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my mind and heart are so in two places at once right now, if that’s possible.  I can’t get over yesterday, and all of the responses I heard from women all over the country who are walking this road of infertility.  I hope and pray you know you aren’t alone.  thank you for reaching out, for trusting me with your stories, for being vulnerable and brave.  God is stirring in the hearts of many to come alongside of you, be a shoulder to cry on, a person to talk to, someone to pray for you and with you.  and my heart and mind are reeling just thinking about it.  and we’ll be back Friday with part 2 of my post.  but today, oh today.

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I’m so excited to share with you Noonday Collections’ fall line.  I mean, come on, you’ve come to expect this from me.  but today feels different.  it feels like it has a new meaning, a bigger purpose, a higher calling.  after being with our seamstresses in their co-op in Kigali, the passion for my work with Noonday has only increased.  “the moment” for me [as you'll see in the video if you go to a trunk show today!] was pulling up to the co-op and being greeted by the women.  seeing the joy in their faces, the passion that just exuded from them, it was contagious.  I stood in front of them that day and thanked them for their work, and told them how honored I was to share their stories at home, and create a marketplace for them to sell their goods.  I meant every word, and today, at the start of a new season – I’m feeling empowered.  As Jessica said our last day with the women, we are singing a song of empowerment over each other.

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The items you will browse through on your iPhone in the starbucks line, or on your laptop while you sit on the couch with a glass of red wine at the end of the day, are MORE than just pretty pieces of jewelry.  They are stories, every single one of them.  They represent a beautiful person on the other side of the world, who put that piece together with their own two hands.  It represents a family, a story, and quite honestly a JOY that these artisans have that I can’t explain.

Working on this AMAZING headband piece with Kelle, Grace + Esperanze was one of my favorite parts of the trip.  I love to create, and so do these women, and watching the creativity be unleashed from them was breathtaking.  To watch women who a few years ago were mocked for getting a job as a seamstress, now creating and designing their very own pieces…

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photos by Paige Knusden 

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the finished product is beautiful.  I hope you will get to a trunk show TODAY so you can VOTE between our product, and the other 4 to see which 2 will go into production!  It’s an exciting time, for sure.  Find a local Ambassador and attend a Noonday show today.  If you don’t know an Ambassador, now is a great time to become one! 

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This season marks the start of something new.  a new passion . a new purpose.  new drive.

these women in Rwanda, they told me they have more ZEAL for their work knowing there were American women representing them….so let’s represent them well.  let’s take the plunge!  purchase your first noonday piece.  start a wish list.  contact your local ambassador to host a show.  let’s start somewhere today.  look in the eyes and faces of these beautiful women, who just like you and me, have dreams and struggles, families to provide for, jobs to do, food to cook, laundry to complete, children to raise….let’s continue to help Noonday create economic opportunity in the 10 countries we work in across the world.

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my heart physically aches right now, missing my friends, missing Rwanda.  dreaming about our long dinners de-briefing the day, sharing our dreams and struggles and the deepest parts of who we are.  there was a deep level of connection that happened on this trip, and it’s what I miss.  I feel a weight of opportunity and responsibility to share these stories, to show you more about the work of IJM [that I am in love with!], and platform the work of our amazing artisans.  I know this feeling all too well.  There is something about Africa that gets in your blood.  something about the people there, the resilience they have, the hope they have despite their circumstances, and it’s beautiful and full of heartache and redemption.  there’s still so much to tell.

my story might not be over [will it ever?], but the whole Noonday team came together to present to YOU today, the fall 2014 look book + online catalog!  Check it out, even if you are skeptical, even if you aren’t a jewelry person.  click over, read about our impact, click over the the jewelry tab and start a wish list for an “arm party”,  or heck, sign up to become an ambassador and join this family.

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seriously though, get to a #NationwideTrunkShow today and vote for Grace, Esperanze, Kelle + I’s headband!!!

