Tattoo Girl Happily Puts on an Apron: a link-up

Yesterday, after weeks of symptoms, I took my 4 year old, Jude, to a clinic to get an X ray of his abdomen, and once they saw his enlarged liver, they had us back in waiting for the results of a CT. They were looking for any masses. They had to poke him a lot. They accidentally took too much blood. I texted my dear ones to ask for prayer. I knew that God was with me,

but the “c word” still stayed in my mind. Of all the children in the world who get sick, why would it not happen to us. I examined my theology hard, and I held his little head to my chest, and I held his entire body in my lap, and he curled there in complete submission until we got the call that his troubles must be viral. It wasn’t cancer.

Seth had left an incredibly busy work day to be with us. He was the one who held Jude down while the warm stuff shot all weird through his veins. He was the one, my head.

I tell you all this to juxtapose how ridiculous my thoughts have been lately.

Do you see me calling Seth my head? Look at me changing even before my own eyes, counting my children as arrows, asking for a 4th child, thinking about home-birth, homeschooling and finding it my greatest joy. I’m becoming a regular pilgrim, and yet I can’t seem to quit thinking about cigarettes, how I might like to smoke one as long as my daddy’s driveway.

When I first believed, I had no idea who I was, not even what I liked to wear. I hardly knew my own voice. I just knew I had been remade, and I took my identity as I could from inclinations gathered in ongoing prayer, not from the people who believed the same as I.

Former bad girls have a hard time relating to Christians, though they walk right along side them in the desert places, in the meal-by-meal life. We belong with God, and so we walk, but Pride follows closely whispering things about the Christians’ strange pilgrim bonnets and such.

I joke about the bonnets, really, but I’m home this morning feeling a renewed vigor, a bit of humble- love for my home, which is completely upside-down after a day in doctor’s offices. And now I’m asking for help, as someone who feels her identity shifting constantly. Who is it God made me to be? What if I start to look like everyone else? Will I still be authentic then? A clone? Am I so immature after all this time that I’m even asking these questions?

After a sort of cancer scare, even Mono sounds like a dream. Sure! We’ll take Mono any day, and what else? I’m content and even overjoyed to take on this life that caused me such doubt yesterday morning.

So would you mind encouraging me and other women who might need it here? I’m looking for home-maker websites: for organization, for recipes, for homeschooling tips, for reminders. What simple websites encourage you the most in this strange journey?

If you give us a link, let me know why in the comments, and don’t forget to link to any of your own specific posts that might be helpful.

Forgive me if you’re a bonnet-wearer. My Mamaw was a bonnet-wearer. It’s actually my heritage. Help me own up to it.

And, also, PS: we just found out that Jude is allergic to wheat, so any recipes that might help me with that would be super cool.

About me


Reply October 20, 2010

I love this. I think you so dear and honest and true. I'm a grandmother, but I do read blogs of some of the younger moms. Here is Sarah's blog. I think she is all that you are looking for.

    Reply October 20, 2010

    Linda, THANK YOU! The crickets were starting to scare me. I'm going to plug her into the linky thing. I'd love for others to find this list as a resource, too.

    That you're a grandmother encourages me to take even more stock in what you suggest. Thanks again!

Reply October 20, 2010

Amber, I am so glad your son is okay. I am relatively new to your blog, so I don't know that much about your story, but I did want to offer one thought: I've always been a 'good girl,' but even still, I have struggled with the questions that you describe. During weeks like the past week when no one listens, I'm up early and go to bed too late, and just feel tired, without a moment for myself, sometimes I ask the same question--God, what is my identity?--because I feel overwhelmed in what I'm doing and lose who I am. I think your question is normal, and as we all grow in our relationships with Christ, He shows us more and more of who we were uniquely made to be.

I don't have a specific post in mind, but is always encouraging, and she homeschools her children, as well.

Tara @ Feels Like Home
Reply October 20, 2010

Oh. My. Goodness.
Amber, I had no idea that you and I had so much in common. When I met you at Type-A Mom, I had an image in my brain of a rock star Christian blogger. I pigeon-holed you into that role, and I had no idea that you had such an interesting past.
And tattoos!
When I saw your Tweet about Tattoo Girl, I clicked over, assuming you were talking about someone else. I'm uplifted to know that we've come from similar places.
I don't presume that you read my blog. Even though I work full time (I hope not for much longer!), I write about food, kitchen tips, parenting, and other fun homemaker stuff. You might find it useful.
And I'm going to subscribe to your site right now. I am so excited to learn more about you, my friend.

