A Sprinkle for Mae.

This morning, I had the sweet joy of hosting a sprinkle for my sister-in-love, Meagan. We married brothers,  and we both share a deep love for all things southern and Target. She is undoubtedly more than a sister. She’s my dear friend. So today, we celebrated her and the sweet little boy she’s been carrying for almost nine months, Nehemiah.

Mae, I pray you felt special today. I can’t wait to meet Nehemiah. He is going to bring all of us so much joy, as he has already.

The first thing I did to get ready for the shower was come up with the menu and the theme. I knew it was going to be a late morning sprinkle, so I needed my menu to include a mix of breakfast and early lunch. As far as the theme, with Mae having a boy, I wanted it to of course have a masculine feel, but with sweet touches like baby succulents in mini terra cotta pots, cute hedgehog cupcake toppers, and pewter serve ware.

Below you’ll find the menu I came up with. I love food, and more importantly I love “shower” food. I think sausage cream cheese croissants and a cheese ring will be at the marriage supper of the Lamb.

Menu:

Sausage Cream cheese crossiant

Cheese ring with strawberry jam, and ritz crackers

Homemade Chex mix

Cut up watermelon and blueberries

Cupckes

Coffee mocha punch

Orange juice

Water

Meagan’s latest obsession has been hedgehogs. Nehemiah has a hedgehog crib sheet in his nursery so for fun we decided to make the cheeseball look like a hedgehog. I knew the perfect person that could handle the task of shaping a cheeseball into an animal, my mother in law, Jan. I think he turned out so cute. Thank you, Jan!

I opted to try a new punch for the sprinkle, so I went with a coffee mocha punch. The secret ingredient that made this drink decadent was none other than chocolate ice cream. I made 24 cups of coffee the night before, let it chill overnight in the fridge, and right before the sprinkle I mixed all 24 cups of the cold coffee with a half gallon of whole milk, a cup of sugar, and 1 gallon of chocolate ice cream. It ended up being the perfect summer punch for a late morning sprinkle.

Before we ate, we had a sweet time of prayer over Mae. Our dear friend, Jessie was there, and so I asked her to bless the food and pray for Mae. If you think about it, whisper a prayer for Jessie as she and her family will be leaving in the coming weeks for Central Asia to live. We will miss them dearly, but I know Jesus goes before them. I’m just so happy she was able to there for this special time of celebration.

Shortly after we ate we heaeded into the worship center for more fellowship and gifts. I wanted Naomi (my niece and soon-to-be big sister to Nehemiah) to feel special too. She just turned 5 years old, but she’s really going on 15. She came to the sprinkle with her “Big Sister” sash and her high heels, and so many were so thoughtful to get her gifts too. She is going to be the best big sister, and I have no doubt she’ll be rocking him to sleep and making him play school in no time.

I wanted everyone to leave the shower with a little something special , so I consulted with my own personal plant lady, Kristen Hughson, to get her thoughts. She and her grandmother got together and graciously gave me around 40 tiny succulents (also know as hens and chickens). She came over the night before the sprinkle and we ordered pizza and planted succulents for 2-3 hours. I loved gifting these. I have so many leftover that I’ll probably be able to gift them for the next 10 years, all thanks to my dear friend and her kind granny. Thank you, Granny Hughson. Because of your kindness and green thumb, all the women at the sprinkle yesterday left with a little piece of Butler county.

I was so glad that Meagan’s nana, mom, and sister from South Carolina got to come in for the sprinkle, and if I’m being honest, it was just so nice having a “nana” around. There’s nothing quite like a nana’s love, especially nana’s named Judy (my nana’s name was Judy too). I love the way she’s looking at Meagan in this picture above. The love that flows from this picture is one that is a love like no other. I also love pictures like this one below. The sweetness of a mother and daughter, and the new life growing inside of Mae.

I couldn’t have pulled the sprinkle off without Jan. She was right there making trips to Hobby Lobby, Michaels, making homemade chex mix, cutting up watermelon, gluing cute little hedgehogs on sticks to top the cupcakes with. She is the most helpful person ever, and the sweetest Grana. I love you, Jan!

Most people that know Bobby and Meagan know that they met in the Phillipines. They were both serving as Summer missionaries, and the group they served with was called Nehemiah Teams. God sent them both there to be His hands and feet, and to comfort those in the Phillipines in the name of Jesus. The name Nehemiah means “God has comforted.” It is my prayer that our Nehemiah will find comfort in Jesus all the days of his life.

I didn’t want Mae to know anything about the theme of the sprinkle or the menu, I wanted it all to be a surprise. As one more surprise, a few weeks ago, I sent this picture of Meagan (below) that I had taken back in April to a local artist.

She did a silhouette painting of Mae for me, and I wanted it to include a scripture verse from the book of Nehemiah. It was hard keeping it a secret, but I’m glad I made it to the day of the sprinkle to give it to her.

I love you, Meagan. I’m so incredibly thankful for your friendship, and that Jesus makes us sisters for the rest of time.  I had so much fun sprinkling you, and I pray it was a special day you’ll remember always. I can hardly wait for Nehemiah to make his grand entrance!

Love, Erin

 

 

Daddy.

In honor of father’s day, I thought I would share a part of me that I don’t talk about a lot.  A part of my story that I think about when I need a reminder of God’s faithfulness in my life and His unwavering hand that’s held me since the time when I was first created.

“For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.” -Psalm 139:13

I never knew my dad. Although, according to pictures I am the spitting image of him. My eyes are his eyes; my smile is his smile. Yet, if you asked me to name one personality trait about him, I wouldn’t be able too. He left months before I was born, and the only thing I do know is he was good to my mom until I came into the picture.

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While momma’s pregnancy with me was totally unexpected, God had a plan. When she felt as if things couldn’t get worse (divorced and a single mom to two little girls and pregnant unexpectedly), God continually held her significantly placing people all around her to remind her who to trust in. God’s plan was much bigger.

It was through a Sunday School class at church that led my mom to meet Sam. A single and widowed dad of two little boys, who had recently walked some dark roads with the sudden loss of his beloved wife, Grace.