I feel it in my bones.  the darkness and sadness and hopelessness that can so easily creep in.  I know what it’s like for after almost 5 years, and dozens of pregnancy tests later, to finally see a positive.  I know what it’s like for that happiest-day-of-my-life news to turn to heartbreak and loss.  It’s not something that’s all butterflies and roses, but it’s life.  and this morning, I’m feeling that oh so frequent nudge to finally put it all out there, and share this story with you, my story.  I pray as you read the words if you’ve been in this place too, you will feel comfort.  I pray if you are still in this place [ like me], we can together feel hope.  I have been praying for humility [thanks Haverlee] because this isn’t about me – it isn’t about me feeling known, but it’s hopefully for your freedom and restoration, and mine.  Writing like this, in the middle of the mess, does indeed make me free.  I’m scared to death as I type this, but I know that I’m called to be a bearer of light and to “charge the darkness” as Gary Haugen said in my She Reads Truth study this morning.  This world of infertility can so easily be  kept in the dark, so many of us can feel so alone and hopeless in it, but I am here today to tell you there is hope.  Even in the pain, even in the middle of the mess, even when we aren’t “on the other side” yet.

Because there is ALWAYS HOPE.  

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here we go.

I”m not sure how or why, but one of the greatest days of my life was also met by one of the deepest pains and sorrow of my life.  A moment, a day I had been dreaming of for 4+ years, getting pregnant.  Well it happened!  We were on our first try for IUI with our fertility doctor in Austin.  This was after a few months of doing clomid, and after a laproscopic surgery in May.  Anyway, the weekend we were going to get blood work done to see if I was in deed pregnant, we were spending the weekend at the lake with our best friends.  We left the group that morning to go into town for our nieces birthday party, and had snuck off to get the blood work done there.  After almost a full day of no word from the doctors office with the results, I did what any woman would do… I took it into my own hands.[oops] We were at the lake with all our kids, so it was easy enough for me to sneak out while everyone was cooking dinner to go into town to get a home pregnancy test.  I hadn’t started my period yet + I had no symptoms. It had to be it!  My adventure took me first to Walgreens, then to  the convient store to wait the painful 3 minutes to see what that digital test said.  Yes, I dipped that test into a baby bottle cap I had in my car and waited in the stall….“PREGNANT”!!!!

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I had never in my life, in over probably 100 tests, seen a positive!  It was a miracle!  I took pictures, [yes selfies in the convenient store bathroom], and was freaking out!! It didn’t seem real.  but the test was staring me in the face.  pregnant.  the moment I had dreamed up in my head for a looooong time was really happening!  If you’ve been down the infertility road, you know very well that you dream of the day you find out.  how you are going to tell your husband, your family + you dream of fun creative ways to share the exciting news.  Well, a week or so before this weekend I was brushing my teeth in Stephen’s bathroom and it came to me: if we find out at the lake, I’ll go to the store and get a bottle of sparkling grape juice and a bottle of champagne, and propose a toast/tell our friends we have another reason to celebrate [we were celebrating Curtis 30 birthday!]!  It was going to be perfect in my head, and now it was coming to fruition.  I went straight to HEB, got the goods, and headed back to the house.

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I snuck back in, helped put the babies down, and sat down for dinner with the adults.  After a long dinner and birthday singing + dessert it was finally time for the toast!  My sweet husband couldn’t hold it in, and he was the one that announced to our friends the news that after 5  years of trying to get pregnant, we were in fact preggo!  There were cheers, excessive hugging and jumping up and down, laughter, tears, joy.  It was everything I imagined. Alison was newly pregnant with the twins, and Shannon was about to pop with sweet Adalynn, and Laura is my “fertility counselor” so the girls spent the the rest of the night huddled around the kitchen talking baby names, nurseries, pregnancy apps, cravings, breast feeding, and the like.  I was already dreaming and planning and loving the fact that I was pregnant.  I might have even felt the next day like my tummy was pooching out a little and I loved every second of it.

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As an adoptive mom, I struggled [and sometimes still do] with the lies that because I didn’t birth my kids, I wasn’t a “real mom”.  That couldn’t be anything further from the truth, but it is sometimes hard when you are sitting around with the girls talking about pregnancy, birth stories, breast feeding, etc and I have not one thing to add to the conversation.  That night, I finally felt like a part of the mama club.  [side note: those of us who only have adopted kiddos, I think we have so many stories that while they are not similar, they are similar.  we went through the "paper pregnancy", and all the trimesters of waiting for approval, court, embassy, and then finally the celebration of coming home!  That's why I think it's so important to have friends who have also adopted, so we can share those stories!  and I'm trying to be more brave to just hop in there and share my "birth" stories] I digress….

