Ten Questions for 2017

Tyler and I have a tradition that has become one of my very favorites — a Christmastime we go on a special date + share through our year. We talk about what the Lord has done, all that has happened, where we’ve been. We consider our sufferings and hardships; the aspects of life that we struggled and stumbled through. We praise the Lord who gives grace upon grace.

This year, to prepare for our evening, I wrote a list of questions to frame our discussion. Then, I recorded our answers in my journal. I am excited to read through our conversation next year and see how the Lord has moved through our lives, making His glory known and our paths straight.

We reflect over our year with the intent of praising the Lord and realizing that it is ONLY HE who has done all of these great things in our lives, that ONLY HE upholds us with His righteous right hand, and that it is ONLY HE is worth this whole thing – all of the messy and mundane and really hard is worth it because ONLY HE is worthy.

So as you go into the new year, I invite you to reflect with us through the questions we considered. And I pray in the end you SEE and SAVOR Him.

Questions to ask about 2017

What did you learn about yourself?

What did you learn about the Lord?

In which relationship did you well invest?

Which book that you read this year was the most impactful?

– What song

– What sermon

– What event

What scripture did the Lord continually bring back to your memory throughout the year?

What is a real regret do you hold? (Release it the Lord – 1 John 1:8-9)

Who is it that you need to ask to forgive you?

What are

– three reasons

– three people

– three things

that you can celebrate?

Whatever word the Lord gave you at the beginning of the year – reflect on that. Is it accurate? How?

What other questions, reflections, considerations do you want to record about this year?

This is the only photo we have of us after our great night out at Humble Pie and Hayes Barton Pharmacy ❤️🎄

merry christmas, every one

Praise God from whom all blessings flow 


Praise Him all creatures, here below! 


Praise Him above, ye heavenly host! 


Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost! 


Not to us, O LORD, not to us – but to YOUR NAME we give GLORY, for the sake of Your steadfast love + Your faithfulness. 

O God we bend our knees, we bend our hearts, we bow our heads, we bow our worship before the Newborn King, come to us, the Gift of all gifts, and we praise the Savior and King, Jesus Christ our Lord. Glory Glory Glory to the Newborn King! Glory Glory Glory to the Savior of the World! Glory Glory Glory to Immanuel, God with us! Glory Glory Glory to Christ, who IS LIFE.

Friends and family, we wish you the merriest Christmas, we pray that you grow in the love and knowledge of Jesus Christ, and are filled with the fullness of Him, – filled to the very brim of your soul, even overflowing, – who fills all in all, so that you too with us can sing, Praise God from whom all blessings flow, from now and into all eternity.


christmas . home

A few years ago, I walked around my house and took quick photos of each room to show to a friend who had moved far away. We both loved taking care of our home and particularly loved decorating them for Christmas – she would often decorate the day after Halloween! – and even though we couldn’t stop by each other’s homes, it was fun to share our festive spaces with each other through our ever-open text conversation.

I realized it was fun for me to see the progress we had made around our new home – to see that yes indeed we had painted the room I wanted to paint, and, oh!, what good-looking new bedding after feeling like we might just keep whatever we had before we got it. These quick photos acted as a reminder and even memorial stones for all the Lord had done in and through our little home. So, I since that time a few years ago, I have excitedly anticipated the day in December that I would walk around and snap photographs of each room in my home.

This year we spent more time and money and effort on the outside of our home – we got a new roof! and Tyler built a tree house – it’s so cool and I cannot wait to show you soon! But even at that, especially with having Haddon in our home, there have been so many changes – even changes that aren’t documented, because as you might know, things change so quickly with a baby in their first year. First it was his little baby swing, then the play floor mat, then an exersaucer, and now it’s a fun space ship tent that takes up the living room’s corner. (And that’s only one little space that’s happily affected by Haddon!)

I at least remember – if it wasn’t the case, oh well! – that there would be this one magical day when each room in my home would be clean at the same time and the weather would be sunny, with sunbeams streaming into my sparkling clean home, and that was the glorious day I would take the pictures.

However this year that magical day did not come to pass (well, at least it hasn’t yet, and I don’t think it’s gonna, girlfriend!). But so many magical in many other ways days have come along and they are filled with spread-out legos, strewn around toys, piled up dishes, folded laundry, construction paper and crayons everywhere, pirate hats and firemen costumes by the back door, and a stack of books by the couch.

I’ll take it! These are the magical days and they are not exactly sparkling clean but they are exactly sparkling.

