Love, the Magnet (a guest post)

My goal in having all these guest posts for the month of October was to refocus my own mindset towards this month. I wanted posts that made me smile and shared joy, beauty and celebration, and it worked. It’s the end of the month and I didn’t even hate it!

My friend, Maria Keffler, (I’ve known her long before the oft-mentioned launch team) sent me her submission right away, but I held off sharing it, partly because I’m a procrastinator, but mostly because her words seemed like the perfect way to wrap up the month.

Maria is one of the smartest, funniest, most creative and actually productive women I know. She’s written several books, is an amazing knitter, and I’d go over to her house for dinner anytime (just saying, Maria, eh hem). She is so faithful to let God pour His gifts through her and isn’t afraid to speak out for justice and common sense.

Here she shares about just that: how to let what God put in us come out, which starts with believing what He says. And there is nothing, not even the most beautiful, picturesque fall in all its glory, that compares to knowing the love of God.


Love, the Magnet

By Maria Keffler

My nine-year-old daughter made me cry yesterday.

I was prepping dinner when she came into the kitchen with a stack of cards she’d pulled from the new Apples to Apples game our friends gave us.

“Mom, here are all the adjectives I found that describe you!” she said, and she began to flip through the words:





My eyes couldn’t have swamped more if my dog dropped dead while I was chopping Vidalia onions, reading Where the Red Fern Grows, and listening to Ne Me Quitte Pas.

See, my daughter’s list of descriptors were not ones I tend to associate with myself.

(Except funny. I am way funny. No matter how many blank stares my jokes get.)

The world, other people, and likely the spreading darkness of the kingdom of the Liar have done effective work toward convincing me that I’m anything but beautiful, I’m more insipid than interesting, and I’m about as important as last week’s newspaper lining the hamsters’ cage.

Intellectually and as a follower of Jesus, I know that I’m a creation of God, and therefore I’m beautiful, interesting, important, et. al., in God’s estimation. And I know that God’s opinion is the only one that matters.

I also know I’m not alone in struggling to let my life manifest what God says about me.

A few years ago, a friend told me that she felt God telling her she was a prophet.

She wanted no part of it. “I’m not a prophet,” she argued. “And I don’t want to be a prophet.”

But then someone told her, “You’re already a prophet. You tell people what they already know about God and themselves, but which they’ve either forgotten or are doubting.”

It’s true. My friend faithfully speaks God’s truth into others’ lives. In the same way, my daughter prophesied over me yesterday at the kitchen sink. She reminded me who I am.

Some years ago I noticed that I’d become a people magnet. As a goal-oriented introvert this alarmed me. I’ll never forget the older man at the grocery store who launched into story after story about his life and his travels and his grandchildren, when all I wanted was to get a jar of pasta sauce off the shelf behind him and escort my fidgety toddler out of the store and home for her nap.

Stuff like that happens entirely too much for me when I’m out and about. Strangers just start chatting me up.

One afternoon I muttered to God about it as I unloaded the car. “I’m busy. Why can’t people leave me alone?” I groused. “What is so appealing about yammering at me?”

He answered: The love of God in you.

Uh, beg pardon?

My life’s goal is to emulate Christ and be the person God created me to be. I fail every single day, but I strive to evict sin from my behavior and to cultivate the fruits of the Spirit—love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control—that Jesus-people should embody.

So, it follows that the closer I get to God the more inviting I become to others. (If I think I’m super close to God but I’m actually repelling others, it might be time to re-examine my words and demeanor.)

There’s a colossal dearth of love in the world. I don’t know of anyone who feels like they get enough, unless they’re truly saturated in the light and life of heaven. How awesome is it that others are drawn to us, not because of anything about ourselves, but because of the presence, or the incense, or the aura of God’s love that resides in us?

mkgraphicWhat a gift. I am to be nothing more (or less) than a vessel for that, a clay jar that carries God with me into the world, wherever I go.

I, too, am to be a prophet to others of God’s love, truth, and mercy.

If a fourth-grader can do it with a stack of Apples to Apples cards, I guess I can too.

Photo on 2-17-14 at 3.49 PMMaria Keffler lives in Arlington, VA, near (but not in) the cemetery, with her STEM-y Hubs and three darling cherubs. She blogs at about living, and parenting, and spousing, and childing, and work, and life, and cats taking Prozac, and lawyers being like tarantulas, and skiing, and running, and drinking coffee, and occasionally saying bad words, and mixing too many of the above things together, sometimes while swilling a glass of wine and popping Hershey’s Kisses with both hands . Maria also likes to novel novel novels, and is working on a simple formula that can predict prime numbers to infinity. Find her at Facebook at and Instagram @mariakeffler.


