Posted in Joy

People don’t have to like me…

Did you know that you won’t die if people don’t like you? I have been reflecting on this a lot the last few weeks as I have been thinking about friendships that have ended.

Sometimes the rejection of others is our protection… and other times it is because we have a lesson to learn. For me, it’s a lesson I seem to be learning over and over since losing Ben as I learn to have my own voice and sometimes that comes at the disapproval of others.

It has been an emotional week and I wanted nothing more to stay in bed this morning. But I woke up and knew it would make me feel better to worship and spend time in the Word.

As soon as worship ended, I knew why I was there. Pastor Morris’ message was on The Thief of Devotion. And how when we let fear into our lives it keeps us from living in complete devotion to Christ.

Fear comes in many forms… and one of those is rejection. When we fear being rejected, we spend our time worshiping acceptance. But the thing is, we are already accepted. Scripture says we don’t have to do or say anything to be accepted. When we fear the rejection of others we will do or say anything to gain their approval. But the only acceptance we need is from Jesus.

There are friends who I have a hard time speaking up to because I am afraid of being rejected. Our number one need in life is to be loved and accepted. So rejection can really hurt, even when it is by people who do not accept us as we are.

The second fear he talked about was the fear of failure. And if that does not go hand and hand with rejection for me, nothing does. Being rejected by others feels like failure. It makes me feel like I have failed at relationships again. And makes me question what is wrong with me and why I just can’t get it right.

But when we spend our time fearing failure, we worship success. And sometimes the success we are fighting for is not the success that the kingdom has for us. We make success our master. And we can’t serve two masters. Matthew 6:24 says, “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.”

It’s time for me to rewrite the narrative. To stop feeling rejected by people and to stop feeling like a failure if acceptance never comes. I am accepted by the One who matters and in His eyes I am already a success.

So there we have it. The reason I was in church this morning… I don’t know if you struggle with the need for the approval of others or the need to succeed, but if you do, I encourage you to listen to today’s sermon from Gateway Church.

Posted in Grief, Joy, parenting

Loss comes for our children too…

About a month before Ben died, I remember sitting at church and one of the kids saying, “I get worried that daddy is going to die.”  It was an unexpected comment as Ben was with us at church and seemed to be doing really that morning. 

I only thought about it for a minute, and then said, “I know I worry about that too.  But you know what?  We can pray that God gives us as much time as possible together and no matter what we know that one day we will all be together in heaven.”

I could have replied differently.  I could have told them not to worry, that daddy wouldn’t die because I really didn’t expect him too.  But I didn’t say that.  And I definitely did not know then what I do now about preparing kids for loss and trauma.  

Here is what I know now. No one is immune to loss, not even kids. Kids lose toys, friends, relationships, home, security, you name it. And to them that loss may seem as monumental as losing a parent. AND how we help them walk through those losses carries over into how they handle breakups, loss, and trauma for the rest of their lives.

Proverbs 22:6 says, “Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old, they will not turn from it.” When we teach children how to process grief and pain at a young age, we give them tools for success as adults in handling their emotions and the losses that are bound to come. 

So here are some of the things that I have learned:

  1. Don’t tell them not to feel bad. Always validate their feelings. If they are hurting, it is valid, and they need to voice it. Listen and let them share. We do not tell people not to feel happy about something, so why would we tell them not to feel sad?
  2. Do not make them hide their emotions.  When we send them to their rooms, or tell them to calm down when they are crying, we are telling them it is not okay to share how they are feeling with others!  We want them to openly share how they are feeling so they feel heard and understood!  Sit with them in their pain and let them cry and feel all the emotions.  Emotions that we do not feel, we cannot heal.  Teach them to lean on others when it hurts instead of always burying things inside. 
  3. Don’t replace the loss.  Coming from someone who eats their emotions… this one is big for me.  I try not to feed my kids to make them feel better.  When we lose or break something we talk about it.  Often people think that immediately replacing something will make the pain go away.  Speaking from someone who heads to the freezer when sad and overwhelmed, I know for a fact this one is truth.  We rush into new relationships as soon as one fails.  I do not want to train my kids that there are “more fish in the sea.” Otherwise, when they are older and suffer a breakup, they will think the best way to fix it is with another relationship! 

We still talk about losing their dad every single day. We include him in our nightly prayers, and they frequently tell me how they miss him being with us. If one day I’m lucky enough to bring someone else into their lives who wants to stay, that person will play a significant role, but they will know he doesn’t intend to replace their dad. People are uniquely valuable, and not replaceable!

  1. Time does not heal all wounds. Just because they are not talking about it or because enough time has passed does not mean it is forgotten or no longer important.  We can not ignore something and assume it will get better eventually. The only thing that truly heals is actively working towards healing!  
  2. Don’t let them own your emotions.  Kids know that they can sway our moods.  They can make us happy or sad depending on how they are behaving.  When we say “you make me so frustrated” they start believing that they control your moods.  This is dangerous territory.  I know because I have walked it as an adult, feeling responsible for the feelings of those who I am in relationships with. Teach them to own how they are feeling.  “I am frustrated because the house is a mess.”