Reply October 20, 2010

Michelle's blog is

Rachel @ the science of music
Reply October 20, 2010

My youngest son (4 years) is allergic to wheat. It was rough at first as I thought of all the things he couldn't have. It became easier as I thought of the things he COULD: fresh fruit and veggies, rice, corn, dairy. It's the processed things that get us - but are not exactly healthy anyway. Miguel probably has the healthiest diet of the whole family!

The number of gluten-free products on the store shelves is expanding rapidly. Anything labeled GF is wheat-free. One thing I love is rice pasta. The best brand I've found is Tinkyada. It doesn't fall apart like most rice pastas do.

When Miguel wants something he can't have, I just tell him it makes him sick. He can understand that much, and is learning to ask what does and does not make him sick.

If you have any specific questions, feel free to email me! It's been an interesting journey so far, but I think we're better off for having to take it.

Reply October 20, 2010

I have never owned a bonnet. Nor will I .
If you met me , you might not believe that who I am is one of the broken ones following Jesus on the long days when even snow falls in the desert.
You might not believe it after I told you that I live in the trenches and get very dirty. But there is a light there. There is . And I hold my little candle in shaky hands.

relieved to hear your baby is okay.

Reply October 20, 2010

hey amber!
i'm trailing you by years in the mothering department, how many years yet to be decided as we are just we 2 on purpose still, but i struggle with the same thing. especially in this time of working at home, for myself, and wanting to be that independent career abby i always saw myself as, but also wanting to make a home and really make it, not just get by. the same mirror comes up when i look at my faith - am i "that kind" of christian?

"what the?"

all this to say, i can point you to those who know who they are, like sarah mae who you probably already know - her site raising homemakers is pursuing that life to the fullest and doing it well, i linked it above, even though you have boys . . . the people who gather there can surely point you to boy-specific help :).


Reply October 20, 2010

Sounds like you've had a roller coaster ride this week!
So pleased Jude is going to be ok.
I am gluten free - so definitely wheat free - it is a steep learning curve to begin with - but gets easier! Way easier. At least here in America corn is used for so much - I find it easier to find things to eat here. The hardest thing is when you're out and about and need a snack on the go - I recommend you go to all your fav fast food places websites, to their allergen tables and print them out and carry them with you so you're not stuck with a hungry boy - especially on road trips etc. The golden arches by the way is useless - can't even have their fries! The other problem time is church potlucks!! But normal everyday eating is just fine. Feel free to email me for recipes and ideas......corn, rice and beans, unmarinated meat, fruit and veges, rice crackers, cheese etc are all your friends!!

Reply October 20, 2010

Two I really like are: because it does have a lot of good tips on organization, homeschooling, recipes, etc.
and because while the practical "tips" have waned on this site, there are very thoughtful and inspiring posts about mothering and being a growing, faithful person--a very respectable perspective, not trite or from the' in-club'.

Reply October 20, 2010

round peg
Cross shaped hole
no pounding, hammering, twisting, turning will do
only fire
only melting
and pouring out

only out of darkness can come so much light
no link s- just prayer - if that's ok

Reply October 20, 2010

Whoa, Abby Leigh, good call. That site has a lot of links. AND a little girl wearing a BONNET!!! and she's cute to boot.

Reply October 20, 2010

My sweet friend,
I'm SO glad that Jude is ok!!! I am so excited to finally be a stay at home mom (and to have two tiny guys!) and have been blog hopping daily, for the answer of how to do it all right. I haven't found the answer yet, but I feel like I need those answers, too!!! I'm suddenly interested in things like canning (not that I have anything to can) and finding the perfect apron before my X-mas baking starts! Who is this person!? =)
I'm most recently excited about, and the Eldredge's latest book about marriage has been helpful to me in keeping my priorities straight lately, too.
I love you, lady!

