Mason Jars

Ok y'all.  Priscilla's inspired me.  I'm getting organized!  Much like y'all, I've got a crazy schedule.  What with working full-time, leading worship for various events at church, leading a small group, serving for other events, having a lively group of social single friends, a close-knit family and a Grandmother nearby to visit once a week, most of my days start before the sky wakes up and end well after it's put itself to bed.  I enjoy life being like this on most days.  But the first thing to go down the drain when life speeds up is nutrition in my world.  It's much easier to grab a bag of potato chips (as I brush crumbs from the corners of my mouth!) and a drink at the convenience store and call it lunch.  But by the time dinner rolls around, I'm so hangry that God-bless the man or woman who gets in the way of my food.  It's not pretty.  And a girl needs to maintain a LITTLE bit of decorum...So.

I've been looking about on pinterest and talking with friends and other blogs...and I decided to make this fun little concoction called a "Mason Jar Salad".  Yep, it's exactly what it sounds like...salad in a mason jar.  here's the little template I went by:


Easy huh?  And I'll keep you in the loop on whether or not it actually works...I'm kinda' a salad junky to be honest.  I like a little bit of EVERYTHING in my salad...and think the more the merrier floating at the bottom of that jar!  So I've packed mine full of protein and veggies and a nice dose of green at the top.  I'll let ya' know how long it lasts too...they say a full 7 days...which, as I'm making 6, is perfect in my world.  Just perfect.  I can do a Sunday lunch out with my friends and call it a go!

Ok.  Have any of y'all tried this?  What are YOU doing to organize your life this summer?  Have y'all jumped on the organization bandwagon with Priscilla too?  If you haven't had a moment, you've got to read her last blog on it...absolutely brilliant that one!

xx running!




So, here's the deal. I think kids should be active - busy, playing, being creative, outdoors, romping around, exerting energy.

I just do.

Particularly in the summer months when there are so many hours to utilize before bedtime and it can be so tempting to spend most of them on the sofa. Somehow, the electromagnetic forces of all their handheld gaming devices have scrambled their brains; causing them to think that being inside in front of a screen is just as exciting as being outside in front of a world of fun just waiting to happen. I'm in a personal revolt against that.

I'm on a mission to straighten their thinking back out. And one of the many reasons for this is: my boys need excercise and so do I. Seriously, we eat fairly healthy as a family but we have our fair share of sugar and carbs. We like to eat. . .everything. . carbs, sugar, gluten (I'm not even sure what that is . . . but we like it). So, we'd all be rolling down the hallways of our house and busting out of all our clothes if we didn't get our bodies moving. But I understand that excercise is not the most fun activity for kids especially when I label it that way:

"Hey boys, let's go exercise!"

Blank stares.

What? Why?

Somehow, that just falls flat every single time. Never works out well. Here, see if it works on you:

Hey, wanna exercise?

See what I mean?


So, I've come up with another tactic that has been working great! At a time that's convenient for me (usually right before I want to take my shower for the day) I yell out, "It's time to add another "super" to your super-duper-ooper-duper surprise that you have coming!" At that, all my sons jump to their feet, excited to join their mother for a run ( a run that really is my selfish attempt to get my own exercise in for the day).

So, we run laps around the house. Actually, we sprint them. It isn't a race but every person has to give their own personal best for each one in order to earn another "super" or "ooper". For each lap they complete another gets added to the surprise that I've promised them.

As the adjectives pile up, the anticipation grows about what the surprise might be. All the while, they get the exercise I want them to have and mom accomplishes her personal workout goals for the day!

It's a win, win really.

Except that . . .I have no idea what this amazing "surprise" is.

But that's not the point.

My kids are running and they are running ALOT - up to four or five laps every other day. Recently, their cousins - who live next door to us - have been joining in on the fun so the excitement has been contagious!

Who cares that I don't know what I'm going to surprise them with and that by the time they get all their "supers" and their "oopers" I'll probably end up having to take them to a five star restaurant followed by a private jet ride to Turks and Caicos for a 7 day vacation in a beach front villa.

Who cares!

They're running!

And, somehow, I think that a slumber party right here at home with a few friends, microwave popcorn and a good movie is going to make them think they hit the jackpot.


