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Tag Archive: A Peek Into Our Month

A Peek Into August at Our House

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Every month in 2019, I’ll be sharing a photographic peek into the previous month. I thought this would be fun to give you a behind-the-scenes look at our month and recap some of the highs and lows and special memories of the month.

August started out with a fun lunch at The Dotted Lime in Columbia, TN to celebrate my friend Lauren’s birthday. I was so impressed with the restaurant and would highly recommend it — especially if you have food allergies.

This note on their water cracked me up and I had to share it! 🙂

We always take a second trip with my entire extended family (thanks to my dad’s generosity to pay for it!) and we have always gone to Bull Shoals Lake in Arkansas. However, the place we usually stay at had gone out of business and my dad couldn’t find a good alternative at Bull Shoals Lake.

So instead, he found this really unique place on Table Rock Lake called Caboose Junction. It was a place that had 6 caboose + a main house. While the caboose were a little on the rustic side, the area was beautiful and it worked at really well for all of us to stay there!

See what I said about beautiful? We had a private dock and swimming area and the kids couldn’t get enough of the water!

As usual when we’re all together, we divvied up the cooking and clean-up. I shared our large group menu plan.

And of course, we did lots of eating! I think one of our favorite new large group meal ideas was the Baked Potato Bar.

Guess what I finished while on this trip?? The 21-Day Squat Challenge. As I’ve written about, I used to truly detest squats. But this challenge changed my mind and I felt so accomplished to not miss one single day!

These three loved soaking up the sun and every last bit of summer!

One of their favorite things on the trip? Jumping off the high dock! (Jesse and I even did it a few times — evidence is here.)

On the trip, every afternoon, my mom read to the kids and did different activities and then the older girl cousins were in charge of games, crafts, and snacks.

We played lots of different fun games on the trip, including Apples to Apples.

One of the highlights of the trip: Kathrynne became proficient in slaloming (water-skiing on one ski).

Here’s a little look at two of the caboose.

On our way home from the lake, we stopped at Lambert’s.

Silas would just sit and catch rolls all day at Lambert’s if I let him! (I told him I thought he had enough after 4!)

We also stopped by Christian County Discount Freight & Grocery. (I did a full post on our experience there.)

I loved this photo I took on the way home from our trip.

As soon as we got home, it was time to jump back into school for the year. I posted this caption on Instagram with this first day of school photo:

“How are you?” She asked as I opened the door to welcome her into our home.

“Well, I just had an argument with my husband and my day didn’t go at all like I had planned.” I sighed.

(Please note the irony that this was the very same day — Monday — I had posted about communicating well with your spouse. Yup.)

She was there to do our foster care interviews and inspect some things in our home as part of our licensing process.

I had a neat little plan at the beginning of the day as to how everything was going to get done. I pictured greeting her at the door with Jesse, both of us genuinely beaming, maybe with soft music and candles in the background.

Instead, Jesse wasn’t home yet and I was frustrated with him and my neat little plans had gone out the window. (I hadn’t accounted for having a sick child, a doctor’s appointment that went way long, a car that wouldn’t start, and having to change plans at the last minute to try to get people multiple places at the same time with only one car.)

As she inspected the things in our house, I wanted to apologize for the unmade beds, the unwashed dishes, and the items we had to skirt around to get downstairs, but I didn’t.

This is real life. I want her to know who we are.

Yes, I try to have a clean and neat house. Yes, I try to stay on top of the dishes. And yes, I do believe in making beds (well, at least in theory! 😉)

But oftentimes, my best intentions don’t happen — and that’s okay!

By the way, we passed the interviews and inspection, the car got fixed, the child got well, and Jesse and I worked through our differences. See? Like I said, it was okay!

If you’re looking for perfection, you won’t find it at our house. But I hope you do find a family who is sometimes behind and sometimes messy, but who loves Jesus and loves other people — and who are committed to keep showing up for one another and working through their misunderstandings. And who at least occasionally make the bed. 😉

P.S. This photo was taken on the first day of school. Kaitlynn was sick, but she still wanted to be in the picture, so she cane up with the idea to pose with a thermometer in her mouth.🤣

Kaitlynn and I flew to Maine for me to speak at Fab Blog Con.

The food blogger conferences have the BEST gift bags — this one was full of Enjoy Life products!

We got to go and see one of the light houses. I posted this picture on Instagram with this caption:

She came into my room a little while ago and said, “Mom, do you want to come out and eat breakfast with me?”

The last 20 minutes, the two of us just sat at the table together and talked while the rest of the family was still asleep. (We’re both the early risers!)

Recently, my nights have been pretty short because of staying up talking to my night owl child and getting up early talking with my early riser. But I wouldn’t trade any amount of sleep for this. For the opportunity for my kids to share their hearts, tell me what they are thinking and feeling, and *want* to hang out with me.

Two nights ago, I met a father who had just dropped his youngest child off at college. He looked me square in the eye and said, “Cherish every moment. Take advantage of every opportunity to be with your kids.”

It might sound cliche, but it wasn’t. And I want to want take his words to heart.

With me working full-time, extracurricular activities and ministry we’re involved in, plus the kids’ homework load, many days I only get to spend 15-30 minutes one-on-one with each of the kids on week days. But instead of lamenting that or wishing for a different life (because I know clearly that we are right where God has us), I’m learning to look for pockets of time each day and make myself available to them.

That might mean late at night, early in the morning, or inviting them to ride with me when I go run an errand. And then I try to give my all to them during those small windows of time.

We can’t do everything, but we can do something. Let’s stop focusing on trying to do it perfectly and instead focus on just showing up — even if it’s a simple 20-minute impromptu breakfast together.

Kaitlynn took this photo on the plane!

We spent one Sunday afternoon hiking at Evins Mill.

We had the entire waterfall to ourselves.

It was SO beautiful!

I got a GREAT deal on toilet paper — that a bunch of you ended up getting, too!

I loved getting to sit down with Rebekah Lyons and record a podcast episode on The 4 Rhythms You Need in Your Life.

