The Ultimate Amazon Gift Guide {Christmas 2016}–$35 and Under

Welp, it took me longer than I’d hoped, but I’ve managed to round up another fun collection of goodies from Amazon for your perusal.

First up, though, I wanted to point you to something fun that Dayspring is offering this year. It’s called The Shepherd on the Search, and it’s a sweet, Christ-centered alternative to the Elf on the Shelf as you place the shepherd in various places around the house on his quest to find the King. As your children find him each day, you can take a moment to read from the accompanying book and focus on the Advent of the Christ…until finally, your kids find the shepherd in the manger (included) with baby Jesus on Christmas day!

We have one, and–while I must admit that we haven’t started hiding the shepherd because, um, I’m pregnant and forgetful and just late on all things in general these days–my kids ask me about it often, and I plan to start tomorrow (because “better late than never” should probably just be tattooed on my forehead).

And now, without further ado, I give you:

giftguide collage under 35

Okay, so fair warning: this gift guide may be a bit “house product” heavy, since that’s the mode I’m in. But I hope that at least a few of these suggestions will be useful to you or someone you know.

1.

So, I saw this idea on Anthropologie’s site and thought: Wow! Clever! I even screen-shotted it to remember for the new house (see above about pregnancy if you want to know what happens to ideas I don’t document in some manner). Basically, you attach the rods to your kitchen wall–under a cabinet or behind the stove, perhaps, and then you hang things from the s-hooks. Dish towels, coffee mugs, pot lids, cooking utensils. Pretty much anything you can think of. Of course, the Anthro versions were a little prettier than these stainless steel plain Janes, but they also cost 3 times as much, and I am a firm believer in the power of spray paint and Rub n’ Buff (even if you have to do a touch up every now and then).

2.

Along the same lines, I love the idea/look/space-saving potential of this pretty mug rack (actually a bottle-drying rack, but who’s nitpicking?). The white is pretty, but there’s also a black option that’s considerably cheaper.

3.

And again with the clever, home-organization theme. Have you seen these stair baskets? We’re always stacking shoes and other paraphernalia on our stairs that we then haul upstairs. This basket is a stylish, convenient way to corral all of those floating items, which you can then cart to their correct location in one batch. It even has handles! (Of course, it only works if it matches the height of your stair treads).

4.

I think that I linked to headphones veeeerrrry similar to these in another gift guide, but this particular link has 4 different floral design options, and they’re all adorable!

5.

Ditto with this recipe tin. I have definitely linked to this style before. But this particular design is new, a good $8 cheaper than the other options, and comes–as do all–with recipe cards included.

I have one and love it both for functionality and design.

6.

When I did my dining room mock-up for the new house, one of the three options included curtains in this pretty floral fabric. Several of you asked me where it was from, but I didn’t know at the time. Now I do! The company is Greenland (they make tons of pretty textiles!), and this shower curtain is only one of several items you can get in this design (I scored the girls’ bunk bed quilts–for the new house–for an absolute STEAL from a different site in this fabric).

If you love the fabric but aren’t in the hunt for a shower curtain (as a gift, of course #wink), just scroll to the bottom of the listing, and they’ll have all of the other products they make in this design for you to choose from.

7.

I’ve mentioned before that my biggest skin challenge (other than hormonal acne…thanks, Eve) is my dark under-eye circles. Well! This little tube of magic definitely knocks those babies right out. Fair warning: a little goes a LOOOOOOOONG way. Although the price is high for a tiny amount, I fully expect to get at least a year’s use out of my one tube (I’ve already had it for 5 months and barely made a dent) because it takes so little to do the trick (plus, if you use too much, you end up looking cakey, with makeup settling in the, ahem, creases).

8.

If you have a Fixer Upper fan in your life, well, chances are, they’ve already read The Magnolia Story at least three times. But just in case not, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the reviews are pretty much unanimously positive. I guess that’s not too surprising considering the somewhat rabid devoted nature of Chip and Joanna’s followers, but for the comments to consistently be that the book is down-to-earth, funny, and inspiring–as well as well-written–definitely piqued my interest. I think I’ll be snagging this one with an Audible credit (Chip and Joanna are the narrators too…because, clearly, they never sleep).

9.

I feel like this is something Joanna, herself, would wear–except with #shiplap across the front, of course. Cute trucker’s hats are such a fun way to hide dirty hair, and this particular design comes in at least 4 different colors.

10.

Okay, so $25 for a coin purse–even a name brand leather one–isn’t that great of a steal. But! If you follow that link, at least one of the color options is only $14.99, with Prime shipping, which is a pretty great deal for a useful little gift with a recognizable name.

11.

So, I hear about Turkish towels all the time, but I’ve never actually used them. Everyone seems to agree on their cuteness factor, but it seems that the actual functionality can vary widely. These are pretty and–according to the reviews–absorbent and useful too! I’ll be ordering a set for our downstairs bathrooms for sure!

Also, these would make a great stocking stuff or add-on gift if you split up the 8 towels among girlfriends.

12.

Oy, with the house stuff, already, Abbie! But seriously. I ordered this one on the spot. It’s such a pretty/handy way of gathering so many useful sink items in one place. And! It helps with counter clutter (my nemesis).

13.

I’m assuming that every mama of long-haired little girls has already discovered this gem, but just in case not (or if you have a friend/sister/aunt/cousin who laments her inability to deal with tangles), this brush will be your best friend. It’s not magic, but it does help a whole, whole lot with the rather tedious task of unraveling long, tangle-prone hair.

14.

So, this hoodie hails from China, and, therefore, runs quite small (according to the reviews), so if you get it for yourself or someone else, be sure to size up. But it has a) cute patterns, b) a hood (my fave!), c) thumb holes, and d) a cute zipper detail at the neck. For a reasonable price (with Prime shipping).  I haven’t pulled the trigger yet, but I’m tempted!

15.

Another hot home trend? Bread/cutting boards–especially the ones with handles! I’m a cutting board (for function) devotee myself, so I get the practical side, but I can’t deny that the handles definitely up the design factor. These two have great reviews and Prime shipping! Perfect for the function and form lover.

16.

These tea towels are just the cutest and considerably cheaper as a two pack (with Prime!) than most of this artist’s other listings!

17.

I mentioned in the under $15 gift guide that I have always had a thing for pom poms. Including in blanket form. This one has great reviews at a good price, looks super soft and cozy, and comes in a variety of colors.

18.

I think I already included this marble rolling pin on a former gift guide, but I own one now (and bought one as a gift), and I have to say that, it’s even prettier/more solid/impressive in person. I don’t know HOW they’re selling a solidly constructed, marble rolling pin for this price, but it’s definitely the kind of kitchen tool you can proudly leave out on the counters.

