Thursday, December 29, 2016

They're not My children

When we began the journey of foster care we faced many questions and comments regarding the time when the children leave your home.  Having not yet experienced that heartbreak, the only answer we had was the one revealed to us when God placed this service on our hearts.

All children, no matter who they are born to, belong to Him first.  He is so good to give us the privilege to love and care for His most precious creation, the one made in an image of Him.

In July our home grew from a family of 2 to 4 and soon became 5 with the birth of our son.  In November our first placement moved and a month later we said goodbye again and were left with a very empty home.  Many, many tears have been shed, and being mommy and daddy for 6 months and having to say goodbye is possibly the hardest thing we have ever been through.

I started asking myself...

"Can I really do this?"  

"Will I love the next one less because now I know what goodbye feels like?"

"Is this really what He wants us to do?"

Somehow, I found a comfort in the presence of so many questions.  Isn't this EXACTLY what God calls us to? 

The hard, the ugly, the faith building trials...

When we are in a situation so heart wrenching and God is still there...when His hands are almost visible...we cannot help but know He is good, and see His sovereignty over the situation.

Despite "loss" being still so fresh, I know that all the tears in our eyes and scars on our hearts are a worthy sacrifice for the privilege to care for God's children in such an intimate way by welcoming them into our home.

Grief is heavy on our hearts, but there is still room for a little excitement in the unknown details of the next child whom we will share our home, and most of all our heats with. 


If you would like to learn the many different ways you can serve through foster care, look up your state's DCFS website.

If you are in Arkansas, look up the next info meeting in your area, through the CALL

Sunday, November 20, 2016

A Box for Christmas: Tips for an OCC Packing Party

This week has been absolutely crazy and somewhat heartbreaking (maybe more on that later), but this week also marked one of my favorite events of the year...Operation Christmas Child Collection Week!!!  To get my mind off some not so fun stuff, I want to share a little more about this ministry with y'all!!!

Brett and I are year-round volunteers with Samaritan's Purse and right now we are serving as relay center coordinators, which means we host a drop off location.  Last year, our first year as a drop-off we collected 249 boxes!  This year, our church alone packed about 235 boxes!!! (Final counts to come in tomorrow! Watch for update!!!)

Last year I shared some ideas of items to put into a box and WHY they are good suggestions.  This year I wanted to share some tips on organizing a packing party.

1.  From my post last year you can see how some items can be really important in these boxes, so these items I recommend buying in bulk for your "goal" number of boxes.  School Supplies, Soap, Toothbrushes, & other hygiene items.  Two ways to do that are coupon-ing (all year or a few good trips before packing) and, especially with a Prime membership.  You can even support the ministry further by selecting "Samaritan's Purse" through Amazon Smile! HERE are some Amazon items.

2.  Have multiple people/small groups collect "WOW" items.  This will create a diversity in your items.  Plus you will all get ideas from each other; we had outfits, sports equipment, large toys, musical instruments, tools, large sewing kits...  It really is exciting to see what others come up with!

3. Be organized.  The level or organization necessary will depend on your group... the size, avg age etc.  Our group was large and included all ages.  We created a packing "buffet" of sorts; we started with a box, and went through a line of tables picking items that we sorted out into categories.  The last table was a misc pile of "filler items."

4. Don't forget to make them personal.  One of the main things we have run into when packing multiple boxes is forgetting to ad an individual personal touch on each box.  The filler items are the first way to do this.  When each "packer" gets to the table with multiple random items, it will give them a chance to pray "what will the child receiving this very box want/need?"

 - The second is to include a personal letter and/or even a picture.  Give that child an opportunity to see that a real person is on this side of the box loving and praying for them.  At the end of the packing line have a empty table available to sit and take time to write out a note or at least a few words!  Or even use this fun sheet to give them a little info about yourself!

5. Pray as a group over the boxes.  There is something about circling around the boxes as a group and inviting Jesus to go before them, to prepare the hearts to receive His message when they receive this small simple gift.

Each year I am blessed more and more to be a part of this ministry.  I would love to answer any questions you may have about packing a shoe box.  Click HERE for more information on our involvement with OCC.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

The Good Father of foster care.

Overnight we became the parents to two sweet girls through foster care.  I would be lying if I said it was everything we were prepared for.  It has been the hardest thing we have done so far, yet I wouldn't trade a minute of it.

