everyday inspiration


3 years later

Three years ago on December 30, my dad passed away.

It was completely unexpected and by far the hardest day of my life. I will never forget the phone call in the stairwell at work, the torturous flight to Ohio and the surreal days following. I can remember everything so clearly, yet it’s also so hazy at the same time.

I’ve written before about the all-consuming nature of grief and the only constant being change. I write today to offer the hope that things get better. That time really does heal wounds.

I know that sounds so cheesy, and you might not believe me. Here’s the thing – it’s true, but it is also still so hard. Three years later and it is still.so.hard.

There are still days where all I can think about is him, and I just want to lay in bed and cry. There are times when I want to call him so badly to tell him about something at work because I know how proud he would be. Or at weddings when I just wish he was there one more time dragging me on to the dance floor.

The memories are everywhere and there was a time when they would only make me sad. I would immediately push back tears and turn my attention to something else.

But something different has been happening lately – I’m learning to smile and rejoice in the memories instead. A month ago, I found this picture of us from New Year’s Eve 2008. I moved it in to our living room and now see it every day. The last two Christmases I wouldn’t have been able to do that. It would have made me too sad or upset every day, but this year it just makes me happy.


Time does heal, but it never happens in your time. It was three years before I could do a tiny thing like moving a picture. I still struggle, especially through the holidays, but it gets better every day. I don’t think it will ever get “easy” per se, but I think over time there will be less tears and more smiles.

And more pictures.

xo xo

You Are My Sunshine, My Only Sunshine

My dear friend Erica Keller passed away this morning.

And it’s hard. It’s so hard. Death will always be hard.

But I am rejoicing and celebrating in the life she had because it was truly incredible. Erica was dealt a difficult hand early on, diagnosed with cancer at 14 months. Her parents were told she probably wouldn’t make it to age 2. Today, she passed away at 34 years old.

IMG_1217[Me + E at the Memphis Zoo]

She lived 30+ years longer than the doctors thought possible. But here’s the thing, she didn’t just live. She LIVED. Whether you knew her for a minute, a day or a year – she could put a smile on your face, and she had the most infectious laugh. I’m seriously laughing now just thinking about it, and about how many times we got into giggle fits because of it.

IMG_1218[Me + E during one of her annual summer visits]

She taught everyone around her not to take life for granted and to live life to its fullest. What’s there to be sad about? What’s there to complain about? To her, there wasn’t anything. She was a beaming ray of sunshine on even the cloudiest of days.

I’ve always known E was a special person, but looking back on it now, I truly think she was an angel on earth. Every single person who knew her is better because of it, and they would tell you that. She taught me so much and brought so much joy to my life throughout the years – with our summer sleepovers, endless dance parties and days wasted at Locomotion with Pops.

IMG_9960[Me, E + Husband during an annual summer visit]

We will all miss her so very much, and it still doesn’t make this easy, but it is so amazing to know she is in a better place. She has no more pain. She’s laughing. She’s running. She’s talking my dad’s ear off.

She’s our angel, looking down on us all.

xo xo



“Before You Heal, You Have to Mourn”

I’ve previously written about grief, and I’ve previously written about my newfound love of NPR. Here, the two collide.

It’s been about 8 months since my dad has passed away. This week there was something in the air. I was overly emotional about everything. I thought I might explode with tears and emotion at any second. My grief came barreling back in to my life, shocking me so much it nearly knocked me off my feet.

But then Friday, a few things happened. Sometimes you hear or see or read things that just grab you, speak to your soul – one of which lately has been Carry On, Warrior that I’ve blogged about multiple times, but Friday it was a segment on NPR.

The segment was called, “A Poet on Losing His Son: ‘Before You Heal, You Have to Mourn.'” You can listen to the full 7-minute segment here (or read the transcript). Below I share some of my favorite parts of the interview, words I can relate to so well.

I don’t like the whole language of healing, which seems to me so false. As soon as something happens to us in America, everyone begins talking about healing. But before you heal, you have to mourn. And I found that poetry doesn’t shield you from grief, but it does give you an expression of that grief. And trying to express it, trying to articulate it, seemed like something I could do. And it gave me something to do with my grief.

There is no right way to grieve, and you have to let people grieve in the way that they can. One of the things that happens to everyone who is grief-stricken, who has lost someone, is there comes a time when everyone else just wants you to get over it, but of course you don’t get over it. You get stronger; you try and live on; you endure; you change; but you don’t get over it. You carry it with you.

Excerpt from Gabriel – Edward Hirsch’s book

I did not know the work of mourning
Is like carrying a bag of cement
Up a mountain at night

The mountaintop is not in sight
Because there is no mountaintop
Poor Sisyphus grief

I did not know I would struggle
Through a ragged underbrush
Without an upward path

Because there is no path
There is only a blunt rock
With a river to fall into

And Time with its medieval chambers
Time with its jagged edges
And blunt instruments

I did not know the work of mourning
Is a labor in the dark
We carry inside ourselves

I’ve never been big into poetry, but I thought this was so beautiful and raw and emotional. You might think this would make me feel more grief-stricken, but it’s more so comforting. It’s always encouraging to hear others who seem to understand exactly what you’re feeling and can put it into words better than you can. I’m not alone in my emotion.

Friday continued with a few other encouraging things – a perfectly-timed devotional, an eye-opening talk with a friend and some absolutely wonderful news at the end of the day that made me cry tears of joy. After a painful week, God knew exactly what I needed to continue the healing process. He is so good and so faithful and so loving.

So, happy weekend friends. I still feel very reflective this rainy, Saturday morning, but I also feel just a little stronger.

