Redeeming the Impossible // A review of "The Tank Man's Son" by Mark Bouman

I love books.  

Even more so, I love a solid Jesus-centered, practical living book OR a powerful memoir.  

And a few weeks of ago, I got my hands on a new one, courtesy of Tyndale House Publishers, that was the epitome of both - The Tank Man's Son by Mark Bouman

Tyndale graciously offered a complimentary book to those in the writing seminar at the Influence Conference last month and, while there were a large variety of my first love of books (see the "solid Jesus-centered, practical living" description), something immediately drew me to this book with its dark, dramatic and intense cover.  

Once home and settled into book reading mode, I knew exactly what had been calling my name.

This is the story of Mark Bouman, told in his voice, about what it was like growing up in a home where his father was not only to be respected but also feared.  The harsh, unpredictable image of "Dad" throughout the book is one of power, abuse and unrestraint.  Mark shares his story in such an incredibly personal and riveting manner that the reader is compelled to keep turning page after overwhelming page, all the while questioning how much more intense could it possibly get.

Mark lived a brutal childhood, one that he logically should not have survived.  And yet he did.

But it was not due to him overcoming insurmountable odds with an unbreakable spirit or having a deeper sense of purpose or self.  Actually he was quite the opposite - his spirit was broken and, away from his father's command, he had no awareness of who he was or what his life could be.  

He floundered and failed until, at last, he the foot of the cross of Jesus Christ. 

"Why would God ever want me? I wondered. I had failed at everything I ever tried.  I had nothing to offer.  Nothing.....With that, my life - that broken house built on sand - was leveled in a single shuttering instant."                                                                                - Chapter 37


For the next five chapters (plus the epilogue), Mark shares the amazing redemptive story that could have only be written by The Author and Perfecter of Faith.  

The story of The Tank Man's Son is not pretty in the initial details.  It is overwhelming and difficult to comprehend the reality of this experience. However, once the last page arrives and the final words are understood, we see the beauty in what our Father saw all along.   


I encourage you to read The Tank Man's Son because it is, indeed, a worthwhile read, but I also encourage you to go a step beyond just digesting the words, and instead sit before the Lord and sincerely ask Him if there is an area of your life (possibly a relationship or experience or hidden part of your heart) that you view as "unredeemable", as unreachable with His extravagant love and forgiveness.  

For the story of The Tank Man's Son does one thing extremely well - it demands that we confront those areas of our story that we have labeled as impossible and challenges our notion of the ability of God to heal and redeem every part of our story. 


If you are interested in purchasing this book, be sure to enroll in the fabulous Tyndale Rewards program first so you can earn free stuff (like books!).  Use this link for a jumpstart of 25 extra points! 

It is well with my soul // Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness Day

The moment that little + sign showed up on that white stick will forever be etched in your mind. The joy, hope and fear, the nervousness and excitement - a flood of emotions comes pouring over you within minutes of seeing that "pregnant" sign appear.  

  Image from 

  Image from 

It is in that moment, when the reality of life growing inside of you meets the depth of your emotions, when you become a mother to that baby.  

Whatever the future may hold, you are uniquely bonded to this little one and something in your heart grows in tandem to this life.  You think differently, plan accordingly and prepare your heart the best you can for the emotional stretching this baby will bring.   

  Image from 

  Image from 

Some of us, however, will never get to meet our baby; we will never get the joy of taking her home or experience the exhaustion of midnight feedings.  Whether naturally or through an ultrasound, we get the most devastating of news - there is simply no heartbeat. 

Without being asked for our permission, our hopes and dreams are revoked and our deepest fears are realized.  

Our baby is gone. 

  Image from 

  Image from 

Today, October 15th, marked the day set aside to acknowledge the loss suffered by a multitude of families. Whether by miscarriage, a stillbirth, SIDS or some other tragic circumstance, families have unexpectedly lost their babies, and while normalcy has returned to everyone else's lives, these families carry on with a gapping hole in their heart. 

They may not have be given the chance to experience the fullness of life with their child, but they have indeed experienced the fullness of love for their child, regardless of the number of days spent with their baby in their arms. 

  Lighting a candle in remembrance is one way to come alongside a grieving family or to honor the life of your child.  Image from

  Lighting a candle in remembrance is one way to come alongside a grieving family or to honor the life of your child.  Image from

I do not know where you are in this journey.  You may be a mother persevering in the face of multiple losses and still waiting to meet your baby on this side of heaven.  You may be carrying on with the everyday needs of your other children but still heartbroken over the loss of the baby who should have come just one day sooner. You may be knee-deep in grief, barely able to catch your breath each time you pass your child's empty room.  You may simply be the best friend, the cousin, or the church friend but to see your dear one suffer simply breaks your heart.

Wherever you are in this, I simply want to say that I am sorry.  I am sorry that you have to walk through this.  I am sorry for the hope that has been lost.  I am sorry that there are no answers to the questions brewing inside.  I am sorry that there is no band-aid large enough to fix your aching heart.  I am so very sorry.  

I cannot fix any part of this; oh, how I wish I could!  But, I can point you to the One who can.  However, you must know that He is not in the business of simply fixing broken things.  He is actually more of an expert in healing our hurting hearts and restoring our stories.  He doesn't just tape together our pieces; He makes us new.  

I say that, because I know it to be true.  I have walked this path myself.  

Two and a half years ago, we lost a pregnancy, a set of twins.  We were 10 weeks along when we found out that they never made it past week 6.  But in my head and my heart, I was already there; I was committed and was readying myself for the growth of our family.  Losing that pregnancy was the breaking point for my trust in God during an already tumultuous year.  My faith crumbled and I prepared to walk away from the Lord.  But God, in his abounding love, grace and compassion, would not leave me there and He pursued me with an unrelenting love.  He redeemed our marriage.  He reconciled me to Himself.  He made everything new.  

And then, in an undeserved display of His extravagant love, He gave us a plus sign on a little white stick three months later.  We rejoice in the beautiful redemption that blue-eyed boy represents in our daily lives. 

While the details of this story are specifically ours, the nature of the God on display in it is not.  He is writing a story of redemption and restoration all around us.  Even in yours.  

I know this to be true because I have seen it in the lives of so many others.  The baby that came after miscarriage who is now a thriving 3-year-old.  The couple who is pursuing adoption with joyful hearts & expectation, even after suffering through infertility and miscarriages.  The young adults who are flourishing but are the younger siblings of a sister who suddenly died at 6 months of age. The family who is living to the glory of the Lord despite losing babies just hours after birth.  

Oh friend, this loss, it hurts like hell.  I cannot deny that.

But my sincere prayer for you is this - that you may soon see, firsthand, the beauty of God's healing and redemptive power in your heart and life and that someday soon you can speak of this experience and say "It is well with my soul." 


""I am sending you grain, new wine and oil, enough to satisfy you fully; never again will I make you an object of scorn...I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten...never again will my people be shamed."                                                                                     - Joel 2:19, 25, 26


This is Day 9 of the October 2015 #Write31days Challenge.  Check out the entire list of posts here

The Final Strikeout // Sitting with a loss instead of celebrating a win

The day has arrived. Game Day.  And not just any game, but the Big Game.  The one you have been preparing for since pre-season.  

The sweat, the practices, the plays, the road trips - all of it has been in preparation for this day.  It no longer matters how many games you won to get to this point, it only matters that you win this game. 

You suit up.  You show up.  You give it your all through seven innings, four quarters or 80 minutes.  You go hard for every point, on every play because you know that this is it - if you can't get it done here, there is no second chance.  For this team, for this season, this is all there is. 

   Image from 

   Image from 

But...something's off.  First it was just one small mistake; then an error by your teammate, followed by a big move by the other team.  The lead between you and them widens and you hear the voice of doubt creep in - "maybe this isn't your season after all." 

You claw and scrap and scrape.  You shout and cheer and yell.  You do everything you know to do to stir up whatever fire remains in the belly of your team.  But it doesn't matter.  Momentum seems to be pushing the other team forward like a tidal wave and slowly, you see it coming - the reality of the loss.  

You don't give up.  You can't.  You won't.  But the minutes tick down and the outs keep coming. With one last swing of the bat, it's a strikeout.  Like the last nail in a coffin, your season has come to an end with a final K. 

  Photography by Jeff Curry of USA Today Sports. 

  Photography by Jeff Curry of USA Today Sports. 

Last night was the final game of the 2015 season for my beloved St. Louis Cardinals.  They lost 6-4 to the (dreaded) Chicago Cubs, allowing the Cubbies to clinch the National League Division Series and eliminating the Cardinals from further post-season play.  The Cardinals boasted a season record of 100 wins - 62 losses.  Heading into post-season, they touted the best record in all of Major League Baseball.  

But all those wins meant nothing once they lost last night.  

In the majors, people talk right away about "next season" and "next year."  They begin making plans and strategies to prepare the team to go further and do better in the year to come. The countdown to spring training begins.

However, for the majority of us, we don't have the privilege of banking on next season or next year.  This season is all we have.   This team, this time is it for us and when our championship dreams get crushed, its incredibly disappointing.  

And if this sport is literally all you are, as in you truly eat, sleep, practice and live this sport, then it is, in every sense of the word, your identity.  Any ending except a championship can sincerely be devastating.  

   Image from

   Image from

If you are sitting in the aftermath of a big loss, let me pull up a chair in the locker room and sit knee-to-knee with you for a moment. 

It's ok to grieve this.  You invested your time, energy and emotions into pursuing this goal.  And it didn't happen.  That stinks.  Take some time to mourn what was lost.  This season has ended and all the little moments and relationships that went into it can never be repeated.  Its ok if that hurts a little bit.  Sit in that and say goodbye. 

This is not who you are.  I don't know how you performed in that final game.  I don't know the reality of your relationships with your teammates, coaches and fans.  But what I do know is that this sport is not all that you are.  These losses and mistakes are not who you are.  No one else is looking at you and defining you by your batting average, your rushing stats, your points or goals. They see beyond the uniform and see who you are and who you can be, off the court/field. 

Use this for something greater.  This loss isn't meant to define you, but it can most definitely be used to spur you on toward the best version of yourself.  Glean from this lesson every nugget of wisdom you can and re-invest into your self and your future. 

"Every adversity, every failure, every heartache carries with it the seed of an equal or greater benefit."                                                                                                                 - Napoleon Hill 


This is Day 8 of the October 2015 #Write31days Challenge.  Check out the entire list of posts here.



