Month: June 2016

That Time I Was Held Up at Gunpoint

I have one of those friends that says “yes” to everything. She’s just down for whatever. 

Want to fly to Florida for spring break while our friends drive? Yes

Want to stay in a tiny house when we go out west. With our husbands? Yes (more on that next month!)

Want to go to the beach? The mall? The zoo? The small group? The restaurant? Yes

Anyway, we lived together in college (dangerous) and I came home one day declaring that I wanted to study abroad in Spain. I asked her if she wanted to come. “Yes“. Okay. So we booked our plane tickets and were off for fun adventures a few weeks later.

Here we are in Nerja with our new friend pretending to be a statue. Because that’s what you do when you’re in college

Back to the point. One night I was walking back to our host house from a bar that was showing an American playoff football game and a guy stopped me and pointed a gun in my face. He was trying to rob me but didn’t know English, he was Moroccan so he didn’t even know Spanish. Anyway, one of the guys I was with literally took out a knife and the guy ran away. He took a knife to a gun fight and won. It blew my mind. 

I have a distinct memory of what it looks like to be staring down a barrel of a gun. For the rest of my trip I was a little nervous when I saw men walking toward me quickly  but for some reason once I got on U.S. soil I stopped thinking about it. I live in Baltimore, one of the most dangerous cities in America, traveled to Spain which has like five guns total and got threatened there. Only to return home and no longer feel nervous. It makes no sense. 

It’s a pretty long story to get to the point. I spend my life trying to live in peace. I will get to the end of my life and it will be one of the things that has gotten a good bit of my time and energy.  Trying to experience peace, to not live in fear, to not share fear with my kids. I should know by now that I have no control. He could’ve pulled the trigger and I’d never known this beautiful life.

We’re in an odd time in history. Maybe everyone says that once they are adults and the reality of our world creeps in and takes the place of wonder and possibility. Either way, I’m there. Seeing the world and realizing its danger. A lot has happened this month. A huge targeted mass shooting, animals getting a bit too close to toddlers whether in a zoo or a theme park. I read two books last week, one about a girl who was divorced by age ten, another about a 12-year-old who was sex trafficked in the Middle East. I go to a church heavily involved in eradicating domestic child sex trafficking

The ugliness hasn’t necessarily gotten worse, I’m just seeing it through the eyes of a parent versus the eyes of a young person believed to be invincible. 

So here we are. What next? Hide in my house with my babies? Last week I went to an active shooter response seminar for our neighborhood association and that seemed like a logical response for a full 24 hours.

The other option–trust God that even if He allows my babies to leave this earth too soon, even if He allows them to go through bad stuff, that He’s still good. That Our lives are a vapor no matter how long we’re here.

It seems crippling at times. Do I let them go to school and hide in closets for active shooter drills and just hope and pray they’ll only ever know drills? Do I pay hundreds of thousands of dollars for a more ideal education, using money for that instead of adopting someone whose life is certainly less ideal in an orphanage? Do we homeschool, which comes with its own many sacrifices, the biggest currently seems like my every hour? And that’s just one topic! What about when they decide to start traveling? What about when they organically start belonging to certain social groups? What if they join the military or become missionaries in some far away country? They’ll be targeted for something, that’s for sure-we all are.

I don’t know. There’s running away in fear, there’s choosing what’s best for your own kids even if it’s not what your friends think is best for their kids, there’s having a defense, even if it’s seemingly small to fight bad thoughts or anxieties. It’s bringing what we have even if it’s a knife to a gunfight. 

We can hide in fear or we can show up with whatever we have. We can choose which kind of education our kids get or what kind of clothes we let them wear. We can teach them to be comfortable speaking up when they’ve ended up in a sticky situation, to say “no” when they should and stick by it. To bring whatever they have to whatever fight they’re in, whether against an anxiety or fear, or a gun in their face. 

But really, the biggest thing I can do is teach them to live their lives. I want to choose to fly across country without them for a friends wedding and not obsess over our life insurance policy or how they’ll sleep at night or if they’ll start calling their grandparents “mommy”. I want to teach them to travel, to make the weird friend, to dance even if they look like they’re having a seizure (poor Elle, it really is that bad). To go to “unsafe” neighborhoods and sign the petition but to know the people for whom they’re signing the petition! One of the most important legacys I could leave is for them to live their lives fully without worrying about the zika virus or the college shooter or the plane ride.

