Inspire: Only One Word

This picture was taken in September 2013, on my trip to Paris, France, in the Hall of Mirrors.  This is the room that the Treaty of Versailles was signed in on June 28th, 1919, the official end to the Great War.

Today is the day that we honor our veterans for their service and their sacrifice, but it is also the day that marks the armistice of the Great War.  At the eleventh hour on the eleventh day of the eleventh month a cease fire was agreed upon.  Although World War I did not officially end until the Treaty of Versailles was signed until June 28th, 1919, it was the armistice that ended the fighting, that ended the death, and that marked a beginning of a new kind of world.

World War I changed the world.  There were so many advancements in technology and medicine.  It literally changed the map as countries and colonies were divided up.  Over the course of four years, over 10 million men and women gave their life on a battle field.  Over 7 million more civilians gave their life to the war.   This war changed homes and left them marred with the pain of empty chairs and cold beds.  The destruction left from bombs on infrastructure and shrapnel left in the ground still mark countrysides and towns.  In fact, World War I and the economic depression inflicted by the renumeration of the Allied forces lead to the rise of the Nazi regime.

And there, in the ground, on the ground, our countrymen and women still lie.  Their blood ran out.  Their bodies cold and their minds homeless and their hearts homesick.

So what was it worth?  Why did this war matter?  Why did these lives matter?  Why do these lives matter?

Reasons all seem murky and maybe even like they don't matter.  One country invades another.  One country's leaders assassinates another country's leader.  And above all, the pride, pride.  All.  The.  Pride.

There's really only one word, one value, one principle that would make so many people give their life.  One word that made all the loss and all the pain worth it.  There's only one word that warms the heart when the bed is cold and one world that binds up the broken heart.  There's only one word that has changed history for thousands of years and continues to change history today.  One word that describes a value worth fighting for, worth living for, worth dying for...



Create: Free November Desktop and Phone Wallpaper

November is already in full swing.  Some may have started Christmas shopping.  Some may have began the meal planning for Thanksgiving, but there is one thing that is guaranteed.  This month is going to be busy.

We must never get so busy with life that we forget to live life.  We've got to slow down and see the beauty around us.

Download this free desktop.  All the warm watercolors remind me of fall and the leaves and the beauty that's everywhere.  I hope it reminds you too.   Every time you look at your computer or look at your phone, slow down and take a minute or two to reflect.

Balsam Hill

Pumpkin Madness Playlist: a Unique Halloween Playlist

Halloween is an interesting time of year.  I mean,  we spend close to $6.9 billion on the holiday every year.  That's crazy.  Normally, I just purchase a few ghost pumpkins (I've got mine) and then spend in the even at my church's Halloween alternative.  That's what I'll be doing, at least for the most part, this year.But as luck would have it I stumbled upon the Halloween music channel on Sirius XM and it got me to thinking.  There really are some interesting monster songs out there.  Perhaps you know them all, but they're fun to listen to.  Music so strongly effects mood so as you listen let the fear slip over you.  It's just for fun.1.  "Monster Mash" by Bobby Pickett

Did anybody else have to dance to this one?  Every Halloween it was the Monster Mash for Halloween and the Goose is Getting Fat for Christmas.  Every. Year.2.  "Toccata and Fugue" in D Minor by J.S. Back

Just listen.  That's enough.3. "Thriller" by Michael Jackson

Classic.  Always go with the classics.  If you want skip ahead to 4:43, but this was my first time to see the beginning and I really enjoyed it.4.  "I Put a Spell On You" by Screamin' Jay Hawkins

Watch the video.  Enough said.
5.  "Deathbed" by Relient K

So this one is just kinda snuck in on you, but it's eerily creepy and profound.  

Short & Sweet

No matter how hard you matter what you do there will be people you will never please.  Literally, you could give them your right arm and they would want your left.  The real test of your character comes when they do ask for our left arm instead of your right.  Jaw dropped open you're left with some decisions.

