My Favorite Low-Carb Hacks

Couple things you should know:

First: I just started back to a weight loss/healthy eating plan. The best way and healthiest way for me to do that is a low-carb diet. Also, my family has just started a competition and you know how I feel about competition....I like to win win win win win.

Second: In full disclosure you should know that I'm eating a pop-tart while I write this post. It's a cheat day and Pop tarts are my downfall EVERYTIME (and donuts, but whatever).

The last time I did this (yes, there was a last time...clearly I didn't make the LIFESTYLE CHANGE I was supposed to, but poptarts and whatever. I just didn't), I learned a few things that helped me keep my sanity, a few hacks, if you will....

1. Tomato Pizzas

There is no way I'm eating a salad on pizza movie night. And since that happens every Friday, I needed an easy plan. So I make tomato pizzas. I cut off the ends and slice up a tomato, typically into four slices. Lay them flat on a foil-lined pan and drizzle them with olive oil. Sprinkle italian seasoning and garlic salt on top. Top with mozzarella cheese and pepperonis. Bake in a preheated oven at 400 degrees until the cheese gets bubbly and starts to brown a little. Sprinkle with fresh Parmesan and eat with a fork! You still get that cheesy goodness without the carbs!

2. Sugar Free Gum

Gum has helped me so much with my cravings for something sweet. I like to have a mint flavor and a fruity flavor on-hand. When, during the day, I'm not actually hungry but just wishing for something sweet, I chew gum and it actually does help!

3. Cheese Chips

Guys guys guys. Where would the world be without cheese? A very sad place, that's where. A friend of mine on a similar plan told me about making cheese chips. You can use any kind of shredded cheese to make them. My favorites are cheddar and Parmesan. Foil line a pan and make little piles of shredded cheese about 2 inches in diameter. Pat down the pile so it's kind of flat. Bake in a preheated oven at 350 for about 5ish minutes, but you have to watch it, it can burn fast. Watch for it to just start to brown around the edges and then take it out of the oven. Pat it down with a paper towel to help with the grease situation. Peel them off and stack em on a plate and see if they even make it 5 minutes before you eat them all.

**Bonus Hack** If you have a Costco membership, sometimes they sell pre-made Parm Chips.

**Bonus Bonus Hack** You can make taco shells out of baked cheese too. It's the same concept as the chips but you make bigger piles and right after you take them out of the oven, peel them off the foil and shape them on the edge of the pan before they dry so they make the taco shell shape. Then you can pile on your taco meat and more cheese of course. You're welcome for this. I know how life-changing it can be to find out you can still eat tacos low-carb.

4. Parmesan Cheese

I know we just talked about cheese, but can we really have enough? But seriously, Parmesan makes everything better. I like to refer to it as Parm, like we're besties and that's my nickname for it. So I throw some parm on roasted veggies, on kale chips (makes alllll the difference.... especially when you cook them low and slow), and as mentioned above, even by themselves for cheese chips. Anything drizzled with Olive Oil and topped with parm makes me a happy girl.

5. Cauliflower Rice

Ok, hear me out. I once made cauliflower rice and used it for fried rice and decided it wasn't worth the effert. UNTIL, I discovered that the good people at the vegetable places got smart and started making them for us and selling them in the frozen veggie section. Totally worth the $1.19 for the steam-in-bag option. I just used this very thing to make fried rice for lunch last week and got extra points in my family challenge for all the veggies it counted for. YUM.

6. Cherry Coke Zero

I try to limit myself to one a day (also because I get points taken off for the family plan, but I have to live I tell you, I HAVE TO LIVE!). Here's the thing though, I really don't like Coke Zero, but the CHERRY Coke Zero is MUCH MUCH better. I typically will pour a cold can over crushed ice and it feels like a treat.

7. Pretty Water Cups

What good healthy plan doesn't include drinking half your body weight in water ounces? None, that's what. You know what helps me drink lots of water? Pretty cups. Call me vain, tell me I throw like a girl, but it totally helps me. Kyle brought me back this really pretty YETI cup from Thailand that has a flower print on it (it only cost $11 there!!) and I love it so much that I always want to hold it and drink from it.

