My Breastfeeding Journey

Side Note: I completely understand not everything I write is for everyone. If breastfeeding isn't your cup of tea I recommend skipping this post. With that said, I'm just shinning light on my story in hopes to maybe reach that one person needing encouragement. Thanks for reading this with an open mind. -Colleen

I always knew I wanted to breastfeed. My mom breastfed my sister + I and I always remember not thinking anything negative about breastfeeding. While this post is about breastfeeding, I am not putting down on any moms who decided to formula feed for whatever reason over breastfeeding. This is just my journey with it.

I went to class, I remember learning about the “breast crawl” and how babies just bob their head on your chest until they make it to the eating zone. I remember when my magical moment happened + while it was so cool both my kids did the same exact thing coming out of the womb, it was still painful. I'm so thankful I had my mom as a cheerleader because I remember crying for 5 weeks after having Ezra. Every time he would latch, it hurt so bad. But my mom kept encouraging me to push through it. Come to find out he had a lip tie which made it more difficult for him to feed. My goal was to breastfeed until Ezra was 2. This is from the World Health Organization, who recommends breast-feeding until 2 years of age + beyond. “Breast-milk is also an important source of energy and nutrients in children aged 6–23 months. It can provide half or more of a child’s energy needs between the ages of 6 and 12 months, and one third of energy needs between 12 and 24 months. Breast-milk is also a critical source of energy and nutrients during illness, and reduces mortality among children who are malnourished.”  click here

(Side note: mommas I highly recommend getting a friend or someone to take pictures of your breastfeeding journey! I remember feeling super awkward asking my good friend Liz to take these during our maternity pictures, but now I am forever grateful for them!)

I found out I was pregnant with Harvey when Ezra was 16 months old + I remember crying so hard because I’ve always heard your milk drys up once you become pregnant. I was not ready to quit breastfeeding. My doctor of course recommend I stop right away, but Im happy to report I successfully breastfed through my entire pregnancy. (Each person/pregnancy is different, always do what is best for you + recommended by a doctor or midwife) I won't lie though, it was hard. Around 18 months I weaned Ezra from night time feeding, because my nipples were so sensitive that I would have tears in my eyes each time he’d feed. During the day I could distract myself with something, but at night it would keep me up because I would be completely woken up for each feeding. Every doctor check up Harvey seemed fine in the womb so I decided after praying hard about it to keep trying until Ezra seemed not interested. Well, that day never came for Ezra. In the hospital after having Harvey I wasn’t sure how it was going to look having a newborn + a toddler. The lactation consultant told me to keep feeding Ezra especially during this transition time to help him cope with his new sibling. 

Not many, well anyone I personally know have experience with tandem breastfeeding, so I was very thankful for google! It wasn’t as hard of a transition as I expected! The lactation consultant recommended that I let Harvey eat first then let Ezra finish on that same side, so we knew HJ was getting as much as he wanted!

I thought Ezra would lose interest after his second birthday, my original goal…but that wasn’t the case! Ezra is 3 now + still asks about 4-5 times a week to breastfeed. Some times I can distract him with something else, but sometimes I can tell its just a true comfort need. People can be very judgmental to breastfeeding moms, because I think formula is just as popular of an option as breastfeeding. Breast-feeding is no walk in the park. It’s hard, painful, frustrating, time-consuming, etc., but it is so rewarding! I always encourage moms to stick it out for at least 6 weeks. The first 6 weeks are the worst, but then it normally gets easier from there! It’s really hard not to roll my eyes when I see others say comments like “she should cover up” or “doesn't she know I can see her boob”.. For real….. has anyone turned on the tv lately? Some commercials show more cleavage than a mom breastfeeding! I was so strict on myself when I had Ezra. I would retreat to the car, the bathroom, the other room, etc. But after Harvey I just became so relaxed with myself. Being at the beach last week I saw more boob than I have ever shown feeding my kids in public. 

 Zach snapped this picture of an early morning feed for Ezra while on our beach trip.

Zach snapped this picture of an early morning feed for Ezra while on our beach trip.

At the end of the day we should be proud of ourselves for however long we choose to breastfeed + feel empowered by our bodies for being able to sustain life! It's a really magical gift! I know some will judge me for posting this on the internet, but my hope is it reaches that one mom struggling with everyone around her judging her! Keep your head up, feed your baby however you choose.. just feed your baby <3 

Lots of love,

Colleen Cashio

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The Art of Bravery

What does BRAVE mean to you? The definition of brave is “ready to face and endure danger or pain; showing courage”.

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I’ve always said social media has its pros + cons. One of its pros is connecting with people from all over the world, with all types of backgrounds. I stumbled across @theartofbravery + quickly fell in love. I resonated with her message + love what she is doing! I love her products + the positive message she is putting out. In a world that can be so dark I love seeing people that are shining light and inspiring. Her story is one in which she had to build herself up from one of the lowest points in her life. In Christiana’s about me she says “It was out of the greatest struggle of my life that the most beautiful and life changing shifts began to happen”. Yes. Yes. And Yes… Zach + I hit the lowest point in our marriage at the end of 2017. It took courage to decide to keep moving forward. But out of our greatest struggle we’ve seen the prettiest fruit. Being brave doesn’t always portray the superhero you see in most movies. Trusting the process in the in-between moments can ignite courage. Bravery can be deciding to put one foot in front of the other + keep moving forward in the calling of God. Bravery can mean taking a leap of faith + trusting that next step will be there before your feet hit the ground. Being brave looks different for everyone. For us, this year bravery meant going tiny. Like teeny tiny- downsizing from 3,000 sq ft to less than 200 sq ft. We love our new little home + wouldn’t trade it for the world. It took courage and faith to make the change. 

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Often times the most uncomfortable paths lead us to the most beautiful things.

What doubts are holding you back?

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Trust the process.

Take that risk.

Be B-R-A-V-E

I highly recommend going to take a look at The Art of Bravery for yourself! Read her blog + shop in her store! Also check out the cool new skoolie they got!  -> http://theartofbravery.com/

To celebrate @steadystreamincashios reaching 2,000 followers on instagram, The Art of Bravery + I have teamed up to give a lucky someone the shirt I’m wearing in these pictures! To enter click on this link + follow the instructions! Good luck! ->@steadystreamincashios

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Colleen Cashio

Hairdresser turned homemaker. She has a bearded husband, two little boys, + one furry girl. She loves anything homemade, everything the outdoors have to offer, + writing about life experiences. She strives to keep life simple + make memories along the way!

HARVEY'S FIRST BIRTHDAY

Wow, Harvey is a year old now! I've never thought life moved fast until having kids! I am so blessed to be Harvey's mommy. Here's some pictures of our fun day celebrating HJ's birthday!

First we drove to our favorite creek in Mountain View. The boys and ourselves can spend all day here. They love to fish, play with the rocks, + hunt for tadpoles. This is our favorite family retreat because it's so relaxing + there's no cell service..aka no distractions!

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Then we came home + went to take birthday pictures of Harvey. Don't even ask how that went...everything that could have gone wrong with location, decor, etc did. Zach + I were ready to give up, but we still managed to pull it together and get a few cute shots. Next time I'm hiring my favorite photographer, Sydney. https://www.facebook.com/sydneyslighphotography/ 

 

 

