When Christmas doesn’t look quite like the Christmas card


Sit back, grab a cup of hot chocolate, and get ready for a little random rambling (it’s been awhile!) If you’re here just for the deals (I TOTALLY get that), scoot right on past to the next penny pinched post. (This has been heavy on my heart this week . . . so here we go.)


Last night I saw one of my dearest friend’s precious (and pretty perfect looking) family pics on my Facebook feed, and my heart for the teensy-eensiest second felt a twinge of jealousy.


Now this is a friend I know well, whom I completely adore, and I quickly remembered there’s more on her heart than that perfect pic could tell.


It was a huge wake up call for me, and  I was reminded that as I scroll through Facebook seeing gorgeous families and wonder why their lives look so perfect . . .


when mine just doesn’t . . . 


that sometimes those perfect pictures don’t tell the whole truth.


And that when we open gorgeous Christmas cards where children smile radiantly in clothes so perfectly coordinated ~ well, that doesn’t always tell the full story either.



2016 has been quite a year in our home, but it hasn’t felt anywhere near as perfect as our Christmas card might just portray.


PPP has grown more than I could have ever imagined.


(That is completely because of YOU. You have no idea how much that means to me!)


We’ve doubled our email subscribers.


Grown a few hundred thousand folks on Facebook.


Earned a few new Instagram and Pinterest followers too.


And I feel like I’ve hung out with a bundle of you a little more in “real life” by cooking, baking, and DIY’ing over on Facebook live.


(For any of you who don’t know me well, Facebook live is VERY uncomfortable for me, and I have to completely gear myself up for it every single day. I have notes reminding me to smile, stand up straight, and talk a little slower. Yikes.) 


In fact, if you’re looking from the outside-in, you might just for a second think this girl has got her act together. 




In real life though, my heart’s been heavy.

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My husband had a heart attack back in April. (Yes, that cute one right there ~ that was him a few months before his heart attack. He’s only 45. Read more HERE ~ if you’ve been through this my heart goes out to you because I had no idea what an emotional roller coaster this would be.)


We’ve had a few other not so easy things creep up throughout the year too.


We’ve had some extended family worries that just make life a little more difficult some days.


We’re still adjusting to life in Ohio.


(Y’all, I wish I could just get. over. that. ugh. If the sweet folks down in Alabama hadn’t been just so sweet it might have made this move a wee bit easier! It is getting MUCH better just still hard some days ~ I’ve heard 3 years is the magic mark, so crossing my fingers on that.) 🙂 








We’re raising two teenagers at the same time. (Clearly that makes us superheroes, right?)


To top it all off we’ve got one way-too-confident-God-bless-this-kid-we’re-going-to-have-to-hold-on-tight-for-the-next-ten-years-nine-year-old.


Double eek. 


But looking from the outside-in, it would be easy for someone to look at our Christmas card (in black and white to hide the wrinkles, mind you), and think our mess of our family has our act together too.



But here’s the truth.


We’re a mess.


We have bad days. We get tired. We holler sometimes. We get plain old g.r.o.u.c.h.y.  


but from our pretty Christmas card pic and what you see online, you might just think our life looks okay.


And honestly?


While we have some really hard things surrounding us right now, we are crazily blessed with an abundant life I never even imagined I’d see. 


But some days life is just hard.


And oh so messy.


And not as perfect as we (ummm, I) might like to portray.


Here’s what we so easily forget . . . 


No matter how cute someone looks on Facebook . . .


No matter how incredibly their Christmas card arrives at your door . . .


No matter how darling that friend’s home is over on Instagram . . .


They likely have struggles too you’ll never know from this side of the screen.



Remember this today.


Right this very minute.


Your life.


The one you’re living right now today.


It’s the most perfect gift you’ve ever been given. 


Take today.


Take this Christmas.


Choose to make it beautiful and memorable and perfect ~ with whatever cards you’ve been dealt, and exactly the people you’re with,


and don’t compare yourself to anyone else even one last time.  




And whatever mess you’re in. 


Whatever struggle that’s covering you up and maybe just clouding your vision from how wondrous this Christmas season is,


know that it it’s in His hands (thank. heavens.) today.


Praying God’s peace, rest, and hope for you this Christmas day.



“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6





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Find Rest Today.




If you’re here just for the penny pinched posts I completely understand ~  scoot right on past this one.


As someone who blogs for a living, I remind myself frequently to write for my reader, not for myself. 


So I share deals and recipes and tips and ideas that hopefully help you out.


and I love that. 


But today I’m writing for me, not for you.




Here goes.