Losing retirement // Finding work that is worth doing

I turned 33 in January and have affectionately been referring to this year as "my Jesus year" - ya know, since he only lived to be 33 and all.  My big question at the beginning of the year was - ok, God, so what's this thing called Life all about? Or, more exactly, what is my life all about?

I know all about the two greatest commandments and the Great Commission.  Love God, love people; tell others about Jesus, baptize them and teach them to obey what Jesus has taught us.  

At the big picture level, I got that.  But tucked in the dark spaces of my heart, I wondered if at the detail level, at my personal level,  if there was something more specific for me and I was missing it.  

Like somehow by pulling back on my photography business, writing more but not making money, and mainly focusing on staying home with our kids & their education was somehow leading me to miss out on the grand plan that God had for my life.  

I know that I am not alone in that.  But nine months later, I am here to tell you what I have discovered - executing the two greatest commandments and the great commission to the near ones God has given me on a daily basis is exactly what my life is all about.  That's the greatest calling AND the only calling I have.  Every thing else is simply a new path or scenic overlook in that journey.  

Which leads me to the main point of this post - RETIREMENT.  

In our cushy American culture, retirement sits as the end goal of our careers (and even our lives), like a pot of gold at the end of the proverbial rainbow of 40+ hour weeks and 401(k) saving plans.  We are told at the age of 25 to start saving and planning so that at the age of 65 we can say farewell to the rat race of life and start doing what we really want to do - traveling and golfing, grand babies and quilting. 

We strive today that we may enjoy tomorrow. It is what motivates us to get out of bed on Monday morning and work late into Friday night. 

Retirement = the good life. 

Image from The Retirement Funnel

Image from The Retirement Funnel


But, friends, I think we may be wrong.  

This picture is a snapshot of the "How much is enough?" story posted in various Jimmy John's establishments around the country.  It basically questions our entire purpose and perspective of the American dream and our pursuit of retirement.    

As seen in Jimmy John's restaurants but posted from  

As seen in Jimmy John's restaurants but posted from  

What if the "good life" is the one we are overlooking today because we are too busy trying to scrimp and save for the retirement we are banking on having in 7,300 tomorrows? 

(that is 20 years in case you were wondering where I pulled that number ;)

Ten years ago, my mother-in-law retired from 29 years of teaching.  This past spring, my mom retired with 36 years of service from AT&T. This winter, my father-in-law is preparing to retire from 20+ years at the U.S. Postal Service.  

These, and so many like them, have put in the time and energy at their jobs for so many years. They have worked diligently, kept a steady job, managed households, submitted to workplace authority and raised families.  Like a mountain's summit, they have reached the period of life when they have earned the chance to permanently stop pursuing their working career and shift their focus to other avenues of living. They are now focusing on doing the things they previously did not have time or energy to do when they maintained a full-time job.  They get to do what they want to do - finally.  

While their schedule of life drastically changes, their purpose in life remains the same.  The greatest commandments and the great commission still apply to them, even without a "career" or full-time job.   Love God.  Love People.  Tell others about Jesus.  

This past month I have jokingly been telling others that I am retiring from photography.  At 33, I am retiring.  It's just fun to say.  But it's true.  In September, I shot my last traditional wedding and next summer I have my last wedding I ever want to book.  This fall, I am doing my last portrait sessions and after that, I will no longer be a professional photographer.  I am ending my professional photography career, and that, by definition, is retirement. 

There is such peace in this decision for me and I am excited to close this chapter of my story. However, if I was actually 65 and ending a career I pursued for 25+ years, I think I would be way more fearful.  Afraid that there would not be enough money to cover my cost of living.  Timid to dive into the savings I had spent so many years putting away.  Nervous about spending too much too soon because I really have no clue how long it needs to last.  

The reality of God as my Provider and Sustainer in that situation would be far more faith-stretching than it is in this one.  I have to acknowledge that circumstance and give credence to the reality of that wrestle that I am not in. 

With that in mind, though, I would like to share a somewhat similar opportunity facing our crew in the potential near future.  My husband is 36 years old and we would like to move back to the family farm in the next year and promote a you-pick style apple orchard & expand the current farm operation.  We are working to be full-time farmers.  

But we don't have the motivation to wait until we are 65 to stop doing what we do now and start pursing what we have always wanted to do.  A farming lifestyle isn't for the physically weary and if we want to give this thing the best effort we have, we would much rather start with the enthusiasm and energy of 40 than the wisdom and wornness of 60. 

So we got a goal - - - > Say goodbye to the suit & tie / 9-to-5 life at the age of 40.

We want to retire from corporate life 25 years ahead of schedule and pursue the dream my husband has had since he was 17 years old.  We are saving + planning, working + dreaming, but truth be told, we know that even with great diligence in what we do today, we will still have to make lots of sacrifices in order to continue to provide the home, education and lifestyle that we want for our family.  

 Crazy? Yup.  Doable? Dunno.  Worth it? We think so. 

We want to retire from the work force, but we are not stopping working.  And truth be told, we have no plans to.  While our bodies still work, so will we - in some capacity. And to our culture, this is an even crazier idea than that last one.  

Remember my mother-in-law? She stopped teaching full-time ten years ago but she has been working every day since - mainly managing her farm to-do lists, but also serving her kids and grandkids in whatever way she can.  She retired but kept on working.  

One of my all time favorite bible study teachers, Walt, retired from the corporate world at 40 but at 80 years old, he was still leading 5+ bible studies each week.  Retirement was never his end goal for life. 

I share this with you because I think we need to say goodbye to retirement.  Its nothing but a mythical pot of gold that takes a pot of gold to do.  Friend, you don't have to obtain retirement to live the life you have always wanted.  

You can do exactly what you are called to do today (that's the Love God/love others/tell them about Jesus thing) while building a life that will last through the tomorrows.  

We need to stop working just so we can quit working, and instead find work that is worth doing and can be an extension of the life we want to live.  

Figure out what it looks like in your life to say goodbye to retirement and you may just realize the pot of gold has been right in front of you all along.  


This is Day 7 of the October 2015 #Write31days Challenge.  Check out the entire list of posts here.





Letting Go of Our Stuff // Digging into the heart behind hoarding


It's a show about people who simply cannot let go of their stuff and, according to the network's description, "who obsessively hoard to the point that collecting overwhelms their families and their lives. Whether facing eviction, divorce, broken relationships or the removal of minor children from their homes, all the hoarders are in desperate need of help." 

First, it's the kids' art projects and school work.  Then, it's the boxes or gift wrap you can reuse. Maybe next, it's the empty, recyclable food containers that can be used for a household project.  Or it's the bag of clothes, used pots and pans, box of whatever that somebody gave you that you could maybe possibly use one day.  Before you know it, your closets, cabinets and shelves are full.  So you buy more organizers. And get more stuff.  Until one day, you are simply stacking stuff on top of stuff on top of stuff.  

And you have more stuff than you can use or need, but you just can't let it go.  Like a squirrel storing life-essential acorns for winter, you keep it...ya know, just in case.  

From the outside looking in, it seems crazy, ridiculous and downright illogical.  It's so obvious to everyone else that we that what we are holding onto is junk.  Things we don't need.  Things that may have not only become unusable but even at times unhealthy or disgusting.  Just throw it away already, they yell. 

But we don't.  It's like we have become paralyzed and are physically incapable of throwing that thing away. We rationalize that it's somehow too valuable or too important to just give away or toss in the trash.  

This is just one small corner of our very full basement storage room. 

This is just one small corner of our very full basement storage room. 

Friend, I have a confession to make.  

I am a hoarder. 

We began sorting through years of acquired stuff when we prepared to put our house on the market earlier this year.  And it would never fail that when we came across something we no longer needed, we would begin wrestling with what to do with it - 

  • Trash it? (Never! Somebody, somewhere could get some use out of it.) 
  • Donate it? (Maybe. Except I'm pretty sure this thing is valuable and we could get some money for it.) 
  • Sell it? (YES! Because it's definitely worth money.  A lot of money.  Like $5, at least.  And then we try to sell it, but no one wants to buy it.  So it goes back into the pile of stuff to be sorted and wrestled over another day). 

This is the cycle of our hoarding lives. 

According to Merriam-Webster, the definition of a hoard is "a large amount of something valuable that is kept hidden."

Once I started to think about that definition, I realized just how incredibly accurate that it is!  

To us, our stash of junk is valuable or else we would be able to just discard it without a second thought (except maybe environmentally.  I'm not a super big fan of putting all things directly into landfills. But that's a different soapbox....I think.)

And yup, we definitely keep our pile o'junk tucked away, hidden behind a white painted door in our basement - intentionally done so that most of our guests would never encounter the reality of our "stuff" stockpile. 

But can I go a little deeper with you here?

If I am even more honest, my definition of value is actually corrupted; it's not a trustworthy version because it's actually rooted in the soil of fear. Like a doubting colleague, Fear questions my decisions and I end up believing that I'm not enough without this "thing" -

  •  What if you need that later on? Then you will have to go and buy it.  You should keep it.
  • Oh you can't get rid of that! Your baby made it.  You must keep it.  A good parent would treasure even the smallest work of art.  (Therefore, you must not be a good parent).
  • Do you know how much that cost? You can't just throw/give that away! 
  • But that was a gift! Somebody was thoughtful enough to give that to you; it would be rude to get rid of it.  

All those questions may actually be valid - but you know what? The statements of guilt and condemnation that often follow are not.  They are lies.  They are deceptive chaperones that lead us down the path of believing that God will not provide for us and our tomorrows.

Friends, but the truth is that our Creator God is a good God and He delights in providing for our needs! 

"Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your Heavenly Father feeds them.  Are you not much more valuable than they?"  - Matthew 6:26
"I am the Lord your God, who brought you up out of Egypt.  Open wide your mouth and I will fill it."                                                                                                                          - Psalm 81:10
"If your child asks for bread, do you trick him with sawdust? If he asks for fish, do you scare him with a live snake on his plate? As bad as you are, you wouldn't think of such a thing.  You're at least decent to your own children.  So don't you think the God who conceived you in love will be even better?                                                           - Matthew 7:11 (The Message)  

I want to encourage you that if piles of stuff keep overtaking corners of your home, take some time and sit before the Lord and ask Him to show you your heart.  Are you having a difficult time letting go of stuff because at your core you are doubting that He will sufficiently provide for your needs? 

Are you clinging to useless things because you believe providing for your tomorrow rests in the ability of your two hands?

