new years is half way

I greet 2012 with much joy and relief. Not because I'm happy to see 2011 go - it was the most memorable year of my life thus far. It's because I view this New Year not as a beginning but as a half way point. Not as new but as the second stretch, the second semester. Because of D's last year in his engineering undergrad, we are still living the semester life. This semester life has also been referred to as our "parentheses time" by Landon [our wonderful officiant, pastor, marriage counselor, and friend].

Thus far, this little parentheses time has been crammed with lessons in life and completely new experiences and more realizations of our desperate need for grace. And, of course, I believe this half way point was chosen by the Lord on His flawless time line. It is a time to assess and to reflect. It is a time to celebrate this mile marker. The Lord is faithful to make our parentheses time sweeter and sweeter as He teaches and reminds us of our ability to live a life of godliness through life in Him. His lessons are nothing but evidence of His grace. It is with deep certainty that I can tell you that He's taught us how to love deeper. How to make the most of our limited time together. And how to be content and secure in any situation. Mastered these things we have not, but we're glad His love and patience are sturdy enough to teach us again and again.

His mercy is unmistakable as well. It's unmistakable when we don't honor our God with all 24 hours of our day. Or half. Or any of it. And it's unmistakable when we haven't been the wife or husband or sibling or friend or child or employee we're called to be.

I will remember 2011 as an incredibly exciting year. There were lots of dancing-in-the-living-room-out-of-excitement moments. It was a year filled with my favorite things - things worth celebrating. And celebrating BIG. There were so many weddings. So many accomplishments. And with them they brought many changes. Changes that were sweet and sometimes bitter but always good because the One's whose hand controlled them is good.

I'm thankful for the assurance that the Lord will continue to carry us through 2012 where we expect many more reasons to celebrate and many more reasons to dance. Happy New Year, y'all.


home for the holidays

Even though I'm slightly mourning that my favorite weekend of the year has come and gone, the memories of our first married Christmas are great ones.

I loved spending time with my sweet grandfather.

And worn out little girls.

How fun it was to watch Daddy Brandon and Uncle Dustin piecing together that Disney Princess bike.

Which was obviously a success.

 The impossible even happened [Brandon is the biggest Auburn fan I know which means he also really hates Alabama].

We spent the entire day in our pajamas.

And tucked ourselves around the dining room table for my absolute favorite part of Christmas day - brunch and reading the Christmas story. My cream cheese apple tart is a recent addition.

I absolutely wish I could eat Christmas morning casserole, Mama Dot's cheese grits, cinnamon rolls, and apple tart every single day. But then I guess it wouldn't make it quite as special.

I truly hope your Christmas holiday lived up to all its expected excitement. I hope that, whoever you were with, you laughed until your sides hurt. I hope that you were reminded of the grace and mercy that was born to us in the most humble of ways. And I hope that it will continue to be new and astonishing to us every morning when our feet hit the floor.


christmas greeting

Love the McMahone/Stone/Jenkins clan!



I have discovered that where my priorities lie is easily perceivable. When I can wake up without an alarm in time to get coffee with a big group of some of my favorite females, it is clear. This is in stark contrast to my frequent frantic mornings of alarm punching and eating out of a 48 ounce jar of applesauce with a plastic fork on the way to work.

And as thankful as I am for a provisional job, days like today are dearly preferred. Days like today remind me how much I love being privileged to the lives of friends. How I love to know their back stories. How I love that homecoming holidays provide opportunities to ask a million questions about their futures and get an eye-to-eye report on their jobs and travels and parents and siblings and grandparents and roommates. And sometimes even their cousins. 

I relish in watching friends file through our living room and settle around the kitchen table for hours of retelling those old favorite stories. And I'm a big fan of cramming lots of voices in a grouping of comfy chairs at the local coffee shop [except we really really missed our Savannah-dwelling, new grandmother and aunt friends]. 

I'm also a big believer in fireplace-staring and ritual cookie-making. All good things making it a blessed start to the Christmas weekend. Tomorrow, I hope this Christmas Eve is your favorite and most memorable and incredibly picture-worthy. Soak it up, folks!

christmas on hillside

Mom's house is all things merry and bright. This is where we will eat way too much and see what Santa brought and curl up on comfy chairs and bask in the light of their pretty pretty Christmas tree and laugh a lot and watch Muppet Family Christmas.


three day excitement

Obviously, Christmas has been on the brain. And, yes, I jumped down the Christmas aisle at Sam's a good two months ago. But its finally that time where just the thought of getting in the car to head to my parents' house for the holidays makes my heart beat faster. If you were here to feel my pulse, I would certainly prove it to you.

