Friday Favorites: My favorite subscription services

Over the past few years, my life has become more and more automated. Why buy something over and over when I can subscribe once and no longer think about it? Or even better, subscribe and get a discount? This gal doesn’t want to waste her time or precious energy on things that can be automated – and easily!

Here are my current favorite subscription services:


Texture: I read a lot on my phone – when I’m lying in bed trying to go to sleep, when I’m up feeding a baby in the middle of the night, when I’m waiting in line for something… you get the picture. Now, with Texture, I get more than 200 magazine subscriptions for just $15/month. It seriously includes EVERYTHING – from US Weekly to The New Yorker to LIVING and Better Homes & Gardens. It includes current and back issues, and I can access them on my phone or iPad. Seriously – I’m in decorating magazine heaven. (And it’s GLORIOUS to have something non-political to read.)


Harry’s Razors: I just joined the Harry’s bandwagon and I’m pleased so far. For only about $1.75 per razor blade, I save money on shaving, and I can guarantee I’ll never run out. They only offer a men’s razor, but we all know that they’re really ALL the same. Harry’s delivers my refill blades every two months at a much lower cost than I was spending at the store.



MeUndies: Yes. Apparently underwear subscription is a THING. I get a new pair of undies in the mail every month, and it’s kind of like Christmas when it arrives! Once you become an old married couple, things like buying undies sometimes falls down on the to-do list, so it’s fun to always have something new! (And every time I get a new pair in the mail, I throw away an old pair that should have been tossed ages ago.) Cost is $14/month.



Amazon Fresh: No other service has changed my life like Amazon Fresh. For $14/month, I do ALL of my grocery shopping online (ALL OF IT), and Amazon delivers it to my door within hours. I can order my groceries while I watch TV at 8:00 in the evening, and have them delivered to my door by 8:00 the next morning (minimum order is $40). The quality is great (lots of organic options), the pricing is decent (some things are higher, some are the same as my local grocery store), but my grocery budget has gone down since I no longer feel the need to buy in bulk anymore, because if I need something, I can have it delivered within hours. This means less food waste, and fewer impulse purchases when I’m at the store. And this means I don’t have to spend any time sitting in traffic, standing in a check-out line, trying to figure out where to put the baby’s car seat in the shopping cart and still have room for groceries… It’s life changing. LIFE CHANGING.



Chatbooks: Confession… I still haven’t printed out our wedding photos. From six years ago. Don’t tell our wedding photographers, who happen to also be our besties. I am the WORST at printing out photos, much less making a photo album. PLEASE! Once a year I print my Facebook Feed via My Social Book (hint – a few times a year they run a 40% off special – wait for the discount before purchasing), but other than that, there are no post 2009 photo albums in our house. Until now…

Thanks to Chatbooks, every time I take 60 Instagram photos, I automatically get a little photo album in the mail. I get an alert before they send it to me, so I can edit the album, remove unnecessary photos, and add any other pics that didn’t make it to Instagram (like of that adorable baby girl I can’t post public pics of yet). I can also opt to purchase prints of pics from that feed. Everything gets mailed to me, and I can add it to my collection – guilt free. Look at me, I’m a good mom – I print photos of my kids! Watch out world!

Speaking of being a good mom (or dad, or PERSON)… what are YOUR favorite subscription services? I’m always on the lookout for new ways to save time so I can spend MORE time loving on my kiddos, swooning at my husband, or doing things that make me happy… like reading my Texture magazines while taking a nap.

NOTE: I did not receive any compensation for this post – all opinions are my own. Affinity links are included, which will give us BOTH discounts if you choose to use them.

Friday Favorites: My favorite DFW Restaurants

Mr. Right and I love food. Like, REALLY love food. And, one of our favorite past-times is eating out and discovering new restaurants together.

We regularly get texts from friends asking for recommendations for fun new restaurants, date nights, even places to shop, so I’m happy to resurrect a series on the blog – my Friday Favorites.

