Monday, February 18, 2019

Three Days in Austin: A Travel Guide

In early January, Aaron and I escaped the Kansas City cold and hopped on a plane for an adult's only trip to Austin, Texas (our first kid free getaway since our Hermann Getaway back in August). We had never been to Austin before, and it was the perfect non-stop flight to somewhere warmer. Plus, I had always wanted to make a little trip to Magnolia, and it was less than two hours to Waco! If you're looking to spend a long weekend in Austin, you've come to the right place. Here are my tips for things to do and places to eat while you're there!

To start our trip, we flew into Austin and rented a car (Side note: EasyRentCars offers incredible deals and coupons on rental cars! We got a steal of a deal on our Toyota Camry!). From there we hopped on the highway and drove straight to Waco (see farther down in the post for more), but you've got so many options for kicking off your own adventure in Austin. You'll definitely want a car to get around, as the city has so many different areas that are fun to explore- and not all of them are close together. There are lots of scooters and bikes you can rent, but we found that driving and parking, then just walking around was pretty time and cost efficient.

If money is less of an issue, you can definitely stay right in the heart of downtown, with Rainey Street and 6th Street being major areas to visit. We chose to stay in the quirky and fun South Congress area, just south of downtown, where there are numerous restaurants, music venues, and touristy areas to explore up and down South Congress Avenue. Once you get here and park, it's easy to walk up and down the avenue. We stayed in a cute Airbnb that was just minutes away, and was a great home base to explore from.

Explore the Austin Murals

One of the things Austin is known for is being "weird". And Austin wants to keep it that way. They celebrate their unique music and art culture, and have numerous fun murals throughout the city. They're fun to find and take selfies with (or make friends with people who are willing to take your picture)!

The Greetings from Austin Mural 

The Hi, How Are You Mural: "Jeremiah the Innocent"

Austintatious Murals on Guadalupe Street (Near the University of Texas)

Willie for President Mural

Party @ The Moontower Mural

I love you so much mural- outside Jo’s Coffee Shop on South Congress

Eat LOTS of Yummy Tacos (And Other Food)

One of the very best things about Austin is trying all of the delicious food. There are definitely tacos and Mexican restaurants in abundance, but we weren't disappointed by anything that we had. Here are a few big ones to hit! 

Torchy’s Tacos

Torchy's has locations all across Texas. We ate at the one on South Congress. I had the "trailer park" and the chicken fajita tacos, and they were delicious. So was the guac, and I loved the Austin sodas that were featured in their fountain drinks options.

This place was a diamond in the rough, and honestly may have been our favorite meal of our entire trip. We just happened to pull off and grab breakfast tacos here, and they were incredible: so fresh and cooked to order. Click the heading for more info and for location- you won't be sorry!  

Guero's Taco Bar

Guero's was our first stop for Mexican and it was super yummy. We hit happy hour for a great deal on Margarita's, and they had excellent enchiladas. They also have free live music every Wednesday through Sunday outside of the South Congress location. (6-8 on Thurs, 6:30-9:30 on Friday, 2:30-4:30 on Sat.) Check it out!

Homeslice Pizza

Homeslice Pizza is great if you'd just like to grab a quick slice without a line. They also have a sit down restaurant where you can order whole pizzas, calzones, or other items.

Dolce Neve Gelato

I never go on vacation without scoping out great ice cream options, and this one did NOT disappoint. They have delicious, unique gelato options and I would say it was pretty authentic to what I've had in Italy.

Enjoy Live Music (Often for Free!)

Austin is home to lots of great live music, and many of the options are even free! If you look up "Free Music in Austin" you can usually find lots of great options for when you'll be in town! 

One place that has been home to live music for years and years is the Continental Club on South Congress. Depending on timing of the show, they have free music or a small cover charge. Check out their website for more info!

Another option is to check out free music in the nearby Zilker area at the Saxon Pub. They often have free music from 6 -7:30 pm, and you can register ahead of time online. Definitely take in a show while in town!