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as you can imagine, we couldn’t keep this news to ourselves, especially since we just told our best friends.  the ones who had walked through 4+ years of this journey with us.  we made the 3 hour detour to drive to Waco to tell my parents.  I tried to sneak around babies r us and HEB to get pink + blue balloons and goodies to surprise them with at their door.  They were taking a Sunday afternoon nap when we knocked on the door with balloons clipped to Camp + Asher’s shirts.  They were thrilled to say the least.  My mom might have cried a little, and we not soon after called the aunties to tell them the news.  My family has been through everything with me, they are my people, my tribe, my village.  It was an amazing day of sharing such long awaited news with them! then of coarse, we had to drive to San Angelo to tell Stephen’s mom and there were more tears, hugs, and excitement.

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there is a part 2 to this post.  the part I told you about before that includes loss and heartbreak.  while this post took me awhile to make myself write [it was very painful, but necessary for my healing], the next post only took a few sessions with my laptop and bible.  I hope you come back and read it, because although it’s hard, it’s about what the sweet Lord is teaching me about grieving, healing, and hope.  and as always, if you want to talk, please email me: gloriouslyruined@gmail.com  I want you to know there is a small army of other women who are walking this road that want to pray for you, stand with you, and love you.  reach out, we are here.

 

  • Lauren - Wynne, I want to encourage you. You are very brave to share your story. As one who has been walking this lonely road if infertility for almost 10 years, I totally understand where you are coming from. Over the last couple of years, I started being more brave with sharing my story, because of the simple fact that infertility is oh so isolating, and I felt the need to share so that others wouldn’t feel quite so alone. All that to say, keep being brave! Keep sharing! If we believe that all things happen according to God’s will and to bring Him glory, then the best way to bring Him glory is to share our stories and hold someone else’s hand as they go through the valley. xoxo.ReplyCancel

    • Wynne - lauren, i’m so sorry that you have also been walking this road for a long time. thank you for your words. i think it’s so important when we open up and share our stories with each other, and comfort each other. god can redeem all the pain and loss and heartache. with you in the valley…ReplyCancel

    • Caeli - I just checked your blog out. I admire your heart and your honesty! There sure are so many “grey” areas, aren’t there? And its so important to be in sync with our spouses too… Keep being brave!ReplyCancel

  • Tiffany - Tears streaming down my face, I could hardly breath reading this post because while your story and circumstances vary from mine, it is a story many of us unfortunately share. Some days the heartache longing, sadness, and anger are too much to carry. This is pregnancy announcement season; every day it feels like another friend, family member or acquaintance is announcing their joyful news to the world. Beside my own shame and grief and, yes, jealousy I also carry genuine joy and thankfulness for the new lives my friends carry in their wombs. I’m also currently mentoring a girl who just found out she is pregnant with twins and is scheduling an abortion in 2 weeks. Its hard to walk alongside others in such drastically different situations as my own, but I know we are to carry each other’s burdens, how ever heavy their loads may be.
    Peace be with you…ReplyCancel

    • Caeli - Wow, I’ll be praying for you as you mentor that girl. What a role God has you playing in her life! You are brave too!ReplyCancel

      • Wynne - i love this praying for each other! YES! this is what it’s about!ReplyCancel

  • aly d. chase - Wynne, wow, wasn’t expecting to be blindsided by this when I woke this morning. I don’t have words yet for the deep well of sadness you have stirred in me today. I say that as a thank you. I need to charge the darkness. Smiling through, “I just wasn’t meant to have a baby” and “God has a plan for me” won’t hold the ache. You remind me I can cry out in real pain and know that God is still on His throne. Your brave calls to my brave. *tears*ReplyCancel

    • Wynne - oh aly! i am sorry to blind side you… you CAN cry out to him! he hears and sees you and will carry you. and you have a community of sisters carrying you too. come back tomorrow, my whole post is about my grieving process.ReplyCancel

  • Kristi Van Der Merwe - Thanks for the beautiful post and for sharing your story. I was also glad when I shared openly about our infertility…and not just because I rarely ever get the “when are YOU guys going to have a baby” question anymore! ha! But because through the process of sharing, I have felt less alone. God has comforted me through the words and wisdom of other women who have walked this road. Thanks for sharing what is so intimate and personal…praying for you guys!ReplyCancel