Friend, that is not freedom.  Our salvation, which comes only by Jesus' death and resurrection, invites us to live with open hands before our God and depend on Him to provide for us, every day.  Our God is Jehovah Jireh!! The God who provides (see Genesis 22:8, 14).

I entreat you to believe that He sees your needs and He knows your heart.  Come to Him with your requests, shoo away fears with His Truth and sit before Him with open hands.  


The best way to combat lies is with Truth.  Here are some more Bible verses to help strengthen you if you are struggling to believe the best about God and His desire to provide for you. 

- - - - - 

With these things in mind, I want to live with you a little more open-handedly.  I have had the joy of attending two amazing conferences and received such cute gifts in our welcome bags.  But, truth be told, I don't actually need much of it.  Sure, it would be cute to use or have..but I don't need it.  

Sooooooo, I'm giving much of it away!  

Head on over to IG and follow me at @RebeccaPierceCreative today because I will be listing all the items I have to gift to anyone who asks!  Be the first to leave a comment, naming the item you want and I will connect with you and get it in your hands.  :) 


Thanks in advance for letting me bless you by giving it to your home instead of my hoard ;) 

This is Day 6 of the October 2015 #Write31days Challenge.  Check out the entire list of posts here.

Hugs + Pictures // When Good Times End & Normal Life Begins Again

This week I had the joy of returning to Winshape, the retreat center of Chick-fil-A in Rome, Georgia, and pretty much the most restorative place of rest I have ever encountered in the USA.   The annual Pursuit Conference is held there each October (with a new spring conference happening in April!) and after attending the inaugural conference in October 2012, I felt this year would be a good year to return and see all the Lord has been doing.  :)

Me, and about 125+ other women, arrived this past Monday to the tucked away retreat center on the Berry College campus and per protocol, we were greeted in the parking lot by welcoming Winshape staff and ushered into the arms of refreshment for the next four days. 

In response to the planning by the Pursuit leadership, the obedience of the speakers and the openness of the attendees, the Holy Spirit showed up, day after day, moment by moment and did work in the messiness of all our hearts.  It was.....beyond words.

Then today arrived.  Thursday. Day Four. The day when all the "retreating" ends and "returning" begins.     

Today is the day when all that God has done in the last four days and who He has worked through to do it culminates in hugs, pictures and goodbyes along the pathway just before the parking lot.  Smiles and snuggles and selfies with new friends abound (is that then an "us-ies"?? I don't know these things). 

That once welcoming path now becomes one of lingering...for just a "few minutes more" - so we can grasp and hold onto every last breath of the retreating, refreshing, resting and restoring that God did here. 

A few minutes grows into an hour and then you realize the time has come where you have to go. The time has come to return, to enter back into the reality of daily life and walk into whatever is waiting for you when the front door opens.  

But as we go, new friends, let us remember, we no longer walk through that front door alone.  God has reminded us that we are seen and He has gifted us with new friends, new truths and new testimonies to greet the days ahead.  

We must say goodbye to the days of retreating so that we can now say hello to the days of returning with new friends by our side.  

This is Day 5 of the October 2015 #Write31days Challenge.  Check out the entire list of posts here.

Wave bye-bye // Wrestling with Mom Guilt when you have to leave your babies

God knew what Monday morning would look like.

He knew that your baby would be sick with bumps around his mouth and his bottom and his hands.  That there is nothing you can do for him except to be near.

That your husband would have to work from home while homeschooling big kids and taking care of a sick babe. 

That your daughter would be whiney and weepy for no other reason except that she had to wake up this morning. 

That your oldest would be struggling with anger, trying to find his words and reasons for why he feels the way he feels, and with his discouragement because you’re not going to be there. 

That despite your attempts to prepare your household for your four-day leave of absence, it would still feel like failure when you walked out that door. 

 Photo credit: 

 Photo credit: 

On Sunday, each in their own time with you, your son then your daughter and even your husband look at you and ask - can I just come with you? 

 And you return their look and say with great empathy, "No, babe.  Its just for me.  I have go alone." 

But the truth is -  you don’t really want to go.  You would rather just stay there with them.  It would be so much easier to stay.  It's what you know - THEY are what you know, THEY are what you do.   And they need YOU. 

This little life you have has become so worth it.  Its ok if the world keeps spinning and this is all you do.  You’re happy with this.

But the Lord, in his graciousness and wisdom, speaks up and gently says "No, my darling dear.  You must go." 

He knew that Monday morning would come.  And that at 9:00 a.m. this is what it would look like. He isn't surprised by your baby's sickness or taken aback by your daughter's whines or overwhelmed by your son's emotions.  

With ease, you get your bags packed.  You look around and everyone has what they need.  You give kisses and hugs and reminders, but there's no big farewell or fanfare.  There's no need because He is in the middle of it all.  

Peace surrounds the going because it is time for you to go.  Whether you want to go or not, no longer matters.  You are to go because He has something for you that you can't get inside these four walls.  So you walk out in obedience even though your heart is a little sad. 


And you trust that He is good and you trust that He has all of these things that you typically hold together.

In your going, He reminds you that He is sufficient - for you and for all those in your household. 


Upon your return, you may find that all of you have grown a little taller and look ever more lovely than when you initially departed.  


This is Day 4 of the October 2015 #Write31days Challenge.  Check out the entire list of posts here.



When High School Ends // The Legacy of Senior Year

For the last five years, I have had the privilege of being a professional portrait photographer.  I have been at births, celebrated wedding days, captured the best sides of rambunctious toddlers and moody big kids.  But my absolute favorite session is the high school senior.  

There is something magical about senior year that is unlike any other year of our life.  It is this unique corridor that allows one to hang daringly between adolescence and adulthood.  Newly graduated seniors have the chance to choose whatever path they desire with limited liability -

  • Wanna take a gap year and do mission work? Go for it! Heck, I may even offer up some cash to fund your adventure.  
  • Junior college more your speed so you can pursue baseball or get your Gen Eds done at a cheaper rate? Cool.  
  • Wanna move away and attend a crazy large university and join a fraternity/sorority? Do it.
  • School not your thing and wanna start makin' some cash while your friends rack up debt by going to college full-time? Sounds like a plan, Stan. 

The only option that is not worth applauding is to just do nothing.  But other than that, the world is your oyster, friend.  Senior Year of high school is the Red Bull of Life- it gives you wings.   

Photo from

Photo from

My senior year of high school was 15 (!!!) years ago.  Isn't that simply ridiculous? That number alone just cemented that fact that no one from this year's senior class is reading this blog. So, I will simply share all those years of stockpiled wisdom to you, dear reader.  Whether you are a mom, teacher or other adult influencer of high schoolers, here is what I would give to you as you help prepare the Class of 2016 to say goodbye to high school and hello to the big, bright world. 

1. Your life counts.  Like, right now.  You now have the right to vote, get married, join the military and even buy lottery tickets.  (You are about 7+ years away from being able to rent a car, so save the crazy awesome road trip adventures for a bit).  You have influence right where you are and you can do something that is worthwhile with your time today.  Don't wait until you are a grown-up to do something that matters with your life.  You can do it now. So get off Snapchat and go find somebody to help. 

2. Stop trying to decide on your major and instead figure out what you are good at. As soon as someone says they are going to college, the follow-up question is always - so what's your major gonna be? I think we need to be asking would-be college students a better question.  

We need to help them see what they are good at; help them understand their strengths and figure out what they actually enjoy doing, instead of simply choosing a major for its income potential. Figure out what you are good at and passionate about and then see how you can make money doing that.  You'll enjoy adulthood a whole lot more. 

3. You aren't promised another day with any of these people. I know there are teachers you can't stand or classmates that you would be fine never seeing again. But I'm certain there are a special few who have made a difference in your life or you hope to see them again many times between now and your 10-year high school reunion.  Except there is no guarantee that your entire senior class will actually get to walk across that stage together. Make the time this week, this month, this semester to let them know you value them. 

4. Do something for free.  I'm sure you, like every other high school senior, like to have a little cash in your pocket.  Ain't nothing wrong with that.  But guess what? That $5 you spent at Chipotle isn't the best ROI (return on investment) on your hard-earned cash.  I'm gonna sound insane here for a minute, but hear me out - every once in awhile, do whatever it is you typically do to earn money and offer it up for free.  If you babysit, then pick a family and tell them this Friday night is on the house.  If you mow lawns or shovel snow, do it for an elderly neighbor or single mom at no charge. The money you get paid will be gone before you know it.  But generosity given with no strings attached has this crazy way of boomerangin' back to you just when you need it most.  

5. Read good books.  You don't know everything, friend.  Sorry to break the news to you.  You may be wicked smart, but there is someone out there who knows more than you about something.  Be humble enough to read their book.  

If you keep these things in mind between now and cap-throwin' time, you'll be just fine.  Even well beyond high school. 

This is Day 3 of the October 2015 #Write31days Challenge.  Check out the entire list of posts here

Living in the Bonus Days // What it looks like to sit still even though you're ready to move forward

"Many are the plans in a man's heart, but it is the Lord's purpose that prevails."

- Proverbs 19:21 

Four months ago, we announced that we had put our house in Northern Kentucky on the market because we were trying to move back "home" to Missouri.  We got farm blood running through our veins and it seemed the time had come for us to return to the family farm near St. Louis and establish our roots there.  

We boxed up what we didn't need for the next six months to one year, de-personalized our home as best we could and started keeping the house as "show ready" as possible when you have three kids running around & you homeschool & run a small home-based business.  (Can you feel the insanity yet?)

We prayed and prepared and waited.  For three months & 10 house showings, we repeated that routine until it became clear that God was not gonna sell our house at this time and the high maintenance that is home-education became of greater priority than house showings.  We took our house off the market after Labor Day and have turned our attention to what God has for us here in this season.

People have asked if we are disappointed that we are still here.  The answer is no, of course not. We love it here. But we still have this unexplainable peace that it IS time to move.  We share that honestly with people because when the time does come and God does sell our house, we are outta here; which is incredibly exciting and also very sad...all at the exact same time.  

God has graciously given us some of the most invaluable friendships and deep-rooted community here that we have ever known.  It will be so hard to leave and say goodbye to everything He has brought us here.  

But we know that He is ushering us into a new season, bringing us a new mission field - an opportunity and adventure to do life simply differently than we get to do life right now.  

For whatever reason, however, God has given us more time in Northern Kentucky (I highly suspect He is allowing us to stay here a bit longer because we have some mighty big pray-er friends out here who, I believe, have assaulted God with petitions that our time be extended ;) and I am counting each new day as a bonus.  

