The Beauty of Grace
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Listen to Your Mother, Y’all!

Hospital birth

Although I eventually gave birth to four girls and four boys, my husband and I invested 10 years in this parenting gig before welcoming a daughter into our home. Our first three children were boys, which was how my husband’s family rolled: his mother and grandmother each gave birth to three sons, no girls.

Because I was one of two girls and so was my mother, they were what I expected. I can French braid—a skill which shouldn’t go to waste—so surely God would give me daughters, right?

Most women find Proverbs 31 an intimidating chapter in the Bible. This woman had everything—virtue, business sense, serious gardening and homemaking skills, and a strong marriage—a description that can make even the most confident woman feel lacking.

But what draws me in is the beginning of verse 28:

“Her children arise up, and call her blessed . . .”

As mothers we pour ourselves into our children, body and soul. It’s only natural to hope they notice and appreciate it.

mom and girls

My mother passed away 11 years ago, much too young. I’ve since learned that you’re never too old to need a mother’s love and advice.

I’m honored to pay tribute to my her memory as part of this year’s Listen to Your Mother event in Atlanta, where 13 local writers and storytellers will read stories about the blessings, the struggles, and the sleep-deprivation of motherhood in celebration of Mother’s Day in a live performance.

I would love for you to join me there.

What: Listen to Your Mother, Atlanta
Where: Earl Smith Strand Theatre, 117 North Park Square, Marietta, GA 30060
When: Saturday, April 25th, 7 p.m.
Tickets: http://bit.ly/ltymatltix

Listen to Your Mother Atlanta

The BlogHer Experts Among Us Team will visit five cities on the 39-city Listen to Your Mother schedule and Atlanta is one of them!

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Atlanta Arts Watch

Blue Man Group

One of the things I love about Atlanta is the variety of available cultural events. This week Blue Man Group plays the Fox Theatre Tuesday-Sunday, April 7-12, as part of the Broadway in Atlanta series and the Libera Boys Choir finishes their mini-U.S. tour at the Woodruff Center Symphony Hall Friday night, April 10.

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Blue Man Group

We saw Blue Man Group on opening night. I didn’t realize my husband had always wanted to see them! Honestly, I didn’t know what to expect. What we got was a quirky, high-energy performance with a lot of performer-audience interaction.

My husband and I enjoyed going together, but this show would make a perfect date night for a parent and child. Tuesday night’s performance was actually a special Family 2 Family Kids Night on Broadway.

Tickets for Blue Man Group are available at by visiting foxtheatre.org/blueman, calling 1-855-285-8499 or visiting the Fox Theatre Box Office (660 Peachtree St NE, Atlanta, GA 30308).

Libera

I would love to take my little girls to the Libera concert Friday night. I think they would enjoy seeing children their own age perform. Such angelic voices!

Libera is a vocal band comprised of uniquely talented young men, ages 7 to 16, who live in London but have topped both mainstream and classical charts across the globe with recordings from their live concerts in massive venues including the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C., New York’s Yankee Stadium (at Pope Benedict XVI’s request), D.C.’s Kennedy Center and LA’s Crystal Cathedral. Their music features both sacred and secular selections including Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee (based on Beethoven’s 9th Symphony), Sanctus (from Johann Pachelbel’s famous Canon), Amazing Grace and Schubert’s soaring Ave Maria.

Libera’s concert at the Basilica of the National Shrine of Immaculate Conception was recorded for their latest CD and a PBS special that aired last month and is now available on DVD.

Libera DVD Trailer
Libera official website

Libera Atlanta

{Disclosure: Tickets provided for review. All opinions are my own.}


Live in north Atlanta? Visit our family this Saturday in Canton or Cumming for the first Southwestern Produce fruit and vegetable sale of the year!

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April 2015 Desktop Calendar!

April 2015 desktop calendar

Spring has arrived with all kinds of crazy in my world: a graduation and two weddings! I’ve taken cap and gown pictures for the seniors in our homeschool group at our house this week. There’s so much change, wonder, and emotion packed into that one word: graduation.

Twenty six students, some alone, some with their mothers, have walked through my door in the past two days carrying black gowns on hangers; stuffing heads and hair into ever-awkward mortarboard caps; adjusting ties, necklaces, and academic cords; beginning to imagine what life after graduation will look like.

The moms look like they need a sympathetic hug, but then we’d probably both cry.

