In case you were wondering….

….why I have been so quiet here the last few weeks. As usual when the blog gets pushed to the back burner, I have had several projects going on. Such as….

My church partners with a school called Immanuel Mission in Sweetwater, AZ. The school is on a Navajo reservation and we have personal friends who serve there full time as teachers. Last year we launched a program called Immerse Immanuel where a family from our church partners with a student at the mission and they write letters back and forth for a year. We just launched the second annual Immerse Immanuel program and I took on the lobby display. We begin the program by choosing a child off of a Christmas tree and sponsoring them for Christmas {like an angel tree}. You can read more about it on our church’s mission blog if you like.

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I found this idea for a Navajo inspired “Christmas tree” on pinterest, went a dug around in my friend’s burn pile for branches and wrestled with fishing line for a couple hours to hang it. It may sound like a chore, but this is the kind of thing I love to do!




My next big project was hosting a brunch for some friends. When I first moved to town, the girls at my church were meeting together regularly for brunch on Friday mornings. Slowly that custom was set aside, mostly I think because of the sheer amount of children involved. We all just kept on having babies! I felt so welcomed by all of them into their daily lives and it made such a huge impression that to this day {6 years later} it motivates me to be hospitable, especially to those who are new in town or new to our church. So I decided to have a Mary & Martha brunch and provide childcare so all of the mommas could bring their kids and enjoy a little mom time. Mary & Martha is a company all about balancing the extra duties that come with being hospitable {think Martha}  with taking time to sit and build relationships {think Mary}.



I made Pioneer Woman maple cinnamon rolls and my very first quiche. We had coffee and chai tea and wonderful conversation. Despite everything extra that went into having 12 of my friends and their kids over at my house at the end of a busy week, I felt refreshed! It’s amazing what good food and great company can do for my soul!


So, I’ve been busy at church and at home, but the thing that has been grabbing most of my attention the past few weeks is something I have been dreaming about for a long time, and it is finally happening! I can’t wait to share with you all this exciting news, but I want to give a little back story first. So come back tomorrow and you can read all about it! Cruel, I know.



God bless!




Through the woods

When I let them take the lead I am never disappointed.

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I had supper to make, calls to return, laundry to fold. But they wanted to stay in the woods.

I relented and let them lead me. Walking with them in our hoodies with changing leaves all around us in the brisk air was just what I needed to remember how much I enjoy them.


They are more than  to-do lists and schedules and messes, they are people. People who need time to just run and be. Not to be rushed around and dictated all the time. To be listened too and valued and even followed from time to time.

And I needed it too. An unrushed moment just being with them.


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One of the paradoxes of parenthood, I think, is that it can be really self-focused. Everything becomes about our own family unit, how we feel, if our needs are met, and if we are the most comfortable we could possibly be. This is a paradox because it is pretty much the opposite of what Christ called us to do. But it is also a good thing to love and invest in your family. Without serious intentions for being mindful of others, we would never choose to endure hardship or challenges. And we especially wouldn’t set up our children for that kind of discomfort. As a  mom I am more than ready to be on the defense for my kids without giving outsiders a listening ear or the benefit of the doubt. A prime example would be when Bear got punched.

But when we open ourselves, our homes, and our families up to the world we may be inviting in challenges, but this is where the Lord often blesses. He blesses with the opportunity to be used by him outside of our homes. To see how he is working in our communities. To perform a sanctifying work in our lives and hearts. And to draw our children to himself.

When the Dude and I started our family (over 7 years ago!) we were in awe of how God multiplied the love in our home when Monkey came along. It wasn’t like we had to take love from each other to give it to her, the love just increased. And then we thought, if we have enough love and resources for another human in our home, then God could provide unlimited love and resources. {Seems like a concept I would have learned in my elementary Sunday school class, but concrete lessons tend to make a bigger impact.} So we began to think of ways we could use these resources (without immediately having another child).

I’m not exactly sure how we came across Compassion International, but it seemed like an excellent fit for us at this time when we were experiencing the abundance of God’s love through the birth of our first child.

We had the ability to provide for her, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. But we realized that this is not the case for millions of parents across the world. So many of them look to Compassion to fill in the gap for their children.

Before we signed off on sponsoring a child, the Dude asked some important questions.

What is the focus of CI? Compassion teaches the life-changing gospel of Christ to every child in a culturally relevant and age-appropriate way. Christ-Centered and gospel oriented is what we were looking for, so this seemed to be a really good match.

