~ Our Magical Fairy Garden ~

As soon as I laid eyes on the miniature fairy garden ideas on Pinterest, I have been obsessed with doing one with my girls. I mean, who doesn’t need a miniature garden for fairies in their life? No one that I can think of!!! Especially if you have girls in your house.Or even if you have boys. (Ooooh, think Tonka Truck or Lego Garden!!) The possibilities are endless really.

Fairy gardens are apparently very popular, and you can find tons of fairy garden accessories at garden supply stores, but they can get pricey when you start adding up all the mini details. We were able to put ours together using stuff found outside and inexpensive craft supplies. (Plus we raided my craft room!) We spent less than $10 on supplies!

There are so many different ideas out there, and they were all so cute that it was really hard to narrow it down. My girls got excited in the planning phase as well, searching for ideas too.  I knew we didn’t want to spend a lot of money on this project, so whenever we went to the park, we would pick up stones, small pieces of wood and twigs.

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Supplies we used included: Small bottles of acrylic paint for .50 cents each at Walmart (yellow, purple, brown, orange, red, green, & blue)= $3.50, one bottle of glow in the dark paint= $1.50, a bag of popsicle sticks @ $2. So we literally spent around $7.00 total.

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We also used: things we picked up outside, and a recycled Minute Maid juice bottle. BTW, they are not a sponsor of this post even though it will probably boost sales. ha!

Buttons, felt, scrapbook stickers, paint brushes and a ton of hot glue from the craft room raid. Don’t underestimate your need of hot glue sticks.

Plus any random items we could find to throw in, such as bits of string, old thread spools, and doll furniture.

First we painted the minute maid bottle/fairy house and the popsicle sticks and rocks in random colors and let that dry.

The fairy house then gained a Popsicle stick & button roof in lieu of shingles. I let the kids pick the colors and buttons that they wanted to use, and I stuck to manning the hot glue gun. (no pun intended!- ok, maybe it was)

 

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Fairy House

Aubrey placed the stickers on carefully and Chloe decided to use the piece of wood as a step into the house, and buttons as stepping stones. Ignore the background chaos, as disaster areas naturally occur as part of the creative process.

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Then we moved on to painting glow in the dark rocks, lady bugs, and mushrooms.

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Our lady bugs and mushroom tops.

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Chloe’s fairy pennant banner

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Chloe made a tiny pennant banner out of felt triangles and wooden beads

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A Fairy Garden Gate!

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Making the Troll Bridge

 

The troll bridge was made of popsicle sticks glued to a piece of cardboard. We added supports (rocks) glued underneath to hold it up.

Chloe decorated the troll bridge with wooden rings and string (from a bracelet kit). Aubrey made the troll! She was a nice girl troll (hence the heart).

 

 

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Fairy Garden Troll Bridge

We bought some small plants and flowers and potting soil. Next all that was left was to put the whole thing together! We started with a smaller container, but realized our fairy garden plan was too ambitious for it, so we moved to plan B, which was using their wagon as the fairy garden.

Fairy Garden complete with a furnished fairy house and giant ladybugs!

Mobile Fairy Garden

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We also added a Fairy Garden sign & Fairies

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Fairy Garden sign and Girl Troll Close-up

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Our banner needed taller sticks, it drags the ground a bit

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Almost forgot about the Fairy Lamp Post!

The lantern was super cute! Chloe made the post out of rolled up paper painted brown, and we happened upon this odd shaped piece of wood that reminded us of a lamp shade. Aubrey found the button that made the cutest fairy lamp post.

Magical Fairy Garden complete!

Our fairy garden is finished, and the girls had so much fun being creative with it. Next time though, I think we will plan it during spring and not during the sweltering 1098 degree Texas summer!

Have fun, and post pics in the comments of your own fairy garden!

-Casey

Anyone Can Sew…

When I hear somone say, “I can’t sew!”,  I always think of of Remy in Ratatouille, when he is reminded, Anyone Can Cook! by the illustrious Gousteau, even a RAT!