Take a Dance Lesson (Or Grab a Drink)

If you know much about the story behind me and Aaron, you know that I love dancing, and that it has always been special for us. We couldn't take a trip to Austin, Texas without doing a little bit of counry two steppin'. I checked around and found free two step lessons for us at The White Horse.

It felt like a major hole in the wall, but just minutes after we showed up, a whole crew of people walked in and suddenly there was a full house for the lessons. We had a lot of fun and the instructors were really great. Other than asking if anyone wanted to tip, it didn't cost a dime. I would highly recommend it- they didn't make anyone feel silly and I didn't see a single person having a bad time.

We also made a little stop at The Austin Winery. It was a super fun space in what appeared to be a little warehouse area in a small part of town. There were several breweries and different areas nearby, so there was something for everything. We enjoyed sharing a bottle of wine, playing games, and watching playoff football games on their drop down screen. It's also really cool because they make and store the wine in the same space, so you can see it all from the long farmhouse tables. It's definitely a hip area worth checking out.

Take a Walking Tour

One of my very favorite things to do anytime we visit a new city is to go on some sort of tour. We found a great downtown Austin walking tour through Tipster Tours. Tipster doesn't have a price for their tours- you just tip what you feel is fair afterwards. It was a perfect 70 degree day in Austin, and we had a great time exploring the Capitol area and downtown, while learning more about the history of the area. 

The tour ended at the popular and gorgeous Driskill Hotel, which has a whole lot of character and its own restaurant and bakery. We didn't eat there, but I've heard it's delicious! 

Road Trip to Waco! 

If you've got time for it, and if you're just as big of a fan of Chip and Joanna as I am, hop in the car for the easy drive from Austin to Waco. In less than two hours, you'll be able to check out Magnolia. If you've watch any of the Fixer Upper series, especially the one where Jo renovates the bakery at the silos, it will really mean a lot to see it all in person. We had a ton of fun exploring the grounds, snagging a delicious cupcake (or two- don't judge!) from the bakery, and perusing the store to pick up a shirt and magnet before we left. And of course I was totally drooling over all of the cute decor in the store. But then it wouldn't have fit into my cute carry-on!

Magnolia is open from 9-6, and their Magnolia Table restaurant closes at 3 pm. Because of the timing for us, we didn't eat at their restaurant, but I've heard that it is amazing! It was really fun seeing all the things they've done the Silos. We did also make a quick stop in downtown at the Waco Winery and the Harp Design Co. before heading out of town. Waco is so cute!

All in all, we had an amazing time in Austin, and our bellies and hearts were pretty darn full after this getaway. You should definitely add it to your list! Let me know if you have any questions, and be sure to follow along on Instagram and Facebook if you aren't already! Can't wait to share more of our adventures with y'all soon!


Wednesday, January 30, 2019

4 Reasons You're Neglecting Your Porch (And How to Stop)

This post may contain affiliate links. Thank you for supporting Currently, Kelsie.

A porch is always a significant selling factor when it comes to buying property. This addition is something of a home bucket list item. It’s a quaint feature which provides real character to any property. The moment you see a porch, you may imagine sitting on a porch swing or drinking your morning coffee while chatting with your neighbors. Many of us love porches, and many of us would admit to being significantly swayed towards a property that has one. The trouble is, once we’re inside those homes, we fail to realize what we’ve got. That’s because, despite what they’d have us believe on the big screen, porches often go unused. If you aren’t careful, they’ll become a neglected home feature which you barely even notice.

That can be heartbreaking, especially if the porch was the reason you bought that property in the first place. The trouble is that porches go clean out of our minds once we’re inside our homes. While we focus on things like decor and interior renovation, we often fail to consider exteriors. And we fail to consider our porches right along with them. When that happens, there won’t be a porch swing. You’ll never drink coffee as the sun comes up. Instead, your porch will fall into disrepair, which threatens to ruin your property rather than bring it to life.

