Picks of the Week- 11/3/2014

ScriptureAnd do this, understanding the present time: The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. Romans 13: 11-12

The night is nearly over, the day is almost here.  That’s one to tape up by the bathroom mirror and read every morning.

Family Activity: Give Thanks

November, more than other months, is the time to remember what we are thankful for.  In the hustle of life, we can forget about these things. Sit down with your kids and have talk about what they are thankful for, even write it down if they are old enough.  We spend our days looking forward and wondering about what we don’t have.  Too much time is wasted without the blessings in front of our face.

Marriage Activity: Set Goals

I feel guilty writing this as Val and I do not do it enough.  You can get caught up in daily life and forget about the future or, even worse, worry about it. Every journey needs a destination. Sit down, make a list, and keep it somewhere easily accessible. The end result is easier to chase when you can see it on paper.

Feel Good Story: David Shipman

While scrolling through Facebook one day, Shipman passed an interesting job posting.  He hesitated and scrolled back up.  After applying, he found himself in an interview with Ringling Brothers, eventually getting the job as a ringmaster. Now he gets to travel the world and make people happy.  Shipman loves his job and his journey should be an inspiration for anyone considering taking the chance to chase something they could love.  You can read Shipman’s profile article here.

Val’s Bag of the Week:


Medium Utility Tote: Offered in new fall prints and exclusive prints, too, this tote is the perfect size for groceries, laundry products or hauling holiday gifts and goodies. It does double-duty in the pantry or linen closet for all your storage needs. Add a Medium Top-A-Tote lid to make it even more functional. If you spend $35.00, you get this for $7.00.  You can find this bag and other specials at Val’s personal site.

Worship Song:



Picks of the Week- 10/20/2014

Scripture: The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love. The Lord is good to all– Psalm 145: 8-9

An important verse to remember and keep close to your heart. How many of us are slow to anger, rich in love, gracious, and compassionate?

Reading Materials: The Waste Land

I didn’t discover T.S. Eliot until college and it was long overdue. Eliot had his faults with his personal viewpoints and political leanings. If you consider his poems for what they are, the impact is masterful.  He paints worlds with words, explores faith, and comments on society. Read his poems and take your time with them. You’ll be glad you did.

Family Activity: Halloween Parade

We just started the parade circuit in our area.  There’s something perfect about small towns and parades, standing on the curb smelling french fries in the air and listening to the high school band play as they walk past. Carter loves collecting as much candy as humanly possible.

Marriage Activity: Cooking

Thanksgiving and Christmas are coming.  These are the major holidays for big family meals.  Spend time cooking dinner, working on recipes, and creating something delicious. The act of creation will bring you together.

Val’s Style Pick of the Week:


Prepping blow dry lotion provides heat protection up to 450 degrees and reduces friction and breakage. Also protects color from fading and controls frizz. Val loves this stuff for anyone’s hair.

Val’s Bag of the Week:


One of two monthly specials for November only $7.00! You can find other specials for November and the entire new catalog for the month at Val’s personal Thirty-One site.


Soundtrack Inspiration: Skillet is one of the few Christian bands who manage to find crossover success.  Great music for working out and inspiration!

Picks of the Week- 10/13/2014

Scripture: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

I’ve put up this verse on here before and it is one of my favorites. I pray it every morning. It is valuable to remember and know that, in struggles, you have a hope and a future.

Reading Materials: Spry Literary Journal

Spry Literary Journal is a quality publication started by fellow graduates from Fairfield University’s MFA Program. If you need something to read, stop by and check it out.  If you are a writer, don’t forget to submit your work for publication!

Family Activity: Tag

This is Carter’s new obsession. We play in the house, outside, and at the playground.  He’d play every minute of the day if possible.  It is a great workout and he loves being chased. Lace up the sneakers, get out and run on these cool fall nights.

Marriage Activity: Bed and Breakfast

It is the perfect time of year to book a night at a Bed and Breakfast. You can go local or far away. Take your time together and make the most of it.  Even if you only get one night, that only ups the importance.  Every second counts.  Sometimes we forget that in marriage.

