Monthly Archives: September 2015

Because Sounds So Good

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I bought a domain!!

If I knew how to insert memes and gifs and fireworks and songs, I’d do that right here.

If I was technologically competent in any way, I would’ve simply synced the two websites. But no. I copied and pasted every piece of content from this site to the new one. Whatever. It’s all there!! And my dedication to my 50 blog posts is so very evident.

So, from here on out…I’ll be posting on! I AM SO EXCITED.

I could’ve done a .com, but .net was just so smooth.

A note for all my lovely subscribers. I think that I’ve found a way to sync up the emails, so bear with me if you accidentally receive a test email tomorrow. I’ve linked up with MailChimp, so hopefully it will all work. (If you were hoping that the new site was your way to get out of subscribing, you’re out of luck. Unsubscribe on that test email if you want to follow along sans the emails!)

If you’d like to subscribe, hit up the “Connect” page. I’m not going to make any promises that this will work. But one can only hope, right?

I just love all of you so much. Thanks for following along on Farmer Takes A Wife, and come join me for a little housewarming-party-in-our-heads at!

(I’ll leave this site up for a bit, but all new content will be posted to the new site.)


Calling All Christians (The Rising)

Christians are really good at thinking about who we could be, and we’re really bad at being who we already are called to be–the handiwork and the masterpieces and the image of God himself.

The best conversation-ender in challenging, vision-centered dialogue is this: “That’s just not my calling.”

Immediately, a wall goes up. No one wants to rebuke a calling or lack thereof, but we so often fall back on that excuse to avoid exploring what the Lord is truly asking of us.

Now, read this: we can absolutely be called to some things and absolutely not be called to other things. The danger lies when we refuse to question the clear-cut calls and instead rely on instinct. Because the Bible is our only fully-reliable guide to life in Christ, that questioning should come from deep study of God’s word and a prayer that, in faith, says, “Your kingdom come, Your will be done.”

As part of His divine creation, God asked us to do something seemingly simple: love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and love your neighbor as yourself.

But we take that simple commandment, and we make it as complex as humanly possible. In attempting to make sense of what God wants us to do with our lives, we sit perplexed in a mess of confusion because we forget that He has already told us.

We are called to love Him and love the people around us. That’s it. While we wait for a personalized note to float down from the heavens, we avoid the letter He wrote to us thousands of years ago that tells us His story of redemption, His purpose for His glory, and His deep, restorative love for His people.

Read more at The Rising.

Words Mean Something

I may be a writer but golly I’m dreadful at interviews. Giggles bubble out, I can’t help but talk about myself because I hate awkward silence, and I’m known for saying “super cool” sixteen too many times.

I sat in a coffee shop this morning with a college sophomore. As part of my job, I get the incredible honor of writing a profile about him for an awards banquet. He’s being recognized for his courage, and I knew–even before I met him–that this guy’s going to move mountains.

After going through my list of interview questions, I looked up at him and said, “Hey, kid. I want you to know that you are extraordinary.”

It was weird and I came back to my office and gushed to my coworkers that I probably really creeped him out, but I meant it.

This white, heterosexual male from a wealthy background decided he wanted to devote his life to standing up for minorities. Just out of his teens, he speaks on behalf of all of us who have truckloads of privilege, and he does it humbly. He spent the better part of an hour telling me about all these passions and desires and hurts and burdens, and I didn’t even know what to say to him. So I called him extraordinary and I meant it from the depths of my soul.

And now I can’t stop thinking about what the world would look like if we called it like it was. What if our first words to a child didn’t mention how pretty her dress was or how cool his light-up sneakers were? What if, instead, we told them how kind they are, how joyful they seem, how brave they act?

What if I looked at my husband and instead of calling him handsome and fun and cute as I do over and over again each day, what if instead I told him that he works hard and leads well and is respected? I want him to know that I think he’s strong, resilient, and wise. But we hold these words back because it’s not normal to affirm so bluntly.

