Perfectly Made: Celebrating Uniqueness

When we took Preslie in for her eye test three weeks ago, we had virtually zero reason to suspect anything was wrong with her vision. Needless to say, we were beyond shocked when she was diagnosed with a common medical condition called amblyopia, which is where the brain simply "turns off" one of the eyes, forcing the other eye to completely compensate for the "bad eye." In Preslie's case, she has "severe vision loss" in her bad eye, while her good eye works triple time to compensate for her eye that has been disconnected from the brain. While this sounds pretty scary, with the use of "patching," amblyopia is fully treatable. This is news that we rejoice in; however, getting to the result is not an easy process. It involves patching her good eye daily to force her bad eye to reconnect with her brain. The goal is to get her bad eye at the same correction of the good eye to save the good eye and to prevent a permanent lazy eye alongside severe vision impairment or full vision loss in both eyes.

We have spent the last couple of weeks adjusting to glasses (due to her large disparity between lens correction), then this week, we transitioned into wearing the glasses full time.  Today, we started her vision therapy.

Y'all. When I say this small moment of today was difficult, I mean it.  Preslie is our happy-go-lucky, complacent, easily pleased and eager to please, precious child.  I knew she wouldn't love it, but I didn't think it would terrify her as much as it did.  In covering her good eye, we all realized quickly just how severely damaged her bad eye is: she virtually could not see.  Without the use of her good eye, she couldn't tolerate light, couldn't walk straight, nor could she make it down the stairs without assistance.  She cried and she appeared to be visibly tortured as she sighed and groaned in unease and tensed her muscles.  I've never really seen my easy-going little lady this frantic.  It was almost like she was claustrophobic.  She made it 45 minutes, but it was a difficult 45 minutes as her body twisted and turned and anxiety washed over her.   When we removed the patch, she was very quiet, reserved and felt sick to her stomach.  As I reflected on it hours later, I can't help but wonder if that was her first experience with true panic.

While we explained how the patching therapy will reconnect her eye to her brain, it was still a concept a little too complicated for her to understand. I already dread repeating this activity tomorrow (hopefully making to an hour and increasing the time in small increments daily), and the next day, and so on over the duration of the coming months.  Although I remain confident that after a short while, she will adjust to the patch and this will become easy, sometimes I don't want to forget the "bad" because it's the bad that makes the good that much better.

With her permission, I posted this picture.  As our children grow, we must be very careful about which stories about their life we choose to share because it's just that: their life, but she chose to share it because it is her new temporary life and though this patch sends her into panic, she is learning through this patch (alongside a few other struggles she has), that she truly is fearfully and wonderfully made.  Her body is not perfect, but it was made perfectly.  Her uniqueness is beautiful.  

Through this experience, she will go through trials but she will be given the opportunity to learn many lessons:  deeper compassion, strength, endurance, accepting differences, coping with teasing, perseverance, dedication, and so much more.  

Some moments in life are just tough. Today, in the midst of a rough spot, we were given the opportunity to celebrate how we are so wonderfully made; how God crafts our every fiber; how He makes no mistake in our creation; how our uniqueness is made to His perfection, no matter how that may seem to us. Tonight, I go to bed with some painful memories of her reaction that make my eyes sting, but I will rejoice in His goodness and this opportunity to bring my baby closer to Jesus's perfect love. 

{From the Archives} It Started with a Handkerchief

It was late-February and I was seven months pregnant with Blakely, battling a nasty case of allergies while out running errands with my dad and a little two-year old Preslie.  It was one of those days where nothing was going right.  I was miserable from both pregnancy and allergies when suddenly I was in dire need of a Kleenex.  And of course, I could not find one anywhere in the car.  I began scouring my purse and everywhere else when Poppy pulled the car over and said, 

"Will my handkerchief do?"  

While he was searching his back pocket, I was soaking in that small question with childhood memories flooding back.  My daddy ALWAYS had a handkerchief in his pocket.  Whether a casual day in jeans or dressed up in a suit, whether a slight spill, or someone needing to blow their nose, he could always pull out his nifty handkerchief and save the day.  It's little things like this in life that you cherish.  I bet we put my daddy's handkerchiefs through the ringer back when we were growing up as tots:  ketchup smeared about our faces, slimy noses, drinks knocked over, and I am sure countless tears.

