Inspiring Mom Lora Kendrick

For most expectant moms the 20 weeks ultrasound is where they find out the baby’s gender. That’s all that Lora Kendrick had on her mind when she and her husband Morgan had their ultrasound with their second child. It never even crossed their mind that anything would be abnormal. As the tech did the exam everything seemed fine but Lora says “When the doctor walked in the door and I saw the way she looked at me my heart dropped. I will never forget it. I knew right then that something was wrong. My whole body felt it before she said a word”.

That’s when they learned that only half of their daughter’s heart was developing. There were other complications too. At the time they were referred to a prenatal specialist and they were given no guarantee that their daughter would make it to term.

The rest of the pregnancy was uneventful. There were lots of ultrasounds and testing. They determined that there weren’t any chromosomal abnormalities so all they were left to do was wait and see.

Baby Mya was born in March of 2010. She had surgery when she was a week old which they were prepared for. What they were not prepared for was that she almost lost her life on the operating table. Mya was put on life support and immediately added to the list for a heart transplant. When they were allowed to go back to Mya’s room they were overwhelmed by what they saw. It was actually two hospital rooms connected that were both full of machines and in the middle of it was a tiny 6 pound baby that those machines were working to keep alive. Lora describes it as an out of body experience. They were given pagers and told to keep the pager and their phones nearby at all times in case there was news of a heart because if a heart came in they would need to act quickly.

They struggled to keep their heads above water in the midst of this devastating turn of events. Thankfully they were surrounded by friends and family that were there to pray with them, cry with them and help with their 3 year old son. It had been over a month of waiting and Mya’s health was taking a turn for the worse. No one knew exactly how long she could live without the heart transplant, but something needed to happen soon! Her liver and kidneys were struggling. She looked very yellow. Lora was pumping milk to give her via a dropper into her feeding tube but Mya’s stomach was no longer able take in the milk and she would instantly vomit it up. They would later discover that she lost her hearing too.

Everyone knew time was short. It had been 8 weeks since Mya’s birth and one night they were back at home with their 3 year old getting ready for bed and Lora looked at her husband Morgan and said “If we get a call don’t get too excited because they might be calling to say that she is getting sicker and that we need to come in.” The phone rang at 2:00 am and it was Karen, their transplant coordinator. Morgan answered and said, “Karen, Please tell me this is a good phone call”. Lora looked at him with anticipation. They both held their breath and the response on the other end of the line was “I only make the good phone calls. We have a heart. We’ll go into surgery by 7:00 am so get down here.”

Lora was shaking as she jumped out of bed and immediately called her sister to come down to watch her son. She started texted and calling everyone in the middle of the night. It’s been 8 years since that life-altering moment but Lora remembers every detail and as she recounts them all tears of joy flow down her face. Everyone was celebrating and giving praise to God. When they arrived at the hospital all the nurses were there outside of Mya’s room to greet them and hug them. But Lora pauses before she explains “It was the most bizarre feeling because it was the best day of our lives. Our baby was about to die and all of the sudden with this one phone call now she is going to live and this other family is at the absolute worst moment of their entire lives. They will never have a moment worse than that because it was their child and the heart had to belong to a child younger than 12 months old. I felt like my emotions were going in every direction possible. I hate to even go through thoughts like this, but then I think, well that family had to go through it so I can a least take a minute to think about what had to happen. To let my mind consider what they were feeling and to honor their loss.”

The Kendricks have written letters to the donor’s family to express their gratitude and give reports about how well Mya is doing. They do not have any information on the family and the family does not have information on them. All communication is sent through an agency. The Kendricks receive confirmation about whether or not the letter is accepted and that is the extent of it.  Because of the sensitive nature of being an organ donor things can get complicated, especially if someone were to feel like they had some ownership of an organ recipient. So the whole exchange is done in a professional, formal manner.

Even though the heart transplant for Mya was a success the entire process is a long road and it is not a permanent solution.

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The first time Mya was ever outside of the hospital was when she was 9 months old. When she came home she was hooked to a trach, a feeding tube, a PICC line, a ventilator and more. Lora describes that time as physically and emotionally exhausting.

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Thankfully Mya lives a pretty typical life now. She does have regular checkups to make sure her heart and body are still healthy and in 20 years she will need a new heart. She is a little warrior though. She has had to work twice as hard as anyone to eat real food, take her first steps, say her first words and do all the things we take for granted. She is victorious though. Little Mya approaches each hurdle with a smile on her face and in turn brings smiles to the faces of everyone around her.

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It might seem contradictory to describe her as a warrior and a little ray of sunshine but if you know Mya you will see that she is 100% both. She is about to be 8 years old and this spring Mya will graduate from her deaf school and finally be able to attend elementary school at her local school district. It’s a very exciting year for their family.

Looking back at the journey Lora knows that she could have never done this alone. In the middle of those days that were just a blur of emotions and motions going back and forth up and down, she knows God gave her the grace and the peace that she needed to get through it. She also shares how her husband became her survival partner. Even though marriage seemed like something that they couldn’t give any focus to in the midst of the craziness, they chose to make their relationship a priority and it’s why they have made it this far. Lora also gives credit to family. Their family was there to take care of their son while they were in the hospital or to stay with Mya in the hospital when they couldn’t. Family (and friends that are like family) were the glue that held everything together when it could have so easily fallen apart.

To this day the Kendricks value their faith, their marriage, their family and friends more than anything else in this world. It was a tough learning experience for sure, but one that has taught them more in 8 years than most people will ever figure out in 80 years. They are stronger and closer than ever and no matter what comes their way they are ready to face it together.img_4434




*** If you would like to be an organ donor be sure to talk to your spouse and loved ones. Even if it is on your driver’s license your closest family member will need to say yes. It is a difficult conversation to have but Lora encourages families to think about it and consider testimonies of families like the Kendricks who have been impacted by this gift of life.***

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By | February 20th, 2018|Uncategorized|0 Comments

How Asher and Addie Met

 

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It all started with a haircut. Well kind of.