19.

Could I really write a gift guide without including a cute set of measuring cups? I think not. This birdie design does the trick!

20.

I mentioned this book in the under $15 guide as well, but I really can’t say enough about how adorable the illustrations are and how much fun it is to read through all of the state’s random facts.

Last year, we used the “something to wear, something to read, something you want, something you need” model for our kids for Christmas (we will this year too), and I purposefully bought pretty, well-reviewed, interesting books for our kids that look great on shelves and are just as engaging when you open them up.

Even if you’re not interested in the 50 States book, you should definitely scroll down to the bottom of the listing for lots more similarly stylish/good options. That’s how I found a lot of the ones I bought.

Speaking of which…

The Wonder Garden is a GORGEOUS educational book. The illustrations are mesmerizing, and–while I don’t love its evolutionary slant–the animal facts included are just as engaging.

Again, if you like the look of this one, scroll down, and Amazon will give you lots of similar suggestions.

21.

And what would a Christmas gift guide be without a good set of slippers? These are well-reviewed and have several options that are well below the listed $35 price tag.

22.

Have a craft-lover in your life? Or maybe you just want your Christmas packages to be extra cute this year? This 12 count washi tape bundle would be a great solution for both!

23.

I love the pastel colors and funky diamond-angled designs of these coffee cups. Again, a great way to buy in bulk and then split up for gifts for your Bible study girls or whatnot.

24.

This is another design from Greenland (told you they make cute ones!). One of the rooms in the new house is designated as “the toddler room” (at least for now), and I’ve been struggling with a design that’s fairly gender-neutral while still all-around cheerful and kid-friendly. I think this whimsical/colorful feather print a white background might be just the thing.

25.

I love these delicate post earrings. I’m a fan of costume jewelry, but–on the opposite end of the spectrum–I skew towards minimalist, dainty designs. And Honeycat (the brand that makes these earrings) makes lots of pretty options that fit that bill exactly, so if these earrings aren’t your thing, but simple jewelry is, be sure to browse their selection.

Phew! Well, there you go!

25 options under $35 for the home/makeup/craft/book/fashion/organizational-lover in your life.

Stay tuned for one more guide this week (Lord willing).

P.S. I added a few items–including a very funny coffee cup–to the Under $15 guide.

 

The Ultimate Amazon Gift Guide {Christmas 2016} – $15 and Under

After Black Friday + Cyber Monday week, I’m beginning to feel like the Queen of the Internet. Between packaging and shipping Paint and Prose orders (y’all kept us hopping! Thank you!), I’ve spent most evenings with one eye on the Gilmore Girls “Year in the Life” special (my reaction? Mostly “meh”) and the other on my computer screen as I hunted down thee absolute best deals on the last few lights/sinks/faucets/etc. we need for the new house. It’s definitely paid off (I scored the turquoise lights I posted about last week for over the kitchen island for an awesome price with an extra Black Friday discount!).

A friend of mine asked me and Shaun if we would miss all of this planning/building when it’s over, and we just looked at each other and laughed. So, yeah. The answer is no. We both love a good project, and this house is a good one. But neither one of us will be sad when all of these lights I’ve found are hung instead of sitting around the workshop creating a death trap for anyone who dares venture in in search of a screwdriver.

ANYway, all that to say that, in the midst of all of this house research, I manage to squeeze in a bit of Amazon recon too. And, just like I’ve done for the last–3??–years, I’m sharing my finds with y’all!

We’ll start with our first–and most affordable–installment: the $15 and under crowd.

This “category” is so exhaustive that I feel like I could have included about 50 other items, but just remember that, if you don’t see something you love here, you can always go back and browse my guides (I’ve even got one specifically for men!) from the past few years. Quite a few items are still available and for the same or similar prices.

And so, without further ado, in no particular order, I give you:

giftguide16collage

1.

If you’ve got any pillows lying around that you’re considering donating to Goodwill, you should definitely take a gander at Amazon’s (extensive) pillow cover offerings before you load them up. Most of the covers are extremely reasonable ($3-$7) and cute as can be. (See “bike” exhibit above and “compass” exhibit below)

2.

These monogram mugs are pretty and really well-reviewed. They look like Anthro but come shipped to your door for FREE (the notes say they’ll arrive before Christmas, and Amazon is usually pretty true to its word).

3.


I’m all about dainty, gold, intial jewelry. It’s personal and pretty. I’ve had my “M is for Mama” initial necklace for years, but I’ve never had a bracelet to match. It would be hard to find a cuter or more affordable option.

4.

As usual, I’m including something from Rifle Paper Co. because…how could I not? Her stuff is just so stinkin’ pretty, and these floral, stitched notebooks are no exception. They would make great stocking stuffers or fillers for teacher gifts if you split up the three-pack.

5.

Oh, and speaking of pretty florals and writing, these pencil pouches are adorable, and at 5 for 6.99 + Prime shipping, you really couldn’t find a better deal on a cute, functional add-on gift.

6.

Got a lover of organization in your life? This desk caddy–which looks way cuter in its TEAL option–gets good reviews.

7.

I snapped this one up as soon as I spotted it. I haven’t gotten it yet, but it has great reviews, Prime shipping, and a (hopefully) flattering cut. Plus, I like the simplicity of the black/white + scrolly font.

8.

I bought The 50 States book for my kids last year, and it’s a super fun (and adorably illustrated) way to learn some interesting trivia about–well–America’s 50 states. And this accompanying activity book looks like a great way to engage your kids in a playful learning experience. Bonus: because the illustrations are so bright and colorful, it’s makes a great coffee table/decorative shelf book too!

9.

I don’t usually include a lot of children’s items, but this one is a game-changer, y’all. I know it looks like your everyday, average baby toy, but–and this is important–it super portable and has SUCTION CUPS! At lunch at Chick-fil-a with a friend one day, Theo started getting restless in his high chair, but he was still too little to be let loose in the zoo play area. My friend whipped this little wonder out of her bag, plunked it down on the table (the handy suction cups keep it in place), and Theo proceeded to happily fiddle with it for the next 20 minutes. Sheer genius! I’ve already given this as a baby gift and will do so again and again.

10.

I ordered this one too! Haven’t gotten it yet, but it’s the top-rated/selling mask on Amazon and at 8.8 oz for less than $15, the price can’t be beaten! I’m interested to see if it helps my dry, winter skin.

11.

Amazon always has a strong scarf game, and this blanket scarf (above) and floral one (below) are just a couple that caught my eye from the myriad of super-affordable, pretty options I scrolled through.

