September 3, 2013

magnolia and dot

hello lovely.
my new space is done.

a few posts have even been written.
head on over.
i pray it is a blessing to you.


April 23, 2013

a conscious shift...

I have put a lot of thought into this, and I pray that you hear my heart- not just my words.

As you may or may not know, I attended an amazing conference back in October. It was life-giving, and personal-boundary-pushing, and soul-scrubbing. I loved it, I miss it, and I was forever changed by it.
To be honest, I'm still a little broken from it.
The things my soul heard, and my heart felt are still with me. And they changed the way I view things.

This blog, for instance. It has become a source of guilt, and stress. Not the feel good, inspirational, medium I had hoped for.

I'm a wife, and a mom, and I work outside the home. That's my reality. A reality that some times makes it difficult to post daily. So I post infrequently, and then I feel bad, and my mind thinks of at least 5 things that I could post. And I think to myself: "self, you should sit down and write these things, and schedule them for next week. Bam! One week worth of posts in one day, done." And sometimes, I do that. And other times Olivia has a melt down, or the dog won't stop barking, or the car breaks down and I'm not feeling very good, or inspirational. And really, who wants to read about that mess?

There are some big changes that will be happening in our home soon. And I'm feeling like this time of transition needs to seep into other areas of my life. (I've been doing a lot of thinking and feeling and talking to myself lately.)
My goals for this blog have changed. I have some exciting plans, all of which I want to share- but I feel like I need a fresh start.

So I'm working on a new space for us to meet.

I've been praying that the Lord would lead me in the right direction, and give me the words that need to be "said." I probably won't be posting on here, until our new spot is ready. I want it to be happy, and life-breathed, and filled to the brim with His goodness. I have a tentative goal for when I hope to have it ready for you. And when it is I'll let you know.

Until then, thank you for loving me well since I started this sweet little blog. Many of you have seen me through some pretty difficult times, and I have found some beautiful friendships in this blogging community.
See you soon, sweet girl.

April 3, 2013

Olivia: 3 year well visit

For the most part Olivia's 3 yr. well child visit went well.
Until this past year, Olivia had always been so healthy that these appointments were pretty much just for immunizations. I didn't really have any lingering questions.

This year, I went in with a list.
She's been having a hard time coping with her anger, and has taken to hitting herself.
She often complains of an upset tummy and being congested.
She was diagnosed since her last well visit.
She doesn't eat well. And by well, I mean at all.
and She's been having night terrors.

We have a great PA at out pediatrician's office and April quickly cut through my list of concerns. She was a little concerned about the behavioral issues we'd been having so we have a follow-up appointment next week to discuss some things as a family. She also put Olivia on zyrtec to manage what is likely seasonal allergies. I'm not usually a throw-medicine-at-it kind of mom, but Olivia is doing much better since we started the zyrtec.

Olivia has always been a teeny little nugget, and hovered around the 5-10th percentiles. She even fell off the chart one time.  This year she made a pretty big leap and is ranking much higher.

Olivia: age 3
           Well Child Visit, March 26, 2013

Height: 3' 1" (45th percentile, a 40% increase)
Weight: 30lb. 2oz. (40th percentile, a 35% increase)

April 2, 2013

a bendel easter 2013

I love Easter.
It's tied with Christmas for my favorite holiday.

We had a busy, but stress free holiday. Olivia woke up around 9 and opened her Easter basket.
She loved everything, but her favorites were the Paula Deen "My First Cookbook" and her new apron. (She has fallen in love with cooking shows lately. She is always asking to "watch the yady cook." Her favorites are Pioneer Woman, Trisha Yearwood and Paula Deen. She's a southern girl through and through!) 

We didn't want to feel rushed, and since momma had the day off we decided to go to the late service at church. It was an awesome service. Lots of testimonies and worship. Olivia is really loving the children's ministry at our church. She decided a few months ago that she didn't want to go to the nursery anymore, that she wanted to attend children's church. We were proud of her, because giving up snacks and play kitchens for a real "service" is a big deal for an almost 3 year old. We talked to her and made sure she knew what she was committing to, and she made it perfectly clear where she wanted to be! She is about 2 years younger then the next youngest children, but I've been told she does a great job listening and participating. So proud of her.

