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have y’all heard of this amazing boutique called Altar’d State???  Y’all, my small west Texas town hardly has any amazing chain stores or boutiques [like, we don't even have a GAP anymore] but we have an Altar’d State!  The first time I went in this store, I immiedeltly fell in love.  They were blaring good [christian] music, yummy smelling anthro-like candles, friendly staff, clothes, accessories, shoes AND gifts.  Seriously this place is a one stop shop.  What I love most about this store is the fact that they GIVE BACK.

They give a portion of overall sales to local + international charities, and each store has a specific charity/cause they work with and that a portion of that stores sales goes to!  They also have their own brand, that gives food, clothing and shelter to kids around the world.  This dress is an Altar’d State brand and it’s quickly become a favorite for my spring/summer wardrobe…




partner it with some of my favorite Noonday Collection Annie’s Feathered earrings, and Rubik’s jade necklace and some stacking bracelets and I have a complete look!  All “purchased with purpose!”

that is what I like to call MY STYLE!


**I was not compensated for this post, I am purely a huge fan// photos by the lovely Erica Sledge Photography 

  • Jessica Thornton - I recently went for the first time! Such cute stuff.ReplyCancel

  • Abra Clampitt - i started following them on IG because of you! LOVE that store. it reminds me of a store in nashville tennessee called philanthropy–you would love it. and that dress is so stunning on you!

  • Abra Clampitt - i started following them on IG because of you! LOVE that store. it reminds me of a store in nashville tennessee called philanthropy–you would love it. and that dress is so stunning on you!

  • Danette Dillon - Cute dress and earrings. ReplyCancel

  • Jessica Meyer Votaw - Gorgeous!!!! ReplyCancel

  • Andrea Worley - beautiful dress! off to check out their store!ReplyCancel

  • Laura Loewen - You are beautiful inside and out, girl!ReplyCancel

[I shared some "beach trip necessities" with you yesterday from a trip we took late 2013 to the Cayman's.  I found this drafted post, and even though we are months behind...thought I'd post.  hey, it's summertime! plus, my encouragement at the end is fitting for me now.  preaching to the choir here! ]

I can’t think of a better way to start the year of BEING ALIVE off, than to start it at the beach with my family.  Just in case we have not established this yet, I am a summer girl.  I love to be barefoot, my naturally wavy hair doing it’s thing, windows down, sun on my face, and preferably in the water.  A little break from the cold in the middle of winter, was much appreciated from me.  We were blessed immeasurably by Stephen’s family with the trip of a lifetime to the Cayman Islands for my mother in law’s 60th birthday!  5 adults + 4 kids traveled across the international border and entered into the place of magic, aka the Caymans.  My husband and his family have been coming to the Caymans for years + it’s a very special place to them.  This was actually my 3rd visit to the island, all with Stephen and/or his family!

Since this space serves as an online journal of sorts, I will leave you with images from our epic week ringing in 2014, Cayman style!


This trip gave me a reason to unplug.  To disconnect.  to enjoy Gods creation, and to quiet my soul.  Each morning started off with a cup of coffee on the screened in porch of our 3rd story condo overlooking the palm trees and the ocean that seemed to never end.  Bible + journal in hand with no time frame, I soaked in every minute.  There’s something about lazy mornings that I absolutely love.  I wrote with my actual pen + journal [as opposed to my computer].  I wrote my best memories from 2013.  I wrote my goals for 2014.  I dreamed.

I encourage everyone to make space and time to BE STILL before God.  to stop sleeping with your smartphone, and take time to breathe in gods beautiful creation and be in His presence.

here’s to living alive in 2014.

  • Kailey - These pictures are beautiful! I left my heart in the Cayman’s earlier this year and this post has me dying to go back! I went on a girls trip with my best friends for our senior year of college spring break and they just about had to drag me back to icky Texas heat.

