the struggle.



the struggle is real, y’all. and sometimes when i open my bible instead of throwing a temper tantrum like my nineteen month old, i realize it is the way it’s supposed to be. recently, i’ve been settling into the book of romans and am learning about the struggle of the oh so wise, paul. he calls himself a servant, and recognizes that means he is to embrace the struggle.

i hate the struggle. i get depressed by it. i get beat down by it. and i think to myself, in all my righteousness and complete darkness, if i am doing the right thing- things will shake out in my favor. sometimes they do turn out the way i have planned. but sometimes, they don’t, even when i’ve prayed, and prayed hard.

i am learning that paul prayed hard, he lived out a life worthy of the gospel. he was always ready to preach, serve, and suffer. he probably was the first one to raise his hand when the church hosted a clean up saturday. he probably put a post-it note on his bathroom mirror to remind him to pray for his preacher, and actually did it… and paul, beyond that, he was ready to die. because that’s what being a servant of jesus christ looks like sometimes. it’s not always a fun time. sometimes it’s really, really hard.

recently, while reading a commentary on romans one using blue letter bible, i read a truth that wrecked me…charles surgeon in his great wisdom said: ” i do not suppose that paul guessed that he would be sent there {rome} at the government expense, but he was. the roman empire had to find a ship for him, and a fit escort for him, and he entered he city as an ssador in bonds. when our hearts are set on a thing, and we pray for it. God may grant us the blessing; but, it may be, in a way that we never looked for. you shall go to rome, paul; but you shall go in chains.”

i’ve read these words a 100 times now and i can’t help but put myself in paul’s shoes. if i had known the stakes, would i have been so eager to follow Christ? i would have pitched a fit and said, “but, look at what i’ve done. i don’t deserve this. ” i’ve been a christian for over 20 years (by the way, they think paul had been a christian for that long when he wrote romans) and i haven’t learned to live like paul. i still feel entitled to an easier road.

i don’t deserve the easy road. and i am learning through the words of paul that i am to embrace the struggle- whatever that looks like. if i am pursuing a life worthy of the gospel- a life for Him- i have to commit to a life free from grumbling and be satisfied with the truth that He is in the struggle seeing me through regardless of the outcome.


the holiday season is a lot of fun, but it can be overwhelming. if your life is like mine, your schedule is already FULL and the thought of adding another item on the list makes you want to scream. this year, on top of all of the holiday shenanigans, our family is moving. this is crazy. a craziness that makes me want to praise the Lord for his provision and pull my hair out all at the very same time. is that possible?

perhaps, you’re like me right now. your world is total CHAOS and your chest is tight and you feel like you can’t do another thing… please let me encourage you. it is possible to grind through the season of chaos and come out on the other side. a much brighter, more relaxing side.

i try to cope with the emotion of being overwhelmed by:

{creating time for Christ} i am not as good at this as i should be, but i do make it a point to create time for Christ. i keep one of my favorite scriptures in the front of my mind all day. “cast all your anxieties on Him because he cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7. i listen to sermons on podcast or worship music when i’m in the car. i make sure if i can’t get my devotion in that i’m still doing it with little mama at night. this helps me stay focused on His promises instead of the anxiety that is buzzing through me.

{create a list} i love lists, but i also can be overwhelmed by my list. i make a “six list” for things i need to complete TODAY and then put future ideas/tasks/etc in my iPhone. this helps me figure out what tasks i need to accomplish, what is immediate, and what can wait.

{divide and conquer} my family is always busy and sometimes that requires us to divide and conquer. right now for example, j is at our new house working on floors, and i’m taking care of the kids and working on laundry. by splitting up tasks i can get a lot done.

{it takes a village} i use my support team to help. i am not great at asking for help, but i’m learning the importance. just yesterday, i asked my mom to keep the kids and asked one of my best friends to meet me at our new house so we could clean it. i paid both my mom and my friend with sausage biscuits from McDonald’s and felt a lot less stressed as a result. the kids were well cared for and the task i needed to complete was done twice as fast.

{give yourself grace} when i  am busy and pulled in a thousand different directions i am going to mess up. my house is going to be a wreck. saxophones are going to get left at home even though it’s band day at school. and that’s ok. life happens. in the grand scheme of things, the things i miss don’t make or break our family, or me even. on the days i choose to roll with life’s messiness, things go a lot smoother.

sometimes i am overwhelmed even in spite of my coping techniques. however, i know, there’s another side. i know a pity party won’t change things. and i choose to get after it…


tell me: how to do you cope with being overwhelmed?


