Oh hey, I’m back.

Hey guys! Been a while. Sorry about that. I’ve been busy learning to be a mom of 3, learning to parent an adoptee, and soaking up holiday fun with my family! But here I am. Back at it. So let me give you the cheat sheet version of how life is now that Mav is home with us.


Custody went very smoothly for us. It was honestly such a huge relief that he didn’t react with a lot of tears or anger towards us. We never want to discourage grieving, but we also don’t want to see him in pain either. I really attribute how well it went to how amazing his foster parents are. They did such a great job preparing him for what was to come to the best of their ability. It was an interesting day of emotions for sure. We were elated to finally be seeing him come home to us, but at the same time we were so sad for his foster parents and for him in that they were all having to say their goodbyes. We are so blessed that we have maintained contact with them and that they are able to see how well he is doing. The rest of the time in Korea went pretty smoothly. He’s an excellent sleeper and while in country he also ate very well. We flew home a few days later and by a pure miracle from heaven, we had ZERO tears on any of our 3 flights that totaled 15 hours in the air! Praise God.

Month 1:

Here’s where the real fun started! Let me be very clear: I love my child. But let me also be clear in this: adoption is HARD. The first week home we were in straight up survival mode. He was on hunger strike and when he did eat, he only wanted rice or plain Cheerios. We also had to figure out sleep and jet lag. AND we had 2 kiddos who were so excited for a brother and yet he had no clue how to even be a sibling. It was hard. And there were many days where I questioned if we made the right choice. Slowly but surely, he began opening up to different foods which was incredibly encouraging. He also transitioned to our time zone within a week which was a huge blessing, because we needed sleep to handle the other stuff. Month 1 was just a blur and if I’m honest, I’m glad we’re past it.

Month 2:

Month 2 began to bring some new normalcy. Although he’s a 2 year old and definitely likes to push boundaries, he began to understand a lot of the English commands we were giving which was incredibly helpful. He also began going to the gym for childcare and to his class at church. He really enjoys that social time and we really like having some routine and little breaks for “me” time. I believe that is sooo important while transitioning a child home. You need time to breathe and regroup. In this month, we also began to see a lot more affection and trust with his siblings and our puppy. These were both very good signs! He is definitely a boy who thrives off of routine, boundaries, and familiarity. We try to give this to him as much as we possibly can.

Month 3:

I call month 3 The Rain. It’s not storming anymore. I don’t feel I’m in the midst of a tornado. But we’re not quite in sunshine yet either. It’s drizzling. Our bond with Mav is very strong at this point. He trusts us, he knows we are his safe place, he loves and cares for his siblings. We went to Disney and he did very well the whole time. He did great during Christmas time, despite a complete lack of routine. At this point, our biggest challenges really are speech and some mild aggression. We’ve contacted Early Intervention services in our state and are getting him enrolled in that for his speech which I think will help dramatically. At this point, he has 1-2 English words that he uses randomly. We had hoped for more, but we feel this might be how his grieving is manifesting itself the most. Some days it can be very taxing, but we are trying to remain patient and understanding with him. The aggression we feel to be somewhat speech related (hitting when he wants a toy because he can’t say what he’s wanting) and also 2 year old boy related as well. He is rough and tough for sure and we’re trying our best to harness that in positive outlets for him. For the most part we have seen the aggression decrease a lot as we know his triggers and behaviors to look for. I feel that as he begins to learn communication that we will see this problem resolve itself completely. He truly is a sweet little nugget. He is very affectionate with us giving hugs and kisses. He loves to be anywhere Momma is and I affectionately refer to him as my “little shadow”. He loves to dance and clap. Any time his siblings do something, he tries his best to copy. The things he learns daily are just amazing.

All in all, our 3 months home have been some of the hardest, but happiest times of our lives. The lows have been low, but the triumphs feel SO good too. We are falling more in love with him each day. Every hard moment is worth it. Every tear is worth it. Because that’s my son. That’s my baby boy. I would move heaven and earth for him in a heartbeat. I can’t wait to see what the next 3 months brings us. ❤️❤️❤️

Trip 1 is done!

I can’t believe it, but we are home from our first trip to Korea! It was a whirlwind experience filled with tons of sightseeing, yummy foods, cultural experiences, and most importantly, meeting our Maverick 💙

Wanted to sum up our trip for everyone who has been asking for details and touch briefly on what happens now!

• Day 1- we arrived at Incheon airport, got our money exchanged, got our WiFi hot spot rented (for those reading who are doing your first trip soon-HIGHLY recommend doing this. It was $35 for the whole week and with it I could iMessage anywhere), and met our van driver and we were off! We got to our hotel at about 6am, dropped our bags off, and were told we could check in around 1pm so we got our comfy clothes on and set off to explore. The subway system in Seoul is so user friendly and most people use it, so we got ourselves subway cards and headed to my top priority place to see- HOLT! I knew no one would be there on a Sunday, but just seeing it in person I got tears in my eyes. It had been a long time coming. We then had coffee and breakfast (y’all, there are coffee places EVERYWHERE! My dream!) and randomly met up with some friends who are also adopting. We spent the rest of the day doing ALL THE WALKING. We wanted to see everything we possibly could. We walked across one of the huge bridges and got some beautiful skyline photos for Maverick’s lifebook, went to a market in Insadong, and just took in all the sights. We got back to our hotel at 3 and by 4, we were so tired that our “nap” turned into an all night sleep 🤣

• Day 2- this day we started with coffee, then headed to the Gwangjang Market for some souvenir shopping and to meet up with a friend for lunch. This market houses 5000 small shops within an area about as large as a neighborhood market Walmart. Just people and things EVERYWHERE! We got some fun souvenirs, tried lots of different snacks and foods, and enjoyed lunch. We explored the Itaewon area that night and had yummy dessert together.

• Day 3- THE DAY! We met our baby boy this day! We seriously both woke up at about 4 that morning. Half because we were still majorly jet lagged, half because we were soooo excited to finally see our boy! After a little coffee and breakfast, we headed to Holt. My heart sank a little as each child walked in and it wasn’t our little guy, but finally, the very last one in the door was Maverick! As soon as he came in he was off! He ran that room so many times, we got ourselves a great workout. The only time he stopped was for Teddy Grahams and when we forced him to take a picture for the court. I had read that when some meet their kiddos that they don’t click right away, and the feeling of instant love just isn’t there. Much like with some parents after their child is born. The bond develops over time. I was so grateful, however, that this was not the case for either of us. We both fell head over heels for him very quickly! After an hour and a half meeting, we had to say our see you laters. This day it was a bit easier because we knew we still had one meeting left. We went back to the hotel to rest and unload the HUGE bag of toys/gifts from the foster parents and spent the rest of the night exploring Gangnam and got to walk around a beautiful Buddhist temple.

Day 4- Sightseeing. We saw a lot of amazing things this day. We went to the Gyeongbokgung Palace and got to explore all over it with our tour guide. We really appreciated getting to take in such amazing pieces of our child’s history and learning more about his culture. One thing that’s incredibly important to us both is making sure that we keep his culture as a part of his life as he grows. We’re not adopting him to try and make him just like us. Yes he’ll be a part of our family and in every way possible he will be just like one of our biological kids, but we also don’t want to ignore what makes him unique and special either. The fact that Holt International puts emphasis on this and schedules tours for their adoptive parents I think says a lot about them as an organization. Our tour guide also took us to a local market and we got to try lots of different traditional Korean foods as well. We ended that night in Itaewon with some friends who were also there for adoption and we all had dinner together at an amazing Korean BBQ restaurant.

Day 5- Our “See You Later” Day. We again woke up pretty early this day with tons of excitement and expectation. Having our first meeting under our belts, we kind of knew what to expect out of it and also knew what he really preferred and how he plays so we had more confidence this day. Unlike the first day, Maverick was the first one through the door this day and was even a bit early so we got some extra time to play with him. You could tell right away he was much more comfortable with us this day and actually within just a few minutes he walked up to John and motioned for him to hold him. That basically melted me into a puddle. He was much more calm this day and we spent a lot more time having physical contact and closer interaction, whereas the first day had been a lot of chasing him around the room. His little spirit is just so sweet. He reminds me a lot of Karsen at that age. It’s so cool how God plans these things. I believe He handpicked Maverick for us and He knew that our family would be the perfect fit for him and visa versa. Saying goodbye this day was pretty tough. I didn’t lose it in front of Maverick, but I did spend a good part of the afternoon crying. It’s hard saying goodbye to the child you’ve fallen in love with. We were thankful for the distraction of having coffee with most of the other families who would be attending court with us. Almost felt like having coffee with family. People who have gone through the exact same experiences as you for the last 2 years have a way of connecting to your heart pretty quickly. The conversations were so comforting, just seeing that we weren’t alone in our struggles. We pretty much took it easy the rest of that night. Easy going dinner and some walking around. Emotionally that’s about all I could handle.

Day 6- Court!!! We were pretty nervous about this day. Even though we knew court was more of a formality than anything, it’s still very nerve wrecking to do. We went to an amazing bakery for coffee and breakfast and then headed to meet up with the rest of our group. Court lasted about 10 minutes for each family and the questions were basically exactly what we had been told they would be. The judge ended our session with saying “please raise him with a lot of love” which definitely gave me all the warm fuzzies because that felt pretty final. We had lunch with our group this day and spent the rest of the day relaxing and packing to get ready to leave Saturday.

We had a little crazy exit from Korea trying to get out before the Typhoon hit. HUGE shoutout to Delta for working so quickly to get our flight situation handled and getting us out before the weather got really bad. They were serious God sends for sure. We are trying to book them on our 2nd trip just based on their performance that day. It was such great customer service.

All in all we feel our trip was about as good as we could have ever hoped. Maverick took to us very well, our court session went flawlessly, and we got to see a ton of things while we were there. I cannot wait to get a phone call hopefully very soon telling me it’s time to go back. We’re soooo ready!

It’s happening!!! (Finally)

Still a little in shock and disbelief that I am writing this post. We’ve been in process to bring home our little guy from Korea now for over 2 years. There were many, many days where I swore it just wouldn’t happen. The wait has been excruciating and we have felt defeated a lot. However…the email that we have been really waiting for FINALLY came! We have a court date!!!!!

We will be packing our bags and headed to Korea the end of this month! Our court date is actually set for the first Friday in September, but we will have other things to do in Korea that week as well before that day. The most important one being WE GET TO MEET MAVERICK!!!! Any time I think of it I get completely overwhelmed. The sweetest little face that I’ve been staring at and falling in love with every day for over a year will be right in front of me. Sometimes I feel like it’s all a dream and I just need to be pinched and wake up!

So….for those who are always asking how they can be supporting us/praying for us:

1) pray for favor with flights and hotels. Last minute trips to Korea are not cheap so we can use all the help we can get on some lower prices!

2) favor with the court. Pray for us to remain calm and peaceful in court and that the judge sees that our hearts are in the right place in wanting to adopt Maverick.

3) pray for quick turn around time from court to custody. We won’t bring him home the first trip and that wait in between is going to be so tough I know!

4) pray for Maverick’s heart to be prepared for what is to come. As the day approaches, as excited as I am, my heart also breaks knowing he’s about to lose foster momma/family and that he won’t truly get what is happening. Also for foster momma’s heart too as she’s had him for almost 2 years now since he went into the system and I’m sure saying goodbye won’t be an easy thing.

Thank y’all all so much for the support, prayers, kind words, excitement that you’ve given us! We are so grateful for our tribe that has been lifting us up this whole process! We could not do this without you!

LET’S GO TO KOREA ❤️💙❤️💙❤️💙

Everybody Stay Calm (But Really I’m Freaking Out!)

So it’s been a hot minute since I’ve updated y’all on where we’re at in our adoption process. This is for a couple reasons. Most people who aren’t involved in international adoption don’t truly get how exciting each little piece of the process is…and really not much had been happening! Butttttt….

We are officially submitted to the Korean court system! We found out last week that we were court submitted on July 4th. For those that don’t quite understand what that means, basically we’ve been waiting for our agency to submit our case to the court system. There was some delay involved in that because of some issues that were out of our control, but now that those are resolved, the ball seems to be moving again! At this point, we are waiting for our judge to set our court date. They will do this once birth parent notification has been sent out letting birth momma know that he is being adopted. Once a court date has been set, we will know for sure when we will be traveling to meet our son! Unfortunately we won’t bring him home on that trip, but it’s really all going to be pretty soon now!

Right now we’re just trying to keep ourselves distracted with enjoying the last bit of summer we have with our other kiddos before they head back to school in a few weeks. And preparing our hearts and minds for Maverick being home very soon. I’ve been so grateful lately for an immense amount of peace that has been given to me. I feel like God is just saying “hey, we’re almost there. You got this!” We’ve definitely been through the ringer with this whole process, but we’re starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel now!

Starting to put together gifts we want to take our boy in person! How crazy is that??

Please be in prayer with us for a court date that is super soon, for birth momma’s heart to be at peace as she will certainly have some old feelings resurface upon learning about his adoption, and that we will remain peaceful and patient as we near the end!

Another big check on the never ending list!

Soooo big adoption news in the Wheeler home happened this week! We are so excited to announce that we are officially Emigration Permit approved!

Now I’m sure some of you (most of you) are going YAYYYY….what does that mean? Lol. So the cheat sheet version for those asking is basically we now have the legal document that says Maverick can leave his home country with the intent to settle in America. Which is obviously great because that’s exactly where we want him!!! In America with Mommy, Daddy, Bubba, and Sissy! But I’m sure you’re also asking yourself that ever present adoption related question “Now what??”. Let me show you a timeline that will help a lot in trying to explain.

