Monday, August 17, 2020

Christian's Senior Portraits

Although son Christian began his first day of college classes today, I am taking a moment to reminisce over his senior portraits since I have not shared them here yet. We are so proud of this young man and pray for his next steps in the exciting journey that has just begun. 

"My son, do not let wisdom and understanding out of your sight, preserve sound judgment and discretion; they will be life for you, an ornament to grace your neck" (Proverbs 3:21-22).

Photos by Allison Hilyer Photography. Used with permission.

Friday, August 14, 2020

A Letter to My Son

My dear Christian,


What a blessing you are to my life. From the first moment I looked into your angelic blue eyes and you snuggled peacefully into my arms, you have had my heart. Your purity and sweetness have been evident from the beginning and have only grown along with you through the years. As you prepare to embark on the next chapter in your life, I want to share my hopes for your future while reminiscing about the qualities I admire most in you.


From the beginning, it seemed that our job as your parents was less about guiding you to the right path than preserving your innate goodness. When I think of your preschool days, I remember a precious little boy who set his own standard of behavior at being so good that he would earn three treats every day. After all, he had two little sisters to provide for at home. My favorite moment from Lads to Leaders was when you noticed that Mary Ashley’s new shoes were hurting her feet and, without a word, picked her up and carried her through the convention hotel. May you always strive to do your best and maintain a heart for serving others.


When you were about three years old and riding in the car with Dad, you questioned a turn that he made, and when he retorted that he was a daddy and daddies know everything, you quietly replied, “You don’t know the mind of God.” At six, when you wanted to become a Christian but we weren’t sure you were old enough to understand the decision, you began praying aloud that your earthly parents would allow you to be baptized. More recently, you have looked for opportunities to share your faith and, in determining your next steps, considered where and how you can have the most influence. May you always have a spiritual outlook and a faith that grows stronger, deeper and richer every day.


You have brought so much laughter to our home! From the joke you delivered with a toothless grin in kindergarten—“There are three types of people in the world: those who can count and those who can’t!”—to today’s witty observations and endless supply of memes, you keep us constantly entertained. May you always look for the joy in the world around you and strive to share that sunshine with others.


When you leave for college, I’m not sure how I will survive without my daily Christian hugs. I savored each one during your younger years, realizing that when you were older, you might not run across the school cafeteria to greet me and would likely be embarrassed to show affection in front of your friends. As time has passed, though, your devotion has never wavered. Just as I have always tried to wrap you in maternal love, you have given me that same feeling of abiding security and comfort. May you always be so free in sharing your heart, and may you be loved fiercely and faithfully in return.


As you have done throughout your high school career, I hope that you will continue to embrace the opportunities before you. It has been our pleasure to watch you succeed in the classroom, take a lead in the youth group, and sing and dance on the stage, knowing that you were giving your all in every endeavor. As much as I have enjoyed the victories along the way, even more I have been inspired by your tenacity. The indomitable spirit that helped you rise on the middle-school wrestling mat will continue to serve you well, whatever challenges lie ahead. You can be sure that your dad and I will always be in your corner to offer support, guidance and strength.


Our greatest hope has always been that you would live up to your name, and I will be cheering you on, even through my tears, as you embark on the special path that He has planned for you.


I love you,



Photo by Allison Hilyer Photography. Used with permission.

Monday, April 27, 2020

Easy and Delicious Doughnut Recipe

"New mysteries. New day. Fresh doughnuts."
~ David Lynch

Our art director for Victoria plans the most wonderful crafting and culinary projects for her children, and when she shared photos of doughnuts that her family made for their Friday morning breakfast, I knew immediately that I could not let the weekend pass without trying out her recipe. Using refrigerated biscuit dough makes this a super-easy endeavor, and a simple glaze adds the perfect finishing touch. Read on for the details!

Easy Doughnuts

Makes 8

Vegetable oil, for frying
1 (16-ounce) can refrigerated buttermilk biscuit dough*
1 cup confectioners' sugar
3 tablespoons milk

1. Fill a frying pan to a depth of approximately 2 inches with oil. Heat over medium-high heat.

2. Open can and separate biscuits. Using a small round or heart-shaped cookie cutter, cut center from each biscuit.

3. In batches, add doughnuts and holes to pan, cooking until golden, about 1 minute per side. Remove to paper towels to let cool slightly.

4. In a small bowl, stir confectioners' sugar and milk until smooth. Drizzle over warm doughnuts and holes, and serve immediately.

