How Samuel and I Met

**This was originally written May 27, 2008**

Due to a request, here’s the “how we met and fell in love” story for me and my husband!

Back in 2000 at college, I was taking a really great Francophone Culture class (which is the study of French-speaking countries other than France) and was really into Africa at that time (there are lots of French-speaking African countries). Part of me has always been inspired and intrigued by Africa, but this class really stepped it up a few notches. And being that I’ve always loved writing letters, I decided to try to find a penpal from some African countries. I didn’t want to go the email process but wanted real letters. So I signed up with an agency I found. You fill out this long form about interests and what you’re looking for (male, female, what countries, hobbies, etc) to get penpals. About 2-3 weeks later I received a list with 5 men and 5 women from various African countries (Ghana, Angola, Botswana, Kenya, Tanzania and some others).

I promptly lost the list.

I was going to contact the agency to get a copy of that list again when letters started coming in (I was on other people’s lists). I got a lot of pretty great letters (including Samuel’s) and started writing. It was a fantastic experience – lots of great information, pictures, etc. Really fun.

Over a year or so, some people stopped writing or got very sporadic and by 2003 the only person I was writing was Samuel. And that was really fun. I learned a LOT about Ghana (which I knew NOTHING about before) and we wrote a LOT. I was pretty excited because my love affair with Africa had really grown so this was great.

The fall of 2003 brought the death of Samuel’s mom which was a really horrible thing – he was very close to his mom and was very heartbroken. He called me (for the first time) because he felt we had become very good friends and he was so sad. We prayed a lot and talked it through. That phone call really started everything. He stated much later that at that time, he knew he loved me but was scared to say anything because we’d never met.

At that time, I was involved in Chi Alpha – a campus ministry and our mission was to REALLY live for Christ… to remind us that we are all the brides of Christ and we should put him first. I was wearing an antique puzzle ring on my ring finger of my left hand – just as my reminder. As I constantly sent pictures to Samuel, he received one where he saw the ring on my hand. And he got very worried because he thought I had been engaged or married all that time and hadn’t said anything to him. He tells me now that he really struggled with the possibility that I may be married, but didn’t want to ask. So we just continued writing as friends.

In January of 2004 there was a lot of turmoil in my mind about a future husband. I don’t remember the details of what started it but I remember having many dreams about it. I also remember multiple dreams of someone telling me that my husband would be a friend and would ask about the ring on my finger and upon finding out that I wasn’t actually married would ask me to marry him. It was very weird and actually accelerated my turmoil in my mind. It was a very hectic time but I just plowed through and really didn’t pay attention to those dreams.

In May of 2004 Samuel asked if I was married. I told him about my reminder about being the bride of Christ and didn’t think anything else about it. The letters really increased at that time. We started writing not only when we received a letter from each other but a lot more frequently. He was very good to talk to, and we were very similar in so many ways. It was great to write him. We discussed so many things about life and more…

In July of 2004, Samuel wrote a VERY long letter and he told me he was in love with me (despite never meeting me) and asked me to marry him. I’ll tell you what, I was floored. It was very weird and very unusual… kinda hard to deal with. I set the letter aside and didn’t do anything but think about it for about 2 weeks. Then I kept trying to write him a letter that said “no” because I had never met him. Every time I tried to write and send that letter, I couldn’t. It was just not right. I struggled a lot and one afternoon while walking by the lake (in Yellowstone National Park, where I was working at the time) I remembered my dreams. And I really felt God say “this is what I told you would happen.” And I went home and wrote the letter that said “yes” and it was SO RIGHT. As soon as that letter was finished, love for him just flooded my heart and never left – just grew and grew. And I knew he was the one for me.

After receiving that, we talked a couple times a month on the phone and he sent me an engagement ring in March of 2005 and asked me over the phone to marry him so it would be official.

We got married in Ghana on March 18, 2006 and have been working on his visa to come here ever since. And finally, he’s here. And life is GRAND because of it!

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I heard Him.

Today God showed me a very specific love. He spoke directly to my current anxiety by gently speaking waves of,

“Yes, I know you love me.

