The prayer painting

Last week I posted a photo of a painting I had recently completed.  I was hesitant to do so because something about this particular painting kept making me pause.  It wasn't a new project, I just simply hadn't shared the work-in-progress stages with the internet world, as I would usually do.  This time a host of reasons kept me from publishing the inner-workings of my creative process, mostly being that I am sharing quite less and have less time and this painting was for me.  An escape from the day in and out tasks that never seem to quit.  If daily life and chores are like walking on a treadmill, and uphill I might add, then painting for me is like a stroll through the wildflowers.  It reaches a part of my brain that lays low a lot, but never quiet. 

This is a peek at the painting "in-progress."
There are at least three solid layers of paint on the canvas by this point and it was the first time I actually thought I might like what I was doing. The stage of two before this one I did not like what was on the canvas at all, just sure I should give up.  But, I kept on.  Late at night, five minutes here, tired moments there. Choosing to pick up the paintbrush just one more time.

 This ended up being my final painting. 
I finished and let it sit overnight in the craft room. 
The next morning I woke up with great anticipation, almost like it was Christmas morning. I had one question burning on my mind-"Would I still like the painting?"

I cautiously walked into the room and let my eyes quickly glance over the painting. My heart skipped, my breath caught in my throat, and I almost couldn't believe my eyes.  I not only liked the painting, I loved it. I almost instinctively wanted to glance down at my hands because the next thought was "How did I do that?"

I later posted a photo of the cheerful canvas to IG and had the most likes I've EVER, ever had on anything.  The most nice comments.  Three people asked to buy the canvas. 

I said no, not for now. 
Let me see if I can answer why. This will sound weird to some, but for you creatives, I picture you nodding your head along with me, getting it. 

You all know (or I think you do) I keep a running story of this season of my life on my laptop, for my eyes only.  Several times over the past six months I've written about this creative energy that hums in my bones and body.  This energy gives me ideas upon ideas, makes my heart race at the thought of painting, photo shoots, and creative displays in store windows.  This energy makes things like styling a table, making something with my hands, or hosting a beautiful dinner party come very easily to me.  

Most of my life right now isn't spent in the creative hum or energy.  There's energy all-right but it's been allocated to different areas and that's just fine. I am learning a new type of discipline for chores, exercise, and serving my family that doesn't come near as natural to this artsy soul of mine.  Yet still this new found discipline is one I think will serve me well throughout life. 

But, to put it simply, this canvas was like I could finally see the creative energy I'd been writing about for months in real life.  It was validation to me, almost as if God and the canvas both were saying "See! You're not crazy! There is something different and unique and passionate and artistic under your skin.  Don't let it get away or be buried.  Keep it alive!".

Maybe later I'll consider selling the painting. 
For today, this painting is my prayer and that makes it priceless.

The hope-bearers.

 Spring is coming!!! Imagine me yelling that in my best, loudest Oprah voice.  You know the one.  Where she holds her arms out wide and lets her excitement over something just blare.  THAT's the voice I'm using in this post! 

This post is for all you non-foodies who are rolling your eyes over another lengthy, long-winded food post I just did before this one.  Let's be honest, some of you are so tired of reading about my health journey and I'm ok with that.  I am laughing as I'm typing that by the way. I always wonder if y'all can pick up on my sarcasm through the screen.  I do love a good bit of sarcasm and comedy but you have to almost be some kind of humor jedi to make it work through the screen.  Which I am not.  But a lot of what I write I am doing with a grin!
 I am all about embracing each season, leaning into life, yadda, yadda. BUT, winter is just not my fave.  This year we had another chimney fire (sigh) in our rinky-dink fireplace leaving the main room of the house rather chilly and lacking it's usual cozy atmosphere. (#byefelicia. My husband doesn't "get" this hashtag. It cannot be explained. You either get it or you don't. lol) I'm just over it.  Bring on the braids, shorts, Tevas, camping (I miss you pop-up!), school breaks, and wandering in the woods.  Spring, we are ready for you! 