**Bonus Hack** Drinking from a straw helps too.

So those are my hacks and how I manage to keep on the plan. That and cheat days that involve pop tarts. What hacks do you find that help you stay on track? Seriously, let me know your favorites in the comments below!

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Mothering Kids With Big Feelings

It didn't occur to me until the past year or so that not everyone is a "Big feeler". That not everyone's kids are crazy expressive and sensitive. It didn't occur to me because all four my very different personality kids, have very big feels and are very expressive with them. All. four. of. them.

My aha moment has actually been watching some of my friends and their kids. One of my closest friends has five kids and only two of her five have big feelings. Another friend of mine has two kids who neither I would classify as big feelers.

Big Feelers don't just feel things deeply, but they express them passionately. Happy and sad, mad or glad, they are very "OUT LOUD" with their feelings. Jen Hatmaker refers to families as being sassy or sweet.  I think big feelers tend to fall in the "Sassy" category.

To be fair, my kids come by it honest. I am without question a big feeler. It makes sense that all four of my kids would get that part of me too. It's actually a little scary and a bit of a "looking in the mirror" moment for myself sometimes. Gives me a whole new appreciation for my parents!

Some people classify big feelings as drama. And let's be real. It's true. There is a fine line between trauma and drama in our house and 92.57% of the time, things fall on the drama side of the line. I'm pretty sure I'm on the school nurse's frequent caller list. I'm always surprised when they actually show up with a fever because I didn't believe their "I don't feel good" act before school (because the other 99% of the time its just whinyness).

Mothering kids with big feelings is EXHAUSTING. At the end of some days, I feel so emotionally rung out and I wonder why until I remember all of the invisible fires I put out that day. Someone was terribly upset that his eyebrows made him look scary and someone else was crying about the stuffed animal that she lost 4 years ago. Sometimes one person doesn't get the orange bowl they wanted for breakfast and when you tuck him into bed that night he is still crying about it or that someone who cried for thirty minutes at naptime because he wanted it to be his birthday and it's not.

Also it's LOUD, y'all. Like 96.589% is is so loud in our house because of all the emoting and expressing and passion. Games are loud. Playing is loud. Cleaning is loud. Eating is loud. Conversations are loud. Homework is loud. There are two volume levels in our house: Loud and Asleep. Very very little in between. Can you even imagine the teenage years?

But. (Don't you love having a "but" in a post like this?). But. There are some really really great things about raising big feelers too. These are some of my favorite things about it:

The passion doesn't just apply to the drama. It applies to important things too. Shepherd is so passionate about the truth and things being right. What a privilege it is to point him towards God's perfect truth in his word. LK is so passionate about making a difference in this world in really important ways. One of my favorites is her passion for medical research and wanting to find cures for diseases like childhood cancer and Alzheimers. (Can you even IMAGINE what that's going to look like for her in 20 years?!). Fischer is passionate about food (😂) but also about people. He knew everyone's name in his Kindergarten class after the second day of school and can give you a run-down of the day and personality on any given day. How important is that? To have someone who notices and SEES people? It's all important, the passion. It's a big job to help them learn how to channel that passion, but it's so worth it because it's so important.

While the sensitivity in a threenager or four year old is enough to drive me insane (Oh the whining! about things like sock ridges and someone looked at them...yes, looked at them), there are some really sweet parts to it too. The great thing about big feelers is in general, they tend to understand feelings. They get it. Most of my people are pretty quick to recognize when someone else is sad or hurting or needs a friend. Or even to recognize joy and want to be a part of it. They are sensitive to things that I am sometimes slow to catch on to or recognize. I love that.

This one is the tough one for me. Come about 4:30 on any given day I want to go hide in my bathroom and lock the door. There is so much noise between the four of them. Here's the thing I've been convicted about recently. A lot of the time, it's joyful noise. They are just playing together. I was stopped in my track one day thinking about a future day, when these arrows have all launched and how quiet and lonely these halls will be. Not that part of me isn't excited about that season one day, but it made me so thankful for the chance, every day, to enjoy them and their noise. (Also to learn the best times of day that headphones can be really helpful, amiright?)