To kick it off, here are some of my favorite restaurants in DFW… currently.

La Perla

La Perla / Photo Credit: La Perla

La Perla / Photo Credit: La Perla

If we have kids in tow, La Perla is always my first choice. Located near the Convention Center in downtown Fort Worth, it’s got a cute little patio to enjoy on pretty days, and on colder days, if you go early, nobody cares if your child dances in the corner. The owner has a young daughter, so the staff always engages Wrenn and has lots of patience (plus the restaurant is loud enough that she doesn’t bother anybody). I always order the empanadas (the ham + cheese + honey ones are the best) – Wrenn usually eats one as well, and sometimes I get a few to go for the following day – and Mr. Right loves the Cubano and the La Dominicana sandwiches. I also swear by their spicy lime popcorn for an appetizer, because… popcorn.


Max’s Wine Dive

Max's Wine Dive / Photo Credit: Fort Worth, TX Magazine

Max’s Wine Dive / Photo Credit: Fort Worth, TX Magazine

When it’s time for a date night, Max’s is one of my favorites. This is where I took Mr. Right on our anniversary this year. This is where we take out of town friends. This is one of my happy places. (This is not a place I’d take littles.)

The Fort Worth location recently got a new chef, which means the menu changed and my absolute favorite (the PB&J wings), is no longer on the menu. But, I’m still a sucker for the cheese board, the Wine Dive Chicken Sliders, ‘The Royal’ Lobster Pot Pie (lobster bisque + puff pastry = heaven), and the shrimp & grits. They’re famous for their fried chicken (almost everybody orders it). I also hear they have a great Sunday brunch, but alas, that conflicts with church.




Hattie’s / Photo Credit: The Dallas Observer

Mr. Right discovered Hattie’s when he took me here for one of our anniversaries. The decor is so pretty (I’d dress up just a tad), and the food is amazing without being CRAZY expensive. I love the fried green tomatoes and the carmelized onion & cheddar tart with a sweet onion marmalade (again – I love it when my dinner can come in a puff pastry), but there’s also plenty to choose from if you’re a steak lover. This is another one of those great places for a date night, but I’d get a babysitter.


Off-Site Kitchen

Off Site Kitchen / Photo Credit: Dallas Eater

Off-Site Kitchen / Photo Credit: Dallas Eater

If we want to go out to lunch – or an early Saturday dinner… because let’s face it, when your kiddo’s bedtime is 7:00, you eat dinner REALLY early… Off-Site Kitchen is our first choice for burgers. I hear they have great sandwiches, too, but I don’t know why anybody would order something besides the burger, which is SO FRESH. Like, the freshest burger in all of DFW. I like the Green Chile & Bacon burger (includes caramelized onions and a special sauce) and the Russet Fries with garlic salt. They even have tiny fries for dessert. (Very kid friendly)

OSK (what the regulars call it) gets super busy, so I’d pick a slightly off-time to eat. They also have an amazing patio (and not to mention since it’s part of Trinity Groves, there’s a to-die for cake place just around the corner). You can also walk off those calories by strolling down to the old Dallas bridge which has since been turned into a park. Wrenn loves to climb on the playground and we can people watch as we enjoy a gorgeous view of Downtown Dallas.



LUCK / Photo credit: Culture Map Dallas

LUCK / Photo Credit: Culture Map Dallas

Luck is just the best. It’s perfect for a grown-up date night, or you can bring the kiddos and enjoy their giant patio. I love their Hand Twisted Soft Pretzels with beer cheese fondue and their shrimp & grits, but we’ve never had a bad meal there. It just FEELS trendy and the food is unique but again, not crazy expensive. And, if the line is too long, you can pick just about any other restaurant at Trinity Groves – it’s like a giant food court, but with gourmet sit-down restaurants instead.


So friends… go out and enjoy a good meal, and let me know in the comments where YOUR favorite restaurant is. We’re always looking for our next favorite spot!

