A Letter to God..

Lately, Ezra has been talking about God & Jesus a lot. We really try to cultivate a lifestyle with Him in the center. “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” -Proverbs 22:6. Throughout the day God is mentioned, we let Ezra lead in prayer at night, etc. Just about every night it is the same, somewhere along these lines… 

“God help my bumpy.

God help momma.

God help dada, sissy, baby, grandy, paw paw and poofy.

God help my aunt Chris.

God help my dinosaur.

God help Ezra.

God help my Dino noodles.

God help the baby deer.

God take the monsters away”. Ezra says his peace then goes to sleep, well after asking for water 4 more times. lol

toddler mom and me fashion lifestyle blog

But tonight he wanted God. He kept saying “I need God here” “I need Him in our Airstream.” We asked him, “Well where is God?” He then said, “in my heart”. We said “Exactly He’s in your heart, so that means He is always with you”. Then he felt everyones chest in the bed to make sure Jesus + God were present in everyone’s hearts. He was satisfied and went to sleep.

As we laid there, I totally understood what he was yearning for, because I yearn for the same thing. I need to hear God, I need to know that He is right here with me. Most days I'm too busy to feel His presence. Sometimes I need to hear from Him in that exact moment & all I hear are crickets. But, I have to lay my hand on my chest & feel my heart beating. Then I know that He is right here with me always. I have to trust Him in these quiet seasons that He hasn’t left, that He hasn’t jumped shipped. But, just like my toddler I have to call out to God + have peace that He’s here and drift off to sleep. It’s amazing the lessons our kids are always teaching us. Then I read my devotional tonight + it said this..

“Receive My Peace. It is My continual gift to you. The best way to receive this gift is to sit quietly in My Presence, trusting Me in every area of your life. Quietness and trust accomplish far more than you can imagine: not only in you, but also on earth and in heaven. When you trust Me in a given area, you release that problem or person into My care.

Spending time alone with Me can be a difficult discipline because it goes against the activity addiction of this age. You may appear to be doing nothing, but actually you are participating in battle going on within spiritual realms. You are waging war- not with the weapons of the world, but with heavenly weapons, which have divine power to demolish strong-holds. Living close to Me is a sure defense against evil.” Jesus Calling Devo

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toddler boy fashion overalls

I wanted to share what I journaled tonight writing to God. Maybe you’re going through a similar season & this prayer can work for you too. I never thought I’d be sharing what I wrote in my journal, but here it goes…

“What’s up God,

Long time no talk. I feel like I’ve been going through the motions lately. Rushing from one thing to the next, spending way too much time chasing after things on my to do list. God, am I chasing something that isn’t meant to be chased? Am I taking some else’s dream + path and running with it? God, I want what you have for ME. I don’t want what you have for someone else. Strip me of desires that aren’t Your will. Fill me with dreams & desires that are from You. God, I want the best in life, but I only want it if you’re giving it to me. Thank you for giving me the ability to dream. Help mold my dreams into your dreams. I don’t mind the work, but I need to know I’m running the race You have for me. I need to know I’m going in the right direction. I’m tired of chasing this dream alone. Go ahead of me, if this is my flesh & not your desire close the door completely. If this is just the enemy trying to stir chaos because it is your will for my life, calm the chaos. I want to follow your steps. I want to hear your voice. Help me to not be cluttered with worldly things. Help me to have a clear heart & open mind. Reveal to us your next phase for us. I’m lost without you. I need you. I love you.

In Jesus’ Name,

Amen. “

XO Colleen


Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” John 14:27 ESV


Thanks Sydney for these amazing family pictures, ill cherish them forever! Click HERE to go to her page!


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

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!

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

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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How 15 minutes saved our marriage...