Not long later, we found ourselves heading down this road in what would surely be considered "old town Southlake" now.  Nestled within a booming neighborhood of multi-million dollar homes, one can find this 1960's ranch style home tucked away on seven acres of land, still surrounded by the white barnyard fence in which my dad so carefully maintained beginning back in 1983 when we moved to the good ole heartland of Southlake, Texas.  

Driving up alongside this home filled us with memories.  We drove back and forth, started and stopped, and even went to a neighborhood behind the home to see the back. We relished in memories. I was roughly Preslie's age when we moved in, with a hot to trot three year old sister back in 1983.  My parents had been married for five years and decided to move from North Dallas out to the "country" for some peace and quiet.  They found themselves some land, the perfect home, and from their the memories flourished.  From a full on vegetable and fruit garden, to cattle and horses, chickens, and a tool shed, a hand built tree house, hammocks and rainbow colored snakes (ahem, sister)...and my favorite, the wrap around porch with white Victorian spindles.  Stormy nights were always in full effect, a tree even sliced in half one night by fiery lightening, sunsets and sunrises that couldn't be beat, a small fishing pond, homemade peach ice cream and crickets chirping in the night.  Hot, summer days with two little panty-only girls running through sprinklers chased by the dogs while their mother and daddy enjoyed sweet tea and a beer.  Cold, frosty winters with the aroma of freshly frosted home made sugar cookies in the wintertime.  Friday nights at the local 3A Dragon Stadium where football was fighting fiercely through the fall as the team was notorious for back to back trips to State, and one special little girl was making the crowd giggle dressed in her little dragon costume while running up and down the bleachers as her sister swooned all the elementary boys under the bleachers.  

Life was so beautiful.  So perfect.  So simple.   We have countless pictures and videos of our years spent over on that quiet street, and despite these boring sick-filled days of now, I am filled completely with happiness and warm thoughts remembering my childhood.  In fact, I think today might be the perfect day to sit downstairs combing through the DVD's of our memories at 1360 Sunshine Lane with one of my dads handkerchiefs in hand. 

The Son of Man Who Has Come to Save the Lost

A few Easter's ago, we explored the story of Zaccheus and the theme that the Son of Man has come to seek and save those who are lost.

What better way than to remember this incredible story about the character of our God and is power to change our lives.

You see, all of our lives are or have been destroyed by sin and we all know sin looks entirely different in everyone's lives.  But something we need a reminder of is that God is ALWAYS seeking US as He did Zaccheus in the book of Luke.  Zaccheus was literally a teeny man, but he was full of wealth and power.  He was a despised chief tax collector who had everything that money could buy.  Most of what he had was made in the form of fraud of others.  Regardless of how he got his wealth and power, Zaccheus was both hated and envied by those in the community.  Many hated him because of his deceitful ways and considered him unclean per Jewish standards due to interaction with gentiles.  He was envied, however, because everything he had--he needed absolutely nothing in his life. 

From the outside, Zaccheus had no need for a Savior.  No need to be rescued.  He had all he wanted. 

When Jesus traveled through Jericho, he was met with a large crowd.  Zaccheus had heard he had come to town and although he didn't believe in him and his miracles, he was a little interested to see what this man was all about.  He was curious, but he was so small, he couldn't even catch a glimpse of Jesus, so he did something than men of his kind of wealth NEVER did--he ran and he climbed in a tree to get a better view of Jesus, hoping to never be seen.  As Jesus walked the route in Jericho, he passed the Sycamore tree that Zaccheus had climbed himself in.  He stopped, looked straight up and called Zaccheus by his name.  He made contact with him and asked him to come down.  They'd obviously never met, so Zaccheus wasn't expecting any of this because he didn't believe in Jesus anyway.  Jesus invited himself into Zaccheus's home to stay where Zaccheus fell before God and repented of his sin.  Not only did he repent, but he paid retribution to all of those he had harmed, FOUR times what they were owed and gave away half of his capital.  Zaccheaus on the spot obediently responded to Jesus with joy while the crowd grumbled wondering why this despised man who had it all needed to be saved.  They were upset and didn't understand, but here is the deal...


It doesn't matter who you are, big or small, sick or well, rich or poor.  God seeks us all out and we have the choice whether to believe and go all in, or turn away for whatever reason.  Zaccheus had NOTHING to gain by following Jesus; in fact, all he did is lose.  But that is the point:  Christian faith at it's center involves a DIVINE change in heart.  It's a new beginning where the sinner actively tries to chose obedience and light instead of sin and darkness.  Even good people and do-gooders who seem to be good people are nothing without Christ.  Our TRUE repentance of our sin is acknowledging what we've done and working hard within ourselves to remove that sin.  When God changes our heart, AND WE FREELY ALLOW HIM TOO without any objections, there is a natural feeling within to rid our hearts and lives of that sin.  Genuine repentance will bring forth change. 

