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Tag Archive: Peek Into Our Week

An amazing deal on eggs, Oreo Cheesecakes, and a road trip to Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana

Welcome to my weekly post I share a peek into our lives, talk about things I’m loving, share links to interesting articles or helpful ideas I’ve collected throughout the past week, and just talk about whatever is on my heart! 🙂

This post contains affiliate links and we may be compensated when you make a purchase by clicking through our links. Read our disclosure policy here.

I got the best deal on eggs I think I’ve ever gotten this week. Check out the details here.

Speaking of saving, I was also excited this week because I earned 436 points on Fetch Rewards for my second shopping trip! If you haven’t signed up for Fetch Rewards yet, I highly recommend signing up and scanning your receipts. It’s such an easy-peasy way to earn free gift cards!

(Want more details on Fetch Rewards and how it works? Read this post on How I Earned $5 in Free Gift Cards in 3 Weeks — just for scanning my grocery receipts.)

Since Kaitlynn was off school this week, she had fun doing a number of different crafts and also tried her hand at making Oreo Cheesecakes.

She brought the finished cheesecakes down to me while I was working one day.

They were yummy!

On Tuesday night, Silas had a baseball game and got to play pitcher position most of the game!

We had planned to leave on Tuesday and to go to Florida and New Orleans… but then the hurricane hit and Kathrynne had a lot going on at school and didn’t want to miss any days (her Fall Break was only for Friday through Monday whereas Kaitlynn and Silas got this whole past week off), so we moved the road trip to just be Thursday night through Sunday night.

It wasn’t the week-long trip I had hoped for, but I decided to just be grateful for what we could make happen and to try to make the most of it!

As some of you know, we have a big bucket list goal of traveling to all 50 US states and all 7 continents with our kids by the time Kathrynne turns 18, so we got to cross a few more US States We Haven’t Visited Yet off our list with this trip — yay!

BIRMINGHAM, AL: The Birmingham Civil Rights Museum was sobering… and we have had many good discussions as a result of our time there and at 16th Street Baptist Church. (Note: We thought the museum was over-priced, but I think the $$ goes to the Civil Rights Institute.)

Have any of you been to the Jackson, MS or Memphis, TN Civil Rights Museums and this one? I would love to know how they compare.

The Botanical Gardens were incredible — and we still can’t believe that they are free. We took so many fun pictures together and laughed so hard while trying to get good shots. (We enjoyed our time there so much and would highly recommend it… so much so that I’ll likely do a separate post dedicated to more details on it.)

Saw’s Soul Kitchen was a hopping place (thanks to the follower who recommended it!) and the food was unique and yummy!

WEST MONROE, LA: We finally made it to the Duck Commander headquarters — something Jesse and Silas had been hoping to make happen for a few YEARS.

We did the Duck Commander Tour (we got our tickets on Groupon) and it was interesting to get to hear the backstory to the Robertson family. If you are big fans of the Robertson’s and their TV show, Duck Dynasty, you will likely enjoy this tour.

Personally, I thought it was overpriced, but Jesse really enjoyed it! 🙂

We got to make our own Duck Calls.

And then the kids went outside and tried them out with the little duck pool they have (I’m sure these poor ducks have to endure hearing a LOT of duck calls!)

We also stopped by Miss Kay’s… but were sad to discover that it was too late in the day and had already closed.

The Realities of Traveling as a Family…

While you see lots of smiles in these photos above, I want to be honest and tell you that traveling isn’t always roses and rainbows. Take Saturday morning, for instance: We had driven to Jackson, MS, the night before and had gotten in late only to discover that the fully booked hotel we were supposed to stay in had put us in a smoking room that smelled so pungent we couldn’t even walk into it.

(Silas and I have asthma and can’t be around secondhand smoke, so we spent a long time waiting for them to find a new room for us… Three cheers for the incredibly gracious staff at this hotel!)

We were so grateful to finally crash into bed around midnight. But then, my head cold got a lot worse in the night and I spent much of the night awake and completely miserable.

I didn’t want to get up in the morning because of my pounding head… but I also didn’t want to miss out on this family road trip. So I pulled myself out of bed and went to workout — only to come back to the room to discover that two of the kids had woken up with terrible attitudes.

There was arguing and fighting. There was complaining. (“We don’t want to be on this trip! We just wish we could be HOME!”)

And then traffic was really bad because of Homecoming and we couldn’t find any parking (people were parked on the sidewalk and in the turn lanes on the street!!), so we gave up on doing anything in Jackson and drove to West Monroe.