The good news is that it doesn’t have to be that way. If you’ve neglected your porch up until now, you’re not alone. Many of us make this mistake, and it stops us from ever being 100% happy with our homes. But, it isn’t too late. As with anything in your house, it’s always possible to turn it around. All you need to do is consider whether these issues are behind your lack of use here.


It’s not safe.

One of the main reasons for lack of use here is an unsafe porch. If you risk putting your foot right through rotten wood as soon as you step off the main trail, you’re never going to try it. Equally, a porch which is experiencing foundation issues could become a hazard and a half. If your porch foundations sink so far that they come away from the top beams, you’ll never be able to use the space. Even worse, issues like these tend to be a vicious cycle. Things get this bad because you don’t use your porch the way you should. Then, you find yourself unable to use it as a result. It never ends. Until you take action, that is. The good news is that most porch issues have easier fixes than you would imagine. Reinforcing rotted porch panels with new wood could see you standing anywhere. Equally, turning to company like Helitech who offer porch mudjacking could cover you for any foundation issues. In an ideal world, you may find that you don’t even need to do this much. Often, issues here have even more straightforward fixes. It may be that a coat of varnish is all it takes to return your porch to its former glory. But, you’ll never know that unless you get out there. So, go on. What are you waiting for? Investigate the damage, and work out your easiest options for repair.

You haven’t made it look the part.

Sometimes, neglect here is nothing to with the actual condition of our porches. It may just be that you’ve neglected decor in this area. That alone could see you turning away from your porch rather than putting it to good use. Think about it; if a room in your home doesn’t look right, you close the door until you can tackle it. That’s what you’ve been doing on your porch all these years. The trouble is, you never get around to addressing it. Once you’re safe at home, you can ignore it altogether. By this point, the paint is flaking, and the whole thing looks a bit of a mess. There are still piles of leaves in the corner from last autumn, for gosh sake. You know what I'm going to say next, though, don’t you? It’s past time you tackled decor here, too. Your porch is the most prominent part of your house to passers-by, after all. It’s the first thing guests see when they arrive. So, making it look pretty matters far more than you’ve given it credit for until now. Lucky for you, decor here is often easier than it is in your house itself. All you need to do is invest in the right outdoor paints, and figure out how to craft a porch you can use. White is a popular color for porch beams, but it’s not your only choice. Bright porches can also work really well. Yellow is always a fantastic option, as is baby blue. You may even find that you want to strip paint off altogether and expose any wood for a rustic country vibe. This is fantastic for those who don’t have the time to keep on top of upkeep. If you aren’t sure which look you prefer, head online. There’s plenty of porch inspo out there which could see you wanting to spend every spare moment enjoying this space again.


You haven’t given it a purpose.

It may seem strange to talk about giving your porch a purpose. To some extent it does, after all, take care of that itself. Wrap-around porches frame properties. Some porch designs work to secure the foundations of a house. Others offer added levels of protection. Sadly, none of this is going to help you using the space. That’s why it can help to bring an added level of purpose to an area like this. You don't have to go wild with this if you don’t want to. Even something as simple as a classic porch swing could provide the incentive you need to get more use here. You’ll find it much harder to neglect your porch when you have the option of lounging with a book when summer rolls around. It’s certainly a better bet than a blank canvas with no seating at all. If that doesn’t work, you may want to go even further. Placing potted plants here could transform this space into a small garden for the whole family to enjoy. At the very least, that means you’ll spend time here watering the plants each day. You may then find that you stick around, seeing as you’re already outside. You may even want to turn your porch over to practical purposes, such as excess storage space. That may not mean you use the area more, but it would ensure that the area no longer went to waste. You may even find that turning this into an outdoor kiddie play area is your best bet at ensuring continual use. There are a whole load of possibilities. You get the idea though; purpose makes for a happy and well-used porch.