I said goodbye to my little office space. 

And finished some baking [almond cake balls and short bread cookies]. 

D and I even soaked up some of the sights of Baton Rouge. 

Now. To get all of this into one of our small cars.

I've got the clinch fist, shut eyes, throw arms in the air, and twirl around kind of excitement!

In other news, does anyone else cry every time Santa speaks to that little Dutch girl on a Miracle on 34th Street? Every. Time. 


celebrating mere

Last Friday night required D to devote himself to some church duties. Miraculously [with four busy schedules], a much needed girl night was planned and executed. And I mean miraculously.

[Notice: good food, tacky sweaters, great company]

We had much to celebrate - a successful postgraduate school interview, an upcoming graduation, a growing baby boy, the end to a successful student teaching semester, other imminent changes, and another Christmas as friends.

Those were the spoken celebrations at least. I believe there to had been a quiet thankfulness. Thankful that this core group was formed for surviving those college years. Thankful that, though there are curves in the road ahead, there is no end in sight. And thankful that we know one another well enough to do this...

[Blame the cake balls. Besides, we were the only ones in Brew Ha Ha.]

Later that weekend we learned that that postgraduate school interview was indeed successful, and our very own Mere is our very own future dentist and soon to be New Orleans resident! The Dean of Admissions called her a "slam dunk." We knew that, Dean. We're just glad that you saw it too. Dr. Patton, DDS. Has a nice ring to it, yes?

In between all of that good food, tacky sweaters, and devilish cake balls were talks of change, baby name ideas, Christmas wishlist accounts, remembered stories, and a whole lot of laughing. And, at one point, big happy tears on my part. What. You don't cry when you're out with your girlfriends? Just me? Huh. 


today is my ashley's birthday

Happy birthday to my beautiful best friend, Ashley Harper Binns.

If you don't know Ashley, I wish [for your sake] that you did. If you knew her, you'd get to experience the astonishing amount of love that she has to give. Love that spills over from her intimate relationship with the Lord.

If you knew her you'd know that she's a lover of fun. She's a great dance partner even with our early discovery of her complete inability to shimmy. Good thing she has many other fine qualities. She has one of those incredibly contagious laughs. She is our celebrator of life.

You would know that she rarely makes it through a movie awake, looks cute in glasses, and is a lover of sunshine and sandy feet.

And you'd know that her loyalty is deep.

She has allowed us to walk with her through times that were bitter, times that were sweet, and times that gave balance to the two. There will be more of all three, I'm sure - all tangled up in exciting changes and new chapters in the big big story the Lord is orchestrating for her.

You see, Ashley's heart has never been planted in the US of A. We've always known that, one day, she'd be obedient to go and to make. We knew this from her early trips to Malawi, her African-inspired bedrooms, the way she loves on Mexican children, and a new love for the East. It is a testament to the Lord's highlighted purpose and to the faithfulness that he has instilled in His girl Ashley.

I secretly hope I can be there, one day, when he utters, "Well done, good and faithful servant." It is inevitable.

So here is a deep thank you for being one of my very favorite life-sharers, Ash. I pray that technology will keep us close, that we'll always get to share clothes, and that people will never stop asking if we're twins. I love you.


wheelin' and dealin': a love for anthro

I am really assuming that you've heard. On the off chance that you haven't, I felt compelled to post this:

This is a rarity, folks! And the sale closet and tables are full. Go check it out! You'll be the star of the Dirty Santa game at your next Christmas party. 


tied up with string

Do you ever tie some extra happies onto your packages?



the impossibles

We took that love language test. And, I have to admit, it was pretty enlightening/accurate. To Dustin's horror, gifts is one of the ways that I both show love and feel loved. Which, like many things, is opposite for D. That's alright - a bigger challenge means bigger growth, right? Maybe that will comfort him.

I can honestly say that I thoroughly enjoy the thinking, the remembering, the planning, and the purchasing of gifts. I jot down ideas throughout the year in my phone or planner. Its a good thing too because Dustin couldn't think of one thing to put on his Christmas list.

The only thing that I don't enjoy is whenever I'm stumped for an idea. It's usually whenever that person has everything they could possibly need [which is most of us] and/or you've used all of your mental notes for him or her. That leaves me in a crumpled, tearful ball on the floor and feeling like an utter failure. I'm sure you can understand. No? Just me?

