The Big Easy (Our Trip In Photos)



My hopes for my little getaway to New Orleans basically boiled down to two things - I hoped Derek and I could get some quality time together, and I hoped that getting away for a couple days would give me a fresh perspective and get me out of my months-long discouraged funk.

I can report back in the affirmative on both counts!  

Derek and I had a great time together, first of all. We had beignets for breakfast in a cute cafe, went out to our favorite NOLA restaurant (twice), listened to some live jazz, and watched our favorite show before going to bed at a decent hour (because we are wild and crazy like that).  We had good chats about deep things, practical things, and silly things.  He indulged my photo-taking, and New Orleans is a photogenic city, so I have lots of good shots to share.  It was a lovely time.

On my hope of getting enough space to renew my perspective, that happened in the first two hours on the plane.  I picked up a fantastic audiobook that immediately hit on some of the things I've been so down about lately and gave me a biblical perspective on it.  It was completely something the Lord blessed me with, because the book was so timely and brought my focus back to Him.  By the time we touched down in New Orleans, I was feeling ready to bring that encouragement back and tackle my real life again.  The rest of the trip was just icing on the cake!

Highlights of New Orleans:

A plantation tour - I hit two plantations in one tour, Laura Plantation and Oak Alley.  Laura plantation was unusual in architecture, but oh man, the history!  It was probably my favorite just because I learned so much. (Also, those people were crazy.  Someone should make a TV series about it.)  Then I went to Oak Alley, which had towering oak trees on both sides of the drive and was completely gorgeous.  I wish Derek could have come with me, but he had to stay at his work conference.  I nearly missed my bus back because I misheard the pickup time, but that was the only hiccup.

Mr. B's Bistro - I had a chocolate molten cupcake and a bowl of gumbo at Mr B's the last time we were in New Orleans, and I've thought about that meal several times since then.  So of course we had to go back to Mr. B's (a couple times!).  I sprung for the bacon-wrapped shrimp and cheese grits one night, and oh my word.  It was so good.  Why is there not a Mr B's where I live?  It's expensive, but totally worth the splurge.

The Hotel Monteleone lounge - We were planning on doing a riverboat cruise again, but there were tornadoes or something while we were there?  I never witnessed this supposed bad weather, and the rain and wind weren't even too bad where we were, but we decided to be safe and just hung out at our hotel lounge.  Monteleone has the famous carousel bar that rotates slowly.  We didn't try that, but we did order a pop and sit in the lounge listening to the band one night.  It was just nice!

Cafe Beignet - Everyone tells you that you must go to Cafe Du Monde for beignets when you are in New Orleans, but last time we went there we just felt crowded and rushed.  It was busy.  So this time we went to the Cafe Beignet on Royal Street.  It was tiny and quiet, the patio was pretty, the beignets were just as good, and we were serenaded the entire time by a street musician.  I'd recommend it over Cafe Du Monde!

French Truck Coffee - And I have to mention this coffee shop, because as much as I was dreaming about that molten cupcake for two years, Derek dreamed about French Truck Coffee!  It's probably his favorite coffee place of the many we've tried over multiple states.  So far, anyway!

Without further ado, some pictures for you!

Coffee Run


(French Truck Coffee before my plantation tour the first morning!)

Laura Plantation

(Me, solo on my plantation tour - yes, I propped up my phone so I could be in some of the photos.  You do what you have to do.)




Oak Alley








An Evening Walk Down To The River

 (Of course we had dinner at Mr B's first!)







Beignets For Breakfast









(I pretty much spent the rest of the day lounging around the hotel and blogging and reading.  It was lovely.)

Dinner And Jazz
 (Our hotel was so pretty!)

(Mr. B's.  The amount of forks there was a little overwhelming, but it was still worth it.)

 (Had to dress up fancy for dinner one night, you know.)

(The carousel bar at our hotel, which we did not try, but which definitely added to the atmosphere.)

Beignet Encore




(Last picture in New Orleans before I had to leave to catch my flight!)