Asher and Addie were both going to the same church and had many mutual friends but there wasn’t a connection until Asher went to get a haircut from this budding stylist he had heard so much about. She was practicing her skills to lead up to fulltime work at a salon and Asher did not mind giving Addie as much practice as she needed. At that time in their relationship, they were just friends.  “We were friends that spent time talking about random stuff like cheeseburgers and it just naturally progressed from there. We went from being friends to good friends to best friends” as Asher describes it.

Then Addie recounts the encounter where it all changed. She says “Asher met with me one day and said ‘I want you to hear this from me and not my friends’ and I was so nervous because I thought he wanted to tell me some bad news like that he didn’t see me that way. But then he said ‘I am interested in you and I have been for a while’. I was excited and I felt like my cheeks were up in my eyeballs, but all I could say was ‘oh’ and Asher said ‘You don’t have to say anything right now.”

That moment led to their first date which played out like a story book. It was a gorgeous fall day in Cincinnati and Asher took Addie to the Bow Tie cafe where they talked for hours until the coffee shop closed and they had to leave. As they were leaving the shop employee was sweeping up and said “Have a good night; It looks like you already are.” then they walked out to a scenic overlook and fireworks literally went off. They have no idea why there were fireworks that night in November but it made a perfect evening even more spectacular. From there Asher asked Addie what she was doing the next Tuesday night. When she said she was available he immediately followed with “and what about the Tuesday after that?” A giddy Addie rushed over to her friends house afterwards to talk about “the best date ever”.

The relationship continued to grow from there.

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This was all new territory for Addie who had unfortunately had some bad boyfriends in the past. She wasn’t used to a guy who valued her like Asher did and reminded her on a regular basis that she was God’s masterpiece. Asher was everything she had wanted in a husband. In fact, she found an actual list that God had prompted her to write two years before she started dating Asher. It was in a season of prayer in fasting that she felt the Lord leading her to make a list and include everything that HE would have in a man for Addie. As she looked over the list she realized that every single detail lined up with her boyfriend Asher! She knew that he was the one that she would spend the rest of her life with.

Asher didn’t have a tangible list, but he did have a defining moment. He knew this was the woman he would marry when they were on one of their regular dates just sitting in the car and he looked at her gorgeous smile and said: “Wait. Are we in love?”.

There were many more dates from there. One was a picnic in a gazebo at a park. Asher knew then and there that this was the place he would someday propose to Addie. So on February 18, 2017 he did just that. She thought they were going to a birthday party but a slight detour along the way led them to the gazebo with lights, a blanket, a framed picture, rose petals and some romantic Indian music. That is when Asher got down on one knee and they began the journey to become husband and wife.

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The wedding ceremony was December 23, but first they had the pre wedding celebration called a Mendhi. Asher’s family is originally from Pakistan where it is a custom to have a big celebration with a lot of food and dancing and Indian music in the days leading up to the ceremony.

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This is where they wore the traditional clothing. Asher and Addie practiced for a long time for this moment where they presented a special dance before all of their family and friends.

Asher’s family loved Addie and commended her for fitting right in. She is originally from a small town in Kentucky, but you would never know by how well she fully embraced the Pakistani culture.

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The next day their pastor officiated the ceremony where they joined in an everlasting covenant to became one and everyone celebrated what it was so clearly a divine match orchestrated by God.

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Asher and Addie truly have a heart to reach the next generation and make an impact for Christ. Their love for God and passion for His people radiates in all that they do. They hope to start a family someday and raise them up to be Kingdom minded. This is just the beginning for the Mian family, but as Philippians 1:6 says “I am confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.”

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Asher + Addie from Cody Brown on Vimeo.

 

For more real life love stories check out the rest of the How We Met series here on MessyMom.com.

By | February 15th, 2018|Uncategorized|1 Comment

How Jen Met Greg

Today I am delighted to announce that Jen Hill is back to talk about how she met her husband Greg and give some sound wisdom for married couples walking through difficult circumstances (which is all of us at some point). Thanks for sharing Jen! 

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Just a week or so before I met my husband, I requested prayer at the end of a church service. I was at my home church, preparing for a big move to Texas because I was transferring to a university in Texas sight unseen. I knew no one. I had not visited the school. I had never even been to Texas.

Perhaps the reality of my impending jump into the unknown was beginning to become more obvious? Regardless, I was about to move thousands of miles away…and I needed prayer!

I still, to this day, struggle to see myself in any other light beside an obnoxiously Type A, OCD midwest girl. Yet I look back on my life journey and I see these pretty bold moves that I made, and it’s clear that I cannot count on myself to always see things accurately. I don’t know what drove me to pick a school in Texas. But I did, and the trajectory of my life shifted in a major way.

Someone prayed for me that day at church. I barely knew her, but as she prayed she suddenly began to weep. I won’t deny that it was a little awkward. She prayed for the upcoming move and transition to a new school and city, and she wept. Then she began to pray for my future husband. I remembering thinking, “Hey, wait! That wasn’t part of my request.” It’s funny now when I look back to that moment. I really had no idea what God had in store for me!

After her prayer concluded, as she was wiping her unexpected tears away, she began to plead with me concerning my future husband. She said in no uncertain terms that I needed to keep an open mind. She made me promise to remember that it would be someone unexpected and to give him a chance.

I’m simply just reporting what happened! True story. These are just a few of the minor details to the crazy way we connected!

