Why Go?

July is just around the corner, which means now is the time to sign up to join me in Ethiopia! You can find all the details about the trip here. Without further ado, here are some reasons you should and should not sign up for a mission trip.

3 Reasons You Should Not Go on a Mission Trip:

1. To Be a Hero

We are not saviors. We are broken people chasing after God’s heart. On every trip I’ve been on, I have gone home with so much more than I could ever offer. We are no better than the people we visit, and we are not there to rescue anyone. We are there to love.

2. To Get a Cute Profile Picture

Totally speaking to myself here  it is easy to get hung up on taking pictures of everything, but you miss so much behind the lens. We don’t go to be a tourist. Don’t get me wrong, pictures can be great! But they should never be our priority, and they should always be taken with respect.

3. To take a vacation

Mission work is not glamours. You may be sleeping with some creeping bugs in your room. You will get dirty and smelly. You may be taking cold showers. You may be asked to do something that is hard or gross. We don’t go to relax on the beach, but to serve!


3 Reasons You Should Go on a Mission Trip:

1. To Find Your Passion

We’re not all called to pack up and move across the world, but let’s agree that we are all called to do something. In a week or two, you may not change someone’s life, but it’s the stuff that happens when you come home that changes lives. People come home from a trip and adopt, start their own ministry, stepp out to lead mission trips, sponsor a child. A mission trip can be the spark that helps you find your passion.


2. To Step Out of Your Comfort Zone

Going on a mission trip can seem scary. You’ll meet people who may or may not speak the same language, stay in accommodations that may not be the most luxurious, travel to a place that you’ve only known from news stories, maybe trust God to provide what seems like a scary amount of money. But guess what happens when you step out of your comfort zone…you grow!

3. To Build Lasting Relationships

You will absolutely fall in love with people you meet in country, but I am convinced that nothing brings you close to someone faster than serving on a mission team together. Serving together, crying together, laughing together…there is something so beautiful about it.


So what are you waiting for? Go and be love with me in Ethiopia this summer!


Beauty in the Journey

When it comes to taking a road trip, I am completely reliant on the navigation on my phone to get me where I want to be. I just came back from visiting my best friend from college and needed my trusty phone to lead the way. A little while into my drive, I began to realize that it was not taking me the way I thought I should go. I opened the app to check the directions. It didn’t have me getting on the interstate at all. Doubt in my pocket navigator immediately filled my mind. Surely this was not the best way. It was probably going to take forever to get home now. Did I mention that I was making this trip with my sweet, teething baby? Doesn’t this thing know the shortest distance between two points is a straight line? Not a squiggly, winding line through the mountains?

Then I looked around me, and it was beautiful. I drove through wide mountain skylines, trees aflame with the colors of fall, winding streams, old red barns, little white churches.


So much better than driving on boring I-75. Nora and I had an impromptu date at an apple orchard we passed.



I am not certain that the route I took was shorter, but who cares! This life moves fast enough as it is. Days spin into years faster than we can keep up with. Our hours are filled with busyness. We have to fight to savor the sweet moments.

It is in that fight that I find myself lately. I have challenged myself to list my gifts daily (as inspired by Ann Voskamp). It can be a tedious discipline, that I often fail at. Yet, when I put pen to paper over and over, my outlook changes. Everything changes. Gratitude changes everything.


Ethiopia 2015

I am thrilled to share with you that next July I will be leading a team to Ethiopia! The trip will be July 18 to the 26th.  We will be spending our time in capitol of Addis Ababa working with a community called Korah situated adjacent to the city dump. We will come alongside some ministries who are in Addis Ababa doing the day to day work. We will build relationships, serve as needed, and love big! I promise our time will be packed full of crazy adventures and crazy amounts of love!

Short term mission trips can get a lot of criticism, and for good reason sometimes, but short term mission trips can be so powerful. Mission trips can ignite a fire in a person that leads them to come home and sponsor a child, tithe to a ministry close to their heart, start their own ministry, move across the world, adopt. They have the power to create ripples. I love that I have the honor of coming alongside individuals as they have that passion stirred in them.