So basically from the time you apply to be in the Holt Korea program to the time you bring your child home is put into a very basic timeline. This timeline only highlights the major obstacles you go through in your adoption process. As you can see, we are very near to the end! And thankfully, based on others past experiences, we also are at the part that is usually a little quicker as well. This timeline represents 2 whole years of our lives. By the time we are done, it’ll represent about 26 months (give or take). The important thing to note is that because we already completed our homestudy update, we only have 2 tick marks left between us and 2nd travel- aka the trip where we bring Mavvy home!!! We are over the moon excited to feel like we’re finally nearing the end of this process and the beginning of our new life as a family of 5!!!

Please be in prayer with us that the court submission would happen quickly and that we get assigned an early court date!!! We want this precious boy home ASAP!!!

How to support adoptive parents!

So, you’re a friend/family member/nursery worker/etc that is supporting an adoptive or hopeful adoptive family! First of all, thank you for even taking the time to read this blog post! That alone shows your commitment to coming alongside of and supporting that family and it is SO needed. But, what now? I’m sure you’ve spent a fair amount of time praying for this family, you may have sewn financially into their journey, you might have told them “we’re here for whatever you need” but what does that practically look like?? Here are just a few ideas for you of things that you can do to lighten the load of an adoptive family:

1) Continue to pray for them, even after placement happens. Most people think “oh the adoption is finalized, our prayers have been answered and all is well!” While bringing baby home is a HUGE hurdle, that is actually where the real work begins. In the months right after placement happens, those parents need you to pray even harder than you have previously! For strength, for grace, for patience, for understanding. They, their children, and this new precious addition are all in a crazy phase of learning how to do life together and sometimes that can be really challenging! Lift them up in prayer and ask them specifically what they need prayer for! Speaking of specifics…

2) It’s AMAZING to offer “anything you need” to a new adoptive family. Your heart in saying that is so beautiful. But let’s be real, that saying gets tossed around a lot and it’s seldom followed up on. Why? For 2 reasons: 1- the person saying it doesn’t follow up, and 2- the family doesn’t feel comfortable asking for what they REALLY need! When offering help to a family, get specific with it. Tell them to tell you what they actually need! Is it meals? Help around the house? Is it a babysitter for the night so that the parents can have some respite time? Is it taking their other kiddos so that they can get one on one with their newest little one? Suggest these things, ask if they need any of it. And then make a plan and stick to it! A community to help support you practically during this time is critical to the success of an adoptive family.

3) Educate yourself! This may sound silly, I mean after all you’re not the one adopting the child. However, if you plan to be in this child’s life in any significant way, educating yourself on what adoptive kiddos go through when they come home is a GREAT way to support them. Many kids who are in the foster system or put up for adoptive placement have emotional trauma, physical trauma, developmental delays, etc. Many, with proper counseling and care, are able to live very fulfilled and “normal” lives but it does take work. Having people surround these kids who not only love them, but have made an effort to get to know about the issues they’re currently facing is an enormous aid in getting them to a healthy place emotionally, physically, and mentally. If you need some ideas on where to start, https://www.amazon.com/Connected-Child-healing-adoptive-family/dp/0071475001/ref=mp_s_a_1_1?crid=2JLCYWJHNXKBS&keywords=the+connected+child+by+karen+purvis&qid=1556153332&s=gateway&sprefix=the+conn&sr=8-1is a great read!!! It’s fairly short and provides a ton of helpful information on bringing home an adopted child.


is another great read written by a mom who adopted 2 teenagers after having 2 biological kids of their own! She shares stories from many different foster and adoptive families in her book and is incredibly transparent about the good, the bad, and the ugly of adoption.

If reading isn’t your thing or you’re much like me and just can’t ever seem to find the time, maybe look at some podcast options to listen to. http://podcast.app/the-honestly-adoption-podcast-p140580/?share=ios is one that I personally have found a lot of great information from! There are tons out there though so explore and see what speaks to you.

Again a HUGE THANK YOU for taking the time to read this post. You can make all the difference in the lives of an adoptive family and specifically an adopted child. Just be there, both in prayer and physically. Even when they forget to tell you, they really do appreciate everything you do!

Healthy options for mommas on the go!

We live in a fast paced world and our lives often times feel as if they’re going a million miles an hour. It’s so tough as the organizer of our children’s worlds to remember basic things sometimes for ourselves…like eating! I try my very best to try and pack snacks and lunches for myself when I know I will be out and about for parts of the day, but let’s face it, sometimes it just doesn’t happen 🤷🏻‍♀️🤷🏻‍♀️🤷🏻‍♀️ I want to share with y’all some of my top go-to healthy choices when I’m away from home but don’t want to ruin all my hard work in the gym!

• I like to find things that fill me up but don’t take a ton of effort to eat. One way that I do this is with the Perfect Bar. They are packed with superfoods, whole food protein, and are certified non-gmo and organic! You can buy them in bulk, but when you’re out and need a go-to easy snack or small meal, most Starbucks locations carry these in their refrigerated snack section. I grab this and a coffee and I’m good to go! Here’s the link if you’d like to check them out for yourself: https://shop.perfectbar.com/products/dark-chocolate-chip-peanut-butter-with-sea-salt?gclid=Cj0KCQjwg73kBRDVARIsAF-kEH8jPIrV5c8FEqnSgVfFj22Ctlz_-rM4YhC6JUKwj4609PiRWtmkBYsaArH7EALw_wcB&utm_medium=pla&utm_source=google&utm_term=dccpbss

• When it doubt, drink it out! That was so cheesy, whatever it rhymed lol. I really enjoy drinking my calories. I know, I’m weird. But as a busy momma, sometimes sipping on a smoothie is so much easier than sitting to eat a meal. https://www.tropicalsmoothiecafe.com/?utm_source=google&utm_medium=cpc&utm_term=tropical%20smoothie&utm_campaign=Brand%20Top%20Performers&gclid=Cj0KCQjwg73kBRDVARIsAF-kEH8n8CdcWYxGLDOA0NMnjxJ4yGpzG38IlQZyyLb3ij-8AHiXULHz2Q4aAkrbEALw_wcB Tropical Smoothie cafe offers so many healthy options for super filling smoothies and they have something for just about any taste buds! I personally love the Peanut Butter Cup smoothie and the Blimey Limey smoothie myself. Their app has a restaurant locator if you’re not sure of your nearest location and if you use their loyalty points program, you can earn points towards free smoothies!

• Play place staple! Any mom knows, the holy grail of restaurants is Chick-fil-A. Their food is far better quality than most other fast food and their play place 👏👏👏 It saves my life on hot, summer days when it’s just too much to be outside. But let’s be real, grabbing a number 1 with a side of fries is a recipe for an upset tummy and disappointment later. My go-to at Chick-fil-A is an order of grilled nuggets with a side salad. I put the nuggets on top of the side salad and top with 1/3 a packet of avocado ranch and a packet of buffalo sauce. I usually either get a bottled water or a diet lemonade there.

• International delight! Sometimes you want a little something different that has a ton of flavor. My favorite for this is Zoe’s Kitchen! https://zoeskitchen.com has so many options for healthy eating! But it’s not bland and sad, it is FULL of flavor and yumminess! I love the Live Med Salad and hummus with cucumbers! They have lots of kiddo friendly options as well. Definitely a win in my book!

Basically I’m saying it’s not easy all the time to eat out and not destroy your healthy eating plans, but it’s not impossible either! Live by the 80/20 rule, give yourself grace, and look for healthy options when you can! Being a fit momma takes work, but it’s so worth it to be healthy and happy for you and your kiddos 💪💪💪

Why the Greatest Day Will Also Be the Worst Day

There are many people that have been very influential in the course of our adoption process thus far. None however, as influential as our Social Worker. For the sake of protecting her privacy, I will refer to her as D. D is one of the sweetest humans I’ve ever met, but this is not the reason that I love her so much. I love her because she is so unbelievably real, even when it hurts.

As we have just recently completed our one year home study update, we were able to meet with D and discuss our upcoming homecoming for Maverick. While it would seem that this would be a discussion all about love and happy times and sunshine and rainbows, it actually is a very difficult discussion to have. Because it’s a discussion about the worst day in my child’s life so far.

When we very first met our social worker, she said something to me that absolutely rocked my world. She instructed us to think of ourselves as legal kidnappers. We are going into our child’s home, taking him away from the only parents he’s ever known, bringing him to a different country where people look different, talk different, eat different, and we say “hey this is your new home, you should be so happy and grateful!” But here’s the thing, he shouldn’t HAVE TO be anything! He should be allowed to act or feel any way he needs to, because his period of coming home to us will be a time filled with grief.

Maverick’s foster parents have been a crucial part of his world for a year and a half now. They ARE his parents right now. Even though we all know that this is a temporary placement, he can’t possibly understand that concept at his young age. To him, he is home. And to him, we are strangers who are pulling him away from that home. As much as this concept is so painful to think about, it’s so important that adoptive parents GET that concept before bringing their child home. We need to mentally and emotionally and spiritually prepare to be rejected, cried on, screamed at, etc. It may not all happen, but it might. And that has to be okay. And we have to be okay. We won’t be. But with God’s help, we can get there.

Eventually, we will come out of the grieving period. We will prove ourselves trustworthy over time. We will show our little boy that we are good, we will provide for him, that we love him more than words can express. But, in the beginning, when we’re experiencing these growing pains, we covet the prayers of our friends. I will appreciate every text and phone call of encouragement. Every random coffee delivery and friendly face. Because it’ll be a time of adjustment and transition for us all. But gosh am I ready. I want that day to come more than I ever have. Let’s get this baby boy home!!! 💙💙💙

But why Korea?

By and large, the feedback that we’ve gotten throughout this adoption has been AMAZING. I honestly can’t say enough about our family and friends who have prayed with us, partnered with us financially, cried with us, celebrated with us. I truly get weepy when I think of how much we’ve been supported through this process. If you are one of those tremendous individuals, THANK YOU!!! From the bottom of my heart, thank you.

Right now I want to take time though to answer a question that we’ve been presented with a lot. And it typically comes in two parts:

1) Why did you choose Korea?

Very quickly followed up by

2) There’s so many kids in need of homes in the US. Why not a domestic adoption instead?

Let me say this first: that is a completely valid and true statement. There are SO MANY KIDS in need of adoption here. However, there are also SO MANY KIDS in need of adoption internationally as well. Does Maverick deserve to be adopted any less just because he was born in a different country than me? Personally, I don’t think so. The real reason behind our choice to adopt from Korea though is this: Obedience! I have felt a nudging from the Lord from a very young age to pursue an international adoption. That actually was a “deal breaker” for me when dating. I needed a spouse who not only was ok with that, but also felt a call to it. John knew in his heart also that God had wanted that for him too. Maverick has always been part of the plan!

When we first set out to adopt, I actually had my heart set on Africa. I had always thought that’s where I would adopt from and began pursuing it almost immediately. Let me tell you something, Africa is a TOUGH place to adopt from right now. Almost no countries have open programs and the ones that do only want to adopt out kids who are 10 or older or have tons of health issues. Not that we don’t think those kids need families, but we have our own kids to consider. We needed to be sensitive to what we (they) could handle! So very quickly I realized I needed God’s guidance on this thing.

Ok Lord, You brought us this far, I need You to tell me where to go. Out of the 6 countries we were pre-approved for, it was like all signs just blatantly pointed to Korea! Let me tell you why that’s crazy. Never did I have a feeling or pulling towards Asia. Like ever. Was not even on my radar! Also, Korea almost exclusively adopts out boys and I thought I wanted a girl. I love when God knows us better than we know ourselves. And lastly, it was the most expensive country on our list!!! Like hello! Way to throw us the biggest curveball ever God! This thing had to be bathed in prayer from the beginning. But time after time after time, we’ve gotten confirmation that this is what we were called to do. My dreams of a little African girl quickly drifted away as soon as I laid eyes on our son. Oh y’all, he is just the most perfect little guy. Everything about him makes me gush with pride and love. He is MINE and there was no denying that. People have even commented many times that somehow he looks like a Wheeler! Lol. And he really does somehow! God is so cool like that.

That’s honestly it. Obedience and walking out what we feel God has lead us to has brought us to this point. I do want to say though, I think every adoption is miraculous and unbelievably amazing! If you feel called to a domestic adoption, that’s incredible! If you feel lead to foster or foster to adopt, wow! What an amazing calling! If you feel lead to adopt an older child or a child with special needs, you are an incredible human and I’m so thrilled for you! Adoption is ALWAYS A MIRACLE. No matter where the child comes from, no matter what the circumstances or situation. It is truly incredible and I urge you if you do feel called to it, pursue it. I’m always here to answer questions or point you in the direction of someone more knowledgeable to answer questions, because I believe every kiddo deserves a forever home and anything I can do to help that happen, I want to do! ❤️💙🇰🇷

Why your best intentioned question causes me so much heartache

Here we are. Almost 2 years after starting this adoption process. So much closer to bringing home our little guy, and yet it still feels so unbelievably far away. This process is like no other journey I’ve ever been on. The emotional highs are SO high, and yet the lowest of times are sometimes unbearably low. I have felt so much joy during these last 2 years, but I’ve also cried a lot of tears. So. Many. Tears. I’ve gotten angry at the system, at God, at people. And it all pretty much comes back to one common theme of why: TIME.

My timeline for this journey looks nothing like what it is in reality. In my totally made up fantasies, we breeze through a few months of waiting and poof! Everything is great, we have our son, it’s all good. But, much to my impatient little heart’s discontent, this is not at all what international adoption looks like. Not even in the least.

We get the questions most often: so what’s taking so long? Why can’t they just give him to you already? How much longer?

Let me just be really real here. If you know a family in the waiting portion of an adoption, please, PLEASE find some other things to ask as well. I know people are so excited for the child to come home and they just are being genuine and loving in asking, but for an adoptive parent, these questions are like knives to the heart. I think about those questions hourly. Time is all that seems to be on my mind lately. I don’t need another reminder. Questions like: how can we pray for you? Are y’all getting the room and everything prepared yet? How can we help you once he’s here? THOSE are the questions adoptive parents want and need to hear. And let me share why.

