toys from nicaragua This week’s learned, links, and thankfulness…

I’m so happy my baby sister is finally home! I’ve been so blessed by seeing her love for the gospel increase, and there’s been a heck of a lot of family time this week. I even slept over one night (with the girls), so I can wake up my sister the way I used to in the good ol’ days! She wrote this letter to herself, and again, my heart is deeply encouraged by how my sister has grown in her knowledge of grace and the gospel. There is much to be learned from her.

Last Saturday’s #dancingman party with the Dance Free Movement was so freakin’ fun! I could have danced the whole night away, but we had 4 children to pick up and get to bed, so we called it quits at 10:30pm (we got to bed at 12:30am, so that’s pretty wild in our book).

I’m so excited about this colorful basket bell toys my sister brought home for me from Nicaragua!

Love this jumpsuit, but hate the slit in the back.  Argh!

I’d like to make this burger. It’s a simple recipe, but it seems the addition of fish sauce may add some depth to it.

Ben ordered me Saturate by Jeff Vanderstelt. He’s listening to the audio version, and he knows I still love having the actual book in my hand.

This Instagram post by Jess Connolly really resonated with my heart… “This is it. This is life. One shot. To worship and love and laugh and be poured out for the Kingdom.”

I think vintage 1970′s necklace is pretty.

The two big girls had their second piano recital for the year and they nailed their pieces. They have a theatre performance this week, and we are almost at the end of the school year and ready to chill out for a bit.

Thankful for the reminder that God loves me with no strings attached. I need to remember to respond with grace when my children mess up, just as God does the same with me.



i don’t always smile big

life with this man Sometimes my face expresses contempt, and I’m not talking about this not smiling type, but the “I’m-so-frustrated-and-mad-at-everybody” type. Two days this week I expressed that same contemptuousness; rather, my heart held onto it. There was a lot of not listening, disobedience, and broken things by the girls, which isn’t unusual considering they’re kids, but all of that put my heart in the wrong place. Actually, now that I’m looking back upon it, my heart was in the wrong place to begin with and it’s not their fault at all. My heart loves material things and having obedient children too much, and when those things are shattered, my heart crumbles. That’s because my hope isn’t meant to be put in those things and those things aren’t meant to last. I know earthly goods really are just a bunch of crap, I know I can’t take them with me when I die, but in that moment, I treasured it (more like hoarded it) in my heart. And kids, well, they don’t listen all the time, just like I don’t, and I’m constantly battling and praying for more patience. I even read this verse earlier this week… Proverbs 16:22 “Patience is better than power, and controlling one’s temper, than capturing a city.”

Thankfully, my story doesn’t stop there. I didn’t stay in my state of selfishness forever. Repentance happened, forgiveness happened, and I’m not defined by what I’ve done (or failed at doing, I even yelled “I suck at being a mom.”) because Jesus is my righteousness. Yeah, I’m a total screw up, but that’s why I know I need Jesus. He lived the life I should have lived, and died the death I deserved, and while I still screw up a lot (and will continue to), He covers all my screw ups with his blood. This probably sounds like the #storyofmylife over here, but it really is. My heart still wrestles with understanding grace and the cross, but each day, even through the screw-ups, God is giving me a clearer picture of what living a life of grace looks like… it’s never about me, it’s always about Jesus. When it becomes about me, that’s when trouble always starts, so I’m praying that my heart keeps battling to make it about Jesus. #endheartrant


the wildly co. tour

learning about opportunity threads learning about opportunity threads learning about opportunity threads learning about opportunity threads learning about opportunity threads learning about opportunity threads learning about opportunity threads learning about opportunity threads learning about opportunity threads learning about opportunity threads learning about opportunity threads learning about opportunity threads A couple weeks ago, I ventured off to North Carolina to meet the duo behind Wildly Co. and see the behind the scenes of how their clothes are manufactured. Wildly Co. is the fifth child of Mike and Hayley Morgan; their first four children are all boys. Insane, right?! Their boys are similar in ages to my girls, so I can (and can’t) imagine what their world is like. Anyhow, I had the privilege of seeing where and how they clothes are manufactured.

They work with Opportunity Threads in Morganton, North Carolina, and I was just blown away by Opportunity Threads. They are a worker-owned company, and they have worker ownership model to build up the company; they pair fair wages, and do things to give back and grow the local community, which was once a bustling place to manufacture clothing. Companies like Levi’s, Hanes, and many others used to manufacture their items in this textile town before they all took off overseas for lower costs. We met Molly and she introduced us to the other employees and owners of the company, saw the factory where all the cutting and sewing goes on, and got to hear her heart for the community and bringing the textile industry back to North Carolina. She explained how all employees potentially have an opportunity to become owners in the company, and it’s not just one person at the top making all the dollars, and all owners gets paid the same (there are now 6 owners in the company). We also got to have lunch (I had sweet tea for the first time!) with the folks over at the Carolina Textile District, and learned more about the ins and outs of the textile industry. I was so intrigued by it all and the hows of getting a textile product manufactured, especially because I love to sew and make clothes. Several years ago, I had an idea for a product, but didn’t know how or where to start to make it happen. Had I known about the Carolina Textile Industry at the time, I might have pursued it. If you ever have a textile product idea, keep Carolina Textile District and Opportunity Threads in your back pocket.