Will you become outraged and lash out at them for ungratefulness?  Will you respond in anger?  Or will you hold your tongue and realize that their deep ungratefulness stems from somewhere in their past?

Honestly, I'm trying to be the person that holds her tongue, but usually I'm somewhere in between.


Dressing Up with

I sometimes get gifted items for review.  My most recent gift was this shirt from  They have so many great selections with a wide range of sizes and styles.

After I received this shirt I was most impressed with the quality.  The fabric is a strong knit cotton.  The color is great and the price...just right.

Personally, I find dressing on a rushed morning challenging, so I love feeling my closet with basic colors that I can pair with jeans or dress pants.  This shirt is only of those basics.  The shape and belted tie are perfect for my pear body shape.

To style this shirt I wore black skinny jeans from Lane Bryant (here) and a statement necklace (similar here).  Oh, and don't forget the classic pointed toe flats.  They're a must (similar here and here).

All products linked here:
Shirt // Shoes (similar here and here) // Jeans // Necklace (here and here)

Fall Comes // Playlist

Wednesday is the first day of fall.  I love fall.  It just makes me feel so whole and complete.  Maybe it's because I know the holidays are coming, maybe it's just because the air is cool enough to breath, but I love it.

Nothing is life is complete without a playlist or soundtrack playing in the background of your every move, so this is least for the next week.

I recently discovered Johnnyswim by complete accident, but I am so glad I did.  While they are gaining popularity, they are relatively unheard of.  Later this month they will be playing at the opening on the Fixer Upper's new Magnolia store in Waco, Texas.  I'm sure the only way to go is up for here.

Keep going.  Keep going.  You can make it.  You can make it.

Simple enough.

The first time I heard this song I sat in my car and cried.  Challenges are going to happen in life.  There's no way around that, but our response to those challenges will define our future.   This song reminds me of that truth and it makes me want to dance and sing and fight and win in the face of every challenge.

In the United States, on October 23, the movie Suffragette will open.  Suffragette is the story of women's rights in England.  So what does that have to do with this song?  That's how I found this arrangement.   It was featured in the movie trailer.   I've always loved the Fleetwood Mac version and the Dixie Chicks' version.  And while nothing will ever take away from Fleetwood's original, I think this version is a close second.

Ok, ok.  I can take it no longer!  I am a closeted Pentaholic.  Yes, I watch crazy youtube videos and serial twitter stock all the member of Pentatonix.'s pretty sad.  (Oh, my goodness.  What am I do admitting all the crazy?!?  I'm supposed to keep that locked away.)  But it's only because I'm uber impressed with their vocals.  And their arrangements.  And their desire to help people accept who they are.  And their unshakeable positivity.  And...and...and...

Well, I guess you get the picture.

I don't think there is really an explanation.  For me, fall means that family will be here with me very, very soon.  They are my northern light guiding me towards the true Light.  They keep me grounded.

Little Luxuries

As Fall gets closer and closer I began to show it.  Of course in the way I dress and in my overall mood.  (I love the fall.)  But also in my skin.

As the season changes I always develop very dry skin and it is miserable.

But here are a few luxuries that I've found that work to keep my skin soft and my lips pink...and not bleeding.


Short & Sweet

"A human being is only interesting if he's in contact with himself.  I learned you have to trust yourself, be what you are, and do what you out to do the way you should do it."

-Barbra Streisand

Short and Sweet

Just when you feel you can't take the heat anymore, there's a shift in the morning light and the sound of geese in the air and the lightening of leaves.  And that's when you know...know it deep in your soul.

Fall is coming.

Change Starts with Me: 3 Steps to Making the Decision to Change Last + Download

To download this picture as a screen saver simply click the image.

Changing the world starts with changing yourself.  And let's face it.  Changing yourself is the most difficult first step to take.

I have this book.  It's really more like a journal, but it's the home to my goals for the next year.  A lot of the goals are things like pay off debt, lose 20 know...they're probably a lot like the goals in your book.  But then there are other goals in there that have to do with changing my character and my attitudes.  Those goals are a lot more difficult to accomplish than paying off debt and losing 20 pounds.