Here’s a little snapshot of the process in a very tight nutshell:

1) pre-application process to find out if you’re even qualified to adopt and if so, from what countries. That’s right. There were MANY countries that I was disqualified from because of my age, how long we’ve been married, the fact that we have white, biological children in our home. Every country has different rules and they do not bend them.

2) choose your country. We took into account travel requirements, age of the child that we were seeking to adopt, how long an adoption takes from said country. Ultimately through careful consideration and prayer, we chose Korea.

3) start raising finances to fund your adoption. An adoption from Korea is about 40,000 dollars and most people don’t just have that money laying around. It takes time.

4) home study! Now this is one bullet point, but within this one thing is many other sub points. Background checks (both federal and state), medical exams for our whole family, vaccination records for our dog, home visits, 5 references, psychological evaluations, tax records, financial statements, birth certificates, marriage license, etc etc. Finishing a home study feels like completing an ultra marathon. It’s just so much stuff.

5) home study gets approved. Home study approval is a huge step because it means that you’re officially eligible for a child match. Now being eligible certainly does not mean you’re getting matched right away. No, no. That takes another several months. Meanwhile, you’re dealing with immigration here in the US making sure you have everything ready to go for when you get matched.

6) MATCH DAY! Basically one of THE most amazing days in the adoption process. Getting to see YOUR child for the first time, the feeling is unlike any other. It’s truly so special.

7) accept match and file more immigration paperwork. Yes more paperwork. There’s always more.

8) submit dossier. This is everything that was in the home study and then some. It’s what gets submitted to the courts and embassy that shows them that we are capable of raising this child. In Korea, once your dossier is sent, you must wait another 4-6 months for it to be translated and officially submitted (this is where we are currently at in the process!!).

9) Dossier is approved and court date is set. Once the dossier is submitted, it takes about 2-3 months for it to be approved, then we’ll be set up for our first court date, which means we will also schedule our first travel to Korea!

10) Travel for court and embassy interviews. Our first travel will be both John and I and we will have to be in Korea for about 10 days. During this time, we will appear in court, have interviews and at Korean Embassy, and most importantly MEET MAVERICK 💙💙💙

11) Come home and wait. We will come home for about 4-6 weeks before my mom and I will travel back to get Maverick and bring him home.

I hope this sheds some light on that dreaded question: what’s taking so long?? My goal here really is just to show everyone who hasn’t been through an international adoption exactly what goes on. It’s a crazy list of stuff, and this is definitely the cheat sheet version, but I hope in some way it helps people to understand where we are, where we’ve been, and where we’re going in all of this. It’s definitely not a process for the faint of heart, but gosh is it going to be so worth it.

How to clean your house when you’re no Cinderella

Most moms can agree that they all wish they had more of one thing…TIME! We can all continue to hold out for that time multiplication machine that we’re all hoping will be invented soon. But, until that happens, I want to try and help you “multiply” your time by making the most of it in one key area: CLEANING!

Most people who walk in my house ask me one question almost immediately: how do you keep your house so clean with kiddos?! Now, of course my house is going to be a little more spotless when we’re expecting lots of company. But, on a regular basis, my house does stay very tidy. And I contribute that to a few small things that I believe make a big difference!

• We don’t wait to clean messes! When we cook, when we do crafts, when we take a bunch of toys out, we don’t leave our mess out with the intention of going back to it later. When you or your kiddos make a mess, make it a point to clean it up right then. It’s much easier to clean up several little messes throughout your day versus having 20 messes to clean up all at once later.

• Less is more! Filling your house with tons of furniture, knick nacks, and unnecessary stuff makes it feel cluttered and not tidy. My house has decor, don’t get me wrong, but we choose to be pretty minimalist with our furniture and decorating. This is especially important when it comes to things that sit on the floor. Tons of baskets, floor lamps, rugs, tables; they’re just making your house feel smaller and not as clean. Try going vertical in your organization by putting things either on the wall or in a wall organizer of some sort. And if you can live without that floor lamp, just get rid of it!

• Teach your kiddos young to get involved and stay tidy too! I still remember one night coming home from being out on a date and our babysitter being completely dumbfounded at my kiddos bedtime routine. When she asked them to take their clothes off to put their jammies on, they both immediately took off their clothes and put them into the washer. She said “most kids just throw their clothes on the floor! That’s so crazy they do that on their own!” But you see, my kids don’t realize that’s even an option! They know if the washer is open, their clothes go in there. If it’s closed, their clothes go in the hamper. They also always clear their own plates and cups and put them into the sink. Any little jobs that you can give your kids to do takes that job away from you, and makes them feel good to have some responsibility! If you haven’t started these habits young, that’s ok! Start implementing them now!

• Realize it won’t be perfect, but it can be clean! Your house isn’t going to look like a magazine. The people in magazines even say their homes don’t look like what they do photography day! Perfection isn’t the goal. But a clean and tidy house can promote less anxiety, a more peaceful environment, and a place where items can be found easily because things are put back where they belong. If this all seems overwhelming, just try adding in one thing every week to your daily schedule that you didn’t do before. Maybe this week you add in making beds in the morning. Then next week you add in keeping dishes out of the sink. Make it attainable for you and don’t get down on yourself if you have days where it just doesn’t happen.

Let me know if you have any tips or tricks of your own to help keep your home a clutter free and peaceful space! And let me know if you implement any of these ideas for your own home as well! I’d love to hear what works or doesn’t work for you.

New Year, New Thoughts, and New Direction.

Holy Cow! What a whirlwind of a holiday season it has been. I apologize for not writing more over the last month, but honestly I was just trying to enjoy holiday break with my kiddos and relax a little. I’m back though! And yes I did say “I” and not “we”, which brings me to my first point of writing this post.

When we started this venture of RbG, it was a joint venture, shared by myself (Sarabeth) and Carolyn. Our goal was to inspire moms with our day to day victories and not so victorious moments and provide a little realness that mommies could relate to. While that is still a huge goal of mine, the direction of the blog is shifting ever so slightly, and with it, Carolyn has felt a grace to move on and not be an actively involved participant. We didn’t have a falling out or anything like that. She just realized with taking on a pretty time consuming job and preparing for the birth of the 3rd baby (yay!!) that she couldn’t be as involved as she would like to be and so she felt it best to lay this down. She’ll still write for me as a guest on occasion and she’s still an amazing friend that I cherish so so much!

Now! For the new(ish) direction part of this. Because this is a blog mostly inspired by my own life now, there will be a little shift and I will be focusing more on 1) our ongoing adoption process for our little guy and all that that entails. And 2) my fitness journey as I’m really taking this year to get back to a place of wholeness and goodness for my body. I will still focus on these things from a very real and mommy-based perspective, but I just wanted to be real and up front about where I see this going! The nice part about this is it does allow me to post adoption updates to one forum instead of having to post in several different places individually.

My prayer going forward is to inspire mommas to live healthy (in whatever way that means to them) and that possibly someone may get encouragement or inspiration from our adoption story. I hope that all of you who have supported us thus far will continue to support me in the future with this and that this new direction and our decisions will be supported and accepted by all who read this blog.

2019… New Year! Let’s do this thing!!!

Navigating the Holidays with Kiddos

It’s almost the most wonderful time of the year and we could not be more excited! Experiencing the holidays through the eyes of your own child is just absolutely the best thing. But we know, with all this splendor can also come some challenges. The holidays can be A LOT. Mentally, emotionally, financially, there are tons of obligations. It can just be overwhelming. We have some ways of combating this feeling that we’d like to share to keep the holidays fun and joyous for everyone!

1) Don’t feel the need to keep up with the Joneses! Your child’s holiday experience is what you make it. Your kids will not look back 20 years from now and remember that you spent 1000 dollars on their gifts. They’ll remember the love, the laughter, the traditions. It’s so sad that Christmas has just become about how much money we spend on our kids’ gifts just to maintain some sort of image to all our friends or Instagram followers. You do not love your kids with money. Yes, buying them gifts is so fun, but set a realistic budget and stick to it! One way I stick to my budget is shopping secondhand. I check out the online yard sale pages, consignment shops, I even stash away toys people give us and gift them at Christmas. This may seem “cheap” to some, but my kids do not know the difference at all and it saves me tons of money in the long run! We also give the grandparents a small list of items the kids want/need. This cuts down on any double purchases and takes things off of my own list that I then don’t have to purchase. Don’t be afraid to speak up! Most grandparents like having an idea of what to get!

Karsen riding his bike that I found in almost brand new condition on the online yard sale.

2) Make time for just you! So many times, we get wrapped up in feeling like we need to attend every party, go to every function, etc. and we end up feeling run down and ragged by the time the holiday season is over. It is 100 percent okay to politely decline an invitation to something. Especially if saying yes to it comes at the cost of time with your own family. Choose the few things ahead of time that you plan to attend throughout the season, and make the other time for you! Bake cookies, watch movies, drive around and look at Christmas lights on houses. There are so many things to do with kids at Christmas that it would be a shame to miss it all just to attend another cookie swap, wouldn’t it??

These cuties are worth saying “no” to a few things I think 😊

3) Purchase one gift per week til a few weeks before Christmas. Now, I’ll be honest, this is actually one I’m trying out this year. I think if I spread the gifts out, I won’t feel the weight of the money spent all at once, plus it doesn’t feel so overwhelming buying so many gifts altogether. I started 2 weeks ago and plan to stop the first week of December. I then plan to wrap a few gifts a night til I’m finished and I don’t have to stress with last minute gift buying/wrapping and can just focus on the fun stuff!

4) Don’t be afraid to kid-ify your Christmas! Yes, kids need to learn how to wait to open presents or eat a nice meal, but if you know that you’d all be more comfortable with paper and plastic or opening a few gifts Christmas Eve, have at it!! My family has never been one to use nice china or glass wear at Christmas. It’s just not who we are. There’s always been a ton of kids running around and it’s just not practical. We could try and conform to how others do things, or we could embrace who we are and just do things our way!

They love helping out!

5) One thing I’ve started doing the last few years is making sure I save at least one recipe the kids can easily help me with both at thanksgiving and Christmas. They love to feel included and like they contributed in someway. I don’t choose a super complex recipe as to stress myself out, just one that takes a few easy steps. And then I’ve made sure to have a tablecloth that can be colored on. Them having fun things to while we all try and prepare for the meals to take place just makes things so much easier on all of us. And then you have a fun tablecloth to eat off of once it’s time because they’ve decorated it with all kinds of fun artwork! Walmart usually has options for colorable tablecloths and they are like 2 dollars each. That’s a win to me!

Our tablecloth from last year. Even the teenagers and adults got in on the fun!

I hope these little tips can help y’all in some way! I think every child (and parent) deserves as stress free of a holiday season as they can get! Remember what we’re celebrating this time of year and embrace this time together!

How my kids inspired me to save my own life…

265 pounds. I blinked and somehow I was 265 pounds. I was tired all the time, I had high blood pressure, all kinds of hormonal issues, my joints were worn out. Y’all, I was 20 years old and felt like an old woman already. I was (not so slowly) killing myself from the inside out.

I look back now at who I was at that point in my life and it all seems so completely foreign and distant to me. But when I really think about it, I’m still that girl. I still struggle to make healthy food choices each day. I still have to dig down deep and find motivation to get myself to the gym each and everyday. So what changed between then and now?? What happened to make me wake up and realize that change needed to take place? I’ve always known how to eat healthy. I grew up in the sport of competitive gymnastics so I understand what working out looks and feels like. What shifted in my life to lead me to actually implement those ideas though? Well, I’ll tell you.

I had my ah-ha moment one day shortly after I turned 21. My husband and I were coming up on our year anniversary of being married and so, of course, we had begun talking about children. I had been diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome right before we got married and part of what goes along with that is potential issues with fertility. Add onto that my obesity and I knew we were very likely to have some struggles. At this time in my life, I was also a nanny for a family with 2 young girls. Keeping up with the girls, especially at places like the park, was really difficult for me. I got winded easily, I was slow and my weight limited me on what I was able to do physically.

I took one big look at all this and I did the one thing that changed things forever: I discovered my WHY. I made a decision that I was NOT going to be “the fat mom”. I know that sounds really shallow, but I swear it was not at all. It was never about looks or trying to “fit in”. It was about me realizing that my future children deserved a healthy mom! They deserved to be incubated in a womb that was in tip top shape. They deserved a mom that could run around the house after them without having to stop from being winded. They deserved a mom that would climb on the jungle gym and slide with them instead of having to sit on the bench and watch. My kids were my WHY. My kids were exactly what I needed to kick my tail into shape. I want to watch them grow up and get married and have babies of their own. I want to experience life with them, and that wasn’t going to be possible if I continued down the destructive path I was taking.

I find that those who are struggling with motivation of any kind can really benefit from realizing and understanding their why. It may not be weight loss and it may not be your children, but if you find yourself really lacking the drive to get done what you need to, ask yourself “why am I doing this?? What is it that I’m really desiring to get out of this?” Anytime I’m struggling now to do what I know I need to, I think about my why. I think about my kids. I think about their faces as they watch me cross a half marathon finish line, or their smiles when I play on the playground with them. And no food, no lazy feelings, no anything is worth not giving those things to them! They are worth every bit of sweat, every sacrifice, everything.

What’s your WHY???

Donut Grow Up..1st Birthday Photoshoot

I’m back with more budget friendly ways to capture your children’s memories! Our little Audrey Quinn is turning ONE! I wanted to do a fun little photoshoot for her invitations to her party!

I started with a roll of donut wrapping paper for the background. It was only a dollar at the dollar store y’all!

I pick the room with the most windows in my house to let in as much natural lighting as possible!

I had this cute outfit made by a friend of mine. If your talented in the gift of sowing you could easily knock this out on your own.

I spent all of 3 dollars on that fabric! And the onesies are from hobby lobby. They were 5 Dollars each. So that brings our total to 9 dollars so far.