I wondered if we made a mistake in working so hard to make this road trip happen (we had to rearrange a lot of things because our initial road trip plans fell through due to the hurricane and Kathrynne’s school schedule).

But by some miracle, the day ended well. Jesse got me some meds (I felt like a new woman!), the kids’ attitudes turned around, we had a fun time at Duck Commander, and the kids wanted to pose for this photo above and willingly smiled!

Traveling as a family always has its rough patches and sometimes we wonder if it’s really worth it, but then we end the day with practicing ball room dancing in the hotel room, laughing over silly things, and piled together watching Monsters University… and Jesse and I remember why we prioritize this.

From My Heart…

I’m a world class fixer. Give me a problem and I will move heaven and earth to find a solution for you.

While this can be a great skill when it comes to running a business, it’s not a great skill when it comes to friendship.

Because relationships aren’t projects. People want to be seen and heard and loved — not added to your to-do list as something needing to be fixed.

I’m writing this more to myself than anything… because I desperately need the reminder. If you share your struggles with me, I can immediately jump into fix-it mode. I want to give you a website to check out, a book to read, and the next three simple steps you need to take.

In fact, just a few days ago, a friend who is going through a hard time texted me and said, “I don’t want counsel; I just want to share what I’m feeling.”

Ouch. That stepped all over my toes in a powerful way.

People are not problems to be solved; they are human beings to love.

Yes, sometimes loving well looks like helping to tangibly provide solutions. But many times, it means just listening and providing an empathetic ear, a shoulder to cry on, and a safe place to confide in… all without any long-term agenda or plan for anything other than to love generously and well.

Let’s stop fixing and start extravagantly loving. I think it will probably be a lot more effective! Who’s with me? ❤️

Graphic made by my 11-year-old, Kaitlynn. Quote from 

2018 Goals Update

Personal Goals

1. Read 100 non-self-help books that will build me up/encourage me/inspire me/recharge me. (Fiction/story driven/biographies /inspirational living books/devotionals.) See the list of 44 books I plan to read this year.

**Progress: 65 books read so far this year

2. Read through the entire Bible.

**Progress: I’m using the  and am all caught up— yay!

3. Write one handwritten note to someone every week.

**Progress: 39 notes written so far this year

4. Run 500 miles.

**Progress: 385 miles run so far

Marriage Goal

5. Go on an overnight trip with Jesse without the kids.Jesse and I went to NYC together in January.

Family Goals

6. Read 10 books aloud with the kids.

**Progress: We’ve finished three books so far.

7. Take the kids to South Africa. We took this trip in July. What a memorable experience!

8. Go on a family road trip.While we didn’t get to go on as long of a road trip as we wanted to, we made the most of our Fall Break Road Trip to LA, MS, and AL (and checked off a few more states from our States We Haven’t Visited Yet list!)

Financial Goals

9. Save up to pay cash to finish off an office for me and workout room for Jesse and me in the basement in our new house.

**Progress: The workout room is DONE and the office is almost done!

10. Replenish our Emergency Fund (we dipped into it to replace my car when it got totaled because of the carpet beetle infestation.)

**Progress: We’re halfway to having this fully funded. We are hoping to finish this out before the end of the year — we’ll see!

Business Goals

11. Increase our gross income from the business by 8%.

12. Launch 5 new courses.

**Progress: We launched 4 Weeks to a More Productive Life launched in January, in February, 4-Week Blog Coaching Program in March,  in March, Make Over Your Mornings LIVE in April, the  in May, and we launched  in June!

Mountain goats, baseball, slime, and an Escape Room!

Welcome to my weekly post I share a peek into our lives, talk about things I’m loving, share links to interesting articles or helpful ideas I’ve collected throughout the past week, and just talk about whatever is on my heart! 🙂

One of the highlights of Breckenridge was getting to see mountain goats out in the wild!

My niece, Emily, came up with a creative way to carry her dolly around while we were walking around in Colorado.

We climbed up this fairly big rocky hill… and then the girls had the idea for me to take pictures of them looking like they were falling off the side of the hill.

After I took pictures of them, they wanted me to get in on the fun. And this was one of the pictures Kaitlynn took.

Only problem was, after I laid down flat on my belly on the rock to take it… I couldn’t figure out how to get back up without actually sliding down the hill.

I finally did make it back up on my feet, but it took me a good long few minutes and I was inwardly thinking the whole time, “You’re going to be the news report about the blogger who fell down the rocky hill while trying to get a photo for Instagram!”

