Thursday, March 29, 2012

Created for Care 2012

First, please forgive me for being MIA yesterday.
Yesterday was one of those days at our house where I was doing REALLY WELL to just function and was happy when we'd all survived at the end of the day. You know the kind? Good, let's be friends.

So, TODAY (not yesterday....clearly), I want to fill you in on my weekend.
Let me just say that I am literally bubbling over with good things to share, so picking and choosing what makes it to the highly anticipated (don't ruin this for me. I like to think that all of my posts are highly anticipated. And they my mom. Hi, Mom.) blog post is tough stuff. This weekend was wonderful in so many ways; one blog post simply won't do it justice. This is me attempting to give you even a glimpse at what I experienced.

First, it was PEACEFUL. No little ones calling my name like it's going out of style; no dog stealing our clothes and running off with them through the house while my children and I chase him screaming (it's seriously a wonder no one has called the police on us some days what with all the screaming. We are loud. I plead the fifth.); no responsibilities other than enjoying every possible minute. This reason alone was worth going.

I mentioned last week that I was travelling with a group of Mississippi girls. Here we are in all our glory. From left to right: Emily, Meaghan, Meredith, Jill, Mimi, and me. I adored getting to know each of these ladies during our eight hour to and eight hour from Atlanta car rides. All though we didn't know each other prior to this weekend, I cannot tell you the joy that I found in spending time with women who share my heart for the orphans of the world.

Of course, I also LOVED all the vendor booths and mission organizations that had tables at the conference. There are so many ways to get involved and make a difference. I'll be talking about this and sharing some ideas of ways to help very, very soon. Meeting with the representatives from the various organizations was truly one of my favorite parts of the weekend; there are so many amazing people out there trying desperately to lend a hand to the orphans of the world.

And I know what you're thinking: just how many Africa shirts DID I BUY? Well, dear friends, I am proud to report that I only bought one, but with the retreat t-shirt that was included in my registration plus the two awesome new friends I met who each gave me one of their shirts, I came home with four. The hubby is happy, and you KNOW I am happy about this. I feel an Africa shirt fashion post coming on..... I also bought a new book. I'll be finishing it tonight and reporting on it to you within the next few days. But if you're in a bookstore between now and then, go ahead and get a copy. Pretty you'll want one asap once you hear what I have to say about it (aka, it's WONDERFUL and God has used it to show me several things that I can't wait to share with you).

I also had the chance to meet this precious girl. We've been blog and twitter buddies for a while now, so it was so nice to finally meet her in person. Her name is Amber, and you can read more about her here.

Here I am with Meredith. We'd talked several times prior to this weekend, and it was so great to FINALLY (after a few failed attempts) meet in person. She is so fun, and I can't wait to be at the airport when she and her family bring home their little one from Ethiopia!

And here I am with Jill. She is easily one of the funniest, most honest people ever. I loved getting to know her. And I HATE that she and her hubby moved away from our town just before we moved TO our town; we could have so been friends.

And, last but not least, here we are after the drive home with Meaghan's new van.....we totally bonded in that van, so taking a picture with it was just the most natural thing to do.

And before you go, here are my top five favorite things I heard this weekend:

- God always redeems our suffering.
-ALL of your story matters!
-Whatever God has given you, that's your story. Whatever it is, go with it.
-We do not follow the call; we follow the one who called us.
-God is bigger; look to Him.

I simply didn't realize how wonderful it would be to talk with people who understand the way I love Africa. While my friends are supportive and wonderful in regards to this, there is just something so great about talking with people who truly understand. Who get it. Who feel it too.

Coming soon:
Amazing People Doing Amazing Things
Ways to Help Right Where You Are
My 2012 Resolution to Slow Down, and How I'm Failing Miserably at It
-7: My Review and Why You Should Read It

See you then.

Here's hoping your Thursday is the Tonight will be filled with Libby's first grade play and Chinese food. Who's excited? This girl.

Monday, March 26, 2012

I Just Need a Minute

Hello, lovelies.
So, I'm home.
And it was wonderful.
While I'm busy holding my eyelids open with toothpicks, I wanted to just tell you a few snippets before I take time (hopefully tomorrow) to post about all that happened this weekend. Why am I not posting this today, you ask? Well, I just need a minute...a minute to process, absorb, decipher, and take it all in.

