Unfinished

For the past few months I have been really into re-finishing and painting furniture. I love the french farmhouse chic formally known as shabby chic house decor, but I have a limited budget for any decorating or re-decorating. Like my stepmom used to tell me, I have champagne taste on a beer budget, and boy that couldn’t be anymore true! For the most part my house follows my farmhouse theme to a T, but I wanted to make my furniture and cabinets in my house a little more “me”. So I decided to take up painting.

It all started with these bar stools that were left behind by the previous owners of our house, I loved the style and they fit our bar height perfectly but most importantly they were FREE. Two of my favorite words are free and cheap although I’m told, I should say thrifty or frugal instead, but alas old habits die-hard. I re-painted those stools and distressed them and from then on I have had the itch. I have gone from bar stools, to the vanity and mirror in our master bathroom, then our laundry room cabinets to our entertainment center, the head-board in Scarlett’s room and my latest project is this cute little miniature antique roll-top desk for Scarlett. I have found that I really love to paint and re-finish furniture it gives me a sense of accomplishment knowing I have a brand new custom piece of furniture and that I was able to do it myself and for peanuts really. I have also found the process to be quite stress relieving as well. What is stress relieving for me though kind of drives Abe crazy, well not all of it just the unfinished cabinets in our laundry room.

When I took on the job of re-painting our laundry room cabinets I had two different shades of gray and couldn’t decide which color I liked best so I decided to paint one cabinet one shade and the other the second shade. After I painted the cabinets I decided what shade I liked best. I painted all three cabinets and left the fourth kind of unfinished. It is painted but just a different shade than the other three and it drives Abe crazy. He always asks why I’ve started a new project when I haven’t finished that cabinet in the laundry room yet. I’ve always just laughed it off and continued on with my projects. The truth of the matter is though, I like to keep the door the way it is because it serves as a reminder to me, that like that cabinet door, I too am an unfinished work of art. The one big difference between me and that door is, I am an unfinished work of art being “painted” by the master artist, the most masterful artist there ever was or ever will be, Jesus. He is sculpting, painting and re-finishing me into the person he wants me to be. I like to have the reminder because I am often times very hard on myself for my struggles and downfalls. But when I look at myself as an unfinished custom piece of art I am a lot less tough on myself.

I do have some anxiety, specifically around traveling, I am terrified of flying and long car rides. I am always afraid it is going to be horrible or something will go terribly wrong. I am trying to over come that anxiety and sometimes it gets the better of me but I just pray and continue to look at myself through the eyes of my heavenly Father and see how he looks at me as an unfinished work of art. He is continuing to sand and chip away at the old layers of  me and make me into the Godly woman he wants me to become. I know that anxiety stems from fear and fear comes from satan telling me that the Lord isn’t capable of protecting me and keeping me calm and giving me peace. Sometimes I get so frustrated with myself for letting my anxiety keep me from realizing that Jesus will protect me and he will give me peace and he is ultimately in control of it all. If I just truly trust with not just my words and my head but with my heart and truly trust he will be able to take away every fear and anxious feeling.

I, as a person have so many layers of my old self that still need to be chipped away and sanded down, and covered by the love of Christ. The day I accepted Jesus as my personal Lord and Savior is the day I said, “Here Lord, here it is, all of me and I am trusting you to take control and do with it what you may. I want you to plan my life and give me direction, peace and guidance on all my future endeavors because Lord, I cannot do this life without you.” Saying those words and putting them into practice is where the difficulty lies, for me anyway. These days I am trying to put those words into action and continue to let the Lord chip away and sand me down to the christian wife and mother he would have me to be. Next time you cannot see anything good in yourself, remember that you are a beautiful, unique but unfinished work of art created by the master artist and he is not finished with you yet.

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 Ephesians 6:11-12

Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. 

