Category Archives: THINGS I TRY

EXPLORE MORE

Welcome to Owings Mills, MD, the last place on earth you’d expect to wind up in a scene like this one. And believe me when I say that my mouth hit the floor when I stumbled upon this little corner of the earth. It’s incredible. I’ve visited this trail a few times lately, and I find myself thinking about it all the time.

It’s pet friendly, too!

As I get older, I find myself wanting more of this – more adventure, beauty, solitude, peacefulness, and reminders of God’s love. It’s places like these that cause me to think of how big the world is and how small I am. But it also shows us how much we’re loved.

“But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds of the air, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish of the sea inform you. Which of all these does not know that the hand of the LORD has done this?” Job 12:7-9

God is the only one responsible or capable of such beauty. It’s a beauty we should constantly seek and never stop giving thanks for.

So grab a friend and go exploring! You never know what you may find out there.

Jacket | Francesca’s

Sweater | H&M

Pants | Garage

Boots | Target

Hat | Under Armor

#thingsadored

HOLY GUACAMOLE

The holidays are here! And with holidays come gatherings, and with gatherings comes food. Now I’m no Paula Deen, so I’m constantly on the lookout for some fun, easy recipes. The dip I’ve got for you today is a guaranteed crowd pleaser. I’ve brought this to house parties, holiday gatherings, showers, football tailgates, etc. It’s good for anything and everything, and your friends are going to be begging you for the recipe!

Today’s treat is none other than the lovely Avocado Rotel. This dip takes 15-20 minutes to make and feeds 8-12 people. Grab a bowl, cutting board, sharp knife, spoon, can opener, and these ingredients:

6 avocados

2 cans of Rotel

1/2 white onion

1 tbs cilantro (optional)

Tortilla chips for dipping

  

There’s no order as to what goes first into the bowl because everything will be mixed together at the end. ONION – chop it into very fine pieces. ROTEL – I like to drain the liquid from one can and leave the liquid from the second can when I add it. This helps make the dip a little creamier; if you like it chunky, drain both. AVOCADOS – I’ve mastered the art of slicing without green hands as an end result; cut them in half, scoop out the pit, and slice the avocado while it’s still in the peel (without cutting the peel along with it). Scoop the insides and dump them into the bowl with everything else. Mix the ingredients together, and dig in!

Voila!

Now you’re the coolest kid at the party, and everyone wants to be your friend.

Your guests will be happy, your stomachs will be filled, and you’ll have no shortage of party invitations!

Happy Holidays!

#thingsadored

GIVE THANKS

‘Tis the season to give.

But I want to challenge you to give not for the sake of the holiday, but just because you care about someone.

We all have people in our lives that influence us, sacrifice for us, and help us without expecting anything in return. Who are those people to you? Maybe they’ve encouraged you lately, watched your kids when you were in a bind, sent flowers or a meal during a time of loss, or shared something meaningful with you. Think about who that might be, and do something to show them they are appreciated.

Here are a few gift ideas for under $10 to get you started:

– Popcorn/ treat mix/ chocolate

– Flowers

– Candles

– Board games/ movies/ records

– Fun ornaments/ hand-made wreaths

Get creative!

I recently had some new friends (new as in a met them the day of) that offered to help me with some photos for The Simply Beloved. They donated their time and talents to create some beautiful pictures for us. In return, I wanted to do a little something to show them my appreciation.

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I purchased the candles from a local store and found the gift tags at Michaels. When they arrived at my house, I had them sitting on the table with some fresh peppermint chocolate cookies. It was easy, fun, and let them know how thankful I was that they wanted to be included in this project.

There are plenty of ways to make these little reminders festive. For edible gifts, Christmas treat bags were available. They also had really cute holiday stationary and cards if you like writing down your thanks. You could also purchase a few mason jars to put fresh flowers in. Wrap some red, green, and gold ribbon around the top, and you’re set! Take a few minutes to walk around your local craft store, and see what you can come up with.

What can you do to extend thanks to someone who cares? Spread gratitude this season! Say THANK YOU

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#thingsadored

GRACE

I struggle at times with being selfish at home. A problem arises, and I take it straight to Morgan no matter how weary his own day may have been. I put my issues on the forefront of not only my mind, but his. It’s a mistake I’m constantly reminding myself not to make, but as quickly as I remember, another upset causes me to forget. Hot water is low, tell Morgan. Bugs found their way back into the house, tell Morgan. I’ve put too much on my plate, tell Morgan. And heaven forbid he do something I don’t like because if so, I’m definitely telling Morgan. Those are the quickest complaints of all.