Every so often, God hands me a picture of Him that I can’t even stand not to share, so today you’re in for it. 🙂 Not even sure I can express what’s inside my head, but maybe you’ll catch the gist of it.



This Sunday in church this song was played (go listen to it HERE.) I believe it was written by local folks in our church, and goodness, every time I hear it I’m brought to one mess of a mascara-laden momma.


(I don’t cry easily, so that’s saying something.) 🙂 


If you listen long enough (be patient through 8:18), you’ll hear the promise “well done my child, find rest today.”


And most of the time as I hear those words, I imagine a precious God-fearing-loved one who’s struggled physically for quite some time walking through heaven’s gates as Christ welcomes them in.


Or I envision someone who volunteers 82 hours a week, who takes meals to the homeless, who serves with an abundant heart and has it all together all the time.


And of course, He welcomes them in too. 


But for whatever reason, this Sunday my picture changed.


What if it wasn’t that person who lives a pillar example of a Christ-led life walking through those gates?


What if it was someone a little more ordinary?


Someone a tiny bit more flawed? 


Someone who even though a believer doesn’t quite exemplify that perfect Christian life that I tend to think Christ would welcome in so graciously?


In my mind’s eye, I watch a woman burdened, hardened by way too many difficulties in life who from the outside may not look like a replica of His heart.


But as she walks in, I don’t see Him waving her off.


I don’t see Him turning her away.


Instead, I know He welcomes her too. 


My thoughts grew broader.


What if that one is me?


The me who focuses on myself way too much.



The one who worries over my clothes and my house and my husband and my kids and all the petty things every day that have absolutely no eternal value?


What if it’s just plain me, walking through heavens gates just the hot mess of a momma that I am?


What if it’s me . . . burdened, tired, discouraged, envious, imperfect, slightly chubby, and not a single ounce put together?


But then it occurred to me (like a two-by-four probably more strongly than ever . . .)


that it’s not about me.


I can’t be good enough.


I can’t be cute enough.


I can’t be skinny enough, pulled together enough, or even nice enough.


It’s about Him.


It’s Him who makes me enough. Who fills in the gap. Who covers up my mess.


So as long as I go in humbly ~


as long as we go in humbly,


seeking, trusting, and believing


His promise holds true.


And He will give us rest.


If you’ve struggled finding rest,


if you today feel burdened, lost, hopeless, or just not enough.


You are not alone.


But His arms hold open wide for the both of us, don’t they?  


So my hope for you today is that you find rest. And peace. And that you will know the truth that you are enough today. 


I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” Philippians 4:20-21


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*HOT* Sale On Blue Host Ends TODAY: Start Your Blog Today!


If you’ve ever considered starting a blog (or website for your business), don’t miss this.


Right now, Blue Host is offering their web hosting for just $2.95 per month (which is an incredible deal.) 


This is oh-so-worth it if you think blogging may be for you! I cannot begin to tell you how thankful I am for blogging (it’s how I make a full time income as a stay at home mom), and I highly recommend it not only as a source of income, but even just as a place to keep an online journal of your every day life. Honestly, I never dreamed I would love blogging the way that I do but I’m completely hooked!

how I make afull time income

Curious why I think blogging is worth it? Here are my top 5 reasons to blog:

  1. To earn an income from home. (Honest. I make a full time income here on PPP which is beyond crazy to me. Learn more HERE.)
  2. It allow you to interact with other folks across the internet, and create a little “home base” online for family photos, stories and more.
  3. It helps you become a better writer. I am so not someone who would consider themselves a writer, but blogging each day makes me re-think the way I use words. While writing still isn’t my strongest gift, working at it each day stretches my mind creatively.
  4. It creates a place for you to think of others. I love that blogging (especially for a profit), forces me to think of ways every day to help other people outside of my home. I know that PPP is a better blog to follow when I write posts that really do benefit my readers, so I’m more creative in coming up with helpful content each day. (I love that!)
  5. It builds your confidence. I struggle so much with having self-confidence, but blogging has helped me realize I’m really good at things that I never even knew existed. It’s taught me business strategies, internet savviness, social media awareness, and so much more. I love the marketable skills blogging has given me, and would never in a bajillion years thought I would love it the way that I do!


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Once you’ve signed up with Blue Host, check these posts out:

Let me know if you have any questions ~ so excited to for you to get started!

This post contains affiliate links.  See my disclosure policy to learn more.

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Our Bedroom Makeover: And Why Our House May Always Be a Little Hodge-Podgey.


Note – I just finished reading the book Hope Heals and HIGHLY recommend it if you need some encouragement to soak up life, no matter where you are. Go HERE to grab yours. 

