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-


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


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.


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.



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 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 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.


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.


They are both councelors and they now have two children.


Bradley and Kailei met when they were in preschool together.


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


Mike and Andrea met at the gym.


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


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


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.


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.




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.


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.



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

Bill and Loretta met at Bible school.


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.


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!


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.



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.


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.


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.


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?



 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?


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?



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-

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.


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.”


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.


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.



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!


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. 



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.


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.


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.)


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.


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!



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.


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


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


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!



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!


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

2017 Christmas Card


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.


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

Freedom Debt Relief Reviews How to Manage Your Child’s Financial Behavior

I hope you’ll enjoy today’s post about money management with children written by Freedom Debt Relief.



Molding the financial behavior of your child now could stay with them and determine their financial habits they maintain for the rest of their life. The earlier you start forming good habits, the less likely your children are to develop bad habits. After working with parents for years, Freedom Debt Relief has learned what works for other parents and may work for you.

Every parent is different, so you should instill the habits you think are most important to the long-term financial success of your child. Making sure your children understand the importance of their own financial habits is one of the most important aspects when trying to develop good habits. You should make clear the rewards of being financially responsible, both now as a child and later in life.

It is much easier to develop good habits when your children are young, if you do not help them develop good habits, they will still develop habits on their own or from outside influences. If you have no control over the habits they develop, it will be harder for them to change their habits later in life, you should start developing good habits as early as possible.


Develop an Understanding of the Value of Money

It is important your children understand the value of money and what it can be used for. You should make clear the importance of money and value. Make sure they understand that toy they want has value, in the form of a purchase price, and let them know they can provide value to earn the money needed to purchase the item.

Let them know, if they can provide value to other people, those people will reward them with compensation that can be used to obtain things of value that they want, if they never have to create value to purchase the things they want, they will think value occur naturally.  That is why Freedom Debt Relief reviews that developing an understanding of value is one of the most important aspects when developing good financial habits at an early age.

Encourage them to Look Toward the Future

Help them look to the future and think about the things they will want later in life. The earlier your children understand what they want, the earlier they can think about how they will obtain it. Making clear the value an education can provide and how much it will cost to get that education.

No matter if your children will be responsible for paying for their education themselves or if you will be helping, they should still understand the significant cost that will come with an education and how soon that cost will come. They should understand the education is an investment and the return that investment could create.

Instill Good Saving and Investing Habits

As with your children understanding the investment that will be their education, they should know why investing is important and the rewards it can create. After they understand what value is and the importance of value, Freedom Debt Relief believes they need to understand how to obtain that value.

By forcing your children to save and invest a portion of their money from a young age, one two of the most important financial habits can be developed at an early age. You may consider forcing them to save a percentage of the money they earn, as they should be earning money from an early age. By saving a percent and having a percent for the things they want, they will develop budgeting habits without even knowing it.

Freedom Debt Relief understands the importance of instilling your own financial habits in your children, but by reviewing what has worked for other parents, you can be better equipped to help your children develop good financial habits that will last a lifetime.

Award-winning financial expert and entrepreneur, Andrew Housser, is the co-founder of the popular Freedom Financial Network, a group of companies that include the popular consumer debt assistance company, Freedom Debt Relief. The company has won countless awards over the years and has allowed millions to get out of debt and achieve financial freedom.

By | December 19th, 2017|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Inspiring Mom Angie Keith Part two

For Part One of Angie Keith’s Inspiring Mom Story click here.


The week after Palmyrs death was a true nightmare. Angie had no time to grieve. They were immediately questioned by the detectives and coroner. The police came to the house and took all of Palmyr’s bedding. It was an open investigation.

After the autopsy, they very sorrowfully told Kyle and Angie that they were unable to find anything wrong. Her heart, lungs, brain, and everything looked completely fine. They had no answers. In these cases, they refer to the cause of death as SUDC (Sudden Unexplained Death of a Child). It is similar but less common than SIDS.

On top of all that, Palmyr’s twin sister Paylinn was brought in for testing the next day. They found a slight elevation in her platelets and called Angie saying that she had to be admitted immediately. Because of the nature of the unexplained death of her twin sister and her abnormal blood results Paylinn was put in quarantine.

The infectious disease people were on high alert. Everyone that entered the room wore masks and full protective gear. There were no visitors allowed.

Then big sister Pyper started having difficulty breathing so she was admitted to the Emergency Room. At five years old she was unable to cope with all that she had witnessed in the past 24 hours and her body went into a state of shock.