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Guilty

The mom guilt is real y’all. I am constantly reminded of all the wonderful things everyone else does with their babies and most days all Scarlett and I do is hang around the house. Social media makes us more aware as parents to what everyone else is doing and we, or at least I sometimes seem to think, well gosh, I am just as boring as they come. We aren’t doing all those fun activities and adorable and age appropriate crafts and science experiments. I count it as a win when Scarlett will draw or color for ten minutes while I wash the dishes or vacuum the house, let alone sit and do some sort of painting or what have you. It goes back to that ol’ comparison thing…

I noticed the days I am off of social media and don’t pick up my phone at nap time to check IMG_5746Facebook “quick” or to scroll through my news feed while Scarlett is playing independently, I am overall happier. I am also less likely to feel that mom guilt creeping up in me, because when you only have yourself from the day before to “compare” today to it makes you feel pretty great! I have been actively working to reduce my screen time, I want to show Scarlett that a phone or some facade we put on social media isn’t important, and definitely not important when it is up against time spent together laughing and cuddling and just being together. It has made me a much better mother, person and wife. I am more aware of all the fantastic things in my life and blog1just how wonderful my life is when I am not constantly focused on what everyone else is doing and how much more exciting their lives all seem compared to mine. I am not sure what brings out all of my mom guilt, it is different some days than others and some days I just plain don’t care what anyone else is doing. When I do get that feeling in the pit of my stomach that I am just sucking at it all, it comes on strong! I start to question everything and worry that I am not a good enough mom. I think it makes it more difficult too when we as mothers are constantly feeling judged as well, it adds an entirely new dynamic to it all.

“There will be SO many times you feel like you’ve failed. But in the eyes, heart and mind of your child you are SUPERMOM.” 

Stephanie Precourt

IMG_5523You know what I mean by judgement too… IT IS EVERYWHERE! I am guilty of judgement too, I may not have ever said it to someone’s face but the Bible says by thinking it, you are just as guilty as someone who does it. You get judgement for vaccinating for not vaccinating, for not feeding your kid organic grass-fed everything, for feeding your kids processed food and McDonald’s, for not taking your kid outside enough, for not making them say yes ma’am and no ma’am for potty training them too early or too late… Trust me, I can relate to each and every one of those statements. I’ve gotten side eyes and tons of unwanted advice over the past two years. Scarlett is a terribly picky eater and it is a daily struggle to get anything nutritious in her and honestly some days I just am tired of fighting and stressing out about it. But that doesn’t make me immune to the criticism I have gotten because all she had eaten in a day was Cheerios and cheese puffs. It’s the, “That’s not good for her, you need to change that,” comments that seem to cut the deepest. It is like a blatant attack at my parenting, or at least that it was it always feels like, even if it was just intended to be friendly and helpful. Sometimes, it just hurts to feel like you are failing and that someone else noticed. It always seems to play into that mom guilt insecurity that you aren’t doing enough or you’re just failing… Guess what though, you aren’t!

 

We as mother need to stop trying to give unwarranted advice, I am SO guilty of this on occasion, I try so desperately not to ever give unwarranted advice or to not make another momma feel insecure or like their decisions are wrong. Because honestly, I believe that every momma is doing a fantastic job and they are doing exactly what God intended them to, after all, he did give us our babies because he knew we would be the mother they needed. I personally feel like being a mother is the absolute greatest gift and job the Lord has ever bestowed upon me. I am so thankful to be Scarlett’s momma and she is just the absolute best little girl I could have ever asked for, she is the light of my little world and one of the biggest parts of my universe. I am sure every mom would say the exact same thing about their babies as well and that is why I truly believe every momma is doing an amazing job at being a mother.

Encouragement is what we all need, whether that be in form of prayer for one another or through fellowship or just personal quiet time with ourselves and Jesus but we all desperately need our tanks filled at the end of each day. I get my tank filled through love and laughter and in the quiet moments I spend with the Lord in prayer and praise. Getting my tank filled rejuvenates me as a mother and helps me to be the absolute best I can be for Scarlett, my temper isn’t as short my worries are almost non-existent and I am less likely to let that mom guilt creep into my thoughts and heart. We are all guilty in some way of judgement or just succumbing to that ever-present feeling of mom guilt, but it’s how we decide to change or recover from it that truly matters.

Her children rise up and call her blessed. 

