When to Rest

I do my best work at night. It could be that the latest episode of Fixer Upper got the creative juices flowing a little too close to bedtime... or maybe it's the cup of coffee I just couldn't say no to at 8:00 p.m. while watching said episode of Fixer Upper... or more than likely it's the fact that everyone else has gone to bed and this is "me time". Don't get me wrong. I love my husband and daughter more than I could ever put into words, but us mamas need some "me time". As I write this, it's the wee hours of the morning and my brain is humming with ideas for our formal living room turned office. See, that is how my brain works. I've planned it all out on paper, drawn up the plans for the remaining desk and shelves I want to build, actually started rearranging the furniture (as quietly as possible) and, I'll admit, even checked our paint supply to see if I had enough goods to start painting. Y'all have to understand -- I am not one to rest. Relaxing for me looks like working on my latest project, and there is always a latest project! It's just how I'm wired. I love to be busy. More often than not, though, I have to remind myself that rest is just as important; that I have to stop, really stop, to appreciate the blessings I have. Those are the moments I hear that Still, Small Voice, and those are the moments that bring the most overwhelming sense of peace. Creating, building, crafting, painting, decorating, re-decorating... those are all amazing things, balanced by an adequate amount of enjoying the quiet moments; that rare "me time". Taking solace in those moments make the craziness of the every day that much more beautiful. At our church staff retreat this week, we were encouraged to take quiet time to really let the Holy Spirit guide us and to simply listen. Friends, there is something powerful about looking out at nature and being alone with the Creator in His creation. It's rejuvenating. It brings a sense of peace that can only come from One Source, and if you let it, it will carry over into tomorrow, and the next day and the next. God gives us each talents and ambitions and desires, but He also calls us to rest; something I admittedly fail at at times but am so grateful for when I succeed. Those periods of rest bring me immeasurably closer to God and produce an abundance of joy in my life that carries over into the busyness and the everyday routine . So maybe today or tonight or this weekend, let's put down the power tools and paintbrushes, the to do lists and the honey-do lists, curl up with our favorite cup o' Joe and take a moment to recenter and rest; to live out Psalm 46:10. We can get back to the projects tomorrow.

    "Be still, and know that I am God!     I will be honored by every nation.     I will be honored throughout the world."

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I’m not Amanda, I’m Mommy

I'm not Amanda. I'm mommy. Nice to meet you ;-).


At least, that's what my two year old tells me. That is for sure the way it feels sometimes too. The moment I became a mother, my previous identity faded into the background, and my sole purpose in life became caring for that tiny human. image If it felt that way after my first, that feeling only intensified 21 months later when I gave birth to my second. Just when I was starting to see a light at the end of the tunnel that is breastfeeding, and started picking up pieces of my past self again, I started over. This time, any free moments I had when there was one baby, were now absorbed by the second baby. I found myself, some days, feeling like a mere shadow of a person. "Hi, I am a baby making, milk producing, poop cleaning, spit up wearing machine. I have no needs or wants. I just cater to the needs and wants of two tiny dictators. If it was any other way, I would not be fulfilling my rightful duties as mommy." Or would I? I have seen increasingly more awareness made over the importance of self care, making sure you take care of you so that there is some sane person left to take care of others. My family knows that a tired, hungry, cranky momma is a scary person to be around. So yes, that is very important. Iced coffee and a two hour shopping trip go a long way to making that crazy lady disappear and nice mommy return. I fully intended to make this blog post about just that. But then something else caught my eye as I was browsing my facebook newsfeed the other day. Something that brought on a whole new, and very much needed, perspective. It was a word from Proverbs 31 ministries. I follow them on Facebook and I recommend you do too!
You are not what you do. Your value isn’t decided by a number on the tag in the back of your jeans, your profession or by your roles: career woman, wife, mom, sister, friend, etc. Those are gifts you have, traits you exhibit. But they don’t define the core of your being. You aren’t the sum of your mistakes or the messed-up identity you once wore. Your identity is simple. It’s clear. It’s beautiful. Your identity is purely who God says you are. Beautiful, redeemed, renamed, engraved on the hands of Christ, where you will never be forgotten.
When I read that, lightbulbs went off in my head and my heart swelled. I am mommy. But even when it feels like that is all I am, there is more. I am who God says I am, and what a better mom I can be, if I will remind myself of those things, daily. So I encourage you to start each day with that perspective. Life may change from day to day and so might your role to play. But our heavenly Father doesn't and what he created you to be doesn't either. image Check out this amazing list from Joyce Meyer about who we are in Christ based on Scripture. Amanda Signature
Launch Party
One week ago today, we officially launched Salt & Life Blog, and we kicked it off the best way we know how... with a launch party! We were thrilled to host giveaways all week long on our social media pages, culminating in a party in the park with some of our closest friends and biggest supporters. In celebration of our one-week anniversary, we wanted to share some photos and details from the party with you! To be sure, it was an eventful day! Not only was it the day of our launch party, but it was also Derby Day AND scheduled to thunderstorm (an unexpected twist at the last moment) which put a little bit of a damper (pun intended) on our party. Thankfully, we had the vision of holding the party at a park shelter with cafe lights strung in the rafters. A little bit of rain (or lightning) couldn't get us down! We launched anyway, and threw a party complete with giveaways, an official screening of our intro video, dancing, photos, a beautiful cake and locally brewed coffee. By far, the best part was the friends, family and supporters that showed up to shower us with love and celebrate with us! It's hard to ignore just how blessed you are when an event like this finds you surrounded by people who are genuinely cheering for you at every turn! [caption id="attachment_822" align="alignnone" width="620"]Buffet Among our giveaways was this planter Jessica built out of pallets. You can check out the tutorial here![/caption] Cake [caption id="attachment_916" align="alignnone" width="620"]Cake A highlight of our party was the incredible cake provided by Aunt Barbie's Kitchen![/caption] [caption id="attachment_824" align="alignnone" width="620"]Centerpiece Our centerpieces were also pallet planters, with flowers donated by a local nursery. We were so blessed with amazing sponsors for this event![/caption] [caption id="attachment_827" align="alignnone" width="620"]Giveaways We gave away another planter box filled with goodies, including our signature S&L tote bag in peach![/caption] [caption id="attachment_828" align="alignnone" width="620"]Lemonade & Coffee Pink lemonade was a must, with mason jars provided by Minted Mason. We also had some of the best coffee in town provided by The Roastery which kept us warm during the rain.[/caption]   We cannot begin to tell you how much we appreciate all the support we received, and how much fun we had planning the launch! We're excited to get down to business now and really start sharing some of the awesome content we have planned. Subscribe below to receive our newest posts in your inbox, and thanks for following along!
S&L Devo: Overcomer

