So this is grief…

24 days ago I didn’t know what grief felt like.

Oh, I thought I did.

But then I found out how much I didn’t understand. The gnawing sadness. The deep disbelief. The inability to grasp or to understand anything. These nights of crying myself to sleep. I never knew how many tears a body could produce. The way grief comes…in waves…it takes you under…overwhelms you, drags you under and leaves you kicking your feet and crying for release…and then the calm where you can breathe in and plant your feet until the next wave comes and repeats the cycle…

Three weeks and two days ago, my dad went to be with Jesus. He was the first love of my life. He was the strongest, most loyal, most hardworking, able to do anything man I’ve ever known. As I said at his funeral, he was it. Our dad was our hero.

With our mama, he raised six kids who grew up to love Jesus, each other and our families so well. He taught us so very much and he loved us so fiercely…and because of that, he has left a gaping hole in our hearts. A place that will never be filled. I know that God will soften the pain…but I also know there will never be a complete healing in this until we are reunited in Heaven. And that is so hard and so bittersweet. There IS joy in knowing we will see Dad again…and there IS joy and some envy that He is with Jesus now…but there is an unexplainable sorrow and heartbreak because he is not here with us.

We are broken right now. Things that brought us joy before don’t right now. Things we could do for others, we just can’t right now.

We were asked to serve communion in our church this morning…and laying in bed last night, I visualized myself standing up there with my husband, and all these sweet friends, people I love, coming to me with sad eyes, heartbroken for me and my family…and it broke me all over again. I can’t bear to see the sadness they carry for us and for themselves because they, too, loved this man. But I also can’t bear it to not be awknowledged. Oh, how I dread the day our lives go back to normal. How I fear leaving my precious daddy in the past.

But, even in this…in the heaviness of this pain, there have been sweet, sweet moments with my siblings and our mom…there have been more tears shed than I could ever tell you, but there has been sweetness and uncontrollable laughter and family jokes and the sweetest closeness that has been such a great comfort and blessing. We are clinging to each other like survivors of a shipwreck, but we are clinging together. We hurt for ourselves, but we also hurt for each other, because more than anyone else can, we know what loss each of us has suffered. We are carrying each other. Our dad would be so proud.

I dreamed last night that one of my sisters told me my dad was coming, and I was so excited, but then I remembered he’s gone, and I was heartbroken all over again…but then, he was sitting there between us….and in thinking of that dream today, I wonder…did God allow me that dream to remind me that my dad is always with us? That he is part of us? While his physical body isn’t here, the things he instilled in us is and the love he planted so generously is growing and blooming…he has left a legacy for each of us…and in each of us.

And even in this great sadness, in the brokenness of my family, we know we are whole. The Jesus my dad lived his life for walks with us. We are His and He will carry us through this.



The Love Sessions: Chapter 2

I’m part of a small group in a First5 Bible study…we are doing a study called Christ Alone which covers Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians and Philemon…I don’t even know how to express my thoughts over days 6 and 7…In In Galatians 5:13, it says: “For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.” We are to use our freedom to serve one another! I never considered the fact that we were set free to love and serve others. If you had asked me a couple weeks ago why Jesus set me free, my answer would have been 100% completely self-centered. I may have said He set me free so I could know Him; so that I could stand clean before Him; that He set me free because He loved me…these are all good and true answers…but not one of my answers would have included the idea that He set me free so I could love His people. 

I feel like weeping. 
I feel like the eyes of my heart have been opened in a way they have never been before. 
I feel overwhelmed.
I feel humbled and yet, I feel honored. 
He is such a good and patient God. 

Praise Jesus He teaches us daily, minute by minute His truths. 

Thank you, Jesus, for setting me free to love your people…may it be your love that flows out of me…may I be a witness of the greatness and depth of your complete and total love. 