How to HalloWIN (a guest post)

It’s 10:30pm the night before Halloween and I’ve just finished making my kids’ costumes. Let that sink in a minute. I could be continuing my binge of {insert non-offensive yet culturally relevant Netflix show}, because as I have stated, I don’t like Halloween. But no, I’m burning my fingers with hot glue and we’ve been picking feathers and glitter out of our dinners because I needed to salvage my pride and not go with simple store-bought costumes.

I blame Allison Pickett. She sent me this piece and it really convicted me to say Yes to the Dress Fun. I know at this point you think all my friends are from some imaginary book club, but I promise they’re the real deal. At least Allison is, and I know because I stole her baby for a night and she didn’t even get mad.

One day you will read a book or watch a show she wrote and you’ll remember that you first heard of her through this little blog and my mission in life will be complete.

How to HalloWIN

By Allison Pickett

Our family loves Halloween. My kids love staying up past dark, dressing crazy, and eating SUGAR (which is a rare treat unless the grandparents are around). My husband loves Reese’s pumpkins and wearing whatever ensemble I choose for his humiliation. This year, his costume involves a crop top. He’s over the moon.

I love eating my kids’ candy haul until Thanksgiving, but mainly, I’m happy to be a Yes Mom for the evening. “Yes, you may have that Tootsie Roll.” “Yes, you may stay up late on a sugar high.” “Yes, you may put paint on your face and talk to strangers.” It’s a relief!


By this time of the year, Drill Sergeant Mom is in full swing. We have school mornings, breakfast, folders to sign, field trip reminders, snack days, bath times, sight words, lunches to pack, dinners to make, story time, library books, prayers, bed time, etc. Somewhere in there, I have to find time to be a Cool Mom, Fun Mom, Happy Mom, Forehead Unfurled Mom. It’s hard for a woman who prides herself on being goofy to find the right balance.

But Halloween throws all of that out the window and we get to let loose as a family. It’s magical.

One night, we throw out all the regular rules and we are a band of six children instead of four.

We haven’t always done family costumes, but it’s our goal every year until they go off to college. Even if it makes them weep and gnash their teeth as teenagers. They’ll learn to love this tradition, right?

Here was last year:


And before we had all the children:


And here’s a sneak peek at this year:


I know you’re stumped about what cast of characters we’re imitating. Believe me, it’s original and you certainly won’t see anyone dressed like us on the sidewalks (jk, your eyes will be burning from all the hot pink trolls.)

The idea for family costumes wasn’t something my husband and I sat down and discussed. It bloomed out of my passion for the ridiculous and our desire to do things as a family team. We do Work and Boring together, then we do Silly and Exciting together.

Our kids have enough rules the rest of the time. School rules, playground rules, hallway rules, lunchroom rules, bathroom rules, dinner time rules, bed time rules, rules about messes and rules about cleaning. Let’s give the kids a breather this Halloween. Let our kids dress up, be wild, eat candy, laugh and make a few messes.

How could Halloween possibly be more momentous? If we join the fun with them!

I’m trying to make memories that my kids can take with them into their adulthood and share with their kiddos. I guarantee my kids won’t remember many of the rules, but they will remember Mom and Dad dressing up with them on Halloween. Here’s to hoping they won’t harbor any bitterness when they remember us stealing their candy.

“Our family is fun. My mom and dad are crazy! Like, my dad wore a crop top one Halloween.” – what I hope my kids say to their future spouses and/or therapists.

image1Allison Pickett is a Christ Follower who married a man with a Biblical beard, wishes LOST had never ended, mother of four, and a Lemon Oreo expert. Find her funny, funny words at and follow her on all Social sites @allisonpickett.

Losing (that) October (a guest post)

I’m so grateful for all my guest contributors.  I love that everyone has her own take on the themes I suggested. Where Lindsay learned about changing seasons through her move, and Heather is learning to welcome the Real fall when it comes, Harmony Harkema offers us a taste of what losing a certain kind of October is like. Anyone who has felt lost in a different climate from the one you grew up in will understand this struggle and the gift that might actually come from it.