There’s no privacy.

If none of the above is behind your porch neglect, it may well be that privacy is the issue. The idea of sitting on the porch and chatting with neighbors is nice in theory, but it doesn’t always work out. If you don’t know your neighbors that well, for instance, you may feel overly exposed every time you head out. That alone could stop you from using the space. This issue becomes even more pressing if you don’t get along with your neighbors. Before you know it, years will have gone by without you using your porch properly. Unless you tackle the issue of privacy now, of course. In reality, there’s no reason you should put up with porch exposure. There are plenty of things you can do to add a level of privacy which keeps you happy. If you’re opting for the garden idea, tall and hanging plants can keep your porch a little hidden. By choosing the right spots for these, you could cover your neighbor’s view altogether. If that doesn’t make you feel safe, there are other options. There’s even such a thing as patio curtains which could help keep you out of view. In extreme cases, you may want to opt for an entire porch cover. This would stop anyone from seeing you when you’re using the space. It may seem extreme, but it’s a step worth taking if it saves your porch going to waste.

If any of these pointers ring true to you, it’s time you get out and made some changes. It sounds to us like your porch is long overdue a little love, so go transform it into something you'll spend hours and hours in! Good luck!


Friday, January 25, 2019

Florida Beach Vacation Spots

Now that we're in the middle of our fourth snow storm of the winter... I've got beach fever. We had an amazing time in Puerto Vallarta on our adults only getaway last summer, and Eli loved dipping his toes in the oceans of North Carolina on our family trip. It's safe to say that I think the whole family has beach fever. Although we'll likely be staying home this spring break (lots going on people- LOTS!), I'd still kill to be on a beach somewhere. We've been to Orlando before, but we've never visited the southeast side of Florida. It's no secret that the state has some of the most beautiful beaches in the nation. Here are some fabulous Florida beaches that you should consider for your next vacation.

Clearwater Beach

Located just southwest of Tampa, Clearwater Beach is continuously named one of the top beaches to visit in the United States. With beautiful white sand beaches and shallow water, Clearwater Beach is also a great place for families to visit. I can literally picture Eli scooping shovelfuls of sand into his little pail. Here, you'll find great opportunities to enjoy the water with kayaking, boating, and dinner cruises. From Pier 60 to the Clearwater Marina to Sand Key Park, you'll definitely have a lot to do in the area.

Daytona Beach

Perhaps best known for the Daytona 500 NASCAR race, Daytona Beach is another great family beach destination. Located on the eastern side of Florida, the city also has the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America. The beach has an awesome pier and boardwalk that were recently renovated, and families can enjoy food, shopping, and great thrill rides, including an oceanfront roller coaster that's scheduled to open soon. The 23 miles of beautiful sandy beach are worth visiting as well.

Panama City Beach

Source: Aaron Burden
Known as a top spring break destination for college students, Panama City Beach is a great option for those looking to avoid going quite so far east. PCB is located just east of Destin, and it's a very affordable option. The water is a great place to fish or scuba dive, and there are two state parks in the area. There are several touristy areas where you can eat and shop, as well as dolphin tours and a Gulf World Marine Park. If you visit at certain times of the year, you can avoid the craziness of spring break and have a great time as a family! Aaron and I visited briefly during the day a few years ago and it was actually quite peaceful.

Sanibel Island 

Best known for its incredible shells, Sanibel Island offers a calmer and more private beach option. The island is located west of Fort Myers, and is a great destination for both romantic getaways and family vacations. Consistently ranked as a top travel destination, Sanibel Island is an excellent choice for fishing, shelling, golf, tennis, birdwatching, and more. This is a great place to relax and enjoy luxurious resorts and fine dining, and it's totally on my list!!

