“But First” : Two Words That Challenged Me to Forfeit Comfort and Find Courage to Follow.

“Is there anything deep down that maybe you’re running from?”

My counselor’s words thickened the air between us, with heartfelt honesty and bold conviction.

I had just confessed to her moments before how I was feeling stuck in some big and scary decisions I needed to make soon, regarding what I thought God might be calling me to do next with my life. (You know, just one of the many stressors that has totally wrecked my sleep patterns and landed me in a beige tufted chair in her office the second Thursday of every month for the past year. )

She sat patiently poised in the matching chair across the room, allowing me the space to process what she just asked. I nervously fidgeted with a loose thread on my sleeve to avoid any possible eye contact. Because, anxiety.

The obvious answer to her question was yes, I probably am. Who isn’t, though? I think we all run from things sometimes. Things that aren’t necessarily fun or easy to admit out loud, especially to a casual stranger.

For me, that was most certainly the case. I knew there was definitely some sort of underlying fear that was holding me back from moving forward on this particular opportunity, one that could potentially change everything for the better and grow my faith immensely — IF I was brave enough to choose it. I just couldn’t quite name the fear specifically or express my feelings truthfully and gracefully, without all the ugly crying/ emotional word vomit that seems to erupt in situations like these. (Can you say ‘basket case’? )

Realizing the awkward silence was growing heavier and that I still had no direct answer to offer, I sighed and finally retaliated with, “Well, I wouldn’t necessarily call it running…”

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She did her best to listen with empathy, as I fumbled over my words and danced around the outskirts of her question. She didn’t say much, just an occasional nod or mmhmmm as she jotted some notes down on her clipboard. But she didn’t have to speak. Her eyes did all the talking, with that familiar I’m not so convinced you’re opening up all the way, but I won’t push any further look I had seen almost every time she asked me to dig deeper than I was willing to go in the moment.

She must have sensed my uneasiness, because for the next half hour our conversations magically deferred to much lighter topics: family Christmas recaps, New Year’s resolutions, empowering verses, and inspiring books to read in 2020.

That’s why I love her. She isn’t afraid to challenge me or get my wheels turning, but she knows my limits and respects my boundaries.

We covered a lot of ground with goal-setting and small talk, until finally the clock above her reminded me that I should get going, because she had other clients to tend to that afternoon. (Ones who were probably a little less socially awkward and a lot more emotionally stable than me… )

She prayed over me, I thanked her for her wise counsel and scheduled my next visit, and went on my way. Just like usual. But although I left her office the same way as I always do — less heavy and more hopeful — something about that pressing question never quite left me.

Is there anything deep down that maybe you’re still running from?

Fast forward to the very next day, where I am nose deep in Luke 9 during my morning quiet time. Read: secretly hiding out in my closet with a Bible in my lap because 1) it seems to be the quietest place in our house, and 2) the mountain of dirty laundry is sort of like an adult-sized bean bag chair, if you can get past the faint smell that comes with being married to a farmer.

Meanwhile, my toddler is tearing all the Tupperware out of the kitchen drawers, like some unsupervised, miniature version of Godzilla. (Totally love her, though. )

As I’m reading atop the dirty socks and cow-manured jeans — and giving SO much thanks for the Bath and Body Works Wallflower plugged into the nearby outlet — I see it. And it’s as if Jesus Himself is holding the mirror, right up to my face.

In verses 57-62, Jesus is on a final journey to Jerusalem before His ascension. He meets two men along the way, professing their wholehearted allegiance to follow Him faithfully.

The first man says, “I will follow you wherever you go.” It’s beautiful. Profound. A declaration of ultimate commitment, like something you’d want to include in your wedding vows or have hanging on a sign in your master bedroom. And it kind of reminds me of the story in the Old Testament where Ruth promised Naomi that she would never leave her side, after she was widowed suddenly and lost her two sons during a great famine.

But then, not even even a few verses later, the plot thickens and takes a turn for the worst when the man adds, “…but first let me go bury my father.”

The next encounter is a strikingly similar situation, when Jesus invites the second stranger on the road to leave everything behind and go with Him. “I will follow you, Lord, but first let me go and say goodbye to those at my house.”

Jesus responds with a brutally honest statement that wrecks me: “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.” (Verse 62, CSB.)

Holy. Moly.

It has all come full circle, as I suddenly realize the very unnamed thing I’ve been running from all along when it comes to making decisions, both in life and in faith.


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I can see ever-so-clearly from this passage of scripture that I am just like these men.

I am totally a “but first” follower.

I say that I’m all-in for Christ, that I’m willing to do whatever it takes to serve and honor Him. But when He calls my bluff and calls me to move forward with Him in blind faith, suddenly the cuteness of that statement wears off and I say okay, Lord. But first _______ (fill in the blank with whatever doubt or excuse or stipulation I can come up with at the time. )

I say that I am fully surrendered, that nothing holds more priority in my life than pleasing Him. But when He invites me to forsake myself and all my comforts to be a part of something greater, I turn right back around and look at my past life to be sure I’m not leaving anything (or anyone) too valuable behind.

I say I fully trust Him and will go wherever He leads, yet I can’t stop white-knuckling my comfort zone long enough for Him to take me into the Deep End of faith — where the real beauty and magic happens.

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My excuse? I chalk it up to “being still” and “waiting on the Lord.”

I know. It’s horrible. But I totally do.

I defend my complacency all the time, saying I only want to be sure I’m hearing God’s voice clearly before I act. So, I wait. And I wait. And I wait some more for Him to show up and move in my life.

But what if it’s actually supposed to be the other way around?

What if all along, He’s been waiting on me to move in pure trust and radical obedience, so He can use me for a greater purpose than I could ever imagine? Do I really want to miss out on a chance to make an eternal impact because I was too scared to let go of my internal security?

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One of my favorite authors, Jenny Allen, says great people do not do great things. God does great things through surrendered people. It is very possible that God hasn’t been able to use me like He desires, because I haven’t yet learned what it means to surrender everything and risk the unknown that often accompanies it.

Maybe I’m not alone, here.

It’s evident more than ever that I’ve been praying the wrong prayers when standing toe-to-toe with daunting decisions — like the ones I shared with my counselor this past week. I’m tempted to ask Him for peace, for a blatantly clear sign to assure me He’s really with me in all of this. (Oh, the things I’d do for a burning bush… )

But perhaps what I need most right now is not the clarity and comfort I’ve been desperately begging for to help me discern the right choice, but rather courage to follow His lead, even if there’s no clarity or comfort in sight. Perhaps the choice itself isn’t even the point, so much as my willingness to let Him walk with me in whatever I decide.

I’m not exactly sure where along the lines I started believing the untruth that if something is hard or requires too much sacrifice on my end, then it must be the wrong choice. And I don’t know why making decisions in general has become something I dread more than I delight in anymore, especially when I am fortunate enough to have freedom in my choosings.

But what I do know now is this.

Nothing about choosing to act in faith is ever easy or without risk.

Just look at the Bible. You won’t find a single prophet, prophetess, disciple, apostle, king, queen, wise man, shepherd boy, or ordinary character on the side of the road that didn’t have to leave good things behind in order to take hold of something greater.

So, what am I learning from all of this?

I’m learning that the process of surrender is daily. That it’s sometimes messy, often painful, but always worth it. I’m learning that faith will grow us well beyond our limitations, IF we are willing to be stretched. And I’m finally realizing that to run from a life of discomfort is to run away from life itself, because honestly the two will always go hand in hand, so long as we live in a fallen world.

We’re not home yet, friends.

There’s still much hard work to be done here on earth — both in us and through us. That’s why we’re here, and why bold choices still have to be made every single day especially as followers of Christ. But those choices matter for the Kingdom, and it matters that we show up for these precious lives we’ve been given that aren’t forever.

It’s not always going to be easy, but we can learn over time to be risky. To be a little less Marlin on Finding Nemo, and a little more Frozen 2 Elsa. (Sing it with me… Into the un-KNOWWWNNNNN!) To truly surrender our ALL, no takebacks. To trust Him enough to fill the void of whatever we’re asked to give up in this earthly life for eternal cause. To forfeit this imaginary concept of “comfortable” and instead find the courage to just move forward. To stop running from an opportunity to experience Jesus like never before, because things are safe and certain where our feet are right now. To lay it all down — the excuses, the shame, the idols or distractions that always seem to come first in our lives — and simply follow Him.

And to never look back once we do… because we know with absolute certainty that He is greater than anything we’ll ever leave behind.

What God Really Wants Us to Know About Motherhood

Embracing grace over “Mom Guilt.”

Being a mom is a crazy adventure.

As a first-timer who stays at home all day erry’ day with a soon-to-be one year old, (say, WHAT?!?!) I’ve had to learn hard and fast to just embrace this reality for what it truly is: beautiful chaos.

People ask me all the time how I like being a SAHM, as we are now approaching one year since I decided to leave the classroom and devote myself fully here — with all the sticky countertops and crumby floors and leaky sippy cups. I probably don’t have the most graceful answer to offer, but I have an honest one.

Most days,  it’s glorious. The sun is shining, the birds are chirping, and the Keurig is singing my love language. The baby is all giggles, and no one is teething or fighting naps or double ear infections. I have the energy to be fully present by getting down on the floor to play patty-cake, reading another Dr. Seuss book in my best storytelling accent ever, or taking the jogging stroller for a spin down the gravel road. A new and exciting milestone is reached — whether a new tooth, a first word, or a couple wobbly steps — and I soak it ALL in like a sponge, with such gratitude that I got to witness it firsthand, especially when I know many others don’t get this opportunity.

On rare days, I get a lot accomplished — aside from just wiping bottoms, folding onesies, picking up toys, and vacuuming up puffs from the couch cushions all day long. (Emphasis on the word rare... ) I might even get a little down time to myself — you know, where I can actually go to Wal-Mart alone, because my husband graciously offers to watch the baby for a few hours, OR where I can take an extra long shower, because naptime extends a little longer than usual. (It’s a wonderful thing when I don’t even have to eenie-meenie-miney-mo between shaving my legs or shampooing my hair, because all hell is breaking loose on the other side of that bathroom door. )

Some days, I am the Queen of Serenity, and can even make it through the day without my voice or blood pressure rising to extremes. (Bonus points!)

As for all the other days in between? Accidentally ripping the tab off a diaper sends me over the edge.

Yep. In these rare but totally real moments, you can find me ugly crying on the kitchen floor, maybe in the fetal position if I’m feeling a little “extra”. I likely haven’t slept in going on 76 hours, because sleep regression patterns and separation anxiety are things of the devil. The baby inconsolably cries and climbs all over me, like a contestant on American Ninja Warrior. If I weren’t so exhausted, I might actually think her agility skills are impressive. But right now? I’d like to lock myself in a closet with a tub of cookie dough and a bottle of chardonnay.

There’s a 99.99% chance that this T-shirt I’m sporting (fragranced with Similac Alimentum spit-up) is two plus days old. There’s also a 1000% chance I just peed myself a little when I sneezed, because NO. ONE. ever told me about “kegels” until it was far, far too late. (The damage is done, people. Pelvic floor disorder is NO JOKE. ) I avoid all unnecessary eye contact with the overflowing laundry baskets and sink full of dishes, as if pretending the mess isn’t there will make it just magically go away. Whatever. Suzy Homemaker is not my spirit animal today, and I’m embracing it.

And be near me, Lord Jesus; if I hear Baby-Shark doo-doo-doo-doo-doo one more time, they might have to put me in a straight-jacket.

Yeah, yeah. Laugh it up all you want, but beware. If you double cross me or say anything about the state I’m in, I will cut you with the same butter knife I’m currently using to make a peanut butter Oreo sandwich to console myself with.

I know. I’m incredibly dramatic.

The point is… it ebbs and flows, y’all. Motherhood is a constant teeter-totter ride of staring into the eyes of your precious babes with such an overwhelming love, thinking there’s nothing better in the whole wide world than being their momma, and simultaneously wanting to pinch their pudgy little heads off when they throw a tantrum or have a torrential carseat blowout or destroy your valiant efforts to JUST. ONCE. have a semi-clean house.

I get it. It’s both exhausting and exhilarating. You’re pretty much clueless and winging everything as you go (kind of like your eyeliner, if you ever make it that far and get to put it on). Everyone and their other brother has an “opinion” that you quite honestly don’t give two flying flips about, if we’re being honest here.

I mean, for the love of women’s rights. You can’t even vaccinate your kids, work outside the home, prop a bottle, or use a Pampers diaper without some other “highly educated” mom giving you a Facebook lecture of all her “ extensive research.” On top of that, Google is a TERRIFYING source of diagrams and diagnostics that can send you into immediate cardiac arrest… over the hiccups.

And just when you think you’ve got one thing figured out, psych! Everything changes and growth spurts happen and puberty comes in like a wrecking ball, and you lose your footing all over again. Nothing prepares you for this. Sometimes you wish they gave you an instruction manual for how to deal with infants who won’t sleep or teenagers that break curfew or toddlers that color on walls with Sharpie — BEFORE sending you home from the hospital with a baby in your backseat you’re solely responsible for from now until the end of time. But it’s a little too late now. You’re already committed, man.

All jokes aside, we know it’s truly the greatest blessing to raise these precious hooligans. Somehow, some way, God clearly thought we were destined to be their mommas. And while we face our fair share of challenges, we wouldn’t have it any other way.

But… we need to be on guard.

There will be days where darkness wants to cloud our thoughts and convince us that we’re not “momming” good enough. It will whisper lies in our ear, enticing us to internalize them as actual truth. If we let it, these negative emotions will fester up and completely rob us of the joy that God wants us to have as mothers.

Did you catch that?

God doesn’t want us to live in “Mommy Guilt.” He wants us to abide in JOY.

And I dug up over two dozen scriptures of probably hundreds listed in the Bible that literally prove it.

So, in honor of Mother’s Day that is just around the corner, I want to share my findings with you, written from His point-of-view.  Let’s spend some time reflecting on what God says is true about motherhood, and not what we sometimes believe is true on our toughest days. Let’s white-knuckle these truths and rest in His grace, so that we can fully embrace this precious gift He has entrusted us with.

To My daughter, who is also a mother:

You may not realize this, but I’ve been watching you. It brings Me great delight to look down and see you selflessly pour yourself out into the family I have handpicked especially for you. I feel your joy when you look at your children in complete thankfulness, and I hear your prayers when you need My guidance. I know you’re grateful, I know you love them, and I know you’re doing your very best for them.

But, I see you.

I see you struggling behind the scenes, as you’re constantly grappling with perfectionism — that was never intended to be your cross to bear. I watch as you stretch yourself to great lengths, just to prove your worth to both yourself and this world. I hear you lose control, then shame yourself for it later. I listen as you compare and contrast yourself with other moms, and it pains Me when you speak so negatively about yourself.

You try to stay strong, as you tirelessly juggle diaper changes and ball schedules and school drop-offs, but I see what’s really underneath that smile. I know what’s really hidden in your thoughts. You’re tired. You’re overwhelmed.You’re anxious and worried. You’re discouraged. You’re drowning in guilt.You crumble at My feet when you’ve finally had about all you can take. You ask Me how in the world you’re ever supposed to live up to all these crushing expectations — both self-made and society-made — that you constantly live under.

But here’s what I really want you to know… I never asked you to do that.

In fact, if you lean on Me, I’ll show you everything I want you to know about motherhood, right here in My Word.

I never asked you to be perfect. I asked you to walk in My perfect love.

But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection.

– Colossians 3:14 NKJV

I never asked you to be a Suzy Homemaker, who defines the value of her home based on cleanliness and the latest Pinterest trends. I asked you establish your house upon My wisdom and fill it with My truths, so it will be abundantly blessed.

Through wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established; by knowledge the rooms are filled with all precious and pleasant riches.

– Proverbs 24:3-4 NKJV

I never asked you to please other people. I asked you to serve people in love, as it pleases Me.

For do I now persuade men or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.

– Galatians 1:10 NKJV

I never asked you to compare yourself to others, or to be just like “her.” I asked you to walk confidently in who I created YOU to be.

For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.

– 2 Corinthians 10:12 NKJV

I never asked you to dwell in “Mommy Guilt” or opinions of others, especially on working inside or outside the home. I asked you to be joyful and sincere in WHATEVER you do WHEREVER you do it, because it brings honor and glory to Me when you confidently walk in the calling I have given you.

And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not to men.

– Colossians 3:23 NKJV

I never asked you to spread yourself so thin by making the most elaborate, 3D Valentine’s Day boxes, volunteering for every field trip, cooking only locally sourced, organic meals, or juggling fifteen extra curricular activities on top of a forty hour work week all by yourself. I asked you slow down and let me help you, so you don’t wear yourself out.

So Moses’ father-in-law said to him, “The thing that you do is not good. Both you and these people who are with you will surely wear yourselves out. For this thing is too  much for you; you are not able to perform it by yourself.

– Exodus 18:17-18  NKJV

I never asked you to stress and feel overwhelmed when a lot is going on. I asked you to remember that this is too shall pass.

To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven.

-Ecclesiastes 3:1 NKJV

I never asked I asked you to worry about your children turning away or becoming defiant. I asked you to lovingly show them My Way, so they will remember it. I also asked you place them in My hands and pray for them.

Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it.

– Proverbs 22:6 NKJV

“For this child I have prayed, and the Lord has granted me my petition which I asked of Him. Therefore I also have lent him to the Lord, as long as he lives he shall be lent to the Lord.” So they worshiped the Lord there.

– 1 Samuel 1:27:28 NKJV

I never asked you to berate your body over things like stretch marks, gray hairs, pimples, wrinkles, or undersized clothes. I asked you to appreciate how amazing you are, because you’re My precious, unique creation.

I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well.

– Psalm 139:14 NKJV

I never asked you to obsess over your fitness and nutrition to maintain your postpartum “body image”. Your health is important, but I asked you first and foremost to exercise your faith by walking with Me in MY image, to eat of My living bread, and to drink from My living water for daily nourishment.

He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?

– Micah 6:8 NKJV

And Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.

– John 6:35 NKJV

I never asked you to worry about how the bills will get paid without the check bouncing, or how you’re ever going to make it financially as a widowed mom, divorced mom, single mom, special needs mom, and/or mom of a sick child. I asked you to trust that I will provide your needs.

And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

-Philippians 4:19 NKJV

I never asked you to fear raising your children up in a world full of darkness and evil. I asked you to rest in knowing I have already conquered all the problems of this world.

These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.

-John 16:33 NKJV

I never asked you to carry your burdens alone on the hard days. I asked you to confide in Me, and let Me carry them for you.

Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me. For I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls, for My yoke is easy and My burden is light.

-Matthew 11:28-30 NKJV

I never asked you to beat yourself up when you have a hard day and lose your patience. I asked you to accept My grace, which can cover you.

