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Monday, August 25, 2014

11 and 1/2 Minutes: A post about prayer in disguise

  I used to have a 45 minute work commute (at least). It was hard, y'all.  Sometimes, people handle these things with beauty and gratitude and grace.  My mother in law is one of them.  Her commute is  similar, and she handles it well.  

Uh...I am not one of those people.  

During those dark, dark mornings, as my 29th year turned to 30, and 30 turned into 31, I often pleaded (read: complained), "Lord.  I cannot have a baby and do this."  

Do you ever tell The Lord what you "can" and "cannot" do?  Sometimes, I do.  It's probably not a good idea, and I don't recommend it at all...yet, I still keep doing it in my own life.  Do as I say, kids.  Do as I say.  But...with that being said...

Now I have a new job (pure joy).  I am about 5 days in, and the other night,  it took me 11 minutes and 28 seconds to get home (I totally timed it and squealed with joy in the driveway).  And I think sometimes, maybe our pleading is also praying in disguise, we just don't know it at the time.  

     I'd say 75% of my semi-decent ideas come to me in the shower.  Um. And this post was one of them.  You know how cartoon characters always get an idea and yell, "TO THE LAB!,"  Well, I would yell, "TO THE SHOWER!" 

So,  I love this verse from Samuel, although it's not even remotely applicable to my life right now.  

 I think we all have examples of "this child" in our lives. For me, it was an 11 and 1/2 minute commute.

The Lord has granted me what I asked of Him, even though I didn't really know I was  asking at the time. closing...

When I am Being Ridiculous, I often find myself saying, "Everything is going to be ok."  But I want to live my life expecting good things.  I don't want to just settle for "ok."

The Bible says we can have "joy unspeakable and full of glory."

So.  Whatever  you're waiting for, keep waiting.  Don't you love that answer?  Ha.

And I'm not going to tell you, "Everything is going to be ok."  Because I want better for you than that.  I want better than that for both of us.

Love, and the half has never yet been told,

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Blogger Love: Friday Favorites

     I'm really excited to do this link-up for the first time.  Meagan from All the Joys asked us to post some of our favorite posts from OTHER bloggers.  One of my prayers for "Cartwheels Down the Hall" is that I'll be able to help other bloggers share their work, so this link-up was right up my alley!

Brittany from Happy is a Choice- How to Handle Disappointment Gracefully 

Camille from Friday We're in Love- Five Relaxing Date Ideas (hint: BRUNCH, YES!) :)

My Friend, Jen Weaver, wrote - 10 Things Not to Say to a Childless Woman  (She nailed it. So     helpful and so true).

I would really like to do a better job of reading blogs.  This link-up has totally taught me that I need to focus on writing AND reading.  Good writers are good readers. :)

Hooray for the weekend...
     This weekend, I'm going to Volunteer Orientation at The Humane Society.  I'm really excited about it.  It's something I've been wanting to do for a long time!  I've been looking at lots of before/after rescue pictures.  My  heart!!!

     We're also going to Tim's 5 year High School Reunion.*  He grew up in a really small town in Northern Kentucky.  You can park on the Ohio side of the river and ride the ferry over to town.  It's  a really sweet, unique experience.  We love going there to visit (and eat ALL THE ICE CREAM)!

It's going to be a great weekend.  All good things.

I hope you have a nice weekend.

* If you believe we've only been out of High School for five years, I will hug your neck and bake you cookies.

Love and tell me all about it,

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

A Year's Worth of Rain

     It was a small farm, but it was also rather efficient, considering its size.  It consisted of a field, a barn, and a pale yellow house with a rose bush by the front door.  In the house, lived A Farmer and His Wife.

     They loved their lot in life.  So much so, that the townspeople took to simply calling them Farmer and Wife.

     One of the best parts about The Farm was that it sat on a hill, and Farmer and Wife could see all the houses in the valley from their enormous backyard, and behind every house, was a pond.

     Every morning, Farmer would wake to the sound of birds chirping, kiss Wife on the forehead and travel out to tend the fields, and every night, Farmer and Wife would sit on a quilt that Wife's grandmother had made and watch the people below as they swam,  fed the ducks and paddled their canoes in the ponds below.

  One night, while watching a flock of geese land gracefully onto a bright blue pond in the valley, Wife's eyes lit up.  She sat on her knees, locked eyes with Farmer and exclaimed, "We should dig our own pond!"

Her excitement was contagious, and Farmer quickly agreed.

They spent many nights, whispering in bed, making plans for their pond.

How deep would it be? How wide?  Where would they put it?

He bought her boots to dig in.  She bought him a shovel.

