Family Camp


Fellowship North hosted it’s first “Family Camp” last Sunday – Wednesday at Castle Bluff in Newton County, Arkansas. For as long as I can remember, the church did a snow camp in Colorado, but this year, it was decided to stay closer to home and utilize our beautiful camp in the Ozark Mountains. There were 13 families there — including mine.

family camp

The weather was beautiful until the last half day. We hiked, played GaGa Ball, ziplined, rappelled, sat in rocking chairs and visited with friends old and new. It was very relaxing, and the kids ran and played until they collapsed in their beds each night.

It was a fun 72 hours with great people! Hopefully this will become a spring break tradition.

Five Tips to Avoid Raising Financially Illiterate Kids

“Many parents would rather talk to their kids about sex and politics than money, hemophilia ” says St. Louis investment expert, Matt Hall, President and Co-Founder of Hill Investment Group.

He continues, “The dangers of not being financially literate are huge. Many parents set the child up for failure by remaining silent on the topic of money, but also by helping to create a lifestyle that is unsustainable once the child is independent. We all want to build resilient little people, but the key is to be intentional about the lessons and values we talk about, teach and model.”

Some advice for talking to your kids this summer, Hall adds, ”Talk about making money, analyze costs, develop a plan and recognize the power of being responsible…these are the initial steps for success.”  He can break it down into age groups as well – from toddler to teen – but here are some tips:

  • When should a parent begin talking to their kids about money? 

A general rule of thumb is to start teaching basic money concepts when a child can count. The truth is that they’ve probably already started learning about money by watching and observing Mom and Dad’s behaviors when dealing with and talking about money. Check out this awesome link for a curriculum to follow from kindergarten to 12th grade
Free Week of Healthy Kids Inc Meal Planner

  • How should a parent open the dialogue?

Start by making it natural. Normalize the topic by talking about it and being open regarding how you and the family will make important money decisions. Conversations can start at the check out counter or at the kitchen table, but the point is to start and then layer money talk in wherever and whenever you can.

  • Should children get an allowance?

Yes, an allowance can be considered income for a child’s first job. It’s not a gift. Make the expectations crystal clear and hold firm to paying only for top notch work. If making the bed is a basic requirement then don’t pay for it. Pay for tasks that go beyond expected chores.

  • When a child has their own money, how should they be advised to spend it?

Consider sharing experience instead of giving advice. Let your child consider making a choice instead of feeling like she might have to either go with your guidance or against it. Talk about taxes, charity and personal spending decisions you’ve made in the past. Which ones are you proud of and why? Where would you love to have a “do over.”

  • If my son wants to spend all his money in the vending machine, should I stop him?

If your son makes a conscious decision to spend all his money in the vending machine the consequence will be revealed when he can’t buy something else. One of the best ways to teach kids about the boundaries of money is for them to bump into them (in safe ways) on their own. Think of this as tuition towards a valuable lesson.

Unlike the often dry and academic investment advice provided by brokers, Hall’s storytelling is entertaining and inspirational and he has advice for all age groups including children and teens. In fact, he details his inspiring story and his evidence-based investing methods in his new memoir-manifesto, Odds On: The Making of an Evidence-Based Investor.

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Matt Hall is the President and Co-Founder of Hill Investment Group with offices in St. Louis, MO and Houston, TX. He is the lead on all strategic matters — crafting the firm’s vision, establishing its exceptional standards, and managing key relationships. Hall is forever a student of his craft and has attended the highest level of training and education tied to investment theory and practice. What’s more, Hall has led many training programs for top advisors, and founded a peer group of hundreds of advisors, called Evidence-Based Advisors, from the U.S., UK, New Zealand, Australia, Belgium, and Canada.

Hall graduated from the University of Missouri, Columbia with a bachelor’s degree in English literature. He and his wife, Lisa, have a young daughter who is the star of their lives.

Learn more about Hall at and connect with him on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Odds On is currently available on 800 CEO Read, Amazon and other fine booksellers. 

Discover Your Roots

This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through one of my links, generic I will make a small commission. Your price remains the same.

Recently Roots Producer LeVar Burton and leading actor Malachi Kirby received their 23andMe results to find out more about their genetic history. LeVar Burton, angina after receiving his results, thumb explained, “I’ve always felt there was piece of me missing.” Read the article in  People Magazine.

“I thought I was coming from one place and found out I’m coming from someplace else.”

Find your roots. Know your story. Get your personal DNA kit and take 10% off each additional kit at

Here’s what happened when I got my 23andMe results back.

