Summers are for…cousins!

Summers are for…mud!






Summers are for…candy!


Summers are for…hammocks!


Summers are for…quick naps wherever you can get ’em.


Summers are for…s’mores!


Summers are for…late nights.


Summers are for…slumber parties!


Summers are for…video games!

And if you’re really lucky, summer is for all of those things with your cousins!


If you’ve started reading my book, you’ve probably noticed the startling lack of parenthesis. OK, no you haven’t. The lack of dashes? Commas?? Ummm…nope. Fine, I admit it, I like punctuation. I like it a lot. Except exclamation points, I have to force myself to use those. Well, not on Facebook. When on Facebook, I wink and exclaim like a mad woman.

Like a mad woman, I tell you!!!!!   ; )

The reason my book is not drowning in parenthesis is because El was one of the first to read it. She kinda set me straight with the whole, “This is a book, not a blog,” line. And alright, she didn’t really say that. I was inferring the parenthesis.

But y’all know I love ’em, parenthesis (saying what I really mean inside of what could have been a shrouded yet punchy sentence). I just didn’t realize how much I loved them.

I’m also pretty crazy about italics.

This week, though, I had a very eye opening experience while brushing my teeth (meaning I couldn’t answer, I could only nod).

“Hey Mom,” Bay Bit sneaked up behind me.

“UH! Uh-uh,” I mumbled through foam.

“How many days until our date?”

“Hhee,” I held up three fingers.

“Oh, OK,” she smiled. “I thought it was two days (cause yesterday you said it was three days). Remember when we went last time and I got macaroni (well, we said we wanted a steak but then we decided it was too expensive so I got macaroni) and it was really good?

I nodded.

“Well, I liked the macaroni (even though we really wanted steak), but next time I want something different (but I know we can’t have the steak). Are we going to go to the same place (I liked that place but you said we might not go there next time)? It’s OK if we go somewhere else (I know it’s really fun to just go out without the other kids, I was just wondering), are we? Also, are we going to have pancakes for breakfast (cause Lil Prince says he wants pancakes, but I like oatmeal, and Tiny Dancer wants cereal)?

I spit. And I smiled.

Like mother, like daughter (I guess).

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Buy the Book (pretty please)!

It’s here, that day I’ve promised you for the past few months–the day I’ve dreamed of for the past eighteen years, I guess (except that,  back then, I never dreamed I’d be writing non-fiction). You do what God asks you to do, though. At least that’s the goal–the plan. So, God told me to write a book. In one month. And what’s available now is a result of the bare bones book that was built in those thirty-one days. But it’s not only a result of that month. After the book was written, I did what every self-publishing author should do. I hand-picked the dream-team of focus groups and started my own publishing company.

Today, I’d like to introduce you to my team.

Ashley is a mama to twin girls who are nearing two. She’s a firecracker and a sweetheart all rolled into one. She’s currently working on a book of her own which Whatever is Lovely Publications is eager to release when the time is right. For now, you can be blessed and encouraged by her blog.

Tiff is also a twin mama and is the mother to four. She is my “bulldog of faith”. When I begin to doubt or stumble, I approach Tiff with fear and trembling–and she proceeds to knock me around a bit (in love). If you don’t have a friend like Tiff in your life, go find one. And you can find Tiff herself on her deeply hilarious blog.

Ellyn needs no introduction, as you all probably know her at least as well as you know me. She’s the mother to six (five on earth and one in heaven), and she just remarried her one and only. I was honored to have her write the foreword to my book. You can find her blog here.

I’ve known Renee for the past six years. And unlike the three above, I knew her in real life before we were bloggy friends. Renee is upbeat and encouraging and fun. You can read about her life with her two adorable Latin men on her blog.

Danielle is a homeschooling mama to four. I think she brings a little sanity to the group, though she’s too nice to admit it. Danielle was one of my very first bloggy friends and has been a tremendous source of encouragement to me. Like everyone mentioned above, Danielle read, critiqued, and prayed over my book. But Danielle also gave of her time to design one of the most gorgeous book covers I have ever seen! Danielle designs and blogs. You can find her blog here.

Of course, Danielle would be the first to admit that she couldn’t have designed my cover without Cammie’s handwritten contribution. When God first gave me the book title, the word “lovely” immediately made me think of one of my very favorite people and the namesake of my youngest daughter. Cammie is the foster mother to twin girls and her and her husband are on staff at The Prayer Room in Ft. Worth, Texas.

Beth, oh, Beth. Beth is my first cousin once removed (did I get that genealogy right, Grandpa?!) Beth is a homeschooling mom and a real teacher (English Major). She’s a fellow grammar geek and was the only person I would have trusted with my book editing. Now, you can’t blame Beth for the final outcome of the book because her stubborn younger cousin held tightly to “the final say,” but 31 Days to Lovely is about 5,000 words longer and 100% better because Beth was kind enough to critique and question every weak area of the book. You can find Beth’s blog here.

And there you have it! Without further ado, I’d like to introduce you to Whatever is Lovely Publications’ very first book–my first book: 31 Days to Lovely!! 

31 Days to Lovely is now available in Kindle and print formats. I recommend the print version complete with journaling pages, because this book is truly designed to be a journey. If you’ve already downloaded and read the Kindle version, please review it on Amazon!