I’m just going to be really, really, really honest with you all right now.


I’m not gonna win the best penny pincher ever this week.  


Not even close.


Five years ago (fifteen years in. . . ) we splurged on bedroom furniture which I loved. We saved to pay cash for it, got a good deal, and after purchasing bedding I walked away and called the room done.




It never looked just right, you know?


So last weekend after touring a few model homes I came back to our beautiful-but-quite-hod-podged home and just started dreaming. 


We’ve spent years working on upgrading the brick and mortar parts of our homes as we’ve moved over the last twenty years, but have never spent much on our decor because we really wouldn’t gain financial value from that. (Adding trim work to a home makes for a better sale, a cute dresser just doesn’t!) So, every room in our home carries a few Goodwill, thrift stores, and hand me down treasures.


Which is perfect. And I’m so so thankful for them.

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I kinda wanted a “right” room, you know?


You see, my struggle with penny pinching is this:


I love beautiful things. But. (sigh.)  I hate what they cost.


Like, HATE what they cost.


But I decided to head to Home Goods, noticed a few lamps, and thought about how much I’d love to replace my Goodwill/garage store mix and match lamps (see the before HERE) with two coordinating lamps.


Just $59 each. Gulp.


Then I started looking at a few bedroom pictures on Instagram, and realized mirrors above nightstands were all the rage (I had no idea?)


So I grabbed two (very small ones ~ at $20 a piece I figured they were perfect!) to match the lamps and headed home.


The initial mirrors were way too small, so I checked out Hobby Lobby and found two for $100 each (eek), and asked my hubby what he thought. He didn’t say he hated the idea, so I decided that was a win. 🙂


Guys, I feel guilty, but I love it.


Total cost to “finish” the room?  (Well, except curtains . . . keep reading . . . ) 


Updated alcove project outside our door ~ James also added all the trim work along the hallway upstairs like he’d done on the first floor





It wasn’t necessary. We can live without it. We absolutely don’t need it.






It makes me ridiculously happy. We had money in savings for it. And I absolutely love it.


And, I’m planning to love it for a long long time, because by waiting this long to finish it I’ve figured out what I really do love, and everything I picked I (think?) is pretty timeless.


Our make-shift free window shades which we got when we ordered shutters in other rooms of our home. We so need to replace them but I love looking out each day at our view ~ and I know new curtains will cost a bundle ~ eek!

So, there you have it.


If you’re new to penny pinching and don’t see the light at the end of the tunnel, let me promise you it’s there.



By waiting for what we really wanted (instead of what we wanted right now), we can totally see the abundance of having plenty which we didn’t have in those early years.


You’ll get there too. 


Be patient. Stick with the Goodwill stuff. Check out your local garage sales, thrift stores, and online yard sales.


And then.


When you’ve penny pinched for just a few years and the money really is finally really in the budget, you can have that room you’ve always dreamed of too.


And it’ll be oh-so-worth the wait. 😉 


And in the meantime? 


Whatever space you have.


Whatever you’ve got.


Clean it up. De-clutter. De-gunk. De-mess.


Because even when you don’t have just the perfect space, the space you have really can be just perfect. 


Or at least better.




Take a few minutes this weekend to fluff up a space in your home ~ and make today a beautiful day. 


Here’s the only “decoration” we had in our first apartment ~ a Mary Engelbreit card that I put in a $1 Dollar Tree frame. I still love it enough to keep it (hidden a bit!) on our night stand. 🙂 


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Our 20 Year Anniversary Trip (And What We’ve Learned Along The Way)


We’ve just been to the most amazing place. 



Last Tuesday night my husband and I flew to Calgary, Canada and then drove over to Banff to stay at the Fairmont Banff Resort.


It was incredible.


I turned 40 back in November and our 20th Anniversary is tomorrow, so for Christmas James surprised me with a “we-really-have-survived-this-long-so-we-need-to-go-somewhere-amazing” trip.  


No kids.


Lake Louise

No internet. (Well, very little internet.)


No plans.


Lake Agnes Tea Room



(Y’all, I like my kids and would miss them if we’d been gone much longer, but 4 days without hearing Mommmmmm was just a nice little reprieve during summer break!)


We hiked.


And hiked.




a lot.


canada3Johnston Canyon Trail

On one trail we literally climbed straight up for 2.5 hours, but when we reached the top, the views were worth every step.




As we were climbing for what seemed like an eternity, I couldn’t help but think of how many ways determining to keep hiking was so similar to sticking to a budget.


