Tornado Alley

Friday, May 31, 2013

I'm going to complain for a moment. I am so over the storms in Oklahoma.

I don't really get anxious about tornadoes. When you grow up in Oklahoma, it's just part of life, and you get used to it.

But there are days that make me anxious.

Today was one of those days. The weather guys all knew it was going to be bad. And they were right. It's like the storms just kept coming.

Tonight I finally feel at ease. This was not a night like we had in Moore just a couple weeks ago. Praise the Lord. The tornadoes we saw tonight went through Yukon, straight across the Oklahoma City metro, and even through Norman. But it doesn't appear that there was massive damage. Right now it appears the biggest issue in the area is flooding.

As soon as we know that we have "one of those days" brewing, we start taking precautions.

We don't have a storm shelter. Many people don't. We don't have cellars in Oklahoma for numerous reasons. It has to do with our red clay and the freeze line. Something like that. Anyways, I know that many places in the country have cellars/basements in most homes, and we just don't around here.

But we do have a plan in place. There are a couple houses in our addition that have shelters. We can go there if we need to.

We also always pack a bag with important documents, camera cards (with pictures of every room of our house in case something were to happen), food, baby formula, diapers, a change of clothes. Necessities. We also take our computers and electronics when we take cover.

We have helmets for the kids, and everyone gets dressed in long pants, long sleeved shirts and tennis shoes. And we got the idea tonight to write important contact information on our kid's backs. I know all that sounds crazy, but it's part of living in Oklahoma.

This tornado season has been particularly scary. Not all tornado seasons are this bad.

We have decided that we are absolutely putting in a storm shelter. We have the means to do it, so we're absolutely doing it. There is nothing like peace of mind.

I wish I had great things to say tonight, but I really just needed to process all this weather. I was anxious tonight watching that tornado trek across OKC. We know people that live all across the city, so it was scary.

I have to share this pic. My pastor, Craig Groeschel posted it on instagram. The photo was taken by Jon McCartie.

It's just a reminder of how good God really is.

Remember that tonight is the last chance for you to enter to win 1 of 3 free planners from Much Ado About You!  Click here to enter.

More interesting things to come tomorrow. Thanks for praying for Oklahoma.


I Might Have A Condition

Thursday, May 30, 2013

I have a really weird problem. And if you have any kind of life, please don't even bother reading about my crazy issues. 

I have more notebooks (that I am currently writing in) then I can carry in a single bag. 

See, issues. 

I realize that this probably only makes me seem crazier than you already think I am, but I might have some kind of condition. 

These are just the notebooks that I am currently using. (I have an entire cabinet full of more!) 

Please note that I did not arrange these notebooks. That is how they ended up on my desk. Hence I discovered that I might have a serious problem. 

Maybe I should get one of those old school trapper keepers (from when I was in 8th grade) to keep all my crap in. Zipper and all. Really, maybe that's what it's come to. 

What's a girl to do? 

Or maybe I need to see some kind of specialist. 

Here's a little explanation into my crazy. 

I have a notebook that I use for Bible study, one for my daily team challenges for my Scentsy team, one for everything (I carry it in my purse with my planner), and then a 2nd one for everything because the 1st one got full but I'm still using notes from you see what I mean? I really might have a condition. Hi my name is Allison and I hoard notebooks and pens. 


You don't have any crazy in you? Come on!
So that's it. Just wanted you to know that I have notebook issues. 

But I also have a couple of notes to pass along: 
  • I have a friend driving down from KC next Wednesday, June 5th, and we are going to go serve in Moore. We are going through Samaritan's Purse to volunteer. If you're interested in going with us, we will be leaving from my home in N. Edmond, or you could meet us down there. More details to come....
  • If we're friends on FB, instagram or twitter, you may have seen that I'm doing an online bible study this summer with Beth Moore and the Siestas. We'll be studying Priscilla Shirer's Gideon. I will post all the details (once they are ironed out) here on the blog, so be sure to follow. I'd love to have you join us! If you know you want to join, start looking for your participants guide now. Many places are sold out at the moment. 
  • You still have time to enter to win my all time favorite planner from Much Ado About You. Click here for details on how you can win. Tomorrow is the last day to enter!
  • I have so much to share with you in the coming days including: A Princess and Pirate Party!; Family Dinner Questions; Summer Survival for your Business; a new and fancy blog design; and so much more! Be sure to follow so you don't miss any of it! 
Thanks for loving me despite my craziness. I love you back. 

Summertime Chore Charts

Brian and I just spent a wonderful evening with some awesome peeps from our Kansas City area team. What a fun night!

We had a little shin dig at Joe's Crab Shack where I was actually the one who was long winded this time. We had a great time, and I'm so glad we made the trip. And as usual, I learned a little something too. There were so many great ideas shared. I always love learning from my Scentsy family! 

Here are a few of us with our Joe's Crab shack bibs. It's always fun when you go to a restaurant where they put a bib on you. Awesome.

So that's what we did tonight. But that's not what I wanted to share with you.

This summer we started chore charts with our kids. We made a huge deal out of going to Mardel so they could each pick out the stickers that they wanted to earn on their chore chart. 

We sat down as a family and asked each of the kids what they thought they could help out with around the house. We talked about the things they wanted to help with and the things that they are responsible for. 

I found these super cute and completely customizable chore charts that work perfectly for the stickers we picked out. You can find them here. I am so grateful for creative people who can create super cute stuff like this! 

We have been able to add chores to the chart as we think of new ones and customize the charts to each kiddo. My kids have been so motivated by earning stickers for their charts. 

When we first sat down to talk about their chores, we talke about what they could earn for getting stickers, and we talked about things like movie day or getting a new toy. We also talked about them earning a trip if they earned a certain amount of stars by the end of the summer. 

Strangely enough, we have not had to bribe them with anything other than the stickers right now. Now, my kids are 4 and 6 so I would guess that older kids would want to earn something other than stickers, but stickers are working for us right now, so we're going with it!

