Special Moments

Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice! Philippians 4:4.

I have to start off by saying, I am tired. Like the kind of tired you are after having a brand new baby. Total and complete exhaustion. Why you may ask? Well, since March when Covid changed our world completely I have been forced to wear many new hats on top of the ones that were already placed firmly on my head. Not only do I attempt to keep up with my writing, but I also have roles of mother, wife, housekeeper, laundry maid, chef, taxi driver, dog-sitter, dog walker, babysitter, and my new role of a teacher. Did I leave anything out? Yes!! I forgot I am also now a wedding planner after the recent engagement of my oldest daughter Taylor. So you see my to-do list is endless, and the days never seem long enough to get everything done. By the time I climb into bed at night I feel like I have run the New York City Marathon!! (For the record, I hate running, LOL). I would guess that I am not the only one that could use a really long relaxing vacation. With all the craziness in the world right now and the hectic schedules we all tackle everyday, it is totally expected that each of us would be at the end of our rope. However, even when we feel like we do not have the stamina to get out of bed each day, we still owe it to ourselves and our families to not let our hectic schedules rob us of the special moments that are present in our lives.

This past weekend I went with my newly engaged daughter to tour some wedding venues and go wedding dress shopping. This was most definitely a special moment!! Touring the venues and listening to my daughter talk about her dream wedding and what it will look like was so incredible. All ladies know that those dreams begin to take shape in our heads from the time we are little girls. Not sure why God designed us this way, but he did. Every little girl dreams of her wedding day. Taylor smiled from ear to ear as she discussed her vision and it was such a special moment to watch my daughter begin to bring her dream to life. Then came the wedding dress shopping. Oh my, let me shout to all the mothers out there, this was AWESOME!! With that being said, though, it was also absolutley gut-wrenching at the same time. Yes, it is such a mixed bag of emotions for mothers. Helping my daughter pick out a dress that she will become a wife in was one of the most special moments in my life. The moment I saw her walk out of the dressing room in a wedding dress took my breath away. The only thing I saw was that little girl with pig-tails and I felt like she was playing dress up. This could not be my baby. I cried a little it was so surreal. Then I decided that I was going to be brave. For the rest of the appointment I remained stoic. No more tears. I was determined not to shed another tear. I smiled and laughed and took in every moment. Then the moment came that she found the “ONE”. I knew she had based on the smile on her face and the tears that began. She asked to try on a veil. As soon as they placed that on her pretty head, this stoic mom lost it. The tears starting pouring out and would not stop. My baby is officialy a bride! Yes, it was a little hard. It is hard to know that very soon her care will be placed in the hand of another, but I also during this special moment rejoiced!! How blessed am I that I am here, healthy, and able to experience this special time with my daughter.

Was I tired this weekend as I shopped and toured with my daughter? Absolutely!! I am still beyond exhausted. However, I was not going to let anything rob me of these memories. The world and life can take away so much from us. The crazy schedule of our everyday lives can rip us away from joy in moments that we may never get back. I can give into the exhaustion, or I can choose not to let anything steal my joy. Mothers, our kids grow so fast. Do not take any moment for granted. Yes, I know you are tired. I know, especially during these times, life is just plain hard. Make the decision today to choose joy. Rejoice in the special moments in life. Do not let life pass you by. Take a deep breath and sing songs of joy and praise.

I pray each of you are covered with many blessings today and choose to REJOICE!!

Love and hugs,

Jennifer

A Love Story

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 1 Corinthians 13: 4-8.

This past weekend was magical for my family. My oldest daughter, Taylor, became engaged!! This is a moment that she has dreamed of her whole life. From the time I can remember she has always wanted get married and have babies. She loved being the mommy to her baby dolls when she was a little girl and always talked about what her wedding would look like. I will admit even though the engagement led to a day of celebration it also was a little gut-wrenching for me. Not because I wasn’t happy, but because it was just another step closer of her truly being on her own, and not so much in the safety of my arms. Yes, I will always protect her and be there for her, but she is no longer just all mine. Shew, that’s tough for this mom. It is all so bittersweet. It is hard to watch our kids grow up, but at the same time it is an honor to be able to witness these precious moments with them. When I saw her face and the happiness that radiated from it, my heart smiled. My girl was getting her dream, and the prayers that I have prayed for her were coming true.

To understand the importance of these answered prayers for me, I think I need to explain a little bit about Taylor, and her now love story. It will give a little insight on what a celebration this is for her and us. It will also show that in the end, Love Always Wins.