Back and Forward

And after a week out of town, I'm back.  I've been sinking in this comfey office chair, working on graphic design all morning. It's starting to warm up outdoors, but Jerry keeps the a/c on freezing or below here, so I've pulled out the uggs to keep my toes warm...and JUST warmed up a hot chocolate.  Odd?  Yes, but it's how we do in the GB world.  And now, for my favorite part of the day...a quick catchup with YOU.  Have you got a minute?  I'm sure you're surrounded by stickie hands or stacks of paper (or emails for the tech-savvy of us) or both...but surely you can take a minute and catchup?

Yes.  They will wait.  IT will wait.  Take a moment.  BREATHE.

I spent the better part of the last week in upstate New York taking my mini-me youngest and smallest Box sister to college orientation.  Talk about a coming-of-age movie, I thought John Hughes was about to pop out of every bush with his director's hat yelling "Annnnd CUT!" every minute.  The gorgeous upstate New York college campus was filled with all these 18-somethings full of all the dreams and assumptions that youth brings with that young age.  And in the middle of it all sat my curly, strawberry-haired darlin' sis, the smallest of the Box clan.  90 lbs soaking wet and 5 foot nothing short, more often than not I was mistaken for the college student and her my illegitimate grade-school child.  



(Lil' Booger near the horse barn where she'll spend every waking moment)


(Me and Lil' Bit)

I sat in those great halls of learning, much like the ones I went to over a decade ago, and just breathed deep the musty ol' book smell...and I remembered.  I remember being wide-eyed and bushy-tailed.  I remember thinking the whole world sparkled just for me.  I remember thinking that first loves and adventure and rip-roaring amazing good times waited for me behind those solid oaken, collegiate-embossed doors.  

And adventure and first love and hilarity did find well as heartbreak and disappointment and disillusionment.  Things I thought to be more sure than the breath I breathe turned out to be false and empty.  And things that seemed so quiet and small that it didn't amount to much?  It turned out to be what I really needed, the real-deal.  I can remember going to my own college orientation and asking my Mom if she would want to go back to college as an 18 year old.  "If I could know what I know now, it would be fun to go back for a few weeks...but re-learning all that?  No WAY."  

I wouldn't want to go back.  But I would love to re-kindle that wide-eyed enthusiasm about life, about what God has around the corner...that thought that at any moment the world might shift and He might reveal Himself more fully.  Maybe I can't really go "back in time", but this past week, I saw the world through my 18 year old sis's eyes and saw the world as it is:  full of magic and adventure and all sorts of beautiful things of God.  

Today, I'm looking at this new season as the freshest yet...where I get to live each day in the magical wonder of an 18 year old with the life experience of a 33 year old.  

Contentment, I'm sitting in you.  

Joy, you're unconditional.    

World, you are my oyster.


And Heavenly Father, You have always Been and always will Be, my Heart of Hearts...


Remembering back and looking forward...


Love y'all...



Meal Planning (I said I'd do it, didn't I?!)

Who cares that it took me nearly two weeks to get organized enough to. . . .well . . .get organized (Ah-hem), at least I finally did it. On May 20th, I mentioned to you that I was turning over a new organizational leaf in my life and I've finally taken the very first step.

My children finished their last day of school and as soon as they all got in the car and smiled at me with those big "we finally made it" grins on their faces, the weight of the summer reality met me with a huge jarring dose of reality. My home will be filled with hungry humans for the next three months. And since, I'm the kind of mother that makes my children play outside (even when they say they are bored, or hot, or. . .well, anything), they'll be sweating all of their calories away and running inside every few minutes for snacks. 

They are boys. 

And this is the way they roll.

However, I'm not the kind of mom who has an open-pantry policy. At certain points during the day, the kitchen is just closed. C.L.O.S.E.D

So, I'll deny them the moment-by-moment snacks they desperately need in order to survive the next hour of Nerf Gun wars, so that my sanity can stay in tact until the fall. And since, this is my "tiger-mom" philosophy (that I'll probably bend for my four year old when he gives me those "eyes") I feel it only fitting that their momma figure out how to keep three squares on the table. 