Reply October 20, 2010

Hey Amber,
Something about this post makes my heart ache and insists my fingers type out a reply to you. I am going to go with it, and try not to edit and delete that which I feel I must write.
I was a very good girl, then I wasn't. For a long time. And now I am found by Grace. That sounds corny to me as I write it, but it is true. I was found, and rescued and now I am not bad, not good, but simply living and trying desperately to emulate Christ in all I do. I fail many times over and get up and start again.
I felt an intense desire to homeschool my children and I love it and HATE it at the same time. I must do what I am called to do, but the sacrifice! I write. I long to be a writer, and get paid for it. I groom dogs on Saturdays in my home to make money. I have a tattoo. I smoked pot for three years straight every day and still love the smell of it. I don't have answers for much, am ever searching.
I have never worn a bonnet.
But I kinda think they'd be cute on my little girl.
My son has tummy issues and we can't find the answers for those either.
Through homeschooling we are building a family bond that is strong (despite the battles). Strong family ties are sorely lacking in North America and there are so many broken children. My husband tends to think of the academic advantages, while I see the spiritual ones. And we don't read our bibles enough, and we yell sometimes, and honestly, some days no actual "school" gets done. But it is still the path, that tiny line of light, that our family is to follow.
Chin up girl. You are not alone. Your worries and fears and self-doubt are shared in all corners of this world. Even way up here in Newfoundland, Canada, I hear your heart. And will remember you in my prayers whenever I read your blog.
And my thoughts on smoking a cigarette? Is it a 'sin'? No. Does it harm your body, God's temple? Yes. Should you be condemned for even the thought of it? Jesus does not condemn. As you grow in Christ, your desire for things of this earth disappears, and your desire for things of God increases.
And you are not becoming a clone. You are unique and beautiful and becoming everything that HE wants you to be.

Reply October 20, 2010

OOps, meant to add my kids are 6 and 4. Grade one and pre-K.

Reply October 20, 2010

Don't get me wrong, but for some reason this post is making me giggle and cry at the same time. Wooah, how do you get in my head? We're facing a similar sort of question with our youngest, Josiah (more digestive related, but just as mysterious) and I've flipped and flopped and puzzled through all of it lately.

I'm a little farther down this journey than you- (almost 6 kids now) and (2nd generation) homeschooling for three years...ME? Are you kidding? Me? Even my husband gets a bit of a giggle and a wonder when we talk about where we've come from, who the girl is that I am today...

I put Simple Mom in your links. Tsh Oxenrider is one of the (in)courage bloggers, but she has had simplemom for a long time. Last January it blossomed into the whole Simple Mom media- go to the main link and it will take you to all of them: Simple Homeschool, Simple Kids, Simple Bites, Simple Organic. The byline is Lifehacks for Home Managers. I've bounced around the internet for a long time, and somehow, Tsh and her team seem to manage to collect the best of what's good advice. I share a lot of her posts via my Reader because the 'aha' moments happen a lot in regards to some home thing that had me stumped, etc. I've really enjoyed watching Simple Homeschool grow. It's a good, *ahem* neutral place for getting lots of info and inspiration. Jamie C. Martin of "Steady Days" is the main author there, but lots of good guest posts too.

Could I just crawl through the 'nets for a blessed minute and wrap you up in a hug?? :)

Reply October 20, 2010

I posted the link to 1+1+1=1. It is a site I started referencing about a year ago when I was looking for ideas on introducing early concepts with my toddler. I was an elementary teacher before I had kids (toddler that's 2 and babe that's 5 moths) and I missed the planning and the structure and so I began "planned playtime" with him.

Anyway, the mom who writes for this site is homeschooling mother who has a 3rd grader, 4 year old, and 1 year old. She posts ideas on what to do with younger ones while homeschooling as well as some posts on how she organizes everything.

Before a few months ago, I never considered homeschooling. In fact, I thought it was somewhat crazy. But, now I find myself stumbling across all kinds of people who make me want to do it. You included.

Thanks for all the words you share,

Christi S
Reply October 20, 2010

I am not at home right now so I don't have as much access to all my favorites. I do get what you are saying I do find that I am much more conservative that any of my family - I am the only one who has even considered homeshooling for example.

When you say Jude is allergic to wheat do you mean an actual allergy (you need to also get wheat-free shampoo) or gluten intolerane or celiac. We are gluten-free which also includes oats, barley, spelt and some others. Really though there isn't a huge difference between wheat free and gluten free I suppose.

Reply October 20, 2010

Christi, Jude is allergic to wheat, and we're waiting for the gluten panel to come in. We'll have a better idea of what it will all mean then. I didn't even know the oats, barley, and spelt were included in the list of no-no's in that case.

I have so much to learn.

These comments are wonderful. Keep them coming. Thank y'all.

Adventures In Babywearing
Reply October 20, 2010

I don't know what to say other than, huge sigh of relief? And also, like you said before, heart neighbor to heart neighbor, I'm starting to live the olden days life. We have no tv. We have been baking and playing music together and I love to wear an apron. Haven't tried a bonnet. But I am finding myself reversing according to our culture and things even I had made fun of because I didn't understand why someone wouldn't want to be "ahead of the times" when really, our ancestors had it right . There's too much busy, or different ways to be busy. The way I'm moving towards is more fulfilling.