Pregnancy + Harvey's Birth Story

Harvey Joseph

Let me start from the beginning, after having Ezra we decided that we were done having kids. Birth, postpartum, and the first year of Ezra’s life was HARD. We were perfectly content having one child + being done. I still worked after having Ezra, which made things even harder. In November 2016 we went on a trip to Jasper, AR + I felt car sick the whole time. I blamed it on how curvy the roads are in Jasper. When we got home I just couldn’t shake how tired I was, but blamed it on Ezra still waking every two hours to eat at night! I found a random pregnancy test in my bathroom and decided to take it. It was the cheap kind that didn’t even have a label on the side to say if it meant pregnant or not. I took it + waited. The next thing I know I saw a plus sign..I was pretty sure it was not suppose to have a plus sign. I quickly called Zach into the room freaking out + he was like no plus sign means not pregnant. We argued back and forth about it then decided the next best thing was to Google. (always) Google told me plus sign meant pregnant, but google told Zach that it meant not pregnant. So at 10pm I made Zach run to the store to get another test. I cried the whole time Zach was gone, I knew in my heart I was pregnant + I was not mentally prepared for it. Zach hurried home + I took 3 tests. They all came back pregnant. At this point Zach and I both broke down. Now, let me just state. I know that children are a blessing from God + I’ve walked with friends through infertility. So what I’m about to write next is hard + I’m sure you’re going to judge me, but I’m sharing a real season of life we went through. With that said, excitement was the last emotion on our list when we saw pregnant on the little stick. Ezra was almost 16 months old + life had finally gotten to our new normal. Work was going smoother. Ezra wasn’t crying (all the time). I had officially lost all my baby weight. Our budget for money was going smoothly. Basically life was good + we had no room to add another baby. I was still traumatized from birthing Ezra. We couldn’t afford health insurance for another baby…can I get an amen from self-employed peeps?!.. Health insurance is ridiculous folks! Our routine now was perfect. We both sat on the bathroom floor crying. Zach tried to comfort me + told me I’d be okay. I actually even texted my mom, “I know you wont believe this, but somehow I’m pregnant.” I’m pretty sure her response was.. “are you sure?” In that moment I felt so helpless. This was not planned + for this control freak it sent me over the edge. This all happened about 60 seconds after all the pregnancy tests I took. Then out of NO WHERE, Zach’s phone goes off. It made a noise we’ve never heard. A few months before Zach started an Etsy page, but he’s never had any sales. The noise that went off was a notification that Zach had just sold something on Etsy. I immediately felt God’s presence + Him say “Don't worry about money, I will come through, even if its in strange ways”. I should have felt immediate peace + started to feel joy, but I didn’t.

I struggled for the first half of my pregnancy with negative thoughts. I totally let the enemy steal my joy. I went to my first doctor’s appointment thinking I was 8-10 weeks pregnant. She hooked up the ultrasound machine + at this point I am still thinking maybe the test was wrong + she’ll tell me I’m not pregnant. Nope! She said “wow, this is a big baby..you’re 17 weeks pregnant!!” Do you want to know the sex?” Zach + I’s jaw dropped. I couldn’t believe I was that far along, I think God almost intended it that way so I had less time to think about things. Well now its time for me to have Harvey. I was dreading delivery. With Ezra I was 8 days late + induced. I went in the night before to have Cervadil done, which is so painful + we found out the next day it did nothing. Then the doctor broke my water + started the pitocin. I had my birth plan in my hand ready to conquer this natural labor with no epidural. HA! As soon as pitocin started I cried for an epidural. Two warnings from the doctor that I would probably need a section because my body wasn’t progressing + one round of nurses walking in scrubs handing Zach scrubs to go in for a section + I was a mess. I did not want a section at all. I cried and begged the doctor to check me one more time. I guess my body went into fight or flight seeing everyone in scrubs. She checked me one last time and said I had progressed all the way to a 9! At this point I had almost been in labor for 24 hours. Once pushing began I pushed for 3 hours. It was pure hell. Ezra’s head got to a point + had gotten stuck because it was so big. She was concerned they’d have to push him back up + section. He finally came + I tore h-o-r-r-i-b-l-y. Needless to say, my birth experience went exactly how I didn’t want it to. Oh man, I completely forgot to mention a big reason I didn’t want to be pregnant again after Ezra.. I had “PUPPS”, google it. 1% of women have it in pregnancy and it is PURE HELL- like I have seen what hell is like and I don’t want to go to that place. Basically it feels like poison ivy is all over your body + there’s nothing you can do until the baby is born. The doctors don’t know much on it and theres nothing for them to do besides steroids. And being the non medicine freak that I am, I decided to suffer through it. It is suppose to magically go away after you have the baby + mine got worse. I really contemplated asking if I could go into a medical coma until it went away. From what I've researched your liver can’t break down all the extra hormones from pregnancy making your body have the reaction to say ‘hey something is wrong'. (If you have PUPPS, msg me + I will tell you the only thing that worked for me + what I wish I would have done sooner) So maybe that's a peak into another big reason I didn’t want to be pregnant again.. + spoiler alert, I totally had PUPPS again with Harvey, but this time I started taking milk thistle to cleanse my liver as soon as the itching started and stayed on it my whole pregnancy. (Wahoo for herbal medicine, but hey i’m not a doctor.. always check with your doctor before trying anything!) 

So here I am, 9 days late from my due date with Harvey.  I told my doctor there was no way I’d be induced this time, because I couldn’t go through what happened last time. She kept checking me + said baby and I were healthy enough to stick it out. I woke up at 3:45am on June 25th with contractions. (this was my second scare with them.) I txted my mom at 5am letting her know that they were finally constant and she needed to come over. They rushed over, but now its 6am and my contractions have spread apart. I was so upset + felt awful for making them come to my house so early. They kept encouraging me to go get checked at the doctor, but I knew any false alarms she’d probably make me go to the hospital. So we decided to go grocery shopping + run some errands.  Through the day my contractions were up and down, but nothing I needed to go get checked for. My mom encouraged me to go get checked before bed since we lived an hour away. Zach wanted me to also, so we decided to drive to Conway and eat dinner. We ate at Market Place and my contractions were 9-10 min apart, but I wasn’t dying. Then we sat in the hospital parking lot debating if we should go get a hotel room or go check in the hospital to see how far I was dilated. We sat there for a good hour before we decided to go in. When they checked me in triage she said I was only at a 3, but since I was so many days late and lived an hour away they wanted me to stay. I said I would only agree if I still had the freedom to roam, because I really wanted to try to have this baby natural and not be stuck in bed laboring. They agreed + here's where the fun began. Zach + I walked the halls of the floor all night long while my contractions got harder and harder.

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The nurse told me I was lucky to do this through the night, because during the day they don’t really allow people out of their rooms. I labored all night into the morning + when they checked me in the am I was at an 8. My doctor asked to break my water at 7:30am June 26, and ya’ll if you want to go natural I do not recommend letting them break your water. Contractions were a breeze all night. I could talk through every one of them. The nurses were so impressed with my pain level and thought I was crazy for not wanting an epidural. But, once she broke my water my contractions literally went 984571948357134 times worse. I cried for an epidural!!! But the anesthesiologist was in a c-section and couldn’t get to me in time. I kept asking the nurses at what point do I start pushing and they said since I didn’t have an epidural I would just feel a push come on, and I was so confused by that. They also said you might feel like you have to poop. So, I got the nurse to check me every 5 minutes because I couldn’t tell if that was the feeling or not. Then all of a  sudden, boom! My body started to naturally push. I had no control over it, I just felt a contraction come on and it was like my body pushed on its own. The nurse told me to hold on while she got the doctor, but if you’ve ever had a baby naturally you know there is no holding on. LOL The doctor got there right in time and I only had to push for 30 minutes before our sweet little Harvey was born at 8:36am. I immediately felt as if God had redeemed my view on birthing. I felt so empowered by my body naturally pushing a baby out of me. I tore so little I didn’t even need stitches. I was up and about right after delivery. I remember telling Zach, ok if this is what birthing can be like, I can totally have more kids! If it’s God’s plan for us to have another biological baby we really want to go the midwife/home birth route. 

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After having Harvey I realized he was the missing piece to our puzzle we didn’t know was missing. God’s plan is always bigger + better than ours, even if our circumstances cloud our vision for the moment. Harvey was never in my plans, but I’m thankful God’s will always prevails. And here we are one year later. We survived mentally, physically, + financially. God has always come through, even if its the midnight hour. I hope this post encourages you to trust God’s plan even if its scary + seems impossible. 

My favorite pictures of introducing Ezra to Harvey. From left to right - "ok put him in my lap" -"omg, what was I thinking?!" -"take him away mom, take him away"

Hope you enjoy some of Harvey's birthday pictures below!

XO, 

Colleen Cashio

Who Are You Pursuing?

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So lately, Zach + I have not been on the same wavelength. Such as- we fight constantly + are basically living the life of ‘I don’t like you + you don’t like me’. We’ve been walking next to each other like pissed off roommates because someone didn’t do the dishes on their night. I’ve been struggling with my pride of not wanting to say sorry when I should. I feel validated because my feelings seem legit.

If I had to say what this all stems from, it would be stress + lack of time. Since the end of January we have been eat, sleep, breathe Airstream renovation and for the past 6 weeks we have been SUPER frustrated because we’ve missed every deadline + honestly for a control freak/timeline girl/master planner, I am just not okay with this. I had a plan…Why did it fall through? Zach is working his butt off, but we still keep coming up short. We mark one thing off the list + 3 things get added. Our patience is thin. We haven’t made time for a date night + most nights we go to bed feeling like we’re drowning in our ‘to do list’ for the next day. If I add in the chaos the kids bring to the picture we look like an episode of Jerry Springer.