A failed adoption (Our Adoption Story – Part 4)

Click here to read Part 1Part 2, and Part 3 of Our Adoption Story

Before we got Baby M, we had to walk through some extreme heartbreak.

In July, we found out that a birth mom wanted to interview us! We were thrilled! Because we chose open adoption, it meant that the birth mom would choose us, based on a photo book we had submitted showing our family’s story. The first time we were chosen for an interview was so exciting! And nerve racking. What would it be like? Would it be awkward? What would we talk about? Would she like us?

We had to wait a few weeks for the big interview – which we held over dinner, two hours from our home. The dinner went GREAT. It lasted three hours, everybody cried as they shared stories, and we connected so deeply with the birth mother and her family. We just knew she was going to pick us.

The next day, we got a call that she had picked another couple.

You know what it felt like? It felt like back in my dating days, when I would wait for weeks to get to go on a date with some guy I liked, then I finally went on that date and thought it went AMAZING. Thought for sure he felt the same way. And then found out afterward that I wasn’t his type.

We weren’t her type. Ouch.

It sounds so silly and selfish, but we had put ourselves out there, and been rejected. It was hard. Not “having a miscarriage” hard. But it still hurt our egos. However, we quickly recovered (it was just a blip, really, on our adoption journey), and started planning a last-minute trip to Seattle with some dear friends of ours.

At the very end of August, after our amazing trip to Seattle (seriously my favorite trip since our honeymoon), on our way home from the airport, the adoption agency called to say a birth mom wanted to interview us later that week. And this time, we were the only couple she was interviewing.

Talk about perfect timing! THIS must be the one.

We were pretty guarded at our interview with the birth mother (another dinner), and afterward really weren’t sure if she would choose us. A few days later, the birth mother called me personally to tell me she had chosen us.

We were having a baby BOY! And, he would be here in the next six weeks… or sooner.

The next six weeks were a blur of doctor appointments, meetings with the birth mother, preparing a nursery, shopping for essentials, celebrating with friends and family, working overtime to prepare to go on maternity leave at work, and preparing Wrenn for a new baby. It was a busy, crazy six weeks.

It was also an emotional roller coaster. Without going into a lot of details, it looked like the adoption might fall through every time we turned around. About two weeks before Baby Boy was born, it looked like everything was going to fall apart. I got the call while working at a local conference, and was so upset by the news that I was barely able to drive myself home. It was devastating and shocking and I spent two full days in bed, crying. Like I said, adoption is so, so tough. (I must add, Mr. Right was a total ROCK during that time, and a great reminder that God has so perfectly matched us together for such a time as this.)

But, then things looked like they were going to work out again (did I mention… roller coaster?). We got a call on a Friday afternoon that she was in labor, and after shipping Wrenn off to her grandparents’, rushed to the hospital, arriving  30 minutes after Baby Boy was born. We both got to hold him in the delivery room. He was so, so precious.

But strangely enough, he wasn’t mine yet. I knew that in my heart – he wouldn’t be mine until I got to bring him home, and that was far from certain.

We had to wait 48 hours to find out if he would be ours. In Texas, a birth mom can’t sign the adoption paperwork until 48 hours after delivery. That 48 hours was an eternity. After spending Friday evening at the hospital, holding that baby, we spent the rest of the weekend at home, trying to keep ourselves busy as we waited for the news. Would he be ours? Would we be a family of four on Sunday? Imagine what that 48 hours felt like… with our entire lives on the line.

On Sunday afternoon, we got our answer. No.

Holding a baby and then having to give him back had always been my worst case adoption scenario. It doesn’t get much harder than that. And yet, our worst fears happened. It was devastating, and horrible, and exhausting.

And we survived.

God continued to remind me that He is the God who sees. And that in all this pain… He saw me. God told me that after all He had brought us through, after all the miracles He had orchestrated, that He wasn’t going to leave us now. This wasn’t our ending. We should still have hope.