New Orleans is such a fun city to visit as a couple.  Plants grow on buildings, there is always jazz playing somewhere.  There is just something in the air down there, something musty and mysterious and romantic.   I'm glad we got to go again!  

Have you ever been to New Orleans?





He Is Risen!


"this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for Him to be held by it..." Acts 2:23-24

This verse never fails to make my heart jump.  Jesus died for us while we were yet sinners, demonstrating His great love for us by paying the penalty we had earned. He died to pay it, even while we were still defiant and rebelling. But it was not even possible for our Savior to be held by death.  Now He is alive forevermore!  He has paid for our sins and conquered death! 

This is everything! 









Happy Resurrection Day, friends. He is risen!


An Easter Memory



My mom has always been better at sewing than me.  The most impressive thing I have ever stitched is quilts for the cribs of each of my children, but any experienced seamstress would look at the back of those and note how messy they are.  But my mom, she was amazing.  

One year, she made my sister and I matching Easter dresses, navy blue fabric with yellow roses, double-layered with a sheer, silky yellow fabric on top.  It had ties around the back.  I was almost to the age where I didn’t want to match very much anymore, but that year I loved the matching dresses and felt very stylish.  

I don’t know exactly what led our family to try that little church, but I do have an idea.  The winter after I turned nine, we had attended the church at the top of the hill in our little mountain community.  It was a bigger church in the community but still quite small.  I can remember the shape of the pastor’s hair, I remember going to the church one night to watch a testimony movie and feeling inspired by it.  I remember being baptized there and being so excited by the portable CD players my grandparents gave us as a congratulatory gift.  

But what I remember most about that church is the kids.  Unfortunately, I don’t remember them in a good way.

I remember always sitting on the perimeter in Sunday School class, and avoiding speaking as much as possible.  I remember fidgeting in my chair.  I remember dreading the moment the class was over.  Because after the class the other kids, who all knew each other (I didn’t know any of them), would go sit on the couches in the corner of the lobby and talk and laugh.  It always sounded like a mean-spirited laugh to me. I didn’t join them, I stood across the room, right outside the door of my mom’s Sunday School class, waiting for her to come out.  I just didn’t feel comfortable sitting with those kids.

One Sunday I plucked up my courage, and I went and sat on the couch while the kids talked.  None of them really talked to me, and it was nightmarishly awkward the whole time.  One of the ruder boys started pointing at me and teasing another boy about having a crush on me.  I don’t know if that boy did actually have a crush on me or not, I don’t know if I was the target or he was, I just know my nine-year old heart started thumping in my chest.  I finally got up the guts to sit with these kids, and now their attention was focused at me in a way that made me feel as if they were laughing at me.  Maybe they were.  Or there is the possibility that my childish self misunderstood the situation, but I didn’t wait around to find out.  I grabbed my hardcover kids’ devotional Bible and booked it back over to my spot by the adult’s Sunday School class door.

I never sat with those kids after that.  I cried every week while I was getting ready for church, not sure what to wear, terrified that the kids were going to laugh at me again and not wanting to give them any provocation with a silly outfit.  I vividly remember my mom trying to help me get dressed one day, but I was convinced all the kids would make fun of me.  I stood crying in front of the mirror, my eyes red and puffy.  I look back at this as an adult and realize perhaps I was being rather sensitive and a smidge ridiculous that morning.  But my mom looked back at me in the mirror, and I saw her eyes soften.  She turned me to her, gave me a hug, and softly said that I could just stay home with my dad.

My dad and I watched football on the couch that Sunday morning.  And I don’t ever remember going to that church again.

The next time I remember going to church, I was dressed in that pretty yellow Easter dress, matching with my sister.  We drove to a new place, a little white church in a high altitude park, surrounded by fields and mountains.  A boy was in the foyer with a tall white-haired man helping him pull a thick rope that rang the bell in the steeple.  We listened to the sermon while trying not to be distracted by a red-haired girl with the same name as my sister who sat in the row in front of us, grinning over the seat back.  My mom visited with the adults after the service and then walked us kids out back to the merry-go-round, one of the metal kind that spin impossibly fast, the kind they don’t make anymore.  Another girl with dark braids and a bright white smile, dressed in a long fur coat, elegantly watched the other kids as they spun, but she turned to grin at me as we walked up.  