Hikes in new places with our outdoorsy friends, first-time coffee dates with neighbors and book club evenings with fellow mommas are extravagances that I am delighting in, knowing that this time next year, these opportunities may no longer be as accessible as they are today.  

We are living in the bonus days of our time in Kentucky.  Today is a gracious, undeserved gift. How I spend the gift of today is in part my tribute to the people and friendships God has set before us here. 

Sometime soon we will pack our entire home into cardboard boxes and load our lives onto trucks bound for St. Louis.  We will hug the necks and squeeze the bodies of so many dear friends.  We will cry and promise to visit and keep in touch.  We will say goodbye in tangible ways and drive away into the setting sun. 

But I don't want that day to be the summary of the closing of this chapter of our lives.  I want that day to be the punctuation at the end of a long run-on sentence, where we sat and thought and talked and dreamed and laughed and cried and hugged and encouraged so much so that should another day never be granted us, we knew that we had already said goodbye in a hundred different, gloriously sincere, intangible ways.  

My friend, I want to say goodbye to you like that. 

This is Day 2 of the October 2015 #Write31days Challenge.  Check out the entire list of posts here


31 Days Writing Challenge // October 2015

Welcome to my first ever 31 days writing challenge!  This month I will be exploring what it means to say goodbye - both in celebration and in grief.  I will dive into a different aspect of this each day.  Thanks for tagging along.  I hope its of encouragement to you!

Photo: Getty Images

Photo: Getty Images

Saying Goodbye // A 31 Day Writing Challenge

Hello friends! It's been a bit, eh?

With the start of the school year and photography season, life has gotten even more full and my time to write  If you saw my post about doing less photography and more writing, you may be thinking, "Rebecca, you're not suppose to be taking photos any more.  I thought you quit."

Well, I'm kinda a terrible quitter (sometimes).  I say no, I know the why's behind why I choose not to do something and then a dear friend asks me and my self-discipline falls apart.  This is what has happened.  And now the leaves are changing and my camera is begging me to take pictures.  It's pretty pathetic.  (My lonely camera AND my lack of self-discipline). 

So here I am, with beautiful fall leaves and sweet families to take pictures of AND now there is this way killer 31 day writing challenge from Crystal Stine where you write every day in the month of October.  EVERY DAY.  This is like a half-marathon for writers.  And I haven't exactly been training.  

But I'm gonna do it.  I'm getting my bucket off the proverbial couch and I'm gonna slay this month (like it's a dragon).  

Now, the next level of awesome (read: crazy hard) for this writing challenge is that you write on the SAME TOPIC every day.  Man. I'm probably gonna lose my enthusiasm for this challenge in about 9 days, just so ya know.  But I asked The Lord for some insight here because I really had no clue what I could write about every day for 31 days.  And here's what he said:

Saying Goodbye. 

In different ways, in different seasons, for different reasons, we all have had to say goodbye to someone or something at some point in our lives.  And I want to dig into that.  I want to rejoice in those celebratory seasons and I want to mourn in those heartbreaking ones.  I want to sit and remember all those feels I've had and I want to sit and ponder with empathy on the ones I have not experienced firsthand. 

Will you join me this month as we walk together and say goodbye?  (If so, scroll up to the top there on the right side and subscribe to my blog - I know you don't want to miss out on this adventure :) 


Mommas saying goodbye to the newlyweds.  Photo from Michael + Allie's Wedding // May 2015 

This is Day 1 of the October 2015 #Write31days Challenge.  Check out the entire list of posts here

The Joy of Rejection // Enjoying the chance to downsize my dreams

Since I was in high school, I have loved the chance to speak in front of groups.  I have had the chance to share about God's work in my life at business luncheons, on a church stage and even at a fancy dinner gala in front of hundreds of potential ministry donors, all before I ever entered college - and not once did my knees knock or my voice crack at the chance to do so.  Many people may fear public speaking, but something in me loves it.  

Over the years, I felt this continued leading to speak and share an inspiring word about who God is, what He has done for me and how He loves others & desires to have a relationship with them.  By adulthood, I just KNEW that being a speaker was what God had for me and while I didn't know exactly what it would look like, I had a feeling it would be very "Women of Faith-esque".  

I first encountered Women of Faith during their Irrepressible Hope tour and while I didn't fall in love with the actual conference, I did love the idea and the influence of the conference.  I didn't care to be seated in the audience - but I did feel a connection to being on that stage.  And at my second WOF event, I got pretty darn close. 

Two years prior, my older sisters had served behind-the-scenes at the St. Louis WOF tour stop where they were "shadows" for some of the speakers & musicians.  My sister, "The Big D", had gotten to be the escort for the feisty Patsy Clairmont a couple of times and my older sister, "Kik", carpooled the multi-member band, Avalon, around town in her American-made SUV.  When they invited me to join the crew, I agreed, not knowing anything about what I was signing up for.  

My "talent" ended up being Chonda Pierce - a sassy, short-haired, Southern stick of dynamite whose job it was to tickle the ladies' funny bone before connecting to their heart. I have to say, I seriously had the best gig of the crew. (And seeing that I was newly married, I found it even more awesome that I was now a "Pierce" too ;) 

In case you haven't had the pleasure of seriously LOL-ing because of Chonda, you may want to stop reading right now and check out this video of her...just so we are all on the same page. Go ahead - it's ok.  I'll be here when you come back.  

Back already? Great! See? I told you - she's stinkin' hilarious!  You just never know what is going to come out of her mouth, whether she has a microphone in her hand or not.  I had the honor and responsibility of driving her around downtown STL and escorting her around the convention center for her book signing and even to the stage for her scheduled appearance.   I got to wear a cool headset and guided her through the crowds with one arm wrapped around her and one arm pushing the masses aside, all secret service like - it was pretty legit. 

If you know me in real life, you know that I am slightly height disadvantaged, so you can imagine the awesomeness it took to escort the funniest lady in attendance through the crowded concourse and get her "to the church on time." But we did it.  

After just taking my front-row, reserved for "shadows" seating, Chonda took the stage. And she proceeded to call out those "Christian" women who had been less-than-gracious in letting us pass by - and as the audience began to laugh, she called me by name and told me to stand up. With a spotlight blinding me, I stood up and was awesome. 

"Isn't she just precious," Chonda remarked. "Shame on you ladies."  :) :) :) 

I tell you that story just so you can grasp the vision I had of how God would use me - it was definitely all bright lights and big stages. 

Well, here I am about 10 years later, and I gotta tell you - that was the closest I've come to a big stage.  Sure, I have had the pleasure of leading local camps and events in my time with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.  But even that season has passed as I have pursued the home education path with our children.  The closest thing I have to a stage right now looks a whole lot like our living room. ;)

But you know what, friend? I am actually ok with that.  Because God is showing me the beauty in downsizing my dreams.  I used to chase after and hope for a chance to be up on a stage with a message to share with hundreds; and over the last two years, He has shown me how awesome it is to just sit across the table from just one - and hear that person's story and give credence to the value of that one life. 

This summer, God set in my heart a fresh, more focused desire, one honed in on living purposefully as our time in Kentucky draws to a close.  I want our last few months here to echo the words Paul proclaimed in his second letter to Timothy - 

"For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near.  I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith."  

I want to fill our days with people - loving them, learning them and pointing them ever more to Jesus Christ.  I want to hear the heart story of my neighbors - both literal and figurative - and offer life-giving words of hope + encouragement. I want to be exhausted when we move because God used up all we had to offer and the friends we leave behind can never question our sincere love for them or Jesus.  

And in God-like fashion, just a few short weeks after this refined vision, He confirmed all that He was already doing. 

It was Tuesday afternoon and our time at our weekly homeschool co-op was wrapping up.  As I packed my things from class, one of the parents pulled me aside and shared something with me.

"I got to tell you something," - she said.  Ok. 

"Well, outside of me telling you, there's no reason for you to know this," - she continued.  Hmm, ok. 

"The last two weeks we have had senior planning meetings and one of the items up for discussion was the graduation commencement speaker." (Ohhh. My ears perked up.) 

"And some of the students suggested you." (Well how about that?!)

"But, unfortunately, they voted and they didn't pick you." (Bummer.)

"But here's what I thought you should know.  When asked about why they wanted you to be the speaker, they said it was because of how made them feel - you treat them like a person. You listened to them and you inspire them to do something that matters."  (Cue tears welling up in her eyes AND mine.)

Then she looked at me and said - "THAT is why we do what we do.  That is the whole point of all of this." 

I was stunned.  Never before have I been told that I didn't make the cut and yet felt so honored and adequate. Never before was there such JOY in rejection. 

But this rejection made one thing clear - what I am doing counts.  It matters.  Investing time into the handful of co-op students I have been given, loving & leading my kids, grabbing lunch & praying with another momma - that is my stage and it is a worthy calling. 

I am doing exactly what God has put before me to do - and it may not be big or grand or flamboyant.  Strangers may not know my name and aren't lining up to buy my book or read my blog, but ya know what?  It's no longer about who knows MY name; God has grown my heart so that I can see and care about those whose names I know. 

It's not about the hundreds.  Its about the one. 

Is God calling you to downsize your dream in some way? If so, I encourage you to consider honing in your focus and walking in obedience to that.  It may be way more awesome than you think! If you are wrestling with a "down-sized" calling, leave a comment below - I'd love to pray for you as we walk this journey together.  :) 

Happy First Day of School!! // Homeschool Edition

As school buses once again begin rumbling down the streets, we are reminded about the privilege and opportunity our family has to homeschool our children. 

This week marks the beginning of a new school year for many in our area (and in our social networks), so I thought that would be a fine time share a little more about this aspect of our life. 

We began this gloriously challenging adventure halfway through our oldest's first year of kindergarten; he is now entering third grade, which means we are starting our fourth year of home education, our third year of participating in a co-op (Strong Oaks Academy, which kicks off later this month) and our second year balancing the education needs of two full time students (Samuel in third grade, Elisabeth in first grade). Oh! And our first year doing all of this with a crazy, table-climbing, non-stop moving toddler in the mix. 

And in case you're wondering, yes, it can be as overwhelming as it sounds. And no, I'm not anymore super-hero empowered than you are.  It's just Jesus.  ;) 

So, why homeschool?

