Favorite Things, What is saving your life

Summer Time and Lifesavers

“What is saving your life right now?”

Lake days, sunset rainbows on the back porch, laughing with our boys, reading summer fiction books, and Dr Pepper.

But on the surface, here are a few more things that have brought joy lately….

This book.


I wish everyone would read it.  His audio version is a hilarious delight.  I’ve listened and read it, due to being super offendable and needed to take it in twice. It’s refreshing to realize our righteous anger is complete baloney.  I’m still re-reading the parts I underlined, hoping the lessons will soak through my skull and ego.

Maui Babe After Browning Lotion

A friend came by last week and laughed that I was still using this healing lotion.  It has been a summer staple for years, because I love the sun.  A lot.  It’s basically like putting conditioner on your skin.  Maui After Sun Browning lotion is amazing and can be found on Amazon or Ulta!

Supergoop Sunscreen Oil

Speaking of sun…here is my favorite sunblock.  I shared this last summer, but love you enough to share again. Because it’s a perfect marriage of oil and sunblock for those of us who use to lay out with baby oil slathered all over our baby skin.  Maybe even baby oil laced with tiny drops of iodine for the crazy people from the early 90’s.  It’s great sun protection and nourishing to the skin.

Supergoop SPF Setting Spray

This setting spray is perfect for spraying on protection on your face throughout the day.  Especially when one is wearing makeup and can’t rub on lotion.

Cross Stitching. 

Yes, I like to cross-stitch and no, I am not a Senior Citizen yet. However, I will hopefully still be working away on a pattern even then.  Stitching soothes me and helps me clear my mind.  Also, Etsy has the most adorable and trendy patterns.  Call me old fashion but I love receiving and giving homemade gifts.

Shiseido Eyelash Curler

A friend shared this eyelash curler with me years ago and I’ve never found one that works better. I’ve strayed a few times, but have always come back to my old faithful.  It curls perfectly without just bending them straight up.  You know what I’m talking about, no one wants their lashes to protrude straight up with a hard turn to heaven.


“Athleeeta or Athleta?”  Who knows and I haven’t really cared, but if me not knowing how to pronounce the brand bothers you, and you know the answer…please call me and let me know.  These white Athleta pants are some of my favorites, super soft yet have great support.  You ladies know what I mean by support, a happy medium of Spanx and breathing.  I have these in white, red and just ordered the teal (peacock) as well because they are on sale!

Summer is for making homemade ice-cream.  Vanilla, Cookies and Cream, Chocolate Covered Cherry, Butterfinger, Peach, Toffee Pecan…. they are all stocked in our freezer.  We do this to attract all the teenagers to our house.  Some might call it manipulation, we call it love.  And brilliant.

Ice Cream Containers

These are the freezer cups we order off of Amazon.  The half pint size works best for our gang.  (The labels are made on www.avery.com and printed at home.)

Watching my boys and their friends fish.  Time well spent.

“Life and fishing are very similar, you never know what’s at the end of the line.”


Until next time, I’ll leave you with another sunset photo of the lake last week.

Absolute peace.




Family, Gratitude, Hope, Lessons, Love, Parenting

The Audacious Hope of Rooted Things

“The audacious hope of rooted things”

That was my first thought when I looked up from a traffic light this week and realized that the bluebonnets had bloomed.  It actually caught my breath looking at them and recognizing they were here, along with spring.*

I suspect the bluebonnets have been here for awhile, but my eyes have been cast down, along with my heart – and I missed the rebirth and bloom of the gorgeous wild flowers.

I feel ridiculous for how deeply I miss my GrandDad.  When life goes according to plan, we are supposed to bury our grandparents.  Sadly, all three sets of my grandparents buried their own children.  If life is sweet enough to let us plan according to the circle of a full life, then I should have been ready.  But, I never, ever would have been.

I miss my GrandDad. He stepped in and raised me as a daughter when he didn’t have to. My parents divorced when I was eight months old, which lead to my mother and I moving in with her parents. Since my mom and her siblings called him Daddy, and my grandmother referred to him as Daddy in front of the kids, then I did too.  Lots of my cousins call him GrandDad, or Papa – but he was always Daddy to me.

Daddy was an old school grandfather.  He didn’t come to every single game or school function, but he was always available for a teaching lesson.  Recently, when we gathered for his funeral, it was heartwarming to hear of all the lessons that each of his thirteen grandchildren gleamed from his one-on-one gentle teaching.

When I was young, our grandparents had a ranch in Clarendon, Texas.  We spent almost every weekend out there and it is still one of my mind’s happiest places.  The winters in the panhandle are cold.  One morning particular, Daddy was headed out to check the cattle and break up the frozen tanks for them to have drinking water.  Being his shadow and a seasoned mini-Rancher myself, I didn’t understand why I couldn’t join him as usual.  After begging, my grandmother finally bundled me up in 26 layers of clothes, and off we went to work.

At our first stop, Daddy left the truck and heater running, got out and told me to stay put.  As you can imagine, it got a tad toasty under the dozen layers of clothing, so one by one, I took them all off.  Every single one.  When he got back in the truck he recounts being agitated at having to re-clothe a three year old, but successfully got all the layers back on.  At the next stop he told me to stay in the truck cab, and to not take my warm clothes off again.  I must have felt a trickle of sweat, because I ended up shedding them all. He got back in, exhausted from breaking ice, and doing whatever weekend ranchers do during blizzards, redressed me and plainly told me, “Autumn Brooke, if you take your clothes off again, I’m going to find a switch and spank you.”

To this point, I’d never had a spanking in my life, so I’m positive I didn’t understand.  But alas, you know what happens next.  Third stop came, nakedness ensued.  Daddy got back in the truck – said my full name, redressed me for the third time, then found a switch on the ground and whipped me with it.  Knowing Daddy’s gentle nature, I can’t imagine it was a hard one.  I don’t even remember the spanking.  I just remember my heart being broken and running back into the ranch house telling Meme that Daddy had spanked me with a big tree.