I recently finished “Resolution for Women” by Priscilla Shirer (if you’re looking for an inspirational read, I urge you to get this book). In one of the last chapters, there was a short story that I cannot get out of my mind. It was a perfect example of how a wife can create peace in her home – a lesson we can all afford to be reminded of. So, I’d like to share.

——————–

He was a struggling salesman, rising early each morning to go from one proverbial closed door to another, attempting to sell a variety of products made by the company he worked for. The days were long and exhausting, and he often had little to show for his efforts – certainly not from lack of trying, just from lack of takers.

His young, redheaded wife had been only eighteen when they married. And as their family grew, she spent the better part of each day trying to figure out how to make their small living quarters an enjoyable, satisfactory space, given the difficulties of their financial strain. Yet the day came when the strain turned into the kind that can make a girl want to give up – when she went to flip a light switch, and no lights came on. Thinking it was only a mishap in the electrical system, she went to another light source. Again, nothing. Another, nothing. Throughout the house she flipped switches – nothing – confirming what she already knew but didn’t want to believe. Their electricity bill hadn’t been paid.

Worse yet, it couldn’t be.

So for the remainder of the day, she did the best she could to take care of her household responsibilities. Even as the lengthening shadows of late afternoon slowly shrouded the kitchen in dim light, she prepared a makeshift dinner, then set it out with care and dignity on their darkened dining room table. A flashlight search uncovered some half-used candles, which she lit to create an elaborate place setting. The scene was gorgeous. 

When her husband arrived, tired and road weary, he found her and the children seated at the table, smiling and waiting to have dinner with him. They enjoyed their candlelit meal. Had good conversation together. The children especially loved the unique touch of candles at dinner. Thought it was fun. Their home was full of peace and serenity despite the circumstances – circumstances the children didn’t even know about. 

Neither did her husband.

He went straight from the table and collapsed exhausted into bed, beside which she’d lit more candles. She never said a word. It wasn’t until the next day, when he arose to get ready for work, that he realized there were no lights. Putting some mental pieces together he realized what his wife had done – how she’d preserved his dignity, how she’d opted for peace and beauty rather than friction and discord in response to the inconvenience. 

He walked past the bed one more time on his way out the door that morning, just long enough to brush the red wisps of hair from her cheek and whisper, “Thank you,” into her ear. Whether she heard or not, he didn’t know. But he was too grateful to let the opportunity pass him by. Grateful to be sharing a home – sharing a life – with a woman committed to being gracious, promoting peace, overlooking shortcomings, providing an environment in which her family could flourish, even when living in less than desirable circumstances.

And at their fiftieth wedding anniversary, adult children and grandchildren standing at their side, this was the moment he recounted when someone asked to share his favorite memory from their life together.

This is the picture of a woman living with grace.

——————–

This is who I want to be. I want to be a wife that promotes peace and love and grace. Our homes are holy ground, and we are charged with creating an atmosphere worthy of praise. It’s not always easy, but it can be done.

I hope that when Morgan heads home from a long day at the facility, he looks forward to walking in the door. I pray I can give that to him. I long to have the patience and the grace to do so. And I pray that the Lord constantly reminds me how.

#thingadored

WOOD-BURNED ITEMS

So I’m obsessed with Disney. Like a lot. Ask me a movie question, I’m going to know the answer. Play any song, I’m going to know all the words. I’ve dressed up as just about every princess there is, and I’ve been to Disney World at least 10 times.

A few months back, I was trying to find some new items to add to my Etsy Shop – STUMPandSCRIPT. I went walking through Michaels and saw these slabs of wood. I thought to myself, “Hmm I wonder what those are used for?” A few aisles over I see wood burning pens and think again to myself “Ahh! Found an answer!” So I loaded up on wood burning pens + letters + wood slabs and headed home to play!

I picked out a few of my all-time favorite Disney songs, pulled a chunk from the lyrics, and started making my new shop items! They’re time consuming, but so fun to create. I may have burned myself a time or two because I was so anxious to get to the finish line, but all in all, I really enjoy making these items.

