August 2015 archive

Imperfection Does Not Equal Failure

Last week, Wrex and I attended the funeral of the patriarch of his former employer.  Gene Ritchey died at the ripe old age of 86.  He was, truly, one of the kindest most innovative men the world has ever known.

Grandpa Gene

Grandpa Gene

Gene is credited with creating the first ear tag for cattle that allowed producers to individually identify livestock.  To date, his is the only ear tag on the market that won’t fade!  Wrex and I got to travel for the company the year after Sawyer was born promoting the tags across the US and it as one of my favorite years ever.  It’s an incredible product and easy to back.  :)

Gene was always thinking, always creating, always trying to make things better.  He was at the shop every single day, working on templates and presses and machines; he was their very own one-man research and development department.  At nights, after the staff had gone home, the phone would ring to his living room so he could assist customers across the globe so they didn’t have to talk to a machine.

We lived on the same property as he did and it wasn’t the easiest place to find.  There were several occasions where the pizza delivery man went to his house by mistake and it was a rare occasion when they pizza guy showed up at our place and the bill wasn’t paid.  That stinker!

He made Wrex and I’s wedding bands…turned them and engraved them all himself.  Wrex’s got lost in the Poudre River and mine got lost in the last move.  I’d give anything to have those back…

He always had a sweet smile and kind word for us and loved to dote on Sawyer.

Just a talkin'...

Just a talkin’…

She was just a tiny thing at the time and he’d hold and rock and coo with her to beat the band.  He made an incredible pancake with a homemade caramel syrup that was to die for and he was never lacking in interesting conversation or corny jokes.  :)  He loved to watch the History Channel and the Discovery Channel and he and Wrex could talk that stuff for hours.

Gene held hundreds (if not thousands) of patents for things he’d created and invented and bettered over the years.  He was always, always trying something new.  Two of my favorite inventions were the energy drink he made for himself out of instant coffee and orange juice concentrate (and who knows what else!) and the contraption he made that allowed him fewer walks to the restroom which included a tube and a ziploc bag…I’ll let you use your imagination on that one!  HA!

Gene loved the Lord and he loved his family and we had the privilege of being treated like one of them.

His funeral was an honor to his life and the legacy he has left behind.  There were so many poignant things that were said regarding him, but one of the things that struck me the hardest last week was the subject of failure.  It’s something I’ve heard time and time again – never be afraid to fail – but it’s never resonated with me like it did at his service.

Just like any inventor, Gene had some huge successes, but he also had his fair share of failures; ideas that never panned out, prototypes that never worked, products that didn’t sell…but never once do I think of those things when I think of him.

Doesn’t the same go for us?  Just because we stick our neck out and try something new and aren’t wildly successful at it doesn’t make us a failure.  If our speech wasn’t perfectly polished or we didn’t sell as many crafts as our neighbor or our friend had more likes on Facebook or the car we bought blew up in our face or our scale still had too many numbers after weeks of dieting or the gourmet dinner tasted like cat food or {insert a glaring failure here} doesn’t mean that we are a loser or destined for the bottom rung of the corporate ladder or unworthy of love…it just means that the thing you did wasn’t perfect.  And who can claim to be perfect, anyways? 

I think the black-and-white brain I have always has the tendency to separate things into two categories and only two categories.  Black or white.  Right or wrong.  True or false.  Success of failure. For some things, that theory holds true…but for others?  Not so much.

I’ll be honest, I like to do things with excellence.  If I’m going to spend my time and resources doing something, I want to go all out and do it to the best of my ability.  Perfection would be my preference…

Just because I fail (read – wasn’t perfect at) one thing doesn’t mean that it wasn’t successful in some form.  And even if it really was an all out failure, it doesn’t mean I’m any less of a person or any less worthy of love or friendship or any less loved by the Father or have any smaller chance of success in the future…  Sometimes it really is those stumbling blocks that propel us forward anyway. 