When we look at our life, if we're honest with ourself, we can see the character flaws that need to be changed.  They're those blinding defects in our lives that haunt us.  But changing those glaring flaws are real challenges.  So how do we change them.  If we are to be real world changers we have to change!  We can't stay the same!  Sure, we can throw money at problems.  We can donate our time to a cause that is important to us, but in reality, real lasting change will only begin when we change ourself.

I don't have all the answers because I'm no where near where I want to be, but I'm going to share three steps we can take to get on the road and stay on the road to change.

First, we can't do it ourselves.  It's impossible.

I'm a Christ-follower.  Jesus is the light of my life and without Him and His strength I couldn't begin to stay motivated on this path to life change.  I physically have to make myself spend time in prayer and Bible study.  I have to make myself become more like the principles outlined in His Word.  And I have to abide in my relationship with Him.  He is my source.

Maybe you're not a Christ follower, but you still want to see change and impact change in your community.  I believe that God will still help you in your path.  Ask for help and see what He can do in you and through you.

And even if asking God for help isn't a possibility, seek help from another like-minded individual...someone who wants to change their community.  Hold each other accountable.  This is a journey, after all.  And journeys are much more fun with other people.

Second, we have to be inspired and stay inspired.

As of late my life has been a little crazy, but who's life isn't?  Busy-ness may be the greatest adversity you'll face on the road to life change.  We're too busy to work on ourselves.  But that has to change.

A couple of months ago I decided I was going to really commit myself to voice training.  I'm a good vocalist.  I was a voice major in college.  I've always known that singing is a talent of mine.  What most people don't realize is that even excellent performers and musicians have to practice.  I committed to practicing and to developing that gift even more extensively.

I downloaded my books and music, I downloaded podcasts, and I started rehearsing.  And then life happened.  My life was interrupted and I found myself traveling most weekends.  My week nights were full with life's weekend activities.  It has just been crazy.

But here's the thing, my crazy life is no excuse for not staying inspired.  I know what I'm supposed to do.  I just haven't done it in a couple of weeks.

Right now I feel a little shame because of my lack of commitment.  Which brings me to my third point.  In order to see true life change, we have to be committed at all cost.

I love passionate people.  I love passionate people who can talk for hours about what drives them in life, but what I love more than passionate people is a passionate person that will not give up regardless of the obstacles they face.  That's the kind of person I want to be.  I want to be a person who is passionate about seeing the world changed for the better.  I want to be so committed to my mission that I will fight relentlessly to make the world a better place.

Let me just sum all this up.  If we want to make see change that will last here's what we must do...
1.  Surround yourself with people who will help you meet your goal.
2.  Get inspired and stay inspired.
3.  Be committed at all cost.

If I'm going to be that kind of a person it all starts with change.  Changing the world around me starts with changing me.

Short & Sweet

Happiness is a place.  You can choose to live there.  Or, you can choose to have a miserable life feeling sorry for yourself and throwing yourself a pity party.

The choice is yours.

For me--for today--I'm choosing to live in that happy place.  It might be difficult, but I'd rather live happy than to live in the darkness of unhappiness.

Short & Sweet

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
     a time to be born, and a time to die;
     a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
     a time to kill, and a time to heal;
     a time to break down, and a time to build up;
     a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
     a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
     a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
     a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
     a time to seek, and a time to lose;
     a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
     a time to tear, and a time to sew;
     a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
     a time to love, and a time to hate;
     a time for war, and a time for peace.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

All trouble will eventually come to an end.  Hang on until it does.

Short & Sweet: Look Out and Reach Out

Today's Short & Sweet is a little different.  Normally, I'd just share a picture and quote and be done, but when this video came popping up in my Facebook feed, I knew it needed to be shared here.

I think this video illustrates a very real truth.  From time to time, we all need some help.  That's just how life is.  That's how we were designed.  We are designed to need other people.  Even the most self reliant, introverted person needs help.  They just seek out one or two friends.  Other's desire to be surrounded by many people.  Both are fine.  Both work.  But both need relationships and help to succeed.

