Archives for September 2012

Playing Catch-Up – And A Giveaway, Too

If there is any consistent pattern to the way that I operate in the month of August, it’s this: I overcommit. Every single time. I look at the calendar and think that I have all manner of time to cram in this thing and that thing before we jump back into our normal schedule, and by August 15th I am reeling from a to-do list that’s completely out of control.

So today I am making a firm resolution that I’m not committing to a single thing next August. And if my past behavior is a reliable predictor of the future, I am absolutely going to stick with that resolution until about July 25th, at which point I will totally cave.

One of the things I committed to this past August was to tell y’all about some super-cute new stuff from Initials, inc. I agreed to tell y’all about it because I love their products and get the biggest kick out of the folks who work there. Their bags are fun and functional and MONOGRAMMED, so it’s inevitable that I would like them since monogramming is every Southern girl’s love language.

Unfortunately, however, August kicked my tail. It kicked my tail because I let it, just to be clear. In fact, it kicked my tail because I planned it, what with my tendency to overcommit and say “yes” to too many things and waaaaaay overestimating the number of hours that I’m capable of staying away from Bravo.

Anyway, it’s September now – and about a month after I expected to get this post written – but I still want to make good on those last couple of August commitments. I especially want to make sure to carve out some time and ooh and ahh over all the Initials, inc. cuteness.

So that’s exactly what I’m about to do. Here are a few of my favorites.

Sling Bags

I am such a fan of a sling bag. I love the unstructured fun of it. I also love a purse that can double as an overnight bag in a pinch.

Zip Totes

These zip totes are perfect to carry around in your regular purse; they are light as a feather, and if you find yourself in need of a tote bag or a grocery bag, all you have to do is unzip the tote and load ‘er up. Super easy – and super cute.

Triple Play

This Triple Play bag is one of my favorite new products in forever. I don’t know about y’all, but I have hauled food to more places than I can count, and packing that food is usually fairly frustrating. I never want to put the hot stuff with the cold stuff, but if I’m going to a tailgate or something like that, I don’t have the luxury of making three trips back and forth to the car. The genius of the triple play bag is that you can buy “hotty bins” or “chilly bins,” and three of those bins fit into the Triple Play bag. That means I can use one of the bins to keep drinks on ice, one for potato salad, pasta salad, etc., and one for whatever hot dish I’m carrying somewhere. The hot stuff stays hot, and the cold stuff stays cold.

And just to reiterate: EVERYTHING IS IN ONE BAG.

Delightful.

So, if you’re starting to do a little early Christmas shopping – or if you just want to do a little shopping for yourself – be sure to take a look at the Initials, inc. catalog. As my mama would say, there is more cute stuff than you can shake a stick at, and you will love their bright colors and modern patterns. It’s always a treat when something is functional and great looking, you know?

If you’d like to win a $50 gift certificate to Initials, inc., check out all their cute merchandise – then come back to this post and tell me one thing you’d like to order if you win. I’ll close this giveaway next Wednesday, September 19th, and draw for a winner using random.org.

Have fun, y’all!

A Happy Tuesday Giveaway

About eight years ago I did a Bible study called Believing God at my church. I decided to go through the study because I knew what a difference Beth Moore’s studies had made in my friend Emma Kate’s walk with the Lord, and since the little guy was every bit of one and a half at the time, I was excited about spending time with other women and maybe even enjoying some snacks that weren’t Cheerios and/or Goldfish.

There is not world enough and time to explain what a difference that study made in my life, but it marked me in ways I could’ve never anticipated. I had walked around with a lot of theological questions for a really long time (I was too embarrassed to ask some of them, quite honestly), and that study was a real catalyst in terms of encouraging me to dig into Scripture for the answers. I walked away from Believing God with a fresh awareness and a deep gratitude for God’s unfathomable grace and mercy throughout my life – especially during my ugly early 20s, a time when I didn’t want a whole lot to do with Him.

(I could veer onto so many rabbit trails right now.)

(TRYING TO STAY FOCUSED.)

