Criss, Cross, Applesauce: darling, let me start again

Criss, Cross

My mom and I spent a big chunk of yesterday afternoon playing a very confusing game of “Catan: Junior” with the kids.

A game they normally play with my husband or with their cousins, we were very foggy on the rules and had only a 9-year old and 7-year old to explain them to us.

Yes, there was an instruction booklet and, YES, I read it but…just hush, okay? This lady comprehendeth not written instructions, especially of the boardgame variety, and neither does the lady who birthed me.

I have to admit, I was impressed by the command my little children obviously had of the game, but there’s this thing about elementary-aged kids: they’re confusing.

After about ten minutes of listening to them enthusiastically describe all the complicated ins and outs of the game in no particular order…like, seriously, in NO PARTICULAR ORDER… I was literally slumping in my chair in yet another state of motherly frazzlement.

It’s a stance I find myself employing often in our home and, frankly, I hate it.

I hate that I slump, ever.

I hate being frazzled.

And I hate not enjoying my life and my job to the max every minute of every day.

I just do, and you’ll never be able to convince me to give up on this Eden-inspired quest for holiness, joy and contentment.

And as we sat there trying so hard to enjoy a boardgame together, chairs squeaking, bodies wriggling, kids making kid mouth noises that just bombard your nerves, a memory flickered through my mind, not of a moment that actually occurred, but of one I once daydreamed about on a regular basis.

My newlywed husband and I had splurged on this awesome game called “Dread Pirate”. A winner of toy awards, it came housed in an actual treasure chest, with gemstone game pieces and a rugged-looking map as its gameboard.

I bought it with such reverence, dreaming of future days around a dining room table, enjoying this ridiculously incredible pastime with our family, and of course, we were all dressed as pirates, because, duh, and there was pirate music playing in the background, followed by a meal of Ring Tum Ditty, not because it is a pirate meal, so much, but because it sounds like a pirate meal (and it’s delicious, matey).

Let’s not get lost in the weirdness of my “memory”, please, and just focus on the fact that I had very motherly daydreams, all the time, as a young bride. Most of us did, didn’t we?…

My heart ached in those days with anticipation about the times my future children and I would surely share together: beautiful picnics in the country, apple-picking in some quaint place that I’d never even seen, watching movies on a big screen in the woods, making S’mores over campfires, having dolly tea parties with real dishes, singing all the best songs and reading all the best books.

I was a really, really, REALLY good mom in those days, as earnest and as loving as they came.

And then I had children.

One by one, day by day, those former illusions began to dissipate in cruel and consistent ways and I found myself staring face-to-face with the bewildering reality that I could barely manage to get three subpar meals down our gullets every day, let alone have themed meals. With matching costumes.

I just can’t even think most days. I can’t keep up with the schedules and the plans. I buy groceries all the time, and then we eat them. And the pantry is bare AGAIN. I forget to turn on the music. I lose track of what month it even is. I can’t find our SHOES, for crying out loud.

I just don’t have time or energy or brain capacity, on most days, to be the tiniest bit whimsical.

Sure, some of this undoubtedly has to do with the insane season of life I have just walked through: a friend of mine told me once that the mother of one of her friends referred to her baby-having days as “the lost decade.” She couldn’t remember it, really. Where had it gone? What happened??

Lord have mercy, I can SO relate to that. The past ten years are foggy, indeed, more persistent in their exhaustion and tumultuousness than they are in any of the things I so zealously intended and, with our fourth and last child (so far) nearing his 3rd birthday, I am finally…barely…beginning to see the bigger picture again.

I am crawling out of my own lost decade and I’m blinking at the sun and, honestly, I’m trying to learn how to walk again. How to interact with the outside world. How to be good at what I do once more, because, I did used to be good at things.

And this excruciating hope is dawning in my heart that maybe I can be really and truly good at motherhood…not good in everyone else’s estimation – I’m sure most people would assure me o’er and o’er again that I’m a good mom!…but GOOD, deep down inside. In a way that satisfies my longings. In a way that I believe and rest in when no one else is looking.

A couple of weeks ago, we left our toddler with my mom and took our oldest three and their friends to Incredible Pizza and, oh my goodness, I was dumbfounded by how easy it was. They got their own food at the buffet. They filled their own drinks at the fountain. They threw away their trash.

I could breathe.

I could think.

I could EAT!!!

It was…amazing.

My world seems to be shifting into something concrete once more, where I’m on top instead of at the bottom, where I’m bobbing instead of drowning.

And now, with all these things in mind, I’m wondering if this would not be a good time to step away for a bit, take five, and revisit the heart that I had when I first started my journey as a mother.

Because, yes, I was obviously delusional in those days and had no idea what parenting really entailed or that children were more like humans and less like Hallmark movie characters. And, yes, as I previously stated, I was definitely in a season of life that takes more out of the average bear than other seasons do.

But what if there is more to it than that?

What if, disillusioned about the former and beat down by the latter, I have arrived in an unnecessary rut, of sorts, one that I don’t HAVE to live in?

What if I’ve formed a habit that needs to be mortified and buried?

What if my vision has gotten fuzzy and I need to throw away the old contact lenses and pop in a new pair?

You know what, If I’m being honest, I don’t actually need to step away for a bit, or take five…I KNOW, with very little introspection, that these things are true of me.

I realized it yesterday, while I was slumping, frazzled, in front of Catan: Junior.

Somewhere along the way, I just stopped believing that I had it in me to run this ship with pep and creativity and enthusiasm and strength.

My disillusionment became my master, and I its slave.

The romance of my job faded. The honeymoon, as it pertained to my motherhood gig, threatened to end.

The symptoms of my disenchantment simmer on the burner of our life. When my kids ask me to play a game with them, I inwardly wilt and find a chore that needs doing. When they want to bake with me, I pull out the Pop-tarts. When they ask to go for a picnic, I point out the imperfect weather and suggest another day, maybe, one that never seems to happen.

And what has happened as a result is that, in between Mama’s “good days”, the ones where I FEEL like being the cruiseship director, and in between our magical holidays and our birthday blow-outs — because we do get very whimsical every once in awhile! — we habitually waste our beautiful, blessed, gift-from-God days together on junk like Facebook…Netflix…Amazon Prime…you name it. Not the good stuff from those venues…Facebook is awesome and Netflix and Prime are my boos…but…the dazed stuff. The lazy stuff. The addiction-like stuff. The I’m-going-to-plug-my-kids-in-to-this-screen-and-go-to-my-screen-and-forget-that-I-have-responsibilities sort of stuff.

The truth is, we know when we’re using these things for good or for suppression. We know it, but we don’t face it.

And what is produced as we melt once more into the allure of anywhere-but-here are countless days of lackluster living, of putting off fun for fear of the mess and exhaustion, of just getting by until bedtime so we can finally be alone and relax and enjoy cleanliness and quietude and…well, the life we were living before we had kids.

Did I mention that I hate slumping and I hate being frazzled?

Do you know what I hate even more than those things?

I hate wasting days.

The very thought slays me.

So, the kids and I have this practice we’ve done since they were very little, a tidbit I picked up in a Victorian-inspired book titled “Mrs. Sharp’s Traditions” and actually remembered to employ: when we’re having a bad day or we’ve found ourselves doing more bickering than normal, we sit down together, we cross our arms one way and say “Criss”, we cross them the other and say “Cross” and then we throw our hands in the air and say “Applesauce!!!!”

We do this little chant a couple of times and, once the last word leaves our lips, our day has officially, according to us, “started over”. It’s like we’ve just woken up, the day is fresh, and we get to begin again, the past behind us, the wrongs forgiven.

It’s a silly little tradition, I suppose, but…it works!

Well, today, I want to give all of us mamas (or daddies) permission to say, even if only to ourselves, “Criss, Cross, Applesauce!!!” over the job we’ve done as parents.

Do you feel, deep down inside, like you’ve failed more than you’ve succeeded?