I don’t know how to do this well most days. For now, I’ll be trying to know this intimately:

Ephesians 6:10–18

The Whole Armor of God The Armor of God

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.

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Favorite Things:Summer 2016

Well it’s been a rough few months so I think it’s time for another compilation of a few favorite things! No better time than while at the beach to think of things that I love. Want to check out other favorite things? I made a list in March and a special gift guide in December.

  1. This first one is super silly. It’s a travel potty. It became clear very quickly that Elle does not give me gobs of warning when it’s time to go. This potty has SAVED US! She has used it at a park, at a more rural ice cream shop that only has a porta pot, at a festival, on walks, and just today she used it in the line at the emissions test place. You just connect any brand of gallon zip lock bags to the seat and there is no cleanup! You just throw out the bag! No public restrooms! If you are potty training I highly recommend it. Or if you are so grossed out by public restrooms, meaning you have a pulse.
  2. New season, new favorite La Croix flavor. I’m all about the lime this summer! I tried the mango and I’m not a huge fan. For now, I’m sticking with coconut and lime. Sometimes when I’m feeling fancy or I have a really big cup I mix them together. Mind blown, I know.
  3. So I turned 29 several weeks ago and I was feeling really great about it. Then I scheduled an eye appointment. My MIL was telling me of a local place that takes pictures of your eyes versus giving you the drops. As a migraine sufferer I will do anything to avoid weird things changing my vision. So like a good little hypochondriac I set up my eye appointment. Then the nice Doctor casually mentioned that I needed nighttime driving glasses. Like a grandmother. I went to the sitting area where they show you the glasses and I quickly realized that I wouldn’t leave before giving them $500. For glasses I’d wear a few times a month. I rounded up my glasses wearing people and quickly heard of Zenni Optical. They have this thing on their website that you can take a picture of yourself and “try on” any of the glasses. Sign me up! So here’s my picture: Darling, I know. D thinks this is the most ridiculous picture ever. You have to open your eyes really wide so you can accurately center the pic around your pupils. It also elongated my face. Anyway, you get the drift. They cost $30. Yes that’s only one zero. It was awesome. Here I am preparing to “night drive”.
  4. Next up: This yummy candle. They say scent is the biggest sense tied to memory. My sisters favorite scent is an anthropologie candle and Target now sells a candle that smells exactly like it! One of my besties sent it to me when Kate became ill and it’s been a fixture in my kitchen! Snag it while it’s on sale!
  5. Soapbox! I was perusing the shampoo aisle at Target the other day because my hair is sick of Trader Joe’s Tea Tree Tingle (my go-to for the last few years). I try to buy products with less bad stuff but I have a hard time spending a ton of our money on toiletries when other people in the world don’t even have clean water! Enter:soapbox! Every bottle you buy donates soap to people throughout the world who would benefit from better hygiene, leading to spreading less disease! This shampoo and conditioner (I bought the coconut) smells good, makes my hair feel super soft, and has no parabens and sulfates. Did I mention it costs $5.99! Quadruple win! 
  6. Jamie Ivey podcast:The Happy Hour. I love, love, love this podcast. Jamie is a mom and pastor’s wife in Austin. She has one biological child and three more adopted from Haiti. Every week she interviews one woman who is doing awesome things or has a cool story and makes these hour long podcasts. They suck you in, man! Authors, and bloggers, and CEO’s, and Jen Hatmaker, and women who have gone through craziness whether it be illness or deployments or their husbands infidelity. They talk about parenting and loss and adoption and hope. They are so good. Take a listen the next time you’ve got a moment. I always finish with lots to think about.
  7. I’ve become a dorky mom. A few friends of mine got these 31 bags and in a moment of back pain and schlepping my 25 lb one-year-old to the playground with an enormous diaper bag swinging and almost knocking him out of my arms I cried, “MERCY”! So I looked on a swap page, because who wants to pay $50 for a glorified backpack! It’s super light, hands free, and big enough for my LaCroix and a sippy cup for the kiddos. I can fit a lot in the bag section too.
  8. We had a housewarming party a few weeks back and one of our sweet neighbors brought us the most adorable gift! She ordered it from a company called Later Aligator Boutique. I am a sucker for personalized anything so I see myself buying gifts there in the future. 😍😍😍. 
  9. Ripple milk. I wouldn’t say my body is necessarily lactose  intolerant but it doesn’t feel it’s best on milk. So I love trying new kinds of milk, usually I end up laughing because they’re not great but I really do like Ripple. I started with the chocolate version first. Clearly. And expanded from there. It’s a bit pricey but I don’t drink gobs of bilk so I can handle the almost $4 to last me for a week (quart). Did I mention it has 8g protein?
  10. Hope Heals. I mentioned Katherine Wolf in my last post here but she sent me the sweetest package of Hope Heals stuff and I’ve loved passing it out. I’m taking Kate the shirt this weekend, using the bag for an overnight trip, and my mom is ordering the necklace. It’s such a reminder of Gods faithfulness as Kate slowly heals and reminds us of our place in the story God is weaving. Check out the book if you get a second, too! So great.
  11. Last but not least I just got the most recent dress from Lularoe😁. The Carly. (I won $25 lulacash the other day!)I try my very hardest to purchase clothing for my family that treats the makers fairly. So that means about 90 percent of my clothing (and the kiddos!) is either second hand from places like poshmark or it is from lularoe which empowers women through helping them make an income on the side, and their conditions are fair to all people touching their products from start to finish. I buy from a friend who recently started selling Lularoe!(**interested in poshmark? Sign up with code PJLSI to get $5 off your first order.)

