Manda Strong

It's with an extremely heavy heart that I'm writing this post.  As many of you may already know by either knowing her or by reading another blog this morning, our sweet, sweet friend Manda went to be with Jesus last night. There are so many incredible things I could say about Manda so today I just wanted to share with all of you a little of the Manda I knew, and will see again in heaven one day!  The Manda who, above all things, loved the Lord with all her heart and showed His love to everyone she knew. The Manda who was such a fighter.  The Manda who never let her eyes stray from Jesus, despite what she was facing or the odds.  The Manda who didn't always understand but trusted God anyway.  

She was such an inspiration to so many people and I want her legacy to live on in others' lives...her kiddos, her husband, her family, her friends, and all those who were touched by her story.  

The words below were the words we shared in 2014 when Manda began her third battle against cancer. 

"Manda first had cancer at the age of five and was in remission until it resurfaced again one week after giving birth to her son at age twenty-eight. Only two weeks after having her son, Manda made the brave choice to have one of her legs amputated in order to completely remove the cancer from her body. After that, Manda held strong as a brand new mommy and spent the first year of her son's life undergoing treatments to ensure the cancer was gone for good. Now, almost five years later, it is back for the third time. Manda's family is full of hope and joy knowing that God has big plans for Manda's life and the testimony he has given her as a fighter."-2014

It was devastating news, but  Manda put on her armor and was ready to fight this battle head on with hopefully a bit of peace knowing we were all right beside her every step of the way.  Manda experienced countless rounds of chemotherapy, a variety of different trial drugs, and anything else the doctors recommended that could possibly have an impact on this cancer.  She was so courageous and fought the good fight for as long as her earthly body would allow her to without ever losing heart.  The Lord showed His mercy by taking her when he did so she doesn't have to fight anymore.  Today, with no more pain and no more sorrow, she is standing face to face with her Savior and I know he's telling her "job well done!"

There are so many things I want you to know about our Manda that I could go on for days but I will mention a few...

If you met her, you'd walk away saying she's one of the sweetest people you'd ever met.  Manda truly had an infectious heart of gold. She was one of those girls I could call crazy late at night asking for her help and she would have been there as quickly as she possibly could.

Manda was an unbelievably great mama.  She was fighting cancer all while being a dedicated wife and raising two kiddos, doing everything she could to teach them about Jesus.  

For the most part, Manda was more quiet and reserved, but every once in a while her Mama Bear came out.  The love for her family was so easy to see.

She was truly an inspiration that is beyond words.  To believe how big of an inspiration, you would really have had to live it with her.  In the midst of the normal strains of life and everything else she had going on, she made time to serve others so graciously. 

She brought the calm and rationale to our group.  She was the voice of reason, the fighter in each of our corner, and the one always seeing the good in others, no matter what.  A better wasy to say it is that Manda was the best at seeing each situation with the same grace we would expect God to see.  She truly was an angel among us...and we know she's still with us and we will see her again someday!

My life, and my testimony, is so much better because sweet Manda was in it.  I wish you all could have known the Manda I knew (know) and loved (love).  Nothing I could ever say in a few words on a blog post could do Manda's life journey justice but hopefully by sharing how amazing she was, her life song has made a lasting positive impact on you.  

Despite her odds or obstacles, Manda always chose faith over fear throughout her entire battle.  Why, or how you might ask would she have the courage to choose faith through it all?  To Manda, that answer is simple, Jesus!  Jesus didn't will this for her, but He used her through it.  If Manda were writing this today, she would want you to know that no matter what you are going through, God loves you and He is using you to help change lives and encourage others.  She would also tell you our time here on earth is extremely fragile and temporary, but the work we do here on earth and the legacy we leave behind is eternal!  She would tell you to make the most of each day, love big, forgive big and make the time you have count!

As her friend, I'm heart broken for her family, her friends, and selfishly myself.  The pain of her leaving is hard and will continue to be tough, but I have peace in knowing the second she left this earth her body was fully healed.  She was in the presence of our Savior.  She WALKED through those great gates.  I also have peace in knowing I will see her again in heaven.  Even if it's 50 years from now, compared to eternity, it's no time.  The earthly part of my heart is breaking but is rejoicing at the same time for a dear friend who is pain free and in the arms of Jesus.

