My Favorite Tools to Use with my Planner


When using my planner, I love to have a stack of a variety of books and tools nearby to both enrich my time planning and reflecting… and to make it colorful!

In addition to the Sacred Ordinary Days planner, I use a variety of books:

  1. NIV Bible. I use the one that was published in 2011 because it uses gender-inclusive language.
  2. The New Oxford Annotated Bible. Sometimes I’ll use this version instead of the NIV because I love the footnotes included in this version, and the translation helps me understand things a bit differently than the NIV.
  3. Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals. I deeply resonate with this book of common prayer. Each day’s reading includes liturgical prayers, Scripture passages to read, a song suggestion to sing/hum/listen, and a short bit of wisdom from a church father/mother. My heart often resonates deeply with the prayers-  a bit gritty at times and always authentic.

Other tools:

  1. If I need a little color action, I use these colored pens, which are more marker than pen, IMO.  I love the variety of shades included. The only downfall-  I just have to make sure not to press too hard so they don’t bleed through.
  2. If I feel like journaling more than what fits in my planner, I use a Miquelrius journal. These journals are super inexpensive at Barnes & Noble, and have a great feel to them. I love the colors on the ends of the pages, the size of the pages, and the fact that it’s spiral bound. In the past I’ve ended up mod-podging the front; the cover material is perfect for it!
  3. Gratitude: A Prayer and Praise Coloring Journal. Sometimes I’m not in the mood to read a lot, but instead sense I need some space to pray and think. I’ll use this journal to color while I pray. Each spread has a different theme, so I can flip through until I find something that looks appropriate to my mood :). Yesterday I was feeling grouchy and discontent with my life, so I spent some time at the table with Ada, coloring a page about gratitude and giving thanks.
  4. Music is often a must. I’ve been spending most of my time with One Wild Life: Soul, Spirit, Body;  The Unmaking by Nichole Nordeman; and The Liturgists.

What are the books and tools that are stacked up near your favorite chair?

Night Owls Unite: How to Have Meaningful Time with God at Night


I don’t believe that being a morning person or a night owl is a part of our DNA. I think it often comes by necessity. At least it has in my case.

I used to be more of a morning person. I’d wake up at 5:30 or 6:00a and get my day going. I could get lots of things done before the rest of my friends starting rolling out of bed.

My life after kids has changed me. It’d be dreamy to spend some time in a peaceful, still house before the rest of the family awoke. I’d have my hot tea and my journal and spend time thinking and praying and writing. The kids would come down the stairs and I’d greet them with peace and cheerfulness and a warm breakfast.

But it’s just not happening.

More realistically, they bound out of bed at 6:30 and head straight for my room, armed with a million questions and “momma, can you help me _______”. I stumble down the stairs with my eyes half-closed, trying to do just enough to get them started on breakfast, but not too much that I fully wake up  and ruin my chances for a few more minutes of sleep on the couch.

Needless to say, times spent with Jesus are also not happening in the morning at this stage of life. And I’m mostly okay with that. I have no desire to make over my mornings, but instead choose to focus in on the evenings. It’s in this space of quiet after the chaos that I can say, “Okay, I’m ready to be still. To reflect. To plan. To pray.”

Using the SOD planner as a Night Owl

I played around with a few different ways of using the Sacred Ordinary Days planner in the evening instead of the morning and I think I’ve found a good rhythm.

  1. I spend time in the evenings reading through and thinking about the Scripture passages.
  2. I reflect on my day, asking questions like:
    1. When did I feel most joyful today?
    2. What zapped my energy?
    3. What leftovers of the day am l carrying right now that I need to lay down?
    4. Where did I see God at work today?
  3. I then flip the page and choose 3 projects for tomorrow, along the the cues and rest/rewards. I fill in some of my big events of the day, and quickly pray through those meetings or appointments.

This rhythm helps me to think clearly about the day that’s just happened. It also helps me to look forward, preparing myself for the day that is to come after getting a good nights rest.

I’d be curious– for all you other night owls, how do you create space for reflection, Scripture reading and prayer?




Creating a Family Rule of Life


When opening the Sacred Ordinary Days planner, one of the first things you’ll see is a section that helps you create a rule of life. What is a rule of life, you ask? Great question.

A rule of life is a set of routines, patterns, or habits that we practice in order to help us to become the kind of person we want to be.  A rule of life isn’t about achieving, but about being.