12.

Got some hot drink lovers in your life? These canisters are precious and cheap! (Granted, they’re not large, but they would make a fun addition to a shelf or countertop).

13.

Speaking of cute decor, this wire basket + bottle combo is adorable, handy, and decently-sized (12″ long). I love multifunction serving pieces, and this would work great for holding paper straws on a party table, flowers at the dinner table, or even silverware!

14.

I’m a total iPhone rebel, and it’s not that easy to find great phone cases for my Galaxy S5. This one, though, is both sturdy AND pretty. And with a major Rifle Paper Co. vibe at only $9 (with PRIME), the price is insanely good.

Here’s your option if you are an iPhone devotee.

(If neither one of these fits your phone size, just search for the same terms plus your model, and it should pop up).

15.

I try to include a polish pack with each gift guide because they’re such a cheap but still thoughtful way to finish out a gift. I love the teal + pink + berry combo here.

16.

This wallet is designed SPECIFICALLY with the idea of allowing you to zip your smartphone inside the center compartment. I love being able to snag my wallet from my purse and have everything I need contained in one place without hauling the entire bag inside. (The floral design is, by far, my favorite, but if it’s not your jam, there are about 10 other options).

17.

I realize this one is a bit of an outlier, but if you’ve got a DIY/decor lover on your list, you might consider this fun tassel project for her. The tassels have to be assembled, but would make great party or kid/craft room/closet decor once you’re done!

18.

I love pom poms. I always have. So, I’m glad they’re actually in style now. This pom pom hat has great reviews for style and functionality and comes in a SLEW of great colors!

19.

Another one for the littles (although I wish they made them in my size because the patterns are great!). This is an 8 PACK for $13 and Prime shipping. And they’re so stinkin’ cute that I almost wish Baby #7 were a girl just so I could buy one of these for myself. I guess I’ll settle for getting them for my cutie-pie 1-year-old niece instead.

20.

People rave about these Capri candles, and while I’ve never owned one, I get the hype because whenever I’m at a friend’s house who has one, they are just the yummiest smelling things! This is one is a little under $15 (it’s a smaller size), ships free with Prime, and comes in 5 different “flavors.”

Aaaaaand there you have it! 20 great options for your loved ones (or, ahem, you). Stay tuned for the next installment ($30 and under) on Monday!

Disclosure: all of these are Amazon associate links, which means that, if you purchase, I’ll receive a small percentage, without its changing the price for you. So, we both win!

BONUS (I found some more!):

Cyber Monday Paint and Prose Sale!

Happy Cyber Monday! AKA: the day my children asked me if we really had to do school (hashtag duh, kids).

In honor of this completely made up “holiday,” (and because we like you) Paint and Prose is offering our BEST sale of the year!

Use the code: FIFTYOFF for–you guessed it!–50% off your entire order (of $15 or more).

Good through tonight at 11:59 PM (CST)

We don’t offer a bigger discount than this (because the next stop is pretty much free!), so if there’s something you’ve had your eye on for you or a great, personal Christmas gift, now’s your chance!

Oh, and just for grins and giggles–and because it totally blew my socks off when I took inventory–I thought it would be fun to give you an overview of EVERY SINGLE LAST Paint and Prose print that Lindsay and I have created over the past year plus.

I know some of you are daily readers. Other are browsers. Some of you just check in every couple of months. All great! But I am the actual co-creator of these prints, and even I was surprised to discover just how many we’ve cranked out!

So, without further ado, I give you: the entire Paint and Prose oeuvre.

Pssst: click the category link of each of these to be taken to the collections featured in the pictures. 

CHRISTMAS

joytotheworldcollage christmascollage

INSPIRATIONAL

inspirationalcollage inspirationalcollage1 inspirationalcollage2

HASHTAG

hashtagcollage

 

KITCHEN 

kitchencollage kitchencollage1

JUST BECAUSE

Justbecausecollage justbecausecollage1

 

Antique. Turquoise. Pendant. Lights

Edit: A sweet reader found the lights I talk about below for cheaper. YAY!

So, was my punctuation/capitalization dramatic enough to catch your attention?

Hope so.

Because I think I may have solved my kitchen lighting quandary.

With THESE:

turquoise light2 I mean, hello. They’re turquoise. Or–more appropriately in my mind–aged teal. (Because the fact of the matter is that, as much as I love all shades of blue-green, true, glaring turquoise is my least favorite).

I stumbled across these on a random Pinterest jaunt after a very (verrrry) long day of cleaning and organizing at the new house on Saturday.

And I must admit that I sat up a little straighter.

Now, here’s the thing: they’re not exorbitantly expensive, but they are more than I’d like to pay for a light for which I need more than one (possibly three). The best price I’ve found so far is: $178 (shipped).

They’re quite a bit narrower (though somewhat taller) than the gargantuan light that we originally had planned for over the island but still have the industrial elements I love, with the extra bonus of a fun–but not too loud–color. My signature color at that! (Yes, that was a shameless Steel Magnolias reference).

At 13″ wide, I think we could definitely (easily) fit 3 over our 12 foot island.

BUT!

I’d love to get away with just 2 to cut down on costs.

Of course, we’ll measure and approximate as best we can, but I was kind of pleased to discover this shot on the same Pinterest jaunt:

turquoise lights kitchen

via

Those aren’t the same lights, but they do bear a striking resemblance. And if my powers of estimation are even mildly accurate (I’d like to think they’re at least average if the amount of times I’ve opened the back of my van and said: “Yup, it’ll fit,” in the face of very dubious men loading furniture…and been right…is any indication), then that’s about a 12 foot island, and those pendants are probably about a foot wide each.

So…what do you think of my discovery?

Better than the other options?

Could I “make do” with just two? (Yes, I could. I know I could. Just trying to get some feedback here).

 

 

Shedding Some Light on the New Kitchen {Help!}

I’ve mentioned several times that my favorite part of this whole building process is when we land on a decision and can just move onto the next.

Which…is what I thought we’d done when we chose this pendant light for our kitchen island.

mercana light

I loved the brass finish and the industrial details. Sadly, they only had one left in stock at the super-sale price I’d found, but we went ahead and ordered it.

When it arrived, I liked it even better in person than online. Except. It was big. Like really, really big.

I knew this. I had paid close attention to the measurements, gotten out a tape measure, mocked it up…the works.

What I wasn’t able to anticipate was just how hefty the cage grill and industrial-style connection on top of the light would be.

gaffert

 

I honestly don’t think this picture does the light justice either in how pretty it is or just how massive it is.