Manda, we love you big and are missing you dearly.   XO

"As for me, my life has already been poured out as an offering to God. The time of my death is near. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race and I have remained faithful." 2 Timothy 4:6-7 

"Please be in prayer for Aaron Maxwell, their children (Aiden and Miley) and the whole family as they spend their final earthly moments with beautiful Manda. She has run the race and fought harder than anyone we've ever known...but now, we graciously await her homecoming with Jesus. Thank you so much for the love, support and prayers as she's battled so bravely this third bout with cancer."-From Manda Strong FB

I thank you from the bottom of my heart for all the calls, texts, and e-mails I've received letting me know you were praying for this family.  It means the world.

In honor of our friend, Manda, I'll be taking the week off.  We're going to move our What's Up Wednesday link-up to March 20th.  If you post this week, just make sure to link-up on the 20th.  We'll be skipping Friday Favorites this week.  Next week is Spring Break so I'm off that week as well, but Andrea will be hosting Friday Favorites on the 10th.  I'll be back here on the 13th.  Hope to see you then.  XO

Friday Favorites

Hey, Hey, Ladies!  I'm not sure about you guys but we have only ONE MORE WEEK until Spring Break.  To say my people are ready, would be an understatement.  Kicking off this Friday, I'm sharing my favorites with my blogger and real-life friends, Narci and Andrea.  I hope you join us!

Just like every other Friday, I'm sharing a HOT RANDOM MESS of goodies...

A sweet reader e-mailed me this one day this week and I couldn't agree more.  Those five seconds are glorious. 

I'm a few episodes behind, but according to FB this week's This Is Us episode was brutal.  It was bringing everyone to tears!  Needless to say, this graphic made me LOL!

Talk about a view!  One day this week, this was my lunch time view.  :)

Does this happen to anyone else??  Because it happens to me A LOT!  #imguilty

Do you guys remember my BRIGHT IDEA post a couple weeks ago?  The plan was to match up ladies struggling with infertility who'd like someone to talk to, someone to encourage, and just know they're not alone in the trenches of this journey.  You guys!  I got a ton of e-mails from women who said over and over again..."I talk to my husband and my mom but I'd love a new friend to talk to".  I sent out e-mails this week and I got the best responses.  I got one e-mail that had me in tears.  Seriously, in tears!  I called Tab immediately to read him the e-mail and I cried THE ENTIRE TIME!   With that said, I got a couple e-mails after I'd already matched the majority of girls.  If you'd like to participate, please e-mail me ASAP and I'll get a match for you.  Thank you!!  And a huge thank you for all the ladies who are participating.  I'm praying God will work through these new friendships and bring you lots of encouragement throughout this journey.

I just finished Bread and Wine (so good...highly recommend it) and towards the end there is a chapter called, "Swimsuit, Ready or Not".  It might have been my favorite chapter of the entire book.  I contemplated putting the entire chapter here in this post but that's probably against the law AND it would have taken forever for me to type that out.  But it had me thinking about our Tuesday Talk.  Lots of you guys shared your swimsuit struggles...long torso, short torso, bigger thighs, extra weight in the middle.  I have them too.  We all have them.  Shauna talks about how shame makes us think about our area (or areas) we're trying to hide at the pool instead of being present and just having a good time.  (She also makes a reference to what we wear at the pool being able to fit in a plastic bag!)  Anyway, you should really check out the book AND check out Tuesday's post because lots of you recommended places you like to shop for suits in the comments.

And on Monday, I answered questions readers have been sending in over the last month.  If you have a question you'd like me to answer in my next Q and A post, just send me an e-mail at

Thanks so much for stopping by today!  Have a great weekend!  XO

Owning It

Happy Thursday!

Have I mentioned Thursdays are my favorite day of the week?    :)  One reason is because I always do OWNING IT posts on Thursdays.  Another reason is it's the eve to the weekend!

Today, I have a special guest blogger, Megan over at Letting In The Light Blog.  I met Megan about a year ago.  We planned a Disney World trip for her and her family.  She is precious!  She has two boys, one girl, and one on the way-via China.  I can't wait to follow along their journey.  I'm so excited to introduce you guys.  You're going to love her.  Meet Megan...

Hi everyone! I'm Megan and you can find me over at Letting In The Light Blog where I share about our family, adoption, home decor, real life style and all of the other things that make me happy.

I am the wife of one fantastic hubby, mom of three (soon to be 4!), part-time hospital pharmacist by day and lover of popcorn and Netflix by night. After being a huge blog reader for years, I finally decided to start my own little corner of the world. I would love to have you join me over on the blog as I find the light in the everyday.

I first connected with Erika through her blog and can tell you first hand that she should be your go-to gal if you are planning a Disney vacation.

When Erika asked me to own my crazy I thought it was a perfect fit. I love to admit the nutty quirks that make me Megan and I'm happy to share them with you today. Thanks Erika for inviting me! Now on to the crazy...