What's more, we have to recognize when we're needed.  It's so important to look out and to reach keep our head up and looking for opportunities to serve our friends, our family, and our community.

Recently, I finished J.K. Rowling The Casual Vacancy.  I have to tell you, this book moved me.  There is a lot of language in the book--more than I would usually read--but I was so moved by the story.  I don't want to give the book away, but in the story a child dies as a result of a completely avoidable tragic accident.  On his way to certain calamity, the young child passes three adults all of which could have saved the child's life if only they had been paid closer attention.  Instead they were focused on their own circumstances.  Unfortunately, far too ofter we're focused on our own circumstances too.

Today, can I challenge you to help someone.  Look around you, I'm certain you will find a person in your sphere of influence who needs help.  What if you're the only one who even notices?

How to Save Money Without Even Trying

I'm certain you've heard of it.  You may have even downloaded the app only to delete it after being overwhelmed.  Well, I've got news for you.  Install it again, or for the first time, because you're about to save a bunch of money.

I saw the ad in my Facebook side bar many times.  I even downloaded it and then deleted it, that was until about 3 weeks ago when I downloaded, opened, and starting using the Ibotta app.

I just a little over 3 weeks I have made back $45.15 in rebates for items that I already purchase on a monthly basis.  This money saving app will change the way you shop and here's what's better: It's simple.  Super simple, in fact.

So what is Ibotta anyway?

Ibotta is an IOS and Android app that helps you save money purchasing household items, buying groceries, and even eating out.   After you download the app, open up the app and start looking at the rebates you can make back just by purchasing the item.  There are usually one or two tasks that you have to complete, but seriously, it's easy.  Purchase the item and then verify your purchases by following the prompts and scanning your receipt.  It's really that simple.

If that's not enough, you can gain bonuses!  The more you save, the more individuals you add to your team, the more you purchase of some items, the higher your chance of making a bonus.

So why am I on the Ibotta kick?  Well, I like saving money especially when it's this simple.  And you can save money too.  Want to join my team?  I'd love to have you.  Just follow any of the links in this post and it will take you to sign up or download option.  The sooner you start using the app to sooner you start saving money.  Before you know it you will have earned $45 too.

Short & Sweet

Some day we will find what we are looking for.

Or maybe we won't.

Maybe we will find something much greater than that.



Short & Sweet

It's amazing how different a path looks when you walk the opposite direction.

Life Hacks: Slicing Cherry and Grape Tomatos in Half

If you follow me on SnapChat or Instagram you'll know I'm a salad kind-of-a-girl.  I usually have some kind of salad ever day.  I love all the fresh fruits and vegetables that add color and life to a salad.  There's just one problem...those cherry or grape tomatoes.  I prefer them sliced in half.  Otherwise, they can be just a little bit too big.  But have you tried to put a pint of to tomatoes?!  That is a chore.  Well, it used to be a chore.

Recently, I discovered the most amazing cooking hack ever.  EVER!  (Thank you Martha Stewart youtube videos.)  I have no doubt that this is going to save you a ton of time.

Here's how it goes...

You're going to need a long serrated knife, two lids (just use two of those plastic lids from your tupperware), and tomatoes.

 1.  Prep your tomatoes.  Go ahead and wash them.

2.  Place tomatoes in between the two lids and cover with the 2nd lid.

3.  Run your knife through the center of the two lids.  I used a long bread knife.

4.  Viola!  You're ready to use those tomatoes on the stove in a pasta or in a salad.

Super simple, but pretty genius.  Thanks again, Martha!


Short & Sweet

Every week, usually on Wednesday, I post an inspirational picture or quote that I found floating around the internet.  It's just something short & sweet.

