Thoughts from the Countryside


I’m sitting outside on my mama’s front porch in a rocking chair staring out over the fields and the ponds and the sunrise that is bright in my eyes this morning with my coffee in hand and a pup watching me out the window.

  I grew up here in this small town where everybody may not know your name but you can be sure that they know your grandparents. I went to a little elementary school down the road in the middle of a field. A few of those friendships I made there in that little school are still going strong. When you’re a kid in a small country town, you don’t pay any attention to how simple life is. Because life as a little is all about your friends, games, and wishing you could have a longer recess. Complex in your young eyes but really, just simple. My family has lived in this same area and possibly on the same street for 100 years plus. A few of my relatives were born in the two-room wooden house that was at the bottom of our road and my great-uncle lives in his now-deceased father’s farmhouse that he rebuilt. My grandma lives to the right of my parents and her other daughter to the right of her. We are surrounded by family. Simple.


In high school, I hated living in such a small town. Everyone knew everyone else’s business and if your parents weren’t popular in town then neither were you. I couldn’t wait to get out of small town USA during those four years. But etched in my mind are memories that will last. Memories of the simple life as a kid living in the country. Memories of riding my bike with my brother on “our road”, visiting our great grandpa, Papa Nash, getting a dollar and some candy from him every day before he went Home and taking my friends down the road to see the horses. We even named a few of the little creatures living around us. Simple. I lived my life out loud for the majority of my childhood.

Now I live as an adult in a bigger city with tons to do downtown. There are cars in place of cows and the people living around me aren’t my aunts and uncles anymore. I absolutely love the city that we live in now but there is just something about the country. Each time I travel back to the spot that grew me up, I am reminded of how simple life can be. Those memories of cold creeks, fishing in the pond behind my grandma’s house, and dancing in the rain always come flooding back. Those memories of building forts in the woods for hours, catching fireflies in jars, hunting for big foot with friends, chasing squirrels, and running up and down the road chasing the sunrise every morning in high school.


The little town that I couldn’t stand growing up now stands in my mind as the countryside that reminds me how we can choose to live life. To me, the country symbolizes simpler living and the inspiration to live out loud. Last weekend, I was walking back from my grandma’s house to my parent’s house carrying a bag of fresh vegetables just picked from my grandma’s garden. Organic, simple life. As I stared out across the pond in front of me, I watched my great-uncle on his tractor with a big brown dog following behind him. I couldn’t help but think, “this is the life.” Of course, it isn’t only in the countryside that we can experience this kind of simple living. And when I say “simple living”, I mean a life that isn’t cluttered with over-indulgence in what the world has created but rather making memories with the people and the things that God has created.

We can have simple living right here, right now. We don’t have to be chained to our cell phones every hour of the day. You can experience God’s beautiful creation when you choose to put down the remote and walk outside. Video games, Netflix, blogs, Facebook. Those things don’t have to be our “go-to” every single time we have a free moment. The good ole days can be today. It’s the choices we make each day that create lasting memories in our minds for years to come. It’s what shapes our lives, present and future. It will even have an effect on our kids in the future. Being on social media for three hours, mindlessly scrolling, will result in absolutely nothing. It’s a hard pill to swallow in a culture that is literally drowning in technology. I want to remember the times that my husband and I explored and loved and grew together and laughed and met new people and hung out with friends and went on hikes and visited with family and actually lived out loud. You can’t experience things like that if you aren’t living out loud.


I can’t wait until my husband and I are able to buy some land. Memories are waiting to be had there on “our road” wherever that may be. But it’s more than the place, it’s a way of life. You don’t have to live off a long dirt road to start living simpler now.  I want my life to sing songs of God’s creation and beauty and family and working hard and loving people and… life out loud.

Temporal happiness that fades comes from over-indulgence in what this world has to offer. 

Joy comes from God. Loving His people, loving His creation, and living life out loud right where you are.

Enjoy the little, simple moments.



