Back to School No More

StockSnap_S059QDGBOGThis morning, at approximately 7:45am, hundreds of precious little faces are pouring into the school I used to teach at. From precious confused preschoolers all the way up to awkward unsure fifth graders. All those kiddos are walking into the school I loved so much. Some waited all summer excited to go back, others have been dreading this day. All are making their way into the classroom of a world-class teacher (I taught with some of the best!)

Yes, there are close to 500 students pouring into that little school building. But, my heart belongs to the fourth grade bunch. Not quite to that full-blown awkward stage. Very few have major attitudes yet, and for the most part they still want to please their teacher, and can get excited about a sticker.

As all these students pile into their new room, I am sitting at home probably still in my jammies.

I would be lying if I said I am just heartbroken to not be in my classroom today. This was possibly the fastest a summer as ever flown by, and I don’t think I would have been ready to begin teaching again. So much of me is relieved to not be joining the students, teachers, and administrators.

However, I would also be lying if I said I am not a tiny bit sad. I will miss so many things about teaching. I was a good teacher, it was maybe the one thing I felt like I was truly gifted in. In my short time teaching I did so many things I am proud of. Giving that up was hard. Bittersweet.

But, as much as I will miss it. I would’ve missed my days with Nora Kate more. I have absolutely loved my days home with her so far. There have been hard days, and there will be harder days to come, but I wouldn’t trade them for the world! I will never get my time with my gal back. I can always go back to teaching.

Even though today feels strange and sad in many ways. More than anything, today I feel like I made the right decision!

I hope all my teacher friends have an amazing (and mostly uneventful) first day! You are all rockstars, and I will miss teaching alongside you!

Happy ’17-’18 school year!

Momma Confessions IV


These are my confessions.

One | In the span of two days Nora got her hands on and ate dog poop, a wet chip from the trashcan, and three bites from a stick of butter.

Two | We used kleenexes as toilet paper for three whole days, because I kept forgetting to buy more toilet paper at the store.

Three | To prevent a car nap, I will loudly clap and repeat Nora’s name over and over. Car naps can ruin a day.

Four | I have to try really hard to keep a straight face when getting Nora up from timeout. She stares right into my soul when I’m reminding her why she was sent there. It’s too funny.

Five | In an attempt to dry out Nora’s recent yeast infection, I thought locking her naked in the bathroom with me would go well. She immediately peed on the floor, stepped in the pee, and then wiped out. What was my first reaction? Send a video to daddy at work! Don’t worry, she was okay and the infection is now healed!

Six | To get Nora to eat the last bit of food on her tray at any meal, I pull out all the dip-dips. Ketchup, ranch, honey mustard, BBQ, sour cream. You name it. We’ve tried it.

Seven | I hid a book that Nora asked me to read five times the other day. I could not do it even one more time. She was so confused about where it had gone.

Eight | I’ve taken a nap every single day this week…


To read more Mom Confessions click the links below.



