"Tell your story. Tell it on your bruised knees if you must, tell it at the risk of madness, scream it at the top of your lungs." –Andrew Lam

Category: currently

the good stuff

Apple blue cheese salad with grilled chicken, Auntie Nancy’s manicotti from Vinny’s, when friends know you need a text or an email or a message (my friends have the best, God-wink, God-inspired timing), snowflake mochas, white chocolate mochas, fancy cupcakes, new worship songs, Friday night breakfast dates at Stella’s (and Friday night breakfasts at home). I love cooking together. I feel lonely in a kitchen without two or more people. Kitchens are for dancing. And romance. Bacon, biscuits, sausage, eggs, and pancakes at midnight and coffee at the perk of morning. Mother-in-law advice and soul sessions with favorite friends elbow-deep in sudsy water while scrubbing pans. My best memories are made in kitchens. sister chats, Pitch Perfect, the encouragement from readers who value vulnerability, a haircut finally, gardening plans, fishing trip plans, The show “Restaurant: Impossible,” books (currently reading Praise the Human Season, Mended, and Her Fearful Symmetry), Isaiah 43:19, pilates, new bras (and throwing the ratty ones away), homemade blueberry muffins with butter, new books hanging on my doorknob(!), eos lip balm, matte neutral nail polishes, the Wisconsin/Minnesota hills (but not the frigid tundra temps), Mayo Clinic’s professionalism and thoroughness and service, his comfort, and His comfort, too.  

invincible summer

thankful for…within me, an invincible summer in the depth of winter

The tender. The best bacon and eggs. Jovie’s new trick (she can now rest a treat on her nose until commanded to eat it). The way Josh praises her. Looking forward to fishing trips and planting a garden and spring. The way Josh always has my hand and always leads me (when I’m off-balance and weak or blind. He is my senses, my bearings, my safety. Always has been). Getting to have Jovie for a dog. ❤ The decision of daisies and the purchase of a dress. Tutoring. Finding a rhythm to life again. Thursday coffee.  how good a home feels. how lovely the people I work with are. The way Josh helps cook now sort of a little bit..I never asked him to. I just rewarded him with lots of praise and gratitude (and sex). steamed broccoli, raspberry walnut vinaigrette, zuppa tuscana, fresh salads, homemade macaroni and cheese, Memorial’s new spring musical, purple and pink, messy braids, invitations, burberry brit perfume, caramel mochas, student messages (love how you guys keep me in the loop..sorry I’m so behind in writing back to everyone. Forgive me. I adore you.), WCRC, preppy floral print scarves, random compliments, the boy in high school who is not my husband who taught me the true meaning of valentine’s day (obviously this kind gesture has stuck with me) and sent me a flower when he knew I thought no one cared and wrote on the card, “A true friend is closer than a brother.” doing things I did not know I could do, imperfect progress, new connections, the sweet woods Milkhouse candle I bought at work yesterday (a little obsessed with this brand) that reminds me of the smell of home (yes, they somehow managed to put southern Illinois into a candle), stargazer lilies, be the good bracelets and the story behind it…check out the Anne Made facebook page and etsy shop. The way working at a floral shop is getting me through a dreary, frigid winter. Surrounding me with living, growing things and vibrant color. And it pulls me back from the dark place.  And I’m so thankful.

grace and peace be yours in abundance

credit: via pinterest homedesignspins.com

my abundance:

my niece’s overly large bows and elaborate headbands and tutus..she looks like a ballerina or an indian with a headdress most of the time. russian wedding cakes, aunt linda’s sugar cookies, hot dip that scharlene makes just for me, shrimp, the newness of a new year, my cool new earmuffs, nice travel bags in a cheery yellow, dad’s tradition of getting me the best books ever, mom’s tradition of finding me beautiful and special cameo pieces, jewelry box with music that reminds me of grandma K’s, jovie and klyde’s sweet puppy love, The Game of Things, games with family, cousin talks, the hope josh reminds me of, latin dance workouts with jess, the book Bossypants, boots lined in a row, hands filled with mugs filled with hot drinks, the soundtrack from Country Strong, bringing the four-wheeler back with us (oh, how I’ve missed it!), watching a new little romance form, diet gingerale, dom’s snowflake jammies with the feet, starbucks packets from grandma mabel, my awesome victoria secret pjs and robe, plum colored nail polish, josh in the kitchen right now preparing deer meat for supper, reminders of what really matters, dad hugs, getting to talk to grandma this morning before she went into ICU, a new strength I didn’t know my mom had, the way writing connects people, sweet kindness, standing on grace   

