Friday, December 27, 2013

Goodbye 2013

I have high hopes for 2014!

Last night as we drove home from a doctor appointment, I saw a shooting star for the first time in my life. I just happened to look out my window as we were driving down the interstate, and saw this colorful light shooting across the sky, then dissolve. What are the odds? I immediately thought, "That is a sign from God of good things to come!"

Here are a few things from 2013 that sum up the year to me.

I started a series entitled, "I'd Like You To Meet". I think that everyone has a story that should be shared. I look forward to sharing more special people in 2014.

I bless your year with health and happiness! May 2014 be our best year ever!

Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Favorite Blogs of 2013

Can you believe that Christmas is next week? To tell you the truth, it almost feels like Christmas has come and gone. I think I've been a little out of the loop since our Make a Wish Disney trip, Thanksgiving coming later this year, and then trying to get ready for Christmas. I've watched some Christmas movies like White Christmas and Home Alone and plan to watch Little Women tomorrow sometime. But I think I was more in the Christmas spirit a few weeks ago. Does that ever happen to you? It can become like a wild race that you are trying to finish. I don't like that! I want to just sit with my family with my hot chocolate and enjoy the moment. Most of my shopping is done now (thank you Amazon!) and I think I can relax a little bit now.

I wanted to update my blog, but there have been so many things going on at our house. I've been a little worried about some things and just haven't had a lot of incentive to write anything. So I sat here at the computer and thought a bit. I began to think about some blogs I have found this past year that I love to read each day. I read quite a few, but there are about five or six that I would call my favorites.

#1.    This blog is written by a young mom in NW Arkansas. I love her! She writes about her faith and her family. When I saw that she loved Sonic, I knew I had found a kindred spirit. She is followed by hundreds and probably even thousands of readers. I look forward to reading what she has to say every day.

#2.    Sheaffer writes this blog and she is wildly entertaining to read. I have learned so much about fashion from reading her blog and seeing what she puts together. I wish I had become interested in fashion a long time ago! It just wasn't at the top of my list. She puts a lot of time into her writing and has a lot of photos of what she is recommending. It's really helpful and fun to read. I often laugh out loud while I am reading her posts.

#2. Tied for this spot is a friend of Sheaffer's named Shay who writes at   Her blog is called Mix and Match Mama. She also writes about family, fashion and recipes. I made her peach bundt cake this summer and it was fabulous!

#3. is written by Cassie. She is the prettiest little blonde who puts together the cutest outfits and is always tweaking her home and making it look beautiful. She and her husband love to travel, too, and I vicariously enjoy the places they visit. She has an entertaining way of engaging her audience with her writing.

#4.  is written by Alison. She was a  model and actress, who writes about fashion, and describes herself,  "As a mom of three and recovering yoga pants addict....being a mom doesn't mean losing yourself." I love reading what she has to say and the beautiful photographs she includes with all her posts.

#5.  Ree Drummond writes a blog and cookbooks, is a photographer, home schools, lives on a ranch with her husband and four kids, and does a show for the Food Network. I love her because she photographs what she is cooking in stages so that you will know how it is supposed to look at any given point. I make several of her recipes and none of them have disappointed. (One of my favorites is her sun dried tomato, pesto and chicken panini.. It is so good!)

#6. and  Rhoda writes Southern Hospitality and hers was the very first blog that I ever read. She writes about decorating your home (she has worked in interior design) and shares a lot about her family, especially her mom and dad, which I love.   Richella at Imparting Grace is someone that I consider a friend. I love her sense of style and the way that she opens her blog up to other ladies on her weekly Grace at Home link up party. She shares her faith with a pure and kind heart.

There are a lot of other blogs that I read, but these are the ones that I never miss. Something just seems off about my day until I've had my cup of coffee and read through their posts. Some people like their morning newspaper, but just give me a good blog.

Recently, we were at Chicago's O'Hare airport waiting to board our plane, and I sat with my phone and skimmed through my favorite blogs while we waited. I would laugh over things I read and show it to my husband. He seems mildly amused that I like reading them. I feel like I know these ladies, I guess, since they share so much about their families and day to day life. I've always found people's day to day lives intriguing - never boring at all. It's kind of like facebook...I really do want to know what you ordered at that restaurant...yes, show me a photo! Your little boy fell asleep on the couch...oh, that is too sweet! Just look at that! I am sort of weird like that. I don't get bored by those things. I am truly interested.

So there you have it. If you are looking for a few new reads, these will not disappoint. There's a little bit of everything to be found here whether you like recipes, fashion, posts about being a mother or wife, or decorating your home.

I really thank God that I found each one. They have helped me in all sorts of areas that they will probably never know.