Val’s Style Pick of the Week:


Tea Tree Special Shampoo from Paul Mitchell: Special ingredients and tea tree oil rid hair of impurities and leave hair full of vitality and luster. Paul Mitchell makes Tea Tree products for men and women.  They are some of Val’s favorites to add life to your style!


Val’s Bag of the Week:


Timeless Memory Pouches only $5.00! You can find other specials for October and the entire new catalog for the month at Val’s personal Thirty-One site.


Soundtrack Inspiration: One of my favorite bands and a great song to start the week.

Picks of the Week- 10/6/2014

Scripture: “Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord himself, is the Rock eternal.” Isiah 26:4

The verse of the day on Bible Gateway, a great site for Scripture and study. In these days of uncertainty, we must hold fast to the Rock Eternal.

Reading Materials: Change This

Change This is a website of manifestos surrounding current topics  impacting society today.  You can easily spend hours reading challenging and inspiring material.

Family Activity: Tag

We visited the playground tonight and finished our time with a game of tag. Nothing better than a simple game and the laughter of children to finish out a cool fall night.

Marriage Activity: Live Music

Not all great concerts come with traffic, expensive parking, and bad seats.  Check the news for live music on the weekends. Go and support your local artists who are making the rounds before their big breaks.  I used to work with a guy who was from Ireland. He told me, more than once, he had seen U2 in a bar before they made it big. You could add a similar story to the books of your marriage.

Val’s Style Pick of the Week:


From Redken: “Color captivating care for color-addicted hair. Color Extend Magnetics are a line of hair color protection products that capture salon-fresh vibrancy with next generation hair color care technology. Redken’s exclusive IPN and Charge-Attract Complex deliver charged amino-ions that are attracted to the hair fiber to help seal in color. Color Extend Magnetics products make sure hair color is secured with maximum vibrancy and alluring shine.”

Val’s Bag of the Week:





One of four Metro Bags available for 50% off after a $35.00 purchase. You can find other specials for October and the entire new catalog for the month at Val’s personal Thirty-One site.

Soundtrack Inspiration: Go- Hillsong United Miami Live

Picks of the Week- 9/29/2014

Scripture: This is what the Lord says, he who made the earth, the Lord who formed it and established it—the Lord is his name: ‘Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.” Jeremiah 33: 2-3

A verse from one of my favorite books of the Bible. In this day of information, there are still unsearchable things we need to find.

Book: The Grave Robber: How Jesus Can Make Your Impossible Possible by Mark Batterson

Batterson is the pastor of National Community Church in Washington D.C. He is the author of The Circle Maker, a book that changed my prayer life forever.  This title is his newest release about miracles happening in everyday life.  I hesitate naturally when a church leader talks about prayer as they tend to veer towards God as a slot machine in the sky. Batterson does not do this. He supports his points with solid research, examples from real life, and Biblical backing.  Check out his titles here.


Website: Storyline Blog

I’ve posted about Donald Miller before and his site is his blog. His thoughts are fresh, open, and honest.  If you are looking to refine your story, visit and see what he has to say.

Family Activity: Pumpkin Patch

On Saturday, we spent a few hours at a local farm while Carter and Aiden played in a hay jump, corn maze, and playground. Fall is my favorite time of year for this very reason. We make it a yearly tradition to visit Linvilla Orchards, outside of Philadelphia, to experience all a farm in the fall has to offer.

Marriage Activity: Fresh Cider

When you are at the orchards, pick up some fresh cider. When you get home, put the kids to bed and warm it up. This will be cheaper than the Starbucks version and more romantic as you recover from chasing the kids around the farm.

Val’s Style Pick of the Week:


Redken Powder Grip 03- Gives hair a modern matte finish with amazing texture and fullness, and adds grip to prep hair for long-lasting updos, or as Val says, “backcombing in a can.”

