Book a spring/summer photo session.

These photographs were taken at the very first hint of spring, the warm sunlight and bright, yellow daffodils leading the way into one of my favorite seasons. 

Since these moments were captured the grass has turned green, the trees are budding out, and everywhere you look things are starting to bloom. 


I've read a quote before about how life starts all over again in the fall. 

But to me, spring always feels like a fresh start, a season of beginnings, sunshine, and color everywhere we look. 



Now is also a great time to book a photo session.  You and your family are welcome to come play on the farm or be captured where you're most comfortable, within your own home. 

I offer two types of sessions: 
One is a farm session, where you come out and play! 

The other is a longer, lifestyle session.  This is where I come into your home and capture your family as you go about your regular routine.  You could be in jammies, making Saturday morning pancakes. Or maybe firing up the grill, while the kids play in the back yard.  I'm not aiming for a perfectly clean house, perfect behavior, perfect appearances.  I'm aiming for the real life beauty, the joy and love that's tucked into the nooks and crannies of your everyday.  That's what I capture. 

I'm also open to other types of photo sessions as well, if you have a creative idea!
Maybe you want your child's birthday party captured, or a fun night with your girl friends. 
Or how much fun would a farm photo shoot be for your bible study friends, or tribe of people you call your own? 

The ideas are endless. 
To read more about a photo session, click on the "Photography Sessions" tab above.  To reserve your own session, email sunshinebysara@hotmail.com 


My recent paintings.

It's no secret that the past few months or even year, have been very on course in some ways (see yesterday's post!) but also a bit off course in others.  My painting has gotten off course as the girls have grown older and my free time has grown smaller.  Also, now that I'm 33 a much bigger chunk of my free time is going towards my health and cooking, something my carefree 29-year old self didn't realize would happen. 

All that to say that I kept hearing one tiny voice telling me to maybe just be done with painting, that maybe it was selfish to try to squeeze just one more thing into my day, that I'm not that good anyway. 

Then the BIGGER, louder, voice-the roar of God I believe, said "no."
I kept hearing a loud pounding in my chest, telling me to get back to painting before I got too far gone.  To just pick up a paintbrush and try.  Not to worry about pleasing anyone else's eyes but my own.  To move on if I didn't like something but not to let that stop me in my tracks completely. 

To paint again! 
And so I did. 
Saturday morning while standing at the skillet doing breakfast duty, I began to paint.  

Watercolors were my medium of choice because they're so easily portable. 

Later in the afternoon I was so fired up and excited about all that color staring back at me that I went in and added some acrylic paints as well. 
I wouldn't consider any of these paintings finished, but I like what I see. 
Especially the pink paintings. 

"I painted something today that I liked and that made my heart beat real hard", is what I shared with Brett later.   Two things are sure signs that I need to keep following a certain way, tears and a pounding heart.  I'm so glad I picked up the paintbrush again! 

I plan to paint on and have a little sale on IG soon.  
My Instagram account is therosylifeblog

What have you done that's made you feel alive lately? 

From the outside in: our foster care update

From the outside in, this looks like another post where I harness the rosy in my routine, producing images that bring a smile and an appreciation for the small things in life.  Where rain becomes art, blooms help our eyes behold the beauty of spring arriving in all its glory, and something as simple as my cat perched upon the green grass makes life seem simply dreamy in the country. 
From the outside in we look like just that, a family of four living the dream in the country, cows in the pasture, a country mailbox too.  And I suppose for someone aiming to buy land and duplicate a similar lifestyle, they may be slightly right.  But only slightly.  For behind our wood board country fence, and inside our big house lives a family of four with a fire burning for foster care.  There's nothing dreamy about the number of children just within the state of Arkansas alone needing a place to call home, a meal to eat, and a reason to smile and laugh. 
From the beginning of our marriage (almost 9 years ago!) Brett and I have had adoption on our hearts.  I remember sitting in church a few years ago and hearing about the foster care crisis on "Orphan Sunday".  Back then, I thought tearing up at the Heart Gallery, which is a collection of photos of kids needing to be adopted, was enough.  I counted my tears as my ticket into freedom from going any further into the foster care crisis.  I came, I cried, I was off the hook. 

Basically, I just didn't get it yet.  I even remember some very passionate speakers urging everyone to get involved with this need and I sat fuming.  We had a farm and a family! How on earth could they expect us to fit one more thing into our busy lives?