If you have felt any urging to go on a trip, go! Of course I would love for you to go with me! Check out this page to find out all of the details and sign up! If you are remotely interested, or if you are chomping at the bit to go, I would love to chat with you. Let me answer your questions, quiet your fears, or cheer you on.

There is no perfect time to sign up for a mission trip. You cannot wait for the stars to align before you go. It will never happen. There will always be something that the enemy uses to whisper doubts in your ear. But the enemy comes only to steal, kill, and destroy; Christ came that we may have life, and have it to the full. There is no fuller life than when you are basking in God’s presence and following His call.



Why a doula?

I mentioned in my last post that I was becoming certified as a doula…two months later I’m finally getting around to writing this post. Oops!

The word “doula” comes from a Greek word meaning “a woman who serves.” A birth doula is someone who provides continuous emotional, physical, and informational support to a woman before, during, and after birth. A doula helps a mother (and her partner) prepare a birth plan and fulfill it. Childbirth is such a huge life experience and is something that the mother will always remember. A doula serves to protect that birth experience.

It is hard for me to put into words just how invaluable our birth doula was, not just for me, but for Zach as well. It was comforting to have another woman with me who had gone through childbirth and stood beside other women as they brought their babies into the world. I knew that she, like I, believed that my body was created to give birth and would do everything she could to help me have the birth experience I wanted. Her presence took some of the pressure off of Zach. There was someone else I could lean on, literally. A doula by no means replaces a person’s partner, but helps to empower them to support mom.

A lot of women believe that because they are not planning for a drug free birth or because they have already given birth before, they would not benefit from a doula. I can confidently say that I will have a doula for any and all future births; just like each child is different, every birth is different. Also, a birth doula is certainly not restricted to a natural birth. A birth doula will never dictate what kind of birth a woman should have, but helps you the achieve goals you have set.

And just in case you need some convincing, research (like this and this and this) has shown that women supported by a doula are:
*more likely to have a spontaneous vaginal birth
*less likely to ask for pain medication
*less likely to have a cesarean birth
*more likely to report a positive birth experience
*more likely to have a decrease length of labor

So, if you or someone you know is expecting, I would love to talk with you about having a doula at your birth. I absolutely believe that women’s bodies were made to give birth. You CAN do this, and I would love to come alongside you.



A New Chapter

I am sitting in a room full of boxes. I hardly know where my brain is let alone any of our stuff. On Saturday, our family of three will be making an eight hour move back to Tennessee. A few weeks ago, Zach started a new job with a company called WP Ninjas. It has been an amazing God-orchestrated opportunity. Zach now gets much more time with Nora and I. We are able to move closer to family. And the job will allow for us to see out of town family much more often.

Looking back, our time in Indiana seems like a blur. We just got here! I started a job with Healthy Families. Made some amazing friends. Started working as a supervisor with Healthy Families. Got pregnant. Quit my job. Had a baby. This has been a beautiful chapter of our lives. I would not trade the memories made here for anything in the world. We made some amazing friends that we didn’t even know we needed. All of our first precious memories of Nora are here. My goodness how blessed we have been! It’s bittersweet to say goodbye.

So, to everyone who has been a part of our life in Indiana, thank you. Thank you for being our family. We may not have been here long, but you have forever changed us. To quote Wicked, “So much of me is made of what I learned from you. You’ll be with me like a hand print on my heart….because I knew you, I have been changed for good.”

Saturday starts a new chapter. A chapter that I am sure will be full of laughs and joy, and probably some tears and heartache too. Even though we don’t know what this new chapter will hold, there are a few things we do know.

Zach will be working from home.  It’s been so fun to have him in the next room where Nora and I can pop in for a quick kiss before he gets back to work. I am going to be teaching one night a week at the Dance Theatre of Dalton. I am so excited to be back teaching dance! This is the studio I grew up in and it feels like coming home to family.

