Kids say the darndest things...

Without ANY prompting I asked my kids these questions. Their answers are cute.
Carter (age 4)
1. What is something I always say to you?
clean up your room
2. What makes me happy?
when we clean our room without you having to tell us
3. What makes me sad?
when I hurt Lexi
4. How do I make you laugh?
5. What was I like as a young child?
your momma
6. How old am I?
7. How tall am I?
10 inches
8. What do I do when you're not around?
read books
9. What am I really good at?
10. What am I not very good at?
11. What do I do for a job?
look on your phone
12. What is my favorite food?
13. What do you enjoy doing with me?
going out for dinner

Without ANY prompting ask your kids these questions. Their answers are cute.
Griffin (age 6)
1. What is something I always say to you?
be wise
2. What makes me happy?
when I am nice
3. What makes me sad?
When I kick Carter in the butt
4. How do I make you laugh?
tickle my toes
5. What was I like as a young child?
a good basketball player
6. How old am I?
about to be 33
7. How tall am I?
500 inches
8. What do I do when you're not around?
text messages
9. What am I really good at?
10. What am I not very good at?
11. What do I do for a job?
work on Facebook
12. What is my favorite food?
13. What do you enjoy doing with me?
playing games


2 snows in 1 week!

Mother Nature sent us not one but TWO snows this week! The kiddos had a blast sledding and I'll bet you can never guess who was the bravest of them all?!? Lexi Grace :)


11th annual MLK Girls weekend

For the last 11 years, my Phi Mu college buddies have been getting together for a reunion on MLK weekend! This year we gathered in Nashville and celebrated an upcoming wedding AND baby! It is so fun to get together each year and reminisce of times past and also catch up on life now. Although our lives have each taken different paths, we always pick right back up where we left off. The bond we all have is priceless for sure!

We were very low key this year and enjoyed much of our time drinking wine in our pjs on the couch. However we did go out for a nice dinner on the town! It is always fun to get dressed up and enjoy a fantastic meal.

We ended our weekend with a Drag Queen Brunch. A first for me and interesting to say the least. But truth be told, any time I get with these ladies is always amazing!
Love you girls dearly and cannot wait until next year!


Remembering my Mamaw Ann

Missing my Mamaw today. Its been one year since she went to be with Jesus... oh how I miss her!

