My Scattered Thoughts on House Hunting

For those of you who are panicking – no, we aren’t moving out of town. :) We aren’t trying to move out of our current house immediately either, but we’ve been keeping an eye on Trulia, just to see what’s out there. And my brain has had just about enough. This has been my constant inner dialogue for the last two months:

Oh my gosh, a new house is on the market!!
It’s. so. pretty.
ERMAGERD but the price is not pretty…
We’d be in debt until our great-grandchildren go to college.
We’d have to eat nothing but cereal.
And then eat the boxes when we run out of cereal.
But maybe we could make it work.
Yeah…we could totally make it work.
Ooh, there’s that older one we both liked a few weeks ago.
I thought it sold…?
It’s back on the market??!
We could go see it today!!!
Oh, but I love the house we’re in now.
It would be so sad to leave. :(
….but I can’t wait to go look at this new house.
(After looking at it)
Wow…there’s a lot to fix up.
Maybe…too much…
But we’ve done it before!
And we have STEVE (aka contractor father-in-law).
He’s already done so much for us, though.
We can’t keep asking him to do more stuff.
But he did offer…
Ooh, look at those hardwood floors!
And the ugly wallpaper…
And the granite countertops!
And the chocolate brown carpet…
Hmmmmm, there’s a lot to do.
It would be awesome to start over in a new place!
My style could finally evolve from “broke newlywed” to “broke but faking otherwise.”
I sure would miss our old place though.
We’ve made so many memories there.
Do we really want to move that far away?
Would anyone even come over anymore??
Of course they would, dummy.
It’s just so far away from town…it’s like 10 whole minutes from the store.
Everyone will forget about us.
We will have no friends.
We’re going to die alone in our new house.
But we have so much more room for entertaining!
What if this ends up being way more expensive than we expected?
We’re gonna go broke.
*Channeling Michael Scott* ‘I…declare…BANKRUPTCY!!!!’
Oh man…I just realized we could have pool parties.
Our kids are going to love us.
We’ll be the coolest parents ever.
….Oh no….what if they hate swimming??
I don’t know…now I’m starting to get kind of iffy about it.
I’m kind of…underwhelmed.
It looked nicer in pictures than it does in person.
It would take a long time to make all those updates.
And I really didn’t want another fixer-upper.
The last time I had to pick out paint colors, I had to pick out 9 of them.
And nearly hyperventilated.
*Choking to death*
Maybe this is just a sign that we aren’t supposed to move right now.
Which is fine.
We’ll find the right place when it’s the right time.
And in the meantime, we get to enjoy our current home!
I love our home. :)
Wait…hold up!!?? Someone else put an offer on that house?????
We must put in a better offer.
Wait…do I really like it that much?
What about all of the ugliness inside??
Well…maybe it’s not so bad.
Our house was rough when we first bought it and now it’s nice.
Maybe my expectations are just too high.
Growing up is overrated.
Screw it, let’s just live in an RV.

Happy Thursday, everyone!

Sunday Funnies

I miss the comics. I used to read them every Sunday when I was a kid, but now I’m an adult and I read the paper never. In honor of 13-year-old Laura, here’s my new Pinterest-inspired version of the Sunday funnies. Enjoy!

Happy Sunday, people! :)

Give Them To Me.

Capture“A person’s a person, no matter how small.” – Dr. Suess

My eyes filled with tears as my hand came up to cover my mouth. My stomach twisted in a sick mixture of horror and sorrow. My heart ached. I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t believe what I was reading.

“I worked the 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. shift, and when we weren’t busy, I’d go out to help with the newborns. One night I saw a bassinet outside the nursery. There was a baby in this bassinet – a crying, perfectly formed baby – but there was a difference in this child. She had been scalded. She was the child of a saline abortion.

This little girl looked as if she had been put in a pot of boiling water. No doctor, no nurse, no parent, to comfort this hurt, burned child. She was left alone to die in pain. They wouldn’t let her in the nursery – they didn’t even bother to cover her.

I was ashamed of my profession that night! It’s hard to believe this can happen in our modern hospitals, but it does. It happens all the time. I thought a hospital was a place to heal the sick – not a place to kill.

