Monday, March 30, 2015

Awfully, Painfully, Terribly Awkward // Baby Series Part 1

I have a love-hate relationship with children.

I love the idea of children, the joy they radiate and the feelings of motherliness I get when I tend to them.

But I struggle with the real deal, the in-your-face with peanut butter and jelly stains, rambunctious and sometimes naughty reality of children.

p.s. I'm laughing as I write this article. Just so you know, I don't hate children (at all). But I am terribly, awfully, painfully awkward around them ... let's proceed with examples.

Growing up, my sister and I babysat as a team. Allie was the fun, game playing, diaper changing, order-keeping sister. And while she kept the children at bay I enjoyed cleaning the house. Having inherited my dad's fear of holding small, plushy babies I didn't learn how to properly change a diaper until I was nineteen and hired at a daycare. (Can you imagined my boss' thoughts when she learned her employee didn't even know how to change a diaper!? HA!) At twenty-five I battle being irritated with the quirks of students.

Some women seem to love everything about children ... I get cranky after one hour of babysitting.

My mom encourages me that it will be different when I have my own children. And while I am grateful for the encouragement I can't but wonder what I can do to change. How can I learn to thoroughly enjoy children, to discover the joy in the mess? How do I change a twenty-five year old habit when I'm serious minded and more prone to adult conversation than play?

Prayer and time.

I'm convinced that these alone will change my attitude. I don't want to just be tolerant -- I want to accept unreservedly.

Coming up, I will share how God has been changing my heart toward children. I'll also write a little something on the patience in waiting for a child. Both are relevant to my life today.

Question: Do you relate well with children? If not, how have you learned to overcome? I'd love to learn from you --  and laugh with you too!

With love, coffee and blessings!
p.s.s. My friend Angel wrote an excellent piece on this very topic so if you love children, want to learn to love children or love random wedding pictures do check her site out. :)
p.s.s.s. If you're reading this and I've babysat your children before ... please don't freak out thinking I hated watching your precious babies! Ha! Not true. Every child I have watched (and there have been many) are special bundles of personality that I love and appreciate and I look forward to watching in the future.  

Friday, March 27, 2015

Springtime Giveaway // Random Acts of Kindness Entries

Hello, dearest ones!
It's time for another beautiful giveaway ... a time for having fun and receiving a little something in your mailbox!
This giveaway is a little different than the previous ones; shall I say it is a little more studious?
Because it is. ;)
But first some background.
Have any of you lovelies heard of the salt covenant? In olden days men would exchange a handful of sand to bind an agreement -- let's say Jeremiah wanted to buy Eli's gorgeous 1 1/2 story, handcrafted, brick, garden home close to the eastern side of Nazareth (fishing rights were guaranteed to the owner!). After coming to an agreement of the purchase, the men would seal the deal by exchanging salt from their individuals bags. The salt would be inseparable once entering the other's bag and an honorable and binding covenant would be formed.
That is a salt covenant ... and when Dalton and I married he presented me with two bags of our own. It was a fun, special and meaningful way of forming a covenant with each other. And now the two little bags sit atop our bookshelf -- a tangible reminder of our covenant to love, honor, serve and bless each other every day till death do us part.
The most important aspect is that God created the first covenants between Himself and man. If you are a believer in Jesus Christ then you have been accepted into a life-long covenant. What a joy it is to know are salvation and inheritance is promised and secure!
So, if you would enjoy learning more about the principals of the salt covenant and would also like to have two of your own (cute) salt bags this is what you need to do:
I'm sure you noticed that this giveaway is different then the usual ... That's because Dalton and I have been talking about the importance (not to mention fun!) of bringing real life in to our blogging communities. We both felt that this easy way of entering a giveaway would be a great start.
Question: Do you like this idea? What would you do differently?
I cannot wait to see the creativity and fun this giveaway can bring ... blessings to each of you! 

He Has Triumphed (And You Should Too) // Coffee Series

Hello and happy Friday to you!

Today is the perfect day for giving yourself a fresh reminder of God's great love and sovereign care -- grab yourself a mug of goodness and join me in something special.