I just. didn't. get. it. ! 

If you've been around here for a while you know that we have been on quite the heart journey the past couple of years.  That adoption dream I mentioned? Well it never went away and about two years ago we met with a local agency and went through the entire process to become an open home. I cheered on that wonderful day we were declared "open" and held my breath each time we would be approached about a baby.  I remember the first one was on Valentine's Day, a sure sign the baby would be ours because that's my Momma's birthday and I AM the queen of finding hearts everywhere, right?  I cleaned the house in a fury, and could hear my heart pounding as loud as a bass drum all afternoon.  But then the pounding stopped and a new kind of sadness I'd never before experienced crept in all the nooks and crannies of my very being.  The baby wouldn't be ours. Oh, how I cried. 

Lesson one was dropped into my heart that moment though, because for the minutes and hours and days after I prayed hard for that sweet Valentine's baby.  Not to be mine, but for warm clothes, plenty of diapers and hugs and kisses, and plenty to eat.  For love, sweet love.
This went on for a while.  We'd go months and months without hearing anything from our agency and then would hold our breath with every "yes" we gave when we did get called.  Nothing ever worked out, at least not in the way that would have made sense to us.  But boy how I prayed for each of these babies, every single time.  I couldn't imagine a tiny, 7-pound baby facing the world alone and needing someone to meet their most basic needs as well as their emotional ones.  In fact, I still can't even think about it without my heart squeezing so hard it makes me cry.  

Over time as things got more quiet at our agency,  things got louder in our hearts, the podcasts we listened to, the sermons we mulled over, the messages on the radio, and the very whisper of God that just wouldn't quiet.  We just kept hearing about the words "foster care" every single place we looked. It was evident that this was something we needed to pray and talk about, so we did.  Most of last summer was spent on our back deck, having conversation after the girls went to bed over what to do. I really wrestled with this, contacting every single adoption avenue I could think of, talking to anyone who would listen about our calling for a baby and yet, our void. 

Part of the reason why I fought the foster care numbers so hard was simply because of being misinformed.  I was picturing us taking in a whole slew of kiddos, and teenagers at that.  Something we just weren't prepared for.  I didn't know that God was calling me out on the waters, yes, but that He wouldn't let me drown.  
Slowly over time, the faces of these precious lives in foster care crept in to every facet of my being.  It was suddenly so clear that we needed to do something and do it now! I felt like I was standing in my front yard, my huge house stocked to the brim with clothes and food behind me, facing a crowd of hungry kiddos.  I could picture their needy eyes, their brilliant talents and personalities staring back at me, just begging to be loved and given a chance. 

We put a call in and closed things with our agency, a sadness I can't explain if I must be honest.  We then started the foster care process, and were told we could pick what age of child to take in (we chose younger than our own), and how many children at a time.  Both things I was highly fearful about in the beginning, yet God laid my fears to rest helping me see we could help right where we were, with the ages that would fit right in with our family. 
The process to become an open foster care home was started and it was extremely lengthy.  We had to start all over, from square one, none of the papers or state forms transferring from our previous agency.  During the training God had his hand on us.  We had two counselors for trainers, one of whom encouraged me through text when I needed it most.  It wasn't all rosy.  People always approach me with words like "wonderful, so exciting!" about our journey and while in the big picture it is, there have been moments where people have dumped discouragement on us about our marriage, our family, and our choices. During one of the lowest moments where I was seriously wondering if we'd made the right choice, our counselor trainer reminded me to keep my eyes on Jesus ONLY when walking on the water, and I'd be more than okay.  If I looked around at the waves and the people creeping in with their doubts and discouragement, I'd drown.  But if my eyes stayed steady on Jesus, the fire would burn, and we would be triumphant. I believe the words "More than conquerors" came to mind. 


We've now completed all training, every bit of paperwork checked and marked and signed and filled in.  We have been waiting two months for a BIG call to schedule our home study, the last step needed before we become an open home.  We received the call last Friday (!!!!!) and will have our home study done tomorrow.  Then we wait some more and hopefully within a couple of months we'll be an open home for foster care!

I hope the twinge of sadness in this post doesn't make you wonder why we're doing this or make you doubt our excitement.  We are truly, truly excited! I've decorated the extra bedroom, the diapers are stocked, the chunky puzzles hidden away in a drawer just begging for someone to play with. 

