The Trait Project : Allison Michelle

Prior to this Trait Project, I have written about people who I have known for a long time. However, I sometimes find the brightest of gems in people I just meet or whom have barely graced my years yet.

Allison is one such person.

Allison Michelle Coble.

My sweet friend Allison and her husband, Kyle.
Isn’t she stunning? ūüôā

I remember the first time I ever saw her.
I was in Washington, DC right after we lost our little Veronika’s adoption in Ukraine. Through a series of emails and trying to figure out who I needed to talk with to ensure V’s safety, I was paired with The Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute. They were able to connect me with the Congressional members and other organizations I needed to speak with.

I scheduled a meeting with them and I joined them in their DC offices one afternoon to discuss my story.

As we gathered around their conference room table, the staff mentioned to me that one more person may join us later.

A few minutes later the cutest gal walks in, in a hurry, trying not to disturb our meeting and scurried to her seat as she said, “Hi! I’m Allison! I’m so sorry I’m late!”
She eagerly sat down and proceeded to catch up, as she could, with what I was saying.

I remember her so vividly that day because she was so intently listening to what I was saying. Not only was she listening intently, she was positioning her heart in a way to attach to mine. I could see it in her eyes and read it in her body language. She was diving into my story and wanting to reside with me.

I have rarely seen this – someone who listens so closely because they are opening their heart to help and hurt with you.

Allison did that for me that day so it is no wonder she has made a huge impact on me. She joined my heart in all the joys and hurts and wanted to be there with and for me.

I can count on both hands the amount of times we have actually been in the same city spending quality time together – however, I would consider her one of my closest friends.

Every time we are together, we make sure that we have dinner or time to catch up a bit.

Allison is a living, breathing, form of compassion and empathy. Her heart is a rarity; her kindred spirit unmatched. And the amazing thing is – I have only scratched the surface of who Allison is. There is so much more to discover about who God has created her to be – and I hope we have many years of friendship for me to get to know her better.

a picture showing Allison’s heart and her work with CCAI

She is going through some big things in life at this moment and I really hope she feels that I show up for her. I  hope she knows I would go to any depths of emotions with her because I really value her.

I pray my sons can grow up with a touch of Allison in them. I hope to take her heart for others and emulate that for my boys so that their hearts can attach to people who are hurting and help them in the healing process.

Allison, I know that I can’t physically be there with you during this time, but I hope you know how much I love and admire you. My phone is always waiting when you need me. I love you so much. Thank you for loving me well.


The Trait Project : Jared James-Robert

I have been nervous to start this Trait Project. I know that seems silly because this one is about my husband and it should be the easiest to write.

It’s not.

It’s the hardest because he means so much to me that no string of words put together seem to be adequate enough for him. I am terrified to not do this incredible man the justice he deserves. So here it goes, my attempt to tell you about the most wonderful human I have ever met.

Jared James-Robert Ribble.

Jared, on a golf trip in Ireland

He came into my life on June 1, 2008. This is the day he responded to a message I sent, to what I believed was the band he played for, but the message went to him personally. It’s a funny and very unlikely story. I never imagined I would meet the man I would marry in an “unlikely” way, but even to this day, I think about how we met and am in awe I share my life with this man.

When Jared came into my world, I was a skeptic and he was a bit wounded. He was healing from the end of his first marriage and I was beginning a new life in a new city where I carried a mindset that it would take a long time to find the right guy to spend my life with.

I thought it was terrible timing, but as I look back, God brought us together to tie up the loose ends of the respective things we were going through.

Jared would never be completely healed until God brought him the woman He made specifically for him.

I would never stop being skeptical of every guy I met until God brought me a man whose traits stood above all others.

We would never be complete until we met each other.

one of our engagement pictures shot in Door Country, Wisconsin

I could write an entire book on all of Jared’s traits. To spare you the time, I will focus on one that I see in every moment of his being. One that I love so much.

The first conversation that Jared and I had, he asked me a million questions about myself. He was so interested in everything about me – what I loved, what I hated, where I have lived, what I had studied, what I want to study, where I want to live, how I spend my time- On and on. He asked millions of questions.

