5 Things I Learned from Kara Tippetts

A couple weeks ago, my sister told me about a book entitled The Hardest Peace. I found the audiobook via my local library and began listening the next day.

Personally, one of the signs of a good book is when I talk with Jonathan about the things I’m reading. This book definitely hit that mark. I kept bringing up Kara, her stories, and how I was applying them to my life.

the hardest peace

Over the weekend, I sat down and just wrote out the top things I wanted to take away from reading this book. Here are 5 things I learned from Kara Tippetts:

1. Give thanks for everything.
Kara writes openly about her struggle with contentment, especially in specific physical attributes.  She shares how she learned that rejecting one thing God has given is like rejecting the whole package. Refusing to give thanks for any gift God has given – even if it’s something I wouldn’t call “a gift” – is ungrateful. 

She made me think about specific things in my life – things I don’t like, things I wish were different, things I would change if I could. God used her words to encourage me to give Him thanks for those very things I don’t really want. Thankfulness. It changes everything.

2. Trust through everything.
God has not abandoned me. There will be Grace. Have faith.
Repeatedly, Kara writes about her confidence in the grace God will lavish on her family after her death. She witnessed this grace during her battle with cancer. And so she had confidence that, even though she couldn’t see it, even more grace would be present after her death. That’s faith.

3. Treasure the small moments.
Don’t live from big moment to big moment. Cherish the small ones.
Oh my, how this hit home for me. I LOVE the big moments. The weekend with Daddy home, the date night, the family vacation, Christmas break, etc. I love them so much that I get extremely sad when they’re over. Kara shares how she used to live from one big moment to the next. Then she got cancer. And the small moments became precious. After all, life isn’t primarily composed of big moments, but small ones. Every moment is a gift.

4. Invest in relationships.
Invest heavily in those God has placed closest to you, like your spouse & children. Ask questions. Spend time. Do what it takes. If they won’t talk with you, figure out a different approach. Don’t give up. Life is too short.
Kara talks about how she would rub her kids’ feet with lotion before bed. This was her time to talk with and listen to them. I love how she stayed invested in their lives right up until the end. She didn’t give up because she was in pain. She didn’t stop giving because she was feeling sorry for herself. She continued to serve and love until God called her home.

5. Love the Giver more than the gifts.
In perhaps the most powerful moment in the book, Kara shares about a sermon her husband preached immediately after they learned her cancer had returned. Before they had heard the results post radiation, Jason had prepared a sermon dealing with the topic of no marriages in heaven. He talked about how we tend to so love the gifts God has given us here on earth that we forget about the One Who gave them to us. We love the shadow of things to come and reject the Light they’re coming from. He told about how he was having a hard time releasing his hold on Kara’s life and asked his congregation what they were holding on to more than God. She said of his sermon, “it will not be soon forgotten.” No, I’m sure it won’t.

Kara went home to be with Jesus on March 22. I never read her blog until after she passed, but I am exceedingly grateful for the time she took during her battle with cancer to write The Hardest Peace. Certainly my thoughts have been changed because of reading it. And I pray that the lessons I learned will go down deep, take root, and bear fruit in my life and the lives of those around me.

Thank you, Kara. And thank you, sweet Tippetts family, for lending your mama to us during the last years of her life. I pray that you will have immeasurable grace, unfathomable peace, and sustaining strength during the days ahead.


Friday Faves :: 1/3 done!

Guys, we are 1/3 of the way done with 2015. Craziness.

Here’s a little collage of some of my April happenings…

april recap

my hydrangea has little blooms!!! // lots of Sneaky Snacky Squirrel action // me & my littlest  enjoying the outdoors // good times on the Harris Teeter dragon {which, by the way, only costs a penny to ride! so whenever the kids find a penny on the ground, we always dedicate it to Harry the Happy Dragon!}

I shared this on facebook, but I had an interesting conversation with an older gentleman prior to that dragon ride about my hands being full, if I had one more kid I could have my own baseball team, and were they really all mine?!?! You can see my response here. The things people say, right?! 😉

On to the recap!!
I just finished reading/studying through this book again with a group from my church. Always a refreshing + convicting read.


I gave you guys a little glimpse into our Easter weekend, including many pics. Wow, Easter seems like forever ago, doesn’t it?!


A book + review that challenged my thinking about God, myself, and sin:

the prodigal god

a few faves I shared, including this luscious molten lava cake.