    Fancy:To Paint or Not to Paint

    Today was a milestone. I painted Elle’s toes.

     Who knew the simplest thing could be the product of a thousand conversations. D and I have tried to be relentless in our intentionality over the language we use when talking to and about Elle’s appearance. A few of my deepest loves are people who fought for their lives through eating disorders and the moment I knew we were having a girl I started praying for the way she felt about herself. From the time she started talking and understanding our words we’ve been affirming her. Her worth, her beauty. We tell her she looks fancy when she’s dressed spiffy or in a new outfit that she clearly likes, careful to not teach her that her beauty comes from her clothes. (We invite you to join us in not using language that relays to her that it matters what she’s wearing!) We are careful to keep her covered and modest, teaching her that her body is hers and is to be protected whether from sun or cold or unwanted attention. She gets to choose eventually but for now it’s protected. D and I have talked ad nauseam over makeup and nail polish and bathing suits. Wanting her to know she needs nothing to make her complete. She’s already a perfect picture of how God wanted her to look. 

    We were at church this week and it was the day after I got a pedicure. One of our pastors mentioned vanity and about how beauty is fleeting but we’re in a culture that tries to keep it forever, just totally obsessed with vanity. Interesting timing. So I got a pedicure the day before which happens less than once a year and was a birthday treat for me. Nobody would ever say I’m someone who is fancy. I rarely wear makeup, almost never paint my nails or straighten my hair (even though all of those things are fine! I’m really just two parts lazy and one part indifferent to how I look). But I got my nails painted on Saturday and immediately Elle was telling my my feet are pink and she wants pink feet too. So we talked again, D and I. We decided she’s old enough to have an opinion about it and she is being modeled its importance by her mother who never paints nails. Fine. Let’s do it.

    So I painted her toes. Then I cried driving around. I prayed that as people comment on her sweet twin toes for the rest of her life that she will know she’s beautiful. That the Lord made her so lovely. That her appearance matters zero and beauty is fleeting. That she’s so worthy. I prayed that she will hear and believe our words over magazine titles, that her feet will make her a great swimmer and a fast runner and someone who jumps and swings really high, just like I tell her when I mention how I love her sweet feet. Most of all I was just overwhelmed with how much I love that little three-year-old girl. That the 18 weeks of vomiting during morning sickness was worth it. That the fear and the vulnerability and the wondering if it’ll all turn out okay for her in the end, it’s all worth it. She’s just pure joy. These kiddos are the best and hardest part of my life and it is so, so good. TERRIFYING but good. 
    **To clarify–this is something we’ve felt convicted about. You can clearly choose the opposite and be a mom whose a thousand times better than me! Rock on, mamas!

    Living Room: Update

    Again, I forgot to take before pictures. Please notice the same color that is in every room of our house found in the listing.   