The girls at my bible study thought the chore charts were great, so I thought I would share my find with you. I hope it helps you get everyone on the same page this summer! 

Here are some of the chores my kiddos are doing:

Addison (6 years old) earns stickers for:
  • Reading (we're doing the local summer reading program) 
  • Watering the plants 
  • Sweeping the porch 
  • Helping mommy or daddy
  • Picking up her toys 
  • Practicing her Bible memory verse
  • Helping with the dishes
  • Putting her clean clothes away

Luke (4 years old) earns stickers for: 
  • Reading 
  • Sweeping the porch 
  • Filling up the dog's water and food bowl
  • Picking up his toys 
  • Sleeping in his bed all night 
  • Watering the plants
So head on over to and print off your own chore charts today! 

And don't forget that I'm giving away 3 planners on Saturday! You still have time to enter to win! So many of you have entered to win our Much Ado About You planner giveaway. If you want to win go here and follow the directions for your chance to win 1 of 3 free Much Ado About You planners. I should mention that the planners are only being offered in 1 size this year (6x9) which is perfect for carrying around with you! 

{Also note that there is a brand new design coming to the blog in July....I am so very excited!}

Stay tuned, 

Much Ado About YOU! For you!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

I have a huge problem. Many of you know about it.

If you followed my 1st journey of writing everyday for a year, you read multiple posts about my planner, saw multiple pictures of my planner, and probably caught glimpses of it pictures that I didn't even mean for it to be in because it is always by my side!

I accidentally made friends with Emmy who created these beautiful pieces of art (See? I told you I'm crazy!) because I wrote about my obsession for her planner so much. And the obsession continues.

I should warn you that I have piles of planners that I have test driven. None of them worked out like this one.

I realize that I'm making big claims, but I absolutely love the layout of this planner. I can't find anything I like better.

A while back I wrote about how the Much Ado About You planner compares to the Erin Condren planner. You can see that post here. Now, the Much Ado About You planner has been updated, and you can see all the great new features by checking out Emmy's awesome new video on the post below over at

Oh my goodness I can hardly contain myself! I am so crazy excited that my all time favorite planner shop is opening back up on June 1st! That's this Saturday!

So here's the deal, I can't just tell you about these crazy awesome planners, I think you need one!

And I think you should be able to win one! That means this is a giveaway post my friends!

So here's the deal, if you want to win, you have to go to and check out Emmy's new video. Comment below what your favorite feature of the new MAAY planner is,  and tell us why you need one, and you could win a free planner! (also make sure you're a follower of this blog)

On Saturday, June 1st, I'll draw 3 of you to win a brand new Much Ado About You planner! Go check it out, and post below. Good luck to you!

The Return of the Sunday 7!

Monday, May 27, 2013

I wish I could record the way the wind sounds as it blows through our trees. It's almost like the ocean.

I know it's not the ocean, but I had this beautiful thought today while rocking in the front yard holding babies, sitting with friends, watching kids play, that although this is not California, it is more paradise than I ever could have asked for.

The trees sound like the waves in the Oklahoma wind. There are people here that we love dearly. People we know we're supposed to serve with, love on, and simply serve. And today I felt the Lord remind me that there were a million reasons for us to stay here. I know this is where we're supposed to be right now. It just feels right.

But I digress.

This feels like it has been the week that would never end. And I know that I don't know the half of it. On Monday a deadly tornado ripped through over 17 miles of Moore, Oklahoma.

And even though I don't live in Moore, the effect of that tornado has shaken our entire state, the country and even the world. It has been a long time since I have been so emotionally exhausted.

But I have also been reminded of how short our time on this earth really is. Oh that precious word, time.

If you're reading for the 1st time, you should be warned that I am pretty crazy about planning and time management. I'm pretty sure it stems from all the things I think I need to do. But the older I get the more I undertand that the time I have with my children is precious. I know it is going to fly by in an instant.

With a successful and busy business to be run, a husband to love well, baby weight to lose (soon please!), and friends and family to fellowship with, I do not want my children to get the leftovers of my time.

Insert The Sunday 7!

The Sunday 7 is a simple tool to help you map out the 7 most important areas of your life and then make sure you have scheduled time for each of those things in a given week.

For a more detailed explanation of the The Sunday 7, Click Here.

So here a little bit of my crazy from tonight....there is a slight chance I have too many calendars (the one on my fridge isn't even in the picture!).

And then here is my Sunday 7.....and if you read it, you can see that it's actually 8 this week.

Now it's your turn! It's not helpful to you if you just read mine, go make your own! We can be more effective parents, spouses, friends, and leaders when we decide to be intentional about our time.

Yes, it takes a little bit of effort, but it's worth it!

Happy Sunday on a Monday.

If you're going to be following my craziness everyday, you may want to know that there are fun things to come like:

  • A couple giveaways! (one being my very favorite planner....look for more info tomorrow!)
  • Summer Activities for Kids (and moms too!)
  • A Summer Survival Guide (for all you moms in direct sales with kids at home this summer)
  • Our New York trip recaps
  • Chore Charts 
  • Family Dinner Questions
  • a new blog design (and new name!) coming in July!
  • and so much more! 
Make sure to follow along so you don't miss any of it! 

Did you think it would be different?

It was a simple question that started the fight.

He looked over at me from where he was standing, cooking at the stovetop in the kitchen. "Did you think it would be different with the babies after we let them go."

My response: "What do you mean different?"

His reply: "Did you think we would see them more or check on them more or be a bigger part of their lives?"

And then I got defensive....

"What is that supposed to mean? I don't know what I thought it would be like. We had to distance ourselves for a while. We had to let them be okay where they were. And then we had a baby and moved and yeah, I guess maybe I thought it would be different."

And then we fought. Over nothing.

I felt guilty because maybe I should have checked on them more. But what do you say, "hey how are the babies we let go of so you could fall in who would eventually have to go back to their birth mom even though we thought you'd be able to have them forever?"