So for today, a few snippets will have to suffice.

First, the praying for Africa in our house is about to reach a whole new level. And can I just add that I was truly blessed when I was reading to Hollyn tonight (while wearing an Africa shirt, by the way), and she pointed to the Africa on my chest and said in her precious baby voice, "Attrita, Mommy!" That's right, baby girl. It's 'Attrita'.

Second, when you live in a small town and don't get out much (guilty), you sometimes forget just how many amazing women are out there working to make a difference. So many inspiring stories and potential friends. I love meeting new people, and this weekend did NOT disappoint in that department (or any other, for that matter).

Third, did you know that coffee, when consumed in large amounts, can keep you going when you literally feel like you could sleep until next Tuesday? Today is living proof.

It's 8:30, and this girl is wo'out. Tomorrow. Wait for it. See you there. Sleep tight.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

He's Planning Something Big....I Just Know It

God is up to something. I just know it. I can feel it. And I think it's something good.

As I'm getting ready to head out in the next few hours for the Created for Care retreat, I am overwhelmed from head to toe with a desire to step and do something to make a difference in Africa. It's not just a desire; it's a calling. I am being called. I've never said that before in my whole life....not ever. But I am. How and what He wants me to do I'm still trying to figure out, but He does, and I will.
Pray for me this weekend that perhaps God will use this time with Him to point me in the direction of His plan? I would be forever grateful.

A few randoms before I head out:

-  Did you know today is World Water Day? I've been thinking a lot lately about how I take water for granted. That has got to stop. If you would like to know more about how you can help provide someone in the world with clean water, you can check here, here, or here just to name a few.

-Two of my favorite bloggers are planning big things in terms of ways to help in Africa. Check out their blogs here and here to learn more.

-This is one of the best blog posts I've ever read. Love her and her views on motherhood.

Here's hoping your Thursday was the best one you've had in a long, long while and that I can exhibit some self-control and not come home with ten new Africa shirts. This will be a true test. While I can pass up clothing in the store any day of the week, I have a soft spot for Africa shirts. Not purses or shoes or expensive jeans. Africa shirts. I may or may not be addicted.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Chocolate Socks: An Interview with THE Holly Durst

Last week I had the honor of interviewing THE Holly Durst, and it turns out I was right:
she really IS best friend forever (aka the notorious bff) material.
 Need proof? This should take care of that.

This picture is being borrowed from Holly's website. It was too adorable to not use in this post.

1. She is SO nice. Like, we were only supposed to talk for fifteen minutes and we talked for more like thirty kind of nice. And I'm pretty sure we could have easily kept going. Love, love, love her.
2. She was at home doing laundry while we chatted it up, probably folding her socks while I went on and on about how we should be friends.

3. She is not only working a full-time job at her soon-to-be-hubby's dental office, but she's also promoting her book AND planning her upcoming wedding. Hats off to you, Holly; that's some serious multi-tasking.

4. After I tweeted the link, Holly read my blog post about her. She offered to answer all of my silly questions. While I didn't entirely take her up on this for fear of running out of time, I DID ask her where she shops. I couldn't help myself. Have you SEEN her? She's adorable all. the. time. Her answer? Forever 21. Girl makes magic things happen there, apparently. She may or may not be my reality star hero.

You love her already, don't you?
Yup, I thought that might do the trick.

Well, her book arrived in the mail the other day, and I couldn't get enough of it either...must be some of Holly that rubbed off on it.

After just one peek, Libby was smitten.

And in case the cover doesn't make you want to RUN to your nearest bookstore or hop on over to to order your copy, maybe this will.

Here's what Holly had to say about her book:


Holly: Finding a publisher. Everybody tries to publish books. I sent several letters in to so many places. I was going to end up self-publishing it.It beats up your self-esteem. And I actually met with someone about how the self-publishing process works, and they picked it up to publish it.


Holly: My favorite was Chicka Chicka Boom Boom.
I got it for my birthday and memorized the whole thing.


Holly: The book is really to encourage children to follow their dreams. I really hope they don't stop because someone tells them it's a crazy dream.


Holly: The wedding! Not a book project, but a huge project.


Holly: Be patient! Patience is key. It took me six years to accomplish something I wanted to do.