When we initially decided to take Samuel out of public school, we were faced with two options for education - small Christian schools, located about 25-30 minutes from our home, requiring $5,000-$6,000 per school year OR home educate.  Gue$$ which one my hu$band liked be$t??  Yup, whichever one did not resemble the beginnings of college tuition.  

That's when I found myself baptized into the oceans of homeschool curriculum.  

What was so wrong with public school anyway?

Honestly? Nothing.  And Everything.  All at the same time. We had a fabulous kindergarten teacher; she was awesome and thought highly of Samuel.  But between the 25 kids in the a.m. and 25 kids in the p.m., she couldn't provide much one-on-one attention and when we started seeing some downward progression in his behavior and emotions, we found ourselves living reactively to how his half day of kindergarten went and running a post-bus-ride debrief every day.  It got to be exhausting.  

The Lord had just called me away from vocational ministry with the Northern Kentucky Fellowship of Christian Athletes (something I LOVED, but a passion that simply needed to be tabled for the time being) and I now had the time to see our family needs with less distractions.  It became clear that my attention needed to be more focused on our kids' needs and one of those was the character and growth of our oldest son. 

There was a time when at the age of 6, children were ready to take off into this big world with a backpack of supplies at their feet as they rode away into the school day on a big yellow bus.  But for us, our kid wasn't there yet.  Oh sure, he was ready to read, could follow instructions, could tie his shoes, could stand in line and could rock out that cafeteria line at breakfast time (his favorite part of school seriously was the chance to get whatever he wanted from the cafeteria ladies.  Cinnamon-roll day was his jam!). But it was his heart and character that needed some more time.  

So, the husband and I discussed it and came up with a game plan - we would commit to homeschooling Samuel from kindergarten through 2nd grade.  Come 3rd grade, we would evaluate his needs and go from there.  We were definitely not planning on being a homeschool family come the high school years. (hehehehehe)

We bought a curriculum set, sought some wise counsel (most of our family did not support this idea) and started down the home education path!

But I would be a lying bag of dog poo if I let you think it was all glitter crafts, advanced learning endeavors and easy-going days of awesome since we began.  <Clears throat> It has not been. Throughout our first few years, our days have actually included:

  • Arguments.  About the proper way to write an "a" or "p" or "q".  Or that no matter how you divided it, 2+2 always equaled 4...even if our son did think he discovered a "new way" to add.
  • Tears.  By the student AND the teacher.  He would cry that we did school EVERY DAY (Apparently, only crazy mean people would require school five days a week). I would cry that it wasn't all glitter crafts, advanced learning endeavors and easy-going days of awesome.  
  • A sense of drowning. No, I didn't ever have the desire to drown my child; it was more, I felt like I was drowning.  Many, many times there were days of I felt so overwhelmed by what we weren't getting done and became anxious that I wasn't able to provide our son with the highest quality and most diverse education experience that I imagined someone else could give him. 
  • No school work.  Sick days, errands, or even just emotional apathy could all very easily disrupt our routine and give me more than enough reason to call school off for the day and allow the kids to build a tent and play all day instead. 
  • Calling in back-up. When you home-educate, you get to be teacher, principal, lunch lady AND parent.  This is indeed as amazing as you just imagined.  >>sarcasm alert<< I have sent out an emotional SOS to my husband and interrupted his work day without consideration way too many times.  I have contacted schools for enrollment information mid-school week, at least once a school year.  And I have even outsourced the teaching to my awesomely retired MIL for a week at a time. 

So if it can be that crazy, why do you keep doing it?

Great question! You reader friends always have the best questions.  

The simple answer: Jesus.     The elaborated answer: Obedience. 

When we first began, we committed to homeschooling Samuel through second grade; which eventually led to committing to give Elisabeth the same opportunity.  I wanted to throw in the towel numerous times but Ben kept me steadfast as he gently reminded me over and over of the commitment I had made.  So I kept returning and trusting God that fulfilling this commitment was for my good and asked Him to help me press on. 

Then, the last semester of second grade had arrived and I began making plans to enroll Samuel in public school for the fall.  Second grade had actually gone really well - it had been our best and most enjoyable year yet! But with Third Grade looming ahead, I knew I would either have to step up my game immensely or enroll him in a great school where he could receive so many new and exciting experiences.  With my pros & cons list in hand, I decided a traditional school structure was the better idea. 

Until this....

This is a peek at our 9-day family road trip this past May where we traveled from Cincinnati to Niagara Falls to Cape Cod to Hershey & Gettysburg and back home...and we loved it! It was the best edu-vacation ever! (Education + Vacation is kinda how we roll anyway)

This is a peek at our 9-day family road trip this past May where we traveled from Cincinnati to Niagara Falls to Cape Cod to Hershey & Gettysburg and back home...and we loved it! It was the best edu-vacation ever! (Education + Vacation is kinda how we roll anyway)

The beauty of that trip was that I had already made up my mind in regards to Samuel's schooling for the new school term. I wasn't looking for answers on our trip; I was simply enjoying our family time as we vacationed together.  But God knew better (He always does, doesn't He?).  

In tiny whispers, He affirmed our education investment and He graciously showed us fruit. Strangers, servers, and watching grandparents would take the time to compliment the actions demonstrated by our kids. When we answered the common question about our schedule (oh! is school already out for summer back home?) with "no, we homeschool so we are a bit more flexible."  It was always received positively and returned with encouragement. 

Once home, I was met with this response in my time with Jesus regarding the new school year:

Rebecca, you have fulfilled the commitment you made to homeschool Samuel. I am not requiring you to continue in this endeavor.  You can choose what you would like to do in the fall.  

That thought alone brought glorious freedom for me.  I did not have to walk this out in disciplined obedience anymore.  I could choose to send our son to a traditional school or I could choose to continue to homeschool him.  There was joy awaiting me in this choice. There was joy and freedom and grace. Oh sweet redeeming grace! 

And this day, as many of our friends congregate once again at bus stops and in school cafeterias, I sit home with a house full of kids, a sink full of dishes, a table full of books and a heart full of joy because I got to choose to do this all over again. 

Happy First Day of School, friends!

Our Little Drummer Boy // Parenting with Purpose

When we were pregnant with our first child about 9 years ago, I spent a lot of time praying for that little one growing inside my belly.  I prayed that he/she would love the Lord, that he/she would lead others well,  and that he/she would have a strong heart.  

We were one of those odd couples who did not find out the gender of our baby and God used that to draw me into even deeper dependence on Him and a greater trust in His plans as I wrestled with my desires and dreams for our first born.  I was pretty confident we were having a boy (I actually prayed that God would give us a first born son because I knew the strong headed, stubbornness that lay within the genes of our family line.  I figured if I had to go toe-to-toe with a strong-willed, female teenager, there was a good chance one of us may not survive the adolescent years ;). 

We met Samuel Benjamin Pierce on Monday, February 26, 2007 - a healthy 8.1 pound first-born son. 

And our world has rarely been quiet, calm or laid back ever since.  :) 

When I look back on all those prayers I uttered during pregnancy, I never really knew how they would manifest themselves in the life of our eldest child.  (Had I known, I may have prayed more for a submission heart..ha!) But I am truly thankful for them because they continue to give me a chance to see the faithful hand of God in the life and days of our Samuel.  

Which brings me to the whole point of this post!!

This past week, we made the 6-hour drive to St. Louis so that I could take him to see Kari Jobe on the Outcry Tour.  This spring, we kinda got into a Kari Jobe groove during our morning family worship times (you can see some of our favorite songs here!) and one morning Samuel mentioned that he would like to see her in concert.  Cue buying tickets to see her on a Tuesday evening in August in St. Louis.

Now, you may not have a strong-willed child, so lemme paint the picture of what its like to try to introduce such a child to a cool, new (read: unknown and untrusted) experience:

Parent buys tickets well in advance, contemplates telling child right away because it is so awesome. Ultimately waits because uncertain of reaction --> could result in daily questions of can't-wait-anticipation or grumbling and complaining about this now "dumb" idea. 

Three days before said awesome event...

Parent: Hey Buddy! I've got something cool to tell you.  You know how you wanted to go see Kari Jobe in concert? Well, we got tickets to see her in St. Louis this week.  That's why we are going to St. Louis!! So cool right?! 

Child: What? In St. Louis? I don't want to go to the concert.  

Parent (completely confused): What? Why not?

Child: Because if we are in St. Louis, I want to be on the farm.  I don't want to go to the concert if I can be on the farm instead. 

Parent: Bud, the farm isn't going anywhere.  This is the closest we will be to Kari Jobe.  It's going to be so cool.  We're going. 

Child: I don't want to. I changed my mind.  

Parent: <sighs> <insert head into hands>

Over the course of the following three days, you and everyone else in the family, and even close friends, try to convince this son of yours about how cool and awesome the concert will be.  They enthusiastically talk about being jealous of him and tell him he will have so much fun.  And instead, he just keeps talking about everything he is going to miss out on -  driving a tractor, eating dinner with the Grandparents & Aunts 'n Uncles, not sleeping at the farm (which he gets to do all of these for two of the three St. Louis days)

All he knows is this "cool, new experience" is taking him away from what he what he loves and enjoys most.  So you can imagine the less-than-enthused attitude he had when Daddy dropped us off for our carpooling ride to the concert. 

But my friends, here is us once we arrived, found our seats and heard his first in-concert artist take the stage. 

Then, Lauren Daigle took the stage. Once he realized we sing her songs when they play on the radio, he was sold that this wasn't such a terrible thing after all. 

Sometime during her second song, he snuggled into my side and said -

"Mom, thanks for bringing me." 

Abso-stinkin'-lutely.  You are so welcome, Buddy. 

Then, a little later, another side snuggle came -

"I love you, Mom." 

Oh, son.  I love you too.  More than you know. 

Finally, during her third song, Samuel looked up at me and said -

"Mom, I want to do THIS when I grow up."

What's that?

"I want to play drums for concerts."

My heart exploded, my eyes grew weepy and all I could say was "Ok." followed by a big grin and an even bigger side hug as we raised our hands and worshipped together. Everything I had hoped for this experience was true.  He loved it.  He loved me.  And somewhere in this sea of people and loud noise, he felt a new part of him come alive and beat in his chest. 

>>> Now I have to take a few moments and give you some background on why all of that was waiting so expectantly within me. 