And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my strength is made perfect in weakness.”

-2 Corinthians 12:9 NKJV

I never asked you to reach for the bottle when you feel overwhelmed and need something to ease your stress. I asked you to reach for Me, so I can suppress your hardships.

And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit.

-Ephesians 5:18 NKJV

I never asked you to “hold it all together.” I asked you to let Me hold you.

Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.

-Isaiah 41:10 NKJV

My daughter, let these truths find their way to the inner depths of your heart and take root in your soul. Meditate on them daily, as I have also commanded this. (Joshua 1:8) Motherhood is such a precious blessing from above, and you are to be grateful for it always (James 1:17) Even on your hardest days, know that you are not walking this road alone. I am with you always, (Joshua 1:9) and I have given very special loved ones in your life you can also lean on for wise advice (Proverbs 12:15). Soak up every precious ounce of time I have given you with your babies, and make the very most of it. For all too soon, they ‘ll be grown, and I’ll  eventually call you Home with Me, as your days are numbered here on this earth. (Job 14:5) Until then, be joyful and know that I’m with you, and I’m watching.

I see you. I hear you. You matter, because you’re Mine.

Oh, yeah, one more thing. Stay off Google, okay?

Love, God

Whew! This might be the espresso talking, (as I’m writing this from my still-sticky kitchen counter with my second cup of the day) but doesn’t that just breathe new life in your lungs, put a sting in your eye, and lift the weight off your shoulders, knowing He’s got this whole thing we worry so much about figured out already? It’s SO profound when you take the time to actually see your motherly responsibilities through the scope of what The Word says… and not what the world says.

So take heart, Momma. You’re doing a mighty fine job, even when you’re absolutely positive you’re screwing it all up. Rest in this confidence — HIS confidence — when the nights are too long and the years are too fast. Believe that you have a gift, and that you are a gift to these little crazies, that won’t even let you go pee by yourself.

Whether you earned your Mom Card through pregnancy, surrogacy, foster care, adoption, IVF treatments, or some other beautiful journey, be proud of your story. It’s uniquely yours. God gave you THIS role to THIS child in at THIS place at THIS time, because He knew from the beginning you were always made for it.

Even if you really are a hot mess sometimes.

I’ll toast the rotten-milk sippy cup I just found under the couch to that!

One more thing…

I would be doing a disservice if I did not also take the time to acknowledge the beautiful souls who might be grieving this Mother’s Day.

Whether your story involves childhood trauma, abandonment, abortion regret, infertility, miscarriage, loss of a child, or the fact that it’s another day to remind you that your mother is no longer here with you in person -I just want you to know that you are not forgotten or forsaken. Though I can’t personally resonate, I can empathize. My heart hurts with you, and I’m praying for strengthening in your heartbreak. He wants you to know that He sees and holds you through it all, and that He is FOR YOU.

Here are a few verses He has handcrafted especially for you:

By faith Sarah herself also received strength to conceive seed, and she bore a child when she was past the age, because she judged Him faithful who had promised. -Hebrews 11:11 NKJV

He grants the barren woman a home, like a joyful mother of children. Praise the Lord! -Psalm 113:9 NKJV

And Mordecai had brought up Hadassah, that is, Esther, his uncle’s daughter, for she had neither father nor mother. The young woman was lovely and beautiful. When her father and mother had died, Mordecai took her as his own daughter. – Esther 2:7 NKJV

I am weary with my groaning; All night I make my bed swim; I drench my couch with my tears. My eye wastes away because of grief; it grows old because of all my enemies. Depart from me, all you workers of iniquity, for the Lord has heard the voice of my weeping. – Psalm 6:6-9 NKJV

“Quiet” Time? What’s THAT?!?!

A beginner’s guide of how to start your day off right and study God’s Word with more intention.

Confession: I’ve never been an avidly studious person when it comes to reading God’s Word. Or at least, that used to be my story.

Aside from the two hours I was in the pew on Sundays, rarely did I ever touch a Bible, let alone crack it open over a cup of coffee and dive right in, first thing in the morning.

And I’ve been saved since I was 9 years old, people!

< Insert gasps! and dirty looks from the church choir ladies here. >

My biggest reasons (*ehemmm, excuses) for this parody were as follows:

#1 – I don’t have the time. I’m a ______ (newlywed, full-time college student with two part-time jobs/ first-year teacher with an hour commute/ stay-home-mom with no sanity left intact/ fill in the blank with whatever role I held at the current time. )

#2 – I’m NOT a morning person. I’m lucky if I drag my butt out of bed early enough to make it out the door with my hair combed and my shirt on right-side-in, let alone be “with-it” enough to hang out with good ole’ King James at the crack of dawn.

#3 – As long as I act like a good person, pray often, and go to church regularly, I’m good to go, right?

#4 – Uhm, no hablo espanol! What is this fantastical nonsense??? I don’t even understand what I’m reading! Somewhere between all the “so-and-so begat so-and-so” genealogy, talking donkeys and burning bushes, The Thees, Thys, Thines, and Thous, and fifteen syllable names I can’t even begin to pronounce, I’m soooo lost and overwhelmed.

My head hurts. I need a cookie.

#5 – Argh! I give up! It’s way too hard to learn the Bible on my own. I need a “Bible 101 for Dummies” book or a seminary degree to decipher these hieroglyphics. Which would be fine and dandy, except oops! Please see Excuse #1.

Surely someone out there can resonate with one or more of those! It’s okay, you can admit it. As amazing as the Gospel is, it can be hard to grasp at times.

I see it clearly now how ridiculous the reasons of my complacency were, but wasn’t long ago when these lies were still running my life and really holding me back from experiencing something exceptional.

Several months back, I noticed that things seemed a little… out of line. Life was so much harder than usual, and I was very discouraged by it because I thought I had finally made a full breakthrough from my ugly battle with depression/anxiety that had brought me to my breaking point, just a couple years prior. I had been doing so great! I was off my medications, seeing my therapist less and less, and becoming very ambitious — because for the first time in a longgggg time, I actually felt strong enough, energized enough, and healthy enough in my recovery to start dreaming big again.

I truly thought I had fixed myself, with all the self-help books and affirmations and Rachel Hollis podcasts I had been absorbing like a sponge. For a while, it worked! But all of a sudden, things faded. I felt the darkness slowly creeping its way back in, choking out all the progress I had made in growing myself. And just like weeds in a garden, it began to suck the life right out of me again.

I was frustrated, stressed out, anxious for nothing, always impatient and expectant, and constantly feeling “less than” — especially because I had started harshly comparing myself to others who seemed to be so content with life. These weren’t just random strangers on the Internet that I was highlight-reel stalking; they were some of my dearest friends and mentors who were extremely successful at everything they did.

I didn’t understand. Even in the midst of hard things they were facing — things far worse than anything I had ever had to endure — they somehow managed to find something to be happy about. Not only was I noticing their attitude, but others seemed to be magnetized to them as well. And who could blame them? They were just so… joyful.

And for the record, I’m talking genuine, fruit-of-the-spirit kind of joyful; not this pretend-everything’s-okay-and-hide-behind-a-fake-smile garbage I was a pro at fabricating.

They were soaring. And me? Well, I was sinking into bitter jealousy.

One night I reached out to my sweet friend Lisa, who is one of those amazing souls that fully embodies joy and speaks truth over me continuously. I have always been so inspired by her, not because of her wealth or success, but based on how she treats others and the way she lives out her life, as if it’s her full-time job.

I guess to her, it is.

I confessed to her how I had felt so depleted and discouraged lately, and wasn’t sure where I was going wrong. I asked for honest advice of what I could do to improve my mindset, and what exactly it was that she was doing that was so different than what I was doing. Her answer was certainly not what I expected, to say the least.

“Get up earlier and commit to your Quiet Time.”

At first, I was stunned. Then I was slightly irritated and wanted to chuck my phone across the room, as her brutally honest words lit up my screen and pierced my gut.

Because any one who has ever mothered children before knows good and well that “quiet” and “time” are basically two unicorn words that rarely exist on their own, let alone together. That’s just life with infants and toddlers, people.

As frustrated as I was initially, I knew she was exactly right. I agreed that maybe it was time to shake off my excuses and my fix-it-myself tendencies and instead start dusting off my Bible.

But, there was still one teensy, weensy problem I was still faced with.

I didn’t have a clue where to even begin.

I may have been overwhelmed for a hot minute, but rest assured. While I am no expert theologian, I do have the equivalent of a PhD when it comes to YouTube tutorials, Google search bars, and Pinterest hacks. Turns out, I didn’t need to go to Bible college just to learn how to be more proactive in studying scripture. Everything I ever wanted to learn was either either in books I could buy or articles I could read freely on the Internet.

And, the best part? I could do it from the comfort of my couch in between naps and feedings and laundry loads, with my three best study buddies: topknots, coffee, and sweat pants! Now, that’s my kind of church!

Assuming I’m not the only one who has ever struggled with diving deeper into God’s word, I’ve decided to take some of the greatest tips and tricks I’ve discovered so far and compile them into a convenient road map, that even the most biblically challenged souls can add to their scripture-studying arsenal.

If you see something you like that works for you, great! Steal it and put it into practice, like I did. If you find something that’s total garbage and doesn’t apply to you, great! Disregard this blog and keep searching for a method that works best for you. It took me months of trial and error to find a system I could commit to and learn best from, and I encourage you to do the same based on your spiritual needs.

5 Things I Do Every Day to Make the Most of My “Quiet” Time.

#1 – Find a Good Time and Place

Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

This seems like a no-brainer, but you wouldn’t believe the colossal difference it makes when you thoughtfully choose a setting before ever cracking your Bible open. Don’t over-complicate it, though; this is not for God’s convenience. He is willing to meet with you anywhere, anytime, any place. This tip is more for your personal benefit in identifying an atmosphere in which you can focus best.

Time – Ideally, they recommend studying scripture first thing in the morning, so you can start your day off right. Apparently science shows your brain is most productive during those early morning hours, but I beg to differ, as I saunter to my Keurig almost every single morning to be refueled and revived. I’m more of an any time after 8 AM or 8 PM kind of girl.

Some people devote their time all at once. I generally have to break mine up, because I have a ten month old, who bosses me around and totally owns my life right now. I use her morning nap time and post-bedtime hours to do my studying. It’s been so refreshing to start and end my day in God’s word, and it works best for all of us!

Obviously, life happens and you have to improvise sometimes. If you accidentally oversleep (guilty), work crazy hours, have newborns who nurse through the night, or are scrambling to get multiple children out the door for school on time, don’t freak out. God still loves you. You’re not disowned because you’re not up before the rooster crows, clutching a Bible in one hand and a pencil pouch in the other. It doesn’t make you a Bible-thumping failure; it just means you’ll have to fit your devotion in somewhere else.

Place – This essentially just needs to be somewhere quiet, away from distractions –yep, phone included! (I do use my phone for helpful apps which I’ll talk about in a minute, but I have to be mindful of silencing notifications and avoiding mindless scrolls through social media.)

For me, I do my best work from my king-sized bed, where I can shut my door and sprawl out and be relaxed. For you, it may be somewhere else. Is it your sticky kitchen table? Your favorite recliner? In an office or a coffee shop? Would you, could you on a plane? In a bus, or in a car? (Unless you’re driving of course!)

Listen, Sam-I-Am. It doesn’t matter when or where you do your thing, but it does matter that you fully devote yourself to Him, so you can really tune in to what He is wanting to reveal in you.

#2 – Begin with Gratitude

Photo by Gabrielle Henderson on Unsplash

Before anything else, I take a moment to pause and write down at least five things I am genuinely grateful for. This helps me detach myself from the chaos of life and be mindful of all God is doing around me. It sets the mood for me to have a clear mind, cheerful heart, and open hands to fully embrace His words.

There are several resources you can use for this. In the mornings, I use the Start Today Journal by Rachel Hollis, (found here) because I love that it has a place for me to write my gratitude, ten dreams I want to make reality, and one action step/ small goal for the day that will inch me closer to achieving those dreams. I also add one affirmation (a feely-good thought of the kind of person I want to become) and a Bible verse I am standing on for comfort.

In the evenings, I use this simple gratitude journal from Amazon (here) to write three more things that happened from the day that I am thankful for. Starting and ending my day with praise makes the time in-between so much more meaningful, because I have to constantly be on the lookout for things to write down.

Honestly, you can use anything to do this, and you don’t even have to spend money. Use a post-it, index card, notebook, lipstick and your bathroom mirror, an ink pen and the back of your hand, or whatever else is handy. Just write it down. I’ve learned this trumps just thinking about it mentally, because you can easily look back on your writings, count your blessings, and literally name them one-by-one.

#3 – Open in Prayer

Photo by Rachel Lynette French on Unsplash

Next, I take the time to go to the Lord in prayer. I thank Him for the blessings I wrote down for gratitude, confess anything that has been weighing me down/ holding me back, and invite Him near to reveal what He wants me to glean from His word.

There’s a variety of ways to pray – from verbally to mentally to manually writing it down. There’s no recommended word count, perfect vocabulary, or script you have to follow. As long as you speak, think, or write from the heart, He will honor any version of prayer you come to Him with.

For me personally, I’ve found it most beneficial to use a separate prayer journal for this, so I can easily look back and see how God showed up and showed off in HUGE ways! I love tracking how He answers my deepest prayers. Sometimes it’s a no, sometimes it’s a not yet, and sometimes it’s in a different way than I imagined. But many times, He answers my prayers by exceeding them above and beyond what I even asked for! (See: Ephesians 3:20.)

I recently read Mark Batterson’s book called The Circle Maker, and it showed me the power of consistently writing your biggest fears, struggles, and dreams down and literally drawing circles around them, to signify that you will continuously pray over them until they come to pass. Clearly the shape isn’t what’s important. Any geometric figure you want to use will suffice, but the thing about a circle is that it has no end! 1 Thessalonians 5:17 instructs us to pray without ceasing, and this is a great way to ensure that you are!

It sounds crazy, but crazy amazing things will begin to unfold when you start drawing the circle. Trust me on this one!

#4 – Study, Study, Study!

Credit: Amy Hale on Instagram

This is where I really begin dissecting the Word, so that it can dissect me! There are SOOOO many ways you can go about this, but here’s my approach (most of which was learned through the book Mercy Like Morning by Jane Johnson and also from parts of this helpful flowchart, as pictured above):

  • Pick a plan – This is far more valuable than just sitting down and picking something to read at random. You can use something like the Bible in a Year Challenge, a Bible study guide, or a helpful app to help you pick which passage you want to study. I personally LOVEEEE the free app called First5 by Proverbs 31 Ministry, because I can choose my own plan or follow along with the current plan they always have going real-time. (Right now I do two studies – one in the morning and one at night, but you do you, boo boo!) I love how it breaks each book of the Bible down chapter by chapter, verse by verse with a quick 5 minute devotion to help me further understand its context. There are also guided prayers, reflection prompts, “more moments” for going deeper, and a discussion thread to share takeaways, prayer requests, and positivity with other study buddies. Also, I’ve never personally used this app, but I’ve repeatedly heard great things about YouVersion!
  • Pick a translation(s) – My church is a little bit old-school, so I’m pretty accustomed to using the King James Version. However, some of the old terminology can be hard to understand at times, so I use a handy dandy free app called Blue Letter Bible, where I can pull up any two different translations and read them side by side to compare context. This saves me money AND shelf space, as I don’t want to purchase several different Bibles! And there are other incredible features in this app, which I will talk more about below.
  • Read and re-read the passage all the way through – Next, I read the particular section of scripture I want to study in both translations (sometimes multiple times) before I do ANY note-taking/highlighting. I do this S L O W L Y , trying to paraphrase it in a way I can remember. This allows me to really process the whole passage before breaking it down and digesting it further.
  • Set the stage – I like to take the time to identify the setting. I ask questions like: Who authored this book/ verse/ passage? Who are the main characters involved? What is the main issue/situation? Where does this story take place and when? (I use maps if necessary to give me a point of reference!)
  • Break it down (journaling/ note taking) – This is where the fun and creativity really comes into play for me! There’s SEVERAL unique ways you can do this — doodling, calligraphy, stenciling, water-color painting, scrap-booking, etc. — but I am not super artistic or patient enough for all that jazz, so I prefer the simple system of highlighting and margin-journaling. If you follow this approach, you DEFINITELY want to use no-bleed highlighters, made especially for Bibles so its less messy. (I ordered a new set of markers today from this site and they even have ones that are ERASABLE!!! They have tons of pens and Bible journaling goodies for you to check out, and you’re supporting a local small business!) You also ideally want to select a Bible with wide margins on the side (currently on my Mother’s Day wish list) so you have room to jot down your thoughts. Or, you can always keep your Bible clean by writing your notes in a separate journal, if the rainbow effect drives you nuts. Some people highlight everything, but I choose to just focus on key parts and categorize them by assigning each their own color. Pictured below is a sample “key” for what I came up with. It’s pretty self-explanatory and isn’t what I would consider over-the-top confusing or time consuming. (If it overwhelms you, however, you can just adapt it by using one pen or highlighter for main ideas to start with. I totally did this for a while, and it was a great starting block!)
My Highlighting System! It’s nothing new or spectacular, but it works for me.

Sample excerpt from Colossians 3

I use five colors and a black ink pen (that apparently got cut off in the picture!) These work pretty good, but occasionally bleed through. I am only using them until my new ones arrive in the mail! Come on, UPS!!
  • Cross Reference – This requires more time and digging, but definitely take the time to pay special attention to those tiny Bible verse references (usually at the bottom right after verses) if you can! It’s amazing to watch the Word come to life, as you literally go on a treasure hunt from one section of the Bible to another and see how they overlap.
  • Use commentaries, Bible dictionaries, interlinear tools, and/or concordances – Most Bibles have built-in sections like these, but if yours doesn’t, never fear! The Blue Letter Bible App also has all these resources, plus a plethora of other ones that break down hard-to-understand passages and translate key root words into their Hebrew/Greek origins. I know there’s an abundance other tools out there that serve the same purpose. (**Side note – When I first began scripture digging, I didn’t do this part, but I would definitely consider trying it as you advance in your studies!)
  • Dig deeper – If time allows, you can do character studies on the names mentioned in a passage to see where else in the Bible they show up. It’s also beneficial to research cultures and their laws/statutes, so you can understand why things were done a certain way that might seem odd or extreme to you. Finally, creating timelines of what was happening historically during that same time frame can also help put things into better perspective. If you do all of the above, you can see how you could easily spend a month or more on just one small section of scripture! It truly is the Living Word, and the more you dig for its buried treasure, the more you’ll see it come to life, right before your eyes. You’ll never run out of things to study, if you know how to hunt.