    It really is an amazing place to think. I had never been anywhere so beautiful and it’s as if it inspired my heart and mind to think more beautifully, as well. What a great place to dream for 2014. So happy you enjoyed your time there, I can’t imagine a better way to ring in the new year! :) ReplyCancel

  • Melanie Behr Strobel - Oh my goodness… You sleep with your smartphone? Sadly me too. ReplyCancel


While my family might not be hitting the beach this summer, I thought I could just do some wishful thinking.  I love the beach, it is for sure one of my “happy places”.  I love the warm sun, the water, lazy days, lots of yummy food, toes in the sand, beautiful views and time spent disconnected and away!  We took a trip to the Cayman Islands the day after Christmas thru New Years to celebrate my MIL 60th birthday, and it was the first time we took the kids to the beach.  I reached out to my peeps on facebook for some friendly family beach advice, and it was so helpful I thought I’d share it with you!


  • pack plenty of sunscreen [it's typically way more expensive in beach towns]
  • some people said to bring your own beach toys, and I brought a few but didn’t need to.  The condo’s we stayed at had a ton of beach toys that other guests had left that were sort of “communal property”  - but if you are driving to your destination, you might have more room to pack these!
  • bring your own snorkel and goggles if you are into that!


  • we brought these fun baby floats as well as their puddle jumpers – it was nice for babies and for us!  easy to pack and we just blew it up when we got there
  • BABY POWDER!  I didn’t NOT know this trick before, but it works WONDERS when you are trying to get sand off babies…just toss it in your beach bag and put on your kiddos when you are ready to go inside! genius!
  •  lavender oil for sunburns, or aloe vera gel


  • rash gaurds + hats were a must for us!
  • swim diapers, and more swim diapers
  • light weight stroller


  • don’t leave your favorite little puppy at home;)
  • I brought mac + cheese, “squeezys” as I like to call them, apple sauce and some other staple snack items
  • plastic reusable sippy cups, and bowls were easy for lunch on the patio



  • water shoes – this was perfect for us because the beach we went to was sorta rocky
  • I always [while swimming] take a warm comfy t-shirt and clean diaper with me so they can get all comfy cozy after a morning of swimming + get ready for their nap!


other ideas that we didn’t do this time were:

  • inflatable baby pool for the beach
  • pop up tent for beach

these were harder since we were flying + in another country, but if we were road tripping to the beach this would have totally been on our list!


overall, a trip to the beach was so fun with the kids!  they just love being outdoors, in the water, and in the sand.  they are happy with whatever they have.

if you are going on a beach trip this summer, I’d love to hear what you would add to this list!  

I’m so glad to have my friend Elizabeth share her story with you today.  She’s been a source of encouragement for me through our infertility journey, so welcome her here!  You can find her on her awesome recipe blog here, instagram, and Facebook.
 I have always wanted to be a wife and a mother. I never wanted
fame, success, a business, or anything of the sort. I wanted a white picket
fence, the June Cleaver 1950s life, and dinner on the table when my husband got
home from work.
In November 2011, I thought I was pregnant.
We weren’t “trying” but we weren’t “not
I remember taking the pregnancy test, waiting those 3 minutes
and praying, “Lord, please let this be positive. . . I can’t imagine waiting
another month now that I think/hope I am pregnant. I don’t think I am ‘built’
to wait another month.”
And it was positive!
Overjoyed doesn’t even begin to describe how we felt!
Nate was researching car seats that night and I was planning the
We were so so thankful!
We told our families.
We planned.
We rejoiced.
And then just a short time later.  . . we lost the baby.

Nothing . . . NOTHING can explain the grief, the disappointment,
and the hurt of losing a pregnancy. 
There are no words.
Through those dark days, I clung to God.
Good WILL come of this. He IS Sovereign. There IS a divine plan.
HE WILL use this for His glory.
We WILL see our baby in heaven one day.
God is good. 
Even the night that I miscarried, he was good  . . . 
Even though it was the worst night of my life. . . 
even in the darkness. . .
I KNEW that God orchestrated that night perfectly. 
I felt like He said, “I am going to take this from Elizabeth and
Nate. . .but she is not going to go through this alone. She will be surrounded
by love.”
And we were.
But we were heartbroken.
Nate loved me well during that valley. He is so good at that. .
I truly believe that one of the reasons we go through trials
is to encourage and support others who might go through the same or similar
trials after us.
God has put so many people in my path to pray for and comfort after they too
have experienced loss.

He is so faithful.

