Life Update: Building Beauty from Ashes

I write often about homeschooling and cooking, and I love sharing what God is doing in my life and how he is reshaping my heart, but I felt like you all are owed an update on the original reason I started writing: to share my journey through the world of adoption. My, how our world has changed. I am remiss for not sharing this with you all. Here we go. The update of all overdue updates:

When I first began this blog, however many moons ago, the ultimate purpose was to share with family and friends our journey through adoption. Private domestic adoption. That was back in 2011. In that time, some of my best friends have grown their families by two, three, or even four (!) babies. My husband changed careers. We bought our first home. I adopted an adorable rescue dog. And, somewhere in there, we decided to become foster parents.

Caught up now?

I kept you informed with the foster children who came and went, and said prayers and shed tears each time we had to say goodbye. But then we got the call that would change our lives. One beautiful summer Friday, while we were enjoying a cookout on the porch with one of our closest college pals, the phone rang.

They had a 19 month old boy and an almost-3 year old girl. No idea how the case would turn. No idea if they would stay the weekend or be with us forever. We didn’t know their ethnicity. We didn’t know their names. We didn’t know their health status. Would we take them? We took a leap said yes. Because sometimes in life, you just say yes. They showed up and our worlds were turned upside down.

That day was June 6, 2013.

Adoption Day

They became our forever children, names changed and all, on September 4, 2015.

After 796 days in limbo, they became ours forever.

I’m not a fan of the new Pinterest trend that shows the adopted children holding a sign that says how many days they spent in foster care. I’d rather my children not associate the time before their adoption as “foster care,” because they were never with another family other than us. They came home to us on June 6, 2013.

I’ll say they were in limbo for all of those days. Stuck between many homes. Learning the rules of our house, mourning the loss of another. We couldn’t permanently decorate our daughter’s room in the fairy style she so badly wanted, because of a truth we wouldn’t say out loud: “What if she leaves?” We were all in limbo. Wanting to fully dive in and love them like they were never going to leave, but also wisely guarding our hearts just in case. And I know for them, it was the same. They wanted to love us, but felt as if they were betraying someone else if they did. So in limbo we all stayed.

That day, the judge said he had more people supporting us and celebrating with us in the courtroom on that day than most adoptive families. He also added, “But it should be like this always.” We even hired a good friend of ours who is a professional photographer to document the entire day. While she had documented birthing sessions, it was her first adoption.


Photo by Katie Woody Photography

Happiness Forever After?

I think it’s easy to talk about how difficult it is raising children who come from hurt and trauma while ignoring or refusing to acknowledge the brokenness and hurt we as parents also bring into the equation.

Pulled in different directions by many people who felt they knew what was best, I know the time was hard on the kids. While the storm of the case has died down, the storm in their hearts (and ours) hasn’t died down yet. That process will take years.

But, they are ours. And we are theirs. 

People are quick to talk about how far they have come, or how much they have changed for the better, or how much we have helped them or saved them, but no one talks about the fact that we’re all broken and full of hurt and sin. In God’s ideal plan, none of it would have looked like this. The hurt, the loss, the pain, the anger, the grief, the rage, none of it. He has a plan to restore our entire family to the beauty he originally envisioned.

I really dislike when foster parents are called “saints,” because you don’t know the darkness or the doubts in my heart. You don’t know my fears for the future or the questions I have. You don’t know the work it takes to create a feeling of family among strangers.

We’re all learning this together. Some days I cry because I don’t have a clue how to do this adoptive parent thing. No reading in the world can really prepare you. When you separate ME from the blood of the Lamb who covers me with his grace, it’s really a mess under there. But God’s promises endure, and I will hold fast to them.

Some days, I think they were an answer to our prayers, and some days I think we were an answer to theirs. I know for sure that one day, this whole story, not at all how I imagined it or necessarily wanted it, will come together as a beautiful testimony. Being in the middle of a time or trial that you know will one day be a fantastic testimony is hard. Sometimes parenting our kids is really exhausting and heartbreaking, because we are parenting kids whose hearts have been broken. They know pain the likes of which most adults will never understand. But my faith rests in the promise of God:

“To all who mourn in Israel he will give: 
beauty for ashes; joy instead of mourning; praise instead of heaviness
For God has planted them like strong and graceful oaks for his own glory.”

Isaiah 61:3 TLB

Regardless, we are a family.

God is building beauty from the ashes of all of our dreams. For all five of us.

And let me tell you- Jesus saves me every single day.




Filed under Adoption General, Faith and Adoption, Fostering, Parenting, Personal Posts

She’s Let Herself Go

Deep breath…

I’m trying to steady myself for this post. It’s a doozy…For me…

But in the attempt to be transparent and to remain honest with myself and relate-able to everyone else, I feel this is necessary.


Brace yourselves….


You guys,

I’ve become overweight.

I know. Sit down. Breathe into a paper bag if you need to. It’s okay. {All of this is to me, not to you.}

Here’s the thing:

I have endured a LOT of stress in the past two years, and I’ve gained weight. A visibly significant amount of it. In my head, I gained it fast, but in reality I didn’t. I gained it just like other women gain it: I put myself last too many times, I compromised what’s best for me for what was easiest for my family, I ate my stress, I let myself believe the lie that I could still eat like I was 16 when I was approaching 30, and I had way too many late night “snacks” {midnight meals} in the days when we were fiercely fighting for our children.