It was Sam who pursued my mom amidst her brokenness. It was Sam who bought her meals and brought her flowers. He was never embarrassed or afraid someone would ask questions, and he never let her circumstances keep him from pursuing her. He knew my mom’s heart. He knew that she had made a mistake, but that didn’t stop him from loving her during her darkest days. He was a gift of kindness to my mom…kindness she so desperately needed in a time where her sin was shown so outwardly and was so obvious to the world. She couldn’t hide it; she couldn’t deny it.  But, he…well he just loved her through it.

“Whoever fears the Lord has a secure fortress, and for their children it will be a refuge.” -Proverbs 14:26

In February 1988, they were married. Then, I was adopted by Sam. Both my mom and I got a new last name, and I also got a daddy to love me forever.

“He predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will.” -Ephesians 1:5

I’m writing all of this because maybe you need a reminder today of God’s faithfulness in your life. Maybe you need to know that Jesus loves you and cares for you. His light shines bright, and the darkness you may be facing, while it may seem big right now, it cannot overshadow His light.

Maybe you feel alone, ashamed, or broken because of your sin, and you need to hear that God can work things for your good. Let this be an encouragement to you to turn to Jesus. He knows what we need before we ask, and His plan and mercy is much bigger than any sin.  And, when we know Him, we are covered by His blood. Will you know Jesus today?

He knew that my momma would need Sam. She would need him to look past her mistake, and point her to purpose through her pain.

Sam willingly chose me. He stepped up to provide for me when he absolutely didn’t have too…much like God chooses and willingly adopts us as His own. Sam pursued and loved my mom in a way she had never been loved before…much like God offers to love us, only if we would let him, and even when we don’t, He still does. Sam pursued and loved not only my mom but a baby girl who wasn’t even his.

Daddy, thank you for the countless ways you have provided for me. I never had to worry growing up because I knew you worked hard for us. Thank you for showing me what a provider looks like, and lastly, thank you for seeing my mommas heart through the eyes of Jesus. Happy Father’s Day.

I love you.

Erin Katherine

 

 

 

new york city-country comes to town-part three

We began our final day in the city at the studio taping of Good Morning America. We woke up at the crack of dawn, got ready, and headed straight for Times Square.  I had put in a request for tickets 2-3 weeks prior to our trip, and a couple of days before we left they emailed them to me.  The fun thing is the tickets are free, but we didn’t really know until we got there to stand in line to get our wrist bands, that we still weren’t guaranteed to get in. Luckily, on this rainy Monday morning they scanned our tickets and we got to go in. I thought once we got our email confirmation, that we were good to go; however, it really just depends on the day.

Pictured above are two very exhausted people, who had ran from their hotel on 42nd avenue to Times Square, and who also stood in line (in the rain) with no guarantee of getting to meet Robin Roberts or Michael Strahan, but who happily did so for the possibility.

Once in the studio, I was completely enamored with the set, the cameras, and that being a camera man on the set of Good Morning America was actually someone’s job. The cast was so nice. They walked around during commercials, took pictures with everyone, and asked us where we were from.

This was my second time meeting Michael Strahan, the first time was at the Kelley and Michael Show a few years ago, and the one thing I can say about both times of meeting him is he is SO nice. He takes selfies with everyone, and he thanked us for getting up so early to come to the show. I got pictures with them all except for Laura and George. Laura was taking care of business on her cell phone it appeared, and George stayed on one side of the room, and waived.

That day on the show, the bachelorette Rachel Lindsay made an appearance as well as Priyanka Chopra, the girl who plays Victoria Leeds on the new Baywatch movie. Here’s the link below to the episode we were there for if you’d like to watch.

http://abc.go.com/shows/good-morning-america/episode-guide/2017-05/22-052217-trump-visits-israel-1st-foreign-trip-president

After we left GMA, we headed straight for the closest Starbucks to get some caffeine, and then back to the hotel to take a little nap before heading out to check off the last few things we wanted to see, do, and eat before heading home.

After a long nap, our first stop was for pizza in Little Italy at the cutest restaurant named Sofia’s.

We split a small pizza, and each had a coke to drink. It was delicious. The thin crust was flaky and golden with butter. They also gave us fresh bread with a dipping sauce of herbs and olive oil. It was the perfect amount.

After lunch, we stopped by the cutest Christmas shop a few doors down to buy an ornament. Every time Gregg and I go somewhere for vacation we always buy an ornament. It’s a sweet little tradition we’ve kept for almost 4 years, and every year I look so forward to putting our ornaments on our tree. I can’t wait to hang our NYC ornament next to our beautiful glass pineapple ornament from Charleston, South Carolina. Ornaments are just fun, and I love the stories they tell and the memories they bring back while hanging on our Christmas tree.

After we made our ornament purchase, we headed to the infamous https://www.cookiedonyc.com/ for a cup of edible cookie dough, only to be greeted with a sign that read “closed on Mondays.” I didn’t think anything was closed in New York City. That just means we’ll have to go back and visit.

From there we got a cab to the Financial District, to see Wall Street, and the cute little park named Bowling Green. Gregg and I call Bowling Green home, but in Kentucky not in New York City. By this point, it was pouring, but we didn’t mind.

 

After checking off these two things, we hopped on the subway and headed to Grand Central Station. The Subway is by far the cheapest way of transportation aside from walking. We got off, I snapped a quick picture of Gregg and I people watched for a good little while. There is every kind of person walking through that place. It was neat to see it in person, rather than through a tv screen, as there are so many movies that include this beautiful place in them. After people watching, and thanking the Lord I don’t have to ride a subway to work or home,  we headed straight for https://www.magnoliabakery.com/ to check off another dessert I’ve been wanting to try. I’ve read so many wonderful reviews of their banana pudding, but I found it to be almost identical to my mom’s recipe. I still loved it, and thought about my sweet mama while eating it. She’s the best cook.

 

By this time, we needed to head back to the hotel, change, and make our way to the theatre to see Phantom of the Opera on Broadway. We needed just a little snack to tie us over so we headed to https://www.juniorscheesecake.com/  for a small meal, cheesecake to share, and a cup of coffee. Only in New York can you consume so many desserts and treats in one day, and justify them by how much walking you did to earn them, and on this day we even ran (to Good Morning America) so I think that deserves a few extra calories. I don’t run for anything.

