Quietly Grateful

I am thankful:

~ for quite possibly the greatest milestone and the most breathtaking upgrade to our property to date:

A POTTY!

We have experienced varying degrees of ROUGHING IT over the last 8 months, and I could not be more grateful for this glorious convenience!

~ for the sweetest puppy eyes! They are growing every day.

~ for a special 15th birthday for our special Sam girl.

Samantha is such a joy. My right hand around the house, die-hard Cowboys fan with her Dad (boo for tonight’s game!), a sucker for EVERY Hallmark Channel romance, and in love with all things horse/country/cowgirl. It is incredible seeing her growing into the bright and beautiful young woman God has ordained her to be. She enjoyed her homemade cranberry orange muffin breakfast, Whataburger lunch, and crescent chicken, sweet potato fries with homemade ranch, and baked her own birthday cake: classic yellow with chocolate icing. Where did our little Stinky Girl go?

~ for another successful puzzle completion, this one a gift from Colton!

~ for a great opportunity for Cooper, sharing with middle schoolers during chapel as a part of his senior year internship.

~ for a really cool project underway with my wonderful husband. It’s been a long time since we’ve had the opportunity to work with our stash of gorgeous reclaimed wood, so I’m totally in love. And my sweetheart is so patient with me, and so talented at bringing my unconventional ideas and imaginings into reality. He’s amazing. I drive him nuts.

Just feeling quietly grateful these days. So thankful for this season. We are busy. We work hard. Our hands and our hearts are full. God is so good.

Thanks for giving thanks with me.

“But let all who take refuge in you be glad; let them ever sing for joy. Spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may rejoice in you.” (Psalms 5:11)

“In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly.” (Psalms 5:3)

Never Stop

I am thankful:

~ for one good week completed with Birdie’s sweet pups. If you’ve been here a while, you know puppy season is an intense one for me. It means round the clock observation, making sure everyone gets nursed and cleaned, and no one gets accidentally crushed. Birdie is a great mama, but she needs a little help with 10 pups! I sleep on the floor beside them for a full three weeks to make sure we don’t have any accidents. They are precious, but the commitment is no joke!

~ for Elsa noodle soup when my little missy was not feeling good. It was just what she needed! Who knew!?

~ for lots of laughs as I have gone round and round with some (nameless) members of my family who claim that I completely made up the concept of a colorful cake with a plastic baby baked in it. Sorry fam, I DID NOT concoct the tradition of the Mardi Gras King Cake! It’s really a thing!

~ for an awesome, HIGHLY ANTICIPATED, and LOOOONG AWAITED addition to the barn: a back door! So excited as this giant project continues to take shape.

~ for my sweet and thoughtful husband who SURPRISED ME by calling in dinner for me when he had to be out of town for work.

~ for Sawyer’s first basketball game. What a hoot! It’s his first time to play (as well as most of his teammates) and they are all learning as they go. So fun to watch him skipping up and down that court, playing his heart out. It never ceases to blow my mind to see Sawyer living a full and normal life after all he has been through and all the obstacles he has overcome. BUT GOD! God is so good. I will never stop praising Him for his mercy and protection; and I never stop testifying of the miracles I have witnessed with my own eyes.

It’s been a good week to count my blessings and rest in His goodness.

Thanks for giving thanks with me.

“Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life.” (Psalms 143:8)

“Praise the Lord. Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.” (Psalms 106:1)

Present

I am thankful.

Like truly thankful.

I heard such an encouraging message this morning at church that both challenged and inspired me about living IN THE PRESENT.

Not looking back with longing or regret at what was or what might have been.

Not looking forward with qualifiers and unrealistic expectations that we keep hoping will finally fill the unfillable holes in us.

But loving and serving and living and obeying right where God has us today.

Releasing a past that we cannot change to a merciful, redemptive Father. And trusting a future that we cannot control to a lovingly sovereign Savior.

What if we really lived that way? What if we didn’t allow ourselves to be crippled by looking back or paralyzed by imagining what’s around the corner?

So I give thanks…

~ for 10 healthy puppies.

~ for a successfully conquered new family puzzle.

~ for a beautiful wedding.

~ for sweet moments when the kids are enjoying each other.

~ for a delicious chicken salad.

~ for a silly little girl who always makes me laugh.

~ for a beautiful clear afternoon for building a fence with my love.

~ for a full quiver of children, a Christ-centered marriage, for the ability to dream and to work hard, and that we have everything we need (and then some).