 Our first sign of hope and color on the farm? 
These daffodils.  
We wandered over to the patch, our eyes peeled and looking for yellow.

Ahh...there it was.  A sunny little flower bravely poking its petals out into a world of brown saying "Here we are!! We made it another year!!"
There is just no feeling quite like it.
I tell the girls that God sends us the daffodils to remind us of spring and warmer days.  That they get to be the hope-bearers.  
I want to be a hope-bearer too!  

Other rosy things filling my life with color:
these tassels on Betsy's skirt,
time at the creek,
bright green moss,
watching funny stuff on the t.v. and giving reading a break for now,
picking up my camera (makes my heart skip beats, I love it so),
talking with my girls about their days,
watching Anna learn to read (!!!!),
my little one being VERY cuddly lately.

 Also: 
Betsy saying "limp" instead of blimp,
and "curtsy" instead of cursive.

 This spring we are hoping to go camping quite a lot and possibly visit Branson and Kansas City.

For my fellow Arkansans, do you have any favorite hiking trails, camping spots, or activities the kiddos would love?  Tell me! 
 This is our creek.
I know,  I know. You've seen it a lot. 
But folks, it is just MAGIC.  Pure magic.
You should hear the gurgle of the water.  And oh, the light!
It has a life of its own. 
A little slice of heaven on earth. 
I go here and leave wanting to skip and twirl and explore and paint and breathe deep.
 My kids love it too. 
 (Photo shoot anyone? I am scheduling them! If you're looking for a natural place to come play, wander, laugh, get messy, and have your family's true character captured, this is a great spot)
 These two are the best of friends. 
 You all know how the hearts find me. 
I mean it. 
I showed this photo to Brett and he just chuckled the deepest laugh. 
To end, random questions for you loyal readers: 

Do you read blogs still? Or have you moved on to the faster paced cousin, IG?
Do you like IG stories or is that just too weird? 

What kinds of posts can I offer here that would add to your day? 

What is on your inspiration/keeping you filled creatively list lately? 

Have you scheduled a spring photo shoot?  Do you know I do in-home shoots, to capture your family's natural rhythm? 

I'm ready and listening. Comment away!

Beanitos and bucha for life: another food post! You asked, I answered.

You guys, life is so weird and funny. 
It is morning here and already I've had a home visit for foster care, several good belly laughs at Jen Hatmaker's newest podcast with comedian John Crist, made breakfast for three kids and two adults, done the school run, and pondered some really huge things I'm praying about.  Oh, and had homemade quiche and quinoa granola.  

Just a normal morning.  Really, that about sums up my life right now.  It's days full of deep laughs, eyes sometimes a bit teary, moments of rare quiet mixed with constant chatter from all three of my kiddos.  Just such a mix it's hard to even sum up.  

I usually find myself wanting to wear a shirt or hold a sign that simply says "it's complicated."  My favorite phrase currently (with the exception of the #byefelicia world my twin and I share).  It just works y'all.  It would cover so many answers to questions I get on a daily basis. 

A topic that "it's complicated" also covers?  Food. I am here to just share my own thoughts and story because after posting my latest  healthy food pic on IG (I'm "therosylifeblog") I had a few comments and messages asking for more advice.  

Long story short-I have been in love with food my entire life.  It just delights me.  There's a certain line this can cross where food not only becomes a hobby and passion, but an emotional eating outlet.  I have crossed that line enough times to where this is a habit/battle I face head on, more so in different seasons of life than others.  From my teenage years throughout my twenties I was very focused on being skinny enough. (ugh, can we just quit with this thinking already?!) I was eating your typical "get skinny" diet: low-fat options and not enough in general. As I inched closer towards my 30's I started to pay much more attention to healthy recipes and blogs and even quit sugar. I *started* to get that what goes in determines how we feel, not just how we look. The first BIG decision I made where I really felt different from a food choice, regardless if my size changed or not was quitting the sugar. However, as I dived deeper into the healthy food world I was still experiencing gut and joint/body discomfort as well as dealing with ruptured cysts frequently, and very bad endometriosis. Just quitting sugar wasn't enough of a change.