She would plant lilies.  He would build a bench.

For Farmer's birthday, Wife hired a man in town to build a canoe.

So. They started digging.  And digging. And digging.

When the last pile of dirt had been hauled away, Wife looked at Farmer, perplexed.

With sand in her hair and dirt on her cheeks, she placed her forearm on the handle of her shovel and stared at the large hole ahead.

" do we fill it?"

Farmer squinted in the sun as he replied, "Why, the rain, of course."

So they waited for it to rain.

In the meantime, Farmer bought Wife a red umbrella that matched the roses by the front door.

Every evening, they would sit on the quilt in the backyard, next to their hole and watch the people in the valley as they swam.

And as the sun started to set, they would take the laundry off the line, call the cats to the barn and close all the windows.

Because it was going to rain.  Of course. It was going to rain.

But still, they waited.

     Time passed, and they decided they were tired of waiting. They were going to fill the pond themselves.  As word spread, the people in the valley came to help.  They brought ropes and strong backs and buckets and drew water from a nearby well.

     But the hole was dry and full of sand and rocks and clay, and no matter how much water they poured in, the dirt seemed to drink it right up.  It was no use.  As the people left, they shook hands with Farmer and hugged Wife.  They didn't know what to say, but Farmer and Wife knew they were loved and that the people were sorry.

After everyone was gone, Wife sat on the quilt and cried softly into Farmer's shoulder.

     He would give her a year's worth of rain if he could. They both knew it, and that was their only comfort on that sad, dry evening.

     Many times, the townspeople invited Farmer and  Wife to swim, and they enjoyed it whole heartedly. Wife made pies filled to the brim with apples and peaches.  They spent hours swimming in the valley and floating in borrowed canoes.  The geese grew to recognize their voices and ran towards them with orange beaks open upon Farmer and Wife's arrival.  Small freckles appeared across Farmer's nose, and Wife's skin grew warm and tan.

But it wasn't the same.  It wasn't the same as feeding their own geese and manning their own canoe.

     Still more months passed with no rain.  But what made it worse was that it rained in the valley.  For days on end, large and plentiful drops fell from the sky.  The children in the town wore yellow raincoats and danced in the puddles.  Gutters cracked.  Fields flooded.  But all Farmer and Wife could do was sit on their hill, next to their hole and watch.

And wait.

      One afternoon, Farmer came home to find Wife sitting alone on the quilt, facing the hole.  He had decided, long ago, that he was finished waiting for the rain, but he stayed outside for Wife's sake.

He wanted them both to go inside together.  He loved her deeply, and he felt that was best.

He whispered, gently, "I love you.  I'm home.  It's time to come in."

Without turning around, she coldly replied, "I'm not coming in.  I'm waiting for it to rain."

But it didn't rain.

     And every night, Farmer would come home and whisper into Wife's dark, brown hair, "I love you.  I'm home.  It's time to come in."

And every night, Wife bitterly refused.

     Sometimes, he would make her tea with two lumps of sugar and a teaspoon of honey. Just the way she liked it.

But she never drank it, and she never brought the cups back in.

     He took her tea until he ran out of cups.  And when he ran out of cups, he bought new ones.  Because he loved her deeply.

     Wife's condition grew worse.  She begged the sky for rain.  She refused to come in.  If she just waited long enough, if she just believed hard enough, it would rain.  She knew it would rain.  Shame on Farmer for not believing.

Even still...

"I love you. I'm home.  It's time to come in."

     She dug her fingers into the dry dirt.  If the sky would not send rain, she would fill the pond herself.  She leaned over the edge of the hole and wept to the sound of splashing in the valley below.

But her weeping wasn't enough.

One day, Farmer whispered his usual greeting, "I love you. I'm home. It's time to come in."

And much to his surprise, Wife quietly collected all the scattered cups and followed him in.

     After that night, they began to busy themselves with other tasks in the evenings.  Wife took up knitting, and made things especially for Farmer.  She had absolutely no talent for it whatsoever, but Farmer wore each piece with pride.

He loved her deeply.

     Farmer took an interest in reading, and told Wife all kinds of stories.  They were great tales about knights and giants, science and flight.

     More time passed.  They gave the canoe to a man in town whose boat had been stolen.  Wife filled the bottom with treats from their garden, Farmer tied a bright blue ribbon around it, and the look on the man's face filled their hearts with joy.

     Farmer came home one day to find Wife tossing apple slices into the hole; her face twisted with worry.  A  goat had fallen into the hole, and she wasn't strong enough to pull it out.  Farmer bit into one of the apples and chuckled at her tender heart.  He puffed up his chest and rolled up his sleeves, ready to pull the goat to safety, but after a long day trapped in the hole, the goat was too afraid to approach him.

