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.

Help Me Help Me (and You)


September’s almost over, so it’s time to tell you what I’ve got coming up here in October.

Last year I wrote about how much I dislike the month of October and all the reasons why. This year I decided to do something different to help me like it more.

I reached out to several of my friends and fellow bloggers to help me help me. (Yes, I know it should be “help me help myself,” but I like my way better.) I asked for their funny stories, beautiful pictures, family traditions, and special insight so I could share all the smiles with my readers. I’ll also be pulling some stories from my archives (I’m looking at you, “I Sat On A Knife” story) and sharing some of my creations and favorites with you.

We’re also going to be talking about happy places, so of course we have some features about the Happiest Place on Earth, Aldi’s. What, that’s not your happy place? Ok, we’ll talk about Disney and other fun places too.

Knowing what’s just around the corner has got me excited about next month, so it’s working already!


I don’t have quite enough content for every day of the month yet, but that’s where you can help me help me. If I haven’t asked you directly, consider yourself asked! Do you have something you’d like to contribute to this month of smiles? Leave me a comment with your e-mail address and idea or email me at annasjoy at gmail dot com.

I don’t usually push my readers to subscribe, because I don’t do a lot of it myself. However, if you’d like to get all the joy this month, you can sign up over there ———> to get emails whenever something is posted here, and then unsubscribe at any time.

I also have a public Facebook and Instagram page, so unless you need me to just call or text you every time something is posted here*, I think we’re covered!

What are you looking forward to about October?

*(I won’t)

The (in)courage post is up!

20170909-Carpenter-PermanentHomeHow many American flag-themed décor items are appropriate to have in any given room? Asking for a friend. It’s me, actually. I have at least six in my living room but there are some empty spots on the wall, so I could still add more.

I love America. I’ve served her both in the military and as a spouse to a soldier-turned-diplomat. I’ve given up years of my life to be deployed and to be a solo-parent when it was my husband’s turn to go. I’ve given crisp salutes to officers at the Pentagon and pushed my kids’ strollers past guards in embassies overseas.

Though I obviously love my country, and our flag, my ideas of what it means to be American are ever-evolving and I’d sway a little if you asked me to pin it down to just one thing.


Read the rest (if you haven’t already) over at (in)courage.

They posted it Saturday morning and sent it out to their email subscribers (oh, just about 48,000 of them!) and before I even woke up, I had several messages with comments thanking me for my service and the article.

(Do you want to get free, daily notes like mine showing up in your email? Sign up here.)

The team at (in)courage has been so great to work with, making me feel so welcome and, well, encouraged! I also adore the graphic they made to go along with the article. I’m already planning to submit another post the next time they take submissions and will be looking for other sites to submit posts to.

If you’re on Facebook and like to follow writer pages, you can find me here.

I kindof love this cover photo I made on

I’m also on Instagram and Twitter @annasjoy.

Thank you, my dear friends and family, and welcome to any new readers who may have stumbled in. I’ll always be thankful that you take the time to read what I write.