The iPods: Surrounding Yourself with Positive Influences

A few months ago, the esteemed gentlemen of our couples small group decided to start a men’s group. I was involved in a men’s small group a couple of years ago and the impact was immediate and profound. Instead of claiming another evening on the calendar, we decided to meet Friday mornings at 6:45am at Chick-fil-a. Thanks to Mandy we also have a hashtag: #chickenandjesus!

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When we first started going, we noticed another group of older guys that were there at the same time as us. After meeting them we discovered their incredible story: they have been meeting continuously for 14 years and their table in the back corner has a plaque featuring their name – The Walkmen. It is because of this outdated (and probably incorrectly referenced) nickname that we decided to start calling ourselves The iPods. Maybe 14 years from now some young guys will ask themselves, “Do they realize no one uses iPods anymore?”

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More important than the name or hashtag is the purpose behind our meetings – to grow as men of God! We set out goals for our group during our first week and I’m still energized by being part of a group that is all working for the same things. First, we wanted to create an atmosphere of wise counsel. We all have issues in life that we just need to talk about bro-to-bro. Not to vent about how our wives made us angry, but rather talking through the struggles that we encounter daily that only other guys can understand fully. Second, we wanted to grow closer to Christ through devotional and Bible study for Christian men. In our church, John Woodall has changed the game with Seven (which was our first study) and we are lucky to have such a valuable resource at our fingertips. The Bible is full of guidelines for men on everything from how to lead your family to parenting to managing God’s money. Finally, we all were looking to build relationships with other like-minded guys who are fun to do life with.

I look forward to Friday mornings each week (even though I have trouble getting up in time!) to spend with my buddies and have some of their wisdom rub off on me. I’m so thankful that we can all lean on each other and work through troubles, celebrate success, and grow to love Jesus more together.

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Featured: Emily Ley Blog

Emily Ley Blog Feature: Pinch me!

We all have a list of blogs we read and people we follow on Instagram. For me, I love following Emily Ley for her inspiration and how she gives a real life glimpse at juggling being a working mama and loving her husband. She has a really great series on her blog that tells how real women keep it simple in their daily lives. I was tickled to share my own simplified processes because we all need a little clarity on things that work well, because hey, it may just work well for someone else too. Head over to her blog and check out the ways we corral our grocery list and calendar in the cloud and amongst it all find time to physically and mentally take care of ourselves.

Thank you Emily and Ginah for letting me share how we keep the day-to-day activities organized and a little less stressful over here in our Fox Den.

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Philly Date Night

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We took a little vacation a few weeks ago to Philadelphia; the trip was for a Spartan Race, but we couldn’t leave without having some fun as well! We had a customer event in Savannah a while back and met a guy who grew up in Philly. He gave us the whole run down of things that we couldn’t miss including great places to eat. His expertise definitely did not disappoint! His recommendation was Chickie’s and Pete’s – known throughout Philly for their Crab Fries. This place was SO good. We got their signature sweet potato fries and a crab pizza! Mandy thought that the best part were the crab boiling stockpots that they used for sinks in the bathrooms.
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Before the race, we worked a volunteer shift in order to earn free entry into the race. During our shift we chatted with the people on our crew and they told us about the Spruce Street Harbor Park. Mandy was sold as soon as she heard “trees lined with LED lights”! This was the perfect place to have our date night in Philly! We had a great little walk to the park and took a bunch of pictures in the park. The LED lights were everywhere, changed colors, and gave the park such a cool ambiance. I was blown away though that the park was only temporary – the first pop-up park! They set it up every summer and it gets taken down when winter rolls around. What a cool idea for a city to do! I wish we had some of these guys in Atlanta.2014-09-19 20.58.47

The park, if you couldn’t tell by the name, was set up on the Philly Harbor. You could look out over the water and the restaurant located in the park was actually on a barge! The views were great with all of the lights reflecting and twinkling off the water.2014-09-19 20.51.07Want to know what I love more than just about anything? Hammocks. That’s right, I am twelve at heart and I can’t get enough of lying in the ropey contraptions and getting my relaxation on. I have yet to mention the thing that Spruce Street Harbor Park is best known for – booyah, hammocks! They are everywhere. Probably a hundred of them hung all around the park. As popular as the park is, they were all full so we walked around for a while, checked out the food trucks, played giant Connect Four, and listened to some awesome live bluegrass music before finally snagging one. It was the perfect ending to our date night to lay together and relax with all the beautiful colors overhead. We love you Philly and can’t wait to come back!