Nate and I encouraged each other with “we weren’t even trying to
get pregnant and we did. . . surely we will get pregnant again soon”

Month after month after month. 
Basal temperature.
Ovulation tests.
Charts. Plans. Hopes.
Doctor appointments.
Dismay. Anger. Stress. Disbelief.
We felt it all.

Then months into our journey, God changed my heart.
with grace, Elizabeth. While you wait, encourage others. Use this time wisely.
Invest in your marriage. Love, honor, and delight in Nate. Good will come of
My change of heart was entirely the Lord. 

Nate would agree that his heart was changed too. 
Not saying that our time of waiting wasn’t hard. . .
but it was different.
There were no longer huge swings of highs and lows.

But a steady stream of faith.

our hearts were changed, we could weather the attacks that Satan threw at us. .
. and there were plenty.
I could write a novel on the uncouth things people have said to us,

none intentionally hurtful,

but so many speak without thinking  . .

and, yet, we would literally laugh to ourselves when comments were made,
identify that Satan was trying to crush our faith, and give glory to God that
we could laugh at the comments.

To look back and realize that I have never cried, gotten upset, or even really
angry over thoughtless comments people have made is totally the Lord. . .

Even though we were going through this incredibly tough journey.  . . it
was apparent daily that we were not going through it alone and that Jesus
was by our side.

But months went by and nothing.

Soon after receiving supernatural peace from the Lord, I was hit
with the question, “Elizabeth, am I enough for you?”  
God does not promise us a spouse, children, health or financial
security . . .
He promises that if we believe in Him, He will bless us with
salvation, heaven, eternal life, and that He will meet our every need. . .
So from that point on, there were two corresponding prayers in
my heart.
God can do all things. 
He can make the rivers part and the storms be quiet. 
He can raise the dead. 
I know, that I know, that I know that he can give us a child.
And so I asked expectantly. . .  
Knowing that He was big enough to grant us the desires of our
Yet, at the same time, I told myself, we are not promised
children and God WILL be enough if He says no. So I also prayed that if He did
say no and did not give us children that He would fill that hole in our hearts.
After coming to the shocking realization that we were probably
not going to get pregnant without medical help, Nate and I began to pray over
whether or not we should travel down the road of fertility treatments or down
the road of adoption.
For us, we did not have a peace about adoption at that time.
Not saying that it wasn’t in our future, 
Not saying that it isn’t in our future.
I have had precious friends stop at this point on their journey
to get pregnant and adopt and I have had friends do IVF 8 times.
But we prayed with open hearts and felt God leading us towards the road of
fertility treatments.

And so we started down that path. . . . 
We started with Clomid; where each month, I spent 7-8 days at the Medical Center for
ultrasounds and 
got excited over growing follicles and prayed that one day
I would be able to see a baby on that screen.
But Clomid didn’t work. . .month, after month, after month.

We moved onto Houston IVF with Dr.
From the second we met Dr. McKenzie, we fell in love with her. She was
compassionate and explained complex scientific procedures in a way that we
could understand. She also experienced infertility herself and used IVF to have
her own children, so she provided a unique and special view into our journey.

Test after test after test.

Before starting Clomid again, a preliminary ultrasound showed that I had a
cyst and I had to skip that cycle.
At the beginning of our journey, knowing that I had to wait another month would
have sent me into a tail spin.

I remembered taking my first pregnancy test and thinking ‘there is no way I can
wait another month.’

But now, everything was so different.

I had faith that God was in control. There was a plan to help us get pregnant.
And, to be honest, it was kind of nice to be forced to take a break from
charts, pills, ultrasounds, and everything else that accompanied infertility.

We didn’t get pregnant on our month ‘off.’So we moved onto IUI.

The cyst, thankfully, went away.

Everything went perfectly.
My body did exactly what it was supposed to do.Again, I thought, ‘this is it.’ We will get pregnant. There is nothing
‘wrong’ with us so, of course, we won’t need to do IVF. We will get pregnant
doing IUI and our journey will be over.

Two weeks later  . . .
Another cycle of IUI with clomid again. . .
Not pregnant.

