His Best

I am thankful:

~ for 8 healthy puppies! Bear and Birdie had their third litter last week, and we are up to our eyeballs with the round-the-clock puppy routine! Follow G&W Goldendoodles on Facebook for available puppies and the cutest updated pictures of these little sweeties.

~ for the most delicious Abuelos and Villa Montez dinner dates with my Love.

~ for the older kids having an amazing week at Pine Cove, and the youngers having a blast at VBS.

The girls had fun with Crazy Hair Day

~ for a full week of family, farm, and fireworks!

Barn foundation repairs in progress
Fans installed
All lit up!
More framing
Kora is learning how to be quite the carpentry hand
Tic tac toe up high

~ for an unexpected treat: an evening at Splash Kingdom followed by our first trip to Canton’s iconic Dairy Palace! I sure do love me a good lazy river!

Life is good, hot, and busy. It’s easy to get so caught up in the day to day that I find myself running on fumes. Operating in my own strength instead of His, and that is a recipe for burnout and discouragement. How in the world could I find myself battling anxiety again when life is going great? It doesn’t matter how much GOOD is going on…without God first, I miss His BEST.

Thank You Jesus for lovingly guiding my heart when I start to get lost.

And to all of you, thanks for giving thanks with me.

“And Jesus answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.”” (Luke‬ ‭10:41-42‬)

“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33)

“The Lord is gracious and righteous; our God is full of compassion. The Lord protects the unwary; when I was brought low, He saved me.” (Psalms 116:5-6)

“Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from Him.” (Psalms 62:5)


I am thankful:

~ for Samantha having the most incredible opportunity to go and shadow her cousin, Emma, at her job at an equestrian facility.

Sam has had horse fever for a while now, and our plans for country living have amplified them BIG TIME. But we of course need to make sure she understands how much hard work, sacrifice, and commitment horses are before we get in over our heads. This was a great first opportunity for her to spend some real time with real horses. And let me just say…she is SMITTEN! So thankful for this wonderful opportunity. And Emma is a tremendously patient and gifted teacher!

~ for the unexpected blessing of a dinner date with my Love and Colton! Best steak ever, also!

~ for a fun, if WAY TOO SHORT, visit from sweet Grace.

~ for a great trip to the public library to get everyone set up for their school summer reading assignments

…and for the EXQUISITE hour each day when everyone is reading SILENTLY, and I get to spend time with my new hobby – grown up paint-by-numbers! My sweet friend wanted to make sure I had a creative outlet while we take our hiatus from Giddyup & Whoa, and this project has been just the ticket!

~ for tremendous progress on my latest farm project – clearing thorn-vine-choked crepe myrtles. These poor shrubs were completely smothered, and little by little, I have fought to set them free.


I’m pretty sure this thicket has been the main source of my poison ivy or oak, so I’m thankful to be almost done! I am also on my THIRD DOSE of steroids, and the worst of the rash is clearing up. I’m SO READY to be done with that!

~ for icy cold watermelon and hot gas station pizza!

~ for watching my husband be the best dad. He’s so intentional with both our boys and our girls, teaching them tips and skills. Our girls have helped frame the barn and tend the burn pile, and Gavin had a mowing lesson this week.

~ for three happy kids who got dropped off for a glorious week at Pine Cove Summer Camp. Cooper, Samantha, and Kora were so excited for this amazing opportunity, and it was a family affair to brave the sweltering Texas heatwave to get them set up with their cabins and bunk mates. I would say it will be a quiet week without them, but I know better! I know they will have a wonderful time, and I pray they press into all that the Lord has for them in this perfectly appointed setting.

~ for a most welcome surprise: a visit from our dear neighbor (from 2 neighborhoods ago) Mr. Stockton. We were sad many years ago when he moved to Houston, but have been glad to keep in touch every now and then. We got a call that he was in town and wanted to “see his kids,” and it just blessed us to pieces.


~ for the sweetest neighborhood friendships.

~ for country sunsets. I can’t get enough of them.

Friends, will you please join me in praying for our precious HERO friend, Bristell? At just 4 years old, she is facing her THIRD battle with cancer. News of her recent relapse devastated her family, and they were initially told they were out of options. BUT GOD. He opened a door for a clinical trial in Houston, and she was enrolled in 24 hours. Let’s lift up this incredible little girl and her family!