I am super nosey. Not about what you have going on in your life or with gossip, but I NEED to know what you keep in your bathroom cabinets. I know, weird, right? So if you invite me to your home at some point I will need to use the restroom. And while I am in there I will open every cabinet and closet available to see what you have. I have this need to know what kind of toothpaste, shampoo, etc. that people use. The best part is that I fully admit this indiscretion to everyone. I don't even try to hide it.

Facial hair on men. I hate it. I know that the scruffy look is the current trend, but I have yet to see a man that I think looks better with facial hair. It just makes my skin crawl. I am convinced that growing facial hair means you are trying to hide something in your life. Haven't shaved for three days? What are you trying to hide??? My poor husband's face just can't get a break. Ha!

I don't like surprises. Whether it's a surprise birthday party, vacation, or visit from a friend or family member, I am not a fan. For me half of the fun of these activities is the anticipation. Looking forward to that party or trip, or finding the perfect thing to wear. When it is a surprise, all of those things are taken from you. This may be a slight problem because Shane's family is super into surprises. Thankfully he understands my issue and always gives me fair warning for any big activities.

When Erika first asked me to Own It, this one immediately came to mind. I used to work night shift with just me and one pharmacy technician. When you work alone with one person for seven days in a row every other week, you really get to know that person. I had one technician who made an ABC list of all of my quirks and weirdness (Hi JoJo!). Most of them revolved around food. Here are just a few examples:
  • I don't like cake, but will eat a cupcake. It's all about the cake to icing ratio!
  • I will not touch raw meat! Just the thought of touching a chicken breast or steak makes my stomach turn. Shane has the job of trimming and putting all meat in the pan during cooking.
  • I think turkey smells like old people farts. (Sorry if I just ruined your lunch) ;)
  • I drink orange juice with Oreos. No milk for me!
  • I love to eat blueberry muffins with potato soup. (Don't knock it until you try it!)
I am terrible with scissors. I cannot cut a straight line to save my life. The worst grade I received in my entire life was in cutting. I was officially declared unsatisfactory. This label has held true all thru my 36 years. Need a craft that requires cutting? I'm not your girl. This lack of skill set extends to my knife skills as well. I can't effectively use a knife either. Shane regularly cuts my meat at dinner just like the kids because it's so painful to watch me try to do it. See, I told you he was a fantastic hubby!

I am terrified of dogs. Like ridiculously afraid. If I could change one thing about myself, this would be it. I am aware that it is a ridiculous fear and doesn't make any sense. But I am convinced that all dogs are trying to eat me. Since having kids, I have really worked on this fear because I don't want my kids to grow up being afraid like I did (thanks, Mom!). This means trying to remain cool and not pee my pants or cry when I'm around a dog with my kids.

So far, it must be working because both Anderson and Quinn love dogs. Sorry, kids. No dogs until you grow up and get your own house!
The crazy part about this fear is that one of my favorite Thanksgiving Day traditions is watching the National Dog Show after the parade. I just can't get enough! I love watching those ladies in skirts and tennis shoes run around the arena with their perfectly manicured dogs in tow. But if I was actually in that room I would probably be hyperventilating in fear. Ha!

Whew! That's a whole lot of crazy for one post! Thanks again to Erika for having me guest post today and lay all of my crazy out for you. It was fun! Feel free to visit us over at Letting In The Light Blog and say hello. We just announced that we are adding our newest little Peanut to the family and we would love to have you follow along as we work to bring her home from China later this year.

There also promises to be a lot of crazy and adventure until then.

Megan...THANK YOU so much for OWNING IT and CLAIMING YOUR CRAZY with us today!  This was so fun to read!  XO

Please make sure you check out Megan's blog and you can follow her on Instagram here.

I hope you have the best day!  Let's OWN this Thursday!  XO

What's Up Wednesday

 I'm joining MelShay, and Sheaffer for their What's Up Wednesday link-up!

What we're eating this week:
Monday:  Salmon and kids are big fish fans.
Tuesday:  We had some leftovers from the weekend.
Wednesday:  Taco Salads...for some reason I think of Girl Scout camp when I make taco salads.  Can you believe we made taco salads around the camp fire at camp?  As an adult, that sounds like a lot of trouble.
Thursday:  Pasta with Bacon and Corn with salad.
Friday:  We'll go out!

What I'm Reminiscing About:
Last year at this time I was shopping and getting everything ready for our Spring Break Disney Cruise.  It was a vacation full of FUN...the memories, the friends, and all kinds of Disney magic.  :)

What I'm Loving:
These days...field trips, class activities, playing outside, homework in the sun.

