Am I Worthy of Redeeming Love?

Am I Worthy of Redeeming LoveA woman in her 30s that battled infertility for years who cried herself to sleep wondering if she would ever have a baby in her womb. 

A girl of barely 20, unmarried and pregnant who cried herself to sleep wondering how she could care for the baby growing in her womb.

Two strong women and one unlikely friendship.  

But God…God knew that these two women from opposite sides of the motherhood journey could grow to be close friends and gain a wealth of compassion.

I am so honored to have my friend, Courtney, guest post for me today.  I met Courtney a few years ago when I was a preschool teacher.  We started at the preschool at the same time.  She is such a sweet girl with a beautiful heart, and we became fast friends in spite of our 15-year age difference.  I about died when I found out that I was starting my freshmen year of college when she was starting kindergarten.  Talk about feeling old!!

By the time I met Courtney, God had blessed me with children, but I was getting ready to go through IVF again with my totsicles.  I am so blessed that Courtney was brought into my life for a fresh reminder that every single life that God conceives is an absolute blessing.  Whether it is planned, unplanned, or through fertility treatments.  Every.  One.  When I was in the thick of the infertility struggle hearing about an unplanned pregnancy was devastating to me.  Now I have the benefit of Courtney’s friendship and my 20/20 rearview mirror clarity to have a clearer perspective on God’s plan.  God’s plan is always perfect even if it “messes up” our plan…

Every mother has the day she found out she was pregnant etched into her memory. Some, like Steph, had a hard, long journey to get there. I’m sure that day she, as well as many others, felt joy, excitement, and pure happiness. I can only imagine that she felt some type of redemption. This one test was her redemption that made every single obstacle worth it.

My story of redemption began the day I found out I was going to be a mom. The day that I found out I was going to be a mom was an incredibly hard day. It breaks my heart to say joy, excitement and happiness were not any of the emotions I felt at the time. I was barely twenty, had an incredibly rough past and wanted a new start that year. Charlie, my now husband, and I both sobbed while holding the “positive” test in our hands. I’m not exaggerating when I say I took eight of them before I actually believed I was indeed pregnant. We were devastated, scared and simply broken. In the whirlwind of emotions that we were experiencing, not a single one of them was joy.

Although Charlie and I knew long before this pregnancy test that we were going to get married one day, getting pregnant now, was not a part of our plan. We saw our future together from the beginning, but we had so many things we wanted to do. I lined up a new summer job, and an amazing mission trip opportunity to finally go to Africa was in the works. My heart was in Africa, I felt so called to the orphans and babies there, I wanted to be Jesus to them. I wanted to love on some babies, not have one of my own! Yes, it is possible to be a follower of Christ and still mess up. I missed the mark big this time…but God.

You see in the midst of the hurt, in the midst of telling our parents and fearing the wrath of God through them God gave us such grace. Our parents gave us such grace. Was there disappointment? Did it hurt more than words to tell my parents that their first grandbaby wasn’t conceived in wedlock? Was I tormented with the shame every time I saw someone that found out? Yes, yes and yes! I lived in Small Town, USA and everyone knew everyone and everyone’s personal business. I knew it wouldn’t be long before people figured out why we got engaged so quickly and why we planned a wedding so fast.

Charlie and I didn’t get married because I was pregnant. I loved him with all of my heart, and I knew this was the man God had for me to marry. This pregnancy just sped up the timeline. Did I have the wedding of my dreams? Nope. I certainly didn’t feel worthy of wearing white or worthy of my dad walking me down the aisle, but that didn’t stop him. That my friends, is unconditional love. That is redeeming love. The kind that draws a dad, who isn’t one to stand out in front of a crowd, to stop in the middle of a choir special in a Southern Baptist church and walk off stage in front of 500 people. He walked down the middle aisle to sit with his broken baby girl who was alone and broken. The fear that he faced didn’t stop him from holding on to me as I sobbed while they finished singing “Through the Fire.” He refused to let me be alone in my own brokenness. The whispers of everyone in the room wondering what was going on or the ones who knew and looked at us with such judgment, they were not stopping my dad from getting to me. I dare say that’s the kind of love that Jesus has for us.

I fought with depression during the pregnancy and after my sweet Anna Claire was born…But God.  Even though there was so much hurt and brokenness that took a great deal of time to heal, I never looked at her as a mistake. I never blamed her. I never felt like she wrecked my dreams. Jesus was there through it all; he never left me. He never left us. Our plans were derailed, but God took our brokenness and began shaping way more than we could imagine. Our precious Anna Claire was a living, breathing version of God’s redeeming love. True beauty from our ashes. The second year of marriage brought another positive pregnancy test, and another round of hurting, anxiety and fear. This time the process wasn’t as hard to swallow, but we had no idea how the heck we were going to afford another baby. We were barely doing it then…but God. He never left us.