So yeah, raising these spicy people with their big feelings is a big job. And it's hard. And I am exhausted a lot of days, there is still so much joy to be found in this task. Whenever I take a minute to regain perspective and remember than the world is not going to end over ketchup touching the chicken nuggets too early or the closet door being closed at night making a weird shadow on the wall, I am overwhelmed with gratitude and thankfulness. And the future gets really exciting to think about how the Lord will shape these big feelers of mine.

Last week, I guest posted over at Mamas Organized Chaos about a game we play that we use to help manage the big feelings in our house. Check it out here: The Feelings Game: A Strategy For Managing Big Feelings. 

Other posts you might be interested in reading: 

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Shepherd Lately (Fall 2017)

 I look at this picture and find it so hard to believe that my tiny baby boy is this big. I mean look at him! He looks half-grown! He has had a growth spurt recently and is so much taller all the sudden!

First grade has never looked so good. Shepherd loves school and learning. He excels at everything that is taught to him. He is very much our "in-the-box" kid. He LOVES the box: the rules, the logic, the numbers. He thrives inside the box.

Reading has finally started to click in his little mind and it is so fun to see! He loves it when I check out new books from the library. Although, I think his very favorite thing is his Daddy reading books to him like Captain Underpants.

Speaking of Captain Underpants, he's been on a kick of it lately. He loves the books and the movie and loves to quote and talk about it all the time. Yall.... the potty humor.... it slays me. We have had to talk about the appropriate places to talk about that stuff and the inappropriate places (like the dinner table and church).

Shepherd still loves bugs and insects. He is fascinated with them and can identify a lot of different
kinds because of a book he studies in his bed at night. And here in Alabama we have plenty of bugs for him to find and identify.

He is loving sports right now. And what he loves most is sharing them with his favorite person: Daddy. He takes all of his cues from Kyle. Every game that's on the TV he asks Kyle which team we root for (Texas Tech) or not (Oklahoma).... and root for them he does. Passionately. Part of me thinks this must have been how Kyle was when he was a little boy and it makes me so happy to see.

Shepherd and Archer are tied for the pickiest eaters in our house. His favorite meal continues to be "Carrie's Chicken" (or white chicken pasta as he calls it). But he still refuses veggies. I hide them when I can but honestly just don't push it more than offering and refusing other options (and sometimes rewards for eating all his food).

He loves trinkets and collecting all of the little things. When he doesn't have little things, he will draw some and cut them out of paper. I find Shepherd's treasures all over my house. They are everywhere. I did an overhaul of the bros room last week and I can't tell you how many "treasures" I found. Hundreds. We actually had a problem at the beginning of the school year with him talking his friends into giving him their treasures. When he came home with a hot pink feather poofy key chain one day, I realized we had a problem. He just wants to have all the things.

Kyle has been practicing Rugby some with Shepherd and it's looking like Shep is going to join a local team here. He's pretty excited about it. I continue to be amazing at how good of an arm he has. I'm far from an expert, but from my eyes, he can throw so far!

Shepherd is sweet and silly and funny and senstive. Of everyone in the house, he tends to have a special relationship with each person. He just loves people. I love his caring heart so much and am so thankful for the privilege of mothering him.

Fischer Lately (Fall 2017)

Archer Lately (Fall 2017)

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A Husband's Perspective of Miscarriage

Sunday is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day. While I've written about my own losses some (Precious Lives Worth Remembering), I think it's important to hear from the perspective of the husband and the dad. Because it deeply affects them too. This November will mark 11 years since my first miscarriage. I asked Kyle if he would share his experience, and I'm so thankful he did. 

There are certain moments, throughout the course of your life, where the thought, “This one is going to scar you.” flashes through your mind.

It may be in the middle of that conversation, breaking up with your first real love.

It may be hearing the words, “It’s terminal…” and the rest of the diagnoses, the rest of the future you’d planned for, all of the emotions that had been building to hear the news seem to be swept up for the time being, just that ember burying itself down into your soul saying, “This one is going to scar you.”

It may be hearing you’ve failed, that your dreams are not going to turn out the way you’d expected, that you’ve just been let go, that you’ve lost someone suddenly in an accident…

For me, the words, “There’s something wrong…” were the harbingers for one of those life-changing moments.