I’m guessing some of you reading this are like, “uh….duh…”  but it really, really hit me hard last week.  I’ve been holding back on sooooooooo many things out of the fear of failure or the fear of imperfection.

But it got me thinking…what IS the worst that could happen?? 

I remember the day I started this blog.  I knew I was supposed to…the Lord had provided everything I needed…I had my content…  I wrote my first post really fast, slammed the computer shut and didn’t open it for HOURS.  WHO CARES if I only have 12 readers (including my parents and my husband)?   It was an act of obedience and I enjoy it and it’s a written legacy for my kids to have one day.  That?  Is success in my book.

So, if you’re reading this and a light bulb went off in your head, I encourage you to be fearless!  Imperfection does not equal failure.  Start that project, write that book, make that recipe, design that product, cut that hair, sew that fabric, toil that ground, let your imagination run wild!  Above all else, if the Lord has instructed you do something…by golly, do it.  Do it.  Get out there and do it!

The Sunday before his funeral, momma-Jeanie posted this blog and I left that tab open on my computer for days…days!  Then, the message at the funeral.  I love how the Lord confirms Himself in multiple ways so that we really get it…

So don’t give up your day dream, as they say, even if it’s looking dead. Every possible chance for it to live again is in the shriveled, dried up grain of a plan, a hope, a heart’s wish. You never know who might come along and give you another chance, or even more. The life is in the seed. *poof!

Let’s be fearless and fruitful together!  Here’s to living a life unafraid of failure; a life that isn’t measured by perfection… 

Thank you, Grandpa Gene, for inspiring us even in your death…you will be missed.

Phipps County Fair

Sawyer turned FIVE a few weeks ago and she wanted to have a county fair birthday party…so we did!  :)

She’s not very big into sweets but she really wanted to try cotton candy at the rodeo on July 4th.  Turns out, she’s a fan!  She REALLY wanted cotton candy at the party so that was the theme of our invitation.

Come one, come all...

Come one, come all…

When I think of the county fair, I immediately think of show animals and I knew Wrex had a few boxes of rosettes in the garage from his show days that I wanted to use.  When I decorate for parties, I’m all about using and re-purposing things we already have so this was an easy way to add some purple pizzazz without spending any money.

IMG_20150822_173455667_HDRFor the backdrop, I had the idea to make paper rosettes with Sawyer’s name on them.  I just happened to find the purple and white paper fans at Oriental Trading for $0.50 a piece and then cut scrapbook paper to make the ribbon tails.  We printed letters for her name and added them to sparkly foam and voila!  My favorite part of the party…

11898681_10155907181220335_6818905411667055591_nWrex and his dad made these ‘lemonade stands” for me out of old pallets we had in the shop.  We added a little paint and our rosette bunting and I absolutely loved how they looked…

Crazy can!

Crazy can!


Ring toss!

Ring toss!

IMG_5777We had a glitter tattoo booth, too!  I made livestock and ribbon templates, bought some glitter tattoo glue and some glitter and fancied the kids up…I just didn’t get any pictures of any of that.  Boo.


We HAD to have a cake walk – Sawyer’s favorite part of the party (besides her uncles, friends and cotton candy).

Walk it out...

Walk it out…

Wrex found some scrap carpet at Menards and I painted the numbers and made some tiny cakes and the cake walk was born.


IMG_20150822_171141007Sawyer’s other favorite birthday game is pin the tail on the donkey.  We decided to pin the ribbon on the pig – totally fun to watch the kids fumble through this one!   I found some farm animal clip art I liked and had them blown up and printed at Staples as an engineer print ($3!!) and we used the pig for the game and the other animals as decor…


The kids got prizes at every game station, so we made little bags so they could keep up with their treasures…


I got lucky and found a roll of purple and white gingham table covering that totally jazzed up our tablescapes.  For centerpieces, I bought some purple buckets at the dollar store and planted some wheat seed the neighbors gave us.  We watered and waited and two weeks later we plopped some purple animals in them and called it cute!