Val’s Bag of the Week:


Thermal ToteA classic favorite! It’s great for taking lunch on the go. Whether you need to keep your food cool or warm, it does the job. Great for school or work lunch, or for taking to a ballgame. Also great as a baby bag to keep bottles cold. Measures approx: 9.5”H x 14”W x 4.5”D  I’ve personally taken one of these for lunch to work more than once and it is a perfect fit if you must share a refrigerator with other employees. You can find it here for $18.00. You can find other specials for September and the entire new catalog for the month at Val’s personal Thirty-One site.


Soundtrack Inspiration: We Rejoice by Elevation Worship

If you were to give me creative control over a worship song, it would probably end up like this.  I love the energy, flow, and message.  Enjoy it!

Picks of the Week- 9/22/2014

Scripture: “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” Galatians 5:1

Our memory verse for the current message series. Always remember the freedom that comes through faith.

Book: The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell.

David Mitchell is one of the writers who inspired me to write and chase my dream. Read his books, any of them, and you’ll come away amazed and inspired.  You can find his newest release here.

Worship Song:

We’ve had the chance to worship at church with Brad and Rebekah a few times and it is always a great experience. They are talented, passionate, and their music brings listeners closer to God.  This is one of my favorites, We Are Free.

Website: Entrepreneur On Fire

John Lee Dumas operates this site full of advice for those starting and running their own business.  He also posts his monthly income reports.  Check them out and know, if he can do it, so can you!

Family Activity: The Playground

We spent more than an hour tonight with friends at the playground behind Carter’s school.  The nights are getting cooler.  Throw on sweatshirts, hit the playground, and burn some energy.  You know, those slides, bars, and rock walls aren’t just for kids, right?

Marriage Activity: Sunday Drive

Find your local woods and go for a drive.  The trees will start to change and take note of nature’s canvas and, while you’re at it, put away the cell phones and talk!

Val’s Style Pick of the Week:


Redken Work Hard Molding Paste for Men. A great, versatile product that lasts all day and stands up to the winds of Fall.

Val’s Bag of the Week:


Cinch Sac: So cute and sporty! Toss all your items for ballet, soccer, school and sleepovers into this bag, pull the drawstring and you’re good to go! There are so many patterns and colors to choose from to make it uniquely yours. Measures approx: 18.5”H x 14.5”W  You can find it here for $20.00. You can find other specials for September and the entire new catalog for the month at Val’s personal Thirty-One site.

Picks of the Week-9/15/2014

Scripture: “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:32

We live in a world where truth can seem subjective and, yet, we know the truth and it will always set you free.

Book: The Artisan Soul: Crafting Your Life into a Work of Art by Erwin McManus

McManus is the pastor of Mosaic church in Los Angeles. Pick up his books if you can.  He’s a thinker and leader with a valuable voice for the church. You can find this new release here.

Worship Song:

Chris Tomlin has a new cd out this month.  We’ve seen him twice in concert and each experience has been an amazing encounter of worship.

Website: Side Hustle Nation.

Great resources for entrepreneurs starting their businesses while working full-time. I learn something with every visit.

Family Activity: The Beach

If you can swing it, head down for a beach weekend in September. The crowds have lessened and the weather is still warm enough to enjoy it. It is a great time to bring the kids and actually have space to walk around and see the sights.

Marriage Activity: Work it Out

With the passing of summer, this is the time to start into exercising. Find a sport and do it together.  Get outside and run, hit the playgrounds.  Make the most of the good weather. Set a goal and chase it down as a team.

Val’s Style Pick of the Week:



Redken Strong Hold Anti-humidity Finishing Spray. This is the time of year where the wind and environment can impact hair.  This is a great product for anyone needing more control with their hair.


Val’s Bag of the Week:


Littles Carry-All Caddy. Great choice for supplies, toys, or even a gift bag.  You can find it here for $12.00. You can find other specials for September and the entire new catalog for the month at Val’s personal Thirty-One site.

Picks of the Week 9/8/2014

(As a side note, any products mentioned below are not paid endorsements. Val’s Thirty-One recommendations are part of her consultant business. Everything else listed are our honest choices to improve your week!)