Carry on, warrior
xo xo

Seven {detestable} Things

Our church is starting a new series called Seven Things. When I first heard about it, I thought it was going to be about the seven deadly sins, something we’re all pretty much familiar with. However, I was incorrect. It’s about a passage in Proverbs that I’ve never read before or at least never paid much attention to –

        There are six things the Lord hates,
    seven that are detestable to him:
        haughty eyes, a lying tongue,
  hands that shed innocent blood,
     a heart that devises wicked schemes,
feet that are quick to rush into evil,
      a false witness who pours out lies and
a person who stirs up conflict in the community.

– Proverbs 6:16-19

From the start I was very intrigued by this series and now after week 1, even more so. Husband and I left the service talking about how great the message was and how convicted we were.

Week 1/Detestable Thing 1: Haughty Eyes – looking at people in need and judging them.

I will be the first to raise my hand and say I do this way too often. I really felt like this sermon was being preached to me. I judge people’s outfits or their hairstyle, I judge what someone says or what they do. I judge homeless people and people I work with. I know I shouldn’t, but it has become so commonplace and normal in society that it’s hardly even frowned upon.

But guess what – God doesn’t judge. He has seen me at my very worst and didn’t look at me with haughty eyes, but instead with compassion. This is what I like about this series, not only are we studying the behaviors we shouldn’t do, but we’re pairing them with the fruits of the spirit to show what we should do.

Fruit of the Spirit: Kindness – looking at people in need and helping meet the need.

God knows what he’s doing. He has placed all of us exactly where we need to be at every single moment in our life. He has not placed us where we are so that we can look at someone, judge them and think how much better we are than them. He has placed us there so we can take action and do something kind.

Here’s the thing. We often see people and think, what can I do? I don’t have the time or the money or know what to do so I just won’t do anything. BUT if we have the time to judge someone, we at least have the time to say a prayer. Say a prayer for God to bring someone into that person’s life who does have the resources to help, or say a prayer asking how you can help. There are people all around us who just need a little kindness and a little love instead of being looked down upon.

My prayer is that this week when we see someone and start to judge, instead we say a little prayer and see how we can meet a need.

* * *

I plan to share each week of this series on my blog. However, if you’re interested in attending the service with us to hear the message firsthand, please let me know. We would love for you to join us. You can learn more about The Grove Church here.

xo xo

Lent Update: Thankful + My Sweet Tooth

Lent is a little more than halfway over so I thought it was about time to give an update on my challenges. I’ve done poorly in one and very well in another … can you guess which is which??

Surprisingly, I’ve done poorly in something I thought would be so easy, too easy – taking a photo every day of something I’m thankful for. At first, it was a fun challenge, but now it’s gotten harder and I’m getting lazier. It’s not that I’m not thankful for so many things, but it’s often hard to capture that in a photo in the moment. I have my good days and my bad days of remembering. But overall it’s definitely served it’s purpose – reminding me to recognize the small things in my everyday life that I have to be thankful for. My last post showed days 5-13, below are days 14-24.

Screen Shot 2014-04-02 at 6.24.11 PM
{Day 14: I’m thankful for Spring so I can wear peep-toe wedges and bright polish! #lent #40daychallenge#springishere #shoelove}

Screen Shot 2014-04-02 at 6.24.48 PM{Day 15: I’m thankful for large Diet Coke Fridays – something I’m allowing myself only once a week these days! #lent #40daychallenge #dietcokeobsession #tgif}

Screen Shot 2014-04-02 at 6.25.09 PM{Day 17: I’m so thankful for this gorgeous guy I get to call my husband {all day and every day, but specifically thinking about him today} ❤️ #lent #40daychallenge#mcm #aruba #honeymoon #throwback}

Screen Shot 2014-04-02 at 6.25.26 PM{Day 19: I’m thankful for amazing opportunities to experience art at a world class museum in my little hometown. #lent #40daychallenge #modernism#crystalbridges #picasso #matisse}

Screen Shot 2014-04-02 at 6.26.02 PM
{Day 22: I’m thankful for this beauty on our mini spring break getaway. #lent #40daychallenge #hotsprings#sunset #lakehamilton}

Screen Shot 2014-04-02 at 6.26.17 PM{Day 23: I’m thankful for the little moments that make me happy. #lent #40daychallenge}

Screen Shot 2014-04-02 at 6.26.36 PM{Day 24: I’m thankful for a new month and a fresh beginning. #lent #40daychallenge}

As for this infamous sweet tooth – it’s killing me! So, when I first started this no desserts for Lent journey it was very hard. I was going through withdrawal symptoms daily. Then after about a week or so, they went away. I’d practically forgotten about desserts and how amazing they taste. I sighed with relief at how easy the rest of Lent was going to be. Then there’s been the last week or so and it.has.been.torture! The purpose of fasting for Lent is to rely on God instead of these other things. Well, I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I’ve prayed to God to take away my craving and focused on Him instead. I’ve definitely lived out the purpose, maybe more so than other years, but even so I’m here to tell ya – nothing is going to stop me on Easter morning from eating ice cream for breakfast.

xo xo 

I’m doing okay.

Remember that post I wrote about two months ago? Where I led with, “You want real, here’s real: I’m not okay.” Well, it’s two months later and I’m doing okay.

Guess what, friends, time works. Time heals. Not all, but it heals. It’s a Friday night. I’m laying in bed writing this after a great evening at home – taking Olli on a walk, cooking dinner barefoot in the kitchen (which Mom thinks means I’m pregnant … but I’m not) and relaxing with some favorite shows.

I’m trying so hard to be thankful every day for things in my life. I’m trying so hard to work through my grief. I’m trying so hard to praise God in all circumstances. It’s still hard, but I’ve definitely made progress.

I’m not here to sugar coat it and tell you it’s not all gone. Lord knows it’s not. I still feel a little hollow inside. I still feel sadder than I use to, lonelier than I use to, more reflective than I use to.