And on the same day, I also got to record a podcast episode with Kristin Maher on Helping Our Kids Overcome Shame.

At Home was running some great deals on rugs and we finally got a rug for our library!

Silas started flag football!

All in all, it was a good month! How was your August? Any highlights?

A Peek Into July at Our House

Every month in 2019, I’ll be sharing a photographic peek into the previous month. I thought this would be fun to give you a behind-the-scenes look at our month and recap some of the highs and lows and special memories of the month.

I promised to tell you all about our trip to Grand Teton and Yellowstone in my June recap.

My dad paid for all of us to fly to Utah for our extended family trip (his Christmas gift to all of us), so we decided that since we were already going to be in Utah and would be so close to Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho, we’d add two days into our trip and go visit Grand Teton National Park, Yellowstone National Park, and spend some time in Idaho and Montana, too.

Many people thought we were crazy to try to fit two National Parks and three states into less than two days… but we ended up having the BEST time!

Jenny Lake (at Teton) was breath-taking!

We didn’t get to the Parks until later in the day, so we avoided all the crowds and had parts of the Parks completely to ourselves!
I took SO many pictures and videos, but I had to narrow it down to some of our favorites to share here.

These photos do not do this scenery justice… I literally felt like it was a glimpse of what heaven might look like.

We’re working on getting better at taking family photos with the timer set. I propped my phone up on the car hood with a book and my makeup bag. It didn’t turn out quite like I envisioned, but hey, the sign and us are all in the photo. 🙂

Yellowstone Lake (I clearly love lakes!) Again, this photo isn’t even close to showing how gorgeous this area was!

This bison and elk were sitting in the same field for at least 30 minutes just minding their own business while dozens of people took photos and videos.

Since we saw our first geyser in Iceland a week before, we really wanted to see more geysers in Yellowstone. We waited an hour to see Old Faithful erupt, but it was so worth it!

Best of all, since it was 9:37 pm, there weren’t many people there watching and it kind of felt like we got our own private showing! (While we were waiting, we got to see another geyser erupt, too!)

We spent the next day in Montana and Idaho! We especially loved West Yellowstone, Montana!

These bear trash cans were a new thing for us. It took us a little while to figure out that’s what they were (trash cans designed so bears couldn’t get into them).

We came home to our bathroom getting renovated.

We hadn’t really thought about the fact that we wouldn’t be able to sleep in our room while they were re-doing our bathroom! 🙂 We ended up sleeping on the couch and on a twin mattress in the bonus room!

We had so much fun picking out paint colors and lighting… and are so happy with what we ended up with!

We went to Home Depot in July. (Hang tight, I’ll tell you about these plants in a minute.)

For now, let’s all pause to let the statement that I went to Home Depot sink in.

Your girl right here who is not handy at all, who has zero desire to ever renovate a home or even use a hammer, spent over an HOUR in the aisles of Home Depot.

Did I mention I have never, ever even so much as nailed something on a wall on any house I’ve lived in?

But since having our master bathroom renovated, I’m doing and learning all sorts of new things.

For instance, I went to the tile store to pick out tile. I realized quickly I was in over my head and the first question I had to ask the associate was, “Um, so we’re kinda new to this. Could you tell me what tile goes on the wall and what goes on the floor??”

So back to Home Depot: We had gone in to pick out lighting fixtures for the bathroom (something I’ve also never done in 37 years — mostly because we’ve been in rentals so much of our marriage) and paint.

Folks, I got so invested in the process that, pretty soon, I began gaining confidence in my renovation expertise and started spouting off things to Jesse like, “Since we have so many straight lines in the bathroom (subway tiles/flooring), we really need to pick fixtures with more dimension to offset things.” (I don’t even know what that means exactly, but he must have thought it was convincing enough because he bought the fixtures I picked out!)

When we got to the checkout lane, I basically felt like I was ready for Joanna Gaines to consider hiring me for her next reno. And that’s when I saw the $5 succulents… it just felt like it was something she would choose, so I bought them (for all I know, she hates these plants!)

And I’m very proud to report I have managed to keep them alive for over a month. A whole MONTH, people!

If you need help with your next reno or your plants, my website and consulting business is coming soon.

Sarcasm aside, are you a plant person? Best advice for keeping my new purchases alive? Also, anyone else out there who has never nailed anything on the wall? Nope, I didn’t think so.

(Yes, see?? They are still alive!!)

In other shocking news, I also did the 21 Days of Squats Challenge in July.

“I despise squats!” This is what I’ve said and believed for a number of years. But inspired by @sarahaleyfit and her #21DaysofSquats challenge, I decided to commit to do what felt like a ridiculous number of squats every day for 21 days.

Was I crazy? Well, maybe a little. 😉 But also, I wanted to challenge myself to do something I really disliked for three weeks to see how my perspective changed on it.

Because I’ve learned that sometimes we tell ourselves something over and over again and we believe it to be true when we really haven’t tested the theory enough.

Yes, I’ve done squats before, but never more than a few times a week and never this many in number. When I did them before, I literally told myself before, during, and after, “I hate squats!”

Guess what happens if you tell yourself negative thoughts like that over and over again? You believe them to be truth — even if you’ve never really given yourself the opportunity to believe anything different.

I’ve been working hard to rid my brain of this stinkin’ thinking and to replace my long-held negative mantras and beliefs.

So I got bold and committed to 21 Days of Squats assuming I was going to actually prove that this whole, “I despise squats” belief wasn’t negative thinking; it was going to be a proven fact.

The first 3 days were grueling and painful. I was sore and felt frustrated that I publicly committed to this challenge.

But I pushed through and by Day 5, I realized it was getting stronger and less frustrated. By Day 8, I was all, “This isn’t too bad!”

I made it to Day 21 and I didn’t miss a day — even when we were traveling and I did the squats in the ironing closet area shown here.

I’m here to tell you I not only survived, I can actually tell a physical difference in my body, AND I’m sort of starting to like squats and I almost wished the challenge were longer than 21 days!!