We saw our last show. All I can say is what a way to cap off a trip to New York City, it was incredible. Also a little fun fact the guy that played Passerino that night was a guy that Gregg went to high school with right here in Bowling Green. Even though we don’t really know him, it was still a little piece of home in such a large place.

We ended our night with none other than another dessert. I’ve always wanted to go to the restaurant Serendipity, and even though it was late, Gregg made my dreams come true and we caught a cab to Serendipity, and had a frozen hot chocolate. The restaurant was absolutely adorable,  so whimsical and fun.

 

When we consumed our final dessert of the evening, we caught our last yellow cab back to our hotel, packed our bags (so we wouldn’t have to early the next morning), and drifted off to sleep. We had an early flight to catch, and by this point, this southern girl had about all the concrete views she could take… I was ready to be home. I love to go, see and do, but I was ready to be back in the land where people say “bless you” when you sneeze and to see some green grass.

The older I get, the more of a homebody I become. I missed my spot on the couch where I always sit, I missed my coffee here at home that I drink every morning, and lastly I missed the slow pace life we live. One thing I noticed so much this time, is the rush New Yorkers are always in. Talking a mile a minute on their iPhones, while walking their dogs, while crossing the busy streets and intersections. They would be bored to tears sitting on my front porch listening to the birds chirp here in Kentucky.

I’ve tried to describe how truly dreamy this trip was to New York City, but I don’t know if my words and pictures do it justice. What can I say? It was a trip of a lifetime, all thanks to the one who knows me better than anyone, my kind husband. I hope you’ve enjoyed these posts, and I hope more than anything that if you haven’t been there that you’ll go, eat every dessert you desire,  and you’ll have a ball!

Thank you for reading!

new york city-country comes to town-part two

Sunday

We started off the day by going to the 9-11 Memorial. This is definitely something to add to your itinerary if you’re planning a trip to New York City any time soon. We spent the majority of the morning there. We read, walked and listened for hours.

I was in the eighth grade when the catastrophic day known as September 11, 2001 happened. I was in Mrs. Bollenbeckers class, and I remember precisely where in the room I was sitting. Little did I know years later I would be at the exact location where it all took place, viewing only what was left behind from that day. It was definitely a day I won’t ever forget, and the sadness I felt as I touched the glass boxes where the remains from that day were displayed, a woman’s shoes, a mans wallet, someone’s briefcase. Those images will forever stay in my mind, much like the case of shoes has from the holocaust museum in Washington, D.C. They were real people, just going to work that day, unbeknownst to them they kissed their spouse for the last time, and ate their last meal the night before with their family, they had no idea what the next day would hold for them. Probably one of the most touching things I saw were a man’s glasses. I thought about him a lot, the man who wore those glasses.

For me, it was really hard to just leave the museum and carry on with our vacation, knowing so many are still affected from that day, mothers lost their sons, daughters lost their mothers, but I found great comfort in knowing that while that day was as an absolute unforgettable day, and while how big that day seems now as history, Jesus is bigger. Each one that lost their life that day was His creation, His handprint was on each one.

After we left the museum, we headed to the Gershwin Theatre to see the Broadway show Wicked. It was everything I thought it would be and more. Before leaving for New York City, I was so excited to see Lion King again, but after seeing Wicked, it rates right up there with Lion King. The talent absolutely blew my mind. I could have listened to the girl who played Elpheba all day long. Not to mention, we sat by the sweetest couple. They were in New York to see their granddaughter be sworn in as an attorney, so they made a little vacation of it, and we had the pleasure of sharing the same row, and this wonderful show with them. They were from North Carolina, Methodist, and had been married 45 years. All of this information is thanks to my social husband, who is not shy, and has the gift of getting people to tell details of their lives, and to feel immediately comfortable with doing so. No wonder he’s an insurance agent.

After Wicked, we headed back to the room to get dressed for a date night Gregg had completely planned on his own, and I had no idea any of the details, just that we had a reservation at 6:30pm, and he told me to purchase a “Fancy” dress for the occasion earlier this year, in March.

The Uber driver picked us up at our hotel at 5:50pm sharp, and took us to Broadway to the Marriott Hotel, upon arriving I still had no idea why were at the Marriott, and where we were eating. I was starving, and I didn’t have my “buffett britches” on so I knew whatever I ate, better not be a ton, because this sparkle dress didn’t have a ton of room.

We arrived at “The View,” New York’s only revolving restaurant. It was on the 43rd floor of the Marriott Hotel.

We started out with crab cakes, and a teeny tiny salad. It was devine.

We then each chose New York Strip, baked potatoes stuffed with macaroni and cheese topped with bacon for our main entrée. Can we just say a big ol’ hallelujah amen to that? Oh and I can’t forget the basket of bread on the table, with a side of the most creamy butter ever.

While waiting for our food, we decided to take a few pictures of one another looking out at the view, and boy was it beautiful. I felt so fancy, and so incredibly spoiled by my husband who knows that delicious food is the way to my heart. Thankful for the time he took to plan this night for us, and the thought he put into it.

It. was. divine. Every single delicious bite. For dessert, I got a chocolate lava cake, and Gregg got the raspberry sorbet.

While eating dessert, Gregg said the driver was waiting for us, so I quickly ate every last bite of my dessert thinking at this point it didn’t matter how much my sparkle dress had expanded because of how much I had eaten, because we were going to just head back to the hotel to change and head out to do some sightseeing. I was wrong.

Gregg paid and we headed toward the elevator, and stepped outside to only be greeted by not an uber Toyota Camry (that’s pretty much what every Uber driver drives in New York) but, a LIMO.

Gregg rented a limo to drive us around New York City.  I was mad. Well, only for 3.5 seconds.  I couldn’t believe he had done such a thing. My sparkle dress self hopped right in, and Gregg turned it to the rap station, I mean what else do you do when you’re riding in a limo, in New York City?  and we rode to Central Park like famous people, just the two of us in that ginormous limo, with me shaking my head at him in disbelief the entire time.