Later I’ll post about my quest for the dress (x2) for my new gig(s) as mother-of-the-groom and my pseudo-Weight Watchers diet plan!

Download April’s Desktop Calendar!

Enjoy!

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20150323_DawnCamp_SpringCanvas

My camera and I tend to hibernate in the winter, when the temperature is low and the scenery bland. But spring’s arrival brings mild temperatures and fresh sights sure to lure us outdoors.

Here are four compelling reasons to dust off your camera and get out there and shoot!

Capture Spring’s Blooms While They Last
Beautiful blossoms usher in the spring, but many disappear too soon. Here in the southeast I watch for the daffodils first, followed by the cherry blossom and the dogwood trees, just in time for Easter. You can find beauty and interest even in the weeds, like the white puffball of a dandelion.

Lose the Extra Pounds
The combination of richer foods and a less active lifestyle adds extra pounds to my waistline during the winter months. I start with the best of plans — sweatsuits and an I think I can, I think I can attitude towards cold-weather workouts — but my reality never matches my expectations. Taking your camera outdoors for a spring nature walk provides some extra incentive to get out and move!

Visit me today at (in)courage for the rest of the reasons!

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Picks & Pans: Movies, Music & More

My Media Picks: Music, Movies & More

I stay pretty busy and I’ll bet you do too! Life can be crazy hectic and sometimes we just need a break. I take my entertainment seriously and I thought it would be fun to share more often about movies, music, Netflix and Amazon Prime offerings, and podcasts, both picks and pans.

Maybe you’ll discover something fresh and new and by all means, feel free to share your own recommendations!

Movies

Cinderella

Cinderella (PG) – I have fond memories of the original animated version of Cinderella. It released on VHS when our oldest son was little and we watched it a lot. My 15-year-old daughter and I saw a screening of this new live-action Cinderella last week and I was charmed.

This fresh retelling remains faithful to the original and shows that Disney doesn’t need over-the-top bad guys or Maleficent-style antiheroes to tell a story. It offers us a simple message—have courage and be kind—and then shows what that looks like when you live it.

McFarland USA

McFarland USA (PG) – Disney has another winner here! I’ve been a Kevin Costner fan for a long time and I love him in this great role. McFarland USA is the true story of a high school coach who moves his family to a poor Hispanic community in California after his temper cost him a cushy job coaching football in Idaho.

Watching him transform a group of hard-working teen boys—they wake up early to work in the fields, go to school, and then return to help their families in the field at the end of the day—into an award-winning cross country team should inspire you and your kids that with hard work anything is possible.

Music

Drew Holcomb Medicine

Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors: Medicine – I’ve listened to this album almost continuously since its January 1 release. It was the soundtrack for the days and nights I spent finishing The Gift of Friendship, my second book, which will come out February 2016. Love it!

Netflix

The Blacklist

The Blacklist Season 1 – Most-wanted criminal Raymond Redington turns himself in to the FBI on the condition that he will only talk to rookie profiler Elizabeth Keen. Red hands over information which helps catch criminals both known and unknown, his own personal Blacklist.

My #1 criteria for movies and television is in the characters: it’s crucial that I like at least one enough to care what happens to them. Otherwise, what’s the point? I’m heavily invested in this show. It feels like the old days watching Alias where the stories playing out in the characters’ lives are as important as the cases they solve.

We finished season one in a Blacklist marathon Friday night. This NBC series is currently in its second season on TV, but the first is available to stream on Netflix, who apparently paid $2 million per episode to show it exclusively. Hopefully that helps bankroll The Blacklist for seasons to come!

(Violent content. Not intended for children.)

What about you? What are you currently watching and listening to?

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March 2015 Desktop Calendar

March 2015 Desktop Calendar

My first instinct was to use a photo from a couple of weeks ago for this month’s desktop calendar, when the world was covered in ice, until my girls came in from walking the dog this morning and said it feels like spring. Spring! And we’ve still got the soggy remains of last week’s snowman’s clothes lying in our front yard.

Your calendar is a day late because I’ve been busy busy busy finishing The Gift of Friendship, which will be next year’s follow up to The Beauty of Grace. I may be just a teeny bit biased, but I believe you will love this book.

Lately I’ve heard people say that the word grace keeps popping up in front of them. There is beauty and grace all around us when we open our minds and hearts to see it (and even when we don’t).

May this desktop calendar bring a little loveliness to your March days and remind you of God’s beauty and grace all around you.

Download March’s Desktop Calendar!

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Enjoy!

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