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Creamy Crockpot Chicken Alfredo

We are on Day 2 of #sleetmageddon2015, with prospects of another winter storm dumping 2-4 inches of snow on us tomorrow morning. I know my friends up North are laughing hysterically as they read this, but we Texans don’t do cold. We can survive hellish summer temperatures like a boss, but anything under 40 degrees, and the entire state freaks out.

I'm Not Going Outside Until the Temperature Is Above My Age

 

Anyway, I don’t know about you, but cold weather makes me crave some serious comfort food. So tonight I will share with you my fool-proof, slap your Mama, even your picky eaters will want to eat this, creamy chicken alfredo recipe. (Please don’t actually slap your Mama though. That would be awful. Call her and tell her you love her instead. Okay? Okay.)

Creamy Chicken Alfredo via megancard.com

 

Ingredients:

2-3 chicken breasts

1 box of Barilla farfalle pasta

2 cans of Prego Homestyle Alfredo sauce

1  can of Prego Roasted Garlic Parmesan sauce

1/2 cups of Sprouts Italian Blend grated cheese

Place chicken, sauce, and grated cheese in a crockpot and set it on low (6-8 hours). One hour before serving, take chicken out and shred. Once shredded, put chicken back into the crockpot and add approximately half the box of pasta into the mix. Cook for another 1- 1/2 hours.

Serve with your favorite garlic bread and glass of wine.

Creamy Chicken Alfredo from megancard

 

 

Enjoy and stay warm, my friends!

Hello, Friday: New Link Up!

Good Morning, sunshine!

I hope this finds you well. I know many of you are snowed in at the moment and experiencing a bit of cabin fever. Hang in there! It won’t be long and we will be ushering in the warmth of spring.

It has been a while since I have hosted a link up on the blog. I miss those days. In fact, it was through some of the old link ups where I “met” so many of you! I’m not entirely sure why I ever stopped them, but I think now is the perfect time to start something new, don’t you think?

hello Friday

Beginning today, I will be hosting a new weekly link up: Hello, Friday. It will be a free-for-all of sorts. You can share a post listing your favorite things that have happened over the course of the week, what you are looking forward to doing over the weekend, a DIY project you are dying to show off, a recipe you want to share, or just a random thought for the day. Anything you’d like. All I ask is that you keep the post family friendly, a link to my blog in your post, and that you take some time to visit a few of the other participating blogs and leave a comment. Link ups are a wonderful tool to create community in the blog-sphere, as well as finding other bloggers who share similar interests, so please take the time to introduce yourself to other bloggers.

If you haven’t prepared a post for today, not to worry! The link up will remain active until February 27th.

Below is a sample post. Today, I am keeping it simple.


 

Hello, Friday. Boy am I glad to see you!

It has been a rather boring week with nothing exciting to report, other than Cali experiencing a growth spurt. It has been so fun to watch her grow!

Cali

Growing up, we always had small lap dogs, so it has been fun watching the dramatic transformation of a large breed dog week after week. It won’t be long and we will no longer be able to pick her up and carry her around, so I am cherishing all of the puppy snuggles I can get!

What are your plans for this weekend? Anything exciting?!

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Megan Card

What I’ve Learned After 10 Years of Marriage

“Meg, you have the perfect marriage. I rarely see you and Greg mad at each other, and you always seem so happy in every photograph you post on Facebook or Instagram. You really are living a fairy-tale! I’m so jealous. I wish I had your life.”

This is not the first time I’ve been told I am living in a modern-day fairy-tale and I suspect it won’t be the last.

Greg and I were high school sweethearts. We fell in love at the ripe old age of seventeen. We got married at twenty-one. Hayden graced us with his presence at twenty-three, and Rylan followed not long after at twenty-five. And it’s true, we were madly in love. We may have been poor as dirt in the beginning, but we had a fierce love for one another… most of the time.

So last night as I searched the internet for flights and hotels for our upcoming trip to London, I couldn’t help but reflect on the last ten years of our marriage. The good, the bad, and the downright hellish moments that almost tore our family apart.

We almost didn’t make it to this milestone.

The realization that Greg and I were close to becoming another statistic still haunts me; especially now that he and I have reconciled and mended our broken marriage. I guess that is why this trip means so much to us- we almost didn’t make it to this point.

We have been to hell and back again and I can tell you that it is only by God’s grace and unending faithfulness that Greg and I are still married.