There were several moments when I just wanted to quit, turn around, and head back down the mountain. But a few things kept me going, and they might just help you if you’re trying to stick towards budgeting too.


1) Don’t go alone.

Having James determined to reach the top just a few steps ahead of me was such motivation. If I’d been on my own I undoubtedly would have given up way before the top of the mountain, and never have seen the views that you can only see when you reach the top.



If you’re struggling to stick to your budget, have your spouse or a friend join you as you go. Decide concrete goals and share them with one another, set your plan in advance, and encourage one another so you don’t turn around before you reach the finish line.



Fresh snow as we hiked up ~ in June?

2) Sometimes you’ll need to slow down.

As we were climbing, there were times when we just had to slow down a bit. It wasn’t that we were going to completely quit, but we couldn’t race ahead at the same speed we’d been going and just needed a few minutes to slow down.


There are times in your finances where emergencies arise, life changes, and you can’t fight as hard at whittling down your debt as you normally would. 


But that doesn’t mean you give up. 


Instead, keep going even as you slow down a bit, and don’t lose sight of your long term goal.



3) You will want to quit.


did you hear me?




(Folks, I wouldn’t say it out loud to my sweet hubby who’d just had a heart attack 5 weeks prior to this trip and was still hiking like a pro, but there were plenty of moments when we were climbing that I WANTED TO QUIT.) 


But don’t quit. 


Remember your goal. Remember changing your finances is worth. it. And know that you’re definitely not the only one who would like to turn around.


But you’ll never see the top of the mountain if you turn around, so pull up those big girl panties and just keep moving.


The view of Lake Louise from the top of one of the trails – at the top of the lake on the right if you look closely you can see the Fairmont Inn Lake Louise where the trail started from ~ it took us about 2 hours to get to the top!

4) Once you reach the peak you’ll barely remember the struggle.

As we climbed and climbed and climbed straight up for what seemed like forever I thought I would never forget quite how miserable some of those steps were. (Y’all, we were huffing and puffing along the way ~ 200 flights up is no easy feat!)


Foyer of the Fairmont Banff Resort

But the minute we reached the top I totally forgot just how long the hike was, and was ready to find another mountain to hike the next day.


Once your finances are in order, you will remember the sacrifice, but the victory is so sweet that you won’t regret the steps one bit. 



5) The view from the top is amazing.


Twenty years ago when James and I got married I would never-ever-never have anticipated where we would be at financially today. For years we’ve worked to whittle down student loans, paid off car payments, and chosen to live on a budget to reach our long term goals.


Even on days when we didn’t really want to we skipped dinners out, chose second hand clothes, and clipped coupons to eek out every last penny we could.


Twenty years later, good gravy, the view is amazing and worth every step.


Having the financial resources that allow us to enjoy crazy amazing trips, take care of our family, and give abundantly is so much more than I ever dreamed.


Decide that this is worth it. Know that the sweetness you’ll find on top will be worth the temporary sacrifice you’re making today.


It’s worth it. I promise.


I just can’t imagine a better view.


Have you been able to tackle your family’s finances and seen success? I’d love to hear what’s made reaching your goals more manageable ~ leave a comment to shareHere are a few more posts you may be interested in:

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25 Things You Need To Know Before Going On A Mission Trip

mission trip

Note from Laurie ~ Shannon wrote this great post about heading out on a mission trip, and I loved her suggestions! If you’re heading out to serve overseas or even at home, these tips should make your trip go so much smoother. 


I know of a lot of folks are headed out on mission trips this summer, and thought it would come in handy to have a few tips for you all rounded up in one place! Between my husband and I, we’ve been on eleven mission trips to eight different countries. We’re planning to take our entire famiy on one this year to a ninth country now that our  youngest child is older.
We have felt so called to go, and know that some people feel called to serve on mission trips, while others are also called to help financially, pray, volunteer time to help prepare, watch kids for those who serve on mission trips, or contribute via other means.  No matter how you’re called to serve, being obedient to your call is so important.


(Me and my funny husband in Japan)

For those that plan to go on a trip, here are some things we came up with that might be helpful:

1. Pray.

Pray to see if you feel God calling you to go, then pray before you go, while you’re there, and even when you’re back home. (Check out 1 Thessalonians 5:16 ~ such a wonderful reminder!)

2. Pack snacks.

I’m a super picky eater, so packing snacks is huge when preparing for a trip. I pack Flatout bread and peanut butter because it’s easy to travel with. One country I traveled to served fish where the eyes were still in it (yikes!) I ate just rice that night, and was thankful to have peanut butter packed so I wasn’t hungry.