The Love Sessions: Chapter 1

I started this post two weeks ago after church and saved it and now feel compelled to finish it and start a series on love, so here I go…
My pastor preached on loving others when it costs us something, and it came to me that I don’t love people well. I think I’ve kind of prided myself on being a good friend, a good sister, a good wife, mom, daughter, whatever. I would’ve said I love people hard and strong and well. But I don’t. And my heart hurts over it. 
I love on my terms. And that’s not the way it’s supposed to be. 
While I was yet a sinner, God saved me. He didn’t wait for me to be worth it. He made me worth it. He didn’t wait for me to be worthy or deserving of His love. He lavishly poured it out on me, before I even understood anything about Him. 
As I listened to my pastor, over and over again, he was plucking my heart’s strings. Love must cost something. This is the essence of love. 
I rarely allow love to cost me anything. I withhold it when it will cost me something: when it will cost me my pride, when it will require my forgiveness, when it requires humility, when it means I don’t get my way or get something in return. I am stingy with love and I love on my own terms. 
This is wrong. This is NOT what God created me for and it is definitely NOT His definition of love. 
Over and over again, He is showing me. He is speaking to me. He is gently and tenderly showing me a better way. His love is the only real love. His way is the only way. 
Please join me in this journey through what God is showing me about His love…I’d love to hear your thoughts. 

Breaking Up with My Addictions

I read a blog last week of a girl who went on a seven day social media diet. After I read it, I became aware of how often I reach for my iPhone.

First thing in the morning, before my quiet time. 

While I’m soaking in the bath. 

While I’m blowdrying my hair. 

While I’m making my breakfast. 

As soon as I complete any chore or activity. 

When there’s a lull in conversation. 

It’s embarrassing and I hate it, but it’s nearly constant. 

I was at lunch with a group of women from church this weekend and one said she had read that even if you don’t touch your phone, just having it near you makes you 12% less engaged with those around you. 

Y’all, I don’t want to be that wife or mom or daughter or sister or friend. I so want to be present with the ones I am blessed to spend time with. 

So, here goes day one of my personal social media diet. I don’t know how long this will take, but until the hold it has over me is broken.  I’m going to journal my way through this week…I’m even going to try to keep count of how many times I pick up my phone to check email or Instagram or Facebook…but I am going to try my hardest to only open Facebook up twice a day, morning and evening. Email is different because of my business, but even that can get whittled down to three times a day. Instagram isn’t a big problem for me, so if I check it at all, it will only be once a day. So, friends, if you message me or if you post an awesome photo and I don’t like it or comment on it, please know I am not rejecting you! 

I am reclaiming my life and I dare you all to join me. 

“Combating the Culture of Busy”

Did y’all read the title of this post? That’s the title of the chapter I just flipped to in the book I’m currently reading called Unstuffed. 

The title of this chapter alone made me stop and think. I couldn’t even move on to the first sentence before starting to blog about that title. 

“Combating the Culture of Busy”

Y’all, my mind is all over the place right now. First, let’s pick apart that sentence like good English students, and then I’m going to share my thoughts and how this ties into why I started this blog. 

  • Combat: a fight or contest between individuals or a group; conflict, controversy; active fighting in a war
  • Culture: the customary beliefs, social forms, and material traits of a racial, religious, or social group; also : the characteristic features of everyday existence  shared by people in a place or time
  • Busy: engaged in action; full of activity; foolishly or intrusively active

Now think of each of those words and their meanings and put them together in that title….it might sound something like this: “Actively fighting the belief and characteristic feature of our society to be always engaged in action and to be foolishly active.”

Just wow. 

Y’all, this says to me that nearly everyone in our COUNTRY (it’s our CULTURE) is busier than they need to be. You know what happens when we are too busy? We get sick. We miss special occasions with loved ones or our kids’ ball games. We forget to pay bills. Our kids have to wear dirty clothes to school. We are exhausted. Our relationships aren’t being nurtured. Our bodies aren’t being taken care of. (Busyness equals a lot of easy, quick food which is usually not the healthiest.) Our homes aren’t being well taken care of. Our families are not peaceful…our lives are chaos. 

This is NOT the life Jesus wants for us! Remember the verses I shared when I first started this blog? 

2 Peter 3:14 says “And so, dear friends, while you are waiting for these things to happen, make every effort to be found living peaceful lives that are pure and blameless in his sight.”

1 Thessalonians 4:11: “Make it your goal to live a quiet life, minding your own business and working with your hands, just as we instructed you before.”

Lamentations 3:26: “…it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD.”