On a normal (to us) Thursday we received two separate phone calls that would turn out to be our first two foster placements.  That evening, while eating supper with family, we couldn't help but think about how "normal" and mundane the day/evening was for us, yet our eyes had been opened to the sobering fact that just miles down the road lives were being torn apart and tossed upside down.  In a matter of hours we learned of two separate heartbreaking situations taking place, all while we went along with our everyday lives.  Before the evening was over our household had grown from 2 to 4, when we welcomed a 12 yr old and a 1 yr old into our home.

We are only two months into the "parenting" part of the fostering journey, but one thing, and possible the ONLY thing I know for sure is that God is still always in control.  We have both already shed many tears with and for the young lives in our home, and if it wasn't for the peace and comfort of knowing who holds the future, I honestly don't think I could continue this journey.

Recently the four of us were in the vehicle with KLOVE playing as always.  Chris Tomlin's song "Good Good Father" was on and in that moment when I heard the two little voices in the back seat singing along, I immediately was overwhelmed with emotion.  The depth of that moment, knowing that two young souls, who may possibly have never known a "good father,"  were hearing (and singing) the gospel of the greatest Father we could ever have.

I will never forget that moment.  In the moments when this journey seems impossible to endure, I will forever remember those little voices in the backseat.  My prayer is that they to, wherever their path leads, with always remember He is a Good Good Father.

Friday, August 26, 2016

busy, busy, busy

Wonder where I have been!?

Well the last time we met here I mentioned that we were about to have our final Foster Home walk through...

Then it happened, our phone rang and things forever changed.  We officially began the BUSIEST SUMMER OF OUR LIVES with the addition of two precious kiddos!

The garden fell victim to desertion (and too much rain) shortly after.  So thankful for the abundant harvest early in the year (especially since we grew by two mouths!)  We are still getting okra and peas, but that's about it!

The puppies have grown up! Fast!!!

Brett finished his 3 weeks at church camp and then we squeezed in a week long mission trip, a week at nationals, a week of VBS, a family reunion, watermelon festival fundraiser, 2 camping trips, "back to school" (our first time to experience that on the parental end) and a baby anyday!!!

Bring on fall!!!  & BABY PLEASE!!! (3 days to due date)

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Summer Catch-Up

Well, it has been a typical June around here, maybe even a little crazier!  I don't even have time to make this real long (luck you) so I'll just pass along the highlights of the last month...

*We canNOT keep up with the garden... cucumbers, squash, tomatoes (I do a pretty good job of eating these up), green beans...

*I gained a sister!

*I turned 30! WHAT!? ~ I'll never again be in my 20's ///

*I have spent one week at church camp and Brett is on week 3!

*We have our final walk-thru visit for Foster parenting next week!!! (prayers please)

*We have new puppies!!!
Check out more at

*We found Miss Kitty's babies!

*We have less than 10 weeks before Baby Morris arrives!!!

As you can see summer 2016 came in hot! (I mean that in every sense of the word)  

How has your summer been!?

Monday, May 23, 2016

Earn Cash Back on Travel

It's Summer Time!  Everybody is traveling and heading out on adventures.  Most of these cost, rental cars, flights, etc.

We travel a lot all year round; trips with the youth, mission trips, visiting family, and possibly a vacation every once in awhile.  I have recently discovered that I have been missing out on some serious cash back savings.  

I love to save money and stretch our dollar.  We are signed up for all the hotel and airline rewards.  I am always looking for coupons and special promotions (on everything, not just travel.)

I have been an Ebates user for a couple years, earning cash back on the occasional online shopping that I do!  BUT... I didn't know that the sites that we often book our traveling on were also included in the "stores" offering cashback!!!

If you are not familiar with Ebates, let me tell you how easy it is.

#1 - visit or download the app after signing up.

#2 - look for the "store" in which you want to shop.

#3 - visit that store's website via link from Ebates.

#4 - shop as you normally would on that site.  

By visiting the website you are shopping from Ebates, you are opening a "shopping trip," and once you order the "store" will send the info on to Ebates for you!!!  The Cash back will show up in your ebates account in a couple days.  You can choose how you want to receive the cash back, with choices like being mailed a check or a deposit in your Paypal.

There are thousands of stores offering cashback through Ebates.  Some of the travel options are...

These are just a few of the hundreds!!!  You are booking travel at these sites anyways, why not earn cash back!?!?!

Visit Ebates NOW to start earning cash back on nearly every online purchase you make!!!

Click below to receive $10 just for signing up!!!

* I was NOT paid for this post.  All opinions are my own. I hope you find them helpful in saving money!!!

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Stop Following Your Dreams

It's graduation season!