 

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Marriage Education: Book Edition

In my honest opinion, marriage is about continuous education. This happens through finding role models but also from reading good booksBread and WineWe have read many marriage books through our time with our small groups and we feel like continuous education is one of the best things we can do to help our marriage. Neither of us have been married before so why should we expect to know how to do it? Every day that comes along presents the opportunity for new experiences and potential problems that we have never faced. We try to stay ahead of the curve by reading quality, Christian marriage books that will help us prepare for the curveballs that life throws. Below are some of our favorites – some of which have completely revolutionized our marriage!

Five Love Languages – Gary Chapman

Who knew that a book could be SO powerful? We read this as part of our 2-to-1 premarital mentoring and we couldn’t be happier that we did. For me, this was one of those books that just made something click in my head. Each of us is unique in the way that we want to love and be loved. Tuning into your spouse’s love language can be an ultimate game-changer – before reading this, there were times when I would do things for Mandy and be completely baffled as to why they didn’t have more of an impact. It had never occurred to me that I was doing things the way I would want them done for me and not the other way around.

Circle Maker – Mark Batterson

Mark Batterson is the man. Let’s just start there. Circle Maker is one of my favorite books that I have ever read, but you can’t go wrong with anything he has written. This one focuses on the story of Honi from the Bible and how he prayed so big that he saved his nation from drought. We all could take a lesson from Honi to pray bigger, more audaciously, and more determined than we do on a daily basis. Mandy and I were able to implement many things from this book, the least of which includes completely circling the things we are working for in prayer. To quote MB: “work like it depends on us and pray like it depends on God”!

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Bread and Wine – Shauna Niequist

Mandy had been dying to read this book for a while before she ended up caving in and just buying it. We had heard from lots of people how awesome it was (shoutout to McKenzie!) but Mandy could not put it down once she got started. Shauna talks about just how important it is to build community around the dinner table. One of our family missions is to eat together around the table as often as possible and this book hit the nail on the head. The recipes inside look amazing as well! Mandy even loved the book so much that she painted the art above with a quote from Shauna’s book “The table is the life raft, the center point, the home base of who we are together”.

What books are you reading lately?

 

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Rim Hugger: Boulder

Mandy and I love watching Extreme Weight Loss. During our fitness journey last year, we watched it every week and we both would always want to go workout after each episode ended – even if we had gotten one in that day already! This season, Chris and Heidi Powell had all of the participants stay in Colorado and many episodes featured them working out at Red Rocks Amphitheater. I have a customer in Boulder and so when a meeting was scheduled for this week, I knew I had to make time to come to Red Rocks.

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The last time I visited, I met up with our awesome friends Molly and Zach and we tried to go check out Red Rocks at night. Unfortunately, the guard caught us in the parking lot and politely asked us to leave. Womp womp. This time though, I made sure that I was within the visiting hours and I set off on my epic stairs workout. When I walked in and saw all the stairs, I set my goal to run up and down ten times. After my first lap, I envisioned myself curling up in a little ball and crying for the foreseeable future. I had WAY underestimated the layer of difficulty that the altitude would present! It definitely felt like my lungs were being ripped out of my chest. I struggled through five stair runs and then started the final portion of my workout.

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Starting at the bottom, I snaked my way through all 70 rows all the way up to the top. Across the row, up the two stairs at the end, and back across the next one. I didn’t realize how many people were cheering my on until I got close to the top and I could hear their voices over my headphones. There was a pretty large group of people checking out the amphitheater at the top and as I turned to run each row, there were a few shouting words of encouragement at me. Pretty awesome! The workout was tough but well worth it – I definitely need to see a concert at Red Rocks sometime. It is such an incredible venue!

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Some of my coworkers had told me about a hike that they took before our meeting and encouraged me to do it in the morning before heading to the airport. The Mt. Sanitas trail is very popular in Boulder and they assured me that they had casually hiked up and it had taken them 45 minutes. I gave myself an hour just in case and headed off to the trail after a wonderful breakfast at The Buff Restaurant. Side note: if you are in Boulder, GO THERE.