Another friend shared with me that someday, when I held our forever baby, she would be worth it. That she would be worth every ounce of pain and fear and uncertainty we had had to endure. That she would be worth moving mountains for.

That friend was so right.

But it doesn’t mean we didn’t grieve. I felt deep feelings, cried big tears, but I also felt a huge sense of relief. After six weeks of not knowing, of living a life of total uncertainty, we had our answer. That baby wasn’t ours. Which meant that our baby was still out there. Mr. Right gifted me with my epic road trip, and three weeks after our devastating news, I was out on the open road, visiting friends and enjoying some healing time alone with my Savior.

That trip was life defining for me. And of course, God knew it would be part of our story.

And then two weeks after I got home… we got a call that forever changed our lives.

(more to come…)

God shows off (Our Adoption Story, Part 3)

Click here to read Part 1 and Part 2 of Our Adoption Story

From the very beginning, God has used our adoption journey to show off. Like, really show off. Over and over he reminded me that He is the “God Who Sees Me” (El Roi – Genesis 16:13). God kept telling me that He SAW me during this adoption – that He cared about the details. That He would never leave or forsake me during this process. That He was worth trusting.

In the midst of a long, hard journey, knowing that I had a God who sees me – sees my pain, my fears, my excitement, my hopes, my insecurities… my BABY in some other mother’s womb… this was the hope that I clung to. I was never alone. God saw me and all of the big feelings I was feeling, and I was never alone.

The same week that we chose our adoption agency and started the process, God brought me three big freelance clients. I have always done occasional freelance work above and beyond my job, but these were HUGE projects. One was coordinating all of the social media for the Southern Baptist Convention’s Pastor’s Conference – a gig that required about 10 hours a week, plus meetings, plus a trip to St. Louis to work the actual conference. I spent March through June working my “regular” full-time job, then stopping for an hour or two to play with Wrenn and Will and eat dinner, and then once Wrenn was back in bed, I would stay up working on my laptop late into the night. I did this several nights a week, and worked at least one day each weekend. Almost all I did during those four months was work.

But it was okay, because I knew where that money was going. It was going to help pay for our adoption.

Y’all, God provided every penny we needed for our adoption. We hadn’t saved toward it, since we thought we were a year away from starting the process. And God provided, without us ever asking anybody for a dime. Mr. Right got some extra, unexpected real estate deals, we both worked our tails off, and God paid for that adoption.

But it wasn’t just about the money. We wanted to get Wrenn into a preschool to offer some stability for her (and a break for me) once the baby got here, and God moved mountains to get her into a school with a 2-3 year wait list… in less than a week.  He is a God who cares not just about our adopted baby, but about Wrenn, and making sure she was taken care of as well.

Or there was the time that we were scheduled to be interviewed by a birth mom, and of course I was a nervous wreck. Four days before our interview, a girl I hadn’t seen or spoken to in 6+ years reached out via Facebook to tell me that God had placed me on her heart and she had been praying for me, but she didn’t know why. In particular, God had told her to pray about expanding our family. I told her about the adoption and the upcoming interview, and I was reminded that I have a God who sees me.

There were so many people who popped up from my past and randomly reached out during our long wait, having no idea that we were adopting but just feeling led to check on me. Friends from around the country whom I hadn’t seen in years were praying for our adoption, even though we never publicly mentioned it on social media.

Then there were the tiny bits of blessing he gave us during our journey. We managed to take two amazing trips, perfectly timed between big milestones in the adoption. It was God’s way of offering us rest and renewing our spirits at the exact time we needed it. Because boy, did we need it… after each trip, things got HARD.

If you learn nothing from our adoption story, I hope you will hear this: Our God was faithful every step of the way. He didn’t protect us from pain or heartache, but instead sustained us through it. He comforted me when I cried. When my empty arms ached for the baby I so desperately wanted. He is a good God not because He answered my prayers the way I thought I wanted them answered… He is a good God because that’s who He is. Period.

