List of the Day (LotD): Music Appreciation, or the qualitative assessment of music appreciation


My husband and I both love music, and yet even after over 10 years, we can never agree on what to listen to! Finally, on a recent road trip, we were able to pinpoint why: there are actually a lot of reasons to love or appreciate music (or a specific song), we just don’t agree each reason’s level of importance. After this discovery, we endeavored to make a list of all these reasons (below, in no particular order), and for next week’s LotD, we will rank them and compare, so you have something to look forward to!

Once you’ve seen the list, go and listen to your favorite song. What are the reasons you like it? And are they among those listed below? If not, let us know so we can make sure this is a complete list.


 Music Appreciation:


Instrument/vocal quality (tone, timbre, range)



Technical ability of musicians

Evoking emotions

Ability to sing along


Instruments used

List of the Day (LotD): Pixar Films Ranked


I’ve decided that Wednesdays will be list days, just for a little bit of mid-week fun (what is more fun than a list?). So today’s LotD is ranking Pixar movies! I don’t know about you, but this is a frequent topic of conversation in our house (cuz, you know, the important things). So below you will find all 18 movies* ranked by my husband and I. As you will see, we don’t seem to have the same taste at all!

Once you’ve seen the lists, leave a comment with your top choice, top three, or if you’re feeling ambitious (or just bored), leave your whole list and we’ll see how they compare! I’m happy to engage in a friendly debate about why my list is correct.

*We haven’t seen Coco yet, so this list could change once we do!


The Incredibles
Inside Out
Monsters, Inc.
Finding Nemo
Finding Dory
Cars 3
Toy Story
Toy Story 2
Cars 2
Toy Story 3
Monsters University
A Bug’s Life
The Good Dinosaur



Toy Story
Inside Out
Toy Story
The Incredibles
Finding Nemo
Toy Story 2
Monsters, Inc.
A Bug’s Life
Cars 3
Finding Dory
Monsters University
The Good Dinosaur
Cars 2


Audrey’s Top Three (my 7yo daughter): 

The Incredibles

Reading, Watching, Doing, Learning - January Edition

This post begins a series of monthly posts to both fulfill my resolution of posting monthly, as well as serving as a writing exercise. 

What I’m Reading: 

  • Crossroads of Twilight, Wheel of Time, book 10 (Robert Jordan)
    This is an epic fantasy series of 14 books, each about 1000 pages. But this book has been a low point and I’ve been “in the middle of it” for almost a year. I love this series and am totally invested in finishing it at this point, though!
  • Come Rain or Come Shine, Mitford series, book 13 (Jan Karon)
    I’ll be honest, at this point in the series, I am listening on Audible and let myself fall asleep to it every night. I don’t miss much in this slow-moving book, but it’s sweet enough to make me think happy thoughts as I drift off to dreamland!
  • The Songs of Jesus (Tim Keller)
    The devotional I’m currently using. Very brief devotions based on a few verses in the Psalms. I wish each one were more in depth, but conversely, I picked it because they are short enough for me to actually get done every day!

What I’m Watching: 

  • Monk, Amazon Prime
    I’m embarrassed to admit this is not my first time re-watching the series. But it’s like comfort food to me, and I can work/crochet/fold laundry while it’s on in the background. 
  • The Crown, season 2, Netflix
    This is a show that I can watch with Ryan. He likes the history. I like the clothes. Win-win. 
  • Superstore, season 2, Hulu
    Another show to watch with Ryan. Usually he doesn’t like sitcoms (and they are my bread and butter) but at this one, we both literally LOL. 

What I’m Doing: 

  • Crochet hearts
    It’s that time of year when I’m winding down with the hats and looking for other crochet projects. Tiny crochet hearts take so little time to make and I just love to put them everywhere! 
  • Kids’ birthday gifts
     I usually try to include a handmade item for my children’s birthdays, and since their birthdays are only two weeks apart, this keeps me pretty busy in January. I am finishing a train flannel blanket for my 3yo son, and a My Little Pony pillow for my 6yo daughter.