It didn’t just “happen” overnight. I think I just noticed it overnight. Really, I kind of knew it was creeping up, but I ignored it, until a couple of months ago…when life slowed down.  When I took my comprehensive counseling exam {which I passed, by the way}, wrapped up my time-consuming internships, said bye bye to all of my clients, and finally adopted the children I’ve been fighting for since the summer of 2013. It’s like a veil was lifted, and suddenly, I couldn’t believe myself. I felt depleted, exhausted, depressed, and angry for letting myself get to this point.

However, I’m going to go counter-culture here:

I still feel beautiful.

I really do.

What trips me up more than what think is wondering what everyone else thinks.

I’m sure in the past two years, there have been whispers from people wondering how I’m doing. Worried over the weight increase they’ve noticed. Concerned over the bags under my eyes. {And the bags on my hips}. But really, with each new pair of jeans I’ve had to buy, I still feel beautiful. I still don’t feel gross or ugly or anything else that our society tells me I should feel.

I was probably way too skinny two years ago due to a serious bought of depression, so it didn’t hurt to gain some weight to a certain point. But let’s be real: I’ve passed that point and am now swimming in the pool of the chubby.

And chubby isn’t bad. It really isn’t. From the outside, I still dress cute. I still do my hair. I still do my nails. I still do my make up. I still take pride and time and make myself look respectable.

But on the inside? Chubby isn’t great. Chubby can lead to really bad health circumstances. It can lead to heart problems, diabetes, certain cancers, high blood pressure…. And mentally, chubby can lead to a complacency that gets chubbier and chubbier, until you are definitely unhealthy.

I have no desire to become that. So I’m making changes.

I’m in a place in my life where my 30th birthday is just a few months away, I’m done {almost} with graduate school, I’m done fostering for a very long time, and I’ve adopted the children we fought for for two years. I can care about myself again. I should have cared more about myself over the past two years, but I frankly didn’t have anything left to give.

Included on the LONG list of ways I’m starting to care for myself again:

-Plugging back into ministries in my church to give back to others and feel at one with those I love again.

-Reconnecting to the hobbies I love and enjoy, such as writing {including this blog}, quilting, and cooking.

-Spending time with my girl friends for much needed one-on-one time.

-Starting a new sleep routine since I don’t have to be up all hours studying or obsessing over court custody cases anymore.

-Reading more… My Bible. Books I’ve left on the shelf. Encouraging non-fiction pieces. Books that inspire me in my own writings. Books that make me happy. Books that make me sad. Books that make me feel human again.

-Spending more time with my family, who I feel I have sorely missed.

-Reconnecting to people I selfishly pushed aside when I was too consumed in everything else to care.

-Eating healthier and getting more active.

I’m making a LOT of changes.

I never ever ever wanted to be that girl who friends from college or high school looked up online and said, “WOW! She let herself go!” But that’s what I did, maybe not in the exact sense that it means though…

I let go of myself in the sense that I let go of everything I loved, and everything that made me feel like a woman and a person.

I let myself go because I poured so much of myself into school, my clients, my papers, studying for THE test, fighting for children who had no advocates, finding therapies for children in need, not facing my own grief over failed placements and lost adoptions, pulling away from the things that make me ME, pulling away from those who cared about me, turning to a pessimistic perspective on life, spending hours working on papers and class discussions while munching on very unhealthy snacks, lying to myself by thinking neglecting me was benefiting my family… You name it, I did it, and in every single way, I “let go” of myself.

Have I done good things for my kids? For sure. Would they rather I do good things for them while still caring for my basic health needs? Absolutely!

If you’ve whispered to yourself {or someone else} “Oh my gosh! Kat let herself go!” Then you aren’t wrong, and I forgive you. Because it’s true. I let myself go not in the sense that I gained weight {which will fluctuate for the rest of my life, by the way}, but because I lost myself. I let go of who I am, and I’m rediscovering myself all over again.

I’m less interested in dropping pounds and more interested in being kind to my body. I’m getting off of soda all together. Yes, those of you who have known me my entire life know well my addiction to Diet Coke. That’s going away too. I’m drinking sparkling non-caffeinated juices and water a lot more, and limiting myself to one Diet Coke a day. As a result, my joints are less swollen from the extra sodium.

I’m exercising more, and enjoying discovering things like step aerobics and kick boxing. It’s a fun way to let out some aggression {what mom of three children six and under doesn’t have aggression?},  and cooling off after long days with yoga {without all the New Age meditation that comes with it}.

I’ve almost completely cut out ground beef from my diet. I haven’t brought any home from the grocery store in over two months. We use ground turkey exclusively in our home, and eat SO much seafood. In my freezer right now, you will find tilapia, sword fish, tuna steaks, shrimp, catfish, along with chicken drumsticks and chicken breasts. It also helps that I love vegetables more than I like fruit, so that has become an easy dietary transition.

I’m praying and journaling more. I recently started reading and praying over a Psalm every night before bed.

In other words, I’m taking a “whole-me” approach to treating myself more kindly. I’m showing myself more grace {something I’ve always done for others more than for myself}, and I am worrying less about what others think about me.