For some of us Christians sin is a word that plagues us, weighing us down in depression and shame. I am a believer and follower of Jesus Christ yet I still struggle with trusting in His forgiveness of my sins. It's not that I don't believe in His forgiveness ... it's that I don't feel it. Instead of feeling, trusting and rejoicing in God's forgiveness I feel shame, regret and sorrow.

And I don't think that's how God intends for His children to live.

I don't think God wants you to live that way.

Last Sunday our pastor shared some thoughts I'd like to share ... I learned so much from his simple reminder.

God's grace is bigger, greater and more efficient than our shame and sin.

If you are a believer and follower in Jesus Christ then you, my dear, can count on four (FOUR) wonderful things:

1. You have been made alive (meaning you are definitely not who you used to be ... dead ... a spiritual corpse ... of no ability to live ...)

2. He has forgiven your sins ... of that lie, gossip, pornography, affair, greed that you committed.

3. And then nailed that sin debt to the cross which held Jesus.

4. Finally, our Abba God disarmed Satan and the power sin has (the power to control, the power of shame ...) and, according to my thoughts, He danced in victory over them. Jesus was triumphant and you, dear one, are free to live!

Next time you feel overwhelmed by the shame of your past (confessed and forgiven) sins comfort yourself with the words of Colossians 2:13-15. Stop punishing yourself and start living in the freedom God's amazing grace offers.
I promise that God's grace will always be bigger, greater and more efficient then the past shame and sin you are reminded of.
You are loved, free and special,

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Guest Post // Growing Green Things with a Brown Thumb (OF DEATH)

Pssst ...
Do you love growing green things but possess a brown, killer thumb?
Wish you could grow something other than various sorts of cacti?
Have you ever dreamed of planting veggies which actually grow?
If you tend to kill any poor tendril before it has a chance to bear fruit (or just enjoy learning something new) please stop over at Carolann's cheery space, A Happy Homemaker.
Yesterday, she graciously hosted my post, Growing Green Things with a Brown Thumb (OF DEATH). In this short article you'll learn a little of reversing your plant-killing-fortune and discover the magic of regrowing used veggies.
It really is magical
and quite a bit of fun.
Please leave a comment and while you're there do check out Carolann's place. She always has easy, fun recipes and lots of heartfelt encouragement for all. One of my favorite's is Carolann's Do You Thank Your Husband?
Much love, blessings and coffee to you!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Springtime Home

Home, the spot of earth supremely blest,
A dearer, sweeter spot than all the rest.

 Robert Montgomery
Home is such a special, special place. A place for laughter, sleep and cozying up with loved ones. In springtime home is even more warm despite the chilly March breezes. What is your favorite part of spring? Do tell, dear one.
Love and blessings!

Monday, March 23, 2015

Modesty and Marriage // How God Blessed Me With His Pick

Sometimes my husband makes me laugh
and smile
and blush.
He loves me. Unashamedly. Unabashedly. Without reserve.
I always imagined I would marry a Charity man (or Anabaptist in some fashion). Why? Because I dressed plainly in pretty jumpers and simple skirts and covered my head. No traditional man would want me.
So I spent a (shameful) amount of time secretly inspecting fellow brothers in Christ; men who attended the same Youth Bible Schools as I did; men who sang acapello, disdained tv, tucked in button-up shirts and talked of owning their own business, raising a godly family and missions.
I inspected them because they were what I expected.
But someone else prayed for me.
A man raised outside of Anabaptist circles; a man who never read a courtship book, grew up in a divorced home with a loving and hard-working mother who owned a hair salon and video store. This man prayed for me, waited for me and hoped for me.
And when he found me he loved me without reserve and shame. Plain, ol' me who covers her hair and sometimes dresses like a granny. He loves me.
Today, Dalton came home for lunch (a rare treat since he normally works shifts later in the day). I was standing over a pot of boiling cabbage wearing a faded apron and dressed in my favorite light green jumper. We had already shared our greeting kiss so when he came back into the kitchen, took my arms and said, "You look so beautiful today all clean and tidy and put together" I couldn't help but grin. What about my plain appearance could make me beautiful? I've far more dressy outfits and am normally tidy in appearance. My hair wasn't down and a red pimple blotch could be seen.
Whatever the reason it doesn't really matter.
All that matters is that I am loved by a man who values modesty more than fashion, appreciates godliness more than gaudiness and cherishes uniqueness over popular opinion every time.  
And that is why I laugh, smile and blush.
I hope you have that too.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Yummy Iced Coffee in Four Easy Steps