Hills and Valleys

If you saw my Instagram story the other day, then you heard a little of the song I have recently been listening to over and over! Not only do I absolutely love the sound of Tauren Wells’ hit “Hills and Valleys,” but the lyrics have really been speaking to me (is there a less cheesy way to say that?).
I love the message of this song, that God is who we praise when we are on the “hills” of life. Those times where we feel blessed, content and happy. But, just the same, when we are in life’s “valleys” we are also to look to Christ. For he is where our help comes from.
I just love the words of the chorus. Such an amazing reminder of who we should rely on in all seasons of life.
“On the mountains, I will bow my life
To the one who set me there
In the valley, I will lift my eyes to the one who sees me there
When I’m standing on the mountain, I didn’t get there on my own
When I’m walking through the valley end, no I am not alone!”
Take a minute to listen to the song, and read the lyrics. I just love it, and it is such a great reminder to us all!
Hills and Valleys
Performed by Tauren Wells
I’ve walked among the shadows
You wiped my tears away
And I’ve felt the pain of heartbreak
And I’ve seen the brighter days
And I’ve prayed prayers to heaven from my lowest place
And I have held the blessings
God, you give and take away
No matter what I have, Your grace is enough
No matter where I am, I’m standing in Your love
On the mountains, I will bow my life
To the one who set me there
In the valley, I will lift my eyes to the one who sees me there
When I’m standing on the mountain, I didn’t get there on my own
When I’m walking through the valley end, no I am not alone!
You’re God of the hills and valleys!
Hills and Valleys!
God of the hills and valleys
And I am not alone!
I’ve watched my dreams get broken
In you I hope again!
No matter what I know
Know I’m safe inside Your hand
On the mountains, I will bow my life
To the one who set me there
In the valley, I will lift my eyes to the one who sees me there
When I’m standing on the mountain aft, didn’t get there on my own
When I’m walking through the valley end, no I am not alone!
You’re God of the hills and valleys!
Hills and Valleys!
God of the hills and valleys
And I am not alone!
Father, you give and take away
Every joy and every pain
Through it all you will remain
Over it all!
Father, you give and take away
Every joy and every pain
Through it all you will remain
Over it all!
On the mountains, I will bow my life
To the one who set me there (to the one who set me there)
In the valley, I will lift my eyes to the one who sees me there
When I’m standing on the mountain aft, didn’t get there on my own
When I’m walking through the valley end, no I am not alone!
You’re God of the hills and valleys!
Hills and Valleys!
God of the hills and valleys
And I am not alone!
You’re God of the hills and valleys!
Hills and Valleys!
God of the hills and valleys
And I am not alone!
And I will choose to say “Blessed be Your name, yeah, yeah”
And I am not alone

What’s In My | Quiet Time Basket

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To make my time studying the Bible easier, I place everything I may need into a basket and store it all together. That way, when I am ready to have my quiet time, (I don’t love that phrase, anybody have a better one?) I can grab the basket and take it to any spot I want. I normally choose the kitchen table, but also enjoy the couch or even the bed!

I’ve posted many times about my favorite resources for studying the Bible. You can read those posts here, here, and here. But, today I wanted to share just what I keep in my quiet time basket.

Currently I am reading through the Bible with a Bible-in-a-year plan, but will be taking a small break to do a Galatians study with a favorite blogger of mine (click here to join in)! So, some days all I need is my Bible, and pen or highlighter. Before I began reading the Bible through, I would just do whatever I felt that day! I have a few guided journals or studies that I keep on hand. Keeping it all in one place is just so convenient.

Below, I will breakdown just what’s in my basket, and will link to any items I can!


*Left to right.

Proverbs 31 Study | This is one of my favorite studies. It’s great because it can be done consecutively, or each lesson can stand alone.

Notebook | Just a cute notebook to jot thoughts down. It has lined paper which I prefer for writing. This one is standard notebook size paper.

She Reads Truth Bible | If you’ve been around here much, or follow me on Instagram then you know how much I love this Bible! It really is so amazing. Not only do I love the translation (New Standard), but it has so many amazing “extra” features. It helps that it’s beautiful too.

Give Me Jesus Journal | This gorgeous floral journal is one of the best guided study journals I have ever seen. It isn’t a Bible study, you simply use the prompts within it for any passage of Scripture you are reading. It’s perfect if you aren’t sure how to really study God’s word.

Notebook | Another little notebook. This one has no lines. Sometimes I use it to illustrate verses I want to remember or be praying over.

Journal | This is my “journal” and I add the quotations because I don’t really journal in it. This is the journal where all my thoughts, lists, ideas, or anything else goes. It is so random and messy! Often times when I am reading the Bible I think of blog post ideas. They all get written in that journal. Often next to a grocery list!

Val Marie Prayer Journal | This is a guided prayer journal. It has sections for each month with general topics of prayer. I usually fill it out at the beginning of the month, and then pick one section to pray for each day.