How much of our money actually goes to the child in need? Of the total money given to CI in 2012-2013 about 80% went to the child development program with the remaining 20% spent on sponsor ministries, administration, and fundraising. You can find more financial information HERE.


Once we had all of our questions answered it was easy to start or partnership. We simply called CI and asked to sponsor a child. After a 10 minute phone conversation we were all set. We received a membership packet a few weeks later with information about our friend, Islary and her country. After over 6 years of sponsoring Islary, she is getting closer to graduating high school and I feel like I have gotten to watch her grow from a little girl to a young lady. I truly feel like she is my friend, and I look forward to every letter I receive from her.

We were so blessed by Islary and Compassion that we decided to sponsor another child when Bear was born. And then we had the idea to sponsor one Compassion child for every child that God brought into our home. And now that the kids are getting older they are able to participate in communicating with and praying for their friend that came into our lives when they were born. This serves to teach our kids that life happens outside the four walls of our home, and to focus on loving others and being mission minded from an early age.

A few weeks ago I received a letter from Compassion asking me to help them by taking the month of October to find sponsors to release three kids from poverty in the name of Jesus. I gladly accepted, knowing how blessed I have been through this ministry and the lives of these kids.

So if you are looking for a way to bring the world a little closer to your family, I would encourage you to consider compassion international. Pray about this opportunity to serve a child in need, and to bless parents who don’t have the means to care for their own children without help from organizations like compassion.

So let me introduce you to the children that I am praying for and seeking sponsorship for this month!

Victor from Indonesia {age 13}

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Victor lives with his mother and father. At home, his duties are caring for children, helping in the kitchen and cleaning. His parents’ employment is sporadic. There are two children in the family.

As part of Compassion’s ministry, Victor attends youth group. He is also in middle school where he performs above average. Soccer and bicycling are his favorite activities.

Your love and support will help Victor to receive the assistance he needs to develop his potential. Please pray about being his sponsor!

Clever from Uganda {age 3}

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Clever lives in a country that is at high risk for child rights violations. Clever lives with his father and mother who are sometimes employed as laborers. Clever works at home carrying water, caring for children and helping in the kitchen. There are four children in the family.

Clever is not presently attending school. Soccer, playing with cars, and singing are his favorite activities. He also attends church activities regularly.

Because of your partnership, Clever will have new opportunities to learn and grow physically, mentally, and spiritually. Thank you for praying for Clever. Will you consider being his sponsor?

Damaris from Ecuador {age 6}

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In her home, Damaris helps by running errands. She lives with her father and mother. Her father is sometimes employed as a laborer and her mother maintains the home. There are two children in the family.

Playing with dolls, playing hide and seek, and playing with dolls are Demaris’s favorite activities. In primary school, her performance is average and she also attends Vacation Bible School.

Your sponsorship would open the door Demaris  hear about Jesus and to develop in all areas of her life. Thank you for praying for Demaris!

 If you would like to sponsor one of these sweet children, I would love to help you get started! Just comment on the post which child you would like and we can work out the details. Or, if you would like, you can email me at


Watercolor leaves step-by-step and what a city girl needs while camping with kids

Is it fall where you are yet? Yesterday we all wore comfy hoodies and took a walk through the woods to take in all the changing leaves… they were mostly green and yellow, sooo summer may not completely be gone yet. But it’s on it’s way out. So I thought it might be fun to share a fun fall art project with you. While camping, we took some time to make leaf watercolor prints to commemorate our trip. You all bring along a set of watercolors when you go camping, right? I’m not crazy….



Step one: Gather some cool leaves

Step two: Trace a leaf in little pencil onto watercolor paper

Step three: Erase the pencil line you just drew until you can barely see it

Step four: Fill in the leaf with water, get enough on there so the entire leaf is wet at the same time

Step five: Get some watercolor on your brush a dab a spot on the leaf, no brushing here, just dabbing

Step six: repeat step five until the paint has bled throughout the inside of you leaf

**the water will carry the paint and bleed the different shades together for you giving it a really cool effect

Step seven: let it dry

Give this a try for your fall décor this year!


{PS: I got the idea from Martha Stewart!}

Have you seen the Fall Leaf Frames I did a couple years ago with leaves from Roaring River? A bit more involved, but still a fun fall activity.

