In case you missed it, last week I explained how I’m starting a new series here on the blog because I want us to be fun-havers.

So once a month we’re going to “Play Oprah” (as in, emulate her, not trick her, of course) and we’re going to share our “Favorite Things” with each other.

And then at the end of the month I’m going to give one of those things away! 

To you!

Can I get a hallelujah? Can I get an amen?

Can we say it together in unison?

“Let’s Play Oprah!”


I think it’s important you know that every time I type that, it’s in my best singsongy Oprah voice. Which is sort of ironic because I don’t think Oprah goes around singsonging her own name, but whatever, just roll with it. I also mentally roll out a red carpet, a small marching band, and throw around celebratory confetti every time I type it, so let’s just pause to make a mental note of that, okay?

At the beginning of each month I’ll write a post just like this one, sharing links to three of my favorite things at the moment and announcing which of those items I’ll be giving away, because in case it wasn’t clear from the first few paragraphs, I’m a firm believer in a big buildup.

And since friends don’t let friends miss out, I encourage you guys to share your favorite things with the rest of us as well. You can comment here on the blog, you can comment using #letsplayoprah on my InstagramFacebook, or Twitter, or you can always simply reply to my email newsletter. I do read every single email and I try my best to reply right away. This will be a fun way for us all to connect with each other and to see what we might have in common.

Plus: Who doesn’t want free stuff? 

Raise your hand if you still get excited about surprise packages in the mail when all you were expecting was bills!

All you need to do to enter the giveaway is enter your email address in the blue lighted bar at the end of this post, or in the opt-in on the right sidebar. What’s awesome about this is that it’s not time sensitive. You can enter anytime during the month, and at the end of each month I’ll choose a winner at random!

If you don’t win, don’t lose heart, you’ll still automatically be entered for following months. See! How easy and fun is this?!

Why have we not done this before?


Sorry, I just get so excited.

Okay, so now that all the business is taken care of, without further ado, here are my top three Favorite Things this month:

  1. THE VOXER APP.  If you (like me) are a bit of an introverted extrovert and you love to stay in touch with your people, but you also hate talking on the phone, this app is for you. I mean, I really hate talking on the phone, which is weird because I’m rarely short on words. In person, I can hardly shut up. On the phone? I’m pretty much always awkward. So I live and die by my Voxer app. It’s an audio-messaging system which allows your phone to function like a walkie-talkie. It’s the perfect medium between a phonecall or text, and my favorite thing about it is that you can listen and respond at your own convenience. I have a few writer friends who live across the country in different time zones and we basically owe our entire friendships to the convenience of Voxer. It’s that powerful, guys. So if you’re still part of that %7 of the population who aren’t getting in on this action yet, it’s time to come over to the dark side.

  2. JOE’S Jeans Now, I realize that jeans can be a polarizing fashion item. Some people believe a good pair of jeans are worth upwards of $300 while other’s might feel it’s silly to pay more than $30 for some glorified Levi’s. I tend to fall somewhere in the middle. I used to scoff at the idea of premium denim but then I tried some on and I was like, “OH. I see.” That being said, I can’t always afford to indulge in the perfect pair of Seven jeans every time I gain or lose 15 pounds (which is roughly every five minutes) so I’ve invested in a few pairs of quality jeans as wardrobe staples, and then I usually pick up a couple of inexpensive pairs to fill in the gap when I’m fluctuating in weight. (Which again, is basically always.) But I have to say that my tried and true, favorite brand are JOE’S jeans. They seem to have mastered the perfect rise, consistently offering a waistline that hugs in all the right places without making me feel matronly. And I could be making this up, but I swear their denim is softer than most. I’ve purchased multiple different styles and cuts, yet every pair feels like that trusty, old, worn-in favorite the minute I pull them on. I’m currently obsessed with The Vixen style because it goes with everything from flats to boots, and it just so happens to be on sale at the moment.