What I’m Learning: 

  • We are all broken, even if we think we have it all together. Sometimes I am horrified and embarrassed by my brokenness. Sometimes I’m proud of myself because I think I have it all together. But really I should be embarrassed when I think I have it all together, because it’s much better when I remember I’m broken. Being broken is beautiful: it’s when God can really shine through. 
  • I wish I could put what I’m learning into a simple bullet point that completely defines exactly what I’m thinking, but really it’s more of an amorphous blur of thoughts that keep changing. I guess that’s why I’m doing this exercise.

Goals for the month:

  • Finish 3 more books. 
  • Finish editing my next children’s story. 

 Poetry Practice:

So begins, in cold
winter, a year of goals to
blossom and bear fruit.

Telling Your Story



She worried about telling her story,

She worried it would not inspire.

She worried about sharing so much of herself,

And the honesty that it would require.

Others had gone before her

With stories so moving and fierce.

And though she knew knew better than to compare

Still she worried with eyes full of tears.

Why should I tell my story? She pleaded.

What does it have to add?

A story without a brave heroine;

A story, not moving or sad.

She thought of stories she’d heard all her life

Of characters so brave and true:

Testimonies of God’s faithfulness

And all that He’d brought them through.

All stories have a main character

The One who directs the plot.

Was she the one who guided her story?

And then she realized, she was not.

She was simply an instrument

To play His beautiful song.

He was the one to write her story,

She just had to sing along.

So she told others of her story

And though she still felt small,

She finally learned to embrace her story

Because it wasn’t her story, after all.

Texting is my Love Language


I didn’t grow up texting, but I feel like it was invented just for me. I remember sending my first text in college and feeling guilty because I knew I just cost my friend 50 cents. But since then, as the popularity of texting grew, so has my affinity for it. 


I usually claim that if you call me, I will text you back (which is a problem when someone calls from a landline!). I will pin memes to my “so me” Pinterest board that say, “I’d appreciate if you’d stop calling me, but I’d probably respond if you decide to text instead.” It’s all just funny, and mostly tongue-in-cheek. And yes, occasionally, if I love you and know you love the phone, I will give you a call. But texting just suits me and all my introvert needs!

The text message takes a lot of flack, however. I’ve heard complaints about how kids never look at each other in the eyes, or never enjoy the present, because they are always texting someone else! I’ve heard that it is leading to the destruction of language and proper grammar, because no one cares about those thing when writing a text. I think these arguments have merit, but like most things in life, a balance must be sought. Text messaging is just a tool, and as with any tool, it’s how we use them that matters. 

I’m in a stage of life that is mostly dictated by my children’s schedules. And even for an introvert with some hermit-tendencies, it can get a little lonely! Even though I enjoy the occasional coffee and play dates with friends, I don’t need people around me all the time, or even that often. I don’t need endless phone conversations or a packed-full schedule. But I do need to know that I’m not alone, that I’m not forgotten, even as I putter around the house with only my three-year-old as company. I need to know that I matter to someone in the outside world and that they are thinking of me.

And then I get a text from someone saying hi and checking in or asking for a play date. Or maybe it’s just an informational text or a question about something, but it feels like a lifeline to an outside world that I may not need to be in all the time, but definitely want to know that I am a part of.  

So every once in a while, I take the time to just send out texts. Sometimes it’s just to one person who has come to my mind, and I want them to know I am thinking about them and love them. Sometimes I send out several. Because isn’t that what we all want, whether introvert or extrovert, whether texter or caller: don’t we just want to know that we aren’t alone, that we aren’t forgotten, that we matter to someone, and that they are thinking of us?

So if you get a text from me, whether just a random hi, asking a question, or giving you some sort of information, let it be a reminder to you that you are not alone. You are remembered and matter to me and I’m thinking of you. Because I am sitting alone at home or in my car, and after all, texting is my love language.

My Prayers for Las Vegas


This is my view as I sit cross-legged and arms outstretched in prayer for a city that has been host to such a terrible atrocity. And I am struck that two days ago, in a hotel less than a mile away, another looked down on this city, and, so filled with evil was he, that he took the lives of so many, including his own. And here I am, little old me, looking down on this city and trying to combat the darkness in my own way.

We planned this trip months ago when we learned that my husband’s promotion required him to attend a series of conferences in Las Vegas, and spouses were encouraged to attend as well. When we heard about the shooting, I thought possibly the conference would be cancelled (and secretly hoped), but no, it was still on, with increased security. So here we came to Las Vegas.