All at once Kyle and Angie had a child in the morgue, a child in the hospital, and a child in the ER. Angie was starting to lose her mind. She describes it as the darkest time in her life. She had no strength left and the last thing she felt like was turning to a God that she felt had abandoned her.

While sitting by her daughter Paylinn’s hospital bed for four days straight mourning the loss of her twin sister she looked up at the nurse through weary eyes framed in dark circles and she said “I cannot do this. I can’t”. The nurse looked back with compassion and came down to where Angie was, both literally and emotionally, and she said “You can. You have to.”

While all of this was going on the family was preparing the funeral and all the arrangments were made. Angie’s one request was that in lieu of flowers donations could be made to the church nursery. Angie was the director of the nursery and it was in desperate need of some updates. Since Palmyr really loved being in the nursery it seemed like a good fit and it would be called “Palmyr’s Playhouse” in memory of her.

Once Pyper and Paylinn were given a clean bill of health they returned home and attened the funeral and buriel of Palmyr. The money poured in in response to building a new nursery and Angie got a vision for something even bigger. This wasn’t just for her personal church nursery. God told her He was taking Palmyr’s Playhouse to the nations. Angie had no clue what that looked like or if it was even possible, but as months went by Angie felt the prayers of the body of Christ and she felt restoration and healing come to her.

In March she had a vision of lime green doors and knew that that was where the next Palmyr’s Playhouse would be. For three months she kept this vision close to her heart and prayed for more direction. She even googled School or building with lime green doors and came up short. Then in May Kyle was away on a mission trip and Angie was looking at a friend’s photo album of a mission’s trip Kenya Africa. Angie started crying as she saw all the little children being cared for at this orphanage. Then in the very last picture, she saw it. The orphanage was a large building with lime green doors!


Angie immediately called Kyle to explain and she could hardly get the words out because of how overjoyed she was. Because of Kyle and Cleddie’s connections as pastors, they know the missionaries (Becky and Matthew Murray) who oversee the orhanage. They later met with the missionaries and Becky said “we have been praying for someone to come to build a playground”. And that was what started the first step of the miraculous journey to seeing Palmyr’s Playhouse go overseas.


It was a year to the day, November 28, 2014 that the children of Kenya were able to be on a playground for the first time in their lives and the joy that they exuded in that moment was like no other. In February Kyle and Angie went over for the official opening and dedication; it was an incredible celebration that would hold a special place in Kyle and Angie’s hearts forever.


It was so fulfilling to know that God was using their loss for something far greater than they could have ever imagined. Angie says that she will always miss Palmyr. She will always cherish the memories of her precious baby. But she left all of her grief in Africa on that trip.


The following year another Palmyr’s Playhouse opened up in Sri Lanka.




There are currently three Palmyr’s Playhouses around the world and the next one is in the works.




While Angie says there are a few things that need to line up before she can disclose the location, she did tell me that it is a mostly Islamic nation.

It takes a lot of money to build these playgrounds around the world and God has miraculously provided every step of the way. One of the annual fundraisers is taking place this Saturday and if you are near the Cincinnati area you can be a part of it. Breakfast with Santa is a delightful experience for kids and families to come and make crafts, treats, and Christmas memories! Of course all proceeds go toward the new location for Palmyr’s Playhouse.



The Palmyr’s Playhouse motto is Extenidng Joy. Palmyr’s short life was full of joy and now God is taking that joyous memory and extending it to little children all over the world!


Angie wanted a miracle. She prayed for one. But she wasn’t expecting it to look like this. However, this miracle is evident in her words when Angie testifies “I can honestly say that I am thankful for a broken heart”.




By | December 11th, 2017|Uncategorized|2 Comments

Inspiring Mom Angie Keith Part One

When Angie was pregnant with her first daughter Pyper, the whole process start to finish was less than ideal. She experienced so much medical complications that she felt like one precious daughter might be all their family needed, and for 5 years it was.


Then there was a surprise pregnancy in 2011 that started out even worse than her first. They did an early ultra sound on Angie to see what might be causing the extreme nausea and it immediatly revealed that Angie and her husband Kyle were expecting twins. Angie began to weep. She was ready and even excited about welcoming another baby, but two at once!? Thoughts flooded her mind. How they could afford it? Would she be able to keep her job?  Was her body up to the challenge physically?

But everything fell into place and the twins came on May 21, 2012.



Kyle and Angie were so in love with their three daughters Pyper, Paylinn, and Palmyr.




Palymr did have some medial concerns early on. She was even tested for a terminal illness but thankful all the results came back negative. Then around 5 months old Palymr had to wear a special helmet after being diagnosed with positional plagiocephaly.