Lesson learned: before you decide to stage some crazy photo, be sure you know how you’re actually going to get up from said crazy position. 😉

Kaitlynn was trying to get a contemplative photo of me… but I kept laughing because I felt ridiculous trying to pose for her! 😉

We came home from Breckenridge on Tuesday and the kids went back to school and normal life on Wednesday (read about our Wednesday here). On Thursday evening, Kathrynne’s school had a Meet the Teachers night.

I didn’t know what to expect as she started at this school halfway through the year so we missed all the beginning of the year stuff including this night. I guess it’s a common thing at many schools, but in case you’ve not heard of it, it’s where you get to go through a Day in the Life of you student — the bell rings and you got to their first class with their first teacher for 10 minutes and they talk about what they are teaching, expectations, and just introduce themselves.

Then the bell rings and you move to their next class with their next teacher. And so on and so forth.

We loved getting to hear from all of her teachers and getting to sit in her classrooms and get a feel for what her everyday is like there. It helps us have so much more context for her life. And if your child’s school has this, I can’t recommend it highly enough!

Silas started baseball up again on a new team this year. Jesse is an assistant coach and one of his good friends is the coach. It will be fun to get to hang out with good friends at the baseball field every week for his games!

Kaitlynn had a new friend over this week and they made, you guessed it, homemade slime. Because, of course. Kaitlynn found out that this friend hadn’t made slime successfully before, so she had to remedy that! 🙂

On My Heart…

I’m learning one of the greatest gifts to open up communication with my kids is to be a good listener.

Instead of trying to fix or preach, I’m learning to practice the art of being a quiet listener.

I often ask them, “What was the highlight of your day? What was the hardest part of your day?”

Oftentimes, questions like these will open up a trickle of frustration. Sometimes, it’s more than a trickle… more like a torrent!

Their frustration used to scare me. I’d jump to worst case scenarios: “What if the teacher senses my child isn’t enjoying their class?” “What if my child can’t hold their frustration in and it all boils out in an ugly way when others are around?”

My fear was ultimately about what others would think. Fear of how my child and my parenting would be perceived.

This fear caused me to jump all over my my kids’ frustrations & preach a mini sermons & tell them why they needed to get over it & stop having a bad attitude.

This only served to shut down the communication lines with my child and make them feel like they couldn’t share their heart with me or open up in any way.

God has been doing a work in my heart, helping me to stop parenting out of fear or for behavioral modification.

I’m learning to see the heart of my kids, to truly listen to them, to be okay with letting them air their frustrations & struggles without feeling like I have to go into fixer mode.

The unexpected result is that my kids now often come to me first with their frustrations. I don’t even have to ask!

When they open up to me, I’m learning to listen, ask questions, listen some more, ask them if there’s anything else they are feeling, empathize with them, and ask if I can pray with them or just sit with them and let them know they are loved.

If they ask for counsel or input (or I feel it’s a case when it’s necessary), I will give it — but usually in the form of asking them more questions, processing with them, & sharing what I would probably do in their situation & encouraging them to seek God & think about how He wants them to respond.

It’s a beautiful journey and I’m grateful for how God is changing my heart as a parent.

We celebrated Jesse’s birthday by going to an Escape Room and out to dinner as a family. We thought we actually weren’t going to make it out of the room this time, but we did it — with only a tiny bit of time to spare!

2018 Goals Update

Personal Goals

1. Read 100 non-self-help books that will build me up/encourage me/inspire me/recharge me. (Fiction/story-driven/biographies/inspirational living books/devotionals.) See the list of 44 books I plan to read this year.

**Progress: 55 books read so far this year

2. Read through the entire Bible.

**Progress: I’m using the  and am all caught up— yay!

3. Write one handwritten note to someone every week.

**Progress: 33 notes written so far this year

4. Run 500 miles.

**Progress: 335 miles run so far

Marriage Goal

5. Go on an overnight trip with Jesse without the kids.Jesse and I went to NYC together in January.

Family Goals

6. Read 10 books aloud with the kids.

**Progress: We’ve finished three books so far.

7. Take the kids to South Africa. We took this trip in July. What a memorable experience!

8. Go on a family road trip.

**Progress: We’ve been researching some options for this and are planning to make this happen over Fall Break. Stay tuned!

Financial Goals

9. Save up to pay cash to finish off an office for me and workout room for Jesse and me in the basement in our new house.

**Progress: The workout room is DONE and the office almost done!

10. Replenish our Emergency Fund (we dipped into it to replace my car when it got totaled because of the carpet beetle infestation.)