    I never panic order. I’m calculated, prepared. D is the opposite, it constantly blows my mind. I swear he’s the only person in America who doesn’t know what they want when they walk in Starbucks. So I was looking at the accent wall color we had chosen while we were in the parking lot at Lowes and I sent Dan in to buy it while I waited in the car with the kids as it rained. I called him within 30 seconds saying I needed options. It was just too dark. So he brought me 20 charcoal paint colors out (like a total stud) and we chose one in the car. Like crazy people who don’t know how the paint will look in the actual room. Crazy. We clearly live life on the edge.

    Even crazier. He comes outside with paint and tells me he chose a different color. What? Excuse me, what?
    He tells me they couldn’t get our Sherwin Williams paint color because they were out of the base  but he put the chip next to the Valspar options and chose the closest one. What? Anyway, we took it home and I put it on the wall and loved it! It’s Valspar’s Ocean Storm The other three walls were straight drama too , Modern Gray by Sherwin Williams. I don’t know if Lowes just can’t make this color well even though it’s a Sherwin color and they sell Sherwin? Either way it looks white. No other way to put it. White. 

    At the end of the day we love the room. Check it! 

    I got the end tables from a Facebook swap group and primed/painted/distressed them. Pretty cute, huh?
     Because it’s cruel to leave Jay for a moment!
    I’ve been living at Target lately. This console was half off when I got it! D got me these sweet lamps I’ve been eyeing for MONTHS! I found them on sale so “Happy Birthday” to me! I picked up the pillows on a whim.

    Finally. This rug. I went back and forth with it but I ended up LOVING it.What do you think?? Do you like the room?

    I’m Twenty-nine!

    All day I’ve been having thankful weeps. This is something that started with D and got more intense when I had my babies. Every birthday, Christmas, moms day…I’m a puddle of tears. For days.

    I grew up in a house big on celebrating. I had outrageous themed birthday parties, more gifts under the tree than I could count, a childhood for the books. I also lucked out with sisters who didn’t want the chocolate in advent calendars. WHAT? I’m serious, holidays that childhood dreams were made of. 

    I married someone who wasn’t used to creating the fuss. Don’t get me wrong, he had a great childhood too but he just wasnt used to creating the fuss. I want(ed) to be woken up to fireworks and iced coffee and a spa. With presents all over my bed. And a mariachi band singing affirmations behind me all day. I’m kind of exaggerating. Kind of.

    Anyway, here we are the big 2-9. I woke up annoyed that I was awake with the kids. Annoyed that my mariachi band (that I hadn’t requested) had not yet shown up. Wondering why my granola bar didn’t taste like fried chicken and waffles from Miss Shirley’s (I’m serious if you haven’t had them just stop reading this blog and get there to eat until your heart’s content).

    Then my actual day started. The sweet words started rolling in–oh the words spoiled me. The lunch and snowballs and voicemails from my people. My three year old wishing me “happy birthday” at least twenty times before noon. Jay giving me his toothy grin and laying his head in my lap for me to scratch his sweet scalp. It’s too much. I’m rotten for even wanting the mariachi band. I just felt this quiet whisper so clearly.

    Ashley, let it go. You don’t need these things. I have words for your heart. You matter. Your people love you. They like you. Stop wanting.

    So I laid my giggly baby down for his nap, as he put his stinky boy feet all over my face. I layed down with my girl as she told me everything as it was about to happen while we watched Brave. Kissed her cheek for the 300th time as she wished me “Happy Birthday” again. Then I let the tears get our hair all wet. She asked if I was feeling sad inside and I tried to explain my feelings but she cut me off to tell me what Merida was going to do next. 

    It’s a sweet life. Full of ridiculous expectations and unfathomable grace. My people are saints. Those I chose and those gifted to me. I’m so thankful. 

    I have some goals for this next year. I’m giving you permission to get all in my business about them.

    • I want to do one thing with my kids each week that they’d love and I hate. (Insert any word here that includes huge crowds). Even during flu season. GASP!
    • I wish I could literally wear a shock collar for every time I use a tone. Maybe I need a reward chart or something. I have a short fuse and it’s just not okay. If you’ve overcome using a tone I am open to ideas!
    • I’m getting a tattoo before I’m 30. D thinks I’m only doing it because my sister said I wouldn’t and I’m a brat. (I do take people doubting me as a dare but I really want one. Probably a compass).
    • Lastly. I want our kids to start participating in generosity on purpose. 

    If you like SMART goals (like me) you’re probably cringing. Help me! I need your ideas!