Sam’s Mission Trip to Brazil

My first guest post is written by my wonderful hubby, Sam, on his trip to Brazil.

I am so proud of him for all his hard work, dedication, and leadership spent leading these high schoolers on a mission trip.  He put a lot of time, effort, and prayer into this trip, and it was so amazing to see the wonderful things God did while they were down there.  Enjoy reading…

The Great Comission Matthew ch 28 vs 19 & 20 “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.

Recently I had the opportunity to take a team of 15 members, mostly high school students, to Brazil to do an English camp as part of a missions trip from our church.

Our church has been partnering with a local church down there for quite some.  Our partner trips consist of river boat medical and evangelizing trips where we travel by boat along the amazon river to remote villages sharing medical supplies, painting buildings doing VBS, and other various activities. We also partner with the church down there doing soccer camps and an English camp.  This year was the 4th year that we have done the English camp with our partner The Presbyterian Church of Manaus.

In a nut shell the actual camp consists of English classes in the morning, lunch, Siesta (Brazilians always like to nap right after lunch) sports/games in the afternoon, dinner and then chapel service followed by some type of activity (Hollywood night, Western night, Campfire night).

I was Cee-lo green (for those who have seen The Voice)

Western Night


The high school students are the ones teaching Brazilians English by actual lesson plans that have been created for them.  Special thanks to Lora Matheny, Cindy Beier, and my wife Katie for helping preparing and plan the English Lessons.

You may be thinking how does that apply to a mission trip? Well each night we have a chapel time (including worship!) where our high school pastor Eric Chesney has the great privilege of preaching the Gospel.

The following days the students all discuss the previous nights message in their classes.  We saw God do amazing things during the week. Thursday night was the “alter call” or “salvation night” where everyone was asked to respond to the Gospel their need for Jesus and God’s love for us that he would send his son Jesus to die for us paying the penalty for sin that we couldn’t pay ourselves.  We saw several Brazilians come forward to receive prayer and to pray with someone to invite Christ into their live.  We also saw several Brazilians re-dedicate their lives to Christ and confess sin and put a stake in the ground to really live for him.

Thursday during lunch time I sat down at a table of 3 women along with Eric.  I saw one girl had a David Star/Jewish Star on a necklace

and I thought that was rather unique so I asked her what does it mean to her?  She explained it was from her Mother and her mother really likes Israel and Jerusalem.  I inquired a couple other questions to her as the other girls listened intently.  Suddenly I was prompted by the spirit.  “You need to ask them who is Jesus to them”  I posed the question to the one girl that had the necklace and she began to tell me he was her everything, savior etc… I then turned to one of the other girls and asked her, she responded very similarly, I then asked the other girl at the table and her English wasn’t the best as the others but she still responded with a similar type of answer.  Right after she told me what she did she asked “How do you have Jesus in your heart?” I began to walk her down the bridge diagram. She began to tell me the morning she was taking a shower and was standing in it and had this feeling that she needs to be washed clean and needing joy and happiness.  She said she now understands why she was feeling that way. The other girls at that table had to help me a little bit in translating with her all of this but she was comprehending it all.  She was talking in Portuguese to one of the girls and next thing the one girl says “she wants you to pray for her” I ask “is she wanting to accept Christ into her live?”  She responds yes, can you pray for her?  I said absolutely so I ask if it’s okay to put my hand on her and I start praying for her.  As I pray for her she starts sobbing as I can tell God is really speaking into her heart at the time.  I turn it over to her to pray and confess her need for Christ and she responds but does so in private in the depth of her heart.  We conclude and she starts telling me she wasn’t sure about coming to the camp as she was older, (she is over 40 years old).  She tells me she is so happy and feels relieved and filled with Joy and the need to tell others, but she has a concern her family is not on the same page as her new found faith in Christ.  We talk for a while and I encourage her to get plugged into the church, to talk to our partner pastor and then go public with her faith with baptism.  I now have a new sister in Christ and I thank God for what he did in her life and for me listening to the whisper of the Holy Spirit to start a spiritual conversation at the table.

Take away #1.  Listen to the whisper of God and respond.

Take away #2, be attentive to things around you to start a spiritual conversation.