Harmony is another treasure I’ve found through Jen Hatmaker’s launch team. We have met in person, which isn’t a requirement for our tribe, but definitely a bonus. She lives and breathes the writing world, and the fact that she is sharing her words here gives me almost as much joy as the words themselves.

Oh, you’ll probably get hungry after reading this, so she shares a recipe too! Enjoy!


HHgraphicLosing (that) October

By Harmony Harkema

I grew up in the heart of the Midwest, where October is the showiest month. To this day, when I close my eyes and think of October, I see an empty highway stretching before me and beyond it, a sweep of harvested fields backed by a flaming red, orange, and gold tree line, the colors so vibrant that they rival the best of sunsets.


When I think of October, I can almost feel the crisp afternoon air contrasting with the warmth of the sun under a brilliant blue sky.

When I think of October, I can just about smell the morning-damp scent of fallen leaves, reminiscent of school bus stops and the first days I see my breath leave my lips like a puff of smoke.

When I think of October, I think of Friday night football games under the lights spent bundled up in a hooded sweatshirt with a Styrofoam cup of hot cocoa cupped between my palms.

I cling to these images, this almost-perceptible sense of October. Where I live now, those Octobers seem far away. Yesterday it was ninety-three degrees, and I broke a sweat on my way out to the mailbox.

October in the Mid-South is still hot and rather dismal, at least some of the time. It’s a month that likes to tease, giving me a short string of cooler, blue-skied days and then submitting again to the insistent heat. Leaves begin to turn, but the trees are far less bold—it’s rare to see one wearing a cap of red leaves. Softer oranges and golds line the streets instead, as if autumn is welcomed oh-so-reluctantly. My daughters wear shorts and t-shirts under their Halloween costumes.

Every morning at sunrise in October, I open the front door and step out, cup of coffee in hand, to see what the air feels like. As my hand reaches out to grasp the doorknob, I pray silently for cold, for chill, for that damp smell to fill my nostrils. Most days I’m disappointed.

On hot days we stay indoors, and I ignore the fact that the air conditioning still kicks on every twenty minutes or so. I buy apple cider from Ohio and apples from Michigan at the grocery store, which I turn into apple betty* on a seventy-five-degree day. (*Recipe here and also below)

I’ve learned that if I wait until it’s cool to do these things, I may miss out on them completely. At the same time, I have learned not to let my children carve pumpkins more than a few days before Halloween, or they will be nothing more than lumps of mold on our front porch by the time we go trick-or-treating.

When I read something seasonal—a book of activities to do with your kids year ‘round, for example—it’s always clear to me that the writer thinks of October the way I do, as deep autumn and not the stubborn tail of too-long summers. Sometimes I sigh and nod in understanding, but other times this approach makes me want to scream.

People who live north of the Mason-Dixon Line seem to assume that we all experience the same October. Losing that October has been one of the hardest parts of my transient life.

I’ve wrestled with God over the transplanting of my body and soul to a place where people hibernate in summer to escape the incessant heat and where Christmas is never white. “Send me to Narnia,” I think. “I’d love to see some snow.” But the truth is that these southern Octobers have stretched me into newness, into deeper understanding of the apostle Paul’s exhortation to be contented no matter the circumstances.

What do I really need to feel rooted? Can I turn my mind away from longing for different weather and see instead the richness of what I do have—a cozy home strewn with the mess and laughter of children, a husband who is my best friend, an adventure we are all on together?

I can. Even in this October.


Apple Betty Recipe

Adapted from Better Homes & Gardens New Cookbook

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Peel, core, and slice enough apples to fill a deep pie plate or round casserole (8-10 apples).
Toss with 1/4 cup orange juice or 2 tablespoons lemon juice, whichever you have on hand. Set aside.
In a separate bowl, whisk together 1 cup sugar, 3/4 cup flour, 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon, and 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg.
Using a pastry blender or two sharp knives, cut one stick (8 tablespoons) of chilled sweet cream butter into the dry mixture until it resembles crumbs. Spoon over the apples, being careful to cover them completely.
Bake 50-60 minutes, until the topping has turned golden brown, the filling is starting to bubble up through it, and the inside is very soft when pierced with a knife.
Remove from the oven and set aside to cool; the top will collapse a bit.
Serve warm with milk, cream, or vanilla ice cream.

portrait_harmony-1Harmony Harkema has loved the written word for as long as she can remember. A former journalist and English teacher turned editor, she has spent the past seven years in the publishing industry. A novelist and blogger in the fringe hours of her working-mom life, Harmony also has a heart for leading and coaching aspiring writers, and The Glorious Table is the culmination of those passions. She has more books than her shelves can hold, drinks more coffee than is probably good for her, and likes to unwind her brain at the end of the day by stirring something on the stove or baking whatever sounds good in the moment. A Michigan native who dreams ceaselessly about the Great Lakes shoreline, Harmony currently lives in Memphis, Tennessee with her husband and two small daughters.