Traditionally, I take my coffee hot, steaming and black -- it a cute mug of course.
But sometimes its good to shake things up a bit.
After reading this post by Catherine, I knew homemade iced coffee was the perfect way to shake my day up.   
Simply, pour the leftover coffee you had sitting in the bottom of your cold mug a fresh cup of coffee into an ice tray.
If you prefer, sweeten the tray with drops of goodness; I added a small bit of honey to each compartment. I've read that it is far better to add sweetener before freezing the coffee but I suppose you could always sweeten later.
After hours and hours of waiting simply plop the cubes into a glass.
Add milk.
(I used almond milk.)

Stir with a cute straw (required) and enjoy!
The coffee tasted better and better as the cubes began to melt.
It really was the perfect pick-me-up treat for a day spent busy with cleaning and projects!
Have you made anything out-of-the-norm lately? Comment below and let me know --you never know who you'll inspire!
Love and a fresh iced coffee,

Monday, March 16, 2015

Confessions + Me // Angry, Christian and Confessing

Confession: I have an anger problem.


I bet you didn't see that coming, did you?

But I type the truth. I have an anger problem.

And to tell the truth, it's humbling. Beneath this combed, primed and sweet complexion is a woman who still needs to grow; a woman who yearns for authenticity; a woman whose blood boils when she doesn't get her way and whose frustrations rise when she loses an argument or is criticized.

For as long as I can remember I have struggled with anger; not the fist throwing, wall punching, bad-word saying anger. But the quiet, teary-eyed, throat burning, heart thumping anger that is still as much a sin as the first.

And, for the first time in my life, I want to face it. I want to call sin sin and then I want to call upon my Savior Who died for the fits of temper and wrath which can fill my heart. I want to grow.

I've surprised you, haven't I?

It's okay; I don't doubt it.

You see, my whole life I have learned to push away my feelings, my anger, my hurt, my wishes so that others might only see what I wanted them to see. In 5th grade it was a matter of hiding my hurt when I wasn't chosen for the team or group project; at 25 it's a matter of hiding my feelings when my husband asks me how I am or a friend disagrees with my opinion. You'd never know that there was more to my cool-as-a-cucumber outlook ... until I blow-up in a angry torrent of temper and attack. (I save that for my poor husband and family ... those special few who know me enough to look beneath the constant sweetness.)

There's a lot I want to write on and even more I want to mature in; I want to be real, authentic. Most of all, I want to be full of virtue, character -- to have a heart that reflects our Father God's.

And the first step was acknowledging that I didn't have it all together; that I, Frannie Anne Duncan, have an anger problem.

Thankfully, God's Word has a lot to say about this.

Thankfully, for me and all my fiery-tempered sisters and brothers out there, God never calls us to be or do what He will not equip us to be or do. That gives me hope. I can truly be tenderhearted and I can forgive. We can put away bitterness and evil speaking and anger.
What about you? Have you struggled with anger in your life (even if it's itsy bitsy?). How did you overcome?
With love, coffee and a rejoicing spirit,