Honestly, I wondered if I would ever be able to have joy finding out I was pregnant. I met Stephanie at our preschool, and I was blown away by her juggling 3 kids and working part time. I was struggling with a 2 year old and being pregnant again. I only spent a few days in the classroom with her, but I loved every moment. I felt so much compassion from her every time I nearly broke down talking about our situation. She even recommended I read one of the best books I’ve ever had my hands on, Unglued by Lisa Terkhuerst. God used her and that book to speak volumes. I didn’t know about her infertility struggles right off the bat, but once I did I felt the surge of guilt all over again. My own insecurities ruled my heart instead of God’s redeeming love.

The next school year God placed Anna Claire in Stephanie’s class. I wasn’t returning because over the summer I had my spunky Cailey and was on maternity leave. I had no idea that Steph was going through her final battle of infertility while Anna Claire was in her class. I only knew that once again I was fighting some major demons of Postpartum Depression. I had nothing in me to love on my girls or anyone around me. I felt so alone, empty, and worthless. I didn’t speak a word of this to a soul. All I knew is that every Tuesday and Thursday Anna Claire would light up to see Ms. Stephanie, and her love radiated from her every single time. Even though I didn’t realize it, God was using Anna Claire to love Ms. Stephanie unconditionally while she was fighting for her own baby. God broke down some major walls Stephanie and I built up. They all came down with redeeming love, long before we even realized it.

Courtney & Charlie :)

Courtney & Charlie 🙂

My Anna Claire is almost five now, Cailey is 2, and Stephanie loves on them every time she gets a chance. I never planned to have baby at 20, or at 23 but God’s plan is always better than we could even imagine. Charlie and I have been married for over 5 years now and can say that we are more in love and in tune with God than ever before. All because of redeeming love.

How can you allow God to use redeeming love to break down some walls in your own heart? My hope is that one day I will be able to look down at a pregnancy test and see a positive and feel never ending, undeniable JOY. I have no doubt that one day redeeming love will win, and I won’t have any negative or shameful emotions.

How You Can Kick MOMMY GUILT For Good!

How to Kick Mommy Guilt“Be joyful always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16 – 18

You remember the old song… “I’ve got the Joy, Joy, Joy, Joy Down in my Heart. Where? Down in my Heart. Where? Down in my Heart.”

Be joyful always, 1 Thessalonias tell us. Was this directed to a mother of three?? Well if that isn’t a tall order, I don’t know what is!!

Several years ago we used to call the hours from 5 – 7 pm the witching hours in our house. It started when my youngest son, Matthew, had colic and he would WAIL constantly for hours upon hours each night. Now it is because Mommy straight up turns into a witch. It is the last few hours of my day and I am running on fumes…which is incredibly cruel because it is when I have the most to do and the least amount of energy to do it. My sweet little cherub children decide that their good behavior quota has been all used up at school. It starts with what my husband, Eric, calls my “crazy eyes.” If they are smart, they catch my crazy eyes and immediately retreat to their rooms. If not…and let’s be honest, they rarely do because they were too busy being crazy … if not, I quiet literally blow my top. And I realize that is completely hypocritical to be screaming at them to quit yelling! I am most certainly not full of Joy. Almost immediately a cloud of shame engulfs me.

We’ve all had it. It is a natural byproduct of becoming a mother. Kind of like stretch marks. Mommy Guilt. It can stick around and be just as permanent and shaming as those old stretch marks. Whether it is because we lose our cool with our kids or we feel guilty because we can’t go on their school field trip. Maybe we spend too much time trolling on Pinterest. Why can’t I transform my backyard into Arendelle for Ella’s Frozen party?? Oh look at these fun, nutritious lunch boxes! I totally should be making animals out of the 100% organic lunch so that my kids will have FUN eating their healthy, non-prepackaged lunch!

We can blame it on Pinterest, social media or society in general. That may be how it reaches us, but in reality, Satan is the author of Mommy Guilt. He has made it his mission to rob mothers of the JOY that God blesses us with in motherhood. He is a sneaky little devil. He makes us beat ourselves up for impossibly high standards that we set upon ourselves.   I don’t know a single perfect mother, yet I often beat myself up for not being one.

