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Created for Care’s First Marriage Retreat!

This past weekend was Created for Care’s FIRST marriage retreat!! We retreated on Berry College’s beautiful campus at the Winshape Retreat center that is mainly used for marriage retreats and intensives. We were thankful to have been led by one of Winshape Marriage’s very own–Matt and Nicole Turvey–who also recently adopted a little princess with special needs from China through Lifeline. Truly it was a sweet weekend–and I’m so thankful for the new friendships among couples that were formed there. How important it is to put our marriages first–ALWAYS…but especially during the demands of a growing family.

Friday night together. Worship. An amazing session. Then walking the grounds…just us.


Saturday morning started some pretty hilarious group activities where we remained with our spouse but worked with other couples. It was obvious that we’d be using this experience later as team work with your spouse was required 100% of the time. We were split up in teams–and it was really cool to see how some of the teams instantly connected! Team #1…they were something else!


Now…Team #3 (our team) wasn’t so shabby either;). Our couples worked out communication patiently and consistently to gel their spouse across some pretty crazy ropes course tasks. This top pic in the collage below makes me laugh because we had to get on the log rating ourselves on a scale of 10-0 on our risk taking and adventure when it comes to things like ropes courses. UM–Rico is a 10. I’m a zero;). Some how we work together–or I patiently trust he will come rescue me;)


Then we learned our group was assigned to the PAMPER POLE. Yes–you might want your Pampers on for this one. You climb to the top of a telephone pole with your spouse—and then you jump 6 feet out to grab a really high trapeze. Only 5% of those who attempt actually grab the trapeze–but oh my gracious–you have no idea how high this really was!!! The real challenge was getting TWO on the pole and trusting the other spouse to help and not hurt the balance of the other. Unfortunately–Rico Suave was forced to do this one solo but trust me…I cheered for him;) Sorry guys–Momma Young couldn’t handle it. BUT…some of the couples in our group totally did…


We had over 3 hours of CHILL with your spouse free time…and that was just GLORIOUS. When do you go to a retreat and you are forced to just REST. Shouldn’t that be included with all retreats?! Um. YES.

After glorious naps…while some rode bikes, fished or hiked…we had another session followed by an AMAZING time with Stephen and Beth Templeton. Beth has led sessions in the past at Created for Care and it was awesome to hear from a mom of 7 whose children are all grown. What wisdom and truth they poured into our hearts! After dinner together–we had bonfire fun and a weekend with Created for Care is never complete without photo prop fun:)



We ended the weekend at Frost Chapel and a sweet, sweet time of worship and commissioning to just BE beside our spouses…to rest together, worship together, work it out together and grow together. Truly an amazing weekend!!!


AND…we were even okay that this Auburn girl married to a UGA Georgia boy let our kids go to an Alabama game while we retreated with the most awesome aunt, uncle and Papa in history! They bought them LOTS of gear of their favorite team–and took our older boys to cheer on their team while Nana held down the farm carpooling Nutcracker craziness with the preschooler and kindergartner in tow;)


Rested UP and ready for the crazy fun of Thanksgiving!! Who would have EVER thought that the weekend RIGHT before Thanksgiving was the best time for a retreat! Oh my…it was perfect timing for us and we are all rested and ready for baking ahead!!! I think I’m so rested that it’s going to take me a bit to convince myself to start decorating for Christmas after Thanksgiving…hahah!! I usually have everything up by now–but not this year!! I’m enjoying each holiday and season and day as it comes…and making life as simple as possible. Farm life I guess is rubbing off on me–and I like it:)

Blessings from our home to yours,



When Your Call Is To Be A Bridge

Oh my heart.

You haven’t heard from me for some time.

Well–you can trust when I don’t write, it’s NOT because I’m being quiet…because if you know me–quiet is one thing I’ve never been. When I’ve been gone too long, it’s just because we’ve let our feet sink in deep and our hands are full…and so are our hearts.

The story we have just lived is nearly identical to the story we walked with a precious Ukrainian orphan over 3 years ago. If you missed that…oh my gracious–y’all God writes THE BEST stories…so put down that fiction piece and read what God did that summer right here. It will BLOW your mind reading from start to finish. But you must start in the beginning…before we had fallen in love–when we were just available and following Jesus by just saying, “Okay. If you want us to–we are will open our home and trust you.” The rest of the story is MIND-BLOWING. It left me emotionally spent…not because it doesn’t turn out miraculous…well–because it does. We were spent because we went in not expecting to fall in love. And–well we did. We actually became so invested that when we realized God wasn’t calling us to adopt that we actually contemplated moving to Ukraine if we had to in order to keep her safe. Only He didn’t. Instead–He did the miraculous unimaginable.