While the treatment is not uncommon Angie babied Palmyr and it was really difficult for her to think of her child having any kind of special treatments and obstacles to overcome. At the time Angie says that seemed like a huge deal. In the end it was just a short season before the helmet came off and Plamyr was fine.

As each challenge of motherhood presented itself Angie felt like she wasn’t strong enough to withstand what was next, but each time God’s strength was sufficient. What Angie didn’t realize was that she would need to hold onto God’s strength more than ever because she was about to walk into what would be the biggest heartbreak that any mother could ever imagine.

It was November 28, 2013. Thanksgiving day. As Angie was preparing everything they needed to head to their in-laws house for the big gathering she could hear the TV on upstairs. Kyle was watching “Super Why” with the girls. Palmyr began to get fussy so Angie made her a bottle and laid her down for a nap. She had so much to be Thankful for on this day. Despite all the fears she once had, she loved being a mom. She loved having twins. She loved each of them so deeply.



Shortly after Angie left Palmyr in her crib Paylinn started to become sleepy too, so they laid her down too in the same room as her twin sister. Palmyr was still sleeping peacefully. Angie tip toed out of the quiet dark room so that she wouldn’t distrub the sweetly sleeping toddlers.


Later there was a phone call from Angie’s mother- in-law asking if they wanted to come over a little earlier than planned. Angie agreed because she could hear that one of the twins was already waking up anyway. So Angie and big sister Pyper went into the twins room to get them ready.

Palmyr was still asleep so she got Paylinn out first and started to get her outfit out when she glanced at the crib. That was when she realized something was wrong. Palmyr wasn’t breathing.

Angie immediatly picked her up to find that she was unconcious. She screamed the shrill cries that would come from any mother who found her baby in trauma. She told Pyper to go get her daddy and Angie called 911. She laid Palmyr on the bed and started doing CPR. Part of her job in the medical field is to have regular CPR training and she had just had her CPR training only two days before!

She waited what seemed like forever for the ambulance to arrive. At this point Kyle’s dad Cleddie, who is a pastor and a very involved grandfather, had arrived. When the paramedics picked Palmyr up they said “she’s still warm” and Angie felt a sense of relief. She believed that Palmyr was going to be fine. This was all just a bad dream. They would take her to the local children’s hospital and it would be over soon. As they loaded her into the ambulance no one was allowed to go except for Kyle and he had to ride in the front. Angie asked “Are you taking her to Children’s?” the paramedics replied “We don’t have time for that! We are going to St. E” (which was only a mile away). Angie didn’t like the distress in his voice. She frantically got in her car and started following them.

When they arrived at the hospital they weren’t allowed to go back at first until the team was assembled. It was hard to stay calm. Angie just wanted to see her baby!

Once they were cleared to enter, Angie’s last shred of hope had diminished. She knew enough through her work in the medical field to know that an EpiPen was not a great sign and doing CPR for longer than 20 minutes was not normal. They started doing chest compressions and one nurse said she got a faint beat. As the nurse looked up she locked eyes with Angie and said Oh my God. She recognized Angie! They went to highschool together! It was Angie’s friend Christy. Christy got another nurse to take her place and Christy ran to be by Angie’s side.

Angie asked what was going on, but Christy couldn’t give an answer. Not one that Angie would want to hear. After over an hour of trying to resetate Palmyr, Angie heard the voice of God as clear as she ever has. He said “I’ve taken her home” and then she walked out of the room.

Kyle, Cleddie, Angie and her Highschool friend Christy were all standing there when the doctor came out crying and said to them, “I am so sorry”. Angie describes the next hour as a blur. As she remebers that painful day she says “I can’t even tell you how I made it to the next room. All I know is that I was mad. I was wondering, where is our miracle!? I was mad at God. I was mad at Cleddie. I was so furious that this was happening after all that we’ve seen God do in other’s lives!” She was able to hold Palmyr in her arms one last time. As they are saying their goodbyes to their precious baby girl two detectives come walking in for an interrogation.

For part two click here
By | December 10th, 2017|Uncategorized|1 Comment

12 Snowflake Crafts for Kids

12 snowflake crafts for kids


What better way is there to get into the holiday spirit than to craft with your kids? Am I right?

My kids and I love to turn on some holiday music, bake some cookies, and spend the afternoon working on Christmas ornaments or some Christmas cards for some of the elderly people in our community.

Through crafting, we have learned that we can use it to bring so much joy into our home and into the homes and lives of others.





