Who Are You Leaving Out On Super Bowl Sunday?

5 years ago, my husband and I were spending our first winter in the Midwest. We were invited to a super bowl party by relative strangers. As entered the party, surrounded by our new best friends, I was nervous and incredibly lonely, yet excited. I felt special and included. More than anything I was so thankful that my husband and I weren't sitting alone in our basement, but instead were welcomed and invited to join in the fun.

We've since moved back to Southern California, but that Super Bowl Sunday still sticks with me for several reasons.

Super Bowl is a people day, as much as it is a sports day. And someone needs an invitation to the party. So who's it gonna be? Who are YOU leaving out on Super Bowl Sunday?


I was invited when I most needed and invitation. An invitation in and of itself can be powerful. It communicates worth and interest and value. I want YOU to join ME because you are THAT special. Being invited undoes all those times that you felt left out or uncool or set aside in junior high (or high school or college or last week, even). Never under estimate the power of a simple invitation to repair the heart and restore a sense of worth.

The other reason that particular Super Bowl Sunday sticks in my mind is the conversations I overheard and took part in. Those lovely amazing people, my Midwestie Besties as I lovingly refer to them, had no idea that their topics of conversation and comments would inform my opinion of them, would shape how I felt about myself as a newcomer or how they view those who are differenct than themselves. 

It was a great opportunity for me. I remember clearly what those conversations sounded like to a newcomer. 

I learned from their example that welcoming someone isn't just about how you treat them, but also how you talk about those who aren't present.  

I learned from that wonderful group of friends that including someone doesn't just end at the invitation. Making someone feel loved and welcomed really happens when they show up, when you listen to your words with their ears, when your words and voice and expressions and actions ALL communicate an open invitation, welcoming and accepting everyone with everything you do and are and say.

Let's not miss this opportunity, friends.

Who are we leaving out on Super Bowl Sunday?

Who do we need to invite to the party? 

How do we need to change our actions and words to communicate acceptance and love to everyone in attendance? Both newcomers and old friends alike?

I'm not a sports person (I know. GASP). But I AM a people person, a family person. Super Bowl means food and fun and laughter and community. I love it. I love being loved and loving others. Plus,... food.

Super Bowl is a people day, as much as it is a sports day. And someone needs an invitation to the party. So who's it gonna be?

Our God is Beautiful #WhoIsHeAtoZ

As I continue through my alphabetical study of God's attributes, I am falling more in love with Him, worshipping Him more deeply, and unexpectedly, getting a more accurate view of how He sees me. My Almighty, Beautiful God is becoming more real, more dear, and more present as I meditate on His many characteristics. Our God is beautiful.

This week, I've been ruminating on Psalm 50:2.

As I continue through my alphabetical study of God's attributes, I am falling more in love with Him, worshipping Him more deeply, and unexpectedly, getting a more accurate view of how He sees me. My Almighty, Beautiful God is becoming more real, more dear, and more present as I meditate on His many characteristics. Our God is beautiful.

Easy Vanilla Almond Biscotti: For The Friend Who Needs To Know She's Loved

When was the last time someone made you a fresh baked treat? Not for a birthday or a specific occasion? Just because. Someone you know needs a fresh baked treat. A friend needs to know she is loved. And what says "I love you" better than homemade vanilla almond biscotti!


When was the last time someone made you a fresh baked treat? Not for a birthday or a specific occasion? Just because. Someone you know needs a fresh baked treat. A friend needs to know she is loved. And what says I love you better than homemade vanilla almond biscotti!


God has really been pressing me to be more about worship and relationships, getting to know Him and tangibly loving others. I've been through a crazy year with a toddler and twins, and I've been loved and supported by so many amazing friends and family members through it all. In the wake of all of the wonderful help I've been given, I just can't shake the need to love others as I have been loved. And all I can think to do is bake.