  3. MINDY KALING. It’s no secret that I’m a huge Mindy fan, and while I realize that she isn’t exactly an item that I can give away, she also kind of is. Both of her books were among my all time favorite memoirs, and while I could go on and on about everything she’s taught me about life and why she’s so great, you’ll just have to read this piece  instead, because otherwise Mindy could easily hijack this whole blog post without even trying. Since I loved both of her books equally, and since this is our first giveaway, I’m starting out with a bang and giving away not one, but BOTH of Mindy’s books: “Is Everyone Hanging Out With Me (And Other Concerns)” & “Why Not Me?“, AS WELL AS her hilarious 50-card set of talking points, or “conversations starters” if you will, titled, “Questions I Ask When I Want To Talk About Myself: 50 Topics To Share With Friends”.

So that’s it for October! I hope you tune in for next month’s “Let’s Play Oprah” too.

Be sure you’re entered to win, and sound off in the comments!

Tell me all your favorite things!


Oh heyyyyy!

We’re going to start something new here on the blog. Something just for fun.

Remember this summer when I told you that I wanted to give you a humpback whale but I made you list instead? (Which was really just a thinly veiled attempt to play Oprah and tell you all my “favorite things”.)

I made you a list of all my favorite podcasts, books, TV shows, and music at the moment and I got a surprising amount of interaction from you guys. It turns out it wasn’t only fun for me.

Because let’s all be real here: who doesn’t love to dish about what we’re currently into?

No one.

No one doesn’t.

(No that’s not proper grammar, and yes I did it on purpose. Because I’m a real renegade like that.)

Anyway, I thought it would be fun to start a monthly series here on the blog where we play “Oprah” and share our favorite things with each other. Unironically enough, the series will be titled “Let’s Play Oprah.”

I’m going to dedicate one post a month to sharing my top 3 favorite things at the moment and you guys can do the same. Leave a comment here on the blog, on social media, or even reply to my email newsletter and we’ll do that thing where we keep each other in the loop of what’s all the rage these days. Because we’re homies, and homies gotta look out for each other.

But that’s not all, guys (she said in her best Oprah voice).

The really fun part is that at the end of the month I’m going to GIVE AWAY one of my favorite things. 

Read More…


Some days having a dream to pursue feels dreamy. But some days it’s like an elephant is standing on your chest; you feel a lot of pressure and you’re acutely aware that you’re dealing with something much bigger than yourself.

Can I be honest? Today was one of those days. I woke up and before I even opened my eyes I remembered that I’m carrying around a dream. A dream that suddenly feels as is if it weighs a thousand pounds.

I’ve tried putting it down, I’ve tried ignoring it, and I’ve tried shouldering it alone only to realize two steps further that I’m exhausted and not cut out for this nonsense because I’d definitely rather be watching Netflix.

As you might imagine, none of these tactics actually worked, so here I am with my book dream. We’re no longer strangers, startled to find each other there every time we turn around, but we still havent quite figured out how to co-exist, either.

We’re sort of just chillin’ here together, except nothing is chill and The Book Dream and I are either madly in love or completely at odds, depending on the day.

It’s all very dramatic, you see. Read More…


When you hear the word “hospitality” does it give you a warm, cheery feeling as you envision your house and your heart full to capacity? Do you think of meals and stories shared with friends, of laughter, drinks being poured, and memories being made?

Or does it conjure slightly less pleasant feelings- like sweaty palms, insecurity, and pressure?

Does your mind instantly dart to your unmade bed, your outdated kitchen, or the glops of toothpaste that you just know are smeared around the entire perimeter of the bathroom sink? Do you shrug and hope that one day when all the planets align with the moon, when you have time to clean and decorate your house, prepare the perfect meal, and figure out how to get your children to be their best selves, then you’ll get around to planning that dinner party?

I often hear peers comment that they wish they had the time or the knack for it, but they’re resigned to the fact that they’ll just never be “the hospitable type”.