1 Peter 3:3-4: “Your beauty should not come from outward adornment such as braided hair or gold jewelry or fine clothes, but from the inner disposition of your heart, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in God’s sight.”

We are called to live lives of peace…and quietness…oh, how good He is to remind us! It is SO easy to get caught up in the busy. And you know what else the title of this chapter tells me? We have to FIGHT busyness. Actively fight against it creeping into our lives. We wouldn’t have to fight it if it didn’t happen subtly…if busyness didn’t kind of creep up on us…we say yes to this and this and this, thinking each “thing” isn’t a big deal…but a big pile of “things” becomes a whole lot of time away from our families, of driving from one place to another, of being busy, busy, busy. 

We must be alert. We must guard our time fiercely. We must learn to say no, even to the good things in order to have time for the best things. 

I feel like I’ve turned a corner in the last few months. My time is much more balanced. I’m home more…my household chores have become routine again…I sleep eight or sometimes even nine hours most nights…and I still get a whole lot done! I am grateful to my Father for showing me this Way. His Way. 

How about y’all? Have you guys broken busy? Have you found a balance? I’d love to hear!



Friday Favorites

Y’all, today is FRIDAY. I LOVE Fridays. They spell FUN for me! I get excited about the upcoming weekend…my man and our kids being home…movie nights…lazy days…just being home together. It’s my favorite. And to make this weekend even more special, our girl child comes home from college tomorrow for her spring break!!!! YAY!

So, to celebrate, I thought I would share a few of my favorite things I found this week on the World Wide Web! These may be devotionals, blogs, whatever has struck my fancy…I hope you enjoy!

1. “Nobody’s Cuter Than You” by Melanie Shankle. This is a true of story of friendships between women…it quickly stole my heart and is on my list of Favorite Books For Life now. 😂

Nobody’s Cuter than You: A Memoir about the Beauty of Friendship

2. OneNote. I am super new to this, but a friend who is extremely organized is helping me to learn how to use it to organize my ministry, my business, my life…I am really excited about it and see so many possibilities with it! Check it out for yourself!

3. This devotional on being a great wife…it speaks for itself.

4. And lastly, THIS SANDWICH. Just go make it. I had it at Longhorn’s earlier in the week and kept thinking about it, so I googled a recipe…I made mine much lighter and used the sandwich thin bread…and it was still delicious! So feel free to tweak it to your liking!!

I hope you guys enjoyed this fun little post..and I hope you enjoy these things as much as I did! If you read any of it or try OneNote or the sandwich, please let me know!



Small Steps Lead to BIG Changes…

In January, my man and I participated in a church wide fast. It was the whole month long so we chose to do the Daniel Fast. What began as a fast to honor and pray and hear from the Lord turned into a lifestyle change for us.  I am still amazed at how much God has shown me through that month and wanted to share a few things I’ve learned since then.  😍

1. One of the biggest things I realized is that I was treating my body as if it were my own. Did you know the Word says our body belongs to the Holy Spirit ? It actually says it is NOT our own. 1 Corinthians 6:19 says, “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own.”  As we went through the days of the fast, eating real food that God created for us to eat, I began to realize how much I was treating this temple like a garbage dump…I wasn’t considering my body a vessel that must be  healthy in order for God to work through…and I had also gotten to the place where I had no limits. If I over ate at one meal, I’d figure I might as well just eat how I wanted at the next meal since I had already blown it. Which brings me to the next thing I learned:

2. Just because I mess up–or maybe it’s nicer to say, if I allow myself a splurge meal, I can still eat healthy the rest of the day or the rest of the week! One bad meal doesn’t have to undermine the rest of my meals! I was using an eating plan last year that taught me that I could start over again in three hours. So meal to meal, I get a new chance to make the best choice. 

3. Exercise will not undo overeating unhealthy foods. It just won’t. I never knew this, but if you are trying to lose weight, a general rule of thumb is 75% diet and 25% exercise. 😳😳😳 (some even say it’s 80/20!) The instructor in the program I’m using says, “Don’t undo all your hard work out here in the kitchen.” That REALLY stuck with me. So just because we exercise regularly, if we are overeating, we are just not going to see a difference. This was a hard pill for me to swallow…if I’m getting up at 5 am every morning and working it, I feel like I should be able to eat what I want!! But, sadly, it just doesn’t work that way. It takes exercise AND healthy eating. 