So I’m here to say this:  Anyone can sew!  Even I can do it, even though according to my husband, I  can’t drive straight between two big huge painted lines on the road.  My only prior experience with sewing I can thank my 6th grade Home Ec teacher Mrs. Hodges for. She taught us to sew on buttons &  embroider mostly, but we did learn how to thread a machine and make a pair of  “jams” shorts.  haha! Mine were neon colored. And I still have the caboodle I used as a sewing kit. I’m thinking it’s time to upgrade.

So with a very limited knowledge of sewing, I took a refresher class offered at our church, asked my husband to get me a sewing machine, and from then on the rest is history. Granted, my first sewing projects look like I made them in 6th grade, (and some of my later projects too). But hey, it’s a learning process. Anytime I want to learn a new skill, I check out some videos on youtube or Craftsy. Some I have mastered, and others, not so much. I’m definitely not in the expert seamstress category but I can get by.

I love to shop for fabric and new patterns. (Which, by the way I have never read a store bought pattern, they scare me) I stick to the printable PDF patterns you can download and reprint anytime you want to make a new size from an old pattern. It’s genius really. And there are step-by-step instructions and pictures for dummies like me who sew things upside down and backwards on occasion. I love to use Create Kids Couture,  (also known as CKC) to purchase cute PDF patterns and also Violette Field Threads.

I also sew because I love customizing clothing to fit my two girls. For me, it’s a necessary means to an end. If I want my kids to have couture clothes, it’s  up to me to make them because I sure don’t want to pay $80 for a custom outfit that they will outgrow in a year or less. So basically, I sew because I’m cheap.

There is something timeless & classic about sitting down a machine a pushing the pedal. Even though I sew on a newer model, I feel a nostalgic connection to the ladies who sat behind the old wrought iron singer machines, or even those before the machine, who did everything by hand with a needle and thread. They would go down to the old general store and peruse the fabric selections for themselves and their children. This wasn’t a choice, it was something everyone did because they had to. Thank God for our modern conveniences, but in those days it was a simpler time. A time where every piece of clothing was made with love and treasured.

And my kids appreciate my efforts (most of the time) for their custom one-of-a-kind creations, and hopefully will treasure them. There will probably come a time when they refuse to wear what I make them, but I love to have the option of letting them pick their own fabrics and patterns.

So, overcome your fear of getting started and just jump in. Sewing mistakes are the easiest to fix. I have this posted in my sewing room: Stay calm and get the seam ripper!

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(You can also get this printable in multiple colors for your sewing room from Amber at Crazy Little Projects)

Happy Sewing!

-Casey

If you give a kid a great teacher…

Underpaid, overworked, and stressed out most of the time, teachers work hard to please the school board, the principal, the parents, and teach 22 kids all at the same time! Most teachers work after hours making lesson plans, grading papers, and worrying about whether Johnny had a hot meal when he got home.  And while they count down the days until summer, most of them rarely complain about their job. Because they love our kids, even the bratty ones. 😉 They love teaching our kids, shaping their minds, watching them learn, gain confidence and grow in skill. And while public education often gets a bad wrap, it’s mostly because of the system that is forced upon them, not because of the teachers in it. So be kind to your child’s teacher, and remind her as often as possible that you appreciate her efforts in coddling, cajoling, and coercing our kids into making something of themselves.

May is Teacher Appreciation month, and with this in mind, I try to do something special for my kids’ teachers, even if it’s something small and inexpensive. This year I put together a couple of 5 x 7 printables, feel free to use these to print and frame for your child’s teacher, or just use as a gift tag and attach to a nice gift.

The first one is a poem I wrote based on one of our favorite children’s book series: “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie…”

If you give a kid a teacher! pdf

Click here to download 5 x 7 graphic: If you give a kid a teacher! pdf

The second one is a chalkboard themed printable, it simply says “Changing the world one kid at a time”, there is a blank space at the top where you can insert your child’s teacher’s name and they can use it as a desk name plate.

