Friday, January 2, 2015

top ten [2014]

twenty fourteen was a significant year for us. it holds a lot of firsts, memories and growth. i hope i never have a year that doesn't feel like it's propelling me forward and fortunately [2014] did just that.

top ten moments, lessons, gift counting, sanctifying opportunities for growth in no particular order.
1. marriage is so freaking hard, but oh so worth it. sixteen years in with my guy, fourteen in our marriage covenant and every year gets better. we are zero parts perfect, but one hundred parts committed to until death do us part. the most significant part of our marriage is jesus, our second is laughter. randy is ridiculous and i wouldn't change a single thing because laughing with him is my favorite thing to do.
2. we graduated from college! i mean rb but really having a spouse work full time and go to college full time is [NOT] for the faint of heart. BUT holy cow am i [PROUD] of my guy.  the guy who hated school, hated reading, graduated early just to get out of school ...and to graduate with me... not only went back to school, did awesome, earned his bachelor's degree, and like a boss landed a great job! did i mention we are discussing returning for a masters? so proud!

3. hawaii. oh yes we did and oh yes we loved it. i have this wanderlust issue and this trip did not help, because i seriously tried to convince randy to move us there.  the kids enjoyed it just a tad, too. simply stunning and so many fun and free things to do in nature...we were in heaven, except the whole expensive as heck to live there thing. (if you ever find yourself visiting oahu, i'll give you my must see list.) so many great memories made as a family and with grandparents, a treasured trip indeed.
4. i rocked a weight loss challenge at the beginning of the year. and then promptly got [LAZY]. so lazy. when i started i was stocked to finally feel ready and then after the rush of my success faded and the challenge ended i realized wanting short term results trumped long term success. and that will never get me to my end goal...healthy.  [BUT] the challenge did help me become aware of so much. to love myself at any weight, but to fight for the healthiest version of myself.  that encouragement feels pretty amazing, and spreading it around like glitter is more fun than receiving it. and most important, that every single day is a new opportunity for a fresh start.
5. volleyball for my girl was so fun and so hard. she made so many friends and learned so much about volleyball, but she also learned what it is to keep a commitment when you want to give up. i had an opportunity to be her advocate while trying to navigate where to let life lessons happen and it was all so hard and so good and i pray she never gives in when the going gets tough, but always always stands up for herself even when it's uncomfortable.
6. this guy.  watching him in his element nearly split me in half bursting with pride and falling apart because he is did that happen? he had fantastic coaches who pushed him to be a man with integrity and then a good football player.  he shined as quarterback and learned so much about team work.  he made so many friends and was mentored by some outstanding young men.  my favorite memory was seeing him get choked up at the last game because a friend who he prayed with before every game is graduating and it was his last game.
7. #bday35raok has been a highlight for me personally, but watching my kids get on board has given me so much JOY! my favorite for sure was volunteering at the compassion international sponsorship table at a shane & shanne // phil wickham concert.  i loved how they interacted with each person who came up and how it was a tangible opportunity to see how serving can impact generations. [SIXTEEN] kids were exciting.  my plan to finish before my birthday was derailed a bit with the busyness of the holidays, but it was an opportunity to let go of expectations and realize that kindness doesn't have an expiration date and should actually be a daily exercise in gratitude.
8. my girl. we are two peas in a pod to the point that we butt heads errrrday. my heart desires so deeply to be the first person she turns to, her safe place, her confidant. i know that requires two things: her own free will and relationship. i made it my mission this year to pursue her heart like never before and do my best to love her well despite both of our very fleshly personalities.  i am seeing the wall fall before my eyes and it is such a tender and precious thing to behold.  at thirteen she has one foot in adolescence and one inching towards becoming a very independent young woman and i'm doing my very best to bend to the Father's will for her and not my own. i love being her mama.
9. we added a co-op program to our  home school curriculum this semester and it has been the best investment to date.  the kids are [THRIVING] and making so many friends. between co-op and our amazing friend vena who happens to be their math teacher have saved our home school experience.  i love my kids, my kids love me, but:  a. mama needs a break from time to time b. i know the limits to my capabilities c. mama needs a break from time to time d. vena is a saint sent from heaven e. mama needs a break from time to time. i am so very thankful that each year is becoming more and more peaceful for the carlisle classroom.
10 a. micah, oh how this sweet nugget has brought us so much joy!  i have 'kept' micah for almost three years and we are ever so fond of him. our time together on a daily basis is coming to an end and it is bittersweet...i am looking forward to being able to give more time to the kids and have a more flexible schedule, but he has impacted us greatly and our days will miss his belly laugh and quick quips!  we love you buddy!