merry + bright

what’s making my days merry and bright lately:
The Odd Life of Timothy Green, the people who send me messages saying how much this little blog helps them or inspires them (THANK YOU…because I know you don’t have to tell me), flower deliveries to sweet elderly people, puppy plans, diet coke deliveries, stella’s carrot cake, stella’s stockton scramble plate, stella’s pancakes, ok…stella’s everything, amber romance lotion and body spray…it’s been my favorite ever since I was old enough to giggle my way around victoria’s secret, antler creek vineyards, aubergine carnations, kitchen kisses, matchmaking, porch swing and blankets, rum and coke in mason jars, a safe escape from the blizzard, when Piper falls asleep on me, watching Josh with his niece (so precious..I melt), fudge making, my mom’s potato soup, southern sunny december days…I do the Timothy Green thing…arms outstretched soaking up every bit of warmth and wonder, Bullard’s, the smell of their bakery, the color pop of a new bright red-orange scarf, early morning writing sessions, morning kiefer coffee talks, sister country harmony while peeling taters, dark nail polishes, flash mobs, my Harvard sweatpants (an explanation is needed: the OLs always go to Goodwill to dress our laser tag partners up in ridiculous outfits. Jeff Bennet wanted to make me a gangsta, so he found the baggiest pants available…and they are the most comforting, coziest fat-pants in the universe), good sleep nights (I sleep terribly up north), Christmas anticipation, favorite aunt and favorite cousins coming soon (I get just as giddy/excited as when I was five), Buzzword, Josh’s smile, old EC high school hoodies, when Jess and Josh give each other crap, when Jess hikes up her festive HOHOHO pants like Steve Urkel, knowing Christmas Eve will always be at grandpa’s (He *owns* Christmas Eve), little prairie sundays, sister’s reeses cup cookies, worship, sweetbabyjesus’birthdayamenhallelujah ❤    

good tidings

here’s my comfort and joy…

family game nights, new purse, comfy boots, invitation for cinnamon rolls and coffee, the always warm welcome from a school that will always be my family, inspiration to create my own cozy with whatever I have and whatever I can make (doesn’t have to be perfect, doesn’t have to match, doesn’t have to be fancy), facebook Bible studies, duke and dolly, horses, target practice, kennels, dogs, sunshine, rocking to sleep, psalm 27 (my nephew’s favorite), beginning to dream again, vanilla mt. dew, dimaggios twice, 7 hills, carhartts, finishing paperwork, k’s happiness, when friends pray for you in front of you (so powerful..and I always cry), starbucks with sister, hearing “mama, mama”, hearing what they plan to do in the future, birthday messages from students, lavender chamomile sleep aromatherapy luxury bath, farmer’s daughter restaurant and bakery, pasta, Christmas shopping finished, birthday lunch with mom, happy babies, hand kisses, cousins coming south for Christmas, rustic exposed wooden beams, sexy showers (giggle), chocolate peanut butter cupcakes, “say ‘cheese fries,’”a safe trip home despite the fog, the scent of ginger-fig, primitive present wrapping, the movie The Thomas Crowne Affair (ok, not an entirely appropriate movie…but I love wit, and I love art, and I like those actors), making our house and the flower shop merryfestivejoyfulbright (love adding special touches), being on an organization kick, breakfast invitations (thanks, annie!), extra time with josh, a re-stocked fridge (sort of), fruit and nut trail mix granola bars (I keep about three in my purse at all times), watching dvrd grey’s while sipping my coffee before work, “season’s blessings,” sweet customers, stella’s cherry pie, wreath-making, a new computer (because joshua spilled coffee on my old one…merry merry Christmas to me), black leggings (do I ever have to wear real pants again?), the movie Great Expectations, the book Great Expectations, real balsam Christmas garland and wreaths (yeahhh, Stockton!), African autumn tea, mumford and sons, pinecones, communion, simplicity           

