Monday, October 20, 2014


Our family slipped into a pew close to the back and waited for service to start.

A finger tapped me on the shoulder. Kind eyes and a sweet smile greeted me when I turned around.

She introduced herself, and then said, "You don't know me, but I know your story."

The compassion in her voice revealed just how much she knew.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Snapshots of Healing

You know that instruction book you wish had come with your newborn . . . well, let me just tell you, when you're parenting kids from hard places and healing is the goal, you'd be happy with a Sharpie map drawn on a napkin! And you would probably frame it so as not to lose it!

At their hearts, traditional parenting and therapeutic parenting aren't all that different. Even though the methods vary from child to child, the goal is the same - physically, emotionally, and spiritually healthy individuals who can function as independent adults. Both have milestones, they just look different . . .  way different.

I want to share 5 of our milestones; every single one almost two years in the making. These snapshots of healing are akin to a baby's first tooth. It may seem trivial to some, but they were hard won with lots of pain and agony that Baby Oragel could not touch. As parents, we are so stinking proud and know there's more to come!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Looking Back At 2013

2013 was a wild adventure for our family. There was lots of good, lots of not so good, and praise God lots of amazing! And my recap in words would not do any of it justice. If a picture's worth a thousand words, then these should cover it nicely!

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Top Posts of 2013

In 2013, I wrote a whopping 18 posts…
Considering that's an increase of 360% from what I posted in 2012, I'm pretty stinking excited!

And that's even with a significant quiet spell from May to September, which amazingly enough was when my blog traffic really picked up.

And by picked up, I mean skyrocketed and galloped at a pace that landed me at almost 13,000 views. 

That's kinda insane.

But I'm grateful. 

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

When Paula Was My Phil

Once upon a time, a cook loved by millions said lots of things that a lot of people didn't like.
Just the other day, a redneck loved by millions said lots of things that a lot of people didn't like.

And somewhere between the two, I think I've learned a little.

See with Paula, I blew up social media. I had a loud, aggressive, in your face, how dare you, and yes I sure did just call you out publicly stance. It was deeply personal for me, and I drew a definite line. You're either with Paula or you're with me. There was no grey, no middle, no room for discussion or understanding.

I hurt people in my righteous indignation.
I damaged relationships beyond repair in certain cases.
I believe it played a part in a major turn of events in our lives.

My defense of my personal beliefs became more important than my relationships.

And I was wrong.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Therein Lies the Hope

Today I'm honored to be contributing to an Orphan Awareness Month series hosted by my friends, Eric and Bethany. This amazing couple spends their life recruiting and leading mission teams to Haiti with Praying Pelican Missions which ties right in with their heart for orphans.

I'll let them speak for themselves:

"Within our job at PPM, we are heavily involved in orphanage partnerships in Haiti. For me, it is my platform and at the center of my heart. These partnerships are about the pastors, pastor’s family, children and community. However, our goal in Haiti is to no longer need orphanages altogether. This month we want to equip you, our readers, with avenues to aide in the orphan crisis in the world, Haiti, America and Arkansas.
For Christ didn’t suggest we take care of orphans, he commands us."

If you know us at all, you can just imagine how much we love these two!! It has been a privilege to watch them mature into amazing servant-heart leaders for Christ.

I hope you'll follow me over to their blog to read the post that goes with this amazing photograph!

Here's a teaser:

"See, adoption is beautiful, but it is always, always birthed out of the severing of a mother’s relationship with her child. Maybe death, maybe trafficking, maybe relinquishment, maybe abandonment, maybe . . . The circumstances may look different, but the tragedy is the same.

If we only see the sunny side of adoption, the part where an older child finds a forever family or an infertile couple is blessed with a newborn or any other favorite happy ending, we have missed the whole story. And it matters too much to ignore."

Image Courtesy of Maury Draper

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Where I Am From

I am from roast on Sundays, fish sticks on Wednesdays, and pizza on Fridays
from crocheted doilies, knickknacks, and picture-covered walls
and underlined, dog-eared, scribbled throughout Sunday School books, commentaries, and Bibles.

I am from the house across the street from the church,
the brick parsonage where the fenced back yard is safe,
the front yard is forbidden,
and the side ditch catches the projects' smashed beer bottles and broken hearts.

I am from the overgrown azalea bushes
who conspired with the blue and white checked curtains
to hide a first crush carved into the corner of the bedroom windowsill.

I am from the red, white, and blue swing set
who promised the glory of Nadia Comaneci and Mary Lou Retton
waited among imaginary revolutions tossed between her
and the ancient oak whose limbs I could never reach.

I'm from church and commitment
from humble parents and hero brothers.

I'm from Christmas never at home but always with family
and popcorn and coke with our shows after church
and from couch sanctuaries for strangers in need.

I'm from God made you for a purpose
and we're moving again
and Ebony and Ivory was just a song.

I'm from an old upright piano
where boys played and boys sung and boys taught
the sister music was more than notes on a page.

I'm from Arkansas by birth and Louisiana by heart
where pillbox hats, pearls, and white gloves fall in love
with drag races, shrimp boats, and jeans
and raise babies on catfish fried in backyards on camp stoves,
lemon icebox pies with graham cracker crusts, and Jesus.

She Loves Magazine is celebrating and exploring Heritage this month. This post is part of a Synchroblog using the "I Am From" poem template adapted by Levi Romero; Inspired by "Where I'm From" by George Ella Lyon. 

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Conjecture Rectified

Apparently, my Facebook statuses over the last few days caught somebody's, actually a few somebodies' attention. Here they are in case you missed them.

Evidently they caused quite a stir in some circles of our small town over the past few days. 

No one who has talked about them has asked me personally where the quotes were from, who said them, what they were in reference to, or why I shared them. 

They chose to draw their own conclusions, concoct silly scenarios, and share those publicly instead.

So let me rectify the conjecture in play. 

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Why We Walk for the Waiting

Once upon a time, two sisters and their two brothers were waiting for their forever family.

And once upon a time, a family was waiting to be made whole.

And so the mom spent a crazy insane amount of time scouring Heart Galleries, making phone calls, and sending email inquiries about sibling groups of all sizes, shapes, and colors in almost every state.

One day, not too long after her search started, the mom saw the two sisters and their two brothers in the Arkansas Heart Gallery.

And she thought they were beautiful!

But no one could give her information because the family's home was not open for adoption yet.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

What All In Looks Like

For years, my husband and I have had a running dialogue about my love language or the lack thereof.

Strike it up to mood, fancy, my ENFP personality, etc., but what spoke love to me seemed to change at the drop of a hat. 

So William made it his mission to nail it down, to pin me down to one of the BIG FIVE. And alas, it could not be done. And I honestly believed I did not have one. 

Until tonight. 

William named it. 

Not in a big "TAH-DAH" moment, but in a matter of fact, pass the salt, please way.

Kids played, dogs ran amuck, friends hung out, I cooked supper, and he swept the kitchen. 

And then he said, "I know your love language. Finally gotcha figured out."

Back turned, I grinned to myself thinking, "He's going to say acts of service. Keep trying bud."

"Oh yea?"

"Yep. You just need to know we're in this together."

I turned around.

"Doesn't matter what it is, you need to know we're 100% in it together. Writing, counseling, family, ministry, whatever, you just need to know we're both all in."

And just like that, I fell in love all over again. 

So can I show you what all in looks like?