Are you disappointed in the way most of your private days at home go?

Are there things that you always wanted to do with your kids that you have just given up on? Personal dreams that you’ve maybe even forgotten about?

I invite you to join me in finding some time today…this week…this month…to steal away with a notebook and a pen or your electronic thingamajig, say a prayer to the God of new beginnings, and reconnect with that mother or father of your youth, the one you wanted to be for your kids when you first began.

What are all the things you really wanted to do as a family, more than anything? What daydreams gave you butterflies inside? What lessons did you want to teach them? What did you want to grow as a family? What did you want to build? What places did you want to visit? What character traits were you SURE you’d instill in them?

Write them down. Make a plan and a wish. There’s still time.

It is never too late to start again, eyes fresh, heart passionate, hope new.

I don’t know where this journey will take you, but I dearly hope it will lead me, someday, to a dining room table, surrounded by pirates, with a pot of Ring Tum Ditty bubbling on the stove.


Find a recipe for Ring Tum Ditty here. Find one of my favorite books, Mrs. Sharp’s Traditions here (affiliated link). And, please, for the love of all that is good and beautiful, find Mrs. Gore on Facebook here! Thank you so much for reading today – I hope it makes a difference in your life.❤

Where I’ve Been: a multipart update (part 5)

Good day, sweet readers! On Monday, I shared the second resolution that has shaped 2016 and changed my some of my habits: Numbering my Days. You can read that by clicking here (and also find links to the other parts of this series). Today, I want to share some journal entries that I recorded while I was away from the blog that highlight how that resolution has played itself out in real life. My prayer is that it will minister to you today and draw your heart closer to love and family and home.


January 2, 2016

Sometimes it feels like you have had the best day of your entire life.

You look back on it to see what was so wonderful, and decide it had something to do with waking up in a tiny bed in your parent’s office with your 2-year old smushed up against your cheek. He is kicking and making racket because he is cold and you pull the hefty comforter back up to his chin and he calms down and says “tant too, Mommy!” from behind his big, pink pacifier. He squeezes his eyes shut and nuzzles your face with his head and, even though you hear the rest of the family stirring, you wouldn’t get up and disturb this moment for anything.

You just squeeze your eyes shut, too, and nuzzle back.

There is a glow between mamas and babies during togetherness like this, and it feels like time stops ticking for just a tiny bit as you focus your love on each other, two beams of pure affection meeting and filling the room around you with peace and innocence.

These glowing moments can’t last forever, but that’s okay because they fill you up just enough to last until the next one.

You are finally fetched, the two of you, by your eldest daughter, and you join the rest of the family for eggs made to order, biscuits, bacon, sausage and coffee.

The kitchen is bursting with the morning energy of nine children, aged 11 and younger, breakfast drinks are being poured like it is Spring Break in Breckenridge, coffee is being heated up in the microwave, and your age-defying mama is flipping eggs on the griddle and calling for the next lucky eater.

After breakfast, you wind up playing a fun game of Skip-bo at the kitchen table with your son and niece and sister-in-law, all of you still wearing your pajamas with bed hair sticking up all over the place.

Afterward, you plop down on the bus-sized sofa in a nest of feather pillows and flip through Country Living magazine for the first time in months and dream of making good food for your family and changing up your decor.

There are more meals to fix and eat and clean up, and at the end of it all, you sit around the fire pit in the back yard with your mama and sister-in-law and make dreamy plans for the new year ahead while your happy kids run amok all over the property.

You didn’t get one present.

You didn’t win the lottery.

You didn’t find out you were the recipient of your rich aunt’s fortune.

But you still have the gut feeling that you are wealthier than you ever deserved to be.

If I’m numbering my days and I am allotted 1,000 of them, I want at least 900 of them to be like this one.


January 21st, 2016

I just went upstairs, past midnight, to check on the big kids and turn down the lights.

Sometimes my heart speaks loudly enough to remind me to stop for a minute and drink in the room where they sleep. Three iron beds lined up in a row. Three sleeping children, all in their typical positions. Gideon, on his belly and all tucked under. Rebekah, sprawled out with her feet free of the covers. Betsie, body completely relaxed and draped across her toddler bed like she’s a marionnette, after the show.

Like a magnet, I was drawn first to Gideon. I sat quietly down on his bed, the creak of the bed-springs slicing through the room’s stillness. I reached down and quietly kissed him, happy that his sleeping hands were too unconscious to wipe it away.

“God…” I breathed, cupping his cheek in my hand. “Help me to do right by him.”

With my firstborn more than any of the others, I feel like I am failure. Like I am missing out on his best years. Like I am too hard on him and not understanding enough.

“Help me,” I continued, “to SEE him, to realize how young he is, to care about the things he cares about. Help me to LISTEN to him.”

I want to hear beyond the words he says and understand his heart, and I want to give him everything he needs to be happy-at-soul.

Next I moved to Rebekah.

I smiled, taking in the golden hair that lay wild all around her face. I tucked in a few stray hairs and then I cupped her cheek in my hand. I prayed for her protection, for her to be free from sin and free from danger. I thanked God for the light she brings to our home, the same prayer I pray a hundred times a day.

And then little Betsie.

Her bed, a toddler-sized version of her siblings, is more difficult to get to, and I crouched down on the floor beside her. The kiss on her cheek was full of love, as I have been desperate lately to convey to her how cherished she really is.

The third child, and the girl following a very bright and talented sister with the longest hair in the land, I worry that Betsie doesn’t feel seen enough.

“God, help her to rest in the love that surrounds her. Keep her safe, make her wise and strong. Help me to see her and to SHOW her that I see her.”

And then I thanked God for even the kindness of allowing me to pray specific prayers for each of my children, for I felt sure, on this night, that He was there beside me, giving words to my heart and turning them into requests to the only one who can do ANYTHING for our family, anything for the children I hold so dear.

I then leaned back against the wall and surveyed the nursery of my heart, and willed myself to see not what I wanted to accomplish there…not the unfinished toy boxes and the table that I want to move across the room…not the mess that the kids had made there in the aftermath of the holidays…

but the sheer beauty of childhood.

The nursery upstairs screams of innocence and of tender years, and just being there with eyes trained on the good fills me up inside.

It is a wonderfully good practice to sit for a minute while your children sleep and pray and love and think. I do it every night, some nights more intentionally than others, and then I turn off the lamp.

It helps me to count the day and to not forget that it happened.


January 25th, 2016

Gideon and I just meandered outside at my parent’s house to watch my dad and brother working with the sawmill.

There just comes a point in every day when it becomes obvious that your little boy needs to get outside and inhale a healthy portion of fresh air and get a day’s worth of wiggles out.

And, once the crisp air hit my lungs, I realized that it is probably good for a mama, too.

“Do you like to drink air?” Gideon asked, grinning up at me. I must have really been needing to get outside, for I was gulping in the change of atmosphere like I was on the brink of death.

“I do,” I laughed, taking in a big, exaggerated slurp. “I just wish I had a straw.”

He spent the rest of the short walk to the sawmill pretending to drink air through a straw.

Lucky for us, my brother, Jerry, was starting up the machine to cut the wood.

“Have you ever seen this work?” I asked Gid.

“Nah, I’ve only seen it break!” he replied. I’ve lost count of the number of times that boy has reminded me of Opie. And I had to laugh because that sawmill has, indeed, given my daddy a lot of heartache. But then, all machinery does. It’s just part of running a farm and business. Lots of stuff breaking all the time. I only have to deal with percolators and microwaves. His repairs and replacements are a little pricier.

I pulled the collar of my new grey sweater coat up around my neck, feeling so glad that I had, one, waited for it to go on sale and, two, purchased it with some of my leftover Christmas money. It is always difficult to let go of Christmas money, and I wasn’t sure when the coat arrived if I had made a wise choice.

But today, with that thick, soft warmth shrouding my entire body, I was finally able to let go of those last doubts.