I asked a nurse at another hospital what they do with their babies that are aborted by saline. Unlike my hospital, where the baby was left alone struggling for breath, their hospital puts the infant in a bucket and puts the lid on. Suffocation! Death by suffocation!”

I couldn’t even finish the article, I just sat there and cried.

In pain?
Struggling for breath??

I’ve seen lots of posts about abortion and Planned Parenthood lately, but this article I read a few days ago… completely ruined my day. I haven’t stopped thinking about it since. I can’t just sit here and do nothing.

To be honest, I’m not really sure what to do.

I’m typically not the kind of person to engage controversial topics online. I don’t want to carry a reputation as an emotionally brash protester/complainer instead of an intelligent, logical person capable of calm discussion, and I think conversations like that are better in person anyway. Something about this topic, though…when I read that article, I wanted to throw up. No one should be able to be indifferent about this. I can’t. I can’t read about tiny little LIVES being brutally ended and have no reaction to it. I also can’t be hateful because I have dear friends who have had abortions, and they are as loved, redeemed, and cherished by God as I am. But it’s not enough to get political, rant about how abortion should be illegal, and go on about my day, proud of myself for speaking up about something. It’s just not enough.

Abortion is selfish. Abortion is sin. It’s one of the biggest pieces of proof showing just how far we have fallen below the standard God set. When did we become so desensitized to violence that we decided killing helpless babies was a good idea? Above all, this is a Gospel issue. Every sin we commit communicates that we think God cheated us. Abortion is wrong because it is a direct offense to the God who created every person on earth, including the unborn ones.

I think the thing that hurt me the most about that article was this portion:

On the night [an] aborted baby came in, three premature babies from a nearby hospital were being taken care of. Two of the three were in danger of dying, and doctors struggled to save their lives. While the doctors were engaged in the struggle to help these two wanted babies, the aborted baby was brought in:

“I looked at the baby boy lying before me, and saw that from all appearances he was perfect. He had a good strong heartbeat. I could tell this without using a stethoscope because I could see his chest moving in sync with his heart rate. With a stethoscope I heard a heart pumping strongly. I look at his size and his skin — he definitely looked more mature than 23 weeks. He was weighed and I discovered that he was 900 grams, almost two pounds. This was almost twice the weight of some babies we have been able to save. A doctor was summoned. When she arrived the baby started moving his tiny arms and legs flailing. He started trying to gasp, but was unable to get air into his lungs. His whole body shuddered with his efforts to breathe. We were joined by a neonatalist and I pleaded with both doctors saying, ‘The baby is viable — look at his size, look at his skin — he looks much older than 23 weeks.’

It was a horrible moment as each of us wrestled with our own ethical standards. I argued that we should make an attempt to resuscitate him, to get him breathing. The resident doctor told me, ‘This is an abortion. We have no right to interfere.’ The specialist, who had the responsibility for the decision, was wringing his hands and quietly saying, ‘This is so hard. Oh, God, it’s so hard when it’s this close.’ In the end, I lost. We were not going to try to resuscitate this baby. …I wrapped him in blankets to keep him warm, and held him. These were the only measures I could take comfort the baby under the circumstances, no matter how much I wanted to do more.”

Ironically, all the while the nurse was holding the dying aborted child, doctors were struggling to save the life of another premature (but wanted) child in the very same room, less than five feet away. Sadly, this baby died as well – but she was given every possible medical treatment, while the aborted baby was completely ignored.

That last paragraph just killed me. The only difference between those babies is that one of them was wanted. I remember taking a pregnancy test (who am I kidding, I took like 9) in our first year of marriage and panicking a little because I didn’t feel ready to have a baby yet. But it would never even occur to me to get rid of it just because I wasn’t ready yet. How much more selfish can we get than ending another human’s life because we don’t WANT them?? Or because it is what’s ‘best for us’ at the time?

See the comparison of lives lost to abortion vs. lives lost in World War II.

Regardless of your moral convictions, you have to admit – the numbers are staggering.