Pens and Pencils | I may no longer be a teacher, but I still have a strong love for good pens and pencils! I don’t think my love of school supplies will ever die! I love the gel highlighters and felt-tip pens. I like having lots of color options! I keep it all in a pencil bag so it’s easy to reach.

Basket | I actually snagged this basket for five bucks at Dollar General. I would have preferred a nice one from Target, but I found this one and it works great for now!


I hope this maybe gave you some ideas on how to make your time studying the Bible easier. Having everything in one place is so nice, it really was a game changer!

Stayed tuned because in the coming weeks I am going to share what is in my husband’s basket! Yep, he was one too!


Five on Friday | A Wonderful Week


I am taking a break from reading the Bible in a year, and studying Galatians inductively. So far, week one has been great, I cannot wait to dig even deeper in the coming weeks. If you want to join in, you can start anytime with Nicole’s plan!

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I may have a green thumb after all! My first garden did not prove to be too successful as I had many fails. My two zucchini plants gave me exactly six vegetables, my butter lettuce was a bust, I picked maybe twenty sugar snap peas before they all died, and I got a whopping zero squash. But, my tomatoes are doing amazing, and my zinnias are gorgeous! It is so fun to be able to go an pick a tomato from the back yard, and whip up a BLT!

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Nora and I had a little spontaneous date the other day, and it was so much fun! We didn’t plan on it, but I felt like getting out of the house! It was 75 degrees so we headed for the park, but we hit up Chick-Fil-A first! I am a Chicken Mini fan through and through, but it was free Chicken Biscuit day so we simply got both! Then to the park for about an hour. There was hardly anyone there which is always the best. It’s a great park, but it has very little shade. So at ten we headed to the library to play inside for a while. Out library has a great children’s area! Then, we went to Target to get some goodies for our vacation! It was a great day, capped off by Nora taking a three hour nap!



Mornings here in Missouri have been in the mid-seventies this week, and it’s only been getting up to the mid-eighties! So we have been spending most of our days outside! That means sun-kissed skin, and baths every night! I hope this stays!



No picture for this one, but last night I paid off my student loans! That means this family no longer makes payments to the Department of Education… until our kids got to college.


Happy Friday everyone! I will be taking a break next week as we will be at the beach! Check back Monday for a small post reminder and update!

TRUTH Focused |What’s Stealing Your Time?

*This is the fifth post in the series TRUTH Focused. To read the first post on biblical literacy, click here. To read the second post on discernment, click here. Read post four on biblical literacy and parents, click here. Last week’s post on tips to study the Bible can be found here. 


We’re all busy. Whether you work, have one kid, five kids, see friends regularly, volunteer, are involved in church, or any other activity listen on your calendar.

We are all busy. But, too often we let that be our excuse.

My house is dirty because we have been so busy.

I ordered pizza all week for dinner because we’ve just been busy.

I didn’t call my friend back because we are so busy.

I haven’t read the Bible in years because we are always so busy.

Being busy can be a valid excuse at times. I’ve had days in my life where there was hardly time to eat. I get it. I truly do. But, I think being busy is one of the biggest excuses used for not spending time in God’s word. Now, let me drop a little #truthbomb on you…

We make time for the things that are important to us. 


Guys, I had to learn this too. I was at a point in life where I hadn’t sat down and read the Bible in months. I kept telling myself it was too hard to fit it in being a working mom. I even convinced myself that I would wait until school was done to start. Because then I would have time.

Meanwhile, my husband and I finished The Man in the High Castle on Amazon Prime, I spent hours on my phone watching Instagram stories, I even wrote some long blog posts.

I made time for the things that were important to me. 

When I finally took a step back and looked at what was filling my free time, I realized that I was making social media, television, and my blog a priority over growing closer to my Savior.

Double ouch.