It took some mustering of courage on my part to finally write this post, but I realize that no one who has known me for three years or more is duped by my embarrassing backslide. And of course there’s the hope that by publishing this, it might encourage other women out there who are struggling in similar ways.

So now, the cat is out of the bag. I’m not teeny tiny anymore. I lost myself. I did. But God never lost me, nor did he ever look at me with contempt, frustration, or judgement over my newly-grown love handles. He sees me and YOU as beautiful. He looks at us and sees his Son, smiling, and shining. Should I lose weight? Yes. For myself. To be kinder to myself. For my children. To live a long and healthy life for them and to set a positive example for my daughter. But to fit into a particular dress? Or to impress someone at a reunion? Nah. Not worth it.

That’s not a lifestyle change.

I want to make a complete life change.

I want to find me again, and I’m getting back down to the bedrock of what makes me who I am. And at the heart of who Kat is, is Christ.

I can’t do it without the Lord, and I can’t do it if my motives are outwardly focused.

Please pray for me on this journey, and all encouragement is welcome.

I’ll tell you this: since my pivotal ah-ha moment, I’ve lost two pounds , which to me, is awesome. But beyond that, I have overcome a severe addiction to fast food. I’m drinking much more water everyday than I ever have before {even when I was way too thin}….But I’ve also had a lot of fall-backs. But I keep getting up. I keep trying, and I’m now asking you all to hold me accountable. I have to say, my amazing friend Tara has been a major source of non-judgmental encouragement for me throughout this journey, I would not be as “okay” with my new body and the road that lays before me if it weren’t for her. In the way that she has encouraged me, I hope I have encouraged some of you.

Don’t lose weight to drop pounds or to impress someone. Lose weight to be your healthiest, kindest self. The self that Jesus sees when he looks at you. {I’m thinking Christ doesn’t see our waistline measurements}.

Does anyone else out there find that you’ve “let yourself go”? Don’t be trapped in that. Put on the swimsuit, and get in the pool with your kids. Post selfies {undoctored, please!}. Share who you are, because you are a beautiful creation of God, and he is always working on us and in us, and there is no shame in that. You are beautiful, my friends. Never forget that.



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The Imagination Station Book Review

Imagination Station number 13

Imagination Station number 13

Yesterday morning before church, my friend who happens to also be the church librarian pressed two small chapter books into my hands and said, “I really think Buggy would enjoy these. I ordered them to have some more books that might appeal to the little boys, and they look like a lot of fun…” So I checked them out and brought them home. One was about a knight, the other about a dragon.

I didn’t pay too much attention to the title, aside from the colorful artwork on the cover.

Travis picked them up off the counter once we got home and turned one over. “Oh! These are from Adventures in Odyssey!” And indeed they are!*


How many of you grew up listening to the Christian radio show for children, “Adventures in Odyssey”? I did! My great aunt bought me a whole set of Odyssey tapes one year for my birthday, and I burned through all of them. If you recall, the stories revolved around a kookie inventor named Mr. Whittaker, affectionately known as “Whit” by the children in the neighborhood who hung around his shop. Some stories focused mainly on the children, and taught moral lessons about lying, stealing, cheating on tests, or keeping secrets, while other stories were just plain fun and revolved around the adventures Whit would take the kids on. {Like the Cat in the Hat, sometimes I wondered where the parents of these children were, but oh well}.

The Imagination Station series reminds me of the AIO radio shows, and each book leads to the next, much like the tapes I grew up loving. We happened to grab two books out of order {one is the 4th installment, the other is the 11th}, but I will be calling our librarian later to ask if she’s purchased the entire series.

Book 4, Revenge of the Red Knight

Book 4, Revenge of the Red Knight

{All pictures above contain links to purchase the books through Amazon, and you can catch up with everyone at Whit’s End by clicking on the AIO logo above.}

These books take you on trips through time and different countries via the time machine created by Whit. In this book, the children find themselves helping an injured knight and rescuing an important ring in the Middle Ages. Fencing, duels, knights, and ancient caves are just some of the fun things we’ve discovered in book number four.

Buggy and I sat down to read it this morning and ended up reading together for over an hour! We quickly breezed through nearly half the book. They are about as long as the Junie B. Jones series, or {if you remember them} the Choose Your Own Adventure books.

These books are aimed at children six to ten, and a child who is able to read at about a second grade level can easily enjoy these books, although they made need a bit of help understanding new vocabulary words specific to the time, such as “quill” and “chain mail.” Although I can see how the adventure aspects of the book appeal particularly to little boys {and might be a great series to spark a desire for reading in reluctant male readers}, I have to say, this book is just as appealing to little girls. There’s plenty of adventure, mystery, suspense, and historical information to draw in the attention of any child.

Although you know my love of children’s books, I do not write many reviews. However, I just could not wait to share this series with you! Not only is this series just plain fun, it sparks imagination in children and teaches about world history and time periods that you might otherwise not know about.

I will say, they kind of need to be read in order. Although the prologue quickly caught us up from the first three books, there are still references to the past stories in the book that are a bit confusing. For instance, Patrick states that the “giant eagles attacked the red knight,” and I just kind of went with it, although I have not read the first three books to fully grasp what happened there. We will definitely be backing up to read the first three books after we finish this one.