Anyway, if that makes sense at all. I don't have any sites to help you with, but will be peeking at the ones people leave for you.

Also, if Jude's case is extreme and you want to look into it, the SCD Special Carbohydrate Diet is very difficult but it is known to do wonders.


Carrie B
Reply October 20, 2010

I added the Pioneer Woman bc she has both recipes and homeschooling tips. And she's funny! Her website is great. Her recipes are easy and delicious too.

I am glad Jude is ok!

You have a lot of friends named Carrie

I think you would look awesome in a bonnet.

Bonnie | FaithBarista
Reply October 20, 2010

I'm so relieved to know your baby Jude is alright!

TJ had a gluten allergy when he was a baby for a short period of time. And I went back to my Chinese, Asian cooking roots. Maybe a Chinese cookbook might inspire some stirfry recipes! Also, there is a lot of rice pasta, as Rachel said above.

Girl, I love how you're pouring your words out here for us... along with your heart!


Reply October 20, 2010

Ask Meredith for Dallas Heasley's number. Their 2nd son has celiac disease. She has 4 boys by the way, home schools, is building a house in the woods and she is seriously fun.

Reply October 20, 2010

um... is it okay if I add that I pretty much cook from scratch, have done every craft I think, even whipped up some pretty maternity clothes back when, I just meant... well, I think you know.

Reply October 20, 2010

Okay so I gave you a lotta links. What? Is that not okay? What are you saying?
Anyway, a year of slow cooking is all crockpot gluten free baby. I thought you'd like it.
You can even make homemade yogurt in your crockpot, if you are so inclined.
Queen of brussel sprouts has some good easy from scratch recipes and a few gluten free ones. The Coop Keeper is all around good fun, with lots of butter and bacon. Not sure if that helps for cooking but she always inspires me with her love of vacuum cleaners and her bee keeping and her love affair with her chickens. Contented Sparrow has beautiful pictures and good helpful links in her sidebar, and the best garden EVER. I'm in love with her garden. She also has chickens. I think I may have chicken envy. Flowerpatch Farmgirl has good everything. Good stories, good home decorating tips, good books, good recipes, good times. I read her every day.
Lumberjack's wife sometimes has recipes and homeschooling stories, but mostly she's just relatable good fun and I read her and laugh and thank my stars that I don't have mice living in my trunk or five hundred pounds of elk meat. She is good times. I think it's nice to read about some one else with kids as they navigate broken eyeglasses and other adventures.
Those are my recommendations. Huzzah!

Reply October 20, 2010

Ok, I'm gonna try to put this in comments and not be too long-winded (snort).
First, you're not alone. I think your comments are proof of that. But I really do see it happening to "our generation." A "cooler, hipper version" of bonnets is getting passed around. When you take the time to breathe and actually Examine Life, sometimes a return to the simpler makes more sense. You can't make the Past and idol, but if you're always asking yourself "what's best?" rather than "what did I always assume was ok?" sometimes your life turns out different than you thought it would. So, um, welcome to the fun table!

Gluten-free isn't that hard once you let go of the convenience of certain things. I'll put my fave links up top, but just remember that you will be totally overwhelmed with all the label reading, etc., and then one day you won't.

So glad your boy is okay. And you're okay, too, you know that? :-)

Reply October 21, 2010

Put your apron on naked?
Heres hoping that monogamy and homemaking becomes the sexiest thing in the world to you...Its way hotter than smoking I think.

To Think Is To Create
Reply October 21, 2010

Love you. And LoraLynn said it right there: you'll be totally overwhelmed and then one day you won't be.

I added Gluten Free Girl, but I have a bunch others. Will look when my brain is turned back on...

Reply October 21, 2010

"A Holy Experience" written by Ann Voskamp - such encouragement - her words just seep into your soul and it serves as a healing balm.

Reply October 21, 2010

For me, it is one that I believe you already hold dear. Ann Voskamp challenges me in ways that I laugh at laugh at myself.....I feel compelled by her life in Christ and her life as a mother and farmers wife. All of what you said....I relate too and share in desire.

Reply October 21, 2010

One more, Heart of the Matter online, is one that I enjoyed for homeschool encouragement. The organization and all that, it comes and fits who you are over time. The weariness that can creep in needs encouragement in truth and I found that from God thru Ann.

Reply October 21, 2010

Sweet girl--I'm so glad your boy is okay! Have just been through a little scare with my 13yo as well (all is fine), and it does make a mom's heart beat fast.

