SB Or Bust

Well, it is finally (and most mercifully) spring break for us. It’s the latest spring break I can ever remember, and while I know I’ll love it when we go back to work / school and only have about seven weeks left until summertime, I may need a day or two to recover from how twitchy I’ve been the last couple of weeks. Personally I think it’s high time for me to devote a considerable amount of energy to staring at a large body of water. That’s usually a good cure for whatever ails me.

Last week Alex had a lacrosse game on Tuesday night, and then Wednesday night I washed All The Clothes in our new washing machine. You may remember that about a month ago we enjoyed some exciting adventures with a new dryer that would not in fact turn on, and its replacement was finally delivered and installed a couple of weeks. But while we were waiting on it, our washing machine started doing weird things. When the repairman came to look at it, he said that we needed a new control board and a new doohicky and a new thingamajig, but since the washing machine was still under warranty, the manufacturer opted to just replace it instead of fixing it. SO, we picked out a washing machine that matches our new dryer, and here’s to hoping that we’re done with replacing any of those things for a while. So far I really like them both, but I’ll like them even more if they turn out to be dependable. Dependable is such a good quality.

Then last Thursday, Friday, and Saturday I worked on recording the audio versions of A Little Salty to Cut the Sweet and Home is Where My People Are. I’m going to record the new book, too, but that’ll probably be a couple of weeks down the road. Anyway, I recorded A Little Salty… first, and since I haven’t read it in a long time, it was kind of neat and maybe a little bittersweet to walk back through those stories. It felt strangely full-circle since the book ends on Easter Sunday and I was recording it on Thursday and Friday before Easter – and we actually went to my hometown Easter Sunday. For some reason I was so, so nervous about reading, but the people who own the recording studio are actually from Mississippi, too, and they totally put me at ease about my accent and the fact that the “-ing” sound is hard for me.

I should finish up Home is Where… next week, and then we’ll get started on Giddy Up, Eunice. I think they’ll all be released about the same time as the new book, but I’ll keep you posted on specifics. The whole experience has been really fun and has also confirmed that there is no hope for this Southern accent of mine. I can try and try and try, but I will say “git” instead of “get” every single time.

Early Sunday morning we drove to Mississippi so we could celebrate Easter there. David and I ended up hanging out with Mama at home and watching First Baptist’s service on TV (Mama wasn’t feeling quite up to church that morning, though she perked up as the day went on), and Alex went to the church where we grew up with Daddy, who was teaching Sunday School, and Martha, who was greeting before the service. He had the best time getting to be with them there, and afterward we all went out to my cousin Paige’s for lunch. Paige and I planned the menu while I was sitting in the Publix parking lot Saturday afternoon, and I have to say: we got ‘er done, y’all. It’s nice to be able to do that for Mama and Chox considering that they’ve spent forty years planning and cooking for us, and it’s fun to cook for Martha just because she thinks every single dish is wonderful! perfectly wonderful! is this not wonderful?!?!?

We all had such a good time (that’s Paige’s son in the pictures with Alex, by the way).

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Hopefully we have a good bit of quality time in store this week (along with no small amount of reading – I am SO EXCITED ABOUT THE READING). Hope y’all had a wonderful Easter – and if it happens to be your spring break this week, please know that we share in your joy.

Hallelujah. And also amen.

All The Sports

I didn’t really intend to take another week off from the blog, but Alex had four lacrosse games from Saturday to Saturday, plus a big birthday, and then in the middle of all the normal parts of our schedule, I got page proofs back for book three and had a pretty tight turnaround with those. I actually love me some page proofs – making all the final tweaks and changes but not really having to come up with any new words – so when I finally finished those, I just wanted to hang out with my people and watch some Mississippi State baseball. We played Vanderbilt (they’re the #2 team in the country) in Nashville this past weekend, and Friday night’s (and Saturday night’s) games were just delightful if you’re a Bulldog (WE WON!).