If you’re looking for a good read with strong morals and lots of adventure for your elementary aged kiddos, I would highly recommend this book. I would also recommend it as a supplement to any history program. It’s great for read-aloud time or independent reading material, and it comes from a company that I feel nostalgic and sentimental about.

So, what are you or your kiddos reading these days? Have you read the Imagination Station books, and if so, what are your thoughts?

Happy Reading!


*This book contains no affiliate links, and I am not affiliated in anyway with Focus on the Family, Adventures in Odyssey, or the Imagination Station Series. Just an avid reader excited to share a great find! 


Filed under Books We Love

Curriculum Choices for 2015 and a Personal Update

Hi everyone! It’s been a long time, hasn’t it?

Life. Got. CRAZY. Between trying to wrap up the adoption of our younger two sweeties and finishing graduate school, and adding on internship hours to that graduate school experience, my blog had to take a backseat. I can’t tell you how many times I logged on in the past….however many months, only to fall asleep with the laptop open on my lap, and half a post written.

Personal update part:

On September 4th, 2015, in front of our loving family and dear friends, we adopted our youngest two children! How long have we waited for this day? Four years, my friends. Having had these two cuties in our home for over two years as our foster children, I honestly didn’t think September 4th would make anything feel different, but let me tell you: Everything in the world feels different. It IS different. We are a forever family. We are no longer in limbo. We are official, united, crafted by God, and it is done. Praise the Lord! It feels freeing, it feels real, it feels final, and it feels like the biggest relief in the world. You think the last month of pregnancy is long? Try waiting four years, four months, and twenty-three days to finalize the adoption of the children God put on your heart. Whew. Labor. Seriously.

On a much less exciting, but nevertheless important note, on September 11th, 2015, I took the comprehensive exam required to earn my Masters of Arts in Counseling degree, which brings me one step closer to becoming a licensed counselor. The experiences I had in my internship were, in a word, irreplaceable. I also hope to share some of those experiences with you.

PROMISE an adoption-centered post is in the works, complete with pictures of my dear ones, but today’s post is dedicated to my amazing friend Sarah, who first encouraged me to start this blog. She has been asking me for weeks “What curriculum are you using this year?” And while the adoption post I’m working on is highly emotionally charged and sentimental, this topic felt a lot less intense and thus provided an easier vessel to encapsulate my return to the writing world.

In short: it’s been too long, a lot has happened, and I’ve missed you all. 

Onto the Curriculum fun!

I am still homeschooling Buggy, my biggest little. He is six now {can it be?}, and in first grade this year.

Let me say: First grade is So. Much. Fun. You learn to read books, you learn to tell time, you learn the states, and if you’re lucky, you get a creative and imaginative teacher who lets you explore all the wonderful weirdness of being six or seven. Love it!

I began planning out our year in May. I absolutely did NOT want to fall into the madness of scrambling in July to craft a year’s worth of curriculum in a few short weeks. Our public school started on August 24th this year, and I was determined to also start our homeschool on that same day.

Facing Struggles, Admitting Failures

For Buggy’s Kindergarten year, I wanted the entire year to be loose. Frankly, I needed it to be loose. You can ask my friends in our homeschooling group how many times last year I asked, “Do you think he’ll be okay this year?” Hint: It was often. And they were always gracious in encouraging me that I was not “breaking” him.

I was a mama swamped in my own schooling, facing inflexible deadlines, single-parenting a lot of the year with a dual-career husband, parenting kiddos with unique and special needs, wrapping up an endlessly long adoption process, and facing personal tragedy the likes of which I’d never seen. It was a HARD year. 

Honestly, I don’t know how we did anything last year.

Did we do anything?…

We played a lot. A subscription to ABC Mouse from my sister-in-law was a life saver. {Buggy knew more than I did about the Grand Canyon from that program just in time for our summer vacation to the incredible geological wonder}. We started a phonics program, but ultimately did not finish it. Started a lot of things, in fact, that I did not get to finish. I felt like a failure. Like I had failed him. And I felt like eyes were on me as my son was not advancing at the same rate as his publicly-schooled peers.

But our life is simply constructed differently, and that’s the path we chose when we decided to homeschool, so I chose to accept that right now, no, he’s not where they are. But that doesn’t make him less bright or less intelligent or creative. He colored, took field trips, learned a lot about grace as we blindly felt our way through a tough diagnosis for my youngest son… And in the midst of it all, I saw him grow as a person. His Sunday School teachers commented on the positive changes they saw in him as well. Friends commented on it. Family saw it too. He grew in other ways last year, ways that illustrate God’s grace even when we feel distracted and consumed in our other children or our other pursuits.

This year though, I wanted different. I was determined to have a successful, progressive year. After many hard-fought interventions, I had peace that my youngest child was taken care of. We spent the past year building up a fantastic team around him to give him the support, structure, and nurturing love that he needs to thrive. I knew with him taken care of, I could then focus on Buggy again. By May, my boys finally started bonding, our home was feeling more harmonious again, and I was feeling less depressed and anxious. I was ready to tackle first grade.