Greg and I met just days after that church service. I walked into a classroom, and there he was. We were both communication majors and met in an elective course, something like Photography 101. I have fond memories of a few darkroom sessions where we were developing pictures we took of each other.

I was mysteriously drawn to this guy, but yet he was SO different from what I had envisioned for my future husband. I couldn’t shake the words from the emotional prayer warrior on my behalf, but, boy, did I try! Greg and I both tried to walk away from each other. We had one of those rocky dating relationships up until the point we got engaged. It makes no logical sense. We would break up but would just keep coming back to each other.


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During the fall semester of our senior year, we were sitting in an upper level debate class. Up until that point in the semester we had always sat next to one another. Most everyone knew we were a couple. But on this particular day, we were sitting across the room from one another, and there was a vast ocean of frustration and complexity between us. We had broken up the night before. I’m fairly positive most people in that classroom picked up on the tension.

Our professor was announcing debate partners. We would be working closely with our assigned partner for the remainder of the semester. Any guesses on who got paired up that day? The Hill-Stevens debate team began! What a wild ride. We did get an A in that class, and we still lovingly debate as to who got us that A! (Me. Definitely me!)

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Neither of us would have ever picked the other. It’s a mutually declared truth! So we had a lot of learning to do right off the bat. Initially, we struggled with even just basic communication. Considering we met because we were both majoring in COMMUNICATION the irony of that is not lost on me. We have completely different personalities and backgrounds…and we had quite the journey ahead of us. We knew we loved each other, but it was a crazy, hard to explain kind of love.

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It’s easy to look back on those early years and downplay the trials that we experienced. Was it really that bad? I’ve learned, though, that it isn’t really helpful to compare trials and hardships. We were stretched in those early years. We had to struggle through it. We grew because of it. I’d like to think that all that hard stuff, all the moving, all the financial questions, all the extended family difficulties, having to learn how to communicate, learning to serve one another…all of it has given us muscle to bear the burdens we’ve faced in the last few years especially with having our son become a double amputee.

 

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Looking back I can acknowledge that those early years of our relationship and starting a family WERE hard. It was good! But it was hard.

We have six children now. The oldest just turned 11! We will celebrate 13 years of marriage this year. One of the key ingredients for us has been our imperfect, but enduring, commitment to humility.  Oh, we can debate, y’all! We’ve had to learn how to clothe ourselves in humility, listen, give, repent, change, grow…Jesus has been faithful to teach us.

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The last several months have actually surprised us. It’s been a season where there seems to be a relentless barrage of unexpected hits. We come up for air, thinking surely this is it, only to be blindsided by the next, new challenge. We’re tired and weary, and this has made it a season ripe with potential for conflict. This is where the rubber meets the road! We’ve had to grow more, and put into practice the various elements that God has been faithfully fostering in our hearts throughout the years.

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I can sense this being a season that refines, stretches, and ultimately strengthens us. We’re just so glad that Jesus is holding onto us. I’m grateful Greg has weathered the storms of life with me. We see our differences now, and it’s clear that we make a great team not despite the differences, but because of the differences. We complement each other! We called ourselves “Team Hill” from the get-go, and we’re holding on tight to each other, and to Jesus. What an unexpected, beautiful ride it has been so far!

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By | February 14th, 2018|Uncategorized|0 Comments

How Nicole Met Josiah

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It’s Valentines week and that means it’s time for the FOURTH installment of How We Met. Today Nicole Stoltzfuz is sharing how she met her husband Josiah. 

 

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There is no other way to share the story of how we met without sharing the story of how I met Him.

It was a few years after college. I had just made a major career change and was doing Human Resources at the University of Pittsburgh.  It looked like I had it all together, but I began desiring something more in my life and I couldn’t place my finger on what it was. I shared this with a friend and he encouraged me to read The Purpose Driven Life. At the beginning of the book there is a prayer to accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior. I prayed this prayer aloud and truly in my heart. I had done this before but with no real transformation. This time was different. I wanted, desired, and longed for a relationship with Jesus. You see, before I never had a relationship with Jesus I just knew about him. This time was different. I began to read the word and the word became life for me.

I knew I needed to find a church so I wandered into one on the Eastside of Pittsburgh and was blown away by what I encountered.  It was predominantly African American and everyone was shouting and raising their hands in worship. There was clapping, dancing, and tambourines! They had a full choir, brass instruments and a dance team on the platform. It was like nothing I had never seen before. The preacher was passionate and held nothing back. The worship and sermon seemed to go on forever but I didn’t mind. In fact, I loved it. I was hungry for more of Jesus and the people at this church truly loved and worshiped Jesus. They didn’t just go through the motions. It astounded me.

Since this was the first church I looked at, I wanted to try a few more to make sure I was in the right place. As I drove to look at the second church, for one of the first times in my life I recognized the voice of God as he told me to turn around and go back to the first church I looked at. I obeyed as I was so excited the Lord was speaking to me. As I attended this church I went through in depth training that covered everything you would need to know as a new Christian. I now needed some friends to walk this journey with as I no longer desired my old lifestyle. This is where I meet my husband Josiah…

We both attended a young adults get together hosted by our church at Dave & Busters. We were introduced by our pastor and upon shaking my hand Josiah later shared with me that God spoke to him in that moment saying, “this is your wife”. After we met I spent the rest of the evening getting to know some of the other young adults at the church.

About a week later Josiah contacted me on Facebook, yes Facebook! He asked if I would show him around Regent Square, the neighborhood in which I lived at the time. I agreed to meet him for dinner at a hole in the wall Thai restaurant. I was not expecting much from the evening but to maybe make a new friend. The evening completely blew me away. He was by far the most amazing gentlemen I ever met. We spent nearly seven hours that evening talking and learning everything we could about one another.

