little system for writing down the precious and hilarious things my kids say, you can visit this post published on Passionate Homemaking a few years ago. And if your art feels ridiculous, well, you need to read Emily Freeman’s book, A Million Little Ways. I’m still chewing on it, you can read the review I wrote of the book last fall.

How I Learned to Say “Ya’ll”

It’s time for a little Ebenezer raisin’ here, folks.

My soul’s been buckled down, in gear, doing its thing, focused on survival. But the other day I realized it’s been a while since we went dancing. And we have a lot of things to dance about. So pardon me as I recount, for my soul’s sake, a story of how my Jesus loves me? For maybe the music will remind you of something you have to dance about, and we can all enjoy a little shindiggery together.

This is the story of how we came to live in Alabama. It’s time we step back enough to see even the far edges of this miracle.

I have always been afraid of moving cross country. This was not something I labeled my tshirts with, but it was there– a deep down fear. Because, you see, I’ve done my share of moving. Not moving like a military family, that moves constantly–no, I think that if you move that much, you get in the mode a little better. We stayed in places long enough to plant deep roots, and moved just enough to know the horror of it.

First Move

When I was five, my father took a job transfer from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, to Raleigh, North Carolina. I was young enough that I don’t remember the hassle of packing up a family of six (my younger sister just 3 months old), or of a three day trek north, following a giant moving van to an apartment we’d never seen. But do I remember leaving behind our beloved backyard, complete with in-ground pool where I’d learned to swim like an otter almost before I could walk. I remember leaving a dear little girlfriend, a man who was like an uncle to us, and an adopted grandma who always gave us birthday cards for the wrong year. I remember leaving the cozy little reading nook Mommy had made for my brother and I in the living room, and the spot on the floor in front of the couch where I’d spelled out my first words.

North Carolina was a foreign land. The dirt was red, the ocean was hours away, and the people talked funny. My older brother and I expressed our resentment of everything being so different by refusing–the entire seven years we lived there–to use the contraction, “ya’ll”. We lived in an apartment for 3 months while we house hunted. Oh, and church shopped. Oh my. The house hunting I remember as a fun family outing, but visiting different churches each Sunday terrified me. All those strange people exercising the right to ‘make us feel welcome’ was torture to my shy, five-year-old self.

And then I remember a day, perhaps three years after the move, we were driving down Hillsborough Rd. on our way home from errands, and someone said, “When we get home” and something clicked into place inside me, and I realized that North Carolina at last felt like home. My stressed-out eight-year-old self relaxed just a tiny bit with the realization that we’d made it through the transition.

We lived in NC four more years. Four glorious years–some of the best of my childhood. We had 1.7 acres–a huge lot for a subdivision in the suburbs of the Capitol. It was mostly woods, and we spent the majority of our free time at least ten feet off the ground. Life was a delicious routine of homeschool, chores, quiet time, play time, family movie nights, music lessons, and seeing our friends at church. We played the Alphabet Game on our way back from the chiropractor’s each week, and got our “Q” on the same Quicky Lube sign every week.

Here We Go Again

And then, as if infected with the Seven Year Itch, my parents planned another move. This time I was old enough to understand what was happening. Old enough and experienced enough to know it would mean goodbyes to old friends, awkward acquaintances with new ones, a complete disruption of routine, and a long journey to find a new familiar.

I was thirteen the year we left NC for Upstate New York. But instead of moving from a home to a house that would become home, we sold most of our belongings and left upper-middle class suburbia to cram into a tipi on the top of a hillside, at the end of a 1/4 mile driveway, off a dirt road, in a rural county that didn’t boast a single shopping mall. (Not that I was addicted to mall shopping, I’m just tryin’ to paint a picture for you.)

I remember nearly every agonizing detail of this move. Teary goodbyes, twelve hours’ dreary driving under an appropriately grey sky into an unknown that was so vast, I couldn’t wrap my mind around it. There was absolutely nothing familiar to anchor to. The driveway to our new home was a slough of half-frozen mud that tried to eat the moving truck. Our only acquaintances were reserved almost-strangers we had only met on our scouting visits North the year before. The weather was inhospitable at best, and menacing at worst.

We lived on the homestead for nine years. It took nearly that long for it to feel like home, and often it felt like it only held that title by default. 

A Heart Shift

In the next ten years, I moved four times, but these were all in-state moves–from my parent’s home to my new husband’s, from one trailer in his parent’s mobile to the next–no relationships cut off or new geography to learn. I maintained a healthy fear of the dreaded cross-country move I had come to expect as an inevitable part of life.

Then, when I was 25, my God touched my heart and mind and released me from a heavy burden of fear–a debilitating level of anxiety that I’d lived with so long, I didn’t know it was there until it was gone. Suddenly I saw change as not a dread stranger, but a friendly possibility. For the first time in my life, I felt like I could move to a whole new place and even enjoy the process of meeting new people and setting up life in new surroundings. This was such a novel idea, I didn’t half trust it, but part of me thought a cross country move actually sounded like a fun adventure.

We Become Gypsies

In 2012, Jeremy’s parents bought a mobile home park in Alabama, of all places.  They had obligations in NY through mid summer, so Jeremy and I headed down to take possession of the park for them by July 1st. We drove our bus and suburban and 3 small children 3 days into the unknown, excited about seeing new places and spending the summer in our beloved bus.

When I stepped out of the car into the driveway of the mobile home park, I thought I was standing in the exhaust from the bus. I looked over and realized I was twenty feet from the bus and the heat hitting me was simply the air. I’d lived up North a long time and had forgotten air could feel this way. Nevertheless, we enjoyed our summer adventure–we met new friends through the blog who led us to a great church in the area, and we made memories on local bike paths and state parks.