I know you love me, you have shown you love me, you do love me, I know it, I have treasured it all.”

Exactly what I was wrestling with. I needed to know I was showing Him love. I needed to know my efforts weren’t useless. I have and do love Him, and I needed assurance that I was showing it. I have had this need for a long time, and I realize now He has been telling me for so long and I can finally hear Him. He never got frustrated with my distracted, insecure heart. He never stopped assuring me.

Patience. Gentleness. Persistence.

He is good.

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Mommy and Daddy are Special (book review) **giveaway too**

I was so fortunate to be sent these two beautiful board books by Glenys Nellist from Zonderkids… and with Mother’s Day coming up and then Father’s Day not too far behind, I thought it’d be a perfect time to show off these beauties! (also, there’s mention of a **giveaway** towards the end of this post!)


My 4 year old *loves* these board books. They caught her attention right away because she can identify with the babies in these pictures – being held is her favorite thing in the whole world.

I started by incorporating them into our bedtime reading and yet they’ve become books that travel from upstairs to downstairs, in the car, to Grandma’s house… my little girl has started asking if everything has a Mommy and Daddy. “What about that bird? What about that one? Oooo, does this worm have a Mommy and Daddy?” And once when we were getting groceries, “DOES THAT GUY HAVE A MOMMY?” It was adorable.

The illustrations in these are just so colorful, lovely, and engaging, the rhyming content is fun to read aloud, and at the end, my girl gets really excited and says, “I have a Mommy too!!!” and hugs me a lot. And when Daddy shows up, it’s the same. I really appreciate books for kids that celebrate love, and these two are stellar. God really *did* make Mommies and Daddies special, including those in the animal kingdom!


If there are little ones in your house, or if someone you know is expecting or is a parent for the first time, these would make great gifts! You can get copies wherever books are sold, like at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Christian Book, to name a few!

BUT! Before you run out and get some, enter in the author’s giveaway on her blog and you could win a pair! Contest is here and goes til Monday, April 16th!

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Love Letters… (book review)

Ones of the most beautiful and meaningful thing someone can do for me is write their feelings down on paper. Something I can go back to over and over again. Something tangible that I can hold in my hand whenever I need a reminder. The Bible is so excellent for this reason (and so much more) and so is Easter Love Letters from God.

Tiny hands found a pen and lost some self control… that’s ok.

This book is beautiful, with a story for every day of Holy Week, and a love letter written to your child(ren) for each day too.

There are times I find it easy to teach facts and truths about Jesus but find it a little harder to show the personal connections. Having these kinds of love letters is such a blessing so my kids can know Jesus knows them and knows exactly how they feel, always. I put both my girls’ names in it, and the personalization could go even further by getting each kid a copy.

Holy Week is upon us, but it’s not too late to get your family a copy from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, etc. Would make a great Easter gift next to the jelly beans and chocolate too!

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Broken to Beautiful (review)

One of my favorite things to stop and think about Jesus, is how He really does transform the broken in us into absolute beauty.

So I was super overjoyed when I was given an ebook by Lydia Diaz and teaching kit to try out with my kids that spotlights this very thing!

The ebook is absolutely beautiful, and my 8 year old, Naomi, read it with interest and with ease. She and Noelle (4 years old) both enjoyed the pictures a lot. We also talked about mosaics when we got to the end, and we plan on making some of our own for Easter with tissue paper. (In fact, I plan on bringing out/reading this story again every Easter).

Noelle is a little young for a lot of what was provided but she did like finding all the capital Gs and Js to underline/circle when looking for God and Jesus, and she did enjoy drawing people and things she loves. It was very cute!

Naomi, however, was really into it. She enoyed the drawing response activities and thinking about love and how we love all people differently (for example, the difference between the love of Mommy and Daddy, and between her and her friends). She was pretty intrigued to learn and write Greek words, and we talked about the difference of letters from our alphabet, how they sound and look.