Well, when I was looking up the exact lyrics to “I’ve Got Joy in My Heart” on the internet, I found another verse. “If the Devil doesn’t like it then he can sit on a tack. Ouch. Sit on a tack. Ouch. Sit on a tack.” Pretty feisty, but I love it! Why do I give Satan that kind of a foothold in my life? When I think about it that way, it makes me adamant to not let him take one second of my God given Joy of motherhood. Does that give me a free pass to turn into the Wicked Witch of the West every night? Absolutely not. But it does allow me to forgive myself for my shortcomings. Then it gives me an opportunity to apologize to my children and teach about forgiveness.

I am slowly learning to embrace what talents God has blessed me with and to not sweat the areas where I am lacking. The fact that I had no less than five people contact me about my go to meal – Kraft Macaroni and Cheese – changing their recipe may be an indication that I am lacking in the cooking department. And you know what? That is OK! I make sure that my kids get the nutrition that they need aside from the cheese powder! I am not going to spend time beating myself up because I am not the Pioneer Woman. Besides think of it this way – I am giving my children wonderful ammo to torture me with at the dinner table when they reminisce about their childhood. Those are the times that my family laughs the hardest at the holidays J

Instead, I will pray without ceasing. Some days it will be filled with thanksgiving for the blessing that God has given me. Some days it will be to just have enough patience to make it to bedtime. If I keep my eyes on Him as I parent the children that God blessed me with, then I will have JOY in my heart.

How I Got SCHOOLED in Dodgeball

How I Got SCHOOLED in DodgeballMonday night I hit “Publish” on my latest blog post.

“Whew, “ I thought, “Don’t have to worry about that for a few days.”

But I have nothing in my pipeline to write this week. “Oh Lord please give me some inspiration!”

So He hit me in the face with a big, red kickball…


Yesterday afternoon was gorgeous. We were enjoying a beautiful Indian Summer day in Tennessee. The kids all worked hard on their homework. Books – Read. Math – Common Cored. North Eastern States – labeled…kinda.  Now it was time for some fun outside.

I was showing off my bball skillz. Let me be clear. I am 5’2” on a very good day. My three sweet, beautiful children haven’t quite… shall we say…grown into their feet 😉 So showing off my basketball abilities was pretty much dribbling and walking at the same time. And they think I rock. 

I was getting ready to show off my awesome chest pass to Ella, when I hear, “DODGEBALL!!” from Ethan right before I get nailed in the face with our red kickball. I mean NAILED. Completely Marsha Bradyed. Tears poured down my face. I saw stars. I was pretty sure my nose was oozing blood. The pain was instant and completely unexpected.

I looked at the 3 Greer kids and they all had identical “Oh sh*t!!” expressions on their face. I am pretty sure I saw a squirrel with the same expression. The birds quit chirping. There was absolute silence on our street. Everyone knew it was about to go down for real in the driveway.

I narrowed my crazy eyes on Ethan and said between clinched teeth, “Get. Your. Bottom. Up. Stairs. NOW!!!!” I am not a cusser at all, but it took every last restraint in me to not pull out the A double S. I did, however, certainly emphasize the two syllables of bot-tom.

His eyes turned frantic, “But Mama…But Mama…But Mama…” he kept stuttering. “I said Dodgeball!!”

“That doesn’t mean you can tattoo me in the face with the DODGEBALL!!!! We are playing Basketball!!!” I cried.

“But Mama…But Mama…But Mama..” he started again.

“Now!!!” I roared. “Get up in your room and don’t come out until I come in there!!”

He scurried up the steps with his proverbial tail between his legs. Ella and Matthew slowly backed away from me to get out of the line of fire. I took a deep breath, wiped my eyes and nose then calmly said, “I am ok, guys. Don’t worry.”

I took a deep breath and wiggled my nose to make sure it wasn’t broken. I went straight to the bathroom to assess the damage. My face was tear streaked and bright red. I wasn’t sure if it was from being hit, being mad, or if was just a transfer of the red paint from the ball! I leaned in to see if there were the tiny swirls imprinted on my face from the kickball. Deep breath. Deep breath.

Ethan was in his room with the door closed. I had to take a minute to get my cool. Deep breath. Pray for patience and a clear head. Deep breath. Check the chicken in the crockpot. Deep breath. Check the rice. Deep Breath. Deep breath.

I walked to Ethan’s room, let myself in, and my heart melted.

He sat on his bed in the Lotus position. His little hands clasped tight in front of his face with tears streaming from his closed eyes.

I insisted on the kiss; Ethan insisted on the cartoon bubble :)

I insisted on the kiss; Ethan insisted on the cartoon bubble 🙂

I rushed to him, gathered him up in my arms, told him that I forgave him, and showered him with hugs and kisses. I asked for his forgiveness for laying into him, and he gave it to me immediately.

