Emily has these cute little posts she does called “Coffee Chats” which are basically her chance to talk about all the random things she’s been mulling over/doing in her life without having to have a specific post “theme” or title.

Well, that’s what today is for me.

Except I don’t drink coffee. Like at all. I once ordered a hot chocolate and, upon tasting the tiniest sip, immediately knew something was wrong; Lindsay, who is a coffee addict, tried it and said, “Nope, there’s no coffee in there,” but when I asked the barista, he said, “Oh! I think I did add a little shot of espresso.” Mmm hmm. I’m not sure if that means that my taste buds are over-developed or Lindsay’s are dulled, but either way, no coffee for me, thanks.

I don’t drink iced tea either. So, this is not an iced tea chat (but how charming and Southern would that be?).

I do drink HoCho, but the mere thought of something that hot on these blazing Texas summer days is enough to make me shudder. Oh! And Icees. But that might give us all brain freezes.

So…brain dump it is (see above: I think I already got a pretty good start on the concept).

Of course, the thing that’s been occupying my brain the most is the tragedy in Dallas last Thursday.

(If you don’t live in the States, 5 policemen were killed by a deranged sniper at a “Black Lives Matter” rally).

I’ve pretty much run the gamut of emotions–sadness, anger, frustration, futility–and prayed (and talked to my husband) about it a lot.

Ultimately, I know that we live in a sin-ravaged world in which hateful acts are going to be perpetuated by every skin color on the planet. That’s par for the course–as our pastor reminded us yesterday when he pointed out that some of the deadliest race riots in our country happened 100 years ago. Like Ecclesiastes says, there’s nothing new under the sun. Until the Lord returns, we will always struggle to love our fellow man.

I am grateful, though, for reminders that the Lord is constant–that none of this turmoil means that he has abandoned us or forfeited one iota of his sovereignty or his gracious loving kindness. Regardless of the sinful acts of man: “The Lord is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. The Lord is good to all, and his mercy is over all that he has made.” (Psalm 145:8-9).

On a similar note, a black reader-friend contacted me, asking my perspective (as a white woman) on all of the racial turmoil our country is facing, and I was really honored by her trust. She’s a fellow Christian, and we’ve had good talks about various topics via message in the past (definitely the type of lady you wish you could sit down and chat with in real life). Of course, our experiences and perspectives differ, but I think we both agree that the main problem here is sin nature, so I mostly just sent her a link to this article which is so well-written and does such a good job of taking a lot of the emotional factors out of the issue, since it focuses on statistics and numbers instead.

Another recommendation to balance that one out? The Logan Family series from Mildred D. Taylor. Namely Song of the Trees, Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, and Let the Circle Be Unbroken. I read them with the kids, and even though they are heavy and hard in some parts, there is so much insight (especially for a white person) into the legacy of racism that still taints our nation’s history. And Taylor, who is black, does an amazing job of characterization without caricaturing. She writes with great pathos, while still seeming to lack a vendetta.

Oh, and in case you’re wondering what kind of music you should listen to while you’re scrubbing your kitchen and praying and feeling sorrow over the state of the world…

I highly recommend Ellie Holcomb. Her voice is gorgeous and haunting. Her lyrics are poignant (and often straight from scripture), and her vibe is just so peaceful.

This is my motto in life at the moment. Not because mine is so hard (it isn’t) but just because it’s a good reminder.

hard is not the same thing as bad

It will be available in the Paint and Prose shop soon, in case you also need the reminder.

Oh, and this one too.


I love the verse, and I’m kind of obsessed with those feathers. (Be on the lookout for both of these in the shop soon).

We’re leaving for our wedding trip/vacation to Colorado tomorrow night, and I am in full-on packing mode.

I’ve been shopping and setting clothes aside and making lists and planning snacks for days, but as soon as I’m done writing this, I’m diving elbow deep in suitcases (wish me luck; this whole packing for 8 people business is no joke, especially when you’re all required to look put together and presentable for 5 straight days).

At the moment, I’m trying to plan our food for the drive itself.

I need stuff that’s easily passed out and consumed with a minimum of mess. I’m also shooting for healthy(ish).

So far, I’ve got:

  • homemade Lara bars
  • homemade banana muffins
  • homemade chocolate chip cookies (not healthy at all but sooooo yummy)
  • fruit
  • graham crackers
  • peanut butter crackers
  • fruit leathers
  • nuts + trail mix

Any other brilliant suggestions for me?