It dawned on me that it'd probably be helpful to start planning meals, and their accompanying grocery lists, a week or even four in advance so that I can be prepared (and keep myself out of the grocery store on a daily basis). 

(and so that I can make it to the fall with my sanity in tact. . . did I already say that?) 

(But seriously, I have to make it to autumn because I bought the cutest fall/winter boots on clearance last week for pennies on the dollar. Best sale I've seen in a while. So yes, I must survive. I MUST! I want to wear those BOOTS!)

So the meal planning has begun. . . .with

My friend (and self-appointed organizational mentor), Kerri Weems, suggested that I take a look at this site. It provides you with a placed to plan your meals, find new recipes, and list your own. Then it creates grocery lists for you based on the recipes that you've chosen. Even better, it links to an App on your phone and updates automatically. No matter which device you make changes to, the other will record it. 

Jackson (my 10 year old son) and I went to the grocery store Saturday morning with my cell phone charged up and prepared with the brand-new, shiny ZipList App. The list organized all my items by department so when I was in produce, everything I needed was listed together on the App. Same for bread, dairy, meats, snacks, etc. It was fantastic!

And, I made a great Greek Salad for lunch later that day with some of the goodies I purchased. Made me feel good to know that it was PLANNED!

So, it begins. I'm hopeful that I might be able to tackle this part of my life. I'm going to spend a couple months trying to get into the habit. But, it won't be without challenge. A quick look at our disheveled, sporadic travel schedule in June is already putting a dent in my smooth, organized plans for the kitchen in our home. 


Oh well. . .good thing perfection is not the goal. . .or I'd be quite a loser.

Now, I want to figure out a good system for keeping the kids accountable and independent with their chores around the house. The system we've had in place is losing it's novelty and I'm looking for a replacement. Would love to know what you're doing with your clan.

Happy Summer Organizing!


Love, Laughter and Chocolate Cake

Hey Friends!


This week, some of our favorite ministry friends popped in the cottage for a little chocolate cake (Ode to Linnae & Priscilla) and honoring of our beloved friend's departure into a new adventure.  I'm sure you can imagine how we all feel right's that bloated post-party know what I'm talking about, you've ate and laughed, laughed and cried and then started the whole process over again!  Priscilla had brought a cute bag of fuzzy socks over, and all of us were cuddled up under blankets, giggling like 8th grade girls at a sleepover.   And as the sugar hugh started to descend, we were just about to make that a sleepover right there on that comfy white couch!


The whole reason we were there was to honor Nae, to impart our love for her as we heralded things we loved about her.  There were plenty of cheers raised ("Here, Here!") when a particularly poignant praise point was lauded.  And the love seemed to extend beyond just heaping it on Nae...we all were making little comments of little things we liked about everyone in the room.  So by the time we left, we all felt full.  Full of love.  Full of joy.  And full of chocolate cake.


I've been thinking, what if we spent our days telling folks what we really appreciate about them?  What if we constantly point out the beautiful, God-created loveliness in other people?  What if I always TOLD my friend she looks stunning, or is witty or funny or loyal or kind, AS I thought about it?  Would I finish EVERY day as full of love and joy (sans the chocolate cake!) as today?


Proverbs 18:21 says "Death and life are in the power of the tongue."  In light of our gorgeous gathering the other day, I read this verse and think:  I want to SPEAK life to others...for in speaking life to others, I GET more life.


Just a thought as we enter this the heat or kids surrounding us 24/7 makes us our vacations feel like work and as work feels like hum-drum.  Praying we all speak life to all around today.  


You are LOVED!



Bittersweet Goodbyes


Dear Friends,

It is with a bittersweet heart that I write to you today as my very last blog post for Going Beyond Ministries. After much prayer and what I feel like is God's prompting, I will be leaving staff here at Going Beyond and heading into the unknown. 

Oh, what a wonderful journey it has been these past 4.5 years! I cannot believe that God would bring me all the way from Nashville, TN to Dallas, TX to serve here. What.a.privilege.

I didn't know a single soul here besides the Shirers and a few "friends of a friend". Our "office" was situated in the Shirer's old house. Just a little room filled with papers and a printer and some boxes in a closet so we could ship resources. Just me and Jerry and Priscilla. . . my, how times have changed!

