An Open Apology To Dolly Parton 



Dear Dolly,

10040291_300x300I’ll be honest. I used to think you were a bimbo. I used to think you flaunted your big boobs, teased hair, tiny waist, and your syrupy-sweet southern accent just to sell yourself and your brand as a country singer. Granted, I was raised in the Midwest and lived as an adult for many years in the Northeast. I didn’t get you, much less the South.

For example, I’d heard about your origins as a poor girl from the hills of East Tennessee, and when I learned you’d created a theme park in your native Sevier County I rolled my eyes. “Really, a theme park?” I thought. “As if rollercoasters will really help the people of rural Appalachia. Why not create something truly useful to give back to your community, like a library.”


You have created a library, actually, and possibly in a bigger and more…

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1 John, 2 John, 3 John & Jude resources

Whenever #goodmorninggirls goes on break, my group still SOAKs. This time we are SOAKing books that GMG SOAKed before our group existed. So if anyone wants chapters to SOAK, this week we are SOAKing 1 John, 2 John, 3 John and Jude. Here are the resources I compiled:

Blog-Tember Challenge~ Day 1: Introduce Yourself

I remember seeing a post this summer about the upcoming Blog-Tember challenge… Fast forward to today and I saw a post about day 3. Oops! I’m behind!

So, hey! My name is Laura-Jane but my friends mostly call me LJ. I’m a missionary for Jesus Christ cleverly disguised as a wife, mother, teacher and network marketing professional who loves books, coffee, tacos and wine! In all honesty, that sums me up pretty well. 

My husband and I have been married for almost 11 years. We met online when it was still taboo. He is retired military which means our relationship has been through 3 deployments and all the emotional issues that come with that. He now is a middle school teacher and we are blessed to never have to worry about being apart again.

We have two children. We have a son who is ten and obsessed with video games, his first cell phone (it only has calling and texting) and basketball. He lives for traipsing around the neighborhood with his buddies. We also have a daughter who is seven-going-on-seventeen. She’s sassy and sweet. Her current faves are running around the neighborhood like one of the big kids, fashion (yes, already at seven) and playing with her friends.

Now back to me… I am extremely social though I get my energy from my alone time. I am outspoken and loud, a recovered shy girl who cannot seem to get enough attention now that I’ve overcome that obstacle. Nevertheless, I go crazy if I don’t get some alone time everyday. As a morning person, this means I usually get up at 5am to get my me time.

I’m loyal to a fault. I love with my whole heart and if you make it into my inner circle, I will do anything for you. My love language is quality time so I am the friend that rarely flakes out and who absolutely hates to be cancelled on. I typically only commit to things I want to do and cannot imagine cancelling. 

I am a mess and am so thankful for my relationship with Jesus which has truly transformed my life. I grew up with faith, but it didn’t become my number one until a year ago. It took having the rug pulled out from under me for me to truly commit my life to Jesus. While the processed sucked, I am so thankful because my faith now has deep roots.

Lastly, I love social media and know that people who act like they are above it don’t really get it. I am thankful for the online community I have through Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. 

Water into Wine Faith ~ Philippians & Colossians Week 1 resources

Whenever Good Morning Girls goes on a break, my online small group does our own mini-SOAK session over part of the Bible.  This summer, I have felt thrown into Philippians and Colossians over and over again.  During this next 3 week break, we are focusing on Philippians and Colossians.
In case you are not familiar with the SOAK Bible Study method.  Click here!

Let me be clear, I am not a Bible scholar, I have never been to seminary or anything.  I am just sharing the resources I compiled/created to help my small group.  I am sharing these so that anyone can use them if they are looking for something similar.  Enjoy and use the hashtag #WaterIntoWineFaith and #GoodMorning Girls if you decide to share your SOAKs on Instagram!

Week 1 Schedule:

Week 1 Daily posts for group to comment their SOAKs:

Week 1 Discussion Questions:


Here are the resources I used to come up with the discussion questions:

Philippians Study Guide by Lakeside Church

Colossians Study Questions by FCC Holden

Teacher Life ~ Participation GradeTracking

As a Spanish teacher, participation is key for my students’ success. My gradebook allows me to make seating charts with student photos. As you can see in the picture, I have 6 different clipboards just itching for my new seating charts–I teach 6 49-minute class periods a day. Throughout each class, I keep tally marks of participation. In the past, I took a grade every 6 weeks. This year, we’ve moved to 9-week grading periods so I plan to do one every 3-4 weeks. 

So how do I assign a grade? In on level classes, I give them a number to reach for full credit. I do not let them get less than a 70 unless they refuse to participate at all. There are many interventions before it gets to that point in my classroom.

 In honors/IB, they have to get the class average or higher. Again, they cannot get lower than a 70 as long as they are actively trying.

So what gets them points?