I spent some time last year writing about it in Developing a Rule of Life and Developing a Rule of Life (Part 2). Feel free to read those if you want more background.

This time around, I’m more interested in developing a rule of life with and for our family. We already have a version of this in place, I suppose. We try to talk about and celebrate our family’s core values (compassion, generosity, faith, equality and creativity) on a semi-regular basis, which is a great start. But I think a rule of life takes us to the next level. It means creating rhythms that help us to become people who embody those values instead of just hoping that we end up there.

We’re still in the brainstorming and creating phase, but here are some ideas that have sifted to the top:

  • Read together. We want to be a family that’s learning, growing in our understanding of the world and how other people experience life. Reading helps us grow in empathy and compassion, and helps us to remember that everyone has a perspective and it’s vital to listen to those perspectives.
  • Explore the world together. We’d love to travel together someday, but for now, it means finding opportunities to learn about different cultures, eating different kinds of foods, examining maps and playing with languages. We want to be the kind of people who love well, are not afraid of that which is different, and are listening to the voices that may not always get equal air time.
  • Grow in our faith together. We started out really good about this- being intentional with reading the Bible together every night, praying together, and simply living life with an eye towards what God is doing in us and in the world. As the kids have multiplied in number, we engage in this less intentionally and less often. It’s been challenging to find our rhythm. We keep trying things out, as our kids get older and we start learning about how they might best experience God. We know that our kids might not end up choosing to trust Jesus with their lives, but we also know that we want to be on this faith journey together, always with an open door for sharing thoughts and questions.
  • Give together. We want to be generous with our love, our time, and our money. This one might be the hardest for us. Our budget is tight. Our fairly simple schedule already feels like we don’t have enough time for one another, let alone people outside of our walls. But we continually try to find ways that we can say yes to opportunities that allow our family to engage generously together. Yes to creating a relationship with a child through Compassion International, Yes to making a meal for someone, Yes to spending our money on someone else. Yes to babysitting a friend’s child. Yes to making a bracelet for a friend. Yes to giving a book we love to a friend. Yes to inviting people into our lives.
  • Create together. Cooking. Drawing. Inventing. Creating videos. Writing. Making games. Picasso has been credited for saying, “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.” We believe that we were created in the image of a creative God, and that when we create, we are playing alongside God.

Here are some questions we asked ourselves when creating our family rule of life:

  • What’s the end goal? What kind of people do we hope we’ll be in 10 years, 20 years, 30 years?
  • What values do we hold higher than others? How can we lean into those?
  • How is our family wired? What natural dispositions or heart leanings do we have? Where are they different from one another? Where are we the same?

As I have learned more about this tool over the past few months, I have come across a few creative ways of writing and illustrating them.

  • This person used a bread recipe format for her rule of life. It communicates the organic nature of spiritual formation, and it’s just really beautiful.
  • This person used images to communicate their rule of life. I would have never thought of this!
  • If you scroll down a little in this post, you’ll see a rule of life written in a word art kind-of-way. I can imagine making something like this to hang on a wall in our house.

Have you ever created a rule of life? How has it helped you to become more of the person God created you to be?


How to Use the Project Section of Your Sacred Ordinary Day Planner


The Project section of the Sacred Ordinary Days Planner stumped me at first.

I wasn’t sure why there were only 3 project slots. How do I decide what’s worthy of a project slot? And on top of this,  I had no idea what “cue” meant, or “rest/reward.”

While I’m still learning, here are some of my thoughts on this potentially puzzling section.

“What? Why only 3 slots for projects? I have a gazillion things to do today!”

TOTALLY. You have lots and lots to do. Your to-do list is unending. I get that. But…. (more…)

The Sacred Ordinary Days Planner


I love planners. Mostly because they save my life. Every single day.

If I don’t write things down, it exits my mind and I never see it again. As you can imagine, this doesn’t work too well for a momma juggling not only her own work and home schedule, but also those of her 4 sweet and wild children. Hence the planner love.

I first heard about The Sacred Ordinary Days planner from a Kickstarter project. A woman named Jenn Giles Kemper had a wild and crazy dream of combining a planner and a space for spiritual reading and reflection.

She knew that how we view and spend our days deeply influences our spiritual formation. And to put all that wrapped up in one? Genius.