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Click here to download the 5 x 7 graphic with blank space for name: Changing the world 5×7 pdf

Framed with Chalk Paint

Do not be deceived by the title! Even though it sounds like someone was murdered, I was really just trying to describe my latest chalk paint project in a few words. The great thing about painting with chalky finish paint is the no prep! There are times when you may want or need to sand, but for the most part, you just slap it on. It adheres to just about everything. Then you can distress with a damp rag, and finish with a wax or other type of sealer such as a polyurethane or shellac. More and more places are carrying the chalky finish paint, you can even get it at Walmart now. The coral color pictured is Walmart’s Waverly Inspirations matte chalk acrylic paint, officially Rhubarb.

So it started as a little project, that turned into a big project.  It took a little longer to complete than planned, and I may or may not have gotten carried away. When I saw how great they looked, I just kept painting all the frames in my house!  I had a TON of gold toned and ornate photo frames, that were really  beautiful frames. But I decided to go with more of the farmhouse decor in our new house and the gold just didn’t go. So instead of getting rid of these and buying all new, which would go against my frugal nature, I decided to paint them. ALL. I was really pleased with how they turned out. I will post another blog soon to show you how they look on the wall.

Hope you enjoyed my latest project! Post comments or questions! I may or may not know the answers, but I will try to answer to the best of my ability.

-Casey

Swim Shorts into Swim Skirt

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Swim season is almost here! Late spring & summer in Texas brings sweltering heat and a need to stay drenched with hoses, pools, and sprinklers! My girls are already itching to get in the water, so much that we had to turn on the backyard sprinkler for them in March! Finding my two girls non-revealing swimwear is nearly impossible, so cute cover-ups are a must for them.

For my skirt wearing girls, these boys’ swim trunks can be easily transformed into a cute swim skirt that can be worn at the beach, at camp, or water play days.

Supplies Needed: 1 pair of swim shorts, two small pieces of coordinating water repelling fabric, fabric scissors, seam ripper, sewing machine, (& serger if you have one)

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To get started on this project, cut the shorts open on the inseam of both legs, as close to the seam as possible.

 

 

 

Using a seam ripper, rip the threads at the top of the front opening.
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Open this seam up to where the material begins to curve, so that it will lay flat.

 

 

 

Repeat ripping seam on the back of the shorts, up to where the curve begins. (around where the seam ripper is  pointing)

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When you are done ripping, the seam should lay flat.
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Cut two triangle pieces of fabric from your coordinating fabric. I used a lining material that would dry fast and was similar to the fabric of the swim shorts.

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  Cut one triangle for the front opening and one for the       back – these should be a half inch larger than the openings for seam allowance.

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Next, serge the raw edges of the inside seams on front and back (this is to keep them from fraying). If you don’t have a serger, sew a zigzag stitch along the edges.
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Serge also the raw edges of your triangle pieces.

Serge the bottom edge if you are not planning to serge the entire hem. Since the bottom of these shorts were already hemmed, I ended up serging the bottom of the insert piece.

If the bottom of the shorts had a raw edge, then I would have waited until the end to serge it all at once.

Insert your front triangle piece behind the opening.   Make sure that you have the entire opening covered.

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Fold the serged edge under and pin it to the triangle. Most of this project is prep work, there is very little actual sewing involved.
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Pin the seam all the way up until the point where the raw/serged edge stops. Once you’re done pinning, it’s time to sew!

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Begin sewing from the top of the curve all the way up to where you stopped ripping the seam, even if you didn’t pin it all the way up to that point. Make sure you don’t leave any openings!

Backstitch to reinforce your stitching and then sew around the curve, going slowly!
IMG_4076At the end of the curve, stop sewing but leave your needle down. Then release the presser foot, turn the fabric underneath it, and sew straight down, very close to the folded edge. Backstitch at the end, then cut your thread and begin sewing at the top of the opposite side.

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Repeat pinning and sewing for the back side!
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Almost done!! Woohoo, give yourself a pat on the back.

