Thirteen dollars and forty-seven cents. I knew that number incredibly well. It was the exact cost for the generic version of the baby formula Jack had to have when he was born. He couldn’t tolerate some of the other stuff, so this specific formula was what he needed to help reduce his reflux. And while the name brand was quite a bit more, I knew I could get it at Target, in their brand, for $13.47. And each week I worried as I scraped and scrounged to get the money we needed for it.
It was 2008 and Heather and I had been married for just over two years when Jack was born. And money was tight. Actually tight doesn’t even begin to describe it. We were barely making ends meet. And some months we weren’t even doing that.
When we married in 2006, Heather came to the marriage with considerable student loan debt due to putting herself through nursing school. Unexpected job loss for me, combined with other unforeseen events we couldn’t have planned for had us in a bad place. A very bad place. Sometimes bad stuff just happens.
When Jack was born, I immediately knew that I didn’t want to raise him in a situation like that. So we did the only thing we knew to do. We started praying and making huge changes.
We sold our vehicles for older, less expensive models. We set super strict budgets, cut out the “extras” in life – like eating out, and saved money every way we could. But it wasn’t enough. There was no way out of the hole. It was just too deep.
We eventually got to the point where we had no choice but to borrow some money from my parents and file for bankruptcy. We were at rock bottom.
Now there will be those out there who will say, “You took the easy way out.” But let me assure you, until you’ve had to sit in a courtroom and be humiliated, until you’ve had relatives call you to tell you’ve they’ve seen your names in the bankruptcy section of the newspaper, until you’ve had vehicles repossessed from your driveway in the middle of the night, until you’ve had every financial move you made for the better part of 10 years overshadowed by something like a bankruptcy, then you have no idea just how hard it is. It was a tragically demeaning process that has longterm financial consequences, but it exists for a reason. However, that’s not the end of our story.
I refused to be defined by what had happened and I was determined to never allow something like that to happen again. So this story isn’t one about that. This story is one about taking control and changing your life for the better.
We settled our debts and set out to create a new life for our child. We cut out all the extras, saved money every place we could, and literally drove those vehicles until the doors fell off. We pinched pennies in every sense of the phrase. I read every personal finance book I could get my hands on and took a number of online courses as well. It was one of the hardest things we ever did.
But we did it.
In 2010, we decided it was time for Heather to realize her dream and sent her back to school for her masters and to become a nurse practitioner. While it put us in a position to incur more debt, we knew the increase in pay would help offset that and eventually help us save even more. We slowly started to get a handle on things.
A hiccup came in 2016 when my job of nearly 13 years was eliminated – along with half the staff at the organization. But back in 2008, I had started this little blog called Southern Bite as a creative outlet during some of the most stressful times of my life. And all the nights and weekends I had spent pouring into this little passion project were starting to pay off. It was generating some income and gave me some cushion to fall back on.
The truth is, Heather and I had been talking about the idea of me leaving my “regular” job to focus on Southern Bite full-time for a little while. She was settled in as an NP by that point, and we both felt there was a pull for me to spend more time in the kitchen. But I’m a planner. I like to know where my paycheck is coming from and how much it’s going to be. I like having benefits like health insurance. And leaving a sure thing for self-employment just didn’t seem like a smart move. I started praying for God to give me a sign that it was time to make that move, but I never saw one… until one particular day. And it was a big sign! The truth is, he’d actually given me quite a few signs, looking back, but I was too stubborn to see them. So when I failed at seeing those, he sent me one I couldn’t ignore.
I vividly remember that phone call with Heather after the meeting where I learned I’d be losing my job. I was standing in the back parking lot of the office talking to her on the phone. She was in tears, but I had a sense of peace about it. I knew that this was the sign God was sending me and I knew I had to trust him. So I put my nose to the grindstone and set out the next day building Southern Bite to be even more… recipe by recipe. And I never had to look back. Not once.
So why am I telling you all this? Well, because I’ve got some crazy exciting news to share with you, but it’s important to know how we got here. So, hang tight…
A few years back, we got to the point where Heather and I started talking about building a house. Nothing too big or fancy – just a place that we could continue to raise Jack and then grow old together in – a place that we had a chance to create – a place that felt like us and had our own marks on it. So we set out to find the perfect piece of property for us to build our forever home. But finding some suitable land in our neck of the woods wasn’t exactly easy. We searched for years. Seriously. Years. We eventually had to expand our search area a bit and got a lead on a piece of property late one Saturday night. The next morning we drove over to see it.
It was breathtaking – some considerable acreage with a hill that was just perfect to perch a house on top of. All three of us were just enamored with the land. It was partially cleared, but had some trees still and small spring running through the back. As we were leaving, I stopped the car to take one last look and noticed three chinaberry trees right at the entrance. Now, I have a particular fondness for chinaberry trees because my Bigmama, whom I write about often, had a huge chinaberry tree in her front yard that I remember playing in when I was little. Now though she’s been gone for more than 18 years, I often feel like I get little nods from her when big things are going on. So seeing those trees was just another indication that this might be the place for us.
On the way home I called my mom to tell her about the property and about my little nod from Bigmama by way of those trees when she said, “Well, you know what today is, don’t you?” “Sunday?, I said.” She replied, “Not just that, today would have been Bigmama’s birthday.”
I knew we’d found our home.