Business Goals

11. Increase our gross income from the business by 8%.

12. Launch 5 new courses.

**Progress: We launched 4 Weeks to a More Productive Life launched in January, in February, 4-Week Blog Coaching Program in March,  in March, Make Over Your Mornings LIVE in April, the  in May, and we launched  in June!

A peek into our past week, 10 goals for this week, + an update on my goals from last week

10 Goals For This Week
Happy Monday! I hope you had a great weekend!

Ours was quite full, but so good! Our friends, , were driving through TN so we had them over for dinner on Friday night. And then until late into the night.

Saturday, I had my usual early morning coffee accountability coffee date with my friend, Allison. Then, I shopped for supplies for our church’s cafe, did some blog work, and Silas had a baseball game.

10 Goals For This Past Week

That afternoon, it was “Operation Find an Outfit to Wear at Her Upcoming Speaking Events”. 5 things you should know about this picture:

1) (the gorgeous gal in the passenger seat) was the one who introduced Tam to me just a few days after we moved.

2) We will forever be grateful because Tam and her family (including – the adorable girl next to me in the back seat) have become like family to us — some of the greatest gifts since our move to TN.

3) We quickly discovered while shopping that pretty much everything looks good on Tam. However, despite how crazy cute she is in everything, I will still be her friend… Because you just can’t not love her!

4) Dressing rooms were not made for 4 grown women to stand in and try to give input on someone’s clothes. But we improvised and made it work — while having a blast doing so!

5) The best line of the afternoon from Tam after trying on a shirt that was rather unique and drape-y: “you need Google maps to figure out how to put that thing on!”

On Sunday, we got up early to go to church and help out at our church’s cafe for both services. We met a new family this weekend who moved here recently and also started coming to our church, so we invited them to come over for dinner on Sunday evening.

So Jesse headed to take our girls to a birthday party and then he and Silas went Jesse’s softball game, while I came home and got food and the house ready for hosting our Community Group and having the family over for dinner afterward. It ended up being such a great afternoon and evening full of fellowship, great conversation, and new friendship.

Here’s an update on my goals from this past week:

Marriage/Mothering/Homemaking Goals

1. Take the kids on a field trip to the Nashville Zoo.
Freezer Cooking in an Hour

Freezer Cooking in an Hour

We had a lot of fun on our outing with friends to the zoo! It was a beautiful day and I was very impressed with the Nashville zoo.

2. Write a love note to Jesse.

3. Continue working on developing the habit of obedience in our home (I attended the at the recent homeschool conference and it’s really motivated and inspired us in our parenting. We’re choosing the habit of obedience to implement in our home for the next 6-8 weeks. Just a week of working on this and it’s already made a big difference. Watch for a snippet of the workshop.)

Personal Goals

4. Exercise at least 5 times.

5. Finish at least two books.

6. Listen to at least two inspiring audios/podcasts while working/driving. (I’ve recently been challenged to do a better job of using those little cracks of time throughout the day to fill my mind up with good things and things that make me think and analyze life.)

10 Goals For This Week

Swoon. Got to hang out with adorable Ezra and the amazing for a lunch date last week. I was so in love that I didn’t even know Jessica took the top picture. Be still my heart. He kept smiling and cooing at me… And I’m smitten. Also, I think his mama is just downright incredible. So fun to talk books, blogging, business, babies, and balancing with her over a yummy lunch.

Local Ministry/Hospitality/Friendship Goals

7. Have a lunch date with a friend.

8. Have friends from out of town over for dinner.

9. Finish reading a friend’s manuscript & writing an endorsement for it.

Business Goals

10. Outline/write 3 substantive blog posts for next week.

10 Goals For This Week

I did a little freezer cooking session last week: two pans of bacon, two loaves of Banana Bread, and some Trim Healthy Mama Pancakes. I’m so happy to be back into the swing of Freezer Cooking again… I have missed it and I’ve been reminded as to what a difference doing a little cooking ahead can make in our lives.

{More details and pictures and recipe links from my freezer cooking session coming tomorrow.}

This week’s goals:

Marriage/Mothering/Homemaking Goals

1. Finish buying all of our homeschool curriculum for next year.

2. Write a love note to Jesse.

3. Have a date night with Jesse.

4. Continue working on developing the habit of obedience in our home (I attended the at the recent homeschool conference and it’s really motivated and inspired us in our parenting. We’re choosing the habit of obedience to implement in our home for the next 6-8 weeks. Just a week of working on this and it’s already made a big difference. Watch for a snippet of the workshop.)

