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Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Back in the Holler

Hollows, or "hollers" as it comes out of my Appalachian mouth, are all over the place where I was raised.  They can be hidden and unknown to the outside world, outside of your immediate family anyway.  My great-grandparents lived back in a hollow, and we would walk there, back through the woods and down over the hill from my granny's house.  You could drive there, but what does an 8 year old know about directions for a car to follow.  I was more concerned about the split rail fences, grapevines, and not getting caught on barbed wire.

Then there were other hollows, I couldn't tell you where if my life depended on it.  There were steep hills, creeks, huge trees and the best blackberries and black raspberries in the world.  All wild.  The wild always taste better and nothing you can buy in a store, or even a farmer's market for that matter come close.

I've been spoiled by the wild.  I've been away from it for decades, but there is a disappointment that rises in me whenever I'm given the tame version of blackberry cobbler.  Who in their right mind would ever be disappointed by hot blackberry cobbler with melting vanilla ice cream?  I will tell you. The one who has tasted the wild, free, picked in the blazing sun covered from head to toe to defend from bees and snakes berries, that's who.  And in the dead of winter, those berries pulled from the freezer are a gift like no other.

We've lost sight of the wild, the Eden that we were created for, that was created for us.  We've forgotten that it exists and we settle.  Settling can look like many different things: rebellion, apathy, complacency, acceptance of a tame version all planted in neat rows where UPick 'til your heart's content, but then it never really is.  Content, that is.

Amber Haines takes us with her through a journey from a backyard Eden, through the wilds of rebellion and isolation, and then...... well, I'll let you find that out for yourself.  The words flow like a rushing creek over smooth stones and jagged rocks into rapids.  This is poetry that sings loud like cicadas, smells heady like jasmine, and tastes sweet like the singular drops of honeysuckle.  But poetry and metaphor are the lures that often make us miss the reality that the metaphor exists to glorify.  If we're not careful, we'll settle for the beauty of words, over the beauty of The Word. Because where our words can never be completely satisfying or fulfilling because they are broken, we must rely on a Word that was broken for us.

The hollow is not just a place between two hills, but the place inside of us, the God-shaped void. The wild that can be found there with the Creator of this universe takes us back to freedom in Eden and makes us whole.




Amber will be speaking this year at the Allume Conference, October 15-17, in Greenville, SC.  I'd love for you to join us.  You can find out more and get your tickets here: http://allume.com/get-your-pass-here/


Wild in the Hollow is available now wherever you choose to buy books.  I thank you in advance for choosing here if you use this affiliate link.  I was provided a copy for review by Revell, but as always, all opinions are my own.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

That Time I Fixed My Dishwasher

Disclosure:  This post contains affiliate links.  I appreciate it anytime you use them.

Linking up with Works For Me Wednesday at Giving Up on Perfect.

I get an extreme sense of satisfaction and accomplishment when I do something by myself. Specifically, when I do something that I might have otherwise hired out to be done by a professional. The fact that I also save significant amounts of money at the same time is the cherry on top.

Last week we discovered that a post that holds a wheel on the top rack of our dishwasher had broken. In fact, three of the four were broken. When you combine this with the fact that the door started leaking, I was ready to just pitch it and get a new one. I know that sounds a little overblown, but we’ve had issues with this dishwasher since day one.


After a bit of technical research on the Google machine I discovered this is quite common. I used my model number to find the part number that would need to be replaced. I intensified my research by digging deep into You Tube for how-to videos. Lastly, I pulled the trigger and ordered the part from Amazon after an online chat to determine that the new metal parts would work in the place of the plastic ones. Two guesses as to why they are now made of metal instead of plastic. You got it – they were constantly breaking!

Thanks to Amazon Prime, I had the parts the next morning and it was time to get to work.




















I extricated the top rack from the dishwasher, laid out my parts, queued the video and broke bad on those busted parts. All went well until the very last piece, which needed a torx driver for the supplied screws. I knew we had one, but apparently not here, so off to AutoZone.com for same day pickup. They are a Pure Charity partner, so I love ordering online to pick up later.

Once I had the driver, the 4 screws were tightened in a matter of seconds.  The rack was reinstalled and VOILA! Fixed! For less than $40 we had a rolling rack!


Funny thing, the door stopped leaking. The malfunctioning rack was keeping the door from closing completely. It still needs to be lowered in the back a bit, but that’s a job for another day and will require 2 people.

Here’s to hoping that the feeling of satisfaction continues and makes me want to load and unload it regularly simply to feel that smooth gliding. I am more deeply invested. Ownership drives my participation. I also love doing things with my hands. Win–Win!