Yeah how does that conversation go?

I know it's not my fault. But I can't help but wonder what would have happened if we hadn't decided to let them go.

Maybe I would have been able to finally get to their birth mom. We were slowly gaining her trust. Maybe eventually something would have clicked.

Or maybe we would have been able to make a case for how incredibly unstable she is, and then we would have been able to pass them over to an adoptive home.....or maybe we wouldn't have given them up at all if given the chance to make them ours. I dunno what we would have done. I really don't.

But imagining it brings tears to the brims of my eyes. (Just wait....they'll fall.)

I don't know how to explain foster care to you in a way that makes sense. Maybe it's because it doesn't make sense even to me.

I know that we were very clearly called to it. I don't deny that at all, but there are days that I look back and wonder why on earth He ever would have called us to it, because I was not cut out for it most of the time.

I couldn't guard my heart. But then I tried to. And then I'd be angry. And then I'd be sad and before I knew it, I didn't know how I felt about it all.

In this moment and in many moments in the recent past, I have felt strong enough to do it again. I have felt like I want to and should and that there isn't any excuse big enough to keep us from it.

And in the very next instant I doubt that decision because it was (and is) so so hard.

I cannot take back the nights that I held and rocked that baby to sleep.

I cannot take back the times that we took care of them when they were sick.

I cannot take back the sound of their voices calling us momma and dada.

I cannot take back the laughter, the tears, the questions, the love or the heartache.

And I am so incredibly grateful that those 2 babies are part of our story.

I still call them babies but they're not. They're getting so big. They're 2 and 3 now.

There are days I wish I could bring them back here. What if I could convince their momma that they would be better off with us? What if I could change her mind?

What if....

What if....

What if....

Foster care is hard. There is no denying that. But it has been one of the greatest adventures of my life. I learned more about myself in the 6 months that I had someone else's babies in my care then any other time.

Their story isn't over. I believe there is more. I know the Lord has great things in store for them. I don't doubt it for a second.

I can't see the plan. But that doesn't mean there isn't one in place.

That's all.

Just me rambling. Writing what's on my heart and mind.

Thanks for listening. And thanks for loving my crazy.

Until tomorrow,

Must Have Baby Items 0-6 months

Sunday, May 26, 2013

We recently welcomed baby #3 into our home. (I guess you could say he was technically baby #5 after our 2 foster babies, but he was our baby #3.)

We literally had no baby items left after our foster babies left, so we set out on a journey to get ready to welcome a new little being into our home.

Things have definitely changed since baby #2 (3 years ago), and having been a mom with 4 littles in the house, I decided I didn't need as much stuff as I thought I did with the first 2.

So here is my list of my favorite baby products for babies ages 0-6 months. Whether you're expecting a new baby yourself or just looking for a gift to wow an expecting mom, you'll find all kinds of great goodies on this list.

Aden + Anais Sleep Sack:
Oh the blanket issue! After Wyatt no longer wanted to be swaddled (around 4 weeks), we ran into the blanket issue. He was kicking any and every blanket we put on him over his face. That's not a good thing obviously! But I discovered the Aden+Anais sleep sacks, and problem solved!

I love a lot of other Aden + Anais products (as you'll see) so this was a natural brand choice for us. We have a 4 layer sleep sack (pictured below) that is Wyatt's favorite. It is fairly heavy and seems to help him sleep the best. We also have several light weight sleep sacks that we use as needed as well.

While we're talking about Aden +Anais, I might as well tell you all the other goodies I love that they carry!

Mum + Bub lotion 
I ordered this lotion on a whim hoping to find something that would keep Wyatt's dry skin moisturized, and this lotion did the trick. I was so impressed, that I bought a 2nd bottle to keep in my car to use on myself! I seriously love it. 

Aden+Anais Bamboo Swaddling Blankets
These blankets are amazing! And they are not not just for swaddling. We are still using them, and Wyatt is almost 7 months old. We used them as swaddling blankets when he was tiny, and now we use them as burp rags, blankets, lovies, nursing name it, we use these blankets for it. I always have a least 2 in my diaper bag. 

Important note: There is a difference between the cotton swaddling blankets and the bamboo. We have both. The cotton are great, but the bamboo are amazing! They are incredibly soft and get softer the more you wash them. The bamboo ones are a little more pricey, but they are totally worth it! 

Sophie the Giraffe
I could not figure out why every baby I ever saw had this silly little giraffe, so I bought it. And I still don't know why every baby has this giraffe except that babies LOVE it! Wyatt is obsessed with Sophie. I have no idea why. But hey, a baby knows what it likes I guess. And this is still one of our favorites. 

Coconut Oil 
Any old brand will do. Both my boys (Luke age 4) and Wyatt (the baby), both get horribly chapped cheeks. I guess it's the Oklahoma wind! And I have literally tried everything. The winner: good ole' coconut oil! Natural and incredibly moisturizing, coconut oil is where it's at! Plus you can find it at the grocery store in the baking aisle, and it's good for about a million other things as well! 

Timi and Leslie Diaper Bag
So confession time, I should probably be carrying a Grace Adele bag as a diaper bag, BUT I need a big diaper bag. I want something big enough to throw everything into it. And my Timi and Leslie bag does just that (with enough room to fit a Grace Adele clutch!) I have the 'Charlie' bag (pictured below) in turquoise.

Paul Mitchell Baby Don't Cry Shampoo
all of my kids have had cradle cap. I absolutely despise it. This time by pediatrician recommended Paul Mitchell's Baby Don't Cry Shampoo. I ordered it online, and fell in love! Wyatt's cradle cap was gone within a week or so of using this shampoo while gently brushing his head with a baby brush. It's a super clean shampoo and rinses clear of all residue. I love it so much that I use it on my 4 year old and 6 year old too. 