We were not at this time planning on relocating. The plan had been:

  1. purchase a park that needs work
  2. do the work
  3. hire manager
  4. move on to next project

But the more time we spent in Alabama, the more we realized that this particular park wouldn’t be ready to hand off to a manager any time soon, and would need full time commitment for the foreseeable future.

The next year was punctuated by multiple 18-hour trips back and forth to New York as Jeremy helped his family manage the business in NY as well as the park in Alabama. Eventually, his parents sold their NY home and officially relocated to Alabama. We watched rather wistfully,  wondering if we would be next, but seeing a lot of obstacles to us leaving NY: there was a business and house to sell, and life-long relationships to part with.

Another Heart Shift

We got through another NY winter–our hardest one yet with Jeremy working seven days a week and me dealing with mold toxicity and the beginning of my 4th pregnancy–and when May came releasing us from ice and the coal business, we couldn’t wait to head south. We had work to do remodeling some homes Jeremy and I owned within the park, so planned to spend another summer in the bus. After a month here, we began to seriously ask ourselves if we should move here. We spent hours discussing it, till suddenly we realized we could weigh pros and cons till we were blue in the face, but we couldn’t see what God could see. So, we prayed a simple prayer–”Lord, guide our hearts.” Within a week we looked at each other and realized the Lord had moved our hearts to Alabama. We wanted to make this our new home.

There were still tons of details and logistics to figure out. Not only did we have a lot of ties in the North, we needed a house down here! We began to take steps toward moving, trusting God would make a way, since we were sure this was where He wanted to take us.

Not soon after, we found a used double wide that I fell in love with. The layout seemed so conducive to life with a young family. We put a down payment on it, and chose a lot in the park to move it too, believing we’d someday call it home.

At the end of summer we said goodbye to family and the church we’d come to love and headed North with the goal to have a baby and pack up our home. I channeled all my nesting energy into packing while Jeremy worked to complete obligations with the coal business. It was a crazy time, and a crazy plan, but we were buoyed by the scent of adventure and the gut feeling that this was God’s best for us.

Six weeks after Lydia was born, friends and family spent two days helping us load our household goods and tools and machinery from the business into two huge moving trucks. The leaving was not easy–I will admit that. On the last day in NY I said some very hard goodbyes to close friends and by the time the last box was shoved into the trucks, I was wrung dry, emotionally and physically on empty. But when we pulled out of the driveway, I felt a wash of peace and joy. Though we were embarking on a honest-to-goodness, 1000 mile relocation, I had the overwhelming sensation of going home.

Coming Home

The closer we got to Alabama, the more excited I became. And when, our caravan  of five vehicles finally pulled into the park–a place so far from my old home, and yet so blessedly familiar after spending six months of the last two years camping here–I felt a deep, inner ‘clink’ as my body reunited with my heart and all of me felt right at home.



There was still weeks of hassle and transition–we slept in the bus while we got a trailer ready to be home for us. Then the bus heater quit and we moved into my in-laws for another week until we got heat in our new place. Then it was three weeks of using a chamber pot while they got the septic tank installed. Jeremy still had to make several trips back to NY over the winter and it wasn’t easy and it wasn’t fun to mother four kids single-handedly while my love was miles away. But even in the hardest moments I’ve still smiled when I think how much I used to fear a cross country move, and how, because of the loving care of my Father, the biggest move of my life has been a thrilling adventure.






I love my new home, our church has surrounded us with love and support, and our family is thriving. I don’t know what the future holds, but this experience has deepened my trust in the Father’s love and encouraged me that whatever the next adventure is, I can embrace it joyfully because He goes before me, He stands behind me, and He walks beside me.

And? I say ‘ya’ll’ now. All the time.

That’s what I’m dancing about…how about you? What did God do this week/month/year/decade that reminded you that He’s a loving Father? I’d love to hear! Leave a comment or link to your blog if it’s a long story..like mine. ;)

The Biggest Blogging Secret


I’m about to reveal to you the secret sauce behind my blog…and a host of other blogs you may read that cause you to wonder, “how does she do it?” (Whether my blog actually causes you to marvel is probably debatable. But other blogs! I’m revealing their secret, too!!!)

The biggest blogging secret is this: I don’t do this alone.

This ain’t a one woman show. Oh no.

Although mine is the only picture in the side bar there, there is literally a team of people who help make this blog happen, and help keep me sane in the process.

And no, I don’t mean virtual assistants. That ain’t in the budget right now.

The team behind this blog is a group of women I’ve been intentionally doing community with online for nearly 2 years. They cheer for me, give inspiration and feedback, answer questions, give tips, and pray for me and my blog.

And I do the same for them.

They are my mastermind group.

The best tip I will ever give another blogger is, Don’t Blog Alone. And by that I mean, you should be in a mastermind group. But, since mastermind group invitations aren’t a common site in my inbox (or yours, I’d imagine) I’ve got something special for you today: a pile of advice on how to start one. Who to ask. Where to find the people to ask. What to do after you’ve asked them. And so on, and so forth.

You’ll find all this awesomeness in a podcast with the lovely and super encouraging Kat Lee, who invited me to chat with her on the latest edition of her “How They Blog” podcast.

(that’s me with just a few of the awesome ladies in my mastermind group–you can meet all of us here)

You can listen to the podcast and get the show notes here: How to Start and Run a Mastermind Group. I hope it encourages and inspires you. I hope you don’t mind how many times I say ‘uh’.

And if you want still more tips and an insider’s peek at how a mastermind group functions, check out the Mastermind Group Resources Page I made for you right here on my blog!

Resources for Mastermind Groups

Because no blogger should blog alone.

Are you part of a mastermind group? Do you wish you were? Leave a comment and maybe you’ll find a fellow blogger or two to start one with right here in the comments!

P.S. do you listen to podcasts? I love them!!!


Oil Pulling: Frequently Asked Questions

And when I say frequently, I mean frequently!

