My little one year old

Seriously, when did this happen?  How did time fly so quick that Emerson is now one year old?  I remember the day she was born like it was yesterday so it seems like it shouldn’t be here yet, but here I am…reflecting on her one year birthday party and thanking God for letting me be her mommy.  So here is my letter to her (and pictures of her birthday party including the first fondant cake I have ever made thanks to my sweet neighbor Denise who went “all in” and taught me how to make it):


I remember the day we found out we were pregnant with you.  We had just went to Alex and Kristin’s wedding and knew at the wedding that we could be pregnant with a little blessing in my belly.  Sure enough, we took the test and found out that we were indeed expecting.

Then, I remember the day I had you.  Such a long labor as I tried for a VBAC (and was successful!).  I remember the sweet nurses and midwives who patiently waited for your arrival with us and I remember experiencing such joy the moment I saw you.  Having already had one daughter, I knew how much joy you had already brought but were going to bring to our family and what a delight it was to have a sweet baby girl.  You had a few rough nights in the hospital and then many more when we brought you home, but we all survived, and one year later, I can say it was all worth it.

There are so many things that you do and like that are distinctly you.  You love to snuggle and will often give us a hug “just cause”, you love to eat (and would eat for an hour straight if we let you), you love to dance and start spinning in circles when music comes on, you love to put things around your neck whether it be a guitar strap (with the guitar attached), a bookbag strap, or Kinsley’s play stethoscope, you love to chase your big sister and do anything she is doing, you love to climb, ride on things, be tossed in the air, or go fast (anything adventurous), you love to play with people but often have moments where you can entertain yourself by playing alone, you love your pacifier, you love to sleep, and you love to give people high-fives and clap.  You have no fear and take the world and everything head on and I pray that doesn’t change.  You have survived so many things your first year (RSV, many sickness and ear infections, getting run over by Kinsley’s car, falling down stairs, being pushed and hit down by your sister SO many times, etc., etc.) and it is a miracle that we have made it here!

I pray that God will draw you to Himself early in your life, that He will grow you and use you in powerful ways to bring Him glory, and that you will be a light for Him your entire life no matter what you decide to do.  You are a true miracle and we are so grateful the Lord choose us to entrust with your sweet life!

Seeing through their eyes

Going on adventures is so much more fun with little kids.  Seeing the world through their eyes is priceless.  Hockey games, the circus, ice skating, movies, and even going to the playground are all so much different with small ones.  Let me give you two examples from the last few weeks:

First – My good friend Jenn and I got this great Groupon for pottery painting at a place here in town and decided we would take our older girls to do it together without their younger sisters as a mommy and daughter date.  I will admit, I was a little hesitant because I wasn’t sure what would happen as Kinsley has a hard time sitting still for too long (soccer is a great example of how quickly she loses focus and attention).  And I just imagined paint flying EVERYWHERE.

To my surprise, she did amazingly!  She picked out a mermaid (go figure given she is so into princesses) and I picked out a turkey and we got to painting.  She sat still for almost an hour and half painting her mermaid.  I had to let go of my tendencies towards perfection as she kept painting her face, tail, hair, and body over and over again with color after color.  We haven’t picked it up yet, but I’m interested to see what the final color turns out to be. 🙂  Here is a picture of her with her friend Katelynn.  Love that these girls have the opportunity to spend lots of time together and be the best of friends (and it doesn’t hurt that I adore and love Katelynn’s momma too!).

Second:  Every year, we go with our staff team to the fair for a staff social.  Growing up, I didn’t live in the same city as our state fair so we didn’t go often.  I love that we live in Raleigh and get to go every year.  This year was the first year that Kinsley really understood what we were doing and the fun of it before we went.  She kept raving about riding rides by herself (which we are so glad she is tall enough for this year!) and eating good, greasy fair food.  She didn’t say greasy but I had to add that part in cause we all know its true…seriously, how many foods can you fry (though the deep-fried oreos are awesome!)?

It is so fun to watch their excitement at riding rides and experiencing the sites and sounds of the fair.  Emerson loved her first time and was entertained just watching the people.  Its crazy to think that last year at the fair, she wasn’t here yet and I was trying to “walk that baby out”.  Kinsley loved riding the rides and was thrilled to try her first ever “real” rollercoaster, though she was terrified while it was going on and now says that she doesn’t like them.  Check out these fun pictures we captured of the girls and our team.

This is one of Kinsley’s favorites and Emerson tried it for the first time.  When it started, I thought Emerson was going to start crying but once she got the hang of it and saw her sister smiling and laughing, she came around and started enjoying it.

Kinsley “flying” in the ladybugs

Waiting on the rollercoaster to start.  Notice the smiles.  She just had to sit in the front row.

During the ride.  Notice her grip and her look of terror (well, you can’t see her face but you get the picture).