Also, I am beginning the process to become certified as a doula! I am so excited to see where this journey leads. Our doula was so invaluable before and during Nora’s birth (you can read that story here). If you or someone you know is expecting, I’d love to come alongside you as a support, so please contact me if that’s you! I’ll soon share more about becoming a doula.

There will be some hard goodbyes to be said between now and Saturday. And there will be some beautiful hellos in Tennessee. I feel like the luckiest girl to have people spread across multiple states who love me and my family so much.

Oh, and here’s a cute baby….

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Sole Hope Shoe Party

A post not about Nora? Whaaat? Don’t worry she’s managed to sneak her cute self in a few times.

Zach and I hosted our very first Sole Hope Shoe Party, and we had so much fun! So, what is Sole Hope? Sole Hope’s mission is to offer hope healthier lives, and freedom from foot-related diseases through education jobs and medical relief specifically in Uganda. Jiggers are an all too common problem that many people in Africa face. Jiggers are tiny fleas that burrow into a host’s feet. They lay eggs. Those eggs hatch and the process repeats. It can become so severe that the person with infected feet can no longer walk. The only way to remove the jiggers is with a needle or something of the like. Often those needles are re-used, further spreading diseases like HIV and AIDS.


Part of Sole Hope’s goal is to put closed toe shoes on the children of Uganda. This is where a shoe cutting party comes in. During a party you make the foundation of a shoe. Those get sent to Uganda where tailors are paid a fair wage to make the shoes. Sole Hope then holds jigger removal clinics where they provide education and remove jiggers from sweet feet. Those kids are then given a new pair of shoes. Something so simple, but something life changing!! I greatly encourage you to check out their website to learn more. Or consider hosting a party of your own. You can purchase a shoe cutting party packet; it explains step-by-step what you need. So easy. Here’s a taste of our party. Huge thank you to everyone who donated supplies and time!


Nora oversaw production of the shoes. She ran a very tight ship.






Ah, sweet sleep after a full, fun day.


Go play!

It’s no secret that I can be pretty passionate about orphan care, missions, and the like. There is something else I’m passionate about, playtime! Before I became a stay at home mommy, I worked with an organization called Healthy Families. Healthy Families does a lot, and does not get the credit (or funding) deserved.  The quick, watered down version of what they do is provide education and support to families of young children. Part of the education component is to teach parents the importance of playtime.

So here’s a fun post for all you mommies, daddies, nannies, etc. Go play with your kids! In case you don’t believe me here are some articles that explain just how important playing is…

10 Reasons Why Play is Important  

The Importance of Play in Promoting Healthy Child Development and Maintaining Strong Parent-Child Bonds

10 Reasons Play Makes Babies Smarter

So here are two super, easy ways to get creative with playtime. First up, sensory discovery bottles. *I apologize for only having low quality phone pics*


So incredibly easy. I made three of these for Nora during nap time. Remove the label from some empty water bottles. Then add whatever fun things you can find around your house. The possibilities are endless of what you could fill your bottles with. One of our bottles has water and dice (Nora’s personal favorite). Another has a 50/50 mixture of water and baby oil with a few drops of food coloring. The last one has ribbon from a gift bag and some beans for sound. Seriously, how easy?! If you are putting liquid in your bottle I would recommend using a bit of glue to seal the cap on just in case. I used Goo Gone to remove the labels, so if you do that of course be sure to wash them well.

Because it’s not fun until you can put it in your mouth, right?

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The next playtime activity, is brought to you by a sweet 8 year old I get to hang out with twice a week. Sprinkle some baking soda on a pan. Fill some small bowls with vinegar and a few drops of food coloring. Give your kiddo a pipette or medicine dropper and let the mad scientist come to life!

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Again, this is SO easy! Yeah, I know. I have one baby; you have seven. I should just wait until I have a few more then see how much time I have for playtime. You can come back and say, “I told you so” then, but in the meantime, get to playing! 😉


Life as a Stay at Home Mom

I now have ten weeks under my belt as a stay at home mom. And I know I am exactly where I need to be right now. Being home with Nora is worth every sacrifice. We may not eat out or have much “fluff” money, but for our family it is so worth it. So what the heck do I do all day?