Now for the hem! Since our triangle pieces still have the raw serged bottom edge, we need to sew a new hem and make it all match. I had used a fun orange thread since these shorts were so colorful already. It is also easier to see the stitches.

So, fold the bottom edge under and pin it all the way around. Then, sew around the bottom to make your hem, make sure you sew close to the edge.

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Voila! Finished swim skirt!

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Cajun Raspberry Chipotle Chicken, Sausage, & Rice

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So I bought a gigantic bottle of Roasted Raspberry Chipotle Sauce at Costco.

IMG_4088With basically no idea of how to use it, but just for the promise of  “inspiring your culinary adventure” and because who needs other reasons?  Sometimes you just need a culinary adventure. The only way I’ve really ever used this sauce is dumped on top of a block of cream cheese and served with crackers. So YUM! You can also find it in the marinade section of most grocery stores.

For this recipe I used 5 chicken breasts, Tony Chachere’s seasoning & 1 lb of Andouille sausage.My favorite sausage is made by Rabideaux’s Sausage in Iowa, LA but unfortunately I don’t think there is a way to get it shipped, so I always try to get some when I’m in Louisiana, most stores there carry it.  When in doubt buying the best cajun sausage, always try to get one that’s actually made in Louisiana.

I added some twists  to a recipe called Forgotten Chicken, and it’s awesome because you can fix it, leave it in the oven before church, come back 3 hours later, and it’s ready!

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I diced up the sausage and sauteed it while preparing the rice mix. (I would dice up my sausage smaller next time)

Then, I mixed together 1 can cream of mushroom soup, 1 can cream of chicken, 1 can water and two cups minute rice and pour this mixture into a buttered pan.

I seasoned my chicken with Tony’s on both sides, and placed in on top of rice mix.

When sausage is browned, drain it and dry excess grease, and place on top of chicken. Brush with raspberry sauce, cover with foil and bake for 3 hours at 275 or 1.5 hours at 350.

NOTE: Sometimes my concoctions work out and sometimes they don’t, but my sweet husband is happy to be my guinea pig and I appreciate his honesty in times when my biscuits are flat as pancakes. But, he gave his stamp of approval on this one!

Cajun Raspberry Chipotle Chicken & Rice

Cajun Raspberry Chipotle Chicken & Rice

Ingredients

  • 4 - 6 Boneless Chicken Breasts
  • Tony's Chachere's cajun seasoning
  • 1-1/2 lbs Andouille Sausage, diced
  • 2 cups of minute rice
  • 1 cup roasted raspberry chipotle sauce (with marinades)
  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 can cream of chicken soup
  • 1 can water

Instructions

  1. Saute' chopped sausage in a pan over medium heat.
  2. Mix together cream of soups, water, and 2 cups of minute rice & pour into a buttered 13x9 pan.
  3. Season chicken with Tony's on both sides, and lay on top of rice mixture.
  4. Drain sausage, and use paper towels to dry excess grease and place on top of chicken & rice.
  5. Brush raspberry sauce over the top of the chicken & sausage.
  6. Cover with foil and bake @ 350 for 1.5 hours or @ 275 for 3 hours.
Recipe Management Powered by Zip Recipes Plugin
http://www.lagniappeandvintagelace.com/cajun-raspberry-chipotle-chicken-sausage-rice/

Boudin King Cake

When I first heard of this twist on the traditional King Cake using some of my all time favorites – cajun boudin, pepper jack cheese, hidden within a golden baked bread ring, and topped with a pepper jelly glaze & bacon? Must. Make. Immediately. And with yesterday being Mardi Gras and all, there was no better time to try it! Thanks to George Graham at AcadianaTable.com for this awesome recipe! It was super easy to make and delicious!