Here is what I shared about her at her funeral:
I am honored to be standing here with the opportunity to celebrate the life of a grandmother, mother, wife, sister, and friend. It is really difficult to put into words how much Mamaw has meant to me in the last 31 years but I hope to give you a glimpse of the legacy she has left me and our family. My earliest memories of her go back to my childhood when all the grandkids would spend the night with her. She would make a pallet out of cushions in her room for all of us and then we would wake up to her wonderful homemade biscuits and gravy. We would have contests to see who could eat the most and if I recall Alan won most of those. I am kidding, but Alan did like to remind me often that during those sleepovers, I would always convince Mamaw that I couldn’t go to sleep without her rubbing my back. And yes I do realize I was a bit spoiled. But let me backup to her cooking again. Everything she made was delicious and I loved sitting on her counter to “help” her. Usually the only helping I did was licking the batter off the spoon. Chocolate pies and cakes, chicken and noodles, and oh those biscuits that I know a lot of you all remember as well! Her house truly was the place where our family met, and even more special to me, it was where cousins became best friends. She loved all of her grandchildren so very much. At every birthday party, graduation, sports events, or anything we did for that matter. She made each of us quilts from the colleges we graduated from and she just loved to give us anything she could. Giving giving giving, always wanting to give us something. I never went to her house without walking out with something, and even until the last days of her life. I would go in asking how she was doing and she would immediately divert the question and say, “Go in there and get those Disney pens I have for the boys. I want to make sure they remember me.” To which I responded, Mamaw you don’t have to give us anything else, you have already given enough! And of course we will remember you. Not for the things that you’ve given us but the constant love and support you gave. She was always there.And sometimes even supporting me when no one else was. I’ll never forget when I had just had Carter and Griffin was two and we found out I needed to pack my whole house in 10 days and move. I freaked out a bit to say the least. But as soon as I called Mamaw, she could hear it in my voice and without me even asking she says, “We will be there tomorrow!” So here was Mamaw and Frank the next day taking care of my boys so I could pack. They would bring their camper and stay at the end of our road and the boys thought it was so cool that their house could drive! Every morning they would go and have breakfast in the RV, poptarts of course! Oh the many places those two went in their RV. I am SO thankful for all of the travels that she got to have. We always would have Thanksgiving at her house and combine Christmas then too because we knew that they would be flying south for winter and not returning until Spring. All 50 states they saw, and what an adventure I know that was! Some of you may not know that Mamaw and Grandpa Frank met line dancing. Boy did she love to line dance. I remember taking a social dance class in college and having an assignment to go to a community dance in Knoxville. Well when all of my classmates saw Mamaw and Frank there they said, “Wow. Your grandmother is here? That’s so cool!” Matching outfits and dressed to the 9’s, they shared many dances together and I loved tagging along with her! Cool and spunky are both words I would use to describe her personality. I am sure each of you have memories of her spunk too. It made me laugh everytime I would call her she would answer and say hello. Then I would usually say HEY MAMAW! To which she would reply WHAT! That same spunk stuck with her even when she got the news that she had stage 4 cancer and there was nothing they could do. She handled it with such poise and the nurses kept commenting on her stoic nature. Most people would not take that news head on like she did. “Well its going to be my time to go soon and I am sorry.” Even in that moment she wasn’t concerned with herself and how sick she was, she was concerned with her family, those that she would have to leave behind. She accepted that this was God’s plan for her. She did make sure to add her spunk back in though and add, “Well im still going to be around for another 6months to a year. You aren’t getting rid of me yet!” These last two months have been very difficult for her family to watch and at the same time we treasure the time we were able to spend with her. She really enjoyed all of the visitors that she had. I loved watching her with my children, still making memories by cooking chessbars and flapjacks, still smiling because she was so happy to have them around. She told the nurses several times, “Thanksgiving we had 45 people here in this house!” She was so thankful to have the whole family together again. Sharing stories, old pictures, laughing and crying together. None of us were ready for her to go and yet seeing her in so much pain we knew that she was ready. The last time I called and asked her how she was doing she said, “Terrible!” She always had a way of never beating around the bush. 2 days late I shared the news with my boys, Griffin and Carter who are 3 and 5. “Ive got good news! Mamaw was now with Jesus in Heaven and in no more pain! They paused for a moment as to try and comprehend what that meant and then Carter said, “Wow, Mommy! I wonder what its like in Heaven!” Right then in that moment when I was the saddest that I have ever been in my life and could not stop my tears from coming, my son quickly reminded me of what a celebrating that day was! This scripture came to mind: And God Himself will be with them and he will wipe away every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death, crying or pain.” I replied to Carter, “Buddy, there is no doubt that Mamaw is finding out all about heaven right now. I am sure she asked for the grand tour!”
I read this quote on Christmas eve out of a book she had while she was resting. “Our Christian hope is that we are going to live with Christ in a new earth where life is what it was always meant to be.” As I sat there holding her hand, and difficultly watched her body approaching her forever home I was made more fully aware than ever before the gift we have in Jesus. He came to deliver us from sin and death. To provide a way for us to live with Him for eternity and in a place where life is about what it was always meant to be. Being with God, enjoying God and being enjoyed by Him. He never intended for their to be death and sadness like we are experiencing right now. But thankfully, in His amazing love and grace He provided a way for us even when we continually disobey Him. We make life about everything but Him. And truly in the end, Mamaw knew it was all about Him. Its all about Jesus. He takes this sting of death away and we must remind ourselves that there is no hope without Him. I know each of you knew my grandmother’s giving heart. And I do believe that one of the last things she can give us is the reminder that nothing else matters. She couldn’t take her ‘things” with her. Her travels around the world, although fun, didn’t really matter in the end. What matters is that she loved Jesus. She put her faith in Him and now she is with Him for all of eternity. Can you imagine what its like? The bible says, “And there the multitudes were sitting around the throne singing, “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God almighty! Who was and is and is to come!” Mamaw is face to face with Jesus. Shes in no more pain, shes walking again and she is where she was always intended to be. I am so thankful for the legacy she left me. Always give to others, travel and see new things, don’t be afraid to try new things. Love and supporting your family is the greatest gift you can give them. And most of all to love Jesus. She has set the standard high for being a grandmother and I can only hope that one day I will have a granddaughter and have the relationship with her that mamaw and I had. I love you Mamaw! I know you are smiling down on me now and I hope I made you proud J


2016 Goals

In an effort to share my thoughts and memories of our family more, I am coming back to the blogging world! I was so good about it a few years ago and then life happened, we gained a few more kids, homeschool started and there was a lapse. So here is to BRINGING BLOGGING BACK for 2016 :)

Fitting as we start a new year to share our family's goals for the upcoming year. I am a big goal setter and I love to plan ahead. At the beginning of the year, it is a fresh start to get a game plan for how you want your year to look. Now if it goes according to plan, or better! is up to God! But I would much rather live a life by design rather than in default mode... so here is to planning ahead!!