Since Taylor was a little one, she has been very shy and plagued with insecurities. She never really seemed to feel comfortable in her own skin. As a parent, we all always worried and questioned what we had done to cause such issues? Was it hereditary? I, myself have these issues as well. She suffered so much and was even diagnosed with anorexia when she was just in 5th grade. Yes, so young. For years she was riddled with anxiety, depression, and suffering from an eating disorder. She went to therapy, but it did not help that she was severely bullied in school, and even by those who claimed to be her friend. Because of this, as she got older, she chose bad relationship after another. She would settle far from what she deserved. The relationships were abusive and unhealthy and did not help with the inner fight that Taylor was struggling with. 

Year after year I would pray for Taylor to wake up and not have to fight anymore. That God would take the burdens that were on the inside away. That she would look in the mirror and see the beautiful person she was inside and out. I prayed for her to find good friends, and a boyfriend that would ease her troubles, not worsen them. I would say specific prayers to God that he would remove all that was negative. I asked God to place someone in Taylor’s life that would bring light, hope, understanding, patience, and unconditional love. I prayed someone would take her burdens and heal them, and if they couldn’t that would help carry them on their shoulders too just because they loved her.

Last August after the ending of a very bad relationship, Taylor met Clay. After just a few dates, I noticed a change in Taylor. Her eyes looked different. I saw life in them again. She had a genuine smile on her face that I had not seen in a long time. Her shoulders were back and her head was up. She actually seemed to have some confidence. My husband and I both commented that she seemed to be a new person. You see Taylor became a new person. She had someone in her life who didn’t judge her for her insecurities, but held her and protected her when she needed it. He also makes sure to tell her how beautiful she is, and loves her for her. Clay also respects us and loves his family fiercely. Which I respect very much.

Clay came to my husband and I and asked permission to marry Taylor. After the normal back and forth questions I told him my most important thing was for him to protect her heart. With tears in his eyes he looked at me and said “I always will”. At that point my heart knew that Taylor would be in good hands.

So, you see, it is so important to pray for our children. To speak life over them, to pray for their future and even future spouses. Prayers do work. God will take care of our children, even when as a parent it does not seem like it. With God all things are possible. My sweet little insecure baby, has found a very happy ending in her love story with Clay. What a blessing in all of our lives, and I give God the glory in making a broken girl whole again.

Two are better than one, because they have good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. Ecclesiastes 4:9-10.

God thank you so much for my blessings. I pray each of you are covered with many blessings today.

Love and hugs,

Jennifer

Learning to Deal with Disappointment

Over the past couple weeks we have slowly seen our hopes dwindle of our children being able to return to school this Fall. The rising cases of COVID is quickly changing that for children all across the country. In our school system we were previously given a start date of August 26th. We were all so excited! My kids actually were looking forward to going back to school since they have not been since March when their world got turned upside down. Most kids dread the start of the school year, but I believe it can be said for everyone that our kids are actually really missing school . They miss their friends , they miss teachers, they miss the structure, the social interaction, and they just miss the normalcy . Normal, what a fantastic word!!! I never thought in my life I would strive so hard for things to be NORMAL!! Not fantastic, not mind-blowing , but just plain ole normal . Who would ever thought that I would miss the early morning chaos of getting ready, getting lunches packed, and trying get out of the door. However , I do. I miss those normal routines , and so do my kids.

So now, here where we live, the schools will start virtually. They are giving a possible start date for in-person classes as the end of September. Although, I feel like even this is wishful thinking. My kids were crushed with the news. My oldest was supposed to start her senior year in college and do her student teaching to complete her education degree. Now that will look much different. My other daughter started her Freshman year in college, and quickly her classes are all being changed to online classes. Another daughter was supposed to begin her first year in high school as a Freshman. And my baby daughter was beginning a new adventure into junior high. The way they all hoped would be the beginning, will now be done through a computer screen. Disappointing to say the least. So how do we deal with the disappointment and how do we help our kids learn how to deal with the disappointment?

Yesterday, my youngest daughter went to her 7th grade orientation at school. They divided the kids into small groups that way that could come in the school, meet their teachers, and learn to navigate their way in the school if they do get to go back in person. Abby did not get to see all her friends. She had to stay 6 feet apart from everyone, and she had to wear a mask the whole time she was there as well as get her temperature checked before entering the building. Was she disappointed about all this, yes of course. However, we did talk about how thankful we were that she got to even go into the school even if it was with a mask. She also got to meet her teachers in person, instead of online. And she at least got to see some of her friends, not all, but some. For all that we were truly thankful. It is important during this time of dispppointments that as parents, we help our kids find the positive things out of bad situations. We must help them find the light and the hope. If we speak negatively all the time about the situation then they in turn will be unable to appreciate even the small victories. Always be sure to pull out the good even if it is difficult. Looking at this picture, it is easy for me to feel sad that I can’t see her smile in this picture because of the mask, but I know it is there. Underneath that pink mask, is a huge smile that she got to experience a partial normalcy, even if it was just for a few hours. That made this mom smile big too!