I actually ask myself that question a lot. Zach will come home from work and as I reflect back on my day I think, “Where did the time go? Did I accomplish anything today?” It is an adjustment for sure. I like to get things done. I like to be caught up on laundry and dishes. I like checking things off my mile long to-do list. But some days, no most days that doesn’t happen…who am I kidding? That never happens anymore. If I really wanted to, I could get a lot more accomplished than I do, but it’s all about priorities. It’s more important to me that my sweet baby get quality interactions with her mommy than for the dishes to be done. Yet, often I still struggle. I get frustrated that our house is not as clean as I would like. I struggle with feeling inadequate that I wasn’t able to take care of my baby, go for a run, go to the grocery store, bake a loaf of bread, be completely caught up on laundry, and have a spotless kitchen with dinner on the table when my husband comes home.

Obviously the standard I am setting for myself is completely ridiculous. I am ever so slowly learning to be content with less. A lot less. God is teaching me to just breathe in these precious moments. He promises to thoroughly equip us to do His will. Which means He will give me everything I need to serve my husband and daughter.

Which leads me to the other lesson I am still learning. Oh man, am I selfish. My poor husband. If he catches me on a bad day, a simple request to bring him a glass of water when I’m already up leads to some major huffing and puffing on my end. “Seriously, I spend all my day taking care of the house, the baby, you, the animals. How dare you ask me to lift one more finger on your behalf.” I have really been convicted of this attitude lately. For one, who wants to be around a person that grumbles like that? I want my husband to look forward to coming home each day. I want our home to be a safe, peaceful place. It certainly won’t be that with the attitude I’ve had! Marriage and babies sure have this magic ability to show you all of the ugly in your heart.

I realize this post makes me sound like a really miserable person, but I LOVE being a stay at home mom! I love that I don’t have to miss sweet moments with my baby. I love that I get to be here when my husband comes home. In general, all things domestic make me happy, even the laundry and dishes. And as painful and uncomfortable as it can be to have the ugly in your heart placed in front of you, I am so grateful for this refining time.

I’m thankful for all of the snuggles


The smiles


The wonder at all things new, like watching the rain for the first time


The milestones

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And even for the grumpy days

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So how do I feel after ten weeks as a stay at home mom? Well sometimes like this…


But I wouldn’t trade this honor for anything in the world.



Nora’s Birth

Here is what I hope is not a too long recount of Nora’s birth. It’s not an experience that is easily documented. Even though I journaled everything that happened, some things are still a bit hazy. It was the most amazing, intense, raw experience of my life. I promise to do my best not to ramble too much. I loved reading birth stories while I was pregnant, so I hope someone finds encouragement from our story. But feel free to skip this post if that’s not your thing!

Nora’s birth was everything I hoped for and nothing like I expected. It was no secret that I really struggled in the waiting. I so desperately wanted a natural birth and wanted to avoid being induced. I also really struggle with letting go of control and didn’t like not knowing when she would arrive.

Thursday my sweet husband sent me to get a prenatal massage. AMAZING. He made me promise to actually relax through it and stop thinking about when I would go into labor. Apparently it worked, because my water broke later that night. That evening, I was bouncing on my exercise ball, hanging out with Zach and my mom. I leaned forward and thought I felt what could be my water leaking. There wasn’t a big gush, so I didn’t know for sure. I waited a while before saying anything, but finally texted Zach, “Do not react to this message, but I think my water just broke.” I didn’t want to get my mom’s hopes up if it wasn’t the real thing! After I was convinced this was in fact really happening, we sent her home and called our doula, Jess.

*Side note* I cannot recommend having a doula enough. Jess was absolutely amazing. She was such a great source of guidance, comfort, support. She was a rockstar throughout labor, and I really don’t think I would have made it through without her.


Right after my water broke. Feeling quite large!