IMG_5764IMG_20150822_172907257Uncle Waco ran the cotton candy machine, automatically making him the most popular guy at the party…but he probably would’ve been anyways…

IMG_20150822_172408807_HDRIMG_20150822_172652310_HDRBesides cotton candy, we had BBQ sandwiches, corn dogs, curly fries, corn on the cob, popcorn and pickles!



We opened some presents and just had an all around good time!

IMG_20150822_174007403_HDRIMG_20150822_174217934_HDRIMG_5769The birthday girl got sang to but opted out of eating her cupcake.  ;)


At the end of the day, we thanked our guests with goldfish!  Wrex thought real ones would be a cool, affordable parting gift but we opted for making goldfish soap so we didn’t upset any parents.  ;)

We bought some plastic goldfish and some clear, glycerin soap.  We melted the soap down, poured it into bags, added a cute little fishy and tied it up with a ribbon.  These little guys were adorable, if I do say so myself.

IMG_4253IMG_4254All-in-all, it was my favorite party I’ve thrown.  Maybe it was because I know the birthday girl had such a good time and felt so loved…that’s the point, right?


with her (our) sweet friend, Andrea...

with her (our) sweet friend, Andrea…

Next up is Grandma Rusk’s 80th.  It’s gonna be a ball!

Prairie Pretties

Dusk is when I fell in love with our little place on the prairie and dusk here still takes my breath away.  My flowers this year have been troopers and have over-performed despite the sub-par care they’ve received.

As we were out doing chores tonight, I just couldn’t help but make sure and snap a few pictures so I can look back come winter and remind myself that spring will come…

IMG_4388IMG_4390IMG_4391IMG_4392IMG_4393IMG_4394IMG_4395IMG_4396IMG_4397IMG_4398IMG_4399My hubby has toiled and toiled and whipped our grass into shape.  When we first moved in, there was just a bunch of dirt and a LOT of weeds.  We sodded the front yard last year and my hardworking hubby re-seeded the property this spring and has watered and sprayed and babied our poor yard.  It’s been worth it. 

IMG_4400IMG_4401This was the yard two years ago.  YIKES.

576349_10152138544920335_1143720839_nBut the girl on the four-wheeler…swoon.

Sawyer’s Birth(day) Week

My first born is officially FIVE!  Five has always been a big birthday number for her.  She made a list about a year or so ago of all the things she felt like she could do once she was five…use a knife to cut her food, climb a tree, go underwater, etc.  (Now that one has been moved to when she’s 10.  Darn that bad swimming lesson…)

She had a really fun birth-week (and we did, too!)  She got to get a pedicure…

Sweet Sawyer

Sweet Sawyer

and have heart pancakes for breakfast…

IMG_5682IMG_5686IMG_5700She got sang to at the sale barn and someone gave her a dollar and her special friend Mr. Rod gave her some roller skates!  She was THRILLED!  She picked A&W for her birthday lunch (girl loves her some root beer floats) and then we headed home to open presents.   But first, a little birthday park play…

IMG_5702IMG_5704IMG_5706IMG_5710And yes, she wore that silly little birthday crown all day.  :)

That night, we surprised her with a birthday slumber party!  She’s been dying for one of us to sleep in her room with her in her new trundle bed so that’s what we did…for part of the night anyways.  Bum feet and babies make an all nighter a little hard but we did our best!  She’s been telling people we stayed up “alllllllll night.”  It was 9:00, but good enough for me!

We fixed each other’s hair and did each other’s makeup – daddy, too!

IMG_5720(Yes, he IS the best dad on the planet!)  We played flashlight tag and restaurant, read stories and played with sister…it really was a fun night.  One on one times with her have gotten fewer with the addition of our other little blessings so it was fun for us to be immersed in her world for a little while.

We spent the rest of the week finishing up the details for her official birthday party.  Little Wryder has been all about trailers lately…

IMG_5646So when Wrexy loaded up our little fair booths on Thursday evening, Wryder pulled his little car over and was ready to go.  It was the cutest thing….EVER.

