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Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Our Journey to our New Dream Home

Our Dream Home

It all started about five years ago... We started dreaming about a new house in 2013 when I got pregnant with our son, who was due in February of 2014. I had a very hard time emotionally after he was born, which turned into a trying time for Kyle and our extended family as well. It wasn’t the right time and we put buying a house on hold for the first time.

In April of 2015, my mom passed away and we all went into a season of mourning.

Later in August of 2015, we had a huge decision to make and which dream to pursue: 1. Buy a House or 2. Start a new business. We knew we could only choose one or the other at that time. If we went with starting a new business there would be risks as we were getting it off the ground. We decided to follow our dream of starting our trucking company, United Federal Logisitics Inc. We put buying a house on hold for the second time.

As with any new business and being self employed, lenders will only lend to you once you have two years of business history and could show financial stability. We were on hold for buying a house until at least September of 2017. We worked so hard with our business! We went through some difficult phases, as most new businesses do during their first couple years. God was always with us through everything!

Towards the end of 2017, we could start looking and dreaming of buying a house again. We looked at homes, narrowed down areas, styles, and made a wish list of things we wanted in a new house.

Some things on our wish list were:
The house price being in our budget
Very close to where we were currently living and where my in-laws just bought a home
Easy access to Interstate 575
Enough rooms and space so we could have a bigger office or two offices, since we work from home
A bigger room for James
A single family home with a nice, flat yard
A basement- finished or unfinished
A bigger kitchen
Stone or brick exterior
A dining room
Woods behind our home

It was quite the wish list!!! We believe in a Big God who can do amazing things, if He wills it to be. We looked and looked. We found different places that met some of our items on our wish list but not most of them.

Meanwhile, we had some things we needed to do to our house before we put it on the market:

Take a lot of furniture out of our house and take half of everything out of our closet. This is to make the house seem bigger because there is more empty space.

We needed to depersonalize our house by taking out pictures, art work, and other items that we like but other people may not. When someone walks in to a potential home, they need to be able to envision their items and furniture so it could be THEIR home.

We needed to paint the whole house one neutral color. I love color... and almost every room and bathroom were all different colors. We wanted to paint everything grey and for trim we needed to repaint the white. We had to replace our deck and make a few minor repairs around the house. Most people want a house they think is “move in ready”, not “a lot of work” to get it ready.

So in January 2018, we started this process. I got quotes for painting and rebuilding the deck. I found someone who could do all the painting, repairs, and the deck for a very reasonable price. We got a storage unit to put things in while we were getting ready to list our house. It was a gradual process so we weren’t rushed.

Then we needed to find a mortgage broker and finish up our 2017 business tax returns. We needed a mortgage broker who understands self employed business owners. Our friend recommended Sissy Butler with American Home Mortgage. She was wonderful from the beginning of the approval process until after closing!! I highly recommend her!! Her email is sbutler@loansite.com

We had a referral for a realtor who was awesome as well! David Lewis with the Lewis Group of Atlanta. He and his team did a great job helping us list, advertise, hold open houses, and coordinate showings for selling our house. His email is david@thelewisgroupatl.com and his website is www.thelewisgroupatl.com



So we finally had all of our ducks in a row!!!

We found our dream home in a new Ashton Woods Development that checked everything off our wish list! Thank you to John Rice with Ashton Woods john.rice@ashtonwoods.com.  Then in God’s perfect timing everything fell into place and it all happened very quickly!!

We signed a contract on our dream home with a 60 day contingency that we sell our home first. We had to list our house within 5 days of signing the contract. We finished getting our house ready to list and put it on the market. We listed it for the right price and, with the help of David and his team, had a full price offer within a week!

When God is involved and you are prepared, big things can happen! Fast forward a month and everything went smoothly, including our closing to buy our home with the closing attorneys at the Weissman Law Firm. www.weissman.law Thank you!

Now, we are proud owners of our new forever home!

Thank you, especially to the Lord for all of His blessings along the way and now. Thank you to Kyle for all that he has done over the years and continues to do. Thank you to my in-laws, Jim and Susan, and my dad, Jed. Thank you to the rest of our family and friends for praying with us and supporting us on this wonderful journey. Thank you to all of the professionals who assisted us, too.

Friday, May 4, 2018

Introducing United Federal Logistics Inc.


I have been debating about writing this blog post for at least the last 2 years... 

Photo Courtesy of Jerry King, J King Images
I have never written a blog post about our trucking company, United Federal Logistics Inc., that we started in August of 2015. My husband, Kyle, and I have grown our company from 3 tractors and 6 employees to 10 tractors and 20 employees. The reason I have been hesitant to share our story about our business is because this is my professional life and my blog has been mainly personal. This has been my dilemma. 


Photo Courtesy of Jerry King, J King Images

I was recently encouraged by our photographer, Jerry King, to share our story. He thought we could inspire potential new business owners.


By starting our company, Kyle and I took a huge leap of faith in God’s promise to trust in Him. After a lot of prayer, we felt the Holy Spirit direct us to “give God a chance to work in our life” in a tangible way. We just had to take "one step in faith" at a time.


