Girl time

We are a family that loves tradition. We take very seriously God’s call to remember, and traditions help us do just that. They are a sort of Sabbath for us, providing an opportunity to step back from our normal busy lives and celebrate what God has done for His people and for us specifically.

When Evan was nearing a very significant birthday that would take him from one digit to two, we decided that we’d start a tradition of a little surprise getaway alone with Mom or Dad when each child turned 10. Mark took Evan, a big chocolate lover, to Hershey, PA for his man weekend, a surprise that included a Hershey bar with a golden ticket. Ashlyn’s been anticipating her time away ever since. With snowmageddon this year, a marriage retreat, and two trips out of the country, her getaway was two and a half months after her actual birthday. But, that didn’t matter at all when I showed her folded clothes lined up perfectly by day and purpose on her bed and handed her a suitcase.

I wanted to do something different for Ashlyn’s trip. So, I chose to study God’s word with her, a girl who loves to learn just like her mother. I chose Esther. It’s the perfect book to study with a young girl—an adventure, a romance, a mystery complete with cliffhangers, a villain and a hero and…of course…Esther, an orphan who becomes a Queen who changes the world. It’s the perfect book to invite conversation about standing up for what is right, having courage despite fear, living wisely, and choosing to be a part of God’s Kingdom work. All that in the context of a book that doesn’t actually mention the name of God a single time but has His name written all over it as it overflows with His sovereignty and redemption.

esther working on study

We feasted on calamari and New York strip steak and talked about the king’s feasts. We got the red carpet (white robe?) treatment and Ashlyn got her first manicure and pedicure complete with mother-daughter matching blue and purple polish, during which we talked to the spa ladies about what it would be like to get beauty treatments for a year like Esther and the other young women got in preparation to meet the king. We went swimming in a heated pool and talked about ripple effects. And, we decorated a t-shirt with Sharpies and rubbing alcohol and talked about how something little and seemingly plain can become something really big and exciting.

Esther spa

esther nails

esther tshirt

She opened up about some of her own stuff with me. And, she taught me a thing or two as we sat with Bibles opened over six meals together. Isn’t that just how God works?

esther together outside

Ashlyn and I, with our “ebenezers,” matching necklaces from Compelled Designs

Since Ashlyn is currently Insta-obsessed (go follow her at ashlyn124—shameless plug for her Instagram feed that currently features more images from Frozen than anything else), I jumped right in there with her, posting lots of pictures to Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter while we were away. That led to some requests for the study I used. So, I edited it after our “trial run” for other mamas to use with their girlies for sweet times together like ours. Here it is at no charge to you. Just promise to come back and let us know how it went and how God blessed you during your time together and after—and maybe post some pictures on Instagram and tag us. That would rock.

Overthinking sleepovers

It’s what nearly every little girl looks forward to as a rite of passage, and it’s what nearly every parent bites her nails over.

The sleepover.

At 10 years old, we’re right at that precipice of childhood when sleepovers require packing further ahead of time than we pack for a trip to China and an early bedtime the night before. While some may think the talk refers to something entirely different, at this point in our home, it can be summed up with this: make wise choices, don’t gossip about other people, be kind, and remember. All my parenting proverbs were put out there in a quick few minutes and were met with a big smile and lots of head nods as she was already warming up to sing “Let it Go” 100x with 3 other equally obsessed tween girls.

All 6 of us in the car got to experience the high-pitch squeals saying something that sounded like her name greeting us from the front porch as we drove up to the house. While I greeted her friend’s mom (may she rest in peace tonight), my daughter disappeared into the crowd like a rockstar with her peeps without even a goodbye.


And, we drove away, down nearly 17% of our crew which sounds like not that much but feels like a lot more…particularly when nearly 33 1/3% of the bunch in the car seemingly barely noticed we even stopped the car and someone got out (don’t worry, I’m talking about my sons, not Mark and I).

Hardly seems right sending her off like this already. Granted, we’re not dropping her off at college here, she’ll be gone for a whole 18 hours tops. But, still, there’s something big about entering into the season of sleepovers. Have we prepared her enough for what she could face? Will she know what to do and how to do it in a challenge? Wait, that friend of hers is taller than I am. Seriously.

I was just thinking of biting some nails again when I got this…

sleepover text


My girl. My sweet little girl who used to have blonde little Shirley Temple ringlets. She’s so got this.

I texted her at 11pm to tell her that Dad and I were going to bed and to have a good night and not stay up toooooo late (plus or minus a few O s). I may or may not have used some sort of emoticon in classic Ashlyn style.

But, she didn’t reply. Guess the girls were already asleep. Guess I can be now too.

Just a selfie

The heart and mind are the true lens of the camera.
–Yousuf Karsh

Lydia selfie

Yeah, my family is amazing

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