  • When we were less than two weeks away from delivering Samuel, Ben & I went to see Stomp!  at the Fabulous Fox Theatre in St. Louis.  We had great seats & that baby boy never sat still.  While many might say its because it was so loud, we like to believe it was because he has always been a percussionist, even in the womb. 
  • He's always loved music, but since he could walk, he's always been drawn to the drums.  Aunt Adina even purchased him a Leapfrog toy drum for his first birthday. By the time he was 4, I had inquired at what age can kids start drum lessons (answer: 7). 
  • Then there was that time when he was 5 and we visited my cousin & her professional drummer husband, he was allowed (and even encouraged) to play on the pro set.  Oh man! This kid thought he was at Disney World.   

We know that there is a fire in this kid.  We know that he loves music.  We can see the Lord drawing him ever closer to Himself.  Therefore, we want to do everything we can to help shepherd those gifts and callings and abilities so that one day, he may pursue what he has been designed to do.  

That end is the WHY behind a six hour drive to St. Louis, a battle with a strong-willed child to take him where he didn't (initially) want to go and the beauty in his response. 

So, now back to the concert!  

After we sang with Passion & Kristian Stanfill and danced with Bethel Music then did our own version of the Nae Nae with DJ Promote, it was time for some Kona Ice.  (He's actually been asking for some Kona Ice all summer - so this was certainly the proverbially cherry on top!)

Once he slurped down the sugary goodness he was amped for the next act - the much anticipated Kari Jobe! And lemme tell you, we had church! 

If you EVER have the opportunity to worship alongside this woman, DO IT! There is an unexplainable anointing with this humble, spirit-filled sister.  She may have only been given time to lead us in four songs, but the power of the Spirit was palpable.

Hillsong United wrapped up the evening with an equally amazing set. However, I think the sugar crash + the two-hour-past-bedtime timing were more than Samuel could take and he spent the last songs curled up on my lap.  

My arm and legs may have fallen asleep, but I was not about to complain.  You know how many years it has been since I have gotten to hold him like that?!  :) 

Friends, I share this story because I want to showcase how good and faithful our Father is! How many times are we like a stubborn, strong-willed child who doesn't trust the goodness of our heavenly Father? Who stomps the ground and says "I don't want to go!" because we can't see or understand where He is leading us, and we'd rather stay where we have all the answers.  

Oh friend! I am so thankful I didn't grow impatient with my son's ignorance and bend to satisfy his fickle desires.  We would have missed out on one of the most special nights we have shared. Isn't our God so gracious to us? Oh that He would keep teaching me to parent like He does and growing me in my trust of Him and His ways! 

- - - - 

If you are a parent,  I would implore you to ask God for wisdom in understanding your child's bent and then parent him or her in that way.  If this is a new idea to you, be sure to check out this article for more thoughts on this perspective.  It really helps me to grow in grace especially when the clash of strong personalities erupts in our home.  

Hunger Games...Part Deux // Call it a "diet" one more time

It is Week 2 of this 21 day fix, Rebecca Pierce style.  And over the last 10 days or so, I have heard the D-word more than I care to. 

"How's your diet going?"

"Is this (insert food of choice) on your diet?"

"Oh just eat it. Don't worry about your diet."

Like the angry Miles Finch from ElfI get a little miffed and want to jump up on the table and dare someone to call it a diet one more time. I did not start the 21 day fix because I wanted a quick fix to my health goals; I wanted to make sincere lifestyle changes and I thought the container system, workout plans and accountability group would give me the best chance to do just that.  

And just so we are clear - I have never been on a diet and I have no desire to be on a diet.  I simply don't believe in them!  I personally think diets only set us up for failure in the long run. However, I do think making changes that can be implemented into your normal routine for the long term are awesome!! And because of the 21 day fix, I HAVE seen some fabulous changes in myself in these first two weeks, and I am excited to share them with you.  

 So, if you wanna know how this endeavor is going, just ask! But don't ask me about my diet or else I just may go all "angry elf" on you. ;)


  • I (heart) the blue container & the yellow container.  The blue container is home to nuts, avocados, hummus, beans, and cheese.  The yellow container is for starches + carbs.  Two weeks ago, If I wanted to grab something quick to eat, I would go here first.  And in case you're wondering, that's not the best choice.  
  • I was wrongly categorizing my plate! Before the 21 day fix, I considered black beans + cheese as great protein options, avocado as a healthy fat AND a veggie, sweet potatoes as veggies, and peanut butter as a solid protein.  Ummm, that's all wrong!!!! Beans, cheese & avocado are blue container, sweet potatoes hang in that yellow container and the PB lives in the dreadfully tiny gray 2 tsp slot.  And I ate these things practically daily in way larger quantities than the container system suggests!
  • Food is FUEL.  I have started to see food for my body like gasoline for a vehicle.  Crappy fuel = crappy performance.  No fuel = no performance.  So now when I am running low on energy, I understand that I need to find a good fuel/food option to keep me going.  I care about making better food/fuel choices because I want to be better for me and my family. 
  • Once you start eating better, clean eating actually starts tasting better than processed, refined, sugary, fried fast food or junk food.  I have had less than one can of soda thus far - water tastes so good and my classic weakness for a cold Coke is disappearing (now thats a miracle!).  When we have made fast food stops, I try the french fries but after a few, I realize they just don't taste as good as they used to. 
  • Feeling better is way worth the small sacrifices.  The first week I started taking less naps and had more energy later in the day.  I haven't mastered clean eating for every food opportunity, but saying no more often to poor food choices has left me saying yes to so many other things beyond the food world. 


I have shed about two pounds thus far, but beyond the scale, there are already so many other things worth celebrating. My BB coach calls those "non-scale victories." Here's some of mine:

  • I have been able to walk 1-2 miles at least 4 days each week. Before this, I wasn't walking at all. 
  • I did my first 60 second plank this week.  Holllaaa. 
  • I crave water and haven't had a whole can of Coke yet.  Since I don't drink coffee, I would allow myself one can of Coke a day, usually about 2 p.m. 
  • My napping nature is slipping away. My love for naps remains untarnished; its just my need for naps that's decreasing. 
  • More and more of our grocery budget is invested into produce and perishables.  I am stocking way less in our pantry and more in our fridge.
  • Our kids are eating more fruits & veggies! 
  • I enjoy fast food way less.  My husband appreciates how this affects our monthly budgeting. 

I'm sure there are more, but hopefully these are enough to show that this little journey is a worthwhile endeavor.  Now onto some more non-scale victories in regards to good food + recipes! 

Since we are stocking up on more fresh produce each grocery trip, I am trying to wisely spend our budget.  And when 1 lb of spinach is priced at only $.99, I buy that stuff.  But figuring out what to do with it all before it goes bad can get a little tricky.  So for the rest of this post, I will share some of my favorite meal options utilizing the green power food of choice - fresh spinach.  

Please note: I am neither a food stylist nor am I a food blogger. I have only listed the main ingredients but not the exact amounts so that you can choose how much to use based on your container allocations for that meal.  All food photos have been done using my iPhone immediately prior to (or sometimes in the middle of) devouring these dishes.  Please don't judge. 



Many people love to enjoy their breakfast on the go, and I'm no different. I like to throw all these ingredients in my Magic Bullet and whip up a quick smoothie while nailing the green, purple & red containers right out of the gate.  I even measured my fruits & veggies ahead of time and put them in a freezer bag to help speed things up in the a.m.    

  • (1) 5.5 oz Yoplait Plenti (red for protein / orange for the flax + pumpkin seed)
  • Spinach (green)
  • Blueberries & Strawberries (purple)
  • Orange juice
  • Optional: Ice cubes + Protein powder (red)

Throw in a Magic Bullet blender cup and blend until your desired consistency. Enjoy!


If you have time to whip up an omelet (sometimes we do these for dinner too!), then definitely use up some of that fresh green spinach!

  • Eggs (red)
  • Spinach (green)
  • Ground turkey (red)
  • Sauteed mushrooms (green) in coconut oil (gray)
  • Sprinkle with cheese (blue)


I love a good breakfast sandwich.  So finding a tasty recipe for home was essential! Watch out Panera.  I may not be visiting you as often now.  

  • Whole grain english muffin (yellow)
  • Scrambled egg (red) cooked in coconut oil (gray)
  • Spinach (green)
  • Avocado (blue)
  • 1 slice provolone (blue)


---->> Now its time for LUNCH

I love me some tasty Mexican food but it can be easy to splurge on the blue & yellow container ingredients.  When I recently ate this for lunch but had no more yellow containers to use for my corn tortilla allocation, I got creative and subbed large fresh spinach leaves and enjoyed chicken tacos a la spinach wraps. 


  • Shredded chicken breast (red) with taco seasoning
  • Homemade salsa (green)
  • Avocado (blue) - mashed up & mixed with salsa for guacamole
  • Black beans + corn mix (blue)
  • Sprinkle with cheese (blue)
  • 2 corn tortillas (yellow)
  • Large, whole spinach leaves (green) to use as wraps for remaining mix


For years now, I have been making a dish I first saw on The Food Network with Giada on Everyday Italian where she took hot pasta noodles, some butter, arugula and pecorino cheese and made this super easy, yet delicious dinner.  Problem was: I didn't have all the ingredients so I subbed a few things (like spinach for arugula).  BUT we did stumble upon what would become a family favorite dish (read: we argue & barter over the leftovers) and have kept fine-tuning the recipe to meet our ever-growing taste preferences.  So this dish became a must-translate recipe for the 21 day fix.  And it wasn't too shabby. 


  • Whole grain linguine or fettuccine noodles (yellow)
  • Olive oil (subbed for 3 tbsp butter) (orange)
  • Fresh spinach (green)
  • Sauteed mushrooms (green) in coconut oil (gray)
  • Chicken breast (red) cooked in coconut oil OR 1 bag pre-cooked shrimp (red)
  • Freshly grated pecorino (blue)
  • Sprinkle of Panko breadcrumbs (yellow), to taste
  • Fresh cracked black pepper, to taste

When noodles are cooked & still hot, toss 1/3 of them with olive oil & black pepper in large bowl. Then layer fresh spinach, mushrooms & pecorino - the heat from the noodles will wilt the spinach and melt the cheese.  Repeat two times with remaining noodles and ingredients.  Toss to coat.  Can incorporate the chicken or shrimp with the other ingredients or can add on top of pasta mixture when plating.  Sprinkle with breadcrumbs once plated for added crunch.  Can sprinkle with additional pecorino if desired. Mmmmmmm.  Enjoy. 


I hope this has been helpful as you begin making healthier lifestyle changes.  Feel free to leave some of your favorite spinach recipes below in the comment section as well! 