Holly: Emily Giffin. She's written five, and I've read them all. I actually met her right before Bachelor Pad at a book signing. She looked at me and said, "There's something about you." She was right, I did have a big backstory. After the show, she wrote me on Twitter and follows me there, which is crazy. She has inspired me to write  a novel.

We also talked about crazy fans and the things they say, Dr. Seuss, and whether or not we'll be seeing more of Holly on The Bachelor or Bachelor Pad. She's not sure about that one, but I sure hope so. Needless to say, I think Holly is just wonderful, and her new book could not possibly be any cuter.
It's a sweet little story about a girl who combines her two favorite things and really encourages kids to follow their dreams and use their imaginations. The pictures are fun; the language is fun; the story is fun. I highly recommend giving it a looksie. AND, if you order it from Holly's website, she'll sign your copy for you. Can't beat that.

Here's hoping your Tuesday was the best of all Tuesdays.
 Only three days until I leave for my retreat.
 I CANNOT wait. Have I said that already?

Monday, March 19, 2012

So Excited I Can Hardly Function

If you've been around here for a while, you know that I have a heart for Africa. Over the past two years, God has opened my eyes to the many hardships that are being faced every day, and I am literally sitting on pins and needles (okay, so not LITERALLY, but you get the idea) to help.
And this weekend, I'll hopefully be one step closer to making that happen.

You see, from Friday to Sunday I will be attending the Created for Care Retreat in Georgia, where I will get to hear from some of the most widely known ministries and organizations that work to bring help and relief to the orphans around the world, with many of them focusing on Africa. I'll also get to fellowship with over 400 moms who are itching to help with orphan crisis as well.
 Added bonus: I'll be riding with five other moms who want to make a difference.

Note: I know not one person least not in real life. However, I've e-mailed and talked on the phone with a handful. Blog friends count as 'real friends', right?

Anyway, I am already wishing this week away and hoping Friday gets here STAT; I was ready to yesterday.

Created for Care, I can not WAIT to see what God has in store this weekend.
Here's hoping my heart and mind will be stretched in ways I can't even imagine.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Our Spring Break in Pictures

Spring break is officially over, but it sure was fun while it lasted.
In short, it looked  little something like this:

Here's hoping your break was as full of yummy treats and fun moments as ours was.
Happy Sunday funday to you and you and you.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

30 in my 30's: #28

When I made my 30 in my 30's list, #28: Learn More About My Grandmother's Childhood was one of the items I was most excited about checking off my list.
So, when I was shopping with mom a few weeks ago and saw this:

I just had to have it.
I passed it on to my G-momma, and she's already started filling it out, writing about her life and answering the specific questions the book asks.
It's like a diary except with prompts.
Love it.

And so does she.

She's promised to answer them all, which will pretty much cover everything from her childhood to now with every imaginable topic.

Because I so, so, so can't wait.

Here's hoping your St. Patrick's Day was green from start to finish; no pinching at my house.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Miss, Miss, Missing

Here's the deal. A few weeks ago I visited my best friend, the infamous Kara Leigh. While that was great and wonderful and spontaneous, we'd originally planned on me visiting her this week. Therefore, this week I've been consumed from head to toe with how much I miss her smiling face. It's like my body is on autopilot to her house, and I'm trying hard to override it. But, have you ever been successful at overriding autopilot? Yeah, me neither.

So, instead of attempting to distract myself I'm taking a few minutes of my day to wallow in the self-pity that is I MISS MY BEST FRIEND.

Things I'm missing most of all today:

-Laughing until I almost wet my britches over any and everything. (It's a proven fact that everything is exponentially funnier when you are with your best friend.)
-Sitting in her car til the wee hours of the morn (baby monitor included, of course), listening to my i-pod, and calling it a night out.
-Borrowing each other's clothes like we're in college all over again.
-Happily allowing her to match my clothes for me; girl has a gift.
-Squeezing on her babies.
-Telling jokes only the two of us understand.
-Being with someone who remembers what I was like before my days consisted of "No" and "Stop That".
-Window shopping for ourselves because we spend all of our dinero on our kiddos.
-Staying up late, getting up early, and not caring one little bit.
-Her making this face:

Am the only one missing my best friend today?
Surely not.
Do tell, readers of mine, do tell.