There’s still bad days. Days when all I want to do is cry. But those days are getting fewer and farther between. The perplexing part though is, I’m not sure if that’s what I want. I’m not sure if I want to be okay. It makes it feel more real and it makes it feel like I’m forgetting him. So some days I hold tight to my grief, letting it bury me because I don’t want it to go away.

I need to learn how to hold on to it and let it go at the same time. That’s where I am. Caught in the divide. I can see the light though. I can see the Lord pulling me in the right direction. He’s been so evident lately, putting specific people in my life at certain times to talk about certain things. I just love that. Love that I have someone looking out for me like that.

It’s getting better, friends, and I have all of you to thank as well for your continual love.

As Henry David Thoreau says, “Live each season as it passes; breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influences of each.”

xo xo

My Lenten #40DayChallenge

This year for Lent I’m doing things a little different. Well, I’m still doing some familiar things, like fasting from all sweets. (But this time I’m not going to let Sunday be a cheat day. So straight 45 days without sweets. Eek!)

But I’m also doing something different. I’m taking the time to be intentional about things I’m thankful for. I will share a photo every day on my instagram account @milledavis of my #40daychallenge. You can follow along there or on my blog. I won’t update on my blog every day, but will share in batches several days worth of photos.

This is a great exercise for anyone, to be conscious every day of the many things you have to be thankful for, but for me specifically in this time of grief. I pray that through this season God will open my eyes and remind me of all of his wonderful blessings. I pray I will reflect during this time on what’s truly important. I pray I will be reinvigorated with His truth and the passion to share the Gospel.

I hope you’ll follow me in this journey and share things you’re thankful for too!

Screen Shot 2014-03-06 at 6.39.53 PM

{Day 1: I’m thankful for the freedom to practice my religion during this sacred season.}

Screen Shot 2014-03-06 at 6.40.05 PM{Day 2: I’m thankful for fun coworkers and belated mardi gras celebrations.}

Life, it’s hard.

You want real? Here’s real: I’m not okay.

This situation has been more difficult than I could have ever imagined, and I’m tired of telling everyone I’m doing fine. I mean, I am doing fine, but I’m also not doing fine. Do you understand? If you do, please let me in, because I don’t understand. My thoughts, feelings, tears, emotions have been so scattered the past few weeks I honestly don’t know what I’m feeling. So often I feel numb – numb to the pain, numb to the world then all of a sudden I’m the opposite of numb (sensitive?) and I can feel everything all at once. All emotions come rushing to me. The tears don’t stop. The memories don’t stop. I can’t do anything.

I went back to work at the beginning of the week. I was so anxious about starting back, but it’s really been pretty good. I’ve enjoyed getting back into work and into a semi-normal routine. Everyone has been great, but someone shared a piece of advice that has stuck with me – Don’t just throw yourself into work. It will only elongate the healing process.

I’m honestly at a point right now where I can’t even imagine not feeling sad. I know it will happen, but it seems like such a foreign concept. When will I ever not be sad that I don’t get to see or talk to my dad again? When will that ever seem normal?

But life goes on. It’s amazing that it does, when everything around you seems to be crumbling and changing. But if I had any doubt in my mind, I look at Facebook or Instagram and it definitely goes on.

I love you all, and I don’t want you to read this and pity me. I just needed an outlet to be real. To be raw. If anything, just pray for me. If there’s been anything that’s given me peace and hope and strength through all of this, it’s been my faith. I honestly don’t know how people do it who don’t believe in our Lord Jesus Christ.

To end, I want to share with you my devotional from today. I pray it gives you hope in your life and your situation as it did for me today.

My face is shining upon you, beaming out peace that transcends understanding. You are surrounded by a sea of problems, but you are face-to-face with Me, your Peace. As long as you focus on Me, you are safe. If you gaze too long at the myriad of problems around you, you will sink under the weight of your burdens. When you start to sink, simply call out, “Help me, Jesus!” and I will lift you up.

The closer you live to Me, the safer you are. Circumstances around you are undulating, and there are treacherous-looking waves in the distance. Fix your eyes on Me, the One  who never changes. By the time those waves reach you, they will have shrunk to proportions of My design. I am always beside you, helping you face today’s waves. The future is a phantom, seeking to spook you. Laugh at the future! Stay close to me.

xo xo


A Tribute: Wonderful Father, Loving Husband of 40 Years, Loyal Friend aka Donny “Rooster”


“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.” – John 14:1-4

My Dad passed away December 30 unexpectedly from a heart attack. This blog has been my online scrapbook of sorts from the last 4 years, so I wanted to include a tribute to him, no matter how hard to write, as he is a huge part of my life and memories and always will be.

Bear with me as I sort through some photos and memories, some of mine and some of others who have shared the last few days. I do not intend for this post to make anyone cry or be sad (myself included) as I really want to celebrate his life more than anything.

Screen Shot 2014-01-07 at 11.28.30 AM{Dad’s school days photo and high school football photo – look how handsome}

IMG_9160{me, Dad and Mimi, his mother, 1998}

My very first memory is with my Dad. I must have been 2 or 3 and I was visiting him for a week while he was working in Kentucky. I remember seeing snow for the first time. I remember the hotel ladies bringing me cheese pizza (my favorite). But I also remember a story that my Dad loved to tell – we had stopped at a gas station and he left me in the car. I had just gotten a new outfit that I just couldn’t wait to wear, so my dad comes back out from the gas station only to find me standing in the back of the station wagon, butt naked, trying to put my new clothes on. (I still want to put on new clothes the second I get them!)

484728_10202832839807201_410740281_n{with friends at a class reunion}

1534405_10202851243347278_1617871959_n{planting trees with “forever” friend Joe Miles for a boy scout project}

As we’ve been reminiscing the past few days with family and friends, there has been story after story about Dad that I have just soaked up. Some of them involved dancing (with his little girl, with his beautiful wife, with his friends, my friends, anyone), some of them involved his mischievous doings with the Walnut Street Gang in elementary school and some of them from the college years are not fit to print here (he was a true 70s hippie, what more can I say?)