The other day I was trying to talk to God about my feelings, because Zach is obviously not understanding me + doesn’t care about my feelings- (insert the rolling eyes emoji). I was trying to reason why I am so frustrated with Zach. There are many reasons that are all surface level; Airstream not complete, no us time, etc. But the main one under the surface was I don’t feel pursued. And for me that’s a sucky feeling. Watch any chick flicks and the girl always wants to be swept off her feet + given those butterflies in her stomach. She wants to be {pursued}. Zach is so stressed + I’m a professional nagger so I wasn’t really pursuable at the moment. Add in that I’m a control freak and nothing is staying on plan. I look like a hot mess trying to keep it all together. My poor husband is probably like “why in the world would I want to pursue the wicked witch of the west”?! HA! And it’s not like you can control someone pursuing you, so my mood is obviously funky and I’m acting like a teenage girl going to God spilling about how awful my husband has been. And wanna know what He said to me………?

God-“Colleen, when is the last time you pursued me?”

Me-“Seriously God, do we have to make this about you?! I’m trying to throw my pity party.”

God-“Well, have you been pursuing me lately?”

Me-“…...No….”

God-“Hm, well how do you think I feel when you don’t pursue me??

Me-(*crickets*)

That seriously was our conversation.  I try to put it behind me saying that God didn’t really say those words because I was still on the ‘poor Colleen bus’.

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Then as always I got to thinking + in the last month our schedule has been nuts + I’ve been putting my Jesus time on the back burner because I’m trying to juggle too many things. And it was almost as if God slapped me across the head and said “Why would your husband ever pursue you if you aren’t pursuing me?”. And it is so true. I’m much happier when I’m pursuing God. I have more joy, peace, and positivity. You name it! When I’m not pursuing God I’m grumpy, entitled, and honestly just a (b)wi*ch. I don’t know who would want to pursue me when I act like that!

Our God is a jealous God. He doesn’t want to be put on the back-burner. He doesn’t want an idol or in my case my ‘to do list’ put in front of him. So me going to Him complaining about not being pursued was like the pot calling the kettle black since I haven’t been pursuing God.

I was listening to Air1 today on the radio and they asked if you’ve been praying for the person who rubs you the wrong way or if you’ve just been complaining about them. They said you could not change a person by nagging them… you can only pray for them. I almost changed the station because I hate being wrong + really didn’t want to hear that truth nugget. Right then I said “okay God, I can’t make the Airstream go by any faster by nagging so I’ll pray. I can’t make my husband pursue me, but I can pray about it”. And that’s all I can do, is pray. And I can get back to pursuing God so I’m a much nicer person to be around + in return things will smooth out.

I hope you don’t read my blog posts and think I’m trying to air out my dirty laundry, because trust me- nothing about posting these blogs are easy. Who wants to share their weaknesses + when they fall short… not me! But I feel there is a purpose for this space + if God wants me to share my weaknesses to help others then “here I am God, use me”. If you were stuck in a negative headspace lately, just remember I was/am right there with you! Try to seek what is under the surface that is causing the problem and how you can address it!

XO Colleen Cashio

"You must worship no other gods, for the Lord, whose very name is Jealous, is a God who is jealous about his relationship with you." Exodus 34:14

"Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you who belongs to Christ Jesus." 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Testing the Waters..

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Have you ever felt like you’re stuck in the mud? Like you keep splashing in the same puddle over + over? If you have ever been to my house after a rain you know my backyard looks like a swamp. For any mom that is a nuisance, but for a little boy it is a treat. Since the weather hasn’t been miserable we have been trying our best to enjoy as much time as we can outside. The fresh air + sunshine are my sanity during this season of sleepless nights. The other day it rained really hard + Ezra couldn’t wait to go play in the puddles. So off we went with our rain boots to splash in the puddles. Of course the first thing he grabs is his lawn mower. We joke that cutting grass will be his first business, because he is pushing his mower every chance he gets. Starting out the water was crystal clear, but as we continued to walk the same path over + over the water became a big muddy mess. It made me think of my prayer life. Sometimes I bring the same request to God over + over again. I go back + forth walking my line reasoning with Him on why I need Him to answer this request + how I want it answered. In the Bible it clearly says to always pray + always be thankful. But sometimes I think I go overboard with the same request; like God didn’t hear me the first time. As if He doesn’t know my every thought + what’s in my heart. I think God wants me to bring every request I have + lay it at the cross. Give him every worry, every fear, every trial + totally give it to Him. Walk away + trust that He has my best interest ahead. I don’t think He wants me to repeat myself a thousand times. I think He wants me to say “Lord, here is my request, thank you for listening to what I want; but more than what I want, I want your will to be done.” For control freaks like me that is really hard. Subconsciously I try to micromanage everyone around me, even God. I try to fit Him into a tiny box. When I focus on ‘my prayer request’ I miss out on the true requests I need to be lifting up to Him. I love how God speaks to me using everyday situations. Sometimes I’m too distracted with everything going on to notice His whisper. In this season of life God is realllyyy working on my control issue. He has clearly shown me I am not in control + the best way forward is to sit in the passenger seat while He drives. It is a very scary thing not knowing what tomorrow holds or trying to control what will happen tomorrow. But slowly.. And surely, I am focusing more on receiving His peace + letting the puzzle pieces fall together; even if they are coming together slower than my preference.

When Zach + I sit still and beg for a response from God every time we hear, “I will show you the next step right when your foot is about to go down on that step.”Which is super scary, because basically we are walking down the stairs waiting on the next step to come + hoping that we aren't going ahead of God + skip a step all together + fall on our faces. Because trust me that has happened too many times. I love my husband, I truly do, I love bouncing ideas off to him. I love that God has made my mind the way he has, but sometimes I think it can be my worst enemy. In hopes to speed up our next step, I will make 1001 plans from beginning to end. You know the ones where you stay up half the night thinking how each thing will play out. Get your hopes up, like wow God this has to be it. This has to be what you've been waiting to tell me. All to find out the next week that brilliant plan won't work, am I the only one who does this? Hopefully not!

Just like this week, Zach + I felt God tell us to finish the airstream and I’ll show you what is next. So not only did I give up my salon + work because he told me to become a stay at home mom, but now that means Zach has to quit his job to devote finishing the airstream. It’s not just a weekend project. If we want to finish this; it’s a full time job. IT. IS. SO. MUCH. MANUAL. LABOR.

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So, as happy as we were that we heard from God, we were also like what? No? Not possible? We can't financially afford this. We have kids, bills, responsibilities, etc. So to our human nature we said ok God, sure we will do what you say. Gosh, I could dedicate a whole post or maybe a book to all the crazy ideas/dreams we came up with of what direction to go in once the Airstream is complete. I’m sure our friends are tired of hearing us talk about life, because we always have something new! The most solid idea I will mention was Zach going to Aircraft Mechanic school. Long story short, we said YES, this must be what God meant.. finish the airstream, and we will live in it so Zach can go to school + we can conserve money. We went as far as reaching out to multiple schools, reaching out to RV parks, locations. We made our budget + found where Zach could work part time after school. We had a game plan! We had it all figured out! We were so relieved. The only downfall was my car couldn't tow the airstream, so we were still looking for a car to trade in for mine that would allow us to not have a note since we knew we couldn't afford it. We settled on a used Expedition. (just keep this in mind for later on in the story) We figured out everything- how much Zach could make after school, what connections we could use to find him a good job, etc. But then it didn't feel right. We didn't feel settled about this grand epiphany we just had. Student loans from schooling meant debt and school meant very few hours for work, which meant slim to none for family time.. Then we noticed an Aircraft Maintenance Internship. BINGO! So Zach applied and waited. He even called directly to the company trying to speak with the Supervisor explaining his resume and things of that nature. Eventually an email was sent that the position was filled. There goes that idea. So, we kept tucking it to the back burner + kept reminding ourselves what we heard from God was "Finish the Airstream + I’ll show you what’s next" (In a James Earl Jones voice, so Zach says). This was in the middle of January + now we are at the end of April. And God still has not shown us the next steps. As I write this all Zach has left on the airstream is, grouting the tile in bathroom, backsplash, + we need to make cushions for the couch. And my dad has to do one thing for the electrical, but that is it. We are pretty much done.  Now we are grasping at the end of our rope, because we don't know what is next. Travel? Redo another airstream? Flip houses? We are at such a loss + God is quiet. Our plan was to move into the airstream, but now we are questioning it. Do we sell it so we can make money to reinvest in a business of flipping RVs. Do we see about getting a line of credit or loan? Zach + I strive to not live in debt; we absolutely hate it. The thought of us going to get a loan stresses me out to the max, probably because we have always been self employed + while I love that, its also a curse because you never know exactly what you'll make that month. Another way God likes to test my reliance on Him (que the eye roll). So, as we sat + talked at the kitchen table our options were, sell the airstream to have cash or get a loan. We left it as that, because toddlers + babies don't make talking about life choices the easiest. 