This list is not exhaustive. There are so many other things I have learned (and am still learning) about parenting kids through grief and loss. If you are like me and want to prepare your kids for success as adults in managing loss, I highly recommend looking at the book, When Children Grieve by John W. James and Russell Friedman, which shares many of these points and more!


Posted in Joy

Stop fearing the night…

As a child I don’t really remember being afraid of the dark.  But I sure do remember being afraid of just about everything else. 

I remember being scared when our parents left us home alone (at a very appropriate age) and hiding behind the couch.  My over-active imagination would run through all the scenarios of what would happen if someone broke into our house while I watched my sisters play Nintendo.  Our attackers would go after them first obviously, and I would be able to hit them from behind because they didn’t know I was there.

 My imaginary intruders did not stop as I got older and when I started living on my own, I found myself often afraid.  When I had an apartment or house by myself, I would call friends to talk me into the house at night to make sure I made it inside safely.  I frequently relied on others to calm my fears and to help me to do what should be “normal” activities.

Six months after I got married and moved to Tennessee, Ben deployed for the first time as a married man, leaving me coming home to an empty house every single day.  Daytime did not phase me, but nighttime was not my friend.  I was plagued by what would happen if someone came into the house at night.  I would rush into the house when I got home and lock all the doors.  If it was dark and I had to go upstairs for any reason, I would not come back down.  Almost nightly, I locked myself in my room till morning. 

Here the imaginings changed.  Intertwined with fears of someone breaking in were fears of a knock on the door notifying me that my husband wouldn’t be coming home.  The fears were unfathomable.  This time I was plagued by worries that if someone banged on the door, I would have to answer, but what if it was someone just wanting to break in? 

These were always nighttime fears.  Daytime did not plague me the way the night did.  Morning would dawn. I would unlock my bedroom door and come downstairs unconcerned.  The fears continued when Ben would go away for the night or stay out late during grad school and while working.  I would worry about him driving over the mountain in New York and not returning home because he drove a little recklessly through that mountain pass.

Children added to the fears and cancer caused them to grow exponentially.  I have always feared the worst and been afraid of all the what ifs.  And it was not until the worst fear came true and Ben passed that I truly found myself face to face with all my fears.

I have written before about how I “let go” of fear when he died.

When your biggest fears become your reality… – Tricia Thirey (

The worst had happened, and for a season I felt like there was nothing left to be afraid of. 

I still did not like to come home alone after dark and made sure the kids and I were tucked inside whenever possible by the time the sun was setting.  But even the silence and solitude of living in the country alone didn’t scare me.  My in laws bought us a security system for Hanukkah that first year and for months I was afraid to install it.  I did not want the sounds and beeping to instill a new fear in me.  I did not want to live afraid again.

As time has gone on, five years to be exact, new fears have arrived.  I set my alarm at night not out of fear but habit.  I come home after dark frequently and do not feel like I have to enter every dark room with apprehension. 

Instead of a fear of the dark, I fear my choices.  I fear making decisions and heading down the wrong path.  I fear being alone and having no one to count on. And I am afraid of something happening to me that would leave my children parentless. And at times I find myself making choices out of fear. 

Joshua 1:9 sits on a shelf in my son’s room as a reminder to not fear the night. “Have I not commanded you?  Be strong and courageous.  Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

I have found that in fear I do one of two things:

  1. I retreat.  I run away from the unknown for fear the worst will happen.
  2. I sit in fear.  I fear making the wrong choice, so I don’t make any choice and instead sit in indecision indefinitely because I do not want to do the wrong thing.

Neither of these is a healthy place to be.  I do not want to be afraid of the unexpected.  I want to have a battle plan of how I will attack fear when it comes. 

Psalms 23:4 says, “Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they will comfort me.” 

I have learned that when I choose to step back and reflect on the fear, that I must give myself a timeline on when to make a move.  Because the only healthy way I can deal with fear is to push through and keep moving forward.  And the reality is, I have already lived through some of the worst fears imaginable. And while I would not have chosen that path, God has made me stronger as I have continued to push forward! 

What about you?  What do you fear?  I’m praying that you will learn to face those fears head on like I am trying to do, trusting God to walk alongside us on even the darkest of roads!

Posted in Grief, Joy

Look Back and Then Move Forward…

New Year, Old Pain?

The new year always starts with a flood of emotions for me. Looking back at what was and forward to what may be is both encouraging and overwhelming.  Especially when we enter into a new year knowing that some of the past won’t be coming with us.

2022 was a long, hard, but fruitful year for me. I learned to let go of things I was holding on to too tightly.  And I ended the year anticipating the good that will come from living eyes wide open for Jesus.

But as we enter a week full of birthdays (four of them in 3 days), it is hard for me not to reflect on all we have lost.  This is the 6th new year we have walked into without Ben here with us.   And even though we are happy, growing and moving forward, we cannot help but remember what is missing. 

Grief, loss, and life, in general, are not linear. There is an ebb and flow that goes along with just being human. We have our good days and our bad. We have the days when we can see how far we have come, and all that God is doing in us. And then we have days where we are wracked with reminders of everything we just can’t seem to get right.