June is an exciting month at Mary & Martha.  We are having three flash sales.  Plus, there are a couple of great deals.  Tomorrow starts one of our flash sales and it's super good.  Let me know if I can order you something.  Just email me if you want {danetteleah [at] gmail [dot] com}.  Or, if you'd like, you can view the catalog and place and order here.

Here's the deal...


Meatless Monday: Pad Thai

Most people I know struggle to add fruits and vegetables into their daily diets.  I love fruits and vegetables, but sometimes (ok, most times) the breads and chips and meat just look a little better.  But subtracting meat from your diet on Mondays is any easy way to force the consumption of more vegetables.  (Plus, you get to use the cool alliteration thing...Meatless Monday.)

Adding vegetables isn't difficult at all especially with something like a stir fry or a pad thai like this one.

All you need is super simple ingredients.

Rice Noodles
Soy Sauce
Garlic (I used paste)
Squash and Zucchini
Bean Sprouts
Sesame Seed Oil (not pictured)

Stir fry your vegetables until they are tender in sesame seed oil (just a touch) and garlic.  While stir frying, bring water to a bowl for the noodles.  After the water comes to a bowl, remove the water heat and add the noodles.  Be careful to follow the directions very carefully or your noodles will become soggy and sticky.

After the noodles are finished, drain and bring your stir fry pain back up to temperature.  Combine the noodles and vegetables and splash with soy sauce.  Move to the dinner table and serve hot.


Short & Sweet

Well, there ya go.

Recipe: Summer Pasta Salad

A few weeks ago I shared a recipe for a Very Berry Fruit Salad and wow!  What a response.  Summer just brings people outside and together.  Sometimes it's around a pool other times it's just a trip to the park.  Whatever that occasion, good food and refreshing drinks help make those outdoor occasions better.

Here's a super easy recipe for a delicious pasta salad.

assorted grape tomatoes
seedless olives
mozzarella cheese pearls
olive oil
pasta (I used bow ties, but any should do)
1 tablespoon garlic (I used paste, but I would use 2 whole cloves.)
5 tablespoons basil (I used paste, but if you use fresh basil chop 1 bunch slightly.  I love the green!)
salt to taste

Cook the pasta until tender.  While the pasta is cooking, slice the tomatoes (Check back tomorrow for a super a-ha! way to cut those little tomatoes up.)  and combine with the pitted olives.  Break apart the mozzarella pearls and set them aside.  In a small mixing bowl combine the garlic, basil, and salt with olive oil.  Allow this mixture to set so all the flavors can combine.

After the pasta is finished, all it to cool down until it's room temperature.  (I prefer this recipe at room temperature or slightly chilled.  When the pasta has cooled, combine the tomatoes, olives, and mozzarella pearls.  Lastly, cover with the oil mixture.  Again, allow the ingredients to mold together.

And there you have it.  A delicious, pasta salad dish for your next outdoor event.


Short and Sweet

"Growth is painful. Change is painful. But nothing is as painful as staying somewhere you don't belong."
Mandy Hale

Short and Sweet

Wisdom is like frequent-flier miles and scar tissue; if it does accumulate, that happens by accident while you're trying to do something else.
Barbara Kingsolver

Looking to host a birthday party that's over the top?  Check out PartyOpedia, an online store for all your party needs!

a Whole Lot More of Someone Else and a Little Bit Less of Me

I wrote this for Kyrie Coffee's blog last week, but I wanted to share it here for you today.  You should check out Kyrie.  The coffee is delicious, but even better, it's for a good cause.

The past weeks have been challenging for my family.  Those challenges have had me traveling two hours away for an entire month of weekends.  While I love a good road trip, traveling in Oklahoma, where I'm from, is not always grand.  If you have ever traveled any of the major highways in our great state, there are two things you will remember: the pot holes and the toll roads.  We're known for them.

I happen to be one of those people who think that the government is tracking my every move so I refuse to buy one of those quick pass things.  (We call them Pike Pass here, but I know every state has a different term for them. (And yes, my life is so interesting that the President cares about my every move.  Crazy, I know. (Did I really just use a parenthesis inside of another parenthesis?  What am I thinking!!!)))