Fast forward nine months when Josiah proposed at a beautiful state park called Ohiopyle. Josiah had my family in town for the big occasion. Then six months later we married on April 17, 2011. We were surrounded by support from both of our families and our church family who joked that the two white people in the church found each other! It was a beautiful time of celebration.

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The day after our wedding we moved from Pennsylvania to Rhode Island where we spent the next eighteen months. We became pregnant with our first daughter and Josiah’s work moved us to Kentucky where we lived for another eighteen months. After that we moved to Wisconsin. While in Wisconsin we faced some particularly difficult times as we grieved a miscarriage, the loss of our dog, the birth of our second child, the tragic death of my brother, and two weeks after that we had another major move from Wisconsin to Ohio. These events all took place within a one year time span that completely knocked our world off kilter. And just a little over a year after that Josiah’s father was diagnosed with stage three pancreatic cancer.

Up until this point we had no major losses or tragedies take place in our lives and all at once we had what felt like a heaping pile of them. We both struggled the first several months after these events took place. We went through the gamut of denial, anger, and a host of many other emotions. At some point, I believe it was a place where we finally surrendered, that Jesus began to reshape our hearts and move us towards what really matters.

Our focus has always been for Josiah to work the corporate ladder until we reached our final destination in Pennsylvania where we would finally be near family. Our dream was to do this within six to eight years. But as we work through our personal struggles God has begun to reshape our hearts and align them more deeply with Him. We are content here in Ohio where we currently reside with our four year old and two year old daughters.

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Our hearts are growing deeper and deeper for ministry as we begin to see God’s call for our lives unfold in the midst of our hurts. 


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By | February 12th, 2018|Uncategorized|0 Comments

How to Gain One Thousand Followers in Ten Years!

When you read online about how to start blogging or make money blogging it’s always this gimmicky get rich quick scheme. Like this-

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That’s not real life for most people.

 

In real life 81% of bloggers trying to earn an income never even make $100 from blogging.

Lots of people start blogging but 95% of blogs on the internet are abandoned. 

According to statistics “Almost every one of the millions of blogs that are started in 2018 are destined to fail and die a slow, boring death.”

 

Have I made you excited about blogging yet!? If I had a catchy graphic for my blogging secrets it would be


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I don’t earn much income blogging and I don’t have thousands of followers, but I beat the odds just by consistently writing for 10 years! In blogging years that makes me like 80 years old. So my seniority alone attracts lots of questions.

How did you get started?

How do you get readers?

How do you score sponsored posts?

It started in 2008.

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One of my closest friends, who was also a new mom, was really into the Money Saving Mom blog. She got me started on couponing and saving money on groceries. I was so into it. I was even stopped by the cops for dumpster diving for newspaper coupon inserts. Yeah… hashtag thug life. 

Anyway, at some point Crystal from Money Saving Mom did a series about blogging and I was instantly enamored! I have loved to write ever since I could hold a pencil. I was already journaling and chronicling Z’s milestones on a website called totsites (this was way back in the day before social media took off). Blogging sounded like it would be right up my alley.

So I signed onto blogger which was free and I purchased the messy mom .com which later I switched to just messy mom. This was a big step. I won’t give any numbers, but let’s just say my domain name is worth more than my husband’s car (for the record he has an old clunker but I am trying to make it sound like I have some valuable online real estate here).

Side note: Domain names and email addresses are getting snatched up every day so if you have a meaningful “.com” then consider yourself lucky! Domain names are an asset. 

When I first started blogging I wrote about a different topic each week. It could be birth or music or anything. Eventually, it was too difficult to write as often as I was and to keep everything in a theme so I just started writing about once a week. I wrote my way through SJ’s diagnosis and all of the obstacles we faced at that time. I can’t even fathom how I would have coped with all the difficulty we went through if I hadn’t had that outlet. I know that this blog is a gift from the Lord. Needless to say, it’s more than just an online platform and it certainly isn’t a job. Messy Mom is a piece of me. I started blogging at the beginning of my motherhood journey. In a season where I have very little socialization and access to the outside world it has been my way to say

“I’m still here. I might be a stay at home mom changing diapers, skipping showers, and listening to the mind-numbing screams of sibling rivalry, but I still have thoughts. I have a voice and I want to connect.”  

 

The readers have trickled in through the years. Traffic was pretty low the first 5 years. What really changed things for me was in 2013 when I came across a blogging challenge called Write 31 days where you write about one topic for 31 days. The challenge was about to start and I had no topic and zero preparation. At the time my family of five was living in a tiny two bedroom apartment and I felt like maybe I should write about that. Living in that cramped apartment was one of the lower points of my life but isn’t it awesome how God uses our weakness to show his strength? What the enemy wants to use to destroy you God will turn into a source of encouragement and He did just that! For 31 days I focused on the series “Lots of Hope for the Little Home” and it actually took off.

 

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On top of that I connected with an amazing group of writers called the 31 Day Survivors who have also become friends. Many of them have contributed to this blog like this post, or this, this and this.

I started guest posting on other sites too. When I wrote for the Humbled Homemaker about small space living in 2015 the post gave me a windfall of new followers and yes I have a little bit of resentment that my all-time top post and video on youtube is about how to install laminate over hardwood. I wish I could say it was something deeper or more meaningful, but oh well. I am glad it’s helping people. I heard a fulltime blogger teach on how you just keep throwing things against the wall until something sticks and that has definitely stuck.