The Tummy Tub 
While we're on the subject of bathing...insert the tummy tub! I know it looks like a bucket, and you're probably going to think I'm crazy, but this is seriously my favorite baby product ever! So it is supposed to simulate the womb....stay with me here! And it's incredibly soothing for babies. And my almost 7 month old still bathes in it every night. That's him just a few nights ago! If you are in need of a baby tub, this is the one. It takes a little getting used to but it's great because the baby is completely submerged in the water instead of halfway in one of those normal baby tubs. 

Tiny Love Classic Mobile
All of my babies have used this mobile. It is whimsical, happy, and plays classical music. Plus it makes this soothing sound as the plastic beads fall down as each arms turns. I realize that sounds weird, but all my kids have loved it. and I think it's adorable. 

Playtex Nursing Storage System
With my first 2 babies, I felt slightly overwhelmed by nursing. When I had Addison, I was still teaching. I nursed for 6 months, but I felt slightly overwhelmed by it all. With Luke, I got frustrated because he spit up every time I nursed often numerous times, and he never spit up after having a bottle. That will make a momma crazy. 
Turns out the same thing happens with Wyatt (is this TMI?....Sorry if it is), but I have stayed the course with Wyatt because I haven't been so uptight about it. 
He has formula when need be. He drinks from a bottle, he nurses, we do it all, and it's made me a better nursing momma. 
So to make a very long story shorter...I love this playtex nursing storage system. I do not have a pump that attaches to these, but I use them to freeze my milk, and it makes life so much easier. They go straight from the freezer to our bottles. And of course, this will only apply to you if you use Playtex bottles. 

Baby Jogger Summit XC
I know. I know. Everyone is crazy about the Bob stroller. I am kind of that person that gets annoyed when people buy things because they're name brand. So I sort of refused to buy a bob stroller.
In reality, I read all the crazy reviews and decided to go with the Baby Jogger, and I absolutely love it. The only issue I have with it is that the storage is virtually non-existent, but that is basically true in most joggers. (Also another reason I love my Timi and Leslie diaper bag....thank you stroller straps!) 
I use this as my everyday stroller. I have a car seat adapter and a tray for the front for when he gets a little bigger.

Chew Beads
One of my sweet friends got me hooked on Chew Beads. We have a couple necklaces and a couple bracelets. I wear the bracelets all the time, and I love the necklaces because I can strap them to the stroller and he can't throw them out! Plus they're dishwasher safe, and Wyatt loves them. What more could you ask for?

Lamaze Light and Sound Crib Soother
This one has been a favorite from early. Soothing sounds and lights are a winner in this super soft and ultra cute crib soother. Also works great for playing on the floor. Wyatt loved it when he was tiny and still loves it now. 

Fisher Price Deluxe Bouncer
With this baby, we decided to forgo the swing completely. In all reality, swings are huge, and babies only use them for a few months before they out grow them. So this time I relied solely on a good bouncy. We got this precious monkey bouncer this time, and it has been well worth every penny.
It has both a music/sound feature as well as a vibrating feature in addition to the bounce. It is our go to nap place even still. I highly, highly recommend a good bounce seat. Forget the swing. You can live without it. 

That about rounds up my favorite baby products for babies 0-6 months. I hope this was helpful. Did I leave anything out? If there is something you consider a must have for this age range, please feel free to comment below! 

When you can't sleep

Friday, May 24, 2013

I laid in bed last night unable to sleep. It's been a long time since I haven't been able to sleep.

When you have small kiddos, you're usually so exhausted by the time you get to bed that sleep just comes.

But last night was different. I had read an article about the 7 children that died inside the Plaza Elementary school in Moore, Oklahoma on Monday. I'm pretty sure that's what did it.

The part that got me the most was learning about how 2 of the little girls,  best friends, were found holding each other's hands....there for each other until the moment they went to meet Jesus.

And then I couldn't sleep. I just laid there; eyes wide open, staring at the ceiling with so many questions for God.

Brian could tell something was off. I didn't want to watch TV. I didn't want to read. And I obviously wasn't sleeping. When he asked what was wrong, I simply told him I was restless.

And I guess it rubbed off. Then he couldn't sleep. I didn't tell him until this morning about the article and the girls and their precious hands being clasped together.

As soon as I said it, I could tell that it shook him too. And then he said, "We weren't made for this world. And those little girls were not made for this world."

And he's right. It doesn't make it easier, but he's right. And that's why all this is so hard. We were not made to deal with death. Death wasn't part of God's original plan, but when sin entered the world through man, death and all it's consequences, came with it.

I was thinking today about the things we use to comfort us in this sin filled world. From an early age we begin to cling to things of the world.

On Sunday, we misplaced, or maybe just lost, Wyatt's lovie. It's a little white blankie with a bear head and arms on it. And he has not slept well since.

We have tried to force numerous other lovies onto this poor child, but apparently only the one will do. He uses it to comfort and soothe himself back to sleep. He's 6 months old and he's already using "things" to comfort him.

We do the same thing as adults. We want the things that we love in this world to comfort us instead of turning to the Lord for comfort.

Most of us have vices that we turn to in our times of deepest pain. They may not be illegal things but we all find comfort in "things" from time to time.

This week there has not been a "thing" in this world that has been able to comfort me. Nothing.

There has been too much pain, and too much heartache. Too much destruction, and too many questions for God.

Even my "lovies" haven't been able to comfort me this week. This week I have found myself praying, seeking, turning to the Lord over and over again, and in Him, and only Him, I have found comfort.

Last night I was finally able to sleep when Brian prayed over me, and then I prayed that the Lord would bring peace that only He could. And it was as if I could hear Him say, "my peace is all you need."

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:27  

Writing again. Every single day

Thursday, May 23, 2013

So I don't know if you noticed or not, but I've decided to write everyday for a year again. Because I'm crazy, and because I feel like it's something I'm called to do.