I honestly had never in my life felt like anyone had taken such interest in me before. I don’t know that I had ever answered that many questions about myself.

moments after he proposed to me

I have noticed over the course of my life with Jared that when he meets someone new,  he always has a ton of questions for them. Sometimes people are intimidated by this and feel interrogated. Most of the time, people are as taken back as I was because someone they just met is taking such vast interest in who they are and who they want to be.

I have the special honor of being his fan – with this comes the unique privilege of being in his audience. I get to watch him be himself on the daily and I just love my seat in his story.

Now, when we meet someone new, I know the canon of questions is coming and I sit back and get ready to watch him be great.

This new person doesn’t yet know that they have met someone who will make them feel like they are the only one at the table that matters in that moment. I love to see this unfold and watch their “taken back” emotions turn to curiosity and then gratefulness.

there was this one time, we were on HGTV – such a random story. ha!

Every human on this planet should have a chance to be questioned by Jared – to feel the way he will make you feel at the end of a conversation.

Everyone deserves to be known- to be sought after- to be valued.

Jared loves when I anticipate something he loves or wants – such as being in the kitchen cooking together and I grab what he needs and hand it to him before he even asks for it. He will smile and say, “It’s so good to be known.”

Babe, you make everyone you meet feel known- feel worthy of attention.

Girls in their twenties can often be strewn through relationships that make them feel the complete opposite of known and valued and worthy.

You came into my little world and made me feel like the queen.

Every day you find moments to show me that my opinion matters- that my feelings matter- that who I want to be and who I am is more than enough.

You have not only shown me, but told me, that God has made my place in this world so spectacular and that no one can fill the shoes God made for me.

my favorite wedding photo

What a man you are. What an encourager you are. What perfection you are to me.

I pray that our boys take this trait from you. I pray that they meet people and their curiosity spurs them to ask questions so that no one feels they are falling through the cracks in this world. I want everyone they encounter to feel that they are leaving conversations with our boys feeling more known and more important than they ever have.

Jared with our boys, Aiden & Ryman

You have given me a ton of gifts in this life already, but one of the greatest is that I am KNOWN. Who God made me to be – how the clay of my existence was formed in God’s hands- you have shown me that who I am is one of the most precious gifts to this universe.

No girl could ask for more.

I love you with everything that I am and everything that I will ever be.


The Trait Project : #6 {Kelsie Reed}

‚ÄúRare as is true love, true friendship is rarer.‚ÄĚ -Jean de La Fontaine

I have found this quote above to be immensely true in my life. The Trait Project has been my way of honoring those few gems on my journey. This post is no exception. This post is about the biggest surprise of a friend I have received in years.

In January, I will celebrate living in Nashville for 5 years. {Which is the longest I have lived anywhere my entire life and I am going to have a party to celebrate‚Ķ.I just have to}¬†My husband had already¬†lived in Nashville for a number of years,¬†but our entire relationship was long distance so I moved to Nashville once we were¬†back from our honeymoon. Not long after I was settled in, my husband kept mentioning that he wanted me to have a really good friend in Nashville; that was his hope for me. I kept dismissing it because it didn’t matter to me. I had spent much of my life moving around and sometimes had a good friend to show for a certain place and sometimes not.

Before I knew it, I had a really good friend in Nashville. Her name was Kelsie.
Kelsie Reed Peskett Snowden.

The funny thing about Kelsie is that the first time I ever met her was¬†at my wedding. We had a small wedding in Virginia. I wanted ONLY 50 people there and my requirement was that I had to believe that I would still be speaking to you in¬†15 years if you were invited. We invited mostly family and very close friends in Nashville to attend, one of those friends being a band mate of my husband’s. His name is Phil.
Phil was on a gig with¬†my then boyfriend, Jared, when Jared went to buy my engagement ring. The same week they bought my ring, I was visiting them at the venue of their gig and Phil began to tell me about Kelsie; his not so girlfriend¬†‚Äúgirlfriend‚ÄĚ. I could see his face completely change when her name was mentioned. I knew she was special.