A little over a year ago I found myself 15-20 pounds heavier, with severe neck, back, and body pain, at the doctor being told I needed to have surgery for endometriosis. Something had to give. 

That's when I started going to the chiropractor, who also happens to be a doctor for health in general. For you locals, I go to Generations Health and Wellness.
He suggested I try eliminating sugar, dairy, processed foods, and bread/pasta/etc.  I was SO desperate (not even able to make it through a photo shoot without pain) I did it.  And I reflected back on the past year when I thought I was eating healthy (like eating greek yogurt dip) and it started to click that my extreme gas (tmi) and bloating afterwards was from THE DAIRY. (duh)

So basically through trial and error I have figured out how to still be a foodie and explore it with passion, but also eat to keep my energy up, my moods level, and my gut/head/body happy. 

That is my health goal, if I had to put it in words.  For me, I have figured out that a diet of veggies, protein (this is a BIG one for me!), fish, fruit, and limited processed stuff works. I have a very busy life (as do you!) and just cannot afford to feel bad day in and out.  My three kiddos and sweet husband and the foster care world and #allthethings need me around and in good shape. This keeps me pretty accountable to sticking to my goals.  If I eat poorly and end up feeling bad as a result, the others around me suffer too because I am just not my best self. 

Things I still struggle with and maybe will always have to face head on?  The scale, because our society is stupid and crazy about those numbers on the scale and it is engrained deep in me to care. There, I said it.  I do think it matters some. Last year my weight inched up and up and up because I decided I was going to stop caring about the scale altogether and never, ever stepped on it.  When really the scale does say a bit about our health.  Not the whole story though. 

Emotional eating is something I struggle with occasionally too, mostly during my time of the month. (tmi, but really I doubt any guys read my blog, lol)  Also, the foster care world is big and sometimes very stressful and most people are in the general public are clueless about all that goes into it.  Another trigger for me at times. Basically I'm saying I am a work in progress.  And will be for the rest of my life because life "is forever tries."  

I always feel kind of weird posting about food because I don't want anyone to get the wrong impression and think I have this figured out completely and that my choices always line up with my blog words. THEY DON'T! For example: One afternoon this week we were running around town all day. I packed a boiled egg for a snack/lunch because that's all I had time to grab and was planning on eating something healthy again once I got home.  But y'all, I had already eaten the boiled egg and wasn't going to be home for HOURS and the kids were getting a special treat lunch at Chick-fil-a.  So what do you think I did?! I got the Chick-fil-a and it was delicious! Then I had a smoothie and veggie frittata later that night.  Balance.

As for how I practically make these choices happen with little ones and such a busy life? It is ALL about planning ahead.  I make menus one week in advance and then grocery shop from those ideas.  OR, if I haven't made a menu I grab plenty of beans, protein, veggies, eggs, etc. at the grocery store and make meals from it during the week.  For example: I cook a whole chicken in my crockpot a couple of times a month.  Then I have about two meals worth of meat and at least 4 jars of chicken broth left over for soup.  

I also do food prep once or twice a week.  Things like cutting veggies, making a quiche or frittata, making granola, or putting a chicken in the crockpot. I think about/prep for dinner in the afternoon typically before I start the school pick-up.   Some things I just buy, like my favorite RX bars.  They taste like a treat to me and are great for all the car time I currently have. Also, Beanitos and kombucha for life. 

I also try to drink a ton of water each day.  I would say this has been the biggest game-changer for my health.  And you all, it's free and easy to do.  Get a water bottle you like and drink up! That's it.  I eat WAY more junk and way more food in general when I haven't had enough water in a day. 

I am a HUGE cookbook person and this helps me stay motivated.  
Like I read them for fun.  Almost daily.  If I get spending $, it's going towards a cookbook most likely. (who needs shoes?!)
Some of my favorites? 



I also like THRIVE magazine for healthy recipes that you can find at Natural Grocers, some Barnes and Nobles, and Whole Foods. 

