The Mask

Have you ever been so hurt by someone that you considered a friend, that it shook you down to your very core? Or maybe you received feedback from an employer or role model that forced you to re-evaluate not only your path but who you believed yourself to be? Whether intentional or not, we live in an imperfect world where people get hurt, discounted, and even dismissed.

It’s the navigating through these moments, holding on to the truths we know, that I personally find most challenging. Maybe I’m alone in this struggle, but then again, there’s a possibility that these words bring you right back to a specific moment in your life where you too were faced with not only a decision to make, but the big emotions that follow.

When you woke up this morning, I’m guessing the last thing on your mind was “have I let go of this pain or simply placed it in a deep place that I now take with me in each situation I face”? But this year has shown me that for us to truly be healed we need to shed that polished image we so eagerly present to the world and let our vulnerability reveal itself so others may be helped in the process.

For me, it’s like I’ve picked up the pieces of all that’s left and placed them into a little brown box that I now protectively carry. Keeping far enough away from the eyes and whispers of those around me for fear that they will take more from me than what’s left to give.

I put on the mask that I present to the world, the one everyone expects to see as it matches their own. We smile, we’re productive, we may even forget the mask for a spell, but never stop to take it off.

I believe this is because the mask is our protective barrier, hiding the messy pieces that hurt and pain leave behind. When no one can see the damage that’s been done, we can convince ourselves it’s not there. And because we often don’t acknowledge the pain (until it becomes unbearable) we don’t bring it to the light and give it to God who is the only one who can truly heal us from it.

So instead, we continue on unintentionally hiding from one another.

Life becomes what seems to be a competition in which we work hard to share only the beautiful snapshots, creative successes, and best moments. The raw messy bits of life have no place on the social media reel, leaving your arms full trying to carry all that doesn’t fit into that perfect picture. I don’t know about you, but this makes me feel like I must be the only woman in the world who just doesn’t have it together.

But my heart tells me we aren’t competing at all. Rather, we are each just trying to prove our own worth. We have a fierce inner need to be seen and to be loved. God created us this way. But sometimes we let pain, which is inevitable draw us inward rather than closer to God.

My solution you ask?

Don’t let the enemy convince you pain is yours to carry.

Sometimes we have to open the wound (new or old) to let God truly heal us.

And that my friends, is a journey I know well.



How to Survive Back to School Week

back to school blog post

It’s finally back to school week after a long and hot summer!

For our family, this has a slightly different meaning than most, as we home school our boys. But a short trip (who am I kidding-hours) of strolling down the aisles of Target will prove that public, private, and homeschool moms alike are taking over the supply section in a somewhat orderly fashion.

While many of us are celebrating the freedoms school brings, we are all equally feeling the pressure to get this year started off right. Whether that means you’re writing out curriculum or making sure their backpacks are stocked with all the items on the class list, either way the weight of the added items to our already long to do list can be a lot to carry.

So with this in mind, here are a few quick tips that have helped me maintain the sanity I need to survive these first few transitional weeks of schooling.

Prep Work- 

I’m talking school enrollment paper work, physical exams, lesson planning, teachers gifts… you name it! The best way to a stress free back to school week is to have them done and ready to go at least a week before the start of school. Taking on the busy-work items early for back to school helps me balance my schedule and leaves more time for the important things I want to focus on like taking pictures, watching the excitement the first day of school brings and just being present during our time together.


Plan a daily routine that works for your family and start it a week before school starts. For our family, we have grade school children, my husband and I are full-time college students, working full time, taking foster parenting classes, and lead/attend weekly life groups at our church. A balancing act is of the utmost importance for our survival. So after trial and error, we found that making a list of the activities that must be accomplished like getting ready, making lunches, etc. and then writing down anything additional you would like to see your family doing on the same list was a game changer. Having it all down in one place helps me manage my expectations of how much we can actually accomplish, and allows me to assign a general time frame for each of these activities. The end result…we are able to be more intentional with our time and provide our family general expectations for what their day will look like as well.

Meal Plan-

This is a big one! There is nothing worse than that 5pm hour rolling in and realizing that you have nothing prepped or planned for dinner which for us generally means pizza night! But our budget and our bodies can’t thrive off pizza nights, so easy nutritional meal planning is a money and time-saving friend to all. We prep freezer bag meals for those crazy days when all you have the time to do is pour a prepped Ziploc bag meal into the crock pot and run. Also, some of my favorite quick meals are homemade spaghetti sauce over veggie pasta, gluten-free pesto chicken, of course the breakfast Quiche! I’ll share recipes at the bottom of the blog in case you’re in need of a couple new SUPER EASY additions to your meal routine.


Afternoon Activity Bins-

One of my favorite tips, because there is so much room for creativity here. We took Sterilite clear tubs and filled each of them with different educational activities/games, created labels for the outside of the bin with a number, and made matching popsicle sticks for each kid to draw a stick to find the bin they get to play with during activity time. The popsicle sticks add a build up of excitement and are a necessity in our home of two (soon to be three) boys who would choose the same bin every time and argue over who got it LOL. I personally use these activity bins to buy me a little quiet time for my work day, but they would work great to keep little hands and minds busy during dinner prep or bible study. Bin Ideas: Dominoes, Magna Tiles, Word & Sentence Builders, Tinker Toys, Wooden Shapes, Geoboards, Base Ten Pieces.

Homeschool activity bins

And last but not least….

Time for Yourself-

As moms, we are the center of our family’s lives. It’s a blessing and a heavy responsibility to carry. Making sure to make time for yourself each day to ensure your emotional and spiritual needs are being met is beyond important. Don’t forget to put yourself on that long to do list my friend!

Hopefully some of these tips will help you as you brave Back to School Week this year.

Just remember Mama, you got this!!





Five Slow Cooker Freezer Bag Meals (Make 5 Meals in Just One Hour)

DIY’s & Marriage Counseling

diy step 1

Alright ladies, take a seat and listen in because you are about to be warned… Do it yourself projects are very much like marriage counseling sessions. You shell out a good chunk of change, test your ability to communicate under duress/little sleep, and in the end walk away with a big accomplishment and bragging rights from the trenches.

Okay, so maybe its not exactly the same, but for me, goodness is it close enough.

There is something about the idea of starting a project, that makes my husband instantly want to do another… at the same time! The good news is, he’s a rock star at most everything he attempts (with an amazing attitude regardless of the amount of stain/sawdust on him). The bad news is, as much as I would love to attach the words creative talent to my name, DIY’er I am not.

Usually about 20 minutes into prepping tape for paint I am literally done and googling numbers for professionals to save me from myself. The idea that you actually have to do whatever “it” is yourself doesn’t really hit me until that moment. But as we are usually at the point of no return, my google efforts transition to a bad attitude about how this will take weeks to finish and I begin to question the sanity of the man I vowed to love for better or worse, who is cheerfully humming while working away.

Here is the part I would love to edit out and rewrite that I am able to get past my own silliness and join in happily until the project is completed. But, because honesty is the best part of friendship, I will admit that many breaks are taken to visualize the finished product and I may or may not end up texting the hubby for updates from bed.

Yet from building our farm table to adding a faux brick accent wall in the dining room, somehow we have made it through every time with stained hands and the bragging rights that accompany them. Boy, am I glad that God has partnered me with the man he did. I couldn’t imagine what our life would look like had there been two of me!

So, I end with this. If you are ever up for the challenge of a marriage evaluation, I strongly suggest taking on a home project together and see what all you can accomplish when the dust settles!

Sharing some snap shots of one of the busiest DIY weekends we have had yet… I asked to paint the door, he decided to re-do our pallet wall, build a faux fireplace, add the brick wall, and change out the lights on the island (though in all fairness we found them on clearance at home depot). About $210 total in cost for all the projects shown here. Yay for the budget, yikes for the brain!

diy dining 2

dining diy fall

** Side Note- Yes, fall has arrived at our house slightly earlier than most. School starts this week here in Florida and I have a slight obsession with the holidays so my family and I just roll with it. #adulting **

wall diy in prog

Fireplace diy

door painting diy

Lights diy during both walls and fireplace








No Adulting Required

I simply can’t adult today.

Nope. Nada. Not even a little.

The reasons why are many, but the minutes to explain are few.

So I will take a moment to let this grown woman’s temper tantrum sink in.

And instead of facing judgement, I invite you in to join me. To take a day, an hour, even a few minutes all to yourself to just exist.

There is a life beyond the to do lists, reports, play dates, and endless dishes. A place where there is peace in the silence, acceptance of the messy moments, and love so deep it soothes even the most broken of places. Oh my dear friends, what a life it is.

Take care of yourself mama. Be selfish. Log off. Put away your phone. Cancel your afternoon of business and embrace the freedom you find.

Today, productivity can wait. The dishes can stay in the dishwasher a few more hours. My heart needs therapy only the laughter of my children can bring and healing calls.

Be blessed,





Is there anyone Else?

is there anyone else

The story of Kind David is widely talked about, and for good reason. King David was real y’all. From facing rejection, standing up to a giant, and being chosen as King, through it all he truly was a man after God’s own heart.

Yet, my most favorite part of his story is often one most often overlooked. In 2 Samuel 9:1 David asks “Is there anyone still left of the house of Saul to whom I can show kindness for Jonathan’s sake?”

In reading that, the words literally flew off the page at me & all I could think was is there anyone in my life that I may show the kindness of God to? What a powerful question to ask ourselves. I believe we need to learn from King David and approach each day asking this question and seeking someone to show the kindness of God to.

Our society today is all about self focus, self help, self awareness & taking credit for your work. So much so that we are almost trained not to let our minds wander any farther than our small inner circles. But that mentality sets us up to miss what we are truly called to do. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works. We cannot further the kingdom of God if all we allow ourselves to focus on is us.

We must be intentional with our interactions. Slow down and truly see the people God has placed around you and remember to ask yourself, “Is there anyone else that I may show the kindness of God to?”

Because many of us are silently struggling to walk through things you may never have imagined. Your single moment of kindness could be all the encouragement, the hope that they needed to get through the day.

My challenge this week is to let God use you to show others what love really looks like. Let’s walk this out together & watch the ripple affect we will make.



Your partner is not yours to fix.

Frank Army Picture

This topic is one that I’ve held close to my heart. Living it out daily, yet unsure of how to put it to paper. So all I can do is pray that I do it justice and here it goes!
Marriage. It’s a beautiful gift. A blessing. You’re given a friend for life. But what do you do when that gift starts forgetting to hang their wet towel on the hook, instead choosing the bed as it’s final resting place daily? Or when they lose the ability to find literally EVERYTHING in the house on their own, instead seeking you for help locating things like socks, belts, lunches, tweezers etc. (Let us have a moment of silence in solidarity!)
But as much fun as it can be to joke around about our men and their cute quirks, I want to be real for a moment about the importance of always respecting our partners & presenting yourselves as their biggest supporter (even when it seems impossible).
It’s easy to laugh about the small things, but I have a feeling you might have some big things on your heart as well. So often I hear women asking ” How do I make my husband step up and lead our family?” “He doesn’t appreciate me enough to help around the house or with the kids.” or “Why won’t he pray with me?” The list goes on and though those concerns are so very valid, I’ve found that each statement is always followed with- how do I change him?
And my dear friends, I have to be honest with you, the answer to those questions…you cannot. 
Your partner is not yours to fix. He belongs to God, bought and paid for on the cross. When the enemy plants those seeds of unrest and you feel like your partner needs fixing, motivation, or a wake up call, your first step needs to be to bring it to God. Give it to Him to hold as the weight of trying to change your partner is too much for you to carry sweetheart. God is the only one who can soften hearts, open eyes, & change paths. So keep at it daily. Though change may not happen overnight, your Father hears your prayers, feels your pain, and has a plan for your family greater than you can imagine. You need only seek Him and trust in his promises.   
Let me share with you one of the hardest times in my adult life to show how God moved in our lives.
A year ago this month, after 8 years of service my husband was medically retired from the Army. While on active duty he saw and did things many of us can only imagine. Toured castles in Germany, handled high profile military cases as an MP at Fort Bliss, recruited new soldiers at Fort Lewis, and lost not only friends but pieces of himself in Afghanistan. The things he witnessed and the lifestyle that came with such a reality left him so far from God that he truly believed he could never come home.
The transition to the civilian world was a rough one for us. That adrenalin rush he grew to depend on was hard to find behind a desk. Nothing seemed to be fulfilling enough for him. I watched for months as my partner began shutting down. Pulling away from our family, missing get-togethers with others, eating dinner after we had finished ours. It was heartbreaking to watch the person I needed, the man I depended on, fading away. I tried to get him to wake up, to see what was happening, but there was nothing there. No emotion, no feeling, just unreachable emptiness replacing the space where laughter and positivity once lived. After many weeks of struggling, I gave up on my own efforts, got down on my knees and handed all my worries, pain, and fear to God. And I kept coming to him with my concerns, my hopes for our marriage, and prayers for my husband. I set an alarm on my phone, (that I still have to this day) to go off at 10am every day of the week as a reminder to pray for my husband without fail.
As much as I would like to say that God took my prayers and immediately circumcised my husband’s hardened heart, things got worse. In August of 2016 my partner packed up all his clothes, loaded them into our truck, and drove off without so much as a goodbye. I was heartbroken, confused, and secretly a mess. But I woke up each morning, cried all the tears I had in prayer, washed my face and walked out with a smile on. Our boys needed stability and they deserved my best, even if I wasn’t feeling it. So the words “Show Up” became my mantra. I showed up to work. I showed up to church. I showed up to games with my boys, bedtime stories, volunteer opportunities. Not because I wanted to, but because I needed to. And though all I heard from my friends, family members, and co-workers was to file for divorce and walk away, God gave me the words I needed to remember. The words that kept me going. I want to share them with you now…
I could either:
Honor the man I believed he could be, or shame him for the man he is now. 
One choice to make, two very different options, but so very clear.
So every day after, I woke up and chose to honor him.
For 5 months this went on, all the while I kept praying for my husband and our marriage. I later found out that my continued support and dedication to our relationship helped him to decide to check in to a VA facility to get help where he was diagnosed with depression and PTSD. During that time apart, God was working on my husband. He let him break down, so he could be built up in Christ. God kept knocking, kept reaching. And the breakthrough came in the form of a single invite to join team Haiti on a missions trip with our church. Though it was overlooked at first, God kept nudging and my husband eventually decided to sign up to get the unknown pull to go off his conscience. And its from a place of sweet victory that I can say, on that very trip he felt God’s presence after many years of silence. He came home renewed, supported by strong brothers in Christ, and ready to pursue and rebuild our marriage.
All that I can share is what I know to be true. God heard all of my prayers. Not a single one of them fell on deaf ears. And while I may not have understood what I did to deserve being abandoned at the time, God carried me through it while changing my husband’s heart to later bring us back together stronger than we have ever been.
So when those quirks pop up, or you feel like you partner needs help in some aspect or another, remember whom he belongs to and give it to God. Chose to honor the man you believe he will be, rather than tear him down for who he is now.
And those choices my friends, could change your whole perspective on your marriage…
You will pray to him, and he will hear you, and you will fulfill your vows.
Job 22:27
Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.
Mark 11:24
Better to live in a desert than with a quarrelsome and nagging wife.
Proverbs 21:19
A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies.  Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value. She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life.
Proverbs 31:10-12

Brown Boxes & Missed Opportunities


After far too many years of Army life, we bought our forever home in Saint Augustine, Florida. This was the moment I had prayed for more times than I probably should have, just wanting four walls of our very own and the security blanket that permanency provides. So here we were… Brown boxes, scattered across every floor, stacked to the ceiling. Our entire lives poured out, taped up, and sadly UNLABELED (thanks to my partner in packing aka Husband). My heart had told me that I needed to be settled for my family. A single home to create our memories in. A neighborhood of friends and families that we would raise our children alongside. A place where we could belong.

Yet, as we were standing in the driveway of the rental home we had lived in for the last 9 months, I looked to the houses on each side of ours. Instead of absolute joy, I felt a hint of sadness rising as I realized the people we were leaving behind were complete strangers to us. In all the time that we had lived there, though we dropped off cookies and exchanged numbers on the first day of school, and sent over baked goods each holiday, we never truly got to know the people who lived closest to us. And if we didn’t know them, then I can bet that they didn’t know that we were Christians. All I could think of was how many missed opportunities we had to share our faith, our home, and further the kingdom of God. We did life alongside these families, but not with them. By failing to be intentional in my interactions, (because I believed our situation was a temporary stop on the way to home) I didn’t get to know my neighbors well enough to tell if one of them was having a rough day or even struggling with something. We could have been beacons of light in our neighborhood, sharing our faith and the kindness of God with every interaction we had. But instead, we left behind an empty home, full of potential and opportunities for the next family. While I cannot turn back time and reclaim those moments at 229 Porta Rosa Circle, I can pray over the next family to call its four walls home. That they would feel the thousands of prayers and spiritual warfare completed while we were there. For them to see the moments we so easily missed, and that they would know the love God because it had filled the house while we were there.

So here we are now, finally settled (who am I kidding- there are still a few brown boxes hidden in the garage). And when I look outside, now all that I see are opportunities. We will not waste them this time. Being a Christian for a few hours on Sunday, is simply not enough. We need to offer our love and grace to those around us as well, building relationships and friendships that open doors for questions to be asked. Gather for a meal together, share your lives, stories and laughter. Your faith will follow right in, because something inside tells me that’s how God works.

Matthew  18:20  “For where two or three gather in my name, I am with them”

Colossians 3:12 Therefore as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.

Finally!!! Word from the Foster Family.

Yesterday was a really rough day for me, as the realization that I may have to take a job outside of the home if the mortgage industry doesn’t pick up soon. Needless to say the idea of public school, a daycare to pick them up afterwards, and all the missed moments in between brought me into hysterics. Yep, the infamous ugly cry y’all. With all those big scary possibilities looming around, I have to stay grounded and remind myself that there has never been a time where God did not provide for our family. Never, not even once have we gone hungry or not had a roof over our heads. So with the peace that only trusting in the Father can bring, I lifted my hands and surrendered it all to the one who knows best.
This morning I woke up to BIG News… for the first time ever, we heard from the Foster Family who is currently raising Jonathan (our nephew). And man do I have updates!! He was born at 35 weeks gestation, 5lbs 4oz with jaundice and some medical issues resulting in a gastro-intestinal feeding tube being placed through his nose- which he managed to pull out on his own by day 5 and because he is a fighter- proved to the doctors he could eat enough on his own without it! By day 8 in NICU he was released into their care and has made great progress. At 2 months old, he is now 8lbs 6oz (the size of Noah at birth, wow) and hitting all of the developmental milestones to be expected at this age. Jonathan’s hair is soft and fuzzy, with a small patch of gray near his left ear, and he has big blue eyes.
My heart is so full y’all. Yesterday I cried tears of fear, and today brought tears of joy. That’s the kind of Father I have. He sends hope when we need it most. Little signs saying smile, I am on the throne and blessings are yet to come. So with a deep breath and love in my heart, I will run, jump, and reach knowing it’s into God’s hands I will fall.
J 2

Reset, Recharge, Reach Out!

Psalm 144:12- Let our sons in their youth be as grown-up plants, And our daughters as corner pillars fashioned as for a palace.

We are the strong pillars that our families are built upon. We hold them up, while bringing beauty to their worlds.

Reset recharge reach out

I’d like each of you to think of yourselves as a pitcher, your job, home, husband, and children each are red solo cups with a big hole in the center of them. Daily, each of them come to you, seeking fulfillment in some capacity or another. Needing from you your very best, your time, your patience, and most importantly your love. You can pour yourself into your family, keeping up your home, time on the job, but it doesn’t last long, and soon enough more of you is needed- hourly they demand of you. You can keep pouring patience and energy, but if you don’t take the time to fill yourself- spiritually, physically, and emotionally, the demands of those around you begin to become almost unbearable, leaving you barely able to drip even a few drops of into your family because you are literally running on fumes, praying for bedtime and a few minutes alone. If we do not take the time to take care of ourselves, everyone else suffers. You not only deserve to be put first, for the sake of your families, you HAVE TO.