*We used Pillsbury Grands! Southern Homestyle Buttermilk Biscuits, and I plan to use Grands! Flaky Layers Buttermilk Biscuits next time.

These easy and delicious doughnuts made for a quick and satisfying quarantine breakfast before we gathered for Sunday morning worship in the living room. Over time, I look forward to experimenting with different biscuit doughs, glazes and toppings. Please let me know if you have a favorite combination to suggest!

"Life, within doors, has few pleasanter prospects than a neatly arranged and well-provisioned breakfast-table."
~ Nathaniel Hawthorne

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

As Seen in Victoria Magazine

As a longtime reader of Victoria before I had the privilege of joining the editorial staff, you can imagine my delight at finding some familiar faces in our current issue. Our team has enjoyed bringing fashion features back to the pages of the magazine, and you are certain to love the romantic billows showcased in the May/June story "Lasting Impressions." Christian was out of town when this photo shoot took place last summer, but you will spy Mary Ashley, Emma and Carson on the third spread and then the girls on the following page. A subscriber from Texas reached out to ask if these were my children, so I am wondering if anyone else recognized these cuties?

What a lovely opportunity for my three and our other models! Find the May/June 2020 issue, absolutely brimming with gorgeous content, on newsstands or at

"Beauty is a nectar which intoxicates the soul."
~ T.C. Henley

Monday, April 20, 2020

Among the Wisteria

"In pale moonlight
the wisteria's scent
comes from far away."
~ Yosa Buson

Honestly, I took it really hard when last month's trip to the beach was cancelled. I needed to sit with this news for a while before saying it aloud, but Carson has enlisted with the army and was scheduled to leave for basic training in March. With his departure date looming and Christian heading off to college soon, I could see the sands of time with all four children slipping out of the hourglass and was heartbroken to lose what was possibly our last opportunity to get away together. But these past few weeks with everyone home have brought their own sweetness with family meals, game nights, and plenty of singing, laughing and teasing. The slower cadence has allowed me to really savor each moment. And although I didn't get the seaside pictures I had originally envisioned taking to mark this end of an era, as we settled into the new normal of quarantine, God draped our trees with wisteria and gave us a golden sunset, allowing me to capture a few more precious memories of these babies that I will hold in my heart forever.

Carson's departure date, originally rescheduled for late July, has been moved to today. Although it has been difficult to think about him leaving the nest, I am grateful that we were given a little more time with him and understand that he is eager to embark on this new adventure. I ask for your prayers as Carson begins this new chapter of his life. During this transition, how thankful I am for precious moments captured among the wisteria.

"When you look at your life, the greatest happinesses are family happinesses."
~ Joyce Brothers

Saturday, April 18, 2020

An Easter Table Abloom in Pink and Yellow

"Easter says you can put truth in a grave, but it won't stay there."
~ Clarence W. Hall

With this year's celebration of Easter taking place at home, I looked forward to creating some special memories around our table. During my grocery shopping for the occasion, I was so pleased to find lush pink roses, sunny yellow tulips and snowy white hydrangeas. Arranging these pretty flowers in favorite wire birdhouses offered a subtle reminder that beauty can always bloom, even during a season of confinement due to quarantine. Enjoy these glimpses of spring loveliness!

"It is the hour to rend thy chains,
The blossom time of souls."
~ Katherine Lee Bates

Friday, April 17, 2020

Easter at Home

"For I remember it is Easter morn,
And life and love and peace are all new born."
~ Alice Freeman Palmer

This time of quarantine has brought a range of new experiences, including its share of challenges and blessings. For us, celebrating Easter together has been one of the loveliest opportunities. We have traveled over the holiday weekend for many years, making some wonderful memories along the way, but I must confess that I have often looked forward to the day when we would gather again around our own table. Although I never pictured us spending the entire holiday at home, the sweet simplicity of setting the kids' Easter baskets in the kitchen, worshiping with our church family via livestream, and then stepping into the dining room for lunch gave a relaxed pace to the festivities. We were a bit more casual in dress this year, but I still wanted to commemorate the occasion with photos in our yard. Here are a few of our favorites, including the traditional pairings of Carson and Mary Ashley hugging and of Emma holding Christian. You may notice that the boys are sporting mustaches in these images -- a bit of quarantine entertainment!

" 'Twas Easter-Sunday. The full-blossomed trees
Filled all the air with fragrance and with joy."
~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

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