heart.hope.justice: support Sarah

posted in: Arkansas, hearthopejustice | 3

sarah ray

It is so neat to see what the Lord calls your friends to do.  Currently, I have friends telling people about Jesus all over the world, including Nepal where the earthquake just happened, in Baltimore, where the riots are happening, and I have a sweet friend who is about to head to South Africa to love on babies who have no parents.

My friend Sarah, from Little Rock, tells a bit of her story:

“I am thrilled to be headed towards South Africa to serve the Lord with 1Hope Ministries International. After spending almost 10 years as a pediatric nurse in Arkansas, I’m excited for this new challenge of spending my days discipling young women to know and love Jesus Christ. I’ll primarily be working with interns in their late teens/early 20s who come from all over the world to volunteer at the Muphamuzi Baby Home, a home for abandoned babies awaiting “forever families.” I’m currently about $20,000 away from my fundraising goal and working to get my house on the market. As soon as funds are raised and my house it sold, it’s off to Africa for me! Can’t wait!

1Hope: http://1hope4africa.com
My Blog: http://1hope4africa.com
You can purchase a heart.hope.justice print (justice for loving and taking care of orphans) and with each print sold, Sarah gets 10$ toward her remaining funds left to raise.  I’m not going to South Africa anytime soon, but want to help support those who are going.


This Week in the Charming South Kitchen


Another week is here.  This one is a big and busy one for us.

We celebrate our little turning ONE!  I can’t believe it!  I feel like a lifetime has passed in the last year with so much happening in the life of our family.

And the littles and I are heading to Little Rock to follow-up with a nutrition study we were doing and see lots of friends and celebrate his birthday up there.  We can’t wait.

Devil’s Food Cupcakes with Chocolate Buttercream

Funfetti Pancakes

Baked Breakfast Tacos

Oreo Brownies (for a women’s event on Thursday night)

Spaghetti Casserole (for my mister while we are away.

So, not much going on but plenty in our books.  I’m making another cake for the birthday too, so will be sharing pictures of that.

Sundays in the South : Link Love

Southern States Link Love

Since I’ve lived all around the South my entire life, I thought I would share with you just a few of my favorite places in each of the states I’ve lived in.  This will definitely give you the travel bug – and I hope you can live it out to the fullest!  Enjoy the Around-the-South tour and dream on this Sunday – that God would enable you to see more of the world He created!

Florida: The Sunshine State

Hontoon Island was a relatively new find for me.  Traveled there last year.  Your littles will love the little ferry ride over to the island.  There are also good hiking and biking trails – but most of these trails aren’t conducive to strollers.  Moss abounds!

If you are looking for a hole in the wall seafood restaurant – you need to come here. My Dad has ties to the owners and I love their fried grouper sandwich.

The best chicken and yellow rice and cuban bread – EVER.  My first trip I remember to this Florida (chain) but staple, was in high school with my Spanish class after going to the Salvadore Dali museum.  A must EAT!

And one of my favorite places in the city that I being an adult in – and one that I love and could retire in forever because I love it so – Barnacle Bills.  Only thing you ever need to get there is the Datil Shrimp.  Enough said.

I attended this private school most of my schooling years (except for half a year).  I loved the principal then and my teachers.  Some of the ministries I got to be a part of and friendships made still impact my life today.

The college I went to was in the heart of St. Augustine.  College for me turned out to be different than I though mostly because we had no football team.

North Carolina: The Tarheel State

Durham landmark

Oh, this could be a while.  I love it here and consider it home more than any other place I’ve lived.  Its where I fell in love with the Word, ministry, college students, the ocean, my husband, and where I became a momma for the first time.

Guglhupfs – best pancakes hands down.

Ketchie Creek Bakery – 5 flavor pound cake – need I say more?

I went to seminary here.  The first time I saw the campus I knew I was going to love it there.  Arrived on campus 4 months after my initial introduction.

I fell in love with missions, college students, and brooklyn tab while doing ministry at The Summit.