The limo driver dropped us off at Central Park, by a horse and carriage, and we rode via horse and carriage around the park under a blanket, and under the stars. It was a dream, and so much fun.

After our dreamy horse and carriage ride, we got back in the limo, and asked the driver to take us to the Rockefeller Center to take a quick stroll, and a couple of pictures. I love all the lights in the trees. It gave me a little glimpse of what it must be like to be here at Christmas.

So we said our goodnights to this gorgeous side of the city, and then hopped in the limo to head back to the hotel. We had tickets to the Good Morning America taping the next morning, and that required a very early wake up time.

Stay tuned for the third and final part of our trip to New York City! Thank you, for reading and following along!

 

 

 

 

 

 

new york city-country comes to town-part one

Earlier this year, on a very cold, wintery Friday night in February, Gregg was sneaky and completely shocked me for the nine hundredth time in our marriage. This time it was with plane tickets and a booked hotel in NEW YORK CITY. He wrapped up a gala apple (from our fruit bowl) in a cute little bag, and attached a note to it that said “Pack your bags; we’re heading to the Big Apple.” I literally jumped off the couch in my owl pajama pants and oversized t-shirt, screaming and jumping with excitement. He had done it again, he surprised me.

Now listen, I love a good beach trip to Alabama or Florida probably more than anyone, when you don’t wear make-up for a week, and you literally spend the entire day on the beach people watching, reading a good book, napping and eating snacks you would never buy at home. But there’s something about venturing to a big city where there are coffee shops on literally every corner, and there’s an absolute possibility of seeing someone famous. A place where the buildings are taller than anything you’ve ever seen before, the restaurants are more authentic, the lights are so bright and beautiful, and the sights and sounds are so different than any place you’ve ever been. I couldn’t wait to be there.

Fast forward 3 months…..

It was finally the week we were going to New York, and it was the busiest week we had had in a while. We celebrated Mother’s day, 3 birthdays, and had 2 church softball games, not to mention going to work every day. It was a jammed packed week, but the anticipation of New York City and the fact we had so much to celebrate made the week fly by, which left me packing until 1:00 am Friday morning, the morning we left, but I didn’t mind.

Below you’ll find some of my favorite moments from the first few hours we were there.  Oh and THANK YOU, to my gracious in-laws for taking us to the airport early, and picking us up when we returned.

We had a direct flight from Nashville to LaGuardia Airport, which put us in New York a little after 12pm their time. When we first got to the airport we learned that the company Gregg had booked our transportation through to the hotel had had some hiccups and we were going to have to wait an additional hour to leave the airport. So we cancelled our reservation with them, and hopped in a yellow cab, and headed to our hotel.

We stayed at a Yotel. ( Yotel-Manhattan)

When first walking in I thought I was in the future., There was no front desk with a person behind it to greet us and check us in, we had to check in at a computer, and guess what? That same computer made our hotel room key right there, it was just like an ATM, but for hotel room keys. My country mind was blown. We got in the elevator, headed for our room, but first made a quick stop on the fourth floor to look around. That’s where the hotel restaurant was, complete with comfy places to sit, and a lawn with chairs and a huge TV screen on it, apparently on certain nights they play movies up there. It was better than any movie theatre I had seen in all my life.

Our hotel was located right in Manhattan, to me it was the ideal location, close enough to Times Square, yet a far enough walk away to feel like you had walked off at least 1 out of the 3 desserts you consumed that day.

After arriving at the hotel, we unpacked, and headed out to Shake Shack for a burger and a milk shake, then off to our scheduled bus tour. The Bus Tour through City Sightseeing was probably one of my favorite parts of our trip. This was the third time I had been to New York, and the first time I had ever done a bus tour there.

The timing of the tour was perfect, just before sunset, and the latter part of the tour was dark enough so we could see all the gorgeous lit up buildings. The weather couldn’t have been better. The traffic throughout the tour wasn’t the greatest, but it worked out in our favor, giving us a longer tour, and more time to take in all the sights and sounds of New York City.

side note: Before leaving for New York, we found tickets for this tour on Groupon, making it only $22.00 for the both of us, not bad for an almost 3 hour tour, getting to cross both the Manhattan and Brooklyn bridges, a perfect view of the statue of liberty, riding through China Town, Little Italy, Greenwich Village, Soho, Times Square, Brooklyn,  seeing the Chrysler Building, and so much more.

Our bus tour ended about 10pm, and boy were we exhausted. We headed back to our hotel, and called it a night. We had lots of plans for Saturday (the next day). First on the list Brunch at SaraBeth’s in Central Park where we had the most fluffy pancakes, with a side of fresh strawberries, and coffee. It was one of my most favorite meals while we were there.

After Brunch, we took a stroll through Central Park, made a visit to the Solomon R. Guggenheim Art Museum (for Gregg) and then onto 90 Bedford Street to find the apartment they filmed our all time favorite show after “Friends.”

Pictured below is Monica’s Apartment from Friends, and the little shop below that is supposed to be the coffee shop they always hang out at, called Central Perk. Now for a little confession, I did pray that we would see someone from Friends while we were in New York City, my eyes stayed peeled the whole entire time hopeful that David Schwimmer (Ross) would be eating at SaraBeth’s the same time we were, or Courtney Cox (Monica) would be casually running through Central Park as we were strolling through. Sadly, we didn’t see either one of them, but I’m just tickled that we got to see what we did, and that my best friend got to see it with me.

P.S. If you haven’t watched Friends, treat yourself on this dreary Saturday morning, and start at season one on Netflix, and watch all 10 seasons. You will laugh, cry, laugh until you cry, and quickly become the best of friends with Monica, Chandler, Ross, Joey, Rachel, and Phoebe. You will also find yourself quoting scenes from this show on a regular basis, and humming “I’ll be there for you” for the rest of time. I’ve inserted that song right below so you can the full effect.

I’ll Be There For You

After a full day of sightseeing, we went back to our hotel and got dressed for a fun night out eating dinner in Little Italy, and seeing the Lion King on Broadway. I couldn’t wait for Gregg to see Lion King. There’s nothing like a broadway show, and there’s absolutely nothing like a Broadway show in New York City. Back in 2012, my best friend and I saw it, and I absolutely fell in love with the music, the costumes, and the animals. I knew Gregg would love it too.