1385346_679874062037471_643151559_n{family/friend tailgate weekend, Nov. 2013}

One of my other favorite memories is the story of how he and my Mom met. I’d heard the first half of the story multiple times, but only heard the second half this weekend from one of their college friends. They both went to ASU in Jonesboro. Dad and a friend would sit in their dorm with their binoculars scoping out the hot girls on the lawn. One day he spotted Mom and said to his friend, “I have to meet that girl.” Later, Dad was in the lunchroom with another friend/an ex-girlfriend and he saw Mom again, to which he said, “That’s the girl!” The ex said, “Oh, that’s Robin. Do you want me to introduce you?” “Oh no, no, don’t do that.” The ex went up to my Mom and asked if she wanted to eat lunch with her and her friend, pointing to Dad. To which my Mom replied, “The guy with the binoculars?!” Obviously she went out with the guy with the binoculars anyway, and the rest was history.


{Appleton family photo, 2006}

IMG_8118{father-daughter dance, 2011}

Some things about my Dad that I hope never to forget: his love of people; his habit of drinking coffee in the morning with mom while she read the paper and he did the crossword puzzle; his new addiction to candy crush thanks to me and mom; his willingness to give me money all the time, even if it was his last $20, he just wanted to make sure I was taken care of; his habit of watching Jeopardy at 4pm and yelling out the answers; his stories of growing up in Newport and keeping up with his classmates; our game of “Name that Tune” on car rides, as he tried to educate me on classic rock; his insistence on trying to teach me to fish even though I just couldn’t stand it;  his friendliness to all – he had no prejudice to ethnicity, religion, class; his laugh and his positive outlook – not holding grudges and just moving on; his love of good southern food (mashed potatoes, grits, bbq) and his sweet tooth (that I inherited); his willingness to travel just about anywhere with his girls, though his suggestion was always the same – Destin or the Keys; his compliments that he was unafraid to give; his nicknames for me, including LD (little darlin’) and Mille Moo from Tuscaloo.

IMG_6056{Park City, Utah, 2012}

1497785_10151787446762251_172014117_n{Orlando, FL, 2010}

Now a tribute from Kyle, his favorite son-in-law:

I wanted to take a moment and say thank you to everyone for all the love and support you have given us. Robin, Mille, and I surely have the most amazing family, friends, and coworkers, and as Donny would say: “y’all are good people”.

You form a special bond with a man, when he gives you his blessing to marry his only daughter, and that bond only strengthened over time as we rode along together through all the awesome (and some times crazy) trips that Mille and Robin planned. From the Islands of Adventure in Florida, to honky-tonk hopping in Nashville, every year just seemed to get more awesome, and gave me so many wonderful memories.

Donny, I am so grateful that you (and of course Robin too!) said yes to me when I asked for your daughter’s hand, and that you so easily accepted me as part of your family. You are so very missed, and I want you to know that I will do everything I can to take care of your two beautiful girls.

What an amazing and sweet husband I have. I’ve always known how great he is, but he has been such a blessing the last week. I don’t know what I would have done without him – from driving us 13 hours from Ohio then 5 hours to Newport to always being by my side and giving me a hug or a kiss on the forehead exactly when I need it. I also want to give a shoutout to everyone else who has been so supportive during this time – family, friends, co-workers. We have just been overwhelmed by the love and support and prayers, and please, keep the prayers coming. There will still be a lot more hurt and pain. This is not an easy journey, but we’re thankful to have all of you by our side. I leave you with a poem that was read at Dad’s service, that is absolutely perfect.


You can shed tears that he is gone
Or you can smile because he has lived

You can close your eyes and pray that he will come back
Or you can open your eyes and see all that he has left

Your heart can be empty because you can’t see him
Or you can be full of the love that you shared

You can turn your back on tomorrow and live yesterday
Or you can be happy for tomorrow because of yesterday

You can remember him and only that he is gone
Or you can cherish his memory and let it live on

You can cry and close your mind, be empty and turn your back
Or you can do what he would want: smile, open your eyes, love and go on.

xo xo
Love, LD

Weekend Picturebook: Cabin in the Woods

One of the things I’m most thankful for this year is our Community Group. After we got married, husband and I started looking for a couples bible study to join. We searched on our own and couldn’t find one we thought would be just right. Of course, God already had a plan for the perfect group for us to join. We got a text message from a co-worker from my previous job asking to prayerfully consider joining their group. God clearly led them to ask us and clearly led us to say yes, because it has been the best decision we’ve made all year.

These are some of the most loving, generous, inspirational people we know and we are so so grateful to call them our friends. It has become so much more than just a group we go to on Thursday nights, but people we share life with.

I wrote this post yesterday, and this morning at church they happened to be talking about community. They shared a great passage about what it means to be in community (Acts 2:42-47) describing biblical community as studying God’s word together, praying together and breaking bread together “with glad and sincere hearts.”

Last weekend we rented a cabin on the Buffalo River together and had an amazing weekend of true community. See below some highlights from the weekend.


IMG_2466{Friday night Newlywed Game – where husband correctly guessed the two things that would be in my “wild night”. We also won the game.}


IMG_3657{Saturday morning mimosas and scrabble. It’s a rough life.}

IMG_0692{It was FREEZING, but we went hiking anyway}

IMG_3425{and relaxed with a brew…}

IMG_8730{and did some caving…}

IMG_8122{and celebrated a birthday…}

IMG_2502{then relaxed by the fire.}


{What a great group of people – and a random little girl who jumped in our picture!}
xo xo

You might also enjoy: Weekend Picturebook: Halloween, Birthdays & Football, Weekend Picturebook: Little Rock

a prayer for us all.