This song by Florida Georgia Line is a sad but sweet song reminding me to not get caught up in this world but to just stop and enjoy the little moments. The little country towns and the big city life. The little memories I can create with the people I know & love and the ones I have yet to meet. The simple life that can be lived. And how it has such a major effect on our memories & our generations to come. And of course, I love Amarillo Sky & That’s What I love about Sunday  🙂


 You are loved




Keeping Up with Katie // Grace Upon Grace



{I am also linking up with She Who Fears for Grace upon Grace, a community of fellow believers seeking unity & Jesus! Here are more than 4 evidences of God’s great grace in my life lately! The link is at the bottom!}

Making | homemade coffee creamer. want the recipe?! comment below & let me know!
Cooking | fresh, homegrown veggies straight from my grandma’s garden back home. YUM!
Drinking | caramel vanilla hot coffee in the mornings & icing it in the hot afternoons!
Reading | Love Does by Bob Goff, Total Forgiveness by RT Kindall, & The Meaning of Marriage by Tim Keller
Wanting | time to slow down! Our one year anniversary is in 5 day. cue the box of Kleenex
Looking | at Penny sleeping on our couch with all 4 paws in the air
Playing | corn hole in our backyard, the perfect summer past-time
Deciding | what I will wear on our upcoming beach trip!
Wishing | I would get up & start P90X!
Enjoying | the past two days spent with my wonderful mom & brother. lots of shopping, laughing, & relaxing
Waiting | for my husband to get home from work
Liking | this amazing video – watch it now! it’s on the blog of one of my favorite speakers so check him & his wife out while you’re there!
Wondering | what the weather will be like in South Carolina?!
Loving | my sweet husband who is as great as it gets


Pondering | this season of life that God has blessed me with. It’s abundant with time to write, create, & serve my husband in our home.
Considering | what genuine faith in God really looks like
Watching | dawn of the planet of the apes…
Hoping |  to see rise of the planet of the apes with my hubs tonight
Marveling | at God’s faithfulness in my life. Take a moment to remember all that God has brought you through. It will create a renewed sense of gratefulness & thanksgiving in your heart.
Needing | to seriously stop being so lazy in my workout time. anyone have any good work out routines?!
Smelling | this morning’s breakfast
Wearing | the lovely Express white lace dress I totally snagged for $12! Express for $12! My, oh my.
Following | this lady – she inspires me to dream big & live even bigger!
Noticing | the sweet bird’s nest nestled in the corner of our front porch
Knowing | God has great plans for my husband and I !
Thinking | about Australia…
Admiring |  all turban headbands // this Etsy shop has some great ones!
Sorting | through my to-do list for the week!
Buying | must-haves for the beach! blog post on this to come!
Getting | excited to celebrate ONE YEAR with my amazing husband. whoa!
Bookmarking | this page of monogrammed baseball caps // maybe next summer
Disliking | that it’s already half way through JULY. summer, where did you go?
Opening | {excited to open} the anniversary gift from my hubs. it’s been sitting on the counter for a month tempting me!
Giggling | Mom’s Night Out movie. I could watch hilarious movie this over & over
Feeling | blessed beyond belief


This idea of keeping up with me came from Rachel’s “Keeping Stock” blog post over at Our Yellow Door!

Stay tuned for this week’s Wifey Wear Wednesday, our review over our Romans study on Thursday, & much more!!

You are loved




Friday Faves //

Y’all, it’s FRIDAY. This weekend is SO special. Some of my family & Joe’s family will be coming down this weekend & staying with us. Yipee! We are celebrating Joe’s Birthday and also celebrating Father’s Day with his dad & my stepdad. Next weekend, I will be hiking with my dad. Happy Dad’s Day! It’s pretty sweet that I have so many dads. I have a dad, stepdad, dad-in-law, & sorry y’all but my heavenly Dad trumps them all. I’m so thankful for each of them! We are also celebrating my Sweet Husband this Saturday! His birthday is next Wednesday & we’re celebrating with family this weekend. It was a surprise but because it’s kinda complicated to plan an entire weekend with 20+ people alone, I decided to tell him! Thankfully, he was excited to know. But.. I have a special secret surprise day planned on his actual birthday & I am not letting this cat out of the bag!

In honor of such a fun weekend just beginning, I want to share my faves from this week!

1. 20140613-082923.jpgEarth Fare’s chocolate cupcake. Okay-confession-… my husband and I may or may not have traveled to earth fare 3-4 times this week to get their amazingly delish chocolate cupcakes and we may or may not have endured a flash flood/thunderstorm to get said cupcake from said grocery store. Okay, we did. We use the excuse that everything in their cupcakes are healthier than the normal preservative-packed cupcake. Whatevs if they’re still filled with sugar & calories. WE LOVE THEM.