Then an idea came to me. Sell my car + we will have enough money to scrape by paying our bills, buy an airstream + flip it. Side note: we have had our car for sale since January and no bites, only 1 low offer. Also we haven't found an expedition we want. (And Zach knows every expedition on the market, because he is constantly looking). So when I said to Zach, let's sell my car, use that money + share a car for the next few months, his response was heck no. He didn't want me going without a car + he didn't want us to downsize our vehicle that much. He said well it really doesn't matter, because no one has bought our car. Well, guys...We talked about this at lunchtime on a Sunday. I felt complete peace about selling my car and downsizing to one car. We checked our emails later that evening + he got an email from someone interested in my car. The price we were comfortable selling it for also. Oh, and she messaged at 1:09pm...right after our discussion. Now if that isn't ironic I really don’t know what is.. It's exactly like what God said.. Finish the Airstream + I’ll bring the next step. The couple came to pick up my car two days later. We would have never come to the conclusion to sell my car and use the money last month, because we were so stuck on getting an expedition for more room and more towing capacity. If we would have gotten a halfway decent offer on my car we would have taken it and settled for an expedition. We would have been stuck with what God didn't want. That’s why He didn't reveal our next step till it was literally in front of us. Now it all makes sense. Things don't always work out where they make sense, but this time it did. God always has perfect timing. We may try to rush it along, but all we will do is have restless nights trying to control our next step when our Creator already knows the ending of our story. 

Have you ever gone through life thinking where in the HECK am I going? What am I doing? Who am I becoming? Mhmm been there and I’m probably there now. Am I wasting God’s potential because I put my gift of hair on the side to raise kids? Am I even doing my kids justice as a mom? Because at the end of most days they have worn me out to the max. Zach and I are in a crossroads of what to do next?! It feels like we have been walking the wilderness into the deep deep woods for the past four years of marriage. But, maybe that’s exactly where God wants us. He wants us to lose everything to find Him and His purpose for us in life.

I’m letting you in on these parts of our life, because I think it’s best to not stuff them in a box, on the top shelf in my closet. I want them out in my living room for our guests to see. So they can see there is hope when you feel like giving up. To understand how to not take life so seriously; no one gets out alive anyway. I encourage you to write down what success means for you. Are you and your family heading in the direction you want to go? In the direction God wants you to go? It’s never too late to do a 180 and turn things around. Maybe God has had you in the wilderness like us. Don't give up hope, wait on Him!

XO Colleen Cashio

 (PS, that's not dirt on Zach's upper lip...it's a mustache he tested out.. Next time you see him, ask him why! + Please look at HJ's face!)

(PS, that's not dirt on Zach's upper lip...it's a mustache he tested out.. Next time you see him, ask him why! + Please look at HJ's face!)

 

* This is our life update some think we’re crazy, we think God has a sense of humor.

“So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God. And at the right time he will lift you up in honor. Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.”
— 1 Peter 5:6-7
“O my people, trust him at all times. Pour out your heart to him, for God is our refuge.”
— Pslams 62:8
“Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all cirumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.”
— 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Begin the Search

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Do you crave adventure or do you seek thrill? Ever wanted to hop in the car and take a drive to places you’ve never been before or places not listed on a map? Towns that are still stuck in the “slow-times” era? {think back to the movie Cars} Finding hip coffee shops, craft beer breweries, or some quirky, off the wall shop? Places where the road is less traveled? Dirt roads that look like they lead to nowhere? I cant wait to share with you this book I found from Roger W. Thompson, “We Stood Upon The Stars.” 

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Because “You have to take the dirt road when you can. Someday it will be a multilane highway”. (pg 22) Where peace and serenity will swallow you up among the freshness of the outdoors.. I crave that adventure in myself. I want to be able to take my family on trips like that badly. Find a nice spot to park the Airstream and unplug from reality. With only the sights and sounds of the wilderness. And probably kids crying and screaming and maybe Colleen saying there’s too many mosquitoes or bugs…lol. But doesn’t that sound like a fairy tale?! Well it doesn’t have to be! We weren’t created for working our butts off to spend our money paying bills and accumulating crap that sits in our garage or storage buildings that we rent. Stop saying “Well when we have enough money saved up my family and I will take that trip” or “buy that RV we have talked about”. YOU WILL NEVER HAVE “ENOUGH” MONEY!! “Work always wants more of your time. It always demands more attention”. (pg149) Quit making excuses as to why you cannot take a trip now. “There’s a long list of justifications. We’re trying to get ahead”. (pg149) Every time you choose an excuse over an adventure you are losing precious family memories. We were created to explore and have adventure. I’m talking about true adventure. Loading up the car/RV/van/bus whatever you have and go searching for a spot to unwind. Those are the places where you can soak up all the beauty that God created for us to enjoy. “We are not meant to be tourists in this life. We are all travelers, like those before and those after… We know we’ve been somewhere special because we are forever different as a result of it”. (pg142) “This land and time are gifts. If we stop long enough, we might hear in the wind the voice of the Creator. We don’t have to search for it…We just have to listen long enough to remember the language”. (pg 143) These National forests and desserts and streams were not made to be labeled on a map. They were made for you to use them. For you to hike them. To fish. To camp. To explore. To make memories. There are so many places that I want to visit. And I hope one day soon my family and I can experience them. These places are where I think we could best get to know, sense, and hear our Creator. After all, He did CREATE them. And He created you, to enjoy them. The sun wasn’t created for just giving us light to work during the day, nor the moon to make it dark so we can sleep. The sun was made so we can venture and explore and see things we have never seen before. The moon- made for seeing constellations and shooting stars and hearing strange animal noises that make you get uncomfy(then realizing it’s your stomach because you forgot to pack extra food while you’re “off the grid”). I have always had these cravings of adventure. I have always wanted to visit every state and see what each has to offer. And of course, I have always wanted to visit every MLB stadium (especially now that I have 2 boys). But just recently I came across a Bible plan on my YouVersion app that caught my attention. It was titled “We Stood Upon Stars”. The photo with a VW van in a remote scenic highway caught my eye. And I am glad I started the plan. Because that eventually led me to buy the book “We Stood Upon Stars: Finding God in Lost Places”. This book hit home with me. I couldn’t put it down. Roger W. Thompson hits the nail on the head when it comes to adventure. He knows how to have a good time. And I can’t help but agree when he says “A campfire is like truth serum”. I can remember telling stories to friends that I would have never told to anyone else, and it was because something about that fire makes you want to open up. It might have dealt with one too many cold ones also, but don’t get off topic. It’s also where I met my wife. Men are made for thrills. Roger has obviously been through one or two in his lifetime. From white-water rafting in a Costco special canoe to the ole Vanagon breaking down here and there. But he also knows how to be close to our Father. I can only imagine what it feels like to be that close with God in a setting as vast as snow-capped mountains overlooking a steady flowing stream. “The Wild is God’s scent. The deeper we travel into it, the more we’ll smell his presence”. (pg211) I know that just being in nature here in Arkansas takes my breath away and I can experience God. My family and I are searching (and hoping) on where our first big adventure will be. “We are all searching for something.. Some searches are only about the search. They reveal something about who we are or who we are meant to be.. We are not made for the cages we’ve erected around ourselves. We are meant for freedom. Where trees and mountaintops point to the stars and where the canyons echo and waters cool and where wind is scrubbed clean by prairie grass. Those are the lost places where we go to find God”. (pg220-221)

Are you searching in the right places?