He probably wasn’t fed dinner that night.  Poor Daddy.

Daddy was a hard worker and a loyal man.  He was fair and just.  He was also a quick learner.  Once, hauling a trailer full of cattle, we came to the end of our county road to turn left on Highway 287.  He asked me – the mature co-pilot of four years old, if there were any cars coming my way.  I looked and said no.  As he pressed the gas, I calmly said, “Just that big ol’ truck.” to which the brake was slammed just in time to miss getting hit by a semi.   I don’t think the cattle suffered any injuries, but I still feel bad for them.

Daddy never asked for my help while driving again.  He also learned that I am very literal, don’t ask for just cars if you meant all moving vehicles.

I had the best sets of grandparents a gal could have requested. Daddy was the last to leave this earth. Forgive me for sounding grandstanding – but he was the last person on earth who’s eyes lit up when I walked into the room. They lit up not because I was special in general, just special to him. They lit up because he knew all of our history and memories. They lit up because I came to see him.  They lit up because he also knew how deeply and dearly he was loved.  And who’s eyes don’t light up when that fullness of love is present?

One of the sweetest gifts of my life was being there when he passed.  Being able to sit with him in his last hours – holding his hand, kissing his face, double knotting our heartstrings, and shepherding him home.

Thankfully, there is such an audacious hope in rooted things.

Things rooted in love, patience, gentleness, kindness, forgiveness, selflessness, wonderment, hope, and again – love.

Things rooted in the good soil my grandparents created for their family to grow in.

I am a lucky girl.  We will never stop missing Daddy, a man who lived a full life of 91 years.  It is comforting to recognize this grief is a reflection of love for our grandparents, and of being loved so well by them.  I was 21 years old when we lost Meme, and 40 when Daddy joined her. Not nearly enough years to have had them.  But plenty of time for the deep well of love to be dug and filled.

What their love nurtured and grew are some of the best parts of me, along with the deepest roots.


*An incredibly thoughtful friend gave me a plaster kit several years ago.  To take and create this mold of mine and Daddy’s hands.  When we did this, Daddy thought I was crazy, but loved it.  This is one of my greatest treasures.  Worth more than rubies or gold.  Thank you Kyla.  <3



*This was written months ago, as the bluebonnets are now almost gone.

*Audacious hope quote is from “Ruby” by Cynthia Bond

Boundaries, Crazy Cycle, Growth, Lessons, Love, Patience

Cheap and Chewed

A spiritual, intentional life isn’t one without drama.  However, it can be one without cheap drama.  I’ve arrived at this lesson slower than a tortoise, but with burnt hands, I lift them and say no more to cheap drama.

You can do the same.

Here is the deal…Life naturally brings drama.

Some of your best and most loved people are going to pass on to the next life, without your permission.  Your beloved pets too.  When you are healing from these deep cuts, life can still teach you even more heart ache.  Grey’s Anatomy taught us that real life drama takes few breaks.  Remember Denny?  I’m still not over losing him.

Your heart is going to break several times in this life.  It is also going to mend – never the same, but shockingly, it pieces back together in a similar shape. Covered in wounds and scars which give it texture. And stories that can create tenderness or bitterness, depending on which we choose.

Your plate is going to be full. Your kids are going to be crazy.  In fact, if you are a mom, or parent children in any way, you will learn our darlings come packaged with their own level of drama.  Tied with a ribbon labeled “You’re Welcome.”

People are going to dislike you.  Forsake you. You will be misrepresented in a few tales. Some people will try to hand you their messes.

The good news is you can say no and turn away from cheap drama.  Your no can be silent yet definite.  You don’t have to make a point or lesson for another, you can choose differently and hand them back their own work to do. Continue Reading

Books, Courage, Friendship, Gratitude, Growth, Laughter, Makeup, Rest, Stillness

What is saving your life right now?

Barbara Brown Taylor has made a practice of asking others and herself that question often*.

Salvation is a word for the divine spaciousness that comes to human beings in all the tight places where their lives are at risk, regardless of how they got there or whether they know God’s name. Few of us can choose our circumstances, but we can choose how we respond to them.  To be saved is not only to recognize the alternative to the deadliness pressing down on us but also be able to act on it.”

This morning when I awoke, I started a list. Shallow and thoughtful.  Spiritual and materialistic.  Here is what is saving my life right now. Continue Reading

Character, Courage, Growth, Lessons

Echo Chamber

I have lived a large portion of my life in an echo chamber.  Even once I was old enough to make my own decisions, I was more comfortable staying in the echo chamber than venturing out.  Voices would come and go – as my opinions and beliefs did – but the only voices within hearing distance were the ones that echoed my own.

There is something super comforting about others agreeing with you, happily confined to our “us against them” mentality.  We stay inside our bubbles and only listen to the people who make us feel good about our opinions.  “See? We are all right.”

Mental high fives all around.

Life is lived easy in an echo chamber.

I just don’t believe that is what we were called to do.  I believe we were called to reach across the aisle and try to understand what others are saying too.  Life isn’t one big, clear window to look out.  It’s more of a beautiful stained glass window with an intricate pattern that can only be seen from a higher perspective.

From your spot, you may look out and see everything from a rose colored tint.  From mine, a yellow hue.  Another may see the world out of the lens of royal blue.  Sometimes we are wedged in a spot where the glass is bubbled and thick, which limits our clear view of anything.  Our view colors our perspective of reality, and we become comfortable with only the people with our same view.

One fact is that we can always move to another spot of the stained glass window.

Don’t like your view? Change it. Continue Reading