True followers change at the VERY CORE as Zaccheus did.

They show the willingness and desire to change and offer restitution for their wrong doing.  

The story of Zaccheus illustrates what Jesus's death was meant to accomplish and how lost individuals are found.  Zaccheus chose to follow and believe in Jesus, some chose otherwise (Romans 6:23, For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord), but all are sought.   

Zaccheus's story can do one of two things:  it can be a story where those true Christians can see their testimony intertwined similarly to Zaccheus or it can be a story where those who don't believe, or believe and go to church weekly but show no true heart change and repentance of their sin.  What do you see when you look into the mirror?  The Son of Man came to rescue YOU.  Are you allowing him to do so?

What The Nineteen Year Old Version of Myself Needed to Know

Dear Nineteen-Year-Old-Self, 

I gently close my eyes, slowly inhale, and let my mind take me to that moment where I stood on the edge between a sheltered life and entering the world as it really exists.  The girl I see is standing alone in her white tank top and denim shorts, looking down and to the left.  She is not smiling, nor is she frowning.  She is just existing in complacency.  The scene around her is bright and she is pleasantly filtered.  But she is lonely.  She is insecure.  She has so much love to give, so much depth to her soul, so many beautiful things about her that she won't discover for over a decade. 

As I see this still shot of her, I yearn to reach out and touch her.  She doesn't want to be touched because she has been marred by her adolescent experiences and now wears a prideful shroud to deflect the idea that maybe beneath what is seen, she craves the warm touch of a good person.  She is too prideful to admit that she may be wrong about life.  She is too prideful to let in the important things.  Her focus is on being wanted and being wanted convinces her that life must be filled with unimportant things because that's what all the people who have it all are consumed with.  

I open my eyes and the image of her is gone, but the memories of my nineteen year old self still linger.  I want to go back in time and I want to talk to her.  I want to tell her that she has the world at her fingertips.  I want her to see herself and the value she is really worth through her own eyes, not believing the lies that her past rejections have fed her.  I want her to know that she is so loved.  

Instead of spending her days trying to fit in, I want her to spend her days tearing down the insecurities that high school plagued her with.  I want to tell her that there is freedom and when she receives it, it won't change her past burdens, but it will change her life.  

That girl I see is you.  And it's me.  The me that existed 17 years ago.  

You, nineteen year old self, are standing outside of your high school, saying goodbye to the life you think you already miss about to head to college.  But there is just so much I wish someone would have told you. 

This is your chance, Meagan. The moment you've been waiting for. The moment where you can wipe that slate clean and make a new world for yourself. You will never get a chance as good as this.

Seek people to fill your tribe who are kind, gentle, compassionate, merciful, grace-filled, and everything that you struggle to be.  Surround yourself with friends who breathe life into you and want the better for you more than you want it for yourself.  The number of these women will be small, but they will be mighty.  The mistakes you make will be because you are seeking a life based on everything the world tells you that you need to be.  You will come up empty when trying to satisfy these desires.  

Your self-worth is not found within the opinions of those who surround you. The world is telling you this in every aspect of your life. You feel you are happy only if you are pretty enough, fun enough, smart enough, wealthy enough to fit in. You are willing to sacrifice way too much to be a part of the crowd that gets the most attention. Don't compromise your self-worth for what you think will gain you more.  It is better to be hated for who you are than loved for who you are not.

Stop thinking that what you look like on the outside is more important than that compassionate heart you have on the inside.  Skip out on the nice things that you crave now and focus on saving.  You want people to see your heart, not your Louis Vuitton hand bag.  Besides, if you get all the nice things now that you think you deserve, you will be in debt and the more your debt climbs, the farther the nice things are from your reach and the rat race continues. Stay out of debt now and you will be thankful later. The way to financial freedom is to build it and the way to build it is to sacrifice. The new handbag will grow old and damaged, the new jeans will no longer fit, the sparkly earring will get lost, the fancy car depreciates when you drive it off the lot. But the good spending habits you develop now will last forever...and as long as you continue the good will the financial freedom.