And when our worst-case scenario ended up happening… He was still a good, good God.

(more to come…)

Researching and Choosing (Our Adoption Story, Part 2)

Click here to read Our Adoption Story, Part 1

Once we knew we were ready to start the adoption process, we had to pick an agency. It was so overwhelming. It seemed like one of those things where there were 100 ways to do it, and we had no idea where to start. It’s an overwhelming industry, with hefty price tags and huge life decisions. It requires so much trust.

But as you will see, God’s hand was in this adoption process every step of the way. He showed me again and again that He is the God of details. We just “happened” to have a dear friend who has worked as a social worker at several different adoption agencies, and we invited her over for dinner so we could “ask her everything.”

Some of our questions/decisions included:

  • Did we want to adopt an infant? An older child?
  • Open or closed adoption?
  • Use a private agency or go through the foster care system?
  • How much do adoptions cost?
  • What would the process look like?
  • How long would it take? (the magic question)
  • What should we look for in an agency?
  • What pitfalls could we avoid?
  • After the adoption, then what? How can we help our child thrive in her new family?

Our sweet friend patiently answered our questions, and helped me come up with a list of questions to use as we interviewed agencies. Based on our family’s needs at this time, we decided that domestic, private, open adoption of an infant was the right fit for us at this time. We reached out to all of our friends who had adopted, did a lot of googling, and called/researched agencies for about a month.

We ended up choosing the original agency we called that January day.

Once we had committed to our agency (March 2016), we started the long process of filling out all of our application paper work. It was harder than writing my master’s thesis, harder than any work project I’ve ever completed. There were just so many things we had to collect – I had to track down the blue prints from my house. We had to get physicals at the doctor. We had to provide copies of all of our health/life insurance, wills, financial documents, references from just about everybody who had ever met us. We had to fill out pages and pages of questionnaires. All this while both of us were working full-time (plus some part-time gigs… more on that later).

It was a LOT.

We finally wrapped up that paperwork in May and attended an all-day training that was required by the adoption agency, and then… we waited. When it comes to adoption, there is a LOT of waiting.

 (More to come…)

Surprise! We adopted a baby girl! (Our Adoption Story, Part 1)

Surprise! We adopted a baby girl!

It may seem like a huge surprise to some, but for me, it was a ten-year journey. Before I tell you how we got Baby M, let me tell you how we got there…

Way back in 2007, through some random events, God placed the desire to adopt on my heart. Now mind you, I didn’t meet Mr. Right until 2009… and we didn’t start dating until 2010. So before I met him, I knew that someday, with someone, I wanted to adopt.

And then I met Mr. Right, and after things got serious, we started talking about our hopes for a family, and I shared my desire to adopt. His response, “I’d love that too!”

And that was that.

Our question was never IF we were going to adopt… but WHEN. We decided to try for a biological child and see what God would do, and after many months of trying, and a high risk, difficult pregnancy, He gave us Wrenn. She was my miracle baby, my answer to many, many months of prayers.

Two years later, we decided to try for one more biological child, and we got pregnant almost immediately. What a wonderful surprise! And then, all too soon, we had a miscarriage and lost our precious Baby Truett.

I was almost 35, and my ticking biological clock was almost deafening. Should we try one more time for a biological child, or was this God telling us that now was the time for adoption? I felt like if we committed to adoption, we would be forever closing the door to a biological child, which seemed to have such forever consequences.

We decided to just pause and pray (and heal). And both of us came to the conclusion that it was time to adopt. Not right that minute… but that our next child would be through adoption.

Now we had a plan, but no timeline. Mr. Right wanted to wait a full year before we started the adoption process, so we could enjoy some peace and healing as a family. After a difficult few years of health problems, job changes, etc., we were finally enjoying some fun and easy times as a family. I wanted to adopt yesterday. It was one of those times that we decided to just pray separately and see what God did.