Reading Together: How Communities of Readers Can Transform the World

reading-togetherBooks are one of the most powerful tools in the world.

Books change the world by offering a new perspective.

Books inspire people to step out and take risks.

Books allow people to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes, increasing a reader’s capacity for empathy.

Books explain, they instruct, they motivate.

Books offer another way forward, and get people talking.

Most of my favorite books inspire me towards action. And they are always ones I want to talk about with someone else. (more…)

How to Make Personalized Back-to-School Photos

Families around the country have been snapping pictures of their kids on the first day of school for years. 90% of these photos seem to happen on the home’s front stoop.

In our family, it’s no different. Fifteen minutes before departure time, we line the kids up and snap pictures of their sweet faces in front of our door.

How to Make (easy) Amazing Back-to-School Photos

Each year, I like to add a little extra information to help me remember what they were into (and what they weren’t). For fun I even sometimes make one for my husband who is a PhD student ;). 

To create these great memories, I use the free online editing tool- PicMonkey.

1. I upload the photo by going to “edit” and then “computer.”

Screen Shot 2016-09-05 at 7.35.37 PM

2. After choosing the photo I want to edit, I’m ready to add some text. (more…)

What I’m Into {August 2016}

What I'm Into August 2016

Tomorrow is the beginning of a fresh school year.

This is a big year for us.

By 8:15a, all 4 kids will be out the door, headed to their learning spaces for the day. What in the world?! I knew this day would come someday. I dreaaaaamed of this day while changing diapers and cleaning mess (after mess after mess) and juggling playdates and tantrums and feeling the toll of pure exhaustion. I just didn’t know it was going to come so soon! While the oldest three will be in elementary school all day, the youngest Malloy will be attending an early childhood program where she will be able to extrovert to her hearts content.

What all this means is when I leave the house in the morning, it’s more or less going to look exactly the same way when I get home from work. Hallelujah! This means less cleaning and tidying when I get home, and more sitting on the couch snuggling, talking, and reading books at night.

Of course, this transition will mean more emotions, more feels, more neediness at night from kids who have been without their momma all day. So, now that I think about it, you should probably ask me again in 3 weeks how excited I am about this transition. (more…)

The Family Reading List {Summer 2016}

The Family Reading List

Welcome to the Family Reading List!

Each month I’ll be sharing a list of recommended books for kids. This carefully curated list will come straight from our bookshelves and will answer the question I get asked all the time- What are my kids reading and loving? I’ll not only feature one book from each kid’s list per month, but I’ll also give a short list of other books we highly recommend. Some of these books will be ones the kids read on their own. Others will be ones we listen to in the car or read aloud at night before bed.

I’m circling the kids into this series of fun monthly posts, and they’re already excited about sharing their recommendations. Who knows, they may even show up in some video recommendations in the future!

And of course, please feel free to leave book recommendations in the comments! We often find our next books to read through the recommendations of other families.


What I’m Reading {Summer 2016}

What I'm Reading (summer)

For many readers, summer is the time to put a dent in the reading list. The pace of life is a bit slower, and who doesn’t love the opportunity to sit on the beach or lay in a hammock, enjoying the beautiful weather while taking in a good book?

This summer wasn’t really like that for me. I spent most of my days inside working. And my weekends were spent out and about with the family sans books.

Weirdly enough, TV-watching played a big part in my night-time routine, crowding out my normal reading rhythm. Between American Ninja Warrior, the Olympics, and re-watching Gilmore Girls, I found myself not having energy to read more than a chapter before lights out each night. BUT. But. but. In spite of Netflix trying to ruin my life, I did manage to get through a few books that I highly recommend. 


Matthew Desmond

Evicted is a book that our city is reading and discussing this fall; author Matthew Desmond is an alum of the UW. I wasn’t sure what I was getting into when I picked this one up, but it didn’t take me long to get hooked into the stories of Scott and Arleen and several other families whose lives have been deeply affected by the ever-present reality of eviction. Desmond is a master storyteller- he helps readers to see the heartbreaking and surprisingly complex situations that many of these families who have been evicted have gone through. I don’t think I’ll ever think about poverty and housing the same. My recommendation, if you pick up this book, be sure to read through the About This Project portion at the end. Reading about how Matthew did the research, and also his ideas for helping to solve the housing crisis in America, is well worth the read.