The present is a beautiful place to be. Don’t miss it.

Thanks for giving thanks with me.

(Want to listen to the sermon? https://youtube.com/channel/UCZiHTpRl7KvcXVpA8IUieHg)

“Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Matthew 6:27, 33-34)

“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” (Philippians 4:4-8)

Present

I am thankful.

Like truly thankful.

I heard such an encouraging message this morning at church that both challenged and inspired me about living IN THE PRESENT.

Not looking back with longing or regret at what was or what might have been.

Not looking forward with qualifiers and unrealistic expectations that we keep hoping will finally fill the unfillable holes in us.

But loving and serving and living and obeying right where God has us today.

Releasing a past that we cannot change to a merciful, redemptive Father. And trusting a future that we cannot control to a lovingly sovereign Savior.

What if we really lived that way? What if we didn’t allow ourselves to be crippled by looking back or paralyzed by imagining what’s around the corner?

So I give thanks…

~ for 10 healthy puppies.

~ for a successfully conquered new family puzzle.

~ for a beautiful wedding.

~ for sweet moments when the kids are enjoying each other.

~ for a delicious chicken salad.

~ for a silly little girl who always makes me laugh.

~ for a beautiful clear afternoon for building a fence with my love.

~ for a full quiver of children, a Christ-centered marriage, for the ability to dream and to work hard, and that we have everything we need (and then some).

The present is a beautiful place to be. Don’t miss it.

Thanks for giving thanks with me.

(Want to listen to the sermon? https://youtube.com/channel/UCZiHTpRl7KvcXVpA8IUieHg)

“Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Matthew 6:27, 33-34)

“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” (Philippians 4:4-8)

FALL-ing in Love

I am thankful.

This week was Fall Break at school, and I’ve had a dream cooking for QUITE A WHILE.

LET’S CAMP AT THE FARM!!!

Josh wasn’t too sure. Our bed at home is very comfy. He likes air conditioning. And a toilet.

But he loves me and has become quite accustomed to my crazy ideas.

So we camped Thursday – Saturday. 1 tent + Mom + Dad + 8 kids + 2 dogs. Sounds like a fiasco? WE HAD A BLAST!!!!

And of course we got a few projects done…

We enjoyed the crisp temperatures in the mornings and evenings and marveled at how much better food tastes when cooked and eaten out in the fresh air.

Everyone MOSTLY got along. And no one ever asked to play on a phone or an ipad.

There was something really special about waking up on our farm. Knowing it was OUR FARM. And even if it was just for a couple days, I feel like new roots went down deep this weekend.

Even if we came home craving showers and our real beds…and even if I have done 43 loads of stinky, smoky laundry and still have 86 more to do. Even if we had to do head to toe tick checks and bathe the dogs 4 times…

I think we all fell in love.

Every muddy shoe and stinky armpit teenager was absolutely worth it. This is investment in their future. So thankful for our Tribe, for our farm, and for every adventure yet to come. So grateful to the Lord for His plan for our family that we never saw coming.

Thankful for the opportunity to appreciate a slower pace and the gift of simplicity. Amazing how near the Lord’s Presence seems to be when we tear ourselves away from the manic pace we train ourselves to crave. I know farm life won’t always be beautiful and relaxing and picturesque. But I truly count this weekend as a memorable gift that I will always treasure. We didn’t have to travel far to go somewhere GRAND.

Time to get back to the laundry pile, and the real world that is waiting. But I go with a heart bursting with gratitude.

Thanks for giving thanks with me.

“It is good to praise the Lord and make music to your name, O Most High, proclaiming your love in the morning and your faithfulness at night,” (Psalms‬ ‭92‬:‭1‬-‭2‬)

“Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad; let the sea resound, and all that is in it. Let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them; let all the trees of the forest sing for joy.”
‭‭(Psalms‬ ‭96‬:‭11‬-‭12‬)

23

I am thankful.

I am thankful for this man. This man who came into my life so unexpectedly. Who pursued me so relentlessly no matter how hard I tried to discourage him.

I’m so thankful he wouldn’t give up on us.

I’m thankful we grew up together in almost every way. We simultaneously became best friends, parents, spouses, Christ followers, and started a completely new course for our lives almost overnight. And we never looked back.

I’m thankful that he taught me a love like I had never seen before. I’m thankful for the amazing dad he became overnight, and the way he has learned and grown and outdone himself over and over through the years. I’m thankful that he boldly and courageously leads our family to honor Jesus.