How lucky are we that we have a God that forgives immediately. He doesn’t have to take His time and get His cool. He doesn’t have to take deep breaths….repeatedly. He doesn’t have to see us broken to forgive us. He just forgives because He loves us so much.  And once He forgives us, it is gone.  No “Remember that time you hit your mom in the face with the ball??”  Or no, “Stephanie, remember that time you completely lost your cool and yelled at your son when he made a mistake?”  All is forgiven.  Instantly.  And forgotten.  Thank you, Jesus.

“And I will be merciful to them in their wrongdoings, and I will remember their sins no more.” Hebrews 8:12 (TLB)

Why I am “just” a Volunteer

Why I am "just" a VOLUNTEERGive me a       V……. V!

Give me an     O…….O!

Give me a       L …….L!

Give me a       S …….S!

What you got?           VOLS?

Say it again!               VOLS!!

LOUDER!!                   VOLS!!!

How many times did I chant that as I was a student at the University of Tennessee? A Gazillion. And it still gives me goose bumps. This is Matthew’s favorite cheer because he “cannot even begin to spell Tennessee!”

I say it is great to be a Tennessee Vol!

I became a Tennessee Volunteer when I started my freshman year in 1995. I became an Elementary Volunteer several years later when my kids started Kindergarten.

I admit at first it was because I couldn’t let go of them. Just being in their school helped me feel closer because I just missed the little boogers. Very quickly it turned into so much more.

Here are the top 6 reasons, I volunteer at my kids’ school:

  1. The schools need us. I am fortunate to be part of a wonderful, top-notch school system. Still…I get overwhelmed with my three kids…and I only have them for a few hours before bed. Why would I not expect a teacher with 20 or so kids all day need some help from time to time?
  1. Volunteering gives me an outlet to express one of my primary Love Languages: Acts of Service. I absolutely love to help people. And if I can reciprocate to those who devote their life to helping my children…I am in Heaven. What a blessing to be able to do!
  1. I get to know the teachers and staff at the kids’ school. These wonderful people spend more of my kids’ waking hours with them than I do! I want to be acquainted with them. I want them to know they can count on me to partner with them to help make the kids’ education the best that it can be. Or they can just count on me to spoil them with snacks when they have a long, hard day 😉
  1. I meet the kids’ new friends that I heard so much about at the dinner table. With school and after school activities, play dates are quickly becoming a thing of the past. How else can I meet Sally or Johnny?
  1. And just as important, I got to know their mamas. I have kindled new friendships while at the same time getting to know the parents who will be spending a great deal of time with my kids for years to come. If your kids are going over to someone’s house, you want to feel comfortable with the parents!
  1. For now…and who knows how long it will last…they want me there. I am absolutely savoring every moment. They are excited when I get to pop into the cafeteria or they bump into me in the library. Sometimes I get a sly, “I’m trying to be cool” smile and sometimes I am almost knocked down with a bear hug. All the time, though, it is a blessing. I got to read to Ethan’s 3rd grade class on Friday. They hung on every word as I read “The Wizard of Oz.” How many more opportunities will I have to do this? Not many. Savoring. Every. One.

I know volunteering in our children’s school isn’t something that everyone is able to or even may want to do. And that is okay. We need to recognize that we all have different circumstances, abilities and desires. Every one of us serves our own very important role in our children’s lives. We need strong, Christian women in the classrooms teaching our kids. We need strong, Christian women in the boardroom being a positive influence in Corporate America. We need strong, Christian women taking care of us in the doctor’s offices. These are women that my daughter can look up to and say, “I can be a CEO or a doctor if I work hard because I see Joy’s mama did it!”

I had a hard time when I was faced with the decision about continuing to teach or taking time off so that I could focus on my family and writing. I struggled with whether it was ok for me to quit working and “just volunteer.” The bottom line was that God put the desire in my heart and the circumstances that allowed me to volunteer…to serve in my children’s school. And there is nothing “just” about that.

I said, “It’s great to be an Elementary Vol!!”

How Over Scheduling Can Make You Miss Your APPOINTment

SLMI started the day the same way I always do with a nice, brisk 3.5 mile walk. Just me, my iPod, and my God. As I walk I pray over my family and day. I end each prayer with “Lord, help me make good choices with my time. Make this your day, Lord.”

You see, since I quit teaching last year to focus on my writing, I have become very cognizant of how I spend my time. Call it responsible or call it stay at home mom guilt. The truth is probably somewhere in between. Either way I am really trying to make a conscious effort of being a good steward of my time.

