Author Archive

My Zoo of Miscreants

I have a zoo at my house. A zoo of miscreants I lovingly call them. Three dogs. And a cat.

Andrus Williams CreativeMy mom once said that we are one rescue animal away from being those weird animal hoarders you see on the news. But, let’s be clear, Russell and I have a heart for animals – and we’re quite proud of that. It’s one of the few things that we have in common, and it bonds our relationship a little deeper.

People often think we’re weird for placing our animals’ needs above our own wants. Aren’t they just animals, afterall?

But here’s why they are so important to us. They are innocent, loving creatures who look at us as their master. And it is my opportunity and responsibility to love them and care for them the same way my Master loves and cares for me.

Andrus Williams PhotographyThey are daily reminders that God could see me as a dumb, disobedient annoyance who never learns from her mistakes. Instead, He sees me as a precious soul who is worthy of His love, attention, devotion, and time.

When Dezzie starts begging for food at 5 am every morning – I am reminded that when I am sick or tired or hungry, my God comes to my side. He provides, and He comforts. He answers my pleads and begs.

Andrus Williams CreativeAndrus Williams CreativeWhen Max and Eli have tried to run away, I was reminded that when I try to run away and turn my back on God, He moves mountains to seek after me. And when I return, He rejoices and reminds me that He never stopped loving me.

I am not just some animal who He may or may not look after. I am His. He protects me. He teaches me. He disciplines me. He forgives me. He never forsakes me. He takes joy in me. And every day, I have the opportunity to practice displaying that kind of love for this little zoo of miscreants I have.

They are destructive and disobedient; they try to run away; they try to harm themselves; they are needy and demanding; and sometimes they try my very last nerve. But in those moments, I thank God for loving me unconditionally when I act like that too.

Andrus Williams Creative

Creating a Wardrobe | A Stitch Fix Review

This year, I made an unofficial New Years Resolution – and it has stuck way better than any real resolution I’ve ever made. I decided to start trying in life. To put more thought into things. To be intentional.

One of the more fun ways that I decided to start trying in life is in regards to how I dress. I’ve always been a sale shopper – I would buy something simply because it was 75% off, with little regard to how it fit me much less how it fit in my wardrobe. I ended up with a lot of clothes that didn’t really look that great on me and that didn’t match anything else in my closet. I felt like I could hardly put together a complete outfit.

So, I cleaned out my closet. Ruthlessly. Anything that I didn’t absolutely, 100 percent love or have a very specific reason for owning, I got rid of it. It made it so much easier to see the items that I actually do like. Getting dressed in the morning is so much easier.

Closet

And then I started wearing accessories. I’ve always been too cheap to buy jewelry, purses, and other accessories (shoes not included – as you can tell from the above picture!!). So, I finally forced myself to make the investment in a few pieces that I really love and can wear with a lot of different outfits – some Kendra Scott jewelry, a Kate Spade purse, and a belt from B. Whimsy. They’ve each made a huge difference for finishing an outfit.

Jewelry

Last, I signed up for an online personal shopping service, called Stitch Fix. For a $20 styling fee, they send a box with 5 items that a stylist thinks I’ll like and will look good on me, along with a few suggestions on how to wear the clothes. They consult a Pinterest board I created, as well as a style profile that I filled out online. If I keep one of the items, the $20 fee goes toward the purchase price. If I keep all 5 items, then it’s 25% off the entire purchase.

A few¬†weeks ago, I got my 4th Fix. I won’t lie – there have been a few misses along the way. But also some really great pieces! I can tell that the stylists really take my requests and feedback into consideration when picking out what to include in my next Fix.

It is so amazingly fun and convenient to have a box of cute, affordable clothes delivered to my door every month! Stitch Fix Day has quickly become my favorite day of the month!

(Plus, I get a $25 referral credit when my friends sign up! Use this link to learn more: https://www.stitchfix.com/referral/3474854)

Black Shirt + NecklaceSweater + Dress Dress

 

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

It has been a long time since I’ve shared a recipe on my blog. So, I’m breaking back into it with my new favorite cookie recipe: Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies.

I made these cookies by Center Cut Cook. Having mostly been off of baked goods and sweets for six months, these cookies were a little too sweet for me. So I made a few adjustments, but kept the secret to Center Cut Cook’s cookies – ground oatmeal.

With the oatmeal and chunky peanut butter, these cookies have a nice texture, while remaining chewy and soft. Hope you like them as much as Russell and I do!

OCCcookies

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/8 cup extra chunky peanut butter
1/4 cup white sugar
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla

With your mixer, cream together the butter, peanut butter, sugars, egg, and vanilla.

1 1/4 cup old fashioned oats
3/4 cup white flour
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

In a food processor or Ninja, pulse the oats until finely ground (about 10-15 seconds in my Ninja). Combine in bowl with other dry ingredients and slowly add to wet ingredients. Mix well.