Jude was just a few months old and now he is 4 years old! I remember my first trips just like they were yesterday: Priscilla and I would head out for the airport with a car seat, plenty of diapers and wipes, and hope that there was a dark room somewhere in the church she was speaking at where we could let Jude sleep until it was time for us to head back to the hotel for the evening. 

Then there was the time that I practically made Priscilla and I late for our flight due to the fact that I was in desperate need for a piece of that decadent "Molten Lava Cake" from Chilis . . . don't judge . . . we had a layover and we deserved some chocolate! Needless to say, I was a little embarassed when I had to call Jerry and explain to him why we almost missed our flight due to a chocolate craving. OOPS!

It has been a dream fulfilled - working here. I gotta tell you, this family is way more amazing than you think they are. I feel quite privileged because while you all get to see the amazingness of what God does with Priscilla "on stage", I get to see she and Jerry in the day to day life. And in my opinion, it's even better! And Annetta, oh my goodness what a God-send she is! She is my partner in crime, my confident, my rock . . . you really don't want to know what we are up to every day being together 40 hours a week . . . to say that we can now read each other's mind before a word is spoken is an understatement. I know I will never have another Box in my life. And I don't think I want to. I'd like to keep my memories of her just as they are!

So what am I going to be doing? Great question! I'm not quite sure yet. I do know that I will be able to serve the woman who got me this job in the first place for a few weeks in June. Her name is Ellen Olford and she is on staff at Central Church in Memphis, TN. God is so gracious to allow me to return to her and serve her for a short stint, all the while being able to spend time with my mom and sister's family there. Then I will be off to Waco, TX to live with my brother and his family for a few months until I can figure out the next steps. 

So without further ado, I bid you farewell my friends. I'm excited for YOU, and what God has in store for your lives. I'm so grateful to have been a part of this journey with you up until now. Blessings to each of you. May God do immeasurably MORE in your lives than you could even think, ask or imagine..... all for His Glory and Names sake!

Linnae Jewel

Honor Sacrifice by Celebrating Life!

Blessed Memorial Day to you friend!

Since 1971 we've been governmentally mandated to take a day to memorialize those who have gone before us, sacrificing their lives to ensure our freedom.  And today, our team will be taking a day to celebrate life with family and friends...honoring the memory of our fallen military by celebrating the life they purchased for us with their life blood.

Just a thought as you shoot off to a picnic or on a jetski today..breathe deep the air of freedom!

God bless you!



Awakening after Awaken...

Oi vey.  You know that feeling of eye crusties cementing your eyelids together, hair standing straight on end, and too few hours of sleep...all the while looking smack dab into the face of a jam-packed weekend?  Give me a minute, I need to refill this java cup for the 5th time this morning...

Mmmm...ok.  That's better.  *smoothing hair*  Now that we're awake and looking at each other squarely in the face, it's time to have a show down.  

I think I've been too gripey.  

I've talked way too much about what I need.  About how I'm needy in some way, shape or form; about how I don't have enough.  

Never enough.  

Never enough.  

Ooof.  There's that nauseous feeling again...I get it when I don't sleep enough and when I start to sound like a prideful little snoot.  I'm pretty sure this is a combo of the two.  

So.  Today.  I've gotta reverse all that before this crazy weekend  I rest in the TRUTH that HE has GOT me.  That He has all my needs...that He knows about them before I say a WORD!

I was reminded a little about this Hope, this Faith, last night when Priscilla brought the thunder at Awaken.  I can't WAIT to get that message into your little greedy hands are already demanding it from our A/V guy just because my soul needs that message SEARED on my heart oh-so-keenly.

How's YOUR heart today?  Are you at rest?  Or are you demanding He step in, stomping in your freshly (or not-so-freshly!) manicured feet?

Just remember...this too shall pass.  And He has a plan.  He's not running in circles in heaven wondering how on earth you got into this mess.  He's actually the Dude perfectly orchestrating your way out.  So press into your Daddy today, cuddling up, nestled in the shadow of His wings....He's got you.


Praying...You are BRILLIANTLY LOVED! 



How are YOU?