I don't claim to be an incredible writer or anything of the sort, but I do believe that I have a way of being brutally honest that somehow connects with people from time to time. For some reason you want to know about how hard it is to work from home, or how challenging it is to be a foster parent.

Or you just like to know for certain that I'm nuts, and if I can run a successful business than anyone can (that's probably mostly it.)

When I tried to write "whenever I got around to it" it rarely happened, and as I looked back over the 365 days I wrote last year, I realized that the times when I thought I had nothing to say were the times when the Lord really used my words to reach other people.

So for lack of a better explanation, I'm writing everyday for a year again because I don't do things half way. It's all or nothing with me. So here's the all of it.

This is something I've been thinking about for a while now, and when I asked Brian what he thought about me writing everyday again he said something to the effect of, "sure, do it if you want to."

Brian and I have a very unique relationship. We "work" together from home every single day. And there are days that I think we both need our space. And there are definitely days that we don't communicate well if at all. And there are even days when we don't like each other all that much.

But my husband is an incredible man of God who has sacrificed so much for our family. Because he is here, I am able to lead well. I have the ability to have more relationships and serve more people than I could if he weren't here.

Because he is here, everyone gets where they need to be when they need to be there, and we are all very well fed. He is our resident chef, and an amazing chef he is. We eat fewer chicken nuggets and more shrimp because he's here. Praise the Lord!

And because he's here, we have to work harder on our marriage than we ever have. And I think we've done really, really well this time.

Because he is here with us, he has sacrificed so much. I believe that the Lord is using this time to prepare him to do something great. I consider what he does now to be amazing. A selfless sacrifice to make sure everyone else has what they need, but I know that there is even more that the Lord has in store for him.

So when he gave his nod of approval for me to write every single day, he was sacrificing even a little bit more. Because when I write, it's usually at the end of the day when everyone is finally in bed. When I'm not writing, that's our time together.

But I see how proud of me he is. He makes it clear that he thinks I'm wonderful in every way, and he believes that this whole writing thing is more than just a blog. For the record: I really don't know how to "blog." I only know how to throw up on a screen, and that's usually what happens.

I just wanted you to know how great my husband is. I want to acknowledge how much he gives up to allow me to put words on this page everyday, and how much he sacrifices to be the greatest dad I know.

So thank you all for loving my family. And babe, thank you for being the incredible man you are. I love you to the beach and back.

Let's be changed by it

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Today was a fairly normal day. 

I did the laundry. I tried to work through emails and facebook messages and reply to texts from so many of you wanting to help. A conference call, feeble attempts to work, playing power rangers with my 4 year was a fairly normal day. 

But in the back of my mind, I thought constantly about the families who had no laundry to fold, no computers to answer emails on, no anything at all. 

The outpouring of love from people all over the world wanting to help Oklahomans affected by such terrible tragedy has been overwhelming. Specifically, those of you in our Scentsy family have nearly begged to help. Thank you!

Our community has a long road ahead. Even though we don't live in Moore, we live close. And we know so many people who have lost everything. 

But only 2 days after the tragedy, we have started to attempt to go back to our normal lives. We'll have to, but for those directly affected, "normal" is so very far away. 

I am asking that you'll stick with me and continue to hear stories and be changed by this tragedy. 

It would be much easier to pretend it didn't happen and return to life as normal. I think so much inside us wants to forget it quickly. 

But I've decided I don't want to forget. I want to be hurt by it, moved by it, changed by it. If we don't allow ourselves to be changed by it, how do we grow? 

But I also want to be around for the long hall. The rebuilding of this community is going to take a long time. Moore, Oklahoma and it's residents are going to need our support for a very long time.

Right now, we're raising money for 5 Scensty friends who lost their homes. Two of these families lost their 9 year old daughters as well. 

Our goal is to raise $10,000 to distribute to these families to help them get started getting back on their feet. 

If you can, please go to the website below and donate what you can. Every single dollar makes a difference. 

Thank you in advance for your generosity. Together we can show the love of Christ to so many. 

Humans are amazing

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Today was hard.

There just aren't any other words to describe it.

The day started with my bible study group getting together to make a list of the people we knew who lost their homes.

The closest was a family member of someone in our group. So we set out to buy clothes for 4 littles boys to get them through the next week or so.

In the car, on the way to Wal-Mart, I made the comment that doing something was so much better than watching the news. The news was becoming too much to bear. I watched until 2:00 am last night just waiting for good news.

The good news came this morning when the news reported that 101 people were rescued during the night. Praise the Lord!

So I was beginning to feel better. We were out. We were actively helping. And that felt good.

And then I got a call from a dear friend who had the most horrific job today of being in the room with parents as they found out their children were confirmed dead. I can't even type it without tears running down my cheeks. I just can't imagine.

Ryan and Mike buried their daughter Ellie Kate in December, so they understand more than most what it's like to lose a child. It's not the same circumstances, but it's still the loss of a child. And most of us have no idea what that pain is like. We can only imagine, and our thoughts alone are terrifying and horrific.

But Ryan called me with a very specific assignment. One of the families they were able to minister to not only lost their daughter but also their home yesterday (as so many families who lost children did). This momma asked for an outfit to take to the funeral home tomorrow. Specifically, a shirt with a unicorn on it.

As soon as I heard from Ryan, I was on it. Ready to work and do whatever we could to make this happen for this family. I immediately contacted a friend of mine who has an embroidery shop to see if she could make a unicorn shirt.

Of course, she not only made 1, but she made several for this momma to choose from. And then it was the matter of a skirt. We needed to complete an outfit. Emily loved frilly skirts and tutus.

So many of you offered your time and money and talents to make sure Emily looks beautiful. At the end of the day, I picked up a perfect purple tutu and a gorgeous black petticoat (her favorite colors were purple and black). Two beautiful souls drove from Chickasha to Edmond to bring them to me.

And as I drove home in the midst of a beautiful evening in Oklahoma, I couldn't stop the tears.

