I'm a redeemed child of God and the momma to four vivacious daughters. I'm passionate about finding hidden blessings in the trials of life, living it out in an honest and open way, while encouraging those around me to believe in better.

2 Jan

2013 :: a year in review

Did 2013 whiz by you too? It seems I blinked and here we are … the second day of 2014! Crazy!! Cuz I’m pretty sure it was just last year I was partying like it was 1999!

Things have been pretty quiet here on the ol’ blog {more on that in upcoming days}, but a real truth is that we’ve been pretty busy, busy, busy!

Horse shows, oven fires, sick kids, vacations, and a college acceptance … OHMY!

And while things are quiet around here, I’m so thankful for Instagram!! Being the visual, and creative-at-heart person I am, Instagram is most definitely the perfect outlet for me! I love that I can document our everyday lives in photos.

All that said … who’s ready for a photo-overload Year In Review compliments of Instagram? Ready or not … here it comes!!

We started 2013 in our heaven-on-earth paradise … Exuma

 Then a quick stop in Charleston on our way
home from Exuma
to visit with friends

A second MS infusion

New coffee maker love and — as you’ll see in upcoming
photos — a slight obsession with a new photo app

A photo app obsession, along with a new-found love
of taking photos of this sleeping beauty

A whole lot of this!

What North Carolina called “snowmageddon” …
30 degrees and a small patch of ice

I released a book! 31 Days of Forgiveness … my girls
were SO proud!

Had a whole lot of fun with her

Got to meet these lovely ladies in real life

And was blessed to visit with this
special friend in my life!

Wynter’s first horse show!

Spring break in Exuma

Another horse show

Cupcake “burgers” and sugar cookie “fries”
for Piper’s birthday treat

An ear infection for this one …

This one finds her passion again …

And turned 18 years old!
{this photo is from her 1st birthday}

Hunter is sick again …


Sisters riding together

31 Days of Forgiveness reaching multitudes and
on wish lists with amazing women!

Mother’s Day corndogs at the roller coaster park

Another horse show!

S’mores in the northwoods of Wisconsin

A new-found love of antiquing {my new happy place!}

Vacation at the beach

Horse show …

Horse love

A trip to France with the teen!

Surprise, surprise … another horse show!

School started way too soon!

New scooters

Travel to Kentucky for Taylor’s first recognized,
rated horse show. She took reserve champion
in her division!

My passion for decorating was ignited again

Another ear infection with an ear drum rupture …

And another show …

More antiquing …

Encouragement from a friend with
impeccable timing!

First experience with the ice cream truck

Field trips

A college visit …

And acceptance!

Back at a horse show!

A beautifully blessed backyard concert!

Party prep for a new ten-year-old

A beautiful session with my girls …

And a spur-of-the-moment lucky shot!

Horse showing …

Halloweening …

Another horse show, another birthday!

Yet ANOTHER horse show!
At this one Taylor takes GRAND champion!

Christmas crafting …

Elfing …

Wrapping …

Shipping …

Jumping …

Weekend trip to the Biltmore House

Silly Piper!

Pony rides on Christmas Eve

And we end 2014 where we started 2013 …
back in Exuma!

We’ve had a beautifully blessed 2013! And can I just say again how thankful I am for Instagram?! If it’s not obvious by the above photo dump, if things are quiet around here on the blog, you can always find me on Instagram!

I’m hoping y’all had a crazy wonderful 2013 and that even better things are in store for 2014.

Happy New Year!!

Posted in family photos, family thoughts

5 Sep

the kids are alright …

One of the primary reasons God sent His Son to earth was to bring tender salve and relief to those whose hearts were broken.
~ Beth Moore

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted,
and he saves those whose spirits have been crushed.
Psalm 34:18 {NCV}

As I watched the girls take off on their scooters last week, I couldn’t help but smile at how resilient and {God} protected they’ve been.

It goes without saying they’ve been through some difficult circumstances over the last few years. And I’m not sure why, but I’m amazed time and again at how joyful their little spirits have remained through it all.

We’ve had some new changes in our lives recently, and as I watched them go, I marveled at how they seem to take it all in stride.

Truly, it can only be explained by the tender salve and relief {brought by our God} to those whose hearts were broken.

Thank you Lord.

As they crossed the street and disappeared into the park across the street, I went inside the house to finish up some chores. I was busy upstairs when Wynter came flying into the house shouting, “THE ICE CREAM TRUCK!! Can we have some money for ice cream?!”

I came flying down the stairs shouting, “GRAB MY PURSE!!”

We found some money and off she went running with me high-tailing it close behind her.

I LOVED the ice cream truck as a kid! In fact it’s probably one of my favorite memories! I used to get the ice cream that had a bubble gum at the bottom … kind of a two-fer-one deal!