Be sure and stop by and visit them this week.

P.S. Oh, I remembered one more!  Sarah writes about her family and what I love most of all...ordinary days at home with your kids. She is a gifted writer and when I see that she has a new post up, I read it right away. She is a great encouragment to all moms - the greatest and hardest job in the world!

Linking up to:

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Whimsical Christmas Fun

I was walking around Target the other day admiring all their beautiful Christmas items. I suddenly noticed these soft little doll ornaments on skis.

I held a couple in my hand and started thinking how cute they would look on a blanket of snow in my dining room. I bought three of them, along with a roll of snow, and headed home.

I placed a skewer down their backs and began to try to position them onto the snow. I was having way too much fun. I took an Instagram photo and showed it to my husband and we both burst out laughing. He said, "I can't believe I'm saying this, but I think I have something downstairs that would make a good ski hill for your people."

I covered this odd piece of foam (that my husband had seen in a closet) with the snow, and now my ski friends are "skiing" down their own ski hill! Every time I look at them, I get the goofiest smile on my face. It's a whimsical, fun little decoration that isn't the same old thing I pull out every year.

In the foyer, I used the same large frame from Thanksgiving for my Christmas chalkboard. I purchased this chalk print on Etsy from joyfulartdesigns. The frame was from T.J. Maxx and the stand from Hobby Lobby.

I think this may be our biggest Christmas tree yet! We purchased this fresh Frasier Fir from a local hardware store and covered it with net lights. We've found that it is a lot easier to use net lights on your tree than the regular Christmas tree lights.

It was fun making this collage of things around our home on PicMonkey!

Two more things... I had my nails done yesterday in a holiday red.

And if you are looking for a new holiday song, you have to listen to this girl singing this song!

I hope each one of you has a very merry and happy Christmas season!

P.S. If you haven't gotten a chance to read the previous post "Letting Go and Letting God", please do. It is a beautiful testimony of God's faithfulness.

Linking up to:

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Letting Go...and Letting God

Krista Boelts

The Boelts Family

I first met Krista about 10 years ago. We had just moved to a new neighborhood in Ankeny and our son, Tyler, had been praying that he would meet a new friend. Not long after, he met Brandon Boelts. Brandon and his family lived directly behind us. They were an answer to prayer! We love Krista, Josh, Brandon, Nathan, and Lauren so much. We are still so thankful that of all the neighborhoods in Ankeny, we moved into theirs!

I'm so thrilled to introduce you to a dear friend, Krista Boelts, as she shares her heart. She is an awesome woman of God, wife, and mother to her children. It is an honor for me to have her write this post.

Letting Go... and Letting God

I’ve always enjoyed writing, but typically it’s in my journal that only my eyes see. When Kathy asked me to be a guest writer for her blog I was excited, then petrified and then utterly lost for what to write about. So many things I could share, but what? Do I have a theme so I don’t just ramble on and on? Well sitting here thinking about the journey that I have been on over the years, God reminded me there is a common theme in every trial I have faced…..letting go and letting God.

I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase “you can’t play with fire without getting burned”. Well, that reality came ever so true the night Josh and I found out we were pregnant. Not married and only 18, the dream of getting engaged that summer quickly turned into a rush of planning our wedding in a mere 6 weeks. Only by God’s miracle were we able to book the wedding in my childhood church, find bridesmaid dresses in time and have a photographer for that Saturday….July 23rd….the only Saturday he still had available. I had to let go of so many little girl dreams – the romantic wonderful proposal, the year long planning of every perfect detail, trying on dress after dress until the perfect one was found, the limousine, the big dance hall reception full of candles and flowers, a honeymoon – and instead, let God handle the details. I think back to how many pieces of the puzzle had to fit together just perfectly for that day to be wonderful, and every single piece fit. Perfectly.

We soon became a little family, the 3 of us, and we settled into life pretty easily. But I didn’t realize how difficult it would be seeing all of my friends go back to college that fall to pursue their dreams. I had dreams too! I was a pre-med major and had my career all planned out. Yet here I was working to put Josh through college instead, helping him go after his dreams. I felt like my dreams had been forgotten, pushed to the back burner. Once again, I had to let go of MY plan and let God’s plan for me unfold. What I didn’t realize then, was God knew the mother’s heart He had placed within me. I thought a career in medicine was my dream. But He knew me better than I knew myself. Being a mom was my dream….and I didn’t even know it.