I like to follow healthy gals on IG too. I just shared those in a recent post but let me know if you want recommendations! 

If you're looking to start a new, healthier way of feeling and living, I wouldn't get overwhelmed and try to do everything at once.  That has never worked for me. Instead, maybe try cutting out extra drinks and just sticking to water for a week or two. 

Then you could try having a processed treat or fast food maybe once a week, instead of several times a week.  Or try switching your breakfast to one filled with protein so you stay full feeling longer.  Like having soft-boiled eggs (my fave) and two pieces of bacon, with sweet potato hash browns.  

Maybe try eliminating a food that you notice makes you feel poorly.  Or if you're as desperate as I was, you could try eliminating a whole host of things (like sugar, dairy, etc.) and mostly stick to veggies, nuts, eggs, fish and chicken, and fruit diet.  There are really a thousand ways to end up with a healthy you.  I certainly don't have it all figured out.  But man do I feel SO much better this year than last.  I feel like I got my life back. 

What else do you want to know? Is this topic as big a one for you as for me? 

Answering your foster care questions!


Last week one brave soul (hi Christine!) reached out on my foster care post and asked some questions.  I say "Go Christine, you brave soul!".  I am asked about this topic pretty much on a daily basis.  My answers are met with LOTS of typical responses, many of which I have worked hard to smile and nod at.  The top response I get from the general public is "I could never give the kids back up." You friends know my stance on this. You could if you really wanted to.  I've seen other people walk this road and still stand afterwards, so I'm counting on the footsteps they've left in front of me to follow, bravely if this is where our journey leads.  

I've said it before and I'll keep saying it.  If you have a beating in your heart for foster care, to help in any capacity, don't ignore that.  Don't let your fears speak louder than your fire.  I am an INFJ gal who is rated "highly-sensitive".  Not exactly your poster child for a foster mom. But, WE CAN DO HARD THINGS. 

Pep talk over.  Now onto answering your questions! 
Well ok, and also let me say this.  We are not all called to be full-time foster care homes.  Some will disagree with me, but there it's out there, I said it.  When my girls were both babies (17-months apart I might add) and Brett was traveling for work most weeks, I didn't need to be a foster mom too! My plate was already full enough.  When I'm encouraging you to act and help I mean those of you who HAVE felt the whisper to take a meal to a foster family, to donate your time to foster families, to love on DHS workers (instead of complaining about the system), to donate clothes to foster care kids, or to open your own home.  It might not be your season to jump in and full-time foster. 

Or it might be.



Now for the questions! 

Do fostering families in your state have a support system to help you weather the roller coaster ride of fostering? 
Yes! At least in my specific part of the state, we do.  My family became an open foster care home through a ministry called The Call.  It is a christian ministry that trains and equips families for foster care.  One specific example of how this ministry has helped my family was by opening their clothing closet up to us when we first got our little one.  I was sent home with bags of clothes for my little one! We are also able to ask questions from other foster care families if we need too. 

Do you have friends who meet for play dates with the children they foster?
In this season of life we're in with a 5 and 6-year old already, we don't really do playdates during the days with babies, like we used to anyway.  With that said, our little one has their own preschool they attend to be around babies their own age and then we have playdates with friends and family after school that they join right in with!  We don't do playdates specifically for foster children because we consider our little one our kiddo for now.  They have joined life with us and go along with whatever we have going for the afternoon/evening/weekend!

Would you foster older children? like elementary school-age? or will you foster only babies? 
Great question! I have been asked this question and my answer has been met with all kinds of responses.  My short answer is only babies, because we want to stick with kiddos much younger than our own.  That is just a personal choice Brett and I talked extensively about, prayed about, and made up our minds about from the get-go.  We have really had to stick with our gut on this because many people have not been understanding about our age limit. At all. The largest group of kiddos needing a home is definitely older kids and especially teens.  It is hard for some to understand why we wouldn't take that age in and something I've had to stop apologizing for to people because it was filling me with unnecessary guilt.  Brett and I now say this: if someone has actually had a 5 and 6-year old already  (like us) and walked in our shoes and fostered and THEN want to question us, bring it.  But if you haven't actually fostered yourself, or have only older kids in your home and want to question us, we won't entertain your discussion. You don't get it, because you haven't been us.