(So just suffice it to say that I will forever be astounded by the intricate ways that God orchestrates the events of our lives.)

(And I’ll just leave it at that.)

This Saturday, September 15th, Beth is teaching at a Living Proof Life in Reading, PA, and this particular LPL is a simulcast. In the past the simulcasts have been broadcast at local churches that signed up to be host sites, but now there are even more ways to watch since technology just continues to get fancier and fancier. One of the new options is the individual simulcast, where a person can pay 20 American dollars and watch the simulcast from the comfort of her own home. While wearing pajamas. And eating guacamole. And maybe even rocking a baby.

Today I’m giving away two individual LPL simulcasts – which means that there are two of you who can participate in this event by grabbing your Bible and finding a comfy chair and turning on your computer for a few hours. Travis Cottrell will be leading worship, Beth will be teaching, and you get to soak up every bit of it. Plus, you’ll have the freedom to fix yourself some snacks, drink all the Diet Coke you want, and never wait in line for the restroom. ALL WHILE WEARING YOUR PAJAMAS.

If you’d like to enter to win one of the two individual simulcasts that LifeWay has so graciously provided, just leave a comment on this post. I’ll draw for winners on Thursday, September 13th.

It might be just the catalyst that you’ve been looking for, you know?

And if you want more info about the LPL simulcast, check out the event page.

This giveaway is now closed. The winners will be notified by email.

You Will Not Be At All Surprised By This Topic

Early last week I vowed and declared that we weren’t going to Starkville for the Mississippi State / Auburn game. VOWED AND DECLARED.

And I had reasons, too.

Oh, it’s just so hard to get over there when the games are at 11.

The sun will be brutal that time of day.

I have so much stuff that I need to get done – I just can’t be out of town again.

Last year’s Auburn game nearly killed me. I don’t think I can sit through another nail biter.

But sometime around Thursday, my resolve started to weaken. Happens to me every single time that the ‘Dogs have a big game. By 5 o’clock Friday afternoon, I was making Serious Plans. And by 6:30 Saturday morning, we were on our way to see the ‘Dogs play.

I AM A WEAK AND WAVERING VESSEL.

But listen. Everything worked out beautifully in the end. For one thing, the high on Saturday was 80, so mercifully there was no chance of a heat stroke. For another thing, it was really overcast for 90% of the game, so the sunburn factor was minimal.

(I should probably mention that my hair, once again, was a catastrophe.)

(I blame the misting rain that settled in around 9:30 that morning.)

(And unfortunately, despite my best efforts, my hair never recovered.)

The game got off to a little bit of a slow start, but the ‘Dogs played really, really well. The passed and they ran and they tackled and they intercepted, and when it was all said and done, they beat those Tigers and walked off the field with a 28-10 victory.

You can imagine our delight.

Because we wrapped it in maroon and white.

And suddenly I seem to fancy myself a poet.

The whole game was a blast. The students stayed the whole time – which makes a huge difference – and the stadium was loud, rowdy (in a good way), and very, very maroon. I even had a personal cowbell monitor (his name is Alex) who made sure that I was following the letter of the law in terms of when I was ringing my cowbell. At State there are rules about when we’re supposed to ring the bells and when we’re supposed to yell, and there’s a young’un in this house who takes those rules mighty seriously. The Southeastern Conference would be tickled with his dedication to keeping the cowbells in line. Honestly, there was a point in the third quarter when I mistakenly rang my cowbell when we were on defense, and I was somewhat afeared that my own child was going to issue me some sort of Unauthorized Cowbell Usage citation.

(After my friend Daph reads that those last couple of sentences, it will take her anywhere from five to ten seconds to send me a text about how she’ll never understand why in the world anyone in the SEC gives a rip about how often we ring our cowbells, especially since cowbells are one of our most beloved traditions.)

(That text will immediately be followed by one from my sister, who will add a tidbit of SEC history and then remark that no one has ever seemed concerned about the volume of the sideline speakers at Tennessee games.)