10 b. another chapter closed and that was my hobby turned side business of sewing and selling vintage items on instagram. i owe so much to so many supportive friends and family who bought, shared and encouraged me along the way, but one special lady gave me a huge push and when i closed i ended up selling over 100 of my clutches, not to mention my other vintage and handmade sales. certainly not the success kate has had, but a [HUGE] accomplishment for me and blessing to our family. it has been such a fun experience, but i am thankful for a husband who encouraged me when i needed it and gently helped me to decide when it was time to lay down the shop to concentrate on the kids and homeschooling.  i for one am so thankful to have time for creating for myself and love ones without the pressures of sewing for profit.

[2014] was good to us and we are so thankful for what God has in store for 2015.  wishing all our friends and family near and far all the very best as a new year kicks off.


Monday, November 24, 2014


i'm not one to get anxious over turning another year older, but this mary oliver quote has stirred in me a lot this year.

it has provoked an inner dialogue of how to practically apply that to my life. is it a big risk? big plans? calculated or off the cuff? is it out loud or silent? with trembling fear or tears of great joy? i think it's all that and more.  so often i feel myself stuck because the steps to get to the end seem so insurmountable that i'm frozen in time, never moving forward, but actually dragging behind.  god has made me for so much more. and so, with very little money to press on and a whole lot of heart i dreamed a dream (name that movie) to sprinkle kindness to celebrate 35 years. 35 days to celebrate my 35 years in a hope and prayer that it impacts a ripple effect of love in me, in my kids, in my home, in my community, and beyond.  because why dream small when the sky is the limit. so today marks 35 days until my birthday and i will share a list of ways to spread kindness, random acts of kindness (raok) that my family will be taking part in.  there is no prize and there are no rules, but i'd love to see you share the journey.  i'll be posting my progress on my instagram account and if you take part i'd love to see your snapshots of offering kindness, so be sure to use the hashtag #bday35raok.

here are a few options for printables to accompany some of your raok:

find here:

and the list.  feel free to comment with other ideas.
  • knit hats for carenet, crisis pregnancy center 
  • donate blood carter bloodcaree
  • signup for the glow campaign's glow crew, two powerhouse little world changers campaign to let their light shine
  • become an organ donor, talk to your family about your decision and encourage them too
  • gift for an unsuspecting server at a a restaurant you frequent, ours will be our sweet shannon at world cup cafe <---- locals go try it!
  • blessing bags for the homeless
  • infinity scarves for waco center for youth, or your local center for youth
  • treats for neighbors
  • treats for local fire department
  • gift for local public school librarian, my elementary librian ms. b is still at it so we will be surprising her!
  • decoupage heart rocks to randomly scatter at a local park
  • random happy mail.  letters // cards // gifts
  • handmade gifts for god's newest and most delicate gifts our local nicu
  • rainbow loom bracelets...still working on a recipent
  • fabric bookmarks for local librarians
  • handmade bookmarks to slip into random library books/local bookstore
  • give out water bottles to your family for christmas with a note indicating you've donated to charity water in their name
  • donate to the joyful life library
  • postman treat
  • garbage collector treat
  • increase monthly giving to organization(s) like mercy house kenya
  • world vision/compassion catalog gift
  • water to local city workers or warm beverage and hand warmers
  • hot beverage and or snacks to bus patrons waiting at bus stops
  • post it note encouragements left on public bathroom or dressing room mirrors
  • volunteer to be a salvation army bell ringer or bring a volunteer a treat
  • donate to wounded warrior project, send a car to a soldier or sponsor a care package
  • toys for tots donation
  • donate to angel tree a ministry through prison fellowship to provide gifts to children with an incarcerated parent
  • local food bank donation 
  • operation christmas child, you can donate online to cover a box &/or the cost of shipping boxes
  • handmade gifts left in public place with  note to take one
  • flowers or small gift to widow or shut in
  • take balloons or bubbles to a park and pass out to kids (with parents permission)
  • pay for the driver behind you in the drive thru or tape gift cars to places like sonic drive thru or redbox
  • invite a friend over for dinner
  • take a friend dinner
  • donate old blankets or towels to local humane society/animal shelter
  • make a anonymous donation on someone's walmart layaway
  • send boxtops to a needy school (address at bottom of link)
  • tape quarters to laundromat washing machine and dryer
  • tape quarters to vending machines at grocery store
  • donate to the ronald mcdonald house
  • volunteer to read at a local public school or library
  • tape individual microwave popcorn packages to a redbox dispenser
  • donate diapers to mothers in need
i wanted the acts to be attainable, but tangible.  i wanted my kids to be a part of the process and the doing and the giving, in hope that they also receive the joy that comes in giving. here's to 35!