Take away #3, Be Bold and speak the truth in love, share the Gospel.

Take away #4, Really care for others… Jesus said that is the 2nd commandment (Matthew ch 22 vs 39.

I hope this encourages you today!  Thanks for Katie allowing me to be a guest on her blog and I hope to share more from this experience with you later!

Sam Odom

Indiana Fun

This past weekend Sam and I traveled to Indiana for his good friend Kevin’s wedding.  Friday night we enjoyed a beautiful rehearsal dinner at Kevin’s parents home.

I loved all the details put into the backyard.  The purple and pink were beautiful together!  All of the flowers, decorations, and scenery were gorgeous!!!

The beautiful couple- Kevin and Stephanie Miller!!!  These two are so adorable together.  Both are so sweet, kind, funny, and definitely honored the Lord on their wedding day!  I am so happy they both found each other!One of her bridesmaids was named Katie too!  Stephanie got them these beautiful, personalized hangers for them!  Stephanie did not miss any details in her wedding!!  Everything was so beautiful!

Kevin made this beautiful frame for Stephanie.  Listed were various phrases important to them both- love God, put family first, work hard, tell the truth, and be kind.

On Sunday we enjoyed a beautiful day at the Odom’s.  All the cousins enjoyed playing together!

Malayna LOVES being around other babies/kids.  She gets so excited- moves her arms and legs a ton, smiles, and instantly goes to attack them!

Maya is 10 weeks older than Malayna, and I’m pretty sure they will be good buds growing up!  She is such a sweet, easy-going baby!

May enjoyed some green beans straight from the garden!

Max entertained us all by driving Dad around in the tractor.  I’m not sure who was having more fun- Max or Byran?

Max is wonderful with the babies.

Wedding pictures to come!

Coconut Bars and Food Processor Yummies

Theses coconut oatmeal squares are my newest addiction.  Oh boy they are so so good.  My good friend Lora even liked them and does not like coconut.

Make them, I promise you wont be disappointed!

Thin + Chewy Chocolate Drenched Coconut Oatmeal Squares

makes one 9×9 pan (about 16 squares)

1 1/2 cups old fashioned oats

1 1/2 cups shredded, sweetened coconut

1/4 cup brown sugar, loosely packed

pinch of salt

1/4 cup unsalted butter

1/4 cup coconut oil (measured solid)

1/4 cup honey

Spray a 9×9 pan with nonstick spray.

In a large bowl, combine oats, coconut, brown sugar and salt. Heat a small saucepan over low heat and add butter and coconut oil, stirring until melted. Add the butter and oil to the oat mixture, then add the honey and stir very thoroughly until the entire mix is moistened. Press it into the pan and stick in the fridge for 15 minutes.

Chocolate layer

8 ounces good-quality chocolate, chocolate

2 tablespoons coconut oil (measured solid)

Using the same saucepan that you melted the butter and oil in, add the chocolate and oil and stir over low heat until melted. Remove the pan from the fridge and pour the chocolate evenly over top, spreading with a spatula or spoon. Place back in the fridge for about 30 minutes. When ready to eat, either cut the squares in the pan, or gently lift the square out and place on a cutting board to cut. It helps if the bars somewhat come to room temp before cutting, as they will slightly crumble a bit if super cold!

For my birthday my mom got me a food processor!! I am so excited about this and have enjoyed using it.  My two favorite things I have used with it so far is homemade peanut butter and dairy free stuffed shells.

For the homemade peanut butter all I did was put in Trader Joes Honey Roasted Peanuts into the food processor for around 4 minutes and it turns into delicious peanut butter.  If you like your peanut butter more chunky leave it in for less time.  This is some of my favorite peanut butter!

I also made this recipe that Lauren introduced me to.  At first I was a bit skeptical with having no diary in stuffed shells (you make them with tofu), but I was quite pleased.

I asked Sam what he thought was in the shells and he said ricotta (Hah fooled him!)  I couldn’t believe you could make tofu taste like ricotta.