Ever since I wrote about how we cured my husband’s cavity with a combination of nutrition and oil pulling, I’ve gotten dozens of questions on the subject. In fact, I get new emails every day about this method of oral health. Although I usually try to answer questions personally, either via email or in the comments, this was taking a long time. (Often I’ve done several hours of research to answer a question thoroughly.) I decided to do us both a favor and round up all your questions and my responses in once place.

Please note, although it sounds terrific and unbelievable, we really did heal my husband’s cavity, and this is not a hoax. I’ve gotten a lot of {nasty} comments from people who think I made the whole thing up and have some kind of vendetta against dentists. That is simply not the case, my own mother being a dental hygienist! I love your comments, and your questions have helped me grow and learn, but if you can’t say it nice, I won’t approve it. ;) Also, this post contains affiliate links–thanks for helping me keep the lights on around here!

Without further ado:

Frequently Asked Questions about Oil Pulling

Answers about oil pulling from a gal who's been doing it for over a year and healed cavaties!

What is the best oil to use for oil pulling?

This is really personal preference. Olive oil, sesame oil, and coconut oil are all recommended. I personally prefer coconut oil for its flavor and antibacterial properties.

Do I have to use the (more expensive) cold pressed, unrefined, virgin coconut oil?

It’s up to you. The cheaper, expeller-pressed coconut oil (which doesn’t smell or taste like coconut anymore) does lose some of its health properties during the refining process. Since you only use a teaspoon at a time for oil pulling, a little goes a long way–I use the cold-pressed, less refined, virgin oil.

What brand coconut oil do you recommend?

You want to choose a brand of coconut oil that is cold pressed, extra virgin, and organic, like this brand available right from Amazon.

What if I don’t like coconut oil?

Try another oil! Olive oil and sesame oil are both effective for oil pulling.

Coconut oil is solid–how do I swish it???

Coconut oil liquifies at 76 degrees–simply hold it in your mouth or chew it till it melts!

Coconut oil makes me gag–got any tips?

My dear mother in law has a severe gag reflex. So determined was she to heal her cavity, though, that she persevered. First she just held the coconut oil in her mouth. After a few days, she tried swishing for just a little bit at a time. Gradually she built up her endurance to the sensation of oil in her mouth, and was able to swish for the full 20 min. Her best tip? Melt the coconut oil first (in the oven or over the stove at very low heat) before putting it in your mouth. This ads an extra step to your routine, but she said it really helped her.

What time of day to do you oil pull?

I learned to oil pull in the morning, before eating or drinking anything. Optimal time seems up for debate, but first thing in the morning works for me–I’m less likely to forget, and it takes care of morning breath.

How long do I have to swish?

15-20 min. is usually recommended, or until the oil is so thinned by saliva that it’s very fine and able to swish through even the tiniest spaces in your teeth!

Why do I have to swish?

Well, this gets the oil into the cracks better, you know?

Twenty minutes is a long time! How do you do it?

Many people find swishing oil a rather displeasing activity, and can only manage for a few minutes. But those who stick with it find that eventually you get used to it, and you can gradually work up to the full 20 minutes. I don’t even notice the time anymore as I’m always doing 15 different things first thing in the morning! One of my friends said she watched TV while building the habit. I also like to combine my oil pulling with a workout routine from the online fitness studio, Fit2B. It’s an awesome way to start the day!

Why should you spit the oil in the trash?

Because it’s an oil, it thickens when it’s cool, which means if you oil pull daily (as we do) you could eventually clog up your drains with solidified oils. I was curious about whether oil that has been swished around with saliva for 20 min. still retained enough integrity to solidify, so one day I spit my mouthful into a cup and put it in the fridge. Sure enough–two hours later, the saliva and oil had separated and the oil was thickened. The lengths I go to for ya’ll. Short story: spit in the trash.

Why can’t I just swallow the oil?

Because it has been drawing toxins out of your teeth and gums for the last 20 min. and you don’t want to ingest that! Many studies (like this one) have shown the benefits of taking coconut oil internally. If you wanna do that, let it be a fresh, clean spoonful of oil that you swallow!

I have TMJ and have trouble swishing that long! What should I do?

I feel your pain–I’ve had severe TMJ for 25 years. My jaw muscles usually complain around the 10 minute mark, but I have built up the endurance to make it to the 20 minute mark. Don’t freak out if you can’t swish vigorously the entire time–the coconut oil can still help your teeth just by being in contact with them. Take breaks between swishing, and gradually work up to your goal.

Can I oil pull with fillings?

Neither Jeremy nor I have fillings, but my health mentor, Claire, has a few. She’s been oil pulling for over a year and reports that its had no ill affect on her fillings.

Do you still brush your teeth?

Jeremy and I still brush our teeth, but with less frequency. We have become convinced that brushing roughly or too frequently can do more harm than good, especially for our gums. Besides, when we’re oil pulling each morning, we find our teeth feel cleaner and our breath is fresher than they ever did with a traditional brushing regime. So, we brush on an as-need basis–maybe once a day, but usually less than that.

What do you brush your teeth with?

As I said in my original post on oil pulling, I brushed with just water for more than a year. Then I finally found a toothpaste that didn’t have any junk in it, and since Jeremy still likes the idea of using toothpaste, I got us some to try. We loved it, and now use Earthpaste if we forget to start our day with oil pulling. He likes the peppermint, I really enjoy the lemon. All it has in it is bentonite clay, real salt, and essential oils. The stuff is awesomely pure. I still use just water half the time because I’m rather a minimalist.

Do you still floss your teeth?

Hardly ever at all. Again, because I think that something that makes your gums bleed should be only done if absolutely necessary. The oil pulling gets between my teeth fairly effectively, even getting rid of popcorn kernels I didn’t know where there! I feel that giving up flossing has allowed my gums to take over the spaces between my teeth, and one particular spot next to my eye tooth that used to always collect nastiness never gives me problems anymore. Maybe it’s because I’m not enlarging that gap every time I shove floss up in it?

