The Trait Project : Allison Michelle

Prior to this Trait Project, I have written about people who I have known for a long time. However, I sometimes find the brightest of gems in people I just meet or whom have barely graced my years yet.

Allison is one such person.

Allison Michelle Coble.

My sweet friend Allison and her husband, Kyle.
Isn’t she stunning? 🙂

I remember the first time I ever saw her.
I was in Washington, DC right after we lost our little Veronika’s adoption in Ukraine. Through a series of emails and trying to figure out who I needed to talk with to ensure V’s safety, I was paired with The Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute. They were able to connect me with the Congressional members and other organizations I needed to speak with.

I scheduled a meeting with them and I joined them in their DC offices one afternoon to discuss my story.

As we gathered around their conference room table, the staff mentioned to me that one more person may join us later.

A few minutes later the cutest gal walks in, in a hurry, trying not to disturb our meeting and scurried to her seat as she said, “Hi! I’m Allison! I’m so sorry I’m late!”
She eagerly sat down and proceeded to catch up, as she could, with what I was saying.

I remember her so vividly that day because she was so intently listening to what I was saying. Not only was she listening intently, she was positioning her heart in a way to attach to mine. I could see it in her eyes and read it in her body language. She was diving into my story and wanting to reside with me.

I have rarely seen this – someone who listens so closely because they are opening their heart to help and hurt with you.

Allison did that for me that day so it is no wonder she has made a huge impact on me. She joined my heart in all the joys and hurts and wanted to be there with and for me.

I can count on both hands the amount of times we have actually been in the same city spending quality time together – however, I would consider her one of my closest friends.

Every time we are together, we make sure that we have dinner or time to catch up a bit.

Allison is a living, breathing, form of compassion and empathy. Her heart is a rarity; her kindred spirit unmatched. And the amazing thing is – I have only scratched the surface of who Allison is. There is so much more to discover about who God has created her to be – and I hope we have many years of friendship for me to get to know her better.

a picture showing Allison’s heart and her work with CCAI

She is going through some big things in life at this moment and I really hope she feels that I show up for her. I  hope she knows I would go to any depths of emotions with her because I really value her.

I pray my sons can grow up with a touch of Allison in them. I hope to take her heart for others and emulate that for my boys so that their hearts can attach to people who are hurting and help them in the healing process.

Allison, I know that I can’t physically be there with you during this time, but I hope you know how much I love and admire you. My phone is always waiting when you need me. I love you so much. Thank you for loving me well.


The Trait Project : Jared James-Robert

I have been nervous to start this Trait Project. I know that seems silly because this one is about my husband and it should be the easiest to write.

It’s not.

It’s the hardest because he means so much to me that no string of words put together seem to be adequate enough for him. I am terrified to not do this incredible man the justice he deserves. So here it goes, my attempt to tell you about the most wonderful human I have ever met.

Jared James-Robert Ribble.

Jared, on a golf trip in Ireland

He came into my life on June 1, 2008. This is the day he responded to a message I sent, to what I believed was the band he played for, but the message went to him personally. It’s a funny and very unlikely story. I never imagined I would meet the man I would marry in an “unlikely” way, but even to this day, I think about how we met and am in awe I share my life with this man.

When Jared came into my world, I was a skeptic and he was a bit wounded. He was healing from the end of his first marriage and I was beginning a new life in a new city where I carried a mindset that it would take a long time to find the right guy to spend my life with.

I thought it was terrible timing, but as I look back, God brought us together to tie up the loose ends of the respective things we were going through.

Jared would never be completely healed until God brought him the woman He made specifically for him.

I would never stop being skeptical of every guy I met until God brought me a man whose traits stood above all others.

We would never be complete until we met each other.

one of our engagement pictures shot in Door Country, Wisconsin

I could write an entire book on all of Jared’s traits. To spare you the time, I will focus on one that I see in every moment of his being. One that I love so much.

The first conversation that Jared and I had, he asked me a million questions about myself. He was so interested in everything about me – what I loved, what I hated, where I have lived, what I had studied, what I want to study, where I want to live, how I spend my time- On and on. He asked millions of questions.

I honestly had never in my life felt like anyone had taken such interest in me before. I don’t know that I had ever answered that many questions about myself.

moments after he proposed to me

I have noticed over the course of my life with Jared that when he meets someone new,  he always has a ton of questions for them. Sometimes people are intimidated by this and feel interrogated. Most of the time, people are as taken back as I was because someone they just met is taking such vast interest in who they are and who they want to be.

I have the special honor of being his fan – with this comes the unique privilege of being in his audience. I get to watch him be himself on the daily and I just love my seat in his story.