Lastly I ran into Kroger and got some donuts! If you want fancy donuts I recommend dunking donuts. But I felt like my background was pretty busy so I kept it simple with plane donuts. Which were only $3.39! I added a white plastic table cloth to protect my carpet, and it also makes for super easy clean up! It too was a dollar form the dollar store!

So this photoshoot cost $13.39!

After all the pictures were taking I made a Facebook event group and invited all our friends and family! (Also saves on printing 😉)

I used this cuteness for the cover page and that’s it! It’s that easy!

Are our kids safe on social media?

Now I’m not talking about them having their own accounts I’m referring to sharing photos of them on our accounts?

In today’s world the threats against our children are REAL! I’m sure they have always been there in times gone by. But now with social media, just how easy are we making it for creeps to find our children?

I want to empower moms to feel safer sharing their children’s memories on social media. Or maybe just bring awareness to the fact that threats are real. Who knows maybe you’ll decide to quit sharing so much about your children or even sharing at all.

  1. Set your accounts to private. This way you can keep track of who will be able to see your children.
  2. Don’t hashtag photos of your kids. Here’s the thing if your not trying to be some big Social media star there is no reason to hashtag, and put your photos in categories for anyone to search and find. (#mycutekid #bathtime #nakedbaby ) it seems innocent but it could become like a google search for creeps.
  3. Turn off your location. NEVER tag your location in real time. I wouldn’t even do it after the fact. Because here’s the thing you just told some creep looking at your child’s photo where they can find them.
  4. NEVER post pictures of them at their school or in their school uniform. You won’t be there if a creep shows up. Because of the information on social media they will have your name: your car color, your child’s name, shoot even your dogs name. Enough information to convince a small child that they are one of mommy’s friends. If you see where I’m going with this.

I’m guilty of over sharing but recently it’s been so heavy on my heart to watch what I’m putting out there. I was recently watching a TV (reality TV) and they didn’t want their children on camera, and I thought to myself what’s the big deal they aren’t even that famous. But the more I thought about it. The more I realized that didn’t really matter. They were just trying to protect their children from normal threats. They didn’t want people to see who their children were or where they lived or what school they went to. I looked up this lady’s social media accounts and she rarely shared pictures of her child’s face. And I kind of admired that. Now I know I personally used social media to share my children’s lives with family members that lived far away, but the more I think about it. Is it my life to share? What we put on the internet stays there forever. When my children get older would they want their entire baby book available for everyone’s viewing pleasure? Or would they want to read about all their embarrassing childhood stories? I know I wouldn’t want that out there. So now when I post I think not only how to keep them safe but also how to respect their privacy.

I maybe over thinking it all. And a bit paranoid about human trafficking. Or I maybe on to something. What are your thoughts?

Now that’s all protaining to our age group of kids. But what about older kids who have their own accounts how can we protect them. After all who knows who’s in their DM’s.

  1. Education & communication: you can not over teach your kids about cyber safety.
  2. Be aware of the signs. There is a lot of trolls on social media who get their kicks from bullying people from the safety of their own key board. There is a thing called Facebook depression. As parents we need to know what to look for and know who to help our children when they are faced with cyber bullies.
  3. Follow your child’s account & know who is following your child’s account. Ask questions. Your their parent not their friend so stop trying to be cool. And be the annoying parent you were born to be! Ask them who that person is and how they know them. And if they don’t have a legit relationship with them. Make them block or unfollow that person.
  4. Know who is influencing your child. If you kid wants to follow celebrities and super stars. You should follow them too. This was you know what kind of content your child is looking up to: and when to redirect them.
  5. Don’t let them post half naked photos of themselves online, because they may mean nothing by it. Or maybe they just want attention: but I promise you they will get unwanted attention. (Creeps!) kids can’t always get their hands on porn but they can pull up your child’s Instagram and see his or her summer vacation photos. I know that seems a bit graphic but it’s reality. You can share those moments without being scandalous. And it’s our job as parents to teach our children what that looks like.

What do you do when parenting rocks your marriage??

We’ve all been there. As married couples, one of THE toughest things you’ll ever go through is to add tiny humans into the already complex world of co-existing with your spouse. For some reason, we seem to try and hide this fact. No one wants to admit that having kids affects their marriage in any sort of negative manner. But here’s the COLD. HARD. FACTS. It does!!!!

Now we aren’t saying that every aspect of your marriage will be negatively affected. We aren’t saying that you’ll be sucked into a world of constant arguments or impending divorce. But in some way, learning how to raise these miniature people WILL cause some friction. So now the question is, what in the world do we do about it? Obviously raising kids is a pretty long term thing. Things aren’t going to just magically get better and you have to learn how to deal, but HOW?

Here’s some pretty practical ideas that we’ve put into action in our own marriages to try and get us past the parenting conundrum:

First off, and this sounds easier than it is, but it’s really helpful, ASSUME THE BEST IN YOUR SPOUSE. Your significant other married you for a reason. And I can almost guarantee that reason was not to try and make you miserable or tick you off for eternity. Now at 3AM when the newborn is crying again and you are trying to nurse the baby and you ask your husband to do something and he does it completely wrong….in THAT moment, it is so hard to believe that he is on your team. You immediately want to jump to the accusations of him just always making your life harder, and he doesn’t appreciate all you do, etc etc. And woah nelly, just scale it back for a second Hormonal Harriet and look at the big picture. This is all hard on both of you and when you put your spouse on the opposing team in your brain instead of as your teammate, you’ve automatically set yourself up to fail. Assume that even in their worst moments, even when they screw up, even when it seems like they don’t care, they really are trying their best and they really do love and want to help you. Fighting together is always better than fighting against each other.

Secondly, that super cliche marital advice that everyone gives but all of us still struggle with, COMMUNICATE, COMMUNICATE, COMMUNICATE! I truly believe that you cannot overly communicate when it comes to parenting and marriage. Most, if not all, of mine and my husband’s arguments stem off of communication issues. Maybe I assumed he knew about an event we were supposed to attend, but he didn’t, and now I’m frustrated. Maybe I needed help getting the kids ready, but instead of saying something, I just stew in anger at him not realizing my need for help. Maybe I’m feeling under appreciated or overlooked because of our busy lives and I don’t say anything and instead just continue living in bitterness and sadness. All of these things could probably get solved if I would just do that one simple action of opening my mouth and saying what I need or feel. If there’s anything marriage has taught me, it is that my husband is not a magician, he cannot read minds, and I need to quit thinking he’s going to develop that skill any day now. He’s human and flawed. I’m also human and flawed. We’re going to mess up or fall short. But if we can communicate with our spouses when something is bothering us or if we need help, we could save ourselves SO much heartache in the long run. Don’t be afraid to say what it is you need!

Another big thing to remember when navigating parenting and marriage is this: TAKE TIME TO BE MARRIED! Your relationship with your spouse is what you make it and it is THE most important relationship in your life besides God. If it falls by the wayside to the kids schedules and daily activities, one day you’re going to wake up to a stranger in your bed. You’ve got to take time as husband and wife to talk, laugh, cry, date, be intimate, be silly, etc. I truly believe all spouses should make use of at least a monthly date night, if not even more frequent than that. I know this sounds like a fantasy land of sorts when you have young kids, but you can make it happen I swear! Your relationship with your husband or wife has got to take priority over your kids sometimes. Not to say that you should ignore your child, but make sure your spouse knows that your kids have not replaced them in importance! It could be a date night in where you put the kids to bed a little early and have dinner just the 2 of you and talk. It could be paying for a sitter for just a couple hours to go walk around a park and grab coffee. You don’t have to go on big, elaborate date nights to connect with your spouse, but do make the time to connect in some way! See if your local church or YMCA has a parent’s night out available. Or ask around for names of great babysitters and make use of them! What you put time and effort into is what will flourish, and we want healthy and flourishing marriages!

Lastly, and most importantly, PRAY! Pray for your spouse, pray for your marriage. Ask God to show you how to be a better wife or husband. Ask God to give you creative ideas of how to love better in this season. Ask God to show you times where you can get alone with your spouse and reconnect. If you’re struggling, reach out to a close and trusted friend and communicate to them where you’re at and ask them to pray as well. Parenting might throw a curveball in your marriage, but it doesn’t mean it has to completely derail you forever. You can be a great mom AND a great wife. And realize this season won’t last forever. Your littles will only be littles for so long, so embrace this season and make the absolute best of it that you can. And trust God to help you through this. He wants to see your marriage thrive and succeed and will come alongside you when you’re weary and give you strength to keep going.

How to pray your kids through school.

Praying for your kids is such an important responsibility for us as parents. During each of my pregnancies, I prayed my children through each development. God as my witness, EVERY thing I prayed for them came to pass. From their personalities to their hair color.

As my son is starting his first year of preschool it hit me: he is slowly leaving my physical covering. Because he will no longer be spending his every hour with me. But that doesn’t mean he ever has to walk away from my prayer covering. Especially in today’s world, our children don’t only have to face peer pressure or bullying or the stress of maintaining good grades, but their is the reality of outside threats. So what I want to do is empower us mommies to cover our children and have perfect peace when we send them off to school.

The first thing we have to do is remember that our children are first God’s! He has trusted us with His children to raise them and teach them the way to go.

So make it normal to ask your child how you can pray for them. Ask them about their friendships and how you can pray for them. When you start from an early age it will be easier to get information out of them when they are older. (I think. I don’t have older kids so I’m assuming that will work.) I had friends growing up whose parents did this and I would love to say they all ended up sharing everything with their parents but some didn’t. So you have a 50/50 chance it will work lol. Take your chances because you have nothing to lose, and everything to gain!

When I pray, I like to start with worship. I just enjoy coming before the Lord and worshiping Him for who He is and all He has done before I ever bust out my prayer list. I’m not saying this is how you have to pray. I’m just sharing how I spend my time with God. I believe it’s first important to take care of your relationship with God before you ever begin to pray for your child’s relationship with Him. It just seems simple to me, because I’ve grown up hearing that we teach what we know but we reproduce who we are. So I always want to make sure who I am is someone I want my children to be.

So I start there. First with me. I ask God if there is any fear in me about my child being at school that He remove it. And change my heart because where fear is faith cannot be. So I start my checking my heart and ask God for His perfect peace concerning my time away from my children. Then I began to pray for his teachers. I thank God for Godly counsel and that his teachers have a relationship with God and if they don’t that they may come to desire one from their interactions with my children. I pray for patience for their teachers because being a teacher isn’t an easy job. I thank God for the teachers’ desire to teach my children.

Then I go through my child’s day.

I pray my son is nice to his classmates and that he always shows the love of Christ. I pray he not give into temptation to fit in. But rather embrace his ability to stand out. I pray he is a good listener and obediently does what he is asked the first time. I pray he is a sponge soaking up all the knowledge that is being taught to him but also a trash can dumping any ungodly knowledge he may see or hear. I pray his conversations are good ones. I pray his innocence is protected. I pray for a hedge of protection around his whole school. I declare his school is a safe place to be. In Jesus name. I pray for the children in his classroom. I pray for any child who goes home to mistreatment or abuse, that God would make me a light to those parents and would open up a door for relationship to speak into their lives.

I pray that I remain actively involved in my children’s learning and academics. I pray that I not get lazy just because they are spending time at school, but rather that God would reveal to me creative ways to engage my child’s mind and continue to teach them at home in a fun way.

We pray that this post is helpful and that your children would have an amazing school year and would be used at their school, in their classroom, with anyone they come in contact with to be a light for Jesus and a tool God can use in any way He needs to. ❤️❤️❤️

Lessons in CrossFit: Am I fit for the Cross?

Recently, I began a new venture in my health and fitness journey. As a former gymnast, CrossFit has always intrigued me, but I’ve just never made the plunge. I began my weight loss journey in 2011 and over the next 2 years lost a total of 110 pounds. I did this through good nutrition and falling in love with fitness, but running in particular. I’ve kept the weight off since then, but I just felt myself reaching a point of boredom in my workout, and I thought that adding in CrossFit to my routine might be a good way to break past that feeling and remain committed to my healthy lifestyle.

Fast forward now about a month and a half into my CrossFit classes and all I can say is I. Am. In. Love. I legitimately did not think I would love this as much as I do, but it is seriously amazing. It’s funny though, I’m not a lifter by nature and I don’t love being tortured on the daily, so I kind of did some soul searching to figure out why it is exactly that I love this so much. And I came to this conclusion….it’s the COMMUNITY!

You see, when you start CrossFit classes, automatically you’re in. No matter your level of fitness, your ability to lift heavy, your inexperience in the class, everyone is just a big team! They cheer you on, give you advice, encourage you. It just makes you feel included and like you’re a part of something. No need to prove yourself or get to a certain level. Come as you are and do what you can! And all this got me to thinking, why isn’t the church this way?!

Christians, me included, seem to have the mentality much of the time that those who are new Christians somehow need to “prove” themselves before we’ll accept them in. We say all the right Christianese things and act like we’re accepting. But secretly, down in the deepest parts of us, we’re watching them and seeing where this new found salvation is really gonna go. I have a theory on this and I think it happens for one of two reasons:

1) we’ve been programmed to think people are going to fail. Fact of the matter is, a lot of baby Christians, or even well established Christians for that matter, backslide and make big mistakes at some point. We, ourselves, have maybe even fallen into that at some point as well. When someone is backsliding, being friends with them can be TOUGH. This is when we gotta get in the spiritual trenches with them and be like “HEY!!! I got you. I know you’re struggling hard right now, but you can do this!!!” But that’s a hard job and a lot of us start to re-examine our commitments to people at that point. They’re at the point in the workout where they’ve missed a lift about 4 times and are beyond broken and don’t feel like they can keep going. And you have a choice, you can stick by their side and keep cheering them on and keep encouraging them not to give up, or you can walk away and just assume they can’t do it. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen people finally get that lift they’re trying for simply because everyone circles up on them and cheers them on HARD. They actually care! They actually wanna see that person succeed! Because when they succeed, we all do. Which brings me to number 2.