Aisles are filled with cards that read "Congratulations,"  "You Did It," and "Follow Your Dreams."

and I'm wondering, is this really what we should be telling them!?

not just our graduates, but anybody striving for success in this thing we call life!

If I think back at the "dreams" I had at the end of high school, and the end of college, it is there that I discover is the start of what creeps in as a feeling of failure.

Better yet, maybe what we need to ask is how are we defining failure, and/or success?

Over the course of conversations, I realize that a feeling of "unsuccessful'ness," even if not considered failure, comes from comparing our current situation with the expectations we once had.

This is not an recommendation to throw out all desires, goals, and aspirations...

But maybe we should redefine success...

King David, left his son Solomon with this...

"keep the charge of the LORD your God, walking in his ways and keeping his statutes, his commandments, his rules, and his testimonies, as it is written in the Law of Moses, that you may prosper in all that you do and wherever you turn" - 1 Kings 2:3

Can we agree that "prospering in all you do" sounds like success?  Scripture says to achieve this follow the Lord and His teachings. That's it, no minimum salary, house size or car payment, no maximum number of failed attempts, plans, or re-dos; just following what the Lord has for us, however different that may be than the person next to us.

Solomon later reflected on that life lesson in these words...

“My son, do not forget my teaching, but let your heart keep my commandments, for length of days and years of life and peace they will add to you. Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you; bind them around your neck; write them on the tablet of your heart. So you will find favor and good success in the sight of God and man” - Proverbs 3:1-4

The first step in following God's plan for our lives is accepting His gift of eternal life through His son, only then can true living begin.  A life lived in Jesus is not without trials, but rather with hope.  As our lives are transformed by the spirit of God, we begin to be filled with fruits such as love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control.  It is through the growth of these fruits that we live by the two greatest commandments, 

 "you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these." - Mark 12:30-31

We do not become immune to trouble and hard times, but rather push through them with God's grace, wisdom, and peace.

"For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us" Romans 8:18

When we push and strive for what the world defines as success, we can begin to loose sight of eternity.  I have been in circumstances where following God's plan seemed crazy,  when choosing His path looked like the opposite of success to the world.  Sometimes I walked with Him anyways, other times I took the wide path, only to find out that is was eventually dissatisfying and often heartbreaking.  

"If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul? - Matthew 16: 24-26

We must stop following our dreams, but rather invest all our aspirations and desires in God's perfect plan for us!

Trust in the LORD and do good;
         Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness.

Delight yourself in the LORD;
         And He will give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the LORD,
         Trust also in Him, and He will do it.
He will bring forth your righteousness as the light
         And your judgment as the noonday.
Rest in the LORD and wait patiently for Him
Psalm 37:3-7

Friday, May 6, 2016

This feeling can't be wrong...

So yesterday was a pretty rough day.  I had to say goodbye to my best friend of 10 years, my sweet Dixie... and hold it all together at work.

Then last night, it continued.  After just less than 2 hours of sleep I woke up with a toothache, and remained in the awakened - not resting state - until the alarm went off to come to work.  

Today...did not look to be any better! 12 hours to go, with only a few hours of sleep...

At lunch, I had to go pick up a prescription and when I walked outside I was greeted by the most beautiful day.  It is actually bringing tears to my eyes to think back on how much I needed that warm embrace from the Father.

Shortly after I pulled out of the parking lot, a song came on that I have not heard in awhile...and it was meant just for me...

"And oh there's something 'bout the way
Your sun shines on my face
It's a love so true I can never get enough of You
This feeling can't be wrong I'm about to get my worship on
Take me away
It's a beautiful day,
It's a beautiful day"

He never fails... when my heart starts to sink in the crashing waves, He always grabs my hand and brings me back to His embrace.

He is so good, and so eyes are filled with a different kind of emotion today.  The warmth of His arms wrapped around my heart.  So glad I know who holds my tomorrow when my "today" is falling apart.


Sure will miss this sweet girl.

Song: Jaime Grace -"Beautiful Day" 

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Happy 2 years Brett {& our wedding story! (with pictures)}

April 30th, we have been married for 2 years!!!

I realized I haven't officially shared any details from our "wedding!"  So 2 years later, welcome to our wedding story!

I was on month 4 in Central America when I began to feel like God had something a little different for me planned.  Read that part of the story here!   and here!

So the plan was made, we would get married the day after I returned to the states.  Once the "when" was decided, the how & where, had to be lined out.  My team was traveling through Los Angeles, CA on their way to Asia.  Since that's where I would part from them, Brett decided that he would meet me there.