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
That I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
Forever in the next.

xo xo


7: Possessions // UPDATE

Hi friends, remember when we were doing our 7 challenge? We cleaned out our closets and our apartment and had an abundance of stuff to give away, along with our Community Group. We gave all the household items to Havenwood, but we all kept the clothes planning to do a free clothing giveaway. Well, it finally happened. We planted ourselves in the middle of the Gravette Farmer’s Market with a tent full with clothes, shoes, accessories and signs that said FREE. We weren’t sure exactly how it was going to work. We didn’t know how many people would stop by, if people would want to give money for the clothes, if they would let pride get in their way or if they would take everything in one swoop. I’m here to say, it was a HUGE success.


We had some fun.


We had great fellowship.


But most importantly, we blessed the community of Gravette.


We had numerous families come by who shared their stories about not having enough money to buy new clothes for themselves or their kids for Summer. They were so incredibly grateful and asked if we would be back. These families were needy and we were able to provide for a basic need. We have such an abundance and we don’t even realize how far that can go for others. I was extremely humbled and left ready and willing to clean out my closet again and again to give to those who truly needed it. It was so much more impactful seeing women go through my clothes excited to wear them than just dropping off bags of clothing at Goodwill.


What an incredible Saturday we had, and we will certainly be doing it again.

xo xo

You might also enjoy: 7: Possessions // Week 1, 7: Stress

7: Stress // Update

It’s official. I am not stopping this challenge at the end of the two weeks.

Guys, can I tell you how much this prayer time helps throughout the day? Picture me: an anxious, perfectionist, worrier, easily stressed person in a pretty high stress job. (I know, I know how stressful can social media be, right? Walk a mile in my shoes.)

Picture this: God is here for me 24/7. God wants me to be refreshed and refocused throughout the day. God doesn’t want me to be stressed or anxious or worried.

Now I’m not saying I’ve been perfect. I’m not sure if there’s even been one day when I’ve prayed the full 7 times, but I’m definitely praying more than I ever have throughout the day strategically.

When I was in Ohio last week traveling alone, the nightly prayers and Psalms were a tremendous comfort.

When I took a 2-minute pause in a hectic workday at 9:30am to ask the Spirit to bless my work with composure, creativity, inspiration and love and I felt overwhelmingly refreshed.

When I used the drive home to transition out of work and into the evening with family, I felt peace and thankfulness.

What a difference this makes in my day to day. I’ve been learning how easy it is to push God aside throughout the day and fit Him into our schedule, rather than the other way around. When I want everything I do to glorify Him, why not let Him lead my day through prayer?

I think Paul was on to something when he said “pray ceasingly.”

xo xo

You might also enjoy: 7: Stress

7: Stress

One of my least favorite things is when someone asks how you’ve been and you say busy. Or crazy busy. Or soooo busy. Or ridiculously busy. NEWS FLASH: Everyone’s busy, and everyone thinks they’re busier than everyone else. I’m not saying I don’t do this, because I definitely do, but I’m trying to catch myself before saying it and respond with a less superficial and more sincere answer. All that to say, everyone’s busy and with busyness often comes stress. How do we combat that?

Let’s pray. 7 times a day. I’m good at praying in the morning and I’m good at praying at night. I’ll sometimes sneak a prayer in there during the day if I have a second to breathe or something major is happening. Most days my prayers are very similar. We kind of get stuck in the typical prayer, yeah? 7 shares a strategic plan to pray throughout the day, and I love it. The author calls these 7 prayers “breathing spells for the soul, an oasis to remember the sacredness of life, who we are, how to offer God the incredible gift of our lives, and learning to be in the midst of so much doing.”

I’m so in. Are you?

The Night Watch (midnight)
The Awakening Hour (dawn)
The Blessing Hour (midmorning)
The Hour of Illumination (noon)
The Wisdom Hour (midafternoon)
The Twilight Hour (early evening)
The Great Silence (bedtime)

* * *

The Night Watch (midnight) – The Night Watch advocates for others in a dark night of the soul: the suffering, abandoned, oppressed, lonely.

“My eyes are awake before each watch of the night, that I may meditate on your promise.” Psalm 119:148
Readings: Psalm 42, Psalm 63, Psalm 119: 145-152

The Awakening Hour (dawn) – The Awakening Hour includes thankfulness for a new day, a fresh slate. Our desire to live this day for Jesus glory is an offering. We celebrate God’s redemption.

“Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love; so that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.” Psalm 90:14
Readings: Psalm 19, Psalm 95, Psalm 147

The Blessing Hour (midmorning) – This mid-morning pause has two emphases: The first is mindfulness of the Spirit’s abiding presence to invite the Spirit to stir our souls. The second is about the sacredness of our hands and work asking the Spirit to bless us with creativity, composure, inspiration, love.

“Let your loveliness shine on us, and bless the work we do, bless the work of our hands.” Psalm 90:17
Readings: Psalm 67, Psalm 84, Psalm 121

The Hour of Illumination (noon) – At midday we honor the hour when Jesus embraced the cross, and we recommit to giving our lives away. We pledge to shine brightly, becoming hope to the hopeless and light in the darkness.

“You are the salt of the earth … you are the light of the world.” Matthew 5:13-14
Readings: Psalm 24, Psalm 33, Psalm 34

The Wisdom Hour (midafternoon) – With the evening approaching, we pray for perspective on this short, fleeting day and life and we hold out forgiveness, release our grudges and offer our gifts to the world.

“For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” Philippians 1:21
Readings: Psalm 71, Psalm 90, Psalm 138

The Twilight Hour (early evening) – We invite God’s peace as we leave work and transition into dinner, family, home, rest, training our minds toward tranquility. The Twilight Hour is for exhaling, calming our minds and transitioning into the evening and being thankful for the day.

