A Bigger Story bio picture
  • Hi...welcome to my blog!

    I believe that everyone's life is a story and that God desires to write each person's life to reveal HIS divine story.

    Our stories help reveal the Greatest Story, the one that God is telling about Himself.

    Feel free to follow along as my family and I navigate through life & continue to be part of a story much bigger than our own!

    {For more information on our adoption experience, church, and child sponsorship through Compassion International, browse through the tabs directly to the left.}

Adventures in Little Rock

The boys are out of school this week for Spring Break, and we got the party started right with a weekend getaway to Little Rock, Arkansas.  We thought it would be fun to surprise the boys, so we didn’t tell them about the trip until we picked them up from school Friday afternoon.  I’ll just say that 2 out of the 3 were NOT happy about our surprise.  Those two apparently aren’t the spontaneous types and would have preferred knowing ahead of time.  Everyone pulled it together pretty quickly, though, and by the time we got to our hotel in downtown Little Rock, they were much more excited!

Friday night we ate dinner at Dizzy’s Gypsy Bistro and walked around downtown.  Saturday morning after breakfast we headed out to hike Pinnacle Mountain, which rises more than a thousand feet above the Arkansas River Valley.

After stopping by the visitor center to ask about the trails, we decided to take the more rugged East Summit Trail.  We were told that it was a little strenuous, but we were up for a challenge!  This is the view from the deck of the visitor center.

We drove to the base trail parking area and began our hike, following the red and white blazes.  Please note these BEFORE & AFTER photos….

About 2/3 of the hike was through what a brochure calls “boulder fields.”  We had set out that morning to hike on a smooth, dirt trail, but we found ourselves rock climbing!

It was hard, but we kept pushing on and made it to the top!  The view up there was worth the effort!

That afternoon we hung out at the hotel and rested because we were wiped out!  We went to Iriana’s for pizza that night and walked out onto the Junction Pedestrian Bridge.  We liked downtown Little Rock a lot and would love to go back sometime.  There’s a great mix of restaurants and city stuff as well as some beautiful scenery to soak up the outdoors.  It was a fun little getaway, and I’m thankful for some family time spent making memories!

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Lent: A New Tradition

Last night our family attended our first Ash Wednesday service.  Brad and I grew up in a faith tradition that didn’t observe Lent, so it was a new experience for us.  We gathered together with a large room full of people that make up churches across Midtown, and it was a beautiful evening that fed my soul.  Since I’m not accustomed to the practice of Lent, I studied it some this week and thought I’d share what I learned here.  Eugene Cho’s blog post was especially insightful, and I would highly recommend reading it.

  • Lent is a 40 day period (that doesn’t include Sundays) between Ash Wednesday and leading up to Easter Sunday.
  • It marks a time of prayer, penance, repentance, humility, self-denial, and soul searching.
  • It helps prepare our hearts for Passion Week.
  • It is NOT about us or what we give up.
  • It is NOT religious practice for the sake of religious practice.  Eugene says (and I agree), “Anything that produces rituals, expressions, practices and the like – without ultimately inviting us to a deeper understanding and worship of the Living God – lends itself to empty religion. And what we need isn’t more religion.  We need Gospel.”
  • When you give up something for Lent, do it with purpose and love for God.  Doing it for the sake of doing it makes us only like a clanging cymbal and resounding gong.  It just attempts to draw attention to ourselves.
  • Lent is about mourning the darkness in our hearts and rejoicing in the light of God who came to save us.
  • Lent – whether we give up something or not – should invite us to give ourselves more fully to Jesus and the Kingdom of God.
  • According to Jessi, “Lent is not about points, it’s about walking. It’s not about doing something better or executing the Christian life in a more tidy manner. The entire point of Easter (and thus Lent) is us celebrating that the work has already been done for us, on the cross. We have been made righteous by the blood of Jesus and no amount of tidying our lives will make us more holy in our Father’s eyes. The work has been done. The sacrifices have been made. We are not earning points. We are just walking closer. And picking up rhythms that help us to get quiet, draw near, and talk with our Father in this special season.”

Last night as ashes were smudge on my forehead, I was reminded that my time here on this earth is so short.  How I spend my days is extremely important.  How I spend my days and the extent that I choose to love others shows what I value, what is important to me.  I was also reminded of the darkness of sin that constantly fights to invade my heart.  I need a Savior because I’m no good on my own. I’m weak and powerless. As the ashes were wiped clean from my forehead, I was reminded that my sins have been forgiven and I’m a new creation.  I can walk in freedom and peace and HOPE!  I took communion with an abundantly grateful, humble heart.  I can’t even believe the scandal of grace that God has shown me.