I’m thankful that the words “Giddyup and Whoa” were spoken over us two decades ago, and that they have consistently remained true, almost comically so. Sometimes we are so opposite we drive each other crazy, but we know we need the balance the Lord built into our relationship. Can’t drive without BOTH a gas pedal and the brakes.

I’m thankful we learned how to communicate, how to extend grace, and to forgive. I’m thankful that even though we learned a lot of things the hard way, that at least we did learn. And we are still learning. I’m thankful that God knit us together so tightly in preparation for the trials we didn’t know were ahead. We clung tightly to Him and to one another through darker days than we could have imagined.

I’m thankful for laughter and adventures, for Mexico, for the everyday grind, for back-breaking labor, impossible projects, and working side by side. He’s seen me at my worst. He knows all my details, and he still sticks around.

Today we celebrated 23 years of marriage. We served a luncheon at church, hung metal out at the barn all afternoon, and ate gas station pizza with the kids for dinner.

For better, for worse.

In sickness, in health.

For richer, for poorer.

Thank You Jesus, we are so very rich indeed.

I’m thankful we’ve never stopped dreaming. And that we will continue to be strong and courageous and DO THE WORK.

Thanks for giving thanks with me.

“I’m gonna live where the green grass grows

Watch my corn pop up in rows

Every night be tucked in close to you

Raise our kids where the good Lord’s blessed

Point our rocking chairs toward the west

Plant our dreams where the peaceful river flows

Where the green grass grows.” (Tim McGraw)

“Two are better than one, Because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, For he has no one to help him up. Again, if two lie down together, they will keep warm; But how can one be warm alone? Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him. And a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12)

Board by Board

I am thankful:

~ for a fun-filled birthday for our Zoe! This sweet brown-eyed girl turned 11 with quite the special day. She started with Z-shaped pancakes, then to the mall for EARS PIERCED!!!

Lunch was an obvious choice: Zoe’s Kitchen, of course, followed by frozen yogurt for dessert.

Her requested dinner menu: tacos, beans and rice, and a fancy homemade chocolate cake topped with Oreos. She proclaimed it the best birthday ever.

~ for our first farm “crop” doing well. We laugh when we look back at our very strategic planting technique.

Back in June

~ for these puppies! They literally get cuter EVERY DAY! It’s so fun watching their little personalities emerge. They are now 5 weeks old, and soon to be ready for their forever families. We still have several available, message me if you’re interested. And if you’re not, please spread the word!

Summer is winding down, and the days are counting down until the kids go back to school. They are all excited to see their friends and meet their teachers, if not for the actual “school” element itself. But the #1 MOST EXCITED is Miss Tatum K. She has her backpack and lunch box and new cup and crayons, and she is RARING TO GO!

What am I going to do without my little spunky sidekick??? (I’ve already told her that I’m going to cry on the floor and eat donuts all day. So if I’m not answering my phone…)

We are truly enjoying our time out at the farm. We are out there working nearly every day, board by board. It’s a slow process, but more and more I think it’s supposed to be.

As much as I would like to ding-it-all-done overnight, I really do like the slower pace.

I like watching my kids learn from their dad.

I like working with them side by side, and knowing that they will forever remember that they built this barn with their own hands. I can imagine them showing the barn to their own kids one day, pointing at the nail they shot or the board they cut.

I loved hosting dinner out in the fresh air (ok, it was still 95°) for the first time tonight. Grilled pork chops and potato salad just taste better outside, with friends, and after a hard days work.

I know that along with every board we hang as we build this barn, God is building me, building each one of them. I may not be able to move tomorrow, but tonight my heart is full.

Thanks for giving thanks with me.

“And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” (Colossians 3:17)

“And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” (Colossians 3:17)

Keep Digging

I am thankful:

~ for lots of progress on the farm. I have to remind myself, slow progress is still progress.

So many people have asked, “so what exactly do you DO when you go out there?” And, “so what is the timeline on the house?” As much as Josh and I both wish we could blink and have everything completed, that’s just not the way it works. Does it work that way with ANYTHING?

This is a beautiful if maddening picture of the journey being even more important than the destination. We are side by side with our kids. They are working hard, getting sweaty, and learning new things every day.

They are playing in the dirt, chasing cats, and eating popsicles. We are literally framing a 4000 square foot barn one board at a time. We are learning, in a million different ways, what it actually means to be strong and courageous and DO THE WORK.