Hope. & my meditations on the subject.

thoughts on hope // brownsugartoast.com

I shared a podcast I recently found + some of my kids’ favorite things to listen to these days {stories + music}…


You know those awkward family chats?
The ones where you learn things you might not have wanted to know? Yeah. I had one of those with you & shared what I’m learning about leaning in.

recent faves :: my new fave cookie recipe, iced coffee that’s tasty + easy, a new book I’m reading, & a way to make fun money:


a little story on scissors, curtains, risk, & my daughter:

cut curtains2

Also, last week I told you I was reading The Hardest Peace. And I promised to tell you what I thought about it. Thoughts coming to a blog near you on Monday.

Also also…I have loved seeing your faves when you link up!!! I found a cute organizational system last week thanks to Rachel and then Andrea made my mouth water by sharing this delish looking recipe for peach tea! I would love to make that this summer! Hope you guys are enjoying the extra inspiration around here!

How about you? What’s been going on for you this month?


Are you a blogger? Share your link with your favorite things below with Susanna and me! Just link back to me & you’re golden!

I cut my curtains in half //& learned about risk in the process//

Remember my guest room? And the curtains I made?

guest room after

You might remember that I bought less fabric than I should have because
A) I wanted long curtains and
B) I wanted to save $.

4 years later, the curtains were still too thin on the sides and were constantly taunting me with their thinness every time I stepped into the room.

And so I cut my curtains in half.

cut curtains2

When I first thought of cutting them in half, my second thought was, “I can’t do that! I worked so hard to sew those curtains! What if I don’t like them cut?!”

But then I remembered I already didn’t like them. So I had a choice. I could either cut them in half {with the possibility that I would love the result} or I could leave them long, still hate them, and never know whether I would like them cut in half or not.

So I broke out the scissors, folded them in half, and cut down the middle. I didn’t even hem the ends – just folded them over and clipped them to the existing white rings.

cut curtains4

And I also didn’t sew the two pieces together. I just folded the edges over each other like this:

cut curtains3

I fluffed them out a bit at the top because I thought it looked pretty like that.

cut curtains5

And here we are, approximately 30 minutes after picking up my scissors and plucking up my courage, I had curtains I actually liked.

cut curtains

I learned a lot during my curtain-cutting exercise.

I learned about risk.
And that sometimes it’s worth taking a risk in little things like curtains because it teaches you to take risks in bigger things like life.

Really, the whole thing started when I read this post by the Nester about why she painted white dashes all over her wall.

“This post is not about me telling you that I think you should dash your walls. And that they are the new style and that you should love them.
This post isn’t about dashed walls at all.
This post is about me reminding myself (and you?) that they are just walls. And they are there to serve me and my family.
It’s okay to take a risk and try something, even something I might get tired of and hate.”

You know when I was cutting the curtains, Anna Grace (5 years old) came running in and yelled, “MOM! What are you doing?!?!”

“I’m just cutting these curtains in half,” I replied.

“Oh, cool. Can you cut mine too?”

I don’t know that I taught her about risk-taking during that encounter. I think she really was just fascinated by the idea of cutting curtains in half.

cut curtains6

But, like Nester said, “I want my [kids] to grow up in a house where they see a mom not afraid to do something as silly as [cut curtains in half]. Because all good things in life involve a little risk.”


Friday Faves :: recent favorites

Friday Faves

Hey there & happy Friday!
I have 5 incredibly recent favorites to share with you. I’ve used all 5 of these favorites this week. Let’s start with the food one, because…obviously.

:: ONE ::
Emily posted this recipe a few weeks ago and I gave it a shot last week. Jonathan and I are big fans of cookies, so I love to have dough on hand for whenever the time is right. AKA whenever we put the kids down for bed. In fact, we just made some tonight and as I was working on this post, Jonathan said, “You know? I think these are the best chocolate chip cookies you’ve ever made.”

I made them exactly as written except for one small change: mini chocolate chips. Makes a difference. So yummy. Check out Emily’s site for a free printable of this super-duper cute recipe! I made it small so that you could go to the source for the real deal. :)

:: TWO ::
Last week, I bought this bottle via amazon. I wanted something portable with a straw so that I could easily transport my smoothies. Hashtag first world problems. I was debating between this bottle and another one, but when I saw the videos showing how this one worked, I was sold. So, Contigo promo people? Well done. You got me. And I love my bottle. So, thanks for convincing me via your nifty vid.