I’m excited about the Midtown Prayer Collective, which is a multi-church prayer project for Lent.  I’m so thankful for the network of churches and pastors here in Midtown. It was a blessing to worship together with them last night!

If you’re interested in a devotional guide for Lent, I highly recommend this one.

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Stitch Fix #1

Have you heard of Stitch Fix?  I kept hearing about it, and after several months I decided to jump on the bandwagon and give it a try.  Basically it’s a personal styling service. You tell Stitch Fix your style, size and budget preferences, and they send you a package of goodies to try on at home. Each “Fix” is unique and hand-picked just for you.  You can even link a Pinterest board to your account to give your stylist a better idea of things you like.  There’s a $20 styling fee, and it can be applied to your purchase should you decide to keep any of your items.  You also get a 25% discount if you purchase all the items in your box.  There’s a pre-paid mailing bag for any items you don’t wish to keep, and it can be dropped in any USPS mailbox.  You can have a “Fix” sent whenever – as frequently or as infrequently as you’d like, and there’s no “subscription” so you can cancel your account any time or take a little break if needed.  Also, when you refer your friends to Stitch Fix, you get a $25 credit!  There’s currently a wait list, and I was so excited to finally get my first “Fix” today!  Isn’t it pretty?!  Even the box looks great!

My stylist, Allison, sent me casual pieces as requested: a pair of Kut from the Kloth bootcut jeans, a Tart shirt that’s grey on the front and striped on the sleeves and back, a Kut from the Kloth pink crew knit sweater, a 41 Hawthorn Aztec scarf, and a brown leather messenger bag by Emperia.

I was excited that everything actually FIT!  Here I am in the jeans, the pink sweater, and the aztec scarf.  The jeans are too long, so I rolled them under to see how they’d look hemmed.

Here I am in the jeans and the Tart shirt with the messenger bag.

It was so fun the receive this today!  I’m trying to decide what to keep.  What do you think?

If you’re interested in Stitch Fix, you can learn more HERE!  If you decide to give it a try, come back and let me know what you think!

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treasured words

A few weeks ago during my little organizing spree, I came across some letters and cards from my grandmother.  Her name was Hazel, and she was a beautiful, mysterious, loyal, feisty blend of a woman.  She was so sweet and loved her family fiercely, but she could also be incredibly stubborn, opinionated and hard-headed.  (Maybe I’m a little bit like her.)  My parents lived in a trailer beside her house when I was born, and then we moved three hours north of her little town when I was four years old.  Even though miles separated us, a bond had been forged and we were always really close.

(1978)

Her mind started failing her soon after I began to have babies of my own.  She got to meet and hold Riley, a day I will never forget, and she went to heaven when Cole was two.  February 17, 2005.  I still remember my daddy calling to tell me the news.  Brad, the boys and I were eating dinner, and I just went to our bedroom and let the tears flow.  Even now, as I write this, my cheeks are wet and my eyes are puffy because all these years later I still miss her so much.  I wish I could just spend one more day with her and catch her up on how my life has turned out.  I wish she could know my boys and that they could have memories of her.  She would love them so much, and I know they would have been crazy about her, too.  I’m so thankful she knew Brad and was even able to come to our wedding.

On the last day I saw her I prayed hard for a miracle.  I even had friends back in Memphis praying, too.  My sister and I drove down to Dothan, Alabama for what proved to be our last visit with her.  I knew she probably wouldn’t recognize us, but still I prayed.  I just wanted one last sweet memory with her.  God was so gracious, and he answered that prayer.  For about an hour we sat on her bed and talked, and she knew us.  It was nothing short of amazing.  She didn’t have all the details straight, but she knew I was her “Katie Bug” and that Kendall “Peanut” was there.  We left to get some lunch, and when we came back she had no idea who we were.  But I was so thankful for that miracle.  I kissed her head and said goodbye and thanked God on the way out for his goodness to us that day.

These letters are a treasure to me.  I love to see her handwriting and read her words.  It’s like I can almost hear her voice saying them to me.  I’m so thankful she took the time to write and that I have these words that were specifically to me from her.  Of all the possessions we have, things like these letters are what I value most.  This one was sent to East St. Louis, Illinois where I lived for 2 1/2 months the summer I was nineteen.  When I got back to Alabama I went to visit her and got to tell her all about my experiences there in person.  We argued about politics and racism (with all my new found wisdom at 19 years old), but our love for each other overshadowed all of that.

To know she was proud of me and saw the potential in my life means the world to me.  I never had to wonder if she loved me because she told me over and over again.  And I knew she meant it.  I’m grateful to have had a grandmother who prayed for me and pointed me to Jesus.  That’s the kind of legacy I hope to leave for my kids and grandkids one day.

