Favorite Things Women

My Favorite Things {Vol. 1}

November 1, 2017

Did you ever watch Sound of Music?

I watched it so many times I’m pretty much banned from watching it again in the Connell Casa. Whenever I’m in the US and ask the family if they want watch Sound of Music, it is always met with a resounding “NO!!!”

But I love the Sound of Music! Julie Andrews can sing a song and I may or may not have acted out the opening scene, with arms stretched out, spinning in circles on top of a green mountain, singing at the top of my lungs “The hills are alive…” (No, I will not film that and post it for all to see. Sorry, not sorry!)

However, I think my favorite song from the movie is “My Favorite Things.” (or “16 Going on 17” or “Something Good.” Okay, okay, I’ve watched the movie too many times.)

So I thought why don’t I share of few of my favorite things with you. When the dog bites, when the bee stings, these things are sure to make you feel better…

  • She Reads Truth Bible. Y’all, this Bible is visually so inviting and beautiful. It includes key verses, reading plans, devotionals, maps and charts and large(r) margins to take notes. The translation is Christian Standard Bible which I’ll be honest, I was not familiar with but I like it. For me, I enjoy reading different translations of the Bible because sometimes I’ll read a verse in one translation and then read it another and it breathes a whole new life into that verse.

  • SoloHope’s Wednesday Specials. Of course, you know I’m all about some SoloHope but I LOVE our new Wednesday Specials that we’re doing. Each Wednesday we’re featuring one of beautiful handcrafted items at heavily discounted price but it’s only for one day so you have to act fast to get the special pricing. This week’s Wednesday Special is earrings–ALL our earrings for just $8! (Reg. $10-12). Can we say stocking stuffers?! Each pair of earrings are handcrafted from pine needles and thread (yes, it’s true!) by our artisan team in Honduras. They are light-weight and beautiful and as our artisans say “Made with lots of love.” That’s definitely a favorite of mine.

  • Fair Trade Friday. Since I love businesses/organizations supporting women and men all over the world to rise above the extreme difficulties they are faced with such as extreme poverty, human trafficking, abuse/neglect, war, I am a big fan of this subscription service. Started by blogger, Kristen Welch, this organization truly cares for the hearts of the people who handcraft the products featured in the Fair Trade Friday Box. They also have an Earring of the Month Club, a Bracelet of the Month Club and have recently introduced a new subscription service called Girl Boss Box. You should check them out. Plus they have been known to feature SoloHope’s products so that’s a win-win!

  • Magnolia Journal. I know I’m not the only person saddened to hear that Joanna & Chip Gaines’s hit HGTV show is coming to end but there are so many other places to still find the Gaines in action–books, Target, and their magazine! Which can I just say I LOVE! It’s a quarterly magazine rich with great articles, decorating times, recipes and so much more. Last quarter (pictured below) even featured an article from Bob Goff so to me, the Gaines have nailed it with this magazine.

  • Gilmore Girls. You’re probably thinking, “wait, you’ve just heard of the Gilmore Girls?! What planet have you been living on??” Well, I had heard of it but honestly just never had the desire to watch it until I began to be left out of conversations or worse when I thought my friends were talking about real-life people and felt totally out of the loop. So I caved and began watching Gilmore Girls on Netflix and y’all, I gotta give credit where credit’s due and you guys were right. Gilmore Girls is pretty good. I’m in Season 6 and I believe Loreali and Rory have drank 15,434 cups of coffee thus far, but my count could be off by a couple thousand.

Bonus: The soundtrack of Sound of Music. Need I say more?

So those are some of my favorite things that on the many rainy days we’re having right now in La Esperanza, that serve to brighten my days and then I don’t feel so sad…I get it, enough with the Sound of Music references and song lyrics.

What are some of your favorite things this fall?

Tell me in the comments below.

Current Issues Missionary Life Women

I’m sorry.

October 20, 2017

I’m sorry. Truly I am.

You never should have had to go through what you did today but especially not what you went through on Tuesday.

I’m so so sorry.

My mind has swirled with emotion today. As I sat waiting for you as you spoke to the police, the doctors, the psychologists, I raged with anger and cried with hurt. It’s not right. I have questioned God why He allowed this to happen. And I’ve wished I could turn back time and make it go away. I wish I could say it was the first time I’ve heard this story but it’s not. It is a story that unfortunately is far too common.