After that–I was on my knees. Thankful. In awe. And amazed that we got to be a part of something so beautiful. And just with our yes…to simply be available. BUT had we not said yes…I’m quite sure someone else would have. Because God has a plan and purpose for each person. Psalms says NOTHING can thwart God’s plans. If we hadn’t followed, we would have simply missed getting to see Him work and getting to be on the front lines of a miracle. The one thing I did ask God after that was this: “Please just never ask us to do that again Lord. Falling in love with someone…and then not being called–instead being called to be the BRIDGE…the ones used in a miracle to link where they are supposed to be to their final destination…oh Lord–use US Lord for the final destination!!! The bridge is beautiful–YES, but the bridge is hard when you have a momma’s heart. So, Lord–thank you for this beautiful journey that I will forgive hold sacred and treasure–but just please not again. I want that to be my ONE sacred “bridge” miracle that I hold on to forever.” 

So here we find ourselves again. Only this time we have fallen in love with not one–but a handful of amazing kids. The story is long–and too sacred to blog…but just as amazing and powerful as the one we were a part of before. Once again we have gotten to be a voice for the voiceless–then to SEE voice actually given and heard…and now my home is full of these children waiting…once again to move into their forever family’s home this weekend.

Our children have played together for over a year at our church, but this summer is when everything really changed. Their precious, single mom in the Hispanic community our church pours into turned for the worse with cancer–and it quickly became evident that a plan should be in place. Months later we were brought into the plan and asked to open our home forever to some of these children. So much happened and has happened that is just too holy and precious to share–but as we said yes…the Lord spoke clear to my heart about what He has joined together. We quickly realized God was asking us to advocate for all 5 children to be together–and as we fell in love with them…we were open to them coming here. Only…we felt God was asking us to again–be a BRIDGE. His voice was clear. And I confess–my heart didn’t want to hear that part at first–JUST BE A BRIDGE.

I’m not a very good middle mom or “bridge”. Standing at the end of the driveway being the one waving good-bye…no I’m not good at that. Who is good at that…right? What a calling to be the mom behind the wheel driving to adventure–but how holy to get to be the bridge too.

So bridge it was–and we prayed. We made ONE phone call. ONE. God placed one family on my heart to call..not thinking THEY were “the family” that would jump right up and say yes–to bringing home 5. After all, they also have 5 littles ones already in their home. I called them because they are the family I always call when I know a little one who needs a home. They lead one of the largest foster and adoption support networks in Georgia–and I think the world of them and know how well connected they are to other adoption families with great big hearts for children. We called—we shared. Then they called back. And to our surprise–God was calling THEM.

I couldn’t have picked a better family. I always laugh during this saying, if anything were to happen to me–I’d trust Martha to raise all my babies. She walks closely with Jesus–and so does Andy. I never thought in a million years that was why God had placed THEM on my heart. But I’m so thankful I called–and even more thankful to watch these precious ones go live with a family we think the world of.

It’s funny now to think back…how at first my hands wanted to hold on–my fingers wanted to hold tight. And still–my heart wants this time of being the bridge to stretch out–oh it’s been SO sweet. On Friday we get to back bags, pray for great big things in their futures and once again–how sweet of God to choose a family we know…so we will get to continue to be a part of their lives. I’m once again so grateful. What are the chances you get to be in the middle not once but twice in your life…I guess it’s just a simple yes–and being available. I’m so thankful we listened.

Created for Care prepared me to be this bridge…a piece of the puzzle I’m so honored to get to be…and kind of like fostering one that I didn’t realize my heart was created with the capacity to just love more and more and more and more. This journey again…now leaves me saying…“Jesus, thank you for using me. You know if you would have said GO to us–we would have. You know we wanted to. Thank you for giving us strength and direction to be still and be a voice for You. How precious this has been. Here are our hands. You can bring more and do this again if it’s Your will. The bridge–we embrace that role…how beautiful it is to be.”

The last few months have once again changed us…and our children. Our hearts are softer, our marriage more committed and our home has been fuller. We have walked with other families in this and watched them love deep and wide–willing to do anything for these kids–and our church community has been strengthened–but in some way broken too as letting go is always hard to do. What would it look like for a church to help with placement before foster care–and we have seen the body of Christ in beautiful ways. And each such a special part. Each yes has been blessed–taken risks–and it’s been hard, but good–with His hand over it all. And I am thankful.