Proverbs 31:28

 

Stumbling upon joy

 Some days joy is hard to come by and I find myself searching and searching and searching… The other day I ran into the grocery store to get eggs while Abe and Scarlett waited patiently at the book store around the corner. I found, what I thought, was the most amazing deal on eggs and gave myself a pat on the back. On our way home, I told Abe about that “awesome” deal I got on those eggs, when he informed me that I actually paid a dollar more an got less eggs than usual. I roll my eyes in frustation with myself, there  are those C’s I got in math class coming back to haunt me. As we get home and I’m unloading the car, I drop the bag full of eggs. Wonderful! Three dozen eggs cracked and splattered all over our driveway… Those eggs just got a whole lot more expensive… I picked up the bag and hurried inside to try and salvage what I could. As I am rinsing the eggs that aren’t currently being scrambled on my driveway, I notice an odd cold sensation on my foot. Thinking that it’s just some water from the counter full of wet, freshly rinsed eggs, I continue. Until I notice a lovely bright orange substance all over my countertop. Even better, the bag I carried the eggs in with has a hole and I now have an egg covered countertop, floor and foot. “Can this day just be over?!”, I mumble to myself as Scarlett wales in the background because I won’t let her have a pen that dropped from the counter in the hysteria of the egg debacle. No, a crying toddler, broken eggs and a sticky counter top and floor aren’t the end of the world but sometimes it sure does feel like it.

“Joy is the echo of God’s life within us.” 

Joseph Marmion

 Joy is one of the main reasons I started this blog, I find myself wondering on a regular basis where do I find my joy. I was listening to the radio and that was a question one of the djs IMG_5440asked the other. As I listened to their responses I though to myself where does my joy come from, the Lord? Well, yes of course! I most definitely find my deepest most fulfilling joy from the Lord but where else in my life do I seek it out and find it? I just didn’t know, I couldn’t pin point anything really that made me joyful down deep To my soul. I know where my daughter’s joy is, it’s in eating freshly popped popcorn or watching a Peppa Pig episode she’s seen too many times to count, playing in grandma’s waterfall and throwing rocks or in getting to take a swig of Daddy’s big cup full of chocolate milk. I know where Abe’s joy is, it’s in going to the gym and makingIMG_5452
Scarlett giggle so hard she squeals or in accomplishing an awesome new task at work or making me grin from ear to ear with a sweet, thoughtful gesture. I often find myself wondering where my joy is, what is it that makes me smile and brings out the best in me. While I love to cook and scrounge around a thrift store or eat the freshly harvested vegetables out of my garden, yes, those things make make me happy but those things don’t bring me joy. Not the kind of joy you feel down in your soul anyway. It finally hit me though, today as I was watching  Scarlett eat peaches and run through the puddles in the driveway after it rained;
it was in her eyes and her smile. That is what brought me that deep meaningful joy. I find my joy in people, the people I love. It’s in Abe’s smile when he’s at the gym or when he tells me how great it feels to accomplish something amazing at work; it’s in Scarlett’s eyes when she’s eating that popcorn or drinking that milk or running from the “tickle monster” and jumping on the bed. Sometimes my joy isn’t in something tangible but rather something not always seen until I really take in a moment.

IMG_5448In the day to day run around I so often forget to just take in the little moments in life. It’s so easy to forget what truly matters and what’s truly worthy of my joy. A clean house is nice but Scarlett’s giggle is so much nicer. Slowing down and learning to embrace life as it comes is something I’m not always good at. I wish I would’ve laughed at those broken eggs or picked up my frustrated daughter and made her smile. Those are moments I can’t do over, no matter how much I wish I could. Life is full of broken egg moments. Finding the joy isn’t always easy but if I look close enough and listen hard enough I know I’ll be able to find it.

 

Count it all JOY, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 

James 1:2-3

Embracing Change

 

 

IMG_5470If there’s only one thing in life you can count on it’s change. In my short 24 years of life I have experienced quite a lot of change. Marriage and motherhood introduced me to more than I ever thought it would in a VERY short amount of time. From getting engaged and moving almost a thousand miles away from home, eight hundred and eighty-five to be exact, to buying a house, getting married, then pregnant, having Scarlett and moving across country two more times all in a matter of  two years. The past three and a half years of my life have been a whirlwind. I always thought myself to be great at embracing change with open arms, that was until I had Scarlett and got a taste of an entirely new set of changes.