"Come to me, all you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest." -Matthew 11:28

Quitting is so easy.  I don't always go to the gym because I'd rather just sleep that extra hour.  I don't always eat what I should because that slice of cheesecake is calling my name.  I sit on the couch and binge watch Netflix sometimes instead of finishing the myriad of projects I've committed myself to, and I buy those jeans even though I said I was going to stop impulse buying.  The list goes on, but the gist of it is: I struggle.  We all do; maybe with different things, but we do. Thank God, there is hope throughout scripture: I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:13) So let's not get tired of doing what is good.  At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don't give up. (Galatians 6:9) But as for you, be strong and courageous, for your work will be rewarded. (2 Chronicles 15:7) In every one of these passages, we are being encouraged to fight the good fight, even if the good fight at this particular moment is responding patiently to the two-year-old who just wrote on your white, upholstered headboard with black ink. (Yep...  that happened.)  Our Father has a history of pushing us onward, of encouraging us to chase after the desires of our heart.  He opens all the right doors.  We just have to walk through them. My favorite verse of encouragement is found in John 16:33.  As Jesus is preparing His disciples for a future without Him on earth, He says, "I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world."  Regardless of what your struggle is, how big or how small, the fact remains: He has overcome, and as Christians we, too, are overcomers.  Jesus is our peace.  He is a constant source of inner joy.  He never says we won't struggle.  In fact, He guarantees we will.  But, friends, we are never alone in that struggle and our victory lies in Him. It is easy to give up.  It takes minimal effort to stop trying, to stop praying, to stop hoping. But when we really step back and look at the sacrifices such a powerful God, the creator of all things, made specifically with you and I in mind, many of our struggles begin to look less like mountains to climb and more like fields to run through. So let's remember to fix our eyes on things above, and pray that they'll be opened to the opportunities God is laying before us right now, even in our worst situations; even in our most desperate times; even in our failure and especially in our weakness. Overcomer New      
Simple & Easy: Cold Brew Coffee
youve_got_mail_17I'll never forget the first time I realized that caffeine, in the form of coffee, was in fact addictive. It was Tom Hanks in You've Got Mail telling his business partner they would sell "legal addictive stimulants" in their massive book store. Now, I was 14 years old, so cut me some slack for not realizing it before that. (Ha!) All that to say...I'm pretty sure I am in fact addicted to coffee. The problem is I don't just want folgers brewed coffee. I want iced coffee. And not just any iced coffee. I want an iced cold brew with vanilla and cream, just like I order at Starbucks and any other coffee shop. And that becomes quite expensive, even at the $2-3 price tag. The other problem I have is that homemade NEVER tastes the same and it takes so much more work. I wanna pull up to the drive thru window in my bleary-eyed state and have the cold, delicious, creamy coffee placed into my hands ready to sip. So my goal here was to find a recipe, simple, easy, and just as good if not better than the kind I can buy ready made. After a little bit of trial and error, here is the recipe and process I have found to be the best:JES_9655 1/2 cup of coarsely ground coffee 2 cups of filtered water (double or triple that recipe as you like) Combine in a pitcher or French press (I recommend a French press. You can purchase the one I used at Ikea for 8.99).  Stir, so that all of the coffee grounds get wet.JES_9671 Let sit for 24 hours minimum, at room temperature. Press down the filter on your French press to filter our the coffee grounds. This is the simplest way to do it. If you find yourself with out a French press, you can use a sieve with muslin/cheese cloth or paper towels to catch the grounds. Place the brewed coffee in the fridge until cold. Now you're ready to go! But this is the tricky part. In order to prepare it the way you like best, you may have to do some additional trial and error. I'll tell you what worked best for me: Fill your cup all the way up with ice. Pour coffee over ice (coffee is fairly concentrated and depending on the coffee you used, you may need a tad bit of filtered water added to dilute it. This is up to you!). Add a splash of half and half. Add 1-2 tablespoons of vanilla syrup. Stir, add a straw if you like, and done!!!edit The hardest part about this is the 24 hour waiting period. But once it's done, there is no waiting! And the trick now will be to brew more while I still have some in the fridge! Proper preparation prevents...waiting for coffee. I think that's how that phrase goes. Amanda Signature