It's just that sometimes it feels almost wrong to use the word "exciting" because my excitement comes at the cost of another parent and child.  I still dream daily of adoption, but I know in order for that to happen through this process, someone else will experience great loss.  It's such a bittersweet concept to try to process.  

So back to the church service where we were all urged to do something about the foster care crisis.  Do I still believe we should?  My answer has drastically changed, because now I think the answer is yes.  There are literally hundreds of kiddos in the U.S. needing the basic, "boring" things we provide our families and kids every single day.  Things like a safe home, love, a plate of food, a warm bed, and Jesus.  To us, these might seem mundane, just look at the number of books written for christian moms on these topics.  But these everyday things we do are actually our greatest weapon in the fight against evil. 

Can you imagine the healing that can take place over a bowl of soup, a warm bottle, a clean change of clothes?  Jesus says that whatever we do unto the least of these, we do unto him.  We can be Jesus to these precious lives wandering the night, looking for a bit of light and a place to call home. 
The thing is this.  In my past life I worried so much about my weight, my art dreams, my weight, my perfectly decorated house, my BIG dreams to grow in popularity on the blog, that I had no room in the inn for the needs of others.  I wasn't wrong necessarily, I just wasn't ready.  When I read the verses that God had bigger things ahead for me than I could think or imagine I was picturing magazine layouts, a book deal, and craft retreats booked months in advance.  Is any of that still in my future? Maybe. 

But what I'm realizing now and what I hear whispered to my heart on a daily basis, is to grow smaller, so God can grow bigger. He hasn't left my dreams of painting or writing or photography in the dust because the same God that dropped foster care into my heart is the same one that lights my soul up like electricity when I pick up a camera or paintbrush.  I still dream of things like writing a book and including my own photographs, and I have new paintings coming to the shop this spring. But these are all icing on the cake now, my hands and arms elbow-deep in the smallness of following Jesus in the quiet places, the less noticeable. 

We are about to enter a new phase of our lives and I haven't a clue what God is up to.  We've obeyed, but we have no plan for the future other than to be ready to say "yes, God".  We are standing at the edge of the cliff or mountain and tomorrow as soon as our home study is done, we jump.  As Erin Hanson writes, "What if I fall? Oh, but my darling, what if you fly?"

Although not fearless, we choose to fly. 
Our foster care fire burns. 

*Please send any questions regarding our process to sunshinebysara@hotmail.com*
*I'll follow up with a post with some practical ways YOU can help too! There are so many ways to get involved that don't actually mean taking kiddos into your own home.  From supporting foster care families, volunteering at a clothing closet, taking a family a meal, the opportunities to help are endless.  And there is no such thing as one kind of help equaling more than another, in my eyes.  Every single tiny bit helps! I'll share later this week!



Let's take a personality test, shall we?!

I mentioned in my "living your best life" post this week a little something about my highly-sensitive personality.  Like it's a real thing, not just something I made up to explain my soft heart and teary eyes.  I can't even remember now where I first read about this, but it was probably on the Art of Simple blog.  As soon as I went through the checklist I was nodding along, going "uh-huh", "yep", and "oh my goodness, me too!".  It was quite strange actually, as if someone described this exact personality I seem to have and put it down on paper where seeing it felt normal.
Reading up on personalities is a current favorite thing of mine.  I can't really say why, but that topic, along with reading memoirs, just has me fascinated.  I think understanding ourselves can at times help us better relate to those around us, help us identify our strengths and weaknesses, and proudly say "this is who I am".  In turn, I've found this helps me better form my yeses and no's and point my heart toward my true north, not wavering if a different personality type than my own is trying to persuade me. 
So I totally took this personality test I want you to try. 
You can find it here: 16 Personalities

I clicked through the long series of questions and was pegged as "The Advocate", or an INFJ, which stands for "Introverted Intuitive Feeling Judging".  They also described my type as this-introverted intuition with extroverted feeling. 
Huh....and here all along I've described myself as an extrovert and a talker, but the past few years have felt extremely selfish at my need for alone time. Turns out, it just may be (and likely is) exactly how God made me.  It's okay that in order to fully serve those around me, I need a bit of alone time to recharge. As I read the descriptor for this personality it made so many things click for me, mainly helping me see that while a lot of the things I do in my day-to-day appear to be quite extroverted, that my deep feelings and passions for life, people, and causes are part of me also being an introvert.  The lightbulb came on and helped me understand nooks and crannies of my very being that have left me confused and craning my neck to see what other people are doing and trying to mimic that instead of just being me.  