#5 – Reflect

This is where I go back over my notes and highlighting to draw conclusions for how I can begin to apply these truths. Sometimes if it’s a really complicated passage, I may need to re-read it all over again.

Otherwise, I take my margin notes and create this simple T-chart outline, as pictured below. On the left I write spiritual truths for who God is and how He shows up in that particular passage, and on the right I put what I am called/commanded to do based on the examples I’ve read about. I include verse references to help me stay organized and back up my thoughts, so I don’t take anything out of context.

I also like to write the date of when I studied each book of the Bible, so I know when to go back and revisit later on! It’s fun to see how much I’ve grown and what new things I’ve unraveled, compared to the last time I read the passage.
Every time I learn something new!

I normally like to wait and do this at the very end of a particular book or study as an overall summary, however if it’s a larger book like Psalms, I keep a running T-chart I can add to as I go, so I won’t forget what I learned by the time I reach the end of the book. It’s very adaptable! I also love picking ONE favorite verse out of the whole book and writing it below the T-chart so I can memorize it, as you can see in my example above of the study of Ezra.

And yes, you guessed it – I have ANOTHER journal for this. So if you’re keeping tally marks here, I have a gratitude journal (well, technically two: AM and PM), a prayer journal, and a scripture journal; but you can easily combine them all into one mega-resource, if you’re not OCD like I am.

I know, I’m a little bit extra when it comes to my stationary. Blame Hobby Lobby 50% off sales.

After reflection, that’s basically it! I normally close in prayer (maybe revisit my journals if I have anything else on my heart) and go about the rest of my day, until my next study session!

**BONUS** – Read From a Devotion/ Book

I am a bookworm, so I LOVE supplementing a Bible study with a good inspirational Christian book or some sort of prayer challenge/ devotional. I also listen to podcasts and audiobooks if I don’t have the time to physically sit and read.

Hey. If I can do it while driving, folding laundry, washing dishes, or changing a diaper, I’m in.

Reading doesn’t always happen during my designated “Quiet” Time, and sometimes I have to revisit my book later if life gets in the way. But this is a HUGE priority for me, so I get it in somehow, someway.

I have a personal goal to read 100 books in 2019, so that breaks down to 8-10 a month, or 2-3 a week. I can usually meet this by squeezing in at least 20-30 pages a day (either all at once or broken up), with the book sizes I choose.

I ain’t reading no 600-page Harry Potter novel, up in here.

Yes, this means less TV and social media. But I don’t even miss all those rabbit-hole BuzzFeed quizzes, and I’m not one ounce of bitter about being several seasons behind on This Is Us, because my mind is occupied elsewhere in a much more fulfilling way.

I plan to do a separate blog soon of my top book recommendations, but for the purpose of this post, a great starter devotion for you is the Draw the Circle 40 Day Prayer Challenge, by Mark Batterson.

Whew! I know that seems like a lotttt of steps, but I promise it goes by so fast, once you get a routine going. I have mastered working this to where it normally takes 30-60 minutes out of my entire day tops, unless I read more or do the “digging deeper” stuff. Then I could easily spend a whole morning in God’s word because there’s that much to learn!

I know life gets busy, but the way I see it, nothing will ever slow down or get simpler. I can either find the time to study the Word with intention, or find excuses for all the reasons why I can’t — and wonder why my life seems so out of control in the aftermath.

The bottom line is this: we all have the same 1440 minutes every day, and its up to us On how we’re going to spend the ones outside of non-negotiable commitments — such as work, school, marriage, and parenting.

It used to seem like there was nothing left when I subtracted out these things from my schedule, but when I got really honest with myself and began auditing and identifying where I was spending most of my time outside of these priorities, I realized I wasted wayyyy more time than I thought by doing frivolous stuff. Swapping out the time-wasters for time-enhancers changes the whole trajectory of my day and my life, respectively. So, I make it happen.

I like to think of my”Quiet” Time as the most valuable thing I can offer. When I give Him my undivided attention, He blesses and multiplies the rest of my day, seven-fold. Time is sweeter, richer. There’s less frantic and more peace. I don’t yell as much, and my husband actually wants to be in the same room as me for a change. (Ha!)

But when I drift away from Him or push Him to the back burner, things get stressful and messy again. It’s a constant reminder that I need His replenishing daily. Not just once a week on Sunday mornings. Daily.

The way I see it, if Jesus hung on the cross for 6 hours at one time to sacrifice His life for me, I figure I can find at least 30-60 minutes out of my entire day to purposefully devote to Him.

It’s amazing what a difference I have noticed in my overall joy, too, since tithing my time to Him. I don’t mindlessly and pointlessly spend my days looking at other peoples’ lives, wondering what I’m missing out on. “FOMO” has no place in a soul as abundantly blessed as mine. There’s no longer an empty void or a gaping, bottomless hole in my heart that’s longing for more of what this world claims only it can give.

The things of this earth may fade away and times may get rough sometimes, but thankfully I’ve found all I’ll ever need to quench my thirst and satisfy my hunger — and it’s all right here in The Good Word, just begging for me to earnestly seek it out.

Proverbs, Pinching Pennies, and Paying it Forward

Ever feel anxious about the number in your bank account? Let’s see what Proverbs has to say about that!

Not to get personal or all up in your face like an ABBA song, here, but let’s talk about Money, Money, Money!

This morning, Zaylee girl woke up wide-eyed and bushy tailed at 4am to – wait for it – play. (Seriously, whose kid is this??) Since I was already up and at em’ anyways, I decided to put the ole’ Keurig to good use and prop myself on the couch to dive deep into some Proverbs 22 gospel.

Sidenote – if you’re looking for a handy dandy resource to make your Quiet Time/ Bible reading more intentional and on purpose, I highly recommend using the First5 Daily Devotion App and also the Blue Letter Bible App to help you dig deeper and cross-reference. These are some pretty fantastic tools, especially for someone who is fairly new to the scripture-studying game and who is theologically challenged, like yours truly.  And and and….they’re FREEEEEEE!

*Implied in same connotation as Adam Sandler on Click during the red ferarri scene.

Somewhere between the espresso, the non-sleeping nine month old that totally seems to run my life these days, and the Good Word that is always so compelling first thing in the morning, I really felt my soul come alive and awakened to some spiritual truths on finances.

It got me seriously reflecting on some responsible and not-so-responsible decisions that we have made over the past couple years, as a young, married, twenty-something couple just starting out. It really convicted me to share my heart with you all, because I think we can all agree that one of the biggest stressors in this life is money – or lack thereof.

Yet, truthfully, it doesn’t have to be that way. (Say it ain’t so?!)

We, like many people, have acquired an impressive amount of cumbersome debts from choices we deemed “smart” at the time of making them.

Before we dive in to all that, I’ll go off on a mild tangent here to say this: y’all, it’s really mind-boggling how much crap two respectable, married individuals in America can accumulate in just five short years of being married. Between bills and baby toys and clothes and furniture and junk piled up in our basement that’s about five yard sales overdue, we’re in over our heads.

Seriously, if we EVER move one. more. time. and have pack our life up in boxes to relocate and restart, I’ll die.

When I think back to where it all began, it does warm my heart and give me ALLLLL the feels. Because we naive high school sweethearts – who so many people doubted and denied that would even stay together post-graduation, who survived a two year long-distance engagement through college and still remained committed to each other, who married at an age that if my daughter ever even thinks about tying the knot, I swear I’ll lock her in a tower somewhere and run away to the Bahamas, who have grown up and learned so much together in this often confusing becoming-of-age season of life – we somehow made it to where we are today.

And we’re still alive to talk about it! Bonus points!

This July we will celebrate five years of marriage and ten years of being together and building our life. (Can you believe he’s put up with me for a decade? Mercy!)

We have really been on this Dave Ramsey hype lately, as other couples our age are digging themselves out of some pretty deep trenches, in terms of financial burdens. It’s so inspiring and even tear-jerking when you hear those people who have struggled through YEARS of pinching pennies and scrounging and eating ramen and doing without for so long, just so they can get on-air and shout “We’re debt FREEEEEEE!”

I happy-cry for them. I totally do.

We are 25 now. (Well, I am…the grave-robber I married is still a babe at 24 years of age, until next month anyways. Pshhh. Whatever, man.) Anyhoo, we have really crunched some numbers lately and decided to set a crazy God-sized goal for becoming TOTALLY debt free by the time we turn 30.

Shut the front door.

Thankfully, we never had any student loans to recover from, so we kind of get a head start, I guess. He married a nerd, who busted tail to earn scholarships and pay out-of-pocket for the difference by working several part-time jobs and renting crappy secondhand textbooks from the sketchy downtown bookstore. I married one of the most honest and hardworking humans I’ve ever met, who earned his two year lineman degree from an A+ scholarship and raising cows. I don’t say any of this to brag, I say it with complete gratitude that we had to work hard to build what we have now.

We make quite the pair. Sometimes.

Though we undeniably have a great advantage over others our age who had no choice but to get loans if they wanted degrees, don’t be fooled. We’ve had our own fair share of money problems that have set us back.

Just about three and a half years ago, a whole whopping year into the Newlywed Game, my old high school BFF – a rather janky, maroon 2002 Pontiac Grand-AM – broke down and finally bit the dust for good. Naturally. Perfect timing, as we were living paycheck to paycheck on his income alone while I was finishing up student teaching and smack dab in the middle of my last two years of college.

At well over 250,000 miles, it served its purpose of safely navigating me through my teenage years and graciously bringing me out on the other side alive. (I had a very close call one time with a sharp corner and some black ice. It was seriously like the unwritten and unknown third verse of “Jesus Take The Wheel”, as I was totally not wearing my seat belt and had literally just passed a semi two seconds before I lost control and did figure 8’s in the oncoming lane…and then crashed into a fence post. I walked away with nothing more than a sore neck and a busted up fender. There is a God.)

She was a good car. She lived a good life, and we made peace with her demise – and all those dents and scratches I contributed to her physique.

RIP, Foxy Roxy.

We needed a trustworthy car to take her place, but instead of really praying about it or just buying something within our means (or budget, I might add) we took out a hefty loan for a brand spanking new car that lost nearly all its Kelley Blue Book Value before we even signed on the dotted line and drove it off the lot.

Hear me out.

There is ZERO problem with owning new or even getting a loan here and there, but at that particular season in our married life, it was probably not the wisest endeavor to partake in. We made it out of want and lust, and not out of reasonability.

There’s a huge difference.

But hey! We could make the payments and keep our head above water, so that’s all that counted, right? Plus, we were going to have amazing credit scores!! Win win!

And how ’bout those motion detecting mirrors and fancy backup cams, ammiright?!?

You know the saying. Old habits die hard. We had just unleashed the beast of wanting the “best of the best,” and we fed its insatiable hunger for “more” one borrower’s signature at a time.

We took out a few more loans for things like a NEW four-wheeler and a NEW furniture set and a NEW truck and a – okay, not so NEW – fixer-upper and a NEW skid steer. (That, I will add, Kurtis accidentally busted the side window out of trying to move some brush not even two days after we brought it home. Thank the Lord for insurance and 2-year warranties.)

Again, I want to reiterate the fact that there is nothing wrong with owning NEW. But our checkbook may not have always reflected wisdom in our choices at the time of making them. Truthfully, we got excited and over-ambitious.

It’s the American dream, man! And we’re dreamin’ big!

But, you lay in the bed you make and life goes on. You own up to your decisions, and work hard for what you don’t officially own yet. We didn’t beat ourselves up, we just called it water under the bridge and counted it as a lesson (or twelve) learned the hard way. Some things we paid off right away, and a few we are still trying to get out from being under the crushing weight of.

Nonetheless, despite any financial burdens we have faced, we have ALWAYS committed to our tithe. No ifs, ands, or buts – it’s non-negotiable.

This is a Golden Rule I learned early on, when I was a broke, not-married-yet college girl. I was barely scraping pennies just to put Red Baron pizza in my oven and gas in my car so I could drive home on the weekends to see my family and play piano for our church.

There were seriously so many times I ran my gas light to dangerous levels of the extreme, like a twisted version of the Hunger Games, because I was barely making rent and ends meet. (I’m not proud to admit that’s another bad habit that is still dying hard for me, as I literally ran my NEW(ish) car down to “0 miles to empty” just last week. Help me repent of my ways, Lord Jesus, for I have sinned.)

But, no matter how tight things got, I NEVER hesitated to drop what little pocket change and dollar bills I had to my name in the offering plate on Sunday mornings.

One time in particular I remember needing a $20 bill to save my life. (I’m only kind of joking.) I had just sacrificed what seemed like my whole life savings to that shiny silver platter and realized….Oh, crap, Caitlin. Your gas light is on. Again.

I was so mortified and frustrated with myself for being so irresponsible. I dreaded having to pick up the phone and call my parents or Kurtis to come rescue me from the side of the road.


On empty, in more ways than just fuel economy.

Next to that poor fence post I coincidentally snapped in half just a couple years prior, knowing my luck.

Of course, both my parents and boyfriend would have lent me the money at the drop of a hat – IF I was the kind of person to admit I needed help back then. Sometimes I get all like Destiny’s Child and think I am an independent woman.

I don’t need no man!

Just kidding, God. Help me. I’m broke.

I kid you not. After the service was through, this sweet older lady – who I had never seen before and was a new guest to our church – walked up to the piano as I was gathering up my sheet music and placed a 20 in my hands.

“The Lord told me you need this.”

She walked away. I was speechless. I never saw her again.

Ever since that encounter, I am a HUGE believer in angels that come to our rescue at just the right place and time we need them. I am also a HUGE advocate that God will ALWAYS provide the needs that we lay at His feet – in humble acceptance that we really can’t do it all on our own sometimes.

Sorry, Beyonce.

I also believe He delights in $20 strangers, who give their extra to those in need.

I don’t know about you, but I totally want to be a $20 stranger. $20 strangers are life goals.

Anyways, time to get back on track here. As we are advancing in our marriage, God is teaching us to be wiser and more diligent with our money. We are well on the road to meeting our financial goals, and I’m confident that we will. (Thank you, Lord, for Dave and the 7 Baby Steps!)

There are times I can’t even believe we manage to make our monthly payments or the bi-yearly mortgage without the check bouncing.

Yet, somehow He always provides.

And somehow, we are left with extra from time to time that we can bless others with who need it more than we do. Pay-it-forward at McDonald’s drive-thru has a nice ring to it, sure, but I envision us being able to give on a grander scale, if we play our cards right and work like it depends on us and pray like it depends on Him.

Before we close, I want to leave you with some verses I really stand on when I start to become anxious about having more month left at the end of our money. I’ll admit, I’m NO expert and certainly don’t know the current status of your bank account or what financial institutes hold collateral over your entire life story right now. But, I know this: God is always the answer. So, these verses can honestly apply to ANYONE. Pretty cool, huh?!

(Brace yourselves, people. Tax season is officially here. #hives.)

Deuteronomy 14:23 – And you shall eat before the Lord your God, in the place where He chooses to make His name abide, the tithe of your grain and your new wine and your oil, of the firstborn of your herds and your flocks, that you may learn to fear the Lord your God always.

Remember: any good thing comes from the Lord. Always be willing to offer your finest treasures for His glory. That includes your tithe, even when the mortgage is due or when you’re enraged at some casino in Oklahoma that currently has all your money and dignity.

Oh yeah, don’t gamble, either. Just trust me on this one. #bitter

Jeremiah 29:11 – For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

In other words, stop worrying about “being in the red” and start being obedient in praying and trusting that He has you covered, if you are faithful. He’s always there to wave a $20 bill on your behalf, right when you least expect it. He may even use total strangers in your life to bless you in ways you could have never imagined. It may not be everything that you want, but will be exactly enough to cover what you really need.

Philippians 4:19 – And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of His glory in Christ Jesus.

I’ll just leave this here, in case you need reminded that His wealth of love for you surpasses any material wealth or possessions you could ever have on this earth. Steward it wisely. Pay it forward.

1 Timothy 6:10 – For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.

Careful here. Money itself is not evil, but the mannerism in which we use it can be. Just like a gun isn’t bad unless misused, we must be wise in how we utilize the tools and resources (like money) that God generously gives us, so we don’t make a detrimental impact on our life.

And lastly, anything from Proverbs 22 at 4 am (with coffee, of course) is always a great place to start seeking wisdom.

Great and Hidden Things

Right behind our house (barely) stands an old shed.

It’s entirely too close for comfort, in my humble opinion. In fact, it’s so close to the house that I could probably spit and hit it broadside while rinsing dishes, if I was tall enough to open the kitchen window without straining myself and also blessed with the gift of aim.

This historic landmark is iconic, let me tell you. It’s musty from decades of weathering and dry rot, drafty from missing all the doors and windows, and plastered with ivy vines that have crept their way so far up the mossy cinder blocks that they are now fused to the few barn wood boards that still remain intact. The tin roof is warped and creaks horribly when the wind hits it just right, which just adds to the overall charm of the place.

You have to have extreme agility skills to safely navigate around all the piles of junk stacked wall to wall, floor to ceiling and you certainly don’t want to be left second guessing whether or not you are up to date on your last tetanus shot when you enter – with all the rusty nails and misplaced sheet metal jutting out everywhere. Also, I’m definitely no wildlife expert, but I’m fairly certain undiscovered species of “critters” call it home, which is why I dare to only venture out there during winter months with some heavy duty gloves and a shovel or shotgun for safe measures.


Though I may have just painted the picture that this is the VERY place to go when you want to get chased down by an ax-murderer or something, make no mistake. It’s grown to become one of my favorite places on the whole farm. Because if you can get past the dust and mildew and severe lack of TLC, there is some real potential and beauty to behold.

Like most people upon first impressions, however, I didn’t always look at this shed in the same light as I do now. In fact, when we first moved here and were preparing to remodel and clean up the place after the auction, I thought it was the biggest eyesore on the entire property.

I wanted it GONE.

I begged my husband multiple times to doze it down, in hopes that we could one day in its place build a fully functional and beautiful garden shed with a chicken coop off the back side – all to match the house once we finished remodeling the exterior. I longed for the moment he would hand me a sledgehammer and a hard hat and say, “Have at it, babe,” and I’d go running buckwild like those dudes on HGTV – arms slinging and hands blistering until there was nothing left standing but a pile of rubble and my dignity. I wanted this so much in fact that I already began designing my backyard dream to the extreme.

On a steno pad.

With a Sharpie.

Because, you know, the more permanent the better.

I had this entire project envisioned so vividly, it seemed like it was already real. It was going to be absolutely stunning – a true farm-wife sanctuary of all things homemade, holistic and homegrown – just like you’d see in the summer edition of The Magnolia Journal.

JoJo would be so proud.