Fast forward a few months. Jared proposed, I said yes, and we began to put a wedding together in four months. I wanted Phil to be¬†a part of the 50 and I asked him to bring Kelsie along. He told me Kelsie was really apprehensive about it because she didn’t’ know us and truthfully I can understand her feeling this way; she would literally be the only person at my wedding that I wasn’t really good friends with. That can be intimidating. I admire her though because she came.

Jared and I took pictures with everyone who came and I look back at that picture with Kelsie and Phil and I never knew God had me standing next to the girl I would ask to be my child’s godmother.

Snowdens & Ribbles @ Ribble Wedding
Snowdens & Ribbles @ Ribble Wedding 2

I can’t tell you what one event pivoted us into great friends. Maybe Kelsie can say what it was, but I remember just looking up from my life one day in a coffee shop and Kelsie was sitting across from me as one of the most familiar things in my life.

As we continue this journey into adulthood, I think we find friends for reasons we never believed we would. I look back on what I needed in my life back then, and even more so now, and I see why Kelsie and I clicked. I, like every other woman (if she will be honest with herself) need a friend who I can be 1000 % honest with. This type of friend is the needle in the haystack.

We as women put on a front.
We hide behind Facebook profile pictures of happy marriages that show a lie to everyone who sees them.
We hide behind snapshots of our kiddos laughing and words describing them as the most beautiful angels when we want to cry and scream because life has been so difficult as a mom.
We hide behind Instagram photos of just our neck and face smiling because we actually spent twenty minutes in the bathroom that morning distraught by our figure.
This is what we do.
We create what we want the truth to be and we choose friends who can’t get close enough to know all the crevasses.
We seek women who are doing the same things so we never have to get too close and be uncomfortable.
And you know what I say to this?? I say we are all kidding ourselves into thinking this is an ok way to live.
We are depriving ourselves of one of God’s greatest gifts in a person if we seek this type of friendship only. We are depriving ourselves of honesty.

When God gave me Kelsie, he gave me a girl that I can tell anything to. And I mean anything. I can not begin to explain the wonderful emotion I have knowing I have complete sincerity¬†with another girl friend. I don’t have to hide behind profile pictures or tell fibs at the coffee table about my days. I can lay all of my raw emotion before her, bleeding and pleading, she accepts every ounce of it for what it is and loves me.

Kelsie & Phil’s Wedding, Coronado Island, CA

kelsie and phil wedding

I saw this picture the other day of a tote bag someone had that said, ‚ÄúMother Teresa didn’t walk around complaining about her thighs‚Äst she had {stuff} to do.‚ÄĚ There are a million reasons I love this, but one of them is in this statement, I see so¬†much of my relationship with Kelsie. When I am with her, I can complain about those things if I want to, but our friendships pushes us both to focus on the best of us both.
Our friendship listens to the inadequacies, calculates their worth in each other, then computes the truth for us both to take from that table with gusto.


In just the fashion I would have encouraged her to do, Kelsie moved to California this year to pursue some lifelong dreams. I have never once lied to her about my feelings about this move. I have been so excited for her and at the same time devastated. I no longer have a couple of days a week of coffee meet ups with her or evenings of shared dinners with our families. We will from here on out count on one hand the times we see each other in a year. That’s difficult for me to type. But its the truth and she is doing what is best for her family, as I am mine.

I decided a long time ago I wanted to ask her to be my child’s godmother. In the denomination I grew up in spiritually, we never practiced naming of godparents. For me, I wanted to bestow an honor similar to ‚Äúaunt‚ÄĚ or ‚Äúuncle‚ÄĚ on a friend who isn’t blood already. The main reason for picking Kelsie was that I want to convey to my son, that if there is ever a time he cannot come to me; if there is ever a time he feels he can’t come to family for help or share something with us, I want him to know his Aunt Kelsie is that person. She will welcome him as her own and I trust her with his soul. I know she will not lead him astray.

As you are reading this, Kelsie just found out last week that she is my son’s godmother. Aiden took this picture below as his way to ask her. I wrote a note to her about all the things I want Aiden to know about her and my trust in her, and we gave her a bracelet with Aiden’s birthstone to commemorate her role in his life.