Friday, March 13, 2015

Following God as Dear Children // Coffee Series

It's 9:30 am and glorious.
With birds singing, sun shining and a cup beside me I can't help but rejoice (even though I just dribbled coffee like a sprinkler down my dress and recliner ... woopsie!)
Above all the beauty and joy which I have described I am most thankful for the love of God. Often, I struggle with worry and fear; I introvert too much and spend days wondering if I am doing enough,  loving enough and following enough, if my walk with God is enough. Can you relate?
After weeks of fretting I began to ask God to work in me; to show me His love, to lead me away from any sin and to create in me a heart that loves Him. And while I feel that I'm not where I should be He has answered my prayers.
Being followers of Christ isn't about being good enough. For "Christ's sake, I am forgiven."
Loving the Heavenly Father isn't about following hard rules, strict obedience and bowing down to a wrathful judge (although obedience and justice is involved). It's about "walking in love, as Christ loved us."  
We're called to be followers of God, as dear children. A long time ago, I wrote a little piece on the definition of the word dearheart. As I look over it I see the phrase, "Highly valued; greatly beloved; cherished; precious." Following God isn't about following hard rules; it's about following Him as highly valued, greatly beloved children. If you are a follower of Christ, you are cherished, precious and your Heavenly Father will equip you to follow His ways fully and in love.
And that is the greatest reason for being happy today. The springtime weather, fresh coffee and singing birds are lovely, but having a God Who has forgiven me fully, loves me as a dear child and equips me to follow Him is why I sing today.
What lessons have you been learning lately? Do you ever struggle with introspective thoughts and have you found freedom in looking to Christ? I would love to learn from my fellow sisters and brothers in Christ. :)
With love, blessings and an (empty!) mug of coffee,

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Let's Be Facebook Friends // Blog Growing Up

Dearest readers ...

I did a big thing.

A *big* thing. At least for me.

I made a Facebook page for Authentic Virtue; wow! I can't believe it either! :] I've been journaling, sharing and dreaming on this blog for five years (five years!) and so many of you have traveled along with me; some of you have been here since the beginning!

I would love for you to hop over to the official Authentic Virtue Facebook link, "like" and share. I yearn for this blog to become a place where friendship blossoms and fellowship is as natural as spring air. So, dear one, do jump over and make yourself known.

And let the fun commence!!

With lots of love and blessings,

Monday, March 9, 2015

Downtown Travels | Jefferson City in Snow

I really enjoy Jefferson City.
Surrounded by beautiful country, the city seems to have the perfect mixture of old-fashioned beauty and modern convenience.

I especially enjoy living only two miles from the Capital; Dalton often drops me off on his way to work. I walk along the library, pass shops and eventually through the Capital building. It is always open for touring.  

The Governor's Mansion is truly beautiful. Behind it hides a Greek-themed garden planted years ago by the Governor's wife and several working prisoners. In the spring dog-wood blossoms and tulips greet everyone who pass by while several fountains have children (and adults) smiling.

When I wrote this two weeks ago the the city was cold and laden with small snowy piles.

On my latest walk I discovered a little museum tucked along the street; maybe our next date day can take us here. Our favorite pizza place isn't very far away ... ;)
Behind me are several railroad tracks and, even further, the Missouri River.
One day I plan to write a post about falling in love with a new city; sometimes it can be challenging adapting to a new home. Thankfully, the capital of Missouri seemed to have no trouble winning my heart and making me feel at home. :)
Do you enjoy where you are living? Is it more country or city? Did you ever have a difficult move? I would love to hear your stories.
With love and blessings,

Saturday, March 7, 2015

55 Things I've Learned After Being Married for One Year

I can't believe it. I can't believe that Dalton and I have been married for exactly one year today. A lot of time has passed since that lovely March day; a lot of love, memories and lessons have occurred within our glorious year. Overall, I would say that our first year has been pretty easy; of course, we've had our arguments and our disappointments but theses things have only driven us closer.

Below are fifty-five things I have learned during this first year. Some are fun and silly while others are more serious; each have helped make me into the woman I am today. I look forward to seeing who I will be next year and the year after that. God bless each of you as you read this -- may it inspire, humor and bless you in your own adventures!