Some details took some creative thinking, after all, I had been living out of a backpack for 4 months, not exactly the "wedding preparation" we generally think of!  However, I was never picky about wedding details and had always assumed I wouldn't have a very extravagant one (if one at all) anyways!

-My wedding band was taken care of b/c it came as a set when he bought the engagement ring.

-His wedding band I had to get creative, after all I was in Costa Rica with little to no resources.  We visited a artisans market where a "vendor" had some handmade rings made from coconuts.

-I found a dress online that he picked up for me (yes girls, he went and bought my "wedding" dress.)  It was a simple lace summer dress from Maurices.

-Brett reached out to some LA local pastors through our association and lined all that out.

So, Brett had to pack a wedding day bag for him and myself (first lesson in trust right!?) and got on a plane to LA!

After a trip to target for some last minute wardrobe essentials, we headed to Pasadena.  One of the biggest details our families get a kick out of was the bouquet.  We stopped along side the road and picked wildflowers.  There was a landscape crew cleaning up a flowerbed that allowed us to go through their trimmings!  This is an entertaining detail that I will never forget about that day!

Brett has a cousin who lived in the area.  We met them for lunch then headed to a local park to meet the preacher.  His cousin and her husband were our photographers and witnesses!  Do you see how God had all this planned!?

Do you see the clues that I had arrived back in the country less than 24 hours before?...
1.  Terrible manicure (or lack thereof), the hair (enough said).
2.  The drastic difference in "shine" between the band and the engagement ring (which had been collecting central american dirt for over a month)
3.  The peeking watch tan line that had been developing over the last 4 months
4. Brett's band, made from Costa Rican coconut!
5. At least I covered up the tan lines!!!

After we got married we spent about a week driving back to Arkansas.  I had never been across the southwest states before.   We made stops at the Grand Canyon, Painted Desert, Las Vegas, Hoover Dam and other small parks along the way.

A few weeks after we got home, our families held a reception for us.  They did an amazing job and I loved the decorations...

My mom painted an old coffee table with chalkboard paint and all the kids signed it as a guest book!

Our families gave us really nice journaling bible, which our guests signed and highlighted verses for us in!

On of my favorites is this bouquet my mom made.  It included pins, broaches, and other jewelry from all the women in both Brett and I's families.  It was so neat to see how each piece had a meaning. Some of the pieces included was a necklace Brett's grandma had worn to his high school graduation, & a bible locket that I received the first time I attended Sunday School as a young girl.

I loved writing this and remembering all these special details of our beginning!  I couldn't be more excited for what God has in store for us!

Friday, April 29, 2016

Still small voice (& kicks in the bladder)

"behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire the sound of a low whisper. And when Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. And behold, there came a voice to him..." 
1 King 19:11-13

So often we only expect God to be present in big dramatic ways, and I'm afraid this causes us to miss out on so many opportunities to hear that still small voice.  For me anyways, I find myself not seeking Him often enough.  More like just waiting on Him to show up in an earthquake like moment.

The most recent reminder of this came when I was beginning to get anxious/worried/upset when I was nearing 20 weeks and still had not felt the baby move.  When we went for our ultrasound, and we could see little Squishy kicking those feet around, I realized that I HAD been feeling movement for the last couple weeks, I just wasn't aware of what it was.  And in the following weeks in the few moments that I was completely still, I was much more in tune to the movement of those little feet.

I have also been the same way with God, He gently shows me His presence everyday, but unfortunately, all too often it takes a much bigger moment for me to "see" Him move, then I realize He has been right here all along, I just haven't been quiet and still enough to notice Him!

As busy as life is, I believe that it still holds far more quiet moments than it does "obvious" ones.  I pray that I can become much more aware of His voice and grow all the more closer to Him.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Flashback Friday...

Flashback to one of my first posts on this blog

What Inspires Me?

The original post can be found here

What Inspires you?

Monday, April 18, 2016

I shall call him my squishy...

This week we reached the half way point in the wait to meet our little miracle.  We had to go for a level 2 ultrasound due to some health history, however little M looked as healthy as can be. 

However, already taking after daddy, getting pictures was a little difficult.  We are choosing to wait on knowing the gender.  We are praying for a healthy baby above all!!! (but we both think its a boy)

Some think we are just keeping it from everyone else, #1 because I usually call it "he,"  I just can't bring myself to call it "It."

However, I have occasionally called him "Squishy."  The story behind that is that when a friend of mine first found out we were pregnant again following the miscarriage  she would always say "just keep swimming" to the baby when I saw her.

This is the best profile she was able to get!  Like daddy much!?