Studying Math

Studying Math

Choosing Curriculum

The first thing I wanted to do was check my local state standards {I’m in Texas, so I reviewed the TEKS, our state’s local educational standards} to see what other first graders were learning this year. Based on that information, I crafted a list of my own educational priorities for my son, and determined the subjects we would study this year:

  • Reading/Phonics/Writing
  • Math
  • Life Science
  • Music/Piano
  • Bible
  • Art History/Art
  • Social Studies/ Intro to U.S. History
This year also includes fun journal prompts for Buggy every morning to spark his imagination.

This year also includes fun journal prompts for Buggy every morning to spark his imagination.

I know, it seems like a lot. 

But hear me out:

We don’t tackle all of these subjects every single day. Art, for instance, is a once-a-week thing. Bible as well. Our science curriculum is structured to be done two-to-three days a week. The only things we do every single day no matter what {even if we have to play make up on Saturday as we did this weekend} are math and phonics.

So, after I determined what I wanted to teach, I had to determine how to teach it. That was harder. That took a LOT of research, question asking, and prayer.

I knew that regarding math, I wanted something that was based on repetition and review. I wanted a math curriculum that focused on mastery and integration, a curriculum that would connect one concept to the next in order to solidify the previous concept. I knew that I wanted a science curriculum that was secular-based. Many homeschooling science curricula are based on ultra-conservative views that never speak of the theory of evolution or the big bang theory, and I know that while we believe  in creationism, my son needs to at least know of these theories in order to make it most public high school classrooms. Lastly, I knew I wanted a reading program that relied heavily on phonics and writing.

After summer’s worth of research, here is what we’re using this year. After being in school for three weeks, I can say with confidence that we made all the right choices for us {links included}:

All of our school supplies, journals, and text books, and our geography corner.

All of our school supplies, journals, and text books, and our geography corner.

Buying it ALL

If you clicked on the links above, you might be thinking, “How in the WORLD did she buy all of that!?”

Well, no, we aren’t rich, so scratch that off the list.

I spent about $100 on all of this curriculum because I shopped wisely. I would say at least 50% of it was purchased through my local homeschooling co-op trading and buying site on Facebook. Ask around in your area to see if such a site exists for local homeschoolers near you. In most cases, I simply posted on our local Facebook site, “I’m looking for ____,” and a homeschooler would respond within a few days saying they had it! In one case {regarding the science curriculum}, a mom popped up saying she had it, but it was only via download, and due to copyright laws, she couldn’t sell it. However, she shared with me that the first nine lessons in the curriculum were available for free download if I was interested {a “try-before-you-buy” system}, so that’s what we’re doing until we have saved up the money to buy the rest of the curriculum for the year! If my fellow homeschoolers did not have the curricula I was searching for, I looked on Amazon and Ebay. Although many of the links I shared send you straight to the publishing source, I would encourage you mom to mom to simply shop around.

Also- keep in mind- with the internet at our disposal, so many things can be accessed easily that weren’t so easy before. Later this week, I’ll be sharing some of my money-saving ideas for homeschool that might spark some creativity in you as well.

Are you pleased with your curriculum choices this year? Have any great finds or resources to share? Let me know in the comments!



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Filed under Learning at Home, Personal Posts

5 Blog Inspirations for Your Week



This time of year, I start feeling kind of overwhelmed. I feel bogged down, frustrated, and overcome with self-criticism from the tape that runs in my head saying I’m not doing a good job as a mom or as a wife or as a woman. The tape that runs in my head is always critical, always mean, always deceiving. The holidays bring out this voice more than any other time of year for some reason. I feel stuck, frozen, unmovable. My to-do list is way too long, my expectations way too high, and my accomplishments way too low.

As a blogger, I read a LOT of blogs. I LOVE blogs written by moms just like me, and blogs written by moms unlike me. I love reading blogs written by women in particular, and I just love seeing what these incredible women around the world are doing with the power of the written word. It’s so inspiring. So today, I wanted to do something a little different and share the most inspiring blogs I’ve read this week. These blogs made me cry, made me yell “YES!” or made me hit the “share” button. I hope they inspire, encourage, or validate you in all the same ways. You aren’t alone, you ARE fine, and you’re an awesome mother, wife, woman, person.

When Her Words Bruise Your Heart 

Post from Carey Scott {} about the words she spoke to her daughter who experienced severe rejection. I cried through post, because my precious children have experienced rejection at the tender ages of 5, 4, and 3. We’re all rejected at some point…how do you handle it with your child, and who does God say they are?

How to Save Your Grocery Budget From the “Feast or Famine”Cycle

This post is from Have you ever struggled with the budget cycle of eating salmon and roast beef at the beginning of the month and struggling through ramen noodles and tuna sandwiches at the end of the month? No? Wow! That’s amazing! Please start a blog! I’ll follow you! We have. We’ve enjoyed perfectly grilled steaks at the beginning of the month and then mixed corn and peas and cheese at the end of the month and called it a veggie casserole. Honestly, it wasn’t that bad, but it felt pathetic. This post inspired me to deal with my monthly budget in snippets instead of indulgences. I was inspired to take a look at our monthly menu and how I allocate our budget. Hopefully it’ll inspire you- large family or not! 