As for being "authentic" know, there are times that word just makes me cringe, particularly as it's used in the church. You know this already, but you can't *search* for authenticity. Searching for it will, by default, create IN-authenticity. You don't have to cling to any sort of cultural standard. You only have to cling to Jesus--and as much as I don't understand it (or even particularly *like* it) He sometimes seems to call His children to paths that look different from each other. It would be so much tidier if all our paths were identical, wouldn't it? But then it wouldn't be a very interesting (or fruitful) Body.

Do justly, love mercy, walk humbly, and enjoy that sweet family of yours. The rest is just gravy.

Love you!

Reply October 21, 2010


"Do justly, love mercy, walk humbly, and enjoy that sweet family of yours. The rest is just gravy."

Good words, friend. I heard a guy say lately that we shouldn't be "mobilized" to--going, making, authenticating. We should be "mobilized" only to obedience. The rest God will work out.

Maybe that's a little of what your saying. Clinging to Jesus and obedience to him is authentic, and vintage, and all of those words we so like to misuse lately.

I feel a Winter trip to the mid-west coming on. Amber?

    Reply October 21, 2010

    Yep. I feel it, too.

    I think sometimes I look outside of myself a little and have little freak-outs about who I thought I would be compared to who I am. It's all so me-centered, I realize. I don't want to misrepresent myself here, though.

    This faith life isn't as easy as swallowing an antidote and living life. There is a real struggle, a back and forth, and much grace. If I'm not honest about the struggle, it seems that my faith narrows down to a few cliches, and then that's not faith. It's nothing to live and certainly nothing to preach.

Reply October 21, 2010

Simplify. I think it is the theme. I dont think it is "me-centered" rather a desire to get back to that which matters....and only that.
Daughter, Wife, Mother.

Reply October 22, 2010

I was raised in a Christian home. As I became a young adult and even as a "middle age" adult I dislike being the good Christian girl. And the stereotypical references implied therein. I'm a 35 year old with a tattoo she got after years of wanting one & already planning her next, who enjoys a glass of wine or other beverage, who drives a little too fast at times, but still passionately loves her Savior. That comes first. Or at least I want it to.

Kelly Langner Sauer
Reply October 23, 2010

I asked God once, "Who am I?" He responded, "the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus."

I was annoyed. But I have come to see that it is everything, this identity - bonnet or no bonnet, photographer or stay-at-home mom, missionary or neighbor, good mood or bad mood.

God never meant for us to be "Christians," I think, so much as He meant us to be His. You be what He made you to be, love what He's given you to love wherever you are. It's part of walking humble with Him, part of living in His love.

He became sin for us, so we could BE the righteousness of God....

Reply October 24, 2010

Hi friend!

I know I'm a wee late to this. Forgive?

I can't get the old linky to work for me, so I'll just link here. We aren't homeschooling, but if we were, the community at Gentle Christian Mothers would be the FIRST place I would turn for resources. Here is their Homeschooling/Unschooling forum: It's public so anyone can read the posts and archives.

Best wishes to you! (and if y'all seriously ever do come to oklahoma, please oh please oh please let me know??!)

mandy Eoff
Reply October 25, 2010

so relieved Jude is okay...a blog i like a lot that may help
love to you-

Reply October 26, 2010

So happy to be reading your words again Amber. And thrilled that Jude is okay. One of my girls is wheat free and I am jumping on the bandwagon with her and making sure to go all the way gluten free. I am SO grateful for so many good GF links.
I linked up to Passionate Homemaking and A Nourishing Home. Two of my favorites. I also am about to go back and link up to Organic and Thrifty. Carrie doesn't blog as frequently now but some good recipes in the archives for grain free cooking. She was really helpful and so encouraging to me when I was dealing with some major issues with my girl and other food allergies. I noticed that she is now taking questions in some capacity and would be a good resource.
I agree with the previous comments. Any kind of dietary restrictions can be daunting but get better with time. I have found it most helpful to focus on all the good things we can eat. Truth is, you don't have to say goodbye to great tasting food (although as I say that a part of me is already weeping for the loss of bread), you just have to sacrifice convienence in a lot of ways. I have found it to be a blessing more than a burden.

Reply October 26, 2010

I don't personally use the Delish Delights page I posted...but I stumbled upon it while reading the authors other blog about life and homeschooling (

Reply September 25, 2012


I put a link to my blog on here. I have celiac, my son has celiac, so our ENTIRE house is wheat/gluten free.
I live in NWA and we have some of the same friends (which is how I found your blog, long ago!) I would love to encourage and help in anyway I can. There is a link to my e-mail on the blog.
Blessings to you.
P.S. My sweet belle (age 14) has mono, too. wears her out.

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