Testing the Waters..

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

XO Colleen Cashio

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

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

 

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

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

Begin the Search

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

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

Are you searching in the right places?

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

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

Cheers,

Zach

How I Took My Spouse For Granted

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

#2 I took our marriage for granted.

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

So start connecting. It’s not too late.

XO Colleen Cashio

 

Wedding Photographer - http://cassiejonesphotography.net

A Purposeful Nudge...

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

XO Colleen Cashio


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

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

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

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

Cheers,

Zach

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

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

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

3 Indoor Activities to Survive the Winter

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

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#1 AIRFORT

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

#2 KINETIC SAND

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

#3 HOMEMADE PLAYDOUGH

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

RECIPE:

1 CUP Flour

1/3 CUP Salt

2 TEASPOONS Cream of Tarter

1 CUP Water

1 TABLESPOON Vegetable Oil

Drops of any food coloring

 

INSTRUCTIONS:

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

Add the water + veggie oil

Turn burner on medium-low + stir

Once its combined together, add food coloring

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

Stir until the texture of the dough comes off the spoon

Let cool on parchment paper

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

A Peak Into Our Playroom

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

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#1 A Chalk Board

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

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#2 A Kitchen Set

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

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#3 A Tool Building Table

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

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#4 Drum Set

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

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#5 A Kid Sized Table

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

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

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

XO Colleen Cashio

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Hello, World!

Walking Through Life

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

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

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

Everyone needs friends like this.

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

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

XO Colleen Cashio

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

Choose to encourage yourself or life will overwhelm you.

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

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

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

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

Hello, World!

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Rope of Hope

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

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

I go to Him with...

WHY haven't you fixed this?

WHY isn't this working out?

WHAT am I doing wrong?

WHY does it feel like you're punishing me?

WHAT did I do?

 

And then these thoughts pour into my mind..

Add the word (MAYBE) before each sentence…

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

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

-He expects me not to pick it back up.

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

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

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

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

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

-I don't trust.

-I get tunnel vision.

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

-I'm not prepared for the next step. 

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

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

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

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

-This will happen. Or it won't.

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

 

 

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

Colleen’s story will impact people.

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

Colleen’s story will matter in the long run

 

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

 

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

Sometimes on our brightest days His presence seems afar. 

 

Until that day comes, hold on + trust.

 

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

XO Colleen Cashio

""January 11--

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

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

Hello, World!

 

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

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

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

4 Ways To Encourage Your Husband

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

XO Colleen Cashio

Hello, World!

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

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

The Power of a Praying® Wife
By Stormie Omartian

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New Year New You, Right?

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

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

It is hard work to change. 

It is a daily struggle. 

It is making the right choices minute after minute. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Putting each other first before kids)

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

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

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

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

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

(Family game night + consistent family bible time)

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

(Homemaking more + less chemicals)

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

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

Area of growth you want to see in yourself spiritually

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

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

Times where you come up short

Where you don't know how you'll finish

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

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

XO Colleen Cashio

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

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

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

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

Hello, World!

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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Trumpeter Swans

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Each year more than 100 trumpeter swans migrate to Arkansas. The waterfowl usually do not come to this region of the country.  They are in large numbers in Alaska + Wyoming along with other western states. It is speculated that the first swans showed up in Arkansas after a severe storm forced them southward. The numbers have increased steadily during the past 15 years and are now over 100. Swan hunting is not allowed in Arkansas. If you don’t go for any other reason, it should be to hear them. Their voice is amazing, especially when the lake is full of them. It’s so neat to watch them interact with each other + when they take off and land! The trumpeters traditionally come around mid-November and stay until late February.

Each year our family loves going to visit the swans when they come to town. We are really so blessed to live in the area we do. We take many things for granted. I wanted to share some of our pictures from our time there this year + encourage you to go see them before they leave again! Years ago they use to always go to this private lake and it was so neat to see them, but the lake was fenced in so you could only see from afar. Animals are unique + for the past couple of years they have been picking this new location. I honestly love it though, because you can go right up to them + throw them corn. Whoever owns the property is gracious enough to have deer corn feeders for everyone to enjoy. One of Ezra’s favorite books is the ugly duckling, so last year we referred to the swans as an ugly duckling + he was over the moon! He was so mesmerized by seeing his book come to life. This year though he was more interested in the corn feeder at first, ha-ha boys! He is a brave little guy though, he went up to one swan and threw corn for it to eat. That swan felt threated by him + started to warn Ezra to back away, I thought it would scare Ezra, but it didn’t seem to phase him at all. Below I put some interesting facts + directions!