1/4 cup Enjoy Life chocolate chips

Fold in chocolate chips. I love this brand because they are small so a smaller amount goes a long way in the cookies!

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Form ping-pong ball sized dough balls and place on a cookie sheet with non-stick baking mat. Cook for 12-14 minutes, until the cookies are no longer glistening and they are starting to turn a light golden brown.

Remove from oven and allow them to cool on the cookie sheet before transferring to a wire rack.

Makes about 18 cookies.

June 9 | We Live Here

June 5th marked two years of living in Dalhart and living in this house. When we moved in two years ago, I was not excited – to say the least. After renovating the house in Farwell, loving every inch of it, and spending some of the happiest days of my life in that house, it was hard to move into a new house and a new life.

Two years later, this house and city are starting to feel like home.

So, it was fitting that the photo a day prompt a few days ago was “We Live Here.” As I took the photo for that day, I was excited to feel a sense of happiness and peace that this is the stage where my life plays out.

OutsideMeLiving Room

Ordinary

I woke up this morning and decided I needed to take my blog back for me. So, that’s what I’m doing. Right now. With this post.

Last September when I decided to start my own business, I tried to turn my blog and website into more of a business tool to showcase what I was working on. (If you want to see that – you still can, here or on Facebook.) Of course, my personal life still crept into the pages of my blog. But, I felt guilty sharing personal work instead of my business work. I have a dozen personal posts lurking in my Drafts folder that I started before the guilt crept in and I stopped working on them.

So, I’m liberating my blog and reclaiming this little corner of the internet for my soul. My blog used to be a space to explore and share what inspires me. And I need that space back.


This month, I’m trying a photo a day challenge on Instagram. Hopefully I make it more than 5 days (my previous record…) Here’s a photo from the challenge.

June 4, Ordinary :: An ordinary little rose in my ordinary little garden.

Rose

A Tourist in Thailand

My last several blog posts have focused on the mission trip that Russell and I went on over Christmas. I hope it’s clear that my heart and soul were touched and changed forever by the things we saw and the people we met while on the trip.

We were also lucky to spend a few extra days in Thailand, experiencing a little more of the country and culture as tourists.

Bangkok

We flew into Bangkok a day early, before the rest of our group arrived. To say we were the typical tourists is an understatement. We traveled by tuk-tuk, we ate Pad Thai, Russell had some clothes tailored for him in six hours, we saw every Buddha in the city, and we sat in a lot of traffic. If we ever go back, I’ll definitely skip Bangkok. One day was more than enough.

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Chiang Mai

Halfway through our mission trip, we traveled from Yangon, Myanmar to Chiang Mai, Thailand, where we had a tourist day since it was New Years Eve. Chiang Mai and the surrounding area were really neat – a must see for anyone traveling to Thailand.

We rode elephants, held baby tigers, and let off lanterns. a.k.a., It was the best day of my life. I don’t think I will ever forget what it feels like to feed an elephant, to pet a tiger, and to release a lantern into the heavens, watching it float away and join the sea of thousands of other lanterns.

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Krabi

After the mission trip finished, Russell and I headed to Krabi island for a little relaxation (and a little too much sun). We took a day-long snorkeling trip to Koh Rok, which had, hands down, the most amazingly beautiful beach I’ve ever seen. I didn’t fully grasp the concept of powdery white sand and crystal clear water until visiting Thailand.

ThailandThailandThailandThailandThailandThailandThailand had been on my list of dream vacations for years, and I’m so glad to have spent time really getting to see so much of the country, while meeting its people and learning about its fascinating culture (oh, and eating its delicious food!).

Happy Birthday to My Love

Since I met Russell over seven years ago, he has changed me and grown with me so much. He’s changed me from a vegetarian to a meat lover, a city girl to a farm wife, a (slightly oblivious) college girl to a confident business woman… And the list could go on for days.

So many of the characteristics I naturally lack, he excels. Discipline, logic, responsibility, adventure, steadfastness. How amazing that he lets me stand on his shoulders and draw from his strengths.

I like to think I’ve rubbed off a little on him too. He’s more compassionate and understanding, more charitable, and more likely to eat dessert.

From day one of our relationship, I’ve loved that we are so different. We push each other; challenge each other.

Going on a mission trip isn’t something I ever thought Russell would want to do. So, when he casually mentioned he might be interested in going one day, I signed us up immediately. Leading up to the trip, I worried that I might have pushed a little too hard. What if he hated it. What if he was miserable. What if it was hard to play with the kids since we don’t have any kids. What if it was too hard to be around other people constantly for two weeks when we are used to being just us two. What if, what if, what if…

Honestly, I don’t know why I worry at all about that man; he’s a star. He worked hard, painting and helping build a foundation at one of the orphanages.