In any case, both Shaun and I were thrown for a loop because we both agreed that–although we like industrial–this one might be a bit much. Of course, we were also grateful that only one had been in stock because, if we’d gotten three of these suckers, they would have completely overpowered the rest of the kitchen. 

Which brings me right back around to trying to figure out which lights to put over the kitchen island. I’m not quite back at square one, since I know for sure what I don’t want, but I am a bit torn between several good options, and I’d love your input.

Okay, so first of all, we have the replacement industrial option: the Dawson pendant light, which is also probably my first preference. I think. Hm. #indecisivemuch

industrial light I love the pop of brass at the top (I’ll have brass hardware on the cabinets), and I love the weathered look and the cage grill that adds interest without being over-the-top.

industrial light inspo1

This kitchen isn’t so very similar to how ours will be, but the color of the island is almost identical to what I’m leaning toward for our lowers (we’ll have white uppers), and at the very least, the industrial pendants give a similar feel to the one above (plus our island will be about the same wood tones as that pedestal table in the foreground, so the overall color scheme is at least comparable).

I’ve shared Jess’s lovely kitchen before, but one of my favorite things about it is how she manages to marry several different lighting styles in one space.

industrial light inspo2

Crystal chandies + industrial bowls + traditional chandelier. Yup. I like it.

Now, my style won’t be nearly this romantic (I lean toward cleaner lines, but I have zero complaints about what she’s done; it’s gorgeous).

Of course, this “Ursula” pendant could be fun too. It’s an ah-mazing price compared to how much it costs everywhere else.

ursula pendant

industrial light inspo

Again, this kitchen isn’t quite what we’re going for, but it has the same style lights in shiny chrome, and I do like the way they look over the stained island. I’m not entirely sure that the white of the ones I’m considering–even with the aged brass metal finish–won’t be a bit too sleek for what I’m shooting for. I know. Picky. But they’re fun just the same.

If I don’t go industrial, I’m tempted to go with something simpler that you can see through. Like this globe + brass option.

globe light

I love how globes pendants look in this Fixer Upper kitchen, which IS very similar to both the layout  and color scheme of our (future) kitchen. The option from above isn’t as big as these are, but with three of them, I think we’d still be okay.

globe light inspo

I guess the wild card would be this 3 light option. We could hang two side-by-side and get a WHOLE lot of light for $140 (they’re only $70 each!!)

three light

I guess I’ve made it pretty clear that I’m really into the aged brass look, so, if I went with these guys, I’d Rub ‘n Buff them for sure.

And by now, I think y’all know the drill.

Which one do YOU think I should go with?

Just as a point of reference, here are a few more of my favorite kitchens I’ve pinned that will have a similar feel to the look we’re going for.

Similar elements include: white subway tile, beams, teal + white cabinets, industrial + rustic touches, and aged brass.

kitchen inspo5

T kitchen inspo kitchen inspo1 kitchen inspo2 kitchen inspo3 kitchen inspo4

 

That last one is waaaaay more French country kitchen than I will actually go, but it’s still pretty darn gorgeous.

P.S. All image sources can be found on my “Farmhouse Kitchens” board on Pinterest.

So, what do you think? Any options I haven’t considered that I should? You know I’m always game!

 

A Week in the Life…

Well, hi there, guys!

This past week has been a wild ride. I fully intended to blog about many things, but–given the ridiculousness that was my schedule last week–I should haven’t intended any such thing. Because it was never going to happen.

So! Why so ridiculous, this week of mine?

Well, my sister-in-law, Hannah, has been hard at work creating THEE most adorable stick-horses you ever did see (plus lots of other handmade children’s goodies), and she and I thought it would be fun to partner up on a couple of Christmas events (her with her handmade items, and me with Paint and Prose).

crazy week2

(See what I mean about the stick horse adorableness? Hannah made two of these for my twins for their birthday, and they LOVE them. And I bought two from her for a double birthday party I mention below, and they were the one thing that both kids played with immediately out of a plethora of brightly colored, exciting toys. If you need one of these in your life–c’mon, you know you do–email me at blogabbie{at}gmail{dot}com, and I’ll get you connected with Hannah).

Well, turns out, two of those events (one of which was a 2 day affair) ended up being on the same week. Turns out again that Lindsay and I had agreed ages ago to be part of an event (that I’d completely forgotten about) at Moss, a local fair-trade flower shop (pretty much the cutest little flower shop), and–guess what!–it was the evening of one of the events that I’d already committed to. (hashtag yay)

And double guess what! Shaun (who always helps out with printing and organizing for said events when they come up) ended up having a work trip scheduled starting last Tuesday.

Oy!

It was a doozy of a week, y’all. And I’m not the only one who thinks so. My saintly mama, who had already volunteered to keep both Hannah’s and my kids during all of this, got more than she bargained for once the “extra event” rolled in plus Shaun ended up being out of town.

She handled it like a champ, but I’m pretty sure I owe her a vacation on a deserted island.

Basically, my side of things looked like lots of late nights prepping things for various booths and early mornings hauling them to various locations various distances from my house, setting up, working the booths, breaking down, and then doing it again the next day.

Oh! And there was that one time I thought I had the rug for our booth I’d promised at our house only to discover that–nope!–I’d already taken it out to the new property.

Of course, I discovered this only 10 minutes before I needed to jump in the car and haul all remaining stuff to our booth for setup, and OF COURSE, when I got to the property, the gate was locked (duh, Abbie). So, I proceeded to RUN (or hobble awkwardly, as that is the closest a 33-week-pregnant woman gets to running) in heeled boots, no less, down our forever-long driveway and then haul a 35 pound rug back down it to the van. And did I mention that I climbed a fence? Twice.

And the whole time, all I could do was chuckle (and sweat) and think: “If someone videos this, I’m not sure if I should thank him for the laughs or kill him on the spot.”

The cherry on top of the crazy was that my husband told me later that day on the phone as I was giving him quite the visual of my trek down the driveway that the gate wasn’t actually locked that day. It just looked like it was. #thanksalotbabe

The true cherry on top of the cherry, though?

As Lindsay and I were busily working the table at the Moss (flower shop) event, I heard a voice I would know anywhere behind me, but my brain simply could not register what my heart had already recognized until I turned around and saw my husband standing there behind me, flowers in hand, home from his work trip, in the flesh, a full 24 hours earlier than I had expected to see him.

crazy week7

(He had finished his work more quickly than expected and bent over backwards to get himself an earlier flight).

Y’all.

