The Way She Is With Us

In the song that woke me up this morning, the words replaying in my head as I drove to school…

Even if You take it all away, You’ll never let me go.  Take it all away, but I still know that I am Yours.

In watching as Natalie picked flowers and set them on her stone…


In the candle that glowed on our shelf tonight while Natalie sang “Jesus Loves Me” in the background…


In the stories we read together while we cuddled before bed…

I wanted you more than you will ever know, so I sent love to follow wherever you go.

In the way we love each other and the joy we find in the simple moments together.  In the hope we have through Him.  In the promise of seeing her and knowing her someday, together in that place where no candle or light of any kind is needed…

And there will no longer be any night; and they will not have need of the light of a lamp nor the light of the sun, because the Lord God will illumine them; and they will reign forever and ever. (Rev. 22:5)

In these and so many other ways she is with us.  Always in our hearts even though she is not in our arms.

We love you Faith.

Here’s to Our Adventures

She wants to look for animals.

I know because she told me, then took my hand, leading me toward the edge of the yard. It’s where we watched a bunny nibbling the long grass, set a toad free, and listened to a bird who was hiding in the bushes.


It’s where the weeds start to grow and tiny bugs swarm in the air. It’s a place like many I loved growing up, a place to imagine and explore.  But as an adult  somehow my mind keeps wandering to questions like  “how many mosquito bites will I have by the time we leave?”

Oh for that carefree feeling of childhood.


I love that she loves it out here… outdoors with nothing but nature to entertain.  It’s simple and beautiful and reminds me of myself as a child. I love that she wants to share it with me.  I love that, through her, I can relive some of my own childhood memories.

I love the feeling of her little hand in mine.


Here’s to finding animals, forgetting the bugs, and having many more adventures together little one.

Dresser Makeover Project

I had quite a few projects that I wanted to get done over my summer break and I must admit that several of them aren’t finished.  I still have time right?  It’s not like school starts in a couple days or anything… oh wait…

Anyway, one of them that IS finished was making over this dresser which was passed down to us from Steve’s grandma.  Here it is in it’s original form:


This was something I’d wanted to do for a while and was actually excited to work on, as opposed to something like painting the bathroom (which happens to still be unfinished, oops!).

For anyone that is into this sort of thing, I’ll give the breakdown of what I did here.  If you’re just curious to see how it turned out and don’t care as much about the details, skip to the bottom for a picture!

I had to do all my work during Natalie’s nap time, so this project spread over the span of about 5 or 6 days total, I didn’t keep an exact  count.  I set up my work station in the garage for good ventilation.

Prep work was the first step and included removing old hardware, patching up some scratches and dents, sanding, and gluing some loose edges.

For paint I chose Behr Bleached Linen in semi-gloss to do the body of the dresser and the drawers.  Below is a sample of how it looked after the first coat.


It took a solid 3 coats to get it covered the way I wanted and I ended up doing a 4th coat just to make sure, but it went on smoothly, dried well, and has a nice clean finish.  I used an angled brush for all of the painting and it worked well.  You can see brush strokes but that doesn’t really bother me.

I wanted to do the top in black for contrast and had originally picked Behr Cracked Pepper (also in semi-gloss) but once it was on it looked too gray to me.  Not sure if you can tell from the picture, but this is the Cracked Pepper color on top.


I let it sit for a few days while I looked at it off and on and tried to decide what to do.  In the end I knew I wanted change it to be truly black as well as glossier.  I picked up Glidden Black Onyx in high gloss and that did the trick!  Two coats and it covered beautifully.

For the new hardware I chose black handles and knobs to match the black top.  I stuck with things that could fit to the existing holes so I didn’t have to fill anything or drill new spots.


Okay, so those are the details, now for the “reveal”, haha!  Here is the original again, just as a reminder, followed by the finished product!



I’m super happy with how this turned out!  We’re not using as a dresser actually but have it in our dining room instead as a buffet table.  It’s a great place for extra storage and decoration.


I’m not HGTV ready, but I do think I’ll take on another furniture painting challenge in the future… this was fun!

The Benefits of Weeding (Not Just Your Yard)

I would never claim to like weeding, but there are worse things.  I guess in my mind it’s an excuse to be outside while also being productive, as opposed to inside doing dishes (blah!).

That being said, when we got back from vacation one of the first things I noticed was how out of control the weeds had become.  It doesn’t take long, that’s for sure.

For a couple days I spent Natalie’s nap time pulling weeds.  When it was done the yard looked better and I felt better.  Accomplished.  Refreshed even.

And then it hit me… I need to apply the same practice to my life.

I had been feeling a little overwhelmed with all the things I needed to do and bummed about the fact that it was already August (read: I’m not ready to go back to school!).

Those post-vacation blues set in and I missed the feeling of sitting out on the cabin porch, relaxed and free from stresses of day to day life.

But I realized, kneeling there in the grass with a bucket of weeds by my side, that some of my trouble was unnecessary and self-inflicted.

I’m annoyed with my messy closet, but why do I have so many clothes in there if I don’t even wear them all?

I’m frustrated with things I read or see online, but why do I keep wasting my time scrolling through social media?

I’m bothered by things that are out of my control, but why do I spend so much energy dwelling on them?

The truth is, there are plenty of weeds in my life that could be pulled up and tossed out.

Weeds, in a garden and in life, take up space where they shouldn’t, choking out the good stuff that you want to cultivate.  They make a mess of things and they spread quickly if you don’t make a conscious effort to clear them out.