But what if hospitality could be as simple as an act of vulnerability? What if it just meant being open enough to invite someone into your real, right now life, however that might look?

We get scared off by the word “hospitality”, not because we don’t actually want anything to do with it, but because it’s intimidating. It’s automatically associated with some formal, stuffy, made up version of the “dinner parties” of yesteryear. (Also yes, I’m sticking with the word yesteryear, because how often do you really get a good opening to say it? Almost never, that’s how often.)

We think fancy cocktail hours, followed by even fancier 8 course dinners, and before we know it we’ve got low-grade anxiety.

How many forks is too many forks? Does the soup course come before or after the salad course? And what if we don’t know which wine pairs with which hors d’oeuvre? And how could we possibly know that if we had to google how to even spell “hors d’oeuvre”? (I love you so much, Google. You help me feel smart.)

The train hasn’t even left the station before we’ve jumped the tracks because let’s all be real here, it’s more trouble than it’s worth, right?

I get it.

Inviting people in, both to your home and your life, feels inherently RISKY.

Your home is personal.

It’s your safe place, your retreat, and your hideaway from the rest of the world. It’s also where your dirty laundry lands, where your bills pile up on the counter, and where all your worst habits are likely to manifest themselves.

To share your home with others can be a real and true act of vulnerability at times. Read More…


I have a confession to make. It’s the sort of thing that a writer should never admit.

I’m a VERY picky reader.

When it comes to purchasing books, I rarely discriminate. At this very moment I have at least 20 fantastic books on my shelf that are still waiting to be opened. I love to buy books. I love the smell of them, the feel of them nestled in the crook of my arm as I walk into a coffee shop, and the way my little heart skips a beat every single time I walk through the doors of a Barnes & Noble.

But when it comes to actually reading books in their entirety, I do admit that my standards are…shall we say…a bit high? I’m not easily entertained. I can’t help it! I’m just not.

If a book doesn’t grab me within the first 3 chapters I rarely pick it back up. I realize that this makes me sound like an elitist snob, and no, the irony is not lost on me that as a humble and lowly writer myself, I may need to consider suggesting LOWER standards for consumption, but whatever. I don’t care. It’s the truth! And I’m only telling you so you understand that when I recommend a book, I really mean it.

So obviously I’m going to recommend a book now.

Are you ready? Read More…

Photo By Richelle Photography

Today I’m over at The Mudroom, sharing a personal glimpse into the real truth of (our) marriage. I’m only posting part of it here, but I hope you click the link and read the rest of it over at Mudroom, because I think the ending is important. I really bared my heart in this one and I hope that you find it useful.


This morning I sat down with my coffee and some old photos with no other intention than to reminisce. Today marks 14 years of marriage for my husband and I, and to celebrate, I decided to take a little trip down memory lane. Because if there’s one game in life that I enjoy more than “Name that movie”, it’s “Remember When”.

Everyone close to me has grown accustomed to my random blurting of (completely out of context) sentences that begin with “Remember When…”

“Remember when we all snuck out of bible college to pull an all-nighter at Taryn’s house and Danny and John climbed through the window to scare us at midnight? Remember how we all panicked and thought we were going to die, but Amber B. was the only one smart enough to run out the front door?”

“Remember when you had giardia, and you were high on pain medicine and came into the library where I worked at 11pm in your sweatpants loudly demanding some kind of meat, preferably jerky?”

“Remember when we were dating long distance, and you’d call me every night at the same time, and you’d always be wearing that same noisy jacket that crinkled in the background? I still have that jacket.”

I could go on, but you get the picture. I like to relive the past. There is a whole compartment of my heart dedicated solely to nostalgia. Usually the memories I find myself returning to again and again are the happy moments, the funny moments, or the unbearably tender moments. But today was a little different. I found myself looking through old photos, scanning to find an echo of some of our more difficult moments.