Family Fun Days: June 4-5

Disclosure: I received free admission to Playtime Pizza in exchange for promoting AR Family Fun Days. However, prostate all opinions expressed her are my own.

Playtime PizzaThere’s a lot of good research out there about the benefits of families spending time together – how it builds confidence in kids, dysentery encourages a healthy lifestyle, breast etc.  The goal of Arkansas Family Fun Days is to create an opportunity for families to get out of the house and experience something new and fun together. Several Little Rock area attractions offering special deals for families this weekend (June 4-5):

Plus all locations are also offering two for one ice cream, courtesy of Hiland Dairy!

Playtime Pizza

I spent yesterday celebrating my birthday at Playtime Pizza, one of the participating attractions. Playtime Pizza is a 70,000 square foot indoor family entertainment center. My parents, my brother and his family, and my family were there for the fun — and we all had a blast! Not only does Playtime Pizza have a great selection of pizza, pasta, salad, desserts and more, it has games that appeal to kids of all ages. (And I got to act like I’m 8 instead of 48!)

Please take advantage of the savings this weekend and go enjoy some family time. These are memories that you and your kids won’t forget. And it’s the perfect way to start off your summer!

Big thanks to Tiffany, Playtime Pizza general manager, and all the Playtime Pizza staff for their hospitality yesterday. You were so kind and made my birthday party a smashing success. Thank you!

Big Surprise: I’m a White Girl

Header photo by Niguel Valley Photography.

23 Pairs of Chromosomes. One Unique You. Get your DNA story at

Maya got her 23andMe results back in late January, but there was a delay in getting my results back for some reason. It finally arrived today, and guess what? I’m about as white as they come. I was hoping for a little diversity or some interesting surprise, but it’s not to be. I’m 99.6% European.

My ancestry:
  • British & Irish 68.1%
  • Broadly Northwestern European 18.7%
  • French & German 6.9%
  • Scandinavian 4.1%
  • Broadly European 1.0%
  • Broadly Southern European 0.8%
  • Broadly South Asian 0.2%
  • Broadly Sub-Saharan African 0.1%
  • Broadly East Asian & Native American < 0.1%
Compare that to Maya’s diverse ancestry:
  • West African 60.4%
  • Southern European 11.1% (mostly Spain/Portugal)
  • Northwestern European 9.9%
  • Broadly European 4.0%
  • Native American 3.1%
  • Broadly Sub-Saharan African 3.1%
  • Central & South African 2.6%
  • Chinese 1.8%
  • Ashkenazi Jew 1.0%

So I guess the rumors of Native American blood in my family are false.

Learn more about your ancestry and family history through your DNA. Get your genetic reports now at

Of the 36 Carrier Status Reports, I didn’t have any variants that could be passed to my biological children (not that I have any, but still good to know). On the wellness reports, I found out that I am likely to consume more caffeine (duh!), likely not to flush when I drink alcohol, likely not lactose intolerant, and that I’m likely a sprinter/power muscle type.

I don’t have any close DNA relatives that are on 23andme, but I do have lots of 3rd cousins and beyond that were discovered.

This was a fun and interesting experience. Not sure I gleaned as much interesting info as Maya did with her report, but I’m still glad I did it.

When Racism Hits Home

Before I adopted my African-American daughter six years ago, my dad sat me down and realistically went over the future I faced as a single white woman with a black child. He wanted to make sure I was prepared for the looks, the whispers, and the judgment that would most likely come my way. But I can honestly say, I didn’t see it — no more than curiosity really. Or if it was there, it was subtle enough that I missed it.adoption

When I decided to marry a black man with two black daughters in 2013, again my dad and I talked about what could happen when you choose to marry outside your race. Like I did, my dad loved Anthony and welcomed him as a son-in-law, so I knew his words of wisdom came from true concern and caring. But once again, I haven’t felt any real condemnation from others for my relationship with Anthony and his girls.happycouple.jpg


But then this past Friday, I got my first real taste of racism, and it was HATEFUL and it HURT. I saw this comment from a stranger on an Instagram photo of my baby girl, Quinn:

racismMy jaw dropped. I couldn’t speak. I stuttered enough words out to get Anthony to take a look for himself. My blood boiled. I wanted to crawl through my phone and strangle Sorrydin. How could someone say that about a precious child — MY precious child? And how could someone have that much evil in them to want to kill a baby?!?!

I also showed our two older girls. To my bewilderment, Anthony and the girls didn’t seem too shocked. THEN IT HIT ME, this is too normal for them; this hate was nothing new. My heart broke.

At church Sunday, Pastor Craig preached on the story of Joseph from Genesis, and said that this story teaches us that we can’t control how we are mistreated, but we can control how we respond.