In finding these letters again I was reminded of the importance of words – and of writing them down.  That way they can last even when I’m not around.  I was also reminded that it’s so important to LOVE people well and TELL them how much we love them regularly.  I don’t want to just assume that they know.  I hate that I don’t write letters much anymore.  I think I want to pull out my stationery, dust it off, and write some letters this week.  What about you?  Do you write letters?  Do you have special keepsakes like this that you treasure?

To send a letter is a good way to go somewhere without moving anything but your heart.  – Phyllis Theroux

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a girl + a plan

One of my goals this year is to eat healthier.  No big surprise there, right?  Doesn’t everybody say that at the beginning of a new year?  I know it’s kind of generic, but I’m such an all or nothing girl when it comes to food and exercise.  I’m sticking to a plan and really prioritizing, or I just fall off the bandwagon altogether, give up, and eat pure junk.  I really like the way I feel when I eat less processed food, and I actually enjoy cooking and knowing exactly what’s in the foods I eat.  The problem is that if I don’t PLAN to eat healthy, I won’t.  And I’m NOT a planner by nature.  I’m a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants, figure-out-what’s-for-dinner-at-5:00 kind of girl, and I don’t always like that about myself.  It can make for a hectic evening, and I don’t feel like it’s always fair to my family.  The boys like to eat kind of early so they have time to play and chill after dinner.  They hate eating and going straight to bed (we’re fairly early bedtime people).  So, I stumbled across this little Weekly Menu template, and I’ve given it a try this week.  So far I really, really like it!  It’s kind of nice having it all planned out (Brad will never let me live those words down.  He’s SUCH a planner….we’re so different!).  Anyway, I took the boys to a bookstore Sunday afternoon, and while they perused the latest literary works for tween boys I came up with this meal plan for the week.  I even added several new recipes to it, too (thank you, Pinterest).

As I planned each meal I added the ingredients I needed to my grocery list.  It was so nice to have a list ready when I went to the store and to only get the things we needed.  Y’all probably do that already, but to me it was a big deal!  I bought a few items I’d never purchased before, and all the boys just shook their heads as I unloaded the stash onto the kitchen counter.  I’m not sure they’re as excited about the whole heathy eating thing as I am.

Here are a few of the recipes I made this week.  None of them are mine.  They were all “pinned” to my Pinterest board from other websites, so I can’t take credit for any of them.

I made this Quinoa Cashew Salad with Ginger Peanut Dressing for lunch on Monday.  The boys thought it was disgusting, but Brad actually liked it, and I did, too.  It makes about six servings, so I had it for lunch a couple of other days this week, too.  It’s nice to have good quality food on hand for lunch that’s already prepared!

That afternoon I also made these No Bake Energy Bites.  I substituted almond butter for the peanut butter since I have a kiddo with a peanut allergy, and I also used agave nectar instead of honey.  Four out of the five of us liked them, so I thought that was pretty successful!  I think they’re better after chilling in the fridge for 24+ hours.  I made 2 dozen, and it’s been nice to have them to snack on when I crave something sweet….which is like all the time.

Another new recipe I tried was this White Chicken Chili  which also includes Homemade Salsa Verde as an ingredient.  You can buy a jar of salsa verde, but I thought it would be fun to make my own, and it was tasty!  I tweaked the recipe a little and just blended everything in my Ninja instead of doing the whole mortar and pestle thing.  Ain’t nobody got time for that.  (Sweet Brown just never gets old…but I digress…)

I had made this Blueberry & Apple Baked Oatmeal several times before, but it had been a while.  Y’all.  It is so good.  The original recipe calls for bananas, but me no likey, so I use apples instead.  Seriously – it is so good.  You need to try it.

I tried these Homemade Granola Bars for the first time, and I’ll definitely be making them again soon!  I like the idea of having these and the energy bites on hand during the week when I want a little sweet snack.  I made mine with agave nectar and almond butter, and next time I might add a handful of mini chocolate chips.

I posted about making these Vegetarian Lettuce Wraps a couple of years ago, and they’re really yummy!  I made them again this week and ate them a couple of times for lunch.  And they’re pretty, too, don’t you think?!

I’m sure I won’t try this many new recipes every week….but it was fun to experiment this week!  I enjoyed being in the kitchen, and these recipes really weren’t very time consuming.  I feel good about the fuel I’ve put in my body, and I hope to keep it up!  I also track what I eat each day with MyFitnessPal, and I’ve added these recipes to my profile.  It sounds like a lot of work, but everything’s easier with an app, right…and theirs works great!  If you have a favorite recipe to share, I’d love to hear about it!  Just leave a link in the comments section below.  Happy weekend!

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