1 Corinthians 7:23-  “You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of men.”

Of course while reading this book I continued to be hard on myself for living in the town of Heber Springs, AR where we have some of the finest fly-fishing around, on the Little Red River, and not learning how to fly-fish in my 5 years being here. But Roger has ignited a new fire inside me to learn the art and teach my boys. This blog could have gone so many different ways. I could have easily focused on parenting and raising boys, or what men need to feel like they’ve “made it in life”, or how your past shames only makeup who you are right now. Roger goes into detail on many of topics. I encourage each of you to get your hands on the book soon. You won’t regret it!

Cheers,

Zach

How I Took My Spouse For Granted

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Zach + I have a little bit of a different story than most couples starting out. From the time we started dating we were always together. Within 6 months of our relationship we moved to Arkansas + 2 months after that we moved to London for 3 months. We moved back to Arkansas at the one year mark in our relationship. Then our life turned upside down when Zach had brain surgery + wasn’t able to work. When I say we were together 24/7, I literally mean 24/7.  And while that sounds nice being with the person you love ALL the time, it does have its downfalls. I am forever grateful that we’ve always been together, but these are two ways it hurt us.

 

#1 It gave us a false sense that we knew everything about each other.

Which is so far from the truth. We are constantly changing + evolving as a person + as a couple. If we don’t take the time to study our spouse we will miss so much. We can start to compare them to the old- which in a sense is holding them back in life. It’s okay to like the old person, but we need to embrace, love, + support the new one + grow our relationship in the process. Just some examples of how Zach has changed:

-He drinks black coffee now, when it use to be like “do you want some coffee with that sugar?”

-He eats + loves all fruit + veggies. If you ask his parents they’ll tell you he lived off chicken nuggets, skittles, + sopapillas. Funny story; the very first meal I cooked Zach was a turkey burger stuffed with spinach + feta and our bun was a portabella mushroom. And y’all HE never said a word about not liking the food. He ate EVERY single bite! He didn’t tell me till months later that he only ate that food because he liked me :P And now he actually enjoys vegetables HAHA

-He use to be obsessed with sports. To the point he even had an app that was dedicated to just sports rumors. It talked about who was maybe going to trade who ETC.  Recently he went through a pretty drastic season in life + with the help of God + others he removed idols from his life. Come to find out sports had become an idol to Zach. Not saying sports are bad + an idol for everyone, because they aren’t. But for Zach it was. (An idol is something you put before God, we all can have them + they’re normally all different for everyone.) Don’t get me wrong, Zach still loves LSU and all things baseball, but it has drastically changed. He put God first in his life + sports naturally took the back seat. He even told me the other day he hasn’t checked baseball in two weeks, I had to ask him to repeat himself because that is so not Zach. His passions, wants, + dreams have changed throughout the years as well. Luckily, I love all the changes that have been going on with him, but what if I didn’t? If I hold onto the old Zach I’m also holding onto the baggage + keeping him trapped in the past. I’m holding him back from moving forward with God’s purpose + calling for his life. That’s why it is so important to spend time with your spouse, really connect with them, and listen to their heart with an open mind + heart.

#2 I took our marriage for granted.

Since I shared just how much time together we got you might be able to understand why I took it for granted. Once we got married + had kids we were still always together. So why would we need to take extra time to stop + connect? If we know what we are doing 24/7 what is there to connect on? We know everything going on – WRONG. It is even more vital for us to stop + connect. Because always being together gives us a false sense of knowing everything. Yes we may know the facts, but we don’t know what is going on internally + how we feel about certain situations. Zach is always getting onto me because apparently I’m an “assumer”. When many of our arguments happen, Zach usually points out that I assumed one thing or another. Once we stop the cycle of life + get on the same wavelength we argue less. Connecting looks different for everyone, but for us it is super hard to fully connect while our kids are awake. They are in constant need of our attention + talk non-stop. No matter how tired we are, once we get the crazies to sleep, we sneak out of bed + go to the living room to hang out. Even if it’s only for 15 minutes it gives us a chance to connect. It’s not perfect every night. Sometimes our “to-do” list in our head has a louder voice distracting us, but we try to let our hearts connect to have a healthy marriage. Once you + your spouse truly open up about the thoughts racing through your mind, what God has been laying on your heart, or sins you’ve been trying to conquer; that’s when you’re truly “one” as God designed it. If we miss this opportunity, we miss so much more than just extra hang out time. Don’t miss this precious time connecting with your spouse. Learn from my past mistakes, because it took a good 3 years into our marriage for us to finally “get it”. With two young kids, a business, + trying to figure out this thing called life we were being stretched thin. It would have taken way less energy + way easier to skip this step. But trust me if you make it a habit you will put your spouse + relationship in a box that isn’t growing. That is what God created y’all for. He created your marriage to move mountains together.

So start connecting. It’s not too late.

XO Colleen Cashio

 

Wedding Photographer - http://cassiejonesphotography.net

A Purposeful Nudge...

Hey Guys, I am so excited that Zach is publishing his first blog on Sovereign Designs!! He knows I’ve wanted him to do this, but I totally let it be on his timing + when he was ready! Because, if you know Zach + I, you know this is not in our comfort zone what-so-ever! All these words below are his, I just added them to our page + added the pictures, video, etc. He doesn’t want to learn that part of the blog, so I'll take what I can get! Also today is a special day because it’s his birthday! Make sure to tell him happy b-day!

XO Colleen Cashio


Your life’s work is done for a bigger purpose, to fulfill a calling or a dream. And when you manage to find that work- that’s when it starts feeling like play.
— Chip Gaines, Capital Gaines page 128

Ever felt like you’re in a rut in life and nothing will ever change? Your job, issues, finances, etc? Yea.. So have Colleen and I. But lately things have been slowly coming together- or so we think. It seems that every time we turn around we are having a new crazy dream about what we could do in life. Which place to move to or which opportunity to pursue. And each time we end up focusing on this one certain idea that has been lingering in our minds. Each time we focus on this idea I think about a devotional I read recently. It stated that each couple in marriage has a God-given calling. Meaning, each couple is called by God to do His will together. Whether that is serving in a marriage ministry, kids ministry, preparing food, business, etc. I think about how cool it would be for Colleen and I to work together each and every day. Sure, she can get on my nerves at times. But that’s why I love her, right?!? I know God has given each marriage that special calling, but not every partner is comfortable pursuing that calling. Because they either have a great career already or believe the saying “don’t mix business with pleasure” all too well. God says you can mix business and pleasure. And when I think about a couple that mixes business and pleasure I instantly think about Chip and Joanna Gaines. You know, from HGTV. And recently I have been reading Chip’s book “Capital Gaines”. It is such a great read and I encourage all of you to read it. You will not only get a hurting in your side from Chip and his jokes and his life stories, but you will also get a jolt in you to go chase after your passions and dreams. Like Chip says, too many people focus on climbing the corporate ladder too much and when they get to the end most ask themselves this one question, ‘Who did my life have an impact on?’. And when I hear that it makes me not only want to pursue my passions and goals, but to help others in life. You best believe that he and Joanna know what chasing your passions and goals are like. At the end of the book Chip has you write down your passions. Once you do that he asks you to write why these passions move you and what you are going to do to further pursue them. Reading this book could not have come at a better time for a Colleen and I because we were in the middle of a rut (which has lasted for quite some time now). I started this book and read it slowly and even stopped all together and started a new book. But something deep inside (more than likely a nudging from God) made me pick it back up and finish it. And after that week of reading I could not have been happier. Through all of this I hope that you too can get a nudging to chase after your passions and dreams and find your calling from God. 

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Perhaps you can’t quit your day job, and I understand that. But never, ever quit your day dream.
— Chip, Capital Gaines page 128

What God kept telling Colleen and I through this time was the word ‘Complacency’ or ‘Complacent’. We took it as He was not wanting us to conform and grow complacent in our daily lives. He has much bigger plans for us in life than to go about our daily lives the same way- same routine. Wake up, work, sleep. God didn’t design man nor woman to live to work. He gave us abilities and skills to help his Kingdom. We were all created to work for the Lord. And I don’t think that necessarily has to be directly working with a church or an organization. It just means actively showing and displaying God’s greatness through your work and through you. And when I think of using my God-given abilities to find my purpose the song “Lift You Up” from Ryan Stevenson comes to mind. The lyrics say that he has always been a dreamer and a soul seeker. He always felt like his life was meant for something much deeper- something that he could have possibly never imagined. God has plans to make your life mean so much more. He lays out plans for all of us. But some of us- including me- fail to follow or see them. But fortunately there are other plans for all of us that will still make an impact for His kingdom. We just have to be willing to follow. So will you?