This actually fits quite nicely with my Type A personality. Eric calls it crazy. I call it very organized. I have my iCal organized to perfection with seven different color-coded calendars. It helps me know where I need to be and what I need to accomplish during my day.

This particular day was packed to the gills. I had a lot to do while the kids were at school, and my parents were coming over for dinner that night. I was ready to strap on my roller skates and hit that to-do list from drop off to pick up like a BOSS. I got my three kids loaded up to head to school. We were on a roll… no fighting for the second day in a row on the 5-minute ride to school…Holla!

Just as the alarm rang for the kids to hop out of the car, my oldest son asked, “Mama, can you come eat lunch with me today?” I was surprised. Ethan never asked me to come eat with him anymore. In fact, the last time I ate with him at school, he practically ignored me the whole time as he chatted with his friends. My feelings weren’t hurt. Those kids work hard all day and are excited to just get to visit with their friends as they shove lunch in their mouths. That was their time. Feeling as if I was almost intruding on their friend time, I hadn’t made it a big priority to go eat lunch with them at school this year.

calendarI glanced from his big, beautiful brown eyes to my full iCal with a little bit of panic. “Oh no! Oh no! I don’t have this on the schedule. I haven’t even showered yet today!” I thought frantically. Oh, but those eyes! And I remembered what I prayed…Lord, help me make good choices with my time. How could I choose anything over spending some time with my baby when he asks? “I’ll make it work, Buddy,” I said as I kissed his cheek. He beamed at me and jumped out of the car.

Skates strapped on, I raced to accomplish as much as I could before lunchtime. I squeezed in a shower and put on clean workout clothes…because the hair and make-up bar is automatically set lower if you are sporting workout clothes 😉 I sat at the lunch table in a rowdy cafeteria with my three kids and three of their friends. I celebrated with Ella about the test she was sure she aced. I encourage Ethan and his friend about the test they were going to take after lunch. Matthew and his friend caught me up on the gossip of first grade. And it was wonderful. The best part was getting to give them each a hug before they left. Maybe they needed that extra bit of affection in the midst of the day. I know I did. I left the cafeteria knowing I made the right decision. I was able to finish everything I wanted to accomplish that day and even got to make some cookies that weren’t even on the agenda!

How often do we schedule ourselves so much that we miss out on the little things that really are the big things? The school lunches with our kids. The walk with a friend. Just being available to sit and talk to someone who needs a friend. Or just not feeling like a zombie by the time you lay your kids down, so you can actually stay awake to spend time with your husband??

I think my goal of being a good steward of my time is a positive goal. Being able to stay home is a gift that I never want to take for granted. However, I need to remember to keep my ears open and listen to God as He directs my day. It’s what I prayed for after all, isn’t it? Praying for His day then filling it with all My plans makes me miss God’s APPOINTment.

I am a work in progress. I am far from being “fly by the seat of my pants,” but I am at least leaving room in my schedule to attempt to be spontaneous 😉

A Halloween Matthewism

It is 46 days until Halloween, so we are obviously in deep negotiations with the kids about costumes.  They have been tossing out ideas for weeks now and it is crunch time.  I have two hard and fast rules for our costumes: 1.  I will not make any costumes (I know my limits) and 2.  Nothing scary.

IMG_3458My 6 year old, Matthew, is always trying to get around the last rule.  Last year he wanted to be a skeleton, and he skirted it by picky out the goofiest looking one and being “Funny Bones.”  This year he is on the Grimm Reaper campaign.  I promptly told him, “No way.”  He was completely perplexed when I told him that it was a symbol for Death.  “No,” he told me emphatically, “the Grimm Reaper is a farmer that carries a hoe around!”

When he got home today, he was armed and ready with his arguments to be the Grimm Reaper.  The entire walk around the block, he entertained me with his well thought out, creative story about the baby Grimm Reaper.

You see Mama, I am just a kid, so I wouldn’t be the big Grimm Reaper.  I am the baby Grimm Reaper.  My parents (the big ones) were really tough on me always wanting me to be bad.  But I decided I didn’t want to be bad and I loved God and wanted to help people.  So you see I am not a bad Grimm Reaper, I am a good Grimm Reaper.  I go around and tell people about God’s love and farm wheat.  Everyone likes wheat, right?  I am a Missionary Farmer Reaper.  So instead of saying “Trick or Treat” on Halloween, can I say “Let the light of God be with you?”

Are you kidding me?  Grimm Reaper costume. In. The. BAG.