Sam (left) and Jenny (right) loving on Emerson.  She would have taken off walking and never looked back if we didn’t stop her.

My sweet family.  Guess how many tries it took to get everyone looking at the camera?

Our awesome staff team (with Justin, Kai’s husband, in the back – we adopt him for team socials).  I love these men and women and am so grateful to get to work alongside of them.  Praying for more laborers to add to the mix!

Up next:  Emerson’s 1st birthday this Friday!  Crazy that she is 1 already…where has the time gone?

DIY Update

I tried one DIY thing this month (sink cleaning) and LOTS on new recipes (most have been keepers which almost never happens…I am waiting for the bad ones to kick in).  I have een on a new recipe kick because I came back from the summer feeling so tired by all of my recipes and wanting to clean out my recipe box of the “bad” seeds and fill it with the “good” ones.  Plus, call my OCD, but it has really bothers me to pin things on Pinterest and know that I will never do them, so I have been using my Pinterest recipe board for inspiration.  So, hang on for the ride as I fly through (sorry I didn’t take pics for all):

How to make your stainless sink shine



The verdict:  Not worth trying again.  While it worked, it involved a WHOLE lot of steps.  I think my Lysol and paper towel cleaning works just as well.  Thanks, but no thanks.

Peanut Butter Swirl Bars (printed this from

I had this recipe in my recipe box and though I hate peanut butter (I know, I could I?), I held onto this one to try for Ed sometime as he LOVES peanut butter.

The verdict:  They weren’t the prettiest things but Ed liked them.  He said to hang on to the recipe, but it wasn’t an all-time favorite.

Freezer-Friendly Homemade Pizza Dough 

The verdict:  LOVED this!  It was as good, or better than, store bought dough and it was quick, cheap, and relatively easy to make.  The only extra step versus store-bought dough was that you had to use the bread machine first, and then you do the same steps.  This is my new go-to for homemade pizzas.

Homemade Freezer Biscuits

Verdict:  They were good.  I love that you can put them in your freezer and then pull them out, thaw them, and cook them.  I don’t know that I prefer this over store-bought flaky biscuits, but it works.

Crockpot Cheesy Spaghetti

Verdict:  This recipe was okay and I decided against keeping it.  If a recipe isn’t cost efficient and is too time consuming, I won’t keep it.  I will say you have to do all the same steps to put it in the crockpot just as in the oven so putting it in the crockpot doesn’t save time.   So, overall, I felt the cost and time involved didn’t justify it.

Cinnamon Sugar Pull-Apart Bread

Verdict:  I tried this recipe when Ed’s parents came to town and it was so brave of them to be my guinea pigs.  This recipe was cost-efficient and wasn’t super hard to do, but I didn’t make as much as I thought it would (though it still seemed to go a long way).  Ed’s dad LOVED it and went back for seconds, thirds, fourths, etc.  It is very similar in taste to monkey bread (which is our family Christmas morning staple) so of course it was good to us.  Would I make this next time or just do monkey bread?  Not sure yet.

Knock Off Betty Crocker Brownie Mix

Verdict:  My mouth is watering just remembering them and writing about them.  Seriously good!  I almost think I prefer them over regular Betty Crocker brownies (might have something to do with the chocolate chips I added on top).  Definitely a keeper and so easy and cheap!

Feel free to try them and decide for yourself.  I have quite a few I want to try this month too, and then maybe I will feel like going back to my “old” recipes.  Enjoy!

What I’m Learning….

We learn things everyday. Sometimes they are good and sometimes they are bad. Sometimes they are hard and sometimes they are easy. Life is a constant lesson. So, today, I thought I would reflect on what I am learning/relearning right now:

#1 –  You can’t budget for everything that may happen.  For instance, for us, medical bills are never ending.  Not complaining, just stating.  Just when I think one thing is over, here comes another one.  For instance, did you know that you can get viruses in your eye?  Neither did I, until Ed got one a few weeks ago and had to make a special visit to the eye doctor.  Did you know that within a period of 2 months, your child can put a sticker up her nose, a coin down her throat, and scare you by thinking she got into the Aspirin in your purse?  Oh yes, all are true and really happened.  The sticker was so far up her nose that we were sure an ER visit was in order, but thankfully, after a few times of sneezing, it came out.  The coin saga I shared on my last post.  To finish that story, we waited a week for it to pass and then were sure we were going to have to take her to Urgent Care this past weekend while in Myrtle Beach for Fall Retreat because the coin hadn’t reappeared, she was complaining of her stomach hurting, had vomited once that week, and she came down with a temp of 103 on Friday night.  Saturday morning, as we were setting up for the main meeting, she went to the bathroom and it came out!  I am pretty sure that the high temp was related to her body getting rid of the “foreign object” as the temp was gone Saturday morning and then the coin reappeared (similar to what happens with kidney stones).  Thankfully, none of these resulted in ER visits especially since we haven’t even got the bills squared away from this summer when she had the bad fall and concussion. Just as we try to budget for everything and think we are good to go, we are reminded that we have no idea what is to come!