~ for the cutest puppies on the planet. Bear and Birdie’s miniature Goldendoodle pups are now 4 weeks old, and we love to love on them! We still have several available, so feel free to put the word out if you know of someone who needs a new snuggle buddy! You can find our G & W Goldendoodles Facebook page here.

~ for an incredible night of delicious food and fellowship at our quarterly Gold Network CONNECT Support Group. Although I stressed a bit about hosting at our new ever-so-SLIGHTLY-smaller home, the Lord didn’t let me shy away. AND WHAT A BLESSING! There is just nothing like gathering with people who understand the hardest parts of your life, and the opportunity to lift one another up! We laughed our heads off, ate until we could hardly breathe, and together we prayed heaven down. I could not be more grateful for the priceless gift and honor of loving on these families.

I was super encouraged by the message at church this morning. It was an exhortation to not give up. We can’t give up when things get hard. I know we all KNOW that, but don’t we sometimes need to be reminded? How many times have we found ourselves in a place we never wanted to be, certainly never THOUGHT we’d be, and just had the thought, “That’s it! I’ve had as much as I can take, and I’m just DONE!”

We don’t get to be done.

Wherever we find ourselves, that’s where God has us for now, and even if we can’t make ANY SENSE OF IT AT ALL, there’s purpose in it. In trial, in weakness, in suffering, in brokenness, in sickness…He is there with us, and as long as there is breath in us, we are here for His purposes.

And on the flip side, we MUST NOT GIVE UP WHEN THINGS ARE GOING GREAT! We pray and beg and plead for God to lift us out of the muck and the mire, and when He does, we thank him (hopefully) and then somehow we so often go back on cruise control. Until we find ourselves back in a ditch. We have to remain connected to our Father and His people in the good times and the bad. WE NEVER CEASE TO NEED OUR FATHER!

I was just so encouraged and convicted. We have to KEEP DIGGING. Digging into the Word. Digging deeper into an intimate relationship with God. Digging down through the rubble of apathy and laziness for fresh Living Water.

Sometimes life seems dry and too hard. Too many kids. Too many puppies. Too many fires to put out. Too many bills. Too many setbacks.

BUT GOD.

So I’m gonna keep on loving my babies and teach them Jesus the best I can. And every time I screw up, I’m going to try to do better the next day. I’m gonna hoist those boards and build that barn. I’m gonna get out of bed when I don’t feel like it and do the work. And keep digging.

Thanks for giving thanks with me.

“Whoever comes to Me, and hears My sayings and does them, I will show you whom he is like: He is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently against that house, and could not shake it, for it was founded on the rock.” (Luke 6:47-48)

“being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”(Philippians 1:6)

“David also said to Solomon his son, “Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you until all the work for the service of the temple of the Lord is finished.”(1Chronicles 28:20)

Summer

I am thankful:

~ for the unparalleled overwhelming Love of Jesus that has poured out among the hurting families in our church. Thank you for the prayers, and please keep them coming!

~ for walks in our new neighborhood.

We’ve met some kind neighbors and are gradually settling in. Hanging up some familiar decor makes it feel more like home.

~ for a great morning shopping with Paula for toys for the Gold Network Children’s Hospital Oncology Prize Closet. We are wrapping up the Toy Drive, and went shopping with an amazing $1000 that had been generously donated. I’ll be gathering the donated toys from all our drop-off locations around East Texas, and I CANNOT WAIT to see how many toys you helped us collect! THANK YOU to all who donated!

~ for lots of progress on the farm!

Brush hogging✔️

Excavator✔️

Electricity on in the barn✔️

Water on✔️

Chainsaw lesson✔️

Cleaning up the barn slab✔️

Rides on the new mower✔️

I can’t express the joy Josh and I are feeling as we work hard side by side with our kids and slowly bring out the true beauty of this neglected little piece of land. When we spend the day out there, we leave exhausted, dripping with sweat, scratched up from thorns, and covered in grit…and truly, absolutely, remarkably HAPPY.

~ for our first glorious sunset.

~ for an amazing day for our 3rd HERO Hangouts outing. We were able to take 55 childhood cancer warriors, siblings, parents, grandparents, and friends to a Texas Ranger baseball game!

Amazing tickets, parking, ballpark food, Blue Bell ice cream, and a WIN made for a fabulous day! It fills my heart with such joy to be able to gather these incredible families together for a fun day that has NOTHING TO DO WITH CANCER!

I had the opportunity to share testimonies with a few people at the stadium, and they were truly blessed. Thank You Lord for Gold Network ETX, and the favor You have poured out on us. Out of our very worst nightmare You birthed a vessel of blessing to so many, and we will be forever grateful.