I stood watching my born & raised country-mice experience the ice cream truck for the very first time. My heart full. Moments earlier I was smiling in wonder at their resilience. And as I watched them make their decisions carefully, I thanked the Lord once again.

It’s in these small memorable moments they’re wrapped in His tender salve and relief. And I’m thankful.

Posted in family thoughts, girls, life

21 Apr

nothing is wasted …

Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him. James 1:12 {NIV}

My firstborn turns 18 years old today. I know it’d be very cliche to ask where the time went … yet, as I look at this photo and reflect over the years we traveled together, I can’t help but think … where did the time go?!

The other day, Taylor was riding a different horse at the barn — for reasons I won’t go into as it’d be a whole different post — but right now she’s riding a couple different lesson horses to just have some fun and get her own riding back on track.

As she poked around the arena on a verrryyyy slowwww guy, her mood was light, she had a smile on her face {few and far between these days}, and commented, “He feels just like Clover.”

I was immediately struck by the thought, “Sometimes to start fresh, you have to start at the beginning.”

You see, Taylor basically found her riding passion on that trusty ol’ mount. Even today, Clover holds a irreplaceable and special place in our hearts.

Clover was Taylor’s beginning.

Lately, she’s had some crazy trouble with her horse and needs a fresh start in riding. She needs to have fun again.

Taylor’s been struggling … with a whole lotta stuff going on in her life, she’s been struggling. And right now, as she’s turning eighteen, she feels like she needs a fresh start.

Hold on … I’m not planning on going into a “whoa-is-Taylor-she’s-had-it-so-rough” thing. Truth is, I’ve been chastised for not “letting her get over it.” Along that line and as a side note, I would like to share something about my parenting …

When my children are walking through a valley in life, I don’t stand outside of that valley and shout down to them, “Put your big girl panties on and get over it already!”

No. That wouldn’t do us any good.

Instead, I walk down into that valley with them. I take them, I guide them, I encourage them, and we put their big girl panties on together.

Meaning … I don’t sit in their valley with them. I don’t allow them to sit in their own valleys. But in order to get them out of the valley, I need to meet them where they’re at, take them by the heart, and walk them through it.

How can a child — or anyone for that matter — “get over something” when they don’t have a guide out?


That said, I’ve been walking Taylor through quite a few valley’s as of late and she’s desperately searching for a fresh start in her life.

Eighteen years old. A milestone birthday. Adulthood? Gaaaa … this momma isn’t too sure about that one! Talking with a friend the other day, we agreed adulthood should be changed to twenty-one or thirty-five!

Tay … my sweet Tay … I want you to know I hear you. I see you. I feel you. I pray for you. And as much as this mommy loves you with all of her heart … your Father in heaven loves you THAT much more. I can only imagine how proud He must be of you Taylor.

He’s allowed almost every trial imaginable. And you’ve persevered. Yes, it’s been through tears and anguish you’ve persevered, but you’ve also done it with unimaginable grace.

Baby, I heard this song the other day and you immediately came to mind. Sweet girl, please let your heart be wide open as you listen to each word and let God speak into your life. Listen to His promises for you …

What if every tear you cry, seeds the ground where joy will grow? Fields … acres and acres of fields of joy are what He has in store for you. I believe it Taylor.

You can lean on me and I’ll believe for you … and in time you will believe it too.

Happy birthday love. There’s no way I could be more proud of you …

Nothing Is Wasted
:: Jason Gray ::

The hurt that broke your heart
And left you trembling in the dark
Feeling lost and alone
Will tell you hope’s a lie
But what if every tear you cry
Will seed the ground where joy will grow

Nothing is wasted
Nothing is wasted
In the hands of our Redeemer
Nothing is wasted

It’s from the deepest wounds
That beauty finds a place to bloom
And you will see before the end
That every broken piece is
Gathered in the heart of Jesus
And what’s lost will be found again


When hope is more than you can bear
And it’s too hard to believe it could be true
And your strength fails you half way there
You can lean on me & I’ll believe for you
And in time you will believe it too

Sometimes we are waiting
In the sorrow we have tasted
But joy will replace it
Nothing is wasted
In the hands of our redeemer
Nothing is wasted

Posted in birthday, family thoughts, music, parenting, taylor

27 Jun

an abandoned checker board

WARNING:  Long, rambling post to follow.

Nothing like an abandoned checker board to grab my attention, put my emotions in check, and quiet my spirit.

My life is nothing short of crazy. Truly. I really should don a red helmet and carry a hose on my back because it seems all I do is move from fire to fire.

Humor me as a share a sampling and then circle back to my thoughts?