INGREDIENTS:
½ cup red pepper jelly, such as Tabasco

1 tablespoon water

1 pound boudin links

IMG_36781 (8-ounce) package pepper jack cheese, cut into planks

2 (8-ounce) cans Pillsbury Crescent dough sheets, 1 sheet per can

1 large egg, beaten, for brushing

Kosher salt

½ cup crumbled bacon

½ cup diced green onion tops

I couldn’t find the dough sheets at the store, so I just bought the crescent biscuits and pressed the dough together at the seams. 2 cans were more than enough. The pillsbury crescent rolls were a little too sweet for me – I think next time I will try a different type of dough. 

 

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I sprayed the pan and pressed the dough together to form a ring shape.

I removed the casing and split the boudin down the middle and placed it on the dough.

Removed the casing and split the boudin down the middle and placed it on the dough.

Added the pepper jack cheese to the center

Added the pepper jack cheese to the center

Wrapped the dough around the boudin & cheese and brushed on an egg wash

Wrapped the dough around the boudin & cheese, brushed on an egg wash, & sprinkled on kosher salt

Baked at 350 degrees for 35 min to a beautiful golden brown. Heated pepper jelly with a tablespoon of water over low heat and brushed it on, then topped with crumbled bacon and green onions. Beautiful and YUMMO!

Boudin King Cake

Boudin King Cake

Mardi Gras King Cake

King Cake

In Louisiana, it’s part of an age-old tradition to celebrate Mardi Gras. Growing up, we always looked forward to Mardi Gras, because it was always a school holiday. Even if you don’t participate in the traditional Mardi Gras celebrations, 3 days out of school gives any kid a reason to celebrate! Mardi Gras translated from french literally means “Fat Tuesday”. For many, on the day before Ash Wednesday it’s the last chance to “live it up” before taking ashes on the forehead and fasting for Lent up until Easter. Traditional Mardi Gras celebrations include parades, bead-throwing, elaborate costumes, and Mardi Gras Balls. To read more about the history & traditions of Mardi Gras, visit MardiGrasNewOrleans.com.

While my family was never partakers in the religious or reveling aspects of it, we definitely celebrated in other ways – namely the indulgence in the awesome food that comes around only during Mardi Gras season: King Cake! This sugary sweet confection is typically a hollow pastry type dough or bread shaped into a ring, filled with a fruit or cream filling, and topped with a sugary icing in the traditional royal colors of gold, green, and purple. The colors were chosen to represent the jewels of the Wise Men who searched for the King. A small plastic figurine of a baby is usually hidden inside, representing baby Jesus. Traditions hold to whoever finds the baby in their slice of cake is responsible for bringing the next King cake to the celebrations.

Now that you have a short history of Mardi Gras and King Cake- here is a link to the recipe for King Cake from Emeril Lagasse, Louisiana native:

Emeril’s King Cake Recipe

And because just looking at Emeril’s recipe with all those ingredients intimidates me just a bit, you may want to opt for this super easy step by step tutorial for King Cake:

Southern Plate King Cake Recipe

Confession: Although I love to eat King Cake, I’ve never actually made one from scratch, so if you have found a tried & true tasty/easy recipe, please share it! And don’t forget to “Laissez les bons temps rouler!”  -“Let the Good Times Roll!”

Gumball Machine T-Shirt

If you’ve been wondering what I’ve been up to lately…it’s more things than I can count up, really. I thought since I hadn’t started working outside the home since we moved to Houston, that I would be extremely bored. Boy, was I wrong! With all of this time on my hands, you’d think I could really get some things accomplished. Mostly, I’ve been busy making lists; I have bucket list of Projects I’d Like to Finish, along with another list of Projects I’d Like to Start, in between all the other mundane stuff like keeping the house clean, cooking dinner, etc.

Mainly I’ve been learning how to BLOG, which someone should have really informed me, is not as easy as it looks! So, when my husband comes home to piles of laundry, frozen pizza dinner, and a sink full of dirty dishes, maybe I can impress him with my newly learned blog terminology like, SEO (Search Engine Optimization), backlinks, plugins, and jetpacks (I still don’t know what that is) and maybe he won’t notice. *crossed fingers*

Last night, we worked on a school project for my kindergartener, Aubrey. Today was the 100th day of school, so we commemorated with a fun little t-shirt. They could dress up like 100 year old little people or make a t-shirt with 100 things on it. We chose the shirt idea, and went with a gumball theme! I got my inspiration from Lisa at LisaPlusThree.com.