We also talked a lot about the people in Jesus’s past – Rahab, David, Cain, Joseph, etc. She remembered those people and really grasped just how cool God is to design history so that anyone can freely come to Jesus, because He has all kinds of people in his lineage.

This packet of activities would be great for any classes/groups/families with kids in kindergarten through about 3rd grade. It’s a beautiful set and would be fun to revisit often. Diaz created a lovely way for our kids to learn about the unconditional love of Jesus!

You can learn more HERE!

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Gutsy Girls

I love to tell my kids about the gutsy girls of this world, but it’s sweeter when they can connect with them on their own too. One of my favorite things is when science and faith come together and even more awesome is when my nature-driven girls can read about those who wonder and question and dream about God’s creation. Not only is the subject matter great in this book, but the way it’s told and the illustrations all work together to create a priceless treasure. Both my 8 yr old and 4 yr old love this book, and we have had great conversations about different women – some who are great history and some currently making great history. This and the other Gutsy Girls books would make GREAT gifts for any girls you know! I plan on getting all the rest as Christmas gifts for my girls this year!

You can snag your own copy here!

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Christmas traditions

We have lots of traditions in our house because, well, Christmas is the greatest time of the year – the whole family thinks so! One of my favorite traditions is adding at least one Christmas book to our library every year.

Two new additions to our library came a little early this year! First is a beautiful hardback, ‘Twas the Evening of Christmas by Glenys Nellist. Set to the same rhythm as “Twas the Night Before Christmas”, this is an extremely beautiful telling of the birth of Christ. The illustrations lush and the story engaging, it kept my 8 and 4 year old’s attention throughout. This would make an excellent Christmas Eve tradition (and it will certainly become one in our house)! Absolutely beautiful. You can find it available here! There is also a kindle edition.

The other book is geared more towards toddlers: Snuggle Time Christmas Stories, also by Glenys Nellist. This is a REALLY cute book. My 4 year old was quickly drawn to it – lots of foil and glitter, lots of cute faces, lots of color and different scenes. It was fun to go through the different poems with her and she not only enjoyed listening but also holding the padded board book and asking questions about the pictures. Such a great addition to our Christmas library! You can get your copy here!

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Easy Tissue Paper Wreath

IMG_20170512_110551_900I made this super cute and super easy wreath for my mom for Mother’s Day!

What took the longest was cutting out circles from tissue paper. But my 3 yr old had fun throwing around all my scraps. If my calculations are correct, I cut out about 200. Be smart and cut out stacked tissue paper, like 2-6 sheets at a time. I traced an empty tape roll about 3 inches in diameter, but you can do any size.

You will need:

1 foam wreath  (dollar store $1)

Tissue paper of any color (dollar store $1)

Straight pins – I got a box of 175 and used almost all of them. (walmart $2.75)

I just put a straight pin into the middle of each circle and placed them close together. Then I started filling in the spaces. The more you do, the better it is. You can even crinkle them or cut them into a different shape if you wanna mix it up a bit. I even did 2 different papers at a time to fill in the spaces. It was pretty quick to assemble – about 20 minutes!

I imagine making more with a more thought-out color scheme… all pastels for a baby’s room, red/orange/yellow/brown for fall, Christmas colors, and definitely red/white/blue for the Fourth of July! 

And when you’re done, you can do other silly stuff…

(hmmm… not so thrilled…)

When you make yours, be sure to show me!

Have fun!

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But Where’s the Love? (a book review)


Love Lives Here: Finding What You Need in a World Telling You What You WantLove Lives Here: Finding What You Need in a World Telling You What You Want by Maria Goff

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

At first I thought this was just going to be a collection of nice anecdotes to make us feel warm and fuzzy. It is so much more than that. The examples and stories are lovely, but they’re also real, personal, vulnerable, and challenging. Goff writes in such a comfortable way, so very full of love. She writes as a good friend would to encourage and edify our lives by sharing the details of her own. I am surprised at how much I have read new ways to be challenged without feeling lectured to. So much love lives with her, indeed, and there is much freedom in her stories from her life – freedom to accept love from Christ as we are, freedom to trust and let go – knowing Christ is completely dependable. And then freedom to pour out love on others – because love lives here with me too, no matter how messy my life gets!

