I Hope He Takes After You

I hope he takes after YouI already know he has your long, dark eyelashes

and the dimples that compress those precious cheeks are just like yours.

I already know he has the same notch missing from his right ear

and a length that hints at a tall frame just like yours.

But, I hope he takes after you.

I hope he inherits your subtle strength and quiet leadership.

I hope he possesses the same respect for women.

I hope he shares your love of coffee, the outdoors, and family.

I hope he has the same caring, sensitive spirit.

I hope he takes after you.

I already know he bares Your image

formed so perfectly and wonderfully in my womb.

I already know he is built for Your unique purpose

equipped with gifts and passions the likes of which only You could supply.

But, I hope he takes after You.

I hope he lives selflessly and sacrificially.

I hope he seeks out and serves the least.

I hope he pursues community and prioritizes relationship.

I hope he values vulnerability over comfort.

I hope he gives grace freely to himself and others.

I hope he loves abundantly.

I hope he takes after You. 

Rosemary Lemonade

Rosemary Lemonade

Rosemary Lemonade 4

One of the houses I grew up in had a massive lemon tree in the backyard. It wasn’t until we moved that I realized it wasn’t normal to have freshly squeezed lemon juice at the ready whenever we wanted. My sister now has the same citrusy fortune at her own house. She sent me a little care package the other day with granola (she makes the best granola!), homemade jam, and lemons. After a cold, snowy winter, the lemons put an instant smile on my face. The cheery color and fresh scent of lemons always reminds me of sunshine and long summer days.

Normally when I receive a lemon windfall I zest and juice every last one and freeze the spoils. This time around I left the lemons in a bowl on our coffee table as a reminder that Spring is coming.

While reading a post on Modern Mrs. Darcy, I saw mention of rosemary lemonade which immediately piqued my interest. We happened to have fresh rosemary AND a bowl full of those beautiful lemons. The weekend fates of good eats were with us! The post didn’t have a recipe, so I Googled it to get some how-to inspiration. I ended up combining two methods (this and this) to create a refreshing, festive drink perfect for warm afternoons in the sun.

Rosemary Lemonade 3

Rosemary Lemonade 2

Rosemary Lemonade

THE drink for sipping in the afternoon sun on the back porch. A great compliment to grilled meats. I think, though I haven’t tested my theory, that a little splash of limoncello would make this a wonderful lemonade cocktail.

  • 1 large rosemary sprig
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 6 cups water
  • 1 1/2 – 2 cups freshly squeezed lemon juice

Combine rosemary sprig, sugar, and water in a large sauce pot. Bring to boil. Remove pot from heat and let steep for 30 minutes.

Add lemon juice to taste. My lemon juice sweet spot was 1 3/4 cups, but I like my lemonade a little on the tart side. Keep in mind the lemonade will dilute a bit when you add ice.

Chill lemonade for at least four hours before serving.

Serve over ice with rosemary sprig and lemon slices for garnish.


Embracing Simplicity: #ECGsimplifies

Embrace SimplicityMotherhood has made me a little less uptight about messes, what with the pacifiers in every room, colorful toys scattered around the living room, and a bouncer seat that roves around the house and all, but I’m still happiest in a clean and clutter-free environment.

My preference for order and organization is probably the reason watching Hoarders makes my eye twitch. I just can’t hang with the piles. For whatever reason, these people stack and stuff and accumulate until their homes look more like a landfill than a habitable living environment. Possessions cover every square inch and begin to crowd out the very people who collected them.

It’s possible to do that with our lives. Hoarding is oftentimes a mental disorder, but it can also be a spiritual disorder. Our possessions, our commitments, and our leisure activities can create a hectic lifestyle, crowding out what really matters. Our hearts and our homes become so cluttered, we can’t keep our priorities in order. Sometimes it takes the absence of those things for us to realize that they have been subtracting instead of adding to our lives.

Our little family went on a staycation recently, finishing out the lease on the condo my parents rented for their Winter visit. We spent two weeks living in a smaller space with less stuff. It was glorious. When we transitioned back to our own house, I was totally overwhelmed. Though I enjoy my own decor, access to my full wardrobe, and the comfort of being home, I really enjoyed the simple lifestyle we had those two weeks. The contrast made me yearn to recreate the simplicity of our staycation in our normal environment.

I’m on a mission to embrace simplicity, to untangle and uncomplicate my life so I can focus on what really matters – being present in my relationships with God, my family, and my community.

Simplicity creates margins and spaces and openness in our lives. It honors the resources of our small planet. It offers us the leisure of tasting the present moment. Simplicity asks us to let go of the tangle of wants so we can receive the simple gifts of life that cannot be taken away.  Sleeping, eating, walking, giving and receiving love, the benefits we take for granted, are amazing gifts. Simplicity invites us into these daily pleasures that can open us to God, who is present in them all.

Adele Ahlberg Calhoun in The Spiritual Discipline Handbook

The first battlefield in my mission to embrace simplicity is my home. In considering what made our staycation so peaceful, I realized it had a lot to do with the physical environment. Everything had a place and there was little excess. I wasn’t distracted by small piles of unfinished business and the niggling knowledge of boxes that should have been unpacked months ago.