Now, when we meet someone new, I know the canon of questions is coming and I sit back and get ready to watch him be great.

This new person doesn’t yet know that they have met someone who will make them feel like they are the only one at the table that matters in that moment. I love to see this unfold and watch their “taken back” emotions turn to curiosity and then gratefulness.

there was this one time, we were on HGTV – such a random story. ha!

Every human on this planet should have a chance to be questioned by Jared – to feel the way he will make you feel at the end of a conversation.

Everyone deserves to be known- to be sought after- to be valued.

Jared loves when I anticipate something he loves or wants – such as being in the kitchen cooking together and I grab what he needs and hand it to him before he even asks for it. He will smile and say, “It’s so good to be known.”

Babe, you make everyone you meet feel known- feel worthy of attention.

Girls in their twenties can often be strewn through relationships that make them feel the complete opposite of known and valued and worthy.

You came into my little world and made me feel like the queen.

Every day you find moments to show me that my opinion matters- that my feelings matter- that who I want to be and who I am is more than enough.

You have not only shown me, but told me, that God has made my place in this world so spectacular and that no one can fill the shoes God made for me.

my favorite wedding photo

What a man you are. What an encourager you are. What perfection you are to me.

I pray that our boys take this trait from you. I pray that they meet people and their curiosity spurs them to ask questions so that no one feels they are falling through the cracks in this world. I want everyone they encounter to feel that they are leaving conversations with our boys feeling more known and more important than they ever have.

Jared with our boys, Aiden & Ryman

You have given me a ton of gifts in this life already, but one of the greatest is that I am KNOWN. Who God made me to be – how the clay of my existence was formed in God’s hands- you have shown me that who I am is one of the most precious gifts to this universe.

No girl could ask for more.

I love you with everything that I am and everything that I will ever be.


The Trait Project : #7 {Boyd Thomas}

He will probably be upset that I used his real name in the title, because no one alive calls him Boyd anymore. Most people know him as Tom or Little Tommy Tucker, but I know him as Dad.

He was the first man I ever loved.

Krystal & Dad

I believe he would agree with me telling you our relationship got off to a rocky start. When I was born my dad was a very hardworking retail manager of one of the largest office supply companies in the US. He didn’t manage just one store; he opened and closed stores in a few states and had a large territory to cover. Because of this we moved every six months and he missed most of my “firsts” in this big world.

Of course I don’t remember him missing those things, but I do remember not feeling very “familiar” with my dad. I was young and there was plenty of time to make up for those years, but it was work we both had to put in.

My dad is a “man on a mission” about every single thing in his life. He and my husband share this look  I call “Go Mode” and when they are in this mode, there is no talking about anything other than the work they are thinking about. I try to hide my resentment of this mode in my husband, but it is a very difficult task. HA.

My mom tells me stories about my dad as a retail manager  I have such a hard time believing because time and, honestly, the Lord have softened his rough edges. Apparently back in the world of handheld recording devises that recorded on cassette tapes, he would record what he had to say about you and the areas you needed to improve for that days work and leave the recording on your desk. Ouch. Bossy much? HA!

He was this type of person in the corporate world for the first six years of my life.

For the biggest portion of my life though, he has been a pastor. If there is one thing I have seen as I have aged within the evangelical world, there is a huge difference between a preacher and a pastor. My dad is blessed to be both of these things, but as his daughter looking in on his life, he is much more of a pastor. His heart for people is astounding.

He has a true love for the people God has created on this earth, this being every single person. His ultimate passion is to see everyone come to know the love of the Christ he serves, but he knows just being Jesus to people is where the rubber hits the road.

Dad in South Africa

{My favorite picture of my dad. He has been traveling to South Africa to train pastors and do mission work there for more than a decade now. This picture shows so much of my father’s heart.}

As an adult I have had the privilege of watching him pastor a group of people from afar. I actually prefer it this way. I know he and my mom would love to have my family be a part of their church, but I actually get more joy in watching his ministry from afar. The main reason is I get to enjoy and appreciate the love his church family has for him. They adore him. The church he pastors now thought they would never be able to get a preacher like him and they take such good care of he and my mom. It’s astounding to see. Their overflow of affection radiates into my own little family that lives a few states away. They love us well even though we aren’t there with them. It’s a true testament to the man my father is; to the leader God made him to be.

I remember being in elementary school and when we had projects to write about our “heroes” I would always choose my dad. I think this is because he was still a mystery to me. If we were to be honest, the people we consider our heroes in life are often elusive to us. We don’t really know them well, but we long to. My dad was like this to me. I knew I would spend a lifetime getting to know him, and as an adult, I can honestly say, I know my hero so much better now.