Jess suggested that I try to get some rest. Ha! I laid in bed watching How I Met Your Mother for a while. At this point, I was having contractions that were pretty mild, but becoming intense enough that I was no longer talking through them. The most stressful thing for me was knowing when to go to the hospital. I’ve never been in labor, so how was I supposed to know how intense contractions were? We knew we wanted to home as long as possible because once we were in the hospital things could potentially slow down and it would become more difficult to avoid interventions.

We decided to try to watch a movie. Zach secretly timed my contractions, but I never knew how far apart they were. They had had picked up in intensity so I knew whatever we chose I would have a hard time paying attention. I got frustrated looking and ended up choosing Men in Black 2. Haha! During the movie I started needing to be on my hands and knees through each contraction. It wasn’t long after this that we decided it was time to make the 20 minute drive to the hospital.

When we arrived the fire alarm was going off! Not the sound a woman in labor wants to hear. Thankfully, it was turned off quickly after our arrival. When the nurse checked me I was 4 centimeters dilated. I was disappointed, but tried not to get discouraged. They moved me to our labor/delivery room. Our hospital really was great, and the staff was very accommodating.


After getting checked in. Fueling up with coconut water to stay hydrated and avoid an IV. 

As soon as we were settled in our room I got in the labor tub. Being in the water caused my contractions to really pick up. I would rest in between then move to my hands and knees with my head on Zach’s arm during each contraction. I kept a cold wash cloth on my neck or head all throughout labor. Jess put peppermint essential oil in a tub of ice water and kept refreshing the cloths for me. They felt amazing! I was so torn between being hot and freezing. I shivered pretty consistently throughout labor, but desperately needed the ice cloth on my head.

One of the hardest parts during labor was having Nora’s heart rate monitored. I had to be hooked up to the fetal for about fifteen minutes every so often. I hated feeling trapped to one spot, and I hated having the monitors around my belly.


I spent a lot of my time leaning into Zach while being monitored with Jess rubbing my back. Some time after this I was checked again and told I was at 7 centimeters. I started feeling really discouraged. I kept telling Jess and Zach that I didn’t think I could do it anymore. They were both amazing encouragements. From start to finish I was in labor for 16 hours, but I had no concept of time during. I just knew I was tired!

I had written down several Bible verses for labor. At the peak of my discouragement, I asked Zach to get them. He read them over and over to me during contractions. It is such a sweet memory to me now…leaning into my husband as he spoke truth over me.


Things were really starting to get intense. And it is also about this time that things start to get really blurry for me. Again, I had no concept of time during labor. I got to this place outside of myself where my body took over and I was no longer in control. I couldn’t voice what I needed or wanted. With each contraction I had to allow my body to do what it wanted. At one point I was leaning over the bed with my face buried in one of the ice cloths. Zach got a fresh cloth and reached underneath me to refresh it. What he didn’t realize was I had started biting the cloths. When he put his hand underneath my face I bit him, hard! Oops!


Jess suggested Zach pray over me. I was laying in bed and feeling exhausted. Zach started praying what I’m sure was the sweetest prayer; I honestly can’t remember much of it. While he was praying a contraction hit, and I apparently cussed mid-prayer. Oops again!


When I finally was at 10 centimeters and it was time to start pushing, I was so tired. I remember saying, “I just want to sleep!” Pushing is a lot of work! All of our nurses at the hospital were amazing, but my doctor was kind of awful. She had never seemed really on board with a natural birth. She was extremely discouraging while I was pushing. She was even texting and taking phone calls at the foot of my bed. However, I think that her discouraging, doubtful attitude was part of what gave me the energy to keep pushing! I pushed for almost three hours. It was amazing to reach down and feel her head as I was pushing. I was shocked when I heard them say, “she has hair!” I was expecting a bald baby. Nora is a very wiggly baby and she entered the world that way too. Everyone commented while I was pushing on how they couldn’t believe how much she was moving. They didn’t have to tell me! There were several times that I yelled, “What is she doing?!” She’s been a dancer since birth, right? 🙂 At the very end, Nora’s heart rate started dropping so they needed to use a vacuum to get her out on the final push.