In July, we also had our first foray into foster care. We got to do respite care for our friends’ 2-year-old foster daughter and y’all it was the most beautiful thing to watch my kids love on this precious little girl.

They had so much fun with her and we laughed so much together over her antics. Watching them feed her, care for her, make food for her, take turns playing with her, talk with her, comfort her, and be silly with her… I saw such a sweet, nurturing side to each of them and it warmed my heart something fierce.

It was such a confirmation to me that stepping out in faith and saying to foster care is what God is calling us to. My friend had told me, “I think your kids will surprise you how much their heart will expand and how giving and sacrificial they will be.” I got a tiny glimpse of that.

We don’t know what the future holds, but I wholeheartedly believe it is going to stretch and grow all of us in really powerful and life-changing ways.

This was shared with permission from her foster family.

We drove to Atlanta to meet up with my sister, her husband, and their four kids.

We had the BEST time at Sweetwater Creek State Park and would highly recommend it!

FUN FACT: When Jesse and I were first married, we listened to every single Kansas City Royals baseball game on the radio together. (We didn’t have money or a TV and only 10 hours of free internet per month, so it was our free entertainment!)

Even though we live in Tennessee now, we’ll always be Royals Baseball fans! 33 years of living in Kansas will do that to you! 😉

Silas’ birthday present months ago was tickets to a Royals/Braves game in Atlanta. We felt a little conspicuous repping the Royals in a sea of thousands of diehard Braves fans, but we had the best time. And the Royals won!!

Saturday, July 27, 2019, was such a dream come true for me!!

34 of my blog coaching group members flew and drove from all over the country to spend a day at our house hanging out, learning together, challenging each other, and setting big goals together for the next 6 months.

Y’all, I knew I loved these people, but getting to meet them in person was an absolute thrill to my soul!!

To see their passion for what they do, to hear their honest struggles, to celebrate their successes, and to witness each of them stand up and share their big goals for the next 6 months… I just couldn’t stop smiling all day!

14+ years ago when I first began blogging, I could have never dreamed that one day I would not only get to be doing it full-time (and have my husband be working alongside me!), but that I’d get to teach and inspire hundreds of other bloggers to do the same… it’s humbling and mind-boggling to me!

If you have a dream, can I challenge you to not let fear hold you back? It’s scary to jump out and take risks… but some of the greatest rewards are on the other side of our comfort zone!

A Peek Into June at Our House

Every month in 2019, I’ll be sharing a photographic peek into the previous month. I thought this would be fun to give you a behind-the-scenes look at our month and recap some of the highs and lows and special memories of the month.

(I know it’s almost the end of July and I’m just now getting June’s recap up. But hey, better late than never, right??)

We loved going to the Tennessee State Museum. It’s not a huge museum, but it’s well done and it’s FREE!

After we visited the museum, we walked around the Bicentennial Capital Mall State Park. It’s so beautiful — and there’s a lot to see!

The day we went also happened to be Tennessee’s 223rd birthday. (If we were more organized people, we would have intentionally planned this! 🤣)

The next day, we went to explore a trail at Percy Warner Park. As you can tell from this staged photo, the kids were so thrilled about it. (In their defense, we had trouble finding a good trail and a parking place and drove around for quite a lot longer than we were planning to while everyone was hungry!)

We ended up having such a good time at the park and I’m so glad that we all persevered, despite being hangry!

He knocked on our bedroom door one morning in June. It was 7:30 am and Jesse and I had slept in.

When we responded to ask what he needed, he said: “I got up at 5:45 am this morning and got my bath taken, my hair fixed, and all my morning chores done. What do want for breakfast? I don’t have anything else to do so I thought I could make you breakfast!”

20 minutes later, he brought us each a plate with scrambled eggs and a side of Ritz crackers on it. (We’d asked for scrambled eggs. The Ritz cracker garnish was his extra touch!)

Mothering is hard work. And many times it can feel thankless and exhausting.

But then you have moments like this and you remember that it is worth it!

Mamas, keep going. Keep loving on your babes. Keep speaking life. Keep teaching and walking with your toddlers. Keep hugging and helping your middle schoolers. Keep leaning in and loving on your teens.
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Don’t give up! And in the middle of it all, look for and cherish those scrambled egg and Ritz cracker moments! ❤️

I flew to Chicago for a two-day event with some of the companies I work with. I didn’t get basically any photos there other than this picture out of my hotel room. But it was a good trip, nonetheless!

FREE Krispy Kreme doughnuts!

She didn’t have a fishing pole, so she got creative! And it actually worked! 😳

It was free Fishing Day in TN one day in June (no license needed), so Jesse took the kids fishing. Only, they didn’t have enough fishing poles so go around.

Kathrynne didn’t let that deter her! She found a stick and rigged up her own “pole” — and ended up catching 4 fish with it!!!

Maybe you’re facing a situation in life where you feel like you don’t have the right tools or experience. Maybe you just want to give up because other people are so much more qualified (and have better fishing poles!)

I encourage you to instead choose to, “Do what you can, with what you’ve got, where you are!”

You won’t catch any fish (or ever have any fruit from your effort or forward momentum) if you give up before you even try!

The Blue Angels were performing at an airshow in a nearby town, so we drove there to see if we could see them! We got there just as the show was starting and got to watch them in a parking lot!

It was pretty incredible!!

In June, I also began working in earnest on my next ebook. I used this tracker to help me stay on course with my daily word count goal. (By the way, the ebook is my best tips on saving money on groceries and it will be coming out very soon!)

We loved getting to host three college girls for a week while they were helping out at a local camp in our area. We invited some extra friends over for dinner some of the evenings for games and fun!

We celebrated Father’s Day by going to a brand-new brunch place that just opened.

My mom was diagnosed with basal cell carcinoma recently — and had to have two surgeries to remove part of her nose and skin by her eye and then have skin grafts.

I was able to fly to Dallas (where she had the surgeries) for her second surgery and got to go in the room soon after she was done.