I pretty much shrieked and threw myself at him. And then I cried against his neck. #darnpregnanthormones. I don’t think I had any idea how tenuously I was keeping it together until that instant when it felt safe not to have to.

The poor customer behind me was just kind of staring at the hysterical pregnant lady, but Lindsay–with whom Shaun had conspired to keep me from eating any real food until he got there (even though I kept saying how hungry I was)–was grinning like a Cheshire Cat.

crazy week8

 

{See? I, by contrast, look half-asleep}

Honestly, it was one of the best moments of my entire life. That may sound silly. But to realize how well my husband and best friend (who had been bringing me apples and little bites of this and that to hold me over just so Shaun could take me to dinner) loved me in that moment was very sweet indeed.

Lindsay shooed us off, and Shaun whisked me off for a date. And it was a very good date.

The next day was the Heritage Syrup Festival in Henderson (my hometown), but–if I’m completely honest–it was a complete bust (as far as sales for Paint and Prose). Completely wrong demographic + a bit of an awkward booth location.

The upside was that the slow booth traffic allowed me to walk around for several hours with my parents and the kids–whom I was missing like crazy–taking them to the bouncy houses and the petting zoo and buying them overpriced fair food.

crazy week1

(Theo was festivaled out, apparently)

crazy week

(What is on Della’s face? A wolf? A warthog? A horse? For $2, animal accuracy was clearly not required)

Sunday was another packed day with church plus a birthday party in the afternoon and then prep for homeschool co-op today, but having Shaun back in the mix definitely felt like a great big, “Aaaaah” of relief.

crazy week4

Our neighbors throw thee best parties, complete with bouncy houses and yummy food. Plus, their property is just dreamy.

crazy week5

See what I mean?

I actually got out there and played soccer for 15 minutes–a foolish decision for which I was rewarded with a pulled tendon and some rather impressive Braxton Hicks contractions. But it was tooootttally worth it!

crazy week6

(Theo was super sad to have Daddy home, obviously)

The thing is, as much as I would not have planned last week’s schedule like it ended up if I had known/realized all of the individual moving parts ahead of time, I am challenged by what our pastor said yesterday morning: “What if, every time you were tempted to complain, someone jumped up and said, ‘Wait! First think of 5 things you’re grateful for!’”

And I thought: “Whoa. So simple but so good.”

Of course, way more than 5 things immediately popped to mind, but the most obvious five are definitely: my husband, my mom (and dad who helped a lot too), my children, my freedom, and my Jesus.

When I view a long (not bad, but definitely long) week through the lens of gratitude, it sure does take on a different shine.

So, now you know what I did last week. What about you guys? What have y’all been up to?Any gratitude lists you want to share?

P.S. Thanks so much for those who took the time to email me about my election post–whether or not we agreed. I appreciate you.

The Anti-Vote

I’m about to break every cardinal rule of “lifestyle blogging” (I don’t consider myself a lifestyle blogger, so that’s okay) today and talk about politics, so gird your loins, y’all. (I’ve been girding mine with prayer and thought for months, so I’m right there with you).

Months ago, when it became apparent that our choices for the presidency were very likely going to be Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, the collective cry of despair across our country was almost comical (only not). People on both sides of the political divide were flabbergasted that, out of all of possible options in America, we were left with these two.

In fact, in a quick tumble down an Instagram rabbit hole one day, I happened upon a girl with obviously liberal/feminist leanings (obvious because she declared them, not because I’m inferring them) who still posted a rather amusing meme that went a little something like:

“Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are stranded on a deserted island.

Who survives?

America. American survives.”

I was surprised by her objections to Hillary, considering the rather popular #imwithher feminist mantra of those who are excited for a first woman president, seemingly regardless of her policies or morals. Because one has only to pay even the slightest amount of attention to the FBI’s current investigation–mere days before the election–into the illegal emails and Clinton Foundation political misconduct (more here, here) to deduce that Hillary Clinton is not concerned with: a) our national security or b) any basic standards for right and wrong in politics .

Of course, then there’s Trump. He’s obnoxious. And immoral. And did I mention he’s obnoxious? He’s not a poster child for anything I want to vote for–at least not as a human being. 

But vote for him I shall.

And here’s why: when a Facebook friend posted on social media last spring that he wished there were such a thing as an “anti-vote”–a way to vote against, rather than for, a candidate, I thought: “There IS. It’s called the other candidate.”

I mean, I get his point. If he votes for Trump when he doesn’t actually like Trump, doesn’t that mean that he supports Trump? I say no. Not inherently. It can simply mean that he doesn’t want what the other candidate has to offer. Voila. An anti-vote.

So, why not just choose a third party candidate altogether?

Because this is a crucial election in our nation’s political history–a hinging point, if you will, on which many civil liberties–Christian or otherwise–will turn.

None of the independent candidates can win, which means that a vote for any of them only weakens the chances of one of the primary candidates without changing the fact that one of them will still emerge the victor.

I’ve never made any bones about the fact that I am a conservative, Bible-believing Christian. In case you missed it, I spelled out my thoughts on the Bible and why it determines my worldview pretty clearly in this post.

I believe in the sanctity of human life (and am therefore opposed to abortion even at the chemical birth control level) and the sanctity of marriage between a man and woman (as outlined in Scripture and God’s original design for us in creation). I’m a supporter of Israel, an advocate for the poor, the widowed, and persecuted Christian believers around the world, and a proponent for religious free speech–even if it doesn’t align with the popular culture.

So, why in the world would I vote for a man who certainly appears not to be a Bible-believing Christian? Who, in fact, appears, in many of his public dealings, to be an egotistical blowhard?

Because, somewhat miraculously, regardless of his moral failings, he is still choosing to align himself with people who are moral, godly, and politically conservative, and when I vote for Trump, I am also voting for them.

If I had my druthers, I’d have voted for Ben Carson. Obviously, I didn’t get that option, but under Trump, Carson is likely to be appointed a to significant political position…which is the next best thing. Trump’s running mate, Mike Pence, is an admirable, well-spoken Christian man. Rudy Giuliani (possible future Attorney General) is solidly conservative and level-headed (just look at what he accomplished during 911 and then afterwards for the city of New York’s crime rates…which have skyrocketed since he left office).

And then there’s Trump’s list of potential appointees for the Supreme Court (because more than one Supreme Court position is likely to become available during this presidential term, and–as I’m sure you well know–those seats are for life). All of his candidates are solid politically (by my conservative definition :) ). You can listen to a podcast outlining who these potential candidates are and the kinds of issues they could be deciding, if you’re so inclined, or read a concise analysis from an evangelical political insider on how government appointments affect laws here.