In my other posts, you have seen my story about losing my mom in April of 2015. After this major tragic event that intersected with my life, I started to view my time in a different and in an urgent way. I realized when I was older, looking back, I wouldn’t want to have any regrets. This included helping, supporting, and partnering with Kyle to live out his dream of owning his own business. He received his Master’s in Business Administration from Emory University to prepare for this dream as well!!



Photo Courtesy of Jerry King, J King Images

Kyle discovered the FedEx Ground linehaul contractor model in 2012. FedEx Ground outsources it’s linehaul and pick-up and delivery services to independent business owners and logistics companies. He realized it was a great opportunity and thought it might be something that he would like to pursue. He spent over a year researching and modeling out the business.

We made a few attempts to start a linehaul business with FedEx. Then we had divine timing as we finally got the first 3 routes. FedEx wanted our business up and running and available to work within a month. So we needed to act quickly! We worked hard to secure tractors and hire drivers to get fully staffed.

Since then, we have had many ups and downs, as any business does during the start up phase. We have continued to organically grow our business and our partnership with FedEx Ground. Kyle was handling all the logistics of day to day coordinating of runs, tractor maintenance, and reporting all by himself for about a year and a half. Then a year ago, we made a great decision to promote a seasoned top driver to management. Promoting Dale Moore has made all the difference for Kyle and the rest of the company. Dale has been crucial in helping us scale and manage the business as we have continued to grow. I still handle most of the back office operations, HR, finances, and driver benefits. 

Photo Courtesy of Jerry King, J King Images
Working with my spouse, as a business partner, has certainly had its challenges! We have grown and stretched our marriage, sometimes even to it’s limits. It is kind of like the process taking a piece of coal and under stress refining it into a diamond. Many people tell me they can’t imagine working with their spouse because of how difficult it would be. They are right, it can be very difficult! But, it has always been worth it!!! 

Our journey has revealed a whole new side of Kyle to me and what makes him tick. It has shown me his incredible strength and given me a greater appreciation for how brilliant he truly is. I respected him before and it has only expanded my respect for him as a business partner and leader of our company.
Photo Courtesy of Jerry King, J King Images
God and the Holy Spirit get so much of the credit and glory!!! God has been there the whole time giving us guidance and showing us that if we are faithful with the small things he will bless us with more. He also comforts us when we are going through difficult times. Keeping the Lord at the center, as our Rock, has made all the difference!

We always wanted to be the type of bosses for which people like to work. We strive to provide a great work/life balance for our drivers. We know truck drivers will work somewhere, and we want them to be happy working for us! We know linehaul drivers have a life and we work with them, so they can still be home for important events at home. We really care about our drivers as people not just employees. We also show them that by offering full health care benefits and paid time off. We know rest and self-care is so important for drivers and their safety on the road. Safety has always been our number one priority. Everything we do comes from that mentality.

Here are tips and advice to share to any potential new business owners:
Pray about everything and for God’s direction!!
Don’t be too proud to get on your hands and knees surrendering everything to God’s ultimate control.
Trust your instincts and the Holy Spirit.
Take a leap of faith and one step at a time.
Be willing to put in the work to see things through to completion.
Be quick, nimble, and try to make good decisions under pressure.
If the decision doesn’t happen to be the right one, learn from your mistake, and move on to the next decision.
Make sure to have a lot of perseverance and faith that no matter what happens it will be okay.
You will have to work harder than you would for someone else.
You have to be willing to do whatever it takes if no one else will.
You have the flexibility to make your own schedule but have to be a great self-starter.
Have wise counsel you can talk to about decisions by getting outside input and perspectives.
You have to be willing to take responsibility for how things turn out because the burden falls on you.
Running your own business is a life style change and not for the faint of heart!!
Being your own boss and working for yourself is so rewarding!!!

To learn more about our company and apply to join our team, please visit our website:
http://www.United-Federal.com

*Website designed by Black Airplane. https://blackairplane.com/

**Images by Jerry King with J King Images. He has a great story about starting his own business in a similar way we did, by taking a huge leap of faith. https://www.jkingimages.com/



Thursday, April 6, 2017

Rise Up

Everyone's life is a unique journey, with ups and downs, trials and blessings. When life gets tough we need to raise ourselves up by our boot straps. We need to buckle up and be ready for the ride. We don't know where we are going all the time, but we need to pray for direction and God's will to be revealed. When things are difficult we can pray for peace, pray for grace, pray for wisdom. When we are completely overwhelmed we can literally get down on our knees and just pray, with tears streaming down our face.

The main thing I have learned is God is always good and faithful. We don't like it, but sometimes the answers to our prayers is "No", "Not right now", or He may be silent. God is right there with us giving us grace to deal with our situation, though. His grace will carry us through when we are not sure if we could do it on our own!

He cries with us and his heart breaks, when our heart breaks. He loves us and just like any good Father he would rather us yell and scream at Him, instead of becoming distant, give up on our faith, and/ or our relationship with Him. This verse below, shows how compassionate and empathetic God is towards us when we are upset.