Of course, what does she say almost as soon as she sees me? “Honey, have you had enough to eat today? Do you need to sit down? You must be so tired!”

And then she’s lying there — not even fully bandaged up — trying to figure out what food she might have in her bag to give me!!

Y’all, this is who my parents are.

My dad insisted on staying up late that night to help me with something when he had to be completely exhausted from my mom’s surgery and driving us the 6-hour trip back from Dallas to Wichita Monday evening.

My mom didn’t really sleep at all the night after her surgery because she was so uncomfortable. So she spent the night praying for, as she said, “people who are in so much worse shape than her”. And then early the next morning, she was on the phone praying for and helping someone who was going through a hard time.

I was supposed to be there helping my mom recover and both my parents couldn’t stop worrying about me — making sure I’m well fed, rested, and comfortable… because that’s who they are. They just serve and serve and give and give.

(Speaking of thinking of others, my mom wanted me to post and remind everyone to go to the dermatologist if you have any abnormal spot or irritation on your skin that isn’t healing. She wishes she had gone to the dermatologist much sooner and she is hopeful that she can help prevent someone else from having to go through all of what she’s having to go through!)

I did get to make my mom yummy salads to eat!

And I got to help with my brother’s eBay business, too! (It’s been a long time since I’ve done eBay! It brought back so many fun memories from when I used to have an eBay store!)

On the way back home, my sweater got sucked into the TSA conveyor belt and it was quite the hilarious ordeal to get it out! (If you listen to the podcast and heard the story, here’s a visual to go along with it!)

Kaitlynn celebrated her 12th birthday in June. She and I went out for rolled ice cream and bubble milk tea.

Here’s a letter I wrote to her for her birthday:

Dear Kaitlynn,

12 years ago this week, you came careening into our lives.

Dad and I were at one of the lowest points of our marriage. He was on the brink of losing his job. I was experiencing severe anemia and low platelet counts and had to be induced early with you because of my poor health.

The first few months of your life were rocky at our house — with me crying and yelling at Dad multiple times per day because he had lost his job and I was scared. With him feeling frustrated and stressed about not being able to find a job and that finances were getting so tight. I was also crazy tired from having a toddler and a baby and was (once again) experiencing postpartum depression.

And yet, in the middle of all of this stress, there you were. Though Dad and I didn’t agree on a lot during that season, we did agree that you were an incredible baby and that we loved you so very much!

You started intentionally rolling over at two weeks old and you’ve never stopped moving and pushing yourself since then.

You have always been a fighter — from the time you were in the womb. You march to the beat of your own drum and I love that about you.

You bring so much creativity, beauty, laughter, and wit to our home. You have the best sarcasm and one-liners. You also have analytical skills and reasoning far beyond your years.

You have the tenderest heart for the “under dogs”. You give the most creative and thoughtful gifts. And you are always teaching me things I didn’t know (like yesterday’s lesson on Boba and Bubble Tea!)

You are brave and fierce, yet tender and honest. And some of my favorite memories from the past year have been our heart to heart conversations together about life.

You are one of the most gifted, passionate, unique individuals I’ve ever met and being your mom is one of the greatest privileges of my life!

Keep being all the God has made you to be — even if you feel like sometimes you don’t fit in because of it. Keep seeking Him and deepening your relationship with Him. He loves you more than you can imagine!

You were born to stand out and be a bright light in a hurting world. Shine on!

Love, Mom

And then we left for Iceland!!

I have SO MUCH I could say about our trip to Iceland. Would you be interested in a separate post about that trip? It takes me hours to put together trip recap posts in detail, but I’d be more than happy to do it if there is enough interest.

If you’re not interested, no worries! I just thought I’d see if enough people were interested before I decided whether I’d put the time into writing the post or not! 🙂

After Iceland, we came home for about 36 hours and then we left again for Utah to meet up with all of my extended family for one of our yearly trips together.

I shared a little peek into how we organize all of the food for the trip here.

We went on this trip with all 27 other members of my extended family (my parents + 3 brothers & 3 sisters & all their spouses and kids! This trip was my Dad’s Christmas gift to us all.

It was full of laughter, teasing, long talks, lots of cooking (and cleaning up!), swimming, hiking, ping-pong, pool, singing together, reading God’s Word, catching mice (hey, we’d rather have to deal with mice than cockroaches or snakes, right?), shopping at Smith’s for the first time (it’s just like Kroger and I found some great markdowns!), volleyball, swinging on the huge tire swing, and just taking in the breath-taking views here.

We made so many fun and special memories! And then we headed off on July 1 to visit Wyoming (yes, we visited both Grand Teton, Yellowstone!), Montana, and Idaho! I’ll tell you more about our time visiting those states in my July recap!

A Peek Into May at Our House

Every month in 2019, I’ll be sharing a photographic peek into the previous month. I thought this would be fun to give you a behind-the-scenes look at our month and recap some of the highs and lows and special memories of the month.

It was Spirit Week at Kaitlynn and Silas’ school and they had so much fun planning their outfits. This was crazy sock day and Silas wore peanut butter and jelly socks while Kaitlynn wore movie popcorn and Sprite socks.

You can see some pictures and a video of their Prehistoric costumes here.

Silas made a tornado simulator (just like Kathrynne’s) for his Science Fair project. He worked so hard on it and did the lion’s share of the work himself.

He just needed our help with putting the simulator together and doing some of the research for his report and board (since he’d never done a school project quite at this level before).

Kathrynne and I flew to Utah for me to speak at the Everything Food conference. I love it when it works out for me to take one of my kids with me!

I loved getting to speak on one of my very favorite topics — increasing your engagement with Instagram. After taking almost two years off from doing any conference speaking, I said yes to some opportunities again this year to see how it would feel to be back on the road.

We created some very clear boundaries of what I would say yes to in order that I wouldn’t completely exhaust myself (like I did unintentionally back when I was traveling and speaking a lot more!) and y’all, I just LOVED being back on the road getting to speak again. And I came home fired up and excited for the next speaking event — yay!