Readings: Psalm 34, Psalm 139, Psalm 145

The Great Silence (bedtime) – This prayer concludes the day; the focus is on awareness and we include not just weaknesses but the strengths and accomplishments of the day. The second theme is darkness – We ask the Spirit to guard against our enemy, protecting our seal and innocence in Christ.

“By day the Lord directs his love, at night his song is with me – a prayer to the God of my life.” Psalm 42:8
Readings: Psalm 23, Psalm 91, Psalm 134

You might also enjoy: 7: Spending, 7: Media

Peace, Hope & Love

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. – 1 Peter 1:3

It’s been a rough week. I was losing hope. I was focusing on myself. I was stressed. I was overwhelmed. I couldn’t see anything past the present second and  my present problems.

Luckily, God was listening. (Of course He was!) He has given me the most gorgeous, relaxing weekend I could have possibly asked for and put things back into perspective. I’ll spare you my sermon, but reflect on the verse above. We are NEW because of Him. We have HOPE because of Him. He is so merciful, and He has overcome the world.

I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. – John 16:33

Whatever you’re going through, take a step back. Allow the Holy Spirit to fill you with peace, hope & love.


My weekend was:

[a lazy saturday]

[closing a restaurant catching up with old friends]

[taking a hot hot bath, simply because I wanted to]

[celebrating a dear friend’s birthday]

[expanding my mind reading intelligent articles in Wired]

[leaving the doors and windows wide open]

[a nice walk with my mom]

[celebrating the risen Christ with family]

[a terrific brunch with a terrific view]

[an afternoon not bound by plans]

[baking an oreo brownie surprise – recipe to come tomorrow!]

[mentally prepping for the season finale of The Walking Dead]

On that note, you should probably go back and read my blog How To Survive a Zombie Apocalypse in honor of tonight’s episode. Also, just in case it happens sooner than you expected.

xo xo

7: Spending

Look at your bank statement. How many places do you spend money within two weeks? I looked at ours: 50. These last two weeks we’ve spent money in 50 places. For the next two weeks, we’re taking it down to 7.

By now I’m sure you know about our 7 challenge. So far we’ve gone through possessions, waste and media. We still have stress, clothing and food to go, but the next two weeks are all about spending.

Our 7 places:

– Walmart (includes gas and WM Home Office Cafeteria)
– Bills
– Husband’s Karate
– Starbucks (it’s a serious addiction, I’ll conquer that in our food challenge)
– Restaurant A
– Restaurant B (restaurants to be decided throughout the two weeks, but I’m almost positive one will be Houlihan’s…)
– Wildcard (this could be anything we choose throughout the challenge – something fun or something serious that comes up)

I think this challenge is going to be very convicting. I’m such a consumer. I must consume something everywhere I go. How often do I buy a coffee at Barnes & Nobles just because, purchase a new necklace at a shop I’m perusing or download a new song on iTunes? Too often. Look at these facts and try not to cringe.

Annual U.S. Spending on Cosmetics: $8 billion
Basic Education for all global children: $6 billion
Annual U.S. and European spending on perfume: $12 billion
Clean water for all global citizens: $9 billion

Seriously? I feel sick. Think of the difference we could all make if we watch where our money goes more closely. We’re making a choice every single day with our dollar.

I’m not sure if you ever think this, but I certainly have before – Since I tithe and give to other good places, I can do whatever else I want to do with my money. How selfish am I? Who’s money is this really? It’s certainly not mine, so why am I spending the majority of it on things I want that won’t even matter in the end. Just because I can have it doesn’t mean I should.

With this much expendable income on movie theaters, restaurants, shopping, I doubt Jesus will accept my excuses for neglecting the poor on account of cash flow.

Instead of our American way of thinking and fearing poverty and simplicity, we should fear prosperity.

“It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” – Mark 10:25

I know we’ve all heard this, but I hope these next two weeks we can really meditate on this fact and find ways to simplify our lives and use our money to love our neighbor as ourselves, just as Jesus would have wanted.

* * *
“God, may we be focused on the least, a people balancing the fasting and the feast.”

xo xo

What I Learned From My Media Fast in 140 Characters or Less

I’m baaaaaaack! Back in the glorious world of my online life.

For those of you who don’t know, husband and I have been sustaining from all media for the last two weeks, including TV, radio, blogging, social media, internet, texting (HA!). You can read more about it here.

Here’s a little behind the scenes of the Alderman’s media-less journey in tweet form …

* * *

Day 1: I dreamed about Instagram last night. My body is already fighting this challenge.

Day 2: I.Am.So.Productive.Without.Media.

Day 3: Our life does not revolve around our TV shows and I love it.

Day 4: The “texting only for necessity” rule is very obviously not going to work.

Day 5: This is so easy. I don’t know what I was so worried about.

Day 6: This is so hard. All I want to do is instagram NWA Fashion Week.

Day 7: Again, all I want to do is instagram NWAFW. What’s life if you can’t share it?!

Day 8: No radio in the car = borrrrrring.

Day 9: People keep asking me if I saw _______ on Facebook or _______ on the news. I feel so completely lost.

Day 10: I can’t watch TV, yet I’m filming a TV commercial in Ohio today. #irony

Day 11: Media is one of my idols.

Day 12: I broke. I listened to Taylor Swift and it was GLORIOUS.

Day 13: I had one of the most fun nights with friends & I might not have if I had the option to just laze at home with TV.

Day 14: If I didn’t have to get up so early tomorrow I would definitely stay up until after midnight to watch TV. I have a problem.

* * *

What we didn’t end up doing with all our free time: exercising, cooking more, cleaning, crafting.

What we did end up doing with all our free time: spending more time with friends, reading, relaxing, having in depth conversations at the dinner table, understanding the meaning of peace.