Throughout the course of our time dating and as an engaged couple, Carrie and I loved talking about the future and what we prayed it would hold for us. One of those things is that we knew that we wanted to be young parents. So, only a couple of months after tying the knot and beginning to figure out what it meant for us to be newlyweds, we received news that we were expecting.

Now, to some people, it’s just baffling as to why we didn’t spend at least a year or two figuring things out, traveling, and doing a whole host of other things. Our response was simply, “Yeah, we didn’t want to do those things.” And of course, we felt the Lord prompting us to simply trust him and his timing.

As fall began to settle upon the West Texas Plains, Carrie and I began to make plans for the coming months to prepare for our first bundle of joy. One thing that we’d planned and looked forward to was taking a trip to her family’s farm in southern Alabama to celebrate Thanksgiving. So, that November, seven of us packed into Carrie’s folks’ van and made the trek do the Deep South.

It was a great holiday spent with family. Plenty of food, plenty of good weather, plenty of fun spent with Carrie’s family at both the family farm and in the city that would become our home years later, Mobile, Alabama. However, towards the end of the week, Carrie began to not feel too well.

In all honesty, I wasn’t too concerned at the time. I figured it was just a matter of travel or a common cold, something along those lines. But, on the trip back to Texas, Carrie began to fall more and more ill. It was at a truckstop outside of Dallas that we knew something was definitely wrong. Meeting friends who lived in Fort Worth at the time, we quickly got her into the ER. After the initial intake exam and an ultrasound to check on the baby, that’s when the doctor’s words cut deep, “There’s something wrong…” In short order, we discovered that Carrie was in the middle of having a miscarriage. No heads-up or time to prepare, no thoughts beforehand on anything like this even being possible. Just those words ringing in the sterile confines of her triage room and the absolute heartbrokenness that would soon follow as we sat and prayed in our friends’ living room, there in Fort Worth. Still 300 miles from home, we delved into the sorrow together.

Our family already home, we spent the next days crying out to the Lord and asking him to do something, anything, to reverse what was going on. There was a sense of guilt to add to the sorrow, that there might have been something we did wrong in the whole situation - that we could have prevented this from ever happening, maybe if we had just decided not to go to Alabama. However, things progressed and, after a couple of days, it seemed that things were over. Carrie and I, as sad as we were, headed back home to Lubbock - our future in preparing to be parents the following spring suddenly cut short.

Over the coming days and weeks, we began to let people in to what we were experiencing, at least to the best of our abilities. Just a couple of weeks before Christmas, I broke down on a Sunday morning, telling my youth students about what had happened and asking these sixth to twelfth graders to be praying for both Carrie and me…but especially for Carrie. What I began to realize, with each passing day, is that there was nothing I could have done (or we could have done) to prevent what happened. But, on top of that, there was nothing I could do to “fix” the emotions that we were both struggling with, as we mourned what seemed to be a missed opportunity. More than anything, I wanted to take all of the pain upon myself, alleviating the storm of emotions that my wife was walking through. In hindsight, this would have been incredibly detrimental, as our sorrow and mourning drew us closer together and closer to the Lord, knowing that only he could be the one to mend the brokenness we now felt.

As the months progressed, Carrie and I found ourselves healing. Getting to take part in a mission trip to Thailand, enjoying springtime and then summer and our first anniversary, being on staff at the same church, serving and ministering to families and students from birth up through grad school! And yet, there was always this gnawing in my heart that I couldn’t make the situation whole. I could never do “enough” to completely heal Carrie’s heart. I could never be “enough” to fill the void she felt, to overcome the sadness she was wrestling with. It wasn’t until the early part of the following summer that it seemed the Lord spoke to me and said, “Stop. Just stop. Carrie is mine just as you are mine, just as your future children will be mine. I will be the one to heal, to carry, to bless. Stop and rest in me.”

It seemed like we arrived at this place at almost the same time. After walking out medically what might be going on, Carrie went through a process of counseling that was a breakthrough for her. Emotions that she had never even known had found themselves into her heart were suddenly released and a new sense of freedom, of joy and happiness were birthed in her heart. In seeing how the Lord was truly taking care of my beautiful wife, I found new joy, new passion to worship and to trust in our God.