I would have raised beds full of blue-ribbon worthy vegetables and luscious strawberry vines. There would be walnut stained shutters and window planter boxes full of all my favorite wildflowers and herbs. I would have trellises adorned with clematis and english ivy as a backdrop for it all, and some hydrangea and rose bushes planted on the north side for when I needed fresh cut flowers for a simple farmhouse table centerpiece. Zaylee and I would go out every day to collect eggs, pull weeds, and put our matching galvanized watering cans to good use; all while making memories, earning sunburns, and getting dirt caked under our nails. And every summer evening possible, we would gather as a family on the back porch to grill steaks and sip sweet tea while watching the chickens free-range until the fireflies came out.

Of course my husband, the realist, snapped me out of my Fixer Upper trance and assured me that the existing shed could easily be repurposed into the same paradise for probably a fraction of the cost of building a new one. We just had to have faith, give it time, and finish the house remodel project first.


I always hated that answer. Partly because deep down I knew he was right, but mostly because I knew my next-summer-fantasy would now be more of a maybe-in-a-couple-years kind of deal.

If you haven’t figured this out yet, patience is sort of a foreign concept to me and I live for spontaneity. My Type 7 Enneagram roots run deep, y’all.

I figured if I had to stare at the ugly shed outside my kitchen window every day, I might as well at least try to clean it up until we had the time and funds to overhaul it so it didn’t look as bad. If nothing else, it wouldn’t have to be the laughing stock of jokes during our backyard cookouts with friends and family anymore. Nothing a little deep power washing, some heavy duty contractor bags, and a few Pinterest organization tricks couldn’t fix, right?

One afternoon I got overly-ambitious (as per usual) and decided to take a peek and get a glimpse of what we were getting ourselves into. Every inch of my being cringed as I stepped inside. I tried my best to dodge all the mouse droppings like a ninja, all while lunging over the massive junk piles and picking cobwebs out of my hair that had probably been hanging around since the early 70’s.

At first glance, it really was just as horrifying as I imagined it would be. But then when I really got to looking closer – past all the moldy feed sacks and broken glass bottles and fallen shelves that caused several coffee cans full of rusty bolts to cascade to the earth below in an impressive waterfall fashion – I realized that there were actually some really neat things buried in there.

I was in complete disbelief and stood there all giddy, like a flea market addict high on espresso and chalk paint fumes. Vintage crocks and oil cans, unique pallets and crates, antique tables and hutches, old books and recipes, wooden wagon wheels and rustic hand tools; it was truly a smorgasbord of all things paint-chipped, rusty, and distressed.

Whoa, Betsy. She has done it. She has just discovered the world’s greatest secret, and it is all hers to pursue. Eureka.

Needless to say I became a changed woman that day, kind of like when T-Swift went pop, or when the Tin Man finally got a heart. Okay, okay. Maybe it wasn’t that extreme, but I did begin to look at that old rinky-dink shack with different eyes from that moment on.

Now, when I want to embrace my inner Joanna Gaines and fill the void of a bare wall or empty shelf in our house with a unique and rare antique find, the old shed is where I go to fuel my inspiration because I know what glory it beholds. It truly never disappoints. Every time I go inside it’s an adventure, as I discover something new I once overlooked.

And I’m becoming more and more okay with the idea of keeping it around a little longer until we re-purpose it into something else that is just as equally amazing.

I’m not really for sure why I am still so drawn to it and all its marvel – or lack thereof, depending on who you ask – but I think it’s because in some very odd and far off ways it reminds me a bit of myself when I was in my darkest times. Not that I’m smelly or creepy or a potential health hazard or anything like that, but because I know what it’s like to feel like everything about you is an unsolved mystery. To believe that people look right past you – and feel abandoned, forsaken, and forgotten because of it. To try to stand tall and profound in a world where others just want to tear you down. To question your potential and value in this world, because you are no longer as new and strong and confidently built as you used to be in your glory days before time and experience took its toll on you.

To convince yourself you are only the remnants of what’s been weathered and tattered and beaten down in the elements, and to not appreciate the beautiful story you have to offer this world that tells all that you have become and overcome because of the hard seasons you have faced. To slap a temporary band-aid on what you know requires a much deeper repair and maintenance, but not have the energy or faith to see it through. To rip the doors off the hinges and open yourself to the chance to feel needed and purposeful, but instead find that after all this time you have become this giant bottomless vessel as one unwanted thing after another was hurled inside and forgotten about by the one who cast it away. To let it all pile up until you lose yourself in all the chaos that’s burying you alive, to the point that no one knows what’s beneath the surface anymore.

To board up the windows of your heart in desperate attempts to guard your deepest secrets, waiting for the right person to come along who will push past all the clutter and filth and brokenness and find the diamond in the rough that so badly wants to shine but isn’t sure how. To ultimately lose sight of the One who carefully and purposefully hand built you into the very masterpiece you were designed to be.

Oh, friends. I know the feeling all too well. And I’m guessing a few of you are familiar with it too.

But here’s the thing…I also know that nothing about it is really true.

In fact, it’s all one giant twisted lie the devil himself has meticulously stitched and woven together, like the itchy sweater your Aunt Mel gives you for Christmas that’s three sizes too big. He fabricates every little deception into one bigger lie, just to shove it in our face and tell us it’s our story to wear from now on.

And we let him, almost always.

We wrap ourselves up so tight in the head trash and negativity he has hand-crafted, to the point it’s almost suffocating and we can’t wriggle our way out on our own anymore.

He doesn’t want us to know the truth that our Creator wants us all to know with certainty; that the battles we face are so miniscule, compared to the overall war that’s already been won for us. The truth is that there’s something better on the horizon for us than we could ever imagine – and it’s right on the other side of this darkness we are traipsing through.

We just can’t see it yet.

For some odd reason, when I think of the old shed and all it’s hidden wonder, I am also reminded of the story of Jeremiah.

If you really want to dive deep into a bittersweet roller coaster ride of a faithful prophet’s life as he persevered through extremely dangerous and depressing situations to fulfill God’s calling, Jeremiah is your kind of guy.

Long story short – and trust me, it’s really long  – he was given the very daunting task of prophesying throughout the reign of several kings that the city of Judah would eventually fall to the Babylonians, if they didn’t turn away from their sinful ways.

Kind of like Moses leading the Israelites to the Promised Land. Because, you know, history tends to repeat itself so long as the flesh is involved.

Jeremiah spent a lifetime enduring obstacles while faithfully doing everything the Lord asked him to do – all while rarely seeing the fruits of his labor. In fact, most of the good that came from his diligent work wasn’t seen until after his lifetime was over. Can you even imagine?

Just like any good Nicholas Sparks novel, there seems to always be some tragic ending or plot twist to Bible stories that makes you want to throw the book across the room and shake your fist at the Man Upstairs for ripping your heart right out of your chest and playing with it like a complimentary stress ball they give you at therapy. Jeremiah is certainly no exception to the rule, as he eventually found himself imprisoned and persecuted by King Zedekiah for going against the grain and doing what God convicted him to do.

Oh, and he was tortured, mocked, ridiculed, and eventually exiled to Egypt. So, there’s that to add to his already impressively depressive resume.  

If I were Jeremiah, this is probably the point where I’d throw in the towel and say, “Sorry, God. I’m out.” Then I’d go console myself by grabbing an oversized spoon and what’s left of the chocolate chip cookie dough in the deep freeze before parking my butt on the couch with Dear John on paperback and my favorite pair of sweats.

But if you keep reading, you find the bittersweet ending that makes it all seem to have purpose and meaning again. It’s the boomerang effect that keeps you coming back for more and reminds you of just how brilliant the writer of the story really is.

And let’s be real. No matter how ticked off you get at ole Nick, you’re still gonna read his next release that ends up topping the New York Times #1 Bestseller charts. It’s just that good of a story.

Rest assured, the author of Jeremiah’s story pulls through in a very similar fashion, delivering the goodness we know He promises for those who keep fighting for His namesake. It was there, in desolate bondage and captivity in the prison court, that the Lord gave him yet another message that is so jarring to me, it still gives me goosebumps every time I read and reread it.

Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known.” (Jeremiah 33:3, English Standard Version)

It’s absolutely incredible. Profound. Poetic. Talk about a best-selling novel!

After all the sin and brokenness, after multiple second chances and opportunities to repent with no avail, after all the years of destruction and exile and judgment that followed suit, God pulls through like the perfect, heroic protagonist we know He always is.

He fulfilled His promise of restoration to the people of Judah and used Jeremiah’s story as a testament of true faith that we still talk about in Sunday morning sermons today. Even greater than that, He vowed to pardon the Judeans of all their iniquities.

And He doesn’t just cover their sins, He completely wipes them away!

He extended His love and grace on a magnitude so grand, that no one could even begin to wrap their minds around it. All they had to do was trust and obey, and in all due time it would come to fruition. It’s such a foreshadowing of the love that Jesus would illustrate on the cross many years later, which paved the way even more great and hidden things I believe you and I will get to experience someday on the other side.

This encourages me so much in my spiritual walk, because despite how damaged and flawed I may feel at times (kind of like that old back yard relic behind the house) I believe He is drawing up the blueprints for this amazing story of healing and restoration for my life. I believe He will redesign and repurpose me into something even greater than I ever thought I could be, if I just give Him my heart and meet Him halfway. No ultimatums, no demanding answers, no deadlines or timelines, no taking control and making my entire life a “do-it-myself” project. Just trusting…waiting…and maybe willing to endure a few setbacks along the way.

I believe He will do the same for you, too.

As much as I wish that I could take His vision goggles and put them on my own face sometimes so I can gaze far into my future and gain some clarity, I know that it’s not my place to ask the questions about what’s to come. I’m sure Jeremiah felt the same way from time to time.

But to understand the outcome of my story before walking through the journey in total blind faith would be like what I am reluctant to admit I did when I read Dear John – skipping to the last paragraph to know how the ending unfolds and miss the entire, beautiful journey in-between. It would be a huge disservice to the Creator, and would devalue all the hard work He put in to make it such a compelling, heartfelt story.

So, where’s my place in this story?

To trust. That’s it.

To believe to my core that He will make it all come full circle in the end. I can definitely put my hope in that. I have to put my hope in that.

After all, as the saying goes: we are the clay, He is the potter.

To translate this into my own words: we are the old shed, He is the rehabber.

He is the only one who can look past all the “junk” built up in our crazy, messy lives and somehow sift out the gold we never even knew was there. It’s like He already sees the goodness in us, when we can’t see it for ourselves.

It’s love.

And someday, whenever it’s finally time to roll up our sleeves and rehab that old shed out back into something pretty spectacular, I’ll have a beautiful reminder right outside my kitchen window of that perfect kind of love that was extended to me through great and hidden things…things I could have never envisioned on my own with just a steno pad and a Sharpie.


PPSSSSTTT! Hey, you! Yes, YOU!

Since you so graciously took the time to read these words in their entirety and made it to the end, I thought I’d let you in on a little secret! (After all, the theme is great and hidden things, here….ba-dum-dumm *tsss!*)

Basically I have been working in sworn secrecy (not really…) on a new project, which consists of me FINALLY starting that book I always dreamed of writing ever since I was little! That’s right! Ya girl is going to be an AUTHOR! Like, a legit one that hangs out in coffee shops with glasses and messy buns and oversized cardigans and does book signings in Barnes and Noble.

Well, I hope. Publishing is a long and drawn out process outside of writing the darned book itself, and rejection is real. So, I’ll let you know how it goes.

And no, I don’t have a title yet or know when it will be finished, but stay tuned.

Title and Time TBA. Noted.

Pray for me.

In all seriousness, this book sincerely means so much to me, as it represents me finally having the courage and audacity to DREAM BIG again, like I did in the days when I sang into a hairbrush and swore I would be the next Shania Twain. (Still waiting on that one to pan out.) To DARE to do something many people don’t get the chance to do, or never even take the chance to try. To BELIEVE that it’s possible, even when I don’t always see it happening.

As many of you already know, I’ve been on a journey to self-growth and personal discovery for quite some time now. After lots of frustrations and growing pains from pushing my comfort zone boundaries a little farther and father every day, I feel like I am finally at a place where I can offer a few tidbits of wisdom from life lessons I’ve learned along the way. Lessons of going through emotional childhood trauma, being a recovering perfectionist, battling suicidal depression, surviving college, starting and leaving jobs I loved (and sometimes hated), moving SO. MANY. TIMES. It’s unreal, becoming a wife and mother, and through it all still trying to stay sane and show up well for myself and others while following whatever arrow the Lord is pointing for me next. This book will be about “all of the things”, and how my faith has transformed throughout the entire process of becoming who I am today.

Whether I succeed or whether it’s a flop, I figure I’ve got to at least put myself out there and give it all I’ve got! I’m already counting it as a WIN, because, you know, I’m actually doing the thing.

And fun fact! This blog post you just read just happens to be the first full chapter I’ve actually completed to feature somewhere in this new endeavor I am embarking on! In fact several pieces from former posts on here will be added in there as well!

It is definitely not edited yet and the vast majority of it was written in between interruptions of the phone ringing, the baby crying, or some other third-world emergency I had to respond to, but hey. It’s WRITTEN. I broke the ice and the book of my dreams is finally underway!

> insert fist bump here <

2,000ish words down, about 80,000 more to go…no pressure, or anything. I basically just have to write a chapter like I just did about 20+ more times, then I’ll finally have a book.

And if it ever makes it out into the world? Maybe you’ll love it and talk about it with friends over lattes and Wednesday night devotion groups, maybe you’ll throw it in some old shed out back and never think about it twice. (HA!)

Either way, it’s happening. And it’s gonna take a whole lotta faith and coffee and support to make it go down.

So if you can, show me some likes and hearts, give me (KIND.) feedback or suggestions if you see anything that needs re-configured or re-worded, leave me some words of encouragement FREQUENTLY throughout this process that is sure to be long and difficult at times, and send up some prayers that this book says all that it needs to say and lands in the hands of all who need to read it and weep.

(And friend, I will so totally ugly cry with you.)

So, yayyyy! Now you know the thing!! And I’m so happy to bring you along this journey with me!

But SHHH! It’s a secret reserved only for the baddies who take the time to read this! Because after all, YOU are the ones who will help make this thing totally possible! 😉



Decide, Change, Fight.

I loveeeeee October.

Not only is it my birthday month, the holy grail of Mother Nature’s magic and beauty, and the time of year where I feel convicted to wear fifteen layers of vests, scarves, and plaid while inhaling all things pumpkin spice, it’s also a month that advocates awareness for one of the leading mental illnesses that impacts millions of people all around the world every single day. One that claims the lives of many who see no way out of it. One that I have personally experienced first hand to the point that it almost consumed me entirely. One that I think is so crucial to talk about, because there are many suffering in silence when I believe they don’t have to be.


There are many types of depression ranging from post-partum to clinical to bipolar disorder and anything in between, and I would never want to discount the severity of one type over another or lump them under one general category because I know each type is so very different for anyone having gone through it. I have personally only ever been a victim of clinical depression, so I can only speak to that, but I do have a passion for sharing my struggles with anyone going through any version of this disorder, because I don’t want anyone to ever have to face it alone or embarrassed as I did for years.

So, in honor of National Depression Awareness month, I want to – in the most non-cheesy, non-judgmental, non-preachy way – share some tangible tips that I truly believe helped me overcome my personal battle this ugly beast. And I list these in this very specific chronological order because reflecting on my personal journey, I realize that every little thing I did to jumpstart my recovery led immediately into the next in this exact pattern.

Please please please….hear me out when I say that I am in NO way making any major medical claims here that everyone can relate to, and this is NOT intended to be a roadmap for everyone to follow verbatim. So, heed my disclaimer to take this blog for whatever worth it is to you at your own discretion. Also understand that this is a VERY vulnerable and raw and real side of myself that is not easy for me to share, but I am using my story as a platform to reach others and to also give myself more liberation and strength in doing so.

This is my comeback story.


#1 – I didn’t take my life…but I did decide to take it back.

Last June I hit an all time low with my depression and decided I was done with life.

That is seriously THE. HARDEST.  thing I’ve ever written, and I honestly feel a twinge of guilt and fear in exposing that reality for the whole world to see — especially to the ones who don’t understand what I felt in that moment because it’s not a war they’ve ever had to fight for themselves. But I feel like it’s so important to acknowledge what happened because it is such a crucial part to my story of how I got to where I am today and where I am going. It’s important, because though I am definitely not proud of that particular moment, I am proud of how far I have came with every moment since then. And while I know not everyone suffering with depression is suicidal, I know for a fact I the number of people who do succeed with it is a growing statistic I lose sleep over, because I feel compelled to use my story to do something about it. And while there’s no magical cure for just ‘’opening up about my feelings” on the situation, I do think there’s a safe place of understanding and encouragement here for those who can relate.

So, there. I said it.

I’ll spare the specifics of that night and the ugly truths from my past that haunted me for years leading up to that point, because it’s honestly not the most important part of the story here, but I will share the major turning point that changed it all for me.

I CHOSE not to go through with it.

Now, hear me out. I know depression itself is NOT a choice. It’s an illness and in many cases a chemical imbalance that everyone going through feels different levels and degrees of. I know for a fact that it does not matter how successful or blessed or well off or “happy” you appear on the outside because you only feel what’s diminished and broken on the inside and often have no idea WHY you even feel that way.

I don’t believe anyone ever chooses depression, but when it comes to whether or not we survive it, I truly believe — I have to believe — that we do have a choice to make. And we are in full control of that choice, though I COMPLETELY empathize that it can be a highly complex and overwhelming one to make when our judgment is hindered by the thoughts and lies that this illness fires our way.


Everybody has different reasons for the path they choose when they arrive at the crossroads of ending it quickly or managing it over time, and I can only speak from my own journey as I chose the latter, but I believe one of the hardest things about my personal warfare was deciding to show up to the battleground in the first place. Because once I decided, it was a constant decision EVERY. DAY.  from that point forward to put one foot in front of the other and do the next right thing pull myself out of it. And I knew I couldn’t do it on my own.

That’s what made it even harder.

Because admitting that I needed help to someone I loved and also someone I didn’t know very well when I consulted with my doctor? Well, that was a beast of fear and shame and tough choices all over again in itself.

Nevertheless, I CHOSE to take control of what I could. I CHOSE to get professional and medical help for what I couldn’t. And I CHOSE to take my life back, one day at a time.

And, as I would soon learn, that in itself was already half of the victory won.


#2 – I got help.

There very well may be people out there in this world who thoroughly enjoy digging up bones from their past and spewing out their feelings on a cold leather couch in some stranger’s office with a psychology degree hanging on their wall and a notepad in their hand. I cannot denounce that those people might truly exist, but I can promise you this.

I am most definitely not one of them.

However, I knew that my battle was one in which its complexity and deep roots were too much for me to bear on my own. I needed help. So, the first person I told was my husband — who was probably the only person in the world who knew how bad my symptoms were getting because he came home to my emotional roller coaster every night and rode it front row.