{Breastfeeding} Pumping at Work.

one of the hardest things about having a baby is breastfeeding. it requires a lot of time and energy. it gets harder when you are forced to go back to work and have to pump to make enough milk for your child while they are with another caregiver. over the past few weeks, i’ve been working on my schedule and process. it’s been difficult, but worth it. here’s my process:

+ i pack eight 2.5 ounce bottles in a cooler pack the night before.

+ pump in the morning, at lunch, early afternoon, and right before i leave work.

+ store the bottles in the mini-fridge next to my office.

+ i made a sign that says “come back in 10 minutes” for the outside of my office door. this helps folks know i am unavailable during this time and encourages them to come back.

+ i bought a pump for work. this prevents me from forgetting my equipment and removes one extra headache from the day. having all my supplies readily available makes the process much easier.

+ during my pumping times, i go through my e-mails and listen to my voicemails so i can stay on task at work.

+ i pump one breast at a time so i don’t have to use a handsfree bra (doesn’t fit well under my clothes).

+ i bring a life factory water bottle from home and keep it filled with water at all times. my production is better when i’m well hydrated.

+ for days when my production seems low, i brew a cup of mother’s milk tea and have it after lunch.

i’ve found that pumping at work is possible, but requires great dedication. without a well-polished routine, i know that i’ll get behind and inevitably give up.

{tell me}: do you pump at work? do you have a process for pumping? any tips you may have are welcomed!



Change is Good.

Things have changed quite a bit ’round here since my last post in February.

For starters, John Robert changed universities and started attending Transylvania University in Lexington, KY after a successful freshman year at Kentucky Christian University. We’ve been fundraising, moving, and adjusting to his new life in KY over the past year and he’s already moved twice… He was able to visit Haiti this summer which was an amazing gift after a hard year learning to survive in the USA. We love JR and are so honored to be a part of his journey.

IMG_1312(Photo taken this Spring after a KCU soccer game!)

Secondly, on May 27,2015, Jason and I finalized our adoption and finally were able to give our daughter, Beverly, our last name! It was a joyous occasion filled with a “gotcha day” party and the fulfillment of a promise we made to Bev when she moved in… she got her ears pierced!


(Photo taken on Cinco de Mayo!)

And finally, we welcomed a sweet baby boy into our lives on June 22, 2015 after hours and hours of labor… Ellias weighed 7 lbs 14 oz and 21 inches long. It was love at first sight for all of us!


(Photo taken around 3 weeks old)

This year has been filled with tremendous growth and an explosion of love. My husband and I are grateful for all of the support we’ve had over the past several months. There is NO way we could have endured the craziness without our family and friends. It’s been a wild ride!


{Foster Parenting} Bedtime Routine.

Creating a bedtime routine is important for both the child and the parent. When little momma first moved to our house, we found that over the course of her moves her bedtime routine had changed dramatically. As a result, she occasionally fights sleep and has struggled to stay asleep during the night. We have found that by creating a strong bedtime routine, we are able to minimize her nighttime anxiety and help her feel more rested.

Here’s our routine:

8:00 PM– Shower/Bath. She’s at the age where showering is appropriate for hair washing days, but she still enjoys bath time.

8:20 PM– Teeth/Hair/Fish. After bathtime she brushes her teeth, hair, and feeds her fish independently.

8:30 PM– Points. We review the day and give points for positive behaviors.

8:35 PM– Quiet time/Catch up. There are days when we are distracted or life gets in the way and need a few extra minutes to get back on track. We use this time as a buffer. If the day goes smoothly, we use this time for reading or coloring in bed. This helps calm the mind and encourages a SLOW down!

8:50 PM– Devotion/Prayer. I do a quick devotion with little mama every night. On days I forget, she usually tells my mom on me. She prays after devotion.

9:00 PM– Lights Out. Bedtime.

Bedtime is hard for us for a variety of reasons. Little momma responds to cues, but often has a lot of bottled up energy and doesn’t like going to bed. She also struggles with staying asleep and feeling grumpy in the morning. We’ve found the below tips to be extremely helpful in creating a better bedtime routine.

– No screens an hour before we begin the bedtime routine. Screens overstimulate children and it’s hard for them to shut down after screen time.