My decor style will never be minimalistic or modern, but I can make choices that will make our home a space where all who dwell and gather are filled with peace.

That starts with purging and putting together. I will systematically (because, unlike hoarders, organization is my mental disorder…) go through our possessions and release what is unused and unnecessary. I will make room for the items we love, the memories that are still covered in cardboard. As I “let go of the tangle of wants” that inhabit my home right now, I hope to create a habit of simplicity for the future.

I began this intentional effort to simplify a week ago and am finding the journey a bit draining. The work is physical, emotional, and spiritual as I take steps to free my home and my heart from excess. Sometimes the steps are small, but progress is being made one day at a time.

I’m documenting my progress on Instagram.

Follow along (and join in!) under the hashtag #ECGsimplifies.

What are some ways you embrace simplicity?


3 Ways to Jazz Up Store Bought Pizza Crust

store bought pizza crust

For me, cooking is a joy and a stress reliever. I love the process – gathering, mixing, stirring, chopping, creating – but sometimes I don’t have time to immerse myself in that process. And there are some days when the process I enjoy so much just sounds burdensome. Enter one of my new, faux-process dinners: pizza using a store bought crust.

Pizza crust isn’t too difficult to whip up, but on those nights when I’m tired or low on time, store bought crust is a short cut that allows me to serve a home cooked meal with little effort.

Bread is my culinary best friend, so my tastes gravitate towards pudgy, thick pizza crust. However, my love handles don’t always appreciate my carb-laden chum, so Tim and I have been making our pizzas on whole wheat, thin crusts we found at Target. (This isn’t a sponsored post, just FYI.) It’s square, fairly low calorie, and thick enough to be chewy not crackery.

I’m always down for the standard cheese and pepperoni, but it makes me feel more grown up to be creative with our toppings. Plus, that helps me justify having pizza twice in a week (because you have to use both crusts, right…).

Here are 3 ways we’ve jazzed up our store bought pizza crust:

3 Ways to Jazz Up Pizza Crust

Fig Proscuitto Pizza - based on this from Pioneer Woman.

Sweet, salty, gooey with a fresh bite from the arugula. Eat it with a fork.

  • Crust
  • Fig Preserves – Bonne Maman is widely available and super tasty.
  • Proscuitto – crisped in skillet and crumbled.
  • Mozzarella
  • Bake at 400 until cheese is melted, 10 ish minutes.
  • Top with chopped arugula and shaved Parmesan.

Bacon and Egg Pizza – based on this in Food Network Magazine.

Breakfast for dinner is a favorite. Breakfast AND pizza? Yes, please.

  • Crust
  • Salsa
  • Red bell peppers, diced and sautéd until soft
  • Mozzarella
  • Bacon, cooked and chopped
  • Make wells in toppings and crack an egg into each well.
  • Bake at 400 until egg whites are opaque. Check after 20 minutes.

Peppered Ricotta and Roasted Veggie Pizza with Red Wine Reduction

Roast all your leftover vegetables and throw them on top of some creamy ricotta. A drizzle of balsamic vinaigrette would be a tasty substitution for the red wine reduction. 

  • Crust
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese mixed with freshly cracked pepper
  • Roasted veggies (we did 1 yellow onion, 1 red bell pepper, 1 small sweet potato)
  • Bake 400 until heated through, 15 minutes
  • Drizzle with red wine reduction sauce.

Is pizza in your meal rotation? Do you make your own crust? What are your favorite toppings?

When I have time to make homemade pizza crust, I’m going to follow these 9 tricks for making amazing pizza from Erika over at Let Why Lead!

An Interview with Trina Holden (and a giveaway!)

Trina Holden is infectious. She has a free spirit that draws you in and a grounded wisdom that makes you want to stay. I intermet (can I coin that phrase?) Trina in 2012 when I became a fellow contributor for Kindred Grace, and narrowly missed meeting her in real life when she moved from my parent’s neck of the woods to Alabama. She is an inspiring author and blogger who has graciously allowed me to pick her heart about some themes from her most recent release, Embracing Beauty.

If you read my review, you’ll know that Embracing Beauty has been both challenging and life-giving in my own journey to embrace my God-given body and beauty. I hope Trina’s words, in her book and in this interview, encourage and exhort you as much as they did me.

an interview with Trina Holden

I asked Trina to weigh in on her writing journey for this book, so before we get to my specific questions, here’s more on the process behind the pages.

Trina Holden: My first few years of motherhood were severely style deprived. (We won’t even talk about the years before that!) Around year 4, the Lord started to work in my heart addressing some deeply rooted lies about my worth and revealing a clearer picture of my identity in Him. The freedom I found during this season allowed me to branch out in every area of my life, including my wardrobe, which led me to finally having some success in the area of dressing myself well.

It was actually friends on my Facebook page who suggested my next book be about dressing well in the season of motherhood because they apparently thought I was good at that. Because I never saw myself as a fashion blogger, or imagined I would write a book about beauty, I felt like the nudge to write the book was actually from God. I started to collect notes and a few blog posts I’d written on the topic, I realized this was a subject I was, in fact, passionate about enough to write an entire book.