At the airport was the juxtaposition of the blaring signs and colorful advertisements, promoting anything you could possibly desire, with large black screens saying “We’ve been there for you in the good times. Thank you for standing with us in the bad. #VegasStrong” And that is the hashtag I almost used in my photo above, but something in me balked at the idea. Vegas Strong? No, the only help for Vegas, for any city, for our country, and for our world, can be found through prayer.

I do not believe it was a coincidence that brought me here, with a burning desire in my heart to pray. And not just pray, but to sit at the window and stretch out my arms, not out of the hate and evil of the man two days ago, but out of sadness and love.

Tears pour down my face as I pray for the people of this city, both visitors and residents, who have been broken by this act of evil. I pray that they will seek Jesus, the Savior and Ultimate Comforter, for healing and renewal. I pray for the people who are here that have not been broken, because they have built up such walls of hate and fear or even indifference, that God will break down those walls so that His love and transforming power can seep into their souls. I pray for the families of those who died, that they will seek and find comfort in Jesus; I pray for the wounded that they will be healed and give God the glory! I pray that the churches would rise up in love and be welcoming of every single sinner (and by that, I mean EVERYONE, including and especially myself) and say, “Come and gather with us, because we love you. Here you will find redemption and renewal through our Savior, Jesus Christ.” And finally, I have been praying for this city, that it will be transformed by this heinous act, and not by responding evil with evil, but by becoming a city that LOVES, as Christ loves his people. That people would feel the love of God like a broken dam, that floods through every seedy ally and small corners of every heart, and the city would be renewed and transformed by this love, by His power, and by His Grace.

Because I am dealing with my own insecurities while I am here, I feel an inadequate vessel to be pouring out such enormous prayers for this city. But for some reason I am here and feel this burden that I can’t seem to ignore, so I continue to pray things that I may never see answered, or may never see the impact of until I get to heaven. But for some reason, God chooses inadequate vessels, so maybe he did indeed choose me to be here for such a time as this.

AirBnb: Our Own Mission Field

This is a guest post by the very talented Lois Barker, who also happens to be my mother and who I wrote this post about in 2007.

Two weeks ago, my husband and I traveled from our home in Fairfield, Connecticut to Williamsburg, Virginia in order to attend the wedding of a lovely young woman who stayed with us through Airbnb. She stayed with us all last summer, and every day after work, we would spend time together as she told us about her day. As we took our seats at her wedding, we both had tears in our eyes thinking of the blessings God has given us in getting to know this lovely woman and now, her husband. As I told her, she will always be remembered in our prayers. 

Who would have thought when we started AirBnb that we would form such precious relationships with our guests? And that we would be invited to share in their families' momentous occasions? And that we would be able to share our faith with people from all over the world, without ever leaving our home? But that's just a small part of the joys of hosting through Airbnb. 

And what an amazing time we had this past weekend! Again, through Airbnb, we have been honored to host two separate Chinese families over the past several years. They now consider our home their home-away-from-home. These two families had never met in China, but became friends when they were staying in our house at the same time. Both of these families had children in private schools in Connecticut. Both of these young people were the valedictorians of the respective classes and now will be attending the same university in the United States. Imagine our joy when they proudly invited us to the two separate graduations and then two graduation parties afterwards. We felt so honored and privileged to be included in such an intimate gathering. And again, as we said good-bye, we told them they would always be in our hearts and prayers. 

For many years we have been giving to missions but never felt led to go ourselves. At times, we even felt guilty as family members and friends left their homes to be missionaries around the world. Then the Lord brought us to a period of financial instability, so we decided to open our home to Airbnb. What a surprise to find that God used a time of uncertainty in our lives to bring the mission field right to us!

We put Bibles in different languages in all the rooms. We pray for opportunities to share Christ with our guests. We simply become friends and join in their lives, and through this, we have our own little mission field. We pray that we can be a blessing to our guests. And we find great joy in the blessing that they have been to us.

Deeper Magic

"Oh, you're real, you're real! Oh, Aslan!" cried Lucy and both girls flung themselves upon him and covered him with kisses.

"But what does it all mean?" asked Susan when they were somewhat calmer.