I’m sorry that you too now have to say #metoo.

I’m sorry he stole your peace. Thankfully you fought, you kicked, you screamed and you escaped but you felt violated because you were. He tried to take something you didn’t want to give. He waited for you as you walked down the road. He attacked you.

Dear sister, I’m sorry. I’m so sorry it will be so hard now to walk alone without fear.

Today you shook nervously as you recounted the horrible events that took place Tuesday. Tears poured down your face. This asshole trespassed on your soul and you were so visibly shaken. When he ripped your shirt away from you, he might as well have been ripping your heart wide open to bleed.

And I’m sorry.

I’m sorry that we live in a world so full of hate and evil. I’m sorry that a man would try to force himself upon you. I’m so sorry that sin has left an evil stain on this world that some refuse to clean with the blood of Jesus. Instead they allow the sickness of their soul to grow into a deep nasty black mark on their hearts that allows them to only see themselves and not the ones they are hurting.

Oh dear sister, I’m sorry. I’m so very sorry.

But I’m also proud. Proud of you. You stood up to him today. You quite possibly stopped him from doing this to another woman or child. You spoke up.

Even though it was so hard. You did it.

He tried, my friend. He tried to destroy you but you didn’t let him. I know it will take time until you feel whole again but you will.

You will.

We serve a God who comforts. And draws us close. He didn’t leave you on Tuesday. As you hurt, He hurt. As you felt the world as you knew begin to crumble, He was in the midst of the ruins mourning the loss too. But our God rebuilds. He restores what the enemy tries to steal from us. He will restore you.

Don’t give up, my sister. Rest. Cry. Hurt. But don’t give up.

You are a mighty woman. You are a force to reckoned with. You are strong. And you will rise again from these ruins.

You will rise.

It’s a promise. Not from me but from God our Father.

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.

Isaiah 43:2


Friends, I ask for you pray for a dear friend of mine who this week has gone through hell. I wish her story was an isolated one but it is not. As more and more women and men feel empowered through the #metoo movement, to speak out about their experiences of sexual harassment, assault and/or abuse, support these individuals. Speaking out is not easy.

If you have yourself have experienced sexual harassment, assault and/or abuse, know you are not alone. Know it was not your fault. Know you can speak out. Know people will support you. Know you can get help. And know you will rise again. 

Growth Life Women

Pretty purple flowers.

September 27, 2017

I’ve wanted to write for some time. But honestly there’s so much swirling around in my mind, I don’t know where to start.

Do I share how returning to Honduras was unexpectedly harder than I was thinking it would be after my extended trip to the US?

Or do I tell you about this book I’m reading that’s making me realize how desperately I need to put down the never ending to-do lists?

Or do I recount how one of the teenagers in our youth group startled me by hugging me like a mama?

Or do I try to explain how I’ve been stressing (okay, worrying) about the direction of SoloHope?

But yesterday, I took some time to FaceTime with my friend, Ashley Stephen, who is so often so full of wisdom and insight. For so long I felt like Ashley and I did a season of life together. I remember sitting down with Ashley in the Atlanta Bread Company in January of 2014 and sharing my heart and vision with her about SoloHope. I knew what I saw in my mind but I struggled to communicate it but this girl caught the vision immediately and truly helped me grow SoloHope visually but in so many other ways as well. But it was more than that, it was a time of offering each other friendship in a really hard season of transition where neither one of us were sure of “home.”

As we’ve both transitioned to different seasons, we have begun to realize life never gets easier.

Well how’s that for an uplifting thought?!

But it’s true. I have friends who are single longing for a husband but it seems that pray has gone unanswered. Friends who are married longing for children but instead facing infertility. Friends who never in a million years thought they would be divorced but now that’s where they find themselves. Friends who have facing chronic illnesses, job losses, broken families, adoption challenges, strained marriages, lost homes, aging parents, unfulfilled dreams, and so much more.

And it’s hard.

Some seasons are definitely harder than others but ultimately every single season of our lives offer challenges.

Challenges that can force us to grow. Challenges that can cause us to be more intentional with life. Because life is a gift even in the “hard.”