Speaking of suggestions, I know I’ve asked you plenty of times before what your favorite books are (I need to go back and look at your answers), but if any of y’all have suggestions of books that are super-engaging for long stretches, feel free to share.

We’ll mostly be driving at night (we did this last year, and, outside of leaving Shaun and me a bit zonked the next day, it actually worked really well). And I find that some audiobooks keep me captivated for long stretches while others require a break every hour or so. I need to download some of the “can’t-put-it-down” ones to keep me awake on those long night-driving stretches.

Thanks for all your hairdo suggestions!

I’m thinking I’ll go with a low chignon/braid combo…if I can get my ultra-thick, ultra-layered (the braids tend to end up with sprigs sticking everywhere when your hair is not all one length) hair to cooperate. I’m sure I’ll have plenty of photographic evidence.

Speaking of pictures…

I’m almost completely out of my Younique BB cream that I love so much and didn’t leave myself enough time to order more before the trip, so I decided to take advantage of my Amazon gift card win from last week and order a new brand because of a friend’s suggestion +  glowing reviews (thank goodness for Prime shipping). I was also thisclose to ordering this pore-minimizing finishing powder to go with it when I read a review that said it should NOT be worn to events where you might be captured by flash photography, since the reflective nature of the powder renders your skin completely white in the photos. PHEW! You’d think they might mention that in the product description! Anyhoo, I’m not sure if you should consider yourself lucky or unlucky that I won’t have any pictures of me as a mime to show you after the wedding, but I know I’m sure relieved.

Aaaaaaand…that’s it. I do believe that I have sufficiently dumped most of the contents of my current brain situation right on this screen.

So, so scintillating, I know. Hope your Monday is off to a great start, friends. I’ll just be packing for the next 8 hours.







  1. Long time lurker from Montana… First time commenting…

    I’ve been participating in a reading challenge this year and have been completing some requirements with audio. Books or authors I’ve particularly enjoyed have been
    -Thunderstruck by Erik Larson (amazing history that ties together the development of the wireless telegraph and a horrific London murder mystery- I think any of his books are good)
    -Zoo Station series by David Downing (read so no idea on audio quality/availability, also some language and sex but great story of life in Berlin before, during, after WWII)
    -Call the Midwife trilogy (awesome narration- some very hard stories)
    -Radical by David Platt
    -Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert by Rosaria Champagne Butterfield (sooo interesting and convicting)
    -if you like young adult fiction The Ranger’s Apprentice series by John Flanagan

    Also, I would recommend checking out Christianaudio.com. They have a free audiobook download every month. This month is The Mingling of Souls by Matt Chandler.

    Love your blog and perspective. I’m the oldest of 7 kids and it’s so fun see another “big” family doing life and loving Jesus. I’m also a mama of two so your mama hacks and laughs are great.

    Sorry for the long comment…I love words too.

  2. I don’t know why I’m doing this as trying to convince the ignorant they’re ignorant is like trying to hold water in your hands. But I will say this. The next time you want to cite an article at least google some of the facts that are being cited. Google it’s your friend, remember that whenever you feel the need to throw up an article to prove a point. That article was so bad my husband and I had a good laugh over it. Stick with decorating, hair and thanking God for his faithfullness when your kid doesn’t poop.You really embarrassed yourself with this one.

  3. So someone else may have mentioned it but I just finished “All the light we cannot see”. I tried and tried to read it and it was too much with constant interruptions but on audio it was brilliant. Kept me captivated in the car. Give it a min-it sucks you in. Beautifully written novel about WWII. Hope you have a great trip!

  4. All of these events happening in the world are terrible and SO disheartening. I agree that the base problem is sin and we need to continue to fight the fight against hate and violence with our children and in our communities. But I also don’t believe that any of it is new. Sin and horrible crimes have been happening around the world since the beginning of time. What is new is the technology that we now have. We can hear and see every crime that is committed around the world within minutes on our phones. We get updates immediately and can watch first hand accounts almost instantly. Really for me it is all so overwhelming to have it all coming at me at once and I definitely have to be careful to not get too involved or fear starts to rule my life. I am sorry the shootings happened so close to home for you and I hope you and your family have a great time at the wedding. Good luck with the packing!!

  5. I’m in the middle of listening to the audio version of Beth Moore’s book, “Insecurity, You’ve Been a Bad Friend to us”, and would recommend the book. I’m not going to get the quote exactly correct but this thought has stuck with me especially for my mama journey-if we take three steps forward and two back we are still moving forward. She takes awhile in the beginning to prove insecurity can look a lot of different ways so if you listen to the book hang in there if you are like me who wanted to hear about solutions right away. I did the free 30 day trial from christianaudio.com. Happy traveling!