We have sat in through a funeral together, memorials, tears and held hard things. We have shared hearts and listened a lot–and played more football in the front yard than you can imagine. We have broken bread and carved pumpkins and worshipped side by side. This bridge is meeting the other side–and passing the torch to the greatest adventure of all…family forever.

If you would like to follow the rest of their story and be a part of supporting the most amazing kids in history as they being a new life…you can read my precious friend’s blog with such great faith here.

It’s amazing now to see their community surround and support them–and I’m once again over the moon that we will get to continue to be a part of their lives after they are home. I love seeing the excitement and momentum build in their community–and being on “the other side” you see the ashes…you walked with them in them…so reading the excitement in blogs or posts of those who haven’t met them but are so excited to meet them has a strange feeling I’ve only experienced once before. But oh how beautiful it is! How beautiful it is to have walked together and to have been called even into the ashes. I think some times we think for God to use us it has to be the BIG things…like adopting or being the one driving away. The little things–are really some times big things. You walk in willing for anything–and you walk out amazed that you just had a piece…a beautiful piece for a time. This was our prayer for a family for all 5 children–and how thankful we are that they have said yes WITH GOD’S CALL!!! As they trust the Lord with raising 10 children, will you pray for them? Will you pray if He might use you to support or encourage them?

Maybe He wants to use YOU as a bridge in some way—right now. You’re small yes to whatever He is asking may be more life-changing than you can imagine. I challenge you to just say yes when He calls and if it’s being a bridge–stand sound and firm while those who need a place to cross can be sheltered and lifted up as they cross. Ask Him to be your strength and trust Him in the calling He has just for you. Truly God writes the best stories…and there’s more beauty to share around the corner with this one! So much beauty ahead!!!




A Weekend of Planning at Big Canoe {Created for Care}

We just might have the most amazing spouses ever.

They cheer us on to leave several weekends a year to pour into foster and adoption moms. HUGE.

But more than that–is all the planning that goes into these weekends. This year we will have our first foster care and adoption couple marriage retreat at Winshape. Then in February and March–we will be pouring into 500 mommas at each retreat. These are more than just weekends of rest–but also weekends full of encouragement and training for moms who are learning to parent children from hard places…trauma in their hearts–that truly makes parenting look a whole lot different when compared to children who have always been protected and cared for in your home and heart. It is such a JOY to spend our time throughout the year raising support through our online store, helping facilitate mini-retreats for smaller groups of moms all over the country and planning every details for retreats ahead from decorations to breakout speakers.

Our spouses really rock for all THEY support us in with this ministry—and THIS past weekend…all of our spouses kept kids all weekend so we could meet together in Big Canoe (thank you Beverly Bartow for your beautiful home!)–and plan together. It’s so wonderful to also be able to come together and REST together–as during our weeks throughout the year of planning (aka working overtime as moms) and during the serving weekends–there is very little rest had. SO THANKFUL for a weekend with these ladies!

Our Created for Care team (minus two who were unable to come)…


(Pictured from left to right top: me, Laura McBrayer, Kristen Watford, Christy Elphick and Candy Pearson. Pictured bottom row: Laura Phillips, Angie Carley and Rachel Campbell. Not pictured: Virginia Bubar and Lauren Casper. AND rocking our tables this year is Tami Ezell!)

So…that makes up our crazy crew who sacrifice so much to serve. No one gets paid a dime–we just love foster and adoption moms so volunteering to serve them through our retreats is an absolute JOY. I’m just so thankful for the time we had to plan and dream this weekend–and I’m super excited about our THEME this year: SHINE.

We brainstormed so many things how HE has shined through our stories…through our children…each and every one.

It’s going to be another amazing year of retreats and fun…and we can’t WAIT to bless the mommas that are already registered to join us!!

“Don’t sine so others can see you. SHINE so that through you others can see Him.” – C.S. Lewis

“People are like stained glass. When darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within.” -Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

“I believe in the sun when it isn’t shining. I believe in love even when I don’t feel it. I believe in God even when He’s silent.” -Found scratched on concentration camp wall during Holocaust.

“For God, who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness,” is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.” 2 Corinthians 4:6

And I love Isaiah 60…

Arise, shine, for your light has come,
    and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.
For behold, darkness shall cover the earth,
    and thick darkness the peoples;
but the Lord will arise upon you,
    and his glory will be seen upon you.
And nations shall come to your light,
    and kings to the brightness of your rising.