Happy Wednesday to you and you and you.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Art of Being Patient

If I were a tattoo kind of girl, which I'm not (no worries, Mom),
the tattoo I'd get would say something like this:

(Picture from here.)

(Picture from here.)

(Picture from here.)

Because, you see this face?

It belongs to a girl who has absolutely no patience whatsoever.

Seriously, I am lacking to the fullest extent in the patience department in virtually every aspect of my life.
This is bad for several reasons.

First, it causes me to miss out on fun moments because I get so caught up in waiting for what's next to come; it makes me miss out on the NOW.

Second, it makes me grumpy. Having no patience is no fun at all.

Third, and most importantly, it makes me seem unappreciative of God. I am a firm-believer in the idea that God's timing is WAY better than anything I can ever come up with, and while I'm sure He has something great in store for me, when I'm impatient about His timing, I'm also ungrateful of His plans.

And while I'm working really, really hard to try and be better at the waiting game, I'm currently failing miserably. Anyone else out there struggle with this? I'd love to hear how you work at being patient during time when it's really, really tough to wait.

Here's hoping your Tuesday is full of great things.
If you need me, I'll be blowing up Twitter and working to find every possible distraction while I work on  waiting patiently.

The Difference a Year Makes

This was my daily life last year.

It's okay; you can be jealous.
Really, I get it.
Messy babies are cute.....especially when you aren't the one having to clean up their messes.

And while I'm in no rush for her to grow up, this is one area of growth I will gladly welcome to our home.

Less mess; more funny moments.

For reals, this kid is some kind of funny.
The other day she woke up in the middle of the night and somehow magically ended up in our bed.
Still not sure how that happened.
Anyway, I woke up the next morning to her saying,
"Mom, smell my stinky feet. Smell 'em, Mom. They're stinky."

Silly, less messy than before, baby.
Oh, how I love her....and all of her messes....and her stinky feet.

What are YOU loving today?
Please share.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Lasagna Roll-Ups {A Recipe}

To top things off, it's SPRING BREAK!
 This means lots of time spent in my jammers, an overload of Toy Story 3, quality reading time, and a life lived at a much slower pace. All of these things are making me exponentially happy this Monday morning.
I always being out of school (I teach, not attend, fyi) because it means I have more time to enjoy the things I do daily, such as cook dinner. Here's a recipe I love that I plan on cooking later this week.

 Bloggers, today I give to you lasagna roll-ups.

For this recipe you will need:

-1 lb. sausage (browned and drained)
-1 carton ricotta cheese (I use low fat.)
-1 egg
-2 or so cups of mozzarella cheese
-1 jar marina sauce (any kind you like)
-12-15 boiled lasagna noodles (it's good to have a few extras in case some break in the spreading or rolling process)

Once you've browned your sausage, mix the ricotta cheese, egg, and sausage in a bowl. It will look kinda gross, but don't let that take away from how yummy this will taste when you are finished assembling it.

Once this is mixed well, lay your lasagna noodles on a flat surface. If you look closely, you'll see that I always put mine directly on my clean counter top.

 (Tip: once you've boiled the noodles, don't drain the water; it will be easier to get the noodles out without them breaking if you remove them directly from the water onto your flat surface of choice.)

You will then spread the mixture onto the noodles as evenly as possibly.

Next, carefully roll each noodle/mix and place it in a greased Pyrex.

Once your Pyrex is full (usually about 10-12 roll-ups),  cover them in marinara and top with mozzarella cheese.
You will then bake this for about 25-30 minutes at 350 or until the cheese is melted, and it's nice and bubbly.

Reasons I love this:

-it's easier to serve than regular lasagna because it's already divided into individual servings.
-the sausage gives it a nice little kick that regular lasagna is often missing.
-everything is cuter in small packages.

Eat and enjoy.

Also, tonight's the season finale of The Bachelor. While I won't be watching because I'm not a fan of Ben, I WILL be thinking about my upcoming interview with Holly Durst. While I've gotten some great question ideas via e-mail and facebook, I'm still looking for one or two more to ask her on Thursday. Any ideas? You can leave a comment and learn more here.

Happy Spring Break Monday to you and you and you!

Today I'm linking here, here, here, here, here, and here.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Holly Durst, My New BFF

Raise your hand if you watch The Bachelor.
It's okay to admit it, I promise.
It's my guilty pleasure.
And although I haven't watched much this season (don't shoot me, but Ben just isn't my favorite), there have been a few participants I have just LOVED over the past few years.
Like, I honestly think we'd be best friends in real life.