It will take you time to learn that wealth is not built in what you have, but it is who you are and what you do for the Kingdom.  

Always remember that too much of anything is not always a good thing.

You will appreciate this lesson as you age.  Your weaknesses at age 19 are too much alcohol, too much dependence on the boyfriend and too much self.  Balance, young lady.  Excessive of all three of your vices will never bring you the happiness you seek.  

Alcohol is tempting and you've seen it as the way of life with those who went before you and those who surround you.  You will come to see it ruin so many lives and so many precious relationships, even within your own life.  Back off now.  It simply isn't worth it to waste days hung over.  There is so much good you could be doing in this broken world.  Your habit has led your mouth to become filthy, your thoughts to be impure, and your actions embarrass you when you wake up.  But this is what makes you fun.  You say, "Everyone will think I am boring if I cannot hang.  I will have to face the realities of who I am.  I am much more fun with a drink in my hand."  This is a lie, my love.  Everything you are is without that drink in your hand.  

But mostly, nineteen-year-old self, return to the foot of the cross. 

You know who Jesus is.  You know what He is all about but you have conformed to the world.  

You love him, but you have turned away from him.  

This world is not about your comfort, your fun, or your appearance.  

This world is about serving Him. 

Find a good church and get involved.  Give back your time.  The self-worth you are desperately seeking will immediately increase when you spend your time serving others.  Your faith will deepen, your priorities will shift and your mind will open.  When you receive freedom from the bondage of your young mistakes, you will be filled with His grace and you will begin to live a life of worthiness and purpose.  

Soon, you will meet a man.  His name is Adam and he will be the best thing that ever happened to you.  He loves Jesus, too, but he needs your help with the same things you are suffering from.  Oh, nineteen yourself, here is your chance to make a change in the history books and be so much more than the girl who partied through her early adult life.  Take the next ten years with this man and change your history.  See the world through the eyes of the broken, enjoy a glass of wine under the stars, let go of all the grudges you have kept and live a life of forgiveness and grace.  Don't waste your days still fighting for who you are.  You have a purpose and it is in Him.  Go to Jesus and begin to live out your purpose.  Live your life to the fullest with the Lord as an anchor in your soul. 

Your life turned out to be pretty beautiful when you took up the cross.  Just don't wait until you're 29 do it.  

Your Thirty-Five Year Old Self 

Walk for Wishes 2017

Thanks to so many of our family and friends, Walk for Wishes 2017 was a HUGE success!!!  Not only did our personal team raise $6,245 exceeding our goal, but the entire walk raised nearly $15,000 more than our goal coming in at $299,410!!!!!!


I am so incredibly proud of my best friend and wish granting partner, Paige Kelly, for all of her hard work on this Walk!  She did an amazing job and is a HUGE reason why the walk was so successful!

Walk For Wishes is a nationwide Make-A-Wish® fundraiser that celebrates more than 270,000 wishes that have already been granted, while raising funds for future wishes. It's a family-friendly event powered by wish families, volunteers, donors and friends.
By participating, you can help bring the life-changing impact of a wish to children in your community who battle life-threatening medical conditions.
Every 34 minutes, Make-A-Wish grants the wish of an eligible child in the United States and its territories. We believe that a wish experience can be a game-changer. This one belief guides us. It inspires us to grant wishes that change the lives of the kids we serve.
If you are interested in becoming a wish granter or volunteer for Make A Wish, check out their national webpage here and if you are in the DFW area, make sure to visit the Make A Wish North Texas page!

I Never Planned To Stop Drinking

I never planned to stop drinking.  It just happened. 

It wasn't a meticulously thought out process and while there was a battle, it certainly wasn't against the bottle.  I was a far cry from an alcoholic, but I was your stereotypical binge drinker.  

I grew up in a family where drinking was prevalent.  Regardless of its influence in my life, my parents were always very responsible around my sister and me.  I don't recall any negative memories of alcohol growing up,  but I knew it was the life of the party and maybe that's where the seed was first planted.

Even though this was a very active part of the adult life around me, we still had the expectation from our parents that we would follow the law and drink responsibly when we were adults.  Just because my parents enjoyed their cocktails didn't mean they were loose on their rules with us.

College came and along with the studying, even more fun was to be had that left quite a few hazy nights and pounding headaches in the morning.  I enjoyed myself during those four years, creating lasting friendships and dating the one I would eventually marry.  It was hands down my favorite season of life.  While I definitely enjoyed myself, surprising to say, but I was far more responsible in that life than I was when I graduated.