We met with Dr. McKenzie for a re-evaluation and she recommended
that we move onto IVF.
We had so many questions for her. She was patient, answered all of our
questions, and acted like she had all the time in the world just for us.

After tons of research, prayer, and educating ourselves (including having two
of our doctor friends get out their textbooks and spend 2 hours talking to us),
we decided to proceed with IVF.I remember drifting off to sleep before my retrieval thinking I
cannot believe we had to do this to try to get pregnant.

So many of my friends who experienced infertility say they always ‘knew’ they
would have trouble getting pregnant.

Well, my body is like clockwork. . . so much so that it seems
like a dream that we had trouble at all.
By saying I can’t believe we had to do IVF, I don’t mean that we felt sorry for

We were thankful that we were given the chance to do IVF. If we had been in
this situation a generation earlier, we wouldn’t have been able to have kids,
short of a miracle.

Thankfully, God gave doctors the knowledge and ability to be able to come up
with such an incredibly calculated and perfected way to help couples get

Thankfully, we had the money.

Thankfully, we had a 53% chance of success.

Thankfully, we had a patient doctor and patient ‘doctor’ friends who explained
everything to us in layman’s terms.

We went through the journey of IVF with hearts of gratitude.

With that said, I am not going to downplay IVF.  . .it was hard. . .

physically, emotionally, and everything in between.

The shots, the blood work, the medicine, and keeping up
with everything was hard.
In Nate’s words, it was ‘daunting.’

But, thanks to the LORD, I handled it well.
didn’t have any crazy side effects to the medicine. I was able to give myself
the shots. I am organized so keeping up with everything wasn’t too difficult
and I thankfully I had a peace and did not go through the emotional roller
coaster that so many others endure.
And knowing that our journey could be over and we would have a child was worth
all of it.

There was such a supernatural peace. . .
that was over both of us.
Some friends and I were memorizing bible verses with Beth Moore
that year. My bible verse during this time was “But he knows the way that I
take, when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold.” Job 23:10
I wanted to shine during this time.

We were walking through a valley and I wanted Him to be glorified with every

Nate and I kept our eyes on Him and I hope that others saw Jesus through me at
Houston IVF.

I remember getting ready to go into surgery .  . . and not
even being nervous or scared.
I had never had surgery before.

Never been put to sleep.

And yet there was just such a peace.

TOTALLY the Lord.
To God be the GLORY.
Everything went well.Sweet Nate took such good care of me and the recovery was much easier than it
could have been.

And then to wait the two weeks to find out if we were pregnant .
. .

 Waiting. . .
Again a supernatural peace but still so hard to wait.
After going through so many procedures and hoping I was
pregnant, I wouldn’t even let myself get my hopes up.
Don’t worry. Just pray.
Finally, the two weeks were up.
I went to the doctor, had the blood work done and then waited a
couple of hours. 
My nurse called,“Honey, you are pregnant!!!”

Oh the joy
overwhelming joy. 
Two weeks later, we went in for our first ultrasound . .  . and heard and saw
the sweetest sound in the world. 
God’s hand was all over our journey. In the darkest times, it
was apparent that he was there. 
Our pregnancy was a miracle. 
Our baby, Tess, is a miracle.

God is so good!


HE is faithful. 

We are so thankful.



connect with Elizabeth on her blog hereinstagram, and Facebook.

  • The Paisley Peanut - Wow! I think your story is amazing! We are still living our story and trying to go where God is leading us… I have talked about our miscarriage on my blog here:

    It’s always encouraging to read stories that have followed God’s path, and you can actively see God’s blessings! -Laura GReplyCancel

Last week I posted on Instagram about our church sending over 1,200 people to our junior high/high school youth camp in Glorietta, New Mexico.  I’ve been wearing these prayer bracelets all week and tuning in at night to the “live stream” of worship and teaching going on and it has stirred my heart.