The biggest question I get from nonbloggers is “How does someone get paid to blog?”. It’s the same way you get any free service that is for profit: advertising. If you have a platform (viewers, listeners, or readers) you are an influencer and companies can use your platform as a way to influence an audience to make a purchase. The first 5 years of blogging I didn’t really make any money but in 2014 when I saw an increase in traffic from my 31 day series I decided to step up my game. That’s when I decided to I move my blog from Blogger to WordPress. I won’t get into all the technical stuff but wordpress.org is one of the ways to self host a blog. Self hosting is similar to buying a house. It is a big commitment and it cost more money than renting, but you own that house and have more control of what you can do with it. I studied. I networked. I listened to podcasts and read articles on the subject. Then in early 2015 I launched the new MessyMom.com. Since there were monthly costs to run the blog now  I knew I needed to start bringing in at least enough revenue to cover expenses. The first paid writing job I had was because one of my 31 Day friends told me Huggies was looking for someone to promote their new Snug and Fit diapers. Ezie was at the tail end of diapers but I figured I could give it a shot. I applied for the campaign and got the job.  Once I saw how simple it was I started signing up for more PR sites that help connect you with brands. Eventually, as I did more guest posts and sponsered posts I had brands start to contact me.

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The bottom line is I can’t tell you how to make $10,000 a month blogging or how to triple your blog traffic in three easy steps. I can give you the same advice I gave a musician friend recently. I said,

If you love it and it’s something you are passionate about just go for it regardless of what happens. Play your heart out. There is definitely a place for strategy, marketing, and compensation. If you end up doing what you love fulltime that is incredible, but there is a reason for the phrase starving artist. It is hard to make it big, but if it is what you really love you’ll do it anyway. Big or small, you can’t go wrong.

If I had been blogging for fame or money I would have quit a long time ago. I’ve kept going because I love to write. I can’t not write. It’s my passion. My three simple tips?

  1. Find your God given passion

  2. Follow it

  3. Always learn and grow from it.

I’m not done growing. Going to a blogging conference is on my bucket list. I want to write several books.  I have so many ideas and dreams to continue to build Messy Mom.  I don’t know what the future holds, but I do know that faithfulness pays off in the end. 

By | February 1st, 2018|Uncategorized|7 Comments

How We Met

How We Met is a compilation of love stories submitted by different couples or sometimes interviews. This is Valentine’s series not only includes fun and unique stories of how a couple meet but also is a testimony of what God is doing in the lives of so many amazing marriages (including through the real-life hardships!). 

Here are some of the stories that have been shared so far: 

Karin and Cameron met in a Lifespan Development class in grad school where a class project found them to be compatible.

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They are both councelors and they now have two children.

 

Bradley and Kailei met when they were in preschool together.

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They have two children and are still two best friends madly in love

 

Mike and Andrea met at the gym.

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They now have SEVEN boys and Andrea homeschools all of them.

 

Scott and Jennifer met in his pickup truck in his driveway. 

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They now have 7 kids and a thriving homeschool and family ministry.

 

Richard and Nancy  met in a parking lot when Richard found Nancy trying to draw a picture of his truck.

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They have been married for over 40 years now. They have 3 adult children all married and 8 grandchildren total.

 

Michael and Amanda met in the airforce.

 

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They now have two boys and Michael is still serving in the military while Amanda is a stay at home, military wife, blogger, and proud veteran

Ian and Melissa met in a bar at a blackjack table.

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The irony is they are now parents of three teenage boys in a very stable Christ-centered home.

 

Les and Amanda Met at a community college when Amanda overheard Jars of Clay being played in his car.

 

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Amanda is now the author of Truth in the Tinsel and writes at Ohamanda.com She and Les have two children

Bill and Loretta met at Bible school.

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Their love story is unique in that they passed away just months apart from each other. I interviewed their family members to document their beautiful lifelong love story.

 

Brad and Christine met when he was in band and she was on dance team.

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The first 8 years of their marriage was miserable until God completely turned things around for them and gave Brad and Christine a fresh start.

 

Alex and Amber met when Alex challenged Amber to get excited about the book of Leviticus!

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They have five adopted children (and counting). They are huge advocates for foster parenting.

 

Colton and Emily met when Emily was running sound for a worship band that Colton played in.

 

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Shortly after they married Colton was diagnosed with a progressive form of cancer. They moved from Kentucky to New York City for Colton’s treatment and their marriage has been a miracle ever since that is still being played out.

 

Blake and Heather met at Kmart.

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Heather did not see herself settling down, getting married, and homeschooling three kids but that is exactly what happened!

 

Rene and Barb  met when Rene was the interpreter for Rene on a mission trip to Mexico.

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They live in the states now. They have two children and are the pastors of a spanish church.

 

 

 

 

By | January 22nd, 2018|Uncategorized|2 Comments

Inspiring Mom Monica Ramey

I was recently connected with the lovely, talented, and on fire for God- Monica Ramey. After reading her book and learning about her story I was blown away by the miraculous work that God has done in her life. I invited her to be a part of the Inspiring Mom series and Monica graciously accepted. I won’t waste anymore time with introductions. Here is my interview with Monica Ramey.

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First of all, I loved your book. It is definitely inspiring. My jaw was on the floor half the time and the other half of the time I was praising Jesus for your victories. Would you mind telling us a little bit about your new book Walking in Dominion?

 

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 Thank you and yes, I would love to! Walking in Dominion is about my life, and how God brought me out of cycles of abusive and broken relationships. It is about inner healing and getting set free from mindsets and bondage from the past. There are several threads that run through the book. I think one other thing that really stands out is that all throughout the book, all the poor choices I made, God never gave up on me, and was with me throughout all of it.

You obviously had a story worth writing, but what was it that motivated you to really go out and publish your book?