thankful over yonder

via: cindyeckhart.com
continued thanks:
sister texts, wine and movie nights, jovie belly rubs, mom shopping trips, fettuccini alfredo, raspberry peach bellini tea from olive garden, banana republic sweaters, mulled apple cider, southern breakfasts, the flags on the square on veteran’s day, taco tierra…twice so far (fairfield’s my favorite), grippos, pink Browning huntin’ socks, smell of coffee, persimmon picking, book reading, frailing the pecan tree, watching my niece sleep (and smile and kick and simply look around), the thanksgiving usuals, my mom’s cooking is my favorite, nice messages from people i work for and with, simply being able to come home for a bit, soft blankets, old quilts, the movie The Blindside (I want to be thatkind of mama), seeing Milo and Kathy, how country feels, some long awaited good good news (it’s about time, you two!), peanut-butter ritz almond bark cookies, the sweet nonverbal connection i’ve always had with josh, the verbal connection I’m learning to have with others, the special connections (God given, certainly) i have with favorite friends, students still, my grandpa earnie, my sweetest nephews. the big sky morning, the trees, the pond, stopping in the middle of the road because josh sees someone he knows and needs to catch up on the stories, the men in the coffee shop who know who i am.
i didn’t care before. turned my nose up at the folks, the swamp, the bottoms ground. but it’s beautiful…i know now. and my throat tightens because i miss it. the wild undone. the far and thick and deepest holy place that taught me exactly where yonder is.

all the way back where i belong

Oh, home. I’m here for awhile.

I will

Drink in the blue sky, the big sky. Take long walks. Four-wheeler rides and pickup truck drives. And sip hot soothing drinks. Write. Reconnect with family and friends who are family and my husband and God and my church. To feel worship again. Worship not measured by rules and what’s proper. No judgment, no competition of holiness. To think and not think. And sleep soundly again. Food. Take in all the nourishment that is food and not food– suck the marrow of This South.   

And holy is here. Unforced. The real and raw. I’ve almost, almost found it again. In conversations. In the mess. In water-eyes.  In the way nothing changes between soul-sister-friends. In a children’s book that taught me more than any other book I’ve read recently. A new song that made my heart sing a new song. In inspiration. Knowing I’m not numb. I still can feel.

Yes, I’ve returned to all my gritty-authentic-holy places.

In college, I would sit on Neu Chapel’s steps. When the questions came. Sometimes I’d even go inside in middle of day or middle of night because the chapel had no closing time. Hear echoes of Wesleyan hymns. Something ancient. Wood beams strong. Take naps on wooden pews.  And pray and write. And I would find. Solitude. Presence. And peace.

And Little Prairie’s parking lot…God is there too. Where I’ve always went when I didn’t know where to go. And where Josh always knew where to find me. After he’d given me space and time with just God. Prayers and fights. Stars. And gravel under the tires. Gravel that held my earth together. Touches and talks and tongue kisses that undid me.  But they were holy too somehow. Like coming home. Like the Lord proclaimed, “Here are your blessings, child. I’m right here. I never left.”  

I’ve missed, I love, I’m thankful for:

Country lullabies. The way my husband talks to his niece. My nephews. Getting to know my now all-grown-up little cousin and her dreams and tastes and favorite things. Sunshine and seventy degrees. The melody of little southernisms. My sister. The feeling I get in my gut when I know I must speak and have no choice. The way the sky looks huge because the land’s so flat. Our other two dogs, Duke and Dolly–they still know us, still love us. Manis and pedis and marker tattoos. Exploring Barnes and Noble. The weight of overflowing crates of books. Three hours at Coffee Cottage. Latin and Italian phrases. Porches and my Jovie.

Feels like I’m all the way back where I belong.

To My Womenfolk

I don’t apologize for being grouchy in my last post. I did not name this blog “On Cushioned Knee-pads.” It’s okay to be real, people. But it’s also important to find the good. So while my posts and moods seem as shifting as this Illinois weather, here’s the good:  

The way a hot shower feels at night.   Clean wet hair.    Hoodie to snuggle in.

Naps with josh.   His sweet comments.              

The peace that comes from the new morning and better perspective after a bad day when I felt all

wrong and down and out of whack.  The fact that He understands a heart as crazy as mine.
Amazing news from my favorite group of cousins: one is having a baby, and one received a good report at his cancer checkup!

Piper’s smiles.          Getting better deals on shoes because my feet are so small that I have to shop in the kiddie section (yep, I can fit into a size four…but must dig to find styles that don’t include HelloKitty).                   

 A new whiteboard for my attic —my writing notes feel more organized. Milo is ONE (and I get to see Milo and his mommy in a month!). 

 Coffee on the stoop, coffee at E-town, coffee at Stockton Floral and Gifts, coffee anywhere. 

 Stella’s Café (because they share my philosophy that food should be an experience…and I think they are secretly a little bit southern).

Jovie (I know I mention her every time…but she really is the best dog and lives up to her name which means ‘joy’).