Below are some words of wisdom I have collected over the last ten years, many of which were never covered in our marriage counseling sessions, and I wish they were, because it would have spared us a lot of heartache.

What I've Learned After 10 Years of Marriage// megancard.com

 

There is no such thing as a fairy-tale marriage

I don’t care what the Lego Movie says. Everything is not always going to be awesome and if someone tells you otherwise, they are lying to you. There is no such thing as a perfect marriage, no matter what people may say on their social media feeds. Myself included. And I apologize if I have made it appear that my life is perfect because it is far, far from it.

Marriage is messy.

There will be days when you want to give up. There will be days when you wonder why on earth you married this person. There will be days when you don’t even like your spouse. I guarantee it.

Marriage requires a lot of hard work, but it’s worth it. It is always worth it.

 Avoid using generalizations at all cost

Take the words “always” and “never” out of your vocabulary.

Right now. Just do it. Trust me on this one.

Because if you are anything like us, those two words became lethal weapons tucked neatly away in your arsenal, ready to be brought out and used during battle an argument.

Instead of shouting, “You never listen to me!”

Try the following, “I feel ignored at the moment and as a result, feel unloved.”

Chances are your spouse is listening to you and genuinely loves you, though you may feel ignored and unloved at that particular point in time. Using “I feel” statements instead of “never” and “always” statements help you get to the heart of the matter and do not immediately put your spouse on the defensive.

You married a good-willed man/woman

Speaking of arguments, it is important that you never forget you married a good-willed man/woman when you are in a heated disagreement with your spouse. There are always exceptions, but more than likely, your spouse is not the devil incarnate. 

When you exchanged your marriage vows, you stood before friends and family with nothing but love and devotion for your husband/wife . Don’t lose sight of that. Ever.

What I've learned after 10 years of marriage// megancard.com

 Know your spouse’s love language

How does your spouse receive love and affection? Is it through acts of service or words of encouragement? Perhaps it is quality time? Physical touch? Gifts?

 

My advice- discover your spouse’s love language as early as possible and work to become fluent in that love language over time. We briefly discussed this concept in our marriage counseling, only Greg and I were too star-crossed to pay much attention to it at the time.

Boy, I wish we had.

One night after dinner, I mentioned to Greg that I desperately needed some quality time with him. The past six months were rather chaotic for him at work and I was beginning to feel ignored and unloved- like I was receiving his leftover emotions after he had poured himself into his work. It wasn’t that I was not appreciative of his hard work and determination to provide for our family- quite the opposite. I was/am so very proud of my husband. But I needed him. I needed his undivided attention- even if it was only for an hour. And the longer I tried to suppress those feelings, the more they threatened to cloud my judgement and I began to view our marriage through a lens of loneliness.

As Greg was washing the dishes, a task he knows I hate, he looked up at me with great sadness and said, “How is it that you feel so unloved? I’m trying to show you, even now, how very loved you are. I know you despise doing the dishes so I thought I would wash them for you- as an act of love.”

We were speaking different love languages.

You see, Greg’s love language is acts of service, and he was trying to show me how much he loved me by completing a task he knew I did not particularly enjoy. My love language, however, is quality time. I was attempting to explain that what I really needed from him at that moment was not an act of service- though greatly appreciated and a kind gesture that did not go unnoticed- but his time.

And looking back now, ten years later, we have spoken different love languages the entire time. If only we had paid attention! This alone would have spared us a lot of heartache over the years.

Schedule regular date nights and guard it with your life

This is something I wish we had started in the early years of our marriage, and even now, I want to work at making it a regular part of our schedule.

Find a night that works for both of you, set a date, and then guard that time together with all that you have. Make it a priority. Let your family and co-workers know that unless it is a life or death emergency, it can wait. Time alone with your spouse is that important.

Life is busy. Something will always come up. It’s inevitable. And if you don’t guard this time with your spouse, you will find all sorts of reasons why you can’t keep your date. And don’t let your budget keep you from spending time with your spouse either. Here is a list of free date night ideas.

Find a hobby together

Find a hobby-one that only the two of you share.

For us, it is watching Downton Abbey. We love that show!

 

I could easily justify watching a new episode with my friends or alone, should Greg happen to be at work on a Sunday, but we have made a promise that this is something we will watch together- and only together. It gives each of us something to look forward to each week and I love that I associate Downton Abbey with fond feelings toward my husband.