There are no words to describe what I felt as they placed my daughter on my chest. She wasn’t breathing well, so she immediately had to be taken to have a tube suction out her lungs. I kept asking if she was ok over and over again.


Thankfully she was just fine and was quickly returned to me. We unwrapped her so I could hold her skin to skin. Oh what a feeling. There is no other feeling in the world as sweet. We were allowed to stay in the labor/delivery room for several hours before being moved to our postpartum room. The hospital allowed us to wait to have any of the newborn screenings done for as long as possible to give us lots of time with our brand new baby girl.







Did I mention that Jess is also pregnant? She seriously was awesome!

When we did move to our postpartum room I wanted a shower! My recovery was so incredibly easy. Yes, I was sore, but I was up moving around shortly after birth have felt pretty amazing.




Giving birth was by far the hardest thing I have ever done. I had to tap into an inner strength I didn’t know I had. I had to become more vulnerable than I ever have before. There is no room for pride in childbirth. I had hoped to be this relaxed, peaceful woman. Instead, I needed to moan and move with each contraction. I walked around naked and could have cared less if George Clooney walked in the room. My husband accompanied me to the bathroom where I pooped in front of him. No room for pride or modesty. But all of that vulnerability brought me so much closer to my husband. I love him so much deeper than I ever thought possible. I absolutely could not have made it through labor without him. He was such a huge source of strength.

Labor was an extremely spiritual experience for me as well. It was an amazing opportunity to cling to God’s promises. And now the verses Zach read over me will forever hold such a special place in my memories. I cannot not tell you enough how glad I am that I chose to attempt a natural birth. I have never felt so empowered. I would choose a natural birth again in a heartbeat. I’ll spare you any more ramblings about childbirth, but will gladly share more with anyone interested. But, no matter how a baby comes into this world, birth is always beautiful.

So there is a very choppy version of miss Nora’s birth. It’s hard to believe it all happened just three short weeks ago. And I know that as amazing as childbirth was, that was just the beginning of an even more amazing adventure.





Nora Evaline


Our little love was born on March 28th at 12:03 pm. She weighed 7 pounds 5 ounces and was 21.5 inches long. We are completely smitten. Nora is so full of personality already. She is a very active baby, always wiggling and kicking.


 She seldom stays in one spot in her crib.


She is so strong!

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She loves to smile already.

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And loves to snuggle.

We have loved adjusting to being new parents. Nora has really been such an easy going baby.

When she was one week old I caught a stomach bug. I have never been so sick, and it hit fast. I spent the night sleeping on the bathroom floor. I tried to nurse her in between vomiting; not my most glamorous moment. Girls, when you are looking for a man to marry, go for the man who will take care of you and the newborn all night, who is not phased by how disgusting you are.


Hanging out in the bathroom with Mommy while Papa makes a gatorade run.

Two days later, poor baby girl caught the same bug. Scary stuff! She was vomiting, dry heaving, and screaming in pain. We called the pediatrician who instructed us to go the emergency room. Because she was only nine days old, they wanted to do several tests to make sure nothing more serious was going on.


Thankfully all of that drama is behind us, and we’ve just been enjoying our sweet bundle of joy. Zach was able to take two weeks off which has been amazing. I am going to miss him when he goes back to work tomorrow! There is nothing better than watching my husband with Nora. I love the way he loves her. She loves to hear him sing to her, and quiets down instantly when he sings her a song. I cannot imagine going through this journey without him.

I cannot believe Nora is already two weeks old. She has changed so much in that short amount of time. I want to soak in every moment with her because I know it will be over far too soon. I hope to share a bit of our birth story here soon for those who are interested. This may sound bizarre, but I truly loved labor and delivery. It was such a painful yes, but also an amazing, empowering experience. And I promise that this blog will not turn into all baby all the time, but come on, with that precious face how can I not write a novel about her?