2) The other reason I think we are skeptical of new people in the church is we’re territorial of our place. When new people come in, they might be gifted in the same areas as you are. They might even be better. And that might just threaten your position. Are we so wrapped up in us and keeping our status in the church that we are actually holding the church back?? Are we so engrossed in our own promotion that we forget that the church isn’t all about us? I’ve seen so many Christians walk away from a church because they were looked over for a position they thought they deserved. Is your heart in such a solid place with God that no matter what position you hold or don’t hold, that you can still keep your walk with God? In CrossFit, just because someone lifts heavier than me, does more pull-ups than I do, runs faster than me, that doesn’t make my workout any less successful. It doesn’t make my lifts any less impressive. My time was the best I could do. It’s MY workout. It’s MY walk with God. And let’s be real, there will always be someone better. But if we’re doing our very best in whatever position we’re given, we are doing our job! We’re doing what God has asked of us.

So next time someone new walks into your church, walks into your small group, walks into your life, check your heart. Your discomfort from someone may come from your own insecurities and issues. And if we are coming at people from that place, we can never truly be CROSSFIT. We can never truly be FIT for the CROSS.


Is it that time of the month? 😡 Are your emotions getting the best of you today, and your family receiving the worst?

Emotions. All the feels. Ugh. 🙄Some days it’s really hard being a woman.

Yet, these very emotions were given to us by God. It’s part of His Divine nature imparted to us when He formed us in His likeness. For most of us women, nurturing, comforting, and tenderness is just a part of who we are. But those wonderful, deep emotions can quickly turn to controlling, nagging, and freaking out.😬

Last time I checked, freaking out did not make the list as a fruit of God’s Spirit.

Our emotions are not something to shy away from, but are qualities to be developed by the guidance and leading of the Holy Spirit. Too many times we are swallowed by the displacement of our greatest qualities, and the winner is satan. We let our emotions take the lead, rather than allowing the Spirit of God to be in control. The fall-out leaves devastation and destruction for our family, and even our own hearts.

The strength and power of God are there for our asking. He is more than enough to help us overcome our own weaknesses, and His grace is enough to cover the darkness of our hearts.

When you know your emotions are heightened, humble yourself before your family telling them you realize you may not be in the best frame of mind. Ask for their forgiveness before you lose the battle. Armed with their understanding, and your own, you can face the hardest of days knowing that He is in control, even of your feelings.

Father, sometimes it’s really hard being a woman. Sometimes I don’t even know if you really understand, since you came as a man. But, since you are God and I’m not, I choose to trust you even with that. I admit my emotions tend to lead me some days, and the path is littered with hurt feelings and wounded hearts–even my own. I now place my emotions at your feet. I know I’ll need to do it again tomorrow and the day after, but I want to give you that control. Please keep me alert to the times when my emotions are teetering toward my human nature rather than your Spirit. I choose YOU and your ways.

Learning to take a GIANT chill pill

I’m going to be very honest for a second here. I am a recovering uptight momma. I like to over plan, over schedule, and over control every aspect of my family’s lives. And I’m pretty positive that I’ve been driving them CRAZY.

My need for control I think goes back to my need to make sure nothing goes wrong. If I don’t plan everything out to the T, and stay on top of everyone to make sure it gets done, then the whole train will de-rail and we will surely spiral into pandemonium. Something about the idea of things not going perfectly planned has sent me into a giant tizzy and I whip everyone around me into my hurricane of crazy emotions.

Now, I’m not saying to sit back and let the crazy overtake you either, but what I am saying is that I’ve learned that our life needs some serious balance. Let’s take for instance, my children’s clothing. On most days, I lay out my kids’ clothes for them, make sure they are ironed, pair matching socks, shoes, bows, hats, etc. I leave nothing to go wrong the next morning when we’re getting ready. But here’s the thing, I would even do this when I knew we weren’t going anywhere of importance the next day. I still needed to micromanage every aspect of my children’s outfits because God forbid they didn’t look put together. Now, for my oldest, Karsen, this is totally fine. He likes matching and looking put together. He doesn’t mind me picking out his clothes one bit. However, for my little free spirit of a 2 year old, I realized this was completely stifling her creativity and desire to express herself. She needs an outlet to have fun and be herself and sometimes she wants this to happen through her outfit choices. So, these last few weeks, I have uttered words from my mouth that I never thought I would hear. “You can choose what you wear today.” Like, what?! Where did that come from? But guess what? Her face LIGHTS UP when I say it! It’s like I just gave her the coolest present ever. And I love to see that face.

I’ve used this new attitude in other areas also. Letting Karsen make his own sandwiches, letting the kids put away their toys without me standing over them making sure nothing gets put in the wrong bin, letting them walk through a store instead of having to be contained in a cart. I’m REALLY trying to let the reigns loose a little. Key word here is trying. Ain’t no way that girl is going to church or school in an outfit I didn’t approve, but we’re making progress.

So, I guess my point here is to encourage those who are like me, control freaks, to know that the world will not come off its axis if you don’t overly plan every aspect of your family’s lives. It’s ok to have a plan, it’s ok to like things in order, but it’s also ok to let everyone breathe and relax a little too. It’s good for them AND you.

Y’all gonna make me lose my mind..up in here..up in here!!!

“I think I’m going crazy!” Come on, you know you’ve said it, or at least thought it more than once since you took on the title of Mommy. I know I have. Still do, on most days. (If I’m being honest)

Our minds as wives and mothers, or even a regular woman has about a million things going on, all at the same time. “Get your shoes on, we need to leave in ten minutes. What do you mean you can’t find your shoes? (Why can’t I find a way to teach my kids to put everything in place?) Where did I put my phone? Or my keys? (Now I know why my kids don’t put things in place lol) Wait. Do I have a bottle in the diaper bag? What time was that appointment? Why is there no gas in my car?” I could go on all day.

Our minds are complex, and let’s admit it, we are the bomb at multitasking and getting things accomplished just through our thinking.

But our minds are also the place we get tripped up. (The devils playground, if you will) We have a very real enemy out to destroy us and our influence. When we have so many jumbled thoughts, we start hearing the lies more than believing the truth of who God says we are, and Who He is.

The Bible is very clear on this: If we belong to Christ, we have His mind! (1 Corinthians 2:16) Not human wisdom, but the power of God.

That thought pretty much blows my mind. We have the mind of the Almighty? The Creator of heaven and earth?

Good news: We can choose our thoughts! We can reject the lies of the enemy and agree with the Truth of our loving Father. We should set our mind on things above!!

I find myself praying this prayer at least once daily if not more. So I figured I would share it with you guys, along with some scripture that helps me when I feel like my mind is heading straight for that dark tunnel that takes way too long to come back from.

“Lord, help me fix my mind on your thoughts, help me to keep from letting my mind wander on things that aren’t helpful. Help me think on things that are true, lovely, and of a good report like Your Word tells me to do. And Lord, I cast out any thoughts planted by the enemy that I’m not good enough, or that I can’t handle what’s in front of me today. Help me speak things that bring life and not death. I pray I am a light in the darkness and help for others in time of trouble. Lord I pray that I can stay vigilant in my thoughts today! In Jesus name!”

Some good truth to stand on:

An Open Letter to Newborn Mamas: We See You

Dear Newborn Mama,

Congratulations! You made it through 9 months of your body changing, stretch marks forming, constant peeing, maybe some puking, and tons of discomfort. You made it through labor and delivery either by natural delivery or C section. You did it!! And now…. what? The feeling every newborn mama has. Especially the first timers. Why on earth would they let me take this little tiny human home? They trust ME to know what to do and how to do it? I’ve never done this before! Is he/she even still breathing? Let me tell ya, we, as mamas, have ALL been there. We have felt completely overwhelmed and ridiculously underprepared for the task at hand. You are NOT alone. It may feel like you are. Having a baby has the ability to make you feel completely isolated and lonely. But let me assure you, we are here, both mentally and physically to cheer you on, to come hold your crying child while you shower, to make you dinner, or to simply listen to you when you are having a rough day. As women, we can struggle with feeling like we need to be able to do it all and make ourselves feel completely defeated if we ask for help. PLEASE hear me, you NEED help! We all need help during the newborn phase! There is absolutely no shame in asking for help. We want you to! Even if we don’t know you, if you’re out in public and your child is screaming and you’re about to pee your pants, we’ll hold the baby. If you haven’t slept in days and your house is a wreck but you just need a nap, let us come clean up a little! If you need a coffee date with some solace from the baby, we’ll go have coffee with you and we promise not to judge the stains on your shirt or your unwashed hair. Because as much as you may feel like you have the worst sleeper, the hardest crier, the fussiest teether, I guarantee we have felt the same way. And we GET IT! We don’t think you’re a bad mom when you pick up the paci and put it back in baby’s mouth without washing it because you don’t want to hear them scream. We aren’t upset when you have to nurse uncovered because your baby refuses to eat under a nursing blanket. We aren’t even batting an eye when you tell us baby only sleeps in the swing. Your kid takes a paci? Wow, you’re lucky! You’re having to nurse uncovered in public? Way to feed your baby, mama! That is great they will nurse. Your child only sleeps in the swing? Man, don’t those 4 hours straight of sleep make you feel like a new woman?! YOU are doing great. YOU are rocking mommyhood! YOU are exactly the mama that sweet baby needs. No matter what decisions you make, no matter what products you use, no matter what advice you don’t take (even if it’s ours!), YOU are amazing and so capable of doing this thing! But, when you’re not able, we will be here, waiting by our phones, ready to help you! We promise!

Easy peasy three-sy brownies!

So if your humble abode is anything like ours, your kiddos are absolutely obsessed with helping in the kitchen! In particular, my littles love to BAKE! And I love to develop and encourage that passion of theirs in any way that I can! We use it to master fine motor skills, practice counting, work on taking turns. There are just so many great life skills that can come from baking! One such skill is one that we are definitely still working on though, and that is…PATIENCE 😱😱😱

If I want them to actually like what we’re doing and stay engaged, we can’t do a 12 step super complicated recipe. And it can’t take 3 hours to do. So I try and stick to 3 rules when it comes to my go-to recipes for baking with kids

1. It takes 5 steps or less.

2. It takes minimal prep and cook time.

3. I typically have most, if not all, ingredients readily on hand.

  • If it doesn’t follow those rules, it probably isn’t getting made in this house. Or I’m doing it alone! Lol. So without further ado, my go-to THREE ingredient, crazy simple, brownie recipe that is approved by kids and hubbies alike!
  • Ingredients needed:

  • 2 Eggs

  • 10 Tbsp Flour

  • 1 Cup of Nutella

  • When I tell you this recipe is crazy simple, I really mean it. It’s your basic “dump it all in a bowl” recipe. So, combine together your Nutella, eggs, and flour in a bowl. When I’m doing this with the kids (I have 2 so this works out well) I let them take turns alternating tablespoons of flour until we get to 10, and they each get to help with an egg.
  • Once you’ve got it all mixed together with no big clumps of flour, you’re ready for Step 2! Throw that batter in a muffin tin! If you want them to be more like traditional brownies, you can totally use a regular pan. But cutting out the step of slicing them all up to serve is a win in my book, so muffin tin it is!
  • My scooper allowed me to get 9 brownies out of the batter I made. I have done this with a mini muffin tin as well if you’d like your brownies a little smaller. Just keep in mind that your baking time will be less. Bake those beauties on 350 for 25 minutes (I’d start eyeballing at 20 minutes, especially if you use a muffin tin. If you use a pan, you’ll probably add a few minutes.)
  • That’s it!! Pull them out of the oven, throw them on a cooling rack, and watch them disappear! My nuggets love these, but they also go over really well at potlucks and the like too! If you make these, snap a pic 📸 and send it to us so we can see! You can always toss a little sprinkle of chopped hazelnuts on top too if you’re feeling extra fancy. Or add a little frosting. Make it your own!
  • Life Without Social Media

    Well it’s been a few weeks since I’ve logged off. With only one or two relapses to check on our blog lol. But man, can I already tell a difference! At first it was hard. I’m talking withdrawals and everything. I honestly felt like I was coming off some type of drug. I would pick up my phone all throughout the day and realize I had nothing to check. So I started reading my bible app. It helped! But I guess I should go back a little a fill you in on why I felt God was telling me to let it go for a season.

    I’ve flirted with the idea from time to time about getting off social media, and I would do it for a day or two but it never really stuck. I would convince myself that I didn’t really need to. But, one day, I was sitting on the couch scrolling away and my then 8th month old was sitting by my feet on the floor. I keep feeling her pull on my leg but I kept reading about someone’s diet bet. I only looked up because my 4 year old son started screaming. He was freaking out because my daughter was standing on her own. She hadn’t done it yet so he wasn’t sure if she was allowed to. But that’s when I realized that could have very well been her first step and here I was nose deep in my phone paying her no attention. She was just standing there proud as could be looking up at me. How long had she been there staring up at me? Hoping to make eye contact with her mommy, but only seeing the back of my telephone. If that doesn’t punch you in the heart, I don’t know what will. Not to mention my son is already four. What had he already learned from my behavior?

    So that was the big eye opening experience that sent me on this adventure into a life without social media. At times I feel like there is a whole world happening that I know nothing about. I have grown so used to following my friends and family on the internet. It is pretty much the only way I keep up with what is going on in their lives. But now I guess I have to call them and actually talk to them (how prehistoric, right?🦖). Not to mention the fact that we just launched this blog and we have to promote it and get people here by using social media. Yes, I’m still sending Sarabeth my posts and having her post them for me, but you can imagine how annoying it feels texting her all the time asking her to post something. I always feel so bothersome because I am totally capable of posting myself, but I know i’m not supposed to be on social media right now.

