Saturday, March 28, 2015


After reading the book "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up" by Marie Kondo, my entire mindset has changed when it comes to decluttering my home, my classroom, and my photography studio. 

It seems as if God continues to put things in my path to remind me that this life is temporary. 

Our stuff doesn't matter much. It definitely doesn't matter as much as the people we love and the experiences we have.

I feel as if I almost became obsessed with our home addition over the last few months. I was just so excited to finally have a little more space to spread out in. I was also looking forward to giving the girls rooms of their own, so they could have a little break from each other.

When we found out we were unable to do the addition, I was disappointed at first. However, after speaking to my husband and a few of my dearest friends, I realized that maybe be home addition is not in God's plan right now.

Matthew and I began to plan to go another route. A route that would not include any more debt for the time being. A route that will include three daughters sharing one bedroom for a few years. A route that, I'm sure, will be forever etched in our memory as a joyful, stressful, and wonderful time of life.

It is also a route that will include living in our current square footage for a little longer than we had anticipated.

Therefore, it is time to truly put the Kon Mari method to work. 

We only have about eight weeks of school left (how is that possible!?!). I have lots of things I would like to accomplish at school during the next eight weeks...finishing the year with a bang, doing some planning for next year, and going through my teaching resources that have sat on a shelf for the last seven years. I would love to get the resources that are gathering dust together and get them in the hands of someone who will use them. 

So we'll finish the school year on May 13th and by the following Wednesday, I would like to have my classroom decluttered and organized for 2015-2016.

Starting the week after that, I am looking forward to getting very serious about purging in my home. I think I will designate those first three weeks of summer to some hardcore decluttering. 

My idea is to go through each room and essentially "move out". When we had satellite television (waste of time and waste of glad we dropped it!), I loved HGTV and other home channels. 

One of my favorite shows was Mission: Organization. On this show, they would move everything out of a bedroom to the yard and put out three big of stuff to keep, one of stuff to sell, and one of stuff to donate. They also had a place for trash. I would love to use this same method this summer, with the Kon Mari way of thinking...pick everything up, check and see if it sparks joy, and if not, GET RID OF IT. 

I'll put everything that sparks joy in the keep pile and box up the sell and donate stuff immediately. My plan is to make a trip to donate things every single day for those three weeks. 

Then I'll deep-clean that room, rearrange if I need to, and put only the items that spark joy back in there. Every single item will get a home. 

The next day...choose a different room and repeat the process all over again. 

I would love to be done with the process in 3 weeks so I can enjoy the rest of the summer with my babies in a clean house, free from clutter that will distract us from each other! 

Anybody else feeling overwhelmed with the "stuff" of life? 

Getting ready to hopefully feel a whole lot lighter,

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Morning Struggles.

I feel like some days I am the worst morning mother ever.

In the whole world.

No, really.

We try so hard at night to be prepared for the 6:30 a.m. "walk out the door".

We lay out clothes.
We pack lunches.
We shower at night and try to get to bed as early as possible (we try for 8:30 and occasionally make it before 9:00...maybe I'm the worst evening mother ever, too!).

But even with all of this preparation...I still turn into a screaming lunatic at some point on many mornings.

In fact, most mornings it goes something like this:

5:50 a.m.  (I'm still sing-songy at this point) -- "Time to get up girls!  Let's make this a good morning!"

No movement.

5:55 a.m. -- "Girls, it's a school day.  Let's get up and get dressed!" (I'm still feeling somewhat sing-songy).

Claire gets up and slowly starts shuffling towards the living room.

6:00 a.m. -- "Harlee, if you're not up by the time I get back in here, we're going to have a big problem." (I'm losing my spunk at this point).

6:05 a.m. -- I shout from the bathroom, "Harlee!  Are you up?"

Harlee answers, as she jumps out of bed before I make it back there, "Yeeeeeesssssss!" (I'm sure she is rolling her eyes at this point, but I try to ignore it.)

6:10 a.m. -- "Girls, we have to leave in 20 minutes.  Let's get dressed a little faster, please."

They are struggling between every article of clothing to not lie back down.

6:20 a.m. -- "Are you dressed?"
"Do you have socks and shoes on?"
"Yes!" (Harlee)
"I'm trying to find them!" (Claire)
"I thought you laid them out last night!"
"I thought so too, but I didn't..."
"Harlee, could you help her find her shoes?"
"I guess!  Every morning, Claire!" (Harlee)

At this point, Claire starts crying and the clock simultaneously changes to 6:30.

I want to start crying, but I am an adult and that would be silly.
It would be ridiculous to cry over a morning like this.

I am dressed and ready.
Claire is crying and getting her shoes on.
Harlee is stomping around impatiently, waiting to go get in the car.

And then it hits me.

We have three children!