Please don’t misunderstand: I don’t just care about the babies! I am not cold, rude, or uncaring when it comes to the moms, not even a little. As I mentioned earlier, I know women who have had abortions – it is by no means an easy choice or something they enjoyed doing. I know very well that there’s much more involved in many cases, and some of you probably want to ask me:

“What if the pregnancy was from rape/incest?”
I can’t even explain how much my heart breaks for women who experience this. More than anything else, a woman who has been assaulted needs to be surrounded with love and comfort, especially by people in the church. But if a pregnancy occurs from that assault, aren’t there two people now who need love and support? The emotional effects of that situation have to be addressed logically. Her memories and grief won’t disappear with the aborted baby. The innocent baby isn’t to blame and shouldn’t be punished for the horrific crimes of the father (who SHOULD be persecuted).

“What about if the life of the mom is in danger?”
Actually, less than 1% of abortions are performed to save the life of the mother (source). In the case of cancer or an ectopic pregnancy…dude, I honestly don’t know. My gut says don’t abort the baby, but I can’t imagine the pressure and stress of making that choice. I’m still struggling through that one.

“So no one should have abortions, then? What happens to all those children?”
Great question. Church? Want to take this one? How about we step up and take care of them? How about if we come around struggling moms and serve as an encouraging support base for them instead of chasing them out for their blatant immorality? What if we were willing to adopt some of those children if the moms truly aren’t in a position to take care of them?

I want to have kids. I don’t know when they’ll join me and Daniel and fill up our house with messes and fun and noise and life, but I want them. If someone reading this is contemplating abortion, for whatever reason, please don’t kill your baby. It’s not a lump of cells. It’s a baby. A created-and-loved-by-God baby. Give her to me. Give him to me. “Please don’t kill the child. I want the child. Please give me the child. I am willing to accept any child who would be aborted” (from Mother Theresa’s address at a United Nations conference in Cairo, Sept. 1994). For those of you wondering if I’ve lost it, yes, I did talk to Daniel and he’s 100% on board. Sure, we might not have kids yet, but maybe some of our kids will join us in an unconventional way. We will gladly receive any baby and either give him/her a home or find him/her a home.

It’s important to remember that we ALL need Jesus desperately. I have no room to get  self-righteous, because my sin is just as evil and offensive to Him. God’s forgiveness and compassion extends equally to ALL of us. Praise Him for making a way for us to come to Him and be rescued from everything we’ve done wrong, no matter what it is. My heart hurts so much for anyone who has had an abortion or considered having one. If you are one of those women, there is no hate or judgment in my heart toward you – just love. For my friends who I know have experienced this – I love you more than words can say. God has redeemed you, and He does not condemn you. Don’t condemn yourself. ♥

There are so many resources on this topic that I could spend days listing them, but I thought these few were a good place to start.

Camille Cates, The Gospel Coalition – “Why I Don’t Blame Planned Parenthood”
John Piper, Desiring God – “Ten Reasons Why It Is Wrong to Take the Life of Unborn Children”
John Piper, Desiring God – “The Power of God and ‘Pro-Choice’ Reasoning”

God, forgive us. Help us love others the way You love us.

DietBet: The First Half

Photo By Pineapple

Guys, I know this might sound too simple, but for real – it’s insane how big of a difference healthy eating makes.

I’ve had a lot of people ask me questions about the DietBet (and everything it entails) over the last two weeks, and since I’ve hit the halfway mark, I thought I would share an update with you!

If we’re honest with ourselves, we all have at least one area of our lives that we subconsciously believe God doesn’t really care about that much. Food has been my area for a long time. I convinced myself for years that I would start eating healthy and exercising more eventually…just not right now. But there was always this little annoying voice in the back of my mind saying, “But what if you wait until it’s too late?” I’m so grateful to God that He didn’t let me dig myself into a huge pit before opening my eyes fully.

In my last post about starting to get healthy, I mentioned finally taking my first step forward in obedience to the Lord.

Just one step.

I have been blown away by the difference that one step has made.

For over a year, I felt spiritually numb. Sure, there were moments in community or worship that I felt God’s presence, and I was pretty consistent with my bible study time, but overall, it just felt very stale. I felt like I was running into a wall, like I couldn’t move forward in any areas of my life, and I couldn’t figure out why. I was incredibly confused, frustrated, and discouraged. I felt like I had tried everything, and I was out of ideas.

Ha. :) I THOUGHT I had tried everything. I feel so silly looking back now. God had been telling me all along what He wanted, I just shoved it in the closet and kept trying to please Him with other things. He didn’t want my good deeds, He just wanted my ‘yes.’