Sunny Isles Beach

Source: Lance Asper
Sunny Isles Beach is just north of North Beach, Miami, where we visited a couple summers ago. Although it may not be as well known as other options, Sunny Isles offers gorgeous views of the Atlantic along a beautiful white sand beach. Resorts in the area are plentiful and not far from the hustle and bustle of South Beach or even the natural adventure found in the Everglades. Sunny Isles has free morning yoga on the beach, along with Florida's largest urban park, Oleta River State Park. The Newport Fishing Pier has been newly rebuilt and is worth a visit.

No matter which Florida beach you choose to visit, you'll definitely enjoy both the beauty of the ocean and lots of fun activities that will please any traveler. We had a great time on our Florida vacation, and I'm sure we'll be back to visit another one of these locations soon. Happy planning!


Tuesday, January 8, 2019

My Word for 2019

Last year was my first year "choosing a word". I wasn't sure if it was just trendy, or something worth doing, but I am happy to report a year later that I am a huge fan of having a word of the year. Looking back on 2018, my word was "cultivate", and boy did it ring true! I found myself pruning and preparing for something new. I was forced to live in chaos at times, forced to be patient when I didn't want to be, all the while focusing on the beauty that lay ahead, promising to be worth it all. And so, that leads me to my word for 2019: listen.

I'm going to be real with you here: I'm not always a great listener. I often rush into trying to talk and process and solve the problem, but I don't always listen long enough first. I'm not proud of this, it indicates my faults: my desire to rush to share my own words rather than hear another's. That I am selfish at heart and that I feel like I can trust myself more than others, that I need to drone out their opinions or speak my piece. And I don't want that. Listening requires patience. It is an act of faith, of grace. It is loving and kind. I want to do a better job of listening to people's hearts, their hurts, their joys. I want to do a better job listening to my friends, and serving them in that way. I want to do a better job listening to my husband, and honoring him in that way. I want to be slower to speak and quicker to listen. Because listening, and truly hearing, prepares us to speak and act well.
A huge part of listening this year is continuing to seek God's will and listen to hear His direction. As I've alluded to lately, He has definitely been on the move in our lives in the last year. I feel like we have had all sorts of crazy things happen and all sorts of huge decisions present themselves, and it has been hard to make these decisions without feeling doubt here and there. Were we doing the right thing? Were we marching towards our dreams? And yet, we keep putting one foot behind the other, stepping out in faith and trusting that the Lord has far bigger plans for us as we seek to follow His will. (And friends, I'm so excited to share more about this in the coming months!)

It isn't like I can just call God up on the phone and hear His voice, so listening in this sense requires prayer, requires reading His word, requires laying down my own selfish ambitions and desires- separating my emotion and listening to where He is leading us, even if it's not necessarily somewhere I want to go. And it takes patience. It takes shutting off my own worries and shutting out the shouts of the world. I find peace in knowing that God listens too. That He hears my voice and my cries, and that He knows me better than I know myself. That He is willing to give grace to me and show me the love and kindness that I am often to hesitant to give others.

"My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry." - James 1:19 (NIV)

"But he said, 'Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!'” - Luke 11:28 (NIV)

So with that, I commit to striving to listen this year. To be slow to speak. To show others grace and kindness, to love them enough to hear them out, or even to just be there to listen without saying a single word in return. And I'm striving to listen to the Lord, now more than ever, as He takes us on this incredible journey.


Saturday, December 29, 2018

2018: A Year in Review

As I reflect on the year, I love looking back at the word I chose for 2018: cultivate. This word has been far more applicable than I could have ever dreamed in the last 365 days. It has been a year of immense joy: traveling, laughing, and watching in wonder as our sweet baby grew into a little boy. It has also been a year of new challenges to face together, and big dreams to patiently dream and march towards, step by step. Some of you may stop by this corner of the web more often than others, so whether you're new here or read regularly, here's a recap of the year: complete with highlights, posts, and fun photos and videos. Here's to you, 2018.