Scripture: For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

One of my favorite verses and a cornerstone of our journey as a family.  Jeremiah is also one of my favorite books in the Bible.  He’s one of the guys who laid it out honestly and his words speak to anyone going through a struggle in their lives.

Book: Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller

I found Donald Miller’s work at a point in my life where my faith was changing.  This book details his own path of belief as a college student and his attempts to figure out this thing we call faith.  Miller is an author and speaker worth following on all forms of social media.  Check out his book and you will find yourself asking deeper questions of faith.  You can find it here.

Worship Song:

Kristian Stanfill is coming to your area as part of the Passion 2014 tour. If you are not familiar with the Passion worship albums, download them as soon as you can.  They are filled with great music that brings you closer to God.

Website: Writing.com. When I started writing, this site was a lifeline.  They provide online workshops, portfolios, critiques, and readings.  You can spend hours reading work and helping other writers improve their craft.  They have contests and daily writing prompts to help defeat writer’s block.  It is a great introduction to the world of writing.

Family Activity: Pick your own apples.

We are nearing the time of year where local orchards are letting people pick their own apples.  Most do this throughout the growing season but, in the fall, there is something special with walking down lanes of apple trees and filling a basket. Get as many as possible and pick up some fresh cider on the way out. Our boys love it and your kids will too.

Marriage Activity: Find the trails.

There is no better time of year to search out your local hiking trails.  Trees are changing and the weather is moving towards more temperate days.  If you’re in for a challenge, head to some steeper elevations.  In our times of stress, we always loved getting outside for a walk in nature and losing ourselves to the beauty of creation.

Val’s Style Pick of the Week:


A shout-out for the guys.  You can’t beat shampoo with the name Clean Brew. Redken makes quality products for men and this is one of the more popular selections.


Val’s Bag of the Week:


The Oh-Snap Bin. These are great for storage and include snaps on the side where multiple bins can be joined together.  They are only $10.00. Trust me, you can never have enough storage!  You can find them here. You can find other specials for September and the entire new catalog for the month at Val’s personal Thirty-One site.

Picks of the Week 9/1/2014

Here’s a new feature we are kicking off tonight called Picks of the Week.  Once a week we will have a selection of things to try and check out including input from Val with a style selection and Thirty-One bag of the week. Let us know what you think!

Picks of the Week:

Scripture: Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6

I had to start at the beginning.  This is the verse that was the seed for this business and our family.  A great one to pray and consider as you go through this week.

Book: Manhood by Terry Crews.

I’ve posted about it already.  If you are a man looking for a man’s story of survival, read this book.  If you are woman looking to figure out your man, get this book.  Great stories of struggle and triumph. You can find it here.

Worship Song:

One of Val’s new favorites. Great motivation!

Website: RELEVANT Magazine. Love the articles and commentary.  Thought provoking and relevant material.

Family Activity: High school football game.

We live two minutes away from our local stadium.  There is nothing like stepping outside on a fall night to hear the band play and take in the crisp air.  Go check one out. Support the team. Buy the hot dogs, fries, and soda. Cheer with the families of the future sports stars playing on the field.

Marriage Activity: Pumpkin coffee.

The flavors of the season are out.  Grab a cup with your partner and take the time to talk and finish it around all those much cooler than you at the local coffee shop.

Val’s Style Pick of the Week:

Val’s style picks can all be found online, at her salon Blue Denim, or at your local salon.


Redken Full Frame 07 Volumizing Mouse- You apply it to wet hair and can use it on curly or straight hair for volume that lasts all day.

Bag of the Week:

Val’s Bag of the Week can be found at the link in the description with many other selections on her Thirty-One website.


This bag is part of the monthly special. Spend $35.00 and you get it for $15.00. You can find this and the new fall line up at Val’s personal Thirty-One site here.

Try these things out and tell us how it goes.  If you have any questions or comments, feel free to let us know.

~Matt and Val