What you might not know about me, is I am a camp girl.  I grew up attending a christian all girls summer camp for 12 years  in the Texas Hill Country that shaped so much of who I am.  It was a place of disconnect from the world, a place of friendship, learning to be a servant, learning to be a leader, having fun and growing spiritually.  It fostered relationships I still have to this day.  Every summer (except when I studied abroad) I worked as a counselor at Camp Mystic, and my last college summer, I worked in the office as a part of something called “big 3″.  I have countless memories from my time at Mystic.


growing up, I loved spending a week of my summer at cheer camp, sometimes basketball camp, and always youth camp.  our youth group went to a different centrifuge camp every summer – so I got to expierece camp in Glorietta, Louisana, and even Disney World!  the images are engrained in my mind. [I so wish there was Facebook back then, so I could easily find pictures...]

sophomore year in college came around and it was time to pick a major.  I loved camp y’all, and it was something I dreamed of doing full time.  so I majored in “recreation and leisure services”. Camp.  as in my friends all made fun of me saying “how was your dodgeball class?”  really, they were just jealous that I actually did “get” to play basketball, soccer and softball for one of my classes.  no but for real, quite possibly my favorite class in all of college was with my bestie Brynn taught by the late but great Burney – Camp Counseling.  Imagine 2-3 athletes from every major sport at our university and two sorority blondes.  yes.  I made a 101 in that class.  [we did do skits for grades...]


I digress.  in order to graudate, I had to do a semester long internship.  for whatever reason [only a god thing], I chose to apply for a job at Hume Lake Christian Camps in California.  I didn’t know a soul there.  I was one of two people on the entire camp staff from the south.  my nickname might have been Dixie.  that summer was one of the best of my life.  I can still remember gathering on the steps that first day with our summer counseling staff team, knowing that we would soon become family.  I vividly recall packing my bags Sunday morning before church + lunch knowing full well during our SCS weekly meeting, I could be packing up for the week to head to one of the camps to step in as a counselor.  I remember somehow by the goodness of God one week, being chosen to go to San Diego for two weeks to help launch the first ever Hume: SD.  and then sitting in a meeting with our recreation guy, informing him gently that recreation was indeed my college major and why I was at Hume.  I quickly became his sidekick, right hand gal, and had the privilege of running recreation next to the famous Mingo for two weeks. alongside this crazy crew.


we became family.  I have more than 100 memories with these people, and although I haven’t seen them since the summer after this epic summer, they are family.  just like my Mystic family, and just like my Op Camp family [that's for a whole other post].


we sweated together, we prayed together, we worship together, we sat at the back of the autotorium during teaching and prayed for students together, we had crazy dance parties and had fun “testing out” all the recreation games together, we had days off going to see movies and wondering walmart together.  we served together.  there is a bond there that I can’t quite explain or put into words.

I love camp.  and as I sat up late this week looking at old pictures, and reminiscing over old memories, tears streamed down my face.  this thing, this camp thing, it has been a huge part of my life.  and now i’m in a season where it isn’t, and part a lot of me gets really sad about that.  but as this was going on in my heart one night, I heard a whimpery cry coming from the kids room, and as I walked into see my sweet Camp sitting up in his crib calling my name, I know that HE is the Camp in my life right now.  He is what God had in store for me, and this is all why his name is Camp.  I didn’t give up on my camp dreams, but I saw what kind of Camp God had in store for this season.  knowing full well, my season for the other camp could come back into my life at any point.


I love Camp, do you?

  • Kimberly Oyler - i love camp. i was in alaska all last month to help out at my favorite camp. i miss it bad. i’m sure i’m also going to love that camp of yours in a few weeks!ReplyCancel

  • Kathryn Perry Shirey - I’m loving this summer that my daughter is finally old enough to begin experiencing camp! Such a big part of my youth, too. Love the picture of your current Camp the best, though! He’s precious – and probably an even more joyful season of life for you.ReplyCancel

  • Mary - You’re awesome!!!!! Love this post.ReplyCancel

  • Hannah - Camp isn’t done here the same way it is in the US. I think the longest I went away was 7 days with my church youth group. We did social action stuff during the week and then a massive outreach thing at the weekend. Chris my husband was the youth leader at our current church for a few years so loved coming up with crazy adventures, one camp included a survival thing of sorts. So no tents you had a tarp sheet for shelter, food wise you had basic rations and completed challenges for bonus bits. I didn’t go to that one but was on standby to bring young people home if they really weren’t coping.ReplyCancel