I began the process in November, 2012 and hit a wall around January 2013. This is when I got to the end of what I’d planned to write about but had a feeling the book was not complete yet. I felt the Lord directing me to dive more deeply into the ‘why’ behind the process of embracing beauty. I felt called to answer questions I didn’t know the answers to, so I spent a lot of time studying Scripture, praying, and begging friends to pray for me as I wrestled to put into words why it was even worthwhile to mentor mothers toward style. The Lord met me as I put my fingers to the keyboard, and I still say, He wrote the first 3 chapters of the book.

Finally, it was done. Not perfect, but it was my best. (That’s an important lesson I’ve learned with self publishing…if you wait till it’s perfect, it’ll never happen. Instead, put forth your best effort and trust the rest to God.) My husband designed my cover as he did my last book, formatted it, and finally hit ‘publish’. The book has been gratefully received by a small group of friends, and that has been a delight. But I have a growing conviction that the main reason God had me write the book was for my own heart.

This book has inspired me and held me accountable to embracing beauty in my own life for the 9 months of carrying my 4th child, and now 5 months postpartum. I feel like I would have thrown in the towel on embracing beauty in this last year if it weren’t for the fact that I wrote a whole book about it! This book is a printed testimony–an altar of remembrance–that reminds me of a time God called me, met me, changed me, and gave me the gift of beauty in a season I wasn’t expecting it.

ECG: In chapter 1, you mention several purposes for beauty. Which has been the most challenging for you to adopt and live out?

Beauty as worship is still rather mind blowing to me. I pursued beauty for so many lesser reasons and with such earthly motives. But realizing that I can worship God even in what I clothe myself in, and in my attitude toward my outward appearance? It both overwhelms and excites me.

What does taking time to care for yourself look like on a daily basis?

My number one rule of self care right now is making sleep a priority. No amount of makeup or cute clothes can help me if I look like a corpse from sleep deprivation. In this season, making sleep a priority means I have very little time to myself, and I am not as productive, but it also means I start the day with a refreshed countenance, and that is huge. I can leave the house without make up if I have had enough sleep!

I thrift shop about once a month, and ONLY buy an item if I love it. That way my wardrobe, though small, is all favorites.

And–I groom my massive eyebrows during bath time. There you have it: the beauty routine of a SAHM of 4 small children.

How do you (personally) maintain balance between focus on personal appearance and the Biblical perspective on beauty?

I see my outward appearance as a way I can bless those around me. When I veer off from seeking to bless to seeking to impress, that’s when I know I need to go back to Scripture to refocus.When I remember my identity as beloved daughter of the King, it takes so much pressure of to make sure my appearance is ‘perfectly fashionable and trim’. Instead I can relax into the body, face, and season He’s given me, and celebrate whatever beauty I have in front of me.

Have your beauty/style strategies changed over the course of having your children? Can you tell the difference in your attitude with your first pregnancy and this last one?

I’ve changed so much! During my first pregnancy I was so motivated by fear that people would think I had no clue how to dress my pregnant body. I was also always trying to look as skinny as possible even when my body was anything but. In my last pregnancy I was able to embrace my width knowing it was a season, and just enjoy finding things that were comfy and my favorite color. Oh, and I embraced drape. First pregnancy I wore cotton blouses. Oh my word, those make you look twice as big as you are! Last pregnancy? I didn’t buy anything unless is draped or flowed. Maxi skirts and knit or bias-cut tops. I felt elegant and thinner even though I gained 20 more pounds than my first pregnancy!

I often experience culture’s definition of beauty as a weight and a burden. What’s the best way to combat that burden when you aren’t even close to fitting that definition?

Ignore that definition. Realize it truly is a mirage. Every body that’s touted as ‘perfect’ has had plastic surgery. My body is normal, my body is amazing in that it has carried 4 other humans, and my body is preforming and looking exactly as my artistic God planned it to. Who am I to resent the way He designed my body to change during motherhood, when each of the changes is purposeful in order to nourish another life well? There are days I rest in that, there are days (yesterday, in fact) when I have to preach to myself. Either way, this is fact: My body is beautifully designed by a God who loves me no matter how much I weigh.

What would you say to a woman just beginning the process of embracing beauty?

Exactly that–it’s a process. Celebrate each time you experience the success of a good hair day or an outfit combination you love. Know that dressing yourself well and true to who you are is an art form, and a skill not mastered in a month or even a year. Celebrate that fact that even if your outfit flopped, or you didn’t lose your baby weight as fast as you wanted, it has no bearing on your true worth. There’s skin deep beauty, and heart beauty, and the one who doesn’t let the former define her will radiate the latter.

Trina is giving away an ebook copy of Embracing Beauty! How do you choose to embrace beauty? Comment on this post to enter the Embracing Beauty giveaway. Winner will be selected on Wednesday, April 11th.

Trina Holden

Trina is a wife and mother to four, balancing her passions for writing, homeschooling, and community whilst settling into her new habitat in Alabama! She’s author of three books: More Than Numbers (a free ebook!), Real {Fast} Food and Embracing Beauty. You can find her blogging at TrinaHolden.com.