We you join us is praying for a healthy baby!?

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Life vs Living

Are we allowing life to get in the way of Living?

Our lives are so packed with work, and tasks, and to do lists, and must haves, that I am afraid it is taking the place of truly Living our lives on God's time.  What if instead of fitting our "God tasks" into a schedule already full of "life." we choose to make our schedule on God's time.

I know that the main point of this is not a new lesson, it is one that has been addressed by many before, but maybe its time we all look at it again.  Maybe instead of looking at it all as life, we start discerning the difference in life and truly Living for Christ.

I'm not going to set forth a list of this is just life... and this is how we should be Living... because first, I certainly don't have this all figured out, and most importantly, that "list" would look different for everybody.

I'm not suggesting we all quit our jobs, throw out our calendars, cancel all appointments, and wait on a daily auditory to-do list from the heavens.

But rather, taking time to truly listen to our Father, the one who cares for us, the one who has our absolute best interest in mind...and the hard part... when He is speaking to our hearts, instead of pulling out our calendars to see if/when we have time...MAKE TIME.  Truth after Truth tells us that if He has something for us that interferes with our "lives," it is because He knows we are missing out on Living and He is directing us to a much more fruitful path.

For some of us this is SCARY stuff, He may potentially asking us to change jobs, give up pay, give up our homes, give up material possessions, replace activities we enjoy.  However, no matter how important we think these things are, or how much we think we must do these things, whatever He has planned, will be FAR GREATER THAN WE CAN IMAGINE!!!

Trust His plan, Trust His love, Answer the call, Make the Time to LIVE!!!


What in your life is in the way of you doing something for God?

Friday, March 25, 2016

Solar Sconces

I shared with you some of my spring-time happenings, including some solar sconces I had made to go over a "welcome garden" at the top of our drive way.  I thought I would also share HOW I made those!

Last year my mom gave me some cute little metal candlestick sconces.

At Home Depot I found these solar lights, (the kind you stick in the ground) and they fit into the candlestick hole perfectly.

* I had to cut about half of the "stick" or base off of them, but I didn't take a picture before I chopped them up.

I just stuck the shortened solar light down into the sconce and boom, done!

 Hopefully I get some Purple Hyacinth growing again soon over the "trellis."

I think they ad a little something to our "entry" in the dark when my flowers aren't as visible!

Saturday, March 19, 2016

DIY Glass Etching Gift

My little brother is getting married!!!

Today was the bridal shower and I was excited to dig out my Cricut for another project! 

For me, one of the exciting moments of marriage was seeing my new last name on my things! 

I used my cricut to cut out my letters.  I have a stash of sticky vinyl, but this can be bought at Walmart or any craft store. (If you use it often hit any local vinyl sign businesses and ask for their scraps!) 

Place the vinyl outline down smoothly on your surface and ad masking tape around any edges that are close.
I added tape to the top of the black, but it's not seen above.  

Using a paint brush or cotton swab, apply etching cream following the directions. 

*use gloves if you think you will get it on your skin.

**I have heard many say (including a disclaimer on the bottle) that it may not work on some Pyrex.  Both baking dishes I have etched were Pyrex and it worked both times.  I did leave it on for a few minutes verses just one minute per instructions, I am not sure if this is what made the difference.

Tip: the smoother, more even you can apply the cream the smother your "etch" will look.  

If you look too closely you can see a few blemishes, that part of a handmade gift right!?

No body will care when there is a sweet aroma coming from a baked yummy inside!

Friday, March 18, 2016

Spring fever!!!

It's the first day of spring! I have been hit with spring fever soooo bad!   I know I'm going to be somewhat miserable when the summer heat hits and I have been soaking up every minute outside possible!  
I had some old pallets piled up and made some quick&easy flower boxes...

I also made some solar sconces to go over a "welcoming garden" at the top of our driveway!

We finally got a new frame built for our greenhouse after it was destroyed by a storm last year.  Can't wait to get some seeds started this week.  
We already have a few potted tomatoes that we will keep here close to the house for easy pre-dinner access!

Our temporary strawberry bed is looking so good and I can't wait to see sweet red berries growing!  Next year I plan to have a more permanent bed set up for them.
I'm trying something new, a Pinterest find, and started some potatoes in a tall trash bin.  We will see how this goes the next couple months.  They first sprouted about a month after I started them.  They aren't tall enough to add the next layer of dirt yet.

We have definitely had some spring-teasing weather lately, with some days in the 80's!  The critters around the farmyard have been feeling it and I believe they to are ready for spring!