    That became very clear to me the other day when I logged on to check things out. I was sitting in stand still traffic and downloading the Instagram app and made a post. I figured I wouldn’t look at anything I’ll just post to pass the time. It was Sarabeth’s kids first day back at school and I figured she was busy so I could just do this and not bother her. WRONG. I had no business being on there. For one, I watched that post like a hawk while sitting in traffic. ONLY 3 PEOPLE LIKED IT! A whole hour had gone by and only 3 people had liked my post. The one Sarabeth had posted earlier that morning was climbing more likes after more likes, and all of a sudden I felt all peace leave my body. I became short with the kids, I got a little road rage, but mostly, I felt insecure. Almost immediately the enemy came in with his lies. “See no-one wants to hear from you.” “You shouldn’t even do this.” “This should just be Sarabeth’s blog, quit while you can, before you make a fool out of yourself.” I had to literately pull the car over and delete the app. I know that might seem extreme for some but I needed a second to just stop and pray. I started by telling the devil he was a liar and that I didn’t care if anyone wanted to hear from me or not, I was going to share what was one my heart, even if just one person saw it. Then I prayed for forgiveness. I know God asked me to lay it down and I needed to repent for picking it back up. It’s important that we know how the devil gets in. We need to be aware of the doors we leave open in our lives, so we can be quick to shut them.

    For me, social media is a door that I kept open and comparison, self-doubt , self hatred, discontentment, greed, jealousy, lust and many other sins would suddenly walk right in and make themselves at home in my life. Now, again, I always feel the need to say that I by no means think social media is EVIL! But you need to make sure it doesn’t become unhealthy for YOU. The biggest thing I can tell so far from being off social media is an over all calmness. I don’t feel like I panic or become upset as easily as I use to. And honestly nothing has changed other than not looking at social media. It isn’t from lack of things to stress over either. From getting two flat tires while on vacation to coming home to find out that my AC was broken and that my husband had moved up our closing dates and we would be moving out in 5 days (which I had not packed one thing). Oh and all this happened while my husband was in Texas. So I have plenty to be melting down about but I just had an overwhelming peace. I know for a fact that it is because instead of checking Facebook or Instagram and seeing the happy versions of people’s lives and comparing it to mine, I’ve been checking my Bible app and applying God’s truth to my life instead. It has really made such a big difference. I know this year is going to be slam packed with amazing things just by simply saying Yes to God and laying down something I didn’t really need in my life to begin with. Social media is a very convenient tool but it is not a need! Maybe ask yourself, could you go without it?

    I’m not saying everyone needs to give up social media this is just a season God has called me into. But think about it, what would your life look like if you quit looking at social media. What would you do with all that free time?

    A letter to my baby who isn’t here.

    If you’ve read our bios or if you know us at all, you know that the Wheeler fam is currently going through an adoption of a little guy from Korea. God laid it on my heart even as a young teenager that I would adopt one day so I have always known that was “part of the plan”, but to actually walk out the process is something much different.

    We’re into our second year of this adoption process. We know who our baby is. His name will be Maverick James Ha-yul Wheeler. He is a teeny little thing with legs like Karsen’s (we fondly call them little chicken legs) and a head full of beautiful black hair. I sit and just stare at his photos. We don’t have many, but the ones we do have I look at daily. I read over his doctors visit notes, I go back and look at his biography we were sent when we very first were matched with our boy. I feel like a pregnant woman, ripe with the expectation of her baby coming soon. But then I realize, in a lot of ways I’m not either.

    Pregnant women have at least some idea of their due date, I do not. Pregnant women know that they will be the first to hold, care for, love their baby, and I will never have that. God put this little guy in my heart long, long ago, and I know without a shadow of a doubt that this is what we are called to do, but I will be very honest here, this HURTS.

    I got a doctors visit update today that shook me in a way no other one has: he’s walking. MY baby is walking. And I wasn’t there to see. There may not even be video or photos of the moment for me to relive later. It’s a moment in time that has now come and gone and I wasn’t there for it. This breaks me in a way I didn’t know I could be broken, y’all. To know that his first birthday is coming up next month and I won’t be there to watch him blow out his candle or open his little gifts. I am crying just thinking about those moments.

    We went on a family trip to Orlando recently and on one of the nights we decided to have dinner and walk around Downtown Disney (yeah I know it’s Disney Springs now, but I am OG, so it’s Downtown Disney. Lol) and I wanted to get Maverick a gift while we were there. As I was walking around the Disney store, trying to figure out what the perfect present would be, I found myself feeling so sad. So burdened. In the midst of pure joy in “the happiest place on earth” I felt overwhelmed by a feeling of emptiness. Yes, this was a great vacation. Yes, we were having an amazing time. But no, the whole family was not there. I have 3 babies and only 2 were with me. When I look back on the photos of our family from this trip, Maverick won’t be in them. He won’t have the memories that we do. He won’t have been a part of it all.

    People often ask me “is it hard to wait?”. No, it’s not. It’s excruciating to wait. It’s overwhelming and too much to handle many times. It’s so difficult to balance being mommy to 2 other littles and trying not to burden them with these feelings. To constantly pretend like this is easy. To constantly pretend like I don’t want to just break down. But, I do know, there is a light at the end of this tunnel. Maverick is my light. That little face, those little toes, those precious eyes, those perfect fingers, make this all worth it. And so, I will keep pressing, I will keep plugging along through a process that feels never ending at times, because I know that there’s a little fella depending on us on the other side.

    Maverick James, My Mavvy, Mommy loves you SO MUCH! I am on the edge of my seat, waiting for the day I can finally bring you home. Even not being in our home yet, you still bring us all such joy. Your brother and sister cannot wait to meet you in person. Your daddy and I talk about you constantly. You cannot begin to imagine the love that you will be walking into, not just from us, but from hundreds of people who also eagerly await your arrival. You have been prayed for, hoped for, and loved already more than you could ever know. Your life is so precious to us. We thank God all the time for the gift of being your parents. Keep waiting for us, baby. We are trying so hard to get to the point of bringing you home. Every shed tear, every paper signed, every mile driven, every penny spent, will be so worth the moment you come home to us. We love you, Mavvy.

    That dirty, ugly, beautiful word.

    You know the one. The one we, as women, just can’t bare to say. For some reason we treat it like a swear word and gasp at the idea of it ever coming out of our mouths.


    Woah, I know. It’s a bombshell for sure. And it’s one that I am in a season of learning how to use.

    So, by nature, my knee jerk reaction to anything I’m asked to do is “absolutely!”. I do, after all, have a servant’s heart and a servant NEVER dares to say no, do they? Growing up in the church, especially as a woman, I believe we are taught this principle. You do what’s asked of you and you always look for opportunities to serve more. Need more volunteers for nursery? Sign me up! Need someone to help stay to clean up after an event? Of course I will. Need another small group leader? Well, you’ve found your girl. This is who I am, right? I’m a servant, so I can’t possibly say no.

    Oh, but you can, my friend. And this is what I am learning. You are 100 percent in control of the choices you make. If you are bogged down, worn out, and just plain tired, that is ENTIRELY your fault! Now, I know that sounds incredibly harsh, but we’re all grown ups here and frankly, we need harsh sometimes. We need to know that submitting ourselves to the hustle and bustle and the go, go, go has landed us in this place! So, what do we do?

    Well, we take a look at our lives. We take a look at all our “yes’s” and we figure out what’s truly important to us and a real necessity, and what we could respectfully step down from or cancel. Because here’s the thing. All those well-intentioned yes’s have also lead you to unintentionally say a whole lot of “no’s” too. Yes to leading another small group? No to the kids needing one on one time with their mom. Yes to a girls night out with friends? No to your husband wanting some quality time. And those no’s? Those are going to impact your life a heck of a lot more than all those yes’s you’re busy handing out. And here’s the thing, I’m not saying say no to everything! I believe leading small group is great, I believe girls nights out are necessary, I believe these are innately good things! But, what I encourage you to do, is begin to actually think and weigh your answers before blurting them out. Think what saying yes to something else will mean for your family, your kids, your husband, your time with God, your “you” time. If the yes is going to suck the energy out of the things that really matter in your life, maybe a polite pass is a good idea. One day, down the road, you’ll look back on your life, and do you want to say “I did a lot of stuff” or do you want to say “I did what was important and what I was passionate about”. It’s just that simple.

    So, I give you permission. Say no. It’s really ok. You are giving someone else an opportunity to step up and shine. And that’s great! And you’re giving yourself some freedom and peace. And that’s AMAZING. You can do it. NO.

    Tackling Lunch Time

    School is starting here in the great state of Georgia and one of our Raised By Grace babies is headed off to kindergarten! It’s a fun and crazy time mixed with tons of emotions and excitement for sure. This will be a huge transition for Karsen as he has never gone to a full day school before (he went to a half day preschool a few times a week the past 2 years) and there will be some challenges presented by this new schedule of his! One thing that I anticipate being hard for him is not having enough energy to get through a long school day like that. His school doesn’t have nap or rest time for Kinders (don’t even get me started on my feelings on that craziness!!) and that’s a long day for a little guy. Something that I feel like I can do as a parent, though, is to make sure that I’m packing good and nutritious lunches for him each day that will fuel his body and give it the boost of energy he needs!

    Let’s be honest, though. Kiddos don’t always gravitate to the healthy choices. I would love to pack him a good salad or tons of greens and fruits each day, but the reality is, if he doesn’t like what it looks like, he probably won’t eat it. Now, I do have really good eaters. They aren’t picky about much to do with food. But, being in school and around other kids, Karsen likes having “kid like” food like everyone else. So, how do I balance fun food with good food? Here’s some things that I have found work really well for us:

    1) take a typically not-so-healthy choice and make it yourself with better ingredients! For example, pizza bagels are laden with sugar and lots of crappy stuff. But, my kiddos LOVE them. So, what do I do? I make my own! They sell mini whole wheat bagels in the bread aisle of many stores. I spoon a generous amount of sauce (I prefer either making my own or one without lots of sugars in it) over the top and spread it. I top that with mozzarella cheese and place a few turkey pepperonis on before throwing it in the oven. These are easy for them to eat at lunch time and they feel like they are having a “treat” with getting pizza!

    Try thinking of ways you can take YOUR kiddos fav junk foods and giving them a healthy, homemade spin!

    2) DIY!!!! I don’t know about your kids, but mine love a good DIY. No, I’m not talking about a home improvement project, I’m talking about their lunch! Anytime I can give them a lunch disassembled and let them put it together themselves, they think it is absolutely the coolest lunch ever. Some ways I do this in lunch box lunches are: homemade lunchables! Lunchables are honestly not my kiddos most favorite (aside from the pizza kind-if you can’t tell by now my kids love pizza. I blame their dad 🤣) so it’s not like they ask for lunchables all the time or anything, but they still love my version of the popular kids food.

    For the DIY lunchables, I put in whole wheat crackers or rice crackers, cheese that I either slice or cut into a shape with a small cookie cutter, and turkey or pepperoni. My kiddos have these little compartments in their lunches that I absolutely love: Rubbermaid LunchBlox. Even with those, though, I needed a way to separate out the different items for the cracker stackers, so I started using cupcake liners! Easy, cheap, and keeps everything separated and in its place til lunch time.

    ***(Side note: these are my absolute favorite name labels for food containers, water bottles, etc. They are water proof, dishwasher safe, and seriously stay on FOREVER! The company I order them from is called Dinkleboo and they have pre-made labels or you can create your own with your child’s favorite color, animal, sport, what font you want, etc. They’re about 10 dollars for 48 labels and I swear that will last you a LONG time!)***

    Another great DIY idea for lunches is mini chicken tacos. I put in a few taco shells (either hard or soft whichever your child prefers), some shredded chicken, cheese, and a little pico. Salsa and guacamole can get kind of messy, so I try and stick to things that they can easily pick up with their fingers without getting all gross. Again, I use cupcake liners to separate these out in their lunchbox. The aluminum liners work best for meat items that might have a little grease or juice in them.

    3) One fun side, one healthy side. We’re all about balance over here, and one way I do that in their lunches is to pack a “fun” side like gummies or chips. And a “healthy” side like fruit or veggies with hummus. I tell my kids that their healthy one needs to be eaten first and honestly they usually do that. Obviously, make sure that whatever fruit or veggie you pack your child is one they enjoy. No need to take your battle over food issues to the lunchroom, save those for home. Both my children do not care for bell peppers, so of course I’m not going to send those to school. But they each love raw broccoli and cauliflower, so those would be good choices for them that I know they’ll eat. I also don’t suggest candy for their “fun” side. A sugar high mid-school day is definitely not ideal, and I would never want my kiddos having candy to make other kids upset. Best the candy stays home and is maybe a treat later on in the day.

    4) Take the classics and make them fun! Let me tell you, as much as I make these fun choices for my kids, I guarantee my 5 year old will still tell me that he prefers a Peanut Butter and Nutella sandwich. It’s by far his favorite lunch and he would have it everyday if I let him. So, on days that he takes a sandwich, I always cut it into fun shapes for him. Some days I use cookie cutters (I usually let him pick out which he wants me to use. We have large and small so sometimes I cut several little shapes or sometimes one big one) and some days I like to cut my own shapes. In preschool and kindergarten, they are learning a lot about letters and numbers. So, if there’s a week where they are working on a letter that’s fairly easy to cut out, I will do that. Or I might cut a K for Karsen. Get creative with it!

    5) Give yourself grace. Would it be awesome if your child had a super balanced and healthy lunch each day? Sure. Will it be reality? Probably not. Especially if you have more than one kiddo in school and your mornings are crazy hectic (although, side note, I prep as much as I can the night before for lunches) and you just are trying to survive. Trust me, I understand. So give yourself some grace, and make it happen when you can. Nobody’s judging your PB and J and Cheetos lunch, I promise. But these are just some tips and ideas for when you do want to make their lunches a little more fun and exciting.