And God changed Mr. Right’s heart overnight. One day, a few months after we started praying about it, a friend at lunch casually mentioned that an adoption agency was low on adoptive parents. She knew that someday we wanted to adopt, and thought she’d simply pass the info along. We decided to give the agency a call (What could it hurt, right?), and after one conversation, Mr. Right was all in.

That was in January 2016.

 (more to come…)

My Epic Solo Roadtrip – The Backstory

I’m sitting in my condo with the balcony doors open wide so I can hear the sound of the waves crashing outside. The ocean is one of my favorite sounds in the whole world. It’s both relaxing and also a wonderful reminder of how powerful my God is. He made those waves. He made that ocean. And He is so much bigger and more powerful than anything He created.

Here’s how I got here:

About 18 months ago, I found myself. Really found myself. As weird as it sounds, I believe the catalyst was our miscarriage. It was so heartbreaking, but that tiny, unborn baby has brought me such healing and confidence and bravery. What a legacy.

I think it was the catalyst because for the first time in my life, I walked through grief – deep grief – in a healthy way. I gave myself space to hide away from the world for a whole month. I was really open about my self-care. I was frank when people would ask how I was doing and I would tell them, “I’m feeling pretty awful, so I’m going to hide away for a few weeks and mourn and heal, and then I will go back to living.

I also learned during that time, even more vividly than I already knew, that my God is a great comforter. And He can handle it when I lean into Him with my grief and my stress and my anxiety and my fears of the future and my insecurities and even my anger. He can handle it. He did handle it.

A month after our miscarriage, Mr. Right and I got our matching tattoos. He thinks that was a turning point in my life – where I just went for something big. A tattoo is not big to the average person, but to me, the ultimate rule follower, it was SO big. It was one of the first times in my life that I decided to do something and didn’t care a bit what other people thought. I did it for me.

As a life-long people pleaser and rule follower, the past 18 months have been so freeing. It’s like at the age of 34, I realized that the people around me love me and don’t care if I have a tattoo. Or pink hair (which came later). Or a perfect home, job, family, apperance… life.  And the ones who do care – well, I don’t really care anymore what they think. And not in a “I don’t love people and care about them” way. No, it was more of a “I’m going to put on my big girl panties and just be Bethe and not worry about what others think about me” way.

I finally felt free.

At age 34.

Now, 18 months later, just two weeks shy of 36, I am celebrating finding my voice. I’m celebrating the things that God has shown me about Himself. I’m celebrating my marriage to my husband – which is so far from perfect, but is also such a gift from God. I’m celebrating being a mom to a daughter who is a delight. And a hand-full.

But I’m not just a wife. Not just a mom. Not even just an employee. I’m not defined by those titles.

I’m just… Bethe.

Before this gets too fluffy, let me also say that we have been walking through something really hard this year. So very hard. Just three weeks ago I experienced one of the greatest traumas – one of my worst case scenarios – and it hurt. And so I did the thing I did after my miscarriage – I holed up at our house and told people I didn’t want to face the world. But that it was only temporary. That I’d be back. Because now I know that you can grieve now, or you can grieve later, but you WILL grieve. And so I leaned into the grief, and slept and slept and cried and got angry at my lot and had some very frank conversations with my Creator. And guess what… He can still handle it.

The details of the trauma doesn’t matter. In due time, I will share all the details with you (goodness… if you know me in “real life” you already know all of it… or at least, most of it). But the type of trauma doesn’t matter. It’s the way you overcome it. The way you trust your Savior with your hurt that matters. It’s the way you get back up and keep living that matters.

And so that’s why I’m here.

A week after my worst case scenario happened, Mr. Right and I were on a fancy date, celebrating life in the midst of heartache. And he hatched his idea for me to go on an epic solo road trip to visit my girlfriends. To see my girlfriend who moved to Orlando, and my other girlfriend who moved to Oxford, Mississippi. ­To stop and spend some time at the beach. To rest, and to heal, and to have special girl time with my friends. To just drive and drive and spend some alone time with my God and a good audio book. To find an adventure. To celebrate finding my voice.