I’m excited and hopeful that I’ll continue to find it life-giving because I so love getting to meet you all in person. It’s one of my very favorite things! (Psst! If you’ve asked me to speak at your event in the past few years and I’ve said no, go ahead and ask again because I just might say yes now that I’m in a better place with more capacity and better personal boundaries!)

She’s 14 and she loves hanging out with me.

I don’t say this to gloat, because just between you and me, I’ve made a ridiculous amount of mistakes as a mom.

I say this to push against the commonly touted belief that the teenage years are awful and hard and miserable. That you just grimace and hold on and try to make it through.

Honestly, yes, there are challenges. Yes, it’s like learning a completely new dance…

It’s letting go and seeing your child no longer need you like they once did.

It’s giving your teen space to learn and process and make mistakes.

It’s listening a lot more and instructing a lot less.

It’s realizing she is growing wings and, much as I want to, clipping her wings to selfishly keep her close to me will only hurt us both in the long run.

It’s a new dance and some days I misstep. But I’m loving it and so grateful for these beautiful years.

Mamas of littles, don’t dread the teen years. I’m here to tell you that, so far, they’ve been pretty amazing!

After we got back home from Utah (which was absolutely breath-taking, by the way!), I took Kathrynne and a group of her friends to see the new Avengers movie.

We went to TopGolf for Silas’ birthday.

10 years ago, I gave birth to this high energy, insanely extroverted BOY!

He brings so much life to our home and he is friends with pretty much everyone he meets. (Oftentimes, we’re out somewhere and he’ll holler out to someone he sees that he kind of knows from somewhere. I’ll be all, “Who is that?” And he’ll respond with something like, “Oh, I met him once at the park two years ago.”)

But despite his incredibly outgoing personality, I love that he is still very much a Mama’s boy.

In fact, one Sunday recently, he was telling me about how one of the men on stage has grown kids in multiple countries (he had read his bio in the church program.) I said, “Maybe that will be you all someday.” He gave me a shocked look and was like, “Never, Mom! I have to live close to you!”

He has decided he and his wife will live on our street so he can come spend time with me every day.

I love this boy so much! Being his mom has been one of the greatest privileges of my life.

TopGolf rolled out the red carpet for his birthday — including banners, a birthday card, a shark dressed up, and free Injectable Donut Holes.

One of the highlights of May was getting to interview our pastor on the podcast. Have you listened to his episode yet? It was one of the highest-downloaded episodes yet.

Kathrynne had her 8th grade banquet at school in May. It was such a special time of the teachers speaking words of blessing over each of the students and commissioning them as they move up to high school.

I posted this on Instagram:

She doesn’t like me to talk about her or share her pictures much online. And I 100% respect that.

But y’all, I wish you could meet this girl. (Warning: Sappy proud mom post forthcoming…)

She’s wise beyond her years. She has the most caring heart for others. And I so often look at her and think, “How did I get to be your mom?”

I have watched her step outside her comfort zone and step out in bravery in big ways this year. I’ve seen her wrestle with her faith and wrestle through difficult relationships.

She’s made mistakes and she’s owned them and asked forgiveness. She’s come alongside kids that are being made fun of and stood up for them. She’s befriended those who are struggling. And she’s worked really hard in school, too.

I know that people say it makes them sad to see their kids growing up. On the one hand, yes, I’m sad knowing that she’s going to be in HIGH SCHOOL in the fall (how did that happen??). On the other hand, I just love stepping back watching her grow up and grow into all that God has called her to be.
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We love you, Kathrynne, and we’re so proud of you and grateful to be your parents. ❤️

P.S. I took this picture at her 8th grade banquet. When I looked at it afterwards on my phone, it literally took my breath away! I know she’s growing up, but I sometimes don’t realize just how quickly she is until I see a picture like this!

And the same day, Kaitlynn had her 7th grade formal. I loved getting to do her hair for it.

She’d been planning for months what she was going to wear and how she was going to fix her hair. I just love how much she loves beauty.

Cute Summer Tops

Her favorite part of her outfit was her shoes. She ordered multiple different pairs from Amazon to try out (with free returns!) before she landed on these. She’s so different than me in so many ways (hello, I’m all about comfortable shoes!), but I love the life and creativity she brings into our home.

I loved getting to have one of my childhood friends and her family come over for dinner on their roadtrip in Tennessee.

Kathrynne won a special math award for her class at the end of year awards ceremony.

We kicked off our #100DaysofSummerFun challenge! Want to join us? Here are the details:

As our kids get older, we cherish our time together all together as a family more and more. With this in mind, our family committed to be intentional to do something fun all together as a family every day for the next 100 days.

I’ll be documenting it here on Instagram stories as a way to stay accountable — and maybe to inspire your family to prioritize family fun, too.

It doesn’t have to be something expensive or complicated. You know I’m all about keeping it simple! For instance, it could be something like taking a family walk or having a family basketball game.

Want to join us? Here’s to a fun summer filled with memories!

“What is the most important thing to remember?” I asked him on the drive to his last playoff flag football game.

“No matter what happens. No matter if the other team creams you. No matter if they have amazing plays & they block & intercept everything you throw. No matter if you miss every rushing opportunity. No matter if everyone is frustrated with you. No matter what, you get to choose how you respond.”

We talked about how to respond with graciousness in the face of defeat. We talked about how the most important thing was to represent Jesus in everything you do.
Then we prayed together & my little quarterback & rusher went out to lead his team in the biggest game of his life so far.

They were playing against the undefeated team. This team was good, really good. I knew that the game would likely be brutal.

But Silas went out and led his team with a quiet confidence and grace — and they WON!!! Then they went on to win the championship game, too!!!

Here’s the thing: Sure I was the insanely proud mama hollering & yelling for my boy on the sidelines. But this wasn’t about the scoreboard so much as it was about the character that my boy displayed.

For an entire year, my prayer for him has been that he would have a gracious, humble spirit. That he would learn to submit to leadership. That he would use his incredibly strong personality for good. That he would rather be kind than right.