Personal Goals

5. Exercise at least 5 times.

6. Finish at least two books.

7. Listen to at least two inspiring audios/podcasts while working/driving. (I’ve recently been challenged to do a better job of using those little cracks of time throughout the day to fill my mind up with good things and things that make me think and analyze life.)

Local Ministry/Hospitality/Friendship Goals

8. Plan out summer drinks for our church’s cafe.

9. Finish reading a friend’s manuscript & writing an endorsement for it.

Business Goals

10.Finish the final edits for the course handbook for our new online course.

How did you do on last week’s goals? What are your goals for this week? I’d love to have you share your progress on last week’s goals and your goals for this coming week in the comments. Of, if you’ve blogged about it, leave your direct link below. Let’s cheer each other on to live purposeful and productive lives! You can .


A Peek Into Our Week: Turning our home into a film studio!

We had a full week last week and I finally have a chance to sit down and write a recap of it! Here are some peeks into our week to give you a behind-the-scenes look into our daily lives…

After 5 years of training, I now have my own in-house breakfast chef. Fried eggs are his specialty and he can make them completely by himself now (I just oversee since it involves a stove!)

Moms of littles, it might feel like all you do is change diapers and clean up messes and cook food and wipe noses and fold yet another load of laundry and feel constantly pulled in 15 different directions. But hear me on this: someday soon, all that effort and training and work is going to pay off. And even though right now it might feel like that day will never come, it will. Don’t give up! It will be worth it!

All on her own, Kathrynne decided she wanted to start helping Silas learn how to read. He’s been discouraged because blending and phonics don’t come easily to him (unlike math) and he really wants to learn how to read.

So Kathrynne asked me if while I continue to work with him on phonics and sounding out words, she could teach him some sight words so he could at least read more than the handful of words he knows now.

Seeing them work so hard together on this just touches me deeply and blesses this mama-heart in big ways! These are the mothering moments I will forever treasure!

On Monday afternoon, I went to the coffee shop to soak in a little quiet before a busy week of filming began. It’s always good to get some writing and blogging work done and write love notes to some of my favorite people.

{One of my goals for 2015 was to write a love note to each of my kids every month. It’s a simple thing, but the act of stopping to reflect and express appreciation and admiration not only can deeply impact another life, but it’s also so good for your soul. If you are too busy to stop and say “thank you” and “I love you” — you are just plain too busy.}

A Peek Into Our Week

Tuesday, we spent the day prepping our house for the film shoot, spending hours meeting about the scripts for each of the videos– revising/rewriting/and editing, etc. — and then our team went out to dinner that night.

These two girls and all their hours and hours of behind-the-scenes work made the filming possible. I am incredibly grateful for all they invest in my life on a daily basis (Joy is and Ashley is my brand-new, amazing executive assistant!)

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Wednesday, we filmed all day long. And I truly mean that. 🙂

We started at 8:30 a.m. and I got done around 9:30 p.m.We had a few short breaks, but we were mostly working every minute of that whole entire time. I will have a whole new appreciation for well-done videos and course and films in the future!

Whew! It was exhausting and it took me awhile to find my groove, but once I found it, things got easier and easier as we went along.

I learned so much from this film shoot — what works, what doesn’t work, and how I need to better prepare. Hopefully, the next time we attempt a project like this, it will go much smoother as a result of what we learned!

For those of you who are wondering: we filmed 14 “days” of videos on a subject I’m fiercely passionate about: using your mornings well to set your day up for success. It was a lot of work, but it was worth it because we truly believe the final product will be one that powerful impacts and inspires thousands of lives! I can’t wait to share it with you very soon!

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A Peek Into My Week
On Thursday, we shot hours of our every day home and lives in action. From our morning routine and making breakfast (in our PJs) to homeschooling to reading aloud to household chores and much more, we wanted to give you a really authentic look into how our mornings run.

It was another very long day, but it was fun and stretching — and such a blessing to get to do this as a family. Our kids learned so much about film and production today and were such troopers for all the takes and re-takes we did!

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On Friday, we had a pretty laid-back, family day. And then I took this beautiful girl to get her hair done all fancy for the Father-Daughter dance at church.

She had a BLAST — not only getting all fancy, but also getting to have a very special evening with her daddy! I failed to get pictures of she and Jesse when they were all dressed up, but they had professional pictures taken at the dance, so I can’t wait until we get those back!