Almost immediately after I found out I was pregnant, I started reading books, blogs, articles and anything I could get a hold of. I wanted to be prepared, to know what to expect. I just knew I would have it all figured out by the time she made her grand entrance into this wild world we live in. Boy, was I wrong! In some ways I am glad I was because really, what twenty-two year old knows it all? I can assure you I didn’t. After Scarlett arrived I found myself experiencing a change in my heart, I was scared, nervous and so in love, more in love than I had ever been in my life. Becoming a mom and loving someone more than myself was a wonderful change and it’s one I would do over and over again. Some of the change Scarlett brought hasn’t always been so easy and wonderful. From hormonal shifts after giving birth then again after I stopped breastfeeding to changes in routines, schedules and everything in between. My world revolved around my new precious girl. Everyone always talks about the hormones and what to do when or if you start to feel off or if you start to experience PPD and how to get help and of course everyone talks about the “baby weight” and changes your body goes though. The one thing they don’t talk about though, is the feelings that come along with those changes in your body. No one tells you how to feel better about your new normal body or how to deal with them in a positive way. At least, no one I know… You hear the usual, just eat better and exercise or that spare tire will go away, it just takes time. Well, I’ve been waiting two years and it’s still here!!!

For the greater part of 21 years, I didn’t struggle with my weight and I was confident for the most part. I was always tiny and it was almost part of my identity and I didn’t realize it until I no longer was. After having Scarlett I went from a zero to a size four knocking on six’s door. I do not think by any means a four or six is “big” nor do I think I am overweight, what I am saying is it was a change. A pretty drastic change for me, none of my clothing fit me or looked good and I no longer felt confident or good May17-26-2017 793about myself. It didn’t help that I was sleep deprived for the greater part of the first year of life as a mom. I was really upset about a lot of my new self for a long time and sometimes felt lost in my own body, like visitor in someone else’s skin. Stretch mark scars and wider hips were uncharted territory for me. I just knew that I would be one of those moms who worked out and ate healthy and got back to her pre-baby weight in no time, after all I loved all of those things before I had Scarlett. The gym was like a second home to Abe and I in our pre-parenting days, so why wouldn’t it still be afterwards? Well, because being a new parent is HARD, really hard and tiring, VERY tiring. I soon realized a nap sounded better than a great workout and a chocolate chip cookie sounded better than a carrot stick.. Food that was easy and not always the most nutritious became my norm, let’s face it sometimes cooking just sounds dreadful! Yes, my waistline has grown but so has my happiness.

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Having a daughter is amazing and I would trade her any day for my size zero pants but it still doesn’t make my new normal any easier to accept some days, especially when I can no longer fit into my favorite pants.  I don’t care what anyone says, gaining weight does take a mental tole on you. It made me feel gross and what made it harder was my serious lack of motivation to workout or eat better. Being a mom can be busy and sometimes making a healthy meal just doesn’t fit into the schedule, grabbing something quick is more in line with the daily agenda. Working out, oh man, a phrase I have come to despise… No, when Abe gets home most days working out is the absolute last thing on my mind. Then one day I actually purchased something May17-26-2017 785that fit my new body and I felt surprised at how great I thought I looked.  Later that day it got me thinking, what if I just decide to be happy with my new body? What if I learn to just embrace the change that has come and to love myself inside and out? Why do I have to try to be the size I was before Scarlett? After having Scarlett and realizing how amazing it is that I produced another human being with my body. I gave life to another and I’m worried that my body doesn’t look the same? I know there are so many women who would love to be in these shoes, who wish so desperately to have a baby and baby weight and all the messy things that go along with it. I feel so blessed that God allowed me to give birth to Scarlett and that my body was able to produce life. It suddenly feels so silly to worry about something as superficial as how much I weigh. I decided to love my body and all it has been able to accomplish so far instead of being uncomfortable in the aftermath.  So here I am doing just that.