One of the many things loss has taught me is that sometimes the good and bad walk hand and hand for a while.  And sometimes we must give into the tears and let it all out. The thing I have to remember is I don’t want to stay in that place… the distraught, overwhelmed, and struggling place of no hope. So, I shed the tears, I pull my kids close, and get up to walk forward.

For the last 7 or 8 years, I have started every new year planning to get out and run.  I start the year off slow—a half mile, a mile, then two. If I’m dedicated enough, I will work my way up to 5-6 by the end of the month.  But in the beginning, I must take it slow.  And sometimes my run isn’t much more than a crawl as I ease my way back in. 

I have found that during seasons of heavy grief, at times the most I can do is crawl forward.  And just like when I start back out running, every step is heavy and burdensome.  But the pain of each step when I am running is a reminder of the progress I am making. And I no longer let the pain convince me to sit still. 

New Year, New Goals… 

The last few years I have tried to set a purposeful life goal for myself: intention, hope, joy. But this year I struggled with what I want to see in my life in the year ahead. And in the wee hours of this morning it came to me. This year I want to keep moving forward.  It’s that simple.  I want to keep moving, keep living, keep growing. That is it. And if I am honest, I am praying that God will lead us to thrive. So if you too have struggled with a hard season and knowing what to embrace in the year ahead… I encourage you to join me in just choosing to move forward… (even if moving forward looks like a crawl right now).  Move forward, into the unknown, fully expectant of all that God has for us there.

Happy New Year!

Posted in Book Reviews, Joy, parenting

Five of the Most Inspiring Books I Read in 2022

It’s been awhile since I did a book review… not because I haven’t been reading… mostly because I have been too busy reading to take time to share.  But some of the books I have read recently really deserve a shout out and were so inspiring I couldn’t keep them to myself!  Check these out and if you are looking for a good Christmas gift for someone on your list, any one of these would be a great choice. 

Please note that affiliate links are provided for each.  If you choose to purchase through the link a portion of the sale will come back to this website!

The Men We Need by Brant Hansen

Let me start by saying I recently heard a podcast by Hansen. I heard him speak and thought him a phenomenal speaker with an empowering story. Obviously this title sounds like it lends itself to a book not really intended for an audience of women. But I am a mom who wants her son to grow up as a man of godly character. These books speak to this single mom! Hansen writes a compelling book about the role of a man in families, society, and in the workplace. He discusses the importance of them fulfilling their calling, which is being keepers of the garden. Hansen outlines exactly the type of man that every woman is/should be drawn to. And then explains why every young boy should strive to grow up to be just like that. You should definitely check it out!

Healthy Me, Healthy Us by Les and Leslie Parrott

I am always looking for and reading books about how to improve my relationships.  I grabbed this book on a trip to NC earlier this year and couldn’t put it down (or stop talking about it). Half the book is highlighted and I keep going back to remind myself of the truths written there.  The authors encourage the reader to be authentic and know their significance.  The questions throughout guide the reader in determining their own health, because our relationships can only be as healthy as the people in them.  If you desire stronger relationships that are God honoring, I recommend this one!

He Still Speaks to Kids—Teach Children and Young Adults to Hear God by Wayne Drain and Tom Lane

Gateway Church recommended this book the last few months and I couldn’t wait to read it. There are great stories and reminders intertwined that guide parents/grandparents/teachers in how to teach kids to listen to God’s voice.  Along with those great reminders, the encouragement to trust Him that we will lead and raise our kids well! You can grab a copy here!

My Yes is on the Table: Moving from Fear to Faith by Jennifer Hand

Here is another great book that I highlighted and will go back to read over and over again.  If you struggle with giving up control to God and trusting him with the unknown, this book is a must read.  Jennifer takes us on a journey to figure out what is holding us back from saying yes to God.  If like me you let fear get in the way of you taking the next faith steps, these words will really encourage you!

Becoming an Intentional Family: Creating Meaningful Memories and Building Confidence in Your Kids by Anastasia Corbin

I got a preview of this book before it hit the shelves this month and absolutely love the down to earth way it is written.  Corbin grew up watching families to see what characteristics they shared that made children feel valued and loved.  She has a practical guide that asks questions and shares activities that help families to be intentional in the way they represent Christ to each other and the world.  This book was so inspiring and showed how they really live out their values! If you are interested in a copy of this book, I’m giving away a signed copy on Facebook/Instagram… so head there and check it out!

I said I only had five but I have two more that I have to give shout outs to!

Undistracted by Bob Goff

This one needs no introduction.  If you haven’t read it, you should.  If you have never read Bob Goff, you should.  Basically every time I read something of his, it becomes my favorite.  Check it out, you will thank me later!

Stop Interrupting Me: A Practical Guide to Teaching Kids Their Manners by Rebekah McClure

This is a low-cost, wonderful resource for any parent or grandparent (or even teacher).  The methods in this book not only work, but I have seen them in action, because it was authored by one of my good friends.  Her children are precious and so is she!  I actually read this book the first time last year, but since I reread it again this year, it definitely deserved a spot on the list!

Interested in seeing more of my recommendations?