Soon our family grew to 4, then 5. We had purchased our first home, finally taken our long overdue honeymoon and were living life to the fullest. The only problem was we really couldn’t afford the life we were living. We never learned how to wisely steward our money and didn’t know what a budget was. We had way overextended ourselves to a point that seemed insurmountable. Our debt was a black hole with no glimmer of light or hope. We finally decided we needed to declare bankruptcy. It was one of the hardest decisions we’ve ever made and an experience so difficult, I never want to walk through it again. I’ll never forget walking through the house for the last time reliving the memories we had made there. The Christmas mornings, building a bunk bed for the boys so there would be room for their new sister, bringing home our youngest from the hospital to her sweet purple room, the family gatherings, the birthday celebrations. The pain was so deep, I didn’t think it would ever go away. But we let go. We let go of our pride and faced bad decisions we had made. We let go of that house that we had turned into a home, and found a more affordable one. Eventually we let go of the anger and frustration with ourselves and let God do His deep work within us. We let God pour His wisdom on us with how to steward and budget His money. Letting go isn’t always easy, but letting Him lead is always the answer.

Here we are 19 years later, and that little baby that made us a family is now off to college. Talk about letting go. Of all the things I’ve had to let go of so far, this is the hardest by far. Did we teach him everything he needs to know? Did we give him all the wisdom necessary to be successful in life? Honestly I don’t know. But we did raise him up to know, follow and love the Lord with all of his heart. That is the most important lesson of all. And now, we let God. We let God teach him, guide him and shower His wisdom on him. And with Him leading the way, I know my baby is going to be just fine.

Josh, Brandon, and Krista

You might not be facing an unplanned pregnancy or trying to adjust to your baby going off to college. It might be a worrisome doctor’s visit, a new job or just trying to make it through each day. The best advice I can give: let go and let God. He’ll never steer you wrong.

Linking up to:

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Red Coats Make Me Smile!

Today was a kind of grey and drizzly day here in Iowa. My daughter and I were walking into Target this afternoon, when the most striking lady came walking out. I instantly noticed her because of her pretty red coat. It seemed to brighten everything around her on this overcast day. I wished I could have stopped her and told her how nice she looked, but I didn't because:

a. She was walking too fast.
b.She might have thought I was a nut. Yea, that's pretty much the reason I didn't. These thoughts pass through my mind. But I really think people need to hear nice things about themselves more often!

Anyway, I recently bought a red coat and now, I'm so glad I did! It is an instant, cheer-you-up, happy-to-see you red!

I've seen several coats in different colors that I've liked and thought you might, too. Here are a few that you may just want to add to your own Christmas list.

I first saw this lovely white coat on the blog
It can be found on Amazon's website. The brand is Via Spiga. I didn't order one, but if you did, I'd love to know!

I loved this cream coat, too, on Polyvore. It says the source is Victoria's Secret. Who knew?

There are lots of "happy" red coats out there.

source Nordstroms

source Loft

Pinterest - it didn't give source for the coat

And these! Sorry, I don't have the sources for these. They are all from Pinterest/Polyvore boards.

 Have you found a winter coat that you love?

Linking up to:

Sunday, December 1, 2013

This and That

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving!
Here are a few "this and that' photos.

Thanksgiving 2013

My sweet daughter on Thanksgiving Day

My father-in-law cutting up the turkey

Four of our six children - Thanksgiving Day

A few pics from our recent Disney trip.

My favorite - Beauty and the Beast at MGM Studios

I am a very big fan of "I Love Lucy". Universal Studios in Orlando has a museum devoted to her and I was
in heaven!  This is one of Lucy's dresses from the show on exhibit.

The I Love Lucy cast with their Emmy

Mt. Everest ride at Animal Kingdom. My 8 yr. old and I rode this one!

Cinderella's Castle at Magic Kingdom dripping in lights for Christmas!

                              Saying goodbye to Boardwalk Inn (one of the Disney resorts located near Epcot.)

                 Back in Chicago en route to Des Moines             

I'm looking forward to putting up our Christmas tree tomorrow. Have a wonderful December 1st!

P.S One of my favorite blogs is giving away a $500 gift card. Click on the link below.

Friday, November 22, 2013

5 Things Friday

Good morning and Happy Friday! I'm linking up today for 5 on Friday. Here are 5 things I've been checking out this week.

Pottery Barn is having 60% off many items right now. I liked these plates.

4 for $29.50  - source Pottery Barn

Pottery Barn Kids had this Thanksgiving runner marked down to $24.99

Courtesy: PB Kids

I thought this vest would be a good Christmas present for my daughter. It comes in several colors and is $18 at Old Navy.

Old Navy

Darling inspiration for a kids' Christmas table at PB Kids. I took this photo during our annual fall trip with Grandma to the mall and Cheesecake Factory.

I watched this yesterday with some of my kids. I still love it!!

Have a great Friday! Enjoy the season!