I am able to work a room full of strangers because of his influence. I have a love of academia because of him. My gypsy soul comes from the adventure he instilled in me. I am sarcastic because of his personality (sorry mom!). However, the best thing I have gained from my dad I am putting to use today is my ability to “pastor” people. I have a love for people I know directly comes from seeing him love so well. If you need him, he is there. I want to be this kind of girl. I want the people God brings me in contact with to know they can count on me and I will be there for them. I want to love people with a Christlike determination for the well-being of their soul.

My earthly father does this so well.

I want my son to be a man who will be sensitive to the needs of others. I want him to be like his Poppy {my dad’s assigned grandparent name from his grandchildren} in so many ways.

Krystal & Dad at her wedding

Dad, thank you for loving people how God loves them; and most of all, thank you for loving me.

-Krystal Marie

The Trait Project : #6 {Kelsie Reed}

“Rare as is true love, true friendship is rarer.” -Jean de La Fontaine

I have found this quote above to be immensely true in my life. The Trait Project has been my way of honoring those few gems on my journey. This post is no exception. This post is about the biggest surprise of a friend I have received in years.

In January, I will celebrate living in Nashville for 5 years. {Which is the longest I have lived anywhere my entire life and I am going to have a party to celebrate….I just have to} My husband had already lived in Nashville for a number of years, but our entire relationship was long distance so I moved to Nashville once we were back from our honeymoon. Not long after I was settled in, my husband kept mentioning that he wanted me to have a really good friend in Nashville; that was his hope for me. I kept dismissing it because it didn’t matter to me. I had spent much of my life moving around and sometimes had a good friend to show for a certain place and sometimes not.

Before I knew it, I had a really good friend in Nashville. Her name was Kelsie.
Kelsie Reed Peskett Snowden.

The funny thing about Kelsie is that the first time I ever met her was at my wedding. We had a small wedding in Virginia. I wanted ONLY 50 people there and my requirement was that I had to believe that I would still be speaking to you in 15 years if you were invited. We invited mostly family and very close friends in Nashville to attend, one of those friends being a band mate of my husband’s. His name is Phil.
Phil was on a gig with my then boyfriend, Jared, when Jared went to buy my engagement ring. The same week they bought my ring, I was visiting them at the venue of their gig and Phil began to tell me about Kelsie; his not so girlfriend “girlfriend”. I could see his face completely change when her name was mentioned. I knew she was special.

Fast forward a few months. Jared proposed, I said yes, and we began to put a wedding together in four months. I wanted Phil to be a part of the 50 and I asked him to bring Kelsie along. He told me Kelsie was really apprehensive about it because she didn’t’ know us and truthfully I can understand her feeling this way; she would literally be the only person at my wedding that I wasn’t really good friends with. That can be intimidating. I admire her though because she came.

Jared and I took pictures with everyone who came and I look back at that picture with Kelsie and Phil and I never knew God had me standing next to the girl I would ask to be my child’s godmother.

Snowdens & Ribbles @ Ribble Wedding
Snowdens & Ribbles @ Ribble Wedding 2

I can’t tell you what one event pivoted us into great friends. Maybe Kelsie can say what it was, but I remember just looking up from my life one day in a coffee shop and Kelsie was sitting across from me as one of the most familiar things in my life.

As we continue this journey into adulthood, I think we find friends for reasons we never believed we would. I look back on what I needed in my life back then, and even more so now, and I see why Kelsie and I clicked. I, like every other woman (if she will be honest with herself) need a friend who I can be 1000 % honest with. This type of friend is the needle in the haystack.

We as women put on a front.
We hide behind Facebook profile pictures of happy marriages that show a lie to everyone who sees them.
We hide behind snapshots of our kiddos laughing and words describing them as the most beautiful angels when we want to cry and scream because life has been so difficult as a mom.
We hide behind Instagram photos of just our neck and face smiling because we actually spent twenty minutes in the bathroom that morning distraught by our figure.
This is what we do.
We create what we want the truth to be and we choose friends who can’t get close enough to know all the crevasses.
We seek women who are doing the same things so we never have to get too close and be uncomfortable.
And you know what I say to this?? I say we are all kidding ourselves into thinking this is an ok way to live.
We are depriving ourselves of one of God’s greatest gifts in a person if we seek this type of friendship only. We are depriving ourselves of honesty.

When God gave me Kelsie, he gave me a girl that I can tell anything to. And I mean anything. I can not begin to explain the wonderful emotion I have knowing I have complete sincerity with another girl friend. I don’t have to hide behind profile pictures or tell fibs at the coffee table about my days. I can lay all of my raw emotion before her, bleeding and pleading, she accepts every ounce of it for what it is and loves me.