Does oil pulling help with plaque?

This is one of my favorite parts about oil pulling. The last time I went to a dentist for a cleaning, despite the discomfort, expense, and bleeding gums, I still walked out of the dentist with plaque on my molars. I thought they were supposed to get that off for me! I should have gone back and got my money back. Instead, I went home and began learning about a gentler forms of maintenance.

Oil pulling works well on plaque–the oil cuts right through the plaque to the tooth’s surface, and eventually loosens the plaque so it falls of. In chunks. Scouts honor. I had a large crumb of plaque fall off into my mouth the other day, and upon inspection, realized nearly all the plaque on my back teeth has disappeared since the last time I’d checked. Awesome. I hate plaque. Hated. Past tense. It’s gone.

Can children oil pull?

It can be done! One of my readers patiently taught his daughter how to oil pull and shares his story in the comments of this post. I have not tried it with my kids because our diet seems to be keeping their teeth healthy and strong without any added care. If your child is too young or doesn’t like to oil pull, don’t freak out! You can still focus on the other side of healthy teeth–deep nutrition.

Will oil pulling work if I’m vegan?

The author of Cure Tooth Decay explains a vegan approach to healing cavities on his website. I agree with him that certain vegans may have success in healing cavities, but that in general, a vegan diet does not support strong teeth.

What are the long term effects of oil pulling?

We’ve been oil pulling for a year now, and our teeth look and feel great. Jeremy’s coffee stains are gone, and the sensitivity in my teeth only comes back when I slack up on oil pulling and eat more sugar (which is what happened over the holidays for me. Whoops.) Neither of us have had any more cavities, and Jeremy’s tooth, while still missing the chunk that fell off, is smooth and white with new enamel.

I feel a more holistic approach to dental care, including keeping plenty of nutrient dense foods like cow’s milk and cod liver oil in our diet has made our teeth both cleaner and stronger. We’re excited to be naturally pain free and avoid invasive dental procedures like root canals, which trap toxins in the body.

How long does it take to heal a cavity with oil pulling?

Most of the stories I’ve heard and our own personal experience says you can see a huge difference in a month.

Can I oil pull while breastfeeding or pregnant?

Oil pulling is a very gentle form of detoxing, and the toxins leave your mouth with the oil you spit out, rather than having to be flushed through any cleansing organs or going near your blood stream, so this would lesson any affect it may have on breastmilk or a child in the womb. I have oil pulled through pregnancy and breastfeeding with no ill effects. It was a blessing to have a gentler way to cleanse my teeth during pregnancy when gums are usually more sensitive.

Can I oil pull if I have a cap on my tooth?

This article on oil pulling with caps or crowns or fillings says, “Oil pulling will not and cannot loosen properly placed crowns or fillings.” It goes on to explain that oil pulling would only affect crowns or fillings if the tooth underneath was infected or decayed. In that case, oil pulling would help you become aware of the problem so you could address it.

What Cod Liver Oil do you recommend?

Whatever cod liver oil you choose, it’s important to find one that has a 10 to 1 ratio of Vitamin A to Vitamin D. This is the ratio at which these vitamins are best absorbed and utilized.

Why doesn’t oil pulling work for me?

I wish I could promise that oil pulling would work for everyone, but the more I study tooth health, the more I realize just how crucial a nourishing diet is to strengthen and remineralize teeth.

Our experience was that we remineralized a tooth in a month with oil pulling and a daily dose of cod liver oil, but that was on top of a nutrient-dense diet. (We cook most of our food from scratch, and focus on good fats and proteins at ever meal.)

It may be that supplementing with cod liver oil is not enough for you. Further diet changes and supplementation may be necessary. For instance, if you don’t have sufficient vitamin c in your diet, you can’t absorb enough calcium, which is a building block of strong teeth. Vitamin D, E, A, and K are fat soluble vitamins–if you’re not embracing a full fat diet, it’s likely you’re not receiving or digesting much of these nutrients.

If you want to take further steps toward nourishing your body well, I’ve got great recipes right here on the blog for these two superfoods: whole milk yogurt and homemade sauerkraut. I’ve written an entire series called Your Real Food Journey that talks you through simple steps to adding more real food into your diet. And you can learn what my family’s diet looks like on a daily basis in my cookbook, which has 60 of our favorite recipes for whole foods and nourishing meals.

How can I learn more about a natural approach to oral health?

Although I love helping answer your questions, my experience is limited to me and my family’s experiences. I encourage you to do your own research and offer a few good places to start:

 Have you tried oil pulling? I’d love to hear your experiences!




Hope in the Midst of My Angry Moments

I yelled at my kids again yesterday.

In fact, despite the Lord beginning construction in this area of my heart nearly a year ago, I’m still not perfect. (Imagine that!)

I realized the other day that I needed a refresher on what has whispered freedom to me in the past. So I went back and reread the series on Freedom From Anger that I wrote last summer. Do you know the one? Where I talked about what God was teaching me about my anger problem while I was still in the middle of the mess? Yeah, that one.

{This is where I pause and thank God for the gift of being a writer, because being a writer means His words to me are actually recorded somewhere I can go back and review them when I need to. Which is often.}

He Is Faithful…

When I look back on the truths God gave me last summer, and how little progress (from my perspective) that I have made, I wonder that He doesn’t give up on me.

As a parent, the task of continuing to train my children when they seem to forget what I say as soon as it comes out of my mouth–well, it’s deeply frustrating. But the one thing that gives me hope in the midst of my anger issues, is that He hasn’t given up on me.