1. Marriage, in God's will, is one of His greatest, most kind, gifts to mankind

2. Breakfast doesn't make itself

3. But real men make breakfast (thank you, Dalton! xoxoxo!)

4. Marriage really does take a lot of work

5. And patience

6. And grace

7. Grocery shopping with Dalton is a real treat (I had always imagined I'd shop alone as my dad never went with us. :)

8. You really can live (well!) on one income

9. When buying furniture it is far better to wait for the right style, price and time than jumping into a bargain you'll regret later

10. Babies aren't just made

11. But contentment in the waiting will make you (and your spouse) grow closer to each other and the Lord

12. Homesickness is inevitable

13. And it is okay

14. But when homesickness sweeps over you, don't run home. Run to your beloved and share your heart. You'll grow through it.

15. Arguments will happen (even when you're the perfect couple!)

16. But most of the arguments will be based on miscommunication

17. Your spouse cannot read your mind and he shouldn't have to

18. Going on a date can be as simple as walking through the mall together ... the time together is oh, so priceless!

19. Husbands love to have their jokes laughed at ... but they want you to be real! ;)

20. Dalton cannot stand popping knuckles ... if I pop them while he sleeps he hears it and gives a little grunt of disapproval :D

21. Being your mate's biggest fan and advocate is *so* important. Criticizing him or allowing others to criticize him is a big no-no and a trust breaker. I learned this the hard way. Always, be on your mate's team ... you'll never regret having their trust!

22. Being thrifty can be really fun

23. But sometimes going cheap is not worth it (like buying cheap toilet paper which rips ... du du duuuuuum!)

24. The first few months of marriage will probably be a little tight in the budget ... but don't fret! In about 3 months you'll have the budget set, utilities scheduled, and furnishings furnished and you can begin to relax.

25. Husbands want to know if they're "getting fat " sometimes ... and they want an honest answer

26. Celebrating "month-a-versaries" is really fun!!

27. Riding the bus is actually ... really easy

28. Decorations can be bought little by little each year. Our Christmas tree was given to us and our ornaments were made from a package of potpourri ... but it was truly beautiful and definitely "us." I've found it far more satisfying to stay within budget and buy a little to set up home then go into debt (or over budget).

29. But remember, the budget isn't meant to be a hateful, slave master constantly whipping your backs. If you find that you can agree that the purchase is necessary then go for it! :)

30. Tubs need to be scrubbed every few months ... otherwise they get this gross ring around the edge and your sister will have to scrub it when she comes to visit they get gross.

31. Your Momma is really, really going to miss you (and you her). Bless her, call her, text her, send letter to her ... do all that you can to make this transition easier for the dear woman who has loved you all your life. I wish I had done more of this in the beginning!! <3 p="">
32. A man who makes you coffee is a man worth keeping!!

33. Men like kindness (imagine that!). But really, it's true. Sometimes new wives tend to allow familiarity to become an excuse for complacency breeding selfishness and thoughtlessness. From my extensive studies, men don't respond very well to those traits; however, give them a dose of kindness and suddenly you're a princess who does everything right! ;)

34. You could complain or you could swallow that complaint. The choice is yours.

35. Not being honest about your feelings is a lie. Period.

36. Dalton is genuinely impressed and happy when I give myself over to my "creative juices." His support for my little creations and writing has been such a blessing!

37. Strep throat can be incredibly costly

38. Sleeping during the night is far better than sleeping in the day. When we were first married, D worked the morning shift (11 pm - 7 am). It was a fun adventure, but we were sure glad when he was able to get a swing shift instead (1 pm - 9 pm). We loved not having to sleep in the daytime!    

39. Keeping house is a lot of fun ... especially after you get into the swing of things

40. A good man will eat a lot of icky meals (including leftovers!)

41. Friendly neighbors are a real blessing

42. Lovemaking is so much better than what you thought it would be as a single person

43. Pursuing a relationship with your in-laws (or in-loves as I like to say!) is super important and super rewarding

44. Pregnancy tests are super expensive

45. And getting a negative reading can be devastating

46. Bacon is a financial treat you should partake in once in a while

47. Praying together every day is a investment for eternity and well worth the time

48. Saying "I'm sorry; do you forgive me?" is one of the greatest phrases of all time and a great healer. Use it often.

49. Contentment is a choice ... even after you have everything you ever wanted (a husband who loves you, a home of your own ...) you'll still have to choose to be content.