He’s struggled a lot with this. There have been a lot of conversations, prayers, & lost privileges.
But the past few months, I have seen so many answers to those prayers on the football field…when a call has been made that he didn’t agree with, when his coaches asked him to do things he didn’t want to do, & when his team lost.

He’s had opportunity after opportunity to be kind rather than right, to be gracious even when he wanted to be angry.

It might have just seemed like two Flag Football games on Tuesday night with 9 & 10 years olds. And yet, for me, it was about so much more than that.

Mamas, keep praying for your strong kids. Keep having the hard conversations. Speak life. Believe that God can use their strength and stubbornness for good. Don’t give up!

Some days, parenting is amazing. Other days, it’s just plain hard.

One night in May, I had come up with the idea for us to take a picnic dinner to Fort Negley for our #100daysofsummerfun activity for the day.

Instead of excitement over my idea, the response was more like if I had announced that we were going to go spend 3 hours cleaning toilets.

There were bad attitudes and rolled eyes and whining and fighting all the way there. When we got there, there was more complaining, “This looks so boring!” “Why are we doing this?”

Then, as soon as we started down the trail, two children had a big fight and we had to separate them for 30 minutes so they could cool down.

Inside, I was irritated and thinking, “Why are we even bothering to try to do fun stuff together?? Let’s just go home!”

But then I heard that phrase that has become my mantra for parenting, “Lean in and love.”

I walked with one child and said to them, “I know you’re really upset. I’m sorry.”

This opened the door for them to share their heart with me. Frustrations they were feeling over their sibling. Frustrations they were feeling over situations in life. And I just listened.

When they were finished, I said: “You know, I’ve felt like that a lot, too.”

This child looked at me with surprise: “You have?? You don’t ever seem like you are frustrated like this.”

We ended up having a really beautiful heart-to-heart talk together on the trail where I shared some similar feelings I’ve felt recently and I was able to not give answers or solutions, but to just show empathy — which was what they needed.

By the time we headed for the car, everyone was laughing and joking and in much better spirits.

It wasn’t the family evening I envisioned and I don’t think the kids will be begging to go back any time soon! 😉 But I’m so glad we didn’t turn around and leave when we got there (like I seriously considered doing!)

Maybe today you’ll find yourself in a similar situation — whether it’s deal with defiant toddlers, difficult teens, frustrating co-workers, or just dealing with someone with a bad attitude. Choose to press in, press through, and lean in and love. ❤️

Silas and Kaitlynn both made the honor roll! They’ve worked really, really hard for this and we were super proud of them!

We loved getting to have a big group of friends over on Memorial Day weekend for a cookout!

I just loving opening our home (or our backyard, as was the case this time!) to friends — new and old!

We took a fairly impromptu road trip at the end of May to hit three states we hadn’t all visited yet: Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Iowa.

A little family football game at a rest stop!

We went to IKEA for the first time ever… and I’m sorry to say that I was underwhelmed.

Minnehaha Falls was incredible!

We had such a great time on our trip and I have so much more I want to share about it that I plan to do individual posts on the things we did in Madison, WI and Minneapolis, MN. (Sadly, it was raining the entire time we were in Iowa so we didn’t get to do much while we were there.)

Look for those posts coming soon — hopefully next week!

A Peek Into April at Our House

Every month in 2019, I’ll be sharing a photographic peek into the previous month. I thought this would be fun to give you a behind-the-scenes look at our month and recap some of the highs and lows and special memories of the month.

April started out with getting to have Audrey & Jeremy Roloff to our house to be on the podcast.

Then, I left on a school bus with a bunch of 7th and 8th graders to help with our church’s Middle School Camp.

I’m not part of student ministry at our church but my good friend Lauren (who is a leader in student ministry at our church) was telling me they were short on leaders who were available to go to the 7th-8th grade camp.

Well, I got one of my crazy enneagram 7wing ideas and said, “I’d be happy to go if they could use my help!”

It was the BEST weekend. And that’s kinda crazy for this introvert/Highly Sensitive Person (HSP) to say seeing as I stayed in a cabin with 20 girls/leaders!

In fact, I kept thinking all weekend, “Maybe I should do student ministry!!” But then I remembered that this is my season to be in women’s ministry and my plate is a little full right now between that and being a wife and mom and working full-time! 😉

But folks, I just LOVE middle schoolers! And I especially loved getting to hang out with my favorite middle schooler who was there (Kaitlynn).

We went deep and talked about what it means to live wholeheartedly. We worshipped together. And there were tears and lots of raw honesty and heartfelt conversations and prayer about very real and painful struggles.

There was also plenty of fun. Zip-lining (my happy place), trying to flip on the giant swing (I didn’t succeed!), cereal parties, awful and hilarious karaoke, dance parties, and so much laughter.

{Kaitlynn’s notes from one of the messages at camp.}

Oh and two hours to Kentucky and back with 34 very sugared-up middle schoolers that involved wasps on the bus, Gummi Bear throwing, singing, and heavy rain the leaked through the bus roof for at least an hour!

There wasn’t a dull moment and I’m so grateful for all of it — and to the amazing leaders who invest so much into these kids’ lives. I have a whole new level of respect for them!
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Also, I loved getting to serve alongside Lauren. She’s such a good friend and a gift in my life and getting to serve with your friends is one of the best ways to deepen your relationships. Zip-lining together doesn’t hurt, either (see last photo). ❤️

We also ate so many Homemade Energy Bites. I lost track of how many batches we made this past month!

My friend, Katherine, invited me to go with her to see John Crist at the Ryman. And then she totally surprised me when we got there by saying she had bought as front row seats! It was pretty cool to be up that close!

I am so grateful for the kind, gracious, and giving people God has put into my life like Katherine. She is always encouraging me and I love it when we get to hang out.

She came to me on Sunday morning in April and asked if we could both wear our matching “fancy” dresses and high heels to church (thank you, Amazon!)