    Hope these ideas are helpful and y’all are able to use some of them with your own kiddos! Let us know if you do. We love to hear your feedback and your own ideas of lunchbox ideas too!

    Exploring With Kids

    IMG_7111 copyThere is a first time for everything and this is my first time taking a vacation on my own with the kids! Growing up I lived a very spontaneous life style. That all changed when I got married to my husband, though. Yes, he was in the military, but so were his parents so he has always lived a very structured and planned out life. “Sowder’s don’t do spontaneous!”, or so I’ve been told a time or two ;). So I changed my ways when I changed my name, or I tried my best. But, this week my husband was off to Texas for a week for work. I saw my opportunity to take the kids on a fly by the seat of your pants adventure! Of course, with children there is some planning involved but I kept that to a minimum. I did things like calling ahead of time and planning where we would go and who we would stay with, but other than that NO plans, just adventure. It’s important to me that my kids have a balanced upbringing. We started our trip in the mountains with one of my best friends and her son. She and a friend took their kids on one last trip before school started back, so we just crashed with them for the night. Which worked out great because our kids got to have the time of their lives with a huge water ballon fight in the woods, and once we got them all in bed the moms got to relax in the hot tub and laugh our little hearts out while enjoying a trip down memory lane playing an old school game of M.A.S.H! IMG_0204We woke up to a big family style breakfast with a great view of the mountains and shared a quick morning devotional with the kids before hitting the road again. Our next stop would be visiting my brother and his family in Chattanooga. That is the part of the trip I really want to break down and share with you guys. There is SO MUCH to do in Chattanooga and I never knew it. I honestly never thought of it as a vacation spot before my brother moved here, and I had a free place to stay lol. But it is loaded with family fun activities for everyone to enjoy. My Brother & his wife had to work our first morning here so we set out to explore the city on our own. I’m not going to lie, I didn’t think we would get far. But the kids did surprising well. I felt like a total boss mom walking around town with two kids who were on their best behavior. We did have one pesky dilemma, so it wasn’t 100% smooth sailing but I was super proud of me & my crew!!! So here are some of the fun things we did and if you and your family every find yourself in Chattanooga, maybe you’ll want to do these things too!

      First Stop Aretha Frankensteins for Breakfast: IMG_0269WOW! This place was SO GOOD! It was a funky little pancake house. I ordered the waffle and it was honestly the best waffle I have ever eaten. Daniel really enjoyed all the fun decor and he devoured his pancake! It is super tiny, so you might have to wait if they are busy, but it is so worth it. I would totally recommend trying it if you’re in the area!

    Then Off To Coolidge Park: IMG_0299

    This place has so much to offer for the kids. It was full of momma’s with their babies. They have a HUGE splash pad with fun statues the kids can climb on. Miles and miles of walking trails that go over these really cool bridges that overlook downtown Chattanooga, which Daniel thought was the coolest. I forgot to snap pictures of it because I honestly had my hands full with two kids, so you’ll just have to take my word on it. It is worth seeing 🙂 But I think the coolest part was the indoor carousel. Audrey LOVED IT! Daniel thought the fact that he had to buy his ticket and turn it in to ride was the greatest thing ever. He is simple lol, but he would have stayed there all day had I let him.

    The Good Dog for lunch:IMG_0296

    So to add to the coolness of Coolidge Park there are a ton of little shops and restaurants right along the park. We ate at a place called “The Good Dog”, because I knew Daniel would eat a hotdog. But, I was presently surprised to find out they had more than your basic hotdogs. They had vegan dogs, sausage dogs that they make in house and all kind of specialty hotdogs ( I got the Hawaiian.. it was so tasty) But y’all their fries were EVERYTHING! I don’t know if it is because I quit eating fries a couple of months ago that these fries tasted so heavenly, but when I stole one from Daniel just to try it because I saw they were cutting them fresh in house, well I had to go back and buy my own. And if you make it into here, do yourself a favor and try their housemade ketchups!!! You’ll be happy you did!

    One last Stop at Frios Popsicles Before Nap Time: IMG_0303

    After Lunch we walked to a Toy Store that has a great area for kids to play with toys they may/ may not want to buy. PLUS IT’S INSIDE. So if you want to get out of the mid-day heat this is another cool place to play. All in walking distance from the park. After we played with some cool- but overpriced toys (lol), we treated ourselves to some popsicles made from all fresh ingredients. Daniel got a zesty Orange one that I was more than happy to finish for him when he was done with it. It was so refreshing! I’m not big on popsicles normally but these were so good, and something fun for Daniel and I to do together. Even Audrey got to enjoy a cold refreshing treat! Which she loved and greatly appreciated for her teething gums i’m sure.

    IMG_0315After that we went back home to nap (well the kids did. I started writing this blog) until my brother and sister got home. Upon their arrival, we ate dinner and went out to a fun pool/park. On Monday nights they have “Family Night” and it only costs like $5 bucks for 6 of us to go. I’m not sure what all the details were, but It was a lot of fun and the kids had a blast. It was the perfecting ending to a fun day!   IMG_0320

    There are tons of other things you can do with kids while visiting Chattanooga, but not all of them I would do alone. We also went to the Children’s museum here one day while my sister in law was off work. The kids LOVED it.. Even Audrey. But this isn’t something I would do alone. IMG_0375

    Some other places to check out would be Rock City, Lookout mountain, Ruby Falls, and any of their hiking trails if you have older kids. There are so many outdoor adventures here and that’s what I love. Another great thing about Downtown Chattanooga is there are like no fast food places (that I saw), and I love that. It really promotes an active healthy lifestyle. Also there are so many neat places to eat. A real foodies paradise. So if your looking for a fun place to take your kids I would totally recommend Chattanooga. I would also recommend checking out The Chattanooga ChooChoo. They have old train cars that have been converted into hotel rooms! (Now that’s a cool memory for a kid). Hopefully this was helpful, but more than anything remember that you don’t have to stay home because you have kids. GET OUT AND EXPLORE! There is a whole world out there they know nothing about!!!

    Say cheese 🧀

    Okay So It’s no secret we are obsessed with our children 😉 But another thing I am slightly obsessed with is photography. Every year, around Daniel’s birthday, I like to take him out for a fun little photo shoot. I do this for multiple reasons: the first one being I know we will both love looking back and watching how he has grown up over the years. Another one being it helps promote my photography business when I share them with the world on social media 🙂 But, the thing I’ve found the most enjoyable about this tradition is how much Daniel and I love to have a day of adventure together! It’s kind of become our thing.

    At Daniel’s 2nd Birthday Photo Shoot we did a baseball theme! ( because I love sandlot )

    So, today I wanted to share with you guys some of my tricks to getting kids to take great pictures. Also, how as a mom you don’t always have to hire an expensive photographer to take your families photos! ( self plug: I’m not expensive 😜 & I’m always willing to work with your budget, because I think all families should have good photos)

    The first tip I want to share when taking photos with you little ones is make sure you incorporate things they like. PROPS ARE CLUTCH! For example, as you can see in the photo above when my son was turning 2, we did a baseball themed photoshoot. Much like all boys, he loved anything to do with playing ball. So having the baseball and baseball bat for him to play with really made it interactive and kept him having fun. This way it wasn’t just me telling him to say cheese for mommy over and over again. IMG_9135Another good idea is to incorporate their favorite toys. Not only does it give them something to play with, but when you look back on these photos in years to come, you will be able to relive their favorite childhood memories all in one picture.

    Second key tip is to take someone with you! It will be the most helpful thing if you have someone to hold things for you and help out with your children while your getting ready for the next shot.

    The next great tip is about camera settings. When I’m doing a photo shoot with children, I always make sure I turn on continuous shooting mode to ensure I capture the perfect moments. Another good tip when it comes to camera setting for kids is to turn up your shutter speed. Kid move around a lot: that’s just who they are. There isn’t much we can do about that. BUT we can turn up our shutter speed to freeze the movement and make sure we get a good photo of them having fun! I normally make sure I keep it around 1/200th of a second or faster if you camera will let you.

    When Daniel was turning 3 he loved trains! So I found an old train and took his picture on it. HE LOVED IT. I mean look at that smile.

    Don’t have a fancy camera? No problem. That doesn’t have to stop you from taking great pictures. Pretty much any smart phone nowadays will take great pictures. I recommend downloading a good editing app to take your pictures to the next level. Lightroom is one I would recommend, but there are tons out there. Just play around with them until you find one that works for you.

    My favorite thing to do when taking pictures of my son is to recreate moments year after year. Another thing I love is 1950-1970’s photography so I put the two together and made this moment that we do in every Birthday photo shoot with my son. THE COKE BOTTLE! IMG_9302

    I mean if those don’t scream old Americana! ( and yes I’ve sent them into Coke, but haven’t heard back for all three years. 😂) But these are just so much fun.

    A new thing I did this year for Daniel’s photoshoot was order a Shirt with his age on it. I ordered from this cute little Etsy shop called HighStreetLittles! It fit perfect and It will also double as his birthday outfit 😊 For our other props this year we did FIREWORKS! This was the first year Daniel really got into the fourth of July, so since then he has been all about smoke bombs. Lucky for me his birthday is in July, so I was able to score a great deal on some marked down smoke bombs.

    This is great because taking pictures with these things are a challenge. I would recomend buying the ones that last 30 seconds or longer so you have more time to get your shot. But these were on sale so these are the ones I got. If you can’t see in the picture, they were buy one for $2 and get 3 boxes free. So, we had plenty to play around with.

    My last tip is LOCATION & TIMING! I live in the south so pretty much all day is too hot to take picture of kids. But I like to shoot at twilight for the best lighting. Which in the summer is like 7:00pm – 9:00pm. It’s when the sun is setting and it’s kind of cooling off. Another great thing to do is make sure your location not only fits your photos, but is safe for your child. You don’t want to be somewhere there are a ton of people coming and going, because that creates distractions for your kids. This year, to match the fire works, I wanted a real urban background. I drove around a few days before I planned to shoot looking for some graffiti that wasn’t in a horribly dangerous part of town, if you know what I mean. I was able to find this great little shipping container in a parking lot downtown. It was behind a business, so the time we went down there was perfect because all the workers were gone for the day and we had the whole parking lot to play with.

    That night we also visited one more stop and it was an underpass where some train tracks are. And I must tell you it is technically illegal to trespass on rail road tracks. So, consider yourself warned. But, it also created a fun place for Daniel to explore while I took his pictures. A must have fun out door adventures is BUG SPRAY! Nothing will shut down a photoshoot like a child getting attacked by bugs. YUCK!   IMG_6519

    My best advice over all would be just keep shooting. We had coke explode on his new shirt (which, trust me, it was hard for me to withhold my mommy melt down) But you can’t let the little things stop you from getting your shot. It didn’t even end up showing up in most of the photos anyways.

    Let your child be themselves and get shots of that. Try to avoid anything too horribly posed. Just let your kids be themselves. I promise it makes for the best photos! Hope these tips can help you out in your photos to come. I’ll leave y’all with a few of my favorites from over the years.

    And Always if you would like for me to take pictures of your kids just let me know 🙂

    Tackling Vacation with Kids: packing, car rides, and much more

    Recently, almost my whole side of the family took a big summer vacation trip to Universal Studios in Orlando for the week. It was such a fun trip and the kids did amazing with it, but one thing I think parenting continually does for me is to remind me that I have to let go of expectations and go with the flow sometimes. Kids’ moods are unpredictable, weather is unpredictable, there’s just a ton of variables when going on vacation, especially to a place like a theme park, that can affect your experience. One thing I’ve found, though, is despite needing to go with the flow, being unprepared is also not an option with kids either. So I want to offer some tips to all you mommas out there on how I pack and prepare for trips with my kiddos to try and make our vacation go as smoothly as it can (within my realm of control, that is.)

    1) Organization is your best friend. When it comes to packing for trips, I try and make our packing process as organized as I possibly can. I think of what each day will look like in terms of plans and pack my children outfits and extra items for the day in a large ziplock bag marked with what day it’s for.

    Extras for us include underwear, socks, shoes, hats. Anything the outfit would need to be complete. When getting ready in the morning before heading out for the day, the last thing I want to be doing is rummaging around in a huge suitcase, attempting to find every piece of an outfit my child needs. This also allows me to very easily get my husband involved in the getting ready process in the morning, because all I have to tell him is to go find the “Monday bag” or “Thursday bag” and he can help to get the kids ready with no issues. When laying all the outfits out, I also figure out which bows Sadie will need with each outfit, but those get packed separately.

    *Moms of girls* I suggest getting yourself a pencil box (they can be found at most stores, this one came from Walmart) and storing the bows for the trip in there. They won’t get squished this way and you can keep them altogether.

    2) Comfort items keep them calm! My kids love to cuddle with a blanket and stuffy at night and in the car on a long road trip. I don’t like to take every single stuffy we own and I also don’t think it’s practical to take a huge blanket, so I have a few ways to make this tip work for you. If your child is attached to one stuffed animal in particular, obviously that’s the one you should bring. My kids, however, change their favorite from week to week, so the day before our trip, I ask them to go in their rooms and choose one stuffy that they want to bring with us. That way they get some say in what they bring and it gives them a job while I get the packing done. We also have these amazing blankets from Shop Highway 3 that are super lightweight, unbelievably soft, and are perfect for road trips and cuddling up in a hotel bed. They come with us everywhere we go.

    3) Speaking of getting the kids involved, I ask both kids to also take a bag and go through the playroom, choosing a few toys that they would like to have in the car and while we are at the hotel or vacation home or wherever. Again, this gives them a job while I’m trying to get other things accomplished, and they love being “in charge” of their own things.