So, a brand-new revelation for me: 
1.) I really, really enjoy reading about personalities. 
2.) I'm a lot more introverted (like a lot) than I thought. 

What did you get in the personality test? Did it surprise you? 

A (diy) happy SPRING bouquet!

Good morning friends! Are you warm and well? Last week was cold and even snowed randomly and oh, so grey outside. It felt like it was close to night-time all day long.  That combined with a headache a day or two had me almost desperate for something colorful and creative.  I was browsing Pinterest (my fave) and suddenly an idea began to take root in my mind for a happy, spring bouquet. I pictured colorful flowers, things like butterflies tucked in for extra whimsy, and tiny, fabric flags standing tall in celebration of spring. I simply couldn't put the idea to rest until I'd seen it come to life with my own two hands!
The best part? The bouquet won't wilt if the watering is forgotten.  
The girls and I headed to Hobby Lobby, where floral stems were half-off.
I started arranging a few yellow and pink stems in hand, tucking in a few extra treasures throughout the store, like the butterflies and bows.

Once home I made some yarn pom-poms (just search "yarn pom poms" on Pinterest) and attached them to colorful straws and kitchen skewers. I also cut some tiny, fabric flags and hot-glued them to skewers as well.  
Once I had all my bouquet components ready I began to do the arranging. My favorite part! 
I used a clean, recycled jar and put the bigger flowers in first, tucking yellow next to pink, and alternating between tall and short stems. 
Last I added in the pom poms, butterflies, and fabric flags. 

To make the jar a bit fancier I added two rows of ribbon and one of washi tape (the black and white stripes you see). I also hot-glued my last polka dot bow right in the middle of the ribbon. 
The bouquet now sits on my dining room table and the word that comes to mind every time I see it is "happy".  

We could all use a bit more happy, don't you think? 
*Hint-this would be such a joyful gift for a friend!*

Rhythms and routines to live my best life

I believe it was Oprah who first coined the phrase- "Live your best life".  This is something I've been thinking about lately, seeing as my health has been a smallish factor the past couple of years.  Many of you know that I've been working towards a natural healing from endometriosis, which seems to go hand-in-hand with little bouts of anxiety/depression as well.  The simple truth is when I don't feel well repeatedly, my mental energy isn't well either.   In turn, I can't serve anyone joyfully when I don't feel good.  And with my family, my heart for foster care, and other things like photography, I have a lot to steward! My people need the best me.

Over the past few months I've started going to the chiropractor and changed many of my eating habits, resulting in a much better feeling me!  I've fallen off the strict eating bandwagon more than a few times and I always notice the change, for the worse, in my body.  As I'm typing this now I'm purposing again to eat smart, drink loads of water, and exercise daily.  And I feel those best choices in my mind (it's clear!), my body, and soul. 

What I want to talk today about are the rhythms and routines that help us make our "best life". Each of us have worlds swirling with responsibilities, loves, passions, and callings.  For me, in order to fulfill what God has called me to do and to live as fully "Sara" as I can, I must make my health and self-care a priority.  Especially since making these a priority also help keep exhaustion, depression, and anxiety at bay. It is just so linked for me. So all that to say, in the midst of taking care of everyone else all day long, I also try to implement rhythms and routines that care of me. 

Can you relate? 

I hope so. 

Let's go through a typical day of mine and I'll mention a few things I do to stay well and often this means running my household as best as possible too.
I'll start by saying eating a healthy, kind of big breakfast is a must for me.  Think: a few hash browns, a fried egg with some avocado on top, and a cup of almost black coffee.  Add in a few stretches, a bible verse and prayer, and I'm ready for the day. I also pack a lunch for Brett each morning and write down or think about what we will eat for lunch and dinner and pull things from the freezer. If the girls need a lunch I pack that too.  On a lot of days, I write a blog post. 

Mid-morning I start both the dishwasher and laundry and tidy up the house/make the bed. I also start drinking my morning water. My goal is two water bottles (around 30 ounces each I think?) before lunch. This keeps my energy up and my snack cravings down.  

I like to eat a light lunch like a small portion of leftovers, a salad, smoothie bowl, or fruit and a handful of nuts. I struggle with lunch because either nothing sounds good or if I eat junk, I get lazy and tired feeling all afternoon.  