    • Wynne - wow kristi, thanks for your wisdom and insight. i would love to read what you have written/shared online. it’s always comforting to hear others stories and to know, really know, we aren’t alone and we can pass along the comfort we’ve been given and carry each others burdens!ReplyCancel

  • Kristi Van Der Merwe - Thanks SO much for sharing. Makes this girl not feel so alone in this struggle. xoReplyCancel

  • Jenny - Oh Wynne. I too have walked this painful, painful road. I experienced so much of what you are describing before our first loss. I am aching for you as I read this and praying for continued healing.ReplyCancel

  • Rebekah - Beautiful! I have been thinking about how many women are struggling with this and are all alone. Thank you for having a heart for others! It is very exciting to see more women be open about this. That is when the healing comes! Praying for your family!ReplyCancel

  • Terri - Oh sweet friend, thank you for pouring your heart out. It means so much to know that someone else is feeling the EXACT same way I’m feeling. It just plain sucks! I know know know the emotional roller coaster and after 4+ years of trying and that “time” every month is just devastation hitting all over again. Thank you for just being such an encourager and so transparent with everything! You are absolutely right, there is HOPE! Love you, Wynne Elder! ReplyCancel

  • Jeanne - I wish there was no part 2 to this story. Sadly I know how you feel. We went through almost 6 years before we got our first positive result. By that time I was highly doubting those home tests actually worked ;) our first ended in loss almost as quickly as we felt the joy we felt the pain. After a d & C and a few months to get over some other complications we tried again and that was the cycle that gave us our amazing son. And even now over 7 years later I think of that baby in heaven and wonder about him or her. Much love to you Wynne! And Steven and Asher & Camp too. XoxoReplyCancel

  • Elizabeth - Hi Wynne, thanks for sharing this. I imagine it must be so hard! :( I’m so sorry that this pregnancy ended in loss for you. But, I really enjoyed reading about the deep down joy you felt and how you shared it with others. I think you might follow our blog, but we also adopted before pursuing much treatment and our sweet boy is 2 too! Anyway, we’d gone back on the treatment road and it’s HARD. :/
    I’ll be praying that you will soon get that positive again and have that amazing joy all over again! This time that ends up bringing home another sweet baby to your family.ReplyCancel

  • loss [miscarriage] » Gloriously Ruined - […] is “part 2″ from last week’s there is always hope post on […]ReplyCancel

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let me just start by saying this…

I never thought, nor did I ever dream, of being “the infertility girl”.

I don’t think any of us who are suffering through infertility, and openly sharing our hearts and stories online, or in ministry ever did.

but alas, here I am.  and honestly, it’s an honor.

to share my life, my struggles, and joy, my hopes and disappointments all in the middle of the journey.

I read on Haverlee’s blog this weekend, her open up and share her struggles about being separated with her husband in a post called, “trial by fire”.

I’ve found that people can fairly easily talk about those rough patches once they’re back on smooth ground. But I don’t hear people talking about it when they’re stuck in the middle; at least not outside their trusted circle of family and friends. But you know what’s even harder than walking through the toughest time in my life? Pretending I’m not. I can’t and I won’t. I will not put on a mask of perfection when my heart is aching on the best days and feels like it’s being ripped in two on the worst days. I sometimes want to hang a sign around my neck that says, “Tread lightly. Broken heart inside.”
People often tell me I’m brave for sharing my story. I don’t feel brave. I feel free. I’m free of guilt and shame. I’m free of worrying about any sort of reputation that I may or may not have. Freedom in Christ is so very real in my life. And the more I talk, the more my story is in the light and able to be used for His glory. I want others to experience that same freedom. The sin in my past is ugly. But God is already redeeming it and I think I’ve only seen a fraction of the redemption to come.

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even though we are going through different struggles, I want to say a big YES and AMEN to her words.
I feel also,  like God has asked me to share “in the middle” of this yucky journey of infertility.  it’s not pretty, y’all, but I do believe that God can use it for His glory.  for redemption.
so head over to Francies blog to read my guest post on her “marriage monday”, and then come back here later this week.  tomorrow is my hubby’s birthday, but after that I plan to share more about the journey that’s led us to where we are.  it’s scary, but like Haverlee, it makes me FREE.  and I hope that my freedom brings YOU freedom.  we don’t have to be ashamed here, sisters.  see you soon.