He and I just finished filling out pages and pages of paperwork for Social Services, and a question they asked was, “What words would your friends use to describe you?” That question made us really dig deep because I want to be something more than how I’d describe myself now. I want to be tenacious, passionate, unyielding, and courageous. I want our lives to look like the soldiers in 2 Timothy 2, battling, with eyes on the prize, for the Lord’s glory.

What if the words we called ourselves were the words God calls us?

Justified. Redeemed. Child. Friend. Free. Accepted. Wise. Triumphant. New. Heir. Blessed. Chosen. Righteous. Holy. Blameless. Forgiven. Complete. Sealed. Alive. Confident. Treasured. BoldBeloved

Words mean something, and I’m not trying to waste mine.

Thirty Years


Dear Mom and Dad,

Today, you celebrate your thirtieth wedding anniversary.

Thirty years ago, your love story began with a Fedex driver and a receptionist. Like a romantic movie plot, he who delivered packages was turned down repeatedly by the lady at the desk–who used her dog as an excuse to get out of dates (shocking to all who know her…).

But, she finally gave in. This man who loves unconditionally fell in love with this woman who lights up a room, and the world is a brighter place because of it.

Mom, your heart is pure gold. No stranger stays a stranger when they’re in your midst, and a room fills with laughter when you’re present. Your joy is radiant. I love how the only meal you cook is Thanksgiving dinner. I love how you mess up our names with our dog’s name. I love how you made Dad buy you a television for your bedroom simply because you wanted to watch March Madness while laying in bed. I love that you’ve named the trails you exercise on the “long loop” and the “short loop” and that you think we know what that means. I love the fact that you were a teacher, yet you still can’t pronounce the word “chipolte” (chip-a-toll-ee is not correct). I love that your sense of style is infinitely better than mine and that, when we were younger, you and I had mother-daughter time at Nordstrom. I love that you ground up chocolate-covered espresso beans in the coffee maker, thinking it’d make a mocha. I love that you dance like a club-goer, sing like an off-key choir member, snort when you laugh, and still struggle to figure out how to work a treadmill. You love Dad with a love that’s tangible, and you make me want to love my husband more sacrificially.

Dad, there’s no one like you. Nearly 25 years ago, you told me who Jesus was, and you haven’t stopped telling me since. The way you treat a waiter is the way you treat a family member, and the front desk workers at your gym greet me with huge smiles because they know you’re my dad. You simply love people without limits. Your humor is evident in my dreadful jokes, and your writing is what made me want to pursue the craft. I love how you listen to instrumental Disney soundtracks while you run four miles every morning. I love that you use Pinterest to find meals to cook for when we come home to visit. I love that you emailed Morgan this week with a packing list for a trip we’re taking in two months. I love that you use headphones to watch T.V. because you know Mom hates the noise. I love that you laminated a little card that says “yes” on one side and “no” on the other to let your wife know if the dog went to the bathroom while she was still sleeping. I love that you listened to our Father-Daughter dance on repeat during long road trips to prepare your emotions for my wedding day. You’ve walked alongside Mom through thick and thin, and you never once made us second-guess your love for us. You define the word “steadfast,” and I’m proud to be your daughter.

Mom and Dad, thank you for your beautiful marriage that helps to make Jesus’ love make sense. You raised us to be self-confident life-lovers because that is who you are. You put each other over yourself, and watching you love each other makes us want to love deeper.

Together, you are better.

Happy 30th anniversary, you love bugs. I love you more than words can say.


Hol Bear

Falling in love and all those other cliches (My Big Jesus)

IMG_2870Fall became my favorite time of year when I moved to Southwest Virginia six years ago. Before, the transition after summer was so gradual that it was a bit unremarkable. But the mountains change something, and, one night, the warm air just says, “I’m done,” and hibernates.

The cold air swoops in to say, “Did you miss me?” and, in a beautiful chorus of smiling faces and knit sweaters and tall boots, Southwest Virginia screams “yes.”

No one mourns the summer’s departure around these parts. With trees everywhere, all views of our little town transform into a patchwork quilt of oranges and reds and browns and yellows and greens. It takes a bit of self-control for me to not squeal when I walk outside and realize I need a jacket. Customers emphatically declare they want a pumpkin spice latte just because they can, and sitting around a bonfire wrapped in flannel blankets is a staple of the season.