#2 – Soccer isn’t a great sport for 3 year olds, but they are cute anyways.  We signed Kinsley up for soccer this fall.  We thought it would do her good to have a way to funnel her “aggressiveness” and she has shown interest in playing.  Ed signed up as the coach after he learned that there weren’t enough coaches and they would have to put a lot of kids together which would mean hardly any playing time for anyone.  I mean, really, what is required in coaching 3 year olds?

Long story short, Kinsley is having fun – especially as she has realized that scoring goals means that people cheer for her (not sure this is a good thing!), but 3 year old’s do not have the attention span to play soccer.  It is cute watching a kid walk over to the soccer goal and spend the whole time playing in the net, or watching them score in the wrong goal, or watching them lay down and roll on the field, or watching them pay more attention to the horse next to the field than the game itself.  But their attention span is nowhere close to what is required for a 30 minute game.  Note to self – don’t sign her up for sports that require major concentration until she ages a little.

#3 – I love to go deep with people.  Last spring, I took the Strengthfinders test to try and discover my strengths so I could grow in them (did you know it is important to continue growing in your strengths as well as your weaknesses?) and figure out best how to serve our campus team and church with those strengths?  While some of the ones that were listed for me were things I was already aware of, one surprised me.  I am strong in what they call “The Relator” which is described as “people who are strong in the Relator theme enjoy close relationships with others. They find deep satisfaction in working hard with friends to achieve a goal.”  When I read this, I had an ah-ha moment.  This explained why I enjoy going deep with people.  This explained why I enjoy having a few very close friends (I enjoy having lots of friends but want a few who we know each other really well).  This explained why I always get frustrated with family or friend get togethers where it feels like all we talk about is surface things but never do deeper with each other.  This explained why I love mentoring college girls and going deep with them.  This explained why I so often want to ask people the question “So how are you really doing?”.

While I am continuing to learn how this strength affects so many areas of my life, I am learning to be okay with not always going deep.  Especially in the world of having lots of play dates with friends and their kids where you can’t go deep because you are constantly being interrupted with “Be gentle”, “Share”, and “Don’t put that in your mouth”.  So if you are a friend, I would love to know how you are really doing.  Lets grab coffee and lets chat.  It will make my heart oh so happy!

#4 – God is using my kids to sanctify me.  I already knew this, but I learning it over and over again (and I think I will continue to!).  After a particularly hard week last week with my kids, I was shown how very screwed up I am and how much I need Jesus to continually change me.  As a mom, there are sometimes when you can feel as “I am doing good with my kids and life” or “Yea, I have things to work on, but I am not so bad.”  And then, the Lord allows you to endure something where he humbles you and shows you that you are sinful, you still need him every moment of every day, and reminds you of how thankful you are for the sacrifice Christ made and the grace he offers on a daily basis.  This happened for me last week and while it wasn’t easy, I needed that dose of humble pie and the Lord used my kids to give it to me.  So thankful for them —

#5 – God is moving and I am so blessed to be a part of it!  While God is always moving, ministry is hard and we don’t always get to see the fruits of what He is doing – but when we do, we are so thankful.  We had our Fall Retreat this past weekend and was overwhelmed by how gracious the Lord is being to us by allowing us to be a part of what he is doing.  We joined with Impact in hosting Fall Retreat and all together, we had 160 students there (last year we had around 90 or so).  From Eastern NC, we had about 58 students.  Let me stop and explain what a God thing this was.

Last year, we had 15-20 students on Fall Retreat with us.  When we were setting prayer goals for the fall, we decided to set our goals high and pray that the Lord would bring 55 students to our Fall Retreat.  While we knew this was high, we also knew that if we reached this, it would be a God thing and not an us thing.  Let me say it again:  we had 58 students from Eastern NC.  Praise God!  To go further, we had 14 students from Fayetteville State, a ministry that we just launched last month and have only had 3 Bible studies with (check out our prayer letter we will be adding to this page in the next few days to read an amazing story that happened there!)!  The picture below is a few of the FSU students praying at Fall Retreat.  We had 10 from Wake Tech North, a ministry we just started working with and who have never brought students to Fall Retreat before.

Not to mention that God has allowed us to already see 10 students place their faith in Christ this fall (6 of those are from Fayetteville State!)!  Our prayer all along has been that God would move so mightily on our campuses that we would not be able to say it was something we did, but that it was ALL HIM and we are seeing that happen!  Please pray with us that the Lord continues to move in big ways and allows us to see it happen!!