And when crucial issues are at stake—such as 1) the possible overturning of Roe v. Wade at a national level 2) a possible return to legalization for partial birth abortions (which Clinton supports), 3) the protection of civil liberties such as a church’s (which is a private institution, not sanctioned or financially supplied by any government) ability to choose what is said from the pulpit (without fear of its being labeled “hate speech” and resulting in loss of jobs, fines, or worse) and who uses which bathroom, 4) an individual’s or organization’s right to NOT pay for someone else’s abortion as part of their mandatory healthcare, and 5) a family’s freedom to home school their children (to name just a few of the issues that really are up for grabs), I will vote for the candidate who has aligned himself with those who support the right (again, according to a conservative Biblical standpoint; I’m making no claims otherwise).

If you think I’m exaggerating about the drastic nature of the hinge on which this election swings, just click on any of the links I included above or do a little digging of your own (this is a great archive of articles on issues just like these if you’re interested), and I think you’ll see that this country could be a frighteningly less free place to be, live, and worship in four years (or less).

Not to mention that, when the limited civil liberties of so many who are already oppressed throughout the world lean so heavily on those of our own currently (largely) free country, that’s no small political responsibility to bear.

But, Abbie. Aren’t you simply arguing for moral pragmatism? How can you live with yourself–especially in the light of Trump’s comments about women and your love for your daughters–if you vote for such a man?

Here’s the thing: I don’t like Trump personally.

But I don’t particularly like Artexerxes, Samson, Jonah, or Darius (to name a few) either.

Huh?

All of those are men in the Bible whom God used in very practical ways to accomplish his purposes. And yet, none of them were particularly likable or admirable. Some of them were completely morally bereft (Artexerxes was willing to commit genocide at the mere whim of a henchman).

God is able to use all sorts of people–even the obnoxious and unsavory types–to work his will.

In fact, he sometimes calls upon godly people to ally themselves with said unsavory types, even when it flies in the face of their moral convictions.

Can you imagine how Daniel felt associating himself politically in an advisory position to a man like King Darius of Persia? The man was a true egotistical blowhard–to the point that, when his advisors came to him and stroked his ego, he passed a law that banned praying or bowing down to anyone but himeven though he knew that his favorite counselor (Daniel) prayed to no other God but the God of Israel daily.

Or what about Esther? She wasn’t asked to vote for a misogynistic braggart (King Artexerxes, who immediately started shopping for a younger, prettier model when his current wife didn’t obey him at the snap of his fingers). She was asked to marry him. She–a pure, undefiled young Hebrew girl–who  could literally have been stoned for sleeping with any man before marriage–much less a pagan king–willingly obeyed her cousin’s request that she join the king’s harem in hopes of winning his favor and becoming his queen because she shared Mordecai’s conviction that the Lord had called her to this moment. Regardless of how unconventional and distasteful that calling seemed.

Of course, if you’ve read Esther, then you know the end to that story: the Lord used Esther’s unusual obedience, beauty, bravery, humility, and wits to literally save her race from annihilation. Could he have done it differently? Sure. Mordecai even told Esther that, if she didn’t step up to the plate, God would choose someone else.

I believe with every fiber of my being in God’s sovereignty. I fully understand that, regardless of who wins this election, the Creator of the Universe is still firmly on his throne.

I would simply argue that–according to the Bible–he can still use imperfect people like you and me (and, yes, even Donald Trump) to accomplish his will.

By the way, I’m not the only one who believes this. Lots of smarter, better-informed, more politically-savvy Christian conservative people than I are also voting for Trump–not because they’re enamored with his character–but because they believe that he is the unlikely best candidate (because of the people and policies that come with him).  (This sermon by Denton Bible Church pastor, Tommy Nelson, entitled “The Continental Divide” is excellent).

I am under no grand delusions that I will change anyone’s mind with any of these thoughts. I simply felt compelled to put them out there for consideration.

To that end, I am turning off comments on this post (the only time I have ever done this). I know that this election is emotionally charged for many, and I would like to avoid any unnecessary fights (not to mention the random internet trolls who get their kicks on forums like this) in the comments section. If you feel compelled to express an opinion to me personally, feel free to use the button on the sidebar to email me. I can’t guarantee I’ll respond. But I just wanted you to know you have that option.

The last thing that I would say and encourage is prayer. I have been praying for this election daily (multiple times a day) for months (as, I’m sure, have many of you), and I will continue to do so throughout this weekend and beyond–for the Lord’s will, for wisdom in how to act, react, and for the salvation of both candidates.

Four {!!} New Paint and Prose Prints + a SALE!

Lindsay and I took a bit of a break from Paint and Prose productivity over the summer due to, um, life…which is even busier than usual for both of us. But we’re always brainstorming new prints, and we managed to get our heads together often enough recently to come up with not one, not two, not three, but FOUR new prints for y’all–just in time for fun occasions like Thanksgiving and Christmas-gift planning (not sure how fun that second part is for everyone, but if we can simplify it at all for you, we’re happy to help!). 

First up, we have our Gather print.

gather1

I just love how warm and inviting all of the colors are in that fruity, flowery wreath and how that one word–”Gather”–conveys all of the hospitality and togetherness of this season of celebration that we’re entering.

gather

Wouldn’t this be fun as part of a centerpiece for your Thanksgiving table?

I never saw the movie, but our “coffee Coffee COFFEE” print reminds me of a line that I heard multiple times in previews for, “Meet the Robinsons.” A lady is bragging about “the caffeine patch,” which lets her “stay awake for days, with zero side effects”…after which declaration she promptly screams…for no apparent reason. (COFFEE!)

  coffeecoffeecofee

As someone who is not even one little bit affected by caffeine and doesn’t even like the smell of coffee, I had to trust Lindsay (a coffee connoisseur and addict) to steer me right here.

coffeecoffeecoffee1

Even without an affinity for the drink, I can still appreciate the graduated levels of intricacy in the design as the “coffee” message escalates until it bursts forth in a profusion of flowers and–yes–coffee beans.

(Somehow, I don’t think, “ho-cho Ho-cho HO-CHO” has the same ring).

And then we have this little gem: “I’m Silently Correcting Your Grammar.”

I had Lindsay whip this one up after my good friend, Jolinda, gave me a mug with the same sentiment on it for my birthday. I posted a pic of it to Instagram and got so many requests for the source (Ross…which, alas, does no one any good, and I couldn’t find it anywhere online) that I knew we needed to fill that grammar snob gap.

grammar

I mean, what English teacher wouldn’t LOVE to have this one hanging on her wall or perched on her desk (preferably turned outward so her students can see it and wonder just how many verb tenses they’ve butchered in the last several sentences).

grammar1 As a former English and Spanish teacher, I would have loved getting this as a Christmas gift (just as I loved getting it as a gift now that I’m a homeschool mama trying to impart the importance of correct syntax to a couple of less-than-enthused elementary school boys).