I am making a effort to try to speak positively through the disappointments. I even made the choice to take my girls school shopping for new school clothes and school supplies. Why you may ask? Because it was our NORMAL. I did not want to give my kids any more disappointments. I wanted to help the expereince feel normal and give them something to look forward to. Do they need the clothes and supplies? Probably not for now, but I gave them hope. Hope that they may get to use them soon. Instead of concentrating on the disappointments I gave them a distraction and something to look forward to. Besides, they can still look cute online if they want to right?

For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord. There are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11

The best thing we can do to help our kids deal with disappointment is to pray for them and to teach them to pray. Let them know they can cast their worries to God. Encourage them and pray for them. Pray that one day soon our “normal” lives will return. Until then, be a light for them and try to be the most positive influence in a disappointing time.

I pray each of you are covered with many blessings today.

Love and hugs,

Jennifer

Let them spread their wings

As a parent we all have many difficult roads that we must navigate throughout our children’s lives. Each new year that passes brings different challenges and stages that we must handle and learn from to help not only our children grow, but us as well. I remember when my girls were little that I would sit back and say I can’t wait until they get older. Why on earth would I say this? At the time, I was exhausted! Four little girls is no easy task, and also at the time I was attempting to run my very own business. The late night feedings, the diaper changes, the baths, cooking, cleaning, working, the drying of four heads of thick blonde hair was all I could handle. I thought if they were older and able to do more for themself that it would be easier for me. I thought I would have more time to work, more sleep, less to do, and maybe even have a little help with the chores. Boy, was I wrong on that one. My kids are older now 21, 18, 14, and 11. Are things easier? Absolutely not!! The things that exhausted me then, has only turned into a new set of things that are exhausting me now. Instead of staying up all night doing feedings, I stay up all night worrying if they make it home after being out. Instead of worrying about just feeding them, I now feed them, a bunch of friends, and even boyfriends. The laundry has quadrupled and the expenses have gone up!! Clothes, shoes, bags, and makeup. Y’all the makeup, let me tell you the makeup is crazy! How many eyeshadow palletes do you need?

As you see, things do not get easier. Each stage our children enter brings a whole new set of challenges that we must cope with and learn from. I do believe that with these challenges, both ourselves and are children will be able to grow as we gain insight into the different stages we are experiencing. As a mother of four I can speak to the fact that I have grown tremendously from that young mother who was exhausted just trying to keep my little ones alive. Now, that my kids are older I can see I have gained so much wisdom, strength, and clarity in the different moments in my children’s lives.

I hit one of those milestone stages this past weekend. We moved my second daughter, Emma Grace, to her college dorm. Yes, the dreaded moving them out of your home. Although she’s not too far (just a few hours away) it still feels like a huge part of my heart is ripped right out of my chest. I know I will be able to still see her often, but it is the fact that I know that this is it. More than likely, she will never officially live back in our home permanently. She now is beginning her independence . Although I’m excited for her I’m also very sad. My time with my chubby curly haired baby quickly flew by. How did she become this beautiful independepent woman in a blink of an eye?

Saturday was a hard day. Letting go is hard, especially as a parent. We want to just be able to hold on to that hand just a little bit longer. However, as I have grown as a parent I have learned the importance of letting go even if it is one finger at a time. With each new stage our kids go through we have to learn a little bit about how to let go. When they take their first steps we have to trust they can do even if we have to let them fall some. When they learn to ride a bike, we have to let go so they can learn to pedal and balance on their own. When they learn to drive, we have to turn over those car keys and pray they will be ok. Now, when they go to college we must learn to say our goodbyes and trust they will make good choices. All the stages are hard and each one of them consists of letting them fail in some way. Yes, failure is a part of life and something we have to teach our children. The awesome part is after they fall, you get to see them fly. They spread their wings. They gain confidence in their own abilities and they learn to grow with the freedom of being able to fly on their own.

Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6.

So as parents hanging on to dear life to our children, we must place our children in God’s hands and let them soar. Every stage, every new moment, every breathe we need to let them be the people they are meant to be and learn to grow as individuals from the falls and victories in their life. Our children need to spread their wings and fly. So in that I say to my beautiful girl, Emma Grace, fly high little butterfly and I am so very proud of you.

I pray that all those out there letting go today are covered with peace, strength, love, and many blessings.

Love and Hugs,

Jennifer

Live in Love

Do everything in love. Corinthians 16:14

Recently my family and I took our two oldest daughter’s jeeps and spent the day exploring a jeep trail called Shepherd Trail here in Kentucky. Our youngest daughter, Abby, was at a friend’s house that day so we were missing her, but we had such a wonderful day together on our jeep adventure. My family has always loved to look for new adventures to take and fun things to do together . I am proud to say that we do make an effort to do things often as a family. I believe one of the greatest gifts you can give to your children is your time. I feel so very blessed also, that they want to spend time with my husband and myself.