Cheers,

Zach

PS. If you’re wondering why I am reading Chip’s book on Lake Waco stay tuned for my next blog post!

…a dreamer- a soul seeker, I knew my life was meant for something deeper..
— Lift You Up, by Ryan Stevenson
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Zachary Cashio

Bearded man, who has a beautiful wife, 2 rambunctious little boys, and one furry spoiled girl. He loves spending time with family whether that be hiking, fishing, playing baseball, or whatever else can be done outdoors. He spends most of his time renovating their 1972 Airstream. He dreams with his wife of traveling in the Airstream and exploring the unseen places that God has created for us to see!

3 Indoor Activities to Survive the Winter

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The winter months can be long + hard when you’re a parent of littles. In our household if we have a choice between playing inside + playing outside we always choose outside, but the winter cramps our style. This was my first winter with two kids two + under and its been challenging to say the least. We still try to bundle up as much as possible to keep our sanity + a partially clean house to have outdoor time. But on the days its just way to cold we have a few favorite toys I wanted to share. If I’m honest, these toys are used year-round, I just feel like they get used more in the cold winter months + hot summer days. Our normal days consist of staying in our jammies a little too long, taking baths as entertainment or distraction from boredom, + making way too many baked goods. And unfortunately, too many movies. Below I will show pictures + describe a few of our favorite toys with links to purchase! 

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#1 AIRFORT

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So Ezra is my child that loves to hide; and unfortunately not the hide + seek where moms gets a tiny break in-between each hide. He wants you where he is + engaged with him at all times. I’m really not complaining though, I love this age + I'm sad its passing by so quickly. But back to hide + seek…Everyday, day after day, we would have to go hide under the covers in our bed while he played. He could entertain himself for an hour straight (with mom + baby under there of course). It would always get super hot, because we weren’t allowed to have any outdoor(light and air exposure) cracks, per Ezra’s request. Also I don’t have the best posture- so crouching under the covers killed my back + neck. When I came across this on Instagram I immediately texted my husband + asked if it was ok if I got myself an early birthday gift. Of course he said yes having no idea I meant another toy for the kids. This fort is the best thing ever! I feel like this needs to be in every kids playroom! It comes in a tiny bag, which is great for storing when not in use. All you need to purchase separately is a box fan. You hook the fan to the fort + boom your kid’s imagination takes it from there. I love it, because there is plenty of headroom + it’s constantly breezy from the fan. Don’t worry, there’s a mesh guard so the kids don’t get any ideas about playing with the fan- a fear of mine. It is super easy to access in + out. Even our dog Luna has figured out how to come in + out.

#2 KINETIC SAND

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Ezra loves playing in our sand pit outside, but who wants a sandpit in your house?! This is the coolest thing ever. Zach joked + asked if we could buy enough sand for our outdoor sandpit. The sand doesn’t stick to anything but itself. Yes, you heard that correctly. THE SAND ONLY STICKS TO ITSELF. And all the mommas said AMEN! In these pictures we have two packets of Kinetic Sand + a plastic storage bin to keep it (free of dog hair). We have mini heavy machinery equipment to play in + it fits perfectly in our container. Perfect for mom, because I don’t find bits + pieces all over our house. Who doesn’t love organized chaos?! Ezra can build things in the sand pit + knock it over with his trucks for what feels like forever in toddler life. 

#3 HOMEMADE PLAYDOUGH

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What kid doesn’t love to play with playdough? I try to be as intentional as I can on what products my kids play with + if I can make a healthier alternative I try! Plus Ezra loves helping me do any tasks, so this is a win-win in his book. Do we slack sometimes + play with name brand playdough..well yea, but it is nice to make our own sometimes! 

RECIPE:

1 CUP Flour

1/3 CUP Salt

2 TEASPOONS Cream of Tarter

1 CUP Water

1 TABLESPOON Vegetable Oil

Drops of any food coloring

 

INSTRUCTIONS:

In small saucepan, pour the flour, salt, + cream of tarter.

Add the water + veggie oil

Turn burner on medium-low + stir

Once its combined together, add food coloring

Keep stirring for 30 seconds to 2 minutes, depending on the heat of your stove.

Stir until the texture of the dough comes off the spoon

Let cool on parchment paper

Side Note: You do each color play dough separate. I don't suggest making a big patch then splitting it up + putting food coloring. When you cook each color it blends nicely through out the saucepan

A Peak Into Our Playroom

Our original plans for this room was a nursery for Ezra. But kids have a way of making you do everything you said you would not do. Both kids co-sleep, so our nursery quickly turned into a playroom. I love the boys playroom though. We have way too many toys, I'll admit. But, somehow they all get played with. In this post I'll address some of our must haves in our playroom.

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#1 A Chalk Board

We have a wall that’s behind a sliding door that has made the perfect chalkboard wall. Ezra loves drawing on it + really try’s to stretch Zach + I's artist creativity. Which is really none. I have been successful with Elephant heads. Which is good, because that’s our obsession at the moment. I used this chalkboard paint + painted the wall. Then got chalk + an eraser! Easy Peasy!

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#2 A Kitchen Set

This was Ezra's gift one Christmas + I love it! Im a sucker for all things wood. I found this one on Amazon + got all the accessories to go along with it. Ezra loves to cook in his kitchen, because he is use to helping mom in the real kitchen.

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#3 A Tool Building Table

Again, all things wood I am a sucker for + this is no different. I love this for little boys, because he gets to feel like he is building like DaDa does. It’s also nice that the colors match each piece of tools so that he understands the screwdriver goes with the screws, etc. 

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#4 Drum Set

They say "don’t force your kids to do things", but I truly believe about introducing our kids to everything (sports, instruments, etc) and letting them figure out if they like it or not. Everyone thought I was crazy for wanting my toddler to have a drum set because obviously that would be a lot of commotion. But I love it. I love watching him play even if he has no idea what he's playing. I love seeing his imagination + if it turns into something one day that’s great. If he isn’t musically inclined, that’s fine too! I just prefer to expose them at a young age! Zach + I both wish we would have learned/stuck with playing an instrument. 

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#5 A Kid Sized Table

This wooden table is a centerpiece in our playroom. We color, stamp, eat, + just about anything else on this table! I love wooden tables so this was a must for us! I love homemaking pizza for our lunch + in the pictures below you will see Ezra enjoying pizza.

If you want my recipe for homemade pizza comment your email below + subscribe! 

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If you love that sign as much as I do, you should check out our friend's website www.darkthreatfab.com + request a custom order!

XO Colleen Cashio

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Hello, World!

Walking Through Life

I asked a friend how she would describe life groups + this was her response. "To learn more about our God and how to serve Him while learning to serve each other; while growing our faith, friendships and families. To grow - in turn - our communities with the ultimate vision of growing and being a part of God's Kingdom." Life groups are our church's verison of Sunday school that happens all throughout the week. There's women's, men's, co-ed, kids, marriage, etc groups. There is a group for everyone and anyone. They happen in the morning, mid day and evening. All different days of the week. There really isn't an excuse that can excuse you from not being able to make it to one group. It's in these groups that you will find 'your tribe'. 

Different seasons can be hard in life, but luckily I found my tribe in life groups. I try to walk with some of these girls weekly. We keep each other in check + walk through all seasons of life together. Recently Zach + I went through a patch in our marriage that required the help of our God given friends. They came into our storm cloud and stayed with us pointing us to more of Jesus + less of us. They fought for us until our dust settled. Do you have friends like that? Ones that will drop what they are doing + help you? Let me back up, Zach and I moved to Heber Springs around 5/6 years ago. We immediately got planted into our church and dove into 'lifegroups'. It is in those groups that we met our forever friends. 

I've been blessed to make friends that have walked with me on my best days and my worst days. They are always looking to help. What I love about these friends is they always see the best in me. They aren't afraid to tell me how it is + point me to the Word of God. They're slow to give me ‘their’ advice but fast to send me scriptures. 

Everyone needs friends like this.

One statement my dad use to preach to me in high school was... “You are who you hang out with”. I remember rolling my eyes every time he told me. Obviously he was trying to encourage me to have good people surrounding me, but as a teenager all you hear is “you don’t accept my friends”. Now as an adult, I totally get what he means – don’t tell him you read this on my blog though :P When we surround ourselves with positive people we have positive attitudes; + visa versa.