And so two weeks later, I’m here. And now you know. I’m out here, driving 1500 miles alone over 7 days, to celebrate. To celebrate life. And freedom. And growth. And healing. To not be a wife or mom or employee or any other label I have given myself. To just be Bethe.

To feel free.

Chosen and Not Rejected

PrintI took a personality test, and one of its findings shows that I have a need to fit in. I’m not the person who blazes the path – I like to be in the middle. I’m a doer and a world changer and hard charger, but I want to be safely arm and arm with other people as I do it.

Being an outsider is really hard for me. Rejection is hard.

It makes this verse that much sweeter to me. I am chosen. I am not alone – God is with me. On my hard days, I’m not alone. I don’t have to be scared. I don’t have to push through as one who has been rejected. God has promised to strengthen me, to help me, and to uphold me with his righteous right hand.

Friend… you, too are chosen. You are not alone. You aren’t rejected. You don’t have to figure this out by yourself. No matter who has rejected you, criticized you, forgotten you, left you behind… the Great I AM is with you. You aren’t alone… you are the daughter of the King.

Find comfort in that, and hold your head high, dear chosen one!

The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up

Several people close to us started talking about The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. And like a virus, it was contagious. I bought the audio version and read it in a week, and since then, well, I’ve purged half the house. Mr. Right has purged the other half.

Wrenn is lucky we kept her and all those toys of hers (although a few have since disappeared).

Here’s my thoughts on the book:


1. Cleaning out my closet – REALLY CLEANING IT OUT – as in, getting rid of more than half my things, has been so freeing. I am pretty scatterbrained and naturally messy, and I spend half my day trying to find something I’ve misplaced. So, when I decided to look through my closet and adopt the KonMari method of keeping only things that “spark joy,” well, there went all those clothes I’ve been keeping because I might someday need them, or used to love but have since seen very little wear, and all that was left were the items I love the most. I can now go in my closet and every single item makes me feel good when I put it on – which makes it so much easier to get dressed in the morning. I think I had five white cami’s – but I only like to wear one of them. So, that’s the one I kept. Half my socks had holes, and I rarely wear socks anyway. I found a swimsuit I had forgotten about that I LOVE (because it was hidden between all the clothes I never wear). Now, everything in my closet has a place. The lack of clutter has done wonders for my eyes and my mind. I even added a few framed photos to make my closet another “happy place.”

And, several weeks later, it’s still clean. That, my friends, is a miracle.


2. The book gave me permission to get rid of things I’ve kept all these years, just because. Because someone gave it to me as a gift. Because it was expensive. Because I liked it before, so now it feels weird to get rid of it. Because I “should” have it. Because what if I needed it again at some far away time in the future? Maybe. Y’all – I just LET MY THINGS GO.

3. The book is a little weird on the spiritual side. The author thinks her possessions have souls, and if you get rid of a shirt, it will find its way back to you as a sock. Lord help me if my old air cast finds it way back to me. I don’t endorse the spiritual side of the book, but I do think the concept of decluttering fits well into a Christian worldview. My possessions don’t own me. They don’t control me. I won’t be ruled by them. And so, by simplifying my stuff, I free up time to enjoy more important things – like living. Having less clutter is calming for my brain and for my spirit.

4. I really love giving things away. I hate hosting garage sales. HATE THEM. Instead, I have been having a “reverse garage sale” – leaving baskets of items on my front porch and encouraging friends and neighbors to pick through them and take whatever they need, and then donating the rest. It is SO FUN. I love the thought of a dear friend getting to enjoy a small blessing from us (or our youth group at church enjoying a box full of Christian books – for free). Giving things away is so much more fun than letting things collect dust in closets.