How difficult this challenge was for me was a sign. The first week seemed too easy because we were so busy with work and other things. The second week was so hard. All I wanted to do was share about my travels to Ohio on FB/Twitter/Instagram/Blog. All I wanted to do was watch a really good movie and relax with a good laugh during The Big Bang Theory.

Husband and I both realized how much more we can get done without media. How much time we waste sitting in front of the TV or the internet without even realizing it. How often we say we don’t have time to – work out, have a quiet time, talk to someone on the phone, etc. We’ve decided we’re going to start limiting our TV time during the week to an hour a night.

Except this week. This week we’re immersing ourselves in everything we missed. The Walking Dead, Revenge, Scandal, Nashville, The Big Bang, New Girl, Glee (& more) … we’re coming for you.

xo xo

7: Media

Okay friends, it’s about that time. Time for our media blackout. As part of our 7 challenge, for two weeks we will be giving up:

  • TV/Movies
  • Social Media (for personal use, since it’s my job I can’t necessarily give it up all together)
  • Blogging
  • Video Games
  • Radio
  • Texting (only texting out of necessity is allowed, no texting conversations)
  • Internet (except what’s needed for daily life for bills, etc.)


What will we be doing with our time, you ask? Good question. I keep asking myself the same thing. Here’s the typical night in the Alderman household: come home from work, take Olli out, turn on the TV for background noise, cook dinner, eat dinner in front of the TV, watch TV, go to bed.

Yes we watch too much TV, I know that. Yes we shouldn’t eat dinner in front of the TV, I know that too.

In the same vein, here’s my typical day in social media consumption: wake up – check FB/Instagram, head to work & while sitting at a traffic light – check Twitter for morning’s news, periodically throughout the day – check all three (most of the time Instagram, over and over and over), get frustrated because people aren’t updating their lives regularly enough on social media, get back to my job (about social media), heading home from work while sitting at a traffic light – check Twitter for evening news, periodically throughout the night – check all three. repeat.

It sounds exhausting, doesn’t it? But I have a feeling I’m not the only millennial with those consumption habits.

All that to say, this is going to be a really tough two weeks for us. If husband wrote this blog he would talk about how hard giving up video gaming is going to be for him. He has replaced Saturday morning cartoons with Saturday morning video games while I sleep. Video games are his stress reliever, as blogging is mine.

* * *

Here’s the plan to combat media withdrawals:

Read. Read. Read. – I have at least two books I want to finish, but I’m shooting for three.

Take Olli on long walks every night after dinner.

Enjoy more quiet time with God.

Deep clean the apartment.

Invite people over and spend quality time together.

Do a DIY/Craft project together.

Attempt more complex recipes.

Games! – We are officially kicking off our media sabbatical by hosting a game night for our community group Sunday night.

Start a workout routine. – Insanity or P90X does not count as TV, per the council’s decision.

* * *

Next time you’ll hear from me will be March 24. I plan on journaling our process (in a REAL journal, not a blog) and sharing some of our insights, pains, joys and photos from our weeks apart. If you need me, call me, or just stop by our apartment. I’m sure we will be happy for the company.

xo xo

You might also enjoy: 7: Possessions // Week 1, 7 : Waste

7: Waste

“The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; for he founded it on the seas and established it on the water.”

– Psalm 24: 1-2

I’m going to be completely transparent with you. I am not too excited about this chapter. It sounds boring, it sounds difficult and I don’t have as much conviction about it as I do other things (possessions, spending, clothing, etc.) Prayer request: That the Lord will open my eyes to see how important this really is.

The goal of the chapter is to reduce our amount of waste and live a greener life. We are wasters. We are consumers. We are not taking care of God’s creation like we should, because for some reason I believe that I am more important than the animals, the forest, the ocean, the soil, the air that God so carefully constructed.

So, here are the Alderman’s seven habits to a greener life:

– Allow only 5 minutes showers

– Turn lights off when leaving a room (something I am TERRIBLE at and husband says so all the time)

– Unplug electronics, chargers, etc. when not in use

– Recycle what we can

– Eat out only at local restaurants

– Use reusable bags while shopping

– Do not use plastic baggies/utensils for lunches

As I was reading through the chapter about gardening and composting and using only one car, I literally thought to myself, “What difference are these things really going to make?” (I’m obviously not a hippie/earthy type, eh?) Then I got to the end of the chapter where the author specifically addressed that question, and her response was exactly what I needed to hear.

“If we believe it is part of our task as earthkeepers to recycle, then we ought to recycle, whether or not it will change the world. Do the right thing. We should fulfill our calling to be caretakers of the earth regardless of whether global warming is real or there are holes in the ozone layer or three nonhuman species become extinct every day. Our vocation is not contingent on results or the state of the planet. Our calling simply depends on our identity as God’s respons-able human image bearers.”

Let’s do the right thing.

xo xo

You might also enjoy: 7: Possessions7: Possessions // Week 1

7: Possessions // Week 1

We are one week into our possessions challenge and we’ve already hit 100 items to give away. Wow. We have SO much stuff that we never use!

IMG_8937Here’s a photo of some of the stuff we’re giving away – clothes, shoes, purses/backpacks, kitchenware, blankets, pillows. This photo does not include the two huge trashbags filled with clothes we have.

As I mentioned before, we’ve been looking for places to intentionally give things to. Well, God certainly provided.

Wednesday night Husband and I were talking about some of the things we need we wanted to give away. Since we moved into our apartment, we’ve had an over-abundance in drinking glasses. We both had glasses from college we brought with us, then we got all new glasses from the wedding. And of course, we always use the same glasses and rarely touch the other 5 sets we have.

The next day I went to Havenwood in Bentonville to drop off some volunteer forms. I asked what their current most pressing need was. Can you guess what she said? Glasses. Not plates, not utensils, not bowls. Glasses.