I give them as baby gifts all the time, and a ton of people have also bought them for shower gifts as well. They look adorable in nurseries, playrooms, etc. I put hooks on the back of them so that they can be hung on the wall, but they also look great on bookshelves and nightstands. Feel free to look through my available items, and if you have a favorite song that you don’t see, I’d be happy to come up with something for you!

#thingsadored

BABY BOARD

Back in March, my sister Lindsay had a precious baby girl that I happen to be completely obsessed with. Emerson Gray Duncan is the cutest little thing I’ve ever seen. Aside from showering her with gifts I’ve spent countless dollar amounts on (we aunts tend to do that), Lindsay asked me to make something for Emerson’s room that turned out to be SUPER cute. I’ll share…

“As soon as I saw you I knew an adventure was going to happen” -Winnie the Pooh

Lindsay had picked out this adorable Winnie the Pooh quote and asked that I put it on a canvas to go above her changing table. So, we set out for the supplies! I usually buy all my products from Hobby Lobby, but if I can’t find what I’m looking for there (which is rare), I’ll check Michaels or JoAnn’s. I like Hobby Lobby best because their prices are great, they’ve always got coupons, and they’re a wonderful company run by followers of Christ. I know, too good to be true.

We picked out a larger white canvas to put the quote on, and then worked on the layout she wanted. After a few rough drafts on some plain white computer paper, I got to work!

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I used paint sharpies to apply the script. Once the full quote was written, we set out to add some color. To keep it simple, I grabbed some watercolor paint and lightly brushed a leaf pattern around the calligraphy. Once that was complete, Emerson gave us the thumbs up, and Lindsay took it home with them to put in her nursery!

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These projects are so fun and affordable. Don’t be afraid to try out something yourself! And if you’re interested in purchasing an item, check out my Etsy Shop STUMPandSCRIPT! I’m happy to personalize anything and everything for ya :)

#thingsadored

RUN

Ok guys, spring has sprung, and you know what that means: GET OUTSIDE! This spring I want to challenge you to be outdoors as much as possible. Enjoy your neighborhood, a nearby park, find a new trail, and bask in the beauty of nature the Lord has blessed us with!

I want to tell you a little story. Once upon a time, there was a girl named Lauren who was too lazy to run to the end of her driveway. The thought of running was quite appealing to me, and I enjoyed exercise, but you couldn’t pay me to run more than a mile. So, I did something crazy.

Knowing myself as well as I do, I knew I’d never become a runner if I wasn’t under immense pressure, so I signed up for a half marathon. Yes, that’s right: 13.1 miles. I googled ‘Beginner half marathon training’, chose a 16 week training schedule, and got to work. Now I’m not going to lie, I hated it. I don’t think I truly enjoyed running until months after the half was over. But you gotta do what you gotta do, right?!

Friends, I’m being serious when I say this: if I can run, YOU can run. You might be starting out at a 12 minute per mile pace in the beginning, but that’s ok! You can work your way up!

Here’s an easy beginner schedule for you to follow:

Week 1: Run 1 mile / 3 days

Week 2: Run 2 miles / 3 days

Week 3: Run 2 miles / 4 days

Week 4: Run 3 miles / 3 days

Week 5: Run 3 miles / 5 days

Week 6: Run 4 miles / 3 days

That should be enough to carry you into beach-bod season! Now, I have one more helpful suggestion, and you might laugh at how crazy it sounds, but I promise it has made a difference. I don’t listen to pump-you-up pop or hardcore rock while I’m running. It makes me go too fast, and I tire easily. Instead, I have a Pandora station that includes Michael Buble, Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Bing Crosby, Ella Fitzgerald, Doris Day, Rosemary Clooney, Dean Martin, etc. It’s relaxing, light-hearted, and can get you through the worst of miles. Throw in some worship songs and maybe a little Jimmy Buffet when it’s sunny and warm, and you’re all set! And of course, having my precious black lab running alongside me doesn’t hurt things either.

Hope you guys find this helpful. Now get out there and GO!

#thingsadored

Originally posted by The Simply Beloved

#TSHIRTPROJECT

I’m awkward. And lot of what I’ve been studying in the gospels is how important it is for us as believers to disciple to others. But how do you do that? How in the world are we supposed to show Christ to complete strangers when you may only have a minute in line at the coffee shop with them? I’m not going to be THAT girl obnoxiously bringing up my faith right off the bat because that’s just not me, and God knows that — He made me. Plus, we’ve talked about it.