So I gave in. I surrendered my worship of food fully, for the first time in my entire life. I made the decision to start a DietBet, and from the day it started, it was like I was a different person. Remember my embarrassing Chick Fil A story? When presented with an opportunity to eat lunch there alone less than a week later, I voluntarily got grilled nuggets and a fruit cup. I started doing new things, like filling up my grocery cart with more produce and not keeping unhealthy snacks at my office. Things that used to be so tedious and hard for me before (like tracking calories and making good choices in restaurants) suddenly didn’t seem so difficult anymore. It should be noted that I never counted calories in my life before the last two weeks. It’s not that I stopped wanting unhealthy choices, it just became easier to pick something else instead. I NEVER thought that would happen. It’s the absolute weirdest thing, you guys. Things I never thought would change have been transforming right before my eyes.

And interestingly, I found other parts of me transforming too. That one ‘yes’ was like a giant sledgehammer against my brick wall, and piece after piece came crumbling down in front of me.

Worry/anxiety = transformed into peace. Real, actual peace.
Selfishness = transformed into generosity.
Uncertainty = transformed into genuine trust.

The most notable difference of all? Joy. It’s like I was under a cloud for months, and I finally walked out into the sun. There is no less-cliché way to explain it.

Lots of people have asked me: “So what have you been doing differently? How have you made it work?”

  • The DietBet. It’s been my biggest motivator because I don’t want to lose the money I invested. It’s made me so much more aware of what I eat and how much I eat.
  • I haven’t deliberately cut anything completely out of my diet. I’ve just been eating much more of some things and much less of others.
  • I quit making excuses and downloaded MyFitnessPal. Counting calories for a few days was a HUGE wake-up call – I was eating 1,000 calories more than I needed! I never used to think about what I was eating, but after seeing how many calories certain items actually cost me, I started to reconsider my choices.
  • I’ve planned out every weekday meal for the last two weeks. I tried doing this probably 27 times before and always failed for one reason or another. Because of the DietBet, though, I have more motivation to stick to my plan instead of deviating from it. If you want to know my meal plans, let me know in the comments and I might do a separate post about them!
  • I stopped snacking at work. I think this has been one of the most significant reasons for my weight loss. I got used to feeling like I needed a snack to make it from one meal to the next (and it was never something healthy), but now that I’ve stopped for two weeks straight, my body has retrained itself and I’m fine without one. If I do think I’ll need a snack at work, I grab a piece of fruit on my way back from lunch.
  • I started eating breakfast every morning. Even though it’s usually something small, it helps a lot because it keeps me from wanting a mid-morning snack.
  • I’ve been eating more veggies. No other explanation necessary.
  • I stopped creating reasons to cheat. “I’ve had a long week.” “We haven’t had lunch with these friends in forever.” “This is my favorite restaurant.” “I just worked out, I deserve it.” Anything can be a ‘special occasion’ if you’re crafty enough, but it’s not a special occasion if you do it all the time.

My goals for the second half: exercise more and drink more water!

I don’t think you guys understand how big of a deal this is for me. I am the most unhealthy person ever. I love fried food and I hate working out, and I will come up with every excuse in the world to eat terribly and never exercise. I am that person that’s like, “Aww…I forgot my headphones…I can’t work out today, I’ll just have to do it tomorrow.” So for ME, of all people, to have made this change, is something truly supernatural. I’m doing things that I would never have chosen to do on my own without God changing my heart. That’s just the truth.

Is it all sunshine and roses? Oh my gosh NO. I actually just asked Daniel to pray extra hard for me this week, because my initial boost is starting to wear off, and I really want to go back to my old eating habits. But the beautiful difference between past Laura and current Laura is that I’ve stopped making food decisions based on how I *feel* at the moment. In the past, if I wanted something unhealthy, I would rationalize my choice and eat it just because I wanted it. Now? I still want the unhealthy thing – that definitely hasn’t changed! – but instead of throwing a fit and feeling sorry for myself, I just remind myself that food is not my god anymore. Wanting something isn’t enough of a reason for me to have it, and I have to choose to believe that making a healthy choice now WILL be worth it to future Laura, even though I can’t see its effects yet.