– No chocolate milk or juice with dinner. This has been the hardest for us to cut out. At first we thought, “hey, milk is milk,” but then quickly realized the sugars ramped her up and made it harder to sleep.

– Reminding her that a 9 PM bedtime is appropriate for her age and her growing body. Again, at first, she wanted to stay up and watch a show with us because we were awake. We had to tell her that her body required more sleep and that most of her friends went to sleep at the same time. This helps her remember that she’s going to bed for her best interest.

Tell me: Does your child struggle with bedtime? What methods have you found helpful?

{Love Letters} Baby Boy

Yesterday, I stumbled across a journal entry from March 11, 2014 and was instantly reminded of the work God did in my life and heart over the past year. Today, being nearly six months pregnant with a baby boy, I find it fitting to share my love letter.

Dear Baby,

I read this week about Samuel and how Hannah wanted him so badly that she committed him to God before he was born. This is how badly I want you. I want you not just as an accessory and not just because everyone else has a kiddo, but because I believe the life you will lead will bring glory and honor to our God. I believe you will love God and love people at a very young age. I believe you will influence our friends and family by your infectious laughter and your heart for others. As your mama, I want nothing more than you to live your life sold out for Jesus. It requires you to focus less on yourself and more on others. It calls you to draw strength when others just see weakness. Your faith will be your most important quality and it will guide you when I fail and when you are at a complete loss. I can’t wait to show you the love of Jesus and I can’t wait to see how he reveals himself to me through you.

I love you,


As I continue to care for this little guy, I know my prayer for his life will continue to be the same. There is NO greater joy than knowing your children love Jesus. 

{Good Reads} Choosing Him All Over Again


Last month, I read Choosing Him All Over Again, as a part of a blog tour. I cannot recommend this book enough as it truly depicts the hardship of marriage and satan’s plan to steal, kill, and destroy the union created by God.

When I started reading the book, I had no idea that I would be making parallels between Juana and Terry and my own marriage. {Spoiler alert!} Juana leaves Terry briefly because of the lies of this world and then stands in faith believing that her marriage will be restored. While J and I have not ever talked of divorce, I can assure you that most marriages are hanging on by a thread, just like the Mikels.

In our lives, we get consumed with busyness/other stuff and put our marriages on the back burner. Juana reminded me through scripture that our first priority (after God) should be to our spouse. My husband deserves more than my leftovers. My marriage deserves more. I was so convicted by this loving reminder that I’ve been making a more conscious effort to encourage my spouse, show him grace, and most importantly pray for him. Plus, Juana gives some excellent tips on how to pray for your man. This has helped reset my train of thought and helped me to reject the world’s idea of what a marriage should look like.

I would recommend this book to anyone married or single, because I think the Biblical truths shared throughout the Mikels compelling story is worth hearing. For those single or looking to be married soon, the read will help you set your marriage on a solid foundation. As a society, we spend a lot of time planning for our wedding and little time planning to be married. Guess what? I did it too, and the first years of marriage were HARDER because of it. For those of us that are married, this book serves as a wake-up call to each of us. It encouraged me to stop accepting the status quo and start fighting for my marriage to be the way God intended.

If you are interested in reading the book, you can buy it here. If you’d like to read the book and go a little deeper ( I highly recommend), you can download a study guide here.  If you would like to learn more about Juana Mikels, check out her blog here.

Disclaimer: I received this book as a free promotional item, but the thoughts and ideas of this post are my own.

February Update- John Robert Veillard

Below is a monthly update about my dear friend, John Robert. If you would like to learn more about him, you can visit our Fundly page. Also, for more details about him on the blog, check this out.



(He’s the cutie in the red striped shirt).