Lift up your eyes all around, and see;
    they all gather together, they come to you;
your sons shall come from afar,
    and your daughters shall be carried on the hip.
Then you shall see and be radiant;
    your heart shall thrill and exult!

CAN’T WAIT for you all to see our “Shine” inspired new store products very, very soon also!!!

So many reasons to shine no matter what:-)

Blessings to you and yours!



Each Day is Such a Gift


It’s always one of my favorite months of the year.

The changing of colors before the cold…leaves falling–while in reality much is preparing to be still for winter…there’s so much beauty in Fall.

Richard turns 39 this October…and I follow close behind–beginning our very last year in our sweet thirties. That even feels a bit like Fall…the closing of a sweet chapter and turning the page of another into forties together.

And more and more I’m learning how each day is such a gift.

The deeper we sink our feet…or rather our knees and up to our thighs…in ministry–the more and more I’m seeing the GIFT in each day. Even in the day’s disappointments when step-by-step listening to and following Jesus–I’m amazed how He orchestrates even those for the good. These, too, when we are trusting Jesus completely are gifts.

Our gifts and disabilities…those of our spouses and children…in Jesus’s viewfinder–all gifts. Why did it take me to almost 40 to really see?

Today as I think…I’m most thankful for the things that appeared to be setbacks or detours as ultimately it was those things that were the beginnings of the most grand gifts He would ever give us.

Help us to see in today each gift you have for us…whether an obvious simple gift or a disappointment or detour that will be the seeds of the sweetest fruit of all.

Starting today with a thankful heart







When You Get Disappointed by the Church {I believe God is still good.}

Ahhh…deep breath. Full hands–and full heart over here…yet tonight–I sit in the uncomfortable of a reality we all have experienced.

I’ve been on my knees praying for a great big need in our church body–and I’m trusting the Lord…although this week–I sit disappointed…at–well…the church.

Have you ever been there?

And I confess—my heart wants to run. But I know I’m to be still and wait.

I’ve been thinking tonight about Martin Luther and his frustrations…when the church starts living like the world and less and less like the heartbeat of Jesus. You shake your head. You want to write his letters. And pound a fist. You want to ask for no more tip-toeing or politics or trying to make everyone happy. You want to shout for the church to stop being the key leader in allowing injustice right before it’s eyes when it’s supposed to be the one place that fights for it. The more you get to know the people and the teachers…you scratch your head at the hypocrisy shared on Sunday morning and what you see behind closed doors. And you wonder–WHY isn’t the church just stretching it’s hands wide instead to Jesus?

Because my friends–the church has forgotten.

And for that. I’m sorry.

If you have been there or you are there right now—if you have been hurt by or seen the church hurt–if you grieve watching the church cause more harm than some times good…I just want to say:

I’m sorry.

Never confuse God’s goodness and heart with those of the church and it’s people.

While it should be the same heartbeat, quite often–and unfortunately most of the time–it’s not. We find ourselves wanting to go to another place where there’s a different people with His heartbeat…with pure motives, true community and worship that takes you to the brink of heaven…only to be disappointed again and again. And some times–without realizing it or meaning to–I very likely have also been one to cause hurt by not seeing you walk out the door defeated too.

And I want to just say: I’m sorry.

God is still working in the mess the people make in His church. And trust me–the more you know it…the more you get involved…the deeper you go…the more discouraged you will get by it’s people. He still loves deeply His church and it’s people. So I just want to ask if this is you disheartened by the church–to not give up on the church as He did not either.

Be still. Breathe.

Kneel beside me and trust that He is still working in the mess, He is bigger than the mess and He will create beauty from the ashes every single time as we open our hands and cry out to Him. This. I do believe.

In the mean time…take another breath.

A few steps back if you need to. You probably do.

Care for you heart.

Care for your soul.

Come to Jesus.

Trust in His provision.

Pray for the church.

Pray for boldness, truth, purity and justice.

“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” Ephesians 4:29

“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32

Stand tall and keep your eyes and heart set on the prize of Jesus–knowing HE sees…HE knows…HE redeems…HE heals…HE is just…HE cares more…HE has a plan…and HE IS GOOD.

Making the church right is not your job–but His. And He can be trusted.

When you give up on the church in your heart…don’t give up on Jesus. He is still good. And He will even one day bring redemption and beauty to the church He loved so much to die for.

And YOU my friend…He loves you deeply.

You are not forgotten.

His plans–really are good…and the stories He writes are far better than the ones we could write for ourselves.

Trusting Him with you. And praying you see each day–He is for you.