I want to get to my point here because y’all are running a marathon here to read my story (as per usual because I always have a tendency to ramble…) and I am SO grateful for your persistence, buttttttt I do want to take a quick couple paragraph detour here to give credit where credit is due, because my husband was absolutely my rock during this unstable season of my life. If you have ever been with someone who is deeply depressed but can’t relate because it’s not a war you’ve ever had to fight, you know this can be such a hard place because you often have no clue what to say or how to help. On the flip side, if you are the person drowning in an illness you can’t explain to your partner who doesn’t resonate with your struggle, you have so many feelings of frustration, guilt, hopelessness, loneliness, and even bitterness.

Looking back now, there are distinct moments in my mind where I know deep down I did not deserve the grace and patience and love he was trying to give despite a situation he couldn’t understand or control, because I was most certainly not giving it back to him in return. But just like the vows we spoke the day we became one and committed to the long haul, he clung to me through the “for worse” and “in sickness” part of our story anyway.

I thank God daily that walking AWAY FROM me was not an option in his book. Only walking FORWARD WITH me every step of the way to my recovery.


To get back on track here, we both sat down on the edge of our bed one night and decided that it was time to seek guidance from someone on the outside, because we were both clueless and overwhelmed. The very next day we went to the doctor together and she prescribed some medications and referred me to a therapist right away.

Now, I have always considered myself a social butterfly, but when it comes to exposing the tender spots of my heart to talk about my feelings to someone I barely know, I’d rather just keep to myself and pretend it’s all good in the neighborhood. Because the truth is, I am so incredibly afraid of judgment, rejection, and disappointment.

So, if no one else will say it, I will.

Therapy sucks. Hardcore.

While I literally hated every routine follow up and depression screening and “tell me how you feel about that” interrogation, looking back now I know that it was absolutely necessary for me to be able to get over myself and the fears I had in coming clean about my problem. This was essentially the bump-set-spike for the next chapter in my story, where I learned the beauty of opening up about my depression through the very platform you’re reading these words from right now.

But I’m getting ahead of myself here…that one deserves its own special section in this blog.


#3 – I opened up.

Hey! Remember that one time I told you how much therapy sucks?? Yeah, my opinion still hasn’t changed since we last talked. But I must confess that therapy was indeed the catalyst that taught me how to channel my feelings and document my journey in a way that fostered my creativity and fully embraced one of my greatest God-given passions — writing.

At first it felt silly and I thought my therapist was crazy when she suggested I journal my progress daily or even write a letter to my family about my struggles, but over time it really became my release. I don’t know the science behind it, but there was something about putting the pen to that paper or typing it all out that allowed me to really organize my feelings into patterns and connect the dots for myself as to what triggered my feelings. Although it wasn’t a requirement, I somehow rallied up every ounce of confidence and courage to turn a series of my journal entries into a blog post to open up about my depression, because for some reason it was easier to confess what I was going through safely on the other side of a computer screen than say it face to face to my friends and family who honestly had NO IDEA I was even experiencing all of this.

You can find that blog here, and can I just say how TERRIFIED I was to actually hit that “submit” button. Because once it was out there? Y’all, it was out there. My words and secrets were officially exposed to the world for all to see and judge and yes, reply to.

I NEVER expected to get all the positive feedback and support that I did from publishing that one single post. It was to my surprise….liberating. Comforting. Humbling. It was also heartbreaking getting hundreds of anonymous and public responses from others brave enough to raise their hands and say “Hey, girl. Me, too.” That was a major turning point for me — because once I realized there was nothing to be ashamed of because I wasn’t alone on the battleground — it almost gave me permission to forgive myself, love myself, and really focus on my fresh start of moving forward with my recovery, arms locked with the new tribe I had officially found to encourage me every step of the way.


#4 – I changed my diet.

Y’all, I have a VERY low tolerance to medications.

In fact, I believe there is still embarrassing footage floating around somewhere out there of me when I woke up from anesthetics after getting my wisdom teeth removed, flirting with some other sorry sucker in the recovery room who was just as whacked out on hydrocodones as I was. Ohhh, yes. He was most definitely a sight for sore eyes (or, should I say sore gums) and we were a match made in heaven, both sporting chipmunk cheeks, glazed eyes, and a cotton-mouth full of bloody gauze that kept falling out with every slurred pick up line and helium-induced-sounding laugh we exchanged.

I can’t tell you his name, what he looked like, or even what his phone number was that he illegibly scribbled on the napkin I was using to wipe the drool off my chin, but I can tell you this — ever since then I have had a serious complex with ever wanting to take prescription drugs again.

That’s why getting on antidepressants to relieve my issues was such a personal struggle for me at first. I had been on and off things like Citalopram and Xanax for years to help manage my symptoms, but hated the way they made me feel — or should I say, how they didn’t make me feel. While they helped me to not be so anxious and upset all the time, they mellowed me out almost to the point where I just didn’t feel anything at all. I was just…empty. Foggy. Numb. Like I was just floating through my life on a rain cloud, but it was somehow all okay now and keep running on autopilot. And while I would of course never ever shame anyone for getting help this way because at least they are getting help, I knew deep down it wasn’t something I personally wanted to continue forever.

This was such a hard place for me because I really wanted to feel emotions, but I knew I had to learn to manage the intensity of them better. And the only way I knew to manage the intensity of them better was to use something that physically changed the chemistry of my body and the way it functioned. I mean, after all, depression is largely a chemical imbalance, right???

So, I took the gosh darned pills.


I continued this vicious cycle until about a year ago, when a friend introduced a nutritional detox program that forever changed the game for me and allowed me to toss those pill bottles in the trash for good. Which, by the way, coincidentally came at perfect timing since I just so happened to find out I was pregnant shortly after. The shocking yet exciting news of our little nugget was the final nail in the coffin to my journey with antidepressants because I personally opted to not be on them during my pregnancy and began the process of weaning off of them. Which is probably frowned upon and annoying to every medical professional ever – as I was reassured over and over by my highly qualified OB that there are little to no proven risks for expectant moms using certain medications – but I didn’t care because hey…I have a five minute degree in Web MD and Google, thank you very much.

So, yeah. Peed on a stick….check. Quit pills…check. Drastically changed my eating habits….checkkkk.

Do all the big stressful life changes at once, right?

Now, before you roll your eyes as to WHY I possibly thought it was a good idea take part in something like this I just want to point out that our digestive tract is home to over 80% of our immune system. Also, over 90% of our serotonin — which is our body’s natural neurotransmitter that is responsible for our overall well-being and happiness — is produced there. For those of you who are scientifically and medically challenged like me, I’ll save you the time of Googling all this terminology and tell you that it just means we often tend to feel how we eat and treat our gut.

To summarize here, better food = better mood.


Not everyone’s cup of tea, I get it, but for me this concept made perfect sense and aligned with my personal health goals of wanting a more holistic approach to getting to the root of my depression problem. It focused on getting me healthier from the inside out by resetting my gut, balancing my blood sugars, eliminating toxic buildup, improving metabolic functions, and **ehemmm** changing my body’s chemistry —–> which ultimately boosted my serotonin levels over time. Not to mention, it was easy to adapt and safe for baby!

So I did the gosh darned thing and took part in this “cellular cleansing” sorcery and became the girl who suddenly valued good nutrition and water intake instead. Don’t panic…I didn’t starve, and I most definitely wasn’t confined to the bathroom for a month, as many people might assume when they hear the word “cleanse.”  I was still able to wear white pants and maintain a social life and go about my day as a very busy and very, very pregnant middle school teacher.

And before anyone hates on me… I’ll have you know that my tiny human grew to be a perfectly on time and healthy 7 pound 10 oz meatball and I did not jeopardize her health or my health in any way. K, thanks, byeee.

I won’t lie. I was kind of a skeptic initially, as most people naturally are when it comes to these kinds of things, but wouldn’t you know it…this silly little detox plan actually helped me self-diagnose and identify certain food triggers that set off a lot of my depression symptoms –like chronic fatigue, migraines, debilitating digestion issues, and lack of energy/apathy. After over a year of learning what does and doesn’t serve my body through practicing the skill of moderation, my levels have now stabilized and my symptoms have subsided and I am officially — wait for it — DEPRESSION MED FREE FOR LIFEEEE. And I rarely ever take any other kind of meds, for that matter!

That’s right…no more loopy love fests with random strangers in recovery rooms for this girl.

#5 – I focused on filling my vase.

Okay. I know I probably sound crazy with this analogy, but stay with me, here.

First, let’s have a mini intervention. There’s something you should know…

Hi, my name is Caitlin and I have a slight addiction and obsession with all things Rachel Hollis.

If you have no freaking clue who this woman is or have never subscribed to her podcasts, followed her Instagram feed, or especially read her latest book Girl, Wash Your Face, you are seriously missing out. I don’t say this lightly when I say this book CHANGED. MY. LIFE. and my outlook on my recovery journey.

I won’t give any spoiler alerts and won’t judge if you have to secretly Wikipedia her, but for the sake of the point I’m trying to make here just know that she is the bees knees when it comes to practical life advice about how to handle all of your messy life issues.


One of the greatest takeaways I glean from listening to her wisdom is this one analogy she always makes about comparing herself to a vase standing under a continuous flow of things like happiness, gratitude over blessings, health, self-care and hygeine, personal time, rest, nutrition, adequate hydration, exercise, and  energy — basically all essentials needed to truly thrive in life. She talks about how often times as women especially we are so worried about filling up everyone else around us that we are constantly tipping this way and that way to sprinkle good things on our babies and spouses and friends and family — but we do it in such a way that we eventually tip over so far to get any last little drop out that we fall. Break. Shatter. When if we would just stand tall and strong and let all these little blessings pour into us and fill us up, eventually they would naturally overflow to those around us without us having to try so hard to keep it all together.


This is SO real. How in the world can we expect to keep up with all the hats we wear in this life if we are constantly pouring from a vessel that is never really satisfied or full to begin with? No wonder so many of us are barely keeping our head above the raging waves that depression and stress and anxiety try to drown us in!

So… how exactly do we “fill our vases” when there’s only so much time we have in a day that doesn’t involve punching a clock, paying bills, wiping butts, folding laundry, juggling ball games and parent teacher conferences and Pajama Day Fridays, or rolling through Mickey D’s drive thru for the fourth time in a week to feed your hooligans because you haven’t been grocery shopping in like four hundred years and you’re THAT level of exhausted?

I’ve got two words for you.

Personal. Growth.

(I know, I know…don’t all roll your eyes at once…)


I must confess that I truly SUCKED at this in the beginning. I thought it was so cheesy and cliche, as I was never much of a “love yourself” kind of person and tore myself apart daily with self-degrading talk and head trash that I wasn’t worthy of true happiness or that quite frankly, I just didn’t have the time to make myself a priority. In fact, my philosophy used to consist of making myself so busy doing everything for everyone else, that it would somehow distract me from what was really going on beneath the surface.

Y’all, this homegirl needed some WORKKKK to get over her “too stressed to be blessed” mentality.

My self-help journey was something I had to REALLY open my mind to and discipline myself to take it seriously until became a habit. I learned it didn’t have to be elaborate or fancy or excessively time consuming, just intentional focused tidbits here and there in the nooks and crannies of my day to make a huge impact over time.

At first I started small…then it snowballed into bigger changes that I STILL work on today. Each morning I tried to start my day off with a five minute devotion or quick meditation/prayer before my feet even hit the floor. I learned to speak affirmations to myself while getting ready, even though it felt SUPER awkward at first to refer to myself as “a life-breathing, vision-speaking , truth-seeking world changer” while simultaneously popping a zit, plucking my eyebrows, or sitting on the toilet. I listened to different music that motivated me and gave me an extra pep in my step. Sometimes it was Mandisa, sometimes it was Shania Twain, annndddd sometimes it was Nelly. I plugged in to podcasts and soundcloud calls in my car on my way to and from work. I listened to audiobooks while folding laundry or washing dishes if I couldn’t find the time to sit and physically read a book. I changed my closest circle of people with ones who filled me up with positivity and ambition to reach for the next best thing instead of ones who emotionally drained me with negativity and drama. I looked for new opportunities that gave me joy and fulfillment in life and learned to say ‘’no” and let go of some commitments that really weren’t worth the stress or headache anymore. I learned the power of schedules and routines and strategies instead of running 12,197 miles an hour like the energizer bunny trying to do all the things with caffeine courage and both arms swingin’. I set aside intentional ME time each day to decompress in a healthy way, whether it was hitting the gym or doing a DIY facial or organizing kitchen cabinets because somehow color coordinated tupperware arranged by sizes and shapes from left to right gives me a sense of serenity unlike any other. And before I hit the bed every night I journaled or silently reflected on 3-4 things from the day that I was genuinely grateful for…even if it was the crummiest day ever and I just wanted to sulk in self-pity and binge eat an entire sleeve of Oreos while watching Grey’s Anatomy on Nexflix to relieve my sorrows instead.


Though it may sound crazy  – and though I’ve certainly not arrived anywhere yet by any means as I’m on a constant journey to growth – I know I am a heck of a lot farther down the road to recovery than I ever was before I learned to crack open a book or pep talk myself in the mirror. I truly believe that when you learn to change your habits and mindset, it changes the way you think and speak and do everything else in your life.

But here’s the thing…as my girl Rach would say. Personal growth has to be personal. It has to stretch and challenge and change YOU, before it can change any situation you are working through.

And when YOU change and show up in the world as the best version of yourself that you can possibly be, the strangest thing happens.

It changes everyone and everything else around you, too.


When I look back on these action steps I took to get to where I am today, I realize how seriously 99.999% of it came with an open mindset of wanting to get better and being unapologetic throughout the whole process. I had to really start looking at myself as not needing to be fixed because there was something wrong with me, but more like needing to be restored because there was massive potential within me.

This whole process has been exactly that — a restoration still in the making, and one that will likely always be because nothing worth having or becoming happens overnight. It’s like reaching into the depths of my broken heart, tearing it down to the frame to find the source of what isn’t working anymore, and reassembling the nuts and bolts of the person I want to become one by one over a lifetime until it somehow becomes something beautiful and whole and functioning again.

I believe they call this building your legacy.

There’s no specific blueprints or diagram to follow. Just the vision I hold in my mind, the hope I hold in my heart, and the tools I now hold in my hands to get the job done in God’s perfect time.


So…if this resonates at all with you…if you have ever been in that dark, scary, suffocating space of constantly questioning your worth and potential in this fierce world that feels like it’s spinning off its axis into the deep end most days, I just want to point out something remarkable to you.

You are still here.

YOU are STILL here.

And I am here with you, too.
I am so deeply glad to my core that we are in this place of healing together.


Life Unplugged.

So, I did a thing.

Two Sundays ago I had just got back home from a late night Wal-Mart run, where I blasted about three episodes from Rachel Hollis’s RISE podcast and chowed down on a 7-layer burrito from Taco Bell like it was the greatest indulgence known to mankind.


Rocking yoga pants, a college tee fragranced with Similac Alimentum flavored spit-up, a messy top knot, and what was left of my mascara from the day before.

Why yes, this is what freedom looks like when you’re a mom.

I had just pulled into our driveway after picking up the baby from my mother in-law’s, catching the tail end of the podcast and squeezing the last bit of mild sauce onto the last bite of heaven in a tortilla and my mind started to go there.

You know, THERE.

The place where you finally feel refreshed after some very much needed alone time away from dirty dishes, grocery lists, doctor appointments, insurance explanations of benefits (let’s be real…you might as well be deciphering hieroglyphics), teething infants, post office runs, client messages, phone calls with people you can’t understand to diagnose why the baby monitor quit working, clogged shower drains from The Postpartum Hair Loss from Hell, and all kinds of other shenanigans you deal with as a hustling stay at home mom.

Or, as I like to call myself because it sounds way cooler, a Mother Hustler. (Which, by the way sounds like a real cool thing to have on a v-neck or a coffee mug or Tervis tumbler or something…)

The place where you suddenly have this huge life altering epiphany as to why you just might be feeling off your A-game the past couple weeks, because every time you go to do something semi-productive, you remember something else and essentially “squirrel” from one thing to the next, getting sucked into a rabbit hole of other distractions faster than Alice in Wonderland. The place where you crash at the end of the day and ugly cry into your pillow because you realize that even though you have been running five thousand miles an hour starting all these little tasks, you have essentially accomplished NOTHING at all. The place where “this obviously isn’t working” and “something’s gotta give” and “I can no longer bury my frustrations in chocolate ice cream or Arbor Mist” all intersect at a place called Get Yo’ Self Together, Woman.

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Yeah, buddy. Sometimes I really hate going THERE.

Since I am a relatively introspective soul by nature — I believe my college educational psychology classes always referred to this as being a “reflective practitioner” — I’m always thinking about how I can make small, simple improvements that can drastically change the big things in my life. I am also a little impulsive, so when I get a great idea that pops into my mind I am quick to put it to action right away before I can change my mind and talk myself out of it. (Not sure if this is a good thing or not, but judging by my recent PayPal activity and order history on Amazon Prime, I’d say this could be a valid issue to address…but that’s a blog for another time.)

Sooo, that’s why I did a thing.

I deleted every social media app off my phone completely and banned myself from any of them, unless it was business related.

For a solid week.

And, I didn’t cheat.

And can I just say….it was AMAZING.

For some of you following this right now, you may be thinking this is the dumbest thing you’ve ever read and you can’t believe you just wasted five minutes of your life to get this far into my blog because you actually have amazing self-control and know when it’s time to put the phone down so you can actually get crap done. If social media isn’t a supermassive black hole of time-wasting for you, congratulations!!! I seriously commend you for your valiant efforts and want to be just like you when I grow up. No sarcasm implied. For others, you’re sitting there thinking….”Wait, what? I haven’t even noticed you’ve been MIA on my newsfeed.” You may not even care, and fair enough, that’s cool too. Buttttt, I’m betting there’s a few of you on here secretly blushing because you know you’re just as guilty of this complex, and you’ve got the nervous sweats and heart palpitations just even THINKING about pushing that little grey “X” to delete that app. Because if you’re being honest, you’d rather give your left arm than go seven days without political tweets, Instagram story highlights, YouTube smokey eye tutorials, boutique bargain and yard sale groups, the latest Snapchat filter, or booty blasting workouts from Pinterest.

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Did I leave anyone out, here??

I don’t want to be a person who generalizes or stereotypes, but my guess is I’m not the only one who could seriously benefit from a little time unplugged from the rest of the world. So, I figured what better way to encourage this little experimental social media detox than sharing my biggest takeaways with my readers?

So get some popcorn, a glass of wine, or your favorite fuzzy socks and oversized hoodie and snuggle up. This is gonna be a good one.