It’s Not Just a Shirt When You’re the One Talking to the Press

My friend Molly has a succinctly written blog called My Little Grasshoppers {written for her daughters} in which she addresses issues involving everything from healthful living to gender equality and the beauty of daily life. I was raised as a non-traditional little girl. One Halloween, I wanted to be Robin Hood. My mother made me a Robin Hood costume and my dad hand-crafted my bow and arrow. I think it’s more important to tell my daughter “you’re smart” than “you’re pretty.” I want her to be enamored by fairy tales that empower her rather than fairy tales that convince her she needs to be rescued. I want her to know that she only needs her Savior Jesus for happiness and really, only another man if God says so. Molly’s post about a recent sexist faux pas from one of the brilliant scientists who landed a spaceship on a comet had me yelling “YES!!!!” Hopefully this will empower you in the same way it empowered me. We should be bothered by such things, women! 

An Interview with 3 Homeschool Graduates

Simple Homeschool is my absolute all-time favorite homeschooling blog. I remember being so overwhelmed a year or two ago that I couldn’t get out of bed, and I’d log onto Jaime’s site, read a post, and hop into action. I love her posts and her guest posts. This one is written by Laura Thomas of This Eternal Moment. She actually interviewed three homeschool graduates on their post-school success, their sense of self, their relationship with their families, their struggles with being homeschooled, their favorite memories, etc. For a mom neck-deep in this homeschooling experiment, this post spoke directly to my heart to encourage me that they will be okay! 

Last, but certainly not least, the post I read and re-read, and shared and secretly wished I had the courage to write because it was so exactly spoken from my own heart:

On the Shame Spiral and Making it Stop

I am completely convinced that Beth {from} and I would be best bloggy mommy friends if we ever met face to face. This blog post IS me. Every word of it, every concern, every line.

My voices unearthed my persistent fear that maybe I am too much, after all. Too loud. Too irreverent. Too ridiculous when the world is serious. Too serious when the world needs levity. Too Jesusy. Not Jesusy enough. Too big. Too sweary. Too unfit for polite society. 

Yes, yes, absolutely yes. I have said those very exact words to my husband and my best friend. I’m too much of one thing and not enough of another.I always assume the worst. I assume I’m a failure. I assume people talk badly about me. In reality, I’m not a failure, and probably most people are too caught up in their lives to talk about mine.I don’t know. But there’s one thing I do know- I’m trying. Trying to be better, trying to do more, be more, be less, be better, be worst. Whatever it is, I’m trying. And Christ is alive in me, so please, for heaven’s sake, give me a break. HOPEFULLY you need and enjoy this inspiration as much as I do.


I hope you found inspiration in these blog posts this week! What are your most inspiring blog posts this week?


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My Favorite Recipe: Garlic Chicken Farfalle

My FAVORITE recipe: Garlic Chicken Farfalle 

Garlic chicken

So I got this recipe from my step-mom, and I’m sure she remembers the original source. I don’t know where this dish came from, but oh my word, it is so amazing. I’ve made a few tweaks to it here and there to make it even tastier, and this is one of our best-loved dishes here. This pasta dish combines a unique blend of unexpected flavors to create a cheesy, zingy, creamy, and bacon-y casserole. I always eat too much when I make this, and I rarely regret it. Without further adieu, the recipe:

Garlic Chicken Farfalle

12 oz bottle of Lawry’s Mesquite Marinade {Mesquite with lime is great too}

16 oz. box farfalle pasta {sometimes I get the mini kind just because it’s so darn cute}

1 cup Heavy Whipping Cream

3-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

2-3 cloves minced garlic {I love garlic so I always  use 4 cloves}

1/2 cup butter

1 Tbs pepper

1 tsp Parsley

6 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled {Tip: cook bacon in oven for ease!}

3/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese, divided


1 cup frozen peas


  1. In the crock pot, cook the chicken and the Lawry’s marinade on low for 6 hours. If the chicken isn’t totally covered by the marinade, add a little bit of water until it’s covered so it doesn’t dry out.
  2. Shred cooked chicken and set aside.
  3. Preheat oven 350 degrees
  4. Cook pasta according to package directions, drain, and set aside.
  5. In a small sauce pan, melt the butter. Add garlic, whipping cream, pepper, parsley, and 1/2 cup Parmesan.
  6. Whisk together on low heat until butter, cream, and cheeses are well integrated {takes about 5-7 minutes of continuous stirring}
  7. In a 13×9” baking dish, toss pasta, chicken, bacon bits, and sauce together. Sprinkle top with remaining parmesan cheese
  8. Bake in oven for 15-20 minutes or until cheese on top is melted. {if you opted to add frozen peas to it -and you should definitely try it that way sometime- you can increase the cooking time to 30 minutes to ensure they’re cooked}

I know the mesquite marinaded chicken sounds weird with an Alfredo sauce, but this recipe is SO good. The chicken is tangy, the sauce is light and rich, the bacon adds perfect bursts of saltiness, and everything clings deliciously to the al dente pasta has the perfect combination of flavors. Okay, I seriously have to quit talking about this casserole because my mouth is watering.. I hope you enjoy!


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Halloween Candy Venn Diagram FREE Printable

Do you have a ridiculous amount of Halloween candy at your house? I sure do! While I’m not sneaking bits of chocolate goodness, I’m trying to think of creative ways to incorporate this candy into a lesson. Thus, I created the Halloween Candy Venn Diagram. And now I’m sharing it with everyone as a FREEBIE!