Before we took our crew camping for four days I had a little panic attack when I realized that I’m pretty much a city girl. I would not describe myself as “outdoorsy”, although I don’t mind  being outside I have grown particularly fond of cleanliness {in a broad sense} and electricity and beds and being dry while I sleep.

I have a bunch of friends who like to camp and do so often, so I asked them for their best advice for a city girl taking her crew camping for the first time with no electricity.

{Full disclosure: We were at a Missouri State Park. This was not in the middle of nowhere, very civilized. I wasn’t in the bush in Montana or anything. Don’t let me alarm you, I tend to be a bit dramatic :)  }

Here is some good advice I got on what to bring {beyond the obvious} as well as what worked well for us!

1. If the kids can bring bikes, bring them. Or any favorite outdoor toy. The bikes were a great pastime while I was cooking or cleaning up the camp and daddy was off catching supper :)

2. An extra pair of shoes for each child. One to wear while the other pair dries. Because those little feet always find water.

3. A clothes line. If only for towels. I hate drying off with a damp towel. Maybe not a necessity, but made life more enjoyable :)

4. Some art supplies. Even if it’s just a sketch book and some crayons. This helps the kids take in their surroundings and reflect on what they are experiencing. Again, not a necessity, but super worth it for me!

5. A cover for the picnic table. I borrowed this one from my friend. It was so nice to have some shade in the middle of the day {our campsite had two puny trees}.

6. At least 2 jugs of water per day. For hand washing, putting out fires, and washing dishes.

7. Two coolers. One for the food, one for the drinks.

8. A shovel. I was informed this was for digging a trench around your tent if it rained. We used it for more personal reasons when Tiger decided camping was a great time to take a vacation from potty training.

9. Coffee. And a way to brew it. I got the method but forgot the grounds… and it was not pretty. The tag shop at the park had complimentary coffee. It did the trick, but it was pretty bad. I can only imagine what a good cup of coffee would have been like in those beautiful surroundings and crisp morning air. I guess I’ll have to wait until next year to find out. You can bet I won’t be making the same mistake again!

10. If at all possible, bring along a grandparent or two. That will do wonders for the morale around camp :) Cameron’s grands {the ones who have been bringing him since he was a boy} came up to join us a the river for a day. Four adults to four kids is a more reasonable ratio when camping.

Roaring River 2014 {While I’m not watching}

The Dude has been making this trip since he was 10 years old. 20 years. And now he gets to share the joy with all of his kids. And they love it.


We come mostly for the fishing.IMG_0916

In the previous years, the Dude has sent up camp while I stay in a cabin with a few choice small children, whether in utero or nursing. But this year none of those conditions applied to me or our littles, so we decided to all tent camp.

Just like most things with small children, camping is not exactly easy… or particularly enjoyable. That’s not to say I didn’t have a great time, it just means that whenever I think of camping I envision long naps on the hammock and lots of time to read and sketch and think in the quiet late summer breeze. Dreamy sounding, no?

With my crew its more like a couple hours of heavy lifting with four or five bathroom breaks and skinned knees sprinkled in. And forget about naptime. Just forget about it. For my kids who still nap everyday, skipping four in a row takes its toll on a momma.

But, amid all the chaos and soaking wet socks I could see glimpses of a bright tomorrow when they can roast their own dogs and unroll their own sleeping bags. When re-rigging their lines are their job, and hiking through the woods wouldn’t be the act of a couple deranged adults and their children, but would actually make a bit of sense.





Although it took quite a bit of effort, we did manage to get in some sketching and watercoloring. The kids had a lot of free space to ride their bikes, and we caught a lot of fish. The final count of each child was as follows:

Monkey- 12





Bear- 12





Little Dude- 4



Tiger- 0  {He lost his fishing pole in about 15 minutes, I think he threw it in the river.}



We did all the normal stuff {like smores and campfire songs, and counting stars} and enjoyed ourselves thoroughly.




But, it was hard. And I was really tired when I got home. When will this pay off? When will they be old enough to help? I think it will happen without me looking. Like watching a pot of water boil, so it is with watching the work you put into training your kids pay off. It happens gradually, without us taking much notice. Not just with things like camping but the everyday things as well.


Think of others before yourself.

Be kind with your words and hands.

Be helpful.

Be a blessing.


These words are spoken around here every day and most days seem to fall on deaf ears. But I pray, through the working of God’s grace, that their hearts will be regenerated and they will begin to change, little by little, while I’m not really watching.