Moses, the Nursing Mother

I am honored to have my good friend, Jessie Weaver, guest post this evening.  She has been a great friend and prayer partner for almost ten years.  Thanks Jessie 🙂



Breastfeeding has been a very sweet part of my relationships with my kids. I know it’s not that way for everyone, or even many. But for me, it’s been relatively easy (at least until the kids hit 9 months or so). And it feels like something I thrive at!

I can supply all the nutritional needs of a human being! I make milk! I make babies fat! My own body gives my children what they need—for free!

I can’t deny that it does begin to wear on me after awhile, though. My precious David has always been a major Mama’s Boy. His whole infancy, he just wanted to nurse. All the time. And he continued to nurse until he was 20 months old. (About when I got pregnant with Joshua, which I think is probably why he stopped.)

By the end of our nursing experience, I was pretty over it. He no longer needed those nutrients, although they didn’t hurt, of course. But I was tired of being screamed at every morning as he cried for “GAGA!” 
I was tired of being exposed in public as he pulled on my shirt.

The nursing relationship is very give, give, give, and you don’t get a whole lot from it, except some good snuggles and bursts of oxytocin.

In Numbers 11, Moses is plain fed up with feeling like a nursing mother. I can’t blame him, really, given that he was a pretty old dude responsible for what was probably more than a million people.

In this chapter, the “foreign rabble” traveling with the Israelites have begun to wish for Egypt—the food, in particular. Then all the people start complaining to Moses, wanting the vegetables they left instead of the manna God was providing miraculously every day.

In his complaint to God, Moses says, “Did I give birth to them? Did I bring them into the world? Why did you tell me to carry them in my arms like a mother carries a nursing baby? How can I carry them to the land you swore to give their ancestors? … I can’t carry all these people by myself! The load is far too heavy!” (vv. 12, 14).

No one can nurse a baby forever. Children are meant to detach from their parents.

It’s beautiful that God gives us leaders who are willing to carry us along like infants for a while, too. But leaders, just like parents, can’t carry that burden forever. Before God even took care of the “meat issue,” He assembled a pack of leaders for Moses to rely on, to ease his burden as a “parent” of these people.

Read Numbers 11 and see what happened to the Israelites and foreigners who succumbed to their whining and desires. It’s not pretty.

There comes a time for children to stop nursing and for Christians to stop being weights for their leaders.

Of this passage, Matthew Henry’s Commentary says, “We should not indulge in any desire which we cannot in faith turn into prayer, as we cannot when we ask meat for our lust. What is lawful of itself becomes evil, when God does not allot it to us, yet we desire it.”


Jessie WeaverJessie Weaver is a freelance writer and editor and stay-at-home mom to three kids: Libbie (6), David (4), and Joshua (2). She and her family live on a private high-school campus in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Her devotional, Parenting Parables, leads moms through 30 days of quick writings and some journaling to help them see God in the everyday moments and think about the Bible in new ways. You can grab it for $2.99 for Kindle or on PDF. You can also find her on Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook, and Instagram.

How My Disappointments Have Made Me a Better Mama

Who in the world messes up Jello Instant Pudding? It is three basic steps: dump mix & milk, cook & stir, dump in bowl & refrigerate. Pretty simple, huh?

Apparently not for me.

This weekend I was trying to be an overachieving Mama and cook with my kids. (I realize how pitiful it is that my definition of “overachieving” is cooking Instant Pudding ;) Ella was carefully stirring the pudding continually as it cooked. Ethan was thoroughly enjoying his job crushing the Oreos to go on top, so they could be “Dirt Cups.” 1, 2, 3 steps done with smiles.

A few hours later we pulled our pudding out to find that it was just as liquidy as when we put it in the refrigerator. “It’s ok! Let’s let it stay in over night!” The next morning was no better. My kids watched as my face fell when a full 24 hours later… it still looked like chocolate milk. No dirt cups AGAIN!

“I am sure it is because you used 1% milk,” my husband, Eric, consoled me. “Oh sweetheart, I am sure that your mix was just out of date,” my Mama soothed me.

I had 2 options. I could be humiliated, hang my head and cry. I could tear my apron off and swear to never try to cook again. OrCheers to the Dirt Cups! I could laugh. Full on belly laugh until there are tears coming down my face. “Well Nana will never let me cook Thanksgiving dinner now!!” I said between giggles. And the kids laughed hysterically too. Then we went to the store and bought pudding cups for a couple of bucks. We still had our dirt cups. We sprinkled our crushed Oreos because Ethan can smash Oreos like a BOSS.