Saturday morning, I woke up at 3:40 a.m. to catch an early flight to Denver to go see some of my dearest friends: , , and . I was supposed to get into Denver at 11:30 a.m. However, it turned out to be a crazy morning of mishaps and airport fiascos and I didn’t even make it to Chicago until after 10:30 a.m. and then had to wait for the only available flight out to Denver from Chicago — 5 1/2 hours later.

But instead of feeling frustrated over things that were outside my control, I decided to choose gratitude and just enjoy the quiet and opportunity to read and write than an unexpected long layover at the airport afforded me!

The four of us have spent the last two days laughing, crying, talking, laughing, crying, and just soaking up the opportunity for all of us to be together. These girls are some of my dearest friends and we’ve been itching to get together — especially because we’ve been walking through Michele’s cancer and surgeries and chemo and radiation with her and it hurts our hearts so much that we all live in different states. Watching Michele suffer and struggle and go through so much has been incredibly hard for each of us these past few months, so to finally be together again has been very healing for all of us.

We are also excited to be here to celebrate the launch of (it officially releases today!). I’ll be sharing more about her book and how it’s impacted me later on this week. For now, I just want to encourage you to . It is truly one of the most well-written books I’ve ever read.

If you (or someone you know) is going through a really difficult time right now, I cannot encourage you enough: . You will laugh, you will cry, and you will be so encouraged by her words and story.

How was YOUR week this past week? Tell us about it in the comments!

A Peek Into Our 12-Day Road Trip

It feels like we were on a road trip the whole month of August. Truthfully, it was only 12 days… but that’s a long time to be on the road! And it came right after a 5-day roadtrip to North Carolina and South Carolina, so that made it feel longer than it was, I think.

We’re not quite finished with road-tripping, because we’re headed back to South Carolina next week. I was planning to fly there for a few days to spend time with a few of my close friends, but as we looked at the map and realized it was well within an easy day’s driving distance, Jesse suggested we just drive and he’d take the kids sight-seeing during the days I was with my friends.

It’s weird because we used to not really be a road trip kind of family at all. But I think as our kiddos have gotten older and now that Jesse and I are both self-employed and can work anywhere, we’re probably going to become more and more of a road-tripping family.

Our kids love visiting new areas and studying the history, we can homeschool on the road (our core curriculum this year is the for the girls and for Silas), and we’ve learned how to travel very inexpensively by using hotel points accrued through my business travel (we always sign up for the rewards programs for everywhere we stay and it’s amazing how quickly the points have built up this past year!), gift cards earned through Swagbucks (in big part to the many of you who have signed up through my referral link! Thank you!), and looking for the best deals in whatever area we’re going to be traveling to.

The first stop in our 12-day trip was to spend the week with my entire extended family on Bull Shoals Lake. This is a yearly tradition that we’ve had even before I was married.

Our kids had a blast being with all their cousins on my side of the family. It’s so fun to see them all growing up!

The highlight for me of our time at the lake was going jet-skiing with my husband. It’s been a big year for us as a family and there have been many hard moments in the midst of some pretty big life changes, and I’m so grateful that our marriage has stayed strong through it. Truly, I love my man so much more than I did than when I married him 11 years ago… and I didn’t think that was possible.

{Note: That does not mean that there haven’t been many tense moments and harsh words and even all out arguments. Trust me, we’ve had more arguments and fights in the past three months than we’ve probably had in our whole married life, but we’re truly growing together instead of apart. And I’m so very grateful for that. Our commitment these five things have been key to helping our marriage stay strong in the middle of the storms of life these past few months.}

Another wonderful memory of the trip was when my older sister (Brigette), my younger sister (Gretchen), and I somehow managed to all fit on the tube at the same time for a wild tube ride courtesy of Dad, the boat driver. There was much laughter, squealing, and holding on for dear life, but we had a blast! 🙂

After our time at Bull Shoals Lake, we headed for a day and a half in Springfield, MO to take a breather. And trust me, when I say “breather”, I mean that quite literally.

We slept, we watched movies, I worked on my next book some, and we just totally took it easy for a day and a half. We’ve found our kids need some “down” days on longer vacations otherwise it’s just too tiring for them and then that turns into a cranky situation… for kids and parents alike. 😉

We then went and met up with Jesse’s extended family in Branson, MO. Growing up, we went to Silver Dollar City just about every single year from the time I was a toddler. We have so many, many wonderful memories there and we’ve tried to take our kids there every year to carry on the tradition of my childhood.

After going to Disney World for the first time earlier this year, I realized that, for me, Silver Dollar City is one of my “happiest places on earth.” {Yes, I know, sorry Disney. You don’t hold a candle to Silver Dollar City, in my humble opinion.}

Word to the wise: if a ride at Silver Dollar City warns you that you will get bathtub wet, they aren’t kidding. We had so much fun, so it was worth being sopping wet.