And I sobbed and I wailed and I told God a thing or two about how I really feel about all this.

It all suddenly became too real.

And I wanted to argue. I wanted to yell. I wanted to say that it sucks.

And I said it. I told Him that I think this is horrible and not fair and horrific.

I told Him that I knew He could have saved them, but He didn't.

But He didn't.

And then through my tear filled eyes, I saw the sun break through the clouds as it began to set over the horizon, and I couldn't believe that it was only yesterday. It feels like a lifetime already.

And in that moment, it occurred to me, that if there is no pain, if there is no sorrow; If we never mourn and we never question and we never get angry....then we don't need Him at all.

But there is pain and there is sorrow. And we mourn and we question and we're mad about it. And it's not fair.

And I need Him.

And we need Him.

And in my rage and anger and sheer sorrow, He was so incredibly close.

I saw the hands and feet of Christ today so very very clearly. I watched as people full of sin and self righteousness, stepped out of their selfishness and gave freely of all they had.

Humans are amazing.

In the midst of our sin and imperfection there is something good that rises up that so desperately wants to give and serve and love.

In the hardest of times, at the core of who we are, we are so much like Christ.

It's when the day becomes monotonous and common that we stray from our spirits of giving and hope and love and become consumed with ourselves.

But in times of crisis we begin to act more like He who created us. And beautiful, beautiful things happen.

Today, I am proud to be a human, made in the image of God.

He is good in the midst of the bad. He is true when everything seems false. Sovereign always.

I heard Him whisper to me today that this is only a breath. Only a moment that we are here. There  is so much more that we don't understand or see.

I will not pretend to have all the answers. I don't. But I will reassure you that if you cry out to Him, if he seek Him, even if you get mad at Him, He will comfort you. He will reassure you. He will bring peace that only He can bring.

Father, tonight I pray that you would comfort those who seek you. Bring peace to the families who lost loved ones. Only you know their pain, Lord because you sent your only Son to die for us. And we are eternally grateful. Help us to trust you. Help us to find comfort and solace in your arms.

In the name of Jesus Christ,

Praying Tonight

I don't have words to even begin.

The largest tornado in history ripped through a town only 30 miles south of our home today. Moore, Oklahoma how we are covering you in prayer.

My heart has literally ached today. I sat anxiously awaiting the news that our friends in the path of today's tornado were safe. Hours later, we received the call that all was well with those we love and know.

Unfortunately that was not the case for everyone's loved ones today. At nearly midnight, I'm still up, glued to the news. The tears come and go. The hardest part to handle is the elementary school. Words like "make-shift morgue" "children drowned" "like a warzone" "91 killed." It's just too much.

Even the reporters are crying and emotional. I've never seen anything like it.

I can't stop the tears. It doesn't make sense. You want to be able to blame someone, but there is no one to blame.

Many people will blame God. They will get angry, and look for somewhere to point the blame. We're human. We want it to be someone's fault. But it's not.

I don't have the explanation as to why natural disasters happen. I wish I had answers there. We all do. But I do know about a savior who came to bring peace to the world.

And even though the Bible doesn't speak directly about natural disaster, it does talk about tribulation. And I don't know greater tribulation than this.

The Bible guarantees that we will walk through tribulation. My prayer is that all the pain and hurt and loss turns people toward Christ and not away from Him. It is okay to be mad. It is oaky to ask questions. It is often in our anger that we find what we're looking for.

I prayed over my children tonight; thanked the Lord for them; let them know how much they are loved and cherished in my eyes. And I let silent tears fall from my eyes as I snuggled them in their beds while praying unceasingly for those mommies and daddies who don't know where their babies are tonight.

Oh Lord, when we have no words, would you cover us? When we don't know how to pray, would you take what's on our hearts and translate it? When it seems like there is no hope, would you bring miracles and mercy and grace?

You alone can comfort those who are hurting. You alone can bring peace. Father, comfort the families who lost loved ones. Lay your powerful hands of mercy over the city of Moore, Oklahoma.

And Lord, would you guide us? Would you help us to honor you always as we hear the stories of rescue and recovery?

You are our healer, our creator, our comforter, our counselor, our source of peace. Be evident in the midst of this chaos. Be present in the middle of this disaster.

Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Romans 12:12 ESV

Please pray for Oklahoma. Give what you can. Serve how you can. Minister how you can. Be the hands and feet of Christ.

Our God is good. I know that much. Lord, please let your glory be shown amidst the circumstances.

3 ways you can give right now to help out people in Moore. 

Text STORM to 80888 for Salvation Army. 
Text REDCROSS to 90999 for Redcross. 
Text FOOD to 32333 for Reg. Food Bank

Until tomorrow,

So, okay

Friday, May 10, 2013

I heard the video on Brian's phone before I saw it. I knew who it was.

We were trying to get him to take his first steps.

Toe headed. Blue eyed.

Not my baby, but he could have been. I loved him that much.

Every time I think about him, I think about the first time I saw him on my front porch. I opened the door and he immediately held his arms out to me. I took him from the case worker and grabbed his big sister by the hand. She was only 11 months older than him.

In a second, he laid his head on my shoulder, and I was done.

In an instant, I knew this would be much harder than I thought it would be.

They had been in DHS custody and in the shelter for seven days.

They were dirty and tired and beautiful.

And the questions came.

Why and how could anyone ever do anything to have these babies taken from them? How could you live knowing that your babies were in a children's shelter?

Yeah, this was going to be harder than I thought.

And it was. It was the hardest thing I have ever done. I loved them. I didn't love them enough. I loved them too much.....I felt every one of those feelings in a single day.

There were days I never wanted them to leave...days that I wanted them to be mine. And then there were days when I thought that I would never work my way out of the mess I had gotten us into.

And it was messy both literally and emotionally, and it still is.

Anytime you open your heart to love, it gets messy. There is no clean way to love. Love is messy and imperfect and flawed and beautiful.