IMG_5741 She wanted a county fair so on Saturday, a county fair we had!  Here’s a little sneak peak…more to come later!  :)

11898681_10155907181220335_6818905411667055591_nIMG_5752IMG_5750IMG_5777IMG_5769She had a ball and our hearts were so full.  THANK YOU to everyone who came and showered her with love…  We are so thankful for our spiritual family who fill in the gaps…you all have our hearts.

Sunday, we had brunch and (not enough) great grandma/PaPa/RaRa/auntie/uncle/cousin play time.

IMG_5799The kids are still recuperating – heck, I am, too! – but it was worth every late night, paper cut and sore foot.  She felt so loved…

She is.

Five in a Flash

Sweet Sawyer…

We call you that all the time and that little name was dubbed you before you were even born.  “Sweet Sawyer” was plastered all over your baby shower along with lots of real sweets, to boot.  :)  It was if we already knew…  May I just say you have fully lived up to and embraced that name.

Sweet Sawyer

Sweet Sawyer getting a pre-birthday pedicure

There is so much I could write about you on your birthday…  I love your beautiful face and your keen eye for fashion…  I love how girly you are and how you love to create outfits and change clothes, shoes and hair accessories 14 times a day…  I love how you love being outside and coming in filthy after a hard day of building and digging and wrangling goats…  I love how you plan parties and feasts and parades…  I love how much you love people, even those that have done nothing to deserve the unconditional love you so freely share…

IMG_3763I have so many favorites about you but my favorite thing about you is your heart…

You have a heart for your siblings.  The Lord chose you to be the first born; the big sister of the Phipps family.  Daddy and I know it’s a hard job sometimes (we were firstborns, too!) but you do it oh-so well.  The way you care for and protect and mother (and attempt to discipline) Wryder and Sayble is so sweet.  They adore you and we couldn’t ask for a better role model and example for them to look up to.


You have a heart for obedience.  Ever since you were just a tiny thing, daddy and I would set one rule and we never had to worry about you even testing that boundary.  You spoiled us, kiddo. And tricked us into believing all children were that way.  Not so.  *ahem*  You choose obedience daily and are quick to ask the Lord and us for forgiveness when you feel as if you’ve fallen short.


You have the heart of servant.  This is one of my favorite things about you because it’s somewhat of a lost trait in today’s society.  You are the first one to rush over and pick something up if it gets dropped or the first to rush in with a towel to clean up a spill (and we have a few of those around here).  You never tire of helping with chores or cleaning your room or helping mom plan a party.

IMG_3809Monday night, we came home WAY past bedtime and Sayble was tired and hungry and my foot was killing me and you guys needed a snack and dad needed to run to the barn to put the cat away so you enthusiastically jumped right in and got fruit, cheese and milk for you and Bubba. That blessed me so much and you do that kind of stuff every. day.

You have the heart of a worshiper.  The Lord showed me that before you were even a year old and boy is it true.  There are no better days than when we just spend some time worshiping through song together.  I love when you want to sing when I do your hair or when we all (attempt) to play instruments or when I hear you singing in the spirit in your room or in the car.  It’s a joyful noise to His ears, no doubt.

IMG_5291You have a heart of generosity.  You so freely share your things.  I can’t count how many times you find out someone is coming over or it’s someone’s birthday and you rush up stairs and rifle through your trinket drawers and come down with something wrapped up to give them.  You shower me with flowers (and a few weeds) and little notes and pictures all the time.  I wouldn’t trade those for the world, you know…



And, fellow readers?  If Sawyer ever bestows upon you a half-used chapstick or a too small bracelet or a chicken feather or a few coins…receive them and receive them with gusto!  These are some of her most treasured possessions and she’s chosen to share them with YOU.

You have a heart that seeks Jesus.  Daddy and I have been amazed at the spiritual maturity you possess for being so young.  (We might be a wee bit jealous, too).  You are constantly asking questions about how to hear from the Lord and how NOT to hear from satan and how to tell the difference.  You are quick to share the gospel even when you get rejected.  You love to “read” your Bible and you love our family devotion and prayer time.  The zeal in which you seek Him is inspiring.