Somewhere post-college, I lost control of myself and handed her over to alcohol. 

I was either not drinking at all or I was binge-drinking.  My weekends were completely unproductive as I laid curled up in my pitch black bedroom, swearing off any more alcohol for the rest of my life, not emerging until late afternoon only to be persuaded by friends to get right back it a few hours later.  Most days, it didn't take much persuading but there were times where I would try to join in the social gatherings and turn down alcohol, but then either the pressure would be too much, or I felt so socially awkward that I just would have one....then two....then three.

You see, I have always battled with major confidence issues.  I have always felt like I am not enough, but when I drank, I became more than enough.  My inhibitions were removed and I suddenly became hilarious, the life of the party and the last one to leave.  I didn't care really what I said because it was the truth and needed to be said {which got me in a lot of trouble}.  I allowed myself the freedom to find inappropriate jokes acceptable and gossip justified.  At first, I would wake up feeling so guilty thinking, "I don't really think that way of {insert name} and I really don't know why I laughed when he called {name} a {blank}," but I would always go back to what was becoming security to me, and the feeling of being loved.  My crowd, the people I enjoyed life with, loved to have a good time over a stocked full cooler of drinks and if I stopped, I surely would no longer fit in.  In my eyes, life was fun and the brutal hangovers were always worth it.

I began to wholeheartedly believe that I wasn't worth being around without a little bit of liquid courage.  My priorities were nonexistent and when I think back to those years, I am completely at a loss for what I did that was productive.

This was not the way that God intended for me to live. 

There was no clarity in my thoughts.  There was little fruit bearing from my tree.  And a lot of convincing myself that my binge-drinking did not affect my relationship with God.  Because...Jesus drank wine, right? 


When I got pregnant with Preslie, the clarity that I had lacked over the last four years returned in my sobriety and allowed for a slow transformation to begin.  In March of 2011,  I chronicled my strengthening relationship with the Holy Spirit in this post {excerpt below}

"The Lord knew my path that lay ahead.  He knew I would desperately need His help to lead me through this season of being a mom.   He knew that I would struggle with worrying about how others felt I chose to raise Preslie. He knew that I would need His assistance in taming my sharp tongue and openness regarding my opinions; He knew that I would need Him to lead me to be careful of what I say to others. And most importantly, I knew that I needed Him to succeed."

Throughout my pregnancy, I continued to feel the Holy Spirit move.  As I said, I was not an alcoholic; my problem was binging, so I did not miss alcohol at all while I was pregnant.  In fact, I could almost instantly recognize a huge difference in my life without it.  I began to love who I was sober.  I used the pregnancy excuse to miss functions to avoid feeling awkward, but at least I began to enjoy who I was alone.  

It all sounds great, but to say this simple time during my pregnancy kicked my binge-drinking habit for good and made me suddenly love myself would be a lie.  

It was only the beginning of my journey. 

After having Preslie, I didn't make it too long before I was tempted to drink with my friends.  The next day after a night out with the girls, with a new baby, I experienced a whole new level of hangover.  I was ashamed and embarrassed of myself and my pregnancy convictions kicked in quick.  "What are you doing," I remembered asking myself.  A couple of weeks passed, I missed my time with my friends, and I forgot those remorseful feelings and gave it another try, but again, I was sorely disappointed in myself and my choices.  

There isn't any wonder in why I kept going back to what I knew regardless of the consequences.  

So many battles had been laid at my feet. 

I had a terrible, terrifying, life-threatening delivery. 
I had hemorrhaged both in the delivery room and then again at home two weeks later that led to a two-week postpartum D&C {not fun}. 
My grandmother unexpectedly passed away two days after my D&C. 
I was severely anemic. 
I could not nurse. 

Like a thief in the night, Post-Partum Depression settled in.

I needed to escape it all.  And the last thing that drinking was doing was helping.

I started turning down social engagements and I began losing friends.  Or so I thought I was.  I lived in a world of utter inadequacy.  All those days of my life where I thought I wasn't enough were just teasers for what life with PPD would bring.  I was not a good friend.  I was terrified to be alone with my own baby.  I was terrified to be out in public with my baby.  I was a terrible wife.  And I certainly wasn't fun anymore.  

I had no identity. 