(State folks are a fiercely loyal bunch, if you haven’t noticed that already.)

After the game the little guy enjoyed his first introduction to the wonder of another Bulldog tradition.

Fried cheese from Harvey’s.

And yes, I realize that it’s not Paleo / low carb / remotely healthy, but OH, IT IS TASTY. And we’d just won our SEC opener for the first time since 1999, so that seemed like pretty good cause for fried cheese celebration. Plus, I ordered a salad for my meal, so all those vegetables totally cancelled out any of the ill-effects from BATTERED AND DEEP FRIED CHEESE.

Be sure to let me know if you’d like to sign up for my weekly newsletter on health and nutrition.

Anyway, it was a great day. As was today. I even sighed a little bit when we went out to eat after church and asked for a table outside. Because the temperature was in the 70s. And glorious.

How was your weekend?

In Addition To All The Football, We Also Enjoyed Football

So last Friday night our little family went to our first high school football game of the year. The game didn’t exactly go the way we wanted it to in terms of the score, but it was big fun considering that I talked my head off throughout the game and also managed to work in more than my fair share of hollering. It is impossible – IM.POSS.I.BLE. – for me to watch a football game without participating (aye, and loudly) and sometimes even thinking about what play I’d call if I were the coach. Now granted, I don’t really know any *official* plays, but I’ve seen enough Friday Night Lights to know how to say “Rover Down 45 on 2” and then wait for the tight end to catch a pass in the end zone.

And just to be clear, most of the “plays” that I “call” in my head don’t really use code names. They’re more along the lines of “I think the next thing I’d do is get #34 to run to the left.” So clearly I’m an offensive genius in the making.

It really was fun to see football live and in person again, but I’ll tell you what was not fun and that was my hair. The humidity was approximately 146% (totally possible), and I looked like a cross between Roseanne Roseannadanna and Joan Cusack in Sixteen Candles.

Seriously. It was terrible. By the end of the night my hair had its own ZIP code and was in the process of staging a coup against the state of Alabama. IT MEANT BUSINESS.

Saturday morning the little guy and I road tripped to Starkville so we could see our Bulldogs play in their season opener. I was feeling optimistic that the day wouldn’t be too hot since it was cloudy and overcast and whathaveyou, but I am here to tell you that after we parked our car and started walking across campus, it became crystal clear to me (and I even mentioned it on the Twitter) that the temperature was somewhere between very hot and NOW I WILL BURST INTO FLAMES. Sweet mercy it was brutal. My hair didn’t frizz quite as badly as it did Friday night, but I was so hot that my cowlicks were completely out of control. It looked like I’d gotten hold of a roller brush and tried to create wings in random places all over my head, and by game time I’d given up the pretense and just pulled back the top of my hair in a clip.

No kidding. It’s a new low when you walk into a football game sporting a hairdo that makes it look like you’re getting ready to wash your face.

And listen. If I’d had one of those terry cloth headbands in my possession, I would’ve written GO DOGS across it in a Sharpie and slapped that sucker in my hair in a heartbeat. No hesitation whatsoever. Because the most important objective in my whole life this past Saturday night was to tame the cowlicks into submission by any means necessary. Plastic clip, terry cloth headband, 52 ponytail holders, WHATEVER. Pride in my appearance wasn’t even a blip on my haircare radar. I just needed for my hair to SIMMER DOWN, POR FAVOR.

The clip managed to get my hair and me through the night, and we had a great time at the game. The ‘Dogs won 56-9, so it was a fine start to the season. After the game we went over to my friend Daph’s mama’s house (got that?) and spent the night since it was way too late to make the trek back to the ‘Ham. Daph and her boys were staying there, too, so we loved being there and laughed a bunch and felt sad about leaving everybody the next morning.

Oh, I do love a road trip that involves seeing old friends. And football, of course.

But it wouldn’t hurt my feelings if that humidity would dial it down to about 94%. That would be REFRESHING, in fact.

All in all, though, it was a delightful weekend.

Happy Football Season, everybody.