Even when I’m in the panting after-math of another altercation, He is at my side, whispering love and forgiveness, hope and direction. Though I weary of the journey, He doesn’t not weary of me. When I feel like quitting, He tells me my heart is worth the fight, and He will keep on loving and redeeming me if I will keep on running to Him.

When I Am Unfaithful…

But there are still days of utter failure, when I lose hope that He will ever accomplish sanctification in this corner of my soul. That was yesterday. Though I began the day with prayer and a sincere resolve to live the Gospel in front of my children, the day spiraled into a much-less-than-cool response to an accident involving falling furniture and broken glass and who-knows-what-else.

After cleaning up the physical mess, and putting the kids down for a nap under Daddy’s care, I retreated from the emotional battlefield with a run into town (life must go on, dinner lacked key ingredients.)

Every way my heart looked, I saw failure and hopelessness. And when I feel like that, I know there’s only one thing to do. I must reach out with squirming honesty to someone who I trust to speak truth into my mess.

So, I called one of my mentors, even though I didn’t even know how to articulate my brokenness. (I knew it would be alright, because this isn’t the first SOS call she’s had from me, and she handles them with the cool of a 911 operator.) And she gave me the gift of listening. Murmurs of empathy. But most of all? Truth.

  • “You can’t mess up God’s plan for your kids or your marriage.”
  • “There’s nothing that humility and an ‘I’m sorry’ can’t mend.”
  • “God is working, which means He is present.”

I hung up the phone and realized the the churning inside me was winding down. He’d calmed the waves yet again. I came home from running errands and apologized to the little hearts in my care. They forgave me with unsolicited hugs. I went through the motions of making dinner and serving it, weary but quiet inside.

He Doesn’t Give Up On Me (Again)

Then a scroll through my Instagram feed revealed a quote that tugged at my heart. A verse came via text message. Then a memory of another passage–and I felt my heart come alive again. And I realized He was speaking to me. He had forgiven me yet again and was ready to continue His work in my heart.

So, this is just me checking in, to report that I’m not perfect yet. That I’m still struggling with anger. And other stuff (imagine that). But this is I have realized and gives me hope: I would have given up by now, but that He has not. I still believe in a coming deliverance, be it sudden or a slow, refining process, because I had evidence this week that He still wants to work with me on this.

And I would remind you of the same truth. You may be tired of working on you, but He is not. Rest in that. Rejoice in that. Hope in His unfailing love.

“…he who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Jesus Christ…” (Phillippians 1:6)

Read more of the truths God has spoken to me on this topic in the series, Freedom From Anger.

The Art of Unblogging

Who are you on the days you don’t publish a post?

Who are you when activity fills up every crevice of your week and you have not time to dance with a pen?

I’ll tell you what you are–you’re an Unblogger.

The Art of Unblogging via @TrinaHolden

Don’t let the negativity of the term fool you. This has nothing to do with UNderacheiver, UNqualified, or UNinteresting.

An Unblogger is someone who embraces time between posts, because waiting is part of the art of writing, and silence will make our words louder. Let me explain:

What Waiting Does To Your Writing

When I want to write a letter to a dear friend, I have two options. One, I can brain dump whatever’s on my mind at the moment, knowing my friend loves me enough that she’ll accept whatever words I have time to write. Or, I can plan for a few days in advance of sitting down to write, collecting anecdotes and quotes, jotting down highlights and “P.S.” material in my journal as I whisk by. When I sit down to write and I have prepared, I bring variety and depth to the letter, not simply whatever thoughts and emotions I have in the moment.

A writer, more than any other artist, is a collector, able to defy time and space and bring together beauty from different days, even different centuries, to present both the question and the conclusion in the same breath, the illness and the remedy, the ugly and the beautiful. No other medium fosters such a juxtaposition of content, delivering the recipient so much dimension in a single moment.

Brain dumps have their place, but a truly memorable epistle involves some time.

My snail-mail-pal embraces the element of time, as well. She writes over the space of days or even weeks, as evidenced by 3 different colors of ink and a postmark much younger than the date on the first page of her letter. A month passes between our letters, but the content is richer for the waiting, fuller for all the life lived between the lines.

I’m realizing the best way to prepare for a blog post is by not writing, by living life fully between posts, resulting in richer, deeper words.

I believe that if we want to truly impact people with our words, we must embrace the art of unblogging.

What Unblogging Looks Like

I’m still reading A Million Little Ways (I told you it was a book to be savored) and recently finished the chapter on waiting.

“Sacred and secret things happen in the waiting. The work is invisible but the result is not.”–Emily Freeman, A Million Little Ways

Her words gave me such peace, and I wanted to share with you how I’m applying them to my art–how waiting applies to blogging.

You may not realize it, but behind the flat, bright front of this blog there has been a lot of striving, folks. A lot of pressure to produce perfection, much effort toward meeting expectations and self-imposed deadlines. Much study of the art and business of blogging, and much application at the expense of sleep and peace of mind.

In the past year, though, the Lord has been gradually focusing my vision for my online space–away from a dazzling little empire that’s a show piece for all the correct blogging practices, to a place where ministry, art, and joy abound–both for those who read, and the one behind the scenes.

What this looks like for you is fewer posts, slower response to comments, and a site redesign that’s gradual, rather than an overnight reveal.

What this looks like for me is days, or even weeks, that I don’t blog. Nights I fall asleep quickly instead of stewing, stewing about this decision or that idea. It’s letting posts sit in drafts till it feels right, not publishing just because my editorial calendar says a post is due. And it’s lots and lots of putting ideas and inspiration for the blog up on the altar–as fast as they come, handing them to the Father to care for them until they are ripe.

waiting is part of the art of writing, and seasons of silence adds depth to our words

That’s the hardest part, you know. Because I’m an idea person–they flow out of me like drool from a baby. You can’t stop it, and it leaves you constantly damp. I have probably 10-15 blog post ideas a day. I used to stress about this feature of my brain, trying to write them all down. Now I let them go–trusting that if its something God wants me to follow through on, He will bring it back to me along with the time required to write it out.