4. I used to never eat breakfast. That’s a huge no-no for nutrition…I would have two GINORMOUS cups of coffee in the morning and not be hungry til close to lunch time. Now, I have cut my coffee intake waaaaaay down and I eat breakfast by 8:00. Eating breakfast has a ton of benefits…you are literally breaking your fast from not eating since the night before…your body needs that kick start of nutrients to get going! Also, it gives you a metabolism boost…as you get older, you need more and more help with your metabolism!! Eating breakfast helps lower cholesterol, helps you lose weight, helps you not eat mindlessly later in the morning. So. Many. Benefits. My favorite thing to eat now is banana almond oatmeal. I used to seriously dislike oatmeal, but when I started making it this way, I fell in love…I make it by cooking whole oats, and adding in half a banana, chopped almonds, some stevia and cinnamon. It is homey and cozy all in a bowl!!

5. It doesn’t hurt to wake up at 5 am and work out before having coffee. If you had asked me my thoughts on that a few months ago, you’d blush at my response! Someone asked a group of us the other day what our favorite time of day is…and while I have many, the one I shared was when my man and I finish our morning workout…we have such a sense of accomplishment…our bodies feel good…we are proud of ourselves and each other…and we are grateful that we were able to spend time together and start our day together. It really is a joyful thing for us. Now, I’ll be real. A lot of mornings…okay, every morning, we snooze after the alarm goes off…some days we really push our time limit, but we always get up and do it and we are ALWAYS glad we did. 

6. I like healthy food. During the Daniel Fast, I was trying new recipes and new vegetables constantly…I would tell my best friend how good each new dish was…she finally told me everything tasted good to me now. She was so right. I don’t know if it was because I was eating real food that had real flavor, and if the flavors weren’t being masked by the processed and artificial flavorings of everything else…I don’t know, but I do know I love to eat healthy food now. I love the taste. I am satisfied and proud of myself when I eat right. Now, I still love pizza…and I’ve messed up a lot…but I think I’m beginning to get it. Day by day, my Father shows me how to do this…how to make these small changes that will add up to a lifestyle change.  

I want to do these things as a faithful steward of this earthly tent He has given me…I want to feel well and be in shape so that I can do whatever He calls me to do. I want to eat the food He created for my body to eat and not eat the food of the world that desires to make me sick and overweight and unhealthy…I want to be a good role model of all these things for my children. I want to be physically strong. I want to run and play with my kids and one day, Lord willing, their kids. I want to be all that He has created me to be…

If this resonates with you, please comment below! I’d love to share your journey with you!

Lavishly Loved

I am preparing for a women’s mini-retreat Friday night and our theme is “Love Is…” As I was studying this morning, for some reason it hit me all over again…I am the daughter of the King of Kings…He has bought me with the blood of His Son…simply to win my heart and bring me back to His heart…who does that?? 

While I was unworthy…He loved me. 

While I was completely immersed in the world, He loved me. 

While I was blatantly in sin, He loved me. 

While I was completely unaware and unconcerned with Him, He knew every bit of me…and He made a way to redeem me…with one look, one whisper, He changed me. All of me for all time. He called me into His family…His blood flows through my veins…He has given me a new heart with new desires and He has allowed me to serve Him alongside my brothers and sisters in Christ. 

Me! Who was as low as the lowest of them. Completely selfish…living for fun and pleasure…living for what I wanted…not knowing how much more life there was to be found in Jesus…Not knowing He was and is and always will be the reason, the meaning, the everything that everything is based on…

Such freedom comes from realizing He is our heart’s one true desire and need…we stop looking to other people or other things to satisfy us and make us happy…He is all that we need, and the people He places in our life is just overflow…they were never meant to satisfy us fully…where would our need for Him go if that were the case? He is our one true love…I pray He fill each of you with His abundant love this day…that His love would so flood you that you would be an overflow of His love to all who come into your path this day. 

He is a beautiful Father. 

The perfect lover of our souls. 

Beloved, be loved. 

Confessions of a Busy Girl

I haven’t broken busy. 

Oh, how I want to. But I look at my planner and my iPhone calendar and I see the truth. 