"It means," said Aslan, "that thought the Witch knew the Deep Magic, there is a magic deeper still which she did not know. Her knowledge goes back only to the dawn of Time. But if she could have looked a little further back, into the stillness and the darkness before Time dawned, she would have read there a different incantation. She would have known that when a willing victim who had committed no treachery was killed in a traitor's stead, the Table would crack and Death itself would start working backwards." (emphasis added)

C.S. Lewis, The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe

An Invitation to His Plan

Last week I wrote about my sometimes bad attitude. I've been thinking a lot about it and I wish I could say I've conquered it forever and absolutely! But instead, it will probably continue in those hard days. So for now, I will work to contemplate God's grace. 

If I think of my obligations as just that - obligations - then that's what they always will be. But instead, I am trying to remember that God has a plan that will be accomplished, whether I am a part of it or not! But because of His love and grace to me, he gently invites me to be a part of accomplishing His perfect plan. He uses my flawed attitude, my faithless hands, to carry out his Perfect Plan. 

And what a beautiful gift!

I don't have to do anything to earn His love.
I get to do His work because of His love. 

Yesterday I spent some time looking at my hands and I offer them to Him. They are His hands, to use on this earth, to accomplish His Will. "Not my will but yours," Jesus says in the garden before His death, and I try to echo that in my fallen, imperfect way.

I hesitate to even write these thoughts, because it sound so pious, so put-together. But in fact, it is the exact opposite. These are the thoughts in my head as I feel worn down and just trying to keep my head above water. 

And my bad attitude will come and go as the days roll in and out. But His love for me will continue, and His plan will continue, and I get to be a part of it.

The Bad Attitude and the Blessing

I have a confession to make.

Many, many times throughout the day, I have a bad attitude. I'm working on it, I really am. But seriously, I'm a mom. I'm tired. I have more to do than I can get done, and none of it is what I want to be doing. Hence the bad attitude.

But recently I've noticed an amazing phenomenon: 

God uses me despite my bad attitude. 


It has happened time and time again in the past months (and probably years, if I really look back far enough). Here is the common situation:

An obligation is approaching, usually one that I myself signed up for many weeks earlier. But as the day approaches that I need to fulfill the obligation, I start to whine. Then the day arrives, and I get on my phone and complain to my friends about the obligation. I wonder why I signed up for the obligation in the first place! 

Then comes the amazing part. Once the obligation is done, I realize that God used me and my bad attitude and made something beautiful come out of it. I look back on the obligation and realize it was an act of beauty, it was received with love, and my life was blessed by it. And in looking back on what was once thought of as an obligation, but now I realize was a blessing, I am humbled. 

What kind of God uses me to bless others when I am a whiner, complainer, and a bad-attitude haver? And not only uses me, but blesses me through it? It is a God of love, kindness, mercy, and forgiveness. The kind of God who wants to pour out his blessings, if we would only open our eyes and see them. 

And it makes me think.

What kind of blessing would I be (and therefore receive) if I could just knock-off that bad attitude? Would the blessings to others be multiplied if I truly did these things out of love instead of obligation?

Am I as bad as Joseph's brothers? "You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good." (Genesis 50:20)

(To be fair, I never intend harm! A bad attitude can't be as bad as that, right?) 

Only an all-powerful and gracious God can make all these things come out for the good.

So I continue to work on it. Those busy days come and go and so do the bad attitudes (a lot of times it depends on the amount of sleep I get, to which I think most mothers can attest!).

And even in those times, in all times, God is faithful and I am blessed.

Look at the Stars and Remember

So everyone knows I love October. I would say up there with chocolate and Harry Potter, October is one of the things I mention most on this blog! I love the leaves in the streets, the cool weather, the pumpkins and scarecrows. But something I haven't thought about much are October nights. I love them just as much as October days! The chill in the air when we crack the window, the lights on the porches as the days grow shorter, the warm pjs and slippers (to be fair , that's an all day thing in my house...). And the stars. With the earlier nights, it's easier to step outside and look up before you would normally tumble into bed. And maybe I should start taking the time to notice.

Because for some reason, a stars theme keeps popping up in my life.

A few nights ago,I received a beautiful voice message of my niece singing "Consider the Stars" (by Keith and Kristyn Getty) and I just started crying. Hearing her sing "Consider the stars in the sky; When it is darkest they shine out the brightest, Consider the stars in the sky, In every anguish, Oh, child take courage." Something about the juxtaposition of her sweet childish voice and the great truths of Heaven spoke to me at the very heart of my being.