Really, Fall? Really? (a guest post)

There’s so much about my guest writer and her words today to make me smile. You’ll relate to her, too, if you share a slightly less-enthusiastic view of untimely holiday preparation. Namely, how it seems every season and holiday seems to demand full-out celebrations bigger and earlier every year. She shares with us that even if fall isn’t your favorite season, it has its perks.

Heather Gerwing is a good friend, who- surprise, surprise- I met through Jen Hatmaker’s launch team. Even though she lives in Michigan, I’ve been able to hang out with her a few times and cherish every minute to soak up the joy she exudes.

As with my other guests, please go check out more of her writing at!

Really, Fall? Really?

By Heather Gerwing

The Midwest rocks fall better than anywhere else.  The brisk air, the changing leaves, and the plethora of cider mills make fall enjoyable in the Midwest.

However, I find myself becoming annoyed with the onslaught of everything “fall” starting as early as the first day of September. You see, I grew up on the East Coast within an hour from a great beach town and summer is my jam. I don’t ever want summer to end.

Until I do.

Summer is pure fun and excitement: Ice cream and popsicles, outdoor movies and picnics in the park, fairs and carnivals, days at the lake and swimming in the pool are all things that I enjoy in the warm summer months. Summer is filled with fun, and my family of six even makes bucket lists of all the things we want to do. We’re constantly going…moving…doing.

HGgraphicStill, about mid-July, I start to get this yearning for fall to come. It’s not that I want the cooler air or changing leaves, but I crave the steadiness and simplicity that comes with fall. I start to miss the predictability, the routine of everyday life that fall brings back.

Along with all the extra-curricular activities that start back up in fall, I find that my spiritual life takes a reboot as well.

While summer is full of fun, I find that my time with God, although still regular, becomes light and laidback. In the midst of summer, my brain barely slows down to figure out what my next meal will be, let alone what I am expecting God to do in my life.

In Ecclesiastes Chapter 1 the author writes about how there is a season for everything. From living to dying, to crying to laughing, there is a time or a season for that.

This is where my appreciation for true autumn kicks in and overcomes my annoyance at it’s too-early imposter. When fall arrives and our daily pace slows, my soul slows down too. I desire to linger in God’s Word longer over a hot cup of coffee, to dig deeper into my studies, and to be more expectant of what God can do.

The Midwest displays the seasons so well. Each of them is distinct and beautiful in its own way. My soul craves the sun and fun of summer after a sheltered winter, and I also yearn for the beauty and peacefulness of the real fall.

Fall, I owe you an apology. I have shunned you and spoken harsh words about you. I do love you when you are really here, just not the rush to speed the end of summer when you’re still months away. Forgive me?

I am ready for you now -and all things Salted Carmel Mocha! (Because Pumpkin Spice – I just can’t!)

Heather GerwingHeather Gerwing lives in MI with her husband Jeff and their kids. She is passionate about her family and living this life, which God has blessed her with, to the full. You can find her at and

Embracing Changing Seasons (a guest post)

I love to read things that make me smile, remember, think and then give me good, practical advice. Today’s guest post does just that. I haven’t met my friend Lindsay Hufford in person yet, but her writing makes me feel like we’ve been hanging out for ages. After you’re done here, please go visit her home page at The simplicity she writes so beautifully about is addicting and good for you!

Lindsay is first up in what turned out to be three different views on seasonal change.  She encourages us to do for our souls in life seasons what comes natural to do when the weather changes. Enjoy!

Embracing Changing Seasons

by Lindsay Hufford

One of my favorite pictures from my childhood features my sister and me right before Christmas time.  The photo was taken just after our family went to pick out our Christmas tree that year.  We’re wearing matching loud sweaters from the 80s with a big panda on the front.  The shirts are the only clue to what season it was in the image.  In the background, you can see lush green grass and palm trees.  This is Christmas in South Florida where the seasons don’t change but shift from unbearably hot to slightly less warm.