I hope this update finds you warm despite the bitter cold. I keep telling myself Spring is just around the corner… It’s been a while since I’ve updated you on John Robert and there’s a lot to share.
He’s doing exceptionally well at school and is taking a heavy load this semester (18 credit hours). When he’s not in the classroom, he has been working out (trying to keep off the freshman 15) and training with his soccer team. He will turn 21 on February 25th and we are looking forward to celebrating the big day with him!
In regards to fundraising for John Robert’s education, we continue to be blessed beyond measure. The generosity of family, friends, and complete strangers blows me away on a regular basis. I love seeing God move through each of you to bless John Robert. We are still $1,152 short for fully funding his first year in the United States. Additionally, we will start fundraising for year 2 in a few short months. To be honest, this gives us a bit of anxiety, but we are trusting in God’s timing and faithfulness in this endeavor.
To try and offset some of the expenses for year two, John Robert has been applying for small scholarships online and applied to two different colleges for the 2015-2016 school year. The first being Transylvania University. They’ve accepted him for admission and offered him a generous scholarship. However, if you know much about Transy, you know they provide superior education at a premium price. This scholarship, while incredible is $8,000 more per year than Kentucky Christian University. We are still prayerfully trying to work through these logistics to see if Transy would even be an option financially. He has also applied to Berea College (for the third time) as their educational offerings and financial package is optimal for young people in John Robert’s situation. We have yet to hear their response, but are praying fervently for this to be an option for next year. Both Transylvania and Berea would grant John Robert an opportunity to work and this would also be a positive step for offsetting expenses (KCU does not allow their internationals to work at this time).
In the Spring, we hope to have a few small fundraisers to help kick-off year two.  A couple of gals from work are planning a yard sale to raise money for JR, and I hope to host another fundraiser as well. More details on this will be made available soon.
In the meantime, will you continue to pray for God’s guidance and for John Robert to continue to be a dream chaser? It is my sincere prayer that we never grow weary of chasing after the dreams He has set before us…
Thank you for standing beside us on this journey! You are a blessing!
In Him,

{Dangerous Prayer} 2014 in Review.

Almost a year ago, I prayed the most dangerous prayer of my life. The fruits of this prayer have been manifesting ever since. You see, my prayer took place while I was cleaning my house. I don’t remember what I said exactly, but I recall asking the Lord to fill my rooms and fill them for his glory.

It started in January of 2014. I had recently graduated with my Master’s Degree in Business Administration and my husband and I decided to celebrate the accomplishment by taking a trip to Haiti. I’ve been to Haiti several times and am in love with the culture and the people.

When we went, we told our Pastor that we had plans to start a family when we returned. He and his wife prayed over us before we left. I felt confident we could conceive quickly because I had done everything the right way. I had it all under control. We’d been saving for medical expenses for a year, had the OK from the OBGYN, had stable jobs, and degrees. This was the farthest thing from the truth; the Lord immediately took control orchestrated a plan far superior then anything I could have crafted on my own.

After our trip, my heart longed to help our friend, long-time interpreter, John Robert get to America to attend college. I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I’d wake up at night, I’d Google scholarships, I started networking with people and making connections, I felt certain I was the friend that was supposed to help him. J encouraged me to get a game plan together for fundraising and then educate myself on the potential risks of bringing an international to school in America. I went full-steam ahead and completed the necessary paperwork to get John Robert to America.

In April, over Easter, I was blessed with a trip to Haiti. It was on the other side of the island and not where my friends were, but I knew I had to get John Robert to me. I had the paperwork he needed to get to the States, and I wanted to surprise him. I bused him to the mission along with two friends, and gave him the paper he needed to get a Visa appointment. If all went well, he would be coming to the USA for college in the fall. At this point, John Robert, my friends, family, and I launched a fundraising campaign to pay for his education.

During this time, Jason and I were still trying for a family and every period came and went with disappointment. I was consumed with fundraising for John Robert and trying to chart my ovulation, and didn’t realize at the time, but this was the first response to my dangerous prayer. The Lord was filling my rooms.

In May, Jason and I received a call from our family and social worker in Pennsylvania. They asked if we would be interested in fostering to adopt one of our distant relatives. As a ten year old, they explained it would be hard, but that we were the only hope for making sure she didn’t age out of the system (older kids are not usually adopted). We didn’t hesitate with our response. We love our family and didn’t want to lose our cousin to strangers, so we asked what we could do. We were encouraged to get certified in KY to be foster parents. Again, I was awake at night, I googled, made phone calls, and we went full steam ahead. We started foster parenting classes in the state of Kentucky and committed to eleven weeks of grueling work.

We were able to have two transitional visits with our cousin (little mama) over the summer. This helped her see where she would live and helped us make sure we felt confident in our decision. Each visit went well and we decided to continue pushing forward with the process. We completed our parenting classes in August.

By this time, Jason and I had still been unsuccessful at conception, but had our friend John Robert in America, enrolled in school, and on campus. We also had little mama’s room ready and our family, friends, and co-workers had thrown us showers, so her closet and toy chest was chalked full in anticipation of her arrival. This was the second response to my dangerous prayer. The Lord was filling my rooms.