Because, can I be honest? This last year was harder on us than we expected, and today I found myself simply needing to remember another time like this. A time when we overcame. A time when we burrowed down into the foxhole together until the storm passed. A time when we learned to tear down certain walls in order to strengthen our foundation.


While we’ve always been a couple that generally gets along, we’ve certainly had our share of trying seasons before. (Side eye to you, colicky babies.) But if pressed for a reason, I’m not sure I could even tell you why this year was harder on us than most others.

Maybe it’s the fact that after 14 years, we’ve been married just long enough to actually have baggage. Old wounds that have been healed and forgotten can be pricked right back open again in an instant.

Maybe it’s all the new dreams sprouting in our hearts, and the fact that those dreams require a bravery and vulnerability that have left us both feeling fragile and exposed in our own ways.

Maybe it’s all the outside pressures of work, money, schedules, and ministry that press in and down on us at times, threatening to burst our happy, intimate little bubble.

Or maybe?

Maybe it’s just growing pains.

After all, growth means change, and change can be rather uncomfortable at times.





Hi! How are you, even?

What’s new?

Summer is turning to Fall, school has started, and all kinds of things have been happening. There’s so much to discuss!

Come sit down. Let me pour you a cup of coffee (or wine, depending on what time of day you’re reading this) and let’s catch up, shall we?


As you guys know, this summer there was a slightly different rhythm here on the blog than we were used to. I ran a series of guest posts from some other writers and you heard from me a little bit less than usual. I loved introducing you guys to new and different voices, and I was honored to share you, my dear, sweet, amazing readers, with my other writer friends as well.

I know, it all sounds rather polygamous, but I promise, it’s not like that. While the change of pace was fun, it mostly just confirmed how much I missed you all.

You guys are it for me, man.

I’m afraid you’re stuck with me for the long haul.  Do you want me to write you another DTR (Determine The Relationship) letter to prove it? Do you want me to call the local radio station and request Sinead O’Connor’s “Nothing Compares 2 U?”

Because I will. I love you like that.


Even though you’ve heard from me a (tiny) bit less lately, just know that I’ve still been writing. Some of that writing is still stashed away- in brave new files on my computer, waiting for the exact right time and place to be shared. Saving up words instead of blurting them all out is strange, new territory for me. But it feels somehow important that I do, and I’m trying to listen to that. Read More…


By the time you read this, some of you have already enjoyed weeks of your littles being back in school.

It’s okay. It’s fine. I am not jealous of you.

It’s something I’ve learned to deal with, living in our time zone over here in the Pacific Northwest. The views are stunning, the air is crisp and clear, the rivers are wild and mysterious. But living life on some kind of delayed loop from the rest of the world really bites sometimes.

It seems that %80 of humans get to experience most of life a solid 2-3 hours ahead of us Oregonians. When it comes time for anything really important, like election coverage, the Bachelor finale, or one of the precious few new Game of Thrones episodes, I’ve learned the hard way to STAY OFF THE INTERNET. Otherwise it all gets spoiled.

Also, don’t judge me for putting the election in the same category as junk TV. This is where we are in 2016.

Adding insult to injury, everyone and their Aunt Fay also gets to be on a school schedule that is roughly an entire semester ahead of us. Every single May I see pictures of my internet friends’ kids doing cannonballs into pools with Hasthag-FirstPoolDay while I am counting down the 17 lunches I still have to pack with Hasthag-DoUncrustablesCountAsLunch?

Every single August, when we are finally finding our summer groove, everyone else is posting pictures of their littles holding tiny chalkboards with their new grade written on it, or pictures of their own feet on a charming brick path next to the one maple leaf that has managed to dislocate itself from it’s home and fall to the ground, indicating that Fall has indeed arrived.

What’s the deal with that anyways? Everyone needs to calm down already with all this “Fall in August” talk. August is not Fall! August is definitively a SUMMER month. Can we please sort this out, because it seriously messes with my head and gives me a severe case of FOMO.