Diary Free Stuffed Shells


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1.5 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 16 ounces extra firm tofu
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
  • 10 ounces frozen spinach, defrosted
  • 1 box jumbo shells
  • 1 jar of your favorite marinara sauce


  1. Drain the tofu and pat dry with paper towels. Crumble into the bowl of a food processor or high-speed blender along with olive oil, salt, oregano, garlic and nutritional yeast. Process on high until smooth and “ricotta-like”.
  2. Add the defrosted spinach to the blended tofu mixture.
  3. Cook shells in boiling salted water until el dente. Drain
  4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Pour about ½ cup pasta sauce into the bottom of a 9 x 13 inch pan. Stuff shells with 2 T of filling and place in pan, seam side down. Repeat until all shells have been stuffed.
  5. Pour remaining pasta sauce over shells, cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Serve!

Yield: 6-8 servings

Sara and Lauren got me a tiny ice cream sandwich maker for my birthday.  I made a cookie cake in a pan first and used the ice cream sandwich maker to cut out the cookies and added in vanilla ice cream to the center!



Enjoy with good friends!

The last one if for you Aunt Amy!!! 🙂

7 Months Old

May is now 7 months old…

Here is a little rundown of the past month…

She learned to sit up on her own.  This makes playing with toys more fun (as well as shopping when the carseat used to take up half the cart).

She has learned to crawl.  She is getting faster and faster.  This has definitely changed a lot for Mom and Dad.  She loves to crawl everywhere and often loves anything that are for adults.  She still plays with toys, but she would rather have crumbled paper, a waterbottle, or a cardboard box.  She loves exploring new places!

Crawling, as many know, means she can get into anything at a moments notice.  This can be challenging on some days trying to get something done, but also lots of fun.  She has just recently started crawling towards me.  Ahh so sweet when that happens.

Separation anxiety has begun.  When we leave another room she is more mindful of this and will often start to fuss.

Her crazy colic hair continues to grow.  Lol.  She gets it from Grandma Chris and Daddy. 🙂

She still is not sleeping through the night. I kept thinking once she starts solids she will sleep better.  Then we introduced solids and nothing changed.  This has definitely been one of the harder challenges of motherhood, but recently am learning it is not in my control.  I guess I keep thinking to myself if I change this (schedule/no schedule, nurse to sleep/don’t nurse to sleep, cry/don’t cry – we’ve tried a lot folks ;)) then something will change.  Bottom line is, I know it is perfectly normal for a baby to not sleep through the night until 1 years old (or later).  Some just have really good sleepers- Hi Maddie!!  I just read only 16% of 6 month olds sleep through the night.  As hard as it is she somehow manages to smile when I pick her up (even at 3am) and it doesn’t seem so bad.  I will one day look back missing our cuddle moments, and I know one day she will sleep through the night.  I also need to be grateful that she sleeps well in other places and the car, through loud noises (mostly), doesn’t wake up too early in the morning, and transitions well from car-seat to crib.  🙂

She babbles quite a bit.  Recently May was in the hall and I went in her room to get something and she said “mama.”  I know probably total coincidence, but it still melted my heart.  I can’t wait until she talks.

She loves eating

She LOVES the water.  She has been dunked in the pool at swim lessons several time successfully.  My parents have a tiny pool that she loves to play in fearlessly.  I mean face in the water, water all over her face, you name it and she likes it!  She has this fountain toy she plays with and water gets all over her face- eyes and nose included and she could care less.

She started going to Kidsworld (our church’s nursery) this month. It was getting hard to focus on the church message and now that shes mobile she would rather be down and moving then sitting on our laps.

She wears around 6-12 month clothes (depending on brand and item).  She’s around 17  pounds (haven’t been to the doctor in a while).  She still has no teeth.

Most recently, grandma taught her how to kiss.  She will lean in towards you and kiss you!!  Umm yes this breaks my heart and is the cutest thing in the whole world.  This morning I picked her up from a nap and she leaned in to kiss me.

I think having a child teaches me a lot about the love of God.  I love Malayna so much and there is nothing she could do to take away the amount of love I have for her.  She doesn’t have to earn my love, I already love her.  In the same way I am grateful that God loves me no matter what I do.  I have to admit there are many times I struggle with this, but the truth is God’s love for me has nothing to do with what I do or don’t do.  It is not about me!  Thank you Jesus for your unconditional love towards me.