And then, almost a year to the date of when we found out we were pregnant the fist time, we found that the Lord had again given us a child in Carrie’s womb. We prayed and prayed for the Lord to redeem what had been lost - to restore that original joy in planning for what our future family might look like, to give us the strength to trust in him and not give in to the natural fear and anxiety that might come up again in the course of Carrie’s pregnancy.

May 12, 2008 - the Lord fulfilled those prayers and so many more when we welcomed Laura Kate Wiley into the world. As I blessed the day, looking at my wife and my newborn daughter, I simply thanked God for his love, his mercy, and how he redeems that which we lose.

Ultimately, we know that all of the heartache we ever experience in this life will be put right in eternity. We live in that freedom by drawing near to him through his Son, who has given us that access through his body and blood, given for his people. We rest in the truth that we can “be still, and know that I am God.” We rest on that promise. And that he is good.
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Exploding Pumpkins

Hey Friends! Happy Thursday! I'm so excited to have Kimberly from Team Cartwright guest posting about a really fun Halloween project.... Exploding pumpkins!! So fun! You can find me at Mamas Organized Chaos sharing a strategy for handling big emotions in our kids. 

Halloween is a great time of year to work on some STEM with your kids.  Things are spooky, icky, sticky, and sometimes a little gross.  Perfect for some easy chemical reactions.  I love that you can do some of them in a pumpkin.  Festive and easy clean up!  That is exactly what we are doing today- making lava spewing pumpkin.

I've made easy no mess volcanoes in the past, and they are always a big hit.  Seriously, I never get tired of doing it and I haven't found a child that has either.  But I did want to try doing it a bit differently.  We went with the hydrogen peroxide method, also known as elephant toothpaste.  (It's called elephant toothpaste because of the thick foam it can make.)


You need a few ingredients for this one, most of which you probably already have.
  • 2 TBSP warm water
  • 1 tsp yeast
  • 1 small pumpkin
  • 1/2 cup 6% hydrogen peroxide
  • 4-5 drops food colors
  • a squirt of dish soap
We had almost all of these, I did have to send Pat out to grab some hydrogen peroxide.  A note on that- the typical peroxide found in stores is only 3%.  This is still usable.  You will need to add a bit more, and the foam won't be as thick.  But I like to just use what we have, so we went with it.  (You can always order some 6% if you want it to be really foamy!)


Here is how to put it all together.
  1. Prep your pumpkin for carving like normal.  Even carve in the face if you want the foam to ooze out that way!
  2. Mix the yeast and the warm water, and let it sit for a few minutes.
  3. While the yeast and water sit add the hydrogen peroxide, food coloring, and dish soap to the pumpkin and mix together.
  4. Pour in the yeast, put on the top and watch the foam rise!

Safety and Clean Up

Put the pumpkin on a baking sheet or some other container to help with the clean up.  This reaction is pretty safe, but with all things like this, keep an eye on your kids so they don't get any in their eyes or mouths.  The reaction can be slightly exothermic, meaning it can get hot, especially if you use the 6% hydrogen peroxide.  There isn't anything I would consider unsafe here, but I would do this one with adult supervision.  (Although I think anything involving food coloring needs adult supervision.  No stains!)

What's Going On

For toddlers and preschoolers, just knowing this a chemical reaction is taking place is often enough of an explanation.  But if you are doing this with older kids they might want to know a bit more.  Hydrogen peroxide breaks down into water and oxygen.  The yeast acts as a catalyst to speed up this reaction.  The soap traps the oxygen as it is produced making bubbles so we can see it.  This is the foam that is formed.  The food coloring just makes it cooler looking.

The Reaction

2H2O2 --> 2H2O + O2
This is what is called a balanced equation for the reaction.  Don't worry, I won't go too deeply into it, but basically, it says that two hydrogen peroxide molecules will yield two water molecules and one oxygen molecule.  It is exothermic, which means it produces heat!