I honestly was planning to wear a super casual outfit to church and there was part of me that wanted to come up with an excuse or reason to say no to the extra work it would require to get “gussied up”.

Plus, people don’t really dress up much at our church and I knew my shoes and dress would likely make me stand out.

But then it hit me: My 11-year-old daughter wants to *match* with me. This is a GIFT. Who cares if I stand out? Who cares if people wonder if I accidentally got my dates wrong and thought it was Easter?

Yes, it meant taking a little extra time but the smile on her face and the excitement when she saw me all dressed up was SO worth it!

Then, as we were walking into church, she reached for my hand to hold it. And I could see how crazy proud and happy she was to be matching her mom.

These days are fleeting. These moments are priceless. And this little choice I made to “say yes to the dress”, was 100% worth it.

April also included a LOT of flag football! Silas was chosen to be the quarterback and the rusher this season, so he had a lot of responsibility on his shoulders and he handled it so well. (Though I admit it’s stressful to be on the sidelines as mom!)

We finished out 9 months of the Discipleship Program by me leading a session on remembering, rejoicing, and re-telling what God has done.

We studied Joshua 24 and the stones of remembrance and then we all made our own stone.

Here was my stone — with the word Enough on it. A reminder to me that God is enough for me and that I am enough in Him, something that He has taught me over and over again this past year.

Jesse’s grandma, whom we all affectionately refer to as “Oma” had a health scare in April and had to be hospitalized and then have bypass surgery. Jesse got to go to Wichita to be with his family the week of the surgery and I was so grateful he was able to go. We got to see her the following week when we went down to Easter. She’s such a fighter and was already back home and determined to make a full recovery and be better than she was before!

I’ll admit, I kind of felt badly when I saw all of the cute dresses, adorable matching outfits, and beautiful family photos in my feed for Easter.

We didn’t even get a family photo for Easter because we spent most of the day traveling back from our whirlwind weekend trip to Kansas.

As I was kind of feeling sad that I was maybe the one of the only people on the internet to not have an Easter family photo to share, I realized that it’s okay to march to the beat of a different drum.

I can appreciate and celebrate the cute kids and big smiles and pretty dresses and adorable coordinating outfits. I can celebrate my friends and online friends who are posting these.

But that doesn’t mean I’m less of a mom if I don’t have photographic proof of the Easter we had.

As the saying goes, “Her success is not my failure.”

Instead of a coordinating matching Easter outfits photo, I did get this photo the day before Easter — which makes me so happy because there were so many laughs involved in our quick stop to treat the kids to lunch at one of our favorite fast food restaurants in Kansas: Spangles!

Note: I made the mistake of saying on Instagram stories that I like Spangles better than Chick-fil-A. Let’s just say, the internet did not like that. At all! But hey, what was that I said about marching to the beat of a different drum?

Silas spent quite a bit of time in April working on his science fair project — which was a remake of Kathrynne’s: a tornado simulator.

Jesse and I went and looked at tile for our bathroom since we’re getting ready to remodel it. We had no idea what we were doing and I had to ask the lady, “Could you tell us what goes on the walls and what goes on the floors?”

We spent the last few days of April on a trip to Destin, FL. It was our first time to go and it every bit lived up to the hype people have given it!

I am so grateful for the gift of these friendships. And if there’s one thing I can encourage you to invest in and prioritize, it’s life-giving relationships.

People who believe in you, but who will also call you out when you need some hard truth.

People who will celebrate your success, but who ultimately love you for you — not how many followers you have or how much money you make.

People who will laugh with you and cry with you.

People who have seen you at your worst and still love you.

People who see the best in you and who bring it out of you.

People who give you the freedom to be 100% uniquely you, with all your quirks and baggage AND gifts and talents.

People who don’t make you feel like you need to be more or be less.

And when you find these people, prioritize the relationships, even when you are tired or stressed or have a lot on your plate. It’s so worth it!

Don’t have these kinds of relationships? My best advice is to start reaching out and being that kind of friend to someone else. ❤️

Yes, I’m in the above beach picture. Can you spot me in my accidental bearded disguise?? 😉

I cannot stop laughing at this photo from our beach trip.

We were trying to do one of those cute “everyone jump at the same time and look all happy and graceful and excited to be at the beach” photos.

Only, when I jumped up and excitedly flung my hands into the air, I smacked Jesse in the head really hard and then hollered out in shock from the pain in my arm and the concern that I had hurt him.

He was fine. I was fine. But we forever have this perfectly timed photo to remember the moment by.

Also, notice how completely opposite we are compared to our friends… who, as someone messaged me earlier, look like they are professional “photo jumpers.”

There’s a little peek into our April. How was YOUR April?

A Peek Into March at Our House

Every month in 2019, I’ll be sharing a photographic peek into the previous month. I thought this would be fun to give you a behind-the-scenes look at our month and recap some of the highs and lows and special memories of the month.

Note: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links and we will be compensated if you click through and sign up. Read our disclosure policy here.

One of the highlights of March was getting to help lead the Discipleship Retreat for the women at our church who are currently going through the Discipleship Program.

This is my third year to be a part of of this Discipleship Retreat. And it’s such a special time where a lot of life change and heart stuff happens. 

During the retreat, all of the lessons and things we’ve been processing over the months prior in the Discipleship Program culminate and it’s very profound.

This photo is one I will treasure forever.

Kaitlynn had her Speech Meet Finals at school. It’s one of the biggest events of the school year and she’d been practicing for weeks.

She’s highly competitive and a perfectionist and she had practiced and practiced and practiced in hopes of presenting her poem 100% flawlessly.

She’s typically incredibly poised on stage, has recited her poem perfectly dozens of times, and she doesn’t usually get nervous in front of crowds (she actually is one of those people who does BETTER when in front of a crowd!)

But at the Speech Meet, she walked up to the microphone and completely blanked. She couldn’t remember the author of her poem at all. And she had to ask for a prompt from the judge.

She recovered and recited her poem flawlessly (which I was shocked by since I likely would have been a nervous wreck!)… but as soon as she walked off the stage, the tears started welling up.