#1 – Making a presence is not the same as actually being present.

Let me say that again, because I feel that this is so very, incredibly important, and I don’t want you to miss it like I sometimes do. And I want you to imagine I am standing right in front of you with my hands on your shoulders, [lovingly] shaking you and staring straight into your soul as I say this s l o w l y. Preferably in an Australian accent, because why not… it’s fun.

Making a presence is NOT the same as actually being present.


I’m no mathematician, but if I were to tally up how many times this week I caught myself starting to reach for my phone to scroll my Instagram feed or check my Facebook notifications when I was in a moment where I should have been giving my full attention to who and what was RIGHT THERE in front of me, I’d run out of fingers and toes to count on and would have to probably borrow all of yours as well.

How many moments I have missed out on because I couldn’t look up over the tip of my phone to truly be engaged in what was happening, even though I was physically there? A conversation with my husband. A visit from a friend or family member I don’t get to see very often anyways. An opportunity to introduce myself to a random stranger while having lunch by myself in the mall food court. That stupid clearance clothing rack I knocked over in Walmart one time because I was too busy looking up a recipe I wasn’t even going to cook anyways. (…sucker came outta nowhere, that’s all I’m saying…) The pot of boiling spaghetti noodles overflowing and making a mess all over the stovetop and floor I SERIOUSLY. JUST. MOPPED. The buzzer going off on the dryer yet again because I got side tracked watching music videos on Vevo while trying to find a ”Motivational Housework Playlist” and then saw an ad for a one-day online only sale at Target and got sucked into that half hour click bait detour because, well, that store is LIFE and who doesn’t love 40% off housewares and free shipping on $35 orders?? Then I have to update my Snapchat story to tell all my Target-loving friends about it and pretty soon half the morning is already just as gone as the money in my bank account and I now have to re-fluff the same load of jeans for the eleventh time in a row.

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Don’t pretend you’re innocent…

I really don’t know why I continue to self-sabotage myself out of being fully productive or intentionally devoted to the little moments of my everyday life because something else always seems more important on the other side of that screen. But I can tell you this, that’s one habit that I vow to kick to the curb for good.

Because I’d rather fully embrace all life’s little blessings and make the most out of every second I’m given than hold all the world’s distractions in my fingertips and miss out on it all.

#2 –  Sometimes the most beautiful memories are the ones that not everyone else knows about.

While I do love you all and want to share the important pieces of my life with you if you can’t be here in person to experience it with me, it has recently come to my attention that I probably spend way more time trying to document these moments on my camera roll than I do just actually soaking in the moment and witnessing it real-time.

Actually scratch that. There’s no “probably”…it’s definitely.

Then, I get so focused on cropping, adjusting, collaging and adding the perfect filter or creative hashtag that I almost forget what that moment looked like or felt like in it’s raw, original form before I tainted it to make it seem more visually appealing for my followers.

Not that I’m ever going to fully give up my mad photography and editing skills for good or permanently cut you all out cold-turkey from seeing our vacation adventures or date nights or my cute kid doing some pretty adorable stuff — because lets be real, she is kinda cute and we love to show her off sometimes — but after a week of just trying to soak in these priceless Kodak moments of my life for MYSELF instead of getting caught up with capturing them for the rest of the world I have learned to be more mindful of how much and how often I will share in the future. These memories and milestones I’ve got to witness firsthand from this week alone have accrued even more value because they are forever documented and engraved and filed away safely in a special place of my heart that nobody else gets to experience but me. And what a blessing it is that I got to fully plug into them because I unplugged from the rest of the world long enough to enjoy them LIVE.

That crooked, adorable smile from my baby as she figured out how to take a couple steps with Daddy holding her hands….the way her little fingers clasp mine when I snuggle and rock her in my arms and stare into her little eyes until they flutter off into a dream…a lunch/shopping date with a good friend I haven’t seen in a while…the cat curled up with the dog on the front porch for a lazy Sunday afternoon nap…a family BBQ for Labor Day beneath the September sunset…my grandmother in-law blowing out the candles on her 86th birthday cake with a lap full of her great grandbabies…running my first mile post-partum and celebrating the fact that I DIDN’T die…

Sure, I could go on and on and post about how amazing these moments were…but honestly there’s so much truth in the statement of “You just had to be there.”

And y’all…I’m so glad that this week I was. I really, really was.

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#3 – Always needing instant gratification or someone else’s approval is a giant waste of time and a constant destroyer of joy.

Anyone else wanna confess that immediately after you post something, you secretly refresh your notifications about every 11.5 seconds to see who commented or shared or put one of those cutesy little heart icons on there?


Oh, friends. Have we got a serious epidemic on our hands when it comes to social acceptance and people pleasing. Many of us are probably doing this unintentionally, and a lot of us probably without even realizing it. And you know what the even crazier thing about it is? Half of these people we waste so much time trying to impress are likely just random strangers we haven’t actually met in person or mere acquaintances we will likely never see again — yet feel the need to accept their friend request anyways because we are from the same hometown or are third cousins twice removed or have an entire twelve mutual friends.

So….why the heck do we care so much about seeking their approval or notifying them about our political views, religious affiliations, parenting styles, Facebook quiz results, the roses we got for Valentine’s Day, all the things we crossed off our to-do list (as if folding an entire basket of laundry on the first “fluff” is some sort of major accomplishment…okay, it kinda is…), or that casserole we baked for dinner three nights ago? Or get offended when someone lashes back at us for having a difference in opinion? Or get our panties in a wad if someone doesn’t re-tweet our totally clever punchlines, save our uber creative fall craft and farmhouse decor pins to their Pinterest boards, or share our utterly hilarious memes we worked so hard to scrounge up on Google images? (HA.)

Okay, some of us aren’t THAT dramatic, I’ll give you that. But the point is…we sometimes spend wayyyy more time and energy trying to get people to understand our views, sympathize with our struggles, recognize our accomplishments, and value our existence than we do just simply BEING US and LIVING OUR BEST LIFE. And take it from the girl who spent most of her life thinking she had to prove her creativity or brilliance or even self-worth to the rest of the world — it’s EXHAUSTING. Mentally, emotionally, physically exhausting. And quite honestly? It’s not even worth the time of day, nor the notification update. Not everyone is going to accept us for who we are or agree with how we feel — which hopefully most of you have already learned that truth and are A-OK with it, unlike generally-self-conscious-and-constantly-doubtful me who is usually ten steps behind game.

I think I already knew this fact before conducting this little experimental break, but it was nice to be reminded of it anyways. If there was anything refreshing about this past week, it was the fact that I didn’t have to please anyone or prove that I am living my best, happy, successful life that I can be.

I just…lived it.

Not for likes, comments, or shares, but for my overall happiness and well-being.

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#3 – The habit of comparison always overshadows the power of blessings and inspiration.

If I’m not careful, I can sometimes catch myself getting a twinge of envy and bitterness and discontentment when I scroll through my newsfeed. Not because I’m not genuinely happy for my friends and loved ones, because I totally am, but because I often compare myself to others so severely that it makes me feel insignificant or “less than”. And as much as it pains me to say that out loud — or in this case, write about it — it’s one of my worst habits. Which is so ridiculous when I look around at all the blessings the Lord has graced my own life with and think about those who are much less fortunate that I am. But, I do it sometimes. And I’m definitely not proud of it.

I’ll be notified on someone’s new car purchase or elegant dream wedding or job promotion and let it somehow diminish my own exciting “adulting” milestones of marrying my high school sweetheart, getting my college degree loan-free due to scholarships and a lot of hard freaking work, landing my first teaching job, becoming a mother to a beautiful and healthy baby girl, and remodeling a beautiful farmhouse.  I’ll see pictures of someone’s incredible weight loss journey and how fit and toned and tan they are and lose sight of the fact that I’ve came a long ways myself in just four months after giving birth. I’ll scroll upon someone’s stunning profile picture and let it downplay the strong and confident and beautiful-in-her-own-way girl I {should} see when I look in the mirror, even though she may have a few gray hairs and baggy, sleep-deprived eyes. I’ll look at someone’s post about shattering the same goal I have had for months in a matter of days, and not fully realize how hard they worked behind the scenes to get there or understand that my journey is my own. I’ll watch someone’s story about their ritzy getaway to the Carribeans or how they spent a month backpacking in Europe, and forget that aside from the fact that I’ve stood on the Great Wall of China while on a college study-abroad trip, my husband and have visited over half the states and seen some pretty incredible things ourselves in just four short years of marriage.

Or on the flip side, I’ll do something even more shameful and destructive and be so angry and frustrated about something bad happening in my own life, that I forget to count my blessings and take a good hard look at all the posts I see about friends struggling financial burdens or finding jobs. Losing their home to a fire. Living in the NICU with their baby that’s fighting for his/her life. Burying a loved one. Getting diagnosed with a terminal illness. Suffering from infertility or a miscarriage. Some of them are even dealing with more than one of the above scenarios…yet I find the need to vent about the jerk who cut me off in traffic, complain about catching the flu, or rant about how I can never get my hair to tease or my eyebrows to be “fleeky” like those heifers on YouTube.

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I may be the only one who owns up to it right now, but I know I’m not the only one who gets so caught up in looking around at what everyone else is doing or has instead of just staying in my own lane and focusing on all I’ve accomplished or been given.

Jumping off the Platform of Comparison and learning to flourish and thrive in my own personal strengths instead of drowning in my insecurities this past week was such a beautiful reminder that we don’t have to one-up or even measure up to anyone around us.  What a testimony that the only people we need to compare ourselves to are the ones we were yesterday. How liberating it is to know that when we tear down those walls of insecurity and comparison that are clouding our judgment or hindering us from realizing our full potential, we can finally see the true beauty of all the inspirations and blessings around us.

And this comes naturally by simply having an attitude of gratitude, embracing who we are, and learning to truly be happy for others.

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#4 – That spice drawer ain’t gonna organize itself, sister.

Okay, I might lose a few of you with this analogy, but stay with me here.

If you’re anything like me, you find all these creative ways to simplify and de-clutter and organize on platforms such as Pinterest, or my personal fav, Joanna Gaines’s blog. You get real ambitious and motivated and decide that TODAY is THE DAY you finally get your life together. You dive right in, and for about an entire five minutes you’re on a roll and checking stuff off that to-do list one by one while rocking out to some 90’s throwbacks on Spotify and dancing around like a fool with no bra or pants shouting “I AM WOMAN!!!” Maybe you even play a little air-guitar with the broom.

Butttttt then life as we know it happens and the phone rings or the baby throws a hellacious fit or the washing machine backs up or you accidentally suck up a sock in the vacuum hose or the UPS guy delivers your Amazon package or you see another one of them darn Target ads and suddenly the Momentum Train has already come and long gone and derailed somewhere in the great unknown.

Well, that was fun while it lasted…

I can’t say I was always on the ball this week when it came to getting stuff done, but I will tell you this. By removing the biggest distraction I could physically control, I came pretty stinking close.

I honestly can’t remember all the crap I got done because it’s like 3 A.M and I just got the baby back to sleep a few minutes ago, but to name a few….I got a gym membership. Even used it to work out a few times, though I almost died. Read a book. Listened to no lie, probably every Rachel Hollis podcast in existence. Dug out the fall decor. Replaced the random faces in all our picture frames with actual photos of us. Thoroughly cleaned. (Like seriously…I used a swiffer duster and everything.) Killed some VERY. NASTY. spiders that I’m still cringing about. Organized the tupperware. Went through my closet for my next yard sale. Met several friends for lunch and clearance shopping and furniture painting dates. Visited my grandma for a much needed scrabble date. Went on many walks with my baby. Painted my nails. Started a couple blogs, finished the one you’re reading now. Maybe add “polished off a couple bottles of wine” to that list while we’re at it.

Oh, yeah….and I FINALLY got that spice drawer under control. Holla!


Never underestimate a woman with a label maker and a Nelly playlist…

In retrospect, I think the big win for me here is the fact that I stopped wasting time looking online for ideas and ways to get the things done that I always say I’m gonna do or need to do and I just buckled down and DID THEM. And and and….I even found the time to carve out for just myself! How cool is that?!?! I really DO have the time to take care of me and the other things on my plate as a momma and a wifey. As awesome as social media can be for things like this, I realize I don’t need tutorials or checklists or motivational quotes to make me productive. Turns out, all that creativity and drive and innovation has been bottled up inside me all along.

I just had to get the distractions out of the way to unleash it.

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Well, now that I’ve taken up so much of your time and a lot of my total word count allowance re-hashing these takeaways with you all, I guess I should probably wrap this puppy up and try to think of the next real world problem I’m going to solve. I’m thinking maybe my online shopping addiction should be my next focus, followed by immigration control…


I know this post was definitely a doozy, but what can I say. I’m just a girl with a blog who loves sharing her heart and all the crazy adventures she encounters with the ones who care enough to read about them until the very last line. So…just know that if you’ve stuck it out and made it this far, you da’ real MVP.

Now…get off your phone and get busy, would ya? 😉

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Six Things I Learned From Da’ Hood

Betcha weren’t expecting a title like that for my latest blog, were you??

Admit it….you totally clicked on here just to see if I was just being crazy or I indeed converted to the thug life just for thrills.

Relax, I’m not that ghetto, although I can rap a 90’s Vanilla Ice song like nobody’s business — granted it’s in the most awkward and southwest Missouri hick twang ever as I’m driving down the road by myself. No, my booty still ain’t “bootylicious”. And my dance moves are still as basic white girl status as they’ve ever been, so don’t worry. I’m still me. #KeepinItReal

I chose this title partly because I couldn’t really think of anything else clever, but mostly because five weeks ago I officially entered the Mom Club, which I refer to as Da’ Hood — that is, motherhood. (Not really sure where I got this from, but hey…we’ll go with it.)

And no, to my amazement they didn’t give me a cool T-shirt or gold chain or stunner shades or a fancy VIP card or anything like that. They just slapped a precious 7 pound 10 ounce baby girl on my chest and sent us out the doors with a newborn in our backseat two days later and that was that.

No instruction manual. No “in case of emergency, push” button. No test or extensive interrogations to make sure we weren’t psychos and were indeed qualified to be parents. We were just homebound with a tiny human we were now solely responsible for and literally had NO CLUE what we were doing or what to expect next.

Zaylee Grace Brown, born May 16, 2018 @ 11:20 AM 7 lb 10 oz, 21 in.

Those first few days that soon rolled into weeks that quickly turned into a month already gone by have been quite the adventure, to say the least! I have learned. I have loved. I have laughed until I cried and cried until I laughed.

And I have loved every second of it, even when it’s sometimes really hard to.

Throughout my entire pregnancy and now postpartum experience, there are many realizations I have come to know that either mothers I highly respect and look up to have passed down to me or that I have had to figure out for myself (or yes, I’ll confess…look up on Google and WhatToExpect.com in the wee hours of the night when I’m absolutely positive something is wrong with my child or I’m not “momming” good enough.)

One of the most beautiful things, in my opinion, about becoming a mom is realizing you’re now a part of a tribe of amazing, creative, and strong women out there who have been where you are and can lift you up when it gets overwhelming and celebrate alongside you when it’s exciting. To offer tips and tricks to help you transition and get through the hard times. To pop a top and enjoy a glass of wine with from time to time and blow off some steam, so you are more refreshed and energized when you return to your babies. How sad and lonely and overwhelming would it be if we kept all our tricks up our sleeves to ourselves and didn’t share with other mommas out there who are joining our club for the very first time, completely clueless and scared and excited to the newness of it all? Afterall, they say sharing is caring!

So here it is! A compilation of the greatest advice I was ever given as a first time mommy-to-be, that I can now pay forward to someone else about to experience this crazy and beautiful journey through Da’ Hood!

#1 – Your experience is YOURS.

I listed this first…because I think of all the realizations I’ve had so far as a mom, this one really hits the nail on the head. Verbatum.

Here’s the deal.

Some mothers have a healthy, energetic, and altogether glowing pregnancy. Others can outsleep a cat, look like they just crawled out of a dumpster half the time, and may not be able to get more than a five foot radius away from the toilet until about Week 22 (**ehemmm….me!!!). Some maybe not even then! Some will gain 40-50 pounds, while others will look only five months along the day they are considered full term. Some mothers opt for in home or even all natural births, while some DEMAND that epidural or choose a cesarean. Many moms may not even get a choice at all. You’ll hear about moms who had a quick, easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy labor, and you’ll hear about those who endured 36 or more hours of the worst pain imaginable until their little ones finally came into this world. Some exceed their due dates by a week or more, and some live in the NICU for several weeks until they get to finally come home. Some will breastfeed, make their own baby food, and use cloth diapers. Others prop a bottle, buy Gerber’s lil’ snackies, and think Luvs or Huggies will suffice. Gender reveals and maternity sessions may be the greatest thing since the invention of the Tupperware to some moms, while others may not really see the point. And let’s uneven the playing field a little more about whether some moms find it necessary to broadcast weekly baby bump pictures on Facebook or to have a birth photographer bedside to document the Big Day.

The point is…I have never heard two moms have the exact same experience about pregnancy, birthing, or parenting in general. So don’t believe for a second that your story will be written like someone else’s. You just do YOU and always trust that this is the way things are meant to be and you are doing what is best for you and your baby.


#2 – Be thankful.

Week 5….the week I will never forget.

I was driving in my car alone in Springfield when I felt it. A sudden warm gush. I looked down and tried to feel what was going on.


I was frantic. For days I hadn’t really felt well and had some spotting off and on, but never this heavy. Something was definitely not right. I immediately pulled into the nearest gas station and raced to the bathroom, tears already streaming down my face. This couldn’t be happening. Not to me. Not to us.

I freaked out even more when I felt a sharp pain and passed what I just knew was our baby. Our little precious miracle we prayed for. Right there in a lonely bathroom stall at the Kum and Go on Sunshine street. I called my husband who was over an hour away – completely hysterical – telling him I was going to the ER and he needed to leave right now and come get me, because I didn’t think I could face what would happen next on my own. He dropped everything and flew there as fast as he could.

It felt like eternity – the time it took me to drag myself out of my car and walk across the parking lot through those sliding doors to await my fate. Every step grew heavier and the lump in my chest grew larger the closer I got to the check-in desk. “Please, God.” I begged over and over as they took my insurance information and escorted me to be admitted.

Everything else from there was a blur, but a very long one. The nurse’s questions were just muffled mumbles I couldn’t understand as she checked my vitals, put my wristband on, and ushered me to the waiting room until Kurtis arrived. Nearly two hours passed before they finally called us back for even more hours of blood work, urine tests, IV fluids that ended up busting my veins, and the most painful internal ultrasound I have ever had to date. When the moment of truth finally came, the ultrasound tech told us over and over as she was getting ready to examine me that we should definitely prepare ourselves, but also that other mothers have had similar symptoms and things surprisingly turned out to be okay.