Had my first road trip with my husband and our first random stop was to one of the older cities.  Loved it.

Kentucky: The Bluegrass State

Louisville Zoo

I wasn’t here for a long time, and the seminary I worked for became home – and I loved the ability I had at the time to travel all the time and see people and things that I never would have otherwise.

Where I fell in love with Meditteranean food.

Where I grew to love this ministry and all that is stands for.  And Dr. Mohler spoke in our Sunday School this morning – and this ministry will have such a vital role in the church in the coming years (maybe even more so than before).  Owen and Courtney – you and your teams have my prayers as they always have!

And how I fell in love with gospel centered preaching was by listening mostly to this man at this church.

Arkansas:  The Natural State

Hot Chocolate

I was here the briefest and made some really sweet friends.  It is also where I fell in love with my second little boy!

ARWB – thank you Stephanie and Debbie and all of you other bloggers.  Yall were a great community!  Hopefully we will have that in GA soon!

Georgia: The Peach State

Georgia Aquarium

I’m growing to love this state more and more.  I’ve always had ties to this state and now my husband and boys are here.  Lovely combination

This is the church we get to be a part of.  Thankful for faithful preaching each week.

This is the bestest place in the state for me.  I’ve been going here since I was a kid and get to go with my family in 2 weeks.

And then the islands and Savannah – get me to the ocean!

There you have it.  If you have lived in one of these states – what are your favorite things to do, see, eat?  Help me out!

#iometrospring: blogger night & giveaway

posted in: Arkansas, creatives | 16

IOMetro Blogger Night

Last night I had the fun privilege to enter through the doors of i o metro in West Little Rock – and be wowed by their new spring line of interior furniture and accessories for any home.

IO Metro hosted me and some of my Arkansas Women Blogger friends to help spread the word of their new spring line.  Their line is full of charcoals, grays, navy, cobalt, oranges, tangerines, and aquas.  The food was delicious and so were the beverages!

Mint iometro

Thank you iometro for hosting us and spoiling us with prizes and giveaways.

For the giveaway – are you ready???  This was my favorite prize they gave away – and I didn’t win it – but I did pick it up to give it away to one blessed reader!  You either have to be local  – or be willing to pay for shipping – or have it hand delivered.  The white bird cage is about 2 feet tall – and beautiful!

This White Bird Cage Candle Holder is so easy to use in every room of your home:

1.  Put it in your living room as a statement piece of light with a soft candle flickering in it or some bold flowers to let spring in your home.

2.  In your bedroom, you can light a candle to help a night of romantic chilling with your husband.

3.  If you use it in your bathroom – make a bath much more enjoyable by putting a soothing candle in it – just adds beauty.

4.  If you are hosting ANY type of shower you can put a candle, or flowers, or a show-stopper tower cake or the star cupcake or a tower of cookies in it.

5.  Use it when celebrating the birthday of someone you love by setting it in the middle of the table with their dessert cupcake with a flickering candle.

6.  Use it on your patio for adding elegance to your next outdoor party!

Creativity flows from everywhere. You don’t have to have everything from the latest magazine – but gather inspiration and look around you – incorporate your creativity into everything!

creativity & wonder

To enter giveaway:

1.  Leave a comment on how you would like to use the white bird cage candle holder.

2.  For an extra entry: follow iometro and thekd316 on instagram and leave a comment here telling me you are following both.

(Disclaimer: I was invited to the blogger party as a part of the Arkansas Women Bloggers, and was given the bird cage to giveaway, but was not compensated in anyway for this post.  All thoughts are my own.  Thank you IOMetro

I will announce winner on Monday morning!