Wednesday, February 12, 2014



i kind of duck and covered for awhile. this space is for transparency and i needed a bit to balance how to do that with authenticity and grace. life has been good, rich in mercy.  life has been hard, thick with change and trials.  but today, today is time to talk about thirty.
random picture {thanks hubby for entertaining my silly requests} to celebrate a huge feat for me.  

 thirty pounds lost!!!  last week i was at twenty-two pounds lost and couldn't imagine the victory that lay ahead.
i've committed to a six week weight loss challenge called a little too fluffy by my girls carina and danielle and this is the last week.  eek.

i'm a yo-yo. i get pumped to lose weight and it lasts a day, a week at best...with real intention.  but this time, something clicked. i've had a lot of people ask me about 'what i'm doing' and so i thought a blog post was the easiest way to do that.  i also, want to document my journey...because this is it, the long haul transition to health. and plus also, it was important to get it all out while i had the guts {i'm...gulp...going to talk numbers, as in weight later} before the contest ends because the reality is no matter what happens {cliche or not} i've already won.

the first step was to make a commitment with some short & long term goals. i know that sounds obvious, but i truly would have quit without a  commitment and set goals.  the accountability of a weekly weigh in has been great and the prize money was a good motivator...especially when a series of unfortunate events started to happen mid contest like our only vehicle dying.  those are still great, but once the pounds started to shed, my clothing started to fit loosely and i started to notice things the reward took on new meaning.  my goal for the first six weeks during this contest is 32 pounds...i'm TWO away. that feels amazing.  my long term goal is 100 pounds by the end of the year, broken down into a 2-3 pound weight loss per week after the contest.

before you mathematicians start calculating and get an idea of how much i do weigh, here are the details. i am 5'7" and i started this journey at 282 pounds.  when i first sent in my weight i was blown away.  i've tipped the scales at 290 and there was no way i was going to hit 300. so let me back up a little here and talk about how i got to 282 and shed some light on how it feels to be overweight and in my case...obese.

being overweight means you constantly yank at your clothing to make sure everything is covered.  being overweight means you make sure to snag a sturdy chair in a group setting so you don't embarrass yourself.  being overweight means every clothing you have has food stains because you drip stuff when you are that far from your plate.  being overweight means you don't ride the ride, participate in the activity or join in on the fun if there is a possibility your weight will make you look foolish...or worse prevent you from participating. being overweight means your feet and back ache everyday. being overweight means you feel guilty that you are contributing to your poor health that could ultimately rob your family of their mother and wife. i could go on.

282 was my starting weight because i let every lie and every hurt and every trial become calories i consumed. a hard day for me looked like soda after soda.  a hard night for me looked like me sitting in front of the tv for mind numbing hours until i was hungry for a fourth meal and decided, what the heck let's pick the worst possible thing and eat that.

i also want to be clear, i am an addict.  i used food to numb whatever emotion i wanted to forget. food addiction isn't like drugs and alcohol. i can't stop eating, but i can change the way in which i eat and the reasons i choose to eat.

in this journey i have become fascinated with a tv show called my 600 lb life. i get a glimpse into what could have so easily become my life and i sympathize with these people who also let life's pain become the calories that they eat.  the most recent show's patient made this statement, "food may hurt you physically, but doesn't hurt you emotionally." exactly.  there is some truth to the idea of comfort food. then she said, "life isn't a matter of chance, it's a matter of choice.  once you begin to understand that you will begin to live." profound.

i love jesus, but i made food my idol and source of comfort.  the weight didn't make me ashamed, how i got to it did. but his mercy is everlasting and he sustained me even when i turned away.

and so i decided if i believed that anything is possible with god, then let's do this.  let's do the hard things.
it started with changing what i ate.  if god grew it then i can eat it. it's taken discipline, but i'm undoing years and years of bad choices. {those pork rinds are the hubby's...he's on board, with extremely slooooow baby steps.}
it's learning that i can be satisfied with foods that taste good and are good for me...i know rocket science, huh?!
it's deciding that food isn't the celebration, life is.  food is to fuel and keep my temple healthy.  and it's been fun dabbling with new things and creating different meals. {that's baked acorn squash with a black bean burger & topped with an egg}
and again and again and the hard things.  i shared this picture on instagram explaining that i had just finished playing baseball with my family.  i have six brothers, who in turn with my only sister and I, have six boys.  and they all love baseball. so much so, that we often gather on sunday afternoons to eat & play in my brother's backyard. we have dubbed it 'baseball sunday'.  i watch, i do not play...until this day.  i have zero skill, but i ran, i hit, i finished.  that was a defining moment for me.  i participated...and it was awesome.

so how does all that add up to losing thirty pounds?  well, i'll share what has worked for me, but i want to be very clear that none of this would have worked for me without choosing to change. very much like any addict it's a daily choice. sometimes it's a minute by minute choice.  but it is worth it, because i am worth it.