After church, my mother-in-law and I hosted a family lunch. For the most part we just fixed the staples. Ham, hashbrown casserole, green beans, deviled eggs, and sweet tea. But we did try a new recipe for dessert, sharing that recipe later this week!

We were super lucky to have a dear family friend come by to take pictures of Olivia. We'd been having a hard time finding a good time to get together for Olivia's 3 year pictures, so Easter it was! Deborah got some amazing shots, and Olivia had a blast! We did a version of 'trash the dress.' You may remember that Olivia was a flower girl in my sister's wedding in June 2011- well, that darn dress still fit; so we put it on her, she donned her rain boots and hit the rain puddles!

We spent about 2 hours with Deborah soaking up the last few minutes of sunlight. After the camera and props were packed away we loaded Olivia up in the car for one last Easter celebration. We ran over to our "bonus parents" house. We are so blessed by their love for us and Olivia. I have no idea how we're going to explain to her one day that they are not actually related to her. She adores her Grandma and Pops! They had a huge basket for her and an indoor egg hunt. The picture above is her fanning herself, wearing the princess gear from her basket.

We hope your Easter was as blessed as ours was, and that amid all the eggs and candies- you never loose sight of the real reason we celebrate. He is risen, friends, risen indeed!

April 1, 2013

Olivia: Age 3

Favorite Color:   Pink
Favorite Toy:   "Penny" her Little Bit Funky HoHo
Favorite Fruit:   Pineapple
Favorite TV Show:   Sofia the First
Favorite thing to eat for Lunch:   Clementines
Favorite Outfit:   Ruffle Pants 
Favorite Game:   Candyland
Favorite Snack:    Dora Fruit Snacks
Favorite Animal:   Cheetah
Favorite Song:   "Holy, Holy, Holy"
Favorite Book:   "Guess How Much I Love You"
Best Friend:   Momma
Favorite Cereal:   Cheerios
Favorite thing to do Outside:   Play in the Mud
Favorite Drink:   Tea
Favorite Holiday:   Christmas
What do you like to take to bed with you at night?:   "Penny"
Favorite thing to eat for Breakfast:   Pancakes
What do you want to be when you grow up?:   A doctor             

February 12, 2013

as of late.

I'm planning Olivia's birthday party/dinner/day. Chance says there's not going to be a party- I say there is. We'll see who wins. She has requested a pink and blue Cinderella ballerina birthday party. Oy.

A few weeks ago I share with y'all that I met my older brother. He is wonderful. And so is his fiancée, Sunni. I met her at work yesterday for an alterations appointment. All this involvement has me a little nervous about the wedding. It will be the first time I have seen our father in almost 6 years.

I have re-discovered a love for powdered dough nuts and captain crunch. We can thank Olivia for that.

I think want to start freezer-cooking, and canning. And then I remember how many things I have on my plate. Yeah, that's probably not going to happen.

Olivia went back to "school" today. So blessed for sights like this one. A precious reminder of how truly sweet life is. Also, that back pack is just too cute.

In the last 2 weeks our community has lost 2 little boys around Olivia's age; one to cancer, one to an accidental shooting. It's so hard for me to imagine the pain that their families are going through. And makes me even more thankful for the sweet girl that's quietly playing with her dollies in my bedroom floor right now.

My grand-mother is moving back "home" to Tupelo, Mississippi. I'm sad, but excited for her. She's going to be near her brothers; and it gives me a perfect excuse to visit that sweet little town anytime I want.

I read through my notes from the 'Soul Detox' bible study I did with the #SheReadsTruth community last year. It's very interesting to see the shift in my perspective in this past year.

February 7, 2013

5 ways I'm not enough...

I've been reading Hope for the Weary Mom lately. Because lately I've been feeling very worn, and very weary.

Chapter 2 is appropriately titled, "When your weakness is all you can see."
And y'all, lately I've been seeing a lot of weakness.

I haven't been the best version of myself lately.
I've been cranky, and short, and impatient.
As the song says, my heart is heavy from the work it takes to keep on breathing.