God is incredible.

While we’ve purged our closets (and it feels so refreshing on so many levels), there hasn’t really been anything we’ve “felt.” You know, something you really didn’t want to get rid of even though you don’t use, but you know you should get rid of? I don’t often get attached to my glasses.

But then there it was, a conviction. One of the members of our group emailed about an organization that took prom dresses for those who couldn’t afford them, and it hit me. I have about 4 long gowns in my parents closet and about 4 short formal dresses in my closet. When was the last time I’d worn any of these? High school. Would they even still fit? Probably not. Did I still want to keep them for some reason? Of course. At our community group last week, one girl brought in several of her old dresses to give away and she shared how difficult it was for her to do so, so I knew I needed to give up mine. I keep thinking about how little they’re doing sitting in my parents/my closet and how much they would mean to some girl who might not have even gone to prom if it weren’t for this dress. And in all honesty, will I ever wear these again? Won’t I just purchase a different dress when I do have an occasion to wear it?

So, that’s been my hard thing to give up as shallow as it may sound. Anyway, we still have a week left in the challenge and a few more closets to clean out. Keep praying for us and keep me posted of any specific needs you hear of in the area. I’d LOVE to share another glasses story with you next week.

xo xo


7: Possessions

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” – Matthew 6:19-21

As I mentioned in a previous post, husband and I are starting our first ever couples Bible study with a book called 7 – An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess. It is a challenge to cut down areas of excess in life: food. clothes. spending. media. possessions. waste. stress.

Our first challenge starts today: possessions. Give away 7 possessions every day for two weeks. 98 possessions total.

A few additional conditions we added on ourselves:

– Clothes/shoes can only count for 3 days, because you know you could go through your closet and find several bag fulls of things to give away that could easily count for the whole time.

– No purchasing any more possessions in the two weeks.

– Be intentional about where you’re giving. While giving to Goodwill or Salvation Army is good, you’re not seeing the need when you drop your bags off in a drive-thru. We are looking for specific organizations in the area that need specific things like clothes, home goods, electronics, etc. so we can actually see where and who our possessions are going to.

This will definitely be a challenge, but I’m already excited to see what happens and where God takes us. I’d love for you to join the journey with us or just pray for us. I’ll be blogging along the way, so if you’re interested in hearing how it goes sign up to get emails every time I post on the right side of the screen under “Don’t Miss a Post.” Also, if you know of a deserving cause in NWA with some specific needs please please let us know as our group will be on the lookout.

Now, off to purge for day 1…

xo xo

just a few things.

After a whirlwind Vegas weekend two weeks ago, this week I headed to West Palm Beach, FL to experience my first ever commercial shoot. It was challenging, but interesting and always fun to do something different. Next month I’m off to Cleveland!


* * *

During my travels, I found this via Lauren Conrad. What a great idea to give up something different every month?? I wish I’d found this sooner, but nevertheless I’m starting No-Fried February! So look forward to the aches, pains (and hopefully positives) that come out of this experience. Husband and I are also working on an exercise plan I’m going to share with you and see if you will join us in our journey. More to come on that.


* * *

Books, books, books. I’m trying to read more because when I do read and finish a really good book, it is just so gratifying. I recently finished Where We Belong and Where’d You Go Bernadette, both of which I’d recommend. However, I made an impulse buy in the West Palm Beach airport knowing I had a 2 1/2 hour flight ahead – Bossypants. I finished it on the plane and absolutely loved it. Every page was hilarious, and if I hadn’t been on a plane I would have been laughing out loud the entire book. Tina Fey does a tremendous job of providing hilarity, wit and advice. As if I didn’t already love her before thanks to Mean Girls, SNL and 30 Rock, now I adoooore her.

IMG_6924* * *

The second book is one I just picked up that husband and I will be reading together as part of our new couples Bible study. 7 – An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess is a challenge to cut down areas of excess in life: food. clothes. spending. media. possessions. waste. stress. I hope to share our challenges with you and inspire you to do the same.

* * *

Oh, and if you don’t follow me on instagram, (first, you should: @milledavis) here’s another tidbit you missed…

1360105540_adam-brody-leighton-meester-lgAdorable Adam Brody from The O.C. meets fashionista beauty Leighton Meester from Gossip Girl = cutest new couple ever!

xo xo

We are blessed to be a blessing


“The Lord had said to Abram, ‘Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you. I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.'” – Genesis 12:1-3

* * *

The message at our church was so rich this morning that I had to share a piece of it with you.  We should not be looking to others and thinking they are too blessed or coveting the blessings we don’t have, but instead looking at our blessings and thinking how much we have compared to others.

Two questions we will be reflecting on in our household this week and hope you will too:

How has God blessed you?

How does he want to use that blessing to bless others?

* * *

“You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.” – 2 Corinthians 9:11

you are the peanut to my butter

Day 3 of the 30-day challenge: I’m thankful for friends who know me really, really well.

Case in point #1: I LOVE celebrity gossip. So when I heard about Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds’ surprise wedding (who I’ve previously blogged about here) I was shocked! I couldn’t believe it, like they were my bff’s who kept the secret from me. So when I got a text message from a friend about the topic with the perfect amount of shock and exclamation points, it made me happy to have someone who understands.

(P.S. They got married on The Notebook plantation. Could that be any more adorable?!)

Case in point #2: In the same night, I had another friend tag me in the photo below on Facebook. As a Diet Coke obsessor and one who loves a good advertisement, it was just too perfect for words.

* * *

Day 4 of the 30-day challenge: I’m thankful I have something worth waking up early for. 

Every Wednesday I’ll be waking up 2 hours earlier than usual to get together with a group of wonderful women in a Bible study. The lack of sleep is completely worth it – to spend time with these Godly ladies, to dig into His word and to prayerfully learn about living out our faith in the workplace.