I lived in Florida for the first six years of my life, then my family moved North.  The change of seasons was well, a significant change.  I’ve now lived most of my life in areas with definitive seasonal variation, and I have come to anticipate and love what each season will bring.  We snuggle up on January mornings under mountains of blankets drinking pots of tea and watching crystals of frost melt off the windows.  As spring approaches, I begin obsessively checking my flowerbeds to see the first green shoots from bulbs emerge from the still cold ground.  We mark summer with the opening of a favorite lake.

I love all the seasons, but there is something almost magical about fall.  In September the mornings become crisp, and fog settles over the fields near our home. October is when Michigan truly shines.  Trees put on their best and brightest hues ranging from fire red sugar maples to golden aspens.  The world glows in October.The world glows in October.

The seasons in our lives rarely have such delineated markers of beginnings and endings as do the seasons of the natural world.  One day we are bright-eyed high school graduates ready to take on the world.  Then, in a flash, we are middle-aged adults with more wisdom, wrinkles, and cellulite then we ever thought possible.

The seasons of life can be challenging to embrace.  Some seasons prove exhausting. Others have challenges and anxieties we would never have wanted.  So how do we embrace the changing seasons of life?

We count our blessings.  More wrinkles mean we have shared a thousand laughs.   When your preschooler calls you up to their bed for the fourth time that night, hold them close remembering that soon you will be fighting for their time and attention.

Mark your seasons.  Keep a short journal to record the blessings and the challenges of the periods of your life.  Make a note of the first teeth lost and the day they realize the tooth fairy isn’t real.  Record your thoughts and feelings on aging, marriage, friendships, especially in the difficult seasons.  Your journal entries become your battle scars, proof that you made it through the hardest things and you are still going strong.

LHgraphicIf you’re in a hard season, keep your chin up and your eyes open to the beauty around you.  We only see the manifestations of the seasons in nature. Remember that tiny shoots struggle to break through the cold spring ground to become vibrant plants bearing fruit.  The trees know when it’s time to change and when it’s time to let those beautiful leaves drift away as they prepare for a season of rest and quiet.  You will make it through this season.  Don’t miss what it’s teaching you.

Wow, thank you Lindsay! I’m finding this season more beautiful every day!

IMG_6071.JPGLindsay is a happy wife and homeschooling mom to three kids.  Whether she is reading, running, gardening, teaching, cooking, dancing, writing, or chasing hens, she counts it all as joy.  Lindsay writes about this beautiful life at


A Cut Below (a story from the archives)

Some of you already know where this is going. I posted this on my old blog in September 2010. We were recently telling this story to a group of friends and I realized I have a whole bunch of new friends who may not know it.  So here you go…


New Most Embarassing Moment

By Anna Carpenter (2010)

I start this with a big sigh.

We’re all ok.

And now, I will give you permission to laugh. I know I have and still am.

Five words sum up my late night and early morning.

“Sat on knife in car.”

That is what my dear husband wrote in the block on the form explaining why I was in the emergency room at Andrews Air Force Base at 1:30 a.m., getting stitches on my derriere.

How does one sit on a knife in a car? That is a very good question, and though I can answer it somewhat, it really is just a set up for a lifetime of jokes.

Here’s what happened. My friend Mary dropped me off at my car after our cooking class last night.

We’re actually still good friends, even after all this!

I was in a rush to get home because it was around 11:30 and I still needed to blog. I threw my purse and my bag containing my apron, the food we made, and oh yeah, my knives, in through the driver’s seat and followed them in.

I immediately felt a little poke in my backside and realized the bag hadn’t made it into the passenger seat, but was in fact still in the driver’s seat. A quick check with my hand and I realized it wasn’t a pen that had poked me, but something that was a bit sharper and able to draw some blood. Fortunately, Mary was waiting to make sure I got off ok, so I limped over to her car and with great embarrassment, asked her to check to see what was causing the bleeding. I’m very glad it was a deserted parking lot at that point and am hoping security footage doesn’t show up on youtube any time soon!

She quickly insisted that an emergency room visit was in order, even though I was sure we could just use the first-aid kit in my glove box (we have another one in the trunk, thanks to my ever-ready-for-emergencies-husband, but the glove box was closer) to patch me up until I got home and could put a proper dressing on it. Fortunately (again) we were right across the street from the base and decided the ER there would be the best place to go.

