I’m not a resolutions person. Come the New Year, yes, I want to eat better (Hello, Christmas fudge in my love handles.), but I’m not one that’s going to make a resolution to never eat chocolate during the year. Because, I know I’m just setting myself up for failure! But this new year, the word ‘gratitude’ was heavy on my mind. Gratitude for everything. Every day. For the big things like healthy children, a wonderful husband and the little things like a soft bed, food to eat, and even the not so favorite things like dirty dishes, and yes, even laundry. Have you seen the image floating around Facebook? It goes something like this, and really makes you think when you read it.

I am grateful for…

  • early wake ups = children to love
  • house to clean = safe place to live
  • laundry = clothes to wear
  • dirty dishes = food to eat
  • crumbs on the floor = family meals
  • shopping to do = money to use
  • toilets to clean = indoor plumbing
  • lots of noise = kids having fun

So my ‘theme’ for the year is gratitude. Every day. For all of the little things that I may grumble about, may I see them all as blessings from our God who takes care of all our needs! Sing songs to the LORD with your heart, and give thanks ALWAYS to GOD for EVERYTHING! Ephesians 4:19

This is my most recent Bible journaling page, and so far, I think it’s one of my favorites! I love the colors and the gold combo. 

Media used: watercolor + Micron pen + gold paint pen + stencil

  • Jeri - My one word for the year is Gratitude! It’s also going to be theme of my blog this year. It’s so easy to get caught in the cycle of wish for more when we have so much more than most. Although I don’t think I can put laundry on my list. 😉 Gratitude brings us closer to God, too. I love your dedication page in your Bible. Beautiful!ReplyCancel

    • JRutledge - “Gratitude brings us closer to God” – exactly! Having gratitude for all things and acknowledging HIM for everything HE gives us definitely draws you closer to HIM and gives you that deep joy in your heart. Thanks for sharing :)ReplyCancel

I have to share a God story! Back in November, I met a couple when I was photographing the engagement of their sister. I learned that this couple was adopting a little boy from China, and I mentioned that I offer adoption sessions and could take homecoming pictures of them at the airport when they returned from China. A few weeks later, we learned that their homecoming flight would be on Christmas night. I wanted to take their homecoming pictures, but was torn about leaving my own family on Christmas. I prayed about it, “Lord, what should I do?” And He gave me the verse of 1 Peter 4:10. “1 Peter 4:10” just popped in my mind! I was driving at the time, so I asked Siri, “What does the verse 1 Peter 4:10 say?” And after reading, I knew I had God’s answer. “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” Wow. Just wow.

So, though Christmas day was a long day of visiting family and running on about 2 hours of sleep from the night before (my kids woke up at 3 am Christmas morning!), I was SO blessed to be there to capture Eli’s homecoming as his extended family saw him for the first time. Adoption is such a beautiful picture of love, and God gives us the perfect example of that as those who are Christians are adopted into HIS family. As I got in my car to head home from the airport, ‘Good Father’ was playing on the radio (which is the same song that was played when their sister got engaged). And that HE is! As I was looking up the lyrics to Good Father JUST NOW, it started playing on my random Apple radio playlist! WHAT A GOOD FATHER HE IS! 

“I’ve seen many searching for answers far and wide
But I know we’re all searching
For answers only You provide
Cause You know just what we need
Before we say a word.

You’re a Good, Good Father
It’s who you are,
And I’m loved by you
It’s who I am.

‘Cause you are perfect in all of your ways
You are perfect in all of your ways
You are perfect in all of your ways to us.”


I just love it when I know, without a doubt, that God is speaking to me. And it is a reminder that He is always there. All we need to do is reach out to him.

I hope this God story blessed you, as it did me.


Today is the first day of FALL, aka my favorite season of the year! A season of soups + sweaters + chilly weather. Yes, yes and yes. And to kick off the Fall season, I’m sharing a staple recipe in our house for those cooler nights. Taco soup! It’s such an easy recipe to throw together, and my whole family loves it. You can make this in an hour before dinner time, or you can cook it in the crock pot for those busy weeknights.