"Harlee...please grab the diaper bag!!!  We are so late and I haven't even gotten Mattie up yet!"

The goal is to walk out the door by 6:30 a.m. every morning.

The reality is that I feel pretty darn good if we leave town by 7:00.

Now it's 7:05 and we're driving under the overpass five miles north of town...

"Hey Mom, what should we have for breakfast?"

The morning struggle is real, folks.

Have you ever felt this way?

I'm sure tomorrow will be similar, but at least it will be a FRIDAY morning.

Much love,

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Broken Together.

I am a music person.  I could sit here and name off song after song after song that have touched me in some way.  Songs can sometimes touch me so deeply that I listen to them on repeat for weeks at a time.
Many times, I hear a song that speaks to the core of what I'm feeling inside.
I feel like if Mark Hall (lead singer of Casting Crowns) and I knew each other in real life, we would be great friends.  
Casting Crowns is consistently coming out with songs that speak my heart.
Their newest song is called "Broken Together".
It's actually written about marriage.  I have been very blessed in my almost 11 years of marriage.  We haven't struggled much to "stay in love".  We haven't had any life-altering events that have made us grow apart.  We have had our disagreements here and there, and maybe a dry spell or two, but nothing like what some of my dear, dear friends have encountered in their own marriages.
I do believe that this song has an amazing application to married life.
However, in my own heart, I think of this song as something that truly is written for the Church.
Here are the lyrics.  
If you need the lyrics to speak on marriage right now...listen with those ears.  
But if you're feeling like me, and praying for unity in the Body of Christ, listen in that context.
What do you think about when you look at me?
I know we're not the fairytale you dreamed we'd be.
You wore the veil, you walked the aisle, you took my hand
And we dove into a mystery.
How I wish we could go back to simpler times,
Before all our scars and all our secrets were in the light.
Now on this hallowed ground, we've drawn the battle lines.
Will we make it through the night?
It's going to take much more than promises this time,
Only God can change our minds.
Maybe you and I were never meant to be complete.
Could we just be broken together?
If you can bring your shattered dreams and I'll bring mine.
Could healing still be spoken and save us?
The only way we'll last forever is broken together.
How it must have been so lonely by my side.
We were building kingdoms and chasing dreams and left love behind.
I'm praying God will help our broken hearts align,
And we won't give up the fight.
If you have the time, you should watch this video and listen to the beauty in the message.  You won't be disappointed.
Church, we are all broken...let's be broken together.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

The best laid plans.


We're not building on right now.

We were unable to get the loan at this time.

It's funny how you think you've got everything covered...and really, you don't.

House plans...check.
Debt snowball paid down...check.
Proof that we can easily make the payments...check.

Approval for a loan...not check.

After some frustration and disappointment, we reworked our plan.

We've decided to save what would have been our payment and do a few things to our current structure.

We will add a bathroom in our closet first.

Then we'll redo our current bathroom.

Finally, we'll remodel the kitchen.

The plan is to save cash for these projects and then do them.  We should be able to get them done in 2015, if we don't have any big financial surprises.

That will either raise the appraisal value enough to get the home addition loan, or it will make our house more marketable if we decide to sell and go buy or build somewhere.

The best laid plans.

There "they" are again with those cliches...

We're still blessed and content, but I'm planning another HUGE decluttering session coming up since we're not building on a playroom anytime soon.

Have a great rest of the week, friends.

Monday, March 16, 2015


This is a blog post that is a long time coming, as they say. Whoever "they" is.

This has been quite the year for me.

Just in case you don't know me, let me tell you a little bit about myself… I am a people pleaser. It's me.

I will do whatever it takes to make someone else like me. If I feel like someone is mad at me, it absolutely eats me up.

Even if I should not value that person's opinion of me, for some reason, I just want people to know who I am and what is on my heart.

Let me tell you, for me, this leads to much exhaustion, and even some heartache.

Without disclosing the full details of what happened in my life about a year ago, I will just tell you, I lost some friends. Some lifelong friends.

And this isn't just people I grew up with. These are people who were in my wedding. People who visited the hospital when we had our children. People who held my hand through the loss of my grandfather, and I held their hands through many trials in their own lives. People who taught me things that I still apply to life today. Some of my oldest and dearest companions.

People who knew (probably still know) me better than most of the general population.

Things were said.
Feelings were hurt.
And then, they were gone.

Just gone.

No "can we work through this?"
No "can we sit down and talk?"
No "can we try to figure this out?"


I spent many sleepless nights trying to solve the problem on my own.

I penned a few emails (only one that I actually sent).

And finally, I came to the conclusion, that it just wasn't going to happen. At least not right now.

I needed to, as the old saying goes, "let go and let God."

And so I did.

I let go.

And God came through in a big way.

In the depths of sorrow at the loss of these dear, dear friends (really family members), God came through.