The trail is a 38 mile narrow road that winds through the mountain and has several overlooks where you can stand and enjoy the scenery. With the fresh air of the jeeps the trail was just incredible. It felt like we were riding through an enchanted forest. The wind in our hair and the music playing in the background as we made our way down the narrow trail was something we all needed, just to feel free.

I loved looking back and seeing my girls, and our fur-babies, taking in the view with huge smiles on their faces. To me, that is a beautiful sight. There is nothing better than seeing your kids smile. I also found myself thinking how lucky I was to live in such a beautiful place. Y’all, if you have never been to Kentucky, you must come for a visit soon. I believe we live in one of the prettiest places on earth. I am proud to be from the mountains here. I am so very grateful to say it is my home.

The views from the overlook areas were beyond breathtaking. It really felt like you were looking at a picture. As I looked out at the view, I again, was so grateful that God has blessed me to live in such a beautiful place with picture perfect scenery painted all around me by his hand. As I was enjoying the wind in my hair, the freedom of riding, and the gorgeous scenery I can say that I did not have a worry in the world. The anxiety from all the stressors going on in the world right now had left me for those moments. I was free to watch the joy in my children’s faces, to be thankful, and feel blessed. I cherished every moment I was free to just live in a moment of peace, blessings, and love. It truly was a wonderful time.

On our way home and for the days that have followed our little jeep adventure I did some thinking. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could live everyday like I did that day. What if we could just live everyday with joy and love. To feel free and blessed and take in the air, the scenery, and truly just be thankful for what is all around you. To feel the wind in your hair that makes you forget about your worries. What a world that would be.

Our world lately has been one that I no longer recognize. It has become a world that I am scared for my kids to grow up and live in. A world that I will pray that will rise above all that is going on and become a world of love, peace, and kindness. I hope one day soon each and every person will be able to feel that wind and feel free of the terrible things that are happening now. I want everyone to not only to have that freedom, but to live a life that is filled with love.

Elle, Emma, and Taylor(missing Abby that day)

Between Covid-19 and now the unrest in the country it is hard to think that we will ever be able to live a life full of peace and love. The divide in our world, and our country is a strong one. There is a lot of fear, bitterness, loneliness, and unkindness that is looming in today’s society. It doesn’t feel like the same world I grew up in. It is hard for me to understand how people can hurt others so much. I have always taught my kids to be kind to everyone and that all people are equal and we all have the same father, our God. I have tried to teach them the importance of being a good daughter, sister, friend, and neighbor. I am proud of them to because they all seem to have servant hearts as well. They are always looking for ways to help others. The most important thing I have tried to teach them is that LOVE never fails, never. If we choose to live a life of love and loving on others, we will not fail. Will there still be problems? Of course, that is part of life. However, choosing love and kindness is always the best option. We must treat others the way we would want to be treated. So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets. Matthew 7:12.

Peace and love may not be in the minds of most people these days. I also know there are many leaders and others out there that are struggling to find a way just to make things some what normal again (If it can be). One thing I know is that the one person that can make each person and this world whole, that is our great God. I believe with him we can all be healed, and with him this world can be healed. God is perfect love. It is his love that will make people feel the way I did that day in the jeep. His love will make you feel like your hair is blowing in the wind and feeling a rush of fresh air. His love will make you feel joy and thankfulness. His love will show you the way to treat others. His love will fill your life with peace and contentment. And all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Colossians 3:14. Our God can bring unity, peace, and love to everyone. I encourage each of you to put your hope and trust in him. To live a life like God intended for us. To live a life in love.

And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:13.

I pray that I can be a reflection of love to each of you. I pray you are safe and healthy and covered in many blessings today.

Love and hugs,

Jennifer

Cute DIY Ideas for Summer

I have a confession. It is going to be shocking to some, and I may even lose a few friends over this one, but I must get it off my chest. I do not like Summer, I mean I really do not like it. I get it, most people think I am crazy because of my deep-rooted aversion to summer. However, I just don’t like it. Let me explain myself before everyone gets to mad at me. The number one reason is because, I really dislike critters. By critters I mean, bugs, snakes, and all the creepy-crawlies. I have a deep rooted fear of all the above. You will be able to tell if you get to close to me outside in the summer. You may hear a lot screaming on my part if one gets to close to me. I am terrified!! So with Summer, that means more critters, YUCK!!

Another thing I really dislike about Summer, the HEAT!! Yes, again I know most people think that I am crazy on this one as well. However, I hate the heat and humidity. Especially now as a middle aged woman, the heat for me anymore is just unbearable. I hate it. Although, don’t get me wrong I still love going to the beach, listening to the ocean, and having sand between my toes. At the beach, there is a nice breeze to keep the heat more tolerable. I’m talking about the heat and humidity that is so extreme you start sweating the second you step outside. That heat. No fun for me. I prefer Fall, with the warmer days in the seventies and the cool evenings . That is much more my speed.