50. Being married to you best friend is the best thing that could ever happen. He will hold you when you cry, laugh when you laugh, and bless your every moment.

51. Marriage (and all that comes with it) will affect your hormones and you'll feel a little "out of control" for a while. It's okay and I'm pretty convinced it happens to us all. Give yourself grace, plenty of rest, and good, nutrient rich meals and you'll survive. :)

52. God will never fail to meet His children's needs. I have learned this over and over again this year -- our God is good and loving!

53. Finding an apartment with a good landlord and without any broken windows is a huge blessing

54. Not eating sugar/wheat really does make me feel better

55. A man who points you to Christ, encourages you to look up, and prays for you is worth the world and rare

I really couldn't be any happier than I am right now. Dalton and I are so blessed -- we've learned a lot since we said "I do" last year on March 7th. We've stumbled, bickered and felt lost. But we have grown, bonded, and found hope in God's leading. I know we wouldn't trade what we have for the world.

Happy anniversary, D! May we have 70 more!

Were there any points you could relate with or that surprised you? Feel free to bring up your thoughts!!

With love, coffee, and a one year old marriage!

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

We've Been "Busted!" | Las Vegas Souvenirs

Have you ever walked into a couple's home and found them incredibly weird? They tend to have odd collections on display, laugh at funny things and have strange habits like pinching each other's noses or wearing socks and leggings and sandals.

We're that weird couple.

(Minus the socks and leggings and sandals ... we don't do that.)

We've managed to collect small soap figurines (an owl, penguin and hedgehog to be exact) which Dalton carved. Oh, and then, yes. We do have these faces.

In Las Vegas, we came across an amazing man who made clay busts for $19.99. We simply couldn't resist. Our only souvenirs, the faces tend to make us smile and laugh every time we happen to pass by ... which is often. The plan is to mount them on an oval frame as they used to do in the old days; until then, we'll just have to keep them in a glass-covered dish frightening all who happen to visit. Mine even has a little head-covering which is pretty delightful in my opinion.

Yes, we are that weird couple.

And I wouldn't want to be anything else.

Do you have any strange collections or hobbies? I'd love to know I'm not alone! ;)

With love, coffee and two adorable looking clay heads,

Friday, February 27, 2015

Ordinary, Simple Love


This devotional is key to life and life abundantly.

I know it's long, sweet one, but if you have the time you must read. Did you know that you can offer gifts to our King of Kings? Did you know that He delights in our offerings?

Whatever season of life you are in I encourage you to offer gifts of love to your Heavenly Father. If you're too busy to read this post because you've got a million assignments due and haven't slept in a long time because college is demanding you can offer a gift of love. If you're newly married and busy with settling your home and tending to other small tasks, offer Him a gift. If you're busy wiping peanut butter and jelly from your children's small faces, offer Him your gift. If you're sun-spotted beautiful and preparing to welcome grandchildren, offer Him your love.

You, sweet, wonderful one, have so much to offer Him.

It doesn't have to be big but it has to be done in love. It won't be noticed, praised or honored but it will bring a smile to the Maker of smiles.

And you will have life abundantly.

With love, smiles and an (empty) cup o' coffee,

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Setting Up Your Bookcase

I love books.
I love holding them, hoarding them and harboring them neatly on my shelves.
I have a problem.
I also love bookcases.
I love making sure the books are ordered into matching subjects and then I subject the groupings to specific shelves.
And I love making the shelves pretty. In keeping with the living room's brown, cream and soft turquoise colorings, I painted the backboard with my favorite chalkpaint. On top of the case I put some of my favorite knick-knacks: a beautifully framed burlap monogram, our salt covenant bags + a few books.
A clock which chimes hymns, a few of Dalton's hand-carved soup figures and a D & F seem to feel at home and keep the books company.
Are you a lover of books or shelves or both? What sort of collections fill your shelves?
With love, coffee and lots of happy books!