MyanmarThailandHe played SO well with the kids, showing them his crazy yoga abilities and amazing athleticism. And then he introduced them to Lord of the Rings and iPad minis and Texas Tech. (For the record, Go Frogs!)

MyanmarThailandMyanmarHe earnestly and thoughtfully talked with the orphanage leaders, learning about their farming and sustainability efforts, and sharing ideas for improvement and growth.

MyanmarThailandHe was patient. And loving. And kind. And thoughtful. And protective. And strong. And I fell even more in love with him.

Happy birthday to the best partner in life I could ever ask for. xoxo

Myanmar

My Prayers for the Orphanages

I want to start by saying I don’t think they should really be called orphanages. The children may not have their biological families – but they absolutely have families. Mother and father figures who love them, a whole pack of brothers and sisters, and in most cases, extended family members too.

The term “orphanage” always conjured up images of sweet, innocent children living in too little love – or worse, abuse. Visiting the orphanages in Thailand and Myanmar thankfully dispelled that vision. Instead, I saw them living in love and hope and joy and potential and play and fun and kid-ness. And it was awesome.

MyanmarMyanmarMyanmar and ThailandSo, I thank God for the adults who so passionately love Him that they answered the call to adopt these kids into their own families. What strong, faithful, good role models they are – not just for these kids but for all of us who meet them. They have dedicated their lives, their homes, their resources – their all – to serving God by loving and caring for these kids.

As if that wasn’t enough, they are also committed to serving their surrounding communities. They have church services, start Bible colleges, and host shoe outreaches and other fun events. The orphanages are truly resources for their communities, the place where neighborhood kids come to play soccer, where all know they will be welcomed with love.

Because of these loving and faithful adults, kids who once faced insurmountable odds now have a chance at life. And not just for survival – but for success and thriving. Not only do they have food, clothing, and shelter, but they are getting an education, learning skills, being encouraged. Speaking in terms of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs – they have a chance at self actualization. What a testimony about God’s provision!

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Despite the manifold praises, there are still so many needs.

Some worry about meeting rent in 6 months, while others worry about where or if their kids will be able to continue their education. Some sit with unfinished buildings on their grounds, waiting for the funds to complete projects that will further their mission and aid in sustainability. We gave shoes and blankets in the community – and the thankfulness for these items showed the clear need for other essentials like these. Kids sleep on beds so hard that they gave me bruises to sleep there for 2 nights.

So, I pray that their needs will be met – and exceeded. That their thoughts and energy won’t be spent on how to meet basic needs, but can instead stay focused on having the biggest impact in others’ lives as possible.

I pray for each of the kids we met and the many, many others we weren’t able to meet. I pray for their futures – that they are able to build on the growth and opportunity they’ve found already, staying steadfast in their faith, becoming change makers in their communities and country. I pray that they will always walk in light and love – and never doubt where that light and love come from.

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I pray for their communities and country. May the hearts and minds of the people of these beautiful countries be softened. May the hold that fear, deception, and superstition have over them be released. I pray that God’s glory will be ever more evident.

I pray for our team that went on the mission trip – that we never forget the passion and inspiration we felt while in Thailand and Myanmar. That we recognize that our trip might have ended but our role in their lives carries on.

And I pray for anyone whose heart might be moved while hearing stories of the trip and the work in this region. Truly, in all of my work and travels, I’ve never seen a place with more opportunity for a miraculous return on investment.

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Mission Trip

Russell and I got home from our mission trip late last night after 16 (or maybe 17? I lost count.) days traveling abroad. We’ve each had about 72 seconds of sleep. Our bags are definitely still packed. The mail is piled high. Our to-do lists are getting full already. My Christmas decorations are still up. The house and yard look like our dogs went on a rampage while we were gone.

But, instead of focusing on any of that, I’m sipping coffee and sorting through my photos. 703 of them to be exact. And trying to put into words what’s in my heart and mind after this life changing trip.

MyanmarWe were in Thailand and Myanmar to work at and support orphanages and do outreach in the surrounding communities. It was awesome, and challenging, and moving, and inspiring, and difficult, and not at all what either of us expected.

MyanmarOur hearts were touched by all of the people we met who have such a burning passion for Jesus, for His children, and for the betterment of their country and the lives of their peers. And we were blown away by the hope and potential – both for the individuals and the region at large.

MyanmarI’m not sure how long it will take to fully digest the last few weeks. And to make my way through 703 photos. But, I’ll definitely be sharing more of my thoughts, reactions, prayers, and photos soon.

MyanmarLast and most importantly, I want to extend a deep and sincere Thank You to everyone who thought about us, checked in on us, sent words of encouragement, and prayed for us while we were gone – your love was definitely felt!

Myanmar

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