Venn Diagram.jpg

Basically, you grab two similar-yet-different candies and you compare and contrast the two. This teaches sorting skills, language skills, comparison, similarities, differences. This activity introduces new descriptive vocabulary, description, scientific investigation, and mathematical sorting skills to your elementary age student.

We compared and contrasted Milk Duds and Dots. It was a hit. Both come in boxes, both are chewy, one is chocolate, the other fruity. Lots of fun ways to compare and contrast. {Plus you get to eat it, so that’s cool too.} Buggy loved it so much, he asked if we could do another one as soon as we finished our first compare/contrast worksheet. I told him maybe tomorrow. Ha.

You could compare: M&M’s and Skittles. 3 Musketeers and Milky Ways. Nerds and Gum Drops. Have fun with it. Use what you have. 🙂

Get your FREE Halloween Candy Venn Diagram right here {or just click on the image- I like to make things simple}.



Image is copywritten exclusively by Copies may be made for personal use, but please do not distribute the PDF as your own work, use it for profit, for public use, or link directly to it on your site. You may link to this webpage to share the worksheet with others. Thanks! 

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Easy Sausage and Peppers Crock Pot Meal

I’m trying to eat more healthfully, and I know the best way to do that is to eat a lot of veggies, avoid carbs and sugars, and cut out the processed things.

I found a good deal on bell peppers this past week, and I decided to do something easy with those beautiful red and yellow peppers in this one pot meal that you can easily adjust to add whatever you like.

Here’s what you need: 


1 package of country sausage, bratwurst, whatever you want.

2-3 cloves of minced garlic

1 medium sized onion, diced or julienned {yellow, white, or red onion are all fine}

2 bell peppers, sliced or diced

6 small roasting potatoes, diced

1 small package baby carrots (could also use large carrots, diced)


diced tomatoes

fresh green beans

splash of Worcestershire sauce

When you get everything cut up, spray your crock pot with non-stick cooking spray, throw all of your veggies and sausages into the crock pot, give it a little stir or toss, and set it on low for 5 hours. No water has to be added.

The sausage is Sams sausage. You could use any kind of sausage. I diced the sausages into bite sized pieces.

This really is just a meat and potatoes meal. It’s as simple and “real food” as you can get!

See how pretty?


Honestly, it’s so easy and so basic, it could be thrown in a pouch and put over a campfire!

Dinner was a hit, everyone loved it. Even my kids!

Hope you enjoy this super easy and very basic recipe. Can’t get any better than that!

Kat {mommyponders}


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MommyPonder’s Take on Halloween

We are a Christian family.

We love and worship Jesus.

We raise our children up in the ways of the Lord.

We celebrate Halloween.

We stream “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!” for an entire month {or longer}.

We dress up and discuss our costumes for weeks. {This year it was a family effort as we all dressed as characters from the Wizard of Oz. And yes, it was fantastic. And awesome.}

We “do” Halloween.

IMG_2692 2

But, but, but…. 

It has pagan roots!

It has evil origins!!

It celebrates things that are not of God!!!!


Take a collective breath with me…..

Now, hear me out.

Here’s my take on it…..

Our God owns this earth.  He owns this day, this October 31, {insert any year}, Anno Domini.

{Exodus 19:5} {Deuteronomy 10:14} {Psalm 24:1} {Psalm 50:12} {Psalm 89:11} {1 Corinthians 10:26}

Our God made this day. He made THIS day, today, and He said it was good.

{Genesis 1:5} {Psalm 118:24}

Our God’s people will inherit this earth.

{Psalm 37:29}

I follow the God of love, mercy, goodness, kindness, compassion, justice, honor, joy, self-control, grace, and eternal salvation.

So, in short, aside from feeling for their fates and praying for their salvation,  I don’t care WHAT pagans do on this day. I don’t care what they make of October 30th or November 1st for that matter. It doesn’t nudge, budge, or bother me.


Because my God is bigger than that.

I choose to celebrate this day as princesses, super heroes, Charlie Brown specials, lots of chocolate, and lots of giggles with my darling little ones and their sweet, precious friends.

I choose to take this day and make it a day of memories for my children. Memories of time spent with family and friends. Time spent laughing, staying up a little late, eating candy, playing games, and playing pretend.

THAT is Halloween to me and my family.

Let the pagans do what the pagans are going to do and what the pagans have done since Moses wrote Exodus. My God is bigger than that. 

In short: It. Doesn’t. Matter.


Nope. They aren’t. Simply because Halloween has only ever been a fun day of dressing up as your favorite storybook or cartoon character to them. It’s a day of cupcakes, candy, fun, friends, and silliness. A day where memories are made and bedtimes are late. To my sweet children, Halloween is not a night of discussing the blood sacrifices, seances, Ooijua boards, and lost souls.

You want to know my kids’ big “scare” of the day? This prank Buggy played on Daddy when he came home for lunch:


Here’s the deal:

I think we as Christians should reclaim these days {even Halloween} for the Lord!! Reclaim them for innocent fun, joy, family memories, sweet times, cherished moments, opportunities for fun, and a celebration of imagination. Forget the “history.” God is bigger than whatever man has created! Cover it with joy, silliness, and a game of dress up, and you have something wonderful. We have the opportunity here for fellowship, discipleship, enjoyment, enrichment, generosity, and fun.