More reminded than ever this week that life is a gift. Relationships, connections, causal interactions, all have purpose. Split second turning points: choose to be curt or be kind. Or to be kind or be QUIET. For better or worse, we impact those around us in big and small ways. Are we building or tearing down? We always have the choice to be humbly grateful or grumbly hateful. And both postures are contagious. Let’s be Light in this dark world.

Thanks for giving thanks with me.

“…continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose. Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life…” (Philippians 2:12-16)

“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)

Raise a Hallelujah

~ for Happy Mail. So fun to open up your very own mail. Especially when it’s full of STICKERS!!! Thank you Miss Linda!

~ for Colton treating me to my very first Freddy’s burger. I’m a fan!

~ for the next step in our ongoing kitchen remodel project. Our tile arrived Wednesday around lunch, Josh got home about 7, and we got right to work! I love knocking projects out with my Love, and we both love putting the sweat equity into our home. Later in the week, our replacement window was installed. Goodbye to the smeary windows that never came clean because of the broken seal between the panes. The new window is bright and giant and so clear it looks like there’s no glass in it! I am absolutely certain that it will never be this clean again, but I will enjoy it while it lasts!

~ for a special day with a really special girl. Kora, Gavin, and Zoe’s biological big sister Grace had her birthday this weekend, and what she wanted most was to see her little siblings. Is that not the sweetest thing? Grace and her family moved several years ago, so visits are few and far between. But what a joy to spend the day with her. We ate lunch, swam, painted rocks together, and baked cookies. It meant the world to all 4 of them. A one day visit is never long enough, so there were lots of tears at “goodbye,” but still, it blesses me to see the genuine love and bond they share. Adoption is so beautiful. But it is inextricably tied up with loss and pain. My babies had a life before me. My motherly instinct is to protect them from the painful parts of their story, and shield them from the hurt. But it’s all part of their story. And by erasing or hiding what I would selfishly and short-sightedly deem the “messy” parts, would also steal from them their own miraculous redemption story and the awesome story of their first big sister that shares their blood. Lord, give me the courage to trust what You are doing and not get in Your way. Pry off my anxiously controlling hands and write their story Your way. BUT GOD!

~ thankfully, our kids didn’t have time to be sad for long, because as soon as Grace drove away with her mom, we had another knock at the door: Uncle Mike and Cousin Kenedy! We enjoyed having them for the weekend!

~ for new goggles. Does anything make kids happier than new goggles?

~ for homemade ice cream. Is there anything better than homemade ice cream???

~ for Cooper’s favorite week of the year: Pine Cove! He loves his time at camp more than anything, and we dropped him off today. Can’t wait to hear about all the fun he has and all that the Lord will do in his heart this week!

~ for a great time celebrating Josh for Father’s Day. We had all his favorites: juicy grilled burgers with sharp cheddar and blue cheese, jalepeno chips, sweet tea, and homemade chocolate ice cream. I love this man so much, and the way he faithfully lives his faith in front of his kids and models to them how to love lavishly. I love how hard he works even when he’s dog tired and always hurting. We don’t call him “Giddyup” for nothing. I love that his favorite part of every project is watching my face when I admire it, because he says his favorite thing to do is make me happy. I will never understand why God has blessed me with a love this big, and I will never stop thanking Him that He did.

Today during worship at church (via the Rucker satellite campus) one of the songs was a favorite of our whole family, “Raise a Hallelujah.” There’s something so soul-stirring about hearing my children’s little voices lifted, singing at the top of their lungs to their Lord, “I’m gonna sing in the middle of the storm. Louder and louder you’re gonna hear my praises roar.”

In that moment, it became my prayer. My prayer over EVERYTHING. Over the divisions about how to handle Covid 19. Over all the injustices and the big and the small polarizing issues people are all raging about. Over all the voices screaming at once about every hot topic. Over my own anxiety. Over my children.