So as God intended, the seasons all come and go, and here we are again facing another Summer, and even though it is definitely my most disliked season, I still look for ways to make the best out of it. I have a Southern home with large porches and I am always looking for cute ways to decorate them every year. If I have to be outside in the heat and humidity then I need to at least have a cute place in the shade to sit. Every summer I like to go out and and buy fresh new flowers and plants to put on my porches. One of the things that is a plus about the season is that we are able to have such pretty things outside that helps bring some character to our homes, and it does feel like it brings our plain homes to life with all the lovely additions. I also like to look for other things that I can bring in along with my flowers to make my porches feel cozy and welcoming.

Due to the current state of the economy and the limited choices for shopping this year, I had to make the decision to shop on a pretty tight budget when I was looking for things to spruce up our home. So I decided to look into some DIY projects that would not only help pass some time during this quarantine, but that they also would be wonderful additions to our home. So, of course, I head straight to Pinterest. Y’all, let me tell you, I don’t know what I ever did without Pinterest. It is by far one of my most favorite things of all time. I feel like everything I do is linked to Pinterest in some way. Cooking, cleaning, craft ideas, life advice, you name it I use it. It is there where I drew my inspiration for my porch additions this year. I love doing DIY projects and I love saving money, so all around I had so much fun creating these projects.

My first project was so easy and it turned out super cute. The total cost was around 35.00. I drew inspiration for this project from Pinterest. I was able to snag a palette from a local store that had discarded it, and brought it home. Then after that, just painted it with some black spray paint. I really like the farmhouse, rustic look so I decided only to spray paint the palette with one coat of paint because I wanted some of the natural color showing through. Of course, anyone could spray paint it with more than one coat for a richer darker look, or even a different color. This could be anything you wanted it to be. After that I stenciled a little Welcome sign on the top and it was ready for the plants. I wanted to add some color on to the black so I picked up these colorful hanging pots from Amazon. I added in some flowers and there you have it. It turned out so cute and colorful and I just love it. It definitely adds in a sweet touch to our porch.

The next two projects were just as easy and cheaper!! As you may know if you have read my blog, I also love to cook. Therefore, I was looking for a way to grow some fresh herbs without spending money on one of those in home expensive herb gardens or buying pots to sit everywhere. So again, I looked on Pinterest and saw where you could plant herbs using a palette!! So once again I got a free palette spent money on spray paint, mesh backing, decorative signs and the plants themselves, that is it!! My husband added a few pieces of scrap wood underneath to keep the soil from falling, I spray painted the palette, added the soil, planted the seeds, then hung the small chalkboard signs I found on Amazon with small tacks and there you have it a DIY herb garden. As you can tell from the picture, things are growing well, and I look forward to having some fresh herbs to cook with.

The chalkboard sign on the bottom was the cheapest project of all. The only money spent was for chalkboard paint, and the paint color of your choice for the border. Y’all, I like getting by cheap!! The sign is actually an old cabinet door we had laying around. So all you do is paint around the edges, then add in some chalkboard paint in the center, and you have your very own homemade chalkboard sign!! Super cute and easy !! Add a new saying everyday and I am sure you will make your guest feel welcome.

The last DIY project is my absolute favorite!!!! I am absolutely in love with the Porch Swing Bed!! Now, this is the one project I did not build myself. I also tried really hard to get my husband to build it as well, but he was too afraid to give it a try, since (I will put it the nicer way) he is not a handyman. So, I enlisted the help of my mother and uncle, who both are great with DIY and building things and they got started. I found a very simple plan on plankandpillow.com that my family used to build it. Then once they were done I painted it, added in a twin size mattress, sheets, and decorative pillows. My uncle then hung it securely with some rope, and the bed swing was complete and I am in love!! I have wanted one for so long, but the price of the swings online or in the stores kept me from getting one. Now, I have one for just a portion of the price you would pay retail for. I could not be happier with this one. I will admit, I have already taken a couple of naps in this one.

So even though Summer and I do not jive, I have still found a way to bring joy to the season, my family, and my guests. I hope each and every person that visits my home finds it is not only welcoming and cozy, but that will be blessed when they are here. The heat of the Summer may get to all of us, but at least we have a pretty place to cool off and drink some sweet tea.

I hope each of you are covered with many blessings today, and may you find a way to bring light into any season.