Whether it’s running, working out, cooking, golf, photography, or synchronized swimming… find something, anything, that you both enjoy and make it a point to share that with each other as often as possible.

Don’t take yourself too seriously

I am dangerously approaching my word limit before you either tune me out or click over to another site, so I will finish my post with this- don’t take yourself too seriously.

Laugh. Be silly. Risk being seen as a fool. Remember what it was like to be young and in love, when you didn’t care what others thought of you.

 

 

 What other marriage advice would you add? Share your thoughts by leaving a comment below!

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Herringbone Wood Pallet Tutorial

One of my favorite ways to integrate pops of color into our home is through large artwork that makes a bold statement.

I was in a creative mood the other day and finally settled on a project that would not only help me channel my creativity, but also did not break the bank. I scrolled through Pinterest in search for inspiration (because admit it, we all do that) and came across this beautiful herringbone canvas. I rummaged through our apartment looking for supplies and determined I had everything I needed to make such a piece, only I would make mine on a wood pallet canvas instead.

I already had a large pallet  (Unfortunately, I did not take pictures to post a tutorial on how to create a wood pallet canvas, but I have found this one to be helpful.), paint in my chosen color scheme, paint brushes, and painter’s tape. So this project cost me absolutely nothing! Hooray!

Herringbone wood pallet tutorial via megancard.com

However, should you choose to re-create this project and do not have all of the supplies on hand, I will break down what you will need as well as its cost.

Supplies Needed

Wood- I highly recommend searching for free wood pallets to make your canvas. You can talk to lumber yards, retailers, new home construction sites, etc and ask them if you can have their used wood pallets. Most of them will gladly let you take them off their hands and this will save you a lot of money.

Paint- I used six paint colors to create my herringbone canvas, but you can use less if you’d like.

Martha Stewart Multi Surface Satin Acrylic Craft paint Wedding Cake- $2.50 at Michael’s

Martha Stewart Multi Surface Satin Acrylic Craft paint Scottish Highlands- $2.50 at Michael’s

Martha Stewart Multi Surface Satin Acrylic Craft paint-Deep Sea- $2.50 at Michael’s

Martha Stewart Multi Surface Metallic Acrylic Craft paint- Rose Gold- $2.50 at Michael’s

Americana Acrylic paint Sea Breeze- $1.79 at Michael’s

Americana Acrylic paint Coral Blush- $1.79 at Michael’s

Total cost- $13.58 + tax (You can probably find these cheaper at other locations, I just happened to get mine at Michael’s when I was purchasing other items for various projects.)

Paint Brushes in assorted sizes- I have had my paint brushes for years and I cannot remember exactly where I purchased them; probably from Michael’s or some other craft store. You can pick up a package of assorted paint brushes at any craft store or even places like Walmart and Target for less than $10. Keep in mind the cheaper brush sets will not last as long, but for a project like this it won’t hurt to use them.

Total cost- $10 + tax (this is a rough estimate)

Painter’s Tape- I always use the Frog Tape brand when I am painting. For me, it gives me cleaner lines and is easily removed from the surface. Again, I already had this product on hand, but you can get it at Walmart for around $7.

Estimated cost for the entire project- $31 (I rounded up and this does not include tax).

 Step One

Assemble wood pallet canvas and paint the base color.

Wood Pallet tutorial

I chose the Martha Stewart multi surface acrylic paint in wedding cake for my base color. Apply two coats of paint.

And no, this is not a sponsored post. I just really like the color selection in the Martha Stewart line. Martha Stewart has no idea who I am or that I even exist.  :)

Herringbone wood pallet tutorial via megancard.com

This is after one coat of Wedding Cake white paint.

 

Step Two

Using painter’s tape, divide your canvas into four sections.

Herringbone wood pallet tutorial via megancard.com

As you can probably gather from the picture, I eye-balled this and did not measure. My grandfather, who was a skilled carpenter, and taught me to always “measure twice, cut one” is probably rolling over in his grave right now.

I did this intentionally.

I used imperfect and un-level pieces of wood and did not meticulously measure each section because I like to be reminded that you can take imperfect things and create something beautiful out of it.

If I were going to sell this piece, I would have taken the time to ensure everything was perfectly in order; but seeing that this piece of art was going in my own living room, I deliberately chose not to do so.