Kelsie & Phil’s Wedding, Coronado Island, CA

kelsie and phil wedding

I saw this picture the other day of a tote bag someone had that said, “Mother Teresa didn’t walk around complaining about her thighs–  she had {stuff} to do.” There are a million reasons I love this, but one of them is in this statement, I see so much of my relationship with Kelsie. When I am with her, I can complain about those things if I want to, but our friendships pushes us both to focus on the best of us both.
Our friendship listens to the inadequacies, calculates their worth in each other, then computes the truth for us both to take from that table with gusto.


In just the fashion I would have encouraged her to do, Kelsie moved to California this year to pursue some lifelong dreams. I have never once lied to her about my feelings about this move. I have been so excited for her and at the same time devastated. I no longer have a couple of days a week of coffee meet ups with her or evenings of shared dinners with our families. We will from here on out count on one hand the times we see each other in a year. That’s difficult for me to type. But its the truth and she is doing what is best for her family, as I am mine.

I decided a long time ago I wanted to ask her to be my child’s godmother. In the denomination I grew up in spiritually, we never practiced naming of godparents. For me, I wanted to bestow an honor similar to “aunt” or “uncle” on a friend who isn’t blood already. The main reason for picking Kelsie was that I want to convey to my son, that if there is ever a time he cannot come to me; if there is ever a time he feels he can’t come to family for help or share something with us, I want him to know his Aunt Kelsie is that person. She will welcome him as her own and I trust her with his soul. I know she will not lead him astray.

As you are reading this, Kelsie just found out last week that she is my son’s godmother. Aiden took this picture below as his way to ask her. I wrote a note to her about all the things I want Aiden to know about her and my trust in her, and we gave her a bracelet with Aiden’s birthstone to commemorate her role in his life.

Aiden's Godmother Picture
This is a picture of her face as she realized what we were asking her:

Kelsie Finding Out She is a Godmother

My wish is for every girl to have a Kelsie in their life that they can tell absolutely everything to. My wish is for every woman to have a Kelsie whom they can point their child to knowing if they can’t come home, they have a safe place to land and an honest heart to welcome them.

Kels & Krys

I don’t really know if Mother Teresa complained about her thighs, but if she did, I hope she had a Kelsie to talk to about it.

Kels, I love you more than these words can ever adequately describe. As we have joked many times, you are my Right Arm. The miles will never define our friendship. Thank you for always being a safe place for me to land no matter where I am coming from. I love you forever and always.

The Trait Project : #5 {DeaNa MeRae}

Growing up I went through ebbs and flows about getting married. When I was really little, I thought every single girl got married and had kids one day. As I grew up, I realized that wasn’t true, but that I would probably want to be married one day. Then in my early twenty’s, I kind of decided…. Nah…. I don’t need to get married.

Jokes on me…. I got married in 2011 to an absolutely exquisite human being.

In January 2011 when I married my prince, I gained a family I could have never imagined in my wildest of dreams. I adore my in-laws.

Among these people, I have a most unique relationship with my mother-n-law. Usually, when you are the girlfriend/wife, the mother-n-law can be a difficult person to get along with. We all know moms and their boys; the only comparison is dads and their girls.

DeaNa MeRae Foat Ribble. My mother-n-law.

Hawaii Trip {A trip Jared & I took to Hawaii with my Mother and Father-N-Law}

She is a woman who knows what she wants. You can meet her one time and you know she has exactly in mind what she wants in life and all the ideas of how to achieve it. I can see in my father-in-law’s eyes that this was one of her spicy qualities that drew him to her so many years ago.

She has fire in her eyes. The good kind. The kind that makes you want to join any cause she seeks.

She has this uncanny ability to promote and seek fairness at all costs. She sees when it should be exhibited and holds everyone to a moral standard of ultimate proportions. Seems harsh in concept, but I have seen her compass correct many situations with poise. My husband inherited this from her as well as my oldest nephew. To see how each of the boys displays this is quite astounding. Especially my nephew. Being twelve and having such an innate measure of fairness has proven to show him as one incredible friend to have by your side.

DeaNa Being Silly {A throwback from when we were dating. You can see why it was so easy to love this woman to begin with :)}

I had the privilege of living with my in-laws for a little over a year when my father-n-law ran for the US House of Representatives for the first time. Bonding with and seeing my mother-n-law on that campaign forever shaped my relationship with her and my view of her.