After all the finalists presented, they had a short break so the judges could tally scores. And I took one look at Kaitlynn and knew she was devastated and embarrassed. None of the other finalists had asked for a word prompt or had blanked like her and I knew how hard she had worked to recite her piece perfectly.

I held her and she sobbed in my arms. I told her that I loved her, that I was so proud of her, and that I could truly care less what place she got; I was just so impressed with her standing up there and confidently reciting her poem after such a rocky start.

Kathrynne came over and put her arms around her and spoke words of life to her. And then they sat together like this photo shows the entire break. (I snuck back and took a picture without them knowing!)

Y’all. THIS. This scene of seeing my two girls holding each other while they waited for the results… watching Kathrynne speak such encouragement to her sister…. seeing Kaitlynn soak up her older’s sister’s love… it melted my heart.

And it was such an example to me of how to love someone well who is struggling. It doesn’t mean we fix the issues or change the outcome, but we let them know that, no matter what, we are WITH them.

Some times, it’s hard to be a full-time working mom. You want to be there for all of your kids’ events and field trips and activities, but you just can’t — because there are meetings or commitments or important things you can’t miss.

Even though I’m self employed and am blessed to have more flexibility than most working moms, because of the season I’m in with work, I haven’t been able to go on any field trips with Silas or Kaitlynn this year.

I’ve struggled to not feel sadness and guilt over this. I want to always be there for everything that involves my kids.

But I’ve realized that I can choose to feel guilt and sadness or I can instead choose to be grateful for the times I do get to be with my kids and make the most of every opportunity I do get — and also be grateful that Jesse gets to be a lot more involved in the kids’ lives and activities because I work full-time.

One day in March, Silas came to me and asked, “Can you go on my field trip with me to the Parthenon in Nashville?”

While I was supposed to have a really full work day that day, I was able to move a number of things around and work extra hours yesterday to make it happen.

And we had the BEST time!! I loved getting to watch Silas passionately interact with his classmates about the things they’ve been studying about Greek mythology this past year. And I loved getting to watch his teacher instill such passion for learning in her students.

When Silas came home from school today, he hugged me tight and said, “Thank you so much for going with me on the field trip!”

I might not get to go on another field trip this year, but I’m so grateful for today. It was a gift and a special memory for Silas and me.

Also, a shout-out to all you mamas — whether you work full-time, part-time, or stay home. None of us are doing it perfectly, but we’re all doing the best we can! ❤️

“Dollar Tree is my happy place!” Kaitlynn enthusiastically proclaimed as we pulled into the parking lot one day in March.

We had just been perusing the aisles at Big Lots and she and I both kept looking at each other and saying, “This would be so much less expensive at Dollar Tree.”

Folks, I always say my greatest hope for my kids is that they love Jesus, love others, and love learning.

But hey, if they have a really strong affinity for Dollar Tree and Dave Ramsey and paying with cash, I’m not gonna lie: it will make my heart extra happy!

Note: See my 25 Favorite Things to Buy at Dollar Tree.

Silas had a friend over one day in March when they had the day off school and I loved watching him exercise hospitality. He planned the food they would eat and prepped it himself for he and his friend. And I just sat back and watched!

I posted this on my Instagram account and wanted to share it with you here:

Lean in close, sister. I want to say something to you: You matter. You have worth. You have significance beyond what you can even imagine.

And despite what someone may have told you, despite how someone may have made you feel, despite what has been done to you or said about you… YOU ARE VALUABLE.

Your worth is not dependent upon your work or your title or how much money you make or the number on the scale or the size of your jeans… YOU ARE VALUABLE just the way you are.

You are loved. You are seen. You are valuable. And even if no one else treats you like they believe it, even if you don’t believe it, I want you to know that I DO. It’s one of the reasons I spend so much of my work hours personally responding to comments and messages and emails.

Because I love you, I see you, I believe in you. And I just felt like you needed to hear that today.

Some days, I’m so on top of things. Other days, I realize that I have a podcast interview in exactly four minutes… while I’m in the shower washing my hair. So I throw on some clothes, put my sopping wet hair up in a towel, and run down to my office to do the interview.

Gratefully, it was only an audio interview! Oh and the interview was for a podcast that had asked me to come on and talk about living an intentional life.

I had such a fun weekend trip to NYC with my sisters! We used points for our flights and hotel, and then made it our goal to spend as little as we could while we were there.

Instead of expensive restaurant meals, we opted for bringing our own snacks and food for lunch, staying at a hotel that offered free breakfast and free tea and coffee all day, refilling our water bottles at the hotel (most hotels offer free filtered water at their fitness centers), and finding places where we could get dinner for less than $10 (Pret a Manger is one of my faves for healthy food on a budget.)

We rode the subway, walked for miles to see all the free sites, and rode the free Staten Island Ferry (such amazing views!).

Our big splurge was a Broadway show!

We researched different options for getting the best deal and ended up finding a good deal from TodayTix.com. In my research, I discovered so many other amazing options for saving big on Broadway tickets, including Rush tickets, student Rush tickets, ticket lotteries (where you can win tickets for as low as $10 per person per show!!), and more.

(Read my followup post on How to Get Cheap Broadway Tickets.)

It was such a fun and memorable weekend and I’m so grateful to have sisters who are adventuresome and don’t think I’m crazy for always looking for creative ways to spend the least amount of money.

Aunt Lisa made Silas this adorable dinosaur and he sleeps with it every night. I feel like he is rarely a “little kid” anymore (he turns 10 in May), so it’s fun to see him still enjoy things like stuffed animals — especially really special ones that were handmade for him!

I’m doing the Get Your Pretty On Spring Style Challenge this month and having so much fun with it!

By the way, I’m wearing this tee again today! I love that it’s longer, so it’s great to wear with leggings (what I’m wearing today). Or, you can tie it for a more fitted look. (I’m wearing a size small above.)

Silas started Flag Football in March and has been having a lot of fun with it — especially because he’s gotten to play the quarterback position multiple times!