We had dinner right on Mulberry Street, at the cutest little Italian restaurant named Grotta Azzura in Little Italy. Gregg had the Gnocchi Petso Roso, and I had the Fettuccini Alfredo. We took our time and enjoyed each and every bite of our meal, and being amongst the busyness of Mulberry street.

Once we were done with dinner, we called an Uber and headed straight to Minskoff theatre to see the Lion King.

Once again, Lion King did not disappoint, not to mention I just love being at the Minskoff Theatre that overlooks Time Square, I love seeing all the hustle and bustle, and lights from up there. As soon as the show was over, we headed to 5th avenue to cap off the night seeing the Empire State Building.

Again, Gregg ordered our tickets through Groupon a while ago, so upon entering the Empire State Building, they quickly moved us from the “Buy your tickets here” line, to the express line, and we were able to go up 83 floors, make a complete circle up top, and see the lights from every angle, stroll through the gift shop, and come back down all within 30 minutes. If you’re planning a trip to New York City any time soon, you must plan to see the Empire State Building. If you purchase your tickets in advance off Groupon, the prices are way cheaper, plus you get to fill like a big deal getting to bypass all the long lines.

The Empire State Building was just like I remembered. The lights were beautiful, and the view will absolutely blow you away.

That concluded our first day and a half in New York City. I couldn’t wait to go to sleep that night, so we could wake up and do it all over again.  Stayed tuned for part two (days 3 and 4), sweet readers! Thank you so much for following along!

 

 

 

 

 

Celebrating Kristen.

In a world full of busy, I’ve decided that when life lends me an opportunity to celebrate, that’s what I want to do-celebrate.

When all seven places come back at the dermatologist benign-celebrate. When you make it through a tough week at work-celebrate. When you hit your step goal every day-celebrate, and lastly, when you have a dear friend who turns another year older-celebrate. Let them know how much they mean to you, make their favorite foods, and celebrate their life, and most importantly the one who gives them life.

Last week, one of my very best friends turned 26. Let me tell you a little about her….

This is Kristen.

She is the type of friend who brings you warm brownies out of the oven when you’re working late trying to get moved into your new home, and she also brings you a beautiful mum to put on your front porch. She’s the type of friend that keeps you on schedule. You know, people like me need friends like Kristen. I’m usually running a little behind or arriving right on time, and not a minute before and usually putting my mascara on when pulling into the parking lot. My 29-years-old self has prayed about this too many times to count, and I’m just convinced that the Lord just doesn’t want me to change, but I know my husband does. 🙂

She’s always aware of the time, has a plan, and is consistently early to things. I admire her in more ways than one. She’s the type of friend that gives you the freedom to ask her for help, offers to show up early to things, and lends a helping hand in any way she can. She knows my anxious ways, and our God was gracious when he gave me Kristen as a friend. So in honor of her turning 26 on April 26, we waited until the following Saturday, and threw her a little surprise party, and we celebrated.

I thought I would show you some of my favorite pictures from the party. I couldn’t have done it without her little sister, Kelsey (who I secretly wish was my little sister) and my beyond helpful husband Gregg.

You should know that Kristen loves all things plants, and gardening. So since this party was for her, I decided to go with a theme that included a few succulents, some cactus’, and the colors pink and green, then I paired that with a nacho bar!

I found the super cute wrapping paper (pictured above) in Louisville a few weeks ago at Home Goods. I saw it, and knew I had to wrap Kristen’s birthday present in it.

The first thing I like to do in preparation for any party or gathering is plan the menu, and since Kristen thought we were really going to Chuy’s, I decided Mexican food it was.

Here’s the full menu:

Nacho Bar (ground beef, queso, chopped tomatoes, black beans, shredded cheese, cream jalapeno, Gregg’s homemade Guacamole, salsa, sour cream, jalepeno’s)

Cinnamon Tortilla chips-It was timely, but very easy, and so delicious. This was the recipe I used: recipe

Chuy’s Creamy Jalepeno dip and chips

Paula Dean’s Strawberry cake: I used this recipe: recipe

Breyers Natural Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

Lemonade Punch: This is the recipe I used: 1 cup of Country Time Lemonade, 1 46oz can of Pineapple Juice, 2 cans of chilled sprite. For this occasion I doubled it.

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Waiting on Kristen to arrive……

SURPRISE!!!!!!!!!


Kristen, I thank Jesus for you over and over. I had SO much fun celebrating you!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

my 29th year.

Today I turned 29. It’s officially the last year of my twenties, and I’m having a hard time believing I’m actually 29. But here I am, and I can’t help but be just plain thankful for another year, even if I am one year closer to 30. For 29 years, the Lord has been faithful. Even in the years that brought storms, heartache, several moves, and the unknown. God has been so undeniably faithful. He is good, and He gives life meaning. Without Him, there would be no hope during trials, and no rest for the weary.

Today was a day packed full of love, and tonight was no different. I came home from work to decorations, a delicious meal made by mother-in-love, and  some of my favorite people. Here are a few pictures from today….

I work with the kindest people. My birthday was more special, and sweeter because of them, and my office was more colorful.

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When opening my last gift, I noticed it felt like a piece of paper wrapped in tissue paper. It was. It was a note from Gregg…..

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After we finished cake and ice cream, we loaded up and headed over to our new house, Gregg had me close my eyes, and he walked me to our dining room, and inside our freshly painted dining room sat the most beautiful FARM TABLE!!. I can’t wait to show you a picture!

Today I reflected a lot, and even felt sad at times at how fast life really does go by. It seems like yesterday, I was in college living in an apartment with 3 other girls, staying up till 2 am watching Grey’s Anatomy seasons on DVD, and spending way too much time at the pool before and after class.

So as a cap on this past year that the Lord so graciously gave me, I thought I would go through and give thanks for all the sweet memories made, and count these blessings one by one. These are 29 memories/things I’m grateful for listed in no particular order.