SO without further ado, here is my home this year, this Christmas time, and I am so glad to share these photos with you, friend.

I stuck this little cute guy (the flocked tree) right on top of all of Tyler’s books that decorate his desk, which is conveniently located in our foyer – welcome home! 
This pinboard, a gift from a friend that I have totally appreciated, has been full all year of the boys’ church and school crafts, with Christmastime being no exception. I proudly hang their crafts, and then I privately decide which ones to keep and which ones… not to 😉 
Ok, so admittedly not very Christmasy, but this is the view you get when you come into our home from the side door – and these are the $12/each chairs the Lord gave us before we got married, and we are still rocking them! 
Our stocking are hung by the chimney with care…
I have had this tiny nativity since I was a young girl, and I might have (stolen) it from my mom when we got married… Did you give it to me, mom?
Our Tree!! This year we decorated with white lights, colored ornaments, and a new tree topper from Target’s Hearth and Hand with Magnolia – Thanks Chip and Joanna! I love this galvanized Moravian star! 
Every morning I light the candle and softly play Christmas music. We enjoy both during breakfast and throughout the day. 
Mom got me a new advent candle holder that I planned to wrap in fresh greenery… well as you can see that didn’t happen! But I did put those clipping that precious dish, which was a gift from Tyler’s grandmother to us that she received when she got married – it’s one of the two valuable things in our home and I naively place it in the middle of our kitchen table! 😉 – and those oranges… well, after reading An Orange for Frankie, we just had to have some on our table. 
These lights are from my sister’s wedding a few years ago, and they have happily decorated my dresser all month long. I think they might stay out through the wintertime. 
A Christmas gift from my mother-in-law last year, I got to set out this sweet nativity for the first time. Whenever Haddon is in our room, he points to the sheep, so we Baa! like one 😉 and it’s not only sweet and decorative, but also funny! which is fun fun fun.
Both Tyler and I are reading this gem of a book for Christmas. 
I bought the snowman Christmas felt garland the day after Christmas the Christmas before Tyler and I got married (tracking?) and I never thought that it would hang in our children’s room – how “more than I could have asked for or imagined” is that!? 

Merry Christmas from our home to yours!

a chocolate tasting party + a story


Peppermint Chocolate Ganache Cake with Peppermint Crunch Recipe 


“Jesus is Sweeter than Chocolate”

A couple of years ago during Advent season – which is the time before and leading up to Christmas – I filled a big glass jar with small silvery Hershey’s kisses. To participate in Advent, Tyler or I would read our little family a part of the Bible’s Christmas story after supper. When he was finished reading, we would pray, thanking God for Christmas, for sending His Son Jesus to save the world, and then I would pass out one kiss to each little boy and in a momma’s sing song voice say –

Jesus is sweeter than chocolate.

I come from a long line of chocolate lovers and grew up with grandmothers, great aunts, and mommas… mostly women 🙂 declaring their love for the delectable stuff.

And even at my great aunt’s funeral a few weeks ago, there was a glass dish full of her favorite, the silvery wrapped chocolate candy.

I have embraced this love, and many nights you can find me on the ouch, a square or three of dark chocolate in one hand and a sip of red wine in the other.
For a few years I was apart of a bible study where the teaching leader, Emily, often declared her personal affection for chocolate – chocolate anything! bars, cakes, ice cream, you name it – if it was chocolate, she loved it. I knew this was the group for me!

And as thought about what kind of Coventry Court Christmas Party I wanted to have, I considered – what do I like?

The answer was obvious – chocolate!

I hope chatting with one another has been fun – if there’s something I love to accompany my chocolate it’s a good conversation with a good friend! – and I hope you have been enjoying the variety of chocolate shared tonight (I have been delighted to sample your favorites!)…  aaaand

Just like my bible study teacher taught, and just like my Mama Bud knows, and just like we sing to the boys…

Jesus is sweeter than chocolate.

My bible study teacher – sure she spoke of her love for chocolate, but so much more she proclaimed her love for Jesus.

My Mama Bud always passed out Hershey’s kisses but even more so she offered the love, grace, and sweetness of Jesus to me and everyone who entered her home.

With our sons, we wanted to gift them with a small, delicious reminder as they tasted that Hershey kiss that yes indeed Jesus’ love is sweet, and even sweeter than that piece of candy!

Jesus is God’s Son, born to the virgin Mary and adoptive daddy Joseph, and Jesus came not to condemn sinners, but to save sinners. He kindly leads sinners to say sorry for their wrong doing an tenderly leads them to right living. Since we all are women who have done wrong – it’s you and me, girl, who He came to save – in His kindness, His love, His sweetness.