Saturday morning Alex had a lacrosse game, and afterwards we were eating at Chuy’s (AS WE DO) when I started thinking that I might want to meet my friend Daphne at State this afternoon. Our women’s basketball team was playing Michigan State for a spot in the Sweet 16, and since my people were going to be tied up with – you guessed it – lacrosse practice, D told me I should go if I wanted to go. I was on the fence-ish until we found out that our small group wasn’t meeting at church this AM, and at that point it seemed like a no-brainer.

So. This morning I drove to Starkville, enjoyed some fine worship time courtesy of Travis’ new album, met Daph, her brother, and her older son for brunch, then headed to the Hump for some basketball.

We had THE. BEST. TIME.

The game was so fun – with a crowd that was the absolute best kind of rowdy – and after who knows how many lead changes, the Dogs hung on and won 74-72.

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I may be the tiniest bit hoarse.

After I got back to Birmingham I ran by the grocery store since I was unfamiliar with how to pack a lunch for Alex using air and tap water (and since I hadn’t pulled together a Shipt order earlier in the day), and after I got home and caught up with my people, I turned on the A&M / UNI 2nd round game so I could cheer for the Aggies while I wrote this blog post.

OH. MY. LANDS., y’all. I have never seen a game like that in my life. It was hands-down the most incredible comeback I have ever watched. And it resulted in a lot of ALL CAPS texting between Melanie and me.

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There must be a lot of heartache on the Northern Iowa side – they played their hearts out – but I am thrilled for the Aggies. As far as I’m concerned it’s always a good thing for a team wearing maroon and white to be in the Sweet 16.

So, to sum up: lacrosse, baseball, women’s basketball, men’s basketball. That was pretty much the weekend.

And it sure was a good one.

Hope yours was, too!

Hello, People Of The Internet

Well, I saw the first azaleas of the year this morning, so I think that’s a sure sign that SPRING IS HERE. The weather has been gorgeous this week, so that’s a delightful thing, but pollen and I have some longstanding ish-ahs – as evidenced by the fact that my eyes have watered all. day. long. By about 8:30-ish this morning I’d rubbed off all my eye make-up, so I believe the phrase you’re looking for is easy sophistication.

All righty. I have several things to report. I do hope they’ll be of interest.

1) The New Pants

This afternoon I received my new pair of Old Navy wide-legged linen pants with the new drawstring waistband. I have to say that they’re super-comfortable, but I wish I’d ordered a size smaller. Don’t get me wrong – they fit fine – but I think the old-style waistband made the pants fit differently through the hips. The pair I got today is looser in the hips than last year’s pants were, but I’m still keeping them because my word at the comfort. It’s also nice to be able to adjust the waistband; that wasn’t an option with the old yoga-pant style.

2) I also bought a pair of these.

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They’re not my normal style of pants at all, but I wanted to try them because they’re wide-legged and because I thought they might be cute with some a fun pair of sandals. I have to say that I liked them a whole lot when I tried them on. They’re high-rise, which is nice if one of your personal goals in life is to avoid a muffin-top, and they’re actually way more flattering than I anticipated. They’ll be great pants to wear to work this spring, and the navy is bright enough that it doesn’t look utilitarian. I’m not a fan of a capri pant as a general rule, but I think cropped, ankle-length pants can be sort of sassy with the right top, shoes, and accessories. So I’m excited about these. And I’m thinking about ordering the white because it’s so hard to find good pants for work.

3) Our friend Travis has a new live worship album that comes out this Friday, and I cannot wait. I’ve had his latest song – “The Blood of Jesus Speaks for Me” – on repeat for the last two weeks. It is beyond beautiful, and it preaches a sermon that I need to hear every single day.

4) Melanie and I are working on some behind-the-scenes things to hopefully make the podcast more enjoyable / frequent / professional-ish, and hopefully you’ll be seeing some of those changes later this spring. We’d planned to change the theme music by now, but the new theme song doesn’t have a natural end and I can’t figure out how to fade it out and so NOT YET on that. Anyway, if you listen to the podcast and enjoy it, we sure would appreciate it / be very grateful / be sure to increase our per-podcast mentions of Amy Grant if y’all would consider leaving a review on iTunes. I know that’s a strange request, but your reviews make a big difference in terms of helping with various podcast-y algorithms that others tell me are important even if I don’t necessarily understand why. So if you leave (or have left) a review, thank you. You may just think that you’ve written some sentences, but you have also contributed to some sort of algorithm. And that is very fancy of you, my friends.