My lesson didn’t bring about culinary genius as I hoped, but I reminded my kids to not take themself so seriously. At such a young age, so much is expected…demanded of them. They have to learn that sometimes things won’t go as you plan and how to react to that. Do you beat yourself up for screwing up? Or do you laugh, move on, and just go buy the dang pudding cups?

God gave me another opportunity to show how to deal with disappointment yesterday. Thank you, Lord. 😉

Getting a literary agent has been at the top of my to-do list since I got back from the She Speaks conference. Between getting the kids settled in school, my PTO obligations, and just life in general, I hadn’t been able to send out my letters until yesterday morning. I nearly hyperventilated before I hit “Send” with each email, but I got it done.

As soon as I sent the last one, I felt a huge burden lift from my shoulders. Like all phases in the publishing industry, it would be a while until I heard back from anyone. “Whew. Off my plate and I don’t have to worry about it for a while!”

So imagine my surprise when I heard from two of the agents within hours. They were both incredibly nice and encouraging about my book. But the bottom line is the answer was NO. It was kind of like an “It’s not you, it’s me,” kind of a rejection. However, rejection still stings. I tried to laugh it off and focus on the positive things they said. And hey, at least I won’t wait forever and get rejected! There are lots of fish in the sea…

Later that afternoon I was waiting for my kids to get out of the car – and let’s be honest, it takes them like an hour to get out of the car….gathering backpacks, lunchboxes, water bottles, random papers, a shoe that came off. I have aged another year by the time they all get out of the car. As I wait, I glance down at my phone and see I got another email from an agent. Another rejection. I didn’t even understand what this one said??!! All I heard was NO for the 3rd time in one day, and I wasn’t even mentally ready to hear back from one!

So I did the exact opposite of the day before. I cried. I tried to play it off as “allergies” at first when Ella asked if I was crying. Pretty soon, it was evident that excuse wasn’t gonna cut it. After all the backpacks were put away, I took a deep breath and talked to my kids. “Kids, Mama is a little sad right now. I need your help. I really need you to be good listeners and obey me this afternoon. I would appreciate a little more patience and grace because Mama’s nerves are a little on edge.” They nodded their heads and got straight to their homework without complaint. They were perfect angels for me all afternoon. It was a gift to my raw emotional state.

Ella's Treasures

Before dinner I got a big bear hug from Ella. She is not my overly affectionate one, so it meant even more to me. In her little hand, she held some of her prized possessions she selected from her jewelry box. “This is to cheer you up, Mama!”

For the 2nd time in 24 hours, God gave me had an opportunity to demonstrate how to handle disappointment to my children. He spoke very clearly to them through my situation:

  • Everyone experiences disappointment sometimes. Even Mamas.
  • It is okay to cry when you are sad. Sometimes you just have to let those feelings out and allow your tears to cleanse your soul.
  • Even though it is hard, you need to talk to people about why you are sad. Communication can help others understand how you are feeling and what you need from them.
  • You can show God’s love and be a great comfort to people who are sad.

As I lay in bed with Ella last night, I thanked her for being Jesus to me and giving me the love that I needed to find my smile. I also told her that I was not discouraged or giving up because I knew I was following God’s path for me. Just like when God helped me find her Daddy after dating some of the wrong fish, He has the right agent for me out in that big ole sea. He just got me three steps closer to finding them.

How Labor Day is Quickly Becoming My FAV Holiday

Labor Day Weekend Plans:How Labor Day is quickly becoming my Fav Holiday

Sleeping in.                                       Check!

Grillin out.                                         Check!

Tailgating like a boss.                       Check!

Cheering for my team.                      Check!

And last but not least…

Packing up the swimsuits                Big CHECK!!!

I am OVER the hot weather, the pool and definitely, putting on a swimsuit. Give me sweaters, jeans and boots.

Yesterday at the football game I polished off a little of everything at our tailgate. I even finished Matthew’s hotdog after he took one bite and declared he was done. I did this all guilt free because there is ZERO chance that Steph is going to see a swimsuit until next May. Holla!!! As long as I can still zip my jeans on Monday, I am golden.

Honestly, how many women can say that they just love the way that they look in a swimsuit?? If you can…seriously, awesome for you! Over the last ten years, my body has literally been through hell and back. Years of fertility treatments, shots, surgeries and being restricted from any kind of exercise are not kind to your body. When I finally got pregnant with twins, I was in the hospital on bed rest for 11 weeks. That is 77 days of laying down.

My family and friends always visited me bearing edible gifts, so I would be spared one hospital meal. I ate every single bit with a smile. I was eating for three, right?   And some days, Arby’s curly fries were the highlight of my very boring day.   No exaggeration.