Go ‘Dogs.

Three Books From Two A’s And An E

First thing.

As a general rule, it takes me a little while to feel like I can really be myself around people. I don’t think it’s because I’m cynical or distrusting; I think it has more to do with my inner introvert, the part of me that wants to run and hide when I’m in any sort of unfamiliar social situation. My inner introvert makes things like big gatherings with people I don’t know very well a real kick and a half, mainly because no matter how much I try to commit to embracing my surroundings, at some point that inner introvert sneaks up behind me, taps my shoulder, and oh-so-cautiously whispers, Hey. You know what would be more fun than all of this small talk? A “FLIPPING OUT” MARATHON ON BRAVO.

About five years ago I was at a bloggy meet-and-greet at a conference in Charlotte, and one of the first people I met that day was Annie Downs. I loved her instantly, and for whatever reason I knew from the get-go that if I felt tempted to leave the festivities and watch a Flipping Out marathon, I should totally take her with me. We ended up staying at the meet and greet and then talking for the better part of two days. I’m so grateful that my extrovert told my introvert to HUSH IT that day.

Annie moved to Nashville not too long after we first met in Charlotte, and I can honestly say that watching her chase her dream of being a published author – and seeing God at work in the middle of that – has been nothing short of inspiring. This past New Year’s we met for breakfast when I was in Nashville with my family, and just hearing about what the Lord was doing in Annie’s life made me teary-eyed. She had recently signed with Zondervan, and her perspective – as well as her obedience – encouraged me like crazy.

Annie’s book, Perfectly Unique: Praising God from Head to Foot, releases today, and it is an incredible resource for teenage girls who are trying to figure out what it means to serve God with every part of their being. I’m so thrilled for Annie, and I’m just as thrilled for the girls who are going to read her book. Annie has the unique ability to communicate with teenage girls in a way that’s utterly relatable and engaging, and her transparency in doing that is contagious.

Yay, Annie!

Second thing.

I could try to find some flowery way to say it, but the bottom line is that Angie Smith is pretty much one of my favorite people on earth. She is deeply – DEEPLY – hilarious, and she writes so beautifully that sometimes I re-read her sentences three or four times just because they’re so stinkin’ purty. More than anything, I admire Angie so much for the way she pours into her family, for the way she cares for her community, for the way she serves with genuine humility in the places and spaces where God has called her.

She is the real dadgum deal.

Angie’s third book released this past Saturday, and it’s called Mended: Pieces of a Life Made Whole. If you’ve been reading Angie’s blog for awhile, you’ll recognize the broken pitcher on the cover – and once you open that cover, you’ll find stories that remind you that “there is no one God can’t use and no one whose brokenness is too broken for God.” I think there are probably lots of us who can relate to the words that follow: “We know this is true for our friends when we want to encourage them. Yet, when it comes to the places of our innermost sense of shame and regret, we often wonder if it is really true that God can work all things together for good for those who love Him.”

Yay, Angie!

Finally.

Just a couple of weeks ago someone told me about how sweet Emily Freeman‘s last book, Grace for the Good Girl, had impacted her heart and her life. Emily’s humility and her gentleness shine through in everything she writes, and that’s precisely why I enjoy reading her words so much. She’s calm and thoughtful and present and discerning, and sometimes I’m tempted to stockpile her blog posts and save them for a day when I’m stressed out and need some perspective.

I’m so happy that Emily has written a new book, Graceful: Letting Go of Your Try-Hard Life, that’s especially for young women. Specifically, it’s written to help young women know what it takes “to be free on the inside, no matter what’s going on outside. Through an honest look at the roles girls play, [Emily] helps them learn to stop trying and start trusting that the Jesus who came to save them also comes to live with them, right here and now.”

Yay, Emily!

So that’s the big news around here: three sweet friends and three great books on a mighty fine Tuesday. I’ll be back tomorrow with tales of Bulldogs and humidity and how my hair applied for statehood status as the result of the humidity.

It was a very special time.

See y’all tomorrow!