So what then? Do I pull out my WWJD bracelets from 1999 and wear them everywhere? Carry my Bible from place to place and hope that a) someone sees it and b) asks me about it? I could always invest in some chacos? They’re pretty stereotypical if you’re going for the Young Life vibe, but that still isn’t enough!

Then, I suddenly felt the inspiration. I knew how to make this work and not look like a total dork! It’s funny the way God reaches you. For me, the more I spend time in His word, the more clear His word becomes. What used to come across as just any ole idea is now what I recognize as Him telling me to do something. Well, one day God spoke to me, and He said, “Make shirts.” I said, “Ok, what kind of shirts?” And He said, “Cool ones.” And I said, “Let’s get to Target then.”

So off to Target we go. I had been on Pinterest a ton, so I had some fun ideas of how I was going to make these shirts look. I got a few plain black and white tees, then headed to Michaels for the iron-on letters. Once the shopping was complete, I went home to find some verses for the shirts.

Now I knew that I wanted my message to be subtle — I wanted people to ask me what my shirt meant. So I found a few of my favorite passages and ironed on some words from those passages without including the actual verse. That way, when someone read ‘More Than Conquerors’ for example, they would have to ask me what it meant and TADA!! It was them approaching me instead of me approaching them! Once they became interested in what my shirt meant, I was able to share with them.

This tactic is great for a few reasons:

1 – I don’t look like a total dweeb trying to start an awkward conversation about Jesus with someone I don’t know.

2 – I’m challenged to actually memorize the full verse that my shirt represents and know what it is I’m going to share about that part of the Bible.

3 – I get a super cheap, super cute new wardrobe that has a cool meaning to it!

————————

I’m so excited about this new project and would be thrilled for all of YOU to play a part in it. I think this is a great opportunity to show our love for Christ in a way that is approachable and catchy. So I encourage all of you to find a cool verse, make your own shirts, add some fun jewelry/accessories, and go disciple to the world!

If you decide to take part in this fun movement, make sure to share your shirts with everyone! Upload your images + use the hashtag #tshirtproject. We want to see your works of art!

“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20

#thingsadored

#TSHIRTPROJECT

Photography by the lovely Southern Fried Photography 


IMG_6944

Shirt | Target

Letters | Michaels

Also have: iron/ironing board

NOT FORGOTTEN

For there will never cease to be poor in the land. Therefore, I command you, “You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in your land” Deuteronomy 15:11.

God has been tugging at my heartstrings when it comes to the homeless lately. It literally pains me to pass by someone in need and not have anything to give. And if I’m being completely honest, sometimes it even pains me to give. With a man on every corner, my wallet doesn’t stand a chance. So what else can we do?

The Lord tells us to provide for the needy. We must help them with their physical health, but we can’t ignore their spiritual health either. He gives power to those who are tired and worn out; He offers strength to the weak. Even youths will become exhausted, and young men will fall and give up. But those who wait on the Lord will find new strength. They will fly high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint (Isaiah 40:29-31). So what good does it do to hand a guy a few bucks and then keep walking? Yes, you just provided him with a means for food, but anyone can do that. We as Christians are called to give more.

What do they need Lord? Besides money, how can I make their day better and invite them to find You?

God has blessed me enough that I’ve never experienced life without a home or food, but I imagine it can be pretty lonely and extremely hopeless. So, I decided to find ways to help by making bags for them. I went to Target and bought sandwich bags, peanut butter crackers, Starburst, raisins, mints, and notecards. I separated the food, put them in bags, and wrote notes on the cards that said:

GOD KNOWS YOU AND HE LOVES YOU

What else do they need to know? Though they live a life that reflects hopelessness and abandonment, God shows us that even with nothing, we have value. Do not fear, for I have redeemed you. I have called you by name; You are Mine (Isaiah 43:1is what He tells us. He knows each of our names and loves us. This message is the most powerful thing you can tell someone who has nothing. God knows who each one of us is. You aren’t forgotten or alone. You are loved by Love.

I encourage each of you to give what you can. If it’s money, do it. If it’s food, do it. If all you can do is ask them their name and pray for them, do it. We are all children of God struggling in this world. But how much better would if be if we were all in it together? Go out there and make someone smile. Make someone who has nothing feel like they’re everything, even if it lasts for just one day. Find little ways to show someone they matter. Show them God.

#thingsadored

#notforgotten