5) Never gets old.

NEVER.

Happy Thursday!

“If Reason Fails, Try Force”

First of all, y’all are awesome. Thanks for that.

Second of all, this was the first weekend in forever where our schedule wasn’t at the mercy of a practice and/or game schedule. IT WAS DELIGHTFUL. We’re about to be full speed ahead with lacrosse season, so it’s been nice to have a weekend that felt more like an actual pause between weeks. Those are increasingly rare, as evidenced by the backlog of quality TV programming that’s currently hanging out on our DVR. But this past weekend, at least, was utterly refreshing. I got to see a couple of friends who were in town, I got to cook, I got to spend an inordinate amount of time in pajamas, and I got to hang out with my people.

The only tough thing, really, was that I had to say good-bye to the Crawleys.

Let’s talk about that for a second.

*SPOILERS AHEAD*

*BEWARE OF MANY SPOILERS*

*SO MANY SPOILERS*

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Y’all, it was everything I hoped it would be.

The Dowager Countess had some of her best lines ever, and the sight of her laughing over Spratt’s column brought me untold joy. Plus, at the end, when she affirmed Cora in the kindest, most tender way, it was almost more than my heart could take. Such genuine affection there.

And then – AND THEN – Edith. Oh my goodness. For her to end up as the highest-ranking Crawley, for her to be so completely adored by her new husband, and for her to be courageous enough to shoot straight with her mother-in-law – I was just so proud of her. It was like watching a little sister grow up and come into her own, and it was about time, you know?

More than anything, I think, the final episode made me think that watching six seasons of Downton was absolutely worth it. Barrow was entrusted with what he’d always wanted but hadn’t dared to dream he was capable of doing. Mrs. Crawley took a chance on love – and it paid off. Bates and Anna FINALLY enjoyed some happiness. Mary and Talbot had a whole new life ahead of them in more ways than one. Lord Grantham stepped out of his comfort zone to support and affirm Cora. Even Daisy, Molseley, and Mrs. Patmore seemed to have brighter days in store.

Probably the biggest thing that struck me last night was how the Crawleys and the people who worked for them ultimately became one big family. The lines between the aristocratic class and the service class were much blurrier than in season one. Rose wanted to go downstairs and show the maids pictures of her baby. Mary and Lord Grantham went downstairs to talk to Carson. Anna had her baby upstairs in Mary’s bedroom (and Daisy even snuck upstairs to borrow Mary’s hairdryer – with no repercussions). Tom and Talbot opened a car dealership – which would have been borderline scandalous ten years prior. Lord Grantham shook Barrow’s hand and Carson’s hand (and I cried both times – because Barrow and Carson were so taken aback by it).

(I can’t even talk about the staff singing “Auld Lang Syne” – just suffice it to say that I had to press pause so that I could try to compose myself.)

All in all, it was an utterly satisfying, totally enjoyable end to a series that made Sunday night television fun again.

We’re gonna miss it so much, aren’t we?

Worship & Pants & Whatnot

Well, I’m writing this blog post while sitting at lacrosse practice. Don’t worry – I haven’t dragged my laptop to the bleachers or anything like that – I’m just sitting in my car, waiting for Alex to finish, and hoping that if I type, then maybe I won’t fall asleep.

Apparently I’ve entered the DREAM BIG phase of life. I basically just want to stay awake while I’m sitting in my car at athletic fields. The 40s are a non-stop adventure, y’all.

The last two weeks have been chock-full-o-activity. There’s been lots going on at work (like when I picked up FORTY-TWO DOZEN DONUTS last Thursday morning), lots going on at home, and lots going on at church.

Oh! That reminds me! I haven’t told y’all my favorite news!

I’ll tell you that first and then relay some additional (and random) info.

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Okay. About seven years ago a former student from Baton Rouge emailed me about Daniel Renstrom’s music. He thought that I’d really like it, and sure enough, I did. Since then I’ve blogged about Daniel’s music an obnoxious number of times – his Christmas EP is a Hudson family favorite – and a few years later David and I got to meet Daniel and his wife Danielle when they were visiting our church.