It was a cold, blue day, with a strong wind that carried laughter.  But this time it was the good kind.  Laughter born of joy and friendliness and love for each other and for our Savior on that bright Easter morning.  The kind of laughter that I’m sure Heaven must be filled with.

We never left that church, we stayed there until I was grown and married.  They weren’t perfect, there were a few church dramas, but those people truly functioned as the body of Christ in our lives.  We spent countless Easters there.  We spent many Christmases caroling to the smattering of houses at the foot of the mountains.  The pastors taught us more about our Savior.  The church payed for Christian summer camp for all the kids, in exchange for Bible verses memorized.  They invested in us, and trained us, encouraged us, and taught us truth.  They helped grow me into maturity.  The whole church came to my high school graduation.  The ladies threw a bridal shower for me, they helped plan my wedding.  And the whole church came again the day I married Derek.

Sometimes I’m not sure why children grow up and feel the need to leave something that was good to them as a child.  Because I’ve never found a church that I loved, or that loved me as much, as that one.  It was the love of Christ they showed to us, the love of the One who suffered and died to save us from the wrath we deserved, the love of the One who rose again to free us from our sin.  The love of the One who keeps us still, now and through all eternity as we will worship our King forever in a place with no more tears.


They reflected His perfect love imperfectly.  But it was still dazzlingly bright.


Happy Easter, my friends!  Praying you reflect the love of Jesus our Savior to all who enter your church doors this Good Friday and Resurrection Day.  You never know when the Lord will use you, His hands and feet, in your little church right where you are, to make a lasting impact on someone's life.  Even someone who is already a believer, like I was.

New Orleans And The Resurrection

(Photos taken in April last year, because the trees are weirdly delaying their flowering this spring.)

I'm going to be totally honest guys, it's been a difficult few weeks around here.  Actually, if I'm being totally honest, it's been a difficult year for me so far.

By all measures, this should be a great year.  It's our first year in our new house.  The kids are all getting bigger, and a little easier since we don't have a tiny baby anymore.  Derek is happy in his job, and homeschooling is going fairly well.  It's not an election year (ha!).

But I've been having a hard time.  There is the difficult church situation that is leaving me feeling unanchored.  A couple relationship struggles that are giving me some stress.  Disturbing trends in the culture, and in the "capital-c" Church, that are making me fearful and deeply discouraged.  And my own sinful impulses that make me impatient and irritable with those I love most.

It's not too much, a bunch of (mostly) little things really, but all together it's done a number on my emotional state.

The last couple weeks I hit a breaking point.  One whole week I found myself waking up every hour of each night.  I've never done well on little sleep.  I was completely exhausted, both physically, emotionally, and spiritually as my relationship with the Lord has taken a hit through all this too (no one to blame but myself for that one).

I cried my way through the week, and I just so desperately needed a break.  I could see only endless months of the same ahead, with the only break (vacation) pushed out from May until August this year.  I needed a reset button, and vacation so often is that for me, but I couldn't even look forward to that for a long while.

Derek was due to go on a work trip in a couple weeks to New Orleans, and I could not imagine holding down the fort very well with him gone.  I was so worried about it, I remember shooting up a pathetically short prayer that the Lord would help me to maintain a good and cheerful attitude when Derek was absent.



But then Derek called my mom. And she agreed to watch the kids.  So I get to go with him to New Orleans.

There is something about getting away from my normal surroundings that gives me a clear perspective on life.  It reminds me what I love about home.  It allows me to look with fresh eyes on the things that I need to change.  Vacation almost makes me internally sheepish about how I've been taking my wonderful blessings from God for granted.  It all becomes more clear, somehow.