After you create four sections with painter’s tape, create diagonal lines, starting at the top corner of the far right column, working your way down. Then do the same on the other side, only make your diagonal go in the opposite direction, connecting each in the middle to make a “v.” This creates what looks like several arrow heads pointing downward.

Follow the same procedure in the next section, starting at the top, working your way downward, then toward the left and final column. Again, I eye-balled this. If you want them to be equally spaced apart, I would use a ruler and a level to measure the width between each section, as well as making sure the angles line up nicely.

I’m sorry, y’all… These directions are probably as clear as mud. But the great thing about Frog Tape is that you can remove it and change the angle at anytime without fear of removing paint in the process. If you get confused, feel free to leave a comment below and I will try to answer it as best I can.

 

Step Three

Select a paint color that you want to anchor your piece. I really liked the idea of adding metallics to our decor, so I chose the Martha Stewart multi surface metallic acrylic paint in rose gold.

This is the color you will see most often throughout your herringbone pattern, so make sure it is one you are fond of. :)

Herringbone wood pallet tutorial via megancard.com

I started in the far right corner and initially wanted to make every third section metallic. I changed my mind after painting the second section and opted for every fourth one instead because I wanted the colors to appear somewhat random.

(Side Note: The only intentional pattern I used was a very subtle chevron (which is similar to herringbone) in coral, which you can see in the picture below. You can chose to do this, or opt for something entirely different. It’s really whatever your personal preference may be)

Herringbone wood pallet tutorial via megancard.com

 Step Four

Next, you will want to map out the rest of your color pallet.

As I just mentioned, I wanted to sneak in a subtle chevron into the herringbone pattern, so I painted sections 3, 10, 15, and 22 coral. The rest of the sections were completely random.

Herringbone wood pallet tutorial via megancard.com

You will need two coats of paint for each color, except for the metallic, which will require three. Allow one hour between each coat of paint.

 Step Five

After finishing your last coat of paint, per color, it is time to remove the painter’s tape. (Tip: If you wait for it to dry completely, it may be more difficult to remove the painter’s tape and the paint will peel.)

You may need to do some small touch-ups with your base color at this point if your paint bled slightly, or if it peeled while you were removing the painter’s tape.

Herringbone wood pallet tutorial via megancard.com

If you prefer nice, crisp, clean lines, this will be your last step, other than sealing it with finishing wax, which I will go over in just a minute.

However, if you are like me, and want to add a little vintage feel to your canvas, you will have one additional step. It won’t take long. I promise :)

 

Optional Step Six

To distress your new piece of art, take a bit of sandpaper or steel-wool, and rub it vigorously across the canvas. This will slowly strip the paint from the wood, giving it a distressed look. Once you are finished distressing your wood canvas, you will need to seal it.  Apply Minwax Paste Finishing Wax (or something similar) per manufacturer’s instructions, with a rag, and allow it to dry. It dries in about 15 minutes and is practically invisible.

 

Now it’s time to find the perfect spot for your new masterpiece!

 

I’m still waiting on Greg to help me hang this above our couch in the living room, so stay tuned for more pictures :)

 

 Do you like to create your own home decor? What is your favorite DIY project so far?

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Using Fine Fabrics to Transform your Home

The following post contains sponsored content.

 Using Fine Fabrics to Transform your Home

When decorating a room your choice of fabrics is an important consideration. Most people think about the colour and pattern they will use for their soft furnishings, and feature items like sofas but there is more to choosing fabrics than the colour and pattern.

Fabrics pic 1

Here we explain the impact that the fabrics you use will have on the look and feel of your room. We explain the other factors that you need to consider when choosing fabrics for furniture and soft furnishings.

Texture

The right shade and pattern is important, but so is texture. How your room looks is greatly impacted by the texture of the fabrics you choose.

Fabrics pic 2

For example, if you are going for a minimalist look choosing smooth fabrics is the best way to maintain a clean look. A furry cushion would just not look right in this environment.

Fabrics pic 3

On the other hand, if you wanted to add a touch of fun and warmth you might actually want furry cushions. Many people add a touch of colour to their minimalist home using bold colours for a large item of furniture or some soft furnishings. If you do not like bold colours, you can use highly textured fabrics to turn an item of furniture or a window into a focal point for your room.