In January, this blog marked its third birthday! It has been so much fun seeing how this space has grown and changed over the years, and I honestly couldn't do any of it without you all. Just when I think it's time to throw in the towel, another awesome reader sends me a sweet email about a post, or I get a little blogging gig that's a huge blessing. So I'm still here, sharing stories and tips and hopefully a little bit of meaningful content! In January, I set off in hopes of cultivating, wrote about the struggle to find "me time" as a working mom, and did my best to handle the emotions that come along with balancing work and motherhood. We also started work on our bedroom remodel!

Chaos: We've got doors and toilets and tiles everywhere they shouldn't be. It's uncomfortable. It's ugly. But I'm realizing that out of chaos comes order and beauty. I have a vision for our room, and I know it will be amazing in the end. It has to be a mess before it can be made beautiful and new. And isn't that so true of us all? Let's be real- I'm a hot mess about 80% of the time. I cried today while taking ornaments off the tree. I let people down. I say things I shouldn't. But in all of my mess and my chaos, I'm constantly being made new. I'm being refined and remodeled into something beautiful, someone that the Lord wants me to be. And isn't it beautiful that he loves me and you just as we are, broken tiles, misplaced doors, and all? Im so thankful that, in the midst of my chaos, He is making me new.
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February brought lots of snow days and sweet days off where we enjoyed hosting folks who filled our home with laughter. I continued my monthly recaps, and the biggest excitement of the month was throwing our little man his first birthday party. We had a "onesie" party complete with a time capsule, cook-Es, jammies, and breakfast for dinner, and it was a BLAST. I loved making his one second everyday video of his first year (and you can view it below- his whole year in six minutes!). It's crazy how big he seemed to me at the time, and how little he looks now when I look back at the photos. I can't believe he'll be two in less than two months!!


March came and we stayed home for Spring Break, instead of doing our usual adventuring all over. It was relaxing to stay in town and just rest a little. I enjoyed taking some really fun one year pics of little man (see below). I can distinctly remember him trying to crawl across the sidewalk while I was taking pictures, so I finally succeeded once I put him in the swing ha. That face when he saw a doggie though: I can't even ha! I ran my second half marathon (the first of four in 2018), and I shared my heart in a post about "What I'm Clinging To".


April is typically the slowest month for us teacher folk (no days off!), but it wasn't so bad this year. I trained for and ran my third half marathon- Rock the Parkway. I set a new personal record and wrote about my experience in "The Pacer". We also spent lots of time with our little man and I learned how to be way more intentional in resting and spending time with my boys. Work life balance is no joke people! We also took a bit of a leap of faith in April, and I'm excited to share more about the Lord has been doing in our life here soon.


In May, I finished up my 7th year of teaching, and Aaron finished his 5th! I had many of my kiddos three years in a row at school, so it was weird saying goodbye for the summer and knowing I wouldn't see them in the fall. On the blog, I shared 5 Secrets to Being a Happy Mom. Our biggest highlight came when my youngest brother, Kirk, married his gorgeous bride, Anna! Eli had a fabulous time staying up all the way until 10 pm and dancing the night away with his little walker. We also enjoyed taking Eli on his first swim of the summer, hitting up the park, and settling into the slower rhythm of summer. Eli also turned 15 months old, and I shared alllll the fun things about what he was up to in this post


In June, I ran my fourth half marathon, the Hospital Hill Half. Waiting out the mugginess and a rain delay was worth it, as I set another new PR. The next day, Aaron and I jetted off for a kid-free trip to Puerto Vallarta for our fifth Anniversary! Eli stayed home and hung out with Grandma and Grandpa, and "Mom and Dad" had a much needed, relaxing time away. We also had lots of pool time, storytime visits, ice cream, and sweet summertime moments swinging and just enjoying time off as a family. June and July were definitely my favorite months of the year- (and how could they not be with summers off and lots of traveling?). 