Monday night I was on my way to a painting class/party at a friend’s house. I was pretty excited and looking forward to it. I had my Texas caviar and watermelon margaritas all ready to go!

First hitch, Taylor … my sitter for the night, was late. And. I couldn’t reach her anywhere. For over thirty minutes. Morbid thoughts started assailing me when I finally got a text from her.

With 20 minutes to spare, she finally made it home and packed up the girls to take them to dinner. The girls had friends over and Taylor had a friend, which made 7 in total so they needed to take my car. Which was fine because it gave me the opportunity to hop in my never-used sports car, and I couldn’t wait to drive with the top down and wind in my hair!

I pile everything into my car, watch Taylor back out the drive, and turn on my car raring to go. I push the button to take the roof down and nothing happens. Well … actually … I did get a “click.” But I didn’t get any roof-coming-down action. So I tried it again. “Click.” And again. “Click.”

And then. Liquid started pouring through the roof of the car onto the console. Not dripping. But pouring. A green, greasy-like fluid. It started pooling in the interior light fixtures and continued to pour onto the console.

For some reason Taylor pulled back into the drive. Now what was the reason again? Thinking … thinking … oh yeah! Money. Humpf.

But good thing, cuz I needed the keys to her car.

While she was getting me the keys, and I was getting a bucket in place to catch the unwanted, green, greasy-like matter pouring into my car … a boy comes into the driveway on his bike. Selling raffle tickets.

And since I’ve got my wallet out handing cash over to the teen, I figured I’d get a raffle ticket too.

It’s currently 6:55 and the party starts at 7:00.

As I’m filling out my raffle tickets, the boy’s dad pulls in on his bicycle. He sees our Wisconsin plates, tells me he’s from Chicago, and proceeds to tell me his life story.

They leave and I’m finally on my way.

Let’s see. Then there’s yesterday morning. Well … first, let’s quickly back up a month to some extremely extensive and painful dental work that left me with a temporary crown. Given mine and the dentist’s travel schedule, it was about four weeks out ’til I could get the permanent crown put in place. That probably would’ve been just fine. But let’s say hypothetically a milk dud might’ve pulled it out about three weeks too early. And the derned thing kept coming off, leaving me in quite a bit o’ pain!

I was thankful to finally have the permanent one put on. Yesterday morning.

When he took the temporary one off and left my nerves exposed to the air and cool squirting water that seemed so important to get in there, I just about jumped outta my chair! It seemed fruitless to get a novocaine shot for 10 minutes of work {I really do hate those shots}, so instead I sat there in excruciating, yes excruciating pain as he fiddled and futzed and made it just right.

There may have been a tear or two, or five hundred.

Meanwhile, I get a call from home. And a voicemail.

During a break {dentist, not me}, with cotton in my mouth, and tears on my cheeks, I listen to the voicemail. It’s from Wynter and it goes like this:

“Hi mom. It’s Wynter. I threw up and have throw up in my hair and I’m wondering if I should take a shower. That’s all. I love you. Bye.”

And a few more tears may have fallen {me, not Wynter}.

Anyway. Torture dentist done and I’m on my way home.

And the Invisible Fence {dog training} guy calls and says he’s on his way to the house for training {dog, not me}. “Okay, I’m on my way there and will see you soon,” I say.

And then a call from the plumber. He’ll also be at the house shortly. See, the day before a water meter guy rings the bell and explains to me that I’m using some 77 thousand gallons of water in the last few weeks, and my meter is running out of control which indicates there’s a leak in the house somewhere.

I get home and am literally bombarded as I walk in the door. Oh! and did I mention, there’s already a guy in the basement wallpapering a bathroom that had previously been torn apart due to mold in the walls?

And that I needed to get Taylor out the door to a doctor’s appointment for a pretty banged up arm {go-carting accident}?

Anyway. The crazy continued and I could go on, but after 800 words, I’m thinking you get the gist.

In the middle of all the above, I found myself standing at the kitchen table where an abandoned checker board sat. It was all set up and ready to play. Sadly, I recalled the prior evening.

In the middle of preparing Texas caviar and margaritas, Hunter asked if I’d play checkers with her. I told her I would and to set it up on the table so I could play between my prep. She took her turn and told me it was mine. I said I’d be there in a minute so she asked if she should play my turn. I told her that was a good idea.

And that’s all I remembered. And now it sat there. Abandoned.

I was up to my eyeballs in the crazy of the morning, but felt a peace overcome me as I knew what I needed to do. I found Hunter and asked if she wanted to finish that checker game.

I may be getting misty as I’m recalling the sheer delight on her face as she excitedly answered, “yes!” and ran off to find the game.