Fabrics pic 4

The texture of fabrics also affects how it feels and how comfortable a home is. This is an important consideration. For example, if you frequently wear shorts in the house having heavily textured fabric on your sofa is probably not a good idea. It will be fine when you are sitting on the sofa in jeans, but would be uncomfortable in shorts.

Quality

It is always worth investing in high quality fabrics when decorating your home. If you do so, it will pay dividends because you will not have to be constantly replacing your curtains, cushion covers or having your chairs and sofas re-covered.

Fabrics pic 5

The quality of the fabrics you use also has a significant impact on the look and feel of your home. There is no point in decorating a room to a high standard and using cheap fabrics, which will bring the ambience of the room down. Using fine fabrics for interior decoration can transform a basic home into a special one. You can transform a simple terrace house into a luxury home by using high quality fabrics to add a touch of class.

Maintenance

Using good quality fabrics also helps to ensure that your home looks good at all times. Cheap fabrics tend to mark easily and wear fast.

Fabrics pic 6

If you choose high quality fabrics, it will be easier for you to keep them clean and looking good. Modern fabric finishes have transformed luxury fabrics like silk or velvet into something that is practical for use even in a family home. They can be sprayed with finishes that repel dirt, which makes them easier to keep clean.

Fabrics pic 7

You will pay more for fine fabrics, but if you want a home with a luxury feel you can get it simply by upgrading your soft furnishings and re-covering items of furniture you own. Using fine fabrics is actually the most economical way of transforming your home.

 

You just finished reading Using Fine Fabrics to Transform your Home. Consider leaving a comment!

How do you use fabric and texture to decorate your home?

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Cherrio, Y’all!

Grab your passports!

The Cards are going to…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LondonEnglandFlag

 

Well, half of us are going to London, and only for a week. But still, LONDON!!!

Greg and I celebrate ten years of marital bliss in May. We have not taken a trip, just the two of us, since our honeymoonand we are so delighted at the prospect of enjoying our anniversary abroad, in a city where we have longed to visit since we were young.

Greg and I have sacrificed and saved for this trip for a long time, and I cannot believe it is ALMOST HERE! (We will go in November, in the off-season, when it is more affordable to travel to London.)

Why We Chose London

  1. Greg and I can both trace our ancestry back to the United Kingdom.
  2. Neither of us have ever traveled to Europe, and we thought London would make a great first trip.
  3. Greg and I are big history buffs. We plan to visit the British Museums, Buckingham Palace, The Tower of London, Westminster Palace and Westminster Abbey, etc.
  4. We are huge Harry Potter fans, so we will visit Kings Cross Station and more than likely annoy you with far too many pictures of us at Platform 9 3/4. I’m sorry in advance :)
  5. We are obsessed with Downton Abbey and a visit to Highclere Castle is non-negotiable.
  6. I’ve always wanted to ride in a red double-decker bus and take a picture in a London telephone booth.
  7. We would rather walk around a crowded city than lay on a beach all day. Yeah, we’re weird. lol

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Meg's iphone 100

 

Most of all, I cannot wait to spend some quality time, exploring a new city, making new memories, with my man. I know that we could easily do those things here at home, without spending a small fortune, but there is something rather magical about getting to do those things in another country.

 

Have you ever been to London? What advice would you give us?

What are some must see attractions we should visit while we are there?

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How To Achieve The ‘Michelle Money Curl': A Tutorial

So, I get asked all the time on social media about how I curl my hair and if I would be willing to do a hair tutorial on the blog. Y’all flatter me with your compliments, truly, but I honestly feel like I still have much to learn when it comes to hair. I mean, have you checked out these ladies?! (Kate from The Small Things Blog  and Emily from The Freckled Fox) They are the real deal when it comes to hair tutorials. You should definitely check out their blogs. You’ll thank me later. Promise.

But, since you asked, here is a quick run-down on how I do my hair.

How to Achieve the Michelle Money Curl: A Tutorial via megancard.com

 

Great Hair Starts With Great Hair Care

If you want gorgeous hair, you HAVE to give it the attention it deserves. You can use the best hair products in the world, see the greatest of hair stylists, and still not achieve the hair you want if you don’t take the time to properly care for it. Be sure you are doing the following on a regular basis:

Drink Plenty Of Water

 Dehydration can make your hair appear dry, brittle, and damaged. If you want gorgeous, healthy hair, be sure that you are drinking enough water.

Take Your Vitamins

Vitamins and minerals help to fill in the gaps in our diets. Taking a multi-vitamin that is rich in iron, vitamin D, zinc, and B-complex vitamins have been known to impact hair health.