One day late in my pregnancy, the cleaning lady came in to mop my room. We had become friends during my stay, and I looked forward to her coming. I had been crying a little bit and was embarrassed. There was no such thing as privacy when you lived in a hospital. I quickly wiped my tears so that she wouldn’t feel uncomfortable. I painted on my happy face ready to shoot the breeze as she mopped away.

I leaned over to grab my water off the table as we were chatting away and my shirt came up a little bit. She said, “Shooey Girl! I didn’t realize you had all those stretch marks on your hips!” I was no longer concerned with making her uncomfortable, and I just let the tears roll.

The SLM & HusbandFast forward several years and another pregnancy later, I was sitting in my nice “slimming” tankini with my husband, Eric, at the beach. Since I had Matthew almost seven years ago, I have become very good about exercising regularly. Unfortunately, that does nothing to erase my stretch marks on my hips. My tankini hid some of my “wobbly bits, “ but there was no hiding all of the stretch marks. After a few minutes of people watching, I pointed out to Eric that every single lady that passed by was wearing a bikini. Some rocked it and some thought they did. And some just didn’t care; they were at the beach! The only lady that was wearing a swimsuit close to mine was 30 years my senior. I turned to Eric and said, “Next summer I will either be in a bikini or a maternity swim suit.” (We were in the middle of fertility treatments with our frozen embryos.)

After we had our last failed Frozen Embryo Transfer and we made it through the chaos of the holidays, I got serious about reclaiming my body. I exercised and I watched what I ate. (Then I decided I liked to eat too much, so I compromised by eating a few more salads and exercising a little more!) As we got closer to summer, I spent way too much money on two bikinis that were supposed to be just perfect for my body type. I sat out in my backyard wearing them to get a little color…because who doesn’t feel better with a little color??

When I took my kids to the pool for the first time last summer it required a pretty big pep talk to myself. I felt pretty good, but I was still self-conscious. It didn’t matter if I had lost weight and got in shape. I still had these stretch marks on my hips. They had faded but they may as well have been bright red in my mind.   I put off taking off my cover up as long as I could. And dang it if a kid didn’t ask me to take them to the potty as soon as I disrobed! Now I had to walk across the whole pool deck in a bikini to take their little booties to pee.

My sweet little Matthew would tell me every now and again how beautiful he thought I was. Then he would laugh because my “belly button would kinda dance” when I walked. It was such a good reminder. My babies thought I was pretty and most importantly, Eric, thought I was perfect the way I was. That was all in the world that mattered.

I finally have gotten to a very comfortable place in my life and it took a very uncomfortable piece of clothing to help get me there. I am going to be healthy. I am going to eat healthy so that I have the energy I need to take care of my family and myself. I am not going to cut out all the fun stuff because life is too short to not have Arby’s curly fries. I am going to exercise, so I can be physically fit. I may not have a six-pack, but I can play kickball with my kids and not collapse 😉

I will never be in the same place that I was ten years ago. Thank God for that. Today I am stronger mentally, spiritually and physically. And I will never be a size 0 again. I will gladly leave that size to the teenagers of the world. I am a gladiator Mama with the stretch marks to prove it.

All that being said, am I pumped to not wear a swimsuit the next several months?

Hell to the YES.

How This Simple Game Can Solve Any Problem

“Rock, Paper, Scissors, GOD!!!!”How This Simple Game Can Solve Any Problem

(God is jazz hands in case you were wondering…)

This was the new game that my three young children were playing. Over. And over. And over again.

Have I mentioned that my kids are a tad bit on the weird side? I have no clue where they came up with this variation on the classic game. The rules were similar to how I played:

Rock smashes Scissors.

Paper covers Rock.

Scissors cut Paper.

Then there was their addition. God. Simply put, God beats everything.

Even given that divine slam-dunk, they didn’t choose God every time. Then they would be shocked if their sibling chose God and won. My husband, Eric, and I would die laughing.

Why wouldn’t you choose God every dang time??

But we are all that way, aren’t we? When we are faced with a tough situation, do we always make the right choice? Do we immediately choose God? Or do we choose:

Rock (trying to deal with the issue on our own),

Paper (avoiding the issue by filling up our life with distractions) or

Scissors (talking to everyone else about it except God)?

Rock? Paper? Scissors? God?

BAM. God Wins. Every dang time.


My youngest, Matthew, put a different spin on it this weekend. Instead of doing Rock, Paper, Scissors, or God, he added a new one. He made a motion in sign language. When I asked what it was, he yelled, “I just went all Holy Spirit on you!!”

Never in this world has this phrase ever been uttered.