We have a flower!!! I have been waiting on and watering this little guy for months now. Each morning, I give him a little drink & wait for him to sprout in the sunlight on our kitchen windowsill. One morning, my husband woke me up to let me know that we had a sunflower! It was sweet. This is our first plant we grew together in our home. It reminds me of the quote, “bloom where you are planted”. It’s so easy to wish your life away. Wish you lived somewhere else, doing something better, in a happier place. But really, if we are just patient and trust God, we will blossom & grow right where we are! And we can find happiness & peace where we are at because we trust that God, the sower of every seed, placed us in the perfect spot. And His Son is all we need to flourish and grow! {the little tiny pot beside the sunflower is our strawberry plant. It was only $1 at target, okay. 😉 we may never see actual strawberries but it’s still fun to watch it grow!}



My hubs & I decided we were going to TRY to eat better. {I say this after I told you about the cupcakes.. keyword TRY hehe} I have been making my very own smoothies to drink for breakfast, as a snack, or a lunch substitute. I also add a handful of kale and/or spinach to eat drink so I know I am getting all the nutrients I need. I normally add coconut water for the liquid + tons of fruits. Yesterday, I added cranberry juice (no sugar added) to see if I enjoyed it better than coconut water. Eh, I think I will stick with my coconut water. I don’t have set recipes for each drink. I like to keep it simple though. My staples for each drink is one big kale leaf (stem removed), a handful of spinach, 2 fruits, & a liquid (natural coconut water). LOVE THEM! My fave has to be my kale apple drink. Granny smith for the win!



No one ever told me how hard it is to get your house in perfect shape. I thought it would just kinda happen & I would never be one of those people who keep everything. Well, life surely happens. It has taken us almost a year to get our guest room just how we like it. And wouldn’t you know, it took less than 2 hours. Surprise, surprise. All I needed was a little company-the hubs, motivation-family staying over in less than a day with nowhere to lay their heads, & a vacuum-which we had all along. I hope I’m not the only one to procrastinate in the house. Right?! We decorated our guest room in a beach-y theme. We already had the nightstand and the lamp from Joe’s old apartment. (Win!) We added shelving to the walls that I found in a closet & topped them with seashells from our last beach trip. I went around the house looking for things I could add to the room instead of going out and buying everything. Add a candle (Christmas gift), a cute frame (from our wedding),  & a bible (extra we already had) & you have yourself a cozy guest bedroom!



Yesterday, I visited my friendly neighborhood sbux for a little r&r. Oh, and I wrote the Romans chapter 2 review here! Which you need to check out if you haven’t already! The nice little cashier dude gave me a half-off venti cool lime refresher because he said he added something “special“… still not sure what that means but I haven’t turned green yet, so I think I’m in the clear. It was a blessing! I love me a cool lime refresher! I also started the #100happydays challenge. You can find it here. It’s a challenge to be happy for 100 days. It’s free & fun. I just love a good photo challenge every now and then. You can check out my #100happydays on Hot Tea and the Empty Seat’s Facebook page! This pic was my day #1. 🙂 HAPPY!


how has your week been?



Coffee Break // Humility

“The Lord is King forever and ever,

the nations will perish from His land.

Lord, you have heard the desire

of the humble;

You will strengthen their hearts.

You will listen carefully,

doing justice for the fatherless

and the oppressed

so that men of the earth

may terrify them no more.”

Psalm 10:16-18


Lord, help us to have humble hearts and live humble lives. May your mighty hand hold us and keep us. Strengthen our hearts today. Lord, you are a good and faithful God. Even when it seems like there is no justice in this world, you remind us that You alone have the right to judge. You will not abandon the fatherless and the oppressed. We trust in You. Give us hearts like your heart. Give us hearts that hear the cries of the oppressed & fatherless. Thank you for your great love for us! In Jesus name, Amen.  


As you go through your day today, ask God to give you eyes to see the oppressed and fatherless people around you. Then, share with them the Love of Christ that set YOU FREE & made you a member in the family of God!

Isn’t He a great Father?! He is good.



***If you haven’t been following along with us in our Romans bible study, do that now! We will be going over chapter two today! It’s not too late to get involved and into God’s Word!

Hospitals & Harry Potter/ / SUMMER STUDY!

Friday afternoon, I was taken to the emergency room due to sharp pains and overwhelming pain in my side. After hours of tests and pain medicine, I was able to go home. Turns out, a large cyst that had been growing on my ovary for who knows how long decided to rupture {right before a cook out we were hosting}. I was so scared there were issues with my one kidney that I have but praise God, my kidney was perfectly healthy! God put sweet and caring doctors and nurses in that room that night. Everything went smoothly & pretty quickly {or maybe I just thought so because I was floating on cloud morphine, haha}. My husband deserves the Best Husband Ever award. For these past days since last Friday, he has taken amazing care of me. He is so gentle and sweet. We laid in bed and watched almost the entire series of Harry Potter. We love that magical little trio.

I am so happy to be back in the land of the living! While recovering, I texted my sweet friend, Jaimie, who is away for the summer with her hubby if she wanted to start an online bible study together over the summer. She agreed! We started Romans chapter one this morning.