Trim Those Split-Ends

 While trimming your split ends will not make your hair grow any faster, it will help prevent damage and keep it looking healthy. My stylist recommends coming in every 8-12 weeks for a trim and I try to stay on top of that as much as possible to keep my hair looking its best.

Deep Condition When Necessary

Coconut oil is a staple in our house. I use it in a variety of different ways, but one of my all-time favorites is my deep conditioning hair treatment because it is simple, inexpensive to make, and effective.

DIY Deep Conditioning Hair Treatment via megancard.com

Melt 2 TBSP of organic, virgin & unrefined coconut oil, and add 1-2 drops of Ylang Ylang essential oil. (Please note: essential oils are very potent and must be used carefully. It is not necessary to use more than 1-2 drops when making this hair mask and it could, in fact, be harmful if you do. Always err on the side of caution when using essential oils.) I use Ylang Ylang for its fragrance , but also for its uplifting properties as well as its attributed ability to stimulate hair growth.

Coconut oil hair treatment tutorial via megancard.com

Apply to hair and allow it to soak into your follicles for at least an hour.

Most of the time I will use this treatment once a week, on either Friday or Saturday night, so that I can leave it in overnight.

I wasn’t as good about keeping up with my deep conditioning treatment over the holidays and my stylist definitely noticed the last time I was in for my cut/color. It was so dry, y’all. So I have been doing two treatments a week for the last two weeks to get my hair back in a healthier state. In fact, I am doing a treatment right now as I type out this blog post. (Multi-tasking for the win!)

Okay, now that we’ve covered a few ways to get your hair looking it’s very best, here is the ‘Michelle Money Curl’ #tutorial I found years ago on YouTube after her appearance on The Bachelor. This is exactly how I curl my hair. I’ve tried numerous times and watched countless YouTube videos on how to curl your hair with a flat iron or a curling wand, but I suck at it. I just can’t seem to do it right. So I’m glad I found this gem because I can still get that beachy wave look to my hair by using a curling iron, which seems to be the only way I can curl my hair, no matter how hard I try. hahaha!

 

 That’s my secret! Hope it helps.

Do you have a favorite hair tutorial? Feel free to share it with us!

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The Secret To Living A Defiant Joy: An Interview with Margaret Feinberg

One of my favorite authors, Margaret Feinberg, has been through a brutal fight with cancer and shares the unexpected lessons she discovered along the way in her new book and Bible study Fight Back With Joy.

 

It’s been inspiring to learn how Margaret has been practicing a defiant joy, and I thought you might like to get an insider’s look, a sneak peek of the video and read an interview with Margaret.

 

 

Fight Back With Joy 6-Session DVD Bible Study Promo Video from Margaret Feinberg on Vimeo.

 

Your newest book and Bible study, Fight Back With Joy, was born out of your fight with a life-threatening illness. What was your difficult diagnosis, and what has your journey to health entailed?

 

For the last 18 months, I’ve been battling breast cancer. Breast cancer isn’t just one disease represents thousands of different diseases with their varying components and factors. Being diagnosed under the age of 40 is significant. I’ve been through a brutal year of chemotherapy, radiation, and more surgeries than I can count or want to remember.

 

Why did you write Fight Back With Joy?

 

I studied joy for a year and was putting the finishing touches on a book on joy—just two weeks from turning it into the publisher, when I received the diagnosis. I had been pursuing and activating joy in my life in the relatively good times, now I had to do it in the midst of darkness, depression, and torturous pain. Through the process, I’ve discovered the breadth, depth, and power of joy—that despite hundreds of sermons and many decades in the church—no one had told me of before.

 

In Fight Back With Joy book and Bible study, you really push the reader to reevaluate their definition of joy. Why do you think this is so important?

 

Much of the teaching I’ve heard on joy over the years is oversimplified. I remember those days in Sunday school learning that JOY is spelled Jesus, Others, Yourself. While that made perfect sense at 9 years old, I’ve seen how distorted that can become as an adult.

 

I see friends who love Jesus but spend so much time pouring into their kids, grandkids and others that their joy looks something like this: jOy.

 

Technically, it still spells joy, but more than anything, these men and women who are so exhausted, so empty, so running on fumes from pouring into others need to pause and take time to focus on themselves. Laying hold of joy right now will require them to reevaluate for a season and discover the joy that comes with JYo.