Aaaaaand finally, we have our “Bouquet of Sharpened Pencils” print.

I’m guessing that 99% of you already know that this is a reference to the part in You’ve Got Mail when Tom Hanks writes to Meg Ryan that he would send her “a bouquet of sharpened pencils if I knew your name and address” (because “don’t you just love New York in the fall?”).  bouquet2

Ha! I’m laughing as I realize that the date and day on my calendar don’t match up. #ohwell

bouquet3

This one would also make a great teacher gift this Christmas. Or one for a lover-of-all-things-You’ve-Got-Mail. (Maybe that’s you?)

Speaking of gifts, we’re making it even easier to snag something to give away (or maybe one for you and one for them), since from now until Monday, you’ll receive a FREE 5×7 with your purchase of any of the four new prints!

No code necessary. Just be sure to TELL US (lots of people forget this part :) ) in the notes at checkout which 5X7 you want added to your order.

And remember: standard shipping is always free (and a priority upgrade is only $3 more!).

PLUS! If you sign up for our newsletter, you get a code for an extra 10% off that works with all of our sales. Woot!

So…did you have a favorite?

Any suggestions for something you’d love to see us tackle? (We have a really fun design in the works that would be great for a little boys’ room, so stay tuned).

30 Week Pregnancy Check-in: Baby #7

When you find out that you’re pregnant as early as I typically do, the whole process can seem to drag a bit.  A girl I follow on Instagram was surprised by her 5th pregnancy–to the tune of not knowing until she was fully 10 weeks pregnant. And I couldn’t help but feel a taaaaad envious. I mean: 10 whole weeks of not knowing you’re pregnant is practically the same thing as not BEING pregnant, or…something that like that. Of course, then she had her baby at 36 weeks (the baby was perfect…no complications), so she got to skip another month. And then, I really was jealous! :)

Ha! I kid (mostly), but I was actually pleasantly surprised to realize that, last Monday, I hit the 30 week mark with #babynumber7. I mean, that’s legit. We’re getting there! And I’m guessing that, with Thanksgiving, Shaun’s traveling, birthdays (Della’s, Simon’s, and Theo’s), and Christmas just around the corner, the time will fairly fly.

Until I hit Jan. 1, and this babe is still snug as a little love bug in his mama’s belly. Because my due date is technically January 2, but if you’ve been following along for any amount of time here, you know my babies like to be well-done before they make their appearance.

I am definitely mentally preparing for 1) lots of Braxton Hicks/false labor/mental torture for the last 6 weeks or so and 2) a January 15th delivery date. Maaaaaaybe, just maybe, then I won’t get as antsy as I have during the last two weeks of–well–most of my pregnancies.

ANYhoo, since I’ve made it to 30 weeks, I thought it might be time for another check-in.

31 weeks

{I know this is not my usual “bump shot,” but I forgot to have Ezra take my pic on Monday, and we finally made it to Charleston–YIPEE!–so a GAP dressing room side-pic will have to suffice}

If my belly were a grocery basket, it would have this in it: I’ve never really done the whole, “My baby is the size of a _____________” comparison before, but apparently, Baby #7 is about the size of a coconut at the moment. Funny, since I’d have said pumpkin or watermelon with the way he’s already stretching up into my ribs. Oy.

If I could only eat one thing until he comes, it would be: nope. Still no significant food cravings. I still drink about 3 too many Dr. Pepper Icees per week (hangs in head in abject shame), but the rest of the time, I eat the exact same things that I always do (i.e. lots of fruit, veggies, carbs, and protein at home–with the occasional Thai food, pizza, or Chick-fil-a thrown in).

If I were an energy meter, my readings would be: alllll over the place. I’m finally over that epic cold I had, so I have more energy than I’ve had in weeks, but I feel like I flail wildly between CLEAN. ALL. THE. THINGS. and a constant mental chant of, “Nap, nap, nap, nap…” I would really love for the energy to stick for longer than 24 hours, but I’m happy that it exists at all, so no real complaints.

If I went into labor today, Baby #7 would have: no room at the inn. Ha! So, Theo is still in his crib and will remain so likely until we move because our babies usually sleep in a bassinet in our rooms for the first 2-3 months. BUT! Thanks to generous friends/hand-me-downs, I’m pretty well kitted it out with baby clothes. And everything else is still hanging around from the last–oh–six or so. So, I’m not too worried.

If I wanted to confuse you majorly, I would: show you this picture…

otter

…and tell you that this adorable crocheted otter, which I had Theresa (go follow her on IG! She’s so stinkin’ talented!) make for me, is a clue to the baby’s name. :)  Can’t wait until I can tell you the whole story! (hashtag so mean)

If I had my exercise druthers, I’d: quit. ha! Not really. I know I’d go fitness stir-crazy in no time. But I’m not going to lie: I don’t feel bad when I exercise as a general rule (and I always feel better when I’m done), but I am SO over pushing myself as hard as I did with my last 3 pregnancies. I can remember being terrified of losing some of my strength if I went down on my weights in BODYPUMP when I was pregnant with Della. And now I’m over here happily cutting my squat weight in half and LOLing at my silly 27-year-old gung-ho self.

Perspective and age, yo. They are good, good things.

Also, I probably still have 60 classes to teach before he comes, so…I figure I’d better pace myself.

If I had to pick my favorite cute things the kids do/say about the new baby, they would be: the way Della kisses my belly every night and quietly/earnestly says, “Good night, ________. I love you.” She’s such a sweetheart these days. The fact that Theo has started saying his name, and it’s the just the most precious thing ever (don’t think he has a clue WHY he’s saying it, but he’s a very dutiful little parrot). Oh! And the fact that Nola still checks in every now and then with: “This is a girl baby, right? ‘Cause I really want a girl baby.”

If I had my best guess as to the baby’s future profession, it would be: an American David Beckham. This kid likes to KICK. And wiggle, shimmy, jostle, and jive. He’s a mover, y’all. BUT! My midwife’s assistant said that she thinks all of his limbs are facing outward, with his spine curved along mine, which would explain why I can feel everything so keenly.

If I had to name one thing I’m doing differently this time, it would be: myofascial stretches. My midwife, Melena, (also a nurse, by the way) has me doing these exercises to align and loosen my myofaschia (the “webbing” that covers all of our muscles/tendons) in hopes of shortening labor length (she’s seen good results so far) and just helping the process to go more smoothly all around. And I’m all for it! My muscles/tendons are really tight from all of the exercise I do, and my labors are long, so if there’s even a chance that a couple of easy stretches will help, I’m game.