So for the last 14 months, we’ve been planning and plotting, drawing and designing, saving and budgeting, and getting ready to build our forever home that we’re lovingly calling The Chinaberry House. And we want you to join us on the journey!
I’m going to chronicle the process by sharing updates regularly on the blog as we venture through the process.
Folks, the truth is we’ve come a long way and it’s is only fitting that you continue on the journey with us as we plan our future. Love y’all. Stay tuned…
You made me cry. At some point everybody needs to be a little hungry, a little broke and a lot humble.
My cousin called her grandmother Big Mamma. Southerners have a history like no other. May you and yours be blessed.
Thank you so much, Annie! I love that that thought!
All these years I’ve been following this blog and I never knew. What is for certain is you kept your faith and persevered which is the best example you can provide to your son. Speaking of which…I can’t believe how big he is! Good looking too!
All the best on your new home!
Thank you so much, Laurel!
I can’t love this any more – I’m all in my feels!! Congrats! <3
Thank you so much, Paula!!
What a wonderful story!
Yay! Congratulations! So happy for you and your family!!
Congratulations! Love reading your stories. Looking forward to seeing more pictures.
That is an amazing story and I can’t wait to follow your new journey! My husband of 32 years faced the same as you and Heather. Getting over the shame of the so called “easy way out” as a believer was and is the most difficult. We began to ask God for Him to give us His financial eyes. And Boom, He did! Now, living the way He would like is the most amazing!!!
Love that! Thanks, Tiffani!
Been there. Done that.
We have a China Berry in our front yard (careful how you trim it ’cause what’s done is “forever” ).
Jack has gotten so big! Wow!
That which does not kill us makes us stronger.
Keep the faith. We’re all out here cheering for you!
So true! Thanks, Helen! He’s almost a teenager!
Thank you for sharing. I can’t wait to read more!
Coming soon! 🙂
What a wonderful story! Thank you for sharing with us! Wishing you all the best in your new home adventure!!
Thanks so much, Jane!
So proud of how far you have come and grateful to have been a follower cheering you on all these years. Can’t wait to see all your posts on this new exciting adventure for you all. Y’all have worked very hard and the blessings are still coming!
Have fun building your forever home.
Thank you so much, Susan! I appreciate your continued support and always look forward to hearing from you!
It takes a special man a to tell a story as personal as this, but scrolling through the replies will tell you how many lives you are affecting. You are where God means for you to be, and He is blessing your work and your family. Thank you for being real. I am happy for you and inspired by you.
Thanks, Kim! You are 100% correct!
Wow, what a wonderful story. Doesn’t our Lord work in the most beautiful ways? So happy for y’all. I am excited to see the progress.
That He does! Thanks, Hayley!
So proud of you both!
God gives us signs all through life.
Sometimes we just don’t listen. You three deserve all your blessings in life.
Happy Birthday in Heaven Big Mamma!
So true! Thanks so much!!
Congratulations, so nice to know the Bigmama will be there with you, enjoy the new journey
She certainly will be! Thanks so much, Diane!
I am so happy for you Heather and Jack.
Thanks for sharing your story.
I want to come see you when you finish.
We would be delighted to have you, sweet friend!
Stacy, thank you so much for that very uplifting story! I know your Bigmama is smiling down from heaven on you and your family. Keep up the wonderful work and keep us all posted as the house comes into being!
Thanks so much, Judith! Will do!
Stacy, we are Christians and we, too, had to file for bankruptcy but God is good and we are on a debt-free journey to owe nothing. Paying off the house will be hard as we are 66 and 69 and live on Social Security only, but…if God is with us, who can be against us? Thank you for sharing. I pray for you , Heather and Jack only the best!
You are so right, Cate! You’re on the right path and He will provide! Thank you so much!
Wow, does this sound like a mirror experience for us, except the problems cropped up when the recession hit in 2008. Our son had cancer and our insurance just didn’t cover it all. My husband lost his job, and I was working as a nurse PRN, which means just “as needed.” I had to find a full time nursing job quickly, and believe me, it was not easy. I live in a big city with 4 elite nursing colleges, so many of the hospitals take new grads to reduce the amount of money they have to pay instead of an old timer like me. Anyway, we had to declare bankruptcy as well in 2009. I would like to praise God who stayed by us and guided us the entire time. Our son is cancer free, and we have gotten past the 10-year mark for the bankruptcy so it is off of our credit report now. We have absolutely no debt, except my student loans, which will be paid off in 4 more years, as I graduated in 2004. We have a beautiful home, and I am able to work from home for a wonderful company. God has been so good to us as well, and He will be for you, too. Congratulations.
Ugh, that sounds terrible! I’m so glad to hear things have gotten so much better and hallelujah for a cancer free diagnosis! Thanks so much, Suzanne!
Frances Polk Milikin
Congratulations and thanks for sharing your story. Your difficult times make you stronger and you appreciate the blessings more when they come. I know your mom and grandparents are proud of you; Your grandparents struggled through hard times too but never lost their kindness to others. It will be great to walk this journey with you and we had a chinaberry tree growing up in Camden that we used the berries as ammunition for our slingshots. So many good memories.
They do that! Thanks so much, Frances!
Congratulations!! Much luck on your new journey.
Lois S Myzick
I can’t wait to take this journey with you and your family! I love Southern Bite and even if I’m in a hurry with my emails, I always open yours. Best of luck and I’ll be praying for you all.
Thanks, Lois! We’re excited to have y’all joining us!