After reading the first chapter this morning, God nudged me to widen this bible study. So….

I’m going to start it through the blog on TOMORROW!

That’s right…

Hot Tea and the Empty Seat’s Summer Weekly Bible Study through Romans!

If any of you faithful readers and even new friends are interested in a stress-free, fun, weekly summer Bible study reading through Romans, join us!

Each week {starting tomorrow, Thursday, May 29th}, we will be reading a chapter of Romans.

I encourage you to grab a bible/bible app and a journal! You will have all week {Thursday-Thursday} to read each chapter. Can it get any more easy?! 🙂

Each Thursday, we will meet up here on the blog & discuss what we have learned, favorite verses, passages that convict or encourage us, and any questions we may have! That’s my thoughts & YOURS!

This will be super casual and down to earth since I am no theologian or smarty pants. I just ADORE reading God’s Word and learning with my fellow siblings in the faith. If you have a blog, feel free to LINK UP & post your own thoughts or whatever God has been showing you each week. If you don’t have a blog, no problem! You can follow us each week by subscribing through email at the bottom of this page and also comment below with your own thoughts/etc OR you can “like” Hot Tea and the Empty Seat on Facebook and follow along there!

JOIN US, won’t you?! You have nothing to lose and so much to gain!

Starting tomorrow, I will post the first official “Thursday in Romans” blog post to get this party started! Please don’t miss out on this amazing opportunity to become closer with God, learn from His Word, and flourish in community with other believers in the faith!

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes…”

Romans 1:16


Don’t forget, week 1-chapter 1 starts tomorrow!

I encourage you to wake up {duh}, start a pot of coffee or travel to your local coffee shop, and pray for God’s wisdom to be poured out on you as you read Romans 1!


Life Lately…

Life lately has been all kinds of things. As I think of all the life going on, I come to one word that sums up this season of life that I am in: refreshment. Whether it be deep talks over coffee with a good friend, a much-needed fun date with the husband, or a reminder of our heavenly home, I am being refreshed….



Over the weekend, we were able to visit both of our families for a bit. It was refreshing to see them and catch up. Right after being married, I wanted to go back home pretty much every single day. After growing closer to my husband and learning to trust God where I am at, both my husband and I think of trips back home as more special and dear to us than before. The trips are fewer now because we don’t feel that sting of needing to go back home because together, we are at home. We treasure times spent with our families now more than before & I know that that is a gift from God. I even got to snag my coffee cup I bought right before getting married that I kept leaving at my mom’s house. It’s now where it belongs & so am I.


Also over the weekend, we attended the funeral & life celebration of a dear man in our home church who finished his race well and left this earth to be with our mighty and sweet Jesus. His name is Bob & I have known him since I was young. He founded & was president of a mission organization focused in Romania. If ever was a man who LOVED Jesus and served Him in every way, it was this man. I always saw him in worship with a smile on his face and arms directing worship. He wasn’t perfect but he was in love with Christ. Thousands and thousands of people, here in the US and in Romania, have been changed because one man loved Jesus so much that He answered the call to go. His life is an inspiration to me to focus ONLY on Jesus & the souls around me. Before his death, I read pages upon pages of facebook posts written by all of the lives that he had touched for Christ. He truly was just a man who served a great God and now He is in the presence of His great God & Savior. Please pray for his wife, Yvonne. Having a husband myself, I can only imagine what she is feeling. I am so thankful that she is in love with the Man who has her man of over forty years safe now in His everlasting arms. It amazes me how the death of a Saint opens up eyes (especially mine) to the reality of Heaven. It’s not a fairytale, far-away place. It is the presence of God in REAL LIFE. Oh, I cannot wait to get home.


Penny, our Siberian Retriever puppy, made some new friends on our family land this weekend. I’m not sure if she wanted to play or chase them down. They were quite curious as well to see a little deer-looking things sniffing at them.


My mother-in-law’s tree right outside her window that is always all kinds of pretty depending on the weather. I especially love seeing it today since it’s 50 degrees and rainy this week. It reminds me of this verse six in Nehemiah 9… “You alone are the Lord. You have made the heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their hosts, the earth & everything on it, the seas and all that is in them. And you preserve them all. The host of heaven worships you.” It’s encouraging to know that just like God preserves the beautiful flowers, trees, and the air itself, He preserves us. You and me. We are His beloved children. And He never ever leaves us.


