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“On the night you were born, the moon smiled with such wonder that the stars peeked in to see you and the night wind whispered, “Life will never be the same.” Because there had never been anyone like you…ever in the world.” 
Dear Lane, I loved reading “On the Night You Were Born” to you when you were little.  On the first page, there is a picture of a baby in a bassinet and to this day, you believe it’s you…along with the footprints in the back of the book. Oh, the innocence, I hope to keep you that way as long as possible. You are eight years old now, I can hardly believe it. You are losing your childish features and turning into a young boy….it’s hard for me to see you grow so fast.  Right now you are into Legos, you build some amazing creations… you want to be a Lego designer when you grow up. And of course there are your 100 million Pokemon cards that you can somehow remember each name and know if your brothers took one. 
There are probably some things I do that aggravate you…like when I tell you to stop making your high pitched whistle because it hurts my ears, or when I tell you to share your Legos with your brothers….but I tell (unfortunately, many times yell) you these things because I love you so much and want to see you grow into the amazing man that God has destined you to be. 
When I yell at you to sit correctly on the couch (because you’ve ruined the cushion), it’s not because I don’t want you to be comfortable, it’s because I want to teach you how to respect things….(especially “mommy’s things”)
On a typical day, I can find you wearing sweat pants and gym shoes with the laces sprawled on the floor….(shoes that were just purchased not even two months ago, but look like they’ve been worn through five marathons).  When I yell at you ten million times to tie your shoes, it’s not because I’m trying to be mean or annoy you, but it’s because I don’t want you to trip and fall and get hurt or cause someone else to trip and fall. 
When you sneak food and leave the wrapper on the couch (usually stuffed in between the cushions), it aggravates the living daylights out of me (seriously, if I had a dollar for every wrapper I found, I could retire next year). When I tell you to throw your trash away, it’s not because I don’t want to help you out and throw it away for you, but it’s because I don’t want you to be lazy and expect everyone else to do your job for you (a mindset too many in this world have adopted..).
You see, I tell you these things to grow your character, to help shape you into who you will be. Although, I pick on you quite a bit for the stuff you do that drives me crazy….I see the things you do that make me a super proud mom. For instance, I have never had to work with you on your school academics…you are smart, very smart and you work hard.  You are a leader. I see you when you play nicely with your brothers and little sister, you have a gentle side to you. I love that you think about them when we are at the store…and you want to buy them things they would like. I love how you are so logical in your thinking and are always trying to figure out how things work and why.  I see you when you are brave, like tonight when we had to get your blood drawn for an allergy test…your lip puckered up as they felt for your vein, but you kept your arm still. I can go on and on about the ways you amaze me everyday and I want you to know I will always love and cherish you. You are a gift from God.

I had to bribe you (yes, I bribe my kids too) to wear jeans and a nice shirt for some pictures…and it was totally worth it. You are such a handsome guy!
 “For never before in story or rhyme (not even once upon a time) has the world ever known a you, my friend, and it never will, not ever again….Heaven blew every trumpet and played every horn on the wonderful, marvelous night you were born.” -On the night you were born, Nancy Tillman
Love, Mom

     Because I had three boys, I was absolutely convinced I would not have a baby girl.  But, by the grace of God, we were blessed with Adley Rose this past October.  I’m so thrilled to create memories with my baby girl and to hopefully start some traditions that will carry on to her children. Last Sunday was hopefully the start of a new tradition….
Adley was dedicated to the Lord wearing the same gown that I wore 33 years ago.  The gown was handmade  by my talented God Mother, Deb Heath, and had been hiding in my mother’s closet for this wonderful moment! If the Lord chooses to bless Adley one day with a daughter, I’m hoping she will want to carry on this tradition and have her wear it as well.  And I’m praying that one day, when I am long gone, my dress will still be worn by my beautiful great, great, great grandchildren at their dedication.

Here I am, slouched ever so wonderfully in my Grandma Webster’s couch
 and….here is Adley in my gown and bonnet (and gold ring I wore as well)…
isn’t she precious?! ….or is it just my mommy goggles?!

 My God mother put so much detail into the dress…so talented!

The other day I was browsing facebook, when a post from an old Mops (mothers of preschoolers) friend caught my attention. Crystal was selling organic, heart shaped lotion bars to aid in raising money to adopt a child from Ukraine. I was just about ready to order several bars when God laid it on my heart to do more….I needed to tell their story to the world (or at least as many people as I could!!)

 Adoption has never been something that I’ve been called to do, but seeing Crystal and her family’s passion for their son that they haven’t even met, makes me bubble up inside and get teary eyed.  Crystal and her husband, Garth have three biological children, but knew in their hearts that their family wasn’t quite complete. On her blog, Crystal says, “There were literally nights in the last five years where I would wake up with tears trailing down my face, climb out of bed, prostrate myself on the floor and PRAY for MY CHILD that I knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, was out there. Were they warm, were they fed? This is what was plaguing my mind.”  

Crystal and her family have a specific seven year old boy they want so badly to be theirs, but unfortunately in Ukraine, they will not know who they will adopt  until they get there. They trust in the Lord to provide them with the son they desperately love, but are ready with open arms to embrace any child.  After spending an hour with them at their home on Saturday, I would want them to adopt me! Seriously, just take a look, you will fall in love with them too!