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I had decided to train run as much as possible to get a little Spartan training in at the high elevation. I started up the steep back side of the mountain and it was a fantastic trail. It was a mix of climbing on my hands and feet, natural rock stairs, and a steep dirt trail. I got winded quickly, but the view on the way up to the peak as the sun rose was really, really pretty.

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Once I hit the peak, the trouble began. My ascension had only taken 30 minutes but I apparently got on the wrong trail from the summit. Lucikly the (wrong) trail that I had gotten on was flat and dirt and I was able to cruise along at a fast pace. It wasn’t until a half an hour had passed without seeing anyone else that I realized I wasn’t heading in the direction that I thought I was. Then the trail ended. Just flat out stopped. Here I was in the middle of the woods – alone, no phone signal, and no clue where I was. I was pushing up against the deadline I had set for myself to get back to the hotel and I was totally lost. I said a prayer that I would get myself found again and sprinted off on the path I had just come. Finally after a mile or so, I found a fork in the trail and took off down the path that I hadn’t been on before. Another 30 minutes or so later, I finally came out on a road and my phone picked up service again. Victory? Not quite.

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I pulled up my map and realized that I had a two mile run/sprint down the mountain road to get back to my car. Ouch. I sucked up the burning in my muscles and the pain from the blisters that had formed and set off. Glad I run with my head up though because I ran right up on the little guy shown below. Is that an elk? A deer? I don’t know but it was really cool. I ran right up to him and he didn’t flinch at all. Just kept eating his leaves and let me run right by.

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Finally, I got to my car and got off to the airport. My leisurely 45 minute hike had turned into a scary “get-lost-in-the-woods-and-have-to-run-for-your-life” sprint. I had been gone for almost two hours, but it certainly made for an unforgettable experience!

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Nacho Average Baptism

This past weekend we celebrated Conner getting baptized! I took it as an opportunity to gather our family and friends to have a little fiesta in the parking lot. jBRcKqnn7eTUBxI1GaXJIDNy796iwli5Emid9EkMypw I attempted to make the piñata cookies that I have seen time and time again on Pinterest. These were super labor intensive. The first step was acquiring a donkey cookie cutter. Oh wait, I already had one in my cookie cutter stash. HAHAHA! As for the intensity of the process, I’m talking make the cookies, die them, then layer them on top of each other to create the different colors. Then you let it freeze for a few hours before cutting and baking. Conner helped me make these cookies and after we got them out of the oven and cut, we decided to skip putting the m&m’s inside of the cookies and just leave them cut as-is. I also made churro truffles that were a HUGE hit. I will be making those again for sure.

2zlG4xgoje8uqIugyoLUlb1CCqpYhUgiIuwxpaRvPAAFor the main course we had a taco bar complete with chicken and all the fixin’s.
ED0K5MzPwxxSd4tnZQBiv4OWKjWt2_MiPni4W7tg0VY RCkwI0ycikFOyMEGC4bbs6B-NQa2Cg3VI-IvnyADGpYOne of my favorite party foods/decor was brought in from my parents. I love when my family comes because they always bring a little something special to the party. They made fiesta mints or as they told me “vegetarian burritos”. BZJf-wWoC9qmHAIeXwKoDo608x_vcLxrQ47p5z6COJYAnd the real reason for the celebration was this guy right here. Conner made the decision that the next step in his relationship with Jesus was to be baptism. I am so proud to be his wife and loved seeing him make his public profession in front of the whole church.
Nacho Average BaptismHere is the whole video as well! What occasion are you planning a party for right now?

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Fall Date Night Ideas

Happy Fall Y’all! It’s the weekend and it’s time to have some fun! We believe in date nights and memories over materialistic things, so we wanted to encourage you to get creative in your relationships. I know today, we are off to do some tailgating as it is Georgia Tech’s Homecoming game! We came up with a fun printable for you to download and print as a check-list for the fall. What is on your fall date night bucket list? Which of these do you think you will try first?
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If you want to print this and put it on your fridge, download it here: fall date night-2

When you go on your date, tag #mcfallfun so we can see how you do date night!

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