The world tells us that when our dress size goes up it’s a horrible thing but why does it have to be? Who cares if I am a zero or a six or even a sixteen for that matter? Turns out no one but myself. The saying, we are our own worst critic is so true. No one is going to love me more if I have rock hard abs as opposed to my lovely spare tire, no one is going to think I am a better person because my legs don’t jiggle when I walk and no one will notice that pimple on my chin or my lovely new stray grays that hang around my hairline. People are going to love me because of the person I am on the inside. I am actually so glad I am no longer a size zero. It has made me a better person and less shallow or focused on the superficial. It may sound crazy but it made me really look at myself on the inside and realize my heart also needed some changing. I shouldn’t hate the way my body looks or put so much emphasis on my dress size. I am not a dress size, that does not define me. Just because the world tells me it does, doesn’t make it anymore true. I want to work out because I love my body and want to take care of it, not because I hate the way it looks. I don’t want my dress size to be a part of my identity, that’s shallow and sad in my mind that it ever was. I want to teach my daughter that the way she looks or how much she weighs doesn’t define her and that the world’s idea of perfect is a lie. And to also EAT the piece of cake, to grab life by the horns and show it who’s boss! I want her to live life on her terms with Christ as the center. If I want to teach her all of those things I have to lead by example, I can’t merely tell her, I have to show her. Show her that her momma loves her body, all of the scars, rolls, stretch marks, bumps and lumps, all of it.

Every.

Single.

Inch.

I know this is said all the time but I believe it now more than ever, we as women need to be a voice of positivity and speak it loudly to our daughters. Wether it be about loving their bodies, their  quirks, their flaws or simply themselves. We have to do it by taking the lead and showing them how it is done, my journey this far hasn’t been easy and I’m sure it won’t happen over night but I do know one thing it will be worth it. So here I am change, ready to embrace you with open arms.

“Just when the caterpillar  thought the world was over, he became a butterfly”

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Therefor, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: the old has gone, and the new is here! 

2 Corinthians 5:17

 

Photo credit: Chelsea Hoying of Momma’s Gonna Snap Photography

Com•par•i•son: the thief of joy

“A flower does not think of competing with the flower next to it. It just blooms”

Zin Shin

 As I scroll through my Facebook and istagram feeds, I see friends and family who seemingly have it all together. Pretty houses decorated like the inside of a southern living magazine, kids dressed in the best clothing, dinners that probably taste as good as they look, the latest gadgets and good looks to top it all off.

Here I am, my mismatched home decor, my daughter dresses in hand me downs, dinners that while they are tasty don’t always look pretty, I have an old cracked iPhone 5 and most of the time I feel like a disheveled mess. I may not have it all together but what I do have is so much better than that. I have all of the things that I need and I am happy. I don’t do those fun little crafts with my daughter, we aren’t always painting this or making paper mache that. I don’t cut her sandwiches into hearts and dinosaurs or make her grapes into adorable little caterpillars. Most days I’m lucky if I can get her to eat a grape, let a lone one that, heaven forbid, looks like a bug! Let’s face it most days I’m just happy she eats lunch and doesn’t get into my makeup drawer and smear lipstick on every surface or spill milk from one end of the house to the other. I find myself wishing I wasn’t such a boring mom or wondering why my friends always do SO many fun things with their kids (is the library really fun with a two-year old?) and I’m here at home just praying for a day without a tantrum. As a new-ish mother, I’ve noticed how I’m constantly feeling guilty that I haven’t done all these fun things with Scarlett or taught her how to do this and that, but why? Why should I feel guilty if I let her eat an entire bag of cheese puffs because she wouldn’t eat anything else? Why should I feel like leaving if she screams in Wal-Mart because I tell her not to knock things onto the floor? While Martha over there has the most calm and sweet kid in the world sitting nicely in the buggy. We as parents shouldn’t be looking to others to feel guilty about what we lack, we should be looking to one another for support and comfort knowing that we all do things just to make it from one parenting hiccup to the next. God gave us our children because he knew they were perfect for us to teach, sometimes screw up but always love. I have to tell myself almost daily, to stop comparing myself to any other mothers, Scarlett loves me because I am who I am. She doesn’t care that her grapes don’t look like a caterpillar or that I don’t make super fun crafts, she cares that I love her and make her feel safe.