Back to Wildly Co., I’m always interested in couples that go the entrepreneurial route together to pursue a dream because Ben and I always talk about various business dreams and ideas, but we are way too conservative to leave the comforts of the corporate world. Thus, I was eager to learn how Mike and Hayley make it work with 4 kids in tow. Hayley and Mike make such a good team and you could feel their passion for their product, but most importantly they love the people they work with to bring their product to life. It brings them joy to be able to work with a manufacturer that really compensates their employees well, so that these people can earn a living wage for their specialized skill.

The essence of Wildly Co. is to provide ethically made children’s clothing, and they want you to know about the people they partner with to help sew their clothes. They say it perfectly on their site, “We’re not perfect people and Wildly Co. will not always be perfect. We’re working in an industry that has historically been all about the bottom line, at the expense of laborers… we’re working upstream and it’s not always easy. But we want you to hear the heartbeat of this business will go beyond profits and losses, it will always be about people and families.” I love that it’s not about making the buck for them, but mainly about being able to also partner with a company that pays craftsman fairly in their trade, so that those people can also support their families. I think of them like an Everlane (if you don’t know about Everlane, read their “about page”, their bottom line is awesome), but for kids. Wildly Co. providing a quality product at a fair cost for all those involved, from the first person that creates that first pattern, to the person who cuts, then sews, and then to the Morgans who get it packaged off and sent to your door (their kids are involved in helping package things up!).

CAMPFIRE_COLLECTION copy Besides, having a great heart for their business, their clothes are really cute and well-made too! I even got to see their shirts being sewn, and for this girl who loves sewing, that was so exciting to me. Currently, Wildly Co. has a special “Campfire Collection” going on with some cool goods to get your kids ready for summer (I’d wear that sweatshirt if it came in my size). It definitely looks like the outfit to wear for those lovely summer days of endless play. Also, don’t forget to check out their site for some of the other Wildly Co. staples.

It was only 3 short days in North Carolina, but I left so inspired and my mind spinning with ideas. Not only that, it was so great to get to know others who came along for the Wildly Co. tour, and I was blessed by hearing about their different stories too! I loved hearing the heart of Mike and Hayley’s business, but also was so encouraged by the women at the Influence Creative Women’s Summit. The whole plane ride home I was doodling ideas that were popping up in my head, and then when Ben picked me up from the airport, I word vomited all my ideas on him. HA! When I’m ready to share, I’m sure I’ll word vomit some of those ideas here.



our six tomato plants

tomatoes 2015 tomatoes 2015 tomatoes 2015 tomatoes 2015 tomatoes 2015 tomatoes 2015 tomatoes 2015 In previous years, we’ve planted a lot of tomato varieties. Our second year, we went bonkers with 29 different varieties! Over the last 8 years, we have learned a lot about what planting and tending approaches work best for us; every summer we learn a little bit more and feel better equipped going into the next year. Believe it or not, last year was one of the least fruitful crops for us, so we’re still very much on the learning curve.

We’ve experimented with a lot of different planting and maintenance methods. This year we opted to go as simple as possible; only 6 plants! We skipped the fish heads, and just planted them as Laurel recommends. This is the first time we’ve purchased her mail-order tomatoes and 2 months into the process, we’ve been extremely pleased.

tomatoes 2015 tomatoes 2015 tomatoes 2015 What was our selection process? In the past, it’s always been about how unique the tomato is. This year, it feels as though the decision-making was a bit more practical. Smaller tomatoes have done historically well for us, so those had to be included. Laurel had some varieties that are labeled as heat-tolerant that I haven’t been able to find at local nurseries (Super Sioux, Dagma’s Perfection, and Fireworks), so we’re experimenting with these. They don’t look as interesting as the blue tomatoes that were released last year, or perhaps some exotic heirloom, but hopefully they’ll fare better in the heat we experience. The 3 other tomato plants have 2 varieties grafted onto one plant; kind of like having a “two-headed” tomato plant. So technically, we have 9 tomato varieties that take up the footprint of only 6!



exotica rare fruit nursery in vista

exotica nursery exotica nursery exotica nursery exotica nursery exotica nursery exotica nursery One of our favorite places to go find rare fruit trees is Exotica Nursery in Vista, California. This place is a little gem filled with many varieties of exotic fruits. It is even featured in the documentary The Fruit Hunters. We had already been to this nursery prior to watching the film, so when we saw it pop up on screen, we were all, “Hey! Exotica! We’ve been there!” Ben’s really been getting into growing rare fruits (you probably know that already), and even though our backyard already holds about 60 fruit trees, I don’t think he’s slowing down just yet. This particular visit we came home with 2 guava trees, one was a Allahabadi variety, and the other was a diamond guava. The prices there are fairly good, but of course, depending the type of exotic fruit tree you are looking for, it can get more costly.

One of the things we look forward to when visiting Exotica is the tasting table they have ready for visitors to try. This visit we were all able to try mulberry for the first time, and we loved it so much that Ben is now planning to get a mulberry tree at some point. It’s a drought tolerant tree, so we definitely want to get that one in our garden.




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