So I did it.  I just stopped drinking.  There was no "this is my last drink" or tapering off.  There was nothing driving the decision aside from wanting to be the best me that I could be.  I did not stop because overnight I had instantly become overly religious or holier than thou; we weren't even going to church at that time.  I stopped because I was failing at life miserably and I needed every ounce of clarity I could get.  But it came at what seemed to be a great cost.

During this time, I began journaling scripture and encouraging quotes that stood out to me. I thought this to be just a simple task, but I found myself researching the verses and learning more about the bible in the process. I was introduced to an app called Grace to You that goes through books of the bible where you can listen to a variety of different sermons to help you in a self-bible study.   I started with a sermon series on "Forgiveness" and began to work hard on myself.  I started listening to the Daily Audio Bible which reads from the Old Testament and the New Testament each day and began to become completely in love with God's word.  Four months in, March 2011, I told Adam that we need to try this church right down the road in Southlake.  Our first sermon series was on how to choose a biblical church.  The rest is history testimony.

God worked His way into my life when I had worked my way out of His.

It was not an easy journey and Adam and I even lost some of our friends that we were the closest to. That's the thing about suddenly no longer drinking: it brings on a lot of hate, a lot of judgment, and even persecution.  Many assumptions were made for why we stopped that were completely untrue. We were judged for our new decisions, "we were not near as fun", and we endured one of our hardest years of our lives.  We were tested.  We were tried.  We were persecuted.  We battled.  It hurt.  We cried.  We lost a lot of earthly things but we gained our salvation in Him. 

While not drinking was never a spiritual decision, it changed our spiritual lives dramatically.  Attending church regularly became our top priority and highlight of our week.  Changing ourselves from the inside out was a constant process brought on by the convictions of the word.

We began attending church consistently which ultimately led to serving the church body.

We began to bear good fruit.  

We began to love harder and live our lives with a Godly purpose.  

Our old selves passed away.   

We realized that alcohol was our number one stumbling block in our sanctification and road to Christ.  

Six years have now passed and both Adam and I have learned who we are aside from alcohol.

Our year long hiatus with alcohol taught us a lot about who we are; it realigned our priorities and breathed so much life into our lives.

You can still spot me on a girls night with a fruity martini but the difference is that that fruity martini doesn't rule my life.  We have since discovered that a glass of pinot noir is perfectly fine alongside our favorite Caprese salad.  A couple of beers at the Cowboys game or a pina colada by the pool on a hot summer's day won't set us back.  We indulge in a drink here or there, sometimes more often others, but we know exactly when to stop.  We don't crave more and more.  We don't desire a buzz.  We don't need it to be us.  We don't need it to have fun.  We don't need it at all.

We live lives of sobriety.  Ones of clarity.  

This is not a lifestyle we would have EVER seen us living six years ago.  We didn't even desire this life. 

Of all things sobriety has brought to our lives, being confident in a crowd, being able to be sober to have fun, to be sober to be ourselves, is such a gift.  

The Lord has worked a beautiful miracle in my life, showing me that my confidence in solely in Him.  He has surrounded me with people who love me so deeply, flaws in all, in my sobriety and not in my drunkenness.  He has given us a beautiful testimony of how he saves the broken and binds our wounds through His love.

Because Our World is Dark

In the last decade, we have seen an alarming number of deaths in the form of mass casualties alongside atrocious crimes against women, children and other minority groups.  Whether it's seeming more and more prevalent through the rise of social media or it is just that evil is becoming even more evil, there is little disputing that we live in a dark, fallen world.

We live in a world where people love evil so much more than they love good. 

We live in a world where we glorify humans for their sinfulness more than we glorify God for his goodness.

When tragedy strikes, we question His holiness.

But why?  Shouldn't we know that innocence isn't immune to tragedy?  God warns us repeatedly about the darkness and evil of the world that is still to come, yet as we see the things He has warned us about, we continue to shake our heads and wonder Where is God? Why has he allowed this to happen?  Where is your goodness in all of this heart ache?  We become so overwhelmed with fear that we turn away from Him and turn to ourselves for answers.  School shootings leave us threatening to pull our children out of public schools.   Terrorism has us refusing to travel to certain countries who need us.  Fear keeps us awake at night, drowning our peace, driving our decisions.  We begin to lose complete sight of reality and complete sight of Him. 

Jesus reminds us in John 16:33 that this world will bring trouble, but to take heart, He has overcome the world, yet we still lose our faith in Him and His eternal plan.  