Especially when Gideon decided to join me in it.

Trying to dissuade him from going back into the house where it was warm, I opened the coat and he leaned up against my body where I wrapped him up. He pulled the lapels up over his face, and the two of us rocked back and forth while my dad and brother slowly turned a huge log into planks of wood.

Before too long, Daddy came over to join us.

“Who wants to go feed the fish?” my dad asked in his boisterous and energetic way.

“Me!!” Gid yelled.

“Not me…” I thought.

“Run over to the garage,” he said, “and grab that bucket. Fill it up…”

“Wait,” I said, confused, “aren’t you going?”

“Nah!” he said. “You can go do it. Take the girls with you,” he said, gesturing to my daughters and niece in the yard nearby.

“But it will be so cold,” I protested.

“That’s why you need to go,” my dad said. “Movin’ around’ll git you warmed up.”


“It’ll be fun! Holler at the girls…”

“But I don’t want them to go,” I insisted, inwardly sighing. “Me and Gid’ll go.” They would have loved it, for sure, but all I could picture was me, freezing to death, and trying to keep up with four kids who would also be freezing to death, and Betsie asking me to carry her for a quarter of a mile. While I was still freezing. To death.

An instant later, Gid and I were tearing secretly across the pasture, he with a red coffee bucket full of fish food held firmly in his hand, me holding onto my coat.

Heat tore into my shins and I realized that I had no recollection of the last time I had really RUN. It hurt. But it also felt good.

It surprised me how fast Gideon was. If I didn’t want to get left in his dust and miss out on feeding the fish, I had to actually put forth an effort.

“What if I had a heart attack right here on the spot?” I thought to myself as the cold air hit my lungs. I’d read too many stories this winter of people who had died shoveling snow. One minute you’re doing a normal outdoor activity, the next…

But we made it to the creek where a hidden amount of new trout, purchased by my daddy the previous winter, were hanging out, completely unaware that they were about to get a treat.

Do you ever have a flash of memory AS you’re doing something that you used to do, something that you completely forgot about? As I grabbed handfuls of the little brown pellets and cast them into the water where they fell like raindrops, I was instantly taken back to days I had long forgotten, accompanying my daddy to the smaller pond next to our old barn on a sweet little corner of our property. I would throw the food into the water, and here and there the sight of a fish would prick the surface, followed directly by a wide circle in the water that proved my eyes hadn’t been deceiving me.

It was exciting and soothing at the same time, and it made me feel important. Like I was helping out on the farm, and making the fish grow, and being a real country girl.

And now, here I was at the age of 34, with my son, experiencing all those feelings over again.

Gideon had obviously done this a few times with his granddaddy, and we soon turned the feeding into a competition to see who could throw their handful of food the farthest.

My heart hitched up within me to see how happy he was. Sometimes we make things so awkward for our kids, breathing down their necks and trying to get them to open up to us and reveal their hearts to us when, really, we maybe just need to take them outside and fill up their mind with something other than the parent who is staring at them and asking to them to share their feelings.

The words begin to flow, easily, and it warms me up all over to have shared a sacred moment with my boy today, discussing his upcoming birthday and talking about hard work and godliness and just carving out a memory together when we didn’t even have it on the calendar.

I have my daddy to thank, and his hungry fish.

Some days you “number” in advance – you know they’re going to special and you go into them with intentionality and care – but other days you number once they’re over because you never, EVER want to forget them.


Stay tuned for more! Next I’ll be talkin’ about husbands and marriage. Hubba hubba.


Where I’ve Been: a multipart update (part 4)

First, a thank you for hanging with me as I share what God has been teaching me since the beginning of this year! You can read the intro to this update here. But in a nutshell, this series is a description of where I’ve been since January (and why I’ve been away from this blog for so long!), listing the convictions that God laid heavy on my heart at the turn of the year, followed by journal entries that catalog my growth and experiences in that area. Click on the links to read Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3. In this 4th part, I’ll share about the second resolution that has defined my practices and made life sweeter and more intentional than before! I hope it resonates with someone today and makes a difference in your life.  


Resolved Two: To Number my Days

I was so surprised this past October when my husband took off work to accompany my mom and the kids and me to the pumpkin patch. He is a family man, in every sense of the word, but during a very busy time of the year when so many things are vying for his pastoral time of study in the office, I thought he would have to forgo this trip.

“You’re really going?” I asked, thrilled as a farmer on harvest day.

“Of course I am,” he replied.

“I just thought you had to be in the office a lot this week…” I said.

“Listen,” he explained, “Gideon is 8 years old. The way I calculate it, I might have four or less pumpkin patch days with him before he has outgrown it. I wouldn’t miss this. I can work on Saturday.”

I was sort of dumbstruck for a minute.

I am one of the most “cherish every moment” moms you’ll ever meet. I mean, I tiptoe into my kids’ room every single night and watch each one of them breathe. I have photo-documented nearly every day of their existence. I deeply inhale the scent of their pacifiers, for fun.

But this idea of literally “numbering my days”…as in, 1, 2, 3, 4, etc…was not something I had ever really considered.

It is just so easy to slip into auto-pilot, especially when you’ve lived in the same place for awhile. You get into your routine of going to church, going to sleep, waking up, doing homeschool, going to bed, waking up, and so on and so forth until, I don’t know, your kids graduate and leave you weeping, in shock, in your empty nest!!!!!

But carrying around an acute – not to be confused with mournful – awareness of how short our lives are, how mist-like and here-this-instance-and-gone the next our existence really is, well, I think it changes things.

It helps us to choose the best thing, for instance, taking off work for an afternoon and going to the pumpkin patch, even if that means having to work on Saturday.

And it can apply to so much more than just childhood.

I hope this idea of “numbering my days” will help me to appreciate every single moment spent with my parents, whether it is at their house or my house or on the phone.

That I will drink in the gift of being in my daddy’s Sunday School class, knowing it will not last forever.

That I will stop and look around me at our family holidays, surrounded by siblings and siblings-in-law and nieces and nephews, and be SO grateful that we have all gathered in the same room once more on this side of heaven.

That I will go on walks with my littles, knowing they may not reach for my hand or pluck wildflowers for much longer.

That I will physically enjoy my husband while we are young and even halfway energetic.

That I will spend spare time reading to my kids instead of reading updates on Facebook, because there are SO MANY books to share and I can only read so fast.

That I will sit and talk with the members of my church body, and listen to them, while the opportunity is still mine. Especially our senior citizens.

That I will invest in my young nieces and nephews and go to their birthday parties and write them letters, garnering friendships with them that will serve us for a lifetime.

That I will be mindful when we pick out our annual Christmas tree that this experience is a privilege. Eight Christmas trees we’ve enjoyed as a family…how many more? I want to cherish each one.

That I will execute enough wisdom to know when to postpone an afternoon of cleaning to play American Girl dolls with my daughters who, at the very least, will only be little girls for 5 and 7 more years.

That I will let my kids climb in bed with me, keeping in mind that there are only so many days in their life that they’ll even want to do that.

It only takes a minute to feel passionate about this resolution, and here’s why: I know how old we all are, and I KNOW that not a one of us will live on this earth, in this capacity, forever. There’s just no getting around that. As snow comes in winter and swimming comes in summer, so courtship comes before marriage, toy-playing comes with childhood and nursing comes with infancy. In other words, this day I’m living is part of a season, even if it is too big for me to see, and it might be a season I never get to experience again.

And so I’m going to keep track and plan accordingly…

just like that guy who closed up his office and accompanied us to the pumpkin patch.

Where I’ve Been: a multipart update (part 3)

Follow the links to read Part 1 and Part 2!


Written on January 1, 2016, the following is a live-actionish journal page in response to my first resolution of cutting down on my internet hours.

Let me tell you, it was a real balloon-deflater to wake up this morning with a very strong urge to open up my computer. I shared a funny story about my son on Facebook late last night, and I was eager to see if there had been any response to it.