In the midst of pain and heartache, God came through.

As I tried to find my new "normal" without these people in my life, God really, really came through.

Fast-forward to now.

My heart still hurts.

I still am holding out hope for reconciliation some day.

But I can honestly look back at our memories through the years fondly.

I can think of these friends now, and feel a peace in my heart about the situation. I can see those moments through the past year, where God has used specific situations to give me hope for the future.

I have seen my ministry change, and I am serving joyfully again. I don't feel unsettled, unnerved, or angry. I have seen the Lord fill the hole in my heart left by these individuals.

If you would have told me a few years ago that these people wouldn't be a part of my life at this point in time, I never would have believed you.

But things change.
People change.

At the end of the day, the only One who is unchanging is God.

He is unchanging and He is here.

And I am thankful.

Thanks for reading,

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Adding On.

We've been throwing the idea around of building on to the house for (at least) the last five years.  We currently have a three-bedroom, one-bath house with a living/family room, a (kind of outdated) kitchen, and a small laundry room.  The garage is detached and we have no basement.  Storage is limited, to say the least.

The time never really felt right.  We went through several "plans" in our conversation of where to add on, what to add on, and of we would ever afford it.

Well, through our journey with good ol' Dave (Ramsey), we have paid some debt off and now feel like we have the monthly income that we could sustain another payment for a construction loan.  After the construction is complete, we are hoping to be able to roll our current mortgage and the money we borrow for the addition into one loan, with a lower rate than the construction loan will be.

Anyway, so in this journey of "home addition dreaming", we've discovered a great iPad app called "Room Planner".  I was able to enter the dimensions of our current structure and the addition and see what the whole thing looks like in 3D.  I was also able to print these plans for our builder, which was pretty sweet.

My favorite part of the app is that by upgrading for $2.99, we can actually "walk through" the space.  Pretty crazy to feel as though we are actually in the "new part" of the house.  

Technology is so cool.

Here is my original notebook paper drawing... 

As you can see, the red line goes around our current house.  The addition will basically double the current square footage, plus we're hoping to add a loft over the two bedrooms to be a playroom (aka HIDE ALL OF THE DARN TOYS AND KEEP THEM OFF OF THE LIVING ROOM FLOOR room).

Here is what I have been able to come up with using the app...

We're planning to turn the current living room into a dining space.  We're also hoping to turn the two older girls' current bedroom into a laundry room/bathroom combo.  (Yes!  Two bathrooms!!!).  The older girls will get their own bedrooms out in the new part and we'll have a big ol' great room for family gatherings and future slumber parties (with three girls, I feel like this is inevitable)...

Now, here is a screenshot of the 3D part of the app.  How cool is this?

I could even add wall colors and furniture!  The floor plan above has changed a little bit since I took these pictures, but you get the idea.  Very cool.

Anyway, so tonight, the hubs and I are sitting down and talking about the most dreadful part of the project...the financing.  We were going to go talk to the bank today and we just didn't have everything ready that we needed.  So tomorrow, I'll take all of our stuff to the loan guy and say some major prayers that it all works out the way it needs to.  

Of course, we don't want to stop progress on our debt snowball, but we feel like adding square footage and equity to the house isn't really a purchase that we will regret in the future.  And we'll be able to enjoy the house more without living right on top of each other.

Thanks for reading.  I'll keep you posted!


Saturday, March 7, 2015

Blogging Fail.

So one of my oldest and dearest friends has reminded me this week that I need to blog more often.

It's true.  I do.

I really enjoy writing and should take the time to blog.  Just like I should really restart the Couch 2 5K walking plan in the evenings and I should run the dishwasher every single day.

I should.

I think like many people, I have this revolving of list of "I should" items in my brain at any given time.

I should eat healthier.

I should keep my house clean.

I should just drive right past Sonic in the morning, instead of stopping for an unsweet raspberry tea (Okay, that isn't going to happen...let's be realistic).

I am a failure at SO many things.  I am broken and messed up in more ways than I like to admit.

But I am also making progress in some areas.

I have been paying attention to my caloric intake since Tuesday consistently and have been making sure to drink enough each day.

I got all caught up on grading AND cleaned off my desk at school before spring break

I spent the evenings this week with my babies, even though I had other stuff that needed to be done (this is a HUGE step in the right direction for me).

I made it through another year (31...eek!).

We are paying our debt down a little at a time, but have made HUGE progress if you look at the big picture!  We're paying down more each month than we have planned for in our budget and that is a big accomplishment!

We are getting ready to build on to our house and have been working together to come up with some great energy-efficient plans to save money and keep our little family warm.

I have many, many things that I should be doing...but I'm growing a little bit each day.

With that said, I'm a total failure at blogging and will be trying to blog at least three times a week, because it really makes my heart happy to write!!!  <3

Thanks for reading.