On Sunday, I found myself mad and asking a lot of questions. I tend to go on question overload when I get mad.

Why would you let us love them like that? Why would you let them go through all this pain and confusion? Why would you do this to family who thought they would be able to adopt them? Why would you let their momma ever screw up in the first place? Why?

And I realized I was disappointed.

I am disappointed in their mom. Why is she playing this game? Why can't she see what's best for her babies?

And then I started to wonder if the Lord was disappointed in me, and I started asking myself if I was disappointed in Him?

Because all this time, I thought we were being obedient. I thought we were doing what we thought You had called us to.

Become foster parents? 


Take in two babies? 


Now we have four babies under the age of five? 




To California?




Give them up?


You see, to me, I thought this plan He had was starting to pan out exactly like it was supposed to. We had the babies for six months. Then the most amazing family came forward who wanted to adopt them, so we willingly gave them up. We were moving....remember? Someone knocked on our front door and asked if we would be willing to sell our house on the very day that I asked the Lord for a clear and obvious sign that we were supposed to move to California. The only way you get more clear than that is if Jesus Himself shows up on the front porch.

We even went to California and tried to buy three houses and none of it panned out.

And then Wyatt was born and we both knew that we were supposed to stay. And in a matter of about a week of looking at houses, we found the house on the piece of property that we had always dreamed of. (And we had looked for a good year before that and never could find what we wanted.)

So, I was sure the next part of the story would be about their foster family adopting them and us going to the courthouse to celebrate the officialness of it all. And it would be so clear that we did what we were supposed to do and everything worked out.

But that's not what's happening.

Now these babies are being reunified with their birth mom. I know. It's their mom. Don't get on your high horse and tell me that blood is always better. It's not. I've seen it.

I tried so incredibly hard to love give her every chance to be the mom I thought she should be to them.

I wanted to have that great story of how we mentored her and she stopped doing drugs and she got a steady job and she got her driver's license back and she broke the stronghold of domestic abuse and drug abuse in her family line.

But I was naive.

I know that happens sometimes. But it didn't happen for us. And eventually I gave up on her.

And I can't help but ask the Lord, "Are You disappointed in me?"

I want it to be someone's fault. I want what seems so wrong to be pointed back to someone.

Maybe we should have never given them up. Maybe we should have been stronger. Maybe we should have tried harder with her.

And in the middle of my questions and frustration and anger during worship on Sunday, I heard Him so clearly say to me,

"Do not be disappointed in Me. I am not disappointed in you. Trust Me. Trust Me. Trust Me."

You would think that me being the wonderful Christian I am (please note the sarcasm), that I would be okay with that. "Okay, Lord, I will trust You."

Nope. Not what I was thinking at all. I was more like yelling back at Him. "Trust You?! This is what happens when I trust You! You take them away again from everything they know and love to go into circumstances that can't be great, and You want me to trust You?!"

I realize that you think I'm crazy at this point, but this is the kind of relationship I have with the Lord. I love Him with everything in me and I will do whatever He asks me to do, but that doesn't mean I can't get mad at Him or question Him or simply not understand Him.

And then I sat through church and listened to the message and took notes and sort of turned my shoulder away from the Lord. Like if He had been sitting next to me, I would have turned away from Him slightly.....because I was mad.

And then I realized in a second that their bio momma is His child too and they are His children way more than they were ever mine. And my heart broke all over again. I knew that. I did. But I forgot for a second. And He reminded me. He loves them more than I do.

So, okay.

Simply, okay.

Ellie Kate

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

I grew up attending a decent sized Methodist church with my mom and my sister. I had a Precious Moments bible that my dad and my ex-step mom gave me that I liked to highlight verses in. (And no that wasn't a typo, I actually have a few ex-step moms.)

We attended church regularly. We sang the hymns from the hymnal found in the back of every pew and listened to light hearted messages given by our pastor.

There was always a children's time at the altar before children's church began. And I distinctly remember the carpet being forest green throughout the entire sanctuary. There wasn't a Sunday that the organ didn't play or that we didn't recite the Lord's prayer.

I even went through confirmation as a 5th grader where I went to a 2-day camp with all the other 5th graders with the grand finale of the event being the 8 of us standing at the front of the congregation Sunday morning to be sprinkled with water, take our first communion and be welcomed into the family of God.

At least that's how I remember it.

My knowledge of the bible was minimal, and my prayer life was non-existent unless I was praying for the Lord to magically get my parents back together.

And so was life. I grew up in a church going through the motions ever Sunday, but I had no idea who Jesus or the Holy Spirit really was. You could say we had not been properly introduced yet.

My closest encounter to the Holy Spirit was in the middle of a football field at an FCA rally where I raised my hand when someone with a microphone asked who wanted to accept Jesus as their personal savior. I'll admit that I was confused at that moment because I thought that was what I had done years earlier during my 5th grade confirmation. But it sure didn't feel like this.

I felt like I needed this man desperately. I needed Him to be in charge of my life. Not me.

But then, being the coward I am, I didn't walk to the front of field and pick up my free bible with everyone else who raised their hand. I was embarrassed. I thought that accepting Jesus Christ as my personal savior was something I should have done a long time ago, but I never really had.

Fast forward a good 10 years, and my life has been drastically changed by allowing Christ to come into it. There was no immediate change for me. I continued to make poor choices after that day on the football field, but there was something new inside me that often whispered to me that maybe I wasn't always doing the right things.

My relationship with Christ would be a complicated one. I would throughly ignore Him and the Holy Spirit (that still, strong voice that I often heard whisper to me) for a long time. And then in an act of repentance, I would search Him out again and attempt to do the right thing and "be a better person." But I just could never get a handle on the whole God thing.

When I was 26 years old, I would meet a little girl that would completely turn my world upside down. She would change the way I thought about God and life and heaven.

She was only 4 years old. A little girl who would never speak a word, but would change my life completely.