“You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭56:8 NLT

You can never be a failure in the Lord's eyes. Remember he created us in His image and sent His one and only Son to earth to die as an atoning sacrifice for you and me. We are already good enough and worthy of His love because we didn't deserve the salvation as we are yet still sinners.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
‭‭John‬ ‭3:16‬ ‭NIV‬‬

"Rise Up" by Andra Day is one of my favorite songs right now. Sections of the lyrics and link to the full music video are below. This song is about unconditional love and compassion towards a loved one, even when it is inconvenient or difficult- helping them in a great time of need, being there for them no matter what and showing love for one another. This is what Jesus calls us to do.

Andra Day in "Rise Up" music video

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.””
‭‭Mark‬ ‭12:30-31‬ ‭NIV

When we do this we are the closest to God that we can possibly be. This is what the Lord wants for us because this is what matters the most. So when life is tough for you or a loved one... Rise Up!!

"Rise Up" by Andra Day

"Rise Up" by Andra Day Music Video (Click Here)

You're broken down and tired
Of living life on a merry go round
And you can't find the fighter
But I see it in you so we gonna walk it out
And move mountains...
And I'll rise up
I'll rise like the day
I'll rise up
I'll rise unafraid
I'll rise up
And I'll do it a thousand times again
And I'll rise up
High like the waves
I'll rise up
In spite of the ache
I'll rise up
And I'll do it a thousands times again
When the silence isn't quiet
And it feels like it's getting hard to breathe
And I know you feel like dying
But I promise we'll take the world to its feet
And move mountains
We'll take it to its feet
And move mountains...
All we need, all we need is hope
And for that we have each other
...We will rise...
I'll rise up
Rise like the day
I'll rise up
In spite of the ache
I will rise a thousands times again
...For you...

Sunday, March 26, 2017

How I Love Our Toddler and Taking Him to His First Wedding

Let me start with saying, "Hello, how have you been?!" It has been almost a year since my last blog post about two of our best friends, Amy and Brad Ward, who left Atlanta to travel the country!!! Update: They are chilling in Colorado living the Snow Bunny Life. 

Family picture at James' third birthday party
Our son, James, just had his THIRD birthday a few weeks ago. His third birthday, seriously?! That went by so quickly! We love our little munchkin, more than I ever would have thought possible. Sometimes it is still surreal that I am grown up and a mom. The way he looks to me for comfort, love, attention, approval, snuggles, and even how he wants me to rub his back while he is falling asleep, it gets me every time. When he is around other people and children he listens and takes it all in first before he gets comfortable. He is our little observer. I love how he is so sweet and thoughtful. I am grateful for the respect he shows me too. Sometimes it surprises me how I start "counting to 3" and he gets up and gets going on #1. 


James loves to sit on my lap

But I'm definitely a little softy, though. For example, he would have me carry him everywhere if I would. Usually, I have been carrying him but we are trying to get him to walk more. I just know I will look back when he is much bigger and relish the memories of carrying his little 31 lb. self all over the place. My little snuggle bunny loves to sit in my lap. It is the sweetest part of my day when he wants to climb in my lap and hold my hands. He would prefer to sit in my lap even while we are both eating but he has to eat in his own chair and "be a big boy". But, I know I'll miss him being little enough to sit in my lap one day too. I treasure all of these memories we have together and look forward to making new memories as he grows older. 



Snuggle buddy

We recently went to Lauren and Alex Ziegler's wedding and took James. It was a beautiful celebration of love and was a picture perfect Southern style wedding weekend, complete with a crawfish boil on the Thursday night before the wedding. I love the South and how everyone makes you feel so welcome and the hospitality can't be beat! The Clark-Ziegler wedding was no exception!! 

Behnkes and Zieglers
I was honored to read this scripture about love during the ceremony: 
“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loves in us and his love is made complete in us. This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because he first loved us. Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.” 1 John 4:7-21 NIV

Lauren and I before the wedding
We went to get James a suit before the wedding, because it was elegant and formal. James was so cute picking out his little suit. He was so proud of himself that he was going to be all dressed up like his Daddy.

My handsome dates

Then, he was such a great little traveler and had so much fun at all the wedding events and festivities. He even helped me give a little speech during the rehearsal dinner. I asked him after we got home what was his favorite part of the wedding weekend and he told me it was when we were dancing together. It made my heart completely melt into a pile of mush. Kyle even joined in with the dancing. The three of us held each other and were all dancing together. Yes, sorry, we were those people having a family love fest on the dance floor. But it was one of the best nights the three of us have had out together.

Our little family at the Jackson, MS Yacht Club
The sweetest part of this story is how it ties into my own childhood. One of my very first memories was dancing with my dad at a wedding. I'll never forget, my favorite preschool teacher, Ms. Jamie. She was getting married and asked me to be a flower girl. I had the best time but my favorite part was dancing with my dad. I swear, I learned all my dance moves that night. Well, maybe not all my dance moves, but I certainly learned how much fun it is to dance with your favorite guy. It brought it all full circle for me. 

Thank you for inviting us, Lauren and Alex, to be a part of your wedding! May you have much love and happiness as husband and wife!! 

I hope James always knows the love we have for him and how we would do anything in our power for him. He is going to be our only child and he will always be enough. We are so blessed to be his parents!! We love you, James!