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Marriage isn’t easy. As you may already know. Zach + I went through a rough season of marriage, the kind where it’s broken + dry. Maybe you’ve been there, you are there, or think you’ll never be there. I was 20 when we married + thought those dry seasons were only for “older married people”... Boy was I wrong! By nature, I am a lazy person. If I want something I have to work for it. It normally doesn’t just come naturally. I was so use to Zach + I’s relationship that I became lazy + comfortable. For our six-month wedding anniversary we found out I was pregnant. Before then we were involved in a marriage life group + working on our marriage. But honestly, what is there to work on being 6 months into something that you plan to be in for 60 plus years? Even though we dated 2 years prior to being married + had gone through pre-marriage counseling, we still didn’t have a great foundation for marriage. We were both naïve, immature + brought some past baggage into our relationship. We thought we had it all figured out + even though we learned great things going through marriage ministry life groups, we never diligently applied them to our lives. That’s a huge thing I’ve learned so far in this journey. You can learn everything under the moon, but if you don’t apply the principles it’s just wasted knowledge. Just an example I remember learning about, but thought, “yea, ok whatever”. A women once told us, “always take care of yourself for your spouse, never stop trying to impress your spouse”, “care how you look, don’t always be in super comfy clothes”. Back to my laziness; I was so comfortable with Zach that I was always in “comfy” clothes, no makeup, + buns. And this was before I had the “mom” excuse. LOL. Now don’t get me wrong, you want to feel 110% comfortable in your skin + your spouse should always love you on your ugliest days. But ladies, its nice to dress up for your man + feel good about yourself. Staying home now can be a struggle for me, because it’s always easy to just stay in lounge outfits. Which, if you see me 7 out of 10 times I am in workout clothes (even though I didn’t workout ha). But I am chasing around a toddler + a baby, so I need stretchy clothes. On the days I spend 5 minutes throwing on basic makeup I feel best about myself.

So we got caught in the day-to-day routine + put our marriage on the back burner. We let our to-do lists grow bigger than our marriage. Work, small kids, + lack of sleep will do that to anyone. Until Ezra was 17-18 months he woke every 1-2 hours to nurse. Not kidding at all! Not because the kid was hungry.. Just for comfort. So glad that season is behind me because it was a draining season. By the time Ezra was 2 we had left him maybe 4 different times ranging in 30 min – 3 hours. I’m that mom that doesn’t like to be away from her babies! Once our marriage went through a break it or make it moment, we had to regroup + figure something out. We realized we got so involved with the day-to-day hustle we really never had alone time. Kids wake up early + by the time bedtime came we all passed out at the same time. So we decided to implement a new routine in our day.

No matter how tired we were, after our kids went to sleep we would sneak out of bed + spend at least 15 minutes alone with each other.

Another thing for Zach + I is that both kids are in bed with us. While that is highly controversial for some, it works for us. When some say they don’t know how you have a sexual relationship with your spouse – our answer is; “Somehow Harvey got here unplanned”. We love them being in our bed and wouldn’t trade it for the world. They are only so little so long, but I totally understand it doesn’t work for everyone. Before kids I said I wasn’t going to be ‘one of those weird people who let their kids sleep with them’. Ha! Now look at me, I ate my words. Our downfall wasn’t so much that our kids are in our bed, but it's that Ezra takes 30 minutes in bed tossing + turning before going asleep. Before we knew it we fell asleep from exhaustion. Once we got into habit of making ourselves stay awake until they fell asleep, it came natural. We snuck out of bed + went to the living room. At first we set a 15-minute timer on our phone because we were so tired. We pushed through because we knew how this would play a key part into getting our marriage back on track.

It is vital to connect with your spouse!

Yes, that means husbands totally connect with your wife, engage in what she’s talking to you about. Ask questions! And wives, stop + pay attention to your spouse. Give him all of you not 25%.

Stop thinking about everything that happened today or didn’t happen.

Stop making your to-do list for tomorrow.

Stop thinking about the dirty dishes or piles of laundry.

If all else fails + you’re too tired to function, just cuddle. Touch speaks as loud as words sometimes. I soon realized that not having your kids Velcro-ed to you + spending true alone time was nice. REALLY nice! If you’re having a hard time coming up with stuff to talk about, make it fun… Pull out a board game, Google the newlywed game + pick questions to ask each other. We noticed we went from having a hard time filling those 15 minutes to making ourselves go to bed after 2 hours because we would be zombies the next day. You’ll be amazed at how energized you feel after you connect with your spouse.