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Funny Dreams

You know how when you’re a kid and you get back from summer camp, the first day home is a major bummer? We can all remember back that far, right? Well, I’ve laughed several times at the day-after-the-high feeling I’ve felt today. Not a major bummer; but noticeable, nonetheless. Cause yesterday was totally awesome! I decided to offer my book for free for the first full day it was available. I believe in this book, so I figured the goal was just to get it out there and then rely on word of mouth. Well, in the fourteen hours in was advertised as free, it was downloaded 1,265 times. And when I Facebooked about how fast they were going, a friend did something I would never have thought to do and checked the Amazon Kindle Best Sellers’ List. And I was on it! In the free category with hundreds of other books, 31 Days to Lovely made it to #5 in Religion/Spirituality, #3 in Christianity, and #1 in both Christian Reference and Christian Meditation. God just never stops surprising me, y’all!

Today was much less eventful. Although, I have heard from a few of you who are already enjoying the book. I cannot even begin to tell you what that means to me! Tonight, I took half of my first set to dinner. My anniversary date with Bay Bit reignited a Mommy and Me Date Night tradition that I had sadly let fall away. Cuddle Bug was the last of the big kids to have a date; but we’re now making this a regular Friday night tradition, so they’ll each get a date once a month.

To kick-start communication, I’ve asked each of them about their goals and dreams. I asked Lil Prince what he dreams about, and he somehow steered the conversation to video games and I was forced to smile and nod because I really had no idea. But, at some point, he said something so funny that I laughed out-loud–really loudly. At that, he giggled and grinned from ear-to-ear. “You’re so funny, buddy!” I said.

“You know why I am so funny?” he asked, still giggling and beaming.


“Cause I dream lots of jokes,” he said, “there are lots of jokes in my dream!”

“There are?!”

“Yeah, and I’m so funny cause I just say the jokes from my dream!”


A little later in the evening, I started telling him about a famous evangelist after whom he was half-named (he was named after a grandmother who shared a name with an evangelist). About thirty seconds into my description, Lil Prince’s eyes widened and his jaw dropped. “That’s IT. Now I know it!!” he yelled (and I shushed him).

“Now you know what?” I whispered.

“Now I know what I’m going to be!!”

And then I melted all over our nachos.

Tonight, I sat with a very grown up looking Cuddle Bug. Every last one of my kids big kids are grateful, conversational joys when they’re alone. We talked about life and love and how she wants to be a doctor when she grows up. I love that, since “doctor” only means helper to her and is in no way associated with income. I told her that I’d always wanted to be an agricultural missionary, and she asked me when I was going to get around to doing that.

On the way home, we stopped by the gas station to pick out an $.89 candy in lieu of dessert (can’t beat that!). She grabbed her very first bag of Pop Rocks, and I’m only sad that I missed her expression on camera. She finds joy in the little [popping in your mouth like a science experiment] things! I think she gets that from me!

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I’d just like to take this moment and thank God for electricity!

Home photos will start sneaking in more and more, I promise. The living room is almost ready to share, even though there are many more things I’d like to do to it. But here’s a sneak peak at my biggest problem area: the kitchen. It’s pretty big and has tons of potential. Right now, though, there is: old wallboard and wonky cabinets. There is not: a dishwasher, a disposal, or an oven. But I wouldn’t say I’m exactly roughing it.


…or, that it’s keeping me from cooking!



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Last Night

Yesterday was my ninth wedding anniversary. We’re still officially married, so we’ve been officially married for nine years. Of course, I’d like to shave off a few, but that’s not the way it works. I wasn’t sure if the day would be hard for me and if I should plan some sort of distraction. For all our hard times, this was our very first July 13th to ever spend apart (since we’ve been married, of course). But it wasn’t hard. I woke up, thought of the first morning I woke up with my engagement ring on my finger, thought of the way Papa Bear looked at my hand every second for those first few weeks, thought about the secrecy of our wedding day…and I just turned over in bed and smiled. I still smile when I think of my husband. And, for better or worse, I hope it’s always that way. People can think I’m naive if they want to, that I don’t know the road he’s walking…that I either am or choose to be blind. That’s fine. If I choose to see my husband the way I believe God would have me see him–through His blood–I guess I’m going to have to take the hardships that go with that.

But last night, I took my youngest daughter to the nicest restaurant in town. As we sat with our chicken parmesan and our macaroni and cheese, me with my Shiraz and her with her Sprite, I explained to her that, “This is the day I married your daddy.”

“You married Daddy here?!”

“No, not here. I married your daddy on this day nine years ago.”


“Every year, Daddy and I have gone on a date to celebrate the day we got married. And this year, I wanted to spend that date with you.”

‘Why?” she smiled.

“Well, I think you’ve been needing a special date. And this is a very special date. If I hadn’t ever married your daddy, then I wouldn’t have you for a daughter. So, no matter what happens, this will always be one of my very favorite days. Because I love you, oh so much!”

At that, she leaped from her seat to hug me. I should have been prepared for that; she’s a hugger. I wasn’t prepared. So, we both just sat there and sniffled. But just for a minute, then we were back to girl talk and fabulous food.

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