1. Spending a week in Charleston, and seeing most of the city via a convertible that Gregg rented for us for the week. My teenage girl heart has never been so happy.

2. Experiencing the Country Living Fair for the first time, and meeting Ben and Erin Napier from the HGTV show, Hometown. It will begin airing in January.

3. Starting my blog.

4. Getting to attend the Dove Awards.

5. Gregg and I celebrated 3 years of marriage

6. Vacation to Gulf Shores with Gregg’s family in September.

7. Seeing Phantom of the Opera at TPAC. Also, seeing South Warren High School perform Phantom of The Opera. Every year, Gregg designs their program, and does all of their photography.  I’ve gone to their shows since before we were even dating. Those high school students absolutely blow me away, but this past year was exceptional. I enjoyed their production of Phantom, just as much if not more than the show we saw in Nashville, at TPAC.

8. Attending my dear friend, and college roommate, Susan’s wedding in Paducah.

9. Canoeing down Drakes Creek with friends.

10. Buying a 1960’s Ranch.

11. Renovating our 1960’s Ranch.

12. Dave Barnes Christmas show in Nashville.

13. Throwing Gregg a red, white, and blue birthday BBQ, and having most of our family there to celebrate with us.

14. Being neighbors with Bob, Mae, and Naomi.

15. The many Saturday morning quiet times spent on our porch at our house on Benson.

16. Spending Easter with all my nieces and nephews. Having them all in the same place.

17. Throwing our second annual Valentines Party.

18. Going to Passion in Atlanta earlier this year. Seeing some of my favorite artists lead worship, and speak. It was a great way to start off a new year.

19. Getting to lead a Discipleship Group through the Baptist Campus Ministries at the college I graduated from. Weekly, I got to meet with and be encouraged by the sweetest college girls. They truly blessed my heart, and still do.

20. Decorating my mantle for Valentines Day.

21. The afternoon I went to Kristen’s planting party. We planted succulents, and ate dirt cake. She has the greenest thumb. Love that girl!

22. The women’s ministry at our church starting Secret Sister. Each week you get an encouraging note, a candy bar, or a gift of some kind to uplift you, and remind you that you have a secret sister praying for you throughout the week. It’s been so much fun, and a great way to get to know other women within our church.

23. Attending my sweet friend Lindsay’s wreath workshop.

24. Getting to go through all of my Nana’s music that she hand wrote. The words to old hymns, and songs she used to sing with my papaw playing guitar. I have “Victory in Jesus” handwritten by her, framed and hung, and I will cherish it for years to come.

25. Getting my Erin Condren planner in the mail. I’ve always wanted one, and this past year I was given a gift card, so I purchased one, and I love carrying it with me, and I love writing in it on the daily.

26. Spending a week at our favorite spot in Fort Morgan, the Beach Club.

27. Filming our annual family Christmas video at Target. Being pushed down the aisles in the bright red buggy, and singing our made up Christmas song, to the tune of Adele’s Hello. It was a fun time, and probably hilarious to watch if you were a shopper at Target that day.

28. Having a snow day in the middle of February. It was a day of bread baking, Netflix watching, and rest. I love a good snow day probably more than anyone.

29. Lastly, and most importantly, my relationship with Jesus, and the fact that he’s loved me since before I was born. He loved me enough to not only breathe life into me, but to give me abundant life by dying for me. There is no greater love, and there is absolutely no greater gift.

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Thank you, to ALL those who made me feel special today, my mother-in-love who spent the entire day cooking for me, and to my Gregg, the one who loves my 29 year-old self way more than he should, thank you for loving me so well. Going to bed tonight with a grateful heart. God is SO good, my friends.

 

three years.

3 years ago today, I put on my lace wedding dress, carefully adjusted the broach in my hair, and walked hand in hand down the aisle with my papaw to meet my groom while Canon in D sang sweetly from the violin and piano. This day, 3 years ago I got a new last name, and God showed me his faithfulness once again.

You see, I didn’t have your typical bride walking down the aisle with her dad to meet her groom moment. I was walked down the aisle by my papaw, who is no blood kin to me at all, he walked me to my daddy who adopted me years ago, and then daddy walked me to my groom. God has been so faithful to me, to not only give me an earthly daddy who chose me, but he also gave me a papaw to love me as if I was his own.

James, my Papaw was a next door neighbor of my mom’s, who she lived by when she was a single mom of two little girls, with another one unexpectedly on the way. Judy, papaw’s wife was one of the first to feel me kick. She never got to experience motherhood on this earth, but God planned it just so that my mom would live right beside her, during such a dark time in her life, and Judy, who I would soon call Nana would be just the encouraging soul she would need to not only love her, but to love the little girl being knit together inside of her. Nana started keeping me when I was 6 weeks old, so my mom could return to work, and she was still keeping me…. when she left this world to be with Jesus, even though I was 24. I’m convinced not a day went by, that she didn’t pray for me, and not one phone conversation was had, that she didn’t tell me she loved me. Now I keep her forever in my heart. My Nana needed me, a little girl to love with a motherly love, and I needed my Nana.

While momma’s pregnancy with me was totally unexpected, God’s plan was sovereign. When my mom was afraid, the Lord put people by her side, that knew how to love like Him. He wasn’t caught off guard, he wasn’t surprised, it was all apart of His plan, a plan much greater than we could of dreamed of.

To honor my word to my nana from a conversation that happened several years before she passed, my papaw walked me down the aisle, because he was the first man to love me.

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Papaw walked me to my gracious daddy.

The man who chose to give me his name, and promised to love me all the days of my life. He knew my mom for several years before pursuing her, and momma’s circumstance didn’t change that. He loved her right where she was, during a dark time, he brought laughter and light into her world. Sam will forever be my daddy, but more so he will forever be the man that loved my mom as she was, right where she was. He will always be the man that chose to love when he didn’t have too.

Daddy, then gave me to my groom…..

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Gregg is a lot like both of those men in my life. He is humble and kind like my papaw, and has an unwavering love much like my daddy. He chooses to still love me on my bad days, anxious days, and even on the days I can’t for the life of me remember who the speaker of the house is. His love is constant and unselfish. What a sweet blessing it is to be loved by him.