Honestly without trying to sound cliché’ – It was God. After getting my son back from the abduction, I heard the Lord say to “write it down.” I heard it three times in a row. I thought one day I would write the story about the abduction, but that only ended up being a piece of it. It was so much bigger than that. The story was being written my whole life and he wanted to use all of it- not just the abduction. I had so many people say that I should write a book and even prophetic words throughout the years that said, “You are going to write books.” I believed it, but wasn’t quite sure how God planned on doing that through me. 

 

So many parts of your story had me on the edge of my seat, but the abduction of your son was definitely one of the most shocking. What was it like being a first-time mom and realizing your baby was missing? Can you explain a little bit about that whole terrifying experience and how it impacted you?

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It was by far one of the most traumatizing things that has ever happened to me. My son was 5 months old and had never been away from me for one night. I had left him for only a couple of hours with my husband. Coming to the realization that he was missing was horrifying, but I think the fear of the unknown about the circumstances was even worse. I remember having the thought that I didn’t know if he was dead or alive which added extra torment to the situation. I was also confronted with betrayal, and so devastated that my husband could have done something like this. He didn’t just leave for a night, he had been making plans for some time and took our child to another country. This was more horrifying than anything I could have imagined in my worst nightmare. 

I’m so glad there is a happy ending. I remember being so nervous about the detectives and you flying overseas! It is riveting. You talk about the presence of the Lord giving you peace in those days that you were desperately trying to reunite with your baby and you had Bible verses and promises of God that you held onto when you were at your lowest points. In fact, you have scripture throughout “Walking in Dominion”.  What sparked this in you?

After I wrote the manuscript I sent it off to be reviewed by a Christian publisher. I had several scriptures throughout the book already, but he recommended adding more. So, my husband and I went back through it line by line to see if we could add more. It turned out to be the most amazing process! The Holy Spirit encountered us and prompted us, and we added so much more. It was incredible to see how God had been working in my life. I think it would also be good to read with a group and go back and discuss how the scripture correlates to the situations.

One last question for you. A lot of my readers are moms in the thick of the childrearing years. You yourself have raised two kids already and are now raising your 5 year old son, so you understand. This season of life can often feel exhausting and isolating. Do you have an encouraging verse or word for those moms out there that are feeling like their hands are tied?

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I think the most encouraging thing I can say is press into Him. No matter what you are going through. I went so many years trying to figure everything out, and how to make it all work. He has promised in His word to never leave us or forsake us, and that we are hidden in Him. I take that stuff literally. He’s more tangible than we know. As the years have gone by, I have learned to press into Him when it feels like I’m drowning. I try to go to him first. It doesn’t matter how trivial you think it is. He cares and wants to partner with us throughout life. It’s something that you have to do intentionally, but it brings great reward. Most of my normal ‘crisis’ situations get so much smaller when I stop and intentionally give it all to him. That’s not to say that I don’t pick it back up every now and then, but the more I practice inviting Him into everything I’m losing peace over, it changes my perspective. He is the solution- and has the solution. He has never failed me. My great grand mother told me those words on her death bed, I will never forget them. He never failed her, he’s never failed me, and He isn’t going to fail you either- not ever.

 

Thank you so much for sharing a tiny piece of your story with us Monica. I know there is so much more that God has done and is doing. For those that would like to check out Monica’s book Walking in Dominion, it can be purchased online through Barnes and Noble and Amazon. Monica has experienced all the darkest circumstance you could imagine from sexual and physical abuse, multiple broken marriages, drug addiction, and more but God has set her free. If you are looking for help in what feels like a hopeless situation I know Monica would love for you to contact her. Here are just a few ways she can be found online-

www.walkingindominion.info

facebook.com/monicarameyministries

twitter.com/monicaramey_

instagram.com/monicarameyministries

periscope.com/monicaramey_

By | January 18th, 2018|Uncategorized|1 Comment

Finding Our Home (Our 2017 Miracle)

When we sold our house in Texas in 2011 we never imagined all of the obstacles we would face. We had made it through a life-changing diagnosis, unemployment, and living with family. We were finally seeing all the pieces of our life come back together. Our move to Ohio has paid off as SJ is now finishing up her final year at the school that has taught her to communicate! J has a great job doing computer programming for a wonderful company whose mission is to give back to orphans and widows. The boys are also in excellent schools and have no shortage of friends.

Then finally in March of 2017 we were able to purchase a home of our own again. It felt so good to be able to put down our roots, but something was still missing. Something big.

For our family, the church home is even more important than the one you sleep in at night. Our church home in Texas was a huge part of our lives. We started out as newlyweds there and it was where we went into full-time ministry for the first time. Two of our babies were dedicated there and we helped build a thriving coffee shop! That was our home and even years after we moved my heart still ached for that kind of connection.

For a while we were going to the church where I grew up. This church has a special place in our hearts and always will, but we live too far away. Especially for our kids, it isn’t realistic to drive out of state and be involved or invite friends to come with you. J also led worship for a while at a church in Indiana back in 2014 and ’15, but we had the same issue. It was way too far. After 5 years of not getting plugged in at a church J and I were very discouraged. 

We tried churches all over the Cincinnati area and nothing seemed to be the right fit for us. I hated the whole church hunting process. At one point we thought we would go to a church because it was conveniently close, but we weren’t passionate about it at all. I was on a playdate with one of my friends and was explaining to her that we found a local church to attend and it was going okay. She saw right through me and said: “I can’t imagine God brought you all the way up there and doesn’t have more for you”. While I appreciated her heart I was really frustrated thinking. Yeah, That sounds great, but where is the “more”? We’ve put everything on the line for our family. We came to Ohio for SJ’s school and we’ve looked. But this is it. There is no “more”. That is truly how I felt.