I think that’s what it boils down to, sweet Sawyer…you inspire me.  You make me want to be a better mom and sister and friend…… make me want to be more like you.

I would be remiss if I didn’t say that these five years have gone fast.  Too fast.  In a flash you’re five and my heart is bursting with pride regarding you.  I’m so excited about these new stages and adventures we’re encountering…but I can’t help but think of all the ways I’ve failed you as a momma.  I’m so far from perfect it’s revolting….but I sure do love you.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…if I knew every kid we’d have would be just like you, I’d have 10 more in a heartbeat.  Sure would.  Until then, I’ll continue to bless you and bless the day you were born!

I bless you with a continued life of obedience.  It will serve you well in all walks of life but I pray that that obedience is always born out of a love for the Lord, not because of a set of rules.  I pray that because you love Him you so much, your heart can’t bear to bend any other way than towards righteousness.

I bless you with Godly friends and relationships.  You are so kind and so giving and so merciful and so forgiving and so loving and I pray all of that is given right back to you ten-fold.  I pray that as you get older that the Lord would deliver you a good friend to walk this life with who will be just as invested in the relationship as you are.

I bless you with lots of opportunities to hear from the Lord.  I pray that He would continually be in your ear and in your heart and that you would be attuned to listen and obey.

I bless you with a family who models what it means to love the Lord.  We fall short so often, sweet girl, but you inspire us to constantly strive to do better and strengthen our relationships with Him as well.

I bless you with the calling of the Lord on your life…that you would hear it and know it from an early age and that you would stop at nothing to a live a life that is pleasing to him.

PicMonkey CollageSweet Sawyer, you are so special to us…irreplaceable….one of the biggest blessings we’ve ever been given.  It’s an honor and a privilege to be your momma.  Happy birthday, beautiful!  Let’s party!


Random Rambles

Today was one of those tough mom days where I didn’t really enjoy my job.  Wryder is in a definite boundary testing phase…again.  My apologies ahead of time to the wonderful sitter I have lined up for tomorrow.  *ahem*

There just seemed to be an overload of disobedience and nasty tones (some of them mine, unfortunately)…unkind gestures and more housework than I could juggle.  I just felt defeated come nap time.

We made it through the afternoon – praise the Lord for short sales and daddy’s who come home quick – and the evening ended decently well.

Sawyer is learning to read and doing a fantastic job!  Our plan is to home school (for multiple reasons) and there are days when I wonder if that will ever work.  Sawyer is an incredible student but we have a few little distractions running around…and I’ve never taught school before…and I don’t remember how to teach someone to read…and I’m not the most patient soul on the planet…and days like today, where it feels like we barely survive the normal daily activities, I wonder how I can add one more thing…and the thought of trying to teach Wryder to read…well…that’s just scary.

Some days I just wonder if I’m gonna be able to finish this mom thing and finish it well…

And then…Sawyer read new words she struggled with just this morning…and I came across a blog that was saying exactly what I was saying…and I learned of families fighting far bigger battles than ours…and my world got a little broader and my self-pity a little smaller.

I have no doubt that HE wants me to finish this mom thing and finish it well and thus He will encourage me and refresh me and renew me and strengthen me and grace me and give me the wisdom I need to do such a thing.

Bring it, Friday…


The last two nights, Wrex and I have grabbed a blanket, killed the power to the mercury light and laid out on the trampoline to watch the meteor shower.  The sky has been cloudless and our prairie view has allowed for an awesome window in which to watch.

I was thinking of how majestic the Lord truly is and how He blessed us through His creativity.  I mean what if He chose not to make stars?  What if the night sky was just black?  What if instead of a blue sky during the day, He chose olive green instead?  What if there were no such thing as animals or what if every human looked exactly the same?  What if birds didn’t make sounds or what if food had no taste?  What if…

His creation speaks of His wonder and goodness and glory…


The other day, the kids had gone out to play and I had to change Sayble’s diaper before I went out with them.  I got that done, grabbed my shoes and headed over towards the tree, right where they were playing when out of the corner of my eye, I saw an orange streak slither quickly in their direction.