Creatives: Kelli @ Sweet Love Bakes

posted in: Arkansas, creatives | 0

Sweet Love Bakery

Bakeries.  Just the sight of them makes me want to stop, talk to the folks who run them, and eat their fabulous goodies that adorn their windows.  This one is no different.  How I came across Sweet Love Bakes was cool.  I asked some friends if there was a good place in Little Rock (local, not grocery store or pre-packaged) to get macarons because I wanted them for our Valentine’s dessert.  All friends pointed to the same bakery – Sweet Love Bakery which is only miles from our home.  I heart sprinkles


So, the husband and I went in there, sampled their peanut butter cookie (of course) and took home some French macarons for the dessert the next night.  Pink Champagne and Lavender Honey.  Oh. My. Gracious.  So light, deliciously flavored, and hit the spot.  I emailed Kelli right away to see if I could come to take some photos of her bakery and interview her.  She was delighted and we made a plan for a couple of weeks ago.

Kelli was hard at work preparing for a weekend full of delicious treats including an anniversary, a birthday, and goodies for the bakery shop.  Thank you for taking the time to talk with me and for the French macarons and cupcake.  They were amazing and the husband loved the cupcake filled with lemon curd!  Enjoy getting to know her and if you need any bakery needs here in Little Rock or Central Arkansas, please stop by.sprinkles

pucker up frame cupcake

How did you get started in baking?

Kelli has been baking for nearly 10 years and got started doing family baking.  She had the opportunity to make a cake for her grandparents’ 50th wedding anniversary.  That’s not intimidating.  Her grandparents were thrilled to say that their granddaughter had made their cake.  With many other family opportunities, reading, and practice – she was hooked.  She loves to create art and knows that it is only temporary – but a temporary meant to be enjoyed – not immortalized!

What inspires your creativity?

She loves following other bakeries/chefs.  That will get her creative juices going.  Also, different mediums.  (That was really interesting to me.  So other mediums can inspire your love and creativity in the kitchen too).

What would you say to encourage others in their pursuit?

Wedding Cakes Little Rock

Practice Makes Perfect

Temporary Edible Beauty

You really have to pay your dues.  Its taken her ten years to get to where she is and she started Sweet Love Bakery two years ago.  She wouldn’t have been able to keep up with the demand and business if she had started the bakery 10 years ago (side note: she has her business degree, so that helps in running the bakery).  Quality can’t suffer as you grow.  Quality has to only improve!  When you are ready – it will happen!  Be prepared!

What is your favorite creation?

Her polo cake.  And that’s also her biggest lesson.  Watermark your photographs.  (I’ve started doing this because of our conversation.)

What is the hardest part of owning Sweet Love Bakery?

You can’t take things personally.  You try your best to get things just right for the customer’s specifications, then let it go.  You should always be learning and improving.

What do you think about French Macarons?

They are so time consuming and precise!  She has learned about flavorings and colors from making so many of them though!



kd316 photography: Sweetheart Shoot: Richard & Kathie

posted in: Arkansas, photo shoot | 1

I got to know Kathie when we took a short road trip down to Fort Worth, Texas for a photography workshop given by Casey and Kristin.  It was a fun short trip a year ago this weekend.  Meaning…it was missions weekend last year and this year is the missions weekend at our church.  How timely!

Last weekend we got to head out to Two Rivers park here in Little Rock, just minutes from our home, on a gorgeous evening about dusk time, and take some photos of her with her love.  Thanks Richard and Kathie for letting me share your lives with my readers!  It was a joy taking your photos!

Richard & Kathie












Recap: Arkansas Flower & Garden Show 2014

posted in: Arkansas | 7


So much color filled the areas in the Statehouse Convention Center this weekend in downtown Little Rock.  Local vendors and businesses were all there to help you figure out how you are were going to style your spring: for your body, home, yard, and dinner tables.

The Arkansas Women Bloggers, of whom I am a part, was asked to run the social media outlet for the AFGS.  They did a fabulous job of welcoming attenders, answering questions, hosting guests, and being a friendly face at the front of the exhibit hall.