XO Colleen Cashio

Cool Facts

·       Trumpeter Swans are impressively large—males average over 26 pounds, making them North America’s heaviest flying bird. To get that much mass aloft the swans need at least a 100 meter-long “runway” of open water: running hard across the surface, they almost sound like galloping horses as they generate speed for take off. 

·       Starting in the 1600s, market hunters and feather collectors had decimated Trumpeter Swans populations by the late 1800s. Swan feathers adorned fashionable hats, women used swan skins as powder puffs, and the birds’ long flight feathers were coveted for writing quills. Aggressive conservation helped the species recover by the early 2000s.

·       Overhunting of muskrats and beavers may have harmed Trumpeter Swans, too: the swans nest on their dens and dams. As the rodents’ populations recovered, breeding habitat for the swans also improved.

·       Trumpeter Swans form pair bonds when they are three or four years old. The pair stays together throughout the year, moving together in migratory populations. Trumpeters are assumed to mate for life, but some individuals do switch mates over their lifetimes. Some males that lost their mates did not mate again. 

·       Trumpeter Swans take an unusual approach to incubation: they warm the eggs by covering them with their webbed feet. 

·       The Trumpeter Swan’s scientific name, Cygnus buccinator, is from the Latin Cygnus (swan) and buccinare (to trumpet). We humans have a buccinator muscle in our cheeks—we use it to blow out candles and to blow into trumpets and other instruments. 

·       A “voiceless” Trumpeter Swan named Louis was the main character in E. B. White’s 1970 children’s book, The Trumpet of the Swan. Louis courted his partner Serena by playing a trumpet. 

·       Although awkward on the ground due to short legs set behind their center of gravity, they can walk more than a mile at a time, even when traveling with cygnets less than a week old.

·       The oldest known Trumpeter Swan was a female, and at least 26 years, 2 months old when she was identified by her bank in the wild, in Wisconsin. One captive individual lived to be 32.

Cool facts from  https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Trumpeter_Swan/lifehistory#

Directions to Magness Lake (the one with the fence)

To view the swans, drive east on Arkansas 110 from its intersection with Arkansas 5 and 25 just east of Heber Springs. Go 3.9 miles from the intersection to Sovereign Grace Baptist Church, marked with a white sign. Turn left on paved Hays Road; the road sign is very small. Magness Lake is about a half-mile down Hays Road.

Visitors can view the swans from a public road with parking space available in an S curve. Shelled corn is the only recommended feed. Chances of seeing numbers of the trumpet swans are best in late afternoons. During the day, they roam around in small groups, feeding in spots sometimes miles away. But they return to the lake before dark. A few of the swans usually hang around the lake during midday, too.

Directions to the new location

Drive east on 110 from its intersection with Arkansas 5 + 25 just east of Heber Springs. Take a right on Hiram after you cross the bridge over Little Red River. Drive a couple miles; you’ll think surely I’ve passed it by now. No you haven’t, just keep driving there is a sign that says “Water for sale” on your left. Turn on that dirt road + boom you’re there! If you come to the intersection to go to Searcy you’ve gone to far.

The Explorer

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Am I the only one who doesn't want my kids to grow up? When Ezra was a newborn I wished that stage away. It truly was an awful experience. But when he hit 18 months I was praying I could freeze time. It is the best age. They are so sweet, so curious, + like a sponge soaking up everything. It’s also a bonus because they think mom knows best. Now Ezra is two and a half years old + I still love the age he's in now. But I won't lie, I can see slivers of himself changing + evolving in his boyhood. It absolutely breaks my heart. I think most moms would agree at some point we've thought about experimenting with freezing time and living in an age for the rest of our lives; I have at least.