Then in my small group, we talked about Abraham. In Genesis 15:5, God says, "Look up at the sky and count the stars" and Abraham will be reminded of God's amazing - and seemingly impossible! - promise to him. But whenever Abraham doubts or forgets, all he has to do is look up and be reminded!

Even in the Mops theme for the year: We are the Starry Eyed! I love this picture of motherhood, because too often I feel like my eyes just look tired. But there's more to life than that, even a stay-at-home mom's life! Their website says, "Starry Eyed means looking for the light even when darkness is enveloping. It is an opportunity to hope recklessly and to witness God’s presence guiding things seen and unseen, comfortable and uncomfortable." Looking up at the sky and sensing the wonder, even in the ordinary. I love this theme because it reminds me that life is never just ordinary, never just mundane, never just hard. There is beauty and wonder and hope amidst it all!

Finally, I have been memorizing Psalm 8, "When I consider the heavens, the moon and the stars that you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him?" God is so majestic and beautiful and magnificent, why does He even bother with me? But he does. He sees me. Truly sees me, more than anyone ever has.

And isn't that what we all really want? Just to be truly seen. As an introvert and a person who will always choose being home over going out, sometimes I don't feel seen. People notice the fun people, the outgoing people, the beautiful people (or at least it feels that way to me). And I feel invisible.

But I can look at the stars and know the the Creator is actually looking back at me. And as I gaze out, I can remember these beautiful messages from Him: that He keeps His promises, that He has given me life and wants me to live it in wonder and awe, that He sees me.

So this October, don't just enjoy the days. Enjoy the nights. Look up and remember:

Do not be afraid

He who made all of this,

says “You're worth more than this,”

And holds you in his hands.*




*If you haven't listened to this song, go listen now! So sweet and poignant. Then teach a nearby child, because hearing a child sing it makes it all the more powerful. Consider the Stars, by Keith and Kristyn Getty.

This Old House

Ryan has mentioned moving again, and I feel his pain. His commute is over an hour each way and I know that's two hours a day that he is away from me and the kids. But I struggle with the thought of moving because I've grown to love our little house. I tell him if it weren't for his commute, I'd live in this house forever. You see, I look at it and see it's potential. Yes, it's sweet and comfortable and even attractive in some ways as it is now. But there are so many possibilities as to what this house could become! We could dormer out the upstairs back and/or front. We could add to the back. We could convert the garage to a great room and move the driveway behind the house. It could be roomier, cozier, and even more attractive with just a little work.

I was explaining all this to my dear friend, and telling her how grateful to God I am for the contentment I find in this house. It's so easy to see bigger and more beautiful houses and wish they were mine, but instead, I am grateful for what I have.

And then I had a flash of analogy: this is how God loves us! He sees our imperfections and our potential. He looks at us and sees what we could be with a little work. And He isn't going to move on to another project before finishing the work He has put into us. There are some things that need fixing or a little coat of paint and there are some things that need to be completely gutted and rebuilt. And He will do it all, lovingly, one step at a time. As long as we let Him.

Of course, the analogy is imperfect because while I whine and moan when I have to move the oldest dishwasher in the world to the sink to plug in the water or when I have to trudge down into the darkest parts of the basement with piles and piles of laundry, God doesn't complain about all the work He has to do in us when we are so stubborn. But it still gave me pause, and helped me to remember His great love for me.

And His continual work in me, especially in learning to stop whining about dishes and laundry.

To the woman who says she's not beautiful

I am on a journey. As a woman who has been on a diet her entire adult life (ie. been cheating on a diet my entire adult life), I now say I am done. I am done looking in the mirror and seeing what is wrong with my body and deciding to try dieting. Instead, I am going to look in the mirror at this amazing, beautiful body that God has given me, and decide to treat it right: healthy foods, activity, and respect.

I call this a journey because an entire lifetime of a certain way of thinking cannot be changed overnight. It is a journey of respecting myself, of being an example to my daughter, and of honoring my Lord God and Creator. He gave me this body, gave me my health, allowed me to carry babies, etc. etc. etc. The list could go on and on! And that is the list I want to focus on.