I know this is some of you too. Life is hard. We are busy. We are distracted. We are exhausted. But, if we want to thrive and live abundantly, we have to make God and His word one of our important things!

I want to share with you a small tangible way that I am doing this. When Nora gave up her morning nap a month ago, I was upset because that was my time to sit down and read the Bible. I tried continuing to do it while she was awake, but if you’re a mom you can imagine how that went. So now, she takes only one nap a day and those two hours are my only alone time during the day. In the beginning I was using those hours checking in on social media, reading a book, blogging, cleaning, or watching a show. Then, when I would finally get around to reading the Bible, inevitably Nora would wake up. I would stop where I was, and most days never finish or never fit it in at all. After four days of this I knew something had to give!

So, I set an alarm for 1:30PM that goes off everyday. Nora goes down for her afternoon nap just before one. This gives me about thirty minutes to do whatever I want. I can look at Facebook, read from my book, do some cleaning, watch an episode of a show, or anything else I choose. When that alarm goes off after that half hour, I stop what I’m doing, grab my Bible and spend time with God. The alarm is a not only a reminder but a boundary in a way. Since I began doing this, I have rarely (I’m human) missed a day diving into Scripture.

I encourage you to find some way to make reading the Bible a priority. Whether it’s a daily alarm or a friend holding you accountable, it is so important to daily be in the Word!

 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

2 Timothy 3: 16-17


Name Book

*This product was sent to me in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. 


To make money (and it can be good money) in the blogging world, you have to do a ton of work along with tons of advertising products. Sponsored posts are one of the biggest ways bloggers do this. They are sent a free product if they agree to review and advertise the item on their blog. Many times they even make a commission on readers following a link and purchasing the product. It’s a complicated world, but some bloggers choose to live it.

For various reasons I choose not to blog for money, I truly just do it for fun. I have been approached a few times about doing sponsored posts, but the products were things I do not really use, from companies I didn’t really want to support. So, I normally turn it down because I do not want to run that kind of blog. However, when a reader approached me about her new business I knew I was going to make an exception!

Rachel has been reading Everyday Smith for a while, and recently opened her Etsy shop selling handmade cloth books! Southern Sparkle Store is just starting out and Rachel is looking to get her name out there!

She sent Nora one of her cloth name books, and we both love it! The quality of the book is undeniable, but more than that it is so stinkin’ cute! One of my favorite things is how on each page, the fabric behind the letter goes with that letter. See below!


Owls for “O” and rabbits for “R!”

Rachel not only makes personalized name books, but she has number, alphabet, and church books available as well. Her cloth books would be great for small babies, because they are soft and colorful. I am most excited to use Nora’s to help her spell and identify and letters in her name! Right now Nora has taken to pushing it around in her play shopping cart with all the other random toys she throws in there!

Like I mentioned above, I do not often do sponsored product posts. But, I do make exceptions, and I love to support SAHM’s with businesses!

Even if you don’t buy a book from Rachel’s shop, I would love if you would follow her page on Instagram and watch her business grow!

Nora and the Snack Attack

I’ve written in my Nora Eats series about my struggle with what to feed Nora for lunch. However, I also struggled with snacks when she began snacking regularly. Nora has two very predictable snack times each day. At around 9:30am and then again at 3:00pm, she becomes hangry! I call it her snack attack, because she gets a little cranky and needy at these times. A snack fixes that right up!

Today I wanted to share with you some of our go-to snacks for Nora. These are foods she loves to eat, and we always have on hand. Sometimes we do fruit, but today I am only going to list the dry snacks. I always give her a sippy of cold water with her snack. We do milk with meals, and I have never given her juice.



Dried blueberries,

Dried cranberries

Dried mangoes


Oyster Crackers

Club Crackers

Graham Crackers


Veggie Chips/Sticks



Fruit Granola Bars


Hopefully, these ideas will give you some fresh new options for your little one’s “snack attack!”

Happy snacking!