Let Your Light Shine

Let your light shine. I'm sensing that someone out there needs to hear those words today, so I thought I'd share part of my Christmas card design and the story behind it with you today.

It was Thanksgiving Day, and after designing nearly 75 custom cards, I had no idea what ours would look like. Photos are a great starting point, so when I saw a patch of morning sun flooding through one of my bedroom windows, I grabbed my camera {with my favorite 50 mm prime lens} and told my girls if they wanted a card, this was our chance. I had to work fast because perfect light doesn't last long {nor does their willingness}!

When I saw what I had captured...

...the word light immediately came to mind.

As I looked at their radiant eyes and sunlit faces, I felt like God whispered the words for our card into my heart: let your light shine. How I needed to hear those words.

I looked like my girls once...glowing with life and light. But this world has a way of throwing "wet blankets" on our flame, leaving us barely able to flicker, much less shine. For me, birth trauma, migraines, mono, chronic fatigue, friendship aches and the lies of "too much" and "not enough" worked together to convince me that my "light shining" days were over. I think I had forgotten who I was.

But about a year and a half ago, God decided to remind me through a visit to an old college friend. He's the kind of friend you never forget. His story is so powerful, and will always be wrapped up in mine. Ours wasn't a love story {we were like peas and carrots, right Morgs?}, but he fell in love with Jesus because of the light he saw in me. {Sometimes I still can't believe I had anything to do with it. Humbling to say the least.}

When my husband suggested we go visit this friend in person a year and a half ago, I was nervous. I hadn't seen him since my wedding day. After all these years, I was scared of what he'd see {or not see} in me...scared he wouldn't see even a flicker of light in my broken down self. But God gave him deep-seeing eyes. He looked right though all the layers and the years and said, "I see you, Lins."

Those words were like God's own...just what my heart needed to hear. He is, after all, the God who sees me. {Genesis 16:13} I came home from that visit determined to live again, and a year and half later, I'm ready to let my light shine!

So why do I share all of this so many months later? Because I know how powerful it is to be reminded of who you are. Sweet friends, this is what is true about you: no matter how dim the days or months or years have been, you still have a light inside. Sometimes we just need someone to remind us that it's still in there!

P.S. To encourage you further, I've got a giveaway in mind inspired by the LET IT SHINE design at the top of this post. Stay tuned!


A Tea and Cookie Date

I've started a new tradition with my girls: spontaneous after-school tea and cookie dates at our favorite neighborhood spot: Tiny's No. 5. When we need a little pick me up, this does the trick every time! I think you'll see why...and it's not just the cookies!

{My girls in their Go Texan Day getup. Yeehaw!}

All of this beauty in what was once a neighborhood grocery store...
the one I walked to almost every day as a child.

Here's to new traditions! 
Happy Weekend, sweet friends!


Loving These Prints Today

I think you know by now that I love words. {I write plenty of them here, that's for sure!} The English major in me loves words straight up, but good words presented in a creative, aesthetically appealing way are especially delicious!

When I stumbled upon Sarah Jane Studios last week, my heart went pitter patter. I bet yours will, too! Here are a few of my favorite prints from her shop:

Don't those words with their precious illustrations just make your day? I hope you're smiling by now. You deserve it! And besides, smiling makes you feel good...even on the grayest of days!

Happy Day to you, sweet blog friends!


15 Years Ago Today...

On February 14, 1997,
this young man asked me to marry him.
Saying yes was the best decision I ever made.

{You can read about his proposal HERE. Best story ever!}

We had only known each other a few months when he proposed. I was 22, finishing my last semester at Vanderbilt. He was a few days shy of 23, living in Houston with his parents. He was making plans to become a sports injury doctor in Houston, and I was working on an application for an internship with the Today Show in New York. Falling in love and getting married wasn't on our radar screen {it would get in the way of our very big career plans}, but it was clearly on God's!