  6. Stray braid hairs will add to the beauty of the messy hair look that is so in currently. You will look beautiful to the person that matters most, your hubs, too bad y’all will be going home to 6 littles. Lol. but don’t fret too much you most likely wont have people scrutinizing you, all eyes will be on the bride. So just enjoy yourself and have a great time

    1. Ha! The kind of stray hairs I’m talking about are not the pretty tendril-ly kind. They’re the kind that stick out like straw. 🙂 also, all 6 kids will be at the wedding, so don’t worry. I won’t be expecting any eyes on me except for the ones that are wondering why in the world we’re making so much noise! LOL

  7. I love the trilogy of books written by Francine rivers and also love anything written by Julie klassen

  8. We always travel with cubes of cheese and cubed summer sausage to go with fruits and cookies. My gang also likes baby carrots and sliced bell peppers

  9. I’m disappointed in your views about such tragic events. The article you shared basically said if you are black, you are more likely to commit crime, therefore more likely to be in an altercation with an officer. I’m having a hard time wrapping my head around how someone can think that, yet not think they are bigoted.
    Crime is higher in low income neighborhoods. Have you ever asked yourself why there are so many blacks in low income areas? If your grandparents were denied an adequate (and equal) education, how could they get well paying jobs? How could they send your parents to college (in order to achieve a better paying job, therefore getting out of high crime neighborhoods)? I am deeply ashamed of the words that have come out of my Christian brothers and sisters mouths in regard to this subject. I pray you can look with an open heart at what you are professing here, and make some changes.
    Lecrae Moore can give a much better explanation for you here, if you are willing to watch:

    1. Actually, the article in no way states (or implies) that being born with black skin makes you more likely to commit crime (that’s ridiculous). It simply states that there currently IS a higher percentage of crime enacted by blacks right now versus other ethnicities. Which, yes, does make young black males especially likely to encounter the police. To acknowledge this data does not make one a bigot.

      Now, I agree with you that there are sociological (and I would go so far as to say familial and spiritual) factors that absolutely do contribute to this high crime rate. And, no, I didn’t have to deal most of those things as a young person. I grew up very poor (like dirt, as we say in the South), but I had a mom and a dad who were there for me in some way, shape, or form every day–something that, unfortunately, many of these young men who find themselves on the wrong side of the law cannot claim to have had the privilege of. My dad didn’t go to college and worked very menial jobs for 13 + hours a day to put very basic food on our table (we joked about the fact that we ate beans and cheese…and at the end of the month, we ate beans without cheese). I got to go to college. I don’t want to ever take that for granted.

      I do not write about this lightly or with the assumption that I know what another culture has to deal with on a daily basis. But I did share the article to underscore that the “Black Lives Matter” movement, specifically, is not being completely honest about the underlying issues that cause some of their angst. As the article pointed out, the movement falters greatly when you consider the heartbreakingly high levels of black-on-black violence perpetuated every day.

      And the author’s numbers about policemen being *less* (not more) likely to use lethal force against black suspects (as opposed to Hispanics or whites) were (rather unwillingly) supported recently by an independent study conducted by a black Harvard economics professor who targeted cities with large black populations in hopes of proving that the use of deadly force by the police was disproportionate to the black population…only to discover the opposite. In Houston, for example, in cases in which a suspect’s behavior made them a candidate for lethal force, the police were 20% *less* likely to shoot a black suspect as compared to a white one.

      Here’s the article link.


      I am in no way trying to say that we don’t still have problems with racism in this country. We do. (For example, the same study shows that there’s a higher use of non-lethal force against blacks as opposed to other races). As I said before, sin nature means sinful actions (on all sides). But neither is the argument quite as simplistic as it is being made to appear. Black lives do matter. So do police lives. So do Hispanic lives. So do white lives. And on and on. May we all take responsibility for the parts we play in ever implying otherwise.

      1. Hey Abbie! Just chiming in to say that I think the thing that burdens my heart the most in all this is that it feels like the white church just can’t choke out the words “Black Lives Matter.” Why is it so hard for us to simply just say that, in love and solidarity, with our black neighbors? John Piper has a great article about how the movement has come to mean more than its origin, and it’s definitely worth a read in my opinion. From what I’ve read and heard, it seems as though the black population simply wants us to offer them our sorrow, our understanding, and our humble admission that we truly have no idea what it is like to be black in America. When we insist that the statistics say there isn’t a problem, I’m afraid that isolates our black neighbors even more. We don’t have to be “right” at this junction in history.