In July, we enjoyed a free visit to the zoo, had a wonderful Fourth of July (Eli loved the fireworks), and helped out at our church Breakaway summer camp. Eli ran around and was very confused as to why he couldn't play with the big kids. We enjoyed a weekend on the lake with the pontoon and good friends, and then headed off on our family vacation to Southeastern North Carolina (read all about it here). Eli was a natural beach bum who could have shoveled sand for hours! I read a bunch of great books, and shared my top ten summer reads in this post. I also celebrated my 29th birthday, and reflected on what year 28 meant to me. I can't believe I'll be THIRTY next July- what!?! I wish July could have never ended. 


In August, Aaron and I squeezed in one more kid-free trip before we headed back to work (and reality). We enjoyed a quick, nearly-free getaway to Missouri wine country in Hermann. If you've never been before, you can read all about it here! We also took E to the Deanna Rose Children's Farmstead in Overland Park, and settled back into the reality of school. I started year eight, and Aaron started year six (tenured)! 


In September, I picked up my training for the Kansas City Half Marathon (second time around), settled into school, and enjoyed my first girls' trip away since college. We stayed up until four am chatting about life, shared tears and laughter, and made it out of an escape room (my first)! As a family, we celebrated our fifth House-iversary and I finally got around to finishing up and sharing our modern farmhouse bedroom reveal! We also took a good step forward towards a new adventure.


October came, and Aaron and I kicked off the month with a super fun styled shoot where we got to dress up as a bride and groom. I ran my fifth and final half marathon of the year. I set a new personal record of 1:44, which I was very excited for! I actually ran the 2018 KC Half Marathon 11 minutes fast than I ran the 2017 race on the same course. We enjoyed the fall fest at church, visited Eli's first pumpkin patch, and celebrated Halloween with our slightly bigger cow this year. E even did a little trick or treating, and he continued to say "trick or treat" to ask for candy for the next couple of months. On the blog, I shared "On Stories" and "My Baby You'll Be". 


In November, we celebrated Aaron's 28th birthday, and also helped lead music for a weekend trip at Clearwater Cove YoungLife Camp. Eli even made it into the skit and helped sing worship songs, puppy in hand. I waited an hour to vote in the mid-term elections, and got a fat lip during our 50th annual Thanksgiving Day family football game. On the blog, I shared a bit about finding strength in your current season.

When I think back on this weekend, I'll never forget the sound of hundreds of kids belting Reckless Love at the top of their lungs. I'll never forget the presence of the Lord as we sang Praise the King with a room full of YoungLife leaders. I'll never forget when our sweet baby helped Dawn find her camp bae while holding his puppy, or when he suddenly decided he needed to be held during club songs. I'll never forget the laughs that my hilarious friends @michellejank @thamericandream and @mcspaddzee brought to us all, or the songs our talented friend @laurenscottmusic sang that gave me chills. But more than anything, I'll never forget the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God that continues to chase me down- that I'll never deserve or earn- and I pray that our High School friends who were there this weekend won't ever forget that either. 💕
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And here it is, the last week of December- I can hardly believe it! I shared a story about Eli's first snowstorm in "In His Eyes", and squeezed in a quick 2018 Holiday Home Tour. We enjoyed some fun Christmas parties with friends, Aaron finished his Master's Degree, and we had the best Christmas with a very enthusiastic Eli. He was older and more involved this year, opening his Paw Patrol wrapped presents, squealing in glee at seeing trains, and singing and dancing with Mama to Christmas music. He wasn't so sure about Santa though- as his photo shows. This year, our Christmas Break started later than normal, but it means that we don't go back until January 7th, so I'm pumped about that! We're excited to celebrate the new year, and then Aaron and I will head off on a little kid-free getaway for a few days the first week of January.

Cheers to 2019 and all that it will bring! I pray that it finds you healthy, happy, and oh so loved. Thanks for sticking around this year and loving on us through all of the ups and downs. We hope you'll join us next year for all of our new adventures!