There are days anymore that I don’t look much like a blogger, though I’m more committed than ever to this space. If you don’t see me for a while, know this: I’m just unblogging. Living and writing and praying and reading and embracing the time it takes me to bring you my best. (This post itself took 6 weeks from idea to final draft!)

It’s between posts that we grow and learn and are better prepared for the moments of blogging.


The waiting is part of the art.

As an Unblogger, I come to the computer at peace, instead of harried. I come bearing little treasures I found in the waiting. I offer them to you, hoping you, too might catch sight of the beauty that comes from quietness, trusting, and waiting.

Have you neglected the space and time between the words you write? Have you let the pressure to produce result in less than your best, or even burnout? Have you considered it might be better for you, your art, and your readers to celebrate the space between posts? I’d love to hear if you have felt bound to a certain blogging schedule, and if unblogging seems like a way to breath more freely when it comes to your art.

This post is the third in an unofficial series on finding freedom in blogging. You can find the rest of the series here.


Why I’m Quitting the Facebook Game (And You Should, Too)

It’s all fun and games…until they change the rules (again) and leave you on the sidelines. Again.

Are you plumb tuckered out trying to promote yourself on Facebook? You should be. Facebook has changed their algorithms yet again (no matter when you read this post, that fact will remain relevant) leaving you and your words hidden to all but a few of the numbers you worked so hard to gather to your page.

It’s like a game where your opponent keeps changing the rules every time you get near the goal.

Is Facebook sucking the life out of your blogging career? These stats may help you quit.

In this post I aim to convince you to quit fighting Facebook and I will reveal where I’ve chosen to spend my time instead. But before you think I’m calling you to quit Facebook altogether, let me clarify: I’m calling you to quit marketing your site on Facebook, not log out completely. Facebook remains a great place to connect with friends and family, and it’s the preferred hang out for my mastermind group (we use the closed, private group settings). It’s just not the best place to draw people to your site. Here’s why:

Why You Should Quit Facebook

1. This is Facebook’s Game

Facebook makes the rules on their site. This is just and right. They created it, own it, and maintain it. Why are we freaking out when they do what’s best for their company? Here’s the hard truth (and you have to look at the money to get this): Facebook does not make money on your posts. They make money on ads. Facebook’s goal is to have you stay on their site as long as possible, and only leave through a link they make money on (like ads or boosted posts). So, it makes perfect sense that they would arrange for your tantalizing statuses to be seen by as few people as possible.

The fact is, no matter how great your content, headline, photo, or previous engagement, you can’t get ahead. Because it’s not a level playing ground. This is Facebook’s home field, and they are simply doing what they have to to win.

2. Facebook’s Performance is Below Par

If you were a potential buyer of a sports team, you’d want to know their previous scores, right? If you’re looking at which social media site to invest time in, you should look at how it preforms, am I right? So let’s talk statistics.

  • Pinterest traffic spends 60% more than Facebook users, and Pinterest traffic converts to a sale 22% more than Facebook traffic. (Great Infographic here)
  • Pinterest pins often have a half life of over one week. Compare that to 80 minutes for Facebook and only 5 to 25 minutes on Twitter. (Source)
  • Pinterest’s average montly reach is 2.5x that of Facebook because they do not employ any feed curating strategies such as Facebook’s EdgeRank.
  • 1 % of people who like a brand’s Facebook page actually interact with that page. (Source)

3. Facebook is not a Marketplace.

It’s true that if you look at performance rates for the top social media sites, Facebook seems to outshine them all with higher click through and referral rates. But that is due, I believe, to the fact that it’s the most familiar site for users, and not that it is the most efficient platform for content marketers. The fact remains that the original purpose of Facebook was not content sharing, but interaction. Compare that to Facebook’s fast-growing competitor Pinterest, which was actually designed as a content discovery and sharing utility and I think you’ll see why I’m encouraging you to put your promotion efforts elsewhere.

Facebook may still be your #2 or #3 traffic source. But if you check your Facebook page analytics, you can see that that traffic probably isn’t coming from your Facebook page. The traffic you’re getting via Facebook is from your readers sharing your posts with their friends, not from you sharing your post links on your page. It’s organic traffic, not promotion, and that’s all the difference.

Let’s Stop Playing Games

IF* you’ve been called to a season of growth on your blog, or have a product or message you’re compelled to spread widely, I think it’s clear that Facebook can be one of the toughest places to do the job.  So, what should you use Facebook for? And where should you put all that time you’ve been spending scheduling posts and trying to increase engagement?

  1. Use Facebook’s closed group settings for brainstorming and support with other bloggers in your niche, or with your mastermind group.
  2. Use Facebook for connecting with family and friends (although I would assess whether this is the best tool for updates and pictures, or whether a good, old-fashioned family blog would serve you better.)
  3. Feed your blog’s posts automatically to your public Facebook page to make your posts accessible there without using your precious time.

If Facebook is sucking the life out of your blogging career, it’s time to let it return to a place of conversation, not conversion rates. Once you’ve scaled back and automated your presence there you’ll be free to focus elsewhere. Maybe that’s Pinterest…or maybe it’s not…

I believe the most important strategy for spreading your message is prioritizing the creation of high quality content on your site. When you write the words that only you can write, with a passion and level of skill only possible when you’re not spread way-too-thin on social media, you may be surprised at the impact your words will have, and how far they will go.

*Notice that great big “If” up there? I included that because I really have begun to feel that self promotion is optional and one can still have a successful platform without it. Have you considered ‘going organic’ on your blog (letting all shares and traffic be generated by your readers)? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

Raising Generations Today {The Conference}

As much as I adore my new locale, there’s just one thing that had me asking myself “Why!? Why did I leave Upstate NY?!”