“Sing a little louder, in the presence of my enemies…

Sing a little louder, louder than the unbelief…

Sing a little louder, my weapon is a melody

Sing a little louder, heaven comes to fight for me…”

It sounds silly, but what if we really did that? What if we all raised a hallelujah in the middle of our storms, a hallelujah that became louder than the noise? What if we really believed that praising God is a weapon that will defeat the darkness? What if we really loved others openhandedly, with no agenda, no catch, with the love of Christ? I’m not trying to sound like a Hallmark card, not am I trying to act like I’m doing it right myself. I just believe that it really does make a difference when we make simple but genuine changes in the way we respond to our circumstances. And when it all boils down, the ONLY cause I want to champion is the cause of Christ. Lord, let it be so. Stay my eyes on You, Lord.

Speaking of which, it is Clinic Week for Sawyer. It’s his first time back to the hospital since all the virus outbreaks and sheltering in place, so I won’t pretend it doesn’t cause my heart to pound a little faster. Hospital restrictions will only allow one adult to accompany a patient, so for the first time in as long as I can remember, it will be just Sawyer and I. His appointment is Wednesday, and I will post an update that evening. We are grateful for your prayers that our Warrior Boy remains cancer free.

Will you raise a hallelujah with me this week?

Thanks for giving thanks with me.

“The LORD reigns; Let the earth rejoice; Let the multitude of isles be glad! Clouds and darkness surround Him; Righteousness and justice are the foundation of His throne. A fire goes before Him, And burns up His enemies round about. His lightnings light the world; The earth sees and trembles. The mountains melt like wax at the presence of the LORD, At the presence of the Lord of the whole earth. The heavens declare His righteousness, And all the peoples see His glory.” (Psalms 97:1-6)

“Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting: “Hallelujah! For our Lord God Almighty reigns.” (Revelation 19:6)

“Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,” says the Lord, who has compassion on you.” (Isaiah 54:10)

Pressing In and Pressing On

I am thankful:

~ that Tatum K quickly recovered from the mysterious fevers and was back to her spicy self on Monday.  She awoke in the morning ravenous after her 5 day fast, asking for “Momo” (no she’s not referencing that horrible meme, that’s her word for OATMEAL), and staunchly DEMANDING that I SING TO HER WHILE SHE ATE!  First “the monkey song” (5 Little Monkeys) and then “Shunshine.”  Yep, my girl’s back!!! 


~ for another afternoon of coffee and rain showers.  I’m not sure why, but I’m mildly obsessed with being snuggled up in the comfort of my covered patio watching the rain and wind and thunder and lightning.  I love watching the pool boiling with raindrops, watching the tall trees bend and bow and sway, and marvel at the unexpected strikingly bright blue skies bursting through the clouds in between.

~ also still mildly obsessed (maybe more than mildly according to my husband) with our personal backyard wildlife refuge.  I’ve developed a keen eye for the bright green anole lizards atop our back fence, and am always scouting for our cardinals and hummingbirds.  My camera sits at the ready by the picture window over our sink, and I’m always excited to get a new shot.  (FINALLY got a hummingbird!)  My dear darling husband is SO OVER IT, but he dutifully ooo’s and aah’s over each day’s pictures.  I fear this is part of getting older?  Birdwatching?  Who cares – I like it, and it makes me smile to think how pleased Grandma Grace would be.   So there. 


~ for an impromptu play date with dear friends. I love when our non-schedule allows for the very best parts of life to just happen.

~ for the first delicious ripe tomato from our little garden.


~ for the encouragement from the Lord given through the mouth of a child.  One day this week, a day that had potential to be a sad one, Sawyer said out of the blue, “Mama, do you know that in heaven, there’s a river?  It’s called the RIVER OF LIFE!”  His blue eyes sparkled, and I could see he was thinking and thinking…He ate a handful of popcorn, dusted off his hands, and firmly declared, “Ugh!  I just wish I was in heaven RIGHT NOW!”  Oh my sweet, sweet boy. 


~ for steady work for Giddyup & Whoa. This little business of ours was a leap of faith, and I can’t express what a blessing it is for people to chose to work with us.  Anyone can shop anywhere.  You can get lovely signs at Hobby Lobby.  But when you support a small shop like ours, a real person does a happy dance when you place an order.  And when you have 6 kids in private school and 1 headed off to college, that happy dance is REAL!  I took the next step this week and launched our G&W Facebook page.  We launched Instagram last Thanksgiving, and the response has been great, so we are hopeful that this next platform will be successful for our business.  Putting yourself “out there” is scary. What if nobody likes our work?  What if someone says something hurtful?  What if we crash and burn and look like fools? (Que anxiety’s grand entrance…). But that’s where we (I) have to remind ourselves that if everything is an offering to the Lord, then we only need to focus on pleasing HIM, not worry about pleasing anyone else.