Arkansas Women Bloggers

Our yard in West Little Rock right now is still dead.  Its brown, yucky brown.  It needs help.  As we were pulling in this afternoon from church I saw the little green shoots of flowers in our backyard garden island.  I can’t wait to see our bushes and flowering plants in full bloom.  Our family was able to catch a glimpse of the colors that will be filling our yard as we ventured through the exhibit hall and up on the main floor where the award-winning plants were.IMG_6645


AFGS 2014





My favorite part of looking at flowers and marveling at their beauty is knowing the One who created them all.  He designed every plant that has ever grown.  We get to bask in the colors of the goodness God has blessed us with.  That’s one of the reasons I look forward to spring.  On our third date I remember my (now) husband and I walking through the Sarah P. Duke Gardens in Durham, NC.  I took about a gazillion pictures of the masterful tulips.  He just smiled and watched.  I knew he was a keeper on that day.

So, when the buds start coming up in your back yard, sit back and watch them, admiring their beauty, and bless others with their goodness.  I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like to get flowers.

Note: I was given tickets to the Garden Show during a #bloggersinbloom event a few weeks ago.  Thank you for the tickets – and all thoughts and photos are my own.


God Loves Colors, Too!

posted in: Arkansas, Bible, Books, Worship | 0

God loves color!

I’m still reading through the OT and making lists of the God the people of the OT encountered, served, feared, and loved. I am loving seeing how God interacts with his people. I know that He is the same God today as he was 8000 years ago.
Currently, I’m in Leviticus, and its not very exciting reading – but still I see that God talks to his people and tells us how we can please him. I see him showing mercy. Here are seven things that I learned this past week.
1. God has a purpose for color. I saw this as I attended the Bloggers in Bloom event last week and as I await the Arkansas Flower and Garden Show. The reports in Exodus about color is that God intended certain aspects of the temple and of the worshiper’s attire to be a certain color. He is an exact and detailed God. But, how he uses color now for our benefits are different. He uses color to express warmth and invitation. He uses color to express that winter is over and spring is finally here. He uses color to brighten moods and take away frowns. All of these are great reasons to use color in your home, kitchen (in what you cook), and in your wardrobe.

Georgetown Cupcakes
2. God is a free-ing God. The If:Gathering was this weekend, and although I wasn’t able to attend in Texas, I was grateful for one of my friends, Sharon Miller, who posted some of her favorite quotes. I particularly loved this one by Christine Caine: “You came out of Egypt, but Egypt is still in you. But God wants to get Egypt out of you so we can walk into the Promised Land free.” This basically means that we desire so often to return to what God has freed us from. But, how much better life would be if we never turned back and desired the old ball-and-chain!
3. The Lord shows mercy to stiff-necked people. I’m not talking about chiropractic care (though I love mine in Raleigh), but I’m talking about the mercy that he shows us when we refuse to give up our sinful ways, when we balk at his correction, when we settle for every day ho hum when he has called us to live the extraordinary!
4. God gives gifts to people to use for his glory! Let’s take a look at the oil maker in Exodus 37. God gave him the talents and abilities to make oil so that a particular type of oil might be used in the worship of God! That is so cool to me. That God might give me a particular gift that I can use to bring God glory in our home, in the local church, and in the church around the country and world. That gets me excited!

Bella Blu NYC
5.  The Lord requires sacrifice for sin.  I often thought in reading all of the lists for sacrifices that I’m glad that Jesus paid my sacrifice once for all so that I don’t have to sacrifice daily or weekly or yearly or anything to recompense for my sin.  The perfect Christ already did that! Oh what a blessing.  And this is how we can use the Old Testament, even in Leviticus, to teach others about the beauty of the Gospel and that the whole Bible points us to Jesus!

6.  The Lord tells us what is pleasing to Him.  He has given us His Word.  That Word, the Bible, is sufficient in us knowing what it means to please Him.  In one way, we stand before God because the Son has pleased the Father in his death and resurrection.  But, we still try to please God in our actions.  Not for acceptance.  No, but for his pleasure.

God's Word

7.  God shows his glory to his people.  He did this many times for Moses, and He dwelt in the Tabernacle with his people.  How we might long for that.  Do you long for Heaven?  Do you long to be worshiping and singing where God and Jesus and the Spirit are front and center?  I was reading a Donald Miller article about why he doesn’t feel the need for church and the first paragraph – singing really isn’t my thing – I just don’t like it.  It made me sad for him because Heaven will have singing in it.  We will get to sing to the Lamb!  Moses’ song will be sung there!