If I could wear anything for the rest of the pregnancy, it would be: leggings and tunics. But I don’t wear them. I hardly own a pair of leggings, so I’m usually to be found in exercise clothes or stretchy jeans (some maternity, most just a size or two up from what I normally wear) and flowy tops. Next best thing.

Aaaaand, there you go! More info than you could have ever truly wanted to know about this pregnancy.

But when has that ever stopped me from sharing anyway? (Never).

Hope you have a lovely weekend, friends! I’ll be eating my way through Charleston for the next 2 days and then returning to real life until the baby comes (at which point it becomes real, real life).

The I Do Chronicles: Positive Husband Talk

i-do-chronicles

I’m no expert on any of this and am just learning what the Lord has to teach me as I go, but if you’re interested in bumbling along with me, you can read all of the posts in this series here.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

I’m assuming you’ve heard of this lady named Oprah, yes? And the power of something called “positive self-talk?”

Not that Oprah created the concept or anything. But when I think of personal pep talks, she definitely comes to mind.

I’m honestly not super-great at positive self-talk. I can beat myself up with the best of them. But I can also be disdainful in general of the potency of motivational quotes and rah-rah speeches. Probably because, deep down, I’m a bit of a cynic (I prefer “realist,” but when the Bible tells us to give thanks in all circumstances, semantics are pretty moot).

And yet, I can’t ignore Ephesians 4:29: “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”

And I would assume that includes the things we tell ourselves.

It definitely includes the things we say about our husbands.

Which is why–in many ways–positive husband talk is one of the best things we (I, me…preaching to myself) can do for our marriages.

I am blessed to be surrounded by women, who, in general, speak positively about their husbands. I have several close Christian friends who have never “husband-bashed” in my presence. And unless I have a serious case of marriage amnesia, I think I can claim the same.

I mean, honestly, Shaun is pretty easy to praise. He’s kind. He’s witty. He works hard. He’s a great daddy. He loves the Lord. He’s genuinely my best friend. And he’s super hot too, so there’s that. ;)

I have few (if any) legitimate complaints.

And any I do have are usually brief and certainly don’t bear airing to anyone else but him (or the Lord).

STILL! This does not mean that I’m always perfect in the way that I speak to him. (Or about him, although this is not my main struggle).

Recently, two incidents came to my attention that made me analyze more closely how I communicate my regard for my husband to him and to others.

In one case, the claim was legitimate. I was tired/hormonal (not an excuse, but it was the context), and I responded shortly/dismissively/disrespectfully to one of his requests in front of someone else. And that person noticed! I have since apologized to Shaun, but that incident is lodged in my mind as an example of a time when I failed to present a godly snapshot of marriage.

In the other example, my “rudeness” was completely misunderstood as I was only pretending as part of an inside joke between me and Shaun–one that he finds hilarious and one that it never occurred to me could be misconstrued. But still. It affected this person’s opinion of my treatment of my husband.

Tricky, right?

What we say about and to our spouses matters (duh) but, especially (for women), in the context of how we display respect to our husbands. (Because I don’t know a single man who values “lovey dovey” over words of acknowledgement, affirmation, and praise).

I have an acquaintance who has mentioned several times that she becomes frustrated with the way her husband goes about certain tasks and that she would just rather do them herself. She’s not negative, per se. Simply dismissive. And yet, I can’t help but have a different view of her husband (and their relationship) than I would otherwise have.

I overheard another conversation recently (because I was in close vicinity and incapable of moving) about a wife’s refusing to even consider her husband’s wishes on a certain subject that I can’t unhear, and it has–whether it should or not–created an image of their marriage in my mind.

I’m not saying we should lie. Or that we should present a rosy picture when there is genuine conflict at home. I’m just saying that proclaiming it to the world–like a stranger in a restaurant the other day was doing too loudly for me to ignore–is doing no one (least of all, us) any good.

Yesterday, with at least mild fear and trembling, I asked Shaun if he felt like I used kind, respectful words with him in general (because I know the answer to “all the time” is no).

His response? “In general? Yeah! I mean, sometimes, you can be short. But for the most part, yeah.”

Phew. I passed (although you could argue that what else is a guy going to say to his seven-month-pregnant wife if he values his life? ;) ).

I knew what he meant, though. Especially in the last several months, there have been certain days when I’ve felt like I could crawl out of my skin with irritation for no good reason. (Thank you, pregnancy hormones). So, even though, for the reasons I listed at the beginning of this post, I generally find it easy to be nice to my husband, that’s not necessarily what actually comes out of my mouth if I’m especially tired. Or emotional. Or fed-up with kid drama. Or…

If I tried hard enough, I could probably find a justification for speaking snippily to my husband all day every day.

None of them would cover my sin, though.

And none of them would change the fact that–even when he takes it well or says he understands–I am not “building him up according to his needs.”

The Lord has been impressing this on my heart in pretty much every area of my speech lately, if I’m honest. But it might as well start with how I speak to and about the man God has given me to respect, love, and serve for a lifetime (because if I can’t speak words of life to him, how am I ever going to hack it with everybody else?).

But, Abbie. What if I struggle to find even one nice thing to think or say about my husband? I get this. Completely. Not about my husband. But about a different relationship in my life in which I fail miserably in this area more often than not.

And I have a challenge for both of us: let’s pray for the Lord to reveal one tiny thing for which we can praise this person. For at least one word that we can genuinely speak that will be “life” and not “death” to this person’s soul. No matter how much we think they don’t deserve it. (Because what do we deserve except eternal punishment and separation from God in hell? Thank you, Jesus, for the cross!) And for strength to keep our mouths shut until we hear from the Lord what that word might be.

And if you find your husband easy to praise, ask yourself: when was the last time I said out loud–either to him or to someone else–at least one of those good things I know to be true of him? I’ll be asking myself the same thing.

I’m not naive enough to think that every (or any?) marriage makes it so very easy to focus on spouse-thankfulness. But neither am I cynical enough to dismiss the benefits (to our husbands, to ourselves, and to those who hear us and are encouraged) when we choose praise over criticism. Not to mention that, when we do right, it brings glory to God!

I am grateful for the godly example of women who have realistic, yet unfailingly positive things to say to and about their husbands. And I pray the Lord would make me more like them each day.

Feel free to shout out something you love about your husband in the comments! (Just don’t forget to actually say it to him too :) ).