Linking up to:

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

When Peace Seems Unattainable

We just returned from Disney World for our littlest boy's Make a Wish trip. We had a great time with six days packed full of seeing all the sights there. Our son has a rare, genetic condition called homocystinurea which basically means that his body cannot break down protein. The inability to metabolize protein can result in brain damage and a host of other problems. You probably would not know by looking at him that he has any health issues. But it is a serious condition that we treat by medications and lots of prayer. He is very smart and keeps us laughing. He loves the NY Giants and Eli Manning, Star Wars, his X-box, and basketball. He really is the sunshine of our home. We call him our little surprise as I became pregnant with him at the age of 42! I thank God every single day that we have him.

It's not to say that things have been easy. Fear sometimes grips my heart. I will wake up from a deep sleep, stare at the ceiling, and pray over him. A short time back, his specialist sent me a letter to keep with me in the event that our son ever had to be hospitalized . The instructions for the emergency room staff caused me to put the paper down and walk away. It was just too much to take in. I had to wait awhile before I was ready to read it. I do keep it with me whenever we go anywhere. Sometimes I take it out and hold it in my hand and ask God that it never have to be used. Fear seems to delight in coming to us at night, doesn't it? I feel I can keep fear at bay during the daylight hours.

One night I woke up feeling so troubled. I tossed and turned in such deep distress. I suddenly sensed in my spirit a presence in the room. I didn't see anything at all, but inside I knew there was a very large angel standing against the wall near my bed. I don't know if you believe in things like that. I admit that it probably sounds very strange. But I think sometimes God shows us things to comfort us. During those dark early morning hours, I was not a person of great faith.  But God in His infinite tenderness towards me, showed me He was on watch over me. I tried to describe this event the next day to my husband. I had the distinct impression that this was a very large being of massive height and build. I sensed he was sent there ONLY to stand guard over me. That was his purpose.  As I lay there quietly, I fell back to sleep and didn't wake up again until morning. (He will give His angels charge over you...Psalm 91:11)

The funny thing is, I've asked God before to let me see an angel. But at those times when I cannot sleep and I go downstairs at 3 am, I change my mind and say, "That's okay, God. I'll just pass on that." I'm not sure I'm really ready to see one when it is dark and I'm all alone.

I've had similar experiences to this at different times in my life. It is has always been very unexpected. I see myself as someone very low on the totem pole as far as being a person of great faith. I'm always more surprised than anyone that God shows me things. I think it takes me by surprise even more that God seems to direct my attention to how He feels about me. His kindness towards me astounds me.

If you are going through a hard time today, you aren't alone. He is there with you, watching over you at night, and watching you during the day. I think if we really knew His heart of love and concern towards us, we would be amazed.

When we were flying home, I looked out the window at the beauty of the sky and the clouds tinged with shades of pink and gold. I thought how God spoke all of these things into existence. And yet, His heart and attention are turned towards me and they are turned towards you. He is so great but He isn't beyond our reach. He is touched by the feelings of our infirmities - our frailties and our weakness.

Father, I bless whoever may be reading this. I ask that You reveal your great love towards them and give them peace. Give them peace that passes their natural understanding. In Jesus' name - Amen.

Have a wonderful week!

Linking to;

Monday, November 18, 2013

Miss Grace Filled Life: Pottery Barn Knock Off - The Mayflower

We were gone this week for our son's Make A Wish Trip to Disney. I hope you enjoy this repeat post of our Pottery Barn knock-off!

Miss Grace Filled Life: Pottery Barn Knock Off - The Mayflower: Last year, I was admiring this Thanksgiving item at Pottery Barn Kids. But it had a big price tag. If I remember correctly, it was about $50...

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Greenery at Christmas

I love a fresh and classic approach to Christmas decor. I especially like a special way to greet guests who come to the front door. Here are a few things I've spied this week that I would like to try for this holiday season.

I LOVE fresh greenery! Especially around entryways and on the mantel.

Love the greenery with fruit.



I especially like the white lights and red wreath




Christmas with Southern Living 2001

I find fresh greenery sold by the foot at grocery stores each year. Last year, I think I paid 79 cents per foot.

 I love using greenery in unexpected ways like the photos above and below.


Southern Living

Nell Hills. This is me to a "t"!


Nell Hills - I love the greenery over the table and the candles in the urns.

I'm not a professional at all. I look at photos and get ideas. Sometimes I take leftover greenery and lay it on a footed cake plate, then top that with red and green apples, pineapple, cranberries, oranges, limes, or maybe silver and green Christmas ornaments. It's fun to just play around with things you already have on hand.

What are some of your favorite decorating tips for the holidays?