--Unmarried readers, stop here –

Another thing you can put on the list is making love. Yes, I said it. That is a great way to connect with your spouse. Who cares if you know its planned + not spontaneous all the time. Most women plan the days they wash their hair, so why can’t we plan on making love? Life gets chaotic and if you get stuck in the motion sex will be on the back burner. As this is true for most women, it isn’t for men. God created this amazing gift for marriage, now go enjoy!

This is what truly has saved our marriage. Stopping the day-to-day cycle + enjoying each other’s company. It’s not rocket science + we aren’t the first to discover this, but its amazing what will happen when you start planting seeds in your marriage. It’s easy to get into a rut. It’s not how long you stay in it, it’s all about how you recover + rebuild afterwards. You need your spouse + your spouse needs you. We look forward to ending our day together now, no matter how tired we may be. And lets face it the grass is never greener on the other side, its greener where you water it.

XO Colleen Cashio

“This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one. Since they are no longer two but one, let no one split apart what God has joined together.” Mark 10:7-9 NLT

"So again I say, each man must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband." Ephesians 5:33 NLT

 "In his kindness God called you to share in his eternal glory by means of Christ Jesus. So after you have suffered a little while, he will restore, support, and strengthen you, and he will place you on a firm foundation." 1 Peter 5:10 NLT

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Oh, Christmas Tree

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Our Christmas tree this year is unlike any we've had before. Our family tradition is to go to this cute little farm + have one cut down. But this year after Thanksgiving we decided to go into the woods and let Ezra pick one for us. He picked this small, cute, round ‘Charlie Brown’ cedar. It was so small we thought it would be perfect for his playroom. When we got home + put it in our living room we knew it was going to be our main tree. When Zach and I were engaged + newly married we always got 9 foot trees. Then last year we decided to get a smaller one around 6 feet and realized that was our new favorite height. As I look at our 3’ tree the word humble comes to mind. This past year God has humbled us. For the best; He has stripped things from our life + shown us what life really means. We have been pressed on all sides of our life, but we have persevered. We have had some really high mountaintops + really low valleys.

I was talking to a friend a while ago and I was explaining how I feel like God is taking everything out of my life that I put over him or rely on more than Him. I am a visual learner. I have to act things out to learn; sometimes I think this can be a downfall for me. Just some examples of things that have been removed to help God mold me into the person He wants me to be. Keep in mind this is for me, not everyone. I do not think I am better than anyone because I am trying to remove these from my life. This is just something I was putting in a higher place than God. Each person may have something different than me. My sins might not be a sin for you. Coffee; I rely on that hot liquid gold to wake me up and help me make it through the day. Wine; I rely on this cold liquid goodness to help me some evenings when I am stressed out or my anxiety is through the roof. I have a glass and things level out. I think it is just for a season, but who knows maybe God’s plan is for me to give it up for a couple of seasons. I was relying on those things instead of relying on God to give me strength to get through my day. Maybe that's part of the refining process though. Being stripped bare to be made beautiful again. I have never felt like I was a lonely person, but Zach and I are going through a transition stage in marriage right now. While I know there is light at the end of the tunnel, it still has left me feeling lonely. It would be very easy for me to turn to things of this world to try to fill those voids in my life. But luckily I have friends + family around me that help me stay grounded in Jesus + not this world. I bought Lysa TerKeurst’s book 'Uninvited' + let me just say this by far is one of my favorite books of hers. I wanted to share this part with you about an olive tree. I had no idea there was so much involved with making an olive edible. How she compares it to us is so beautifully written I had to share.

 ‘“The final thing I want to consider about the olive is the best way to preserve it for the long run. It must be crushed in order to extract the oil. The same is true for us. The biblical way to be preserved is to be pressed. And being pressed can certainly feel like being crushed.