That sounds so mean, but you'd be surprised how once you open to help you also open yourself up to criticism.  We don't let people rain on our parade. 
At the end of the day it's Brett and I standing together with our little family, not the general public. 

Your daughters are young.... how do they feel about having another little one?
They LOVE it! Overnight they gained a new sibling and one that is much younger which is fun to them!  Of course, it isn't always rosy and fun and games, but it wouldn't be if I had birthed our third child either.  There has been some adjustment, as there would be with any family change.  For example, our little one can have a very difficult time in the car.  And unfortunately, we are in the car daily.  Our current solution is head phones for their tablets, which they only get to play in the car.  

They offer to help with our little one, want to give hugs and kisses, play together, and think foster care is just a very normal thing.  They have adjusted very well and I think grown-ups could learn a thing or two from their bravery and acceptance. ;) 

What is your favorite memory of impacting the development of this child? 
Where to even start? And I'm not sure how much I can say because rules with foster care are weird and complicated. 

I will say this: our little one went from being a scared, tired, teeny-tiny little one to a happy, loud, talkative, curious, playful, little one who knows sign-language for "more" and "all-done" , new words, has a huge appetite, and copies everything we do around the house. 

Well friends, I hope this was helpful! 
Do you have other questions? 
Ask away! 




10 things in 10 minutes.

Friends let's see if I can do the impossible and write a blog post in about 10 minutes. 

Let's do a list of 10, that should make it easier! 

1.) The last blog post I wrote was a doozy, I know. However, I saw that it has been read almost 300 times.  Yet not a single question has been asked about foster care. (hmmmmm) I'm going to assume you all either know all there is to know, I made you angry or frustrated, you don't want to know the answers to your questions, or you're still reflecting on it.  (lol)  All that to say, if you have a question about foster care either leave me a comment or send me an email! 

2.) Yesterday found me driving more than I cared for so I turned it into a happy time and listened to Jamie Ivey's Happy Hour podcast with special guest Candace Payne (Chewbacca mom) and THEN turned on Jen Hatmaker's Podcast, For the Love, and she was on there too!  Both podcasts were such a breath of fresh air for me!  I am so inspired by Candace and would love to read her new book! We watched the Chewbacca video again last night and could not stop laughing! Even Brett was shaking with laughter. 

3.) We had a second chimney fire (we're fine! house is fine!) and are looking at redoing our whole fireplace before next fall/winter.  Luckily we still have our wood-burning stove that I am finding myself next to every. single. night.  I need spring to arrive so I can work in the garden and move a bit more! 

4.) What books are you reading?  My favorite genre is memoir.  Last year I read a ton and this year my brain just can't get interested in anything.  Help! I need your ideas! :) 

5.) I am sitting at my new-to-me green desk with my bulletin board of happy above. (see my Instagram, I'm "therosylifeblog")  It is making me ridiculously happy. 

6.) I just cannot drink smoothies this time of year.  Cannot.  How do people do it?  Last week I shared some healthy peeps on IG I follow for inspiration. 
Who do you have to add to my list? 

7.) I am brimming with ideas for painting, decorating, gardening, basically #allthethings, but running a bit low on energy at the end of the day to do most of them.  Wondering if I should let something go during the day to add a bit more creative time in?  Or let this season be what it is? I'm always, always taking photos though. Always. I've been saving some in a folder on my laptop for an idea I have. 

8.) We visited our local greenhouse this week.  It was warm and sunny and full of beautiful, growing things.  It made me want to dance. 

9.) This is US gave me puffy eyes.  Twice. Both Sunday night and Tuesday. I can't even. 

10.) I love Jesus.  He's been speaking to me through podcasts, the bible, quotes, and any way He can lately.  Even through (or especially through) the sunshine and light. 

Tell me somethin' good! :) 

What I want you to know. What I want you to ask.