Here’s what I used:

(1) Plain Green T-shirt

(1) Piece of Each of White & Dark Gray Felt

Small scraps of black & light gray felt and red fabric

(2) packs of multicolored pom poms (I had to buy enough to get 100 pom poms)

Scissors, hot glue and hot glue gun

In hindsight, I probably should have used templates to cut out the shapes, but I just eyeballed everything. I did use a paper bowl for the circle template.

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At first, it looked a little too much like a crystal ball than a gumball machine, so I found a photo of a real gumball machine…

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I realized my design was missing the iconic red top and base!

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So I found some red scraps of fabric and glued that to the top and bottom.

 

Then I started gluing on gumballs!

Then I started gluing on gumballs!

Just kept gluing! Burnt the mess out of my fingertips. I have a love/hate relationship with my glue gun.

Just kept gluing! Burnt the mess out of my fingertips. I have a love/hate relationship with my glue gun.

Finished! Miss Aubrey loved her gumball shirt!

Finished! Miss Aubrey loved her gumball shirt!

 

Trusting God – All that Really Matters

Faith & family are both very important to me and for me, they go together like peanut butter and jelly. In order for my family to be strengthened, we look to trust trust godGod who is the author and the finisher of our faith.

Is it always easy to have faith? No, oftentimes not at all. I’ve struggled many times with my own faith, during times in my life when I felt God was absent from my reality and my struggles.

Just recently, for example, my husband and I relocated to one of the biggest cities in the U.S. – Houston, TX. We are both from small towns, and very active in our local church and community, so to say that this decision was difficult would be the understatement of the year. It was gigantic for us. Overwhelming, sickening, you name it, these are the feelings we had concerning this change in our lives. But we prayed. We asked our Pastor to pray. We prayed for doors to open, for things to happen that we didn’t think was possible for God to let us know if it was His will for us. And then those things happened. So we began planning the inevitable.

We had a narrow timeline- only 3 months to find a place. We had considered moving to a temporary apartment, or the kids and I staying behind while my husband began work as we continued to look for a home. I had prayed that if it were God’s will for us to indeed move, that we would move all at the same time as a family. I did not want to be separated for any length of time.  In our home search, after scouring the internet for days on end, to find homes in the location we were drawn to with details that we were looking for, we had finally narrowed it down to 5 or 6 homes.  It was the weekend before Thanksgiving, my husband’s new job started on Jan 1, so we were in a time crunch. We looked at these homes, but weren’t happy with what we found. They were all too small or too much fixing up needed. Needless to say, we were very disappointed at the end of the day’s search. But – our real estate agent suggested for us to check on newly constructed homes – sometimes incentives are given if they have finished homes ready to sell. Sure enough – “coincidentally” there was one home within our price range, with everything on our wish list, in the area we were hoping for, within close distance of my husband’s job in a brand new school district for our children aaaand, here’s the kicker – we had to close on this house before the end of December to get the sale price. Except I don’t believe in coincidences.

I believe God ordered our steps that day and is continuing to do so as long as we continue to trust Him. It definitely wasn’t easy to trust God, but it is during times of trials like these that I have learned to put my faith in Him. More often than not, the loads we carry are put there for a reason. To trust Him more! The words to the old song come to mind, ” ‘Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus, how I’ve proved Him o’er and o’er!” 

I’m thankful for the scripture that reassures us, “No one who trusts God like this- heart and soul- will ever regret it.” – Romans 10:11 MSG.  No matter your religious background, God responds the same to all, acting the same incredibly generous way to everyone who will call out to Him.

So I will continue to trust in Him, He’s not failed me yet. He ain’t never done me nothin’ but good!