This year, I’m going a bit farther than the glee. I’m focusing on recognizing why this season is simply amazing. It’s the little things, like vibrant leaf changes, friends and family gathering around the television for football, and all sweets infused with cinnamon. But it’s more.

Read more over at My Big Jesus.

Blog-tember: The Real Me vs. The Online Me

Linking back up with The 2015 Blog-tember Challenge today because this topic is oh so important to me.

I was driving down the highway this afternoon, and a massive Hardee’s billboard stopped me in my tracks. Actually, I kept driving, but I slowed down enough to catch what it said: GO ALL NATURAL. The All-Natural Burger.

“WHOA,” I thought. You go, Hardee’s.

Then I got closer and saw the asterisk. “*All natural refers only to the beef patty.” Womp, womp, womp. The billboard knew it was deceptive, but it wanted what it wanted and some processed vegetables weren’t going to stop their advertising campaign.

I got to thinking about what my asterisk would say.

Farmer Takes a Wife*

*Her husband is not actually a legitimate farmer but he works with farmers and wants to be a farmer so she pretends.

Job Title: Writer*

*She actually writes news stories but is working really hard to write more, so she can just pretend, right?

Holly Paulette*

*Not actually who she is on Instagram.

Like the Hardee’s let down, I get discouraged thinking about that last one. Whether it be on Facebook, Instagram, this blog, or my thrice-yearly tweet, I want my day-to-day life to be encouraging–not because it looks like I get it–but because we’re all in this dang thing called life together.

But it’s hard. Day-to-day is far from glamorous, and my hot mess of everyday makes my head spin, so I know it’ll make yours spin too. I think there’s a fine line between over-sharing and under-sharing, and, while under-sharing is often deceptive, over-sharing diminishes really necessary boundaries. I don’t want the internet to get all of me–I want to reserve that for offline.

Our generation is the first to have to deal with this weird identity crisis. Before, who you were was who you were and that was that. I’m constantly reminding myself that real-life people like real-life Holly, so the notion of an online-Holly is dumb. It’s not always that easy, but I try to be Holly both on the world wide web and in the world wide world.

Three ways in which the “online me” isn’t fully real:

  1. I’m really, really, really blunt in real life. Ugh. To a fault. You know when the Bible talks about a balance of grace and truth? I’m great at one half of that equation and terrible at the other. That harshness–because I often take the bluntness too far–doesn’t translate well to a public forum like this blog (public=what I like to call my “faithful 15 followers”). And typing things out or posting a picture gives a pause time that benefits my filter, which, in turn, makes me seem like less of a mean girl. #grateful
  2. I suck at being vulnerable. Vulnerability is hard. It’s easy for me to post the very real good things in life, but it’s not easy to unpack our baggage here. And, to be honest, I don’t think this is the necessary outlet for that. Saving that crap for the safety of our home and our people gives the internet less power over my life.
  3. I accidentally curse every now and then. Sorry Mom, Dad, Grandma, and Lucy.

What is real:

  1. I’m not stylish. I’m not creative with food. My house is in shambles 80% of the time. I’ll save you the jealousy and not post a picture of the pile of dishes in my sink, but I vow to not pretend like our life is put together in any semblance of organization. We live in a constant state of chaos, and I hope this blog reflects that we’re laughing through a far from picture-perfect life.
  2. Our house is often filled to capacity with just the greatest friends in the world. I talk all the time about our people, and it’s no exaggeration. Our cup overflows. We put emphasis in our lives–and in our budget–to make room for the people around us, and our lives are all the richer because of them.
  3. Gosh I love Jesus. And I want the world to, too. And I know my words are a measly and messy form of witness, but if I can reserve my little space on the internet to give Him glory, why would I not?

Read and follow along on this hilarious journey with me, and it’ll quickly become clear that real and online mash up nicely for me. Sometimes, with blogging for other sites and on my optimistic Insta days, good words are more forthcoming than negative words. I’d love for real life to look more like that.