Anyway, I'm coming to a toll booth and I'm scrambling to get my change out.  I pull up to the attendant who looks down and smiles and says, "That car in front of you paid for you.  Go on through."

Now, I've had my Starbucks paid for a couple of times, but I never would have thought to pay someone toll! Never!

That one little thing...that $1.50...was exactly what I needed.

We think that changing the world has to be some great, grand gesture that leaves people in tears.  But it doesn't.  We change the world by the little, mundane choices that we make everyday.

Opening the door for the elderly man.
Helping unload the cart of an overwhelmed mom.
Paying for the order behind us in the drive thru.
Taking just a little bit of time to talk to the lonely woman.

Just a little bit more my time given to someone else.  Just a little bit more effort on my part to do something nice for someone else.  Just a little bit more intentional thought on someone else.

Changing the world starts with a whole lot of more someone else and a little bit less for me.

Short & Sweet

Every week, usually on Wednesday, I post an inspirational picture or quote that I found floating around the internet. It's just something short & something sweet.

Looking to host a birthday party that's over the top?  Check out PartyOpedia, an online store for all your party needs!

Very Berry Fruit Salad

It's starting to heat up and it's only a matter before those temperatures become unbearable.  I wanted to share a recipe for Very Berry Fruit Salad.  I actually shared it before (in July of last year) but it's worth reading and making again.

This super simple fruit salad is refreshing, sweet, perfect for an outdoor get together, or just for a light meal to cool you off by the pool.

One thing is for sure, this fruit salad won't disappoint.  Oh, and it kills with almost any fruit so experiment!

Hint:  The bigger the batch of berries or fruit the more lime, honey, and mint you'll need.

There you have it.  It's cool.  It's refreshing.  It's delicious.  It's the perfect very berry fruit salad recipe.


Short & Sweet

You’ll have moments when you feel like a lion, and moments when you feel like a mouse. Just know that no matter how you feel, you still have a heartbeat and a soul worthy of love, so learn to roar even when you feel small, because you are more than the feelings you may have.
- T.B. LaBerge // Go Now

Every week, usually on Wednesday, I post an inspirational picture or quote that I found floating around the internet. It's just something short & something sweet.

Looking to host a birthday party that's over the top?  Check out PartyOpedia, an online store for all your party needs!


Love that will Never be Lost

Love can seem so evasive.  We look for it.  We think we find it, but then, just as suddenly as we found it, the feeling is gone.  Maybe that's because love is an emotion.  It's not visible to our human eyes.  We can't taste it.  Smell it.  Hear it.  Love is intangible.  In order to experience love at all we have to rely of the actions of other people.

I've been in love before and I've thought I've experienced the complete depth of love. I've cried because love felt so good.  But I've also cried because love heart so, so deeply.  In those moments of joy and pain, I truly believed that love was both the greatest and worst thing that had ever happened to me.

Before long those feelings went away and I began my search for love again.  Always searching.  Always hoping.  Always looking.  And always experiencing this deep seeded fear that love would never come to me again.

It felt, and sometimes still does, like love was over for me.  I had lost it and it would never be found again.

But there is one person's love that will never be lost.  We can't earn His love.  He just loves.  That's who He is.  God is love.  But understanding that--that there's nothing I can do that will gain God's love and there's nothing I can do that will remove His love--is so overwhelming.  Unfathomable really.

In 1 Corinthians 13, Paul describes what it will be like to see, to truly feel, God's love for the first time.  He writes, "Love never ends...but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away." (1 Corinthians 13: 8-10, NLT)

Obviously, there's no way to know for sure, but I can only imagine what it will be like to experience true love...God's never ending, never failing love.  Right now, I only experience love--this feeling--through the filter of my humanity.  Deeply flawed, I know that my "vision" of what true love looks like and feels like is wrong.  But one day, maybe soon, I will understand fully His powerful love.

And maybe it will feel a little like this...

Don't miss this sale from Mary & Martha.  Check it out here.

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