3. Pack insect repellent and sunblock.

Be sure to know if you need insect repellent that has DEET or not ~ and pack these in a Ziploc bag to make sure they don’t leak onto other things. In some countries you may even want to spray your bed down prior to sleeping ~ just not your pillow.

4. Roll your clothes.

Pack by rolling each outfit together (shirts, skirt, underwear, and socks), so you know how many outfits you have, have each outfit laid out together, use less space, and prevent wrinkling.



5. Pack outfits in Ziploc bags if you’re traveling to a country where it rains a lot.

When I went to Honduras our bags got soaking wet because it rained on the way to the place where we were staying, and our luggage was in the back of a pickup truck.  We had to hang dry them all out ~ if they’d been in Ziploc bags they would have stayed dry and would have been one less thing we had to work on while we were there.

6. Let social media go.

Make sure it’s okay to post on social media at all while traveling to a foreign country ~ many countries don’t allow it, and it could potentially even get you kicked out of a country.

7. Be respectful.

Before traveling go online and learn about the culture of the area you’re visiting.  When we went to Japan I was so thankful our team talked a lot about the culture of Japan so we knew how to act appropriately (even though we sometimes failed at it.)  You don’t want to offend anyone, and many times you may without even knowing it, so doing research ahead of time can help.

8. You may want to pack a small fan.

On one of my first mission trips someone packed a fan and it was a lifesaver!

9. Pack probiotics and Immodium AD (just in case the probiotics do not work)!

There are some issues that may happen with your stomach and this will help avoid them.  ‘Nuf said.

10. Ladies, pack Preparation H wipes to help prevent yeast infections.

11. Pack Airborne (if you think it works) or any immune defense meds.

This helps if you start feeling bad.  I actually gave our missionary partner this while I was in Asia.  He was feeling really sick, but with just one packet, he felt so much better!

12. Pack drink packets like Gatorade or Propel that you can add to your water bottles.

Make sure they have electrolytes.

13. Don’t drink the local water in any form or fashion, including ice.  Instead, drink bottle or bagged water, depending on the country.

Even when brushing your teeth, it’s safest to rinse your toothbrush with bottled water.

14. Pack a flashlight.  

The power may be out more than you’re used to.

15. Along with your Bible pack a good book.

You will need a way to escape at times or have something to read if you get bored.

16. Pack a poncho.

17. Pack a pair of shoes you can throw or give away.

If you’re going to a poor country it’s nice to have a pair of shoes you can give to someone.  Or if you’re doing any walking in muddy areas, you may prefer just to chunk them instead of packing them in your bag.  Packing a spare grocery bag or trash bag for dirty clothes/shoes can be helpful too.

18. Pack antibacterial wipes and hand sanitizer.

In one country I went to, the people did not wash their hands after going to the bathroom, so it was nice to have Wet Ones on hand to disinfect my hands after shaking their hands. In some countries it’s very impolite not to shake hands (and back to the culture tip, there are different ways to greet people appropriately that are important to know before going.)

19. Pack protein bars.

They’re quick, and you might need protein if meat is rare in the diet there.

20. Ask the missionaries you are going with if they want you to bring them something from the states.

One missionary family asked if we could bring Oreos for their teenage daughter.  She guarded them with her life, and I don’t remember her sharing either!  🙂

21. Pick up inexpensive souvenirs.

This is especially nice for people who have helped support you financially.  Many countries have marketplaces where haggling is appropriate, not rude.  Try to negotiate the price down to something you’re comfortable with.

22. Get immunizations that are recommended for traveling to the country you’re going to.

23. Learn a few common phrases in their language and find a good app like Google Translate.

This can be useful if you don’t have a translator around, but it’s also a fun way to interact with the locals.  They will smile and laugh at your attempts to talk to them (which makes for great pictures!)

24. Take pictures.

It’s often worth making sure you can take pictures of the people in case they feel uncomfortable.

25. Apply for a passport a few months in advance.

If your passport will expire six months after your trip, go ahead and renew it now.  Some countries will not accept it otherwise.

For you veteran mission trippers, what other tips do you have?  Leave a comment to let us know.

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Mudroom Makeover (More Than A Makeover)



If you’re here just for the deals scoot on to the next penny-post ~ this one’s a doozie! And, know that I know SO MANY OF YOU have hardships so much greater than mine, I feel almost silly even sharing this here. But maybe you’re in a funk too ~ and maybe this one’s just for you. 


Good gravy.


This week as I was debating what home project to tackle as our regular Friday Fluff Up, I started dreaming up ideas for our mudroom.