I haven’t broken busy. 

Why? I know I am being called to…I know my heart wants to be still and to be quiet…but there is just always so much to do. Every day is something different. And I’m hurting people I love because I seem too busy for them. 

I’m praying I can get a grip. Two weeks ago, I double booked myself TWICE. I told two people I’d help them declutter without even realizing I would be out of town. 

It’s a little discouraging…and oh so easy to beat myself up about it. 

But ya know what? I’m living this life God has given me…I believe with all my heart I am following His leading and beginning to walk in the calling He has for me…but I am going to mess up. I’m gonna double book myself and I am going to let people down. But I think He showed me that He lets those things happen so I can catch myself before it gets too crazy. I don’t have to say yes to everything…but I also don’t have to say no to everything. I can say yes or I can say no…but I need to be intentional with how I spend my time and I need to love the ones He has placed in my life fiercely…so much so that in the busier days, they don’t doubt one bit my love for them…I need to be faithful with my morning quiet time where my heart and mind is centered on Him…so I can hear His still, small voice and follow hard after Him…

He guides my steps…and He allows me to trip and fall so that I can see the obstacle next time…He is and always will be a good, good Father. 

So I think I’m going to worry a little less on breaking busy and a little more about spending my time wisely…my time IS GOING TO BE SPENT…my sister said the other day this is life…and it really is. And it’s a beautiful life…I am so very grateful to have a life to be busy with…may every bit of it bring Him glory…

10 Ways to Celebrate Valentines Day

I know, I know. Valentine’s Day is a major marketing ploy created by Hallmark to get us to spend money. Who needs a day to be told to love on your significant other? Well, actually, now that you ask…that would be most of us. How often do you intentionally love on your man? How often does he intentionally love on you? Do you often write him sweet texts or notes “just because?” Do y’all go to dinner just for the sake of “date night” often? Do y’all have candle lit dinners? Do you dress pretty for when he gets home from work? I think most of us just…don’t. I think life gets busy and in the way and we forget we are a couple. That our relationship is special and it’s sacred and it needs to be invested in.

For YEARS, and I’m not kidding, YEARS, I’ve been that one saying “who needs a holiday to love him when I should love him every day?” Well yeah! But I wasn’t! We didn’t intentionally spend romantic time together…so this year, I am challenging all of my sisters, yes that’s you…and if you’re of the male species reading this, I’m challenging you too. Celebrate the one you love this Valentine’s Day. Celebrate the one you chose to spend your life with. Remember why you chose him (or her!) Maybe this could be the start of something new & beautiful in your marriage!!

In no particular order, here  are some fun ideas:

  1. Go for a walk on the beach. Take off your shoes. Walk by the water…talk…listen…be together…
  2. Look through your wedding photos together…when is the last time you did that?
  3. Reminisce about how you met…who asked who out? Where was your first date?
  4. Talk about your biggest dreams for your marriage and for your life together…what would you love to see yourselves doing in ten years?  If you, like me, have quit dreaming big dreams, come back and read THIS post after you finish this one. Don’t be afraid or too jaded to dream. I think dreaming reminds us we have hope…and there’s a whole ‘nother blog idea. 😆
  5. Play a card game or board game together. We used to love to play cards, but since our kids kept being born, we ran out of the time and over the years forgot about it…now when we do, we feel like kids!
  6. Light some candles and give each other back massages.
  7. Cook him a special dinner. Light candles. Include your kids! Let them see that you guys LOVE each other. Use this time to intentionally love on them too! Let all of this become habit. 
  8. Watch his favorite show or movie with him.
  9. Make huge hot fudge sundaes and eat them outside together. Feed each other if you’re feeling it!!
  10. I left this for last because I never want to push my photography business on people, but I’m offering Love Sessions from February 14- March 15…I think these are going to be such fun and I’m going to be giving each couple a completely complimentary custom Love Album featuring photos from the session. If this is something you’re interested in, contact me HERE…be sure to mention you’ve read this blog for $75 off.finalvalentinejoymarketingboard-5x5

So, there ya go…I hope you guys pick one or two things from this list to do! Heck! Pick all ten and do ten days of Valentine’s!

Let me know if you have other fun ideas or if you do any of this!

Love yall!!!