Well.

Late last summer our church leadership began looking for a new worship pastor (our former worship pastor is now our senior pastor), and the weekend they announced they were starting the search, David looked at me and said, “Daniel Renstrom.” I said something like, “Oh my word – I can’t imagine that the Renstroms want to leave North Carolina,” and David said, “Well, he’s my pick.”

I didn’t think much more about it.

In the fall, though, I started to think that Daniel might be in the running, but I tried not to get my hopes up and ultimately decided that I was reading way too much into a situation I didn’t know much about. David, however, was still full of hope, and I wondered if he was setting himself up for disappointment.

We didn’t hear anything about worship pastor stuff over the holidays, and by the beginning of the year, I thought, Well, I guess we’ll know something when we know something.

And then I may have sighed.

So several weeks ago I met one of my senior girls for breakfast, and we’d been sitting in our booth for almost an hour, probably, when out of the corner of my eye I saw some people sit down at the table next to us. I looked over, smiled, and then I did the biggest double take ever because do you know who was sitting down at that table?

Daniel Renstrom. And his wife Danielle. And the student ministry pastor from our church.

I LOST MY MIND.

I mean, what are the odds? So we talked for a few minutes, and then I left them alone because I figured a few minutes of listening to me be ALL WOUND UP was probably plenty, and then after I left the restaurant I called David and pretty much shouted the exciting Renstrom-related news.

Anyway, as of this past Sunday it’s official: Daniel Renstrom is our new worship pastor. And this probably goes without saying, but WE ARE SO EXCITED.

The world is a peanut.

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Y’all know how I feel about the wide-legged linen-blend pants from Old Navy. For the last couple of years they have been my very favorite, and I think I have about five pairs of them. They’re so great for work and such a good alternative to jeans on the weekends. I heart them very much.

Well, a few days ago my friend Heather texted me and said, “THEY CHANGED OUR PANTS.” So I looked at the Old Navy website, and sure enough, THEY CHANGED OUR PANTS. They’re now drawstring instead of the yoga pant-ish waistband, but I think this might be a really good change because that yoga pant stuff could bag out at the end of a long day.

I ordered these yesterday.

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I will report on the drawstring change just as soon as I can.

Obviously it’s been a very exciting week.

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Just FYI: it’s now Thursday night, and I’ve spent the last two hours trying to get someone from Home Depot to help us with the fact that the dryer they delivered to us today does not work. They have bounced us to GE who bounces us right back to them. And everybody blames the delivery service (which, in fairness, used our old dryer cord to install the new dryer – but we didn’t realize that until they were long gone and we pulled the dryer away from the wall and saw our old cord). However comma I believe we finally found an advocate in Cody, who’s an online supervisor with Home Depot, and I’m cautiously optimistic that someone will come to our house and remove the defective dryer over the weekend. FINGERS CROSSED.

Also: our washing machine is doing something weird, and David is now on the phone with the warranty people. BE NEAR, LORD.

Hope y’all have a great weekend!

Long Time Gone (But I Am Coming Back Again)

I am oh-so-happy to tell you that edits are FINISHED. Week before last I did two rounds on my own, and after driving to Nashville last Sunday afternoon, I spent most of Monday at LifeWay going through the new book chapter by chapter with my editor. We tweaked, we deleted, we clarified, and we got that manuscript just like we liked it before I drove back home to Birmingham late Monday afternoon. I was going to write a blog post that Monday night, but I was enjoying not writing so much that I just stuck with that trend for the rest of the week. Plus, I had some real life catch-up that I wanted to do; I cooked supper Tuesday night, went to a baseball game Wednesday night, went to dinner with friends Thursday night, went to dinner with my fellas and one of Alex’s buddies Friday night, and then had some friends over Saturday night. So the week, it was full. And it was good.