I hear so many people tell me that it is really hard to make genuine friends. I agree with that, it is really hard in today's world of social media to make true friends who have your back + don't want to just find out the dirt on you. Social media can make us feel like we have 'many' friends, but the friends that really count are the ones we can run to anytime of the day or night with no judgement. Look for those friends. Relationships grow from time spent together. Put yourself out there...take a risk! Join that group you've been on the fence about. If for some reason you join a group, but you don't fit perfectly "crawfish your way out" (imagine a crawfish backing out of a crawfish hole). That's how our pastor explains how easy it is to get out of one group to find the group that is for YOU. In those groups is where you will find your tribe.

XO Colleen Cashio

Click this link to see what life groups are in your area, make sure to click what campus you are attending! https://newlifechurchar.infellowship.com/GroupSearch

Choose to encourage yourself or life will overwhelm you.

Long story short, when Moses had his staff in the air they were winning the battle. When his staff fell they would start to lose. Moses didn't have enough strength on his own to keep his arms up that long, so his two friends came next to him in battle to help him hold his arms up. They succeeded because they stuck together. We need friends to help us get through life.-     

"As long as Moses held up the staff in his hand, the Israelites had the advantage. But whenever he dropped his hand, the Amalekites gained the advantage. Moses' arms soon became so tired he could no longer hold them up. So Aaron and Hur found a stone for him to sit on. Then they stood on each side of Moses, holding up his hands. So his hands held steady until sunset." Exodus 17:11-12

"Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone? A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken." Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

“So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing.”1 Thessalonians 5:11 NLT

Hello, World!

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Rope of Hope

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Have you ever felt like you're doing your best to live for God, but you still keep falling short? Instead of making every life decision for myself, I do my best to give the reigns up to God + let Him be in full control. Sometimes though I don't get the answers when + how I need them and my rope of hope unravels. I feel like I'm at a magic show where the magician has the plates spinning on the sticks. He runs back and forth spinning each plate to keep them balanced so it doesn't crash + burn.

That's how my life feels right now. I am that magician running hopelessly back and forth spinning every plate waiting on God to show up + show out. Some plates come and go fast. He answers them in a timely manner. Sometimes He leaves a plate going round + round for what seems like a lifetime. I get so tired + frustrated calling out to Him to rescue me from exhaustion that comes with spinning the plate.

I go to Him with...

WHY haven't you fixed this?

WHY isn't this working out?

WHAT am I doing wrong?

WHY does it feel like you're punishing me?

WHAT did I do?

 

And then these thoughts pour into my mind..

Add the word (MAYBE) before each sentence…

-God didn't plan for me to run back + forth twisting each stick.

-He expected me to bring Him my situation.. leave it at the cross + walk away. 

-He expects me not to pick it back up.

-He is waiting till my plate crashes to come into the situation to put the pieces back together. 

-That’s the only way I can see the magnitude of His glory.

-I don't see the extent of work He's been doing behind the scenes.

-I don't see the hearts He's changing in the process

-I don't see Him growing another person in faith while I'm on hold.

-I don't trust.

-I get tunnel vision.

-This big situation to me is a small piece to the puzzle I haven't finished yet.

-I'm not prepared for the next step. 

-I need to seek Him more + harder than ever before

-How something should work out, won't work out.

-I stepped ahead. I went on my own path + not God’s.

-I walked out of the shield of His protection + have to face the consequences.

-This will happen. Or it won't.

MAYBE... all I need to do is sit down, shut up, + wait. [with a joyful heart]

 

You might hit a dead end. Your path may be very curvy + rugged. BUT...

Your story is beautiful. It may be broken or unwritten.

But God wants you to be beautifully broken so He can restore you with knowledge.

 

Instead of dwelling on the things that are going wrong, it helps to write down or think of all the things that are going right in your life. Family, health, opportunities, friends, fresh air…the list goes on.

 

 

Insert“Your Name”before each story on the sentences below

Colleen’s story will impact people.

Colleen’s story will have a beautiful ending no matter what you have or are going through

Colleen’s story will matter in the long run

 

Don't hide your brokenness or weakness. Expose them to God’s light. Let Him shine on you. Bask in His presence. Let Him heal you. Let Him use you for His glory.

 

Sometimes on our darkest days we feel His presence the most.

Sometimes on our brightest days His presence seems afar. 

 

Until that day comes, hold on + trust.

 

This was an excerpt from my Jesus Calling devotional that I read after I wrote this + I wanted to share! If you don't have a copy of this book I HIGHLY recommend it! I wrote this post lying in bed unable to sleep January 10th... Then when I woke this was my reading for January 11...I felt like God wrote this exact passage for me. This is my favorite devotional book I have ever owned!

XO Colleen Cashio

""January 11--

TRUST ME by relinquishing control into My hands. Let go, and recognize that I am God. This is My world: I made it and control it. Yours is a responsive part in the litany of Love. I search among My children for receptivity to Me. Guard well this gift that I have planted in your heart. Nurture it with the Light of My Presence.

When you bring Me prayer requests, lay out your concerns before Me. Speak to Me candidly; pour out your heart. Then thank Me for the answers that I have set into motion long before you can discern results. When your requests come to mind again, continue to thank Me for the answers that are on the way. If you keep on stating your concerns to Me, you will live in a state of tension. When you thank Me for how I am answering your prayers, your mind-set becomes much more positive. Thankful prayers keep your focus on My Presence and My promises.""

Hello, World!

 

"How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog-it's here a little while, then it's gone." James 4:14

"Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart." Colossians 4:2

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“God will not pour fresh, creative ideas and blessings into old attitudes.”
— Joel Osteen

4 Ways To Encourage Your Husband

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Are you a natural cheerleader? I was a cheerleader in middle + high school… but when it comes to the cheerleading of others, that’s one of my downfalls. Being someone's cheerleader does not come naturally for me. I veer more to the realist side in life, which can be good in some areas. Other times it can be bad, especially in the avenue of cheering on my husband. If he comes to me with a dream, the human part of me easily crushes that dream because I point out negatives. One of my goals for 2018 is working towards being a better motivator in the relationships around me, especially my husband. Let's be honest. We need more positive people in the world. There are already too many ‘Negative Natalie’s’. At least that’s what my husband calls me when I crush his dreams. Here are some practical ways I am trying to plant seeds of encouragement in my husband; I hope they help you too.

1.   Point out all the things he is doing right - I'm guilty of finding the flaws + making them WAY bigger than they are. Which in turn sends Zach into a downward spiral of feeling worthless + unloved.

2.   Help guide him to the things he's good at - instead of looking for his faults. Look for his strengths + build those up. We all have downfalls in some areas, instead of dwelling on those help build each other up

3.   Make him feel wanted – Give eye contact when talking even if you are juggling a million things; laundry, dinner, kids. Getting frustrated when his story is going on to long + you have stuff to do is a sure way to get him to shut down. Men already don’t like to talk + open up as it is, so if he wants to talk… LISTEN + TALK

4.   Verbal reassurance but also physical reassurance- I'm not the best at letting my husband lead, but God designed marriage for the husband to be the leader. I trust God didn't make a mistake in this, so I have to trust my husband to take charge + lead our family. It can be hard taking a step back for someone who is a "fix it" person (see a problem, fix it - that's me) but when I see Zach actively seeking God + reading His word I have ease letting go of the reins. It wasn't always that way. Zach didn't always seek God wholeheartedly. He took his own path, which he will explain in his very first post coming soon. 

What gave me inspiration to write this post is that Zach will be sharing part of his testimony very soon. I am learning how to be positive + help encourage him to share his story. Sharing things close + personal to us can be difficult, but we really believe that stuff happens in our lives so we can help others. It’s hard to help people if you haven’t been in their shoes before. It’s not impossible, but it is easier if you have some past experience. I am so proud of the man Zach is becoming, + I have no doubt God is going to do amazing work through him.

 

XO Colleen Cashio

Hello, World!

"The LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” Genesis 2:18

"A man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh...Let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband." Ephesians 5:31,33

The Power of a Praying® Wife
By Stormie Omartian

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New Year New You, Right?

How many times at the end of each year have you seen this exact statement, “New year, New you”, posted? How do you wake up one morning and say, “ok today is the new me”? Our world try's to sell us on get rich quick schemes, fad diets, & magic pills. At some point we all fall into one of those traps. 