It's silly, so silly, to write about this during Passion Week.  This is the week that we remember how Christ suffered and died to pay the price for our sins.  For all my sin.  Including my sins of forgetting that Christ is my only anchor and hope, even when the church lets me down.  My sins of selfishness and pride that lead to the relationship struggles I've been dealing with.  My sin of fearing something earthly and temporary when God holds the future in His hands.

I deserved to die and bear the wrath of my own sins, but Christ bore that penalty for me.  He suffered more than I ever will have to suffer, He took my punishment.  And then He rose from the dead, victorious!  He cast my sin away and credited His righteousness to me when I put my trust in Him, and now I'm free of that burden forever.

How silly of me to worry and agonize about the future.  My future is secure for eternity because of what Jesus did for me.  As it is also for everyone who turns to Him in repentance and faith that He alone will save them.

And I'm remembering all this now, as I'm packing a bag for New Orleans.

Maybe it's just a trip to The Big Easy, but planning for that trip at the same time that I'm planning for celebrating His resurrection on Easter has reminded me.  He took care of the biggest thing, the sin that has separated us from Him.  He took care of this relatively small thing of giving me the refreshment of a break that I didn't even dare to pray for.

He's got the rest of it under control too.

"But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." 
1 Corinthians 15:57



I may try to write again before Easter, but if I don't, Happy Resurrection Day, friends! I pray you know the peace that comes from knowing our Savior.  He is Risen!

Stuff I Like | March (Yes, It's Late)



(Photo not necessarily related to this post, though I did enjoy the snow we got in March.  Now that it's April though, I'm ready for Spring.)


Well, I'm a little late with my March favorites post, so let's just get right into it, shall we?

This article on downgrading your blog. 

There was a time when I briefly considered setting up a fancy self-hosted website, before I cam to my senses and realized I didn't want to be roped into paying (pretty big) money forever to keep my blog up and running.  I thought this article about why it's not a bad idea to downgrade your blog was really interesting.  I can attest to the flexibility and low-pressure of keeping your blog on a free platform.


This amazing miracle sippy cup.  

We finally tried one of those spill-proof, spout-free, sippy cups, and they are so cool!  I couldn't figure out how it worked at first, but I handed it to Georgie and she started gulping away.



Hair training and Dove Dry Shampoo.

 I somehow stumbled across this Instagram account a couple months ago, and was inspired to start "training" my hair to go longer between washes.  The theory is that if you wash it less, your scalp will produce less oil, so...you can wash less.  Washing my hair is kind of a process, so cutting back on how much I wash it has actually freed up alot of my time!  I have just been using Dove Dry Shampoo from day 4 or 5 onward, and I have been really happy with it.  It is not an expensive dry shampoo, and it works really well.  I just spray it on my hairline and in different part-lines throughout my hair, fluff it up with my fingers, and it honestly looks like I just washed my hair.

(Mediocre phone selfie, but let's just look at my hair, okay?  This was five days post washing!)

This dress from Walmart. 

I grabbed this dress on a whim at Walmart the other day.  It's ten dollars guys, so I figured I couldn't go wrong, and when I tried it on at home I was pleased.  It is a nice length, has a nice swing to it, and the arm holes don't gap at all.  It'll be a great park day dress for the summer!

(Someday I will take a bathroom outfit picture and there will be no construction paraphernalia.)

This birth video. 

I have followed this couple off and on for a few years, and they finally had their baby after doing embryo adoption.  They have gone through alot.  It might have made me cry when I watched the video, in large part because her reaction reminded me of how I felt the moment Wyatt was born.  I cried just like that.  Something about that first baby (especially after having some trouble getting pregnant) is just so surreal.  I couldn't believe he was mine.  The nurse joked that if I didn't want him, she would take him, but I was crying because I wanted him so much.  Babies are just miracles.


This article on breaking social media addiction. 

As I've mentioned a couple times, I set up some limits for myself on Instagram lately.  It's been pretty freeing overall, and has really helped me to rein in some bad habits, as well as become a better blog reader again.  This article was like the last straw that broke my social media camel's back.  She has alot of good tips in here.

That's it!  I'll be back with more in April.
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