Sometime during the afternoon I try to get a bit of exercise, whether it be completing a few miles on the treadmill, or doing squats, crunches, or a plank for as long as possible. This time of year I'm also out in the yard pruning and gardening, which doubles as exercise too! 

Early evening I put on jazz.  THIS IS HUGE FOR ME. I've started putting a jazz playlist on Spotify to listen to once it's time for evening chores.  I look forward to it and it signals that it's time to start winding down. I put the dishes away, make dinner (and try to have extras for the next day), clean up the kitchen, and fold laundry.  

After dinner is time to finish up the laundry and then rest.  It is totally family time.  I know that will change as the girls get older, but for now we spend time together as a family first, and then I spend time with Brett once the girls are in bed.  
A few night time routines I like are: drinking a kombucha or tea, rubbing essential oils on, sitting in the dark and editing photos, playing music, reading (my FAVE), taking a bath, or having a date on the back deck with Brett. Maybe once a week I'll go into the craft room at night and paint. I also like to go to bed on time, a luxury I am enjoying while we don't have any newborns! 

Another HUGE part of my health during the day is how much I'm on my phone/the computer.  Lately I've been turning the computer off after I write my morning blog post and then I hide my phone in a cabinet or drawer.  This does mean I'm not real good with texting people back, but I've found my truest friends don't mind if it's hours later when I get back to them. 
I also like to do something creative every. single. day.!! I take photos every day and other days add in painting, reading a magazine for inspiration, sketching, etc. I exercise my creative muscle daily, even if it's just 5 minutes out of my day.
What originally got me thinking about all this too was discovering I am a "highly-sensitive person". No really, it's a thing! I'll blog more about it later, but you can read an article on it here: 12 signs you're a highly-sensitive person
I noticed when I was serving/around people all.the.time. I would start to feel like I was going to panic.  So, I've purposed to add in just a bit of quiet/dark/relaxing time each day.  I think I may be an extroverted introvert if that makes sense?! Figuring out my personality has also helped me live my best life. But more on that later. 

Where are you in all these thoughts? What rhythms and routines help you live your best life? How do you relax/unwind? 


Cousin Sleepover!


 The girls had their first sleepover last Friday!! This long-awaited event was actually planned well before Christmas, but sickness and other bits of inconvenient life kept getting in the way.  But finally last Friday night was the BIG moment for the girls' first sleepover with all their girl cousins! 
 Everyone arrived at our house around 4:00 and we had silly sunglasses waiting, as well as a pretty table and picture frames to paint later on in the night. It took the girls about two seconds to start giggling, talking, imagining, and having all kinds of fun! Oh, and running up and down the stairs and outside and then back inside again.  
 We first headed over to the pasture to get a look at the cows and see if we could spot any daffodils.  Sadly, the daffodils weren't ready to play, having been frosted over the week before. 
But that didn't stop us from making our own fun and capturing some fun shots too! 


 Then after plenty of playtime it was french bread pizza for the win! 
This worked great for everyone and was so easy to do for a small crowd. I cooked Italian sausage and also had black olives, mushrooms, shredded cheese, and homemade pizza sauce.  The girls loaded their french bread slice up with whatever toppings they liked and we stuck them in the oven at 350 for a few minutes to melt the cheese and get the bread crispy.






 These sweet girls LOVED the pizza! 
I adore this shot of them having their own prayer time before eating....and notice Anna sneaking a peek. 

 After a very giggly dinner the girls painted their picture frames.  We used grocery bags to pour the paint on and used regular acrylic paints, like you can get at Hobby Lobby or Wal-Mart.  I also gave each gal a small cup of water and we used paper napkins to clean off the brushes. 

The frames are from Hobby Lobby and were bought when they were half-off!



 While the frames dried the girls went upstairs for a disco ball party, complete with percussion music (almost African sounding) and glow-sticks! I left them alone for this and heard through the baby monitor (yes, we still have one) the oldest gal organizing a "dance competition". 

LOL.

To end this over-the-top night we had an Easter egg hunt to find candy and popped popcorn to eat while watching a movie. 

We made a giant blanket fort with twinkle lights for the girls to sleep under.
They finally all settled down around 11 and were up before 7 the next morning! 

I texted my sis and said "The only thing I can think of is-No talkie before coffee."
:) 
These girls seriously had so much fun though and we plan to do it again! 
Do your kids have sleepovers? 
I think I need to plan one for my grown-up girl friends next! 

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