 

Tonight, as I get ready for bed, I am filled with so much thankfulness for not only my husband, but also for the two men that so graciously loved me before him, a mother who clung to Jesus during such a hard season, a nana who welcomed my momma with open arms, despite her circumstances, and most of all the one who wrote my story to include such love. That is something that could have only been written by the gracious hand of God, the only God, who knows exactly who we need.

I’ll forever keep October 5th tucked away in my heart, a day that hopefully God’s faithfulness was proved true to those who attended, and to remember on those days, seasons, and moments to come that just don’t make sense, or when I am afraid… that He absolutely has a plan, and he knows our every need. Gregg, God knew I needed you! Happy 3 years!

“He predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will.”

Ephesians 1:5

 

house progress.

The past month has flown by so fast, we’ve literally spent every extra moment we have had at our new house painting, trimming, pulling staples out of floors, pulling up carpet, peeling wallpaper, and eating too many fast food meals to count-on the floor. I’ve hardly had time for anything else, including laundry, and may I just bless my husband who has so sweetly reminded me that he has ran out of a few necessary clothing items. That hasn’t happened since we first got married, when I didn’t know how to do laundry for two people, and my mom had to come and catch me up while we were at work. I’ve become quite the laundry doer since, but with spending lots of time at our new house, I’ve reverted back to my old ways. Hopefully this too shall pass when we get moved into our new home, and life slows down a little. So today I thought I would show you a few pictures, and show you what we’ve been up to for the last month or so.

8.12.16 The day we closed on our house, and officially became the homeowners of a 1960’s Ranch. Gregg and I are so thankful for this sweet blessing. You can read more about how this all happened in my blog post before this one titled Benson.

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Every Saturday, we have literally gotten up, eaten breakfast and headed over to the house for a full day of work. Our first days as the new homeowners consisted of peeling wallpaper.

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and peeling more wallpaper….

and peeling more wallpaper………..

and peeling more wallpaper……………

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This last picture was my favorite wallpaper by far.  I love its combination of colors, and Anthropologie feel. Speaking of Anthropologie,  I feel pretty sure they would sell this, or at least have this same design on a cute mug, or tea towel.  My sister and I were talking on the phone the other day, and she told me about a book idea she has had for quite some time, to write a book from the view of the wallpaper. Kind of like “If these walls could talk” but with wallpaper. For example with each layer, comes a new decade, with a plethora of stories, and style. This particular paper screams bell bottoms, middle parts, and retro to me. The olive greens, the little touch of blues and browns, the vines.  I sure love it, but not as much as I love my sisters free spirit. She’s my favorite flower child.

Below is a picture of Gregg working hard. I’m sure when I snapped this I had only been at the house for 5 minutes, Gregg on the other hand, had probably been there for 2 hours, mowed the yard, made a trip to Lowe’s, and Porter Paint, and this was probably the 10th shelf he had painted that day. (Que the music, “what a man, what a man, what a man, what a mighty good man.”)

In this picture, the walls are a light pink color and the carpet is pink as well. Now they are the prettiest gray color called Seagull, and new carpet is going in next week!

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On this night, we decided to pull up the carpet in the master bedroom, and see what was under it. Much to our surprise, beautiful hardwood floors were underneath. I haven’t even cleaned them yet, and they already shine. I can’t wait to clean these with a little Lemon Pine Sol and hot water! Plus, we are saving several hundred dollars by not covering these beauties up with carpet. I personally prefer carpet in the Master bedroom, but I like saving money even more. It’s a win win.

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We’ve been so busy peeling, prepping walls to paint, and trimming, we had to call in reinforcement from our favorite 4 year old. She loves to help others.

Confession: I’m not a painter. I’m messy, and I get bored. I’m more of a staple puller, wall scrubber, and decorator. But Gregg captured this picture of me painting our entry way coat closet. I’ve painted 6 closets so far. I plan to paint one more next week. These closets feel brand new with a fresh coat of paint, and I can’t wait to hang peoples coats in this closet when they come to visit. On a side note, this is what I look like every Saturday. Bless all those that see me on that day.

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Below you will find several pictures of the Paint Queen, Jan Reynolds (my mother-in-love)…She has seriously painted, and painted, and painted. She’s painted while we’re at work, and painted every single Saturday since August 12. She just puts that green visor on, and magic happens. I owe our house being painted as quickly as it has been to her. She’s a gem.

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Below you will see two of the most selfless people in the world (my in-laws) , but you will also see one of the selling points for me, the half door. I can see it now, Saturday morning quiet times in this den, Gregg mowing the backyard, and the top of our half door swung wide open to welcome the morning light, and a cool breeze.

I will conclude this post with one little sneak peak. Our dining room paint color. This picture only shows it trimmed in the color, but it will hopefully give you an idea. I decided for this home I wanted colors that would be calming. So I went with soft coastal colors,  and we are so happy with the results.

Stay tuned for more updates. I can’t wait to show you the room finished, with our new carpet, and new light fixture. Until next time, sweet readers!

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Benson.

On Sunday, July 17, Gregg and I said goodbye to our little bungalow on Benson. It sold within 48 hours, and part of  my heart will always be there. It was our first house. We lived in an apartment for the first year we were married, then renovated Benson and lived there for a year and a half. I absolutely will always love that house, the hardwood floors, the shelves around the kitchen sink to hold all my grandmothers knick knacks, the screened in porch, and my absolute favorite part, being next door to Bob, Mae, and Naomi.

Bobby is Gregg’s older brother, and Meagan is his wife. When we told people that we all lived next door to one another, the crazy looks were hilarious. But we just absolutely love each other, and God gave us a season of living next door to each other. I can honestly say living next door to them is something I could do forever. The Saturday morning coffee dates on the porch, the late night calls to Mae saying, “Hey, can I come borrow a shirt to wear tomorrow?”, and then her watching me walk home to make sure I got there ok, even though it was only a few steps away…The many late night talks and laughs, around our kitchens, washing dishes at my sink and looking up to see Naomi (our niece) run across the yard to see Uncle Hoot and Aunt Airwin,  the meals we shared, the shows we all watched together…All of those things were a gift, a gift that could have only come from the gracious hand of God. So as this chapter comes to a close, I want to share some of my favorite days from every season living on Benson. I loved that house.