I held my breath and almost couldn’t look at the screen when she finally pointed and said “right there.”

The whole world stopped. A teeny spec. Our miracle baby. Right there on the screen, when I was CERTAIN I had already lost it. While there was definitely a newfound sense of hope that I at least still had a baby inside, there was still this deep unsettling fear that there was no movement – no little heart “flutter” – to confirm whether or not our little one was actually alive. We were sent home and told we wouldn’t have answers for at least three more days until they could recheck my blood levels, as I was not yet far enough along to detect a heartbeat on the ultrasound.

Let me tell you. That afternoon was definitely long, but it didn’t hold a candle to the next three days I was on bed rest before my follow-up appointment, praying and pleading that we would get the news we longed for more than anything else.

Fast forward three LONNNNGGGGGG days later, and I got the phone call from my doctor that my blood levels were stable and increasing! A week later they were able to actually detect a heartbeat on the ultrasound, and I never cried so hard in my life seeing that flutter on the screen and hearing that little throbbing noise coming through the speakers. We were congratulated, comforted, and reassured that I indeed had a perfectly healthy, viable fetus growing strong inside.

I still thank God every day for that very moment.

As for what caused all those crazy symptoms and the scariest moment of my life so far? We may never know. Some told us it was just implantation pain and bleeding. Some told us we very easily could have miscarried a twin. We don’t waste time wondering what might have been. All I know is I am forever GRATEFUL for this chance I have now, to embrace a beautiful, healthy baby in my arms that God didn’t have to spare us that day. I am THANKFUL, because many of my loved ones and friends have suffered infertility. True miscarriage. Sudden loss of a child. I am BLESSED that our story had a happy ending, when that is not the case for so many others out there.

So I will take the morning sickness, excessive tiredness, stretch marks, swelling, contractions, nipple chafing, and fussy sleepless nights any day over the outcome that was almost our worst reality.


#3 – Most people mean well…..Most.

You guys.

People can be cruel.

Like, REALLY cruel.

When you are a new momma, it often seems like everyone and their other brother wants to give you their unsolicited “advice” about how you should grow your tiny human, bring it into the world, and especially raise it. I’ve been scoffed at for ordering a small Starbucks drink at the mall or getting a 32-ounce cherry coke at the gas station. I’ve had my hands slapped for trying to lift a medium sized box that I could seriously lift with my pinky. I’ve been reprimanded for ordering a subway sandwich by a random stranger, who didn’t realize that I literally had been vomiting everything else and a ham sandwich was literally all that sounded good to me that day and at least I was feeding myself SOMETHING. I’ve been told that I wasn’t a “real woman” if I opted for an epidural. I’ve frantically checked over my shoulder at get-togethers to see if anyone noticed me licking the spoon after mixing cookie dough or sneaking an teeny-tiny sip of red wine. People have literally FLIPPED OUT on me when I posted any photos of our home renovation progress and I had a paintbrush in my hand, was on my hands and knees helping lay flooring, or was standing anywhere remotely close to a ladder. (As if taking on a DIY on top of working very demanding full time jobs, skimping on a tight budget, and trying to get it all done in time before I pop isn’t stressful enough as is…) And let’s not forget to mention the hateful remarks about either being a stay at home or working mom or debating whether or not breastfeeding or exclusively pumping or bottle feeding is what is most practical for our busy lifestyle.

Then they look at you like you’re more irrational than the number pi and want to blame it on your raging hormones when you finally have heard enough of it all and snap and put them in their place.

You’re damned if you do and you’re damned if you don’t, am I right???

The hardest lesson I’ve had to learn is sometimes you just have to take it all with a grain of salt and assume everyone’s best intentions, even if it is super annoying or hurtful. Even if its your best friend or a family member degrading your choices because “that’s not how they did it”. Even if you’ve SERIOUSLY heard it all a million and three times before. Because, yes, it’s true. Some people really are just jerks and don’t know what the heck they’re talking about. But most people are just concerned and want to make sure you’re taking care of yourself. Trust me…you’ll go absolutely bonkers if you don’t occasionally bite your tongue, take a deep breath, laugh it off, and just let it roll.

#4 – Let people help.

There’s nothing I hate more than admitting I can’t keep it all together on my own.

Afterall, I am Woman, right?? Aren’t I supposed to be able to save the world and wear a superhero cape?? I mean, back in the old days mothers were birthing new babies with a toddler on their hip and had five other little ones running around while simultaneously milking cows and planting gardens in the 90 degree summer heat and putting dinner on the table by 5pm sharp every night. They survived motherhood like a champ — without all the fancy rock n’ plays and bottle warmers and Freemie cups for hands-free pumping and probably not Moscato wine, either. It’s 2018. I live in modern-day America, y’all, where we have crock pots and robot vacuums and Google and Amazon Prime 2-day shipping. I have perfectly functioning central heat and air, all the bells and whistles in terms of baby gear and equipment, no other children running around at my heels, and am pretty sure I can’t tell you the last time I ever had to pull a weed or pick a tomato. So why is my sink always overflowing with dishes and I never have clean underwear because I can’t keep up with the laundry like I used to? I can’t even tell you the last time I seriously dusted or scrubbed the shower. We desperately need groceries and I haven’t shaved my legs in going on two weeks. There’s bills and mail piled up under the TV stand that I haven’t sorted through yet and boxes and boxes to unpack. And how many more times can we possibly eat frozen pizza or hamburger helper because I am too exhausted to prepare a meal that requires more than ten minutes of prep work on my end?

Mommy and wife guilt is a very real and serious thing, my friends. During my entire pregnancy, our life was the absolute CRAZIEST and busiest it had ever been, and I rarely ever cut myself some slack when I fell short. When I wanted to have a pity party and beat myself down over and over for all the things I didn’t accomplish for the day, I had to always stop and remind myself that I was leading a very busy lifestyle that required a lot of my time and energy, so it was perfectly acceptable that I came home completely and utterly EXHAUSTED each night and passed out on the couch, pretty much up until the day I gave birth.

Not to mention that we were also in the middle of a major home renovation that we came home to every night to work on ourselves any chance we could so we could be moved in before Baby Brown’s arrival. Every weekend it seemed we were tied down with another birthday party, graduation, family get-together, church dinner, baby shower, or last-minute late night trip to Lowes. When we didn’t have anything going on, we were so wiped that we literally lounged all day.  My husband also works a full-time engineering job and comes home to a 280 acre farm with over 60 head of cattle, where there’s always feeding to do, fences to fix, tractors to repair, and new baby calves hitting the ground that need tended to. At the time, I was wrangling middle schoolers for 8 hours a day then had lessons to plan and papers to grade as soon as I got home before I could play Housewife. Then we woke up to do it all again the next day.

Oh, yeah. And I was growing a human on top of it all, too. So there’s that…

And now that our sweet baby is here? Pshhh. I like maybe get one box unpacked from our move and one picture frame hung on the wall a month. Maybe every two weeks if I’m real ambitious. There are days I literally never leave my bed because she is super fussy and wants cuddled or I’m just too exhausted to function. Anndddd my legs are still hairy, the shower still needs a good scrubbing, and we still have DiGiorno’s pizza once or twice weekly. And somehow, it’s okay!

I’ll never forget the best advice I ever got as an expecting mother.

Ask. For. Help.

Seriously. Do ittttt.

Don’t ever shame yourself for feeling tired and overwhelmed all the time, whether pregnant or postpartum or ten years down the road with three kids and a dog. Busy is the new norm for all of us mommas, and we all need a little leg up sometimes to get us through. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve had to pick up the phone and ask my mother in-law to ride with me to get groceries, text my sister in-laws for mommy advice to calm my nerves, recruit my best friends to help me paint kitchen cabinets in the new house, and let my mom provide dinner for us so I didn’t have to cook. Find yourself a good support system, whether it be your mom, mother in-law, a sister, your spouse, best friends, or whoever you have in your life. Ask them to fold a basket of laundry, run the vacuum, or to grab a few things you need at Wally World. Book a babysitter so you can enjoy a bubble bath or a date night or just a short un-interrupted nap for once. Let the ladies from church bring you a casserole when you first get home from the hospital.

And don’t feel guilty about it for a second! Most of them are seriously more than happy to help because they have been where you are and they want to feel needed and appreciated. Let them, so you can breathe a little!


#5 – Less is really more.

I can laugh about it now, but I remember having a mental breakdown one night after going through all the things we received from one of our baby showers. While I was completely grateful and overwhelmed with love at all the wonderful gifts our friends and family provided us, I was also in complete shock at how expensive everything was and how many things one tiny person needed to survive. I was seriously hyperventilating when I realized we still had a lot of major things we hadn’t purchased yet — like a changing table and a crib and bottles and a car seat and ALL the clothes, as we didn’t find out the gender of our little one until the big day — and my due date was only a few weeks away.

How were we possibly going to afford it all or get all we needed in time? The mountains of diapers and wipes we received were no doubt a godsend, but I knew we would blow through them extremely fast. Not to mention all the hospital expenses we were about to get slapped in the face with. (We joked that I was either gonna have to hook it or donate a kidney to keep up with it all!)

And when it came time to pack my hospital bag, I swore I needed this and that and everything under the sun to bring my precious baby into the world the right way. He or she had to have the most perfect coming home outfit and I needed my entire makeup drawer and straightener and the comfiest birthing gowns and cutest slippers ever for myself.

Guess what?

My sweet baby came along just fine, not caring whether or not I looked “photo worthy” or if I had everything I thought I needed. And half the crap I stressed so much about having when we got home I didn’t even use or need right away — like a high chair. I’m serious! I was so bent out of shape that I didn’t have something my kid wouldn’t even use until about 4 months old.

What I really learned is that less is truly more. When it finally comes down to Show Time and you’re in hardcore labor, you won’t want to lug your entire house up to the 4th floor of the hospital, and neither will your partner. You most likely won’t need a gigantic camera with five different lenses and attachments to document each moment, because it all happens so fast and it’s so much more practical to snap a photo on a cell phone. Or hire a birth photographer to do all the dirty work for you, if that floats your boat. You will be lucky if you get to “fix yourself” up with anything more than a fresh hospital gown, some dry shampoo, and a stick of gum to brush your teeth before visitors are barging through the door to ooooooh and awwww at your precious little bundle. Trust me, — and I am a relatively vain person by nature who hardly leaves the house without eyeliner and a little concealer — no one cares about your zits showing, the bags under your eyes, and the fact that you haven’t showered in two days when they hold that sweet baby. The focus will not even be on you at all, so leave the salon at home!

You also won’t use hardly anything in a diaper bag you bring from home, because the hospital gives you diapers, formula, and basically anything else you could possibly need during your stay — and often times you get loaded with a goodie bag to take home to get you and your little one by your first few weeks! (And God bless Dermoplast numbing spray, oversized pads, mesh undies, and that nifty little squirt bottle they give you to “service” yourself!!!) I also learned my baby could care less if she was wearing the cutest outfit ever I found on Etsy, a plain white onesie from the clearance aisle at Walmart, or just chilling half naked in diaper and a swaddle blanket.

Moral of the story? As cool as diaper genies, wipe warmers, and battery operated aspirators are, you really just need the basics starting out! As long as your baby is well fed, clean, warm, healthy, and has a safe place to sleep and be transported from here to there, you are set up for success!


#6 – You really CAN do it.

There seriously was a moment when it was finally go time and I was pushing and bringing our daughter into this world after nine LONGGGG but amazing months of varying emotions, horomones, morning sickness, Braxton Hicks, stretch marks, and emergency late night Taco Bell runs where I panicked and thought to myself, there’s no freaking way. I can’t do this!!!! Shove it back up there and I’ll cross my legs real tight! This can’t happen! Not today, Jose’!

There was also a moment where my doctor reminded me she was already halfway out, and I literally didn’t have a choice, so I knew I had to just buck up buttercup and give it my all until it was done.

Y’all, the woman body is INCREDIBLE and should definitely be dignified more for all the things it can endure and bounce back from. I’m serious. They don’t prepare you for what happens after the pain meds wear off or your adrenaline slows down and they take your catheter out and you have to pee on your own and you take a first glimpse “down there” after birth and scream Oh, my God! It’s wrecked forever!!! I have a freaking UDDER!!!

Then you get home and literally EVERYTHING is so sore and you walk funny and have to sit sideways on an ice pack like a hen on eggs for three weeks straight until you finally recover while being the most sleep deprived and exhausted you’ve ever been in your entire life, but you know you will probably never “sleep” again because you still have to take care of your precious little one (hey, at least she’s adorable!!!) and life still goes on anyway, when you swear you could fall over dead at any second.

If there’s one thing motherhood has taught me about myself, it would be that I’m fairly certain there is nothing I can’t handle or make it through now. Even when the nights are long and she’s screaming her head off for no apparent reason for a solid two hours straight and I’m so overwhelmed and exhausted and I feel like I am going to explode, I survive and live long enough to blog about it! Mommas, we are TOUGH. God made us to handle the unimaginable and multitask on a level unlike any other, because He knew we were capable of just throwing our hair up in a messy bun, chugging an oversized mug of coffee, cranking some gangster rap from time to time, and just handling it! (You’re welcome, by the way, for getting Ice Ice Baby stuck in your head!)

Just when you think you’re at your wits end, you find a way to hold and feed your baby with one hand while pumping, folding a basket of laundry, and crying to your momma on the phone for advice with the other. Somehow, we make it! Even those of us who, while all of this chaos is going on, are also sitting helplessly on the couch watching their toddlers and other kids throw fits, terrorize each other, and tear up the house faster than a tornado in upstate Kansas. (Haven’t ventured into that journey myself quite yet since I have one child, but I can only imagine it’s stressful for those of you who live this out every day! I pray for patience and strength and good wine for you!)

It absolutely gets really hard sometimes, especially when the baby blues and for some, postpartum depression sets in after the newness and excitement of a newborn wears off and no one comes to visit or help you anymore and you’re stuck in an empty and messy house until your loved one gets home or someone comes over to relieve you for half an hour so you can at least take a shower long enough where you don’t have to make the impulse decision of whether or not you’re going to finish shampooing your hair or shave your legs because the baby is screaming and all Hell is breaking loose on the other side of that shower curtain.

Hard times are inevitable. But friends, in these times let’s give ourselves some grace, realize that the hard days might be LONGGGG but the years are oh so short with our sweet babies, embrace the good moments for all they’re worth, and just breathe until we find a way to ride out the storm until it passes.



To say that motherhood has been a whirlwind so far is definitely an understatement! I can honestly say that in my 24 years of life, nothing has ever wore me out more yet made me happier and so full of overwhelming love. As I sit here watching our sweet baby girl sleep and am reminiscing about the past five weeks since we brought her home, I cannot believe literally how fast the times are already flying and all the fun memories we’ve had so far.

My friends, we are so incredibly blessed with this gift of motherhood, every single one of us.

I know that these tidbits of wisdom someone shared with me that I am now passing on to you  (that literally took me every bit of the past five weeks to blog in between naps and feedings and pumping sessions, of course) will be closely tucked away in my Mommy Toolbox whenever I need them to remind me to simply soak it all in and ENJOY it.

Every single exhausting and stressful and scary and fun and altogether amazing bit of it.



To Be More….With Less.

It’s no secret, you guys.

I’m kind of a perfectionist.

The longer I trek through my twenty-somethings I am becoming well aware of how this has impacted all areas of my life — some in good ways and some, well…let’s just say it’s not pretty.

It seems like every time January 1st rolls around each year, I go to Walmart or Mardel’s and get this fancy journal with an inspirational Bible verse on the front cover and matching gel pens and I make this long, ridiculous, detailed, color-coded, alphabetized and highlighted list with cute-sy swirls and hearts and what-have-you’s about things I am going to do to “make myself a better person”. (See? Told ya I was a perfectionist!)

I start out jotting down one or two fairly simple and realistic goals but the problem is a new one pops in my head and I get on such a roll that I literally just. Can’t. Stopppp.

I’m going to make my bed every day. Do 100 sit-ups and go for a mile walk every day, rain or shine. Learn to highlight and contour my face and do more with my hair than just throwing it in a boring braid or messy bun and rolling out the door. Make a Dave Ramsey budget spreadsheet on Microsoft Excel and religiously document every single penny we spend. Clean out the closet and thoroughly clean at least once every new season. Alphabetize the DVD’s in the TV stand. Make five new friends. Create a scrapbook of our wedding photos from four years ago that I STILL have never printed off. Practice piano for twenty minutes a day. Get all the dishes and laundry done and house picked before I go to bed. Have the most stellar and detailed lesson plans known to man-kind and teacherhood. Make 2-3 crock pot meals on average per week. Quit drinking soda and eating junk food cold turkey. Read the entire Bible in a year (but secretly betting myself I can do it in about two or three months if I read several chapters a day!!!! Pin a rose on my nose!)

And on and on and on…..


I get all hyped up about it and am real committed….for about the first week. I cross off Goal #1 almost immediately. #2 and #3 are usually quick to follow. By about Goal #4 the Momentum Train is starting to slow down, but hey! At least it’s still a rollin’!!

But then…I slowly crawl to Goal #5. I look down at the list I scribbled — or more like calligraphed –in my fancy notebook with an inspirational Bible verse on the front cover with my matching gel pens and all the cute-sy swirls and hearts and what-have-you’s and realized I’ve filled about FIFTY lines and several pages out of endless to-do’s that are staring back at me, burning into the inner depths of my soul. (**Insert heart palpitations and cold sweats here**)

Then I look at my calendar and realize it’s only January 7 and I am literally already so EXHAUSTED with Project Get My Life Together: 2017 Editionand I’m not even maybe a sixteenth of the way through my goals. I also realize I forgot to wash a plate from last night’s dinner and oh, yeah! Guess who didn’t make her bed this morning??? I mean, no one else knows or cares I already broke the rules, but I know. I TOTALLY KNOW. Then I get overwhelmed and ugly cry in the shower because I realize maybe I am NOT really a better person after all and have severe commitment issues.

Then I have to console myself with a cookie…which, by the way, totally breaks Goal #23.

And I do this to myself.

Every. Stinking. Year.


Needless to say…you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to calculate how THAT one has worked out for me…

So, this year is going to be different. No seriously, I mean it this time. Because I am going to take the same concept of bettering myself a little each day but apply it in a much more realistic approach with a support system who is doing the same thing alongside me. I choose to believe that life doesn’t have to be SO. HARD. anymore.


One of the missions some of my sideline sisters in my Arbonne business and I have recently challenged each other to do this year as part of our personal growth and development is to each pick and commit to just one word — yes, ONE word….not 50 bullet points in a journal — that we are going to focus all our energy and attention towards every day in 2018 until it becomes a habit. The idea is that every day you reflect on your word and what you are personally going to do during that day to put it into action. Once we spend 365 days mastering this word by applying small things to our daily lives, they eventually grow to yield big results. Then, we will pick a new word and move on to the next year. Simply wash, rinse, and repeat!