Raising Generations Today

I also asked myself “Why, the year I move away, does an awesome conference finally come to the area–right to my old backyard?” Of all the conferences I’ve been to, this one promises to be the most focused on what is currently my biggest passion and also my area of greatest challenge: motherhood.

Oh, and did I mention, the gal hosting it is my very dear friend and mentor, September? Everything she does is filled with grace and compassion, and her impact on my life in the last two years has brought more joy and peace to my motherhood than I thought possible.

I was more than a tad disappointed that it looked like I’d miss this conference. But my Father, who knows the desires of my heart, surprised me last week when He made a way for me to go. Even though I now live 1000 miles away.

Excited doesn’t begin to describe it. Yikes, I have to NOT think about it at bedtime or I can’t sleep!

Raising Generations Today is an annual conference designed to equip and inspire moms to reach the hearts of their children for the glory of God.

The conference seeks to provide valuable resources, inspirational speakers, practical teaching materials, and multiple opportunities to connect with moms in every season of parenting.

Raising Generations Today seeks to offer hope to women so they may embrace their roles as moms and thrive in every season.

I can hardly believe all this conference has to offer:

  • How to find hope in motherhood
  • How to shape the hearts of your children
  • How to raise a healthy family
  • How to parent as a single mom
  • How to walk through infant/child loss
  • How to instill character education in your child
  • How to choose your child’s education
  • How to manage life through the early years
  • How to reach the heart of your teens

In addition to transforming hearts and minds, we also get to enjoy:

  • A heart full of hope
  • Inspirational messages from keynote speakers
  • Times of worship and praise
  • Fellowship with friends, old and new
  • Shopping on historic downtown Market Street
  • Dessert lounge relaxation and amazing giveaways
  • Special surprise speakers
  • Relaxing Spa Packages for purchase available on the premise
  • Delicious meals you didn’t have to prepare
  • Amazing gifts and flair from our conference sponsors

I’m especially looking forward to the keynote session by Lisa Jo Baker, as well as the sessions from Stephanie Langford on nourishing your family well.

If you are in the area, or able to travel to Upstate NY, I highly recommend this conference. I look forward to meeting you there!!!

Click here for more information about

Raising Generations Today!

March 21 & 22, 2014

Corning, New York

Grab your ticket here!

Gluten Free Banana Split Souffle


We’ve been grain free this week (we usually do this for a stretch each January to jump-start our health for the new year–read about why and how we do it here) and I’ve been getting creative in the kitchen.

Sometimes this is a recipe for my husband to raise one eyebrow and order Chinese take out.

Sometimes we are pleasantly surprised.

This fluffy yet rich, chocolate souffle is a glorious way to eat your eggs. Gluten and sugar-free, as well!

I posted this picture of our breakfast to Instagram the other day, and people are demanding (demanding!) the recipe for what I dubbed the “Banana Split Souffle”.

This fluffy yet rich, chocolate souffle is a glorious way to eat your eggs. Gluten and sugar-free, as well!

I’m only too glad to oblige.

This fluffy yet rich, chocolate souffle is a glorious way to eat your eggs. Gluten and sugar-free, as well!

Especially if doing so gives me an excuse to enthrall ya’ll with cute pictures of my kids happily eating food I prepare. {I believe in celebrating every occurrence of this phenomenon.}

This fluffy yet rich, chocolate souffle is a glorious way to eat your eggs. Gluten and sugar-free, as well!

Souffles are by far our favorite way to eat eggs–and this one raised the bar. It was pouffy and light and magnificent (as a souffle should be), yet satisfying as a brownie.

It’s a glorious way to eat your eggs.

Gluten Free Banana Split Souffle

1. Preheat oven to 350.

2. Put 2 T. butter in the bottom of a deep-dish casserole or a 9×13 dish and place in oven to melt the butter.

3. Meanwhile, separate 8 eggs.

(If you don’t like separating eggs, I just totally scared you away from this recipe. If you do like separating eggs, {as I do} I just made your day. You’re welcome.}

Drip the egg whites straight into the bowl of your stand mixer, or another large mixing bowl. Plop the egg yolks right into your blender. (I’m trying to save you dishes here.)

4. Whip the egg whites till stiff.

5. Add to the egg yolks:

1/3 c. peanut butter
3 T. cocoa powder
2 T. honey
2 ripe bananas
1/4 t. salt

Blend this mixture till smooth.

6. Gently fold egg yolk mixture into egg whites.

Folding means slowly incorporating so that you are not beating all the whipped air out of the egg yolks. I use a wide rubber spatula for this step. Don’t worry if this sounds too technical–if you mess this up, your souffle will still be delish. Just not as puffy.

Mix until you don’t see any more white clumps of beaten egg white, and the batter is smooth and uniformly brown.

7. Pour into the melted butter in your pan and bake at 350 for 25 min. for a deep dish, and 20 for a wider, shallower 9×13. It’s done when you jiggle the pan, and the souffle doesn’t wiggle in the middle.

This fluffy yet rich, chocolate souffle is a glorious way to eat your eggs. Gluten and sugar-free, as well!

It’s kinda hard to take a picture of something so black and rich and chocolately. Oh well, you get the point. We devoured it. Except for Jeremy. He doesn’t like chocolate. Poor guy.

Now all they talk about is souffles. Even Seth (3 1/2) is sounding all gourmet, asking me to make ‘slooflay’. They want me to try a blueberry souffle next. Wish me luck.

Want more breakfast ideas? My book, Real Fast Food, includes our favorite, cheesy Scrambled Egg Casserole (gluten free), Soaked Oatmeal, and Best Breakfast Smoothie!

Back to Writing {For Writing’s Sake}

I have a question for you.

Are you a blogger or a writer?