That is, after all, one of the fun things about the internet. We can chalk it all up to narcissism, but when I tell a funny story in real life, I enjoy hearing laughter in response to it, and that seems perfectly natural. Checking Facebook ‘likes’ and comments can become a self-worshipping addiction, I am sure, but it can also just be a normal act of conversing with other people.

Still yet, it bugs me that I feel a need to start my day off in such a manner.

I think if I could do one thing in the morning, without fail, I would like to think of God.

I want to wake up praying, and committing my day to Him. I want to open my eyes with a request that I might glorify Him in every single breath of the next 24 hours. I want to lie there for a bit with my heart beating a steady rhythm of gratitude to be alive and to have a purpose and to have the knowledge, however fundamental, of my Creator.

I’m praying that I get to that point and, by His grace, I’ll keep doing my best to resist the urge to go straight to social media before my feet even hit the ground.

I have to admit, I did pop over to Facebook this morning to check my notifications and messages when I got online to search for a recipe, but I kept it under five minutes, and I’m happy to say that I made it the rest of the day without frittering away any of my spare time on the computer.

What I received, in return, was a sweet and simple day with my family.

Betsie was so tired from New Year’s Eve events that she was on her third or fourth meltdown by 10:30 a.m. Concerned about her ability to make it happily through the rest of the day — and, frankly, tired of hearing her — her Papa sent her to bed with my silent “Amen, brother!”

We had partaken in a New Year’s Eve sleepover at my parent’s house in the country the night before and she was just plumb tuckered out. She wailed her way down their narrow hallway to the prettiest guestroom and threw herself behind the iron bed before piling floral-printed pillows up on top of her head.

Following quietly behind her, I dug her out and held her in my arms, trying to help her see the wisdom in what seemed to her like a punishment.

“But will you lay with me???” she sobbed. “Please? Will you lay with me, Mama???

We had so much to finish before our New Year’s feast at 1:00 p.m., but…

this seemed like the perfect opportunity to begin my renewed quest of fully living in my little world.

(After all, Betsie is literally “little”, one of the tiniest 4-year olds I’ve ever seen!)

I pulled up the Pride and Prejudice soundtrack on Youtube and my dramatic pipsqueak was eventually lying quietly beside me on the full-sized bed while I rubbed her back.

With nothing on my mind but what was in front of me, I really took note of her. The bones in her back that I have never personally known were there on my own back (I’ve NEVER been as skinny as Betsie, not even in my premier as a preemie!). The slope of her nose. The eyebrows that look like the quick stroke of brown from a paintbrush.

I wondered what she was feeling inside as the masterful music filled up the room. When I hear those songs from “Pride and Prejudice” I obviously think of love and English countrysides and manor houses and sunrises.

I imagine that little Betsie could hardly find the words to describe what the music was doing to her soul, but I said a prayer that it would build something in her that would be important for her future.

Those tiny decisions we make — decisions to look someone in the eye rather than past them, decisions to postpone our work for the sake of a sad loved one, decisions to turn on inspiring music to turn their thoughts to something higher than themselves — are probably more important than we’ll ever know or be able to measure. This is homemaking, at its core. Making a change in someone’s life by the simplest and  most repetitive of tasks.

The thought comforted me today, and I feasted on the luxury of spending just a short and stolen moment with only Betsie.

I prayed for her, that God would save her.

I then prayed for the rest of my family, that God would save them.

And I thanked God for the chance to even pray, because I KNOW me and I know how easy it is to choose something entertaining over sitting down to meditate and pray.

The storm now completely abated and behind us, the day went on to be full of activity, which is nothing unusual in our neck of the woods, especially on holidays.

My mom’s house is a never-ending flurry of visitors and meals and sleepovers; I daresay she has hosted more people in her cabin-esque house in the woods than the Biltmore in its finest day!

Another huge meal was devoured by another table full of people, and happy lines of seemingly countless little children were parading back and forth through the path that runs through the house. It tasted and smelled and sounded and felt like home, because we were all together.

Soon, we were rising up once more to clean the dishes and put away the food and sweep the floor and straighten up the chairs, tasks that become pleasures when you are in the company of good women, especially on holidays.

And then, just as we were loading up our family and heading home, we realized, to our great first-world distress, that our van’s heater wasn’t working. It was just what we needed to make the decision we had all been wanting to make anyway…

just like that, our bags were unloaded and the decision to bunk at Grandmother’s for one more night was proclaimed; it was an announcement that sent cheers up among the cousins, and it echoed deeply in my heart.

Before long, the littlest kids were playing Uno with Grandmother in a circle near the couch, and backed up against them was a circle of our own, playing Skip-bo and then Phase Ten.

Guess what?

The only reason any of us had to pull up the internet was to check the rules of the game. It was a beautiful night, even though I lost at cards, rather miserably.

Because I’d won at life, by God’s grace and intervention, for at least the first day of the new year.

And now…

I have 364 more chances to repeat this particular victory. Ready, set, go!


Where I’ve Been: a multipart update (Part 2)

Written in January, the next parts of this update will list the resolutions I made in 2016, followed by journal entries cataloging my success (or failure).  You can read Part One of the series by clicking here.


I don’t always believe in “New Year’s resolutions”. Some years I have played it cool, like, “my resolution this year is to spend EVERY day like it’s the first day of the year”.

Or “my resolution is to not make a resolution.”

But I just cannot deny, however philosophical I’m feeling, that there is something wonderfully new and inspiring about January the first.

It’s like those days when I take a damp washcloth and wipe down the large chalkboard in our homeschool room. Even the kids appreciate this act of cleanliness and we all “ooh” and “aah” for a bit over the vibrant, fresh slate before us. It’s so pretty, after all. It’s so green.

Who will dare be the first to mark on it?

What shall be the first thing we write?

The new year looks very much like that chalkboard on the morn of January the first, and I’m sort of a superfan.

Oh, and by the way, I’m not playing it cool this year. I have a ton of resolutions.


Resolved 1: Get off the internet. Well, sort of.

One day, not so very long ago, my 8-year old son asked me what my favorite thing was to do.

“What do you think my favorite thing is to do?” I countered.

“Be on your computer,” he answered, without batting an eye.

OUCH, mister.

I have to admit that it stung a little because, even though I am a devoted(ish) writer whose “work” is on a computer, I have never wanted to be the mom who is forever behind a screen. I have tried very hard, from day one, to “cherish every moment” and to be a “hands free mom”, but you know what, writing times aside, there are just so many days when you accidentally find yourself wrapped up in something stupid on the internet, out of mindless habit.

You can really objectively see it, can’t you, when it is someone else? They have an i-phone in their hands and people are saying their name and they can’t hear or focus on anything other than the Facebook page they are perusing, the tweet they are composing, or the Youtube video they are watching. It looks so distracted. It looks so modern. It looks so typical. It looks so…blech.

But when you’re the one BEHIND the screen, and your mind is filled up with what you are reading — and you are so thoroughly entertained and engrossed and entrenched by all twenty tabs you have pulled up on your computer!! — you lose track, somehow. An hour feels like five minutes. Two hours feels like seven minutes. And an occasional “check-in” somehow turns into an entire day of refreshing a page and checking notifications and messages.

I daresay the internet and all of its charms has held a viselike grip on me during certain seasons of my life, stealing my moments until they pile up into days, and I am always quite ashamed to recall the countless hours I have spent in my lifetime just scrolling over things I’d already read or…had I? It all starts to sound the same after awhile, anyway. How eerie it is to see an old post from months past that I have ‘liked’ or shared that I have zero recollection of ever seeing in my life.

I looked at Gideon and sighed.

“I do like to be on my computer,” I admitted, my brow furrowed in honest thought. “But…do you know what actually makes me happier than anything else in the entire world?”

“What?” he asked.