“Out of my distress I called on the Lord; the Lord answered me and set my free.  The Lord is on my side; I will not fear.  What can man do to me?  The Lord is on my side as my helper; I shall look in triumph on those who hate me” Psalm 118:5-7

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Facts are facts until there is a face, name and story to them.  I’ve experienced this first hand the past few years as God has opened our eyes to see hurting people all over the world.  There are hurting people in our neighborhood, in our churches, and in the third world country I’m currently visiting.  We all have a story to tell, and everyone’s story is important.  It doesn’t matter if we were born in Waco, Texas or Kigali, Rwanda.  You matter, we matter.  Your story and your life matters and your story is just waiting to be told.  I’ve seen so much brokenness and pain the past few days, but I’ve also seen the other side of that pain – I’ve seen hope!  Getting to know our Noonday seamstresses and IJM clients, I’ve seen restoration in progress, and I’ve seen the broken parts of peoples lives being turned into something beautiful.  It’s my prayer that this week, you can see too. Even if you never get the opportunity to visit beautiful Rwanda, that you could see it through my lens.  

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This week, my heart has been stirred towards eradicating the everyday violence that is relentlessly threatening the poor.   Everyday violence can mean anything from rape, trafficking, to police violence.  As Gary Haugen writes in his latest book, The Locust Effect, “everyday violence is devastating the developing world and and undermining our efforts to end poverty.”  This is a new concept that I am just starting to understand, and it’s blowing my mind y’all.  Y’all know how passionate Stephen and I have become to bring clean water to people who have no access all over the world, and our desire to see every child who has no opportunity to get the education they deserve.  But everyday violence is threatening those efforts!  Education for girls is so important, but sexual assault in schools and as they walk on the way to school is one of the main barriers keeping girls from getting an education. If we give widows a micro loan to grow crops, but stronger people can take her land by force, that micro loan investment is made useless.  Ending everyday violence is foundational to supporting other good investments like water, education and micro loans.   

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IJM‘s vision is to rescue thousands, protect millions, and prove that justice for the poor is possible.  They are not only transforming lives (which they are!), but transforming entire justice systems.  Their staff on the ground is 95%  local leaders–leaders in their own countries making the justice system work for the weak and vulnerable around them (and they are amazing, yall!).  My friend Jen did such a fabulous job explaining why these developing countries need a group like International Justice Mission and I’ld love it if you read her words here: http://jenhatmaker.com/blog/2014/07/17/are-you-taking-my-message

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This week we had the opportunity to meet with a client of IJM, we’ll call her Jamie.  Jamie’s story is one of great pain but truly she has risen from the ashes with the help of IJM.  As she spoke of her after care workers at IJM around the lunch table, she said she “loved Bridgett and Barakka like she loves her parents”.  Their work was not in vain.  All in the same night, Jamie was sexually assaulted, locked in a house that was caught on fire, and in return lost both of her legs, and was outcasted from her community.  NOW she is walking in freedom in her new prosthetic legs and has been received back into her family.   The counseling she’s received from IJM, and personal relationships she’s formed with her after care workers have changed the trajectory of her life.  

We don’t share Jamie’s story with you to exploit her, we share it so the work of IJM can continue.  After a traditional Rwandan meal with Jamie, she wanted to make sure we are going to spread her message.  It’s a joy and honor to share her message of raising from the ashes of everyday violence into a life of hope and freedom! Her message to you?  She sends greetings, she wants you to know she is praying for you, and she is proud to be doing well in school and walking.  This young girl now has hope of a bright future.  She’s not a fact.  She’s a real person, with a face, a name and a story.  I tell you this story so you can see firsthand what the work of IJM is doing in Rwanda and in their 20 communities they work in across the world.  