 I had the delightful opportunity to meet up at a little coffee shop with a dear friend who is finishing up her dental hygiene schooling. We talked about our family, faith, & fears. We are both so much alike {and it’s such a relief to know I’m not crazy} and we both have quite the same personality. The weekend before, on my girls retreat, we took a personality/spiritual gifts test/quiz/cool thing. It revealed what I totally knew was true. I am a type C personality which means cautious, reserved, serving, & sensitive and showed me things I needed to work on spiritually speaking. It was encouraging & refreshing to know that I am not the only one dealing with fear and other things. We were also able to talk lots of photography as we are both up&coming photographers. Oh, and I tried a macaroon for the first time ever. Delish. These things are just too cute. I am now on a mission to be the next macaroon baker. We’ll see. 😉


And last but certainly not least, my husband and I spent our beautiful Sunday very well. After worshipping, learning, and hearing God speak to us, we set out for downtown. We ate at our favorite local restaurant, went bike shopping only to learn that the bike shops are closed on Sunday and then found ourselves in our new favorite cupcake shop. I indulged in a cookie dough cupcake that had actual cookie dough baked inside the cupcake & hubby inhaled a reece’s peanut butter and fudge cupcake. It was safe to say that our gluten-free diet was over for the month. HA! But it really was. We were proud. And I have decided that I can’t/won’t go back to bread-eating. Oh, besides all of those delicious cupcakes that are calling my name right.. about.. now..

❤ cheers to a new week. and a VERY SPECIAL week, at that. In six short days, we will celebrate the resurrection of the ONE who changed history & eternity forever!

Here is the song we sang Sunday in worship that completely broke me down. While trying to trust God in the hard & good times, I want this to be my heart’s song no matter what.








all of these little moments.

life is full of moments. little or big, happy or sad, unusual or mundane, these little moments make up our big life. I am learning more each & every day to hold on to each moment. Because life is passing by so quickly & I want to live intentionally. I don’t want to miss a moment. last night, I accidently shrunk my husband’s sweater. my feelings were hurt because of the way he reacted so that put a damper on the night. (he quickly apologized of course but I’m a sensitive baby when it comes to my feelings, for real. he’s patient & the best)  BUT. after we crawled into bed, for whatever reason, he started laughing. that got me to start laughing and i’m not kidding when I tell you that we laughed until we couldn’t breath for a good twenty minutes. when bad moments turn into good, happy, sweet moments. don’t let them pass by. put yourself fully in those little moments. I want to share some little moments of our life from this past week. Oh, and pray for us. tonight will be the first night we have ever been away from each other since being married. Duty calls for hubby so I’m heading back home & getting together with the girls. I love my life of little moments.

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1. We picked up our sweet Penny from her puppysitter Monday. For the first time ever, she played with puppies her age & older. She is quite spoiled now. This morning, she opened our bedroom door, jumped on our bed, and laid down on my pillow without even asking. how rude. it was a funny, sleepy moment.

2. I love candles. they bring a sense of coziness to the moment & never fail to make a dinner seem fancier. I’m always burning candles. this one was French Baguette from b&bw. yum. it was a romantic, sweet moment.

3. this was our view from the car window moseying on through Pennsylvania. I wish you could of seen it. snow covered every farmhouse and created a light blue hue off in the distant valley. it was an antique, quiet moment.

4. this was one of four crosses we passed from tn to nyc. I love taking pictures of crosses. my favorites were three little wooden crosses on the right side of the highway (literally like Randy’s song). it was a supernatural, serious moment passing those crosses thinking about my sweet Savior. reminders of the pain he took & the glory He shown.

5. quite possibly my and my husband’s favorite breakfast menu. Mary b’s southern style biscuits topped with HOMEMADE grape & blackberry jelly straight from the vine of my grandmother’s little farm home. I will never be able to go back to store bought jelly. sorry, Welch’s, but gmama has got you beat. it’s always a warm, happy, lovely moment opening a mason jar full of fresh berries picked by the hands of my beloved grandma.

6.  oh these make me laugh. I decided to put my little apron on last night & whip up some “homemade” cookies. chocolate & peanut butter to be exact. I used a sugar cookie blend and added Hershey’s cocoa & peter pan peanut butter to the mix. but I forgot to “soften” the butter so I just added more butter (melted this time)…they ended up looking like poop & tasting like it too. 😉 I’m taking them home to my siblings. oh, Paula Deen, I should of added more butter.

7. technically this was a picture from last week. it’s in the American museum of natural history in NYC. I love big turtles so I had to get my pic taken with this big ole prehistoric of a turtle. Minus the hat, I’m pretty sure we’re about the same height. sweet. I’m sure he was a nice turtle. Probably could have eaten me.

savor your little moments. they make up life.