My goal for this week has been to really be thankful, thankful for all that I do have and all that I don’t and learning how to stop comparing myself to anyone. I’m about to get uncomfortably vulnerable here.

It’s such a bad habit of mine but I am not the most confident person… I struggle a lot with not feeling good enough as a mom or not feeling pretty enough or in good enough shape for my husband. I’m sure every woman thinks this but my husband is handsome, so handsome in fact that I met him because 20k girls on Facebook shared his picture (story for another time). I often find myself on the verge of tears while getting ready for date nights or catching a glimpse of myself in the mirror from day-to-day. Thinking, “Is THAT what I really look like? Why would anyone find me attractive? Am I enough? I don’t look like the girls at the gym.” I wonder so often why my husband loves me because I am not as pretty or as fit as the girls at the gym (my husband is a fitness freak). But by some miracle he loves me and thinks I’m just as pretty with make up or without. He doesn’t care that I have ratty hair and sometimes unbrushed teeth, he loves my heart and my mind. My body and looks will slowly diminish over time but my heart will remain the way it was the day he met me.

Often those little comparisons steal my joy, they make me feel sad and down about myself and less than. When in reality I am enough, you know why? Not just because Abe tells me or because Scarlett still hugs my neck, even when her cheese slices don’t look like Eiffel towers. No, but because the Lord tells me so!

 Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ;

Phil 1:6

Jesus says I am good enough. Not once in the Bible does it say look to your neighbor for your path in life or for protection, comfort or purpose. It tells me to look to the Lord and to lean on him! So why don’t I listen?! I am human non the less, I want to strive to tell myself what Jesus tells me every day. I want to love myself just as the Lord loves me.

I am enough.

I am loved.

I am forgiven.

How wonderful is it to think when we do not feel like enough all we have to do is call upon the Lord and he will make us feel all that we are lacking. I’ve come to realize no amount of makeup or house work or special time with my daughter will make me feel good enough like calling upon the Lord can. He is the only one who can fill that need.

I’d like to leave you with my great grandmother’s and my husband’s favorite bible verse.

Psalms 23:1-6

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.

Hey Y’all!

       So who am I, and why in the world would you want to read what I write or for heaven sakes why would you want to read about my not so perfect, sometimes down right boring life? I guess if you are anything like me, you are so tired of seeing the posts on your news feed, email, websites and so on of all the perfect, toned and amazingly crafty moms, women and wives out there… I am none of those things, in fact I am most likely the opposite of all of the aforementioned adjectives. I am a quirky, thrift store junky, Lilly Pulitzer loving, laugh at my own jokes, napping fool. I am married to a wonderful hardworking, God-fearing, sometimes boring but always the man of my dreams guy. We have the most vivacious, spunky, talkative, wild and amazing little girl out there (I could be biased), but seriously, she’s awesome. We also have the world’s best German Shepard, even if she does sleep on the sofa when we aren’t home… 

         Now that you know a little about me, let’s get down to why we are  here. My husband actually gave me the idea to start a blog about 6 months ago, the queen of procrastination here! I went back and forth with the idea, because seriously who would ever want to read about my life? Then I thought, it may be a good way for me to chronicle my journey to becoming a better daughter of Christ, wife and mom. I promise I am no, “blogger mom”, who has it all together. My Pinterest crafts tend to turn out more like fails and my patience runs thin a lot of the time, but darn it I am trying! Life is rough, it’s not easy, it isn’t always picture perfect and marriage and motherhood are an entirely new beast I am trying to conquer or at least learn how to tame anyway. I am here to tell it like it is and how I see it in my head, all the Kodak worthy moments as well as the not so pretty, downright messy moments we all struggle through. Life would be oh so boring if my two-year old didn’t mistake my brand new book of stamps for a wonderful new book of stickers or if my dog didn’t projectile vomit all over my living room while I was out grocery shopping. Life really is a beautiful mixture of the bumps, the bruises, the triumphs and the celebratory moments. So if you like the idea of reading about REAL life then come along on this journey with me. I will write about everything that life as a follower of Christ, mom, wife and fashion and food obsessed, garden loving southern girl living in rural Ohio entails and try to tackle life’s many challenges with humor and joy!