  • Answering questions in class
  • Sharing ideas in class
  • Participation in an activity (sometimes I offer 2-3 points for hard, collaborative group work)
  • Speaking to me in Spanish before/after/outside of class
  • Sharing an experience using Spanish outside of school with evidence (photo/video/receipt)
  • Other ideas they come up with and get approved

All in all, I’ve had much success with this over the years and cannot believe I forgot to do this last year! That’s what I get for taking a year off!

It is important to note that I keep the students in the know about their points. They can check on them during passing period or before/after school. I know there are apps that allow us to do this as well. I prefer the paper route simply because the apps I have don’t allow my room configuration and I already have the photo seating charts created for me in gradebook.

Taking back my family step 1: PRAYER!

This may seem obvious to some, but it’s not obvious all the time to me (though it should be). When I want to make a change, I have to pray about it. 

So, I need do dust off my war room (AKA the master bath tub), write my goals down, paste them on the wall and pray my heart out every single day. That’s right, EVERY SINGLE DAY! The good, the bad and especially the ugly days. I need to pray for God to make us crave each other’s company, to look forward to dinner together, to want to play games and talk to other. God will do it. I don’t doubt it for a second. I need to pray for God to help us grow together through Him. 

I am being realistic in that I’m going to allow us to take baby steps at first. The other step for today is that we will eat dinner together with the TV off and all electronics away but more on that tomorrow… If we survive tonight! Pray for us!

I’m taking back my family


We have become THAT family.  That family that goes to opposite ends of the house when we walk in the door.  That family that LIVES on our electronic devices.  That family that never eats all together at the same time.  That family that doesn’t know each other anymore…

We have spent all summer, all day together, and yet, we haven’t really been together.  How did we get here?  When did we get this bad?  Well… It has been a progression over years of getting worse and worse.  & this mom is over it.

I’m taking back my family!  They don’t know it yet, but it’s all about to change.  I know it’s going to be awkward and hard (especially for me the social media addict), but we can do it.  And we shall!

Ecclesiastes 10:1-9 with #GoodMorningGirls

When you struggle with something, you have a lot more to say. I am extremely passionate which means I am also easily angered especially by wrongdoing. I want to fight fire with fire, but the Bible is clear that’s not the way to accomplish God’s will.
“Calmness can lay great errors to rest.” ~Ecclesiastes 10:4b 
“A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” ~Proverbs 15:1
Plus, if you know me at all, these verses are ones I take to heart and challenge myself daily to uphold. 

“Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” ~Matthew 22:37-39
I honestly fail more than I succeed, but that’s no reason to give up! Each day is a new chance to get it right again!

Esther resources to help with #GoodMorningGirls

My online small group wanted to do something during the hiatus between Deuteronomy and Ecclesiastes with Good Morning Girls of Women Living Well. We voted on ones already done by the organization, me thinking, “all the resources are on the site.” We chose Esther, and I came to discover there were limited resources, namely no discussion questions nor verses of the day. I had a mini panic attack, then set to work reading Esther. God gave me some direction and here are the resources I created to use with my group.

Week 1

Week 2

Mark 6-10 ~ SOAKing the Bible

Some thoughts and pictures from this week…

 Mark 6 
Jesus said to them, “Only in his hometown, among his relatives and in his own home is a prophet without honor.” Mark 6:4

I am a know-it-all. My family is filled with know-it-alls. I am not a prophet, but Jesus’ comments still apply as I have often felt that my opinions and ideas are least appreciated by my family. & often I have returned that favor on my family. My own husband and I are guilty of this with each other. Why is that?!?!?! We should value our family’s ideas as much if not more that others. Knowledge is power, so I must remember this so that I do not make anyone close to me feel unvalued. Lots of thoughts and feelings here. & conviction.

 Mark 7 

Mark 8  
Mark 8

“What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?” ~ Mark 8:36

I used to be so consumed with the world. Status meant a lot to me. People pleasing meant a lot–who doesn’t want to be liked? Thankfully, a lot has changed recently because of my time in the Word. My perspective has changed and has come completely into focus. Nothing in this world matters. In the end, Jesus is what matters so He also is what matters in the beginning. If our choices and plans do not align with God, we are off track. A year ago, I struggled with spending. I knew it was a problem, it was on my list of things I wanted to change. I increased my daily time in the Word (and decreased my time in the world), I prayed about it and it was EASY to stop. Why? Because my peace comes from God now. I recognize that I was seeking to feel better when I was sad or stressed by turning to shopping rather than God. And thanks to God, that has improved. I still see temptation everywhere, but I don’t feel the need anymore.
 Mark 9 
 Mark 10 

It’s always a good reminder that there is NOTHING we can do to earn salvation. We don’t deserve it, yet God provided Jesus knowing that each and every one of us would sin and that many would deny Him. While on Pinterest yesterday, I happened upon an amazing thought… While Jesus was on the cross, he thought of ME. He thought of YOU too. How powerful is that? To know that Jesus thought of every single one of us and chose to die for me and for you. What?! It’s unfathomable, yet true.

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