I received an Advanced Readers Copy from the publisher. This is an honest review.

You can get your own copy!


Check it out from Amazon here:

Or from Barnes and Noble here:

Or from Lifeway here:

Or from CBD here:

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Prioritizing Time in the Word Together

Originally posted on the Prayers for Girls blog, which can be found here.

I love clocks. Really, I have one in every room and am kinda obsessed with knowing what time it is.

​We live and we die by time, and we must not commit the sin of turning our back on time. — Tom Hanks, Castaway

Okay, that’s probably quite a bit more intense than I actually am, but I share it to illustrate just how much being on time is important to me. I abhor being late, and wasting time? Well, I think it’s necessary sometimes, and I can be REALLY good at it, but that doesn’t mean I’ve embraced it without major guilt.

We have a morning routine to get me and my two girls out the door and on the way to school so we’re there by 7:30. We technically have until 7:40 a.m. before the bell rings, but I’m so much about being early, I don’t even know when the last tardy bell actually is. However, as most mothers know, having kids means all kinds of unexpectedness and crazy behavior so to many things, we’re often late. But NEVER LATE TO SCHOOL.

The final part of our morning routine is reading from a devotional geared towards elementary-aged girls. It’s a great tool for guiding our prayers to be more effective and concentrating on what a girl like my Naomi needs. We’ve had many quick morning conversations that get us thinking and praying in the right direction.

Recently we had a crazy morning …

My three-year-old was out of sorts. I burned the waffles at breakfast and had to make more. Naomi was huffy because things weren’t going smoothly.

We were officially behind not because of those things though, but because I’d pressed the snooze button WAY too many times.

Which was, of course, why my three-year-old Noelle was moody—I was rushing.

Probably why I burned the waffles—rushing and not paying attention.

Definitely why Naomi had angst—rushing.

Looking at the clock, I realized we had about three minutes before we needed to leave and I was still wrestling clothes on my octopus {I mean, three-year-old}. Naomi came in and said, “Well, are we going to brush teeth or read our book?” Never being one to let bad breath leave the house, I called out, “Brush, hurry!!” She did, but while pulling on her shoes, she said, “I guess we don’t have time for our devotional.”

My mind was spinning with excuses.We could read our devotion in the afternoon after school or that night before bed. We could read it the next day and double up. Missing one day, I mean, that’s not the end of the world, we’ve missed other days, it’s FINE.

But the Spirit whispered as it does, and nudged me to ignore the clock, and read the our kid devotional. And what word awaited me?

We can’t afford to waste a minute… Get out of bed and get dressed! Don’t loiter and linger, waiting until the very last minute. Dress yourselves in Christ, and be up and about! — Romans 13:13-14 MSG

The devotion covered not just the dangers of procrastination but also of loving sleep and laziness a bit too much. Those cute vegetable characters were speaking right to me.

“Mommy,” Naomi said, “maybe next time you should get up when the alarm first goes off.”

Yep, she busted me.

But in the best way. She used Scripture to address my lack of timeliness that morning.

We still got to school before the tardy bell (barely), but weren’t as early as usual so traffic was a little heavier while I did my errands after school drop off. But that really didn’t matter. We both learned a good lesson that morning. And it made my heart soar that my daughter was able to connect with me through the Word, something I’d always been hoping and praying for.

I love this month’s Prayers for Girls theme of praying the word with our girls! {Are you getting yours? If not, subscribe today!!} Two of the ways I’m connecting with my daughters through the Word are reading a devotion every morning and working on the memory verses they get each week in Sunday School.

What ways are you and your girls are getting in the word?

On the busiest mornings, prioritizing time in the Word together can make everyone feel less rushed. #prayersforgirlsCLICK TO TWEET

A Prayer for Connecting

Dear God, we are so very thankful for Scripture and how you speak right into the details of our lives through it. Help us to be more open and diligent with your Word, so our girls will be too. Helps us to connect with our girls as we build each other up. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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