As we can all see right now with the Presidential election looming upon us, campaigns can be nasty. Even if there is nothing bad to say about you, people will make up slanderous things and spew them for the world to see. It’s horrific. I had to watch as my family went through this. At the helm of the hurt? My mother-n-law.

My father-n-law had a goal in mind. He allowed the hate and lies to roll off of his back. My mother-n-law took each blow for the family. When it was difficult she winced a little, but she kept pushing. Why? Because she knew the decision to pursue this office was the right decision. She knew how to keep our family compass pointed north and she herself was the needle holding us on course.

Deana & Nephews {DeaNa with my nephews, Benjamin & Joseff, while we were working on the Campaign in 2010}

I was able to be next to her for comfort and companionship during that very lonely and tiring time. I wouldn’t trade those days for anything in the world. It shaped our relationship. I was able to understand my mother-n-law on a level I think most daughter-in-law’s miss out on. I fully believe if we knew our in-laws as intimately as the parents who raised us, we might view them differently. If we knew what makes them who they are and if we knew what it was about them that raised our spouses the way they did; I think we would have different relationships with them.

And more importantly, if we knew their inner struggles–  the things that keep them awake at night and the heartbeats that keep them pursing the health of their family at all costs–  if we knew these things, we would then fall into their arms as their own child with thanksgiving for being bestowed the honor to call them yours.

{I fully understand each person’s experiences are different. These are just how I view families who really have healthy dynamics that they sometimes take for granted.}

This is what I have in DeaNa. I truly have a second mom.

I have never in my life loved a human being like I love her son Jared. And with that gift came a whole family I can now add to the list of “mine.”

DeaNa & Reid {My in-laws : Reid & DeaNa}

DeaNa, thank you for your fire and your fairness. Thank you for instilling that in your son whom I married. I look forward to him teaching our son those qualities and what it means to protect and pursue those you love with passion.

I can never say thank you enough for welcoming me into the Ribble family with arms wide open. I love you.

“Live so that when your children think of fairness, caring, and integrity, they think of you.” -H. Jackson Brown, Jr. {author}

The Trait Project : #4 {Casey Rachelle}

The great Chinese philosopher Confucius said, “To practice five things under all circumstances constitutes perfect virtue; these five are gravity, generosity of soul, sincerity, earnestness, and kindness.”

When I think of Casey Rachelle Slagle (Now Casey Sheffield), I think of the one person I know who is remotely even close to the perfect virtue that Confucius speaks of.

Casey Sheffield{Isn’t she gorgeous?? :)}

I could tell you how much she would dislike me saying this about her, but this is my blog and I get to write the story so she can’t dictate how I brag on her. Ha!

I met Casey when we were working for a summer youth camp that we both had attended as students previously. She was shy and quiet and I was, well…. let’s just say I am not really shy and quiet. However, when I met Casey, I saw in flesh form some qualities I did not know a person could possess on such an incredible level.

Casey & Krystal @ Camp{Back in Our “camp” days. Holy short hair Krystal. Ha!}

Up until this point in my life, I had not really had a bunch of good girlfriends that I could count on to be in my life forever. Remember Magan? Yeah that was kind of the last strong friendship I had and then when I moved, nothing every gelled quite as strongly; until I met Casey. 

The very first word I think of when I think of Casey is kind. She possesses kindness on a level of dynamic proportions. I have always been convinced she did not have an unkind bone in her body. She is sweet and loving and sincere. She is so perfumed in kindness that if I ever had a bad day, all I had to do was look at her or call her and the tilt of my world’s axis was corrected again. It’s that powerful. 

She has the ability to show you with her personality, the kind eyes that you imagine Jesus looks at you with. I have always been convinced that when I look at her, I am seeing a trait of Jesus in human form. 

When I came across the quote above from Confucius, I was astounded at the points he made because I feel they fit Casey so well :  “gravity, generosity of soul, sincerity, earnestness, and kindness.” 

Gravity : experiencing a person of gravity is experiencing someone with the ability to be very serious when needed. I always imagine these people as knowing the proper weight of a circumstance and acting accordingly.
Among Casey’s traits, she has the ability to see situations for their breadth and respond appropriately. Its something most people really want to possess when a close friend experiences a death or a loss of some kind; you always want to say the right things, to comfort the right way. Casey does this impeccably. 

Generosity of Soul : My favorite definition of generosity is “plentiful.” This is usually used in describing food portions, however, in my friend Casey, her kindness is plentiful. In all the years I have known her, she has been a constant in multiple areas and one of those has been her generosity. I have always been able to count on her giving spirit if I ever needed it, and most of the time, she was giving when I never knew I needed it or never even asked. 