What We've Been Up To:
Labeling our Chinese food leftovers so no one else eats them.  ha!  And just life...winter sports are  now transitioning to spring sports.  The boys are starting to practice baseball and tee-ball.  Ebby Lee is still enjoying dance.  The warm weather has given us spring fever and we're READY for Spring Break!

What I'm Dreading:
Our master closet is in disarray.  I'm not sure how it happens so quickly, but it's happened again.  I have to clean that out this weekend.

What I'm Working On:
Mix and Match Travel has been hard at work sending families like these on fun-filled vacations.  Please e-mail us if you'd like help planning an upcoming vacation.

What I'm Excited About:
Tab and I are loading up these crazies and setting off on another fun little Spring Break getaway soon. #cmonspringbreak

What I'm watching/reading:
I just can't stop watching!  If you're watching, make sure you're following along with Sheaffer's recaps.  They are THE BEST!  This week I found myself cheering along with Rachel taking Nick to church!  I was so proud of that girl!

I'm reading Bread and Wine by Shauna Niequist.  I like this one SO MUCH MORE than Present Over Perfect.

What I'm Listening To:
These two are on repeat in the car, at home, or anywhere else we might find ourselves.  :)

What I'm Wearing:

What I'm Doing This Weekend:
Remember the closet?  :)  That's on the top of my priority list.  

What I'm Looking Forward to Next Month:
Next month might include me, pizza, and a mountain.  And by pizza I mean...I'll PIZZA my way down the entire mountain.  ;)

Hope you ladies have a great Wednesday!  XOXO

Tuesday Talk

Happy Tuesday, Ladies!  

WE'RE BACK!  Ashley and I are back for another edition of Tuesday Talk.  The day of the month we invite you to chat about ANYTHING over on your blogs, grab our graphic, and link up to join us!  If you missed us this month, mark us down on your calendar for next time-March 21st.

Today, I want us to chat about something that's been on my while for the last couple weeks.  Are you ready?? 


I 'm pretty sure I heard some gasps and sighs.  :)

Swim suits are one thing I will hands down splurge on ANY DAY!  It's hard enough for us to feel comfortable in a swim suit so if you find a good one-go for it!

I have a few tips for trying on swim suits...
*I've started ordering suits.  I usually over order-a couple sizes of each, have them come to my house and I just know I'll be returning items.  I like this process MUCH better in ront of my own mirrors.  haha!

*ALWAYS use some sunless tanner before you try on your first suit of the year.  

*Remember the women in the magazines have been air brushed.  You look great!!

Isn't this the truth?  haha!
The weather around here has been crazy nice.  It's got me ready for spring!  And spring turns into summer so I've had swim suits on the brain.  I'd love for us to chat about our favorite places to buy swim suits.  Maybe (HOPEFULLY) we can help each other out and we'll all be feeling great in a new suit this year.

This year my struggle is the suits I'm drawn to are not the ones that look the best on me.  Do you guys ever deal with that?  I want to be one big ruffle at the pool this year but so far all five suits I've ordered haven't worked.  And every year I see some cute one piece I just know will work for me.  Every year this happens.  I'm crazy's never gonna happen.  There are pros and cons to this and one major con piece swim suits DO NOT WORK.  But I have no doubt in 2018, I'll give it another go and will have to remind myself this body just wasn't made for those suits.  

I thought I'd share some places I've shopped for suits over the years....(I'm hoping you share too)!  Keep in mind I'm highlighting a few that catch my eye but they aren't necessarily suits that will work for me.  But maybe they'll work for you.  :)


This just needs a big hat and you're beach ready!  Isn't that cute?

This is a fun twist on a one piece with the lace cut outs.  

Trina Turke always has the best colors and designs.

I like this spin on a bikini top.

Super cute tankini option.

Victoria's Secret:
Apparently, I'm a fan of the high neck this year.  ;)

I look so much better in a colorful suit.  This one looks great.

The ruffles.  Need I say more?

Old Navy:
I told you I have a thing for the ruffles.

And the high neck.  :)  The back of this top made it even more fun.

This would never work for me, but it sure is cute.

A friend recently told me about Revolve.  I ordered the cutest one-piece (WHAT WAS I THINKING?), but it was way too short.
Isn't this suit cute?  The floral print was gorgeous!

Now, let's chat.  Where do you like to buy swim suits?  Please, please share.  Hopefully, we can help each other out and we'll all be feeling like a million bucks at the pool this summer.