Just when I think that I am truly enjoying the days at home with my littles, and patting myself on the back for ‘counting my blessings’ and ‘soaking up the moments’, I see a picture of some first grader with a backpack on and I start sweating and rethinking my whole angle. Read More…


Today I’m inviting you up onto my blog porch, pouring you a cup of hot coffee, and sitting down beside you to hear from one of my favorite people. When I say “favorite” I mean it in the sense that I have always admired her coolness from afar, not in the sense that we hang out all the time in real life- although I’m fairly certain we would if we still lived in the same city. I have known Bruk for well over 10 years, and watched her grow from a confident, self-assured teenager into an effortlessly cool, relentlessly authentic, stunning-from-the-inside-out, grown up lady. It seems that Bruk has always known exactly who she is, and as a fellow woman, I find that to be both refreshing and inspiring.

She does interesting things like make jewelry, write songs, and take pretty photographs, and she does brave things like live in Africa for a year. The words she wrote here are just one small part of her big story.


“When she reaches for him, you reach for Me.”

Those words changed my perspective the teeniest bit.

You know… when you know that God has the best plan for you, but you don’t entirely believe it until He gives you a fresh look? Maybe you don’t know. In my mind I’m the only person that doesn’t always trust God, but go with me here. I’m about to get real open about some stuff that I just don’t like getting real open about.

I’m 28 and single. When I say 28, I actually mean 27 and turning 28 next week, which is weirdly freaking me out. And when I say single, I mean it in every sense of the word.

Always. Forever. Single.


It’s recently been pointed out to me that being single isn’t really the thing I struggle with, so much as the fact that I’ve never had a relationship. While I almost think that’s true, it’s also sort of not.

I’m good at being single. That’s the thing that scares me a little bit. I live mostly on my own. I’m great with power tools. I support myself, move as I wish, travel as I wish, shop as I wish. When I have a date I’m not thinking “Oh man, I hope he likes me!”, I’m thinking, “Oh crap, what if he likes me?” and the self-sabotage sort of starts there. Read More…


Well friends, summer is drawing to a close, but I still have a couple more guest posts lined up for your reading enjoyment. Today’s post is coming from Heather Bender, a fellow hope*writer, but more importantly, a fellow GIF-lover. It’s no secret that I would (and could) communicate solely with GIFs and still get along just fine in life. Which is saying a lot, considering I’m a writer. Heather is funny and open, and whether you’re a writer or not, you may relate with her quandary.



Amber and I met through Hope*Writers earlier this year, and we quickly found that we spoke the same bizarre twin-language of GIFs and pop culture references and the holy trinity of Poehler/Fey/Wiig and TALKING IN ALL CAPS about our various insecurities around writing. So, when Amber and I started messaging about guest-posting earlier this summer, I let myself have a zero-chill (© Amber Salhus) awkward fangirl moment:

Amber Salhus!
Is putting me on her guest post schedule!
Because she thinks I’m a “good fit” for her audience!!


OK, so fast forward to a few weeks later, when I had to actually prove it, and write.
Yeah. About that.

I promised Amber that I’d have a post ready by Friday. Tomorrow.
Total word count: 0.

I am right this very minute stress-eating potato chip crumbs out of a paper cup and staring blankly at my laptop, desperately casting for a topic. Hint to future guest posters: Do not read the other guest posts in a misguided attempt to determine an original angle for your piece. You will only become more convinced that you have nothing interesting to add. That lack of self-confidence will crumble into despair once you realize you’ve eaten all the potato chip crumbs.

I’ve been thinking about this post for weeks, but not writing it. Because, you guys, I’ve also been busy procrastinating on other things! I have my own blog to ignore. I also have a mountain of laundry, a 10-month-old who has decided that not being held 24/7 is NOT HIS JAM, and something in the fridge that’s only getting furrier. Amber should probably get in line, because I’m busy being bad at life and writing. Read More…