Lucas Turns 1!! // Celebrating our baby boy's first birthday

A whole year has passed since we first welcomed our third baby into our family - a healthy, blue-eyed big boy of a baby.    Lucas was born on Thursday morning, July 17, 2014 at 3:01 a.m.  And he has kept us moving ever since.  

In honor of his birthday (& to show our visiting niece around Kentucky), we celebrated with donuts & horses.  Our first stop on our adventure was Beans Cafe & Bakery where we got Lucas is very own donut! Getting your own sweet treat in our family is a huge deal because we share everything. 

(The donuts at Beans are always fresh, delicious and BIG! We love Beans.  And their lunch menu is equally awesome.  If you find yourself near Dry Ridge, Kentucky - stop by!) 

After filling up on sugar, we continued south to Lexington, Kentucky - The Horse Capitol of the World.  Our sights were set on Keeneland  - a picturesque racetrack where guests are welcome to tour the grounds each day and even enjoy trackside viewing during daily morning workouts.  Workouts start at 6:30 a.m. but after our 1.5 hour drive and donut pit stop, we arrived about 9:00 a.m. 

It was incredibly serene; a far cry from the busy activities of race day.  We were able to stand right alongside the track and watch the horses get their morning exercise.  It was so cool!

The riders would often bring the horses right up to where we were standing so we could see them up close.  This was Lucas' first horse encounter.  (He liked it :) 

Elisabeth, our 6-year-old daughter & middle child, adores horses and has a vision of one day owning 99 horses....and one dog.  So after the trackside view of morning workouts, we were allowed to tour the stables - where she got armfuls of horse snuggles.  

We have never actually seen her interact this much with horses, but she was remarkably gentle and confident with them; something we rarely see her display simultaneously.  Maybe she is on to something here.  

She may even be considering a goat now, instead of a dog.  

At one point, my husband asked me how many pictures of horses I actually needed.  Welp, when they are this beautiful, I'll take as many as I can get. 

Our 16-year-old niece was also visiting this week so it was cool to see her enjoying the up-close-and-personal experience too. 

Lucas wasn't so sure at first about these large, soft-nosed creatures. 

But then he met this sweet one who was like a horse version of a silly uncle.  

Then, I died with all the cuteness overload. 

By the end of the day, Lucas had mastered the art of the one or two finger gentle touch. 

Keeneland was amazing and I highly recommend EVERY ONE to go there for morning workouts at some point in your travels through central Kentucky.  It was indescribable. 

Once we returned home, Lucas got to open his first singing birthday card and present from Aunt Dana & her tribe.  

He loved it!

On Sunday, we invited over a few friend families, made a homemade baseball birthday cake + cupcakes, threw on our St. Louis Cardinal gear and called it a birthday party. 

Present time!  (Photos courtesy of Mr. Rebecca Pierce Creative, aka Ben Pierce) 

Next it was time to rock the shirtless look and have free reign over a cupcake, while everyone watched.  

All in all, it was a winner.  Thanks for all the birthday love - Lucas enjoyed every bit of it!  Here's a self-timer pic of our home team, including Cousin Brandy.  #LetsGoCards #CardinalNation #STLCards

The Hunger Games // This momma's version of the 21 Day Fix

Hello my friends!!!

If you have been around the interwebs more than one week, you probably have seen your friends flex their arms and abs, showcasing the awesomeness that is Beachbody & Shakeology.  Well, I hate to disappoint you but that's not what you will find here.  

For the last week, I have started to make some changes to help me get to a healthier version of me - more energy, less naps and a whole lot more whole foods.  And seven days into this thing, I am excited to say I am seeing some results.  (No, I will not be showcasing another picture of my belly.  There only needs to be one post about my smokin' hot, sexy self - which you can see the blog post about all that here ;)

My good friend (& like a little sister love!) Addy wanted to jumpstart her career as a Beachbody coach and invited whomever shall to come and be apart of an accountability group.  I told her straight up that we ain't got no interest in buying shakes & videos & blah blah blah.  She still let me join the Facebook group, so I decided to honor that and actually do what I could to work the "blankety-blank" out of this program.  

This is my account of this journey as a SAHM of three kids (8, 6 and 1), while breastfeeding (6-8 times daily), chauffeuring and haphazardly managing my photo/writing business.  May it serve as a guidepost to your journey to awesome. 



Overwhelmed by the group posts from others regarding their workouts and meal prep, I send out an SOS to my "coach" then re-group and utilize pinterest to find more information about Beachbody meals.  

  • Learn of the container system.  See that it alone is $40 ---> begin sorting containers we already own to see what we have and what we lack
  • Realize only need to purchase 1/2 cup containers! (Victory!!)


  • Since we had just returned the previous evening from 4 days out of town, just ate what we had on hand (I'll just tell you - it was crap).
  • Activity included Pinterest beachbody arm work out plus ab work out (late morning) and 15 minute yoga session for beginners (first thing in the morning)




  • Ate well today. hot Muesli + bananas for breakfast (had to choke this down!) Orange pepper with hummus, pistachios, cottage cheese, grapes, PB + banana  
  • Activity included arms and abs + 2 miles of walking (while pushing a stroller)
  • Battled hunger pains most of the day - eating smaller portions but not having time to eat very often
  • Still nursing and was tired come 1:30pm
  • However, took kids out for $.57 short stack pancakes at IHOP at dinner.  Ordered side of blueberries and strawberries to join my pancakes; unfortunately, at IHOP that means the equivalent of pie filling instead of fresh fruit.   Within an hour of leaving, felt sick to stomach and had a headache - probably from the sugar.  No bueno.  Good news is ---> the small changes I have made in just the last two days already make my body respond differently to junk.  #silverlining

Day 3

  • Rocked breakfast with a 3-egg omelet + mushrooms, spinach, yellow pepper (3/4-1 cup veggies in all), avocado and cheese (1 TBSP each).  I must mention though that I have gone to bed hungry the last two nights; and actually dream about what I will eat for breakfast.  This victory was in part to my hunger pains of the night before.  
  • Lost ground on the caloric intake at lunch time when I only found time to eat 1/4 cup cottage cheese, 1/4 cup hummus with sweet pepper + pita chips.  Hence the following..
  • Cranky, shaky, lacking energy, which led to ==> emotional meltdown at approximately 1:30pm and highly considered leaving the 8 year old in charge so I could escape the house and actually eat a legit number of calories + complete one 15-minute work out.  (None of those things actually happened on this day).  This is when I realized breastfeeding moms who are trying to get in shape are participating in their very own version of The Hunger Games, except we are trying not to let anyone die....from starvation. 
  • Regrouped after baby's nap time and took kids to the library then to the grocery to restock the fuel.  $45 later and I had multi-grain english muffins, apples, celery, (more!) cottage cheese, yogurt, spinach, sweet potatoes, mushrooms, pears, cauliflower, ground turkey, corn tortillas, strawberries and blueberries.  Mostly everything went into my fridge - very few items made it into the pantry.  I would say that's a sure sign of some whole foods purchases!  
  • Dinner was way more successful than Day #2. Tilapia with cajun seasoning (sub coconut oil for butter), baked sweet potato, steamed broccoli + carrots and green beans.  (This kids ate all the same things but they also got some cheesy rotini noodles).  I made lots of each so there was even enough leftover for Daddy's lunch and baby's lunch for tomorrow - and so full of veggies. #winning
  • The exercise portion of today was highly lacking - no yoga, only 1/4 of a mile walked during rainy swim lessons and my third attempt at workout came at 9:15 at night..which is typically my bedtime.  After the 30th burpee, I called it quits. But I must admit, I feel great - not my typical sluggish, ready-for-my-3rd-nap-of-the-day self.  #itsgettingbetter  


Day 4

  • Decided to try a smoothie for breakfast - included some frozen Jamba fruit & veggie mix + 1/2 cup of this new yogurt I just found called Yoplait has oats, flax and pumpkin seeds (bonus!) + 1 scoop of protein powder. tasted like chalk.  It was at this moment I was very thankful  I had not invested in the shakes just yet because this was terrible.  And it cost me less than $9 to find that out.  But on the upside - I really like the yogurt!


  •  Lunch was another good one - strawberries, my go-to protein of cottage cheese, sweet pepper with some hummus & pita chips.  Followed up by another new favorite snack ---> whole grin english muffins, 1 tbsp of peanut butter and sliced apples.  
  • Now, lets talk about dinner.  We went to a friend's house for a BBQ so like a good 21 day fixer, I brought fresh fruit salad plus a small bowl of freshly prepped guacamole.  Started off so good, right?

But then there were burgers, with cheese and white sesame seeded buns.  Lemme just say, these were the best burgers I ever ate!!!!!! #noshame 

And for the first night all week, I did not go to bed hungry.  


I know this is already such a long post, so I shall summarize the following days - I would nail clean eating for roughly 2 meals and a snack, but then amidst family activities & house showings, I also had Arby's and some ice cream. I share this so that you know the reality of this adventure.  #thestruggleisreal #ItAintAllPretty #SmallVictories

Thanks for hanging with me to the end! For that I reward you with one yellow & one blue container extra today (because those are my favorites ;) Next time, I'll share more pics and more actual recipes we've tried.

Babies don't keep // Things I wish I knew as a first time momma

Today was a hard day.  

Our baby-turning toddler has been refusing to sleep, both at night and at nap time.  The rainy days keep piling on which, in turn, wear thin the patience and imagination of the big kids. Daddy had an overnight travel and I am attempting to eat better & exercise more (which simply translates into I'm hungry and not happy).  I tell you this not to complain.  But so you know that I need this reminder too.  

Our baby boy turns one in less than a week - and I keep catching myself wondering where on earth those months, those 365 days went.  

Babies don't keep.  I understand that simple statement far better now than I ever did in those early years with our oldest.  If I had to do it all over again, this is what I would say to the first-time-mommy version of me and to you. 

For those mommies in the first year who are so eager to hit those baby milestones,

I would sit cross-legged on the floor across from you and lovingly say:

Savor the moments of baby chub and nap time cuddles.  They will too quickly outgrow both and you will soon forget the sweetness and softness of each one. The milestones can wait; the competition isn't worth missing the joy of this moment.