You may very well be both, but you were one before the other, and I would venture to say that unless you began blogging for the sole purpose of making an income with the tool of blogging, then you are deep down, first, and at the end of the day, a writer.

 And if that is the case, I have some words for you, and me, that need to be said. I need to talk to us writers.

if you were a writer long before you were a blogger, these words are for you...

The Gift of Writing

If you’re like me, blogging was the best thing that ever happened to your writing. It took writing from a solitary experience, with a single moment of satisfaction at the peck of the last period, to a shared experience, the gratification multiplied each time another read your words. Instead of the last sentence being the end of the story, it was the beginning of a conversation. You experienced the thrill of you words impacting someone else.

And it was awesome. So, you became a blogger…probably before you ever claimed the title of writer.

Blogging not only helped you recognize the writer in you, and it also improved your writing because there was accountability—you kept showing up, and you kept practicing. You participated in writing prompts and challenges that pushed you to grow and improve your craft. It was a wonderful thing.

Distracted From the Gift

And then, one day, if you were like me, you read something about making money on your blog. It was presented in such a way, or from such a person, that you believed it might be possible for you. So you began researching and learning and gaining experience. It was a lot of work, but filled with the thrill of discovery, and you got to write—a lot—so you didn’t really notice that you’d jumped into what is now considered a valid career—professional blogging. (If you did, at one point, think it did kinda feel like a job, you thought you had actually figured out how to turn your love of writing into a paying job…and you were almost right.)

Maybe it was a few months, maybe a few years before you realized something was wrong. Your blog was keeping you awake at night…and it wasn’t all good. Between attending an online seminar about maximizing Pinterest, answering emails, negotiating with sponsors, fighting Facebook to connect with people you’ve never met, researching hashtags for Twitter promotion, and trying to figure out Google Plus, you’re maxed out. Not only is blogging taking up most of your spare time (what used to be your writing time), it’s competing (and often winning) against other priorities like family, food, and sleep.

And you can’t remember the last time you just wrote your heart out.

Forfieting a Miracle

Do you know why this is tragic? Because you—and me (I’m writing this to myself, too, you know)—we’re writers. We come from the that part of the Father’s heart that beats best with lots of words present. Good words, holy words, and words that come from we-don’t-know-where when we sit down and just put our fingers to the keyboard. We thrive on words—reading good ones and writing the best we have. We process life through words, we worship through writing, and the best way we serve others often has something to do with words.

But we’ve turned our backs on our first love. On a quest for fame and fortune, we’ve sold our soul.

And this has to stop. Because we’re exchanging our birthright for a bowl of porridge. As writers, we’ve been given the gift of sitting down, putting our fingers to the pen or keys, stepping out in faith and obedience, and experiencing the miracle of having God meet you and speak to you and change you and grow you during the simple process of putting words on paper. (You’ve experienced this miracle, too, right? You’ve sat down to right you-don’t-know-what and an hour later words you didn’t even know you had inside you have formed themselves into thoughts that have led you further toward His heart? Please tell me you have—share the miracle with me!)

Such a miracle—such a gift. Yet we’ve turned away and sought Facebook likes and sponsorships. Spent all our time creating pinnable graphics and courting ad networks. We have assigned more value to temporary, monetary gain than to the gift of being a writer. It’s time to remember what is most important.

What About the Money?

But, you say (and I say), “What about the money? We need money to live! And there’s so much potential, if I could just figure out….”

Is money driving you? Oh, I hope not. Because I’ve taken that ride, and it ain’t fun. Do you fear for your provision if you do not wear yourself thin online? The Lord has whispered this verse to my heart in regards to my blog…

“It is vain for you to rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil for He giveth His beloved sleep.” Psalm 127:2

I’ve tried really hard—so hard to make money online. The problem is, I’ve been just successful enough to make me keep trying. But 6 months ago, my Father said, “Okay, good job—but you need a break. Let me take over—my turn.” Has my income increased? No. But my faith has. My trust has. And my peace. I sleep at night.

(I’m not apposed to making money on my blog–just feeling convicted about pursuing that over my call to write. You will see the occasional add or affiliate link on my sight, but these are low-maintenance, passive income strategies I employ in an effort to be a good steward of my online time.)

Maybe you’re blogging to make a name for yourself? I tried that for a season, too. Until the day I quit blogging for attention and committed impacting the few He brings to my little corner of the internet. (I wrote about that journey in my free eBook More Than Numbers.)

Returning to the Gift

And so we come back to writing just to write. Going back to our first love. Putting words on paper not for likes or pennies or shares, but for the sake of the gift. For how words center us, and draw us toward our Author.

And so I ask you again. Are you a writer? If so, when is the last time you wrote just to write? Just for the fun/agony of it (hurts so good sometimes, doesn’t it?)? Have you mortgaged your blogging soul? It’s not too late to go back (or, better yet, forward) to writing for writing’s sake. There are treasures in this discipline that will never be found in trackbacks or affiliate payouts.

What if you took all the hours you spend each week on social media (sharing, promoting, learning) and focus on simply producing high quality content on your blog? Focus on your calling as a writer, and leave the increase to God.

P.S. Are you ready to try? Not sure what it looks like? Are you a bit rusty at writing just to write? So was I. So I started a private blog (silly, I know, but I type faster than I can write longhand, and I’m impatient to get to the treasure). I wrote 3 posts in one 24 hour period—stuff I’d been wanting to write about, but wasn’t fit for public consumption.

And I got unclogged. Remembered where my writing muscles went, and it felt good to flex. And then I wrote this post. Which I knew how to begin though I didn’t know the ending. I still don’t see the climax, actually, but I know I’ve made progress in pinning down God’s heart for my writing in this season. I put this post on my public blog because I wanted you, too, to be encourage to turn from whatever distracts you and embrace the gift of writing again. Let me know how it goes?