Several dear, sweet sister-friends are going through some ridiculously difficult times. I always feel small in the shadow of the grief and suffering of those around me. To often, I selfishly go about my own business because anything I can think to do or say just seems silly compared to the deep sorrow and difficult trials others are experiencing. 

I suffered sorrow and trials of my own not too long ago, and the practical service and care I received truly saved me.

A meal delivered, a care package sent. Word cross puzzles, tea bags, chocolate bars. Notes scribbled on scrap pieces of paper.

Nothing fancy or expensive, but each of these gifts made me weep with the overpowering love they represented. The thoughtful, prayerful empathy and kindness behind these gifts was surprisingly healing.

A small gift and a short note may seem inadequate to you, but these thoughtful trinkets can truly heal, stitching together the holes in a grieving, struggling friend's heart.

I've never posted recipes here or crafts or tutorials, but I'd like to encourage us as a community to serve one another in even the smallest ways. Even through prayerfully prepared baked goods.

As I faced the heavy sadness of those so dear to me, I felt the need to bake. Something to warm the heart and pamper the receiver. A hug in a mug.

I'm praying for you, friend. That God would bring a person to mind. Someone who needs to know she is loved. Maybe she's grieving a great loss. Perhaps battling a great personal struggle.  Or she's just having one of those weeks. Here is a simple way to bless her. 

Pick up a box of delicious tea. Something warm and fragrent like chamomile, or something with lavender or citrus to lift the spirits. And, of course, some homemade Easy Vanilla Almond Biscotti, lovingly, prayerfully prepared by you. 


When was the last time someone made you a fresh baked treat? Not for a birthday or a specific occasion? Just because. Someone you know needs a fresh baked treat. A friend needs to know she is loved. And what says I love you better than homemade vanilla almond biscotti!


Easy Vanilla Almond Biscotti
hands-on prep time: 20 minutes
baking time: 80 minutes

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 eggs
1 cup sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup almonds
optional: semi-sweet chocolate chips for drizzle

1. Line a baking sheet with parchment and pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

2. In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda; set aside for later.

3. Beat eggs and sugar with an electric mixer on medium/high until they appear fluffy and light (approx. 5 minutes). 

As you mix the eggs and sugar, pray that your friend would feel God's unfailing love, no matter her struggles or circumstances. That she would continue to trust and follow Him even in her difficulties.

"Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life." Psalm 143:8

4. Add vanilla extract and beat until combined.

5. Stir almonds into egg and sugar mixture.

6. Add flour mixture in batches, mixing until just combined.

7. Shape the dough into a 4 in. x 10 in. log and place it on the baking sheet. bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until golden and firm.

As you shape the dough, pray love, peace, and comfort into your work. Pray that the God of Comfort would comfort your friend as he has comforted you in the past and bless this gift.

"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ." 2 Corinthians 1:3-5

8. After baking, let the log cool enough to handle, then, using a serrated knife, cut into 1 inch thick slices.

As you make each slice, pray healing and wholeness for your friend. Pray that the Word of God would save her from whatever stress or distress ails her.

"Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress.  He sent forth his word and healed them; he rescued them from the grave.  Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for men." Psalm 107:19-21

9. Place the slices on baking sheet cut side down. (you may need more than one parchment covered baking sheet to accommodate all the slices)

10. Bake the slices again for 8 to 10 minutes, turning each slice over halfway through. Remove and let cool.

Say one final prayer over your gift, for your friend and her specific situation, that the Lord will use your gift to heal, comfort, love her.


Mamas, Let's Be Silly Song Singers

I don't know how it started, but "La Cucaracha" is sort of our family song. You see, we are legit silly song singers, and "La Cucaracha" is a main stay. Mostly because the tune is so versatile.

Let's change your diaper
Let's change your diaper
na na na na na na na

We pretty much sing everything to that tune. Until "Shake It Off" hit the airwaves.

First we're gonna play, play, play, play, play
And then we're gonna eat, eat, eat, eat, eat
Then read a book
And go to sleep!