After the Explosion

You can add a bit of art into this project by using the pumpkin top as a stamp!  The food coloring makes it fun to create a picture with the foam.  It will dry and leave some color.
After the explosion, I rinsed out the pumpkin and I am happy to say it is still just fine, even a week after the reaction.  So doing this doesn't mean you have to waste your pumpkin.  If your child wants to learn more about what is happening you can check out these references:

Happy Sciencing!
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Being Present In Your Current Season

(This post originally appeared at Team Cartwright in August 2017)

I think we all have those times. You know the ones, when you are so ready for [fill in the blank frustration of your current season] to be over that you start longing for the next season to be here JUST to be done with that frustration. (And all the threenager Mamas said amen). We can all agree that motherhood is exhausting. And that's an understatement, right? It is hard, hard work raising these little people to turn into well-functioning adults and healthy members of society. And sometimes, I think it is really easy to find ourselves acting out of exhaustion and survival mode.

As someone who has lived in survival mode more often than not over the past nine years, I get it. And hear me, it's ok to be there. It's ok to pull your clothes out of the dryer (or the pile on the floor) for a little while, and to feed your kids chicken nuggets for dinner. And it's ok to not remember the last time you washed your hair. I've been there I get it. Rest assured friends, this is not a "Carpe Diem" sermon. I know that's not realistic advice and not the least bit encouraging. It's too much pressure to try to not miss anything. Because it's not possible. We're going to miss stuff. Thankfully that's not the point of parenting... to not miss stuff.

Now, all of that being said, I think it's really important to fight to be present. To fight to notice. To see the through the fog and the haze. Why? Because it helps us in our goals to raise adults. It helps us to see what's working and what's not and it helps us to know what's going on in our people's world. Also, let's just face it... the longing for the next season doesn't make it get here any faster.

Here are some suggestions to help you be more present in your current season:

- Watch your screen time

You knew this one was coming, right? I don't think your cell phone is the devil. I just think the key is moderation. Don't just sit in the same room with your kids and scroll, use it to take silly pictures with them and laugh together. Also, sometimes you do need to say bye to your BFF on the other line and pay attention to the little people around you.

- Hug each of your kids, really hug them, as often as possible

You know what kind of hug I'm talking about? The kind that makes your heart skip a beat? I collect those kind of hugs from my kids. My favorite time to get them is in the morning when we all first wake up. Sweet sweet sweet way to start the morning!

- Strive for a good belly laugh every day

This one can be difficult. Especially in those hard seasons. But when it happens, it's so worth it. Find what makes you laugh and giggle with your babies. Snap chat filters will get me every time. Love em.

- Take memory snap shots

This is kind of cheesy but whenever I have sweet moments throughout the day, I actually pretend to take a picture of it end my mind. It happens every time I hold a tiny hand in mine. I never ever want to forget what it feels like to have their tiny chubby fingers in mine. So I take a memory snap shot. Same for those cheeky grins and the baby winks when they end up blinking both eyes. You don't have to do this with every little thing. Just choose those special things for you.

- Spend 10 focused minutes with each kid every day

Only 10 minutes really focused on each kid, and maybe letting them choose what they want to do. "Mommy will you play with me?" Say yes. Just for 10 minutes. I have four kids. If I spend ten focused minutes with each of them a day, that's only 40 minutes a day. Yall. If I can't spend 40 MINUTES out of my day focused on them, then to be really frank, something needs to change. Something is seriously wrong. I can do that and you can too.

- Review the day with your spouse

This helps me in so many ways. It helps me regroup. It reminds me that I'm not alone. It brings in more ideas and just saying it out loud helps.

- Take notes

So during those really hard seasons, I have a little trick. I keep a note for the difficult kid(s) on my phone. And when I'm having a particularly difficult day with them, I open that note and list out all the things I can think of that I love about that kid. Sometimes just reading through the list can totally turn a day around. I have never not been able to think of at least one thing to add to the list, even on the hard days.

This whole mothering gig? Yeah, not for the faint of heart. But friends, it's oh so worth it to fight to be present. 

There's a couple other articles along this same line that I think you might find encouraging and would love for you to read:

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Nestled Podcast

Yall, I am so honored and excited to be the first guest on my friends new Podcast: "Nestled"! The idea behind this podcast is exploring people stories and how those influence how people define "Home".

In my interview I share how I define "Home", what the first thing I do when I move into a new place is, my Target pet peeve, and my favorite piece in my home (spoiler its the frame in the picture.... listen to the podcast to hear the story behind it).