“Just…watching you guys be happy,” I replied, searching for words to express what my heart was revealing to me at that very second. “Watching you grow. Being with you…”

And that’s when it really hit me – hard!! – that I had habitually been choosing monotonous and insatiable fluff over the things that, in actuality, make me so deliciously full inside.

It’s something akin to the deep-down enjoyment of being thin and healthy over the feels-so-good-but-then-feels-SO-bad enjoyment of eating a box full of donuts from the bakery. You may not be able to remember the difference when you’re at the donut shop, but that doesn’t change the fact that there’s a difference.

And so I knew, right there in my kitchen with my boy looking up at me from the table, that I needed to make a drastic change…I’d had all these big internet feelings since Thanksgiving…now I needed to set some boundaries that I couldn’t cross.

I needed to take control of the internet before it threatened to take control of me.

Therefore, though I have loosely adhered to this new mindset for the past two months, with a new year before me, it is time to make it final.

But WAIT! It’s difficult figuring out the best way to go about these sorts of changes. How easy it is to just pull the plug completely, losing all the good with all the bad, and that’s something I very much want to avoid.

I have made some incredible – and I mean, incredible – friends through the internet. I correspond with some of my best long-distance friends through e-mail and Messenger. I have support groups online that I thank God for with all my heart. I have a readership on my blog and on Facebook that I absolutely adore.

So…how do we slough off the bad without losing the good?

It’s a process, I believe, that takes honest and deliberate thought, and will probably look different for every single person.

When it came to formulating my own guidelines, I wanted them to be simple enough to keep me in check, but still allow me some breathing room.

Thus, for a normal school day, these are my goals. The plan is not to act as though these guidelines will get me into heaven, but I DO want this outline to be the norm for me:

  • Absolutely no internet in the morning, unless I need to look something up for school or lunch.
  • I may go to my own personal “Internet Cafe” for an hour a day, if I so choose. I am free, during this time, to peruse Facebook without guilt, to message friends, to watch goofy Youtube videos, or to check for sales on my wishlist at Anthropologie. I may have wi-fi all day long, but this is the only hour I want to really acknowledge it. Think “college days in the early 2000s” when you had to go to the computer lab to get online
  • No internet in bed. When I cross into my bedroom at night, the computer stays behind.
  • I may hop quickly online during the day for very specific reasons, such as ordering my groceries or making a purchase at Amazon or doing research for school or sharing a quick story, but then I hop right back up. No surfing allowed. If possible, I won’t even sit down for these things, so I’m not tempted to settle in.

So. Why all the nit-picky rules?

Because, even though I love, love, LOVE the internet, it is undeniable to this heart of mine that my family has been calling me home.

And so I’m going to shut this laptop, and I’m going read books out loud, and I’m going to remember what it is like to sit and pray with nothing distracting me, and I’m going to try to make some good food, and I’m going to hang twinkle lights upstairs, and I’m going to play card games and, who knows, maybe I’ll even dig in the dirt and make something grow. The sky’s the limit, so long as there’s not a cloud drive involved!

The sterility of the internet and the voices of the multitudes should no longer be allowed to hold me captive — God forbid it!! — when there is sweet LIVING to do.

Especially when the only one holding the keys to my chains is me.

It’s kind of embarrassing how the freedom I so desperately crave is just a matter of pushing a button and standing up.


This was my first resolution. Tomorrow I’ll share some journal entries that have cataloged my new practices!

Where I’ve Been: a multipart update (Part 1)

Written in December 2015: this is where yesterday’s post, and the 2016 journal I’ll be sharing in the days to come, realllllly started…


The world has gotten so big lately.

I live in a 2,000 square foot house in a town of approximately 1,300 people, and yet, from a tiny screen that I can hold in my hand, I have 24-hour-a-day access to every major and minor breaking news story in the entire land.

Not only that, I can also – if I so choose – give ear to every phone-wielding human on the planet, including all 500 presidential candidates.

And sometimes it can all start to feel normal, this new “plugged in” mode of living.

We’ve gotten so used to it, in fact, that many of us can scarcely recall what it felt like to be excited to check the mailbox, or to be stuck on the highway with no way to tell our daddy that we had a flat tire, or to see someone at our 10-year high school reunion and have NO IDEA what they’ve been up to since graduation.

We are updated, to the max. We are connected, at all times. We know everything about every person and every subject, and if we don’t, we can look it up in a millisecond.

That’s not all bad, of course. I don’t miss being stranded on the highway and at the mercy of potential serial killers.

But then, occasionally, these moments of clarity pop up out of nowhere — say, for instance, during Thanksgiving break, when I’m typically away from the internet for a full week — and the drug of omniscience wears off and I remember, all of a sudden, how great it can feel to be a person who lives, for lack of a better term, “outside of the screen.”

It’s like stepping into the sunlight after quarantine.

And it didn’t really dawn on me until recently (this most recent Thanksgiving, to be exact), how incredibly heavy-laden I had become about all of it, namely, the scores of worldwide matters that I maybe don’t even need to know about in the first place.

It was definitely beginning to take a toll on me, and I didn’t even know it.

Does my mommy heart, for instance, really need to hear about every kidnapping in America? Do I need to read about every grisly murder that takes place on our soil? Do I need to hear about which celebrity has posed nude for a magazine today and who has a new sexual preference in their life? Do I need to hear about who is angry with whom and which group is outraged with which and who is calling for an apology? Do I need round-the-clock exposure to sinkholes and earthquakes and tornadoes and hurricanes and floods?

I mean, is it not scary enough that I personally had to take shelter from a tornado in the Spring of 2008?

Can we just still try to deal with that, maybe?!?

And it just makes me wonder…

perhaps we weren’t created to carry the weight of the entire world on our shoulders.

And it’s a feeling that I just can’t seem to shake, this overwhelming craving for the world to be little again.

In the little world around me, the one I actually walk around or drive in, there is a beloved extended family that I am always happy to spend time with.

There is a community that needs my attention and compassion and cooperation.

There is a church where I can invest my life and love.

There are real conflicts that I can actually help resolve.

There are four little faces, new to this world, who need my daily instruction and guidance. And to be wiped.

There is a husband with red, curly hair who longs for nothing more than…well, ME.

And this little world, the one that has been assigned to me, the one that I wake up in on a daily basis…

this I think I can do.

So this coming year, I so desperately want to leave the big world behind — and all of its voices and its opinions and its violence and its outrage — and I want to dwell, not in a head-in-the-sand sort of way, but in a this-is-where-I-live-and-I’m-going-to-act-like-it way — in the little world that surrounds me. The one that I can see with my eyes and touch with my hands and smell with my nose.

The one that takes blood and tears and sweat from my own physical body.

The one that has a heartbeat, or at least a heartbeat that I can hear.

In other words…

I’m going home.


Part Two coming soon! 

The Upstairs and Downstairs of Modern Housewifery


The Upstairs and Downstairs of Modern Housewifery: How to be the lady of the manor AND the scullery maid without going Edith on everybody


Every Sunday night when the season is right, you will find Mr. Gore and me, after banishing…er, tucking in…the children upstairs, settling down into our favorite living room chairs to catch up on the latest drama at Downton Abbey.

This historically-trenched soap opera thoroughly entertains me, and the characters are often referenced in our house.

A lover of history, it is just pure fun for me to see a page from the past come to life on my television screen, and the opportunity to visually become better acquainted with the practices and lifestyles of years gone by is a gift, of sorts, even though the propagation of modern beliefs can be laid on pretty thick, at times.

I can overlook that, though, for the pleasure of hearing Lady Violet’s latest display of side-splitting drollery.





But as I was anticipating a new season of Downton this week, and daydreaming about the maids who work downstairs and the ladies of society that live upstairs, I realized, maybe for the first time ever, how many tasks I am personally responsible for as a homemaker, in general, and a homemaker with children, in particular, in my home.

The same is true for you, I’m quite sure of it.