A few months ago, I was standing by the road waiting for a bus. My mind was so full and stressed and burdened. It just felt heavy.  As I glanced behind me, I saw this mass of vines, tangled and just a mess and that’s exactly how my mind felt. But then it was as if the Lord beckoned me to look closer and what I saw was these pretty purple flowers peaking through. And I knew God was showing me something special. He was showing me the beauty.

Beauty exists even in the “hard,” friends.

Beauty exists in the midst of the trials and pain. Sometimes the beauty is harder to see. Sometimes you have to consciously look for it but it’s there. Those pretty purple flowers are there. You just have to look for them.

There’ll be those seasons where it’s so hard to find them and it will take much more intention but they’re there. The pretty purple flowers are there. The beauty is there because life is there.

So often I let my mind become so oppressed by the vines that’s all I can see. But that’s not all I want to see.

On the days I get in a fight with my husband, I want to see the pretty purple flowers.

On the days when I get my feelings hurt by another person in ministry, I want to see the pretty purple flowers.

On the days my heart feels like it has broken into a million pieces due to disappointment, I want to see the pretty purple flowers.

On the days I am stressed and things are not going like I planned, I want to see the pretty purple flowers.

I want to see the beauty that God put here for us.

I want to pay attention to that beauty like God did when He created a simple but so detailed blade of grass. I want to see that beauty in a passing smile or even a curious look as I walk down the street.

I want to see your beauty, Lord, in all your creation.

I want to see it as I watch the ladies’ hands craft intricate baskets and jewelry. As they laugh together. And even as they cry together. I want to see it when Brenan is jumping on bed with pure childlike exuberance and even when she’s knocking on the bathroom door when I just hoped for a moment’s quiet. I want to see it in muddy roads and rainy skies. I want to remember to see the beauty when my husband worries about me riding the bus alone. I want to embrace it when he gives me an extra long hug.

The pretty purple flowers are there. Beauty is there.

Lord, help us–help me to remember to look for it and embrace it each and every day. On the good days and on the hard days. Let me see your beauty.


“Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?”  Matthew 6:26-27


Journey Life Women

7 children. 1 egg.

May 13, 2017

I haven’t been able to stop thinking about her story since I sat across the table from a woman earlier this week as she recounted the days of hardship and hunger she and her seven children had to endure.

Forced into a relationship she naively thought would save her from childhood abuse became the worse nightmare she could have possibly imagined. Then children came into the picture. Ultimately still a child herself, she did what she had to do. She tried to be the best mom she could despite the horrific circumstances.

She found herself shackled to a man who could care less about “his woman” or his children.

He drank. He womanized. He beat. 

He did not love.

He did nothing to help provide for the seven children he fathered. Even though he sold fruit and vegetables, the most (though still rarely) he did was throw a rotten tomato or cabbage head on the table. 

His children suffered from hunger pains constantly and were severely malnourished. 

“His woman” did the best she could. She’d use the little she could scavenge to feed her children, which included using one egg to feed her seven children.

7 children. 1 egg.

Can you imagine?

I’m not yet a mom but my heart cannot comprehend how difficult it must have been to look her sweet little ones in the eye, seeing the hunger pains and knowing all I could give them was not just an egg but 1/7 of an egg.

What kind of heart-break, shame, guilt, depression and deep sadness must this mom have felt? How did she survive living beneath such a heavy load?

She loved.

Her children, all grown now, recognize though often she could not give them a table full of food, she gave them a heart full of love.

She was the best mom in the world to them because she LOVED them.

Here in Honduras, Mother’s Day is like a New Year’s party! They celebrate BIG just like the rest of world will tomorrow as well.

Moms around the world face difficulties and challenges most of us living in the USA cannot begin to fathom.

They fight for food. They fight for education. They fight for shelter. They fight for the very best that they can for their children.

Moms, other moms need you.

Women, other women need you.

You can wear jewelry that supports other moms. You can decorate your home with home goods made by vulnerable women. You can donate your time and resources in organizations like SoloHope that work to empower and give hope and share Jesus with women and their families so we don’t continue hearing stories of seven children sharing one egg.

If moms and women around the world unite this Mother’s Day to say “we are for each other,” what a force to be reckoned with we will be! 

To moms everywhere, we love you. We are inspired by you and we wish you the happiest of Mother’s Days!