But what about 2 Corinthians 4:8, where it says, “we are…pressed…but not crushed’? Lets read verses 8 and 9 in the King James Version: “We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in a despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed.”

This was one of the biggest aha moments for me while standing in the shadow of the olive tree: crushing isn’t the olives end. Crushing, rather, is the way of preservation. Its also the way to get whats most valuable, the oil, our of the olive. Keeping this perspective is how we can be troubled on every side yet not distressed… pressed to the point of being crushed but not crushed and destroyed.

---

The olive tree is such a beautiful reminder that this isn’t how its going to be forever. On the other side of the process of being broken and waiting is a useful heart free of bitterness. On the other side of being pressed and crushed is oil…the most valuable part of me set free to emerge.

On the other side of every hardship is a resurrection.

We must believe that what God has said He will do will be done. Don’t focus on the problems. Instead, have the resurrection mind-set that holds fast to Gods promises. Good is coming!”” pages 200&201 Uninvited by Lysa TerKeurst

 

Then sometimes it's not God taking things away from you it's the broken world we live in. Porn/sports/hunting stealing the husband away, comparison/busyness/rejection stealing the mom away, or hard times stealing the joy away. Every relationship has a story. There are good + bad parts to everything in life. We are always a work in progress. Someone once told me this statement, which hit me to my core…

marriage isn’t about being happy it’s about being holy.”

I probably would never come to that conclusion on my own. The past couple of months Zach + I have been working really hard on being intentional in our marriage. We are praying how/when we can share some of our walk with you soon.

 

Maybe feeling lonely is exactly where God wants me. He wants me all alone…with Him. He wants me to turn to no one or thing, but Him. My husband, kids, friends, family, nor anyone will be able to fill the voids in my life. If I try to shove them in each of my holes that only God was intended to fill they will fall out. They might stay around for a while and everything looks great on the outside; but they're like a volcano waiting to explode. People + things will fail you at some time or another. I have failed many people in my life so how can I not expect someone to fail me? God is the only person who will never fail me. He is the only person who will stick around on my worst day + pick me back up. He is the only one to walk beside me in the hard seasons of life, so why do I push him aside and try to use others around me to fill those voids. God’s love is perfect. If I wake up everyday and decide “This is the day the Lord has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it." (Psalms 118:24 NLT), do you know how much better my days would be if I carry His joy with me throughout the entire day? If every time I feel rejected + lonely I turn to him to build my spirit up I will be in a much better place. 

Even on our worst days there is always something to be thankful for. Sometimes I get so wrapped up in what God is not doing in my life I miss everything He IS doing. I have to be so intentional about focusing on what He is doing. If we focus on everything we are thankful for, our joy will spill over to everyone around us. The day we went to find our Christmas tree I was thankful for a healthy little boy who was able to run around and pick out his tree, who could see the vibrant fall colors in the woods, and one who helped his daddy chop down the tree he picked out. (Don’t worry his hatchet had the sheath on it, but shhh don’t tell him)

 

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Looking at our humble tree now gives me hope. I know God is working on our family + we will be in a much better place than where we first started. My eyes have been opened to so many things around me that I would have totally missed before. So many lessons God was trying to teach me, but my heart was not prepared or able to understand it before. Going through a lesson is never fun. But my prayer is I will always have a teachable heart, not a callused heart from the world. If anything bad has happened to you, I promise God can use it for good. We just have to have open hearts to let Him work.