Now it’s time to toot your own horn.


Are you a DIYer? What task have you completed that gave you the same sense of satisfaction?

Friday, April 24, 2015

A Little Fashion Revolution

*Disclaimer: I was provided with a $50 gift certificate to use at the Loudoun Just Between Friends spring sale in exchange for FB and twitter promotion.  All opinions and deals are completely my own, however, all the clothes will be worn by my son. This post contains affiliate links.

Today is Fashion Revolution Day.  This is the anniversary of the Rana Plaza collapse that killed over 1100 garment workers in Bangladesh in 2013.  You can read all about it and how to participate on Twitter and Instagram with the hashtags #fashrev, #FashionRevolution, #insideout, and #whomademyclothes.

Looking at labels and informing yourself is a great way to start to make a change in the world right where you are.  It's not the easiest change to make.  I'll be the first to admit that.  Finding ethically made clothing, especially at an affordable price, especially for kids(!!!!) can be tricky and takes time.  You're not always going to be able to make that quick stop off at the mall for a new shirt you might want to have for, say, tonight!  You're not always going to be able to get the new trend every week and a half - that's FAST FASHION!

This week I'm doing the opposite and working on some slow fashion.  That's actually a thing.  Google it.  My version has been to pull out the sewing machine and make the little guy a pair of pajamas.  I have to say, it's been so slow that they are long sleeved and pants as May is creeping around the corner.  They've been cut out for a while.

My other tactic is a huge local consignment sale.  This is one of those times that blogging has its privileges.  I received early access to an elusive fantasy land, one where great condition second-hand boys' clothing exists.  Not only clothing abides there, but SHOES!!!  Shoes, do you hear me!!  If you have a young boy, I know you are shaking your head in disbelief right now.  I have a picture for proof.  Also, I got his entire summer wardrobe and new shoes for school next year at an average of >$5 a piece!!!



This is a great way to slow down the fashion train, keep otherwise perfectly fine clothing from going to donation centers with short rack times and ultimately becoming a trash heap in a developing country if it is unusable as ragstock.  Here's a great BBC produced video on what happens to the usuable goods.  Do a little research though, and you find this can be quite detrimental to other economies.

If you are local, head out to the Just Between Friends sale Saturday and Sunday.  Get there as early as you can.  You can find all the details at that link.  I'm already planning to consign at the fall sale and help out some other boymoms in their quest for clothing that isn't breaking the bank or the backs of others.


If you want to learn more I have two great books to recommend:


While not necessarily about fashion, it does show how we are all connected.

Have you slowed down your fashion in any way?  I'd love to hear what you've got!

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

The Road Home

Let’s set the stage and avoid any questioning from the get-go:  I am a country girl from the mountains of Southwest Virginia.  My parents moved just before my 4th birthday into the house where they still live.  “Home” is a place that consists of an entire county, but “home” (notice the little h) has been lots of places since I left for college in the fall of 1989.

The one thing that has remained constant for me has been church.  Weekly.  For a long time 3 times a week – Sunday morning for Sunday school and worship, Sunday night, and Wednesday night for Bible study or prayer service.  Attendance was NOT optional growing up.  You know what, that instilled in me that attendance was NOT optional when I was on my own either.  That’s a good thing y’all. Felt like I needed to prove my Southernness right there.

So much of my life has also been tied to either US 11 or I-81.  This road took me home from school – elementary through college at James Madison University - GO DUKES!! – to graduate school at the University of Tennessee – GO BIG ORANGE!!!  I even taught school at the very end of it for part of a year at Slidell Jr. High in Slidell, LA.  Roads are how I knew I was going to love this book.  Two words:  Google maps!


That picture is one I see often online.  It’s the top of our driveway right on route 11.  I can’t count the days I stood at those mailboxes.  That was our bus stop.  That’s my parents house you can see peeking through the trees in the back to the left.  I think that’s their camper.  I use the little yellow man on Google Earth to visit friends’ houses, see what’s changed, see what’s exactly the same.

It’s been really nice since we’ve not gone anywhere since last October, but have been practicing a bit of mutual hospitality right here at home.  Which brings me to where we are, which is exactly where God needed us to be on the morning of November 23, 2014.  Every turn through the states of VA, KY, LA, NC, OH, IL, CT, back to IL, and to VA again have put us in the right place at the right time.  We just didn’t realize it completely until our eyes were opened in a dramatic fashion.

Can you look back over the roads you’ve traveled and see how it was the route God used to get you where you needed to be?



This post contains affiliate links.