Finally…as a ridiculous example of online vs. real, I give to you: Holly and Morgan at weddings.

First–“Oh! The photographer caught us mid-romantic dance! We’ll beam for the camera.”

IMG_2419Second– “We are so put-together!”

11701114_10205602353995766_2347022016780804380_n-2And then we take a turn for the more realistic.

Third– “Turn down for what.”

imageFour– “This is my favorite dance move.”

View More:

Whitewashed Tombs (The Rising)


When my sister was in college, she and her friends rented a battered, abandoned church to live in in their small West Virginia town. A rebellious and eclectic streak defined her at this age, so my parents just decided to pick their battles.

A mural of Jesus—arms outstretched in all His traditional-church-overrun-by-hippies glory—greeted visitors at the front double doors, and I’ll never forget the phone conversation I overheard when my sister broke the news of a $900 heating bill one winter. The grace shown that year will give my parents a myriad of sparkling jewels in heaven.

The most unconventional amenity that came with their lease was the backyard cemetery. The town’s transients frequented the cemetery, high school students were dared to spend an hour there alone, and legends told of haunted graves. To call it creepy would be an understatement.

The church had been deserted for decades, and the tombstones that marked the memory of church members from past centuries were nearly unrecognizable under overgrown plants. Dirt snuck into engraved names. Moss crept up the sides of once-white stones. From the looks of the tombs, it was obvious that the skeletons were decaying beneath the ground.

Jesus refers to a different type of grave in Matthew 23.

Read more over at The Rising

Blog-Tember: Dear Sixteen-year-old Holly…

I’m joining up for The 2015 Blog-tember Challenge (specifically because my girl Taylor did it and it was just so fun to read). Getting some motivation for fun posts this month, and also getting real with the me of eight years ago.

Dear 16-year-old little baby Holly,

Bless your heart.

Oh Holly. You have no idea what beautiful things are in store for you. Sixteen was a mediocre year for you, but it looks pathetic when I compare it to what’s to come really soon.

You’ve got crushes on some really crappy boys, but you’re going to fall in love with a man you couldn’t ever imagine you’d be lucky enough to marry. I wish you could know that so that you would stop trying to find love in the wrong places. He’s going to love you for you. I promise. (By the way, he is actually the hottest human being you’ve ever seen. You married up, girl.)

You think your parents are lame and that your sister is mean. Rest assured, young Holly, that these three people are about to become your favorites. You guys will create this little family of best friends and group messages and the very best family get-togethers. Your heart will just explode with love for them. And guess what? It’s all going to become sweeter when, in a few years, all of you decide to love Jesus. Your family becomes more than right now. It becomes a forever kind of connection where Taylor is no longer just your sister but also your sister in Christ. The tears streaming down my face right now just show how far-fetched this notion would be to 16-year-old you, but I promise, it’s true, and it’s the most amazing gift.


I’m not sure what I love/hate most about this picture. Let’s break it down.

Braided pigtails: Okay you’re super cute. Your hair will never get much better, and in a few years, you’ll just learn to manage with a messy bun.

The outfit: I’m not sure why you keep thinking that a denim skirt and T-shirt is stylish, but you wore this outfit (with different combinations of skirts and shirts, of course) a lot. Also, you are tall, and normal clothing does not look normal on you. Put on some clothes, little child.

Dancing-but-actually-posing: You are so not cool, but you’re sort of adorable. I’m sure some Dixie Chicks is blaring from your boombox right now.

Books in night stand: Your nightstand will look the exact same for forever. Don’t stop reading or writing.

Oh Holly, there’s so much I wish I could say to you.

You think you know who Jesus is right now, but you world is about to be rocked. He is so good, and He is so in love with you. I wish I could just scream this to you. But, in His perfect timing, He’s going to capture your heart in two short years and everything will be different.

Little Holly, you don’t even know it, but you’re so very lost, so very broken, and seeking life in all the wrong places. But guess what, sweet girl? You’re going to find Life in the very best thing.