XO Colleen Cashio

 

“Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know Gods will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect” Romans 12:2 NLT

“These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold-though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.” 1 Peter 1:7 NLT

 

 

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Roots

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Did you know it’s really hard to kill roots? They will continue to grow back. Do you have a bad habit that you tried to defeat, but it keeps coming back? I do! I have a tendency to use social media as a place to escape when I am stressed. When life isn’t going the way I think it should, when my kids have completely broken me down, and when I feel like my husband isn’t listening to me is when I scroll social media. Instead of running to God I mindlessly scroll. I guess it gets my mind off of things that are going on around me. God has really been breaking me of this habit the past few months. I felt him convicting me to give it up, but of course I’m stubborn and didn’t listen. After Harvey got out of the hospital for salmonella, he had a crazy incident with his two big toes. We had to go to a specialist and in their 50 years combined they had never seen this. Both of his toes were ingrown, but not on the side.  His skin was growing over the tip of his toenails. We had to soak his toes 3X a day + peel his skin back with a cuticle pusher. It was ugly looking and we were in constant fear it would get infected again and we’d end up back in the hospital. IT WAS AWFUL. He cried, we cried. Finally I broke, and told God that I would give up all social media until he healed Harvey’s toes. It wasn’t as hard as I imagined it. After the first couple of days I actually didn’t miss it at all. Harvey’s toes finally healed naturally 8 weeks after I gave up social media.  After they were healed I continued to stay off social media. Honestly because the break was so refreshing! I found myself not being as negative, jealous, or stressed. I didn’t compare my life with anyone else’s. That is the one down fall to social media, most of us only put our best side on our profile. How many times have you retaken a picture, “because that wasn’t a good angle”? I have… Once I decided to get back on, I knew I had to limit myself and not go back to my old ways of using it as a stress reliever. I’m not always perfect, some days I get on it too much, some days I forget I have it. Turning off my cellular data during the day really helps when I feel like it is starting to consume me.  I have to be intentional about it, + when I do fall short I give myself grace.  If I keep planting positive seeds, they will over time wipe away my negative seeds.

 

In this season of life I feel like I am being constantly reminded about planting my crops, tending to them, + watching them grow. And patiently* waiting for the harvest. I love different seasons in life, some are better than others, but there’s a lesson to be learned in all of them.  Parenting two little kids is a constant reminder that I won’t necessarily reap a harvest until they are older. Day to day things seem to last forever, but the years fly by. Sometimes I have to do a heart check to see how my roots are doing. When negative thoughts are planted, negative thoughts grow. Then the negative thoughts become weeds in my garden overtaking the pretty flowers. Once they kill the flowers, my ground becomes dry + unfertile. When my ground is unfertile I can feel helpless and it will send me into a vicious cycle. When I feed negativity I stay in that cycle. When positive seeds start to get planted from others around me it is harder for them to stick, because my garden is full of weeds. But God says His light shines best in the darkness. “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.” John 1:5 NLT

 

“Do you think negatively about others?” is something that convicted me. Is this a peak into your heart about how you think of yourself? Then I started pondering what is my source of negativity? Is it fear of rejection, comparison, pressure to preform, stress, doubt, etc. The list was a mile long. Then I started thinking what negativity does to my roots in the long run. I want a sturdy tree, full of life, + beautiful. I think we all have been through some sort of storm in our life. If you haven’t, I’m sure one day you will. While you don’t want to be paralyzed by fear waiting for the next storm, you want to be prepared. Strong roots produce the prettiest leaves and weather the storms of life. They are healthy + sound. Their beauty shines bright for others to see. They make others around them stronger, they build them up + give them hope, love, + vision. Roots stick together to hold each other up. After a storm they regain their strength and grow stronger for the next storm. They are each other’s lifelines, like friends + family. Whoever is around us planting seeds is important. We need friends who will speak truth in our dark parts. When we are weak, they can hold us up. Sometimes though our greatest scars can be from the closest people around us. Sometimes they can affect our roots in a negative way, damaging them.

 

 

After all I want my leaves on my tree to help others, not hurt them. I want them to shine bright in the darkness. I want my roots to be strong; I don’t want them to be weak when I go through a storm. As I was letting God speak to me about what to write next, he keep nudging me into “reaping + sowing”. I didn’t know where to begin and “hid” in my phone. But, Zach kept pushing me to write what was on my heart. And once I started to write things down, it turned into me drawing a tree. And that’s how I got the roots topic. The book Zach is reading right now is “Jesus>Religion” by Jefferson Bethke. Which I highly recommend. I read him my notes and the next day while he was reading he shared a page with me and was like wow how perfect. The page goes on to say…

“Beauty comes at a cost. What makes it so green? What makes it so fresh? What makes the foliage so vast + fruitful?