Thanks for sharing your story with us all!! I found you just last week and have perfected my buttermilk biscuits and dried beans thanks to you! I fondly remember a time when money was tight but we had strength in our church community and faith in God that we would get better each day ❤. Congratulations on your new home! Big momma was surely giving you a sign! Can’t wait to see your progression!! Forgive my sentence structure, I’ve been up all night ????.
Thank you for inspiring me to be a better cook and baker!!
You’ve got this, Brandie! So glad to hear about the biscuits and beans!
LOVED YOUR STORY! IT BROUGHT BACK MANY, MANY MEMORIES FOR ME. WE HAD A CHINABERRY TREE IN OUR FRONT YARD WHEN I WAS YOUNG. I LIVED IN THE CHINABERRY
TREE. I WOULD SIT ON A LIMB & WATCH THE TRAFFIC GO BY AND WAVE TO MY FRIENDS ACROSS THE HIGHWAY & THE RAILROAD. I PLAYED MUMBLY PEG WITH ALL MY MALE FRIENDS. THE GIRLS DIDN’T KNOW HOW TO PLAY AS GOOD AS THE BOYS. KEEP US POSTED ABOUT YOUR NEW HOME. I CAN’T WAIT TO SEE IT.
Ha! Thanks for sharing, Betty!
Now that you are starting the planning of your house on the lovely Chinaberry property, I’d like to recommend a house building project that is both sturdy and affordable. It’s a project to employ and empower veterans and other people who need employment and skills and affordable housing. The project is the God-inspired dream of Denny Barker tp bring employment, skills and affordable, durable, sustainable housing to all. The foundation is Together Jobs of Barker-Adams Foundation. You can find them on Facebook and online. I don’t usually pitch projects at strangers and I gain nothing from this other than knowing I have promoted a valuable God-driven project. I am acquainted with Mr. Barker and know him to be an inspired Southern Christian man of integrity. He is also well-educated and experienced in the building and engineering fields. But however y’all proceed, God speed and God bless you!
Thanks so much, Mary!
What a wonderful story! Thank you so much for sharing it with us. God bless you and your family. I am looking forward to reading about your house.
Congratulations to you, your wife, and your son! Going through difficult times builds character and makes you more appreciative of the things that you work hard to accomplish. Thank you for including us in your journey to build your Chinaberry House!
So much! Thanks, Vickie!
What a blessing you and your family are, Stacey! Your story resonated with me on so many levels! Thank you for being who you are and for adding so much substance to your Southern Bite! I’m always telling my husband of 40 years ( we’re 71) that “my guy Stacey” at Southern Bite sent me another wonderful recipe! Lol.. we do love your site and all your postings. We simply cannot wait for the Chinaberry House to be built! I too have very fond memories of a chinaberry tree! Thank you, Susie S
Awww! Thank you, Susie! You just put a huge smile on my face!!
Congratulations! Look forward to following your progress!
Thank you, Kathy!
I’m keeping this short, but CONGRATULATIONS to you, Heather & Jack!!!! I am SO happy you are blessed to have your dream home come to fruition. I say “home” because y’all will make this house a wonderful home. God bless you.
Your Southern Sister from another Mister,
Thank you so much, Linda! I appreciate that more than you could know!
Congratulations! Totally love your story! I too had a Big Mama and there certain things that tie us to them always. So glad you undeniably found your forever home, with a little help from Big Mama! ????
Those BigMama’s are some great people! Thanks, Leesa!
Congratulations. This makes my heart so happy for you all. It’s just amazing how God takes care of us and how sometimes we don’t listen like we should. Sometimes he has to hit us over the head with something to get our attention. I will be looking forward to al the posts about your progress on your new forever home. The time you have spent getting out of debt and as hard as that journey has been it God has taught you many things that will be so helpful to you and your wife and to pass on to your son. Thank you Jesus for blessing Stacy and his wife and son.
Thank you so, so much, Judy!
It is all in God’s Timing! Love your sweet story and the awesome name for your new abode. I am proud of and happy for you two!
Thank you for sharing your journey up to this point and thank you for many delicious recipes.
Absolutely beautiful! I’m so proud for y’all. I feel like I’ve known your family for years. I love your stories about your family. The love you all share comes through your words. Cherish them and hold them close.
God will surely continue to bless you.
Looking forward to following y’all on your journey.
Thank you so much, Pat!
Loved this story! Got goosebumps when your mom told you your grandmother’s birthday was that day you found your property. Love reading all your writing. It’s as though I’m getting mail from a personal friend! You have a beautiful family and may God continue to bless you and yours!
Awww! Thank you, Ava! I love hearing that!
Thanks for sharing this wonderful story with words of wisdom! Congratulations on you new adventure, “The Chinaberry House”
Thank you so much, Bonita!!
Congratulations. Best wishes. ????????????
Thank you, Patti!
What a blessing for you. I look forward to your posts about the build. Prayers for your future successes.
Thank you so much, friend!!
God Bless you and your family. Trust in God carries us forward. Thanks for sharing!
That it does! Thanks, Norman!!
I am so happy for y’all! Don’t you love it when God’s plans come together?
It is a Jeremiah 29:11 thang!
Blessings to you and yours!
It’s so amazing, right!?!? Thanks, Joanne!
What a blessing….Such a wonderful story for all of us…May God guide you through this process and touch the lives of all who help you reach that goal….