Slowly, we begin to take our trust out of Him and put it within our own hands as if we can control our  own destiny.  It's so easy to do.  In fact, it comes natural to most of us, but herein lies the foundation of the problem.   Ourselves alone can do nothing. 

He is what we need and He is all we need.  

He is not why these terrible tragedies happen.  Instead it is the lack of His presence in our lives, in our country, and in our world that is causing us to fall deeper into darkness.  

In Romans 12, Peter is very clear to be careful of conforming to the ways of this world, reminding us to abhor evil and cling to good. In 1 John, we are told again to not love the world or the things in this world because the world merely passes away but those who abide in Him live forever. In John 15, Jesus tells us that the world WILL hate us but to take heart, they hated Jesus long before they ever hated us. 

This isn't happening because God isn't loving, this is happening because day by day our world is hating Him and loving evil so much more.  We. Were. Warned.

Immediately after a tragic event that sucker punches humanity, we see sparring debates over gun control and our mental health care system and the words turn to bullets themselves as people become so bitterly obsessed with attacking others with their political agenda that they fail to remember the deaths of the innocent they are arguing over in the first place.  But do they not remember the story of Cain and Abel? Cain had no weapons. He had jealousy sparring his heart; he was filled with evil and wicked ways and thoughts, and that was all the motive that he needed for a tragedy to occur. Jeremiah 17:9 says, "The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?"  And that is where the first record of murder stemmed from in our Holy Bible. No guns, no health care, just evil. 

"In the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of Godliness but denying it's power. And from such people, turn away!" 2 Timothy 3:1-5. 

Is there really any question why this is happening after reading the above? Does that not sound like a spitting image of mankind surrounding our cities? The more God is taken out of this world, the more evil is let in, and the more evil that resides in the hearts of man, the more tragedies such as this we will see. God has been removed from our schools, from our lives, from the forefront of our focus only to be replaced with pure evil, selfish motives and desires of our hearts as people search for satisfaction, clinging to any earthly possession they can find hoping for a peace that can only be found in a life walking with our Lord Jesus Christ.

But take heart.  He hears us when we call. 

Someday, my daughters will encounter tragedies of their own. Some close to their hearts, right in our own backyard, others on a national level. When they ask me how to begin praying, I will tell them this: 

Get on your knees. Repent of your sins; ask for forgiveness.  

Cry out your blessings to God and that while you do not understand why this is happening, you trust him, you know all his ways our good because you believe the entire bible, not just the parts you like, including Romans 8:28 when you read it.  

Ask God to use you as a vessel to strengthen His name. Pray to him to protect you from the darkness and evil keeping you safe from fear. Pray hard for those who need Him. 

 Thank Him again for his blessings even though you cannot see them right now. Pray for the evil doers; pray they find God; pray for God to sharpen your witness to help bring the fallen into the light. 

 Then stop. And listen to Him speak. Open your bible and read 2 Corinthians 2:14-16, Proverbs 4:16, 2 Corinthians 5:17, read over Ephesians 4 and Galatians 5; be reminded of who God wants you to be, even in pain and hurt and confusion. 

 Let Jesus take the wheel. Let Him guide you down the path less taken with your head held high and fear and evil under your feet. 

Intentional Stillness

In this season of life, "being still" takes work. It requires intention. There is always something to be done: a shoe to be found, homework to be done, somewhere to be, a countertop to be cleaned, laundry to fold. In all that's to be done, life can become overwhelming and being still is often moved to the bottom of our priorities.

When we take the time to be intentional about that stillness, we see where God wants to be intentional with us. His Spirit is a life-giving Spirit; we need just to be still and let Him move within us.

Every week, I crave this stillness, but I especially need His reminders of my purpose this week. While I am tempted to grumble about the things I am unable to do, instead I should be praising Him that Blakely is okay and seeking His intentions in slowing us down. Starting my day with "Be still and know that I am God," {Psalm 46:10} is a great reminder of today's mission.

Planning the Perfect Girls Trip

If you know me, you know I am a sucker for travel! Whether it's a family vacation, running off with my husband for a few days, or a girls' trip {shh...don't tell anyone that this is my favorite type}, I am always game! I love it SO much that I wrote A Quick Guide to the Perfect Mom's Getaway for Fort Worth Moms Blog to get the ball rolling for those of you out there who have always dreamed of a girls trip but could just never seem to get the logistics together.

After you've read that post to check out the starter steps below to getting your R&R time with the girls underway!