I knew adoption was expensive, but I really had no idea how expensive. Crystal and her family have to raise around $27,000 to bring home their son (that’s definitely not chump change!).  To help with this expense, Crystal has been making heart shaped lotions and selling them to friends and family.  The lotion comes in a beautiful little tin with the words, “God sets the lonely in families. Psalm 68:6”  They are $6 dollars each and can be ordered through Crystal’s Etsy shop here. The ingredients are: organic beeswax, cocoa butter, shea butter, jojoba oil, avocado oil, grape seed oil, bergamot essential oil, lavender essential oil, ylang ylang oil, and vitamin E (yep, all organic!)

Before I left Crystal’s house, her daughter Claire was carrying around a cute, wooden box. Claire has been doing chores and saving all of her money to put in her “adoption box”. She even donated her money she received from the tooth fairy!! If a child can have such a big heart…can’t we? Please consider helping out the Sponseller family, I know you will be blessed…and a little boy will find his way home!

You can read more about their adventure and donate directly to them on Crystal’s Blog,

When I was little, I never thought about my grandparent’s getting older, I just assumed they would be around forever. I remember looking at my grandma’s senior picture and thinking she looked like a movie star. I would imagine her in an old black and white t.v. show dancing with Fred Astaire.  I was her first granddaughter….she did anything for me (yes, I was spoiled).  Some of my best memories as a child were being at my grandma’s house. She would make me the best grilled ham and cheese sandwiches…and to this day, I still can’t seem to make one like she did. She hugged me, loved me, and watched me grow…all the while, she was growing older too. 
(wasn’t she stunning?)

me sitting on my grandma’s lap at seaworld
me sporting some braces while loving on my grandma
When I was in fifth grade, my grandpa passed away, and it changed all of our lives. My grandma got her license (yep, you read that right, she never drove until after he passed away). I’ll never forget the little white car she drove….very slowly (she was the classic old lady driver stereotype). Later, when she was diagnosed with Parkinson’s, her life (and my family’s) took another turn. Her hand started to shake, her fork would clink against her plate, her head started to bobble from side to side…it was hard for me to watch her not be able to control her movements. She would get frustrated at herself. Of course, as only family can, I would joke around with her and say she should work at a lemonade shakeup stand.

my grandma supporting me at a pageant….I was robbed of first place by the way, haaa

Time has a way of moving on whether we are ready for it or not.  It seemed like one day my grandma was living in her home, able to take care of herself, then the next moment she was moving in with my parents because it wasn’t safe for her to be alone. It was hard for her to say goodbye to her home, but she did it. My parent’s moved their bedroom upstairs and made my grandma a nice little living area….her new home. This past year, she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Because of her age, we didn’t think she would (or should) do chemo, but the doctor said if she didn’t, she would have other complications that would be painful and ultimately lead to her death.  She did several rounds of chemo. She lost her hair. She looks so fragile.  During the last few weeks, I’ve had to take care of my grandma in ways that I never thought I would have to. I don’t want to remember my grandma like this….I want to remember the strong woman that took care of me, that held me on her lap and sang me to sleep…but I know, I will look back and cherish these times, even though they are hard.

my grandma resting in her chair
a picture of my grandpa that sits on her dresser…
Her wig. It’s itchy, so she usually just wears a little beanie
Her precious moments that she has collected since I was a little girl…I’m pretty sure she has almost every one ever made….ever, seriously…ever, lol
Her hair is starting to grow back now….
Her holding my baby girl (on the left) and my niece….and showing off her beanie. 
I love you grandma, you mean the world to me and you will never know how much you have impacted my life. You took care of me and now, I will take care of you. You will always be my mimi….

 I believe the things we go through, whether good or bad, are to help others know God more. Unfortunately, when it’s “the bad” you have to go through, it sucks…big time.  I’ve been wanting to share a bit of my story with you for awhile, but didn’t quite know how. As I thought about it, what better way is there to show emotion and provoke thought than through photography?

I’m pretty sure every woman on this earth has struggled with her body image…but to some, body image is a demon that sucks the life right out of them. That was me….and unfortunately, it still has it’s dirty claws in my mind to this day.  I don’t really know what triggered my body issues, but I started dieting in 7th grade and it escalated to bulimia (or as I referred to myself, a “lazy anorexic”) in college. Although, I have a relatively “healthy” relationship with food now, I still have a daily battle with my mirror. Some days I win, some days the mirror wins. Anyone who struggles with an eating disorder or body image issues (or any issue for that matter), knows that it can feel like there are heavy chains binding you. You feel so lonely..and tired…tired of fighting the same thoughts over and over again. You know God’s truth about you in your heart, but it can’t seem to make it’s way to your mind.

….you feel like a prisoner to your own thoughts.

You can only see lies in the mirror. Lies that say you are useless,  pathetic, and fat… one will ever really love you. 
But you have the power, through God, to change the words that stare back at you in the mirror…
You are God’s child and it’s your choice to ignore the demons that are filling your head with rubbish
God sees you differently than you see yourself. If you spend time with Him, you will start to see yourself in a different way too. 
 Don’t let your chains bind you. Pray daily that God will give you the strength to see how amazingly, beautiful you are. 
model: Chelsea Miller
Sometimes when the mirror is winning, I think of this song and start doing some fist pumps at the mirror….yeah, that’s right, I’m the boss.
(video from you tube…)