And yet, do you know when my resolve waivers along this journey? When I hear you, you lovely, beautiful, talented, smart, amazing woman, talk down about yourself. I start to think if this lovely, beautiful, talented smart, amazing woman thinks badly about herself, how much worse must I be? How much worse must she think of me? (Now I know you're not thinking worse of me, because everyone is hardest on themselves, but that is how I interpret your words.)

So please, let's just stop. I know... I do it, too. But for the sake of my journey, and even more importantly, for the sake of my daughter's young and pure journey, please stop the negative self-talk.

I could say when we have conversations, start telling me wonderful things about yourself. But let's face it, we're women... that's not going to happen. So instead, look at me and tell me something you admire. And I will do the same to you. I can pull up every woman that I know in my mind and think of dozens of positive things I could genuinely say about them.

You, woman who is reading this blog post, I promise you, I think you are beautiful.

So for my sake, for your sake, and for the sake of our daughters', stop talking negatively about yourselves, and truly believe that you are a beautiful creature of God.

Will you join me on this journey?

Take my life

A friend recently asked me why I had the music and lyrics to the song "Take My Life and Let It Be" (Frances R. Havergal) up on my fridge. I hadn't ever really thought about it before, but I immediately said, "I feel like it's my prayer as a housewife, homemaker, and mother." (Actually, I wasn't quite that eloquent, but that's what I meant.) And the more I've thought about it, the more I realize how true that is! In fact, tonight as I was washing and cutting up strawberries (my new favorite dessert, thanks to my new, sugarless lifestyle - yes, I'm now one of those people who eats FRUIT like DESSERT!), I was singing it to myself and imagining how the words pertained to the stay-at-home mom. So here is what I came up with: Take my life and let it be Consecrated, Lord, to Thee. My life may look mundane, in all the routine little things that I do (will the dishes ever end??) but it is the life the Lord has laid out for me, and it is sacred. I have dedicated it to Him, so even in doing the never-ending dishes, I am worshipping Him.

Take my moments and my days, Let them flow in endless praise. I want my children to see me worshipping the Lord in everything I do. If I can live out a life of praise in front of them, how much easier will it be for them to do it, too!

Take my hands and let them move At the impulse of Thy love. Take my feet and let them be Swift and beautiful for Thee. So many times I want to just lose my temper. "How many times do I need to tell you to put your toys away???" But instead of condemning and acting out in anger, I pray that I will act out in love. I love these children so much. May my hands and my actions show them so.

Take my voice and let me sing, Always, only for my King. Do you know how often I've sung the song "Let it go" from Frozen??? Well, if you're a mother of a young girl, you probably know... it's a LOT! But how often am I singing praise choruses, or even this hymn? I want to be worshipful, even/especially in my singing. (Nothing wrong with singing a little "Let it go", though! How much longer will my daughter want to be singing those songs with me? But even those precious moments with our children can be worshipful.)

Take my lips and let them be Filled with messages from Thee. I pray that I would be more bold in my faith. It's not something I'm ashamed of, but something I cherish. Why do I withhold that precious gift from my non-believer friends? And I want to take every opportunity with my children to tell them about Jesus.

Take my silver and my gold, Not a mite would I withhold. I pray that I would be more generous and think less of myself when it comes to physical belongings. Don't I want my children to understand generosity? Do I want them to be spoiled? Or see me be spoiled?

Take my intellect and use Every pow’r as Thou shalt choose. So many people think that becoming a stay-at-home mom means that our minds/education has gone to waste. I pray that would not be so. I pray that I can use my intellect, my education, my knowledge to help my children understand more of life.

Take my will and make it Thine, It shall be no longer mine. Yes, I am a control-freak. (Actually, sometimes singing "Let it go" to myself helps me remember to do just that!) I pray that I would honor God's calling in my life. Even if it means I have to give up control.

Take my heart, it is Thine own, It shall be Thy royal throne. Take my love, my Lord, I pour At Thy feet its treasure store. More than anything, I want to love Jesus. I want Him to reign in my life. I want my children to see that in me, and I want love Him, too.

Take myself and I will be Ever, only, all for Thee. And that speaks for itself. That is my prayer. In every aspect of my life, may I live it for the Lord.