Today it was almost 3:00 when we got home from church and Chuy’s, and after a quick nap and some quick TV catch-up, I met some friends from church for a fun fondue supper. It occurred to me on the way home that this has been my consistent pattern with all three books; I cross the deadline off of my list, take a second to breathe, and then I do ALL THE SOCIAL THINGS within a span of several days. This is a sure sign that I will spend the next week making sure I’m in my pajamas by 5 and then watching any programming that Bravo has to offer – with a fair amount of Food Network thrown in for good measure, of course.

Anyway, I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that I had a bunch of stuff I’d been wanting to tell you, so I thought maybe I’d share five of those things tonight in the hopes of not overloading you with 18 very critical pieces of information all at once. So here you go.

The Hairdryer That Changed My Life

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Listen. I was skeptical about a more expensive hairdryer. I told myself that my drugstore version worked just fine. But early in the fall, I decided I was sick and tired of getting so dadgum hot every time I’d dry my hair (so, you know, every morning). I was also tired of my hair being so frizzy. So before Christmas I mentioned that I might like to try this particular model (make? brand? I don’t know the lingo), and y’all, it is a wonder. I dry my hair in half the time, and IT’S NOT FRIZZY. It has made the biggest difference. I love it so much that I’m thinking of naming it. Highly recommend.

– A Night with Big & Boo

So this, apparently, is really happening. It is gonna be laughs-o-plenty, y’all.

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We don’t know our final schedule yet, but how excited am I about being on a tour bus with Melanie and Travis the last two weeks of June? Or two-ish weeks? Or two-ish days if Melanie and I experience some sort of claustrophobic event as a result of sleeping in those little bus bunks? GOOD TIMES FOR SURE.

Urban Decay Revolution Lipstick in Venom

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I’ve been trying to wear more color lipstick-wise, mainly because I’ve been stuck in a very neutral place for the last several years and decided around Christmas that I needed a little punch of color to combat the winter doldrums. I really, really like this Urban Decay lipstick. I also have it in Rapture, which is more of a sheer shade, but Venom is great if you are fair-skinned and blonde with pink undertones to your skin (I know that was specific – but I can’t wear a lot of bright colors because they’re better-suited for yellow undertones). And here’s a sidebar conversation for us: why do make-up shades have to have such edgy names these days? Why all the VENOM and RAPTURE and ANARCHY and LIAR? Why not HAPPY FUN TIMES and CHEERFUL and SUNSHINE? These are the things I think about.

Shipt

When I was at dinner with friends last Thursday night, the talk turned to Shipt. It’s a grocery delivery service, and while I’d heard of it, I’d never really considered using it because, I don’t know, I just think that going to the grocery store is one of those things that you have to do. I was surprised that I was the only one in our group who wasn’t using Shipt, and by the time everybody finished telling me why they loved it (true story: my friend Andrea ordered all her family’s snacks for a Disney World trip before she even got to Orlando, and within an hour of their arrival at the hotel, Shipt delivered everything TO THEIR ROOM – granola bars, bottled water, etc. – I thought this was genius), I was feeling slightly persuaded.

Anyway, Friday I was trying to figure out how to get everything done that I needed to do before we had company over Saturday night, and I thought, “I’m gonna try Shipt.” David was on board with it, so I downloaded the app, selected everything I needed, picked a delivery time – and y’all, Saturday morning everything showed up at my doorstep around 9:30. LIKE MAGIC. AND I DIDN’T HAVE TO GO TO THE STORE. Right now I’m doing the two-week trial, but there’s not a doubt in my mind that I’m sticking with it. I’ve already got my next order ready to go and am going to schedule it for when I get home from work Tuesday afternoon. So, if Shipt is available in your area and you’d like to give it a try, here’s a link for $10 off your first order. (Disclaimer: I’ll get $10 off, too, if you use that link.) It is delightful.

Easy Restaurant Style White Queso

I made this queso Saturday night (and seriously, I must have said, “Y’all – I’m making queso IN A SKILLET” at least 12 times), and I will never, ever, ever, ever, ever make the “orange cheese loaf” queso again. This recipe is so good and actually sort of beautiful. I didn’t use nutmeg, though, because I couldn’t convince myself that it would add anything. But everything else? MUY BIEN.

Y’all have a great Monday!