– To all my DietBet people: you guys are killing it!! Two more weeks!
– To my mom and my sister: you have encouraged me more than you’ll ever know. I couldn’t have done this without both of you.
– To my husband: I’m sorry it took me so long to show you love in this way. Thanks for not giving up on me.

For the DietBet conclusion + my meal plans during the month, click here.

If I write more on this subject, what would you like to hear about? Any questions that I didn’t address? Any recommendations as I continue?

And The Winner Is…!


The winner of the random drawing is……….Jimi Hightower! Congratulations, girl! :) Unfortunately, WordPress won’t allow me to post the video of the actual drawing, but you can view it here on Facebook or here on Instagram!

I had such a great time hosting this giveaway – it did my heart good to see my blog being shared and getting to read all of the sweet entry comments. A great big thank you to everyone who participated!

If I run another giveaway sometime in the future, what should I give away? What would you want to win? Let me know in the comments!

A Taste of My Tuesday

Things I’m daydreaming about today:

This minimalist bedroom from Design Sponge. THAT RUG. I need it!

Grace’s impeccable writing style from Camp Patton. I want to be her when I grow up.

12This hottttttt couples session from Melissa Green Photography. *swoon* pretzel dogs from The Slow Roasted Italian. (….what? I’m on a diet? Right.)

dinner party.jpg
This beautiful summer dinner party from The Fresh Exchange. It’s just perfect.

giveawayAlso, just a quick reminder – the free t-shirt giveaway is still open until this Friday at 11:59 pm! Want to win one of these bad boys from Embracing the Chaos? Check out this post to enter!

For those of you who have been asking about how my DietBet is going – I’ll post an update on my experience soon! ‘Keep a weather eye on the horizon.’

By the way – none of these ‘favorites’ are sponsored. I just like them a lot and thought you might too!

Friday Giveaway

Happy Friday, sports fans! I have some CRAZY news to share:

As of today, Embracing the Chaos stats officially broke over 1,000 visitors!!

How nuts is that?? I only started this adventure about a month ago, but I’ve been overwhelmed by the encouraging comments, emails, follows, and shares from my readers! THANK YOU so much for motivating and supporting me.

To celebrate, I’m running my very first giveaway! I stumbled across this tee a few days ago and fell in love with it. It appeals to the wanderluster in me.

To enter the giveaway you must do both of the following:

  • Share this post on Facebook with the hashtag #etcroadtriptee
  • Comment below with your email address and favorite Embracing the Chaos blog post so far

*For extra entries: repost the giveaway pic from my Instagram with the hashtags #etcroadtriptee and #embracingthechaosblog, and follow Embracing the Chaos via email!

Good luck – hope you win! ;) Have a great weekend!

RULES: No purchase necessary. Open eligibility for any entrants 13 years of age or older. Enter by sharing the giveaway blog post on Facebook, commenting on giveaway blog post with favorite Embracing the Chaos post. Extra entries may be earned by reposting the giveaway picture on Instagram and following Embracing the Chaos by email. The giveaway begins August 7th, 2015, at 12:00 AM and ends August 14th, 2015, at 11:59 PM. Prize for winning is one (1) Road Trip Warrior t-shirt from Winner will be selected by a random drawing on or around August 15th, 2015. The number of eligible entries determines odds of winning. Winner will be contacted by email on or around August 15th and will have 7 days to respond and claim prize. If prize is forfeited or unclaimed, another random drawing will be held on or around August 22nd, 2015. Embracing the Chaos is not liable for loss, shipping issues, or improper sizing of t-shirt. Embracing the Chaos reserves the right to obtain and publicize winner’s information. Giveaway is not sponsored by any outside organizations, including WordPress, Facebook, Instagram, or Human designs. Void where prohibited by law.


Photo By Grzegorz Mleczek“As [Jesus] was getting into the boat, the man who had been possessed with demons begged him that he might be with him. And he did not permit him but said to him, “Go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” And he went away and began to proclaim in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him, and everyone marveled.” Mark 5:18-20 (ESV)

I didn’t have sex.
I didn’t do drugs.
I didn’t listen to rock and roll.
(Okay, I did that one.)
But as a whole, I led a “good-kid” life.