I downloaded this book last October when it was free on amazon, but just never got around to starting it. Probably because of the 4,953 other things I did start. I finally started it a few weeks ago during a particularly weary bedtime. 
I hadn't made it very far into the book before I started nodding my head in agreement, and out came the highlighter and the notes-in-the-margins.

One theme that kept speaking to me was that I didn't have to get it all right.
It was OK if Olivia left the house with no bow (gasp.)
It was OK if my family was fed cereal for dinner 2 nights in one week.
It was OK if I failed every now and then.
I don't know about you- but I take great comfort in the knowledge that our Heavenly Father doesn't give a hoot if Olivia's birthday party is perfectly planned, complete with pinterest-worthy photography.
And if I'm being completely honest with myself, neither does Olivia.

Between play dates and pinterest we are surrounded by the delusion that every one is better at everything than we are. (Oh how I hate/love pinterest.)
I'm tired of it all, and I'm ready to wave the proverbial white flag.
I'm ready to say that it's OK to be weak, because in that weakness He is make strong. (2 Corinthians 12:9)

As I read through chapter 2, I felt something begin to shift. Perhaps my arm, raising that flag.
The chapter concluded with study questions. One of them challenged me to list 5 ways that I am not enough. Part of me cringed.
So many answers, but which ones did I want to own up to with pen and paper.
That's so permanent, so "out-there."

I finally talked myself down and clumsily jotted down 5 things.
Each more convicting than the last.

1. I HATE doing dishes. (yes, all-caps/italics/and underlining was necessary)

"That wasn't so bad. I can do this."

2. I loose my temper way to often.

"That stung a little."

3. I don't rely on Him enough.

"Um. I'm getting better, though."

4. I see the 'bad' much more than I see the 'blessings.'

"I should pray about that. (see- better at #3 already!)"

5. I sit in judgment of Chance and his relationship with Olivia.

"I think I've been sucker punched in the gut."

I'm pretty sure that last one is the one He really wanted me to see in print. Though they are all true, and are all sin, and all require repentance. 
I've since found myself recognizing short-comings in a different light.
Recognizing and admitting these things daily.
Praying about them and reminding myself that it's OK to not be a perfect mix of Martha Stewart and Beth Moore.
I can just be Sarah.
Flawed, but loved by her Creator.

February 6, 2013


today my heart is heavy.

today a woman I went to high school with is laying her baby to rest.

today they are celebrating his life.
today they are mourning their loss.
today they are clinging to the promise of heaven.

today I can't help but think of all the 'what-ifs'.

what if Olivia wasn't diagnosed with PFAPA?
what if it had been cancer?
what if she weren't here tomorrow?

would she know, really know how special she is?
would she know how deep and far and wide my love for her runs?
how funny she is, how sweet, how precious, how inspriring.
would she have been proud of the momma I had been?
how would I face tomorrow?

in today's She Reads Truth devotional we read about when the Lord came to Moses and told him to stand before the king of Egypt and order him to release God's people from captivity. Moses was not a fantastic public speaker. The Lord asks him "Who made a person's mouth?" He goes on to tell Moses to go speak, and He will give him the words to speak. I think today is a good time to remind myself that no matter how difficult the day may look- the Lord will give me just the strength to get through it all. No matter how insurmountable, there isn't anything that God can't accomplish through my mouth, hands, feet or mind.

today I'm praying that when the day seems out-of-control I look to Him.
today I'm praying for a momma-heart that is breaking as she says good-bye, for now. 
today I'm praying that my thoughts, actions, and words reflect my love for Him. And her.
today I'm praising Him for yesterday, and today, and if its His will- tomorrow with her and Him.

February 4, 2013

a little valentine's daydreaming...

Chance and I don't typically exchange gifts for Valentine's Day, but if we did, here are a few things that I might like to see tied up with a pretty little bow....

Whitney English 'Day Designer' found here.

Snow Leopard Toms found here.

NS Pottery Coffee Mug found here. (I'd take one of those pretty little rings too!)

Sterling Cuff by Lisa Leonard found here

Any sweet friends who wanted to take it upon themselves to email this list to my husband would certainly receive a very sweet thank you card. ;) Kidding of course. Kind of.