At the end of that really dark season that we went through to get into our new house God dropped something into my heart; he prompted me to check out a church called Mosaic that was literally a mile and a half from our new house. I didn’t tell J. I didn’t think he would be up for it. We were tired of visiting churches and to be honest, we had our own preconceived ideas of what this church was like. Mosaic was originally right across the street from SJ’s school. So before we even moved to Ohio we saw Mosaic. I saw it every day when I brought SJ to school.  Someone had even invited us, but we never went. Now that the church moved and we moved and it was basically in our backyard, it almost seemed like it was fate.

A few of days later J told me that he felt like we should try Mosaic. I was shocked. I told him I thought the same thing and so that Sunday we went. As we checked in our kids at the children’s church they were greeted by what looked like a linebacker in a kilt. He was a character for that month’s theme and he connected with the kids immediately and made them laugh. Then J and I tiptoed into the adult service. We didn’t literally tiptoe; we just cautiously proceeded. We had been through so much physically and spiritually over the past 5 years that we were reluctant. Of course God could heal our hearts and it certainly looked like this could be the place He chose to rebuild us, but our faith at that point was the size of a mustard seed.

Several Sundays we quietly came in and out and even though the pastor’s wife urged people to fill out a connection card we still weren’t ready. As an extrovert, I warmed up more quickly than J. I heard that the pastor’s family lived in Texas and I really wanted to meet them and find out more but J was wanting to lay low. Then seven weeks after we started going J’s parents came with us because they were in town. They loved the church and my father-in-law stopped the pastor and introduced himself and our whole family! He totally blew J’s cover and forced him out of his shell. It was a blessing. We were invited back to the pastor’s office and it turns out they moved from the exact same city in Texas that we were from! They were youth pastors at a large church in the Dallas area and had even been to our Texas church’s coffee shop. We had mutual friends and everything! They moved to Ohio in November of 2011 because God had called them to plant a church. God had called us to leave Texas at that same time. Our stories related to each other so much including having a child with special medical needs. The next week we attended the New Comer’s lunch and things continued to take off from there.

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We were falling in love with the body of Christ represented at Mosaic and in turn our heart for worship and ministry was rekindled. We had found our church home. It felt like the perfect fit. I would spill all of my exuberance to my best friend and when I realized how much I was talking about the church I had to appologize. I said “I’m sorry. I know this is the honeymoon stage, but you know what? I’ve needed a honey moon.”

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I started going to mom connect groups. I also joined the women’s Ministry prayer team. I love the women of Mosaic more than I could ever express.

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We have made dresses for little girl’s in Zambia, we’ve done painting, snacking, worshiping, and I even tried my hand at cardio drumming. This is one fierce group of ladies that above all else have hearts that are on fire for Jesus. This Wednesday is yoga night along with a devotional time, so I am really looking forward to that.

The kid’s ministry is what drew us the Mosaic in the first place. The kids love the children’s pastor and all the teachers there. They have learned so much and had the opportunity to serve and show Christ’s love to others.

 

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J, as I mentioned, started out really hesitant to let anyone know that he had a ministry background. He is the quiet, blend into the background type and so he didn’t want to rush into being on the worship team, but God had other plans!

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It started with just helping out a little when there was a need but eventually there was a big leadership hole and J was approached about filling it. J has always been passionate about worship and has over 15 years of experience as a worship leader. He’s had prophetic words spoken over him that we lost sight of when things looked so bleak for a while there. J let go of that dream and we thought we had a completely different new path that we were headed down since J went back to school. We had to pray long and hard about the decision for J to be the worship leader and it soon became clear that we were brought here for such a time as this.

 

With that said I am really excited to announce that J is following his God given passion. He is stepping back into a full time pastoral role as the worship leader. They just announced it at church yesterday. 


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He still has two weeks left at his computer programing job. For the record, it has been hard for him to say farewell to his friends and position at that company. This job was a huge breakthrough for us and we have been so blessed by the provisions and support it has been for our family. Even really good change can sometimes be hard.

This has all happened so fast but when it’s God it’s good and we know this is God. It is also a commitment for us as a family. J will be closer to home and a lot of his job will be very much family oriented and include all of us together doing ministry as a team which is exactly what we have always wanted. I mentioned how our faith was as small as a mustard seed when we came to Mosaic. Well, during the groundbreaking ceremony for the new building that we will be moving into later this year, everyone was given mustard seeds to drop into the ground.

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We also wrote down our prayers on some stakes that went into the ground as well. It was about staking our claim and marking a new era for the church and for us as a family. After six years of what I have deemed wandering in the desert I have seen God do the miraculous and I know there is so much more to come.

Isaiah 43:19

For I am about to do something new.
    See, I have already begun! Do you not see it?
I will make a pathway through the wilderness.
    I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.

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By | January 7th, 2018|Uncategorized|22 Comments

Rock Bottom

When I look back on 2017 I realize that there are some really big things that I have kept to myself. Some of it I was just too ashamed to share at the time. Then there were other things happening that seemed really great but I didn’t want to get my hopes up if it all fell apart. So I have a ton to catch you all up on but I’ll break it up into two parts.

First the bad news. 

January started out with Elle getting hearing aids. I feel like I have failed her in my consistency with keeping her hearing aids on. She likes to pull them off and it is really stressful. So that was the first thing on my plate in 2017. Moving right along to February we found a realtor, a loan officer, and a house in no time at all! I wrote out all the fun details in “Our New House“. What I didn’t share was how March (the month that we closed) was beyond stressful and I had an all-out nervous breakdown. I was truly ready to check myself into a mental health facility. It’s been almost a year since then and I feel like I can finally open up about what happened.