Before we took off, I asked her to go grab my bag so I could see what the offending weapon was. There, protruding from the oh-so-protective cloth was about an inch (Mary says it was 2 inches) of my recently sharpened and sanitized chef’s knife. It had been in it’s hardened case when I put it in the bag, but somehow– in what I’m sure will be a delightful conversation with the manufacturer– had popped the case open and become, well, armed.

Mary went into the ER to explain what happened, which the nurse and techs later told me could not be done with a straight face, and a crew of Airmen trying to look serious and concerned came out to the car with a wheelchair to get me. They all took very good care of me, even while every person who came in had to ask, “How did you sit on a knife?” At least I gave everyone something to laugh about amid their other, more serious cases.

I asked them if the cut could’ve possible damaged any important parts.  They couldn’t hold back their snickers while they tried to tell me politely that there was plenty of padding in the area, so, no.

I got to hear Blueberry’s (editor’s note: this is what we called fetus Ayla until birth because we didn’t know the gender) beautiful heartbeat for the second time in as many days (Monday was our 23-week check up) and within a few hours I was cleaned up, stitched up, patched up and on my way home.

Through it all, my wonderful, supportive husband just kept looking at me and shaking his head. Mary had said it could happen to anyone, but he and I both knew that this kind of thing pretty much just happens to me!

My first GIF!! Now someone explain Snapchat to me.

So, there’s my story and I’m sticking to it. Oh! Ouch! I do have a point, though. Oh, ha ha! Butt seriously (I’m sorry, I can’t stop!), I learned for myself that laughter is truly the best medicine and one that can (and should) be taken while pregnant!

THE knife. Yes, I still use it.

My Mom Makes a Good Point (Again) (a guest post)

How is October more than half-way over? I can’t remember sleeping, let alone blinking and yet, here we are.

I had grand plans, my friends. I dreamed of a month where every day I’d be filling this page with lovely words and thoughts to fill your hearts with happiness as the days of October passed.

But life. This month has brought me four and a half school days with no school for my big girl, three out-of-town visitors, two out-of-state work trips for John, one family church retreat, one family camping trip, and just lots and lots of laundry (that’s actually true for everyone all the time but still). So, I let this little corner of the internet stay quiet. I do have several guest posts queued up, but let’s all just agree to keep taking deep breaths of this continually cooling autumn air (i.e. don’t hold your breaths), mmmkay?

Today’s guest post is from my sweet mommy. She was one of my visitors this month and I’m so grateful she and my Walter (her lover) (and husband) (and high-school sweetheart) love to travel and come to see us. IMG_0033The thing I love about this post is that you can see the way my Mom loves the people in her life so deeply and faithfully. If you’ve met her, you know this (and you’re really lucky). If you’re related to her somehow (and since most of my readers are also my family, you are), you’re double lucky. And for the rest of you, please enjoy learning a little more about my kin.


October Loves (or Why My Daughter Is Wrong (This Time))

by Karen Wheelock (Anna’s Mom) (title by Anna)

I didn’t realize that someone could dislike an entire month, but I really like October.  Well, perhaps I like thinking about people who have birthdays in October.

I have many loved ones who were born in October who are significant and special. I could write an entire blog about each one. Here are just a few.

Oct 2: Richard B, my dad, known in his later years as “Poppo,” was a great influence on my life. He loved his wife, his family and his God in a way I have seen in few men.IMG_3575

Oct 4: Teresa B is one of my oldest friends and wife of my younger brother, Mike. She is a joyful and faithful wife, mother and encourager for more than 40 years,

Oct 13: Minnie S is my children’s paternal grandmother. Although she didn’t share my faith, she loved me as her “third daughter,” and accepted me into her heart and her home long after there was no “law” in our titles.

My Bubbe Min, baby Ayla, me and my mama, May 2011

Oct 15: Debbie H is my husband’s sister and only sibling. She is a great mom and grandmother and I am so glad that she is in my life.

Oct 20: Tim S is my second son and the father of four of my 11 grandsons.  He lights up my heart and my life as only he can and I cannot imagine life without him.

Mom and Tim

Martha K is my younger sister. She was a wife, mother and grandmother and is now living in heaven. She left a hole in my heart, but I know we will be together again.

Miss you so, Aunt Martha

So, I will continue to welcome October.  I will continue to welcome the smiles, tears and memories.