So friends, give it a listen here: >>>>>Nestled Podcast<<<<<, and then go leave a review to help them get started!

If you havn't before, be sure and check out the Wiley Home Tour for a look inside our home!

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Laura Kate Lately (Fall 2017)

First off, I want to start this post by saying that from now on, anything that I post that is personal about Laura Kate will have her permission before I post it. She and I talked about how she is old enough now to have a say in what I say about her publicly, specifically for things that are personal to her. There are things I will write about that pertain to my heart as mom, but for things about her personally, I will seek her permission before I post it. I also shared with her the point of this blog is to be transparent with our lives and not just share the good things and I think she understands that.

Y'all, this girl is totally rocking 4th grade this year! I have seen a spark back in her, that honestly I've been missing for the past couple of years. She has this insatiable thirst for knowledge and learning new things. I think it's a combination of personal growth and teachers that she clicks really well with this year and seem to really get her. And maybe just 4th grade content suits her more overall in terms of academic curriculum.

Her favorite things continue to be reading and writing stories. She almost always has a story she's working on, and she's typically reading several books at a given time. (See the bottom of this post for a couple of my favorite stories she's written this Fall.)

She is also continuing to grow and learn at piano. She practices constantly. And by practices I mean she will flit into the room and play a little bit and flit out. Back and forth most afternoons. She will typically have one long practice session a week (where she typically memorizes her songs for the week) and then flits in and out to play it throughout the week.

We have seen so much growth in her overall maturity this year. It is something we talk about a lot and she has worked really hard at. We often have conversations of "What would the mature response to this situation be?". It is notable not just to Kyle and I, but to her teachers at school too. Is there anything better than having your teachers praise and encourage your kids when they see improvement? I think that's been good for both of our hearts this year.

As far as LK's current challenges, I think her attitude is the biggest challenge. There are times where the battle for a good attitude is really hard. When she has a bad attitude she is disrespectful to Kyle and I and can just be really ugly to her brothers. This is something we are addressing on a Spiritual level with her, not just discipline, because she IS a Believer and it's something we want to teach her to go to the Lord for help with, not just try to conjure up the good attitude on her own (because how often do I struggle with my attitude as an adult even?).

Other challenges are organization overall. Laura Kate's brain spins so fast that she doesn't take time to keep things organized. This applies to her bedroom, her backpack and even her desk at school. Where this becomes a problem is when she can't find something she needs (like library books or school binders) and isn't prepared for class.

She has also had difficulty sleeping some lately. She has been waking up more frequently in the night and finding it more difficult for her to fall back asleep. She is typically the best sleeper in our house so this is hard on all of us. It makes her anxious when she can't immediately fall back asleep which only perpetuates the problem. Any tips for her for better sleeping would be greatly appreciated!

This girl is brilliant and creative and bold and sensitive and passionate. She believes in fighting for the truth and for people who can't fight for themselves. Mothering her continues to be one of my favorite adventures in my life and I am without-words grateful for the gift of being her mother.

 I asked LK if I could share a couple of the stories she has written lately on this post and she was THRILLED that I asked.

The first is her first historical fiction piece based on September 11th. I feel like I need to say just a couple things first before I share it.... 1. Laura Kate has always been very descriptive in her writing. Including gory things or about sickness. I would be more concerned about this except that my dad always reminds me that my sister was the same way in her writing (she used to have some pretty detailed depictions of Jesus dying on the cross...). Cassie turned out pretty well, so I'm not too concerned about it anymore. 2. Concerning the part at the bottom (you'll know when you get there, I'm no spoiler....), we talk about things like this and feel fairly confident that she knows the difference between truth and fantasy here. That being said, ENJOY :).

This next story was a "quick write" assignment in class. They were given a choice of three pictures and were asked to write about what they thought was going on in the picture. She chose a picture of a giraffe in a tree. She basically wrote a new fable.

Fischer Lately (Fall 2017)

Archer Lately (Fall 2017)

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Thoughts from a Missionary Wife

I get asked a lot about what it's like holding down the fort when Kyle is on a trip or people comment that they don't know how I do it. 