Sincerity : I have never questioned her motives or actions. They have always been above par and exceeded an expectation I could have imagined. When she does something for you or says something to you, it is coming from the depth of who she is and is the most truth you will ever see exhibited in a person. 

Earnestness : Being earnest means being seriously zealous. I have seen Casey pursue her friendships, her family, and her Lord with a serious zealous intention that is so honorable and inspiring.

Kindness : I mentioned this before. Her kindness is astounding. Thus, every one of these qualities is magnified because of her kindness.

Krystal Wedding Day{One of my favorite pics from Casey helping me get dressed for my wedding.}

Not only do I long to possess even just an ounce of these qualities, I want my son to be like his Aunt Casey. I want him to know how to speak life into hard situations appropriately. I want him to be sincere in his intentions and zealous in his pursuits. At the core of his being, I want him to be a kind man.

Casey's Wedding{I had the extreme honor of standing next to Casey on her wedding day this past May.}

I am so thankful every single day for you Case. God gave me the ultimate gift when He gave me you. I love you.



The Trait Project : #3 {Magan Elizabeth}

I have moved 17 times in my short 31 year life and I have loved every second of the new places and adventures. However, growing up, moving was not always easy.

One particularly difficult move for me was the very end of 5th  grade. We had to move before my 5th  grade year was over. In the town we lived in the middle school was 5th  through 8th  grade. When we moved, I had to go back to elementary school since the new town had elementary school up until 6th  grade. To a 5th  grader who had just started middle school, this was horrific. I felt like I was reverting back to being treated like a baby.

The town we were moving to was Kannapolis, North Carolina. Most people know Kannapolis because of the late Dale Earnhardt. His mom lived one block from us and in the years following our move there, they have renamed the road we lived off of Intimidator Lane, after his NASCAR nickname.

I walked into that 5th  grade classroom, of children who already knew each other very well, and was the least thrilled I had ever been to move somewhere. The teacher introduced me and asked if there was anyone who would like to show me around the school since it was my first day. A hand raised in the air that was attached to a little girl with short brown hair and glasses. Her name was Magan.

Magan Elizabeth Seagroves (Now Magan Keith) was the one reason I would make it through this move and attach myself to this new city.

Magan and I navigated the end of 5th  grade all the way through the end of 9th  grade together with better success than most preteen girls; mostly because of our protection of one another. In a world where preteen girls are really scary, you need one good one to have your back. We were that for each other. She shared my love for Freddie Prinze Jr. and The Dixie Chicks thus it was a match made in friendship heaven.

Magan & Krystal Middle School{Holy eyebrows Batman. Middle School was not good to my forehead.}

Magan & Krystal Bday Party{My sweet sixteen birthday party that I asked my mom not to throw me. Oh well.}

I learned early on that Magan valued truth above all else. As long as she felt your were honest, sincere, and loyal, you were gold to her. She is all of these things and it is only fair to expect them in return. For preteen girls, these traits are hard to come by.

The day came, like it always did, that I would have to move again. I remember the dreaded drive to Magan’s house to tell her I was leaving. We both cried incessantly. It was terrible. We were losing the ability to finish navigating high school together and that thought was just too much to handle.

Not long after I moved, Magan called me one night in sheer panic. She had stumbled upon some information that was about to literally crack her family’s foundation at the core. It would never be the same. Her world was crashing in and God gave me the distinct privilege that night of being her long distance shoulder to cry on.

The one thing she valued above all else, truth, was ripped in two in a matter of minutes.

Her life would piece itself back together in time, however I was deeply afraid her compass for trust had been marred beyond repair.

Enter a certain lad named Matthew Keith and my worries disappeared. He has been so true and steady as her husband that her values of honesty, sincerity, and loyalty have not only multiplied, but been returned to her in excess.

Magan Keith Family {Magan’s sweet family}

I have never had to guess who I am getting when Magan shows up. She is true to herself and shares sincerity with every single person who encounters her.

magan's wedding {Magan’s wedding day. I was so blessed to be a part of this day in 2008.}

I want this for my own life. I want this for my son’s life. I want to be loyal, trustworthy, truthful, sincere. I want to be a Magan to everyone who meets me.

I know people say things like, “loyal to a fault.” How can loyalty ever be a bad thing? Too much loyalty is a way to compliment your worth to someone. Personally, I like that. 

Mags, I love you. I love Matt, and Laney, and Ben. I wish we could see each other more, however, know that I will forever have a space in my heart reserved specifically for you.


The Trait Project : # 2 Part B {Haley Marie}

Yesterday, I introduced you to my friend Haley. I told you about her impeccable gift of affirmation.