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~ for PURE JOY!  MY dear friends have had their greatest dream realized this week: the birth of their son!!!!  After years of trying, praying, waiting, and trusting God, they were chosen by a birth mother.  They then embarked on the journey of falling in love with this dear young woman, building a relationship with her, and welcoming her into their family.  Being present at the birth of their son is something they will always treasure, as they will treasure the brave woman who brought him into the world and handed him to his Mama and Daddy.  The love that this little boy was born into is beyond explanation.  Adoption is the most amazing thing, inexplicably woven of joy and pain and sacrifice and promise.  Adoption was God’s idea: He adopts us as His own children, giving us His name and full access to the Kingdom.  This sweet baby’s arrival brought a fresh opportunity to sit down and talk with my Littles about their adoptions.  We’ve never hidden anything from them, but it just isn’t a topic that comes up very often.  They asked some questions about this adoption and about their own (and Sawyer was quite confused and actually a little frustrated to find out that he WAS NOT adopted.)  It was a really sweet time talking with them about how loved they all are, both by the people who gave them life and the family whose name they share.  “We love because He first loved us.” 1John 4:19


~ for the kindness of friends and strangers who step up when it all hits the fan.  Friday was Tyler Cattle Barons’ Little Wranglers Roundup, a super fun western-themed event for childhood cancer families at a local horse park.  The Littles have been eagerly looking forward to it.  And I was so looking forward to writing this week’s Gratitude and detailing the fun they had.  Unfortunately, it was a rough one.  BIG SIGH.  I originally wrote out the whole story…but it was just too long to even get into.  Let’s summarize with this:  We went.  We had drama.  There was even a brief visit to an ambulance.  At least we ended on a good note with Pokey O’s ice cream and cookies.  We got through it due to the mercy of Jesus and the kindness of others.  (Oh, and the kids all had a blast of course.)  A million thanks to the Curtis family and the Cattle Baron’ volunteers who loved on our family.  And for God’s mercies new every morning. What would we do without them? 

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~ thankful to have Cooper back home after a fabulous week at Pine Cove Camp. He had a great time, reconnected with old friends and met new ones, and got a fresh reminder of how much the Lord has done for him.  Such a blessing. 

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~ for God’s promise of a rainbow after rain.  I had the great honor and privilege to attend a baby shower for Jonathan and Shelby (otherwise known as Sophie’s mom and dad).  They are expecting their son Connor, and what joy it is to celebrate with them!

What a week.  Our life really isn’t that much different than yours.  Yes, we have a pretty giant Tribe.  But we are just another family trying to take care of each other the best we can.  We’ve had high highs and low lows.  We all have insecurities and ugly fears that come knocking in the night and keep us awake. We’ve walked through sickness and loss and joy, just like you.  I think mostly we are all alike in more ways than we are different.  So let’s celebrate one another’s victories instead of falling into a comparison trap.  Comparison has always been the thief of joy.  But here in the age of social media, there is an undeniable new level of interpersonal MEASURING going on.  Have I made as many picturesquely happy memories this week as that family?  Does my dinner photo measure up?  How many friends/followers do I have?  Am I too “extra” or am I not enough?  We need to find a way balance the impossible:

minding our own business without being blindly self-focused;

being content with what we have while still reaching for our goals;

believing God answers prayers while at the same time trusting Him when He doesn’t do it like we thought He would/should;

knowing that we were lovingly created for a purpose in the image of God, but that so was everybody else! 

We all need to press in to Him, and press on each day, loving and encouraging each other as best we can along the way.  I’m so thankful for all the people who have invested in me and in my Loves.  I pray that we are raising kind humans who will invest likewise in others. 

Thanks for giving thanks with me!


“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 6:33-34

“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. If anyone thinks they are something when they are not, they deceive themselves. Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else, for each one should carry their own load.”  Galatians 6:2-5