 

I also noticed how most of the definitions of joy define it more by what it isn’t than by what it is. I constantly heard that happiness is based on circumstance but joy is not dependent on circumstance.

 

Biblical expressions of joy turn out to be far different than what I had been taught. I am now convinced the writers of the Bible would say that, the reason we have joy is because we have great circumstances. If you are a child of God, you are drenched in the grace and mercy of God.

 

No matter what you’re facing: Your circumstances are better than you think.

 

If you’re not experiencing joy, perhaps it’s because your definition of joy is too narrow.

 

On a scale of 1-10, how hard was it for you to write this book and Bible study?

 

An eleven! This journey has been the most painful experience of my life. And, to share about it requires some vulnerability. Okay, a lot of vulnerability. And, that’s really, really hard. But I feel like I’m finally ready to share what God has stirred in my heart along the way because although cancer has been the most painful journey—it has also been the most joyful. And no one is more surprised than I am.

 

Pick up a copy of Fight Back With Joy at Amazon or Barnes and Noble today.

 

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3 Apartment Approved Workouts For When You Can’t Make It To The Gym

Transitioning to apartment living has been a big adjustment for our family. I’m constantly stressing to the boys (Greg included) the importance of treading lightly across the floor so as not to disturb our downstairs neighbors. If I were given a penny for every time I have yelled, “Stop running inside! You sound like a herd of elephants trampling through the apartment!” I would be a millionaire.

Apartment living has dramatically changed the way we approach our daily routine and my workouts are no exception.

If I can be honest, it has been easy to justify not getting in a workout if I cannot get to the gym or go for a run because of inclement weather. I simply tell myself, “Well, I can’t put in a P90X DVD because that means I’ll be jumping around like crazy doing plyometrics. Then our neighbors below us will hate us and call the office and complain. And if they complain too much, we’ll get kicked out. Guess that means no workout today. Bummer.” But here’s the kicker, we live in Texas… we do not have inclement weather all that often, so my excuses are lame. Really, lame.

So, I decided to stop making excuses and created an apartment approved workout that requires no weights and allows you to get in shape, all while being as quiet as a mouse. Please note, I am not a certified personal trainer, and you should always consult a physician before starting any workout routine. That being said, these are moves my personal trainer used with me last year and I simply took the ones that did not need weights or plyometrics, and mix and matched them to come up with three different variations that worked your entire body.

3 Apartment Approved Workouts

 

What are some of your favorite workout routines? I love hearing your feedback!

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Warning: Cuteness Overload Up Ahead

My, oh my. It has been quite awhile since I have updated the blog, and much has happened with our family since my last post. We lost our beloved dog, Coco, a few days before Thanksgiving to cancer. She had been sick for several years and finally lost her battle.

Coco

 

We miss her dearly, as she was with Greg and I from the early months of our marriage, and had been the best of companions throughout five moves, two children, promotions, job changes, the onset of my fibromyalgia, and the addition of our golden retriever, Max.

Greg and I had discussed for years the possibility of getting another golden retriever once Coco passed, but we were not expecting to add another member to our family quite so soon. However, Max became depressed after Coco died and the boys begged for another dog ad nauseam for weeks.

Max 2

 

Given that Christmas was just around the corner, Greg and I thought we would surprise the boys with a puppy for Christmas! We played it off as though we were not getting a new dog until summer and the boys bought it hook, line, and sinker. They had no idea. We loaded them up in the car early (we’re talking 1 am) Christmas Eve and drove to Tennessee, where we picked up this little cutie.

Cali

 

She is the perfect blend of sweet and sassy- which is a necessity if you are going to survive in our family. We are smitten with this precious bundle of energy!

Hayden and Cali Christmas 2014

Christmas also happens to be Hayden’s birthday! He informed us that this was the BEST birthday present in the history of EVER.

 

Cali at 6 weeks old

Cali at 6 weeks old

 

Best of friends

Best of friends

 

Cali at 8 weeks old

Cali at 8 weeks old

 

Max (5 yrs) and Cali (9 weeks)

Max (5 yrs) and Cali (9 weeks)

 

What do you mean, this is not my rope? I stole it, therefore it's mine.

What do you mean, this is not my rope? I stole it, therefore it’s mine.

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It’s good to be back. What have I missed? What’s new with you?!

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