Haley 1{my beautiful friend Haley}

I wanted to expound upon this notion of affirming people. Affirmation can be a million different things. It is not just words. Sometimes it is touch.

When Haley and I were working together, I was in an interesting time of my young adult life.
I worked a job from 12 pm to 9 pm where I worked in a room full of people, but I had my own little cubicle.
After work I would go home, eat dinner, and then work on my online graduate classes from about 10 pm to 3 am.
I would sleep from 4 am to 9 am or 10 am. Then I would repeat my day all over again.

This would be the schedule I kept most days until I finished my Masters degree.

At one point I had been really digging in to my schedule and school work for about a month straight. I had little human contact for a while other than seeing people at work and saying hello, because I lived alone.

One day, as I walked towards my cubicle, Haley approached me. She had just grabbed a cup of coffee to begin her day and she swung by to say hello. She reached out and touched my arm.

A literal surge of energy ran through my body. I had never in my life felt what I felt at that moment. When she touched me just to say hello, I realized not one single human being had touched me or hugged me in over one month.

Until this moment in my life, I never understood the importance of actual human contact.

Haley gave me a gift that day. The gift of human connection.

As I mentioned yesterday, Haley has the gift of seeing people where they are and meeting them there. She has the incredible ability to reach out and let you know you are not alone in this world. I am sure if you were to ask her about this, she wouldn’t see it as something she does consciously. She simply has the tremendous gift of noticing people.

The English novelist Martin Amis said in his book Money, “My theory is-we don’t really go that far into other people, even when we think we do. We hardly ever go in and bring them out. We just stand at the jaws of the cave, and strike a match, and quickly as if nobody’s there.”

I feel that what Amis mentions is what we all do in human connection. We get close, we see if someone happens to be alive in that cave of life, and then we move on. If the life in the cave is moving, they must be ok. But as we all know, that is not the truth.

What I love about Haley is that she is the kind of person who strikes a match to light the cave, but then she wanders in to help bring us out.

That day so long ago, when my skin had not been touched by anyone, Haley brought me out of a cave I wasn’t sure I was in. I had no idea I would be a healthier person if I had human contact.

As much as I am an extrovert, if left to my own devices, I forget to be around people. It’s not a way to live. In fact, you can’t live that way. Physically, you can’t.

God designed us FOR each other.

We were not meant to walk this earth alone or independent of one another. We survive best when we are connected.

I want my son to see people’s needs and not have to be asked to meet them.
I want him to instinctively know when someone needs a touch of humanity.
I want my son to be a Haley to everyone he meets.
Wanting my son to be a Haley, starts with me.

I love you Hales. I love that you are my friend.
The proof of how many people have read this blog, and commented on your Facebook because of it, is a testament to your innate goodness.

Thank you Jesus for Haley.



The Trait Project : # 2 Part A {Haley Marie}

In February of 2008, I moved to Lynchburg, VA to accept a job that would help me complete my Masters degree debt free. This job afforded me the opportunity to work alongside a lot of people in the same time of life as myself. One such individual was named Haley.

Haley Trait{Yes. That is a large shoe in Haley’s face. I won this at a party from a 6’8″ basketball player. Don’t hate.}

Haley Marie Carr Bodine.
She was Haley Marie Carr when I met her. Her boyfriend at the time, Adam, would soon make her a Bodine.

Haley is stunning.
She has this radiance about her that only comes from fighting for grace.
Haley fought for every inch of ground she gained in life and you can tell by the shine in her eyes that God has carried her a long way.

Haley{Isn’t she lovely? :)}

If I am being completely honest, The Trait Project exists all because of Haley.

Since meeting Haley, I have taken more time to notice traits in people. Traits that are good for me to possess and pass along to my children.
This started with Haley because she has two traits about her that have profoundly impacted my life for the better. (They both are so great that I am giving you one today, and one tomorrow.)

Haley has the gift of affirmation.

I believe this is one of the best gifts for a girl to possess.
We as women are often bombarded with propaganda about how we should look, sound, exist, etc. This type of inundation can cause extreme stress and negative views of ourselves. This is horribly exhausting.

Want to know the worst part about being all things to all people? When we actually achieve this goal, no one usually notices.
We may have hit the jackpot one morning in the beautiful face department and no one says anything. We may have woken up in a state perfectly suited for the Paris runway and not one single person will comment on our outfit.

The absolute best thing that can happen is for another woman to notice our victories. Why? Because it diminishes the competition the world places between us and gives us a bridge of grace into sisterhood.

Haley is the exact picture of this. She is a noticer of victories. She notices beautiful face day and Paris runway clothing. Not only does she notice it, she comments on it.