I wish it were as simple as, in the morning I'm going to wake up with a killer bod or wake up with a million bucks. Life just doesn't work that way. 

It is hard work to change. 

It is a daily struggle. 

It is making the right choices minute after minute. 

As we all know there is no magic pill to have a great body. Sure there are some pills & some extreme diets that will get you the result you want. But guess what? After you stop that extreme diet, you gain that weight back plus some. At least that's how it always worked for me. I successfully spent my late teen years wrecking my metabolism trying to have my cake + eat it too.

Change doesn't work unless we evolve it into our lifestyle. 

Just like skincare. If you want amazing skin, but treat your face like crap and don't take your makeup off at night + don't use a good moisturizer, you will pay for it with wrinkles later on. I could go on + on. Keeping in mind I have been in every one of those scenarios. Everything I've touched on is part of our superficial being. The same goes for my spiritual life though. 

The more good I put in, the more good I see come out.

If I want a relationship with Jesus I have to put in the work + show up. He's always there waiting on me. I just tend to get lazy + get in the "do it myself" mentality. Which for me personally never pans out. I always regret going ahead of Jesus + not letting him work. The key to change is a relationship with Jesus.

Our self will + determination is nothing compared to God’s. Our determination will work for the time being, but if you are seeking true forever change you need help. We cannot do it alone. We can't stay on track living a healthy lifestyle, living with a pure mind, or finding joy in every situation by ourselves. We need help. We need a Savior. 

Have you made a list for 2018 with every intention of checking it off? I started to, but then I feared I would slack and not finish checking off my list. Which in return would make me feel like a failure + put me in a rut. As I walked away from the list, I decided to return to it and at the end of each bullet-point put (with the help of Jesus).

I challenge you to make a list for 2018 + at the end of each sentence write..[With the help of Jesus.]

If you're having a hard time coming up with a list here's an example, mine are in the () : 

Area of growth you want to see in your marriage, with the help of Jesus

(Putting each other first before kids)

Area of growth you want to see in you as a mom, with the help of Jesus

(Always finding thankfulness in the days you want to pull out your hair)

•Area of growth you want to see in friendships around you, with the help of Jesus 

(Meeting + be present in the good + bad times)

Area of growth you want to see as a family, with the help of Jesus.

(Family game night + consistent family bible time)

•Area of growth you want to see in the health department

(Homemaking more + less chemicals)

•Area of growth you want to see in your service of others

(Baking cookies for local organizations + delivering them with the kids.)

Area of growth you want to see in yourself spiritually

(Being more intentional about praying scripture out loud over my kids + husband

At the end of the year reflect on what you wrote. You'll be amazed at what came to fruition + what didn't. I bet you'll have disappointments along the way.

Times where you come up short

Where you don't know how you'll finish

I've learned too many times I can't live on my own. But with Jesus, all things are possible. If something doesn't pan out the way I intended it to, I know it's because I am not seeing the whole picture. I'm not seeing what God is protecting me from. I'm not seeing what He is holding back now, so he can set me up for something far better than what I picked out. If you believe God works out all things for good, you'll have the faith that his "yes" "no" or "not right now" is for a reason. And you'll be thankful if you stick around to find out His ending.

During my quiet time the word "Restoration" came to mind. God started speaking to me telling me that this was my word for 2018. I wrote some stuff down in my journal thinking what that word could mean for me + my family, but I can't wait to find out what God intends it to mean.

XO Colleen Cashio

"And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them" Romans 8:28 NLT

"Jesus looked at them intently and said, "Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But with God everything is possible." Matthew 19:26 NLT

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"And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them" Romans 8:28 NLT

"Jesus looked at them intently and said, "Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But with God everything is possible." Matthew 19:26 NLT

Hello, World!

Mary, did you know?

‘Mary did you know’ is a popular Christmas song. Listen above. But honestly, can you imagine? You’re a virgin, but now an angel tells you you are pregnant. Not just pregnant, but you will give birth to the most important person to walk the earth. Can you imagine what she went through mentally? The stares + awful insults alone. Fear that Joseph would leave her, because back then what guy would stick around. She didn’t tell the angel “I actually have my own plans of life going on right now, + this just doesn’t fit in.” “Can you take this away from me?” I’ve tried to put myself in her shoes to have a glimpse of what her thoughts or actions were like. I can’t, its impossible.

My life has been a lot of unknowns + unplanned paths, but I’ve had freewill to make choices that lead me to paths. Mary however was innocent. I knew who my doctor would be + the hospital I would deliver in. Mary had no clue. And if she did make plans they got ruined because they had to travel to Bethlehem for a census. She was in Nazareth, which was around 70 miles away. Just to put that in perspective. If I walked from Heber Springs to Little Rock its 63 miles…Can you imagine walking to Little Rock?! Ladies can you imagine being in the homestretch of your pregnancy + know you have to travel that far? No big deal if cars were around, but they weren’t. Ezra has this cute Christmas book called “One Small Donkey” by Dandi Daley Mackall. In the beginning the book states that no one knows for sure if she walked or rode on a donkey, but some assume she rode on a donkey. The story acts as if she did ride on a donkey. This donkey was hoping he could be important like the big, strong stallions. Little does he know how important his job was; the significance of whom he was carrying. So if this is true that Mary had the ‘luxury’ of riding on a donkey + not walking the whole way, can you imagine that bumpy ride? Riding a horse for any amount of time can make your bottom sore. Let alone being at the end of your pregnancy. Being pregnant you are already sore down there with no help from riding a donkey. And if she walked the whole way she took “walk that baby out” to a whole new level. I wish I could read her journal from back then – “ painful Braxton-Hicks contractions the whole way”. Just kidding, she probably didn’t complain. I would have complained the whole way. Honestly I would have probably tried to talk my way out of even going on the trip. But she did it. Now she’s in Bethlehem + there’s no hotels. Oh I would have been yelling from the rooftops until someone felt bad enough and let me sleep in their bed.  Also cue the questioning to God – “Why did you do this to me? Don’t you see I am pregnant with YOUR Son that I didn’t ask for?!” Not Mary, I need some grace + faithfulness lessons from her.

Now she’s in a smelly, dingy, dark stable with nowhere to put her newborn. I was in a hospital with the comfort of air control, the choice of medicine, the safety of doctors + tools. I had choices, Mary did not.

Mary did you know exactly who your son would be-

What he would achieve-

What his purpose was-

Now as a mom I can imagine some of those thoughts. I often think about whom my kids will grow up to be. Who they will marry? Will they follow God’s path for themselves? Will they change hearts for God? Luckily I have open communication with God + have the pleasure of putting my prayer requests at the cross.

But can you imagine what her prayers would have been like?

Her Son was the Messiah. She had no idea what his birth would bring. She had no idea about his death + what his death would mean. People loved or hated him. Wanted to worship him or kill him. There was no in-between. Can you imagine the constant fear she was in? I truly can’t fathom. I would want my kids to live in a cave.

If you are feeling lonely this holiday season you aren’t alone. They say holiday season, even though it’s suppose to be the most joyful time of the year, can actually be the worst for some. Death of family members or broken families. Guilt. Shame. Regret. The list goes on.

The world tells us how many gifts we are to give, how much Santa is supposed to bring our kids, + it is never enough. Each year the list grows + the meaning of Christmas shrinks. They tell you, you’ll never have enough money, enough time, or enough joy.

I just want you to remember…Jesus is ENOUGH. We will never need another gift outside of him! The latest, hottest gift will never trump Jesus.

This holiday season your kids won't remember:

The gifts you got or didn't get them

The food you cooked or didn't cook

If your house was clean or unclean

But, they will remember the mood you're in + how you made them feel. So don't sweat the small stuff, just be joyful + give love.

JESUS was + is our gift. He is a gift that keeps giving.

Happy Birthday, Jesus! Our favorite way to explain this to our kids is making Jesus a birthday cake. We sing happy birthday to Jesus + Ezra blows the candles out. It’s my favorite tradition.

XO Colleen Cashio

"You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus." Luke 1:31 NLT

"For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." Isaiah 9:6 NLT

 

I linked the book I referred to about the donkey – cute kids book

+ our favorite Christmas movie explaining Saint Nicholas.

VeggieTales: St. Nicholas: A Story of Joyful Giving
Starring Phil Vischer, Mike Nawrocki, Lisa Vischer, Gigi Abraham

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