        Here’s the link to the Piper article. It was originally an audio recording, but I just read the transcript below.

        Also another link that I found super helpful in seeing through the eyes of a black woman.

        Thanks for your blog posts. Enjoy them and your great writing. Blessings to you!

      2. Unfortunately, none of the things you referenced have anything to do with the Black Lives Matter Movement. If you researched the recent killing you will note that the 2 men that were killed were not in any violent act. The first guy that was killed in Baton Rouge was selling CDS at the store when reports that a man with a gun were received by the police. I find it quite odd that they assumed that he was the assailant. He was not. He was given permission to be there by the owner of said business. He should not have been apprehended. The 2nd guy Philando Castile was stopped for a busted tail light. Something that any of use could have. By all accounts he handled everything correctly and was still shot and killed by the police. A busted tail light does not justify the police shooting him.

        With that being said none of the things you are saying even matter. Your assumption that black of black crime is an okay reason to allow police to kill human beings is horrible Please note that it is common knowledge that studies of any kinds are most often altered to results favored. These are not valid because they are subject to human error and manipulation. If a study is your representation of truth then please do not include it. They can be proved false.

        Life experience is the only way to confirm this information. Since you will not have to live the black experience you do not have to understand. But next time you speak on a matter you have no true knowledge of please do your due diligence and research effectively.

        PS. I grew up in a black community. We had very low crime and it was peaceful. I can not say that for all communities but please know that there are always two sides to the coin. I also am college educated and have never been to jail. Many Black people have the same credentials.

  10. I love you even more knowing that you don’t drink coffee either! Anywho I saw on Pinterest/Facebook/some social media don’t remember where, that you can take a small latching box like for beads and put small snacks in each compartment to use in the car for long trips. It gives the kids a choice and latches shut keeping each snack in its own compartment. They come in lots of sizes so you could customize for your kiddos needs.

  11. I am currently reading Matt Redman’s book, Blessed Be Your Name. I read chapter 2, The Road Marked With Suffering, on Friday morning. I couldn’t have read it at a better time. One of my (many) favorite parts of the chapter is this:
    [Talking about the psalmists] “Though they may be stripped of confidence, and though they may be struggling to muster up strength and faith, these worshippers never journey into utter hopelessness. Utter weakness and desperation, yes. Yet even in their most desperate of times, there is always an undercurrent of hope- a knowing conviction that though they walk through the valley of the shadow of death, their God is everything He says He is. He is both shepherd and fortress- the God of unequaled compassion and of unrivaled strength…..When our circumstances seem to dictate differently, the remedy is to confess, as urgently as possible, what deep down we know to be true about God.”
    As a Police Wife, this has been a horribly terrifying week. My husband was working Thursday night and when I saw the news after I laid our kiddos to bed, I immediately texted him. It was a long night filled with many tears, prayers, and very little sleep. But God is so faithful to remind us that His mercies are new every morning and when the hard times come, we always have hope in Him. I am in love with your “Hard is not the same thing as bad” print! I can’t wait til it’s available to order.

  12. Love the idea of Coffee Chats, but I’m not a coffee drinker either…maybe Tea Talks?? I always like to pop a bunch of popcorn for road trips and bring it along in baggies; make it caramel popcorn and it’s even better. If you haven’t read The Book Thief, that’s a gripping story that will keep you on the edge of your seat, but I also like young adult books, anything by Gary Schmidt or Christopher Paul Curtis.

  13. With the Dallas thing – I live in New Zealand and it was top news. I think no matter where you are you’ve probably heard of it! 😛 Not just a States thing at all! My Facebook feed was obsessed with the Orlando shooting when that happened, too.

  14. I’m a working mom of 2 and never get a chance to drop everything to get into a good book, but this past weekend, I got engrossed in Me Before You and read the entire thing in two days (I can’t remember the last time that happened). It’s an easy read and an easy one to get sucked into. Also, I recently read Brain on Fire and enjoyed that as well.

  15. You’re brave with the banana muffins! I have a 15 year old and a 2 year old and for some reason my two kids can’t eat muffins in the car. They are too crumbly or they (the kiddos) just too messy anyway. Everything else is about the same thing I pack for my little crew but we always include goldfish. Even Memaw (my elderly mother) loves goldfish!
    On a serious note my daughter (15) has been talking a lot about what happened in Baton Rouge and Dallas. It’s a tough subject to talk about because it is something that she never seen or thought of. We have prayed many times in reference to the violence.

I love hearing from you guys!