January 24, 2013

great-grandmothers and salsa

I'm in the process of compiling some of our most treasured family recipes from both the Bendel's and the Yancey's & publishing them in cookbook form. It has proven to be quite the undertaking, but I know I'll love it once I'm done.

I've stumbled upon several old recipes and memories from my great-grandmother, Granny B. I vividly remember being 5 years old and walking into her Tupelo, MS home & being greeted by the savory smell of fried chicken, black-eyed peas and corn bread. She passed in 2005 and it has been such a blessing to remember the Granny B I knew. The Granny B who cooked to show her love, cared for her chickens in the coop, and who feared the Lord above all else. To remember the Granny B I knew, before the dementia came and the Lord called her Home.

It's been some time since I shared a recipe here on the blog. I thought I might start sharing one every now and then, while I'm putting this book together. After all, I've already typed it and a little copy-and-paste action doesn't require a magnificent effort.

Today I'm sharing a recipe I stumbled upon last year preparing for a super-bowl party. It has become quite the staple for family gatherings. Much like that darn cheesecake!
We are more of a finger food kind of family. We rarely do the big sit down, formal dinner. Easter and Thanksgiving are really the only times that we even sit in the dining room. (it serves us well as Christmas present storage the rest of the year.)  We like to have lots of options, and often serve more dips and "snack-y junk food type stuff." So this salsa recipe is perfect for us. Minimal effort, fantastic result.


Restaurant Style Salsa

  • 1- 14 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1- 10 oz can original Rotel
  • 1/2 small onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and smashed
  • 1/2-1 jalapeno, seeded or not (depends on how spicy you like it)
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • small to medium size handful of cilantro, washed
  • juice of 1 lime
  1. Put all the ingredients in the base of a food processor or good blender and pulse to combine for 30 seconds or so until all the ingredients are finely chopped and salsa is desired consistency. Taste for seasoning and adjust to taste. Serve with chips or over tacos.

January 23, 2013

brides, brothers and God.

Last Saturday began normal, uneventful.
Wake, shower, leave for work, morning meeting, appointments.

The same thing I do every Saturday.
That's where my day departed from routine.
I had two bridal appointments and a bridal party getting fitted when I noticed one of my brides from last fall looking at the flower girl dresses.
I called over to her, "Sunni, you doing alright sweetie?"
She looked as if she had something she wanted to ask, so I excused myself from my appointments to check on her. Once I reached her I could see that she had her fiance with her. She said that she had someone she wanted me to meet, and that she had a crazy story to tell me...

Sunni: "I have someone I want you to meet, this is a crazy story. This is Cody. (points to her fiance)"
I introduce myself and greet him with a simple "nice to meet you."
Cody: "What is your dad's name?"
Me: "My biological father?"
Cody: "Yeah, your biological father."
Me: "His name is Kenneth Barnett, he goes by Butch."
Cody: (grinning) "I'm your brother."

I look to Sunni, she's smiling and nodding. I look back to Cody. I really look at him, and I know that it's true. He looks so much like our father. Instantly I feel connected to a human that I've known only for about 30 seconds.

They go on to explain that Cody's mom and our dad dated just after high school and ended up conceiving a child. Him. But Cody and our father didn't meet until 2 years ago.

As for how they discovered that I was in fact Cody's sister, that's an even crazier story.
At Sunni's initial appointment last year I "happened" to be the consultant available to help her. She's funny and charismatic, we had a good time during her appointment. We found her gown, finalized her look and did all the paperwork.
I remember thinking, "She's such a doll."
At the end of her appointment she and her mother, Janet, asked if I would mind to take a picture with Sunni to commemorate the day. This is rare, but does happen, so I smiled and said "of course!"

Later that week they were at a church function, where they "happen" to attend with my father. Janet and he were discussing the fact that Sunni had found her gown and that she got it from the salon I work at. My father, knowing I work there, asked her what the consultant's name was. Janet showed him the picture that we "happened" to take at the end of Sunni's appointment.