Holly is one of those people.

Bloggers, in case you haven't already met her, this is my soon-to-be new bff, Holly Durst.

No, I'm not some totally crazy stalker.
I AM however, going to be doing a review of her newly released children's book, Chocolate Socks, next week. They've sent it my way for review, and it should be on my doorstep any day now.

It gets better though....

I also get to INTERVIEW Holly!

Like, we get to talk on the phone....for fifteen minutes as designated by her agent or publisher or publishing company or whomever it is that sets up her interviews about her new book.

The hard part:

When I submitted my request to interview her,  I never in a million years thought I'd get chosen to actually interview her.....and I now I'm not sure what to say exactly.

I mean, I'm sure once I read her book the ideas will come flowing at full force,
but right now all I can really think to ask her are these three burning questions:

1. Holly, do you regret the way things went down with Michael (aka my FAVORITE guy to ever step foot in the Bachelor house. Love him. Love Holly too though, so this is a tough one for me)? By this I mean, do you regret him finding out you were engaged on national television?

*Can't ask her that.*

2. Holly, how stinkin' excited are you about your wedding to this handsome fella, Blake the adorable dentist, as I like to call him? How many babies do you want to have? What color are your bridesmaids dresses? Where are you going on your honeymoon? Oh,and where do you shop because you are serious all kinds of adorable?

(Yes, I realize that's five questions posing as's how I roll.)

*Again, can't ask her any of this.*

And finally, I'd really like to ask her:

3. So, ummmmm, Holly....can we please be bff? Because I'm pretty sure it's written in the stars.

*This would be the point where she'd hang up on me. I can't let that happen.*

So, you can see, I'm in a bit of pinch, and I'm calling in reinforcements.

If you had fifteen minutes of phone time with Holly about her new book (or her personal life, in case I get brave and try to sneak one of these questions in there somewhere in a way so discreet I'm sure she won't notice), what would YOU ask her?
What do you want me to ask her FOR you????

I need help.
Pleaseandthankyou so very much.

Now to go and pray that I don't:

a.) giggle uncontrollably
b.) freeze in a state of starstruck panic
c.) ask ridiculous questions that are boring, overly asked, or both
d.) all of the above

If you guessed D, run right now and reward yourself with a cookie, because YOU, my friend, are a winner.

Now be sure and leave a comment with your questions for Holly, k?
I need your help.

Here's hoping your Thursday is all kinds of fantastic and that I am able to contain myself next week for at least fifteen minutes.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Five Thanks: February

1. Being Pushed

It's no secret I love Africa. Love really doesn't even do the way I feel justice. And this month has brought about several possible opportunities for me to help. More to come on this soon, but let's just say that when life gets hectic and crazy and I tend to put Africa on the back burner, God pushes me over and over and over again to keep it at the forefront of my thoughts. And, in this case, I really appreciate the push.

2. Movie Date with my Mom

This past weekend my mom and I went to see The Vow to celebrate her birthday. Even though her big day was over a month ago, I love when we take time out to just be together. I'm pretty sure that's exactly how it's supposed to be.

3. LOOOONNNNGGGG Overdue Reunions

I am so thankful that I finally got to spend some time with my best friend. Way too many moons have passed since we were last together, and I have missed the heck out of her. I missed her silly jokes, the way she sings when she drives, how she knows me inside and out, and simply who I am when we're together. And no worries-- we are already planning our next get together.

4. This Book

Even though I already talked about this book here, I just wanted to say ONE MORE TIME what a wonderful reminder it is of God's never-failing love for us. His forgiveness never ceases to blow my mind.

5. Opportunities

This month was stock full of things to do. My planner literally has no room left for last month, and I'm thinking I MIGHT have squeezed three free hours out of it. But, with opportunities often come good memories, and last month certainly delivered. I was busy, busy, busy, and I wouldn't have it any other way.

And yes, that is an empty cup of froyo. To a girl with a milk allergy, froyo is the greatest invention of the 20th century. Seriously, it's right up there with disposable diapers and mixed tapes.

Here's hoping your February was one to write home about too.

Happy Wednesday to you and you and you.