Ignore the little fact that Downton is a vastly larger estate than many of us will probably ever even visit on this side of heaven and that our own houses are surely elfin in comparison, and just stay with me for a minute.

For starters, I literally go upstairs and downstairs a lot. We built a two-story house five years ago because I thought it would be “fun”, and when I’m not hauling baskets of stuff from the downstairs to the upstairs, I’m hauling baskets of stuff from the upstairs to the downstairs. And when I say “baskets”, I mean baskets.

But those aren’t the only “upstairs and downstairs” I’m talking about, the literal ones.

I’m talking about how, as homemakers and mothers, we juggle the upstairs and downstairs of an entire estate.

We are the “lady of the manor.” The event planner. The scullery maid. The chamber maid. The housekeeper. The chef. The nanny. The chauffeur. The lady’s maid. The butler. Add homeschooling to that, and we’re also the governess!

And I’m not pointing these things out to whine – puh-lease don’t get me wrong on that! – but, rather, to present a realistic picture of what we’re up against.

Mostly so I can get to this single question: Why in the WORLD are we continually heaping all this crazy guilt upon ourselves?!

What is with the insane, superhuman expectations?

Why do we continually feel like failures because we can’t “do it all”?

Tell me, if Mrs. Patmore was teaching George and Sybbie their lessons and giving them their baths and tucking them in at night and keeping the entire house clean and all the laundry done, do we sincerely think she would have time to make a fancy, gourmet meal even ONE time a day? No way! PB&J for lunch it would be, no problem.

Could Lady Grantham arrive at her nightly dinner party, perfectly coiffed and at ease after a hectic afternoon of cleaning out the automobiles, weeding the rose bushes and dusting the ceiling fan? I’m going to pretend like she couldn’t.

And so, while this silliest of blog posts is in no way grounds for entitlement or pity, it IS a light-hearted attempt to wake you up, woman.

In today’s culture, we ARE the upstairs and the downstairs of our life and we have a LOT on our plates, which calls for some very practical wisdom.

Namely, this: Pick a lane, m’lady.

We cannot “do it all”, every day. It’s impossible.

So instead of habitually trying, and then crashing and burning into sizzling heaps of frustration, why don’t we just start picking a few things to do really well in one day and call it good?

It’s simple, really, especially if you think of it in terms of the Downton staff…

Let’s see, who shall I be today? Will I be Mrs. Patmore, and make a really delicious and beautiful and painstaking meal for my family? And a homemade three-layer cake, perhaps, for dessert? Wonderful! But this means I can’t also try to pull a Mrs. Hughes and orchestrate a deep-cleaning of the house.

Or, if I DO want to be Mrs. Hughes and get all of my rooms tidied and oversee the organization of the entire house, I CAN’T be Mrs. Patmore. I will give myself and my family grace and order a pizza instead! (Or at the very least, pull out a Crock-pot.)

Shall I be Mr. Carson and get all of our affairs in order?

Shall I be Lady Grantham and host some friends for the evening?

Shall I be Tom (circa Season 1) and shuttle us hither and thither, running errands?

Shall I be Mrs. Crawley and fill up my day with good deeds toward the community?

Shall I be Lady Edith and…um…gaze worriedly into the distance? (Poor Edith. God bless her.)

Shall I be Anna and tend to the ones I’ve been entrusted with? Shall I gently brush their hair and groom their fingernails and see to their winter wardrobes?

Or who knows? Maybe I’ll be Mrs. Hughes on Saturdays, so we can start the week with a clean house. Then I can be Mrs. Patmore on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Or maybe I’ll be Mrs. Hughes in the mornings while the big kids do their independent schoolwork and be Mrs. Patmore from 3:00 – 5:00 in the afternoon. But then I can’t be Anna or Tom or Mr. Carson, too.

Or maybe…just MAYBE…I’ll be Lady Mary Crawly and I’ll put on my fancy clothes and I’ll go out to dinner.

Even better? Maybe I’ll be the Dowager Countess and sit in my favorite room with tea and scones and read a BOOK if I wanna!!!

(Okay, you’re right. There’s only ONE Dowager Countess. Forgive me for trying.)

Obviously, I could go on and on with this crazy string of mathematics, but you get the point.

How about we stop trying to be Downton-Abbey-in-the-flesh and simplify things a bit?

How about we work hard at whatever it is that we set our minds to, give it our very best, love the people we’re doing it for, commit the whole lot of it to our Creator, and then…

well, RELAX.

Mistress of the manor, why in the world would you shame yourself for the Mrs. Patmore meal that your friend just described cooking on Facebook??

You’ve been Mrs. Hughes-ing it all. day. long.

Dear lady, how could you possibly feel like a loser to come home to a messy house today? You got a houseful of kiddos ready and chauffered them around from morning till evening! And brought groceries home, to boot!

So here’s what I think you should do, and this is a gentle, Mrs. Hughes-esque order. (Because, really, why would ANYBODY, in their right mind, argue with Mrs. Hughes?)

You’re going to stop pretending like it is possible to be an entire household staff all day, every day. You’re going to put in your hours as one who is working for the Lord, and at the end of a long day, you’re going to focus on what you’ve DONE rather than what you HAVEN’T done and you’re going to feel good that, though things will never be as sparklingly perfect and well-run as Downton, you do a pretty bang-up job at manning the upstairs and the downstairs of your own personal estate.

And then, just for kicks, you’re going to fix yourself a treat, you’re going to set yourself down, you’re going to put up your feet, and you’re going to enjoy a couple of hours of mindless television.

May I kindly recommend PBS?

Sunday, 9:00 p.m., Eastern time.


Thanks for reading!

Special thanks to the blog Austenprose for helping me get my Downton titles right: A Downton Abbey Etiquette Primer: How to greet the Earl of Grantham and other British forms of address

If you’d like to keep up with Mrs. Gore and family, follow our page on Facebook!



Howdy Do, from Me to You – Part Two!

Read Part One here


SO, as I was saying last week before I was so rudely interrupted by myself, one of the HUGEST lessons I have learned since I started sharing my writings on the internet is this:

priorities have really got to come first (i.e. husband, kids, church, and home before internet), they must be pursued with DELIGHT lest they become drudgery (and sometimes this requires a magical combination of the Holy Spirit, prayer, and determination), and, accordingly, trust in God must be fostered every step of the way.

There have been so many times when my spirit has just railed out in desperation during this season of my life, and I’ve internally shouted out a prayer ceiling-ward of “God, please give me time to write this book!!!” Or this blog post. Or this desperately important list of things that people need to know about me.

When we have passions within our hearts, whatever those passions may be, it can be difficult to lay them on the altar of self-denial and loving-others-more-than-we-love-ourselves.

And what results is a stringent exercise in holiness, finding the perfect balance between giftings and callings…yes, giftings and callings…because I think there is a difference!…and coming to a steady and even joyful faith that, if God wants us to do something, He’ll give us the time and presence of mind to accomplish it.

Simple as that, really.

So, yes! I believe this wondrous thing, with all of my heart! We can trust God with our “birds of the air” stuff like food, clothes, etc., and we can also trust Him with the fluffy stuff, including our dreams and hobbies. If our Creator has a purpose for those things, He’ll do with them what needs to be done. In other words — and we all already knew this in our heads — He has it ALL under control, and all we need to do is just simmer down and follow Him.

What peace!

And the reason I’m sharing all of these things in the first place is because this newfound resolve has really planted a new heart behind my blog and my writing “career.” (Ha!)

You see, during the earlier years of my blog, when a random post I wrote went surprisingly viral, I immediately struggled with the temptation of turning this creative outlet into a machine, of sorts.

Up until that point, I had only been writing for family, for friends, and for my own pleasure, and I didn’t know how to adjust, overnight, to an audience of people that I didn’t know. There were so many of them! And they wanted to hear more from me!!

I was flattered, I was atwitter, and I had no clue what to do next. So…

I turned to the internet for answers.