I really wanted this, or this, or even this, but the truth is the space isn’t huge and I don’t have any business right now spending lots of money on it, so it just needed some TLC.


Since my husband’s heart attack just over a month ago, I’ve allowed clutter and gunk and schoolwork and coats and hats and heart attack papers and all of it to just take over that space.


(If you know me well you know that’s just not the norm for me ~ but goodness it’s turned into a disaster!)


I just didn’t want to deal with the mess, so I rounded up my youngest and spent a few hours shopping, dreaming up ways to make that space just a wee bit more Pinterested before coming home and setting to work.


As I started muddling through, I realized that it wasn’t any new fancy stuff that tiny space needed.


It was a much needed attitude shift.


You see, since his heart attack I’ve (we’ve all?) been in this sort of funk.


I didn’t want to deal with the paperwork.


I didn’t want to look at insurance claims.


I didn’t want to read through mounds of heart attack literature.


I didn’t want to learn a million-bazillion ways to control his cholesterol.


(For the record, he’s really changed his diet on his own and we’re all working even harder to eat the right foods ~ I just didn’t want to read any more about it!)


I didn’t want to be the 40-year-old wife of a 45-year-old husband who’d had a heart attack.


There. I said it.


I wanted to stay a regular mom with a regular life and regular kids and a regular-not-so-much-struggling life.


I’m betting you get that.


And honestly? (if I’m being real-real-deeply honest here?)


Ever since moving two years ago I’ve just kind of been in a funk. (Y’all who know me best know that’s the case ~ I can hide it on the outside but here in my heart it’s tough to hide.)


So I just let the piles keep climbing.


I let the shoes take over the floor.


I shoved the paperwork on top of the cabinets. And hid some inside the closet. (eek.) And just decided if it was all stuffed somewhere I didn’t really have to deal with any of it.


I just didn’t want any of this turn of events. 


I didn’t want my life to look different.


I just didn’t want to deal with the mess of it.


In my heart or on my countertops. 




So when I came home with all my cute stuff from Home Goods and Michael’s Wednesday night and realized it wasn’t any “fluffing” that needed to happen, but rather just a good case of me being real about life, I determined to get it together.


I de-gunked.


I sorted through the paper work.


I made files named “James’s heart stuff.”


I saved files about medications I really care nothing to know about.


I pulled up my big-girl-panties and decided to deal with what the last six weeks have doled out.




Do you know what?


It feels better.


The space is cleaned out. I’m still the same regular mom that I was a month ago. We still have the regular life that we had months ago. My husband didn’t really age a million years like I feel he has.


We’re just us.

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And we’re going to be okay.


You may have so. many. struggles. so so much bigger than mine.


You may be dealing with a debilitating illnesses, the long-term sicknesses of a child, or the loss of something or even someone so very precious and dear to you.


And like me, you may think that if you just shove the clutter all away none of this stuff will really be real.


But, precious one, you and I know it doesn’t work that way.


If you’re drowning in stuff because you don’t want to deal with the real issues, I encourage you to pull up those big girl panties with me and  just de. mess.






De. funk.


You will feel better.


You will find order.


You will be no less precious than you were before the mess.


Because even when life doesn’t hand us what we choose, we still get to choose what we make of it.


Make your life beautiful today.


If that means you need a de-cluttering and a de-gunking and a de-funking, come along with me and find beauty right where you’re at.


If you’re in a hospital room holding the hand of a loved one, tidy things up a bit and make that that space for them just feel beautiful. But most importantly hold on tightly and let them know they’re loved.


If you’re home in the summertime and your kids have taken over your home (ahem), take a break from the crazy and head outside to pick some fresh greenery, then come on in and sweep up the floor.


If you’re at work and the clutter on your desk is overwhelming you, clean off that space, put up a favorite quote and stay motivated in your work today.


And if you’re the sweet momma of a tiny one who hasn’t allowed you to have a shower in too many days to count, find a safe spot for that baby for twenty minutes, hop in the shower and make yourself feel beautiful today.


You can find beauty wherever you are. I just know you can. 


I’m thinking of you folks right now who walk beside me or even through something so much harder, and am praying a beautiful day for you no matter what life hands you today.


Make today a beautiful day. 





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Clever Idea For Saving On Hanging Baskets


I’m so excited about this smart idea to share with you! A PPP reader shared that they had read you could use burlap to replace coconut liners in hanging baskets, which seems to me like it would totally work. If you’ve tried it, let me know, and check out this post to see what it looks likeLove it!