I've shared some of our overall goals in the picture above but now I will go into a little more detail to show you what the plan is for each of these in case you too are planning ahead and want ideas.

Growing deeper in Christ- we have committed to praying together daily as a family, meeting with our discipleship groups once a week, and diving into more Scripture together. We also want to do book studies together and will start Shepherding a Child's heart in January to begin.

Say Yes more to kids- simply stated, I say NO ALOT! Its not good and I am making a conscious effort to stop. I have little reminders up on sticky notes in my home to remind me daily. Unless it is mandatory to say NO... I will choose to say Yes more.

Exercise- we did well with eating better in 2015 and now we need to add in exercise again. We go in spurts doing well, but again, life happens. JR and I have committed to doing morning workouts together 3 times a week, starting with P90x. Yall pray for me! Ha but seriously, we feel so much better when we do!

Invest in our marriage- we are doing a marriage retreat in January and planning to spend time away together for our 10 year anniversary in September. Life with 3 kids is chaos, and we need to connect more one on one. We will also do bi-monthly dates. Planning ahead now to make those happen!

Connect more with friends- in the busyness of life we typically crash every night instead of making an effort to connect more with friends. I want that to change. I love having relationships and it is worth investing time with people and so we will do that. At least once a month we will have a couple over for dinner. We are fortunate to have lots of friends in the area and I want to live life WITH people, not in a constant state of busyness where time passes by without connecting.

Have fun as a family monthly- We got Dollywood tickets for Christmas and I plan for either the kids and I to go once a month, or the whole family! During the winter months we will pick an indoor thing to do outside of the home together. Our kids are at fun ages and we want to invest the time to make memories together!

Blog more frequently- planning to do it once a week or so and share about life, marriage, homeschooling, raising kids, running a business, and whatever else comes up in the mean time. Check back often for more!

Dream bigger in business- I started with very small goals for R+F last year and this year I am setting off to dream BIGGER! More on that to come :)

one on one time with each child- very important to have individual time with each of our kids and so once a month Jr or I will take one out for a 1 on 1 date. Some of my favorite times with them are these and we want to make them happen more frequently! Again.. plan ahead!

plan 10 year anniversary trip- another way to invest in our marriage and celebrate what God has done in 10 years! We are planning now for a September get away!!

pray daily and give more generously- like our first goal to grow deeper in Christ, these two are very important things that we want to do more of as Christ followers. Love God and Love People. Thats all thats important!!

Less yelling and more kind words- having 3 kids is hard. someone is always yelling or getting upset. We want to be better encouragers to have self-control and share kindness. This starts with JR and I as parents.. they model our examples and currently its not pretty.  Just being real. Big big changes ahead! I have an idea to spur us on as a family in this endeavor and I will share that on the blog soon too!

Thank you for reading! I would love to hear your family's goals as well! Here's to a fantastic 2016!


Lifelong Marriage Conference

I am eager to get back into blogging more and wanted to share my heart on this awesome marriage conference I have been connecting to online this week. Ahhh... marriage is something that takes work and I am always so helpful to hear from others and learn from them. This specific session was with one of my favorite authors, Dr. Gary Thomas, who wrote Sacred Marriage. This is a book that I was introduced to early on in our marriage and I have reread it about 3 times already since then. SOO good!

I do encourage you to take 20 minutes to watch this segment with him:


Here are some key takeaways I have heavy on my heart and am praying for my own self and marriage.

"What if God designed marriage to make us more holy than more happy?" And of course in that I know that I will never be truly happy unless I am pursuing Christ and my fulfillment in Him. Quite frankly, I was one of those who believed in fairy tales and happily ever afters. But yall... its not always happy ha! I have seen over and over again how God really designed marriage more for my holiness, molding me to His likeness, than necessarily for my happiness. Of course that brings about happiness as I am molded and changed, but it is not an easy process. I am prideful, honorary, selfish and resilient to change. Seeing JR love me through my yuckiness is what brings us closer together. As he forgives me, just as Christ does, daily. Which brings up the next great point.

"Marriage doesnt make you happy, you make marriage happy." Yall its your mindset! Are you unhappy just because it isnt roses and fairy tales?