(Always a brilliant idea, yes? NO.)

All the research I found said I should write *this many* times a week, and keep my blog posts to *this many* words (riiiiiight), and that, cha-ching!, I could make *this much* money doing all of the above.

It sounded exciting!

And during that time, my life, whether I intended for it to or not, began to take on a manufactured hue, and there were days when even I couldn’t tell if I was writing for God or for more readers, or if I was hosting birthday parties for my kids or for Pinterest followers.

It was tricky. Life is rarely black and white, so I won’t do my past the disservice of saying I was a full-out fame chaser who saw dollar signs everywhere she looked. Temptation is more nuanced than that and, as a believer, I was as genuinely trying to serve my God and my family then as I am now.

But, in the midst of my good intentions, there were heavy pulls in several directions. I had gotten this teensy tiny droplet of fame on my tongue and I felt tug after tug to find more of that flavor, and fast! I couldn’t help but feel an eagerness to see where the road would take me and, most importantly, whether or not it could get me independently wealthy!

But, my dearest dears, I have good news.

Through His Word and His Spirit, God has slowly and graciously brought me through the trickiest part of that trickery.

I understand now that I CAN’T write for readers, because readers come and go. (For reals, I’ve lost about as many “followers” on this journey as I’ve gained!)

I can’t write for fame, because fame is a mirage.

I can’t write for the sake of money, because the love of money is the root of all evil and it will poison everything I say and everything I do.

What is left, then, and what should have been there all along, is to write for God, for His glory, for His fame, for His pleasure.

As a result, I am developing an ever-deepening love for the Spirit of God who leads me daily. So kind, He is. He gives me freedom. He helps me to be genuine. And — even better than “going viral” — He allows me to contribute in small and beautiful ways to the Kingdom of God, which is the sort of gift that leaves the recipient speechless, breathless, the works.

And THAT…finally!…leads me to what I want to tell you most of all, and I hope it will bring you some measure of comfort on this Friday morning: as a rule, I don’t write about anything these days unless my heart is truly passionate to do so, nor do I feel any pressure a’tall to publish so many blog posts per month or keep them to so many words.

And what I really want you to take away from that is the assurance that I’m trying not to use you. To manipulate you. To stir your heartstrings so you will ‘like’ what I’ve written and share my blog with others.

The same is true over at the Facebook page. I tell stories as they happen if I feel like it, I share the pictures that grab my heart, no more, no less. It is exceedingly rare that I will think to myself, “Oh! You’ve haven’t updated to FB in two days! You’d better think of a story!”

And my prayer is that, with this mentality at its heart, this space on the internet will always be a safe place for you to come, for refreshing, for humor, for truth, and for, as much as I can offer during this hectic time of our life, friendship.

(You don’t know HOW HARD it is not to reply to my private messages and comments! I want to, OH, how I want to!).

Call me crazy and self-indulgent, but I just wanted you to know these things today.

The world is FULL of people who are trying to sell you stuff, who are trying to use you to get somewhere higher. And while I can’t promise that I won’t ever do that, I can pinky swear that I am at least trying to refrain from it, with all my heart.

Full disclosure for any newbies, at this point, the only money making part to this blog has been my account at Amazon Associates. If I share a product…which, again, I only do when I feel eager to show you something we are actually enjoying…and you shop for anything at Amazon from the link I share, I will get a tiny commission. It pays less than a paper route, but it makes me happy to add a tiny something to the Gore family fund and to make up for all the time spent behind a computer screen. To everyone who does their Amazon shopping through my links, THANK YOU! (It doesn’t take much to make me giddy, you know. I’m going to go look up how much I’ve made this month so far, hold on, I’ll be back…Okay, I’m back. $10.03, baby!! I’m RICH!!!!!).

Anyhow, other than Amazon Associates, I am very picky about shielding my readers from ads and junk and more “stuff” and nonsense.

Why? Because I genuinely cherish you, and I take my tiny role in making your journey more enjoyable very seriously. Hence this 1400-word blog post about that very thing.

Friends, I can say this with an honest heart: I share my “journal of life and life abundant” not because I want to be famous, not because I want my kids to be famous (please, God, no!), not because I’m trying to build a mansion or buy a Volvo, but because…

gosh darn it, life is BEAUTIFUL.

My God compels me to share that with anyone who fancies a listen.

Thanks for being one of those people.


A New Wish

January the First, 2015

Before the children were whisked off to bed this New Year evening, we gathered around a chair at the kitchen table and opened the mason jar that had been sitting on our computer desk for 365 days.

The jar’s lid was lightly covered with a year’s worth of dust, and it is really a lucky happenstance that I had seen it hiding behind the computer last week, for its contents had been long forgotten by this addle-brained mama.

Had I really made a card for each person in our family (including my parents and grandmother) and jotted down their favorite part of 2013? And had I asked each person to share a wish for the year to come?? And had I then carefully folded up each card and placed it in the jar that was on our desk???…

Apparently, I had, and my handwriting on each card was enough to prove it.

(But I am in good company. My husband had also completely forgotten this New Year exercise. We’re compatible like that).

And it was like unlocking a short-term time capsule this evening, giving us a surprise glimpse into who we were and what we were thinking a year ago. Our children clustered around me, I screwed off the lid, popped the top, and began to pull out our words from the first day of 2014, one by one.

The children giggled as I read their cards. We had forgotten that Betsie had called my grandmother “Miss Granny Bear” last year and that her wish was to go visit her house in Texas. We couldn’t believe that our dog, Jake – and Gideon’s favorite thing about 2013 – had only been a part of our family for a year and a half. We were chagrined that we had never taken Rebekah ice-skating, her only wish for the year 2014, but assured her that we could make up for that…

and then I opened my card.

My one great wish for 2014?

“I want to have a book published.”

I smiled at my family.

“Well, I’ve almost finished writing my first book, so that’s a good start!” I laughed.

But, in my heart, I was communing silently with my Creator and thanking Him for the changes He has wrought within me since January the First, 2014.

A year ago, it had been a burning passion.

I wanted to see my name on a book. I wanted to accomplish something tangible. I wanted to succeed in the writing biz. I wanted to move from the blogging world to the publishing world.

And I wanted it bad.

But somewhere along the way, after pouring my heart and soul into the book that I have been writing since this summer, after hearing 52 incredible expository sermons from the Word of God, after being sanctified day by day by day by day by day, my desires have shifted in monumental ways so that, before I pulled that year-old wish out of the jar, I had completely lost touch with the woman who wrote those words at the beginning of the year.

I have changed, and until this evening, I didn’t realize how much.

And by the sweet grace of God, the thing I truly cherish the most about 2014 and the thing I long for the most in 2015 has nothing to do with what I will accomplish or how I will succeed or if I will ever be a published author…

but everything to do with how I have known and will know God better.

And with all these things in mind, I wanted to pop in here for a bit to offer up a word of encouragement to each of you for the year we are leaving behind and the one we face ahead…

Do you know what? It really doesn’t matter if you lost the ten pounds that you planned to lose in 2014. It doesn’t matter if you are killing it at your job. It doesn’t matter if you have managed to organize your house. I doesn’t matter if you’ve mastered the art of couponing. It doesn’t matter if you’ve found your way to a better you or gotten all your ducks in a row or have started to experience your “best life now”. It doesn’t even matter if you got your book published (or if you finished writing it!)…

but have you grown kinder?

Have you lost a bit of the zeal you had for your own name?

Have you learned to trust Him more?

Have you become more patient?

Have you learned to love your spouse better?

Have you grown bolder in your witness?

Have you developed a greater love for God’s word?

Have you persevered through difficult relationships within your church body?

Have you been conformed daily to the image of God?

Have you seen – in one or a hundred ways – His continued work in your life?


These are the things that we should measure our years by. These are the things that should cause us to rejoice at the close of one year and inspire us to pray for the opening of another. These are the fruits that we should be pursuing and wishing for. And these are the things that should allow us to close our eyes in relief and to realize that, YES, this has been an enormously successful year!