Love and hugs,

Jennifer

Making Lemonade

When life hands you lemons, what do you do? You make lemonade!! I am sure everyone has heard this popular quote before. And if we are honest about it, then we all could say that even though we have heard this and even given advice to others to do this, we rarely follow it ourselves. When life throws hard things at you it is very difficult to make negative circumstances into positive. I believe it is just so common during trying times to cave into the negativity. To panic, to cry, to fall into depression, to ask why me? I would bet there are very few people who actually make the lemonade out of those lemons. More of us are probably eating more lemons than drinking lemonade.

Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him. James 1:12.

Life is tough, and each and every one of us will face many different trials throughout our lifespan. Some of those trials will be mild, and some will be beyond difficult. Either way it is inevitable that all of us will face them. We also will have to decide during those times how we are choosing to deal with them. Yes, we get to choose that. No matter what the situation is, or what life throws at us, we get to choose the reaction we have to them. So I ask you, what do you want to do? Do you want to be the person who lives at the bottom, sulking in the negative circumstances? Or do you want to be the person who rises to the top and makes some delicious lemonade? Guess what? It is up to you.

This past weekend, my family and I decided that we were going to make the best out of some very negative circumstances. Yes, we chose to make lemonade out of some very sour lemons that were given to us. My daughter, Emma, is a senior in high school, and due to the Covid-19 virus her senior prom was cancelled. This broke all of our hearts. Prom, especially your senior prom is a milestone in life. It is one of those events that you will remember for the rest of your life. And for Emma, this memory that would have been was taken away. Yes, Emma was devastated to say the least, and as her mother I took it pretty hard too. My heart broke for what she was missing and because she was hurt as well. Overall, it was just a very sour end to the end of her senior year, along with all the other senior activities she was missing.

My husband and I have talked numerous nights and prayed about the best ways to try and make things as normal as possible for our kids during this pandemic. So we came up with an idea. If Emma could not go to prom, then our family was going to bring the prom to her. Yes, we were going to have our very own family prom!! And so we did. We tried to make it as fun for Emma as possible. We all dressed up in our formal attire. We took the standard “prom pictures”. We fixed some pretty delicious finger foods. Had some music and dancing and even played some games after to mimic the Project Prom that usually follows the formal dance at school. Overall, I believe it was a great memorable night. I will also say Emma had the best, most handsome prom date this year, her daddy.

What a great night we had as a family. Not only will Emma be able to look back at this night and have a senior prom to remember, but as a family we all made memories that night that will live forever in our hearts. Something positive that came out of very negative circumstances. So you see, even in the dark, scary days we can always find a way to turn the tide and bring a little positivity in. I think as a family, we not only had a fun memorable night, but we also achieved a lot of growth as well. No, this was not the “ideal” prom night Emma had envisioned for her senior year, but she saw that sometimes we just have to take what is given to us and make the best out of a situation. As a family, we are so proud of her. We all grew in watching her make the choice not to let the situation get her down, but to rise above it.

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1 Thessalonians 5:18.

I am proud of my whole family. We all came together to make sure Emma was able to have a special memory. It absolutely was such a blessing to be a part of. My family decided we were going to make lemonade out of a very sour lemon. We chose to be thankful for what we were given, not sour because of what was taken away. Y’all, how much better would things be if we could apply this to all areas of our lives? Trust me, I am like everyone else, it is very hard for me to know let life knock me down. However, after being blessed with this experience and seeing my family come together during a very hard time, I now can see that the best thing to do is just to turn the negative into a positive. I can tell you there is nothing better than to make and enjoy some of your very own lemonade.

I pray each and every one of you are safe, healthy, and covered in many blessings today. Please enjoy some of our prom pictures.

Love and hugs,

Jennifer

Be Kind

This week has been a really tough week for me. I am not sure if it is the stress from having to stay home, hormones, or a combination of those things. It has just been a very tough week. To top it off I had to step into an unfortunate situation this week involving my daughter in which I had to defend her. It was definitely not what I needed on top of a week that was already turning out to be a stressful one for me. I know I should never complain. It most definitely could be much worse. My family is healthy and safe, and that I am thankful for. Especially with everything going on from this terrible virus that is invading our lives. As we all know though, even when we are thankful for good things, sometimes the sadness can still creep in.

As I mentioned in another blog, I do suffer from anxiety. It is something I have dealt with my whole life. The area I suffer the most is social anxiety. It is so difficult for me to be in crowds, or in groups of people, both big and small. I know, it doesn’t make since why then the quarantine would be adding to my stress, because it takes me away from all that. The stress comes from just not being able to live our lives in the “normal” way we are accustomed to. I am stressed for my kids and the activities, memories, and friends they are missing. I am stressed for my husband and the extra burden he is having to carry financially. I am stressed that someone in my family will become ill. Basically, I just stress over everything, and do enough worrying for everyone. It is just my nature.