People thought we were crazy. And on paper, we were. But in our hearts, we just knew. We had that crazy kind of faith that inspired us to trust God to the max.

15 years later...

We know each other a whole lot better today than we did 15 years ago. Every day hasn't been easy, but so very worth it! Our deep knowing and loving is hard won...through struggles, through prayer, through counseling, through connecting with each other on date nights, through knowing there is no back door.

Love is a commitment, and it's one I'm glad I made with this man. Thank you, John David, for the best 15 years of my life. I'd say more, but my eyes are full of tears now!

And to my sweet daughters, I'll gladly share my Valentine with you until the day God brings you one of your own! {I'm already praying for the men you will marry...whoever they are!}

Happy Valentine's Day!
P.S. Try telling your husband you "respect and admire" him today. Love and Respect was a game changer in our marriage!


Lacanche: The Crown Jewel of My Kitchen

A stunning range is the pièce de résistance in all of my favorite kitchens. And when it comes to creating something beautiful, classic and elegant yet very hardworking, the French are masters!

{A gorgeous La Cornue via House Beautiful.}

La Cornue is the probably the most well-known of the French ranges here in the States, but I'd like to introduce you to the equally beautiful Lacanche, also known as "the Stradivarius of the kitchen." They come in all kinds of colors, sizes and configurations, but the black and brass is my favorite.

A Lacanche is the centerpiece in this Suzanne Kasler country kitchen.

A Lacanche works equally well here in a more modern kitchen.

And my own Lacanche...

When we walked through our house for the first time nearly six years ago and spotted a newly imported Lacanche, I knew we were home. {More on the story of our house HERE.}

Would you believe me if I told you I'd rather have a Lacanche in my kitchen than a diamond on my finger? It's that gorgeous...jewelry for the kitchen! And like any jewelry, sometimes it needs a little polishing.

{patina on the left; polished on the right}

Until recently, I hadn't thought to polish the brass. I'm pretty sure the French just let it go and take pride in the spotty patina that comes with everyday use. But I got a wild {some would say insane} hair this weekend.

{polished handles on the doors; unpolished brass knobs above}

On the most beautiful, blue-sky, crisp and sunny day we've had this year, I stayed inside and cleaned my Lacanche for three and a half hours...in my nightgown! Talk about a labor of love! After hours of non-stop rubbing {with lots of Bar Keepers Friend}, my wrists, hands and shoulders are sore. Not sure what that says about me, but it was worth it!

{I even polished the logo plaque.}

And sitting on top of my beloved French range...

...easy access to our wooden spoons and a Le Creuset teakettle.

It's a good thing I love my Lacanche with a patina just as much as with a shine because I don't think I'll be tackling that project again for awhile!

There are lots of messes in life that can't be controlled or cleaned up, and those are the ones I'm learning to embrace, but sometimes it feels good to give something within your reach a good cleaning...just to see what's possible.

Happy Monday, sweet friends! Here's to a week where anything is possible!
P.S. You won't find a Lacanche in U.S. stores or catalogs, but you can import one through Art Culinaire. I'm told they are less expensive than La Cornue, though like any work of art, they're an investment. I'd buy another one in a heartbeat!


Good Words

You know what?
You're awesome. Yes, YOU!

Thanks for all the ways you "got me" in my last post. I so appreciated your comments and emails. Isn't it amazing how being honest about the messiness of life connects our hearts so much more than the sugar-coated "everything is great" approach? I love that!

I never thought I'd learn to love a mess, but because it's making me free to be more of who God made me to be, I'm diving in! And I know many of you are doing the same. I'm so proud of us!

But sometimes the mess of life can wear you out...or leave you in a state of amnesia, forgetting where you've been and clueless about where you're going. On those days, I find hope in good words.

Here are a few of my current favorites {great graphics make them even better!}. ENJOY!

 {Have you read Crazy Love? SO GOOD.}


{Sources and more good words on my Word Love pin board.}

Wishing you good courage and great faith, sweet friends!

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