5. Simplifying is going to take awhile. Mr. Right and I have been purging with the KonMari method for about a month, and so far, we’ve hit: my side of the closet/drawers, the kitchen, my books, our bathroom drawers/cabinets, the garage (y’all – several neighbors wondered where I was because my car FIT IN THE GARAGE for the first time in years), Will’s tools, the spare bedroom’s closet (mostly gifts/wrapping/storage), and our serving ware (placemats, etc.). I’ve decided we’re naturally going to have more cooking/entertaining items than most, since that’s something we LOVE and do so regularly. And that’s okay. It’s all about finding what fits with your family’s priorities.

Simplifying our life has been something that has been a huge focus for us this year. We had already simplified our schedule, focusing on creating margin to make ourselves available to love on people that God brings our way. I have tried to simplify my expectations for myself, as a wife and mom, and focus on doing things that bring health to all of us. And now, it’s another step in the process to simplify the junk that we’ve had to manage – junk that requires energy and time and money – and just letting it go. For me… it makes total sense.

So… who’s with me? Let me know what area you are working on simplifying. I’d love to know I’m not the only one!

Practice Hospitality: An Update on our Goal of 200 in 2016

practice hospitality

The year is halfway over, and this may be the first time ever that I have kept a New Year’s Resolution. Since this never happens (except for the one year my resolution was to have a baby… and I was already a couple months pregnant, so the odds were ever in my favor), THIS IS A BIG DEAL.

Our goal is to host 200 people in our home in 2016. Again – it sounds like a lot of people, and it is, but this isn’t something new for us. We have always loved hosting people. It’s kind of “our thing” as a married couple (and was “my thing” and “his thing” before we met). But, hitting our goal of 200 means that it’s the topic of many, many discussions as we intentionally try to map out our calendar, extend invitations, and also create margin for last-minute opportunities.

Here’s how we’re doing so far:

As of the end of June, we have hosted 73 guests in our home. Now, some of those are repeats (like one of our favorite seminary students who spends the night quite often so as to be closer to work on Mondays). Others had never set foot in our home before.

“Christian hospitality differs from social entertaining. Entertaining focuses on the host – the home must be spotless; the food must be well prepared and abundant; the host must appear relaxed and good-natured. Hospitality, by contrast, focuses on the guests. Their needs – whether for a place to stay, nourishing food, a listening ear, or acceptance – are the primary concern. Don’t hesitate to offer hospitality because you are too tired, too busy, or not wealthy enough to entertain.” – Note from my bible under Romans 12:13 – Practice Hospitality

Y’all, it’s so true. I don’t think a single person has come to our house expecting perfect hosts. But several have left telling us that they feel safe in our home – like they can open up and be themselves. This is why we do it.

So 73 guests is actually right on track. We have at least two big parties planned this year (which should cover about 60 people – both parties take place in the second half of the year), which means 140 guests over for dinner (or to hang out – dinner is not a requirement). We actually hosted only once in March and twice in April, because of a very heavy travel schedule, but then we had months like May (we hosted 8 different times) and June (6 times). We have had overnight guests somewhere around 10 different times… we think (we kind of lost track at some point).

If you’re looking to start hosting, check out my previous post for 5 Tips for hosting a dinner party that won’t make you lose your mind. We have also learned a few more things the hard way this year:

  • Don’t host on back-to-back nights during the week. Give yourself space to regroup.
  • Keep the guest list small. We have found that hosting 2-4 adults allows for the best conversations. If the group gets too big, we don’t get to spend quality time with each guest. (Kids don’t count – we just pile them, as many as will fit. And turn on a Disney movie, or set up a pack-n-play for the babies to snooze while we hang out.)
  • Leave margin in your schedule for those last-minute opportunities God sends your way.
  • Talk about the why – constantly. For our family, hosting is our opportunity to show God’s love to other people in a practical way.

Now we need to start planning for our next 73 guests. If you’re local and want to come eat, leave me a comment and we’ll do our best to get you on the schedule. And bring a friend. Or two. And a dessert… please (I like chocolate).