I know Him better than I did last year. His Word makes more sense to me than it ever has before. I have grown in wisdom and understanding…

I am still His, and I am still loving the one who loved me first.

Oh, friends, what more can we ask for?!

And so there is no doubt. I may not have even finished the book that I was hoping to have published yet, but 2014 turned out to be one of the most successful years I have ever experienced, and my one wish for the year to come, the wish I folded up into our empty mason jar this evening before sending the children to bed, is this…

whether my name is on a book by year’s end, whether my words ever go beyond the space they now occupy, whether the world will ever tip their hat to my accomplishments, may I strive to be an encouragement to anyone who needs it in 2015 and to pour myself out for others.

I have to tell you, I am so excited to open our jar next year and see how God has answered my prayer and granted the wish of my heart.

If, indeed, I remember by that time what that jar is behind our computer.


And now I want to leave you with my favorite photos from 2014, which is a prayer in itself.

2014 is the year that I truly became content in my calling, and this captured moment, to me, represents all that I learned and all that I am resting in today. I never want to forget what it felt like to relax and begin freely living in the life He has crafted for me, and these pictures represent that time in a tangible way.

Here is me and Betsie, cuddled up under a blanket watching the rest of our family play in the yard. I’m not wearing make-up and no one knows who I am and my name is not in lights, but this is who I want to be, forever and always. A mama who has found her home, who is rejoicing in her Kingdom work and who is finally content to the tips of her toes.

God is good, to fix our hearts.


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Happy New Year from Mrs. Gore to the wonderful friends who have found a home here. You all have been a HUGE part of my sanctification and growth, and I thank God for the gift of this readership every single day. May we bring glory to our God in 2015!

And now I hope you feel free to share! How has He fixed your heart this year? What changes has He wrought? How are you hoping to live for him in the year to come?

Little Bit of This, Little Bit of That

Guess what is sitting in my lap this very minute?

Surprisingly, it is not a child.

Not surprisingly, it is not a puppy. (I don’t like to hold animals).

Unfortunately, it is not a tray with a piece of apple pie and a cup of hot coffee.



new laptop!

After a long year of probation in which I gathered funds while commiserating the mistake of drinking coffee next to my previous laptop, I was given the green light to start shopping for a new one.

And now it is finally here, and the timing could not be more perfect.

Shepherd is now almost nine months old…


and while he is still frequently waking me up in the night, I am getting back into the groove of things, and the book project that I had to shelve before I gave birth to him is back in the forefront of my brain and heart, itching to be finished.

And, by golly, I’m gonna finish it, Lord willin’ the crick don’t rise.

May in its insanity is kind of filled up, but I have a month-long date with June, and my hope is to at least have a rough draft by July 1st. You will undoubtedly be hearing more about this in the future.

In the meantime, I’m just sitting smack dab in the middle of a season of spiritual growth, something that fills me with joy and expectation. I’m doing lots of listening, and am asking God to make lots of changes in my heart that I honestly feel only He can bring about.

Last Saturday was Ms. Annette’s memorial service, and oh my, I was so inspired.

The common theme concerning her contributions to her friends and family was that she lived for others; the consensus was that, when you went to her house to check on her, she had a way of turning the questions back on you and how you were doing.

It caused me to contemplate the things we really stress over in this life…things like our girlish (or not-so-girlish-anymore) figures, our houses, our possessions, the perceptions that other people have about us…we can kind of obsess over any or all of the above.

But, at the end of our days on earth, do we REALLY want the following things to be said about us at our funeral?…

“She had a rockin’ body”.

“Her house was so clean”.

“She had the cutest clothes”.

“She threw Pinterest-worthy birthday parties”.

“She had all her ducks in a row. Her children were perfectly behaved, groomed and coifed and she was so put-together”.



I say it again, No!

‘Twould be a life wasted, would it not? Yet those are the things we sometimes chase after with all of our beings.

As I sat on the edge of my seat during the memorial service, my heart was yearning for more, and I realized with certainty that, at the end of my life, I desperately want one thing to remain: Christ.

“She lived for others”.

“She was such a good listener, and even when someone asked about her, she ended up asking about them”.

“She was generous and would give even her best things to someone who needed them”.

“She never held a grudge, but forgave freely”.

“She died to herself daily”.

“She was so kind”.

“She was so joyful”.

“She was so wise; she had a biblical answer to every question”.

These are the things that I want to cultivate in my life, and if I “stress” about anything, I want it to be that I am not looking more like the Savior quickly enough and that I am not redeeming the time while the time is mine.

And this is why a life hidden in Christ is so important; even in her death, Ms. Annette was inspiring the young women who followed behind her to lose themselves in the gospel just like she did. Every life counts, and the Kingdom is moving through every action, every word, and every remembrance of its inhabitants. MAN, that gets me fired up! God, be great in me! Change lives through mine! Don’t let me die worshipping the idol of ME!

And this is totally off-the-subject, but I can’t move on to the next thing without mentioning what Mr. J.L. said when a mic was handed to him at the service. In that rich, deliberate voice, he said (and go ahead and grab a hankie before you read this), “On May the 10th, 1940, 74 years ago, we went on our first date. And on May the 10th, 2014, we have our last date on this earth…”.

What a legacy. I also want to “stress” over protecting and cherishing my marriage in a world where it is so very easy and acceptable to throw marriages away.

You know you’ve lived a successful life when your memorial service changes futures; I pray that the things God convicted me of on Saturday will bear fruit in the days and years to come.

Later that day, I had the chance to take my kids to Mom and Dad’s house where we spent the afternoon and evening relaxing in the backyard and, before the night was up, I realized that I had received the best Mother’s Day gift I could ask for by being blessed with sweet, unplanned moments with each of my children.

Gideon and I got to talk about eternity and how God continues to fix his little heart.

Rebekah sat next to me drawing in the dirt while we had a lengthy and enjoyable discussion on true beauty and the fruit of the spirit.

Betsie and I had a tickle fight.

And Shepherd fell asleep on me in my favorite swing where we rocked for nearly an hour with a beautiful canopy of trees overhead.

What more could a Mama ask for?

Not a thing.

Except for maybe breakfast in bed and a $500 giftcard to Anthropologie.

And on Sunday, I was deeply moved and challenged by the preaching of the Word, and came home so eager to grow in the areas of evangelism and Christian unity and brotherhood.

I am realizing more and more that, though I have been driven my entire life to make much ado out of yours truly, the cry of my heart is no longer to become a household name. I understand now that, should God choose to allow my writings to spread and a book to eventually be published, it will not have anything to do with who I inherantly am, but rather about the assignment He has given me.

Isn’t that a beautiful thought? In God’s kingdom, there is no one more special and no one more annointed than someone else; we simply have different jobs to fulfill. I crave to fulfill mine in a way that brings glory and honor to God, no matter how big or small my task may be. If you want to hear more on this subject, take a listen to my husband’s sermon that so clearly laid out these truths.

And I hope it brings you comfort to know that, by the grace of God, I am not seeking to become the next Christian celebrity; that might have been a dream at one point in my life, but no longer, and with each day that passes, I just long more and more to be a voice of encouragement and truth and friendship in your ear. That’s why it means so much to me that you are here in the first place: you have received my offerings so graciously and with such enthusiasm that it quite knocks me over. Figuratively, of course.

Wow. In all honesty, I don’t really know where this rambling blog post came from, but thanks for listening all the same. I got to try out my new computer and jot down some thoughts that I really wanted to hold onto.

I’ll leave you now with my top 4 Mother’s Day photos. As usual, my kids were so obliging and photogenic. Good times.

Great(ish) memories.





Now how about you? Do you have anything to share? How is God changing you? What is He teaching you? What was your best Mother’s Day moment? It’s your turn! Feel free to ramble as much as I did.🙂