TACO SOUP RECIPE *Easy*Crockpot* |


Taco Soup
Easy and delicious! A favorite for the whole family.
Write a review
Prep Time
10 min
Prep Time
10 min
For the soup
  1. 1 lb ground beef
  2. 1 onion, chopped
  3. 2 (15 oz) cans beans; your choice of chili, kidney, or black beans
  4. 1 (15 oz) can whole kernel corn
  5. 1 (29 oz) can tomato sauce
  6. 2 (14.5 oz) cans peeled and diced tomatoes
  7. 1 (7 oz) can diced green chili peppers
  8. 1 (1.25 oz) package taco seasoning mix
  9. 1 (1.25 oz) package dry ranch dressing mix
For the topping
  1. Sour cream
  2. Shredded cheddar cheese
  3. Corn Chips
  1. In a medium skillet, cook the ground beef, with the taco seasoning, until browned. Drain and set aside.
  2. Place all ingredients for the soup in a large stockpot and let simmer for an hour on medium heat, stirring occasionally. You can also place soup ingredients in a crockpot and cook on LOW setting for 8 hours.
  3. Top individual soup bowls with a dollop of sour cream, shredded cheddar and corn chips.
  4. Enjoy!
  1. I like to use the Simple Truth Organic Tri-Blend can of beans from Kroger.
the Sparrow's Nest


It’s been nearly a year since I’ve posted about God’s gifts of grace in my life. (hanging my head in shame) A year! 365 days. That sort of blows my mind. It makes me feel like a total slacker in acknowledging His gifts of love, which was the whole basis of this blog. I used to write down my gifts each day as I experienced them, which, is harder than it sounds…  Some days I would forget to write anything down, and I’d have to recall at the end of the day everything that I felt and saw. It’s definitely a commitment. And it’s not that I didn’t say ‘thank you’, in my mind, to Him as I witnessed a tender moment, saw a beautiful sunset or heard the voice of the Holy Spirit. But, I didn’t record them. And don’t you know that we tend to easily forget things. Or at least I do. If I don’t write something down, the memory is lost within days, sometimes minutes! So, I’m making another commitment to start back my personal photography journey of recording all His grace in my life. 

Here’s a glimpse at the gifts of grace I saw over the past few weeks.

We took a trip out to the country, and I had my macro lens on my camera. Makes my heart happy!


I’m always amazed at the details of the tiny things that usually go unnoticed. How beautiful is this?

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New curled petals, waiting to bloom.

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His late great-grandfather wore this same hat. Makes me smile when I see him wear it.


The day my son gave his heart to the Lord. It looked like heaven was rejoicing as we were!


I feed birds from my kitchen window. And, we normally see the same group of birds each day, but this was the first time I had seen a blue jay!


Up close and personal.


And then this guy showed up. He always looks like he’s been in a fight, and rightly so. He’s not the nicest!


The smallest birds are the most fearless.


I’m not the only one that likes to watch the birds.  It was a little eerie to see her sitting there with a camera in hand. It was as if I was looking at myself.


And I’m so glad I have this image. They both have my heart!




Aside from what it looks like, this Sunday and the day after will go down in history as the two days that my children got along perfectly. I started to think hell was freezing over.


Getting along while virtually beating each other up. Sister won. *wink*


I see more beautiful sunsets at the soccer fields than most anywhere else.


Someone made her own entry in my journaling Bible.


Pickin’ peas at Pappaw’s.


The calm after the storm.


The end of a great day.


This is my favorite bird friend. He’s plump and fluffy! Isn’t he beautiful?

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I challenge you to take note of God’s gifts of grace in your life. There is a joy in your heart when you take notice and say ‘thank you’ to Him! As Ann Voskamp says in her book One Thousand Gifts, “A life contemplating the blessings of Christ becomes a life acting the love of Christ.” 

I’m excited to announce a new friend to my little blog – Painted Fox Treasures! Painted Fox specializes in an eclectic collection of hand-picked vintage styled treasures so that you can add a touch of  farmhouse swag to your home décor. I’ve followed their Instagram feed for a while now and “ooh and ahh” over just about everything. Here’s a few of my favorite picks from their site. Those little cupcake stands? I die. The white jars? Swoon. I just love it all! To browse their store and find your own farmhouse swag, click the picture link in the menu to the left!


Painted Fox | farmhouse. swag.