  • i love bob harper and have used a lot of these suggestions, but really try to apply the eat berries everyday and a protein at every meal.  i added eating an apple and banana everyday as well, since i heard those were good for weight loss too.
  • i cut out all sodas and have very limited caffeine {i've only had coffee 3-4 times in the last 5 weeks, as opposed to a cup or two daily}, i also cut out all alcohol. basically, i am not going to drink my calories, it isn't worth it to me.
  • because of that i drink lots of water.  i use a 20 oz insulated Starbucks tumbler to keep up with my intake.  sometimes it's low at around 40 oz and sometimes i drink 56 oz or more.
  • to break old habits, i don't eat after 8pm.  i've broke this one once in the last 5 weeks.
  • i eat as little sugar as possible.  i haven't let the amounts on my fitness pal throw me since most of my intake is natural, but i have indulged a few times but always in moderation and try to substitute agave and honey where I can.
  • mid challenge i got...stay in bed for days...sick and it threw me off my work out schedule.  it's slowly picking up.  prior to that, i tried to exercise everyday. i switch it up a lot. i walk/jog/run on my treadmill, bike on my stationary bike, biked with my son at a nearby track, wii zumba, refit dvds, yoga & pilates dvds.
  • i try to eat as whole/raw as possible. for example i will cut up 1 cup of berries, 1 apple, 1 bell pepper & a couple of baby carrots for lunch and pair that with either an egg and turkey breakfast sausage or nitrite free lunch meat that has a laughing cow cheese wedge half spread on it and raw spinach inside for a roll up. which means i am still eating processed foods, but i'm trying to be very selective based on nutrients and calories.
  • raspberry ketone three times daily with meals. i take quite a bit of vitamins as a proactive holistic approach to my health in general so this wasn't hard to add to the mix. dr. oz has spoken highly of it and is part of it's recent popularity.
  • i use my fitness pal religiously.  i haven't adjusted my dinner meal much, but i have worked on disciplining my portion control and added healthier versions of family favorites.  i typically start by entering dinner at the beginning of the day {meal planning is essential} to spread out my calories and make choices based on my calorie intake & nutrient goals.  it helps to not splurge at snack time, too.
  • one trick for adding my dinner meals to my fitness pal is using calorie count to calculate the calories since a lot of times i am throwing things together or using a recipe.
  • motivation and inspiration are big keys to my success.  my biggest inspiration has been my amazing sil, laryn.  amidst so many obstacles she has kicked weight in the teeth and has already lost SIXTY say i am proud of her is an understatement! i also have a beautiful friend marta who along with her equally stunning sisters are passionately sharing the knowledge about health and weight loss on their joint blog, four fit sisters.  i highly recommend following them on instagram for daily inspiration and monthly workout goals.  diana smith, this girl has no idea how she has motivated me!  girlfriend has lost 100 stinking pounds and isn't stopping!  she recently shared her starting & current weight and was a big reason why i felt brave enough to do the same. she is a daily source of her & so happy for her success! {catch her sharing her story on the rachel ray show tomorrow!} and this book....made to crave.  i've picked it up and put it down several times and just like the time to lose weight was now, so is this book.  the perfect companion to shift my focus off food and on the father.
  • support system.  my hubby and kids are my biggest cheerleaders.  but, i also have amazing friends and family who are my weekly check in text posse.  with this challenge requiring me to weigh weekly, i have made it a habit to send out texts to the posse and i am always encouraged by their excitement and cheers. i truly am so very well loved.

with all that said i'm human and there is some ebb and flow to those rules, i try not to get overwhelmed by them and give myself grace.  my main focus has been to get healthy.  i am not a doctor {obviously} and i am learning as i go, so if something else works for you then go for it!  i wanted an opportunity to share what has been successful for me with the hope that it can help someone else.  i will say that for me it was very important not to make this a diet.  i don't want to do this for quick results...although it is a perk, but for long term health.  my ultimate goal is to prolong my life as long as possible.  no one is guaranteed tomorrow, but it was important for me to try my best to ward off ms symptoms and give myself the best chance at a long healthy life.  for me and my family. 

i hope this helps someone looking for tips on their weight loss journey because we are all worth it.  go do the hard things friends!