So it’s time for me to start weeding.

Maybe it’s stuff that clutters my space and makes it harder for me to take care of my home.  Maybe it’s distractions that steal my time from more important things.  Maybe it’s worries that crowd my mind and keep me from focusing on the here and now.

Maybe it’s a little of all of those.

I know there are some specific areas I need to work on and some clear steps I need to take.  I hope to share some of the “weeding” I’m working on in the coming weeks.

It won’t necessarily be easy and it will be an ongoing process.  Just as the weeds in my yard pop up over and over, I don’t expect the weeds in my life to disappear with one attempt.  But I’m ready to put in the effort, because I long for that refreshed feeling that comes when the landscape is clear.

What weeds are growing in your life?  I challenge you to take stock and set to work on clearing them out.  I think we all can benefit from a little weeding.



These Summer Days

Earlier this week I said I would write soon to catch up on what’s been going on this summer, but the more I thought about it the less I knew what to say.

In many ways my summer is full of days that are all very alike.  There is a routine that comes with having  a little one in the house, and usually we stick to it.  There’s a lot of playing and reading and eating and cleaning with some relaxing “Mommy time” thrown in during naps.

And while there are times this feels repetitive, for the most part I enjoy the simplicity and the chance to share these moments with my little girl.

Of course we mix things up with outings here and there… or “adventures” as I like to call them.  As crazy as it may sound, I haven’t often looked at the Summer List I was so determined to make and follow.  We’ve done some of the things I wrote down anyway, without me checking.  Maybe they’re so solidified in my mind that I don’t need to look.  Or maybe, just maybe, I’m  getting a little better and going with the flow and adapting instead of planning every moment…  Steve might disagree, but one can hope, haha!

There are projects still to be done and I know I need to set aside time for that, but overall I’m trying to embrace these summer days and enjoy them while they last!

Her First Vacation

On Sunday we returned from a wonderful vacation to Tennessee.  This was our first vacation with Natalie and the first traveling we’ve done since she was born, so to say I was looking forward to it is an understatement.

At the same time, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from a vacation with a toddler.  How would she do on the long car ride?  Would she adapt to sleeping in a new place?  Would she be happy coming along with us on all sorts of adventures?

Well, I have to give kudos to Natalie for being a super traveler.  She was content and flexible almost all the time and we were able to do many different things together.  There were a couple more challenging spots here and there (for example, sleeping in the pack n play wasn’t a favorite thing), but overall she was a champ!

If Natalie could, I think these would be some of the highlights she would share from her first vacation…


Dixie Stampede!  Here’s a family photo on the cabin porch after dinner and a show at the Dixie Stampede.  She especially loved the horses, and I couldn’t decide what was more fun to watch, the show or her reactions to it!


Aquarium of the Smokies.   She was a big fan of the penguins and the tunnel where she looked for sea turtles and watched the sharks swim over her head.


Dollywood!  I squeezed myself next to her for the first ride, but from then on Natalie loved going on all the kid stuff on her own.  The carousel was another favorite (carry over from the excitement about horses after Dixie Stampede maybe?) and she rode it 5 times or so.


Movies and play time at the cabin.  She also loved swimming in the indoor pool but I didn’t capture a picture of that unfortunately.


And I can’t help but throw in one of my personal favorite things (which usually happened during nap time) – reading and enjoying the amazing view from the cabin porch!

I know Natalie won’t remember the trip, but we certainly will.  It will be fun to return in the future and relive stories with her as she gets older.  I am so thankful for the time we spent together and I will cherish our first vacation memories forever.

PS We stayed at Highland Plunge, a fantastic cabin in Pigeon Forge, TN.  It’s a beautiful and fun area for the whole family, a place I’d definitely recommend!


One Year Later (Time Capsule)

Last summer, as part of my Summer Challenge blog series, we put together a time capsule to be opened on August 1st, 2015.

On August 1st, 2014 we filled an envelope with letters Steve and I wrote to ourselves, a picture that Natalie “drew”, and a camera card full of photos.  This August 1st we were actually on our way home from vacation, but I planned ahead and packed our little envelope because I was determined to open it on that day!  So, sitting in our hotel room, we took a look back…

We started by reading our letters.  It was so interesting to see what we were thinking about and hoping for at the time and how things have turned out since then.

Some things inspired and motivated us, some things were hopes we’ve seen fulfilled, and other things didn’t go the way we wanted or planned.  Isn’t that true of life in  general?  There are good changes and happy moments mixed with tough obstacles and unexpected disappointments and we certainly can’t plan it all out ahead of time!

Looking through the photos on the camera card was also really fun.  The changes in Natalie are most significant of course, but I had also taken a bunch of pictures of our house (since we had only moved in a little over a month before) and it was interesting to see the differences with that too.

Here are just a couple Natalie comparisons from last year to this year…

August 1st 2014 she was sitting and rolling but not yet crawling… August 1st 2015 she was running all over.










Last year she was eating pureed sweet potatoes, this year dinner was hot dogs (per her request) at a little restaurant near our hotel.









On a random note, I noticed that I was wearing the same shirt both years, haha!  We also drank milkshakes both nights – totally unplanned and not something we do often.  Funny… I guess some things change less than others.

I told Steve that this is something I’d actually consider doing every year.  It’s pretty simple and could be a special thing to share as a family.  We certainly enjoyed it this year!

PS I’ve been enjoying my summer so much that I haven’t spent any time sitting at the computer updating the blog.  I hope to write more in the next week or so and catch up on what’s been going on lately!