So we've covered the basics of who, when, where, what, and you've even learned how to get it started, but there are a few more things that I want to share with my fellow Type A travel planners that have made some of our trips better than the rest!

  • Personally contact the concierge of the resort you plan to stay and make personal connections with the travel planners or home-owners if it's an AirBnb or bed and breakfast. These people LOVE to make your trip perfect and often provide special surprises like room upgrades or special touches to your stay!
  • Fall {late September to early October} works great for parents with children who have started school or are in preschool. This is also hurricane season so beach trips come with a risk but are much better on the budget!
  • After Spring Break to mid-April is before the end of school busyness begins and great weather for the beach, although your prices will be a bit higher!
  • Leave on an early morning flight, especially if you are traveling to the East coast to make the best of your trip! We won't even consider a place if we can't arrive before lunch. We only get three days a year, so we make every minute count!
  • Have the type-A friend who most likely planned a loose itinerary calculate potential costs including hotel taxes, Uber fares, and links to restaurants for various destinations to send out before everyone commits. Before everyone books, I send out a pretty rough sketch of what they trip will look like on the pocket book including breakdowns by how many people go.
  • Book the rooms as far out as you can as they almost always can be canceled without penalty!  Also, check the hotels websites weekly as you can always rebook if you notice prices drop!  
  • If you want to charge to the room, everyone get individual tabs then take pictures of your receipt as you close out your tab so that at the end of the trip, it's easy to settle up for what you owe and no one gets stuffed with the bill.

Lastly but most importantly, after six years of girl's trips we have learned a bit about how our bodies feel during the trip! 

Day One
We are always tired from travel whether it's a local destination or a plane ride away, so we generally make early dinner reservations at either a low key resort restaurant or with a quaint dive in town and cap off our night with early bedtimes. 

Day Two
This is what we designate as our activity day!   After a good night's rest, we are always at our best for an early morning of fitness followed by time getting pampered at the spa or hitting the town.  The day we book our flights, we call to secure spa appointments so that all of our treatments are at the same time.  We have found that mid-morning to 11:30ish time frames allow for us to sleep in, slip into a Zumba class, then massage away at our muscles. Not working out? Whatever it is your activity of choice is, make sure to reserve space or book whatever it is you would like to do the same day you book your flight! 

We usually do spa days, so our second night there is always our "late" night reserved for dancing and/or any other type of nightlife or specialty activities like concerts or comedy shows.  Anything that we would be out late for, we do it this night so we have the next day to rest, nap, and recover!   

Day Three
We plan nothing for our last day.  We either lounge, hit up the spa for more, or fly by the seat of our pants!  It always ends up being a blast and filled with laughter, especially come nightfall.  Night three is usually when we do our pajama night or night around the resort playing super fun games that leave us in stitches.  We hit the hay early-ish and are always well-rested by the time our midday flights roll around.  

Bidding farewell is always sad, but after three days away from the family, we are secretly chomping at the bits to hug everyone's neck!  

To see a compilation of our Mama's Getaways, click here.

Rebuilding My Writing World

Many of you who were faithful followers of our family blog may recognize a few posts that are archived below.  If you are one of those people, you know how devastated we were to learn about how our privacy had been so violated through that blog, which led me to the decision to make it private.  It was right the decision, but I was determined to not let evil win.  Not long after that decision, I decided to start this new writing space where I could share my successes and failures, journal my shortcomings, highlight God's transforming love, and continue a little of what I loved to do.
Truthfully, it has been so difficult to rebuild.  It has been difficult to find my voice.  When I set aside time to write, I often come up empty.  I decided that to launch this new space, I would pull some old content over and use it as starting point.  It has been a much slower progression that I had expected, but I think in time, I will be back at it.
A few weeks ago, something was posted on social media to a Word Press link.  I attempted to start there, but WordPress was a whole new world and I just couldn't keep up that drab site.  The formatting makes an OCD mama like me absolutely crazy and I nearly gave up every time I tried to restart.  I tried it for as long as I could, but it just wasn't for me.   I started this one instead and I sure am hoping I can give it life and character like I have on my family blog (you can still follow that if you'd like--click the "Our Family Blog" tab for more details on how).

Not being able to share fun pictures and silly stories of our lives has been challenging.  So if you're one of my old faithful's, bear with me and if you are new to this blog, know that while this site may look crazy strange and seem so out of sequence, I am working at it and hopefully in years to come, it will come together exactly as envisioned.