:: THREE ::
One of my very favorite things about the above bottle is that it only cost me $1 & change. How, you ask? Well, because I had earned amazon gift cards through swagbucks. People. If you ever search on the internet for anything, do yourself a favor. Install swagbucks as your default search engine and watch your bucks slowly rise. This is not a get rich quick scheme. Trust me, it’s not even a get rich slow scheme. It’s just an easy way to make what I like to think of as FREE MONEEEEEEEEEYYYYYYYYY!!!

Ahem. Anyway, it’s always nice for me to realize I have some swagbucks and trade them in for amazon gift cards which I then usually use to feed my book loving self.

sb:: FOUR ::
My original plan was to fill my bottle with spinach smoothies, but I got sidetracked by this cold-brewed iced coffee via Smitten Kitchen. I’ve made it 4 times this week. And I don’t plan on stopping any time soon. I’m very sorry and somewhat saddened to admit this fact because I know some of you will call me a hater, but I don’t like insanely sweet iced coffee. The kind that tastes like syrup. Or the kind where I’m literally slurping up sugar. I’m talking to you, Dunkin’ Donuts. So. I make my own. And this recipe is a keeper. Totally customizable. So if I feel like slurping up sugar, I can just dump it in. WINNING.


:: FIVE ::
I’m in the middle of this book right now via my sister’s suggestion. It’s made me laugh, think, and ugly cry. It’s spurred some good conversations with my husband and Jesus. And it’s caused me to be encouraged as well as convicted. Did I mention I’m only halfway through?

I got my copy via my local library, but I just noticed it’s {currently} on sale for $2.99 for the kindle version. If you’re looking for a good read, check this book out.

Happy weekend, friends. Rest in Jesus & His Word.


If you’re a blogger, I’d love for you to link up your favorite things with Susanna and me! Just link back here + you’re golden!

family chat :: summer craziness + leaning in

It’s time for a family chat. You know, those times when you just have to pull everyone into a huddle and update them on certain things? Yep. Consider yourself pulled into this huddle.

Sometimes people stop by this blog just to get a recipe or tutorial – they’re like the guests. Always welcome, of course, but they don’t know all the weird quirks of the family. And they never see the inner workings of my laundry department. But most of you have been around here for a while. You know some of my weirdness and you’re either okay with it or you just close your eyes to it and move on. This chat is for you. Let’s talk about life lately.

So. Summer’s coming. Our summers are normally a little weird-o due to the fact that my husband is a youth pastor. It’s not a bad weird-o; it’s just your general run of the mill weird-o. I think I wrote about some of my summer rehab last year. This summer our schedule kicks off a bit earlier than normal because Jonathan has 2 weeks of classes in Kentucky beginning mid-May. The first week of June is our teen missions trip, then we’ll be home for 3 weeks before taking our kids/teens to camp. You know what? Now that I think about it, that means we’ll be gone for 4 out of 7 weeks.

[cough, cough, cough, sputter, gag, cough, cough, cough]

Ahem. Excuse me. I lost myself for a few minutes there. Phew. I’m okay now. Just had to breathe into a paper bag for a minute.

Yeah. No. Not really. I mean, yes really. Wait what? There’s a reason this is a family chat. It’s because only my biological family is reading at this point in the game. Wait, Mom? Dad? Okay, I think I lost everyone.

Anyway, I spent some significant time being bummed by our summer schedule over the weekend. As in, yesterday. It may have involved tears + mascara narrowly missing Jonathan’s white dress shirt. Like thisclose. Phew.

After the mascara + white shirt narrow encounter, I went on a run. Which turned into more of a walk, think, & pray kinda thing. I had some music playing via my phone and this phrase leaped out at me:

“‘Tis grace that brought me safe thus far.
And grace will lead me home.”

Oh grace. Oh beautiful, wonderful, never-ending grace.

A couple weeks ago, I was telling my Mom about the details & decisions of the next months. After droning on and on about all of those things, I said, “You know, it’s funny. I guess we’re never free of needing God and His grace.”

Yeah. Like He planned it that way. Because He did. Oh, how I need it. Oh, how I need Him.

So if the struggles teach me to lean hard into God & His grace? Bring ’em on. Not in an arrogant, “I can take anything” sort of way. But in a “God, I so need you & desperately need this reminder that I cannot do this life-thing without you” sort of attitude.

Today. You will – & already have – faced something that you don’t like. Something that’s hard for you. Something you would change if you could. Instead of kicking against it, lean in. Lean in to God, His Word, and His never-ending grace. I’ll see you there.