Freedom Partner

This is where I get excited, are you ready?  Maybe because I’m a former non-profit fundraiser, but I love knowing ways that we can TANGIBLY get involved and help.  Quite honestly, I thought because I don’t have thousands of dollars to give each month, I wouldn’t be of much support to IJM, but yesterday I learned about the easiest most amazing way for me and my family to get involved for the fight of justice.  For a month gift of $24, IJM can show up 24 hours a day to bring rescue where it’s most urgently needed.  Twenty four dollars, for the twenty four hours in a day.  The exciting thing is, there is a conversation happening to bring good in the developing world through child sponsorship, medic an care and clean water efforts.  The scary thing is, everyday violence is undermining all of these efforts.  The good news is, justice can become a part of this global conversation – and it starts with becoming a freedom partner. 

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Our family personally, is on fire with the idea and grateful to have a way to be a part of the groundbreaking work of IJM all over the world.  $24 might not sound like much, but IJM needs the investment to keep making change.  It says to the millions of people suffering from everyday violence in developing countries across the world, “you matter!  I see you.  I care about you.  YOU are not forgotten.”  

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what the heck are you waiting for? 

  • Paige Leverette Knudsen - just joined today!! well written my friend xoxoReplyCancel

  • Karen Buschman Barnes - Thank you so much Wynne for catching this vision & spreading it to others! This is beautifully written! Welcome to the IJM family! :) ReplyCancel

thanks to Laura, for this guest post.  I personally needed to hear this…enjoy!

I’m realizing that maybe the most precious part of my day, my mama-daily-grind, is wrapped up in 30 minutes.

30 minutes of intentionality.

30 minutes of out-of-sight iphone.

30 minutes of presence.

Life is hectic, too hectic frequently, am I right?

Some days I’m not sure whether I’m coming or going. In a whirlwind that is my life: sticky-snack messes, laundry, cooking, ministry, exercising, emails…the important things can get lost.

My little loves

My little loves

Misplaced in the shuffle.

I am a task-oriented person. And as much as I adore people and relationships, the task is my default.

What can I do, accomplish, conquer? How?awesome can be today?

And while productivity can be a good thing, it can often leave myself and my family in a sad, lonely state.

I mean, if an extra load of laundry is separating me from memories made and tighter bonds formed with my 4 loves, it’s all for nothing.

So, in my recovering rules-bent/legalistic self, I am reminding myself to live out a guideline, a goal if-you-will.

Spend 10 intentional, glorious minutes fully-focused, fully-present on each child, everyday.

And yes, I know what you might be thinking. 10 minutes isn’t really that long of a time frame, Laura. I get it. And I totally agree.

But if I can aim for that 10 minutes, it is my starting point, my recovering addict-of-merit beginning.

I remember when Landon (our oldest) was a baby and toddler. I would spent hours upon hours with him. Gushing at his cuteness, peering over his crib. Stacking blocks and knocking them down with ensuing precious baby giggles in his room. We’d go for walks, read books…nearly all of my time was for him and with him.

Now that sweet boy is nearly 5, Charlotte is 3 and Aiden turned 1 at the end of March. I’m a busy mama.

Landon loves playing Lego’s or Playmobile guys right now. His creativity and desire to engage in conversation and the “big boy” world just blesses my heart.

Charlotte prefers her princess castle. Ariel and Sleeping Beauty often have lunch, discussing what pie to bake or their latest princess dress. She is my girlie-girl?to the core.

Aiden, as a typical 1-year-old, is a wildcard. We can read books (okay, one book at time), build a block tower or play peek-a-boo. He’s my easy-going love.

I try to engage with the kids where they’re at, in whatever activity they want Mama to play.

Life has it’s ebbs and flows, and this season is a bit nutty. Beautiful, but nutty.

We all have to start somewhere. And after taking inventory, this is my somewhere.

In what areas of your life are you sensing the need to be more intentional?

Through Unspeakable Joy,

Laura

you can find Laura on her blog, Facebooktwitter, and instagram.

  • Most Important 10 Minutes - Life As A Loewen - […] toddler activities and being intentional, head over to my Noonday Ambassador sister’s blog, Wynne Elder to read the […]ReplyCancel

  • Mary Morrison Bennett - Well said. Research will show this child lead uninterrupted time will really impact your relationship with your child and ultimately their behavior. if 10 min a day for each child is too much try 30 min 1x a week per child.
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  • Terin Aleah Garrett - I need to make more of an effort to do this! Especially with working full-time and having three kids in sports… it’s hard to find individual time for each of them! :( ReplyCancel