Amazon actually carries Gardener Natural Burlap that might be worth checking out.  You can also see how we created beautiful hanging baskets for a fraction of their regular cost last Spring by creating them ourselves. Happy Planting!

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That Time My Husband Had A Heart Attack.

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Get ready for a long post. If you’re here just for the deals (I TOTALLY, really do get that), scroll waaayyyyy on down.  UPDATE ~ I tried responding to all your sweet comments tonight and realized I was just exhausted and you all would understand. THANK YOU MORE THAN YOU’LL KNOW for taking the time to be such blessings to me – I am so so thankful for you!


13 days ago my husband had a heart attack. 


My 45-year-old-mostly-healthy husband had a heart attack. (For the record I’m 40 ~ no reason for you to think I’m quite 45 yet, right?) 🙂


My heart still hurts.


He’d had some chest pain about six months ago and had done a stress test to make sure everything was okay. The stress test came back negative, and we assumed everything was fine and went on about our lives.

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Our bunch just 4 weeks ago, on our way to ski for a week in CanadaWhile he’s always been a little overweight, James has stayed the same weight since we were married twenty years ago, and is as strong as an ox. He plays sports hard with our kids, and is in general a pretty healthy guy. He doesn’t smoke or drink, but did have slightly elevated cholesterol and some family history of heart issues at an early age.

On Wednesday almost two weeks ago, he started having pain in his arm while driving all over Ohio for work. He called home around 3 and said he really wasn’t feeling well, then finally made it in at 5 that night.


Because I’m a horrible (read – awful, terrible, pitiful) not-ever-meant-to-be-a-nurse-wife, I told him I didn’t know what he should do, but if his chest hurt he should go to the ER. (Honestly, I wasn’t all that compassionate about it ~ we had 3 kids going 3 directions and I had no time for this craziness. Like I said, I’m an awful, terrible, pitiful wife!)


A few minutes later though I looked at him the way I should have looked at him the minute he came home, and realized he looked awful. He headed to the ER, and I headed out for evening carpool duty.


An hour later he called and told me that while his EKG was fine, his blood work came back with some issues and they were transporting him to a nearby hospital for testing the next morning. Remember we’d just moved here two years ago, so while we definitely have a few people we could call on in a pinch, our kids weren’t all that comfortable with folks they didn’t know so well (my oldest is 16).  I left the kids at home around 7:30 PM and headed to the ER to see what was next.


I don’t know anything medically, but by the time I got there the second EKG had changed, and the ER doctor seemed pretty concerned. He let us know that a cardiologist would meet us immediately at the hospital, and when the ambulance came to transport James (they said he wasn’t stable enough for me to drive him even though he looked pretty good), I ran home to get a few things and then planned to meet him in the hospital.


It didn’t happen like that. 


I arrived at the larger hospital’s Emergency Room and was immediately taken past dozens of people in the waiting room to a small waiting room with a night chaplain. She wasn’t allowed to tell me anything, just sat with me as I waited. (I couldn’t figure what on earth had happened ~ just a few minutes ago we’d been laughing together in the original ER?)


About 20 minutes went by, and the cardiologist came out to tell me that my husband (yes, the 45 year old seemingly healthy one), had a mild heart attack. He had 100% blockage in one artery (thankfully only 20-30% blockage in other arteries), and they’d put in a stent to fix the blockage. He was doing well, but his life would change.


He wasn’t kidding.


Thankfully, because he was basically healthy his heart had used “collateral arteries” to repair the problem as much as they could on their own (which masked the heart issues in his initial stress test.) We found out a few days later that despite everything he had absolutely no heart muscle damage, and I’m guessing it’s partly due to those collateral arteries taking on the extra load.


(Isn’t it crazy that God makes your body to DO things like that?) 


I was allowed to see James who honestly looked great considering everything he’d gone through. I think we were both just in shock ~ and totally unaware of what this meant for our life. (Two weeks later, we’re still pretty unaware.)


Around 1:30 in the morning I left him in the ICU to come be with our kids and try to sleep, and his sister (she’s a doctor and was completely a lifesaver through this!) headed up to be with us just to get us through the first through days. (His other sister also came up for the weekend ~ I can’t even begin to tell you what a gift they were to me those first few days!)

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Us out on a short hike last week while playing hooky 🙂 

So here I sit, almost two weeks later, still just in a small state of shock over all this. James wasn’t allowed to work last week, so we kind of played hooky all week. We visited every plant nursery in a 30 mile radius, ate meals at fancy restaurants (he’s supposed to eat salmon and I haven’t yet learned to cook it), and even went to see a movie at 10 o-clock in the morning just because we could. (We were the only people there besides an older couple in their 70’s. I’ve never ever seen a movie at 10 o’clock in the morning!)