Even though this week has been hard, and the stress has seemed to be an extra burden for me this week, I can still say I have grown a lot over the past few days. That growth has come because I was reminded of the importance of being KIND to everyone. I will say this week, kindness was something that was a challenge for me. No I am not a mean hateful person, but the burdens that were on my heart was making it difficult to reach for that kindness. The stress I was feeling made me just want to lay around and be sad. I had no energy, and not much motivation to do anything. And then I also had the unfortunate incident with my daughter. I can honestly say when this happened, kindness was not something that came to my mind. They hurt my daughter, so my first reaction was that I wanted to hurt them in return. Fortunately , I took some time to pray and reflect before I took any action. As a Christian, I wanted God to guide me in how to handle the situation. Somehow, I was able let the stress from the week go, and I dealt with the situation with kindness and respect. Was this difficult to do? Yes. Especially because my daughter was hurting. Did I receive kindness back? Unfortunately no. I actually received rudeness and negativity in return. And guess what? I am ok with that. After the anxiety I was feeling from the week, you would think that I would not be. However, I had to get back in touch with reality and realize who I really was, and show others the same thing. I never want to be seen as an ugly, rude person. I want to be seen as someone who shines light, love, and kindness no matter what the circumstances. Yes, this week was tough for me and no matter how many times I tried to just give my worries to God, a new one would come in. So the burdens felt heavy. But I did not want those burdens to make me into something that I was not.

We should always be mindful that no matter what is going on in our lives, there is never an excuse to be unkind to anyone else. The stress we are feeling at home, work, or anything else should never carry into how we choose to treat others. Kindness and respect should always be our top priority. Yes, even when someone hurts us. I know, as I said this is so difficult to do. I was faced with that this week. You never know, though, what others are dealing with also. They may be having a bad day or bad week, and their behavior is reflecting that. Your words to them may be the only thing they hear that day. Do you want to add to someone’s burdens or ease them? I want to be someone’s light for the day, even if they do not want to see it. Even if they have nothing kind to say to me, I want to show them my heart is not only full of love and kindness, but a reflection of grace and kindness. Isn’t that what God commands us to do? To love, respect, forgive, and treat others like we would like to be treated?

Take the time to always treat people with kindness, and yes there will be times you do not get it in return. Just remember the light you shine today, will be remembered tomorrow. So be the reason someone smiles today because you never know what someone is going through. Let’s all make the world a kinder place for all of us.

Be kind to one another, tender hearted, forgiving each other, just as God also in Christ forgave you. Ephesians 4:32.

I hope each of you are covered in many blessings and an abundance of kindness today.

Love and hugs,

Jennifer

Know Your Worth

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. Psalm139: 13-14.

Recently my oldest daughter, Taylor, opened up in her blog about being in a very bad toxic relationship. I was so proud of her for her bravery in coming out with her story and taking on this important topic. Abusive relationships are not discussed enough in our country, and when it is a certain stigma seems to come along with it. I invite you to read her blog and get an idea of what she had to endure, and also want to share a little on what it is like for a parent to watch your child live in such an environment.

Since Taylor was a child she has always been very shy and insecure. As a parent I question myself all the time in why she is. Is it something I did wrong as a parent? Could I have done anything different? I have suffered from anxiety and shyness all my life as well, so I question if this is something that can be passed on to your kids as well? No matter what the answer is Taylor has had to navigate through life trying to overcome these issues. My heart would always hurt watching her as she was growing trying her best to make friends, feel included, and just be part of the crowd and feel good about herself. I often had to push pretty hard just to make her go to birthday parties or take part in a physical activity. It was a struggle to say the least. The insecurities within herself often would appear in ways that no one can even imagine. Taylor, starting as early as her 5th grade year in school, developed an eating disorder that we still struggle with to this day. (I will discuss that in more detail in another blog). There were so many struggles for her from the very beginning.

Then the age came when it was time for boyfriends. As each new boyfriend came into our lives, so did a new set of problems. Due to Taylor’s insecurities she was never the best judge of character. This in turn made for some pretty unhealthy choices in the relationship department. The relationship she got out of recently turned out to be worst of them all. It was very mentally and we later learned a very physically abusive relationship. It was one of the most agonizing things as a parent to watch your child suffer and there really is nothing you can do about it. Yes, we were her parents and did try various ways to try to get Taylor out of the relationship she was in. However, like most teenagers the more we pushed one way, she would push the other. So we had to just sit back and watch and spent many days praying that in some way the relationship would end. Thank God our prayers were answered . He ended the relationship.

I watched my child suffer so much. I watched her become someone that I did not even know. Yes, she has always been insecure and shy, but I witnessed what seemed like the life dripping out of her slowly. Therapy was a must, and many prayers were lifted up. It was a very dark time, but after the relationship ended we were finally able to see the light at the end of the tunnel. I immediately had a sense of relief come over and saw the softening occurring in Taylor as well. It was almost instant that the chains were broken from her and life came back into her. It was such a blessing as a mother to see that all hope was not lost.