You and me – we are both known and loved by God. And this is proven at the Cross where Jesus, 32 years after He was born to his momma, dies to pay the penalty of our sin. Death is the penalty of sin against God, but instead of us dying for our own sin, Jesus died in our place. He knew you and me were sinners – He knows! and He loves you and me so much He died save us from sin and death.

Just like my bible study teacher, Emily, and my great aunt Mama Bud, you and me can know and savor His sweet love for us, too.

In the Bible John 3:16 declares, “For God so loved the world – so much, and in this way! – that He sent His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him – Jesus – will not perish, or experience soul death, but will have life eternally.”

In the Bible, 1 John 1:9 reads, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

John 3:17 continues, “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through Him.”

and Psalm 37:4 reads, “Taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed are those who take refuge in Him!” 



what we do with santa

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I sincerely love Coca Cola’s Norman Rockwell-ian illustrations of Santa 

The other evening with good friends we were sharing all this Christmas related, and the topic of Santa came up. Some of the girls have children grown, and they shared what they did. Some of the girls – like myself – have little ones, and we are still creating our own family culture, deciding what our family’s traditions will be. It was intriguing to engage this discussion of what to do with Santa.

(Now if you didn’t realize this was a discussion, or anything to think through, that’s ok! – but here’s the list : As Christian parents, how should Santa be introduced, acknowledged, and affirmed, or apart of, our Christmas celebration, which, for Christians, is primarily the celebration of Jesus’ birthday.)

I thought it might be helpful, and at least interesting, to share with you how we approach Santa 🙂 and to do that, I am going to share an article with you, because it is this article that cemented our thoughts and directed how we celebrate Christmas, and what we do with Santa.

—> Should You Tell Your Kids The Truth About Santa 


So let me know what you think about this article. How do you as a Christian parent engage Santa and the Christmas holiday?


PS : Did you watch the entire video in the link I shared above!? Did you know the original Saint Nicholas fought against female sex trafficking!? 




life-giving home . december . christmas + the year’s end

‘Why do we celebrate? … Because we need to remember the eternal. Some realities – like Christmas – demand a response of heart, of soul, and even appearance. We need to celebrate Christmas so that we feel – in heart, in touch, and in memory – the full weight of   the reality.’ – Sarah Clarkson, Life Giving Home, December

When we celebrate, we engage heaven. we engage the eternal. We enter into the the reality that this is God’s world, not our own, that He is the One who saves us from ourselves and our sin and the awful domain of Satan, that He is the One who loves us and preserves us and makes and re-makes us, not we ourselves, not some other magic potion or perfect formula.

Jesus down to every little jot and tittle is THE reason for the season. for the celebration.

So when you breathe in the scent of warm apple pie mixed with sizzling bacon and delicious hot cocoa, when you walk through the biting cold and brisk winter wind, when you watch a love open in delight their gift, stick your face close to Jesus’ and breathe Him in, feel Him all around you, see Him in every shadow and sunlight and surprise. Stick your face to His and see Him. Savor Him. Share Him. and Celebrate Jesus Christ, the newborn King.

As I conclude this time in Sally Clarkson’s The Life Giving Home book, I pray that I live by all the Word exhorts my home to be… that my home could be, would be, a little window into heaven, a little taste of glory divine… even in the piles of laundry (I’ve begun to see piles of gold…), even in the dirty dishes (I’ve begun to notice full bellies and happy hearts), through the handprinted windows and walls (decorations I could never afford, priceless to me…), grace upon grace upon piling grace… I pray,… piling all the way to heaven, all the way to Home.

Home, this morning . 9:53A Friday, Dec 15th . 2017 / the boys are playing outside / the baby is sleeping / tyler is hard at work / here i am…



Haddon’s 1st Birthday . the story of his psalm


This photograph in the hospital on the way home is proof that we were absolutely elated to have and to hold you, darling Haddon. Welcome to the world! 


Before he was even born, I sifted through the pages of the psalms, searching for a psalm for Joseph Haddon. I offered my list to Tyler. And as he read through the different scriptures, he said – I think this one. Me, too. Me too.


oh Jesus thank you for Haddon

A year ago today he entered our world, our family, our hearts and we are forever transformed, from glory to glory, into your image, into the likeness of your Son, by this little life, this little gift, this little baby You gifted us.

Through this new life You have re-shaped and continued to make new each one of our hearts.