You know what though? I’m still kind of terrified.


I’m afraid of how I’d do life without him.


I’m afraid of what we would do if our finances really changed because of an illness. (We are so so blessed financially thanks to years of penny pinching, but fear of the unknown still scares the crud of me.)


I’m afraid of my kids not having grandparents for *their* kids. (Y’all, I am seriously jumping the gun on this worry thing. I know. I’m nuts.) 


I’m afraid of what my life would look like if he wasn’t right here next to me.


He’s always been my one. 


I don’t know that I believe that people have just one person out there made just for them, but, for me, he’s been my one.


He’s the one I just feel safe and cozy with. The one who likes me even though I’m a mess. And more than anything he’s the one who completely cheers me on each and every day. 


The thought of something happening to him terrifies me beyond what I can even express. 


And honestly, the thought that’s filling my head right now is that something could happen to him, and in just a few short years my cute kids will be gone. And this awful crushing fear of just being without them kind of terrifies me.


But as I was muddling through all that in my head today, I remembered that long before I was James’s wife, I was chosen by Him.


And way before I ever dreamed of being Jackson & Caroline & Reagan’s momma . . . I was His child.


And I was reminded that the same God who has held me through so many difficult things along the way, loves me enough to hold me through this not-so-easy time too. 


Whatever may come.


Whatever it takes.


Now, don’t get me wrong, right now things look good for my sweet husband. (Thank. heavens.) He’s doing an amazing job working to change his diet, is on a mountain of medication to keep this from happening again, and is already heading to physical therapy. His prognosis really is good (in fact, his heart is working perfectly), but my fear still is there.


But just this experience has rocked my not-as-firm-as-I-want-it-to-be foundation, so I needed to be reminded that ultimately the One who loved me first holds me no matter what comes my way.



I have no idea what mountain is in your world right now. I don’t know if your world has maybe been shattered by something so crazy-ridiculous-you-feel-like-you-can’t-even-breathe too.


But I do know that the same God who’s holding me? He’s holding you right next to me too.


He loves each of us, and desires peace for us, no matter what comes our way.


Know that I’m praying for you today. And I’d so love your prayers too as our hearts adjust to this new season too. God’s plan is bigger and better than ours ever is, and I’m so crazy-ridiculously-overwhelmingly thankful for peace that comes when we choose to find rest in Him today.


But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 2 Corinthians 12:9



(On a quick side note ~ thank goodness I have some amazing workers here on PPP who totally have kept things up and running while I’ve been way more frazzled than normal. I don’t *think* any of this should have any long term impact on PPP except that I need to spend a little more time preparing meals and a little more focused on my family (I so appreciate you  understanding!) Right now we’re trying out the Mediterranean diet, so those are the recipes I imagine you’ll see here for a bit while we figure things out. Thanks so much for your kindness and support ~ so so thankful for you.)

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When You Need Rest.

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(our bunch just a few weeks ago on vacation ~ crazy to think we’re here when we were just there. ugh)!

folks, we have had just a so unexpected hard most unbelievable two days.


I’m not going to share all the nitty gritty details (don’t worry, at least for now everything really is okay, just blindsided by a crazy health scare), but . . .


my heart hurts. 



Thankfully I have some incredible girls who do so much here on PPP so that I can work on bigger projects, the site is totally up and running. (Thank you Shannon, Cheryl, Nicole & Misty ~ you guys are the best and a crazy blessing to me!)  I’ve been able to just take care of my bunch, manage a few emails and Facebook, and plan for my baby girl’s 9th birthday in the midst of this craziness.


{Because I am absolutely nuts. And we are determined to give this girl a party after postponing it several weeks. A momma’s got to do what a momma’s got to do. crazy.}


But last night, after the second night of being up all night just consumed with worry, I finally remembered Whose I am


Whose this life of mine is.


Whose my husband’s life is. Whose my kids lives are.


That we are all His.


And for about an hour from 5-6AM today, I finally fell asleep in His rest. 


I don’t know what crumminess may be going on in your life today.


I have no idea if you’re having an amazingly grace-filled happy day or a few days like mine where you feel like you’ve been hit by a bus.


But I know Whose you are. 


If you need some rest today.


If you need some peace like I do.


Rest in His arms with me, okay? 


Prayers sure appreciated as we scoot through this next few weeks ~ and if you have something I can pray for even unspoken leave a comment in the comment section and I’d love to cover you in some prayers too.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Matthew 11:28-29


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