It's only one year, say no to other things so you can be their "person."  When our eldest son was born, my sweet neighbor, MK, had shared the story of her momma - who had worked as a nanny for many years prior.  Her charges were now grown-ups and one thing that Mary Kay had seen was that no matter how old they were, they shared shared this special connection with her mom.  When her mom spent the first year of that child's life as his or her nanny, even as an adult, they shared this unique and inimitable bond. MK told me that when she had her daughter, she wanted to be that person, so she took a one year leave of absence from work and stayed home.*  If it is at all possible, make the sacrifice and be your child's person. 

Take pictures that matter.  Our kids grow up with glowing screens in their faces and in their hands.  We can take thousands of pictures in a few short months.  But then what?  Most of them get posted online but years later are forgotten.  Use your camera and snap pictures of those moments that you will want to remember years from now.  Take pictures of the moments that are the stories you will want to tell your children of their childhood.  And if you pay for portraits, don't settle for ones where your kids are posed perfectly.  Pay for ones that capture their personality - however wild and crazy that may be.

*MK returned to her full-time position after that first year, and today enjoys a thriving and successful corporate position and loves her daughter & her job well.  


To those mommas enduring the terrible two's and beyond, I encourage you to:

Send them to preschool.  Outside authority, structure, and other sinful 3 & 4 year-olds are good for them...and you.  

If you want children who admit when they are wrong, you need to be a grown-up who asks their forgiveness. When Samuel was four, we had had an especially hellish day and pre-bedtime, I was ready to point out to him the many ways he had disobeyed and displayed sinful behavior in contrast to Galatians 5:22-23.  (Because surely this would bring about conviction & repentance!). As I sat beside his bed though, the Spirit changed what I was going to say.  Instead of pointing out his missteps, I read the verses and with tears in my eyes, looked up at him and said, "Buddy, Momma has not done these things today to you.  I have not been patient or kind or gentle in my words with you.  I am so sorry.  Do you forgive me?" 

And in the beauty and grace of the Gospel, he said "Yes Momma, I do." Then, he proceeded to ask me for forgiveness for the things he had done.  That has been one of the greatest lessons in repentance and forgiveness I have ever received.  

Fill their heads, teach their hands and mold their hearts instead of their calendars or toy boxes.  There will be plenty of time for activities and stuff later on.  The years leading up to the age of 6 are wide open for you to influence your child; and there will never be a time like it again.  Your child is a sponge, soaking up how the world works and who he/she is in it.  Take the time to teach her kindness, to train him in self-control, to love learning and show each of them that all people matter.  

Finally, it doesn't get easier after the Terrible Two's.  The Terrible Two's become the Terrible Three's followed by the Frustrating Four's.  We never arrive to a season of parental bliss. The seasons simply keep maturing into a new stage of hard (and sometimes terrible), but, take heart, there are always gems to be found along the way.   


To those moms whose babies are now big kids in school, I would say:

Hug them.  Hug them when you are angry.  Hug them when you are proud.  Hug them when you don't have words.  You may regret the words you said in frustration or the punishment you gave when angry, but you will never regret a single moment when you hugged your child. 

Pray for them.  Pray for the health of their bodies, the strength of their hearts and the wisdom of their choices - whether they are in your womb, in your arms or in your thoughts.  God cares about the smallest details of our lives and when we pray, we open the door to be able to see how He is working.   As your children grow in years, you will have less and less ability to correct their mistakes and intercede in their missteps. Prayer will be your strongest and most influential ally. 

See yourself in their sins and you will never outgrow your need for the Gospel or the desire to love them like Jesus does.  Have a strong-willed child? Be mindful of how stubborn you can be and walk in patience & diligence with him.  There may come a time when that trait will be described positively as perseverance. Are you the parent of a drama queen? We, mothers, have our own versions of meltdowns and temper tantrums and it is the gracious self-control of Christ that has allowed us to wisely mature. Model and discipline accordingly. 

Friends, I do not have all the answers when it comes to motherhood.  But from the wisdom of mothers who have gone before me, I share these insights.  May they serve as beautiful reminders of the goodness of this journey called "Motherhood." 

My husband thinks I'm sexy (even if I don't)

Wives 'n Mommas , this one is for you.  

Just over ten months ago, we welcomed our third baby; and, as with his two older siblings, my body has morphed into different shapes and sizes throughout that 19 month process, which I will affectionately call the "Triple P" (the pregnancy & postpartum process). 

During that time, my belly has grown out, in and now down.  My boobs have (or will) do the same, just in a slightly different order - out, down and in ("in" referring to the deflated and sometimes concave shape that apparently occurs to previously small chested women after breastfeeding).  Side note: a deflated emotion may also occur to these ladies as previously small chested women are known to have overly enjoyed the glory days of having legit boobs while breastfeeding.  But I digress.

In the last ten months, we have discovered a new routine in our household of three kids - Daddy makes breakfast on weekends (& sometimes dinner if its been an especially exhausting day), Big Brother stocks the diaper bag before trips, and Big Little Sister grabs the snacks for everyone; while I ensure we do not leave Baby Brother behind in the chaos. 

One thing though that hasn't found a happy place is how I feel about my body.  Postpartum theorists suggest that 10 months postpartum is a reasonable window to give mommas the chance to "get their pre-baby body back".  But, friends, I gotta tell ya, even if I worked a diet and exercise regimen like I cared, some things just AREN'T going back in place.  

In fact, I actually told my beloved the other day that I have decided to NOT work out again until we are actually finished with the baby-making adventure.  I just don't see the point really.  

While the scale may suggest that I have obtained the right numbers, this is what I see when I look south. 

And I don't like it.  Its squishy.  And wrinkly.  And Oreos just get sucked in, never to be heard from again.  

But ya know what, this is what my husband thinks he sees:

This pic has been the wallpaper on my husband's phone for the last two years. (Oh and it's me. Or was me.  Whichever.  Just wanted you to know that it was not NOT me; as in, some other chick).   So you and I both know that my body don't look nothin' like that as we speak today.  But from my husband's perspective, it does.  

And, really, friends, that's all that matters.  My husband thinks I'm sexy.  Even if I don't. 

My husband would gladly take me to bed, the shower or even the backseat of the car if it means he gets some action with the mother of his children and his hot-smokin'-wife. He tells me that he thinks I'm sexy.  And he acts like he thinks I'm sexy.  So, who the heck cares if any other man or woman out there thinks I am or not? (Including myself).  Because whatever goods I got are only for him anyway.  

Now, I don't know what your bod looks like.  It may be the #MomBod we all envy on your fitness Instagram feed.  Or it may be squishy and wrinkly and enjoys Oreos.  Whichever it is, what I want to leave you with is this - if your husband thinks you're sexy, then YOU ARE SEXY.  If he thinks you look good nakey, then step outside of your insecurity and be nakey with the man. 

I may always struggle with the mirrored reflection of my womanly self.  But, in the bedroom with my husband, I am asking for grace to see myself as he sees me - attractive..and maybe even a little sexy.


Side note: Don't hear what I am not sayin' though, ladies! I am not saying be like Elsa and just "let it go" and stop taking care of yourself.  I am all for working toward the healthiest version of you and I think that should be our goal. But keep realistic expectations and understand that sexy is simply a perception. And if your husband thinks you're sexy, then believe him. 

"I'm done" // Walking in obedience when you really want to walk away

I have been attempting to write this post for more than two days now.  

It may have taken this long because I have three active young'uns who keep reminding me that its summer and there is so much beckoning for attention outside of my writing space.  

Or because, instead of writing, I should be editing wedding pictures.

Or, if I was honest, its because this is a hard post to write. As I sit to write the introduction to this post, I keep getting stuck.  It's not for lack of words; its because I don't know which words to use.  How much do I share? How much do I keep private?

Then, this morning, I read Hannah Brencher's blog post called "Good Morning Baltimore" and she called my bluff.  She exposed herself and her very real & dark struggle with depression.  And I knew I needed to do the same with my story.  

So today, I share a little personal insight into Hagar and how we can choose to walk in obedience when we'd much rather walk away.  I hope it's of encouragement to you. 

There was a time when I felt much like Hagar.  Isolated.  Alone.  With a life that didn't look much like I had planned.  

Seven years into marriage, with two kids, living six hours and three states away from my dearest friendships, I was doing my best to love my husband well and be a glowing light of the Gospel to him.  I believed and prayed that 1 Peter 3:1-4 would be true of me.  

"Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives. Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes.  Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight." 

And yet, there were days when the distance between our two sinful hearts was so great and the hurt ran so deep that all I could do was cry out to Christ.  When marriage became too lonely and isolating, I would weep, alone.  While our children played across the room, I would sit with my Bible and my journal and let the tears roll down my face.  

Our four-year-old son would come up and ask "What's wrong, Momma?" and all I could say was "Momma's heart just hurts right now, Buddy.  So I'm sitting with Jesus for a little bit."   When Hagar wept - Genesis 21:14-20

And when his four-year-old hand would warm and comfort my shoulder, I knew that God saw me.  When God saw Hagar - Genesis 16:7-14

Our marriage didn't look like what I had envisioned when I had worn those rose-colored wedding planning glasses so many years ago.  At this point, Happily Ever After didn't actually feel so very happy. It just felt a whole lot like ever after.   And when the day came that an unwanted pregnancy was now in the mix, I understood the contempt that filled Hagar's heart - I didn't want to be pregnant.  A baby would not make things better.  And truth be told, I actually just wanted out. Out of the pregnancy. Out of the marriage.  Out of this deal. 

So emotionally, I left.  And I mentally began to prepare for the day when I could physically leave as well. When Hagar left - Genesis 16:4-6

However, God would not so easily allow me to walk away.  Between week 7 of our pregnancy and week 10, I quit fighting and spiritually submitted to the Lord.  I agreed to stay in my marriage and I committed to being the best momma I could be to our soon-to-be tribe of three.  I did not want to be married.  But I did know three things were certain:  God was good.  His timing was perfect.  And children were a blessing.

Because of those three truths, I chose to trust Him and obey Him by staying in my marriage even though I could not see beyond the mess of that day. When Hagar returned - Genesis 16:9  


Friends, there is incredibly more to this story that I will share when the time comes.  But for today, I leave you with this.  Whatever wilderness you are walking through, know that God sees you.  He is not wasting a moment of your suffering or your obedience.  He is weaving together something so much bigger and so much more beautiful than you can see or imagine right now.    Stay faithful.  Walk in obedience and holiness.  Pursue joy.  


Editor's note: I am thoroughly enjoying the She Reads Truth App and their Women in the Word study.  The pairings of Scripture plus the devotionals have been of great encouragement and insight.  It you are looking for a worthwhile bible reading app, I highly recommend this one!