Perfect for a daily run down of our schedule, or you know, to highlight each person's favorite activities.

Sisters like to cry, cry, cry, cry, cry
Brother likes to read, read, read, read, read
Mama likes to sleep, sleep, sleep, sleep, sleep
Dada likes to eat, eat, eat, eat, eat

You get the idea.

On occasion, we have been known to bust out some epic versions of everything from "Total Eclipse of the Heart" to "Somebody I Used to Know." Christmas carols were pretty darn amazing. Our son can often be heard requesting from the back seat, "Mama. Dada. Can you sing a silly song?"

He loves that we are silly song singers.

Whether epic 80's anthems or made up nonsense, in tune or not, he couldn't care less.

His childhood is being built upon the joy of silly songs (among other things). The thought of it makes me smile.

Before you jump to conclusions, let me make one thing perfectly clear. We are not a musical family. 

I do love to sing and would say I have a decent voice, but my husband does... not. Bless him. Neither of us plays an instrument, nor did our parents. But none the less, we go ALL OUT with the silly songs. We throw caution and dignity to the wind. Because it's fun and freeing and makes our children laugh. 

Silly songs make me and my husband laugh, too.

When I'm elbow deep in diapers, and my toddler is painting the kitchen table with yogurt, and the other twin is screaming her head off, I could:
a) have an utter and complete meltdown
or
b) sing a version of "Shake It Off"

Babies like to scream, scream, scream, scream, scream
Poopies really stink, stink, stink, stink, stink
Brother likes to paint, paint, paint, paint, paint
While I go dance it out, dance it out! 

(If you add a booty shake, it really helps pull it all together. Just a little tip.)

My son thinks it's funny. He joins in. I laugh at myself, the situation, this life and my adorable, annoying, delightful, frustrating children, and I chill out just a little. Mama meltdown averted.

Or when you can feel that marital irritation is at a dangerous peak because no one has slept in several years and all of the children are crying and crazy, I can:
a) start acting snappy and rude 
or
b) belt out some Bonnie Tyler until we all erupt into uproarious laughter

Oh mamas, let's be silly song singers. 
Not small stuff sweaters. Or naggy nitpickers. Or obsessive playroom picker-uppers. Or hangry husband-haters.
Let's just sing us some silly songs.

Let's populate this life with a joyful disregard for dignity in the best way possible. Stop caring about the pitch or timber of your voice, just belt it out. Choose to embrace the ridiculous and dive head first into it with childlike abandon. 

Let's be silly song singers. 

Let's water our children's imaginations with joyfully, ridiculous tunes. Let's fill their memories with dance parties and smiling, laughing, fun-loving mamas. Let's empty our home (and marriages) of animosity and anxiety and let it overflow with antics instead.

It's not the lyrics or the tune but the tone it sets in your home and heart. A tone of exuberant zest for life, the essence of pure, perfect, innocent silliness.

Oh, mamas, let's be silly song singers. Try some on for size. Borrow mine! I don't mind. Just sing it out. Sing it out.




Our God is Almighty #WhoIsHeAtoZ

I'm up early this morning, sitting on my couch alone, waiting for the littles to roll around and wrinkle their little noses at the world. I'm NOT an early riser, so this morning stillness is a rarity. A perfect time for me to sit in my jammies, coffee in hand, and force myself not to scroll through Facebook or watch an old Top Chef, but instead think a little about our Almighty God.

"A" - He is Almighty

Our God is Almighty. El Shaddai.

First used in the Bible in Genesis 17:1-2, "When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to him and said, 'I am God Almighty; walk before me and be blameless. I will confirm my covenant between me and you and will greatly increase your numbers.'" (NIV)

El. God.

Shaddai. Almighty. 

The verse I chose to focus on for this attribute comes from Psalms.

Psalm 91:1 He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty." Who is HE? from A to Z: An Alphabetical Study of God's attributes, actions, title, and traits.... Our God is Almighty


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