The answer is rain.

Rain gives depth, it gives beauty, and it gives ROOTS. If a plant is only exposed to sun and no rain, it becomes dry, flimsy, and dead.

Too many times we curse the rain in our lives-suffering, trials, hardships-but the truth is, without rain nothing grows. Without rain there’s no fruit- just dry flaky, and nasty leaves. Sometimes suffering is actually Gods blessing rather than Gods curse. It is clear in scripture that he is not the source of evil, nor did he cause it, but he promises he can use it.” Page 118 of Bethke’s book.

 

All this to say it’s never too late to fix our roots. Let God use every aspect of your life to grow you as a person. Even if our roots become dry and damaged let God shower us with His water. Trust Him to bring you through the storm. Find friends that will come into your messy beds + replace your weeds with fruitful seeds.  Then once your roots are strong again, look for a garden near you that needs tending.

XO Colleen Cashio

“Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong.” Ephesians 3:17 NLT

 

“And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him. Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness” Colossians 2:6-7

 

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Walking in Faith

I am so excited to share this new chapter in our lives. My name is Colleen, I am a wife + mother to two precious little boys. As I write this I have heaviness on my chest, because this is so out of my comfort zone. I am a very reserved person who only opens up to friends + family. Starting this website is something that has been on my heart, but scares the crap out of me. Which is why I know God is pushing me to this season. Pushing me to the edge of a cliff called the unknown. Those who know me know that I am a 110% control freak. My life, day, and minutes are all planned out and I am a list writer. If you walk around our house you will probably see lists all over the house. A checklist, some get accomplished and some do not. But as all moms know, if you don't write it down, it will be forgotten between diaper changes. This drives my husband nuts; he is a go with the flow kind of guy. We are opposites and that’s what makes us work best together. Let me start at the beginning. I graduated high school a year early and jump-started my life by going to hair school in Baton Rouge, LA.  I am originally from Louisiana, but moved around a lot as a child. No, my dad wasn't in the military. I just guess they always liked change, and maybe they rubbed off on me some. I met Zach (my husband) through a friend that I was with in hair school. Come to find out though our families semi knew of each other. When I brought Zach home to Arkansas for the first time to meet my parents is when they realized that my mom actually might have been around Zach when he was younger. Long story short, I graduated school and realized Baton Rouge was not for me, so I returned back to Arkansas to be closer to my family. Zach and I had been dating for 6 months and he moved with me to Arkansas. We were here for 2 months before we packed up and moved to London, England for me to do a graduate program for hair. That was a make or break for our relationship, which I plan to share in another post. Once my schooling was done we came back to Arkansas and got plugged into a church and continued renovating a 100-year-old house that would soon be my salon.