It didn't trust Farmer.  It was looking for Wife.

     Farmer glanced in her direction.  She was crying quietly.  He had mistaken her compassion for weakness.  

He needed her softness.  She needed his strength.  They would have to work together.

     Once the goat was free, Farmer built a fence around the hole so none of the other animals would fall in.

     After that, they didn't talk about the hole anymore, and it made Wife sad.  But there was nothing more to say.  It was a hole that they'd hoped would be a pond, but it didn't rain on the hill anymore.

      At one point, they considered filling it in with rocks and dirt and sand, but then it occurred to them that they didn't have enough of any of those things to really make much of a difference, so it stayed a hole.  To some, the story was short and sad, but Farmer and Wife would come to learn that the hole was helping them become better people.  

     Eventually, Farmer and Wife agreed that when they went to the valley, instead of fretting over the hole, they would tell people about how much they loved their little, yellow house and the rose bush by the door.  They didn't have a pond, but they were glad they had each other.

     They still sat on the quilt at sunset, but instead of looking at the people in the valley, they watched for wildlife instead.  Farmer bought a huge book about birds, and Wife wrote a list in the back of all the ones they'd spotted thus far. 

     One chilly spring morning, in the window of time between birds building their nests and laying their eggs, Farmer woke up concerned.  He whispered aloud, "Where are the birds?"  Gone was the familiar chirping; the sweet sound of flapping wings.

And then he heard the reason why.

He ran his hand through Wife's dark hair until her eyes opened slowly.

A smile spread across her face, and he was sure she heard it, too...

it was the sound of ...drip...drip....drip...on the window.

Images via here & here.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Speed Shopping: How to Grocery Shop without a List


Folks.  I gotta tell ya'...I'm really tired of making a grocery list.  

     I love to grocery shop - which is weird, I know.  Sometimes, I just don't have want to use the mental energy to make a specific list.  

     Last week, I decided to try something new and not make a specific meal plan/list. I know this can get dangerous in terms of budgeting, but just hear me out.  I decided to stay mostly in the meat, produce and dairy section and just see what happened.  Armed with a few coupons and a 1/2 sheet of paper detailing some non-food essentials (allergy meds., paper towels, etc.), I headed out.  

     I'm not sure I'll do it this way EVERY week, but it was nice for a change, kept us eating fairly healthy and was probably my quickest grocery trip to date.  It also kept me from wandering the aisles, picking up extra things ((**cough**cough**make-up**))

 Below, I've written some suggestions if you think you wanna try this! 

This will be especially helpful for all you "Back to School" folks! 

>> Make sure you already have some staple ingredients.  As I was shopping, I kept in mind that I already had our kitchen stocked with some canned veggies, "cream of..." soups, taco seasoning, onions, potatoes, etc.  You don't want to shop like this if all your supplies are running low.  

>> Go with some meal ideas in mind.  Like I said above, I didn't make an actual list, but I did keep in mind what our favorite go-to meals are like this one that has gained popularity on Pinterest (which I did end up making last week).  

>>Think about leftovers. I deliberately doubled the recipe above just so we would have leftovers.  We're really bad about not eating leftovers, but I hope we can make that more of a habit. 

>>Get ingredients you like.  I know this sounds pretty simple, but if you pick up some things you genuinely enjoy eating, you'll be less likely to let them go to waste.  We love zucchini (with lots of cheese, don't judge, ok?), so I was sure to pick up a few.   

By the time I left, I had grabbed lots of produce along with: 

Ground Chicken
Chicken Breasts
Chicken Sausages
Frozen Tilapia Filets 

90 minute brown rice

Misc. items from the dairy section (eggs, cheese, greek yogurt, etc.)  

And some various cleaning supplies/toiletries

(I'm also going to add that my main focus was just on making dinner.  I almost always have oatmeal for breakfast and usually just 'fend for myself' for lunch...this week I made chicken, sweet potato chips and guacamole...I know you were dying to know...haha).  

Here are a few meal ideas you can probably make simply by quickly grabbing lots of produce and your favorite kinds of meat (carnivores, unite)! 

Here's a list of good foil packet recipes!  //Six Sisters//

Use any of your extra veggies as side dishes to accompany the meals above.  

In closing...

>>  I've heard about recipe generating websites before but have never used them.  You plug in your ingredients, and it brings up recipes for you.  That will save so much mental energy!  I tried this one out and really liked it!  //Myfridgefood//

>> Here are some links to posts I've found about storing produce. 