    4) Pack smarter, not more. I have a confession to make: I am a classic overpacker by nature. I tend to want to pack any and everything and end up not using 50 percent of what I packed because we didn’t need it. In terms of luggage and clothing, the labeled bags help tremendously. But when it comes to snacks for the kids, here’s my tip on not bringing your entire pantry. These snack boxes are actually bead organizers that I got from the craft section at Walmart. Karsen’s I got a while back, but Sadie’s I got just recently. It was about an 8 dollar purchase, and to me, totally worth it. I take a bunch of different snacks that I know my kiddos love and put a handful in each compartment. Some are more healthy options like fruit and cheese, others are “treats” like marshmallows or M&Ms. When they start asking for a snack, I’m able to pull out just one thing and they have tons of options all at once. My kiddos are grazers also, so this works perfectly for them. I don’t suggest this if you have kids that might throw the snack box or dump it out. But if you think your kiddos would do well with it, give this a try. Mine love them!

    I also bring the kids water bottles and the little single serve pouches of drink mix. This way, we can fill their water bottles up almost anywhere, and if they want juice, we can easily add the drink mix to their bottle. This saves on having to bring bottles of juice with us. This was a great item to take in the theme parks as well, as almost any restaurant we stopped at was happy to fill up their water bottles with ice and water for free!

    5) Remember that this is vacation and have some fun! Their clothes might get messy, they may eat not as healthy as what you’re used to, they may choose to do rides or attractions that you would not have picked, but guess what?? They are having FUN momma! If you let loose, they can too! Don’t get stuck in every little detail to the point of driving yourself crazy. Show your kids that it’s ok to kick back and relax and just have a little fun! When they look back on vacation, you want them to remember you with a smile on your face, now don’t you?

    I hope these tips and tricks are helpful for some of you! Let us know if there are other things that you all do as a family to make your vacations a little easier. We’d love to get your feedback!

    Birthday on a budget

    I love a good Pinterest worthy party; I really do! But that just wasn’t in the cards for me this year. You see my son’s 4th birthday just so happens to fall right smack dab in the middle of us closing on our house and looking for a new one. If you’ve never done either, let me just tell you there is a good chunk of change coming out of your pocket between closing costs and inspections, and so on.. but I digress. Back to party planning! If you’re looking for the over the top, Pinterest perfect theme: keep looking! (Ha) because I’ve gone into total MOTHER HUSTLE MODE and I’m going to share with you how to Birthday on a Budget!

    1. Find some extra cash: Like I said, we are in the middle of moving, so I went through my kids toys (that they forgot they even own 🤫) and took them to a store called Kid to Kid. It’s a second hand store for kids where you can buy and sell clothes and toys. I made 60 bucks between my two trips, so I made that my budget 👍🏽.
    • 2. Find a venue: I decided the best place to have the party this year was a FREE place. Very friendly on the budget. We picked a local park that had a splash pad to beat the heat! You could always throw it at your house, too, to save on venue cost.IMG_6887
    • 3. Timing is everything: food is another big cost when throwing a party, so if you pick a time isn’t a typical meal time, you can cut back on cost, and only serve cake and drinks 🎂🥤.
    • 4. GO Digital: Skip on printing invitations, and make a Facebook group or send out a group text! Gets the same message across and it can’t be lost or thrown in the trash.
    • 5. Theme / decorations: hit up the dollar store! They will have what you need. And I mean why pay more than a dollar for something people are just going to throw away. Like table clothes, plates, cups, napkins, and you can even get party favors if you choice to go that route. I decided not to do party favors this year. I mean, what parent doesn’t want more junk in their cars? Am I right?(you’re welcome 😉). However, I did make my own 4 dollar piñata!! So that will have fun little surprise in it. That way the kids won’t feel totally cheated (lol). img_9247
    • 6. Entertainment: I got the kids to have a big water balloon fight or you could do a water gun fight. (you can get water balloons & water guns from the dollar store. )IMG_6916
    • 7. Make your own cake: another way to save some money is to make your own cake. I typically pay anywhere from $60-$120 for custom cakes, so needless to say I saved a lot of money this year by making my own. (shout out to my sister for all her help. Stand-by: how to on this super hero cake coming soon) IMG_6901Then Just Invite people you want to share your moment with! It can sometimes be stressful trying to make sure you haven’t left anyone out when celebrating kids birthdays. But make it simple just ask your child who they want to come, and do your best to make sure they can come. After all it is all about them. Share that day with people who love and support your child, not just any and everyone you can think of. I think when your kids are younger, keeping it small is best. You don’t want to overwhelm them with too many people, and if too many kids show up, someone ends up getting left out. So my suggestion would be to keep it simple & small. Quality over quantity! Those are the tips and tricks I have for your next birthday on a budget! What I loved most was that it was simple and easy. I’ve always heard of parents who only celebrate mile stone birthdays with a party and that’s a great money saver idea. I personally get too excited planning my kids’ birthdays to be able to pull that one off, but I do love that idea. Also if you’re more into the over the top Pinterest party I was referring to earlier, don’t you worry! Sarabeth will be having a party soon enough and she always knocks her party’s out of the park!! We will have another birthday blog for you party planners soon!

    Getting (un) social

    So, my husband’s wildest dreams are coming true. I’m saying good bye to social media. That’s right: I’m going off the grid. Well kind of, I’ll still be blogging so it’s not a total loss. But this is a big deal for me. I’ve never considered myself social media crazy. I mean, I really don’t even post all that much. But, recently God laid it on my heart that I should lay it down. Over the past couple of weeks, He has really been showing me how it’s become an unhealthy part of my life. For years, it was just part of my job. So it became almost second nature to be checking in and posting for multiple different accounts including my own. But, since becoming a stay at home mom, there really isn’t any reason to be so consumed by social media. One of the biggest eye openers the Holy Spirit has shown me recently is that because I’ve become so social media savvy, I’ve become real life crabby.

    Screen Shot 2018-07-24 at 4.47.19 PM
    God’s way of making sure I stick to His plan LOL! 

    It’s no longer natural for me to engage with people face to face. I mean, I can do it, but it doesn’t come as effortlessly as it once did; and at times feels very uncomfortable. Honestly I noticed I feel way more comfortable reaching out to someone online than I do in person. And that is not at all who I want to be. Nor is it who I feel God has called me to be. Not to mention, the example it may be setting for my children. So here I am approaching my 28th birthday (on July 25th) and I’m actually going to do it! For a whole year- birthday to birthday! I’m going to spend my whole 28th year of life without social media 🤯. I know what your thinking,”aren’t you just now starting this blog?” And yes I am. And I really feel like it’s something God has called me to do. If for no one else other than myself. I feel as if he wants to take me back to a place where I created things out of passion and desire and not for “likes and comments” aka others’ approval. Sure it’s great if those things come along with it but I’ll be letting Sarabeth handle those from here on out. So stay tuned for more posts on my anti-social-media life.Who knows what could happen when I unplug.🤪I don’t want you to get the idea that I don’t like social media or that I think it’s bad. I really think if used correctly it can be a great tool. But I’m being super transparent here, it is no longer a healthy part of my life for many reasons and those reasons I will share with you all in posts to come. That is, if I see any difference in my life after getting off social media (lol). Who knows, the problems I’m seeing may have nothing to do with how much time I spend on social media but rather just who I am as a person. So stay tuned because only time will tell. 🤣

    Maw-Maw’s Chicken Biscuits

    So it’s dinner time and you want something easy to throw together before your husband gets home. This is my go to recipe! I grew up making it with my mom. To be sweet, I like to invite my son to help me in the kitchen when I make them. There are a lot of kid friendly steps; plus, it helps me kill two birds with one stone. I can cook dinner and keep him out of trouble 😉. (Side note: I made these for a cook-off at church the other night and WON! So, you can even call this an award winning recipe)


    1 rotisserie chicken

    2 crescent dinner rolls

    1 can cream of chicken soup

    1 (8oz) cream cheese

    If cooking with kids, I recommend making sure everyone washes their hands first 😉. You should do that first every time but it’s extra crucial with kids lol.

    First: You’ll want to pull all the meat off the chicken. I’m sure you could probably cook your own chicken, but I said this was an easy recipe, and who wants that extra step!

    Second: You’ll want to add the cream of chicken soup into a mixing bowl with your shredded chicken and cream cheese

    Third: Roll out your dinner rolls. I recommend using wax paper if you have some. I didn’t have any this time so I just cleaned really good first. Once you’ve got them all rolled out, spread the dough out as much as you can without it ripping. (*this is a great step for the little ones to help out with*)

    Fourth: Cut it it into equal parts, and fill it with about a spoon and a half full of your chicken mixture. Then, fold all the corners to the middle to make little biscuits.

    Last: Place biscuits on a cooking sheet, and cook at 350 until the biscuits are golden brown. They are now ready to serve! (The biscuits are the only thing that really need to cook.) Growing up my mom always served them with mashed potatoes and English peas. But tonight, I’ve made them with bacon and Parmesan zucchini and a side salad. 👍 super tasty and very easy!

    Shame, shame, shame…

    Alright, so I want to talk about something that has kind of become a “hot button” issue in the Mom World. And as soon as you read the phrase, you will most likely have to fight off every inclination you have not to close the page and never look back. BUT, I urge you to stay with me, because I have what I think to be a new perspective on this issue that could change everything we know about momming. Here it is, that big, ugly topic: MOM SHAMING!!!

    If you don’t know what this is, it has basically become the coined phrase in today’s society to describe moms who judge and look down on other moms because of differing opinions and ways of doing things. It includes big topics like breast versus bottle, organic and healthy versus feeding your kids via drive thru, private school versus public school, etc. It’s a topic that gets a lot of people (especially women) in a huge tizzy and it just basically is not cool. Here’s the thing about mom shaming: yes, it is a huge issue facing our society right now. Moms are made to feel bad about themselves for any and every decision they make because there will always be someone making a different (and in their eyes better) decision than them. But, I personally do not feel like mom shaming is the REAL issue here. If we delve deeper into this phenomenon, I think what the actual problem is is this: we, as moms, are actually shaming ourselves. We have grown so accustomed to over-criticizing every move we make that we are then projecting that mentality onto other women as well. We feel guilty and live with a constant feeling that we are not good enough. That we are not worthy to be “Momma” to our babies. And you know what? The enemy LOVES for us to live in that place. He loves to plant seeds of doubt and lack of self worth in our minds which then continue to grow and take over every thought we have. And now? He’s got help. Because now, with the touch of a button, we are instantly inundated by photos, posts, pins, and tweets SCREAMING at us how much we are lacking. We think to ourselves “I don’t look like that mom, I don’t make home cooked meals every night like she does, I don’t do fun crafts like her….” and we measure our momhood with this disproportionate measuring stick that makes us feel so beat down and belittled to the point where we begin to question every move we make. We, as mommas, are hurting. We do it to ourselves, but we are hurting so bad. And, as the saying goes, “hurt people hurt people”. We begin to take all that mom guilt, all that shame, all those insecurities, and instead of bringing them to the altar and giving them to the One who could wipe away all that pain and sorrow, we begin projecting it all onto those around us. We think that by judging someone else, we somehow are going to make ourselves feel better in the process. Y’all, at its core, Mom Shaming is a heart issue. If we, as women, would go to the Father, if we would read our Word, if we would pray, we could begin to see ourselves as He sees us. He sees us as enough, He sees us as beautiful, He sees us as being exactly the mom our children need. As exactly the wife our husbands need. As exactly the person that He created in His image. And God? He doesn’t make mistakes. So the next time you hop on Pinterest and start sinking into deep, dark mom depression, instead, pull out His measuring stick, and rest assured that no matter what kind of mom you are, you are more than enough and you are amazing just the way you are.

    Only By The Grace Of God

    So, here we are! Trying our very best to do this big job that God has called us to…PARENTING! img_5161We welcome you to join us on this journey as we share our mommy successes, mommy fails, and all the fun stuff in between! Just for fun, let’s give you a little back story on us: Sarabeth and Carolyn. Let’s take a trip down memory lane, shall we?? So, we grew up in the same youth group, but never with each other. Think of us as 2 ships passing in the night. After discussing it, we think we may have missed each other but only a few months. You see, Sarabeth’s family was in the military and moved states right about the same time that Carolyn started coming to church. So we didn’t really know each other, but we did know a lot of the same people. And if you were to ask a lot of those people about us, they would probably tell you that we were a very unlikely duo. And really, that’s what makes this all so funny! Growing up, Sarabeth was kind of your ideal teenager. She helped out in kids church, volunteered for things, and basically was a youth pastor’s dream. And Carolyn? Well…she wasn’t. She was more of a stereotypical teenager; testing her boundaries and hanging with the “cool kids”. But hey! It’s the lost the church is after, are we right?? Lol. Fast forward, now, to 2018 and here we are! The best of friends! How exactly is the possible? Well, for starters, Sarabeth moved back and we started attending church together, but-more than that, we are connected by the “BIG M”! Aka: MOTHERHOOD! (Side note- we realize no one actually calls it “the BIG M” but we were going for dramatic flare). Moving on! We were both pretty sure when we first met that we would be NOT be friends. Sarabeth is still super outgoing and the type of person who volunteers for everything and is the most enthusiastic volunteer they have. And though Carolyn has come a long way in her walk with the Lord, she’s not as outgoing, nor is she eager to sign up for more to do. Nevertheless, God had a plan and through some God encounters and our kiddos having playdates, we actually hit it off! We very quickly realized we were way more alike than we were different! We share a lot of the same struggles (we’re looking at you whiny kids and junk food addictions!), but we also have a lot of the same dreams and goals as well. Out of all that realization, you now have this blog! We couldn’t be more excited to collaborate and inspire other women just like us. Our greatest hope for this blog is this: we want to be able to share all the tips and tricks we have learned not only about motherhood, but also about marriage and friendships too! Really, just about life. We have realized one thing about life and it is that we can do nothing good without God’s grace. That brings us to the name of our blog: Raised By Grace. Because, we are raising children, raising standards, and raising  awareness and trying our best to do it gracefully in a way that will bring God glory!

    Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton