Thoughts Running Through My Mind Today

And there is more to the story

Yesterday I had the privilege to share at Graystone a message that God laid on my heart several months ago. Over the last several years, I have struggled to make sense of why people suffer and go through hard times. I also wanted to know how to help people have JOY in the midst of sorrow.

I shared in my message about my friendship with Beth Still, and how God led us to each other when she was battling cancer. Tearfully, I told how she came to Christ and turned to Him in her sickness. Although her death was more than her family wanted to bear, God used it for good. Many of her friends and family members turned to Christ because of it.

Well today, I got to meet with a young lady who heard the message at our Walton campus. She has attended every week of “The Good Life” series and said God has been moving in her heart. You see, she lost her mother when she was only 3, and the grandparents who raised her have both passed away. Yesterday’s message resonated so deeply with her, in particular the part about Beth leaving her young daughter. She said she felt God’s presence and for the first time understood why God may have taken her mother at such a young age. Today she turned her life over Christ once and for all and will be baptized this Sunday.

I was reminded that Buck, Beth’s husband, had told me that if ONE person was changed it would all be worth it. Well Buck, there is at least one.

10 Distress that drives us to God does that. It turns us around. It gets us back in the way of salvation. We never regret that kind of pain. 2 Corinthians 7:10 MSG


So Yesterday I Met with my Counselor….

I am actually ok.  Better than ok, really.  But over the past 5 or 6 years I have learned that it is healthy for me to have periodic meetings with a counselor.

I am guessing that most of you are like me.  You are doing the very best you can to balance your marriage, kids, work, house, friendships, volunteering, etc and at times you get very overwhelmed.

So I scheduled a meeting with my counselor in order have someone to guide me through my thought process.  I am not sure what I was expecting the result to be but she spoke truth into my life yesterday that I think was life changing.  It was a little hard to hear because she was pointing out wrong thinking that I was believing.  But I decided to take it as what God wanted me to hear and I believe that I will hear it over and over again as I go throughout my day-to-day life.

Basically as I was explaining the stresses of raising the kids and helping them get into college and prepared for adulthood, she stopped me and said, “You need to ENJOY them.”  She reminded me that years go by so quickly and I will regret it if I spend the last 2 years with my older kids harping on them and not enjoying having them around because I will never get these years back.

So I have decided to chill out and make the most of today.  Or try to anyway.

“Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.”

Matthew 6:34

Thoughts for the busy, stressed out mom

It seems like every year around this time I begin to lose it.  Usually I can keep all the balls in the air but May comes around and I start to drop one here and there.  I am stressed.  Too many gifts to buy, teachers to thank, cookies to bake and class parties to attend.  And my first grader still has homework.  Why?  And the house still has to be cleaned and my family is always hungry.  The high school kids have finals that their grades and Hope Scholarship depend on. I feel overwhelmed and my patience is running thin.

I want to exhibit the fruit of the spirit….love, joy, peace, patience, etc.  I need help  I need to see the big picture.

So here are some practical things I am doing to keep my mind on track.

1.  I am keeping up with my bible reading plan through the Bible app on my phone.

2.  In the car and when exercising I am listening to Beth Moore podcast via

3.  I have a friend who is reminding me to count my blessings and think about all of the wonderful things the Lord has done for me.

4.  I am meeting regularly with friends who encourage me to think about good things. (Philippians 4:8)

When I take the focus off of me and put it on Christ, I have a peace that passes understanding (Philippians 4:9).  I want to enjoy every moment- even in the super busy times.  But I can’t do it on my own.

I am claiming Galatians 6:9 today.

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

A Big SHOUT OUT to 375 Photography | Jonathan Howes

I would like to give a big SHOUT OUT to 375 Photography for shooting our family photos again this year.  For the past 7 years, Justin Wojtczak has done an incredible job taking our family pictures.  It is so neat for us to see how our kids have grown over the years.  These pictures are priceless and will be treasured for generations to come.

2014 2014

2013 2013

Family 2012 #2 2012

2011 2011

Family Fall 2010 2010

Family Fall 2009 2009

Fall 2008 2008

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Post Mother’s Day Thoughts

Speaking at Graystone yesterday was a very special and humbling experience.  I love our church family and sharing my heart with y’all was an incredible opportunity.

I had so many share with me that you have struggled with many of the same things that I have in regards to becoming the woman who God intends for you to be.  Here are the talk notes and scriptures.

  1. I must accept myself the way God made me.

Jeremiah 1:5

“Before I formed you in the womb I knewyou,
before you were born I set you apart

Psalm 139:13-16

13 For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.

  1. I must accept (and celebrate) others the way God has made them.

1 Thessalonians 5:11

11 Therefore encourage one another and build each other up

Romans 15:7

Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.

Colossians 3:12-13

12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.

Luke 2:33-35

33 The child’s father and mother marveled at what was said about him. 34 Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, 35 so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.”