                      //1//   //2//   //3// 

     I used the paper towel/baggie method on some romaine lettuce, and it lasted for a FREAKISHLY LONG TIME.  Seriously, I think we went out of town, came back and it was still good!

Also, I might try re-growing my own lettuce. Thoughts?  I feel like that is something you would say to start up a conversation if you are TRYING to make it really awkward. "Hi. I'm Holly. I'm trying to re-grow my own lettuce.  It's nice to meet you."  Is that funny?  Or is it just me?  :) 

Eventually, I'd like to get away from using "cream of..." soups.  I've seen some DIY recipes but haven't taken the time to really do the research.  

Overall, I think it went well.  No one went to bed hungry, and its' nice to know I'm staying out of the frozen/box meal section.  

Do you shop like this all the time?  Suggestions?  

Love and get to it! 

Friday, August 8, 2014

Summer Splurges

     I've got some birthday money burning a hole in my pocket.  You guys. My birthday was in April.  With that being said, I thought it would be fun to make a list of ideas I had for how I might spend it.  So. Just a fun, little post about spendin' some cash.  Happy Friday!  Have a great weekend, everyone!

Nature Center Passes- We have a nature center pretty close to our house.  Good gravy. I keep saying I am going to buy a membership and I keep putting it off. I don't know why!!! Anyway, it's pretty affordable for just the two of us, and pets are allowed. We went back in April for Arbor Day (free admission), and it was so nice and peaceful.  I also hear people rave about "trail runs," and it might be nice to run there just for a change of pace.

Do you guys have passes to places like this? Do you feel like it is worth it?  Is there something you've been waiting to pull the trigger on? Let's do it together!

Foam roller- Uh....I already ordered's fantastic.  It's kind of like a huge pool noodle that you roll around on.  It's like a self-inflicted massage.  And now, the most inarticulate review ever.

     Well.  I just feel like...before a dictator attacks another country or a warlord commits another act of terror, he needs to spend some time with a foam roller.  Cause then...he'd be so relaxed...he'd be like.  Never mind guys. I was just feeling tense.  Let's all go get Mexican food. Or something like that.

They look like this and I ordered mine here!


One More Thing: Stories and Other Stories by BJ Novak- I read Mindy Kaling's book, and it was cute.  I generally think books by comedians are cute/funny.  Tina Fey's Bossypants was a great read.  I'm looking forward  to seeing what Novak has to offer.  I love the genre of comedy in general so my hopes are a bit high.

Has anyone read this?

Ingrid Michaelson's New Album-  I heard her new song, Girls Chase Boys and I just keep putting it on repeat.  It's catchy!  I rarely buy CD's anymore (I usually just buy a song or two on iTunes), so I might have to splurge on this one!

Fold 'N File from Thirty One - I feel like Thirty-One has flown below my radar in the past, but my sister keeps showing up to family functions, play dates, etc. with all these really adorable, functional pieces and then I end up buying whatever she has- ha.

     I'm proud to say I'm a "convert," and this is a piece I found all on my own! I really love the positive message that Thirty-One embraces, and I'm all about supporting businesses that empower women.

With that being said, I am drooling over this Fold N'File.  I'd imagine it's pretty sturdy, and I love the pockets in the front.  I could see myself storing a "work in progress" project in the back and keeping all the little pieces in the pockets on the front.  Plus it's wayyyy cuter than anything I could ever find at Wal-mart/Staples/Office Max, etc.

Choosing between taupe and coral is going to be the hard part. ;)

Love and what did I miss?

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

A Series of Dunkings

     I recently re-read the book, Crowded Skies: Letters to Manhattan by Tara Leigh Cobble.  She is one of my favorite authors, and writes about overcoming fear, loving Jesus, and finding your calling.  I wanted to share the following excerpt because, hello....were you here for my 2013?  ;)

     My Pastor, Tim Keller told a story once about a problem that some modern day shepherds were experiencing.  A rare kind of parasite started eating their sheep alive.  In order to protect them, the shepherds had to dunk the sheep in a tub full of disinfectant. 

     When they pushed the sheep under, the shepherds saw the looks of terror on their faces.  As far as the sheep knew, they were being forced into a slow, frightening death by drowning.   Even after they emerged from the tub, they still didn't have a full understanding of what had happened or why.  But without the shepherd to dunk them in the tub, they would've died a death far more painful than drowning.  The shepherd was saving their lives, making them stronger- but they had no way of knowing.  

    I also wrote about TLC here and here. 

She also wrote Here's to Hindsight and Orange Jumpsuit, and you won't find a bad read in the bunch

Love and hold your breath,