Don’t refuse fun or enjoyment simply because “they” have ruined it or claimed it. What right do “they” have to claim anything anyway? Everything of this world belongs to our God. Trust in that.

The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it. The world and all its people belong to him. Psalm 24:1

-Kat {mommyponders}


Filed under Halloween Fun

Compassion International

Have you heard about Compassion International? I LOVE Compassion International. If you’re unfamiliar with CI, it’s a non-profit organization based on Christian principals that allows people like you and me to sponsor a child anywhere in the world for a very little monthly price. We pay something like $35 a month to CI and our selected child is able to attend school on a daily basis with that money. He also gets Christmas presents, daily meals for himself and his grandparents who care for him, clothes, and a birthday gift every year. How amazingly cool is that?

Step One: Look

We started praying about sponsoring a child over a year ago. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do, but when we first married, we were po’ {couldn’t even afford the ‘or} and then when we were more on our feet, it was hard choosing who to sponsor. If you visit the link provided above, and look through the thousands of children around the world who need sponsors, you might feel overwhelmed. I did.

Explore the website. Research them. You’ll find that unlike other organizations, the money you send to YOUR child goes to YOUR child. You get to communicate with your child. We get letters, drawings, pictures, etc. from our sponsor child in HIS handwriting, which is so cool to my kids and me. He asks about our daily life in Texas. We ask him about his life in Kenya, and he responds. We correspond. We get to know each other. He prays for us, we pray for him. Seriously. It’s incredible.

Step Two: Pray

If you’re interested in sponsoring a Compassion International child after you’ve explored their website and you feel you understand their mission and their heart, then pray. Pray like crazy. Pray that God would reveal to you the child you are meant to sponsor. For us, this took months. It was about six months between the time I first learned that Compassion International was an organization to be trusted that truly makes a difference in the world and the time we actually chose a child to sponsor.

I visited their site almost daily with a prayerful heart, searching through hundreds of faces from around the world, looking for the one that would be our sponsor child.

When you sponsor a child through Compassion International, you are committing to them until they are adults. You are committing to pray for them, send monthly money to them, send birthday and Christmas gifts to them, write to them, send them pictures, and love on them until they are 20 or 21 years old. It’s not a decision to be taken lightly. It’s not a decision to hop in and out of when money gets tight. When money gets tight, we sacrifice so our Compassion child can thrive. Cutting him out is no more of an option to us than not feeding our own children.

One afternoon many months after our hearts had been touched with the desire to sponsor a child around the world, I logged onto the Compassion website. Travis and I had already talked and we had decided that we have a heart for orphans. As foster parents, we have a special heart for the children of the world who have no parents. Luckily, you can narrow your search on the CI website to certain ages, children who are HIV positive, orphans, children living in war-ridden regions, etc. We narrowed our web search to orphans. I didn’t care about age, but I was thinking it would be neat if the child was close to Buggy’s age.

I prayed before searching as I had many times before, and I hit “search.”

Step Three: Choose

Hundreds of pictures of orphans from around the world popped up on my screen, and one little face in particular grabbed my heart. He was the second picture on the page. I didn’t notice his country, his birthday, or his gender. I noticed his name. Gift.

The Holy Spirit whispered to me through that child’s eyes. He said, “This one. He’s the one you’re going to love on and walk with for the next two decades. This one is yours.” 

His name is Gift.

How beautiful and perfect and fitting is that?

Gift lives in Kenya.

He is two years older than my son and has a smile that resembles the stars.

Gift has lost his parents.

At six years old, when we first started sponsoring him, Gift was the bread-winner for his family. He lives with his grandmother and cares for her.

Today, Gift is enrolled in a Christian school. He’s a believer. He loves Jesus. His grandmother loves Jesus. He plays soccer {or football, as it’s called in Kenya}.

He writes to us, draws us pictures, tells us about his friends, prays for us {incredibly humbling}, and sends his prayer requests to us.

Some people choose their Compassion child because they share a birthday with a loved one. Others choose their child because they share a name or country of origin with a beloved friend or family member. Sometimes they choose a particular child because they share a name or age with their own child.

I believe that God chose Gift for us.

He IS our Gift.

Step Four: Invest

Our lives are now enmeshed. Gift is enmeshed with us and we with him.

Although correspondence is slow between us and him, we hear from each other regularly. When we get that envelope that says Compassion International across the side, Buggy jumps up and down with joy.

I can say honestly, Gift is loved in this home.

His picture is posted in our living room. On our fridge. His drawings are displayed in our kitchen alongside the drawings of my own children.

We belong to Gift and he belongs to us.

We study about his country.

We talk about his hobbies.

We look at his picture and pray for him.

Committing to this child on the other side of the world is not a decision we have walked into lightly. But when we committed to him, we committed our entire family to him. I include my children when I write him. We send him stickers, pictures, drawings, crafts, and bookmarks. Anything that might pass through customs, we send.

Through Compassion, my kids are learning love on a higher level than I could teach them alone.

My Challenge to You:

Please follow the above steps. Explore it for yourself. Ask around. Research Compassion. Look into the organization. Pray. Look into your monthly budget to determine if you might be able to afford to sponsor a child. Then pray for the child that God has for you to sponsor. Please consider these precious children and the small amount of money and effort it takes on our part to change their lives forever.

You will be surprised at how much they change your life too.



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