As we finish this week's prep for Awaken, we've been praying for a move of His Holy Spirit in the heart's of those coming.  I've gotten to thinking about all of you NOT attending.  How are YOU?

We want you to be prayed for too...would you take a minute and let us know how your heart is?  Do you need a miracle in your heart?  In your circumstances?  In both?

DO you just feel asleep in life?  In the Lord?

What can we pray?  We love you and want to serve you well.  



The GB Team

Energy Left To Move Forward

I wish I had more of a penchant for organization. I love it. I'm just not that good at it. Or maybe, like anything else in life, I could be good at it if I just practiced - disciplined myself to stick to a system and rhythm. Took time to think through things up front instead of tackling them as they come.

Gosh, I'm such an admirer of people whose homes and lives and offices and calendars are planned and ordered into lists and beautifully crafted schedules. My heart seems to take a deep breath when everything is in it's place. 




Shoot, The Container Store makes my heart skip a beat as I walk up and down their symmetric aisle-ways wishing that my actual home could fall in line with one of their staged sets.


But my kitchen never looks like that. 

My closets never looks like that.

My kids' rooms certainly never look like that.

But they could. 

I'm convinced that they could.

This weekend, I was at my friend Kerri's house. First time I've ever been into her home in Jacksonville. I wasn't surprised to find her surroundings clean and simple and organized to a "T". That's just the kind of woman she is. Without ever stepping foot into her personal space, you can just tell by her calm spirit and clean, simple fashion sense that this woman believes in order. . . and she does. In fact, organization and systems are a creed she lives by.

A creed that she teaches  younger women in her church who have the good sense to lean in and learn.


I asked her about it while I stuffed my mouth with the meal she'd prepared - using kitchen utensils that were ORGANIZED. . .  meticulously placed with care inside her kitchen drawer . . . 



 . . . .instead of piled on top of each other in a huge heap like the one I have to dig through to find "that spatula that I know is in here somewhere". 



I sat with my mouth ajar and eyes wide like a deer caught in headlights as she explained some of the systems she has put in place to make her life operate as smoothly as possible. 


And, man oh man, does she need every single one of them. 


She's a pastor's wife who runs the women's ministry at her church, manages a large staff, writes for her own vibrant blog, authors books and Bible study curriculum, mothers three children and takes care of her pastor husband. (I just got exhausted writing that sentence.) Her life is full and without her meticulous systems she's the first to admit she'd never be able to manage her life and full schedule. She doesn't teach perfectionism. She's a proponent of organization and there's a difference.


So, she walked me over to her "planning station" - just a simple counter top in her living room on which she has a small box filled with several files - one for each member of her family with important health care and school documents. And a binder, organized with a monthly calendar, chore chart, weekly meal plans and details on each child's activities. Every evening she takes 10 minutes before bed to update her binder so that any member of her family can look into it and know what they need to tackle the next day. So even when she isn't around, her system makes certain that life continues to run.


Then she said this and I knew she was talking directly to my heart, "If I spend the best of my emotional and mental energy trying to figure out the predictable, daily details of life I won't have any energy left to move my life forward. My best energy shouldn't be spent trying to urgently figure out dinner each day or determine which kid needs to do which chore. I need to save the best of myself for higher level things - for moving toward the future vision in store for my family and ministry. I don't want to expend and exhaust myself on things that a simple organized plan can take care of in advance.



I was caught - like another one of those deer in headlights.



I put down my fork, titled my head to the side and said, HELP ME!


She's a gracious woman so she didn't roll her eyes, laugh and walk away to leave me wallowing in my unorganized misery. She offered to help me get my life together.

I'm so grateful.


So, I think I'm going to start small - meal planning. If I can sit down and map out a dinner plan for the week and make one trip to the grocery store (instead of three times a week every time I discover at the last minute that I'm out of that one ingredient I need to complete a meal) - I'll save loads of time and energy each day trying to figure it out.



Yup, I'm going to start here - organizing my family's meals. 

Want to join me?


If you are already doing this please tell what your method is. Also, I'd love to know what your organization tricks of the trade are for other areas of your life? What are some systems you've put in place that help your life run in a sane and sensible way?





P.S. For tips on organizing and other bits of wisdom on life visit Kerri's blog at

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