3. I must accept God’s plan for my life and trust He will equip me for what lies ahead.

The Truth Hurts

At 43 years old, I am learning some revolutionary things about being a mom, friend, and child of God from Stasi Eldredge’s book, Becoming Myself.

This morning I was reading about “speaking the truth in love” to our friends and  how destructive that can be to our relationships.  We do not need to tell someone EVERYTHING we think about them…even our spouse and best friends… because the truth can hurt.  I definitely don’t want my closest and dearest friends to point out everything wrong about me, so why would I do that to them?

Of course there are times when it is appropriate and helpful for a friend to show me a mistake or character flaw.  But it still hurts.  And you can never take the words back.

I have been on both sides.  I have been the one that has inflicted pain.  I feel deep regret for words I said that hurt someone else.  I have also been on the receiving end of a rebuke (whether done in love or not) and it still saddens me today.

So I am making a vow to err on the side of complete acceptance of my friends and loved ones.  I am going to ask God to help me KEEP MY MOUTH SHUT and choose to love and forgive and be patient with others.  I trust that when the Spirit is leading me to share something with a loved one, that I will be obedient.  But I will think twice (or maybe three times) before I call someone out again.


A Happy Wife is a Happy Life

My thoughts on the first message of the Unhappily Ever After series given at Graystone Church yesterday…

  1. Jonathan and I definitely had different expectations going into the marriage.  It was a good thing we had good friends and mentors that helped us navigate those first few years.  At times I have expected WAY TOO MUCH from him.  This just brings frustration to the marriage.
  2. There are some things that men do not understand about women.  Although Jonathan is my very best friend, I invest in relationships with women and many times it is from these friendships that my communication and emotional needs are met.
  3. One of the best books we ever read was “His Needs, Her Needs” by Willard Harvey.
  4. He was correct in saying that a happy wife is a happy life.  And at the same time, I have learned that it in return, I need to strive to make him happy.  If he is happy, things go well with me!
  5. Keeping Christ the center of our relationship is the key to a happy marriage.  When we are both growing in our relationship we God, we are less selfish and more content.


What I wish I would have known…

I have been thinking about this a lot lately.  There are some things I would do differently had I known better.

  • I would have eased up on the newborn schedule.  (I will post my thoughts on newborns  another day)
  • I would have not stressed out on the potty training.
  • I would have given my kids more opportunities to try new things (and let them fail)
  • I would have allowed myself the freedom to mother the kids without worrying what others thought about me.
  • I would have known that being consistent in discipline truly does pay off.

I saw this on Facebook yesterday.

sonIn many ways my son is not the little boy I carried around as a baby, or nurtured through the toddler years.  He doesn’t need me like he did back then.  My role in his life has changed.  And often it’s hard to figure out how to stay connected to him.

But this quote reminded me that he IS still that little boy and God is calling me to find my purpose in being his mother today.  It looks different, feels different but the truth of the matter is that I still have a few more years with him at home and will continue to search out ways to “mother” him.

What is God trying to show you today in regards to your children?  What do they need from you?  More time?  More consistency?  Less material gifts and more attention to character development?

Let’s all seek the Lord and what He is wanting us to see today.

It seems like a lifetime ago….

Today is a big day for many of you, including the Howes’ family.  Our baby starts kindergarten today!  She is so excited and can not wait to meet new friends!

11 years ago, our oldest started kindergarten and it was a completely different experience.  He was terrified!  I remember walking him to the door on the first day and he screamed as the teacher peeled him off of me.  The same thing happened for 5 days in a row.  We had to develop a rewards system to help him overcome his fears.  It was a long week but we made it through.

That boy left for his sophomore year 10 minutes ago.  He is driving now.  He has a job.  He is making it in life (so far).

I asked him this morning if he remembered the first week of kindergarten and he answered no.  He also added that he still didn’t want to go to school.  He’s just not screaming about it aloud.

There are some stages that as a parent we feel we may never get through.  With each of our kids Jonathan and I have had to figure out together how to correct behaviors, help them push through anxieties and work through roadblocks in their development.  At times it has been exhausting.

So today we muddle through another milestone, thankful that we have a heavenly Father who leads us through this journey.

Praying for you and our families today…

Bye-Bye Baby Jase

So this morning we said good-bye to baby Jase.  He is 8 weeks old and we are all he has ever known.  We have studied every detail of his tiny little body and have his habits and schedule down to a tee.  He has been joined at my hip for 53 days and I have not had an hour that I didn’t think about him.

We knew this day would come.  We are foster parents.  It is part of the arrangement.  We take in children in their greatest time of need and love and care for them until they can be with their forever family.  While Jase was with us, we loved him as one of our own.  We are attached and heartbroken.

But today we said good-bye and celebrate the God has given him a forever family.  A family that has longed for a baby for a while.  He is the answer to their prayers.   I got to meet with the new mom today and pass on as much information as I could.  We prayed together and decided to try to keep in touch.  I am genuinely thrilled for her.

So please pray for us.  And pray especially for Jase and his future as he bonds with his family.

p.s.We couldn’t have done it without our friends and Graystone family.  xoxo