How are your devotions going?  Do you find them dead and lifeless?  Or do you long to meet with God every day?  I’m not quite to the last one – but I am finding the more time I am in the Word the more I want to be in the Word.


Bloggers in Bloom Recap (AFGS2014 Giveaway)


(This post has a giveaway at the end!  Please comment for a chance to win.  The AFGS provided me with these tickets at no cost to me and all opinions are my own.  Thankful for their generosity and I look forward to the event to see the beauty that will be displayed.)

All day the city of Little Rock looked like a frozen glass house.  Ice was on every tree limb and wire.  But, at a blogging and flower and foodie event: it was warm and colorful inside.

Last night I went to a wonderful event hosted at a lovely home here in Little Rock.  It was all about flowers, food, spring, the Arkansas Flower and Garden Show (coming up in a few weeks), warm weather, friends, and wine & food pairings.  What a night filled with beautiful color and helpful information and prime rib and salmon (oh the salmon)!

AFGS 2014











For me, the night was about color.

Yellow is such an inviting color.  Have it in your guest room, your entry way, or anywhere in your home where you would like people to feel completely welcome.Art can make a statement.

The owners of the home we were invited in to love art.  There was a piece on every wall.  Gorgeous ways to bring in color to your home.

Strawberries and black pepper – new fave combination!

I had on a pink scarf and there was so much purple in the room – love it!  All these different hues found everywhere at the event!

I’ve been reading in Exodus in my devotions about how God was detailing the colors for the tabernacle.  I love God gave us colors and instructed us to use them in worshiping Him!  He is a colorful, creative God!

The last thing I learned was later when I was talking with my husband about the event: make sure your home tells what is really the most important thing in life.  When people come in your home – what will they remember?  What will their takeaway be?

And I have a giveaway for you!!!  Thankful for the free tickets to the Arkansas Flower and Garden Show.  I have three pairs to giveaway to readers!  So, if you are going to be able to attend the event at the Statehouse in a few weeks, leave a comment below (only blog comments will count) about your favorite flower and how you bring it into your home to brighten up the blah months of winter.  I will pick three winners who will each get a pair of tickets to the event.  Thank you AFGS!!!  I can’t wait to attend the event on Friday morning with my family!  And if you have Sunday afternoon available – it is going to be a great time for the youngest gardeners out there!

So thankful for the Arkansas Flower and Garden Show, the owners of Colonial Wine and Spirits, Chris Olson and his talents for making flowers come to life inside your home, and the Arkansas Women Bloggers, and all those who gave us such lovely SWAG for this wonderful event.


On Location: Lookout Point Lakeside Inn (Hot Springs, Arkansas)

posted in: Arkansas, photo shoot | 2

Thanks to Groupon and splurging on the benefits of the Christmas season, the Mister and I gifted ourselves with 2 nights away this past December.  What a delight and may become a tradition for us.  It is a busy season in ministry and it is a perfect time to getaway with your love.

One of the nights of our getaway we stayed in a sweet bed and breakfast.  Forget the tuille and Victorian everything – no, this one was more our style: relaxed and delicious and quiet.  We loved the food, the location (even though it was cold), and the comfy room.  In some bed and breakfasts, the food doesn’t live up to reputation: but this one left nothing to be desired.  We broke fast on a delicious pineapple and pomegranate salad then feasted on herbed potatoes and a Monte Cristo that was perfectly cooked.

Our first floor room was complete with a deck that led out to the lake and a shower that I would love to have in our master bath at home.  There was a library to “checkout” books and seats throughout the home that would invite you to sit and stay for hours.

I long to go back there in the warmer months to enjoy the lake: the birds, the canoe, and the sun and swings.

Thank you Lookout Point!  It was delightful!

Lookout Point Lakeside Inn