I'm not gonna lie, often the days are long, and more nights than not, at least one of the scouts is up with bad dreams or needing snuggles. My conversations with the kids revolve mainly around how many more days till Daddy is home. Sometimes I'm quick to feel defeated in this role. When I get overwhelmed I doubt if I'm holding it all together well enough. But as I sit snuggling babies, I'm reminded that the prayer I've prayed for my man while he's gone is just as applicable in my part of our family calling too.... "the one who calls you is faithful and HE WILL DO IT"(1 Thess 5:24). My role as a mom isn't held together by my hands, it's HIS. Even when my teammate is on the other side of the world. Especially then. Friends, let's not underestimate the role(s) he has called us to and let's not ever forget that it is His faithful hands holding it all together.

As Christians, the role he has called each of us to is to "GO" but sometimes that can look different for different people. Sometimes your role in the "GO" means parenting solo so your teammate can GO. Sometimes it means sacrificially giving so others can GO. It might mean sending other resources. And yes, sometimes the GO is your own two feet walking off a plane in another country. Sometimes our GO is right next door to us, or on the playground down the street. Sometimes it's a phone call or a text or an email. ALL THE TIME it is offering our lives to the Lord over and over and over for whatever that may look like. 

So really, being a "Missionary Wife" is no different than being a "Missionary". The same term applies to you, Believer. Our tasks may look different, but the mission remains the same:

"Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit." 
Matthew 28:19

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Thailand, Part 5

(Read all the previous posts here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4)

The next day, we left Nong Nae and headed to Bangkok. Before leaving the area, we went to Bangkla which is the town my Grandparents were medical missionaries in and where my mom grew up. 

Half a century ago, my Grandaddy moved his family from Brownfield, TX to Bangkla, Thailand. There, he built the first Christian church in the area and built the only hospital for miles. The ministry of his family has touched countless lives and his ministry of healing the sick and proclaiming the Gospel still lives on today. Such a rich heritage I have and I'm so thankful to walk on this day where he walked so many times before me.

The hospital still functions as a day clinic and has since birthed an amazing ministry called Thai country trim which employs women to make beautiful hand-made items, specializing in Christmas ornaments. 

After we left Bangkla, we headed to Bangkok and checked into our hotel. We stayed in a really big hotel in Bangkok and the view was absolutely breathtaking. 

That night, we took a dinner cruise that took us through the city of Bangkok on the river there. We were able to see so many things. It was really rainy, but it dried up enough that night for us to go up to the top of the boat to see everything. (Side note, Julie let me have a patch she used for motion sickness and it was like magic. I didn't feel sick AT ALL). 

The next day was our last day in country. We ate breakfast in our hotel that morning and spent some time exploring the hotel. Then we went shopping, of course. We went to a couple different shopping malls and markets and then headed back to the hotel to get our bags.

Before heading to the airport for our flights leaving that night, we went to the spa! Which was AN EXPERIENCE. Hahaha, I'm still laughing about it. Julie, Lauren, and I were in the same room with our massage therapists. Oh man, they get up in your bidness. It was NOTHING inappropriate or unprofessional, but I couldn't stop laughing about the whole situation. I was really ticklish and just had the giggles. I couldn't look over at Julie at all or I would just bust out laughing again. 

That night we checked in for a our first flight. It was 8 hours long and we felt every minute of it. But nothing like that next flight that was 16 hours. I was delirious. I did sleep some and I didn't have any biker dude offering me drugs in a tissue, but I felt like I would never get off that plane. After I got home I kept waking up that first night thinking I was just dreaming about being home and that I was still on that plane! 

Nothing sweeter than coming home to my people. I was so ready to see them!!!

This trip was amazing and I am so thankful for the opportunity I had to be a part of what the Lord is doing through Lifevesting in Thailand. The whole experience has made me feel even closer to Kyle getting to see exactly where he works and where the teams are. So great! 

This trip to Thailand was with Lifevesting International. LVI is a missions organization committed to helping National pastors move the Gospel forward all over the world by resourcing them with discipleship training, boots on the ground ministry and short term trips, and relationship building. We would love for you to be a part of it with us! To join our monthly email list, email me at To find out more information about how you can partner with us and support this ministry, you can email me or visit the website at
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