It was a long, nasty garter snake and he was headed right towards them.  I told them to move and then cornered him while Sawyer got me a shovel.  (The only good snake is a dead snake around these parts)…

I chopped him up and threw him in the ditch…and then had the willies the rest of the day…  But it was a good reminder of how the enemy is doing just that – heading for my kids.  He’s on the prowl, folks.  He’s real and he’s looking for someone to devour.

Pray for your kids!  Cover them and intercede for them and demand satan to flee in the name of Jesus.  You’ve got no authority here, you creep.

The snake.  I know it doesn't look that big, but it was.  *ahem*

The snake. I know it doesn’t look that big, but it was. *ahem*

Sawyer holding Sayble so I could do my thing...

Sawyer holding Sayble so I could do my thing…


On a brighter note, I saw this the other day in Sterling…

Get your guns up!

Get your guns up!

It made me feel so at home.  Only a few more days until the start of football season and I’m sure hoping for a mildly successful one to say the least.  Now, to get Wrex agree to cable for the winter…


I’m headed to a consult with the orthopedic surgeon tomorrow.  I hurt my foot/ankle/leg back in February and it’s gotten increasingly worse.  I’m sure they’ll want to do an MRI and all of that (expensive) jazz.  If you would  join me in prayer that it could be healed without surgery, I’d much appreciate it.


Praying your Friday is fun and that the presence of the Lord is thick with you this weekend.  Praying that for me, too…

Camera Dump

I plugged my phone into my computer to charge last night and I realized I have a lot of pictures that haven’t made it anywhere, so I thought I’d post some of my favorites!  We’ve had such a great summer…can you believe it’s August?!

We took a little trip up to the sandhills of Nebraska to see the elder Phipps’…always a good time and good food!

The kids with their great-grands!

The kids with their great-grands!

Grandad putting Sayble to sleep

Grandad putting Sayble to sleep

Going for a spin on the golf cart

Going for a spin on the golf cart

We had supper with some friends and the kids got to check out the volunteer fire department!

Checkin' out the fire truck in Wages

Checkin’ out the fire truck in Wages

Wryder lost his pants and I'm not completely sure what Sawyer is doing.  Hilarious picture though...

Wryder lost his pants and I’m not completely sure what Sawyer is doing. Hilarious picture though…

The Stukas family came for a visit and we had more fun than we knew what to do with!

Sayble and Shoshanah

Sayble and Shoshanah

Look at those smiles!

Look at those smiles!



Reading with Tanner.  Wryder loved having a brother around!

Reading with Tanner. Wryder loved having a brother around!

Daddy brought home some new barn kitties.  Wryder is officially in love.  Poor cats.

This boy LOVES his kitty!

This boy LOVES his kitty!

And his new backpack!

And his new backpack!

Good gravy he's cute...

Good gravy he’s cute…

Kitty, don't leave

Kitty, don’t leave

Wrex made this arrow for me for a wedding gift.  I loved how it turned out so he’s cranked out a few more since!

Follow the arrow to the hottie!

Follow the arrow to the hottie!

Barnwood stain

Barnwood stain

I bought groceries one night ALL BY MYSELF.  It was a little quiet but quite nice.  The kids were incredibly tired and thus distraught when I left.  I had to document the fact that they were crying because I was leaving.  That never happens…either thing – me leaving or them crying because I do.  :)



Sawyer has gotten her craft on lately.

Sawyer selfie :)

Sawyer selfie :)

We busted out the puff paint!  Flashback 1991!

We busted out the puff paint! Flashback 1991!

She’s also been drawing a lot.  Here’s a picture of a fish…

Oh. My. Word.

Oh. My. Word.

And just a couple of my faves…



Mid yawn looks like what the heck?!

Mid yawn looks like what the heck?!