S&L Devo: By Your Love
Love is all you need. The Beatles had it right on this one. Love is all you need. It conquers all. It never fails. As moms, we get to share love with our little ones every day. There is no greater joy than covering your kids in love. After we had our daughter, my husband and I were in awe of how much we loved her, from that very first moment, every coo and every giggle, and while each period of her growth has brought more and more joy, it is also fraught with challenges. We've entered the toddler stage now, complete with "No, ma'am" attitudes and temper tantrums. (At least she's polite when she's defiant, right?) Yet, no matter how angry her behavior can make me, I am always one tiny-human hug, kiss or smile away from complete and utter forgiveness. Why? Because this little girl is my child. She is what my heart longed for. She brings me the greatest joy imaginable, and for her I truly have unconditional love. What a glimpse that gives us into the love our Father has for us! We throw adult-sized temper tantrums when things don't go our way, we complain and we defy Him; yet, He is one apology away from complete and utter forgiveness. Every. Single. Time. Psalm 147 tells us our God delights in us. Zephaniah 3 shares, "The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing." Did you read that? He rejoices in us! That love that we have for our kids that is unexplainable? God has that times a million for each of us! His love doesn't always look the way we want. Sometimes it's saying no to protect us from something or saying "not right now" because He has something better in store. But when we really obey Him and step back to see Him moving, God's love is more than we could ever dream of! He has organized His entire plan around us spending eternity with Him. He is there when we fall, surrounding us with love, and He is there when we triumph, celebrating alongside us. He has our bests interests at heart always, and guides us, just as we do our children. I am constantly reminded as I watch my daughter play and steer her away from things that could hurt her that God does just the same for me. I tend to focus on my desires or on the task at hand, sometimes without looking up to see what's coming. My Father, though, He sees everything, and He leads me along the better path to help me overcome the obstacles and avoid situations I might otherwise find myself in. Because He loves me. Love is the most important thing we can share with our kids. They feel secure when they are loved. They feel important and confident when they are loved.  They never feel alone when they are loved, and they know Jesus when they are loved because He is love. The world certainly needs to know that we are disciples of Christ, and our example is living proof of that. Sometimes, I think we overlook that a huge part of "the world" is our children; that our love showered on them points them to the love of the Father. So this mother's day, as you hug your kids or your mom or a mother figure in your life, remember how much more your Heavenly Father loves you and find peace in His presence because when the love of the Father is in us, it is evident to the world. Mother's Day w Text No logo mens
S&L Devo: Rest

Sometimes, life can get you down. There are the stresses and pressures of a job, a relationship, parenthood, an illness, caring for an elderly parent, serving in any capacity... all of it can drain you. It doesn't mean these are bad things or things to be avoided. It just means we need to run to our Savior when we feel we've gotten weary. When our burdens are so heavy we feel the weight of them might break us, those are the times he longs for us to come to him. He promises to give us rest. So today, wherever you may find yourself, in the midst of whatever circumstances or struggles you may be facing, take a moment to talk to Jesus and accept the rest and peace that only He can offer. Happy weekend, friends. ? Rest
S&L Devo: Face of God

See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my heavenly Father. Matthew 18:10 (more…)
S&L Devo: Cultivate
Springtime is here! I don't know about you, but spring in our family means coffee on the porch in the mornings, and afternoons working in our backyard garden. It's a lot of work to get the garden weeded, tilled, planted and to keep it watered, but the payoff is a beautiful backyard landscape and a lower grocery bill. If we're honest, isn't that the way it is in our relationship with God? Some days it takes a lot of effort to lift up our eyes and take up our crosses. Other days we can see Him moving, and He feels so close we'd swear we can hear Him whispering in our ears. Either way, that relationship requires cultivating, and the devil will do whatever he can to distract us. But take one look outside on a beautiful spring day, and God's love for us is evident in every detail he so carefully planned out with us in mind! The next time you feel isolated or distanced from God's love, curl up with a cup of coffee and remember His promise. "Neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love." Cultivate