We decided to plan a vacation in the fall and take a trip with our friends to Destin, FL. At this point, we had stopped “trying”. I threw the ovulation kits away; I stopped charting, and just focused my efforts on helping John Robert adjust to life in America and stayed in prayer for little mama. We were told she would likely arrive around Thanksgiving because the state didn’t like transitioning kids during the school year. I kept praying for her and felt confident that she would be here before the Holidays. I wanted her to adjust to normal life in KY as soon as possible. So, a week before we left for Destin, we got the call. Little mama and her social worker would meet us at the Lexington airport on September 30. This cut our vacation short, but we didn’t care. We were excited to start our lives as parents and to help her know love.

When little mama moved in, she immediately started asking about siblings. She has a big sister, but wanted to be a big sister. This stung a bit, since we had been trying for months, but we assured her that when the time was right, we would give her a sibling. We brushed this off and focused our efforts on her and John Robert.

In October, I was late. I had previously thrown away all my tests, and kits, so I didn’t think much about the possibility of being pregnant right away. But when my period still didn’t come, I asked our research nurse at work for a test. I holed myself up in the bathroom at work and took the test in the middle of the day. The line was faint, but it was positive. One of my docs caught me coming out of the bathroom and asked why I was so white. I shoved the test towards him and he laughed and said, “you need to go upstairs and get blood drawn”.

In my head, this was a joke. I had too much going on. Sure, we had tried to conceive for months, but it was a fruitless endeavor. The Lord had already blessed me with little mama and John Robert. I had to focus my efforts on them and not be distracted by the “what ifs” of a baby. The blood came back after two hours (we ran it STAT. I was a mess) and it was positive. I was pregnant.

When I came home from work that night, I waited until little mama got in the shower and handed J the urine test and the lab work. I immediately walked away. He was confused until I said the words, “I’m pregnant”. In typical J fashion, he said, “you are always on pinterest and reading blogs… is this is the best you could do?” He wanted some fancy announcement, but all the energy I could muster was used to hand him the results. This was officially the third response to my dangerous prayer. The Lord had filled my rooms.

We waited to tell John Robert until he visited in November. His immediate response was, “this was my prayer”. And then we waited a bit longer to tell little mama by giving her a shirt that said “big sister”. Her immediate response was, “this was my prayer”. It took days for these responses to sink in and for me to understand the magnitude of what God had done in ten short months. He positioned me to surrender my plans and to believe that his words were true. When my husband and I poured our lives out and gave it away, the Lord filled it back up. He filled my rooms. He answered the cries of my heart. He made a family out of his fabric and wrote a story that only he was capable. I learned to surrender my ideas and focus on the plan God has for our family. By being open to His timeline, His goals, and His will, my family flourished, my prayers were answered, and all the rooms in my home are filled (the last room due to be filled in June 2015!). God is good.





{Foster Parenting} A Prayer for the Kids

Being a foster parent is the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life. The rewards are great, but man, it’s hard work! When I find myself getting caught up in the daily routine of life, I try and take a step or two (at times) back and just pray for little momma. It helps me gain perspective and reminds me that at the end of the day she is HIS and he’s not finished with her story (or mine)!

Heavenly Father, Thank you for little momma! Thank you for creating her in your image and giving her a passion for you! As she goes through life, I ask that you break down any negative image that she has of herself and give her the ability to see herself in your eyes. She’s your princess, your shining light, and is more precious than gold. (Genesis 1:27)

I ask that you prepare a life that gives her the freedom to move past life’s hard knocks and moves toward you. Help her to maintain resilience, positivity, and love towards others. Help her to see that she is greater than her circumstance and the plan for her life is MORE than she can even imagine. (Habakkuk 1:5)

Father, any sort of negative label that’s been slapped on her, I ask that you remove it so that she can walk in FREEDOM. I pray that her innocence is restored and her heart is full of love for you! Thank you for protecting her and shielding her. Thank you for giving her a sound mind and the desire to walk in wisdom. (Psalm 91:4)

Thank you for the beauty she brings to our lives and I pray that you continue to knead her into the woman you’ve created her to be. Give her the courage to walk the path of righteousness and the discernment to know you will above all else. Thank you for the joy that fills her heart and for never letting her shine dull! Your future for her is bright and your love for her is endless. Thank you for her life. In your heavenly and precious name, Amen. (Isaiah 26:7)