There were many days when I would walk into work very tired and disheveled. As soon as I would be getting ready to sit down in my cubicle, Haley would walk by and compliment my hair or my clothing. I would then smile and my whole day would change. I suddenly felt better about myself.

I believe we as women forget, and choose not, to give affirmation because somewhere deep down inside of us, we believe giving affirmation takes something from us personally. Haley would compliment me and she lost nothing. Haley would compliment me and she gained one more person with a better outlook on the day in her workplace. What little sacrifice that is.

My first admittance is that I am terrible at this. Terrible. Affirmation often sits on the tip of my tongue and sadly, it too often stays there.

I long to be a Haley. I believe the world’s women need more Haleys.

Haley sees people where they are and meets them there.
It’s a true gift and one that I want to emulate in my own life. I also want my son to know how to be this type of person.
I want him to be able to see people where they are and affirm their greatness.

We all need this. We all need a Haley every single day.
I’m so glad my Haley is only a phone call away.

I love you Hales. More than I can ever put into words. You are such a God send to a million people, but especially to me.

{Tune in tomorrow for more Haley}

The Trait Project : # 1 {Brenda Gail}

When we were in the process to adopt a little girl from Ukraine, we had the unique privilege to host her in our home. While I was learning to parent her, I began to notice all the things I do that she quickly picked up (and I hear a collective groan from all parents reading this. HA!). Some were good things and some were not so great things.
I started thinking about all the traits I have that I would want her to pick up, but then my mind would shift to traits in some of my closest friends and family. Traits I often wished I had.

I decided I wanted to document this.

After we were not able to complete her adoption, I stopped documenting. Then we were matched with a little boy who is now our son. I sort of forgot about the trait project because I was only thinking about women and didn’t think he would benefit much from what I had been researching.

Then it hit me, a good trait is a good trait right? No matter if a woman possesses it or a man. Therefore, I decided to pick this up again.

I am going to do my absolute best to continue this Trait Project every Monday until I am done. Each Monday you will be introduced to a new person in my life whom possesses a quality I am so enamored by that I want my child to emulate it. As my father-n-law says very often, “I hope my children keep the good things of their mom and myself. I hope they throw away the bad.” I feel the same. But not only that, I want my son to learn things that I myself want to learn. I want to be a better person and I want to teach him how to aspire to be a better person as well.


If I start anywhere, I have to start with my mom; Brenda Gail Johnson Tucker.
Brenda Gail.
Brenda is steady.

Brenda Gail Trait Project
She is crazily calm until you push her to an ultimate end (which I have only witnessed once in my whole life, so it takes A LOT to get her there).
She is giving.
She loves children in a way I can hardly understand.
When I say she loves children, I mean she loves everyone’s child. I mean everyone’s. I do not understand this at all. I have enough capacity for my child and my spillover capacity is for my 3 nephews and 2 nieces and some of my close friend’s children. For realz. I can’t handle the world’s children, but Brenda…. Brenda has got it.

Brenda owns a child development center. She has owned this particular facility since I was a sophomore in college. Throughout my life she has kept children in our home and taught at numerous schools.
She has the patience of a saint. A dipped in gold saint.

Early on in her adventure to open the child development center (which consists of children from 6 months to 5 years) I suggested she buy Velcro suits for all the children and put Velcro on the walls. That way when they were naughty, she could just pin them to the wall and be done with it. She then educated me on some sort of laws and how you can get in trouble for that. Weird. I thought it was genius.
{FYI, now that I am a parent, we have NO Velcro walls in our home. I figured I could get in trouble per Brenda’s instructions and I am convinced Aiden would pin me to the Velcro wall before I could ever do it to him}

Kids can scream their heads off…. lungs bleeding and snot dripping and she will look down at them with a halo around her head and a glow encompassing her body. She will say with the most angelic voice, “Jesus loves you.” {I am in the corner having hurled my head through the drywall}
Brenda is a Disney Princess on crack and in my adult life, I have grown to see this as the most amazing thing ever.

What do I want to carry on from Brenda {besides a million things that I already possess and my husband says “That is your mother” when I do them. No matter how much I love her, no one wants to be told they are their mother. Right?!?!?}?

I want to be steady.
I want to be sure and true and steady.
She is the calm in a million storms and if I could just have an ounce of her steadiness…, what a woman I could be.

Aiden, watch your GiGi closely. She is a calming presence in our lives. She is so sure and resolute. Take that son. Take that and run with it.

Aiden with Gigi & Poppy{My son, Aiden, with his Poppy & Gigi}

I love you mom. <3