Happy FRI-YAY! High-fives all around because we did it.  We conquered another week! Hopefully this week felt like more than simply conquering and had pockets of joy, surprise, curiosity, and wonder included.  

Let's sit down and have an honest chat, shall we? 
Brett and I share many a conversation in the kitchen, which is really the true heart of our home.  It was during the nightly ritual of washing the dishes and tidying the counters that I passionately told my dear husband what I really want people to know.  To know about us and foster care and doing hard things in general. 

It's this: It isn't all hard and stressful and tear-filled and knots in your stomach. 
It's.....fun and adventurous. 
I feel like I should whisper those words and then squeeze my eyes shut for a minute to let it sink in before I see your reaction.  Deciding on purpose (or even not) to do anything that the world deems "hard" certainly isn't the most popular choice around.  People just don't get it typically or else very quickly claim they admire you but could "NEVER do that myself! NEVER do that to my kids".  But what I've noticed lately is that people REALLY don't get the full scope of what jumping off a cliff does for your soul and family.  You don't just crash and burn and then spend the rest of your days wandering the wasteland that is now your hard, purpose-driven life, ruined kids in tow. That's so far from the truth! 

You fly. 
You soar. 
You grab hands and do hard things together. 
You become bolder, braver, riskier, and more adventurous. 
You have FUN. 
There is a certain freedom I am personally experiencing and also experiencing in my marriage and family because we, through Jesus, have conquered some really big things the past year since becoming a foster care family.  (head lice and a court room being just two of a whole list) Having these freedoms on your resume puts things in perspective very quickly.  Quite simply, it just makes most of the "problems" we use to experience seem so small, so hardly worth our time! It puts a priceless tag on fun and silliness and the ridiculous to balance the rest.  

Some days are for sure, more than we/I can handle.  They make me want to hide under the covers and I do! Some songs certainly stir my heart so deeply I have to gulp back tears.  Certain facts about our personal foster care story have broken my heart more than I feel it can be repaired.  However, this seems to be just about the only thing the general public wants to zoom in on when they look at our lives through a foster care lens.  It's all true, I won't deny it or rosy things up. 

BUT, it's not a fair view. We do all this and we also have popcorn and pizza nights, we have dance parties all day long in our house and car, we do date nights, we laugh hard at Jim Gaffigan dvd's, we read good books, we download new music and play it on repeat. We talk about the silly and the serious, we plan trips for spring and summer, we dream about landscaping and gardening.  I paint and decorate and get too many ideas to ever accomplish.  I take care of my health and see the chiropractor and get hair cuts and think about my style as a 30-something year old.  We eat really fantastic food and hang the string lights and send the texts to friends. We blow up balloons just because we can, we watch our number 3 child grow and get kisses straight on the mouth and giggle and delight and squeal at the cuteness.  We laugh a LOT.  Just this week alone I laughed so hard I tried to hold my cheeks still because they ached.  

What I want you to know is that we can do hard things and we can simultaneously have fun. 
We can be both soft and hard at the same time. 
We CAN take a child in and love them, and then give them back.  At least I'm banking on this absolute because I have seen other people walk this road ahead of me and if I'm choosing who to follow, they're it. 

Not the ones cowering in the corner, too afraid that foster care will wreck their vacations and schedule and lives and hearts. (spoiler alert: it will, but the reward is FAR greater than the life left behind)

I want to pay close attention to the ones who do hard things and also have so much fun in this great adventure we call life. Sometimes we dream, dance, and despair all in the same day. 

But let's not just focus on the despair or disappointments.  Let's remember the dance. 

Now, I want you to ask.  Ask me what you want to know about foster care in general. I obviously can't/won't give details about our specific case, but if you have questions in general ask away in the comments, email me (sunshinebysara@hotmail.com), or leave a comment on my IG post. 
(This idea totally inspired by Meg Duerksen of the Craft House, because she is a fellow foster mama and asked her followers for their questions.  )



The rosy in my real life!

Hello friends! I'm here for another edition of "rosy in my real life!"  I tried to number these and do one for every week o...