"A good marriage isnt something you find, its something you keep making." We are committed to continuing to work on our marriage, grow deeper, learn from each other, etc. You cant ever stop and think you have it all figured out. You have to continue to learn your partner, figure out how yall compliment each other best, work together as a team and stay in the fight with each other. Often times we think of marriage as planting a tree, Gary says. You plant it and water it in the beginning but then its good. No, on the contrary, its more like a brick house. It needs a strong foundation and CONSTANT maintenance. New roof, new floors, new whatever, and you get it fixed. It will not just be okay after you build it forever.

"Dont worry about falling out of love as much as you worry about falling out of repentance." Whew man that hits hard. And so true. When pride sets in, you get set in your ways and always look to the other to make a change and yet you are forgetting your part of repenting.

I plan to continue listening in and will blog again soon. Yall check out all of the videos if you'd like. Rich and powerful, and your marriage will thank you later for investing in it :)



JR and I decided to take on the Whole30 challenge in hopes of creating a better habit of eating and overall healthier lifestyle. We didn't eat terrible before, but doing this now for 16 days we can tell a HUGE difference in our bodies by just "eating clean." So what is whole30? Well there is a whole website called www.whole30.com that can tell you everything you want to know! Basics of no milk, butter, or any dairy products, bread, or processed foods. I am a rule follower and found it very helpful to see "eat this and not that" lists all throughout. I am fortunate to have several good friends who had previously done the challenge as well who have given me fantastic tips! My hope in sharing this blog is to share with you newbies that you TOO can do it.. trust me! If I can, you can! This is coming from a girl who never cooked with recipes and loved her 10pm tortilla chip and salsa snack :)
Here is a little run down of what we have been eating. For breakfast: EGGS! I've been buying tons of them at the store and yes we have eaten them every single day. I pair a fruit and/or veggie with it, add pepper and it fills us up so much! I was typically that girl who HAD to have cheese on her eggs. Come to find out.. nope I really don't!
For lunch we have had either a spinach salad with evoo as dressing or leftovers from dinner before. Snacks throughout the day include cut up veggies (such as cucumber, green peppers, carrots), almonds, a fruit (max of 2 fruits a day so I mix up when I get those), and Larabars. These bars are delish and found at Krogers!

Most of our dinner recipes have come from Pinterest searches or a friends recommendation. Tilapia with mango salsa, steamed broccoli and paleo mashed potatoes.  http://allrecipes.com/recipe/grilled-tilapia-with-mango-salsa/

Grilled burger and veggies (mushroom, peppers, onions)
No the kids aren't doing the full whole30 with us but I have been very surprised at what they have loved. Lexi was a HUGE fan of the kale chips :)
I was REALLY sad to see no pasta on the list but I have been pleasantly surprised with this meal. It will for sure take the place of spaghetti in our weekly menu.
Zuchinni noodles with organic sauce and turkey meatballs
To make the zeghetti noodles we bought the vegetti spiral vegetable maker
salmon crab cakes
one 6 oz can boneless salmon
1/2 med onion
1 tbs coconut flour
2 eggs
1 rib of celery
1 tbs dried dill
1 tsp lemon pepper
1/2 tsp sea salt
3 tbs coconut oil
1. In a bowl break salmon up and add onion, celery and spices.
2. mix in coconut flour and combine thoroughly
3. Add eggs and mix
4. Add coconut oil into skillet
5. shape patties roughly 2"
6. add patties to pan and cook until golden brown and then flip
Almond crusted salmon with asparagus and kale chips
One of the BEST things we did was to use our smoker to get delicious leftovers for lunch. Boston butt smoked it totally whole30.. yay!

Thanks to Jenn Wade we also had a tasty dessert too. Frozen bananas? Who knew!
My biggest suggestion if you want to give this challenge a go is to MEAL PLAN! I typically shop once a month, but now am going every two weeks. I get everything I need for breakfast, lunch and dinner and spend a few hours prepping by slicing everything and portioning it all out. It helps so much when you are ready for a snack and would usually run to the pantry for a bag of chips! Yes it takes time, but you CAN make the time :)
Another huge lifesaver has been this drink diffuser. I put a little fruit inside and let it sit overnight in the fridge and then I have added a little taste to my water. Yes we have only drank water! Besides our morning coffee.

And speaking of coffee. I cant stomach it just black so I've been adding a splash of this coconut milk to take the bitterness edge off. I'll admit its an acquired taste and not my typical creamer but it has grown on me :)
I hope this shed some light on the whole30 for everyone. JR is having to buckle his belt tighter to keep his pants up and I lost 6 lbs in 2 weeks... both of us are just eating better. We do hope to add exercise on a more consistent basis soon, but we already feel so much better just by eating well. Yes it takes more time, and is harder... but its so worth it!! I encourage everyone to try it :)