What I'm about to tell you makes me sound like a big gift-giving, shopping dork. But its a proven method. Yea, I just said proven method. In those seemingly hopeless gifting situations, I think about what that person is really interested in or what they might use the most on a day to day basis. And then, thanks to the incredible and steadily increasing creative community, I try to find the updated and sometimes extraordinary version. Let me tell you that my ceramic measuring cups from Anthropologie make baking so much more exciting than the white plastic ones.


wishing on a Tuesday


What are you busy with on this annoyingly warm Tuesday evening? I'm thankful for both nights spent with others [last night] and nights that provide rest and some holiday prep time [tonight]. The Lord has provided both of those this week while my other half has a very full work schedule. These are the scenes of my post-work night at the 235:

Staring at pretty peonies from a very nice boy.
Finishing Christmas cards [no photos this year - there have been enough of those featuring the two of us for 2011].
Basking in the light of our merry little tree and finishing some wrapping.
Inhaling whole wheat pasta with roasted garlic, lemon zest, basil, and parm. It never even made it out of the mixing bowl.

Happy 12-days-until! WHOA.


michael and many more

When we attended Secret Church about a month ago, we received the privilege of celebrating with Dr. David Platt as he announced to the 50,000-person audience that they were officially adopting a beautiful baby girl from China. The confirmation had come just that morning.

A few weeks later, Dustin sent me the link to his blog which documented their adoption journey to meet Mara Ruth. This is another time that I am thankful for technology. I'm thankful that he has the means and is willing to share this step-by-step process with us.

This quick post of mine isn't to express an opinion about their journey or adoption in general. It is simply to pass on the story of the few children and a teenager that he mentions in one of his last posts.

Even if this only causes a few more pairs of eyes to encounter Brandon, Bobby, Michael, Paul, and John, it is worth the extra awareness. I encourage you to keep on sharing! Tonight I will go to bed greatly burdened for these children - especially Michael. And I will wonder why I get to experience the love parents and siblings when I am so undeserving. Dustin is right when he reminded me that we are blessed to be a blessing, and we will continue to pray for the Lord to reveal what that looks like in our lives. Even though I wish, possibly more than anything, that we could adopt this nearly 14-year-old boy right this very minute, I know that the Lord's timing is perfect. If nothing else, we can pray - with heavy hearts - for Michael and the others.



First of all: geaux tigers! Obviously Les Miles only needs half of a ball game to win. Four whole quarters? That's for amateurs. We only need two. Have I ever told you that I wish Les Miles was my uncle or something? I am, obviously, a big fan of our coach. Uncle Les. I think it has a good ring to it.

Below little graphic with my favorite Christmastime verse. It can be downloaded here.

Lately, I've been dwelling on the depth of the meaning of this verse. I wonder if my heart will ever grasp it as deeply as those whose ears heard its original proclamation, who laid eyes on their long awaited King in babe form. How thankful I am that He is the same Jesus I know today. How thankful I am that He came.

More on that later.

Even if its a warm winter day [as it is in Baton Rouge], I hope you have had a taste of Christmas joy today! My tree and its white lights do the trick every time.


SEC round 2

This day four years ago, I was excitedly sitting in my seat in the Georgia Dome waiting for my Tigers to show the Vols who is number one in the SEC [and the country]! Wish I could be with them again.

Regardless...GEAUX TIGERS! Beat the Dogs!! It feels so good to be number one, doesn't it?


a christmas mantel

I think I'm turning into our resident Buddy the Elf. I literally can't stop with the Christmas decorations. The Hobby Lobby employees would probably respond with, "you again?" by now. I finally ran out of surfaces to Christmasfy. Don't worry, we're having an office decorating contest at the capitol. They should be afraid.

Here's a little glimpse of our beloved fireplace. I don't think Dustin has ever loved a possession more.
You know when you look at a word for so long that you're convinced it must be misspelled? Behold - that can't be right.
My floater frame features my favorite Norman Rockwell Christmas painting, "Christmas Homecoming." All the sweet and emotional details completely melt my heart. Whoa that was a cheesy sentence, even for me.

Our first Friday night of December? Comfort food, yoga pants, A Christmas Carol, gift-wrapping [me], and senior project doing [Dustin]. Praying my wonderful husband through these tough next six days!

By the way. Have you heard of these?! When I realized what they were, I went all Super Market Sweep on them in Target and snatched them as if someone else was going to get to them first. You've out done yourselves, m&m's.