All the Things


(We just moved to Arkansas, Y’all. I get to have coffee with this view every morning. It’s a crazy life.)


Because I like to share all the good things….

Dignum Memoria and Chad Matthews

A thing that has always driven me is the story behind a set of eyes. Sitting down with a stranger, sharing story, and then parting perhaps as friends, but for certain, a better human for having received another: this is the rare art of listening. Calvin Coolidge said, ‘It takes a great man to be a good listener.’ A careful observer and masterful teller of stories, my friend Chad Matthews is a great man. His Facebook posts have the tendency to make me cry and celebrate life and love people better. For over a year, Chad has put together the stories of 10 people living around the East Texas area. You may have seen one of them on the corner holding one of those signs asking for food or money. Her name is Janice. She has a story. So do Wayne and Mo. The filming, the music, the stories…will leave you stunned…and a better human. By listening to them, Chad is reminding them, and us, in hope that while they are still breathing, God is still writing their stories.

Here is about a 1 minute trailer of Dignum Memoria that just might crack your heart and perspective today.

Chad keeps a place called Stories Still Breathing. You should go there. Often. Like his page on Facebook? If you have a mind to share or support, please do.  Chad is terribly humble at promoting his good work but I will shamelessly do it for my friend I believe is doing something of profound and eternal importance.



Pen Pals
I know this sounds old-fashioned/time-consuming/SMH for the younguns, but I am about to tell you a secret in life:
I have a best sister/friend pen pal and her name is Tasha. This accidentally started up a few years ago after we moved away from each other. One day I got a letter in the mail from Tasha.
It was a gift that left me secret-smiling for the rest of the day.
Then I wrote her back.
Then I called her my Pen Pal because it sounded fancy and fun and…she was.
We write about what our boys are up/in to, what is currently in our hearts or how the bracelet last sent is a little crazy color she doesn’t usually wear but she wears it to remind her that I am crazy and I love her.
We don’t talk on the phone or see each other often and we might get poor marks for the irregularity of writing, but because of this letter thing…I feel specially tied to my friend.
And her letters always arrive on the day they were meant to.
This practice is a highlight of my life now and I am convinced that it is special magic to send someone in the actual snail mail the gift of words.
Be magic.



Man Crates

My man is hard to buy for. He’s not picky…he’s just…satisfied. With his birthday rolling around this month, I mentioned this to my brother Lane. He said, ‘You should check out Man Crates. I hear it’s pretty cool.’
Y’all. Lane was right.
There are about a billion manly ways the combo gifts come in: wooden crates, ammo cans, jerkygrams, and Project Kits. (Most of them contain jerky so if your man is a vegan you could just stick with the Retro-Gamer Crate.)

An added bonus?
Watching your man try to pry this thing apart as the kids crowd around him with giggles.

(Click here for some manly fun for your man.)

PS I got you 10% off your first one.


Net Nanny
Well. We gone and done it. After keeping my kids virtually tech-free mostly out of sheer laziness and because I want them outside playing, we got them a family laptop for Christmas (this might have been because I don’t want their dirty fingers touching my Mac and they are starting to have lots of interweb research/homework…but whatever). Worried about handing tiny humans having not-yet-matured the World, I researched several monitoring programs and determined that Net Nanny would be the one to bounce all the junk being forced onto the screen and into their eyes (it’s astonishing).
Let me tell you:
She’s pretty fierce.
On top of the usual pornography, Net Nanny blocks based on profanity, drugs, and Pee Wee Herman.
And she sends my husband and I a report each week diced up nicely in a pie graph about the content blocked. If she gets bounce-happy, we can ‘okay’ a site for my thirteen year-old and still ‘no-kay’ it for my seven year-old. It is worth every penny of $39 (and $59 for up to 5 devices) a year and I would pay quadruplezillion that to protect my kids from all the yuck (but don’t tell Nanny that).

Please? Check out Net Nanny I’ve seen and heard over and over and over the devastating effects on our little ones exposed to things they have accidentally found on the internet.

(there are many programs like this out there. We had also heard about Covenant Eyes…the reason why we went with Net Nanny is because it casts the widest net as far as we could tell and we were in a hurry and tired doing all this the night before Christmas.)

*These are the basic, scanty details but I will be dishing up all the dirty in an article in Texarkana Parent next month.

Roots and Sky

As good practice, I can’t say I have ever recommended a book I haven’t read beforehand…but I trust all the tools and heart of this writer who paints pictures with words. Christie’s book releases February 2 and she would be talking about that this week…instead, her family is mourning the loss of her brother-in-law among the twelve marines lost at sea this week.  Christie writes over at A Spacious Place and wrote her heart about why, in spite of what happened this week, These Words Are Still True.  What feels like the feeblest thing in the world…I know in my heart isn’t: praying for these families and offering support of the real gift of Christie’s words.

You can order Roots and Sky here. 



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