Seeing a trend here?
All of these events "happened" to fall into place, ensuring that I would in the end meet the older brother I didn't know I had.
But we know that nothing just "happens." The Lord's hand is evident in every turn of this story.
He makes all things work together for our good.

January 10, 2013

an un-resolution resolution

All this fuss over new year's resolutions has me thinking, do we have to do everything?
Do I have to do everything?
These questions have been heavy on my heart lately.

I'm a do-er by nature.
A non-stop work full-time, do the laundry, cook the dinner, rock the baby.... do-it-all-er.

I'm coming to find that I can do all of these things- but it's hard to do all of them whole-heartedly.
To quote a very smart woman "the Lord really wants me to do a few things well, instead of a lot of things without heart or passion."

In reflection I'm finding that I've been doing many things without the heart or passion that is deserved.
And this unintentional neglect has left many relationships running a little ragged and my laundry pile higher than I care to admit.

As a daughter of Christ my highest calling is to live by Him, yet I find that I'm increasingly guilty of living by my to-do list. Sitting here in my bed I count no less than 12 books within reach about "being a good mother," about "doing it right." There's a planner on my nightstand filled to the brim with appointments and obligations.

There's also a picture from last Easter of my sweet little family. An ever-present reminder of what I'm called to do best. Of who He has called me to love well.

This year I'm not making resolutions. Sure, I want to be healthy. I'd love to nail down a laundry system that really works for our family.  And I'd probably throw a party if I got Olivia to sleep in her bed through the night on a consistent basis. But what I want most is to wait, listen and follow. Not 3 things that I always do well.
I want to hush the lists, and uncertainty. To follow the Voice in my heart calling me to be who He has designed me to be. Because I'm pretty sure He's not going to be too worried about my to do list when I stand before Him. And I don't want to fall short on the things He has called me to.

January 7, 2013

Less us..

My momma-heart is proud today.
Olivia is growing and learning so fast.

With every passing day she teaches me something new. Showing me daily, the precious and sweet things of life. Singing in the grocery store, witnessing to my brother-in-law, saying grace over our Christmas dinner.

Most days are precious and filled with hugs and tippy-toe turns. Tea parties with sweet, stuffed friends. Watching her take care of her babies, making sure each one is perfectly wrapped in their blanket.

Some days are tough; after all she is a toddler. And a head strong one at that. I couldn't begin to count the number of temper tantrums, or cries of frustration. (From her and me, let's be honest)

But I am uniquely blessed to be this child's mother. 
When I was pregnant I wondered what kind of child she would be.
I wondered how she would change our family...  How she would change me.
I prayed over my belly- that He would use her and that her spirit would shine brightly for Him.
As she has grown to be the person she is today, three things are abundantly clear.
1. I love her in an insane, unfathomable, indescribable way.
2. She is not mine. She is the daughter of a great Father, who loves her far better and far more than I ever could.
3. She is watching me, in every way.

I saw something once that said "our children become who we are, so strive to be the person you want them to be." That may not be the exact quote- but you get the point. I pray that when Olivia looks at my life 5, 10, 15 years from now she'll see a woman of dignity, of grace.
A woman who loved the Lord first, her husband second, and her daughter more than she could ever put into words.
I pray that the legacy I'm leaving will inspire her. That she would see the "why's" behind every decision. That she would respect the wife, mother, sister, daughter, and friend I am.
I live each day in prayer that He is molding me to be the best version of myself. For her.

This world is an ugly, broken place- and these babies we're pouring ourselves into; they all too soon will be watching it all unfold.
Friends I think if there's one thing we can all agree on it's that we want the best for them.
We want them to be happy, and healthy.
There are countless books written that will tell you how to be the best mother, the toughest mother, the fill-in-the-blank mother; and they're all filled with advise from well-meaning authors.
I've even read a few of them. Well, I read a few chapters anyway.

But I think the most important thing that we can do for these precious souls is to be who we were created to be.
To be honorable, and humble. Help little old ladies, and wash your hands.
Be true, and a great friend. Be more worried about who is sitting next to you than what you're wearing. Read the Word of God, and don't just see the words, but live it too.

Because, sweet friend, they see us, in every moment.
Let's make sure they see more Him and less us.