I don’t know. No big epiphany, metaphor, or analogy from me today. Just a message to say that sometimes in the middle of crazy, all it takes is a simple reminder of what’s really important in life. The crazy’ll always be there. My prayer is that my eyes are always open to what matters most.

Posted in encouragement, family thoughts, life, parenting

9 May

no matter what …

Hunter had surgery last week. She needed her adenoids and tonsils removed, and had her third set of ear tubes inserted. This was the fourth surgery this kid has undergone in her little six years of life. Anyway.

My girl was so brave. I don’t think she had any idea what was about to hit her. But more of that goodness in a bit …

The primary focus of this writing is … motherhood. In light of my recent post on “quitting” … an experience I had in the hospital with Hunter kinda struck me to the core.

After surgery, I was brought into the recovery room where she was still completely out of it. An oxygen mask on her face, hooked up to monitors, an IV … the works. I stood next to her holding her limp and fragile hand. She would mumble in and out of her “anesthesia coma” and each time the nurse would assure her, “Your mommy’s right here. She’s right here.” And on cue, I’d get my face real close to hers, whisper her name and tell her mommy loves her.

Think about these words … “mommy’s right here.”

The world is as it should be because mommy is right here.

I haven’t hidden the fact that I’ve been struggling a bit. In life and in my parenting. My patience is at an all time low. And that’s putting it mildly. It seems every little thing sets me off. I’m at my limit and being tested constantly. I blow up. And immediately regret it. Welcome to parenting, huh? :)

But no matter how difficult I’ve been with these girls … and I’m the first to admit, I. have. been. difficult. They still love me. Unconditionally.

Sometimes I’m so worried I’m going to screw these kids up. I’m not spending enough time with them. I’m not loving enough. Caring enough. I don’t listen enough. I don’t put my phone down when I should {and pay attention to them}. I’m not disciplining correctly … or enough. I’m yelling too much. I’m impatient. All these things and self-doubt has really crept up on me lately.

But right there, in the hospital, it struck me … all they really want to know, now and forever, is that “mommy is right here.”

And girls … I promise you I am. I promise you I will be “right here” for you as long as I have breath. Thank you for your grace and thank you for loving me unconditionally … no matter what.

Whew. Okay! Anyone ready for some Huntie goodness?

Oh wait! First … do you Instagram? It’s kinda my new obsession. If you’d like to follow me, I’m tmstier. I also found this site … haven’t really played with it yet, but you can find me there! :)

So … sorry ’bout the photo dump here … but like I said, I’m a little obsessed with Instagram and I happen to be a little obsessed with my babygirl too!

So this is Hunter in the waiting room {at 6:00 am} before surgery.

She’s been admitted and given her “happy juice.”

The nurses brought her to a closet full of lovies … she picked a hedgehog.

Babygirl after surgery, trying to wake up.

Woken, and brought into her own room.

Green popsicle. “nuff said.

A setback. She wasn’t getting enough fluids and got
nauseous when they sat her up. They decided to keep
her a couple extra hours and pump a bag of fluids
into her.

Within an hour she was better and we made our way home.
After sleeping/resting/whining in my bed for a while,
we decided to get some fresh air with a walk.
Babygirl loves an opportunity to hop in the stroller.

After our walk, I got caught up in looking through the mail
while Hunter went outside. This is where I found her.
On the back patio …

Watching her sisters swim. Yeah, it kinda broke my heart too.

I was told her recovery would take a week. A week off of school.
She may not want to eat for a few days. She may be in pain.

When we got home from the hospital, this girl was ravenous
and craving goldfish and pretzels like a madwoman!

The morning after, she woke up raring to go! I seriously
contemplated sending her back to school in a few days.

And then …

My precious princess was secretly replaced with
Princess Cranky-Pants.

And it was not fun. At all.

We saw a ray of sunshine when she got some
notes from her friends at school!

This one might be a little naughty of me … but I couldn’t help it!
She would. not. give in to sleep! She was crankier than
crank and wouldn’t lay down. I got into bed and she
came and laid with me, but rolling around and ’round.
She climbed on top of me and fell asleep and
this is what I’ve been listening to for the last week …

When I was sure she was sleeping good, I rolled
her off me and let her snooze!

Finally yesterday afternoon she was feeling “a little good”
{her reply when you ask her how she’s feeling}
and so I took her into school for a half-day.
She was a bit wiped when she got home, but
I think it was good to get her back into
her routine a bit. We’ll see what today brings!

I love this little monkey! She’s tested me this past week … oh
how she’s tested me! But we also had quite a bit of fun
together … I love my babygirl and can’t wait for a
strep-free, ear infection-free summer! Woot!

Posted in family thoughts, hunter, parenting