*Daily Mental Reset from the word of God to align ourselves with who God created us to be. Even if it’s only 20 minutes of peace with a cup of coffee.

*Weekly Recharge, take a couple hours (even 20 minutes a day), to spend time doing something that you love/relaxes you.

And finally…

We need to remember to Reach Out! When you make eye contact with the mama in the cereal aisle with the screaming toddler, give her a smile that says, “Lovely, I know. I’ve been there. You are doing great.” It’s easy to get caught up in our own little worlds, but we need to remember to be the support for another that you need yourself, build one another up, because you never know when it will be you standing in the cereal aisle in need of a moment of kindness.

When the world says you are not enough… Let God show you that you are more.

In the spirit of change… I bring to you two very true yet very different views. I ask that you tell me which of these makes you feel more comfortable in your own skin.


 I look great on paper.


From the outside looking in, an untrained eye will see me and think… She’s got it together. I have the big home with new cars in the driveway. I made Director before 28, won a full scholarship for my Bachelor’s Degree, and have more letters of recommendation than I can fit in my resume binder. I’ve been blessed with two healthy, God loving boys whom I am able to homeschool while working full time. As constant as the rising sun, I spend my mornings in the bible, volunteer with our church, bring dinners to sick friends. And most of my home looks like a Pier One commercial.


Like I said, on paper, I look great.





Hi there, I’m the proud owner of the two crazies in the corner over there.


You might recognize us.


My oldest is the one in the corner gesturing “off with your head” to the little boy in the room that interrupted his mama while helping out during Sunday school.  


Our littlest is the social butterfly asking everyone how their day is going, and unfortunately following that with his excitement to share with you that women don’t drink beer, only dads!   


A ride in our family car will always include the quiet game because otherwise we would argue about which window we are allowed to look out of.


These facts, as comical as they may seem… Are my actual life. It’s not always pretty. There are more moments in our day, screaming of our need for God’s grace, than I would like to admit.



Isn’t it funny how drastically different yet equally true these are. The image that we present to the world very rarely aligns with the reality of who we are. Not by malicious effort, but I believe it’s out of self-preservation. When culture shouts from the rooftops, “You are not enough” over and over again, we pull back that sense of transparency and let only a few in.


 As a result, what most people see is absent of the in between. The messy places that make the bigger things possible. We may feel anything but successful, but document our lives on social media with lenses of perfection.  


I will let you in on a little-known secret… I start everyday with the mindset of TODAY, I will be better. TODAY, I will run and bible study before the kids wake up. TODAY, I’m going to make that gf/df/sf recipe from scratch- and make 20 sales calls- because I am a strong woman, right?!  Or my most favorite dream… TODAY, I will bring love and patience in every interaction I have.


And then, life happens. Everyday has a new curveball and for some reason I fall just short of those expectations. I crash and burn and on come the whispers from the enemy in my ear.


“So and So’s wife must really have it together. She volunteers, works, raises great children, and looks amazing every single day. Why can’t I be like that?”


“I destroy crock pot dinners, yet XYZ can make cookies from scratch WITHOUT A RECIPE!!! Why can’t I?”


When I choose to be bold for a moment and step out of my comfort zone, only to find myself feeling lonelier than ever. Then on comes INSERT NAME HERE who takes the idea, does the same thing and it goes viral. “Why can’t I be like that?”


So here it is.


I refuse to be the kind of woman that another looks at and says “Wow, she has everything together, why can’t I?”


Because the reality is, none of us have it together.


I’m a mess. My hair has two styles, brushed—and—ponytail. Makeup doesn’t always happen in my house (but thankfully deodorant does!). I walk out the door looking ten shades of crazy, but my sweet boys’ hair is done and God was a part of our morning, so isn’t that all that matters?


We may never find complete peace, fulfillment, and perfection from our works, but we will find it from God.


When we look to him for our self-worth and centering, the pressure we place on our ourselves and our families (who the world says is a direct representation of us) becomes manageable. We no longer strive for perfection from them as a symbol for our own value and success.


We all need HIM.


Not just daily, but hourly.


When the world says you are not enough… Let God show you that you are more.


 “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful. I know that full well.” Psalm 139:14

Spring AM Coffee