We have learned how to love in new ways; how to protect and care in new ways; how to prefer one another in new ways… how to love new, little, fragile, growing life. What gift to learn together!

I remember when the ultrasound-lady told us you were a boy. I was floored with excitement.  I was floored with His purposeful ways, leading us through deep waters and dry deserts.

As I flipped through photographs to include in this post, I saw a photo of a phone conversation with Tyler – I whispered to him through text…

“Hope deferred makes the heart sick. And my heart is sad and sick and waiting is wearing on me.”


Here we all find ourselves – Lord, let us find ourselves here! – waiting and sick and heartbroken. We pray we find ourselves here because it is in these fragile moments that You come. Grace comes and heals and saves and binds up and Glory shines through us, and Glory becomes us. And Glory is all around us.

If we never find ourselves wanting and waiting and without, sick and sad and sore from sin and hopes deferred, then we will never find ourselves in Christ.

God takes what was meant for evil and transforms it into Good.

This reality – this is your reality and my reality! – hush ups my heart and floors me with humility. Hush up and Worship and Hushes me into Rest and Ushers me into Glory.

How can this be? Mary asked…. How can this be, Lord, I asked….

And then one day, suddenly and silently and almost without warning, baby. 20 weeks later, another boy. His name – Joseph Haddon. And four days past his due date, after two days of giving thanks with both sides of the family – there he was! in all of his screaming beauty and hungry holiness. Thank you, Lord.

We chose Psalm 146 for Haddon because it begins similarly to both Leland and Grafton’s psalms. We loved that when we chose Grafton’s psalm, it was almost an exposition, or a commentary on, or a more full description of, the blessed man in Leland’s psalm one.

Psalm 146 begins “Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord, O my soul! … and in verse five, it reads, “Blessed is he…” so this Psalm is about praising the Lord and the blessed man who praises the Lord, who lives his life in fear of the Lord.

We desire this – we pray this into – Haddon’s life – that he will be a man who praises the Lord, who is blessed because his help is the God of Jacob, because his hope is in the Lord his God.


Psalm 146 Put Not Your Trust in Princes

1 Praise the LORD!

Praise the LORD, O my soul!

I will praise the LORD as long as I live;

I will sing praises to my God while I have my being.

Put not your trust in princes,

in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation.

When his breath departs, he returns to the earth;

on that very day his plans perish.

Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob,

whose hope is in the LORD his God,

who made heaven and earth,

the sea, and all that is in them,

who keeps faith forever;

who executes justice for the oppressed,

who gives food to the hungry.

The LORD sets the prisoners free;

the LORD opens the eyes of the blind.

The LORD lifts up those who are bowed down;

the LORD loves the righteous.

The LORD watches over the sojourners;

he upholds the widow and the fatherless,

but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin.

10  The LORD will reign forever,

your God, O Zion, to all generations.

Praise the LORD!


Reading through this psalm, you might have noticed how many of the verses hearken God’s work in Israel’s history, and while I don’t think this psalm specifically mentions Joseph from the book of Genesis, the Lord “executes justice,” “gives food to the hungry.” The Lord “sets the prisoner free” – who is it but the Lord who set Joseph free from the prison!? The Lord opened the eyes of the blind and Joseph was elevated to a position of power, not according to his plan, but as he feared the Lord. “The Lord lifts up those who are bowed down” – this description of the Lord was so evident in Joseph’s life. The Lord fed the Egyptians, the Israelites, and even his own brothers who disowned him years before through Joseph’s wise, proactive, God-given plan.  And we pray the Lord’s character will be so clear to our Joseph Haddon. “The Lord loves the righteous” “The Lord watches over the sojourner” – Joseph was loved by the Lord; the Lord watched over him even as he traveled far from his own country. Joseph didn’t have his father with him for a long time, and in the end, those who had risen up against the Lord, and against Joseph, were brought to an end. Joseph lived a life that trusted not in princes, but feared and trusted in the Lord, and his legacy declares “The Lord reigns forever, your God, O Zion, to all generations. Praise the Lord!”

This scripture also could describe Joseph, adoptive father of Jesus, and that too is precious to me.

And this psalm, along with both of these Joseph’s godly models, undergirded by the character of the Lord, gives us such a holy desire to pray His Word into our Haddon’s life.

We pray that through whatever sort of life God gifts our son with, his life will praise the Lord; that he will be a blessed man who fears the Lord, and that his legacy will praise the Lord throughout all of the generations.

Each night before I lay our growing son down in his crib, I whisper in his ear…

“Praise the Lord.”