And you guys….it’s totally MANAGEABLE. We just write our word down on something as simple as a sticky note where we can look at it every day and remind ourselves how we are going to make it happen.

A sticky note??? Are you kidding me?? This is GOLD! I mean, I didn’t even have to buy a fancy journal or a single gel pen or anything! This, my friends, is what you call do-able.

Disclaimer** This obviously is definitely not our own original idea, but we are borrowing it from this increasingly popular social experiment that’s been going around called My One Word. If you have never heard of it, you should definitely check it out here! It’s good stuff! http://myoneword.org/


The really amazing thing that I’ve loved about this challenge so far is that we all have chosen different words that serve us, and it is so inspiring to hear everyone’s journeys and what they are doing to live out their words daily. We are all on the same ultimate mission — not necessarily to Be The Best, but to simply Do Our Best — however we all have our own spiritual and personal journeys we are taking until we get there. I don’t know that anyone ever necessarily “arrives” at their final destination of being the very best that they can be, because after all isn’t the idea that you always have something else you can do more effectively or intentionally? I know I certainly haven’t arrived. But in all honestly…I really don’t ever want to arrive.

Because that ultimately means I have stopped learning and growing and my journey is over. And I can’t settle with that.

If there’s one thing I have really come to know about myself, it is that I am one that seems to be always seeking something. It may seem obsessive, but I don’t ever want my wanderlust thirst to become more than I am right now to ever be fully quenched! I WANT to be inspired. I LONG to feel accomplished. I DESIRE to leave my fingerprints on this world long after I’m gone. However, unlike in years past, I realize that what I NEED is to make goal setting more realistic and less stressful if I want anything good to come out of it.

So the word I have chosen for 2018 is simplify. (And no, it’s not because I teach middle school math, although that ironically does relate…)


It’s because it’s time to learn how to be content. To be intentional. To be happier. To give more of myself to the Lord, my students, my clients, my friends, and my family. To actually have a nice “flow” to my life — rather than constantly flying by the seat of my pants.

To be more…with less.

So essentially I start out my mornings asking myself what I am going to do to “simplify” my life today. Then I do it because I say I’ll do it. And life is slowly improving all the way around already.

For example, yesterday to make my day go smoother I decided to get up half an hour early. I hit my Bible and got my daily devotion and prayer in first thing before my feet hit the floor. I ate a good breakfast, packed my lunch, and got to work earlier. I greeted my students with a smile at the door and spent the first part of each hour letting them each have their time to share what the highlights of their Christmas Break were before jumping into what I needed them to do right away — which made them more efficient and me less grumpy! I had some unexpected extra plan time that allowed me to get ahead on lesson plans and grading so now I won’t be behind for next week. When I got home I put away two baskets of laundry as soon as they came out of the dryer instead of letting it set until the weekend when I would have three more on top of that to deal with. I devoted an entire hour towards solely working my Arbonne business instead of waiting until month-end closing week to finally “get with it”. I got my clothes set out for school the next day so I wouldn’t be so rushed getting ready the next morning. I enjoyed some meaningful pillow talk with my husband before kissing him goodnight and got some quality reading time in after he fell asleep instead of scrolling through my Facebook news feed until the wee hours of the morning.

And it was a great day!

Now, granted I didn’t get my bed made and the dishes are definitely NOT done but it didn’t ruin my entire day or make me feel like a failure like it would have last year! And the even better news? Because I managed my time better yesterday, today went smoother and I actually have more time and energy to take care of other things now!

Like doing those dishes and writing this blog… =)

And tomorrow will be even easier because of what I did to “simplify” my life today. I can only imagine what my life will look and feel like after 365 days of this!


And yeah, yeah, yeah…..I realize it’s literally only the fourth day of the new year and I’m normally a creature of habit that gives it up after the newness wears off and reality sets in, but I can feel a totally different shift with this particular challenge than any of the New Year challenges I had ever set before. I can tell that this is a plan I CAN stick to. It works because it’s simple! No cold sweats and heart palpitations for this girl!!! #WinWin


So as we have officially launched into 2018, I want to challenge my readers to also pick One Word to focus on. Write it down on a sticky note, old receipt in your wallet, napkin in your glove box, your bathroom mirror, or whatever you have available. Commit to doing small tasks every day that lead you to master and live out that word. Remember that what you didn’t have time to get to today is merely a great starting point for a task to conquer tomorrow, so there is no need to stress about it. Have a friend or co-worker or loved one do this challenge with you, too!

Then sit back and watch the beauty of it all unfold. #2018vibes #itsagoodyeartohaveagoodyear




Becoming More.

So this past weekend I attended the trip of a lifetime.

And mind you, I get around. (Hey now! Shame on you…I was talking about traveling!)

I’ve watched the sun set over the Rocky Mountains and have stood in awe on the edge of the Grand Canyon just trying to take it all in. I have hiked the Great Wall of China and have scaled a waterfall by a hot air balloon in upstate New York. I’ve white water rafted in the Smoky Mountains and have touched the Florida sky from the comfort of a fairly tattered parasail harness.

While these adventures have undeniably engraved their way into my fondest memories of my life so far, there was just something so different about this trip that set it apart from all the others.

It was here — at a simple two day leadership training retreat in small town Oklahoma amidst 45 other powerful women in a perfect stranger’s living room (who were all hyped up on gluten-free oreo truffles and chocolate covered strawberries and maybe a little tipsy on champagne) — that I learned to become more.

I will be completely transparent here. When I first learned I had earned this trip along with some of my dearest friends for our success in our recent small business through an amazing health and wellness company called Arbonne, I was ecstatic of course because I had heard other consultants raving about how life-changing this weekend would be, but I was also a wee bit nervous. To be enclosed in a small space with 45 women who I didn’t know very well all talking about our feelings and struggles we have faced in not only our businesses but also our personal lives??

Holy toledo. That’s A LOTTTTTTT of estrogen. I mean, are there even enough Kleenexes in the world for this?

I knew I was definitely packing a bag and jumping in the car and going, but I really didn’t know what to expect beyond that.

When we first arrived after a long 3 ½ hour commute, I opened the door to National Vice President Miranda Burcham’s house and my jaw immediately hit the floor. Aside from the fact that her home looked worthy enough to be showcased in some HGTV magazine and that I was pretty certain my little house could fit in her dining room alone, all I could really focus on is that there were people EVERYWHERE, which made my anxiety plummet through her vaulted ceiling roof.

How nice. I don’t know anyone here…and I’m definitely underdressed…

Oh look! Someone I recognize! I’ve seen her at trainings before….her name is, wait…is it Karen? Beth? Louise? Crap!…she’s walking over to me and I can’t remember her name…

Okay, so we established two things in the entire five seconds I’ve been here….her name is definitely Pam and I’m an idiot…

Okay, so now I find my name tag and put it on? I don’t see my name…did they forget about me? I did earn this trip, right? What if I’m not supposed to be here? Oh God, did I accidentally crash a high class retreat?

Whew! There’s my name tag. I’m not crazy. Now to find a seat because we’re starting in five minutes…except there are no more seats. It’s fine, I will sit on the floor.

In front of everyone which is sort of awkward…

Wait….icebreakers? Go around the room and introduce yourself and tell something interesting??? These people are talking about being arrested for something hilarious and how they have fed the homeless in Haiti and all I can think about is that I have a one-eared cat named Albert…which is super weird. I can’t do this…

Ooohhh…I spy a platter of chocolate covered strawberries…now, I can definitely do THAT…


So to summarize here, I’m basically a professional when it comes to anxiety and social awkwardness. But once the first session started, I immediately started to feel a shift I had never felt before.

Now, please note that if I were to write about every little thing I experienced in those two days, you would not be reading a simple little blog in the spare five or ten minutes you have set aside right now. Truthfully, I would have to write a book for you to read — no, more like a series of novels — to get it all out.

And let’s be real. Neither one of us probably have the time for that.

But what I will do is share some of my biggest takeaways that went from being simple tips and tricks to kickstart my Arbonne business to evolving into much deeper life lessons and convictions.

I’m no psychic, but my guess is like me some of you probably struggle with similar battles in your careers, relationships, friendships, spiritual life, or maybe even in your heart and mind and could also use these tidbits of wisdom to help you overcome them.


1 – There is power in the comeback.

I can’t even begin to explain the impact of all the stories that were shared, right there in Miranda’s living room. Stories about unimaginable loss of loved ones. Stories about promoting to a certain level in the company and then losing it all and having to restart from square one. Stories about people who have been hurt by the people who should have cared for them the most. Stories about spouses leaving spouses to be single parents in the worst possible time when everything else came crashing down.

Stories about comebacks.

Listening to these women pour their hearts out to a complete stranger like me about how they were forced to rise above when life got hard was such a wake up call that reminded me of my own story, and I began to think about it even deeper.

So many people know that I have just recently launched my Arbonne business on the side of teaching and photography. They know that I LOVE LOVE LOVE every second of it and probably even think I’ve gone a little crazy with it, because I literally live and breathe it in my everyday life and it’s become almost all I talk about anymore. But what most people don’t know is why I started this business in the first place.

About four months ago I was the lowest of lows I had ever been and was seriously ready to end it all. I felt like crap all the time. I wasn’t sleeping. I wasn’t eating…and when I did it was the worst possible food that obviously wasn’t serving my body the way I needed it to in order to survive a busy hectic day. I was solely running on strong coffee and gas station energy drinks. I couldn’t even wrap my head around having kids because I was so overstimulated with everything else around me going on. I wasn’t happy in my career. I was a grouch to my students then came home even more unpleasant. I shut people out…especially my husband who was my biggest supporter through it all. I was bitter towards the people who hurt me severely in my past and let it over-consume me. And I felt guilty about all of it. I remember laying in bed at night praying to God for some opportunity to come my way that would help me understand my purpose in this world. “God, what am I supposed to do? I am NOT happy and there has to be more than being a punching bag to my own life. What do YOU want from me?”

Two days later my friend Erika messaged me about Arbonne, explaining how she had a life changing opportunity she wanted to share with me because she knew I would be amazing at it.

And I am thoroughly convinced if she never did, I don’t know that I would be writing these words you’re reading right now.

Erika had NO idea how desperate I was for any opportunity at all to get out of the rut I felt I was sinking in. She had no idea I desperately needed this business — not for the delicious protein shakes or the amazing mascara — but for survival.

I came face to face with the reality that if I wanted something in my life to change, I would have to be the one to move and change it myself. Even if it wasn’t easy. Even if I had always had bad experiences with direct sales and vowed I would never become one of those people. I was definitely scared to try it, but was even more terrified of what would happen if I never even took the chance. So, with every fear and hesitation and millionth excuse anyone could possibly think of for reasons NOT TO DO the business, I chose to TO DO it for one reason.

I had to make a comeback.

So here I am, four months later, re-writing my story through an incredible business that I almost said no to. And boy, am I so glad I put faith over fear! Believe me when I say my life is changing because of the positive people I am constantly surrounded by, the focus I have to set and conquer goals, and the vision I now have to do more and trust God’s calling on my life. I am not 100% out of the darkness and there are days when the devil tries to sneak in and claim victory over my weakness. But I am on the right path to a new, better me inside and out and know where I am going.

And that, my friends, is liberating.


2 – Are you playing to win, or playing not to lose?

If you ever want someone to call you out on your crap, tell you there are no excuses, and order you put your big girl panties on and basically “suck it up buttercup”, I highly recommend listening to Linda Parker who is an executive national vice president in the company. (Which, by the way, you can access her calls on YouTube or soundcloud!)

Whoa, buddy….talk about a powerhouse leader!

I sat at her feet for two straight hours just taking everything she said in and didn’t even care that my buttcheeks were so numb and I had to pee half an hour ago…because she was just THAT. GOOD.

The biggest statement I remember most from her coaching was “Are you playing to win, or playing not to lose?”

Holy crap, Batman. That’s deep.

How many of us play it safe in our life because it’s easier? How many of us talk ourselves out of overachieving just to do the bare minimum because, well, that’s good enough? How many of us whine and rant to our friends and family and make excuses for when something is too hard instead of taking a step back, figuring out what going wrong, and finding a solution? How many of us get to a certain goal and then decide we’ve gone as far as we can, so we stop setting bigger, more complex goals that really require us to get out of our comfort zone?

Well, I’ll raise my hand if no one else will….


What a call to action to knock it off, pick ourselves up when we stumble, and press on to greater heights! The truth is this world can’t afford for us to play small. To put this into personal perspective, if Erika had never reached out to me — basically a stranger she knew very little about — who knows where would be?

Or if I would even still be here at all.

Dramatic? Maybe. But true? Absolutely. So how dare I sit on the side lines and play small when there are so many more people out there who need this incredible opportunity that I have at my fingertips, just like I so desperately needed it four months ago without even realizing it.

It’s time to stop making excuses and start making an impact.

3 – Make up a story that serves YOU.

One of the exercises we were coached to do is write down three facts or things that have happened in our lives. We then had to write down the stories that we have told ourselves based on those facts.

It wasn’t pretty.

For example:

Fact – My real dad left me when I was 3 years old.

Story – There must be something wrong with me. I’m wasn’t good enough to make him stay.

Fact – I didn’t make the varsity volleyball team in high school.

Story – I suck at sports.I should have never tried out. What a humiliation!

Fact – I didn’t reach the goals I had set last month in my business.

Story – I’m bad at being a consultant and don’t know if I have what it takes to do this.

Whoa. Talk about Negative Nancy, right???

Funny how after you write the things you constantly think about and tell yourself down on paper and read them aloud how they make you stop and think about how personal you’ve been taking everything your whole life. I realized how I have been playing the victim instead of the victor all along in every situation where life threw me a curveball. No wonder I am generally not a confident person! How can I be when all I tell myself is how much I’m unworthy?


So after this epiphany, we then had a major heart to heart about how these stories were obviously not fixing anything and not serving us the way that they should. Bad things happen. Annoying things happen. That’s life. We can’t change that.

But what we can change is the stories we come up with when these things do happen.

Sooo….time for a divine intervention! We then took our old stories and rewrote them into positive stories that actually served us. The results were crazy eye opening!

Fact – My real dad left me when I was 3 years old.

NEW Story – I will be a better parent because of this. I can also be a testimony to my students who have had a parent who walked out in their life. I could even open my heart and home to adoption or fostering someday and be the loving, involved parent that my real dad never was to a child in need.

Fact – I didn’t make the varsity volleyball team in high school.

Story – Sports may not be my thing, but at least I can say I tried! Time to find something else I’m good at.

Fact – I didn’t reach the goals I had set last month in my business.

Story – Every business builder has struggles, and I’m not the only one! November is a new month. I know what didn’t work last month and how I can fix it to be more successful this month. Time to get to work!

Better, right? What an easy way to change your perspective. ** See ya, Negative Nancy!


4 – Don’t be a dreamer, be a vision caster.

One of the things my team’s national vice president Lisa Dooley challenged us to do in our businesses and lives is to not just have a dream for what could happen, but cast a vision of exactly what that moment would look like when we reach the goals we have set our hearts on.

Because if you really think about it, a dream is just a wish or fantasy, but a vision is more of a reality.

I got to thinking how this applies to my business. One of my biggest goals is to become a regional vice president by the time I am 25 years old. Before last weekend, this was really only a figment of my imagination. I could only dream of getting a paycheck that would not only replace my income but also my husband’s income and allow us more choice to start blessing others in bigger ways we can’t do with our current paychecks — but I wasn’t actually envisioning it getting deposited into our checking account. I could only dream of driving that white Mercedes Benz that the company rewards you with when you promote to a vice president — but I wasn’t actually “smelling the leather”. I could only dream about having the finances, time freedom, and conviction to travel the world and sponsor missions trips or build homes in third world countries — but I wasn’t actually visualizing myself standing on the beaches of Haiti with a team of soul-on-fire consultants working alongside me because I led them there.

I always thought it would be freaking awesome, but in my heart it didn’t really seem like a possibility because I was only thinking about these things occasionally when I would drift off into La La Land. I wasn’t actually painting the picture of what that moment would look like. Feel like. Smell like. Even taste like. And if I wasn’t painting the picture, I definitely wasn’t painting myself in it. No wonder it seemed so surreal and not possible!

So again, my goal is to become a regional vice president. But it’s no longer just a dream. It’s a vision. My vision.

It is October 1, 2018 and I am a REGIONAL vice president!! Life is good today. It smells and tastes like pancakes and bacon, because I am actually HOME with my family making breakfast before Kurtis goes off to work. We have just finished remodeling our dream home and I just unpacked the LAST box — and there a white Mercedes parked in the garage. Over breakfast, we are talking about our new goals and are even considering sponsoring money to our church for a missions trip to Australia. My birthday is in 18 more days and I will be blowing out my candles in Jamaica with my husband and our 5 month old baby with other families in the business on the Arbonne Incentive Trip. I have also recently promoted 4 new district managers and 2 new area managers. One is in qualification for region! Next comes nation!


So, yeah. Wasn’t kidding when I said last weekend was the trip of a lifetime!

It’s so crazy to think of how much my perspectives have changed since joining this business and how it’s impacting so many other areas in my life. I mean, I almost have to laugh.

I used to think direct sales people were annoying. Thank goodness not all of them are like that and some actually have a vision to change their lives….and then this world.

I used to think that to be successful in this business you had to know a lot of people and be a good talker. Thank goodness you just have to be is passionate about helping others and willing to build new relationships!


I used to think you had to win every challenge, incentive trip, and promotion out there to make it to the top. Thank goodness all you have to do is have grit and determination to stick around when it gets hard!

I used to think you had to know everything about everything in order to have credibility. Thank goodness all you have to know is how to ask or where to go for help until you figure it out!

I used to think that stress was just a normal part of being an adult and that would never really change. Thank goodness it doesn’t have to be that way, if you are willing to get up and change it yourself!

And to think all this came from a simple two day conference in Oklahoma with 45 women I didn’t know, which really all stemmed from a decision four months ago to take a chance on something I was completely terrified to do.

I will tell you all a million times over that the reason I do this business is not about being part of some pyramid get-rich-quick scheme and conning others into jumping on my bandwagon. It’s not about having my skin looking flawless and my nutrition on point. It’s not about my stats on my dashboard website or the number of sign-ups I got last month. It’s not about making bookoos of money and having my name and face in the latest Arbonne catalog. It’s honestly not even really about me at all.

It’s about paying it forward and becoming more for this world that is desperately waiting for me to change it.

And I can’t wait to see who all will rise up to the challenge and join me in this life-changing endeavor.