“But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” Matthew 5:44

“Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.” 1 Peter 3:9

Pastor Craig said that there are three reasons to forgive:
1. We are commanded to forgive.
2. Because to not forgive imprisons us.
3. It can set our offender on a new path.

“To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.”  — Lewis B. Smedes
I have asked God to help me forgive Sorrydin, whoever he is. I pray that somehow he is set on a new path, a path of love instead of hate, a path of unity instead of racism. I hope that for our nation too.
P.S. Forgiveness does NOT mean no justice. I have filed a complaint with the FBI’s cyber crimes unit among others. But justice isn’t my responsibility. I will leave it to law enforcement and my God.

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My Adopted Daughter’s Ancestry

Header photo by Niguel Valley Photography.

I have been anxiously awaiting the results from 23andMe. My daughter, heart Maya, healing and I both sent off our spit to be analyzed about four weeks ago. My results haven’t come back yet, but Maya’s came back this morning via email. The report is very detailed with information regarding ancestry, as well as carrier status (potential health risks that can be passed to her children), physical traits reports and more. I am most interested in Maya’s ancestry report since she is adopted. And to top it off, her birth mom was adopted, so there are lots of unknowns about her background.Maya and StaceyI’ve been told that Maya’s biological grandmother was a Cuban refugee. In 1980, Fort Chaffee in Fort Smith, Arkansas, became a Cuban refugee resettlement center, holding 19,000 Cubans after the Mariel boatlift. This is where Maya’s bio mom was conceived, and then later adopted by who we now lovingly refer to as GranGran. Maya’s ancestry report seems to confirm this theory.

Maya’s ancestry:

  • West African 60.4%
  • Southern European 11.1% (mostly Spain/Portugal)
  • Northwestern European 9.9%
  • Broadly European 4.0%
  • Native American 3.1%
  • Broadly Sub-Saharan African 3.1%
  • Central & South African 2.6%
  • Chinese 1.8%
  • Ashkenazi Jew 1.0%

Another option that you can do through 23andMe is connect with possible family members if they also have done the testing. Maya came back with a long list of possible distant cousins. I don’t think at this point I’ll try to connect with them. If a sibling pops up down the road, that will be something to really consider though.

There’s an incredible story in your DNA – the history of you and your family. Discover your DNA today at

I’m still processing it all. She has a more varied ancestry than I imagined, but I guess we all do. Now I wait for my results to come back.

Genetic testing with 23andMe

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I’ve been told that I’m part Irish, Scottish and Native American. But I am really? I’ve wanted to research my genetics for a while now. Also I have two adopted daughters. I know their birth mom, but she was also adopted, so we don’t have any of her extended health history and nothing from the birth fathers. So at-home DNA testing to the rescue!

I chose 23andMe — the first and only genetic service available directly to consumers that includes reports that meet FDA standards. They can help people understand what their DNA says about their health, traits and ancestry through detailed reports, tools and more. And more than one million people have spit with 23andMe using our in-home saliva kit. I should have our kits in next week, and then it’s 6-8 weeks to get results back.

I’m not doing my youngest daughter yet since I doubt I can get her to spit into the tube, so I’m starting with just me and my six year old. Stay tuned for a full review of how the process went with 23andMe and what I think of the reports.

There’s an incredible story in your DNA – the history of you and your family. Discover your DNA today at

Merry Christmas, Darling

This post was written as part of “The Songs of Christmas” series that Fellowship North is doing this month. You can subscribe to the email list here.

It may be hard to believe, troche but Barbara and Bob McBryde were totally hip when they were young. They had a large RCA console TV. The top opened up on one side to reveal a built-in stereo radio, viagra and the other side had a built-in record player. The TV held a large record collection full of albums by Frank Sinatra, asthma Bing Crosby, Dean Martin, Elvis, Joe Cocker, Linda Ronstadt, The Carpenters, and many more. As a young child, I would spend hours listening to these albums.

Merry Christmas Darling
Me and my mom, Barbara (circa 1973) with that big RCA console TV in the background

One of my favorite Christmas songs is Merry Christmas, Darling by The Carpenters. It’s not so much the words of the song that I love, but how Karen Carpenter’s buttery voice takes me back to 1972 dancing around the house.

Holidays are joyful
There’s always something new
But ev’ryday’s a holiday
When I’m near to you

My childhood brings such pleasant memories like listening to my dad and his friends play guitar or me putting on a show using the brick fireplace hearth as my stage. My hope is that when my daughters are grown that they will think back to their childhood Christmas with the same fond memories and that a song will transport them back in time to 2015.

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