Since my girls were little, I have always tried to teach them about self worth and loving themself. I would always tell them that they were made by God, so that means they are beautiful. I always tried to make sure they knew it doesn’t matter what others think of them, that are beautiful to me and in the eyes of God. You will see, through our experience with Taylor, that sometimes no matter what you do it will not keep them safe from harm. There are many days I blame myself. I would always tell my girls to know their worth, when a lot of times I was blind to my own. As a woman, living in the environment we do, it is hard not to be critical of yourself. We are all expected to look a certain way, and the expectations are almost to much to bare sometimes. So, like others I was guilty of being hard on myself as well. I am not saying it caused Taylor’s problems, but I do not think it helped it much.

I just want to make sure that everyone knows from our stories the importance of knowing your worth. Do not let this visual world make you feel less than you really are. Take control of your life. Don’t let others tell you what you are and where your riches lie. Know your worth. Know that you are a child of God, and he makes all things beautiful. If you find yourself criticizing yourself, go to him in prayer and read your bible and renew your mind with the power of his words. If you find yourself in a bad relationship, get out. Do not let someone else affect your mental health. Be strong and know your worth. But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength . They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. Isaiah 40:31.

I am so happy that Taylor is in a much better place now. She has a strong faith and that has also helped her through everything that she has been through. She is in a new relationship now that is loving and healthy. We are so grateful for that. I am also grateful that she has learned so much from her experiences and she has learned to rely on God to help guide her path. I love watching her become a strong powerful woman, who knows her worth.

I pray each of you are covered in many blessings today!!

Love and hugs,

Jennifer

Happy Easter

“For God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not die but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to be its judge, but to be its savior.” John 3:16-17.

In my lifetime, I have never not gone to church to celebrate Easter. Even people who do not regularly attend church would either go to some type of service or would the spend the day with family and friends to recognize the Easter holiday. My family would always attend church, have a wonderful dinner together, and do a huge outdoor Easter egg hunt for the kids. It is a tradition we all looked forward to every year. Who doesn’t look forward to good food, fun, and all the yummy easter candy? Reese’s peanut butter eggs and Cadbury eggs are two of my favorites, YUM!! More importantly though, as a Christian, Easter is one of the most important holidays. The celebration that Jesus is Alive!!

With everything that is going on the world right now, the normal Easter celebrations are going to look much different . In person church services are canceled and most services will be streamed online for people to watch at home. Instead of families dressing up in their matching, colorful Easter attire, they will be watching the service from their couch in PJ’s or leisure clothes. Small dinners with our family will be served in our home, and no large family celebrations will be taking place. Kids will not be going to take pictures with the Easter bunny and doing community Easter egg hunts. Instead parents will be trying to think of creative ways to hide eggs in and around our homes. The normal traditions of Easter that we all take part in will look much different this year.

My girls last Easter

Even though things are looking very different this Easter, we all must remember the reason for the holiday. It never was about the large gatherings, the dinners, and it certainly wasn’t about the Easter Bunny or egg hunts. Easter is about the death and resurrection of Jesus. One thing I know for certain is that the true meaning of Easter over the years has become lost. People get so caught up in buying pretty clothes and putting together baskets, or attending big community events, that they lose sight in what the true meaning really is.

I am certainly not happy in everything that is happening right now, and the havoc COVID-19 is taking in our lives. However, I am happy that my family will be able to shift focus on what Easter really means to us. That we will be able to celebrate without all the extras distracting us. We will just truly be able to celebrate Jesus as a family. Hopefully everyone across the world will be able to do the same. They will take away the bunny, the eggs, and the baskets and remember what the holiday is truly about.

As I sit and think about what Easter means, it also brings me comfort in what is a very dark time in our lives. The death and resurrection of Jesus teaches us not to fear. Even when we face death, do not fear. The love God has for us is so strong that it even defeats death. Easter is about love. God’s love is greater than anything. With his love we are strong, we are conquerors, and we are complete. Easter is about hope. Hope for our present and our future. The gift of Jesus brings hope into all our lives. Easter teaches us to be strong. No matter what is going on around us, or what people may be doing, God is always stronger. God is stronger than this virus , and it will be defeated.

I encourage each of you to gather with your families and celebrate the true meaning of Easter. Let your husbands, wives, children and others know what Easter means to you. Take advantage of this time we have to shift your focus to the one that is above it all. Let it bring you and your family peace during this difficult time. Remind yourself and others that perfect love always wins. Love defeats it all.

I pray each of you have a very blessed Easter with your families. I pray that each of you are covered with God’s perfect love and abundant blessings today.

“I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” John 11:25-26.

Love and hugs,

Jennifer