~ for our first LIVESTOCK acquisitions for the farm! We hope they will help us keep the mice, rats, and snakes at bay! Meet Bo, Luke, and Daisy!

~ for a great first night at VBS. Kids are having a blast.

What a kickoff to summer. I know this is one we will always remember.

Thanks for giving thanks with me.

“From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets, the name of the Lord is to be praised.”(Psalms 113:3)

Goodness of God

I am thankful:

~ for God’s goodness through one of THE MOST HECTIC weeks of our life.

~ for making it through the last grueling stages of packing/loading/cleaning.

Poor dogs were scared to death, thought we were leaving them behind, so they wouldn’t get off the truck!
All hands on deck to transport Giddyup & Whoa to its new location!

~ for a decadent meal break brought to you by Ruby’s

~ for yet another rite of passage, the food fight extraordinaire: 4th grade Crud Wars for Zoe. Can’t believe we have another elementary school graduate! On to Middle School!

~ for end of year parties and last days of school for Sawyer, Zoe, Gavin, Kora, and Sam! Back to back to back. Thankful for all the friends who helped me get everybody everywhere. And SUPER thankful that out of all the places I had to be at the same time on Wednesday, I only messed up one item on my list…forgetting to pick up 2 of my kids at the correct time. Thankful for gracious teachers who didn’t shame me for picking up kids FORTY FIVE MINUTES LATE! And Cooper breezed through his finals, and now we have a HIGH SCHOOL SENIOR!

~ for successful closings on selling our house and purchasing our land. And for thel glorious feeling of being 100% DEBT FREE! How is this all even real?

~ for a sweet, sweet friend who brought a delicious dinner so we could have a floor picnic, our last meal in the old house.

First Day, October 2017
Last day, May 2022

~ for a perfect night for a baseball game – smack dab in the middle of moving night! Josh kept loading while I took the kids to Sawyer’s last game. Didn’t realize until it was too late that all Tatum K’s shoes were on the moving truck!

~ for as peaceful as possible transition to our new casa. It’s definitely going to be an adjustment. We are going to learn to trim out non-essentials and get ultra-creative with storage and personal space. Here’s to FAMILY TOGETHERNESS at its finest!

Yard needs a little work…

~ for the sweetest neighbors in all the land. We have had a truly wonderful almost-six years at our house, and the kids and parents and grands have all become family.

The sweetest gift from our neighbors

~ for a sweet morning date with my Love at our new favorite place…

~ for the BEST DAY EVER out at the farm-to-be. How exciting to take down the For Sale sign and cut off the old padlock!

It was surreal to realize it’s really ours! I can’t express the explosions that were happening in our hearts as we held each other’s hands tightly and drove through that gate as a family. We are completely humbled and grateful and in awe. Josh gathered us all together before we started to thank the Lord for the gifts He has given us, for the dream and the vision He planted in our hearts. He prayed that we would all “be strong and courageous and do the work,” together as a family, and that the whole journey would be an offering to glorify His Name.

We picnicked and picked wild blackberries and spent the day clearing out the barn and exploring.

The kids found treasures and oddities galore. And they actually all worked really hard!

~ for great news! Sawyer got 2nd Place in the Lego competition! Thank you to all who voted!

So very thankful for God’s perfect, purposeful timing. We had been eager to close on everything earlier and get things rolling, but He didn’t line it up that way. Closing on the last day of school and moving the very next day was ABSOLUTE MAYHEM, but it also meant that we did not have to navigate one single day of school from the new house. I can scarcely imagine how challenging that would have been.

Lord, we lay all these dreams at Your feet. We are Yours. The land is Yours. To You alone the glory.

And we THANK YOU! Oh, the adventures that lie ahead…

Thanks for giving thanks with me.

“Every man’s way is right in his own eyes, But the Lord weighs the hearts.” (Proverbs 21:2)

“When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dreamed. Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy. Then it was said among the nations, “The Lord has done great things for them.” The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy.” (Psalms 126:1-3)

“The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it;” (Psalms 24:1)

“I love You, Lord
For Your mercy never fails me
All my days, I’ve been held in Your hands
From the moment that I wake up
Until I lay my head
Oh, I will sing of the goodness of God

And all my life You have been faithful
And all my life You have been so, so good
With every breath that I am able
Oh, I will sing of the goodness of God” (“Goodness of God” by Bethel Music)