{I was so soaked, I went in the restroom, and wrung my clothes out. I probably wrung out at least a few cups of water. I kid you not.}

Our last stop in Missouri: Bass Pro Shops… One of the boys’ favorite stores in existence. I’m pretty sure they could spend hours in there and never run out of things to look at. 🙂

As for me, I chose to have a cheerful attitude and go along with it even though it’s one of my least favorite stores. And it ended up being a fun family outing!

And this is my favorite picture of the whole trip. Why? Because it represents me punching my fears and “I can’ts” right smack dab in face. And it gives me courage to continue to showing up and living with wholehearted courage. You can read the story behind this picture here, in case you missed it.

How have the past two weeks gone for you? Did anything interesting or exciting happen at your house?

Peek Into Our Week: FlameFest Ball, New Hairstyles, Growing My Nails Out, SheSpeaks Conference, Family Roadtrip, and Homemade Latte!

It’s been a full two weeks and I’m finally getting a chance to do a recap post… and wow is there a lot to recap!

I went to IL to speak at a . It was held at the Hyatt Lodge at the McDonald’s Campus (the McD headquarters, I guess?) Guess what kind of coffee they served at the hotel? Cracked me up to drink McDonald’s coffee from a McDonald’s cup — at a HYATT no less! 🙂

I was the keynote speaker at the Flamefest Ball on Friday evening, so I had fun getting dressed up for the occasion. 🙂 And I also learned a really powerful lesson about courage that night. Read it here.

I flew home Saturday morning. I was supposed to get in before lunch, but after multiple flight delays, I ended up getting back into town about three hours later than planned. But that’s just life sometimes, isn’t it?! I’m learning to roll with the punches… or at least I’m trying to! 🙂

On Saturday evening, we went to hang out with our good friends and neighbors, the Hodges. We spent the evening talking, laughing, sharing, and eating delicious homemade salsa and fresh-baked cookies.

While we were there, other friends dropped by to bring us all boxes of cookies and stayed to regale us with hilarious stories. Have I mentioned how much we are loving and being blessed by the community here??

Kaitlynn found a tutorial on YouTube for making homemade lip gloss with crayons and coconut oil and just had to try it. She made it almost entirely by herself — and it turned out really well!

This girl constantly impresses and inspires me… and I’m so grateful for the beauty and creativity she adds to our home and life!

Move over, Starbucks! I am so excited that I finally learned how to make her own DIY Breve Latte — without a Latte Machine. And it is delicious!! Get the recipe here.

It was cloudy and overcast one day… Perfect for snuggling up on the bed and reading chapter after chapter aloud together while the kids created with Legos. I love quiet, at-home days!

You know what warms my heart so much? It’s amazing young people like who love on our kids.

We had another fun neighborhood get together at the Hodges house and while we were at their house, Kass gave Kaitlynn a makeover. You can imagine little fashionista Kaitlynn thought was the best thing ever!

I hope both of my daughters grow up to be as generous, kind, and warm as Kass is!

I began last week feeling a wee bit overwhelmed with everything that needed to be done, so I took a deep breath, made some Good Girl Moonshine and painted my .

It might seem weird to stop and do something like that when I had a long to-do list to tackle, but I’ve found that sometimes, when you feel like there’s too much to do, making yourself stop and breathe for 20 minutes is the best thing you can do. At least it’s definitely much better than hyperventilating! 🙂

{Also? I think I’ve discovered the secret to growing my nails out!! Not only does it involve keeping them painted in cute colors, but it also involves . Somehow, going public with it, has made me much more disciplined about actually letting them grow out. And every time I look down at my longish nails, it makes me so very happy! So anyway, thank you all!}

We left six hours earlier than planned on Wednesday morning to head to North Carolina for me to attend the SheSpeaks Conference. There were storm clouds and rain much of the drive — which is my favorite weather to drive in!

I spent the drive wrapped up in this favorite blanket of mine, reading a good book, having discussions as a family, and getting in some blogging work since I was able to get good wi-fi in the car through my phone’s hotspot.

Peek Into Week

It’s really impossible for me to put into words just how blessed, refreshed, and filled up I was by being at SheSpeaks.

Spending time with these two women was one of the biggest highlights. Not only did we have deep conversations about heart things and struggles, but we also did a whole lot of laughing since both Edie and Ruth are hilarious — especially when you get them both together!