Thanks, Mom, for sharing these pieces of your heart with me and my readers. I’m starting to like this month just a little bit more!


Goodbye, September. (a guest post)

I am so excited to introduce you to my first guest blogger for AnnasJoy OctoberJoyFest, the wonderful Andrea Stunz. I met Andrea through Jen Hatmaker’s book launch team and instantly bonded online through our experiences living overseas and love of writing. Her wisdom has helped my soul heal in deep places and her hand is graciously outstretched from a few seasons beyond mine to help navigate the way ahead. I’m being nice and sharing, but next time, you’ll have to go get your own from her page,

Turns out, I’m not the only one who struggles with a month, and here Andrea shares some simple but effective things to do while waiting for redemption. Enjoy.

Goodbye, September
photo by Andrea Stunz

In two words with a comma and a period, symbolizing pause and closure, I bid adieu to my least favorite month of the year. Goodbye, September. This two-word sentence contains proper grammar and punctuation forming a complete sentence. But don’t be fooled. This tiny sentence packs in six years of brokenness and redemption.

My dread for September began in September of 2011 to be precise. The details are a story for another day, but what happened literally changed the trajectory of my life, my heart, my faith, my universe.

Each year, around mid-August, a sense of anxiety wells up inside of me knowing that it’s coming. September rolls around every year, just like Christmas does, but somehow, I’m never quite prepared for it, even all these years later. Since then, God and I have been on a mission to turn right side up what had been turned upside down.

In many parts of the world September ushers in the first signs of Fall. The climate cools and the earth feels weepy. These changes feel like a death to some, but to others they bring the potential for life.

I love Fall. I love seeing the colors change and welcoming the cooler temperatures. Fall is good for my soul. While I experience its pleasures, I also grasp its reality of death.

Isn_t it ironic how the leaves falling and the changing of colors can offer both sadness and joy? This is perfect godly order, for without one, we would not have the other.
Photo by Anna Carpenter

Isn’t it ironic how the leaves falling and the changing of colors can offer both sadness and joy? This is perfect godly order, for without one, we would not have the other.

After years of searching for God’s redemption in my Septembers, I realize that death makes way for new life. The buried seed must die and break open for the inside to release its spring.

As Fall settles in, are you in a holding pattern of anxiety over your “September?” Are you desperately waiting for the redemption of Spring? Below, I’m sharing five things that I found helpful as I’ve waited for God to redeem my September. I hope they’ll help you as well.

Be Okay with Not Being Okay
Give yourself grace even when others don’t. You are worth it – not like you deserve a king size Reese’s peanut butter cup kind of worth it. But you deserve to be healthy. One day, you’ll be okay. Just maybe not right now.

Get Help
I can’t imagine walking through my waiting times alone. One dear friend calls it her “holy honor” to be an encourager in my story. Maybe your “person” is a trusted friend or maybe it needs to be a qualified therapist. Get the kind of help that is right for you. The kind of help that helps.

Often, in our waiting times, we get busy. Too busy. “If the devil cannot make us bad, he’ll make us busy.” (Corrie Ten Boom) We wear ourselves out. Let’s not be too exhausted when redemption comes to notice it.

Stay and Move
While we wait, in our persevering (waiting with forward motion), we can simultaneously rest and run. Rest in Him and run towards Him.

Raise Your Hands
Raising our arms high puts us in a posture of worship. It will actually change how you feel. It opens up our spirit and connects us to something bigger. Try it! Amy Cuddy says in her TED Talk, “Tiny tweaks lead to big changes.” Raise your hands in worship and wait for it. Wait for Him.

While my lackluster attitude is towards September, others have different months or seasons that bring feelings of sadness or anxiety. What’s yours? I pray you will allow God to redeem it.

Hello, October!

Andrea Stunz Bio ImageAndrea Stunz has been a Christ-follower from the age of seven. She is the committed wife to one, loving mom to three amazing adult children, grateful mother-in-law and ridiculously proud grandmother. A well-traveled Texan, having lived in Brazil, Asia, and the UK, Andrea finds joy in her family, grace in her friends, beauty in a story, purpose in the sunrise, wonder in her travels, and hope in Colossians 1:17. Andrea longs to encourage others by sharing stories because “a story worth living is a story worth sharing”. Find more from her at


Do you have a story, piece of beauty or way to help me and the other readers here smile? I’m still taking contributions! Leave me a comment or send me an e-mail to annasjoy at gmail.