Her name is Ellie Kate. And if you never had the chance to meet her, I'd like to ask you to take a few minutes to let me tell you about a life well lived.

Elizabeth Kathleen McLaughlin went to meet Jesus on December 23, 2012. She was a 7 year old miracle.

In all honesty, I have tried to write this for an incredibly long time and simply haven't been able to finish. But tomorrow is a very special day. It's NKH awareness day, and I know Ellie would have wanted you to know about NKH and about how hard she fought to beat it.

This is my Ellie story.

Our lives intertwined through the beautiful picture of God's grace. He knew I needed a reality check, and it came in the form of a little girl who would steal away my heart the moment I laid eyes on her.

Ellie Kate's momma and I met through a Scentsy donation to a project she was working on that involved taking Care Baskets to families in the hospital with children who had rare, serious, or undiagnosed conditions. They are simply baskets of love full of comfort care for the kids, Scentsy for the parents, the essentials like shampoo and conditioner, lotion and a toothbrush.

I made a donation and met Ryan Elizabeth McLaughlin for the first time and could not stop thinking about her and her daughter Ellie Kate.

Ellie Kate suffered from an extremely rare condition called NKH or Nonketotic hyperglycinemia. NKH is a rare genetic disorder that affects 1 child in every 60,000 born. Children with this condition have a problem breaking down the amino acid glycine. This is caused by a defect in the genetic code for the machinery that is responsible for the glycine breakdown (called glycine cleavage enzyme). Amino acids are natural components of our body. Because glycine is not broken down, it accumulates in the body. Glycine is an important molecule in the brain where it has various functions such as transmitting signals from one brain cell to another. Excessive glycine disrupts the function of the brain. 

For the record, I am the person for never watches the news or sad movies. I like to live in my own little bubble where things hardly ever go wrong. I liked my bubble and I wanted to stay there, but the Lord had very different plans for me.

I get overwhelmed with emotion even thinking about how he slowly wrapped us up in the lives of the McLaughlins.

I couldn't stop thinking about what Ryan's life must be like. How do you even live knowing that you will out live your baby girl? How do you function in and out of the hospital constantly, never knowing what tomorrow will bring?

And I got really really mad.

I started questioning everything I knew about God.

Why would a good God allow this to happen? Why would He let Ellie and her family suffer so much?

No matter how much I wanted to escape back into my world where things were fine and babies were healthy, I couldn't stop thinking about that beautiful little girl.

And then, I got to meet Ellie Kate. And I have never been the same since that day.

I wish you could meet her. Oh, I wish you could meet her! To say that she was beautiful would be an understatement. She was not only beautiful, she was wonderfully and perfectly made. Knit in her mother's womb by her creator.

There were no flaws. There was no mistake.

No, her earthly body never worked the way it was supposed to, but she didn't even need it. She didn't need to speak or walk or sing (even though she was making serious headway on the walking!). She simply had to be exactly who she was to change me.

Anointed is the best word that I can think of to describe Ellie. Placed here on this earth to do the will of her Father and change countless people through her life.

You see, I wanted to know why He would let a little girl suffer the way He did.

I wanted to know why He would let a wonderful family suffer the way they did.

I wanted to know why a good God would let such a terrible thing happen. It wasn't fair. It still isn't fair.

And in all my anger and frustration at this God that I thought I knew and understood, I began to search out the answers in His word and through sermons online and in prayer.

 And I learned that her life was for a great and Holy purpose.

I began to understand the love of a Father who knows so much more than we do. His plan is so much bigger than anything we can even imagine in our minds.

I began to see that I would never be able to explain it all in worldly terms, but I would fall more and more in love with a God I began to trust. He knows what is best for me always.

Ellie was what it would take for me to seek him out. He had been seeking after me for a long time, but He knew it would have to be me going all in to make our relationship real.

I believe with everything in me, that the Lord could have healed Ellie while she was here on earth. A miracle. lt would have been an absolute miracle.

But it wasn't a miracle that made me believe. I found Him in the eyes of a little girl with the most beautiful and ornery smile. She was ornery. She loved to rough house. She has 2 brothers, Conner and Henry who loved to wrestle with Ellie.

She was a hopper. Going from room to room hopping on her knees. Always following her momma around as she made the rounds.

And as I think about Ellie in this moment there is the biggest smile on my face. Tears running from eyes, but a smile. Because she was simply joy. Pure and simple, gut-grabbing JOY.

And I miss her. I miss the angel that we only got to have here for a breath....a moment. Not nearly long enough.

She never said a single word to me, but she taught me more about the love of our creator....about his faithfulness and truth.....about his bigger plan than any words ever could.

I could never wrap my mind around heaven before Ellie. It actually scared me. I know that sounds ridiculous, but it did. I can't wrap my head around what eternity is, and that scares me. Because I can't imagine it, it scares me.

But now, I see her there. She was there the moment she took her last breath. I know that she heard the words "well done my good and faithful servant" because she was. She was a servant sent here to change sinners like me. It's not fair, but it's so much bigger than the small picture we see here on earth.

I see her dancing, playing, singing, running. She is perfect now, and the hardest part about it is that one day, I will be too because of her.

Oh Ellie, I wish I could tell you what you've done. I wish I could tell you about the love and passion and desire you have created in my heart and in my soul. One day, my love, I will see you again as we stand side by side worshiping Jesus. I love you beautiful girl. Thank you for changing so many of us. There are so many people who love Jesus more because of you.

Ryan and Mike, thank you for sharing your beautiful daughter with the world.

Conner and Henry, thank you for letting us love your sweet sister.

And sweet Lucy Belle, your fight is not over, my love. You bring joy and light to your family and countless others. Keep fighting sweet baby girl.

Please help to spread the word about NKH:
To learn more about NKH or to donate money to go directly towards research please visit the NKH Crusaders website or like the Crusaders page on Facebook.

To see the NKH Crusaders, watch this video in memory of and honoring some of NKH's strongest fighters.

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