Aiden's Godmother Picture
This is a picture of her face as she realized what we were asking her:

Kelsie Finding Out She is a Godmother

My wish is for every girl to have a Kelsie in their life that they can tell absolutely everything to. My wish is for every woman to have a Kelsie whom they can point their child to knowing if they can’t come home, they have a safe place to land and an honest heart to welcome them.

Kels & Krys

I don’t really know if Mother Teresa complained about her thighs, but if she did, I hope she had a Kelsie to talk to about it.

Kels, I love you more than these words can ever adequately describe. As we have joked many times, you are my Right Arm. The miles will never define our friendship. Thank you for always being a safe place for me to land no matter where I am coming from. I love you forever and always.

The Trait Project : #3 {Magan Elizabeth}

I have moved 17 times in my short 31 year life and I have loved every second of the new places and adventures. However, growing up, moving was not always easy.

One particularly difficult move for me was the very end of 5th  grade. We had to move before my 5th  grade year was over. In the town we lived in the middle school was 5th  through 8th  grade. When we moved, I had to go back to elementary school since the new town had elementary school up until 6th  grade. To a 5th  grader who had just started middle school, this was horrific. I felt like I was reverting back to being treated like a baby.

The town we were moving to was Kannapolis, North Carolina. Most people know Kannapolis because of the late Dale Earnhardt. His mom lived one block from us and in the years following our move there, they have renamed the road we lived off of Intimidator Lane, after his NASCAR nickname.

I walked into that 5th  grade classroom, of children who already knew each other very well, and was the least thrilled I had ever been to move somewhere. The teacher introduced me and asked if there was anyone who would like to show me around the school since it was my first day. A hand raised in the air that was attached to a little girl with short brown hair and glasses. Her name was Magan.

Magan Elizabeth Seagroves (Now Magan Keith) was the one reason I would make it through this move and attach myself to this new city.

Magan and I navigated the end of 5th  grade all the way through the end of 9th  grade together with better success than most preteen girls; mostly because of our protection of one another. In a world where preteen girls are really scary, you need one good one to have your back. We were that for each other. She shared my love for Freddie Prinze Jr. and The Dixie Chicks thus it was a match made in friendship heaven.

Magan & Krystal Middle School{Holy eyebrows Batman. Middle School was not good to my forehead.}

Magan & Krystal Bday Party{My sweet sixteen birthday party that I asked my mom not to throw me. Oh well.}

I learned early on that Magan valued truth above all else. As long as she felt your were honest, sincere, and loyal, you were gold to her. She is all of these things and it is only fair to expect them in return. For preteen girls, these traits are hard to come by.

The day came, like it always did, that I would have to move again. I remember the dreaded drive to Magan’s house to tell her I was leaving. We both cried incessantly. It was terrible. We were losing the ability to finish navigating high school together and that thought was just too much to handle.

Not long after I moved, Magan called me one night in sheer panic. She had stumbled upon some information that was about to literally crack her family’s foundation at the core. It would never be the same. Her world was crashing in and God gave me the distinct privilege that night of being her long distance shoulder to cry on.

The one thing she valued above all else, truth, was ripped in two in a matter of minutes.

Her life would piece itself back together in time, however I was deeply afraid her compass for trust had been marred beyond repair.

Enter a certain lad named Matthew Keith and my worries disappeared. He has been so true and steady as her husband that her values of honesty, sincerity, and loyalty have not only multiplied, but been returned to her in excess.

Magan Keith Family {Magan’s sweet family}

I have never had to guess who I am getting when Magan shows up. She is true to herself and shares sincerity with every single person who encounters her.

magan's wedding {Magan’s wedding day. I was so blessed to be a part of this day in 2008.}

I want this for my own life. I want this for my son’s life. I want to be loyal, trustworthy, truthful, sincere. I want to be a Magan to everyone who meets me.

I know people say things like, “loyal to a fault.” How can loyalty ever be a bad thing? Too much loyalty¬†is a way to compliment your worth to someone. Personally, I like that.¬†

Mags, I love you. I love Matt, and Laney, and Ben. I wish we could see each other more, however, know that I will forever have a space in my heart reserved specifically for you.