Thank you so much, Lori!
Such a great story of your perseverance to become debt-free. I’m looking forward to hearing more about the Chinaberry House. God bless you and your family.
Thank you, Judy!
Stacey, Heather, and Jack, Thank you for sharing your family’s life story. God is good all of the times, even in the hard difficult times(sometimes, we forget to look up). You just shared that truth with us as you told your life story. What a blessing to see Jesus through you and your family. Thank you again. I am so looking forward to hearing your day to day journey as God directs your path. I am definitely sharing your post with all my family and friends.
(By the way your recipes are the best!) Thank you!
Thank you so much, Kathy! And thanks for sharing this message with your family and friends! You’re right! He is good ALL of the time!
I am so happy for you and your amazing family Stacey! I have never been so happy to subscribe to a blog, and I look forward to the updates on your new adventure!
Aww! thank you so much, Nancy!
Thank you so much for sharing your story as it is truly inspiring. Congratulations on reaching this point that your own home and long time dream is coming into being. The three of you must be over the moon. Jack is growing into a handsome young man.
We certainly are! Thank you so very much, Linda!
WOW !!! What a beautiful story and how nice of you to share it with all of us. My heart is sooooooooooo Happy for you and your family. Best Wishes on your new Home
Wow! Thank you so much, Barbara!
What a wonderful story! It touches the heart. Hard work, determination, family and the grace of God, came together and brought you to where you were meant to be!!! Thank you for sharing your story. I believe many can relate to hard times. Years ago I was married with 3 children – under the age of 3. The marriage was not in a good place. I had no money…and I mean not even some change in the cushions of the couch. Some serious changes had to be made. It took years, but things improved and got better. I am so happy that things turned around for the three of you. I wish you all the best for Southern Bite and your life in Chinaberry House! God bless.
Thank you so very much, Nancy! I’m so happy to hear your situation improved as well!
Stacey, that was a very heartfelt story, I cried tears of joy for you when you told about the Chinaberry tree. You see I can relate….. My husband and I went through something VERY similar early in our marriage. Even though I was so very humiliated and heart broken through that period of time, the good Lord brought us through one day at a time. Now… I truly believe going through that trying time has changed our lives for the better. So, when I read your story, I knew exactly how Happy you guys are . May Gods Blessing be on every inch of your new home and also your family.
Thank you so much, Susan! That means so, so much!
Beautiful story! Congratulations!
The Chinaberry House sounds just beautiful. Thank you for your lovely, joyful story and for the blog that I visit every day for smiles as well as recipes. I wish you great happiness in the future and look forward to building your home along with you, in spirit if not in body. Bless your family and may you all enjoy a very happy life on that beautiful piece of God’s earth that must have been waiting just for you.
Thank you so much, Addie! We’re so excited to share it with y’all!
Congratulations, what a wonderful story! I’m so happy for you and your family. I enjoy your posts and wish you the best of luck.
Thank you, Karen!!
How awesome! Such A faith filled sharing. I’m so thankful that I took the time to seriously scroll through my mail today.
My Mama Mitcham had a large China Berry tree in her front yard. When I was young, we lived in California for a few years. My suntcAlso had a China Berry tree in her front yard. Many years my cousin and I sat under that tree and crafted.
I now live on the home place in Louisiana. Mama Mitcham’s China Berry tree is long gone but last year I ordered some seeds to plant one. Haven’t felt well enough to plant the seeds but after reading this, I think I will do so. Of course my grandchildren will enjoy as I may not live long enough to see it get enough height to enjoy. I’m 72 years old but it will be nice to leave yet another generation a China Berry tree.
Best wishes on your new home.
I am so happy that you and your family can now see some “fruits” from all of your hard work, planning, and saving. That story really touched me because my father, 95 years old, recently died on March 7, 2021 and I truly understand about the signs you have seen from your grandmother, “Bigmomma”. I see them from my father, who was in my life for 66 years, 6 months, and 6 days. For instance, I have been married to my husband for 24 years and my husband has many of the same traits of my father, which is a blessing. Keep us informed.
Those messages and “nods” are so comforting! Thanks so much, Cheryl! Will do!
What a kind and thoughtful perspective! I do pray that you’ll get to see your grandchildren enjoy the Chinaberry tree just as you did! Thanks so much, Virginia!
So, so happy and excited for you and your sweet family! I’ve been with your website almost from the beginning and you have certainly come a long way over the years. When we pray, trust, and let God lead, He always blesses us in the most unexpected ways. Can’t wait to follow along as you build and move into your Chinaberr dream home!
He does! Thanks so much for joining me on this wild and crazy ride! It’s been fun, right?!?
I absolutely needed to hear that story today! Thank you.
I sure hope it was a blessing to you, Ruth!
I have been following your wonderful blog for a while now and love your blog. In regards to your wonderful and heartfelt story. It actually brought me to tears both sad ones and then the joyful ones. I pray that you and your family get all you deserve and that God and BIGMAMA continue to look over you. Such an inspiring story especially right now with so many of us furloughed or unemployed.
Stacey, From the time you were a little guy, you always had that genuine love & best attitude. As we grow in our faith, God teaches us life lessons that make a difference. I thank Him for you & your precious family & I pray His richest blessings for you all as you build your home. May it honor Him & bring you all much joy.
Thank you so very much, Mrs. Knight! You will always be such a special person to me!
Thank you so much, Benny! And thanks for being a loyal follower!