I wish that you had the sense in you to apply to more than one college, but I hope you know how lucky you are that Virginia Tech let your incredibly sub-par application slip through in the admissions office. You don’t even care about Virginia Tech right now, but let me tell you sister: that school was the start of the good stuff.

Your best friends will push you and challenge you and pray for you. You guys are going to walk through some dark, ugly times, but sister, they’re not going to leave your side. In nearly ten years, you’ll be spread out all over the place, but they’re your home base. You’ll find something absolutely extraordinary in the girls who love you deeply in college.

It’s all going to get better soon, but enjoy high school. You think you’re really cool, but you’re actually a total jerk sometimes and you need to get your act together. Thankfully, you’ll discover that being cool means being different, and you’ll embrace it. Little Holly, you’ve got big dreams building up inside your awkward teenager body right now, and I can’t wait for you to discover the big things you’ll accomplish when you stop thinking this world revolves around you.

Let me give you one more little tid-bit: you won’t ever be a great basketball player. You’re going to pretend to be an allstar and you’re going to wear the coolest baller clothes you can find in the men’s section at Dick’s Sporting Goods, but you should probably stick with the things we’ve already established that you’re good at–reading books and shopping.

Love you forever because you made me who I am now,

Holly Paulette (isn’t that crazy?!!)

I Read Books This Summer

This summer has been bonkers. I’ve been writing (not for the blog, as you can see, but give me grace because fun writing is ahead!), we moved last weekend, and we’re having loads of hard/sanctifying conversations and slowly moving forward with fostering these past few weeks. We are tired but in that productive/I-did-a-lot-of-stuff-today kind of way.

BUT. Rest assured, I found time to read. In fact, I read more than I have in a while, and it was glorious. Every book I picked up this summer was good, so I want to share some recommendations with all my friends!

NOTE: If you read no further than this. If you think, “Oh, I’m just not a reader.” I urge you–no, I beg you–please at least pick up Jen Hatmaker’s For the Love. She’s outdone herself. (And, if novels are more your thing, hit up Defending Jacob.)

ShanghaiGirls_coverShanghai Girls by Lisa See

Shanghai Girls is about two Chinese girls who were sent to America for a new life with arranged marriages. Their journey is harrowing, but not as harrowing as their time in America proves to be. The books has some really dark themes, but it was eye-opening to my closed-minded, American privilege. Though it starts slow, the book just keeps getting better and better, as it turns into a sort of coming-of-age story for these girls.

11367726Defending Jacob by William Landay

SO GOOD. This book sucked me in and rocked my world and forced me to read way past my 10 p.m. bedtime. Told from the perspective of a murder suspect’s father (who is, ironically, the assistant district attorney for their small town), Defending Jacob is both a courtroom drama and the story of a family in the midst of crisis. Add in about 40 twists and turns, and you’ll stay up til 10:30 too.

Side note: I found out about this book off of Jamie Ivey‘s podcast, Happy Hour with Jamie Ivey. She interviewed someone who read 52 books in a year, and Defending Jacob was at the top of her favorites. Count that as a second recommendation, and go get this book! (Also, listen to Jamie’s podcast. It’s my favorite.)

51KxXwy3zeL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_Candle in the Darkness by Lynn Austin

I was weary about this one. No offense to Karen Kingsbury, but I struggle a bit with Christian fiction–I always find it a little too forced. A few months back, I asked a friend for some book recommendations, and she told me about Lynn Austin. The kicker for me was that she compared her to Francine Rivers, and I could kiss my copy of Redeeming Love. When I went to look up some of Lynn Austin’s books, Candle in the Darkness was FREE on my Kindle (and it still is!) so I gave it a shot.