So, with the holiday season upon us, I wanted to share some of my favorite snowflake crafts for kids. Each of the following crafts utilizes various materials to put a spin on your traditional snowflake cut out of construction paper:


  1. Wrapping Paper Snowflakes
    No matter how much I tell myself I will only buy as much as I think I will need, I always end up with far too much wrapping paper. Either I overestimate the amount I will actually need or I just see too many cute designs and just have to have each of them.

    Either way, rather than throwing them away I have started incorporating them into our holiday crafts. Now, my kids use some of them to make wrapping paper snowflakes!

    You simply cut off a small section of wrapping paper – depending on how big of a snowflake you want – and do the traditional folding and cutting of the paper to end with a snowflake design.

  2. Stained-Glass Snowflakes

    With a little bit of construction paper and tissue paper, you can create the perfect window decoration!

    Cut out your snowflake from the construction paper and then using a light-colored tissue paper, fill in the empty slots of the snowflake. Hang your finished product on your window for some cute décor and an easy and simple stained-glass design!

  3. Cardboard Snowflakes

    This is probably one of our family favorites this time of year.

    Although you can’t paint them with watercolors, you can paint them using a much thicker paint and the cardboard is incredibly sturdy – making it last all through the holiday season.

    Simply grab some thin cardboard and cut out a snowflake shape! If you find it difficult to cut the little holes inside the snowflake, you could always paint it as a snowflake instead.

  4. Coffee Filter Snowflakes

    I have used coffee filters to make snowflakes for as long as I can remember. And, now, it is the easiest way to create them with my children because they are so light and easy to cut!

    They are also incredibly easy to hang using some clear string!

  5. Doily Snowflakes
    White crochet snowflakes for Christmas decoration of package gift. Selective focus

    White crochet snowflakes for Christmas decoration of package gift. Selective focus

    Next in line as my favorite is a doily snowflake. It is super easy to work with – just like coffee filters. But, then you can use them as décor on your table!

  6. Cotton Swab Snowflakes

    So, enough with all of the cutting snowflakes out of different materials, right?

    Let’s try something new:

    Grab a cotton ball and a few Q-tips, align the Q-tips around the cotton ball to form the shape of a snowflake and glue them on. Voila! How quick and easy was that?

  7. Sensory Snowflakes

    I don’t know about your kids, but mine love something a little more intricate. They love something that has an interesting texture and they especially love to use an ordinary item in an unordinary way.

    So, in comes the sensory snowflake:

    Grab a piece of construction paper and line glue on the paper in the shape of a snowflake. Next, have your child cover the glue with grains of rice.

  8. Pipe Cleaner Snowflakes

    For those of you looking for a nontraditional snowflake craft that doesn’t involve glue, listen up:

    Grab some pipe cleaners and simply twist the bottom of each one to attach them all in the shape of a snowflake. Tip: Start by attaching two of them just one above the other, forming a straight line, then add on around the sides from there.

  9. Tape Resist Snowflakes

    This snowflake craft is so fun and different!

    Grab a piece of plain white construction paper and place tape on it in a few places in the shape of a snowflake, then paint the entire rest of the space blue. It will give the appearance there are snowflakes floating through the cold, blue winter sky.

  10. Cotton Ball Snowflakes

    This craft is another one that will keep your children busy for a little bit and offers more than just some construction paper.

    Grab a piece of blue construction paper and line it with glue in the shape of a snowflake. Then, have your kids add cotton balls to cover the glue (in a line) and it will look like a big, fluffy snowflake.

  11. Craft Stick Snowflakes

    Start by grabbing some popsicle sticks and decorating them. We love to use blue and/or white paint and some glitter to give them a little shimmer.

    Next, use glue to attach them to one another in the shape of a snowflake by simply overlapping them and adding a new dab of glue in the center each time.

  12. Button Snowflakes

    Start out by doing the craft stick snowflake. But, there is just a switch up in one step:

    Instead of decorating them with paint, attach them first and then decorate using colored buttons and some glue


Now you and your kids can enjoy a cool weekend of snowball crafting fun!



A beautiful woman sewing on a sewing machine and smiling at the camera. Vertically framed shot.This fun-tastic post is from Annabel Short. Annabelle is a writer and a seamstress of more than 5 years.

She loves making crafts with her two children, Leo (age 9) and Michelle (age 11).

Annabelle likes to write about crafting, sewing, and parenting. She splits her time between London and Los Angeles and writes for Wunderlabel.

You can visit her blog to learn more about her and her handmade creations.

By | December 4th, 2017|Uncategorized|0 Comments