Congratulations to you and your family . I think it sounds like it is time for your dedication and diligence is rewarded. Please post a picture of the Chinaberry trees as I am not familiar with that variety unless it has a different name in my area. Have a wonderful weekend and bless your endeavor.
Thanks, Nan! The photos from the post weren’t loading correctly last week, but hopefully are now. There are several pictures of the trees in this post.
Stacey, I thoroughly enjoyed your story. Most sincere congratulations to you and your family. Everything works in God’s timing and according to His will in and for our lives. Some of my fondest memories come from being a ten year old girl with a Chinaberry Tree in our front yard. Though bittersweet at that age was the year I also lost my mother. The year was 1970 in Auburn, North Carolina…..I use to climb that Chinaberry tree and when the berries would dry and turn yellow, I remember that my mother would place them in a pot of water and boil them on the stove and we had to drink the pot liquor…bad tasting stuff…but I never remember going to the doctor when I was young either. I am glad you told that story about your Bigmama, because it brought back fond memories of my mom. May God always cause the wind to be on your back to push you and your beautiful family ahead into your destiny! I look forward to seeing a lot more of the wonderful things that God has in store for you and your family!
Thank you so much, Patricia! It’s been so fun reading everyone’s memories involving chinaberry trees!
What a wonderful story, Stacey. I ‘m new to your blog, but plan to be a regular here. I look forward to following the progress of your new home, as well as trying your yummy recipes! I’m so happy for you and know how excited you and Heather and Jack have to be.
Welcome, Frede! Thanks so very much! Please let me know if I can help you find anything.
What a sweet journey you are on! Isn’t it the best when we recognize those nods that we are on the correct path in our journey! Thank you for sharing with us. I have loved following you over the years and making your recipes that have become family favorites. I am so excited for you, Heather, and Jack. My how he has grown! I look forward to reading all about The Chinaberry House!
They are amazing and so reassuring. Thank you so very much, Tina!
Loved your story!!! When I was young, we used to climb chinaberry trees and use the chinaberries in our slingshots and in pea shooters. Yep, I’m old as dirt …. when we kids played outdoors all day. The best childhood, ever! I wish you much love and luck in your new home. I don’t comment often but I DO love your recipes.
Thank you for them and thank you for sharing your story!
Thank you so much, Deanna!
That’s so exciting! I’m thrilled for you!!
I absolutely love how you come full circle with God’s guidance. Seeing and agreeing with His way is always a perfect blessing. Enjoy your new journey, how amazing it will be! Love to your beautiful family. ????????????
Thank you so much, Suzy!!
I am also looking forward to seeing your house become a reality.
That was exceptionally nice. Thank you for sharing. I enjoyed the pictures a lot, although for some unexplained reason, they didn’t all load.
From experience, sometimes these little hints from above are tiny, subtle, and easy to miss. But sometimes, when you manage to pick up on them, you get an amazing sense of peace and accomplishment.
A sense of peace and accomplishment is exactly what it was like. Thanks so much, Kathy! We did have some issues with images loading last week, but they should all be working now. Let me know if you’re still having trouble.
Congratulations!!!!! I’m so happy for y’all!!!
Thank you, Gwen!
I enjoy your blog and truly enjoyed your story. I am a nurse practitioner (since 1987) and love my work so my heart was touched by Heather’s story and your support for the profession. I am looking forward to watching the progress of the home building. Sending love and blessings.
Thanks so much! Nurse practitioners are special people for sure!
Congratulations to you and your family. By way of your post I see that you have worked hard and long to reach this point in your life. I hope it turns out well for all of you. Do enjoy the place of your dreams for the rest of your lives.
Thank you so much, Pamela!
What a journey! Thanks for sharing and congratulations on your new build. Can’t wait to see how it turns out! ❤️
Thank you for sharing your wonderful story, Stacy!
I understand what you and your family went through, having gone through similar situations.
I’m so glad that you have made it through! Chinaberry House will be amazing!
Sending many good thoughts! 🙂
We appreciate that so much, Christine!
I have been a silent follower for several years. I have your cook book and in the last few years I have had to go gluten free due to a wheat allergy. I have been able to convert several of your recipes to gluten free Good luck with your new home.
Yes you have! And thank you so much for your commitment to this little dream of mine for so long.
Congratulations! You have worked hard and deserve this wonderful time in your life.
My husband and I built our home together 45 years ago. One thing we wish we had done differently looking back is to have as few steps as possible. When you grow older steps are difficult. Enjoy your design and live your best life.
Thanks so much, Linda! We certainly have kept that in mind and have designed the house where nearly everything is on one level.
Comgratulations! I’m looking forward to seeing your new home!
Your family has been through setbacks & trials but you’ve placed your faith & trust in our Father. It’s wonderful to hear how that has been rewarded.
You will be in my prayers as you all go forward with the exciting plans for a new home.
Thanks for sharing this beautiful event with all of us.
What a sweet story! Blessings to you and your family and your new home!
Thank you so much, Lisa!
CONGRATULATIONS! A dream deferred but still a dream…..
That it is! Thanks, Vicki!!
Your story brought tears to my eyes. I could not be happier for you and your family. I love that you shared the struggles as it made this dream that is now being realized that much more special. I love the signs from your “Bigmama” and the name you have given to your special new home. Am honored that you have decided to take us on the journey with you. God bless you and keep you safe and well and wishing you only joy and fulfillment on the journey ahead. So happy and excited for you. This made me even “more” of a fan. Will be cheering you on!!