Y’all. This book is good. Set during the Civil War, it follows a young woman through her internal battle of wanting to support her Confederate-soldier fiancee while personally fighting against slavery. It challenged me to rethink what it looks like to fight for what you believe in. Also, it’s set in Richmond, so I really enjoyed reading about my hometown.

indexFire by Night by Lynn Austin

Candle in the Darkness sucked me in, so I spent $6 on book number 2 in the series. This one follows a minor character from the first book in her quest to become a nurse for the war. Though some of the characters are the same, the plot is totally different, so this book could stand alone. I liked Candle in the Darkness a little bit better, but Fire by Night was really good! I’m officially a Lynn Austin fan. And still officially not a Karen Kingsbury fan.

index2The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh

I mentioned this a few months back on the blog, but the librarian and I had a moment as I checked out this book. She was a former social worker, so we gushed together about the foster care system and our burdens for orphans. As a social worker, she said that The Language of Flowers made her sad, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. It breaks down the stereotypical foster kid and builds up a character who flourished in all the worst circumstances. This book also made me want to go buy flowers.

index3Freefall to Fly by Rebekah Lyons

The subtitle of this book is “A Breathtaking Journey Toward a Life of Meaning.” The author talks a lot about her struggles with panic and anxiety, so I connected to her story of learning to trust God’s sovereignty. My favorite part about this book is that Rebekah is an advocate for big dreamers. She challenges women to dream big and chase after those dreams without letting comparison, fear, or cultural norms get in our ways. “Freefalling” became my biggest dream after reading this book. This is Rebekah’s first book, and I’m excited to keep following her lead.

M54991Adoption: What Joseph of Nazareth Can Teach Us about This Countercultural Choice by Russell Moore

Never has a free e-book ever been so good. This was a short version of Russell Moore’s Adopted For Life. Morgan is reading our copy of the full book now, so Adoption served as a teaser for what is to come. I’ve been feeling a burden to simply understand adoption better, and this book does just that by using Joseph as an example. I’d never thought of it this way before, and it challenged me a lot. Looking forward to reading the full version!

510Ba8PrBiL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_A Little Salty To Cut The Sweet by Sophie Hudson

If you’ve pulled up next to me at a stop light recently, you may have seen me laughing to myself. While there’s a chance I was losing my mind a bit (it’s been a stressful summer), the culprit was most likely Sophie’s podcast that she does with her friend Melanie Shankle.

I reviewed this book back in May, but my love for Sophie (AKA Boo Mama) has grown exponentially simply from listening to the Big Boo Cast podcast. They are absolutely hilarious Southern women who shamelessly talk for hours about their favorite tailgate dips and sales at Nordstrom Rack. It’s as if you’re eavesdropping on a phone conversation, and it’s just so much fun. Caution: It is, in no shape or form, a fascinating podcast. But I’m learning that podcasts are more about the storytellers than the stories.

All that to say, this is another plug to read Sophie’s book!

And now, for the grand finale…

index4For the Love by Jen Hatmaker

Part of me thinks that this blurb isn’t doing For the Love justice, but I’d hate to ruin this book for those who haven’t read it by giving a full recap. Let me just say this: Jen Hatmaker understands what it means to live out the gospel more than any other Christian writer I’ve read. No joke. She gets it and she makes me want to get it too.

For the Love is a collection of essays that beg the reader to accept grace and live in freedom. She balances hilarious humor and deep truths effortlessly, and I found myself laughing loudly during one chapter and sobbing the next. I can’t recommend any book higher than this one. I’d offer to lend you mine, but I’m terrified I wouldn’t get it back. And I’m also embarrassed by the “HAHAs” I wrote in the margins.

I’m sure everyone is dying to know what’s next on my to-read list.

I think I’m going to backpedal and read Shauna Niequist’s Cold Tangerines. This is her first book, but I devoured her other two and know that I will love this one as well.

Also, I’m excited to start Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird. I’m falling head over heels in love with writing words, so I can’t wait to see what this book stirs up inside me.

OH AND I won a book in a blog giveaway (shout out to Life with Truth who is so incredibly generous)!!!! I’ve been dying to read Emily Freeman’s new book, Simply Tuesday, but I couldn’t justify buying another book. And then I won one! Hallelujah. When this comes in the mail, I’ll start it immediately. It seems like a game-changer when it comes to savoring life in the small moments.

What books do y’all recommend?!


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