May, thank you for being such a sweet, loving, joyful, happy baby!  We love you so so much!

Starting Solids: Baby Led Weaning

Our Doctors office led a great class on Baby led weaning that we are mostly following.  The gist of it is allowing babies (starting around 6 months) to feed themselves by giving them foods that you are eating (with some exceptions). This allows babies to explore and play with their food while experiencing a variety of different foods.  Because solids are not needed until babies are one, I’m not so worried about her eating enough (source).

When I first heard about Baby Led Weaning I was really confused how a baby so small could eat lots of normal foods.  So if you are reading this confused, please continue reading!  I took a class, talked to several friends who do it, and read a lot on it to understand more about it.  My good friend, Kim’s daughter did it and this girl eats ANYTHING and loves her veggies and fruit!  I hope she rubs off on her good bud Maymay.

There are several pros to this- 1.  The baby learns to feed themselves and eats when you eat.

2.  You don’t spend time puree or buying baby food because they eat what you eat! (Exceptions do apply!)

3. They develop their fine motor skills  and hand eye coordination.

4.  It forces you to always eat a veggie or fruit so you can have some for the baby! 🙂

5.  The baby learns to chew their food early on.  When a baby is 6 months old their gag reflux is further up front (verses when you are an adult and its back further).  So as protection, they would gag if they get too big of a piece.  However, I must be honest and say it is still scary to hear her gag (which has happened twice). 😦

6.  The baby determines how much to eat (verses the adult). A recent article published in the British Medical Journal came to this conclusion: “Weaning style impacts on food preferences and health in early childhood. Our results suggest that infants weaned through the baby-led approach learn to regulate their food intake in a manner, which leads to a lower BMI and a preference for healthy foods like carbohydrates. This has implications for combating the well-documented rise of obesity in contemporary societies.”

7.  Lastly, they eat when you eat.  You can all sit down as a family to eat without having to spoon feed the child before or after your meal.  (We are still working on this one!)

I am happy to report Malayna LOVES solids (so far). I know there is still time for her to be a picky eater as she grows older, but right now she has enjoyed everything we have given her.  I think her favorite so far has been broccoli and avocado.  So far Malayna has tried broccoli, avocado, peas, sweet potato, carrots, bananas, beets, peaches, mango, and applesauce.  I cook all the veggies down until soft.  She didn’t seem to be a big fan of beets which is funny because I just started to eat them recently, so perhaps shes not used to the taste.

I don’t think shes eating that much (although her diapers prove me otherwise), but then again I am not used to “baby portions.”  She seems to get full fairly easily, but perhaps that normal for a tinnny baby belly.

I have found several difficulties with Baby Led Weaning though.

1. It is extremely messy.  I am talking all over her face, neck, and high chair. So you will spend a lot of time cleaning up!

2. If they were to have an allergy it would be hard to pinpoint what exactly they are allergic to.  However, this is mostly just a concern for families with a history of food allergies.

3.  Some foods they can’t eat because of the skin so we still puree it (such as peas).  I also still use a spoon for certain foods….such as sweet potato (unless you do chunks), applesauce or oatmeal.

4.  Malayna can eat broccoli the best because it is big and little chunks easily fall off, but slippery foods like peaches, avocado, etc. are hard for her to put in her mouth so I still end up feeding it to her.  Some parents roll them in puffs, but to me that’s just another added step. In a few months she can eat more foods such as meat, grains, pasta, etc.

Please note always ask your Doctor first before doing anything.  I am a first time momma/newbie and by NO means anywhere near an expert.  So far this has worked well for her and I am curious for those who have done Baby Led Weaning how you solve my issues I have been having.  I have nothing against purees, in fact I think I am going to start pureeing some foods for days when I don’t want to deal with the mess. 🙂  I just know pureeing tends to take a while to do.  I know we can buy food too, but we are trying to save money where we can.

Helpful posts on baby led weaning:


A few videos!

Malayna started army crawling!! Check it out…she looks like a little snail.  Still working on the normal crawl.


I think I need to buy a new pair of running shoes because she is already into everything! Ahh.  This girl loves to explore the house.  Forget toys!

Here is an adorable video of May laughing at Dominic in his swing.