Aww! Thank you, Gigi! It was a tough story to share, but I’ve been so overwhelmed by the love everyone has shown us.
Excited for the 3 of you and for us that we are able to share in your excited and joy! Good things come to those that wait:) God has a plan…in His own time.
Can’t wait for our first post that grading has begun! Be sure to make a time box….be sure to include today’s post.
love your recipes,cookbook,a nd everything about Southern Bites.
Thank you so much, Gail! It’s truly a blessing to be able to bring y’all along!
Congratulations! God is really good. I can’t wait to see your new home as it progresses.
That He is! Thanks so much, Brenda!
Your journey is an inspiration to me as a blogger. Thank you for sharing and God speed as your build your new home!
Thank you so much, Debi! I just love your blog and beautiful photos!
I think a lot of us can relate to your struggles. 2008 was a rough year for so many. My husband was a Pastor of a mission congregation and a good chunk of our congregation lost their jobs that year. We held on as long as we could but our little church closed December 2008. So many of our churches closed in the next few years and so many Pastors competing for the remaining pulpits. Long story short we never really got on our feet again. I can relate to your excitement about your new home too. My daughter and son-in-law wanted us to move back home where they could help take care of us and built a house for us. They involved us in every decision and they always call it our house. We lived 100 miles away so we didn’t even see it in person until the day we moved in. You talk about excitement! I have to pinch myself every day. My project this Spring has been to build myself a shade garden in the backyard. I’m so glad you shared your story with us. I knew there was a reason why I always read your blog even when I’m pressed for time. Is there a way that we can help you? I’m sure a lot of us would like to play our part in building this forever home. What gives you the most bang for the buck? Buying merchandise? Buying your cookbook?
Thank you so much, Suellen! What a blessing that was for y’all! I’ve been so overwhelmed with all the folks sharing similar stories, but it has been so uplifting to hear from so many folks! You are so sweet to make that offer. Following along here on the blog and then eventually getting to help us pick out a few things will be more help that you could ever imagine!
God bless y’all, Stacy! Very best wishes! You have a beautiful family.
Thank you, Joy! They are my heart!
So happy for you and your family! Congratulations! I’ve been through bankruptcy, and it is definitely humiliating. That was during my first marriage. I’m 15 years into my 2nd marriage now, and we’ve been through the ringer. Have had cars repossessed, lost jobs, barely making ends meet, etc. I survived a hemorrhagic stroke on December 20,2015. I am now disabled, at home with our dog everyday now. Thankfully, God has brought us through it all! We bought our first house together last year, close to where I grew up, out in the country. Love it here! I enjoy reading your blog, and collecting your recipes. God us good! Thanks for sharing your life with us. Take care!
Thank you so much, Leslie! I’m so glad to hear things are better for you!
Congratulations to the three of you, Stacey! The Lord has a way of redeeming things that seem lost forever. What a fantastic story that blessed me so much. Thank you for sharing! I can’t wait to get updates!
Thank you so much, Teresa!
Love your story! And I believe in signs from my Mother who passed away in 2003. She loved cardinals and it seems that if there is something going on that needs hard decisions, “B” (our nickname for my Mother) always shows up. The cardinal (aka “B”) shows up in happy times and sad times. All the grown grandchildren and now the great grandchildren always say “Hi” to B when we see cardinals.
I’m really happy for you and your family. And I love your Blog!
What an incredibly sweet sentiment! I’ve always been told that cardinals are visitors from our past. I love that you find comfort in that just as I do in my little winks from my BigMama! Thank you!!
Oh Stacy! This is so wonderful!! I look forward to following your journey!
Thank you so much, Beckie!
Many blessing on your project and home to be.
Thank you for sharing your story with us. Its an inspiration to all It’s hard sometimes to see the signs that God sends us, but he keeps sending them until it comes clear to us. I love the name of your new, forever home. I am looking forward to receiving the updates on the building of your forever home.
Thank you so very much, Ivie!
Congratulations on your dream about to come true! And no one should ever be ashamed of hard times. Things happen beyond our control to the best of us. In fact, if we all really examined our lives, we’d find out how little control we actually have. I’m so happy for you and your family and I look forward to updates on The Chinaberry House.
That is so true, Carolyn! Thank you so much!
What a wonderful story. Thank You so much for wanting to share with all your readers. This should not be a surprise to you and your family, of the things you had to go through. Before you were born, GOD knew what you were meant to do all along, it just took you around the bend a few times.. You needed to experience things and with your hard work, you have accomplished with his timing, your forever love of what you are doing.
Thank You again.
Isn’t that such an amazing thought!? Thanks so much, Regina!
Such happy news, Stacey! You all have been through so much — thank you for your gift of sharing it. God has all things planned out in His good time and I’m excited for you that this is His time for the Chinaberry House. So looking forward to keeping up with your progress, as well as finding yummy new recipes to try!
Thank you so, so much, Beth!!
What an inspirational story. I am sure there is much more to come. I look forward to all of it!
Thanks, Kyle! Yes! More to come!
jean m nielson
Thank you for sharing your wonderful story! So happy for you! Love your site!
Thank you, Jean!
Congratulations! Your story gave me goosebumps and I am a big believer in things working out like they are supposed to. Happy to see good things happening for your family and all of your hard work and sacrifices paying off. Can’t wait to see the process and the finished home.