Our first Christmas on Benson, and our third Christmas being married. I’ve had this tree for 6 years, I bought it when I was working as a server at Cracker Barrel through college. I bought it for $33.00, and at the time I probably didn’t really need to spend $33.00 on a tree nonetheless, but I did, and years later, I am still enjoying it. I consider that a good purchase.

 

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This is our memory tree that we set up in our dining room. Gregg and I have many things in common, and our love for Christmas (aside from that we both love Jesus) is my favorite thing we share a love for. This tree is filled with ornaments from childhood, married ornaments that we got as shower gifts, and ornaments that we buy whenever we travel to a new place. I love this sentimental tree.

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Our first snow. February 16, 2015.  On this day, I made a huge breakfast and enjoyed having a week day off probably more than anyone. I also made a loaf of cinnamon banana bread, and enjoyed our fireplace and netflix the entire day.

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On this snow day, January 22, 2016, I decided to spend some time decorating my mantle for Valentine’s day. A cozy-day-in is the perfect motivation to clean, organize, and deck out your mantle for upcoming holidays.

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3.17.15 On this day, I was washing dishes, and I looked up outside and saw that my buttercups had bloomed. I ran outside, cut a few of them, and put them in a jar on my counter. The Lord makes all things new. Every Spring I’m reminded of that truth.

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With warmer weather came more opportunities to spend time on our porch. This porch was my favorite feature of Benson. Many talks with Jesus took place in this room, and many cups of coffee were consumed….

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Last May, I got to throw my life-long-friend Chelsea a bridal shower. She and I jokingly tell others that we were friends even before we were born. Our moms were in the same “La Maz” class back in 1987. She was born in September, and I was born in October. I love that sweet little detail about our friendship. It has been such a blessing to see Chelsea so happy. I’ve seen God be faithful through her, her love for Phillip, and his love for her.

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Us celebrating our mom’s on Mother’s day.

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Since my husband is a Summer baby and the most patriotic person I know, I decided for this year’s birthday I would throw him a Red, White, and Blue Birthday Barbeque. I invited all of our family, and it was a great time.

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My sister, niece, and nephew were in from Ohio the same weekend as Gregg’s party. It felt good to have her home, celebrating with us. I miss not having her here for family get togethers of any kind.

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Both of our last living grandparents came to the party, Gregg’s grandmother, Elma, and my Papaw, James. Gregg never got to meet my nana, she would have loved him. By having my papaw with us to celebrate, makes me feel like my nana was somewhat there too.

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One last picture from the party because I sure love this guy.

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Fall is my favorite season of all time. I love everything about it, and I loved decorating my porch last year for it.

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One of my favorite things to do is cook for people. On this particular night, I had 4 girls over from church. I had the privilege of making Maggie’s (to the left of me) first roast. I can’t remember how this conversation came up, but we were trying to figure out our menu for Bible study for this night, and Maggie mentioned she had never had Roast. I was totally shocked. So, I did as most all other Southern women would do, put my apron on and made this girl a roast. I feel so thankful that the Lord saw fit to make us friends, to walk this life together.

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We always figured that when we got Benson, we would fix it up, live in it for a while, and then resell it. When the opportunity came for us to put it on the market, we showed it to a couple at our church on a Tuesday, and they called with an offer the following Thursday. A lot of people think we’re crazy for selling our house with no new home on the horizon, but I had to completely trust the Lord, and I trusted my husband that we were making the right decision, while we don’t have kids, to find a little bit bigger home, with a bigger yard while we had the chance.

So on July 10th, we said goodbye to our house on Benson, filled with many sweet memories, and we moved in with Gregg’s gracious parents. To be honest, it took the entire first week we lived here to catch up on rest. We were exhausted to say the least. We have been so busy this summer with work, being out of town, weddings, VBS, packing, getting a house ready to be shown, and many things in between that I had honestly taken a break from creeping Zillow every single day and night.

Fast-forward a week……

It was a Thursday night, we had had VBS Sunday through Wednesday that week. So, on our first night in that week, we were watching TV with Mike and Jan (my in-laws). I was praising the Lord for a night with no where to go or be, the delicious spaghetti dinner my mother-in-love had made, and Gregg was scrolling Facebook when he came upon a picture that his high school friend, Hannah, had posted. The picture was of her grandmother holding a for sale sign, standing in her front yard. I saw the picture only from a distance, and knew that Gregg had to text Hannah and get more details. Sure enough, he did, and within 12 hours we were viewing her grandmother’s home.

It was a Friday morning, and the rain was coming down, we knocked on the door, and sweet Mrs. Ruth greeted us with a big smile. She told us several things before we began to look at it, but I remember the first thing that she told us, that this was the house that she and her husband raised their family in, and this was the only house she’d known for 53 years. Of course, I’m looking at the fireplace, and the kitchen cabinets, and Gregg is outside looking at the roof, and the building out in the backyard, it was when we got to the kitchen  (which is on the front of the house, a long time dream of mine) she looked at me and said, “I bet I could feed all of Warren county with the food that’s been on this table.” It was then that I knew. This is the kitchen I want to cook in for years to come. I had such peace. Peace only He can give. Long story short, Gregg and I made her an offer, and she excepted. Before leaving, we all stood in a circle and said a prayer. I’m still praying for Mrs. Ruth as she transitions into a new place, that’s better suited for her at this season in her life, and I’m so thankful that I work at the church she has been a member of for more than 60 years.

Isn’t it something how you find exactly what you’re looking for when you least expect it? While I’m excited to do a few fixer upper projects with this new home, cook in a kitchen that’s on the front of the house, my heart will always love our little bungalow on Benson. But even more than that, I am thankful that our “home” is not the actual house we live in, rather it’s the people that we get to do life with, our family, and closest friends. I look back on all the memories made in only a year and a half living at Benson, all the people that we ate with, celebrated with, and made memories with, and I can’t help but sing praises to the One who was the giver of it all.

Onto a new home, a new address, and a new season, with the same savior who thankfully never changes.

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