I think I’m sore from all the laughing we did, but it was so very worth it! We only wished that could have stayed longer than just one day!

Lookee whose book just came out in paperback?!?! I’m so stinkin’ proud of my girl, , and all the amazing things she’s doing!!

Her book, How to Blog for Profit Without Selling Your Soul, is truly the BEST blogging book I’ve ever read.

It’s available as an ebook on Amazon or the new and expanded paperback version should be available on Amazon next week.

It was so fun to get to spend a little time with the amazing A.J. Gregory! She ghost-edited my last book, Say Goodbye to Survival Mode, and I’m so honored to be working with her again for my next book.

We’ve been mulling over the next book’s concept for months and are so excited to finally be ready to jump in and start the intensive writing process together. I think you’re going to LOVE the topic — or at least *I’m* super stoked about it! 🙂

Our plan is to have the manuscript finished by December 1 of this year and, if all goes according to plan, it should be in bookstores by the beginning of November 2015!

Peek Into Week

Listening to is always a huge inspiration to me. I love her to pieces! If you’ve not had the chance to listen to her speak before, you are majorly missing out!

Peek Into Week

I won’t lie: the reason I went to SheSpeaks was because Ruth was speaking. So yes, I may have been having trouble containing my pride and excitement while she was up on the stage.

A few months ago, Ruth and I were talking on the phone. I was celebrating with her that she was going to be speaking at the SheSpeaks conference — a real honor to be asked to be apart of, but one Ruth was wholly deserving of.

Then she said something that I totally hadn’t considered, “You should come, too.”

Since I try to limit my traveling to only a few speaking/business trips per month, I didn’t think it would work out. However, my husband knows just how much Ruth’s friendship means to me and he concocted a plan to make it work, because he’s amazing like that. Truly.

His idea: we turned the trip into a family roadtrip/visit with my sister and her family who live nearby in South Carolina. While I was at the conference, he did fun activities with the kids and spent time with my sister’s husband and her kids.

Peek Into Week

These are some of the beautiful ladies I had the chance to get to know better at SheSpeaks. (who created the adorable Scripture cards above) is just a doll. Ruth and I instantly loved her! {Photo credit: }

{And notice my Cents of Style tee in the picture? I bought it during the last sale they ran on their t-shirt line and I absolutely adore it!}

Peek Into Week

One of the highlights of the conference was getting to see my dear friend, , kill it in her morning keynote. I can’t tell you how blessed I am to know this woman in real-life.

This was my first opportunity to hear her speak in front of an audience, so I had to try to keep it together so I didn’t bust out with loud proclamations like, “Isn’t she AMAZING?!?!?” 🙂

I just LOVE these girls! Each one is a true gift in my life! Oh the laughter, memories, stories, deep conversations, love, heart-to-heart talks, cups of coffee, and experiences we shared at SheSpeaks! We may not have gotten much sleep, but it was so very worth it!!

We capped off the conference with a late night (and into the wee hours of the early morning) PJ party in a hotel suite most of us had shared together during the conference. It was a blast.

The above picture makes my heart feel like it just might burst. These women are some of the dearest women I know and we are committed to walking alongside one another in this journey and adventure of life. Their friendship is a true gift.

My family re-joined me at the hotel on Sunday and we spent the day sleeping and taking it easy before we drove over to meet up with my sister and her family.

All the cousins had a fantastic time being together. They are old enough now where they mostly play together really well and it’s so fun to observe them!

The dads took all the kids on Monday evening and Brigette and I went out shopping with a few gift cards we had. We tried to see how much we could get without spending any money out of pocket. We got some great deals, had a lot of fun, and only went a few dollars over the gift card amount at one store. Score!

Afterwards, we came back to their house, put all the kids to bed, made snacks, and then stayed up way too late watching a movie. I knew we could all sleep in in the morning, so it was worth the late night. 🙂

We got up late this morning, took our time getting around, and left for home around noon.

It was a mostly uneventful and relaxing 8-hour drive home: rocking my first messy bun (thanks, YouTube!), enjoying some yummy and fairly healthful snacks (who says the gas station only sells candy bars and soda pop??), listening to my favorite playlist on repeat, knocking out some blog projects thanks to more good wi-fi in the car, and soaking up the beautiful scenery.

All in all, was a great trip, but it’s also so good to be HOME!

We’re happy to be back for the rest of this week so we can spend time with friends here and catch up on laundry and sleep before we leave again for a trip to Arkansas and Missouri next week. 🙂

How was YOUR last week (or two!)? Anything interesting or exciting happen at your house?