Me too! Thanks so much, Milisa!!
I love your story. You are under the shelter of God’s wing. My husband and I are going through some trying times now, especially because he is experiencing multiple expensive health procedures. We don’t even know the end cost yet. I have saved quite a few of your recipes and really appreciate the time and effort you give to your recipes and followers.
I pray that your family, your home, and your business will be blessed abundantly. Dawn
Thank you so much, Dawn! I pray things go well with your husband!
Susan D Thornton
Wonderful story! Congratulations!
Thank you, Susan!
would love to watch your Chinaberry Tree journey … have you considered a YouTube vlog? I’d watch.
I haven’t but I think that’s a great idea!
Congratulations! That’s AWESOME!!
Your beautiful story just blesses my heart to pieces.
So sweet! Thank you, Annetta!
I am so happy for you. My grandparents had chinaberry trees too. Enjoy building that house and raising that handsome boy.
Thank you, Lisa! I intend to do just that!
Congratulations, to you and your family. What a wonderful heart felt story, and thank you for sharing it. It is All In God’s Timing, and a Blessing from your Big Mama.
Thank you, Mary!!
This is wonderful!! Congratulations! Rejoicing with y’all as you grow your dream. ????
God bless your family!!
Thanks so much, Karen!
Chinaberries decorate the bet mud pies. Coming from a girl who knows!
Ha! Love that!! 🙂
East Texas girl
Congratulations to y’all ! I can’t wait to read more about The Chinaberry House. A lot of people have been where you were. I am so happy everything is better.
Congratulations!!! Wishing y’all continued success in all your endeavors!!!
Thank you so much, Patricia!
Thank you so much!!
What a wonderful story and testimony of how God provided for you! May God continue to bless you in your endeavors with Southern Bite and the building of your home!
Thank you so, so much, Maribeth!!
Stacy, congratulations on finding your forever home. my husband and I decided 20 years ago to leave the Houston, Texas area and to build on property that had been in my family for 40 years. We never second guessed our decision, even though we had longer commutes to our jobs. We were finally able to retire. I can see my Dad smiling in heaven knowing we cared for this land as much as he did. Our sons now live in the house that was built by my parents.
What an amazing story! Thanks so much, Karen!
Lisa B. Garmon
Now that’s not just a story – that’s a testimony about God’s goodness, his timing and the lessons learned along the way! Thank You for sharing this along with the wonderful recipes that I look forward to getting, they are just like what I grew up on. Can’t wait to be included in you and your familiy’s journey of building your special homeplace.
Thank you, Lisa! We’ve got lots more on the way!
I am in love with your little family. We went through pretty much the same things you described. Finally decided to get a brand new start,….in Alaska! All is good now but it took about 14 years of very hard work and lots of tears. As we near our retirement we thank God for all he has blessed us with. Gods blessings and ours as your journey continues hon. I will be watching and encouraging along the way. Loretta
Awww! Thank you, Loretta! It’s taken us about 13 years, but we’re certainly seeing the light at the end of the tunnel!
Stacey this has made you and your family strong and your faith helped you along the way. We too had to struggle, but we made it through rough times. And here we are 51 years later on May 2nd. So happy for your family.????????
Happy Anniversary!! Thanks so much, Cindy!
God is so good! He will always bring beauty out of ashes and use our story to Glorify Him and help others!!
Congratulations on this new phase of life!!
He is!! Thanks so much, Kim!
What a beautiful story! So happy for you all! I know y’all are excited! “God is good all the time God is good!” May God continue to be with you through this journey! Beautiful place to build your home !
Take care !
NC Girl ????
Thank you so very much!!
Such an inspiring story and that you give God the glory for your success. He is often overlooked in the age we live it. I don’t do Facebook or any like that so I won’t see the progress but I am so happy for you’ll May God bless every step of your journey. I do look forward to all your recipes and have used many of them. Thanks
Thank you so much, Shirley! I’ll be sharing much of the progress right here on the blog.
Everyone else has said it 🙂
You and your family are an inspiration!
Wishing you all the love and happiness, that you always share with others.
Aww! Thank you, Ellen!
Oh Stacey! I would have helped! What a beautiful story! I eagerly await this next chapter in your lives!
I know you would have, sweet friend! And I appreciate that more than you could ever know. You have been such a blessing to me and to my family!!
Love this story! Love your recipes! God bless and give you and your family many happy years in the Chinaberry House.
I have never left a comment on your site before. I do however follow your site and look forward to each post I read. So glad you are sharing your story with us. It is such a blessing to hear how you have overcome so much and have trusted God to lead you in the right direction. How blessed more people would be if they ” let go and let God”. What an inspiring story. The stories of Real struggles of real people can be so rewarding and goes to show us that faith and love along with a strong foundation can make a big difference in our lives. We need more strong families now more than ever. God bless you and your family! Wishing you all the best!
Thank you so very much, Pat!
Thank you so much, Sandra!!
Stacey, Loved reading your story. Thank you for sharing a part of your family. Congratulations on you upcoming adventure. I look forward to the bits and pieces to come. Ron
I appreciate that so much, Ron!!
I too has a BigMama..( she was about 4’10”) But every one called her BigMama..
Her love & wisdom has been a big part in my life too. She died at 64 in 1964..
Hold her dear to your heart.. enjoy your new adventure of building you home.