My mustard yellow Savvy scarf.                              The way Josh deserves an award because he never stops trying to understand me.                Getting over myself.  

Home soon…home SO soon.            Caramel pecan E-Town good morning danish. Ohmylands. Sweet friends. (makes the pastry even sweeter).
And here….I must elaborate, must give a shout-out to all the womenfolk:
God bless the women who know what pick-me-ups other women need. Who just know. In my life, it’s been the giving and receiving (mostly the blessed receiving) of many things: post-it notes, poems, messages, cards, photos. Haikus. Nights in, nights out, dance parties in kitchens and bagels on Wednesdays. Lunch dates and spontaneous trips. Cupcakes, a square of chocolate, the biggest possible diet Mr. Dew. Coffee, department  potlucks, deliveries. Books, the perfect songs. The pouring of moscato. The hugs and tears and Tylenol. A surprise left on a desk or sent in the mail. The hospitality of a home. The grace. The listening. The encouraging. The offering. The ones who show you the beauty of your flaws. The “Please tell me something to get me through the next hour.” The “Please give me truth.” And “Please make the truth not so bad.”  God bless the women—the genuine ones–who know sometimes it takes a little extra somethin’-somethin’ to get through the day, who dress the wounds of bruised knees. It’s a tough world out there, ladies. And just like Meredith Shepherd and Christina Yang, we all need a “person”.  Femininity. Embrace it. Celebrate it. And don’t forget to count it when you count your joy and thanks.     


 the game Buzzword with my family.    hilarious ridiculousness.    snuggling with my sister.
 my niece.    cupcakes.   crosswords with Jen and Mabel.   LPCC. seeing light-filled MEGAN.
Sarah’s soft convicting encouraging words.   chalkboards.     wooden signs.

really good hugs. like this one.
gift boats.
sunflowers.      blog planning sheets.   
when my husband pops in at random places (I have such a crush on him).
 i.d barevitamins skin rev-er upper.    

perk-up artist by Benefit Cosmetics. 
 Ulta.              massage chairs.                  
Savvy Scavengers two dollar nail polish (have you seen their new fall colors?).
 Halloween munch/Autumn Mix (I don’t actually know what it’s called, but I know it’s addicting (peanuts, m&ms, candy corn, mmmm).
 sorting art supplies.         magazines.            fragrant light pink roses.           pink heather.     
 burgundy carnations.           cooking days.          soups.           pepper jack cheese.  
 big sweet purple grapes.                 winks.          sharpies.            compliments.                              
Ricola cough drops.              art journals.              blank canvas.     this autumn lane.
 improving in tap dance (sorta).
seeing homecoming pics from my seniors (I miss you. I’m proud of you. How on earth are you seniors already?).         
 a warm house.      drinkable water.      no mice/spiders.                                                       
The Forest for the Trees by Betsy Lerner.                      Door County Maple coffee.          Jovie hugs.
MFA program research.                 creating special cozy spaces like the attic room of my own.      
hope. HOPE.           

loving lately:

dance class, stella’s for breakfast afterwards, my map of Maine, coffee rituals, pumpkin flavored anything, the girls who came into the shop to pick out single stems for their grandma, hot apple crisp, reading aloud, the cable-knit sweater Josh bought me in high school that I’ve finally grown into and find perfectly cozy on a day like today, autumn-colored flowers, yellow roses, old barrels, antique picking with annie, new window displays, big chalkboards, weekend writing retreats, new-to-me jazz shoes, rocky road fudge, fascinating people and their fascinating tales, messages from my southern gals, inspiring women, this quote: “blessed are they who see beautiful things in humble places where other people see nothing.”– camille pissarro, freshly washed puppy, a northern autumn, drives in the truck with josh and jovie while listening to old country music, introductions to new cafes, feeling alive, discovering, wheat, oval wreaths, glasses, old bottles found in creek/woods, my E-Town coffee sweatshirt, frost on the pumpkin coffee, town traditions, the “M” at Platteville—it stands for Melissa, right?, Wisconsin, crafty shops that inspire me, the SOUTH sign, caramel apples, apple cider, bagels and cream cheese, the scenic route, getting to come along for the ride, pumpkins lined in a row, little-girl pigtails, white pumpkins, dogs, free printables, town traditions, tin cans, old furniture, new ideas, romemary mint, catching-up emails, his hugs, looking forward to our trip home next weekend, great conversations, everything fall, anything outdoors