Shortly after we returned from London Zach started experiencing pain in his shoulder. I finally got sick of him complaining and made an appointment to see a specialist. The day of his appointment was like any other day. We woke, Zach let Luna (Australian Shepherd), our first child outside to potty + started the coffee pot. I was still lying in bed drinking coffee while Zach hopped into the shower. The next thing I heard from Zach was "ohh...no" and a coffee cup hit the floor... "I said Zach?" Then ran into the bathroom. To my surprise he was lying on the ground in a weird position convulsing. To someone who has no idea what a Grand-mal seizure looks like, I was terrified. I thought an exorcism was happening on my bathroom floor. I am not being dramatic. It was that scary! I immediately used my phone to call 911. After I gave the dispatcher all the info she needed, I used Zach's phone to call my parents. Thankfully they lived 3 minutes down the road. I was on the ground trying to stick my fingers in Zach's mouth to help him breath.. Or so I thought. FYI when someone is having a seizure, you just let it happen. You clear the area where they are and make sure they can't hurt themselves. You monitor it until it is finished. Zach's was only 90 seconds, but it felt like a decade. And sticking your hand in their mouth is the worst thing you can do. They can bite off your finger. Whoops! My body had gone into “protector” mode and I couldn’t figure out what to do. Luckily my parents and the paramedics were at our house in no time. Zach had come back to, but now we were in an ambulance heading to the hospital. Zach had no memory of what just happened. Once we arrived at the hospital Zach had another seizure. They transferred us to Big Baptist in Little Rock, AR. After we arrived there they did multiple tests and scans. We were finally able to talk to a neurosurgeon for him to be diagnosed with a 'cavernous malformation'. After a hospital stay he was able to come home for a week before his big surgery. They did brain surgery to remove a large mass, which was the size of a golf ball. That was another long hospital stay and now he has a pretty wicked scar to show. We were very blessed to be plugged into a life giving church. It was a make it or break it for us in our spiritual walk with God. Thankfully we chose to dive straight in + trust that He would bring Zach through this. Since he had seizures and a pretty intense surgery the doctor advised him not to drive or work for a year. While he healed we opened Salon Rouge and our life began. Zach proposed in our living room during Christmas pictures November 2013. We wed May 5, 2014 at my parent’s house on the lake. It was small + perfect. I hate being center of attention and so does Zach so a big wedding is not what we wanted.

After we got married we decided to let God be in control of when we would start having kids. It was easy for me to give that control away, because I thought it was going to be hard having children. According to my OBGYN I have polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), for me personally it meant I had painful cysts on my ovaries, couldn’t lose weight no matter how hard I tried, + I was always short on energy. The doctor also told me things would get tricky in the getting pregnant department. Well 5 months after being married we found out I was pregnant. Let me just say I have always wanted to be a mom, so I was thrilled! I will say it is still a weird feeling knowing you are growing someone inside your tummy. I was working 5-6 days a week at the salon at this point and I was worried how I would juggle work & motherhood. The birth of our first son, Ezra, was not pleasant at all. I mean what birth is fun? But I was induced because I was borderline preeclampsia and Ezra was a week past due date. So healing, work, and being a new mom was the hardest thing I've ever done. Ezra had colic + silent reflux for the first four months of his life. Hallelujah for friends who have been there, a supportive hubby, + wine. Lots of wine! AND coffee(remind me to tell you how crazy I am...I just gave up coffee not to long ago)! Life finally started to level out and we found our groove of parenthood. I also found the perfect split between working + mommy-ing. Notice I said working + being a mom, I neglected the wife part. But that’s another post in itself. Life was perfect. When people asked when we'd add another cutie to our family we laughed. Seriously, we laughed out loud and said no thank you. Ezra was perfect but we did not want to go through the newborn stage again. Well, a couple months after Ezra's first birthday we found out I was pregnant again. Again, a whole post could be dedicated to the emotions and mental struggle we went through after finding this news out. But sweet little Harvey was born, our second son. I did not think my heart could grow anymore until I had him. He was the missing piece to our puzzle that we didn't even know was missing. 

When I became pregnant with Harvey God started to put on my heart staying home full time. I was so torn. My kids are my world, but we put so much into the business and house. The voice just kept getting louder + louder. I decided to walk by faith and not by sight. Following Gods next step was very scary. Our only source of income has been me working. God had blessed us by me getting to work 2-3 days a week and Zach was able to watch Ezra. On my off days he worked on renovating our 1972 Airstream. I can’t wait to write down all the details of how / when we decided to let the salon chapter come to a close. God’s hand was on every step and He literally paved the way, which is really cool to me. Hello, I'm still a control freak, but giving that to Him and watching Him do His thing was very amazing. So, why am I starting this website? Many reasons. Like I said God is using this transition season to grow and stretch me more than He ever has in my life before. I felt Him leading me here, so here again I'm giving up control + following His lead. I want this to showcase our life and what we're doing right now the good, the bad, and all in between. My prayer is that some of our struggles + good times might help reach others.  Thanks for sticking with me on this long post. XO, Colleen Cashio