My Bigmama was a lady that was little in stature, but big in every other way possible! Thanks so much, Bob!
I loved your story. I always look forward to receiving your recipes. While I receive a lot of them yours are the only ones I save. I feel your love and support with each one. The beautiful signs you received tell you and your family you are truly blessed. Looking forward to the updates
That warms my heart so much, Cynthia! Thank you!!
Congratulations! Really excited for you and your family. Humiliation and bankruptcy go hand in hand. It’s not how many times you fall down, it’s how many times you stand back up. God Bless. Looking forward to the updates!
I agree! Thank you, JoAnne!!
So happy for you! I’m a nurse practitioner just like your lovely wife! Congratulations on all your hard work and getting where you are! Way to go! Love The Southern Bite!
Thank you, Susan! And thanks so much for the love and support you give your patients!
Stacey, how exciting!!!! I can relate to having every financial catastrophe you can think of happen. Divorce, repo, foreclosure, bankruptcy, tax lien, we have struggled with it all. And now, finally, after lots of prayer and belt-tightening, we’re getting back on more solid financial footing. And I am thankful. You’re right, sometimes hard things just happen.
And don’t you just love those God winks! Love how y’all found your place for your forever home, and I can’t wait to see the story unfold. Congratulations!
I so happy to hear that things are headed in the right direction for you, Lisa! Thank you so much!!
Melissa in NC
Well, that gave me chills and tears of happiness!! May God continue to bless you!!
So sweet! Thank you, Melissa!
I am so happy for you both! I remember your amazing wedding and the love you share. Your faithfulness has brought you through the storm.
Awww! Thank you, Shannon!!
Best of luck to you and your family in your new home adventure. I’m sure you will all savor the experience, as well as the end result!
We certainly going to try our best! Thank you, Paula!
I couldn’t be more happy for y’all. With heartache comes happiness; I think it’s time for you all to have much happiness. Not that you haven’t had good times already but you have scrimped and planned a long time for this day and it’s here. It’s your time. Thank you for opening your door, letting us in, and allowing us to follow you on your journey. I can’t wait to see your home!
It won’t always be easy, I can say that from firsthand experience, but it will be so worth it! God bless. Lori
Thank you so much, Lori!
Oh Stacey, thank you so much for including us in your journey! What a marvelous way that the Lord has brought y’all through everything! I love this story and I love the family pictures. Beautiful! And the Chinaberry House is a perfect name. Love y’all too!
Hello, my friend! I always look forward to hearing from you! Thank you so, so much!!
I am so very happy for you and your family! We all go through things in life that we never expect but it’s how we have overcome that sets us apart! You have given me inspiration!
Thank you so very much, Trudy!
So proud of you and all your accomplishments, as well as your drive. Thank you for sharing your story. I can’t wait to hear more.
Thanks so much, Gena!!
Blessings to you all on your journey to your forever home in the Chinaberry House. Love Love Love the name!
Thank you! It just seemed fitting!!
What a beautiful gift from God, and thank you so much for being humble, human, and flat out REAL in sharing your story. I have been following your blog, Southern Plate, and The Country Cook for years, and y’all got me through some tough times with your grace and kindness, and the love you put into what you do. God bless you and your family, and I look forward to updates on your journey!
Thank you, Christine! It means so much to have you say that!
So happy that things have turned around for you! Congratulations! Also love Southern Bites!
Thank you, Debbie!!
Congratulations. I’m so happy for you and your family. To God be the Glory. Thank you for sharing your story with us. Wishing you much success on your future endeavors.
I couldn’t agree more! Thanks so much, Phyllis!
Joan in VA
What a wonderful story! Thank you for sharing. I’m looking forward to watching your home grow.
Thanks so much, Joan! I always love seeing your name pop up in my comment feed! Thanks for being such a loyal follower!
Jerry & Rita Wheeles
Such an amazing journey…the Lord is so good. Thank you & Heather for sharing, glad to call you family, so proud of you all. God Bless as your amazing journey continues. Motto: Attitude..determines..Altitude. Praying for y’all….Love, Prayers, Big Hugs from family.
I love hearing ‘from the heart’ stories of faith. How we get convicted by that still small voice, not audible, but knowing. How exciting for you to have found a place that already sounds beautiful. A hill, a little brook and Chinaberry trees.
Have fun and thanks for sharing.
Thank you so much, Joyce!!
Thank you so very much, Aunt Rita!
Praise the Lord,from whom all blessings flow. Congratulations on the new adventure. Love your blog and the recipies are grand. Simple and down to earth. Have a blessed day.
Thank you, Charleen!
Bless Y’all! I have only 1 China Berry tree now in front yard. Husband had some guy years ago to use chainsaw to cut stuff down and he cut stuff that I still wanted. He cut and killed 3 China Berry trees and my old Rose of Sharon’s. He messed up some fig trees, peach trees and pomegranates etc. Enjoy your land!
Oh no!! Well, at least you still have the 1. Thanks, Tracy!
Such a “God thing”! I’m so glad you listened to the small voice that pushed you both to be debt free and have dreams!
You should pat yourselves on your backs and hold your heads up high pursuing the dream of China Berry. Ya Ya!
It was a God thing for sure! Thank you so, so much, Mrs. Connie!
Thank you for sharing such a personal story. I’m so glad things have worked out the way they have for your family. And I can’t wait to see your new kitchen!