I already mentioned the hearing aids. Elle had two therapists and an IFSP. Meanwhile, Ezie was also diagnosed with a speech delay. No big deal, but he had his own therapy and IEP. Obviously, SJ is also on a special education plan and Z has commitments like Cub Scouts, science night, and wax museum presentation (which he did great in by the way until he threw up. True story.)

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So anyway I’m spinning my usual plates while trying to get into a new house and have a yard sale to sell all the things we don’t want to move. While all this was happening our landlord wants to rent out our rental house immediately which means she has to show it while we live there. And she showed it A LOT! So I had to clean up the house, try to make it look like we aren’t in the middle of big upheaval and get myself, and the kids out every other day. She often gave us very little notice and one time showed up while we were at church and didn’t even tell us.

One day the landlord shows up with some people to show the house and in my haste to get out I back out of my own driveway where they were parked TERRIBLY crooked and I bumped into the potential tenant’s vehicle. It was just paint, but still, I had to go in and explain. I apologized. We exchanged insurance. I wanted to die.

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The NEXT DAY I went to Kentucky for a photo shoot and on my way back I get back to back urgent calls from J and the loan officer explaining why we need to deposit some money in a certain account a certain way and I need to go to a certain city in Ohio immediately. The kids were about to be out of school so I actually had to pick up SJ early in order to make this all happen. I know I am being vague here, but the details don’t matter other than

1. It was urgent and stressful.

2. It was a city I was unfamiliar with.

3. I had to drive to several places in a short amount of time.

And I did it. Mission accomplished. I texted everybody. I even sent a picture of the important documents that I now had. Then on my way out while in traffic, I am yelling at the kids in the back who want me to look at something and I thought traffic was moving and it wasn’t. That’s when I rear-ended the person in front of me. img_8170

It doesn’t look that bad, but I couldn’t even open my door to get out. The van was towed and J was too far away to pick me up. So I had to ride in a police car to be taken to the sheriff’s station. There was only room for two people so Ezie and SJ had to ride in a different patrol car. Talk about a nightmare!


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A couple days later we closed on the house. I couldn’t even go to the final walk-through because I still didn’t have a rental car. Once I did get the rental we tried to move our stuff into the new house without help because my family was out of town and we were too proud to ask anyone else. It was all a crazy mess.

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I don’t even know what we were thinking, but at least we were in our new house.

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We were happy for one day. Then athree out of the four kids got a stomach bug and started puking.

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That’s how we found out the washer that came with the house didn’t work. I tried to do laundry and it started smoking. At least we still had access to our old washer and dryer just ten minutes away. Not ideal, but better than nothing.

There I was in a house I didn’t know yet, with hardly any furniture and driving a car that I wasn’t familiar with. As a mother of four, I can go with the flow, but I function best on rhythm and routine. You move one thing in my house of cards and it could cause everything to collapse. In this case everything was out of place but I had to keep the routine going.

Almost a week from wrecking my van I went to pick up Z from a friend’s apartment. She used to drop him off at our house after school,  but then we moved! So I am at this apartment complex and the rental car scrapes this decorative boulder when I backed out. Keep in mind I was driving SUPER cautiously at this time after all I had been through. I was terrified of getting in another wreck. Despite all of that the car was lower to the ground than I am used to and I just COULD NOT SEE this dang boulder. At least we had renters insurance if there were any cosmetic damages. The real problem came when I pulled into my driveway and the car started beeping. It was overheating! The rock that I hit caused it to leak anti freeze!

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That meter on the bottom of this photo should not be pointed to the red line! So there I was. I had just had my third wreck in less than 10 days. What was I going to do now? My whole world was unraveling and I couldn’t even trust myself anymore. What was wrong with me!? J came home and tried to get me to calm down. I felt sick. I was having muscle spasms. At that point, the tow truck was almost there. The rental car was in my name and I was expected to ride in the tow truck to get the replacement rental car. Thankfully J made a call to the rental company to see if he could ride with the tow truck driver instead of me. It was complicated but they agreed to it and off he went. After he left I literally collapsed on the floor of my empty living room and was sobbing.

My kids surrounded me wanting to know what was wrong and I told them that I was sick. Then the doorbell rang. 

You have to be kidding me. I was in the middle of an actual panic attack and we had company!? Z went and answered the door. I didn’t have the energy to stop him. Then our realtor came in and saw me on the ground. She immediately went into rescue mode. She asked where J was and what was going on. After a few moments I was able to regain my composure and told her everything and how I had wrecked my third car in a row. In that moment she was like an angel sent from the Lord. She started comforting me and working on a game plan. She asked what I needed and I said “I don’t know. Bananas and diapers?” So she went to the store and came back with all that and then some, including a big tub of ice cream. J took the next two days off work to be there for me and help out. Our realtor checked up on me a lot after that and encouraged me to get help. I never sought any kind of professional help. I’m sure I should have. It takes money though and it just never happened. I did confide in friends and a spiritual advisor.

Eventually I got my van back and we had our washer replaced thanks to the home warranty. Things started to calm down as we got settled. What was supposed to be one of the happiest milestones of my life turned out to be a dark and confusing time that I hope to never relive.

There was a light at the end of the tunnel though. I’ll share the happy part of the story next!

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By | January 4th, 2018|Uncategorized|3 Comments

2017 Christmas Card

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This year’s Christmas card is showing the full circle journey that we have been on from selling our house in Texas in 2011 to buying our new house in Ohio in 2017.

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Ezie is even wearing the same shirt and shoes that Z was wearing in the original couch photo.

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The actual card gives the dates and places that those numbers on the map represent. We moved six times in six years and the couch came with us every time. The Busch Pilgrimage continues, but it’s nice to have a place to call home for long term. Merry Christmas everybody.

By | December 25th, 2017|Uncategorized|0 Comments