Growing up, I had good Christian parents, was a leader in my youth group, and attended a private Baptist university. I maintained a ‘basically flawless’ track record. I never did any of the “really bad” things, and nothing really bad ever happened to me.  Throughout my high school and college years, though, I met many people who had been through a LOT more than I had: things like eating disorders, suicide attempts, and even cult participation. I was astounded by how far they had come, how God had grabbed them out of their individual cesspools and given them incredible testimonies of His mercy and faithfulness toward them.

Over time, a very sneaky lie was planted in my head: “Your testimony isn’t as cool as theirs.”

I would never have said it out loud, of course. But I began to believe it.

I graduated, got married, and became part of the local college ministry where my husband and I live. While serving there, I met dozens more men and women with insane stories.

Stories of abuse.
Stories of rape.
Stories of abortion and drugs and alcoholism and homosexual sin and pornography addiction and working in strip clubs and time spent in jail.

But God redeemed them ALL. All of those people who were walking so far away from God are now in growing relationships with Him and pursuing Him with such fervor it would take your breath away.

And there I was…a grew-up-in-church girl with a boring testimony.

It hurts my heart to say that, but that’s what I truly believed until one evening a few years ago when my eyes were finally opened. God peeled the scales off of my eyes and showed me the depth of my own sin – things I had ignored or made excuses for or shoved down for years.

I realized that my sin, those things that I didn’t think were that bad, was just as much a reason for Jesus to die on the cross as the sins of the girl who slept with the entire football team or the guy who robbed a convenience store while completely strung out on cocaine.

Everyone, all of us in the entire world, are on level ground before God. When you think to yourself, “Well, my testimony isn’t as cool as hers/his because I haven’t done ____,” what you’re actually saying is, “God, I don’t need your forgiveness/grace as much as that person does.”

We all have an equal need for God to rescue us. It doesn’t matter what you have done or haven’t done; not doing something doesn’t make you any better than the person who does it. And you don’t have to go do a bunch of dumb stuff just so you have a great story to tell people. The point of our testimony is not to talk about all the stupid stuff we’ve done, but to bear witness to the goodness of God and His faithfulness to meet us right where we are, wherever that is, and transform our hearts.

If you’ve ever felt like me, I have some encouragement for you.Your testimony is beautiful because it’s about a great God who chose to love you even though you have absolutely nothing of value to offer Him. It doesn’t get any more beautiful than that.

DIY Wedding Gift Basket

I’m such a big fan of gift-giving! It’s my strongest love language, second only to words of affirmation. I love coming up with creative, thoughtful things to give people. And lucky me: I’m at the point of life when everyone I know is either graduating from something / getting married / moving / taking a new job / having a kid / doing something else worth celebrating. I have lots of people to shower with love!

My latest gifting opportunity was this last weekend at my friend Phillip’s wedding! Wedding gifts are easy – all married people need a lot of the same things to start their new life together. Places like Ross, Marshall’s, and TJ Maxx make it a BREEZE to put gift baskets together too.

Here’s my last creation. All the pieces were found at Ross. Total cost = less than $50!

IMG_4297[1]White tub + measuring cups/spoons + garlic-infused olive oil + wooden spoons + salt and pepper shakers + Herbes de Provence + wood plate + kitchen towels. 

After I found the white tub, I started walking through the store and picking out little pieces to add to the collection. In each basket I’ve made, I try to strike the perfect balance between ‘useful’ and ‘cute.’ I always seem to gravitate toward natural wood inspiration, so that divided-square food plate and the wood spoons were no-brainers. The spice blend and the olive oil are necessities in my own kitchen, and everyone needs measuring cups and spoons. And those mini-Mason-jar S&P shakers….right?? I almost kept them for myself. Sometimes, I have a theme in mind for a gift basket before I put it together. But this one was inspired by these towels:


Aren’t they cute??

After I finished shopping, I went to my in-laws’ house, plopped on the dining room floor, and starting playing around with the arrangement. Once I tucked everything in place, I had an idea for a cute note and taped it on the towel.

“May your marriage be full of FLAVOR! We love you, Fords!”


Happy wedding and even happier marriage, Phil and Kamie!

Also – if I’m coming to your wedding this year, just pretend you’re surprised when I give you a gift basket that looks just like this one.

What is your go-to gift to get (or make) for other people?