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

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

Be A Light

I feel like a broken record in every blog saying that we are all living in crazy times right now . Between COVID and the ongoing riots and general unrest in this country it feels like the world as we know it is quickly vanishing right before our eyes . It is easy to see why all these circumstances have contributed to everyone feeling fear, panic, uncertainty, and hopelessness. In the beginning of this difficult time we all still had a little bit of hope. I don’t know about you, but I thought everything would be fine. I still had hope. I thought the upheaval that COVID has caused would last a few weeks and then life would be back to the way we knew it. In fact if you watched the news there were moments when that hope was given to us. It would be reported the shutdown would be two weeks, then they would add another week then another and finally the weeks turned to months and very slowly our hopes began to disappear as no end was in sight. To add to it, then came the rioting that caused an unrest in communities that were already heavily burdened with fear.

With everything in disarray it is so hard not to become depressed, fearful , hopeless , and yes even bitter sometimes . I can tell you I struggle with this myself. I have to make a choice everyday to get up and pray that I do not let the world and my feelings drag me down. This is very hard to do, but I can tell you that one thing that has helped me overcome these feelings is the decision that I wanted to be a light to others. I realize everyone is struggling not just me . Most people are having the exact same feelings that I am. Which made me think deeply about the situation. I first started with myself what would make me feel better under the current circumstances? What would others possbily need to make them feel better and be filled with hope? Here are some suggestions that I have compiled that may help you become a light to others.

  • Look in your own heart first. Chances are the things that you seek in a time of darkness is also what others are needing as well. For me, I hate the feeling of loneliness. I want to know that I am not alone, and that there are others that are there with me. Things that help me feel better? Getting a text or call from a friend. My husband or daughters being close always makes me feel less lonely and secure. It is important to remember that, especially now, everyone is going through the same thing. Look into your own heart and that will help guide you on how to help others.
  • Just because we have to be away from each other doesn’t mean you cannot reach out to others. Text your friends to check on them. Send cards or goodie bags in the mail. Keep in touch, even if it is from a distance. Make sure to let others know that you are there even though you may be away.
  • Offer help, espcially to those that may be more vulnerable or may not have others to assist them. Run errands for the elderly, or others who may not be able to get out. Drop off groceries or neccessities to these individuals even if they don’t ask for it. Make them a dinner and leave it for them. Do whatever you can to assist others to let them know they are cared for and not alone.
  • Ask people how they are, just because they may smile on a Face-Time call, doesn’t mean they are ok. Be deligent in asking and be sure to listen if you notice they need to talk. Let them be open and you be open and honest in return.
  • Smile. Yes, simple as that smile. Even if your alone. Think of a funny joke, watch a funny movie, talk to a friend about crazy things you used to do and smile. Not only will a smile lift your spirits but it can lift others spirits as well.
  • Help others be lights. Talk to your children and loved ones. Encourage them to reach out to someone and help them or even just text someone and say “I’m here if you need anything”. We all know the more lights there are the brighter the room is.
  • Talk to God. Let him guide you. Tell him your fears, let him lead your path during these uncertain times. Most importantly, pray for others. Lift them up and help speak hope and peace back into their lives.

Of course, these are just a few things you can do to be a light to others. There are so many ways we can reach out to others and bring a little light into this dark world right now. I would love to hear from any of you about ways that you have been a light? It is great to see good news for once. There are many people out there who are trying their best to make this world a better place. How much different would the world look right now if everyone chose light over darkness? Even under circumstances beyond our control. I truly believe there would be a lot less fear, hopelessness, depression, and disconnect. This world would look much different. I encourage each and every one of you to be a light to someone today. Let’s all make this world shine so bright that darkness can never creep in.

In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:16.

I hope your light is shining bright today and that you are covered with many blessings.

Love and Hugs,

Jennifer

Donuts, Dog, and sweatpants

This past December my daughters bought me the cutest sweatshirt for a birthday gift. It has quickly become my go to sweatshirt. You know what I am talking about? That perfect piece of clothing with the soft lining and a little oversized for maximum comfort. The one you wear so much, that you eventually get holes in or completely wear it out. Yes, that is the one it has become my absolute favorite!! I reach for it anytime I am home and want to be comfortable. Hey, I reach for even when I’m going out too and just want to be comfortable. If you see me, well you will probably see me wearing this at some time. The front of the sweatshirt has writing that simply says: Donuts, Dogs, and Sweatpants. When I first opened the gift and saw this on the front, I actually had to giggle. Why? Because my girls know me so well!! Yes, one can definelty say that donuts, dogs, and sweatpants are three of my absolute favorite things in the whole world, besides my beautiful family of course. As I was folding the sweatshirt the other day after being washed and I read the saying that is on the front. It got me thinking about all the things that not only bring me comfort, but about what brings comfort to others as well. What is it that brings you comfort? Yes, I love my yummy glazed donuts, laying on the couch and snuggling with my dog, and a comfy sweatshirt and sweatpants. All of these things are tangible. However, my true comfort comes from God. He is the one that brings me the most comfort when I need it the most.

The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Deuteronomy 31:8-9.

A donut is truly delicious. One of the best things about donuts, is the countless options you have to choose from. Original, chocolate, glazed, and some even with delicious filling. Unfortunately, I am from a very small town so we do not have a place here to buy fresh donuts. Well, now that I think about it, maybe that is a good thing. It is no secret to my family when we go out of town and there is a Krispy Kreme, that I will be there to buy some delicious donuts. In fact, when we see that infamous red sign on, we stop traffic and do whatever we have to do to get there as fast as possible. No joke, we are crazy over donuts. They are just so delicious and truly are at the top of my comfort foods. What is your comfort food? Do you take extra measures to just get one bite of something that you love? What if we were to run to God like we do when that red sign is on a Krispy Kreme? When we have a craving for a taste of comfort, we can also run to him. God will feed our souls with his word. Whatever may be going in our lives, God is there. He will always be there to provide the peace and comfort our hearts desire. God is our comfort when our soul needs to be fed.

Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. Johns 6:35.

Just like that cozy loungewear and delicious donut, I also find comfort in spending time with my family and my dogs. As I am sure it is true for most of us, my family is my entire world. The reason I live and breathe. It is no secret they are my true joy and peace. My dogs, who we treat like they are our family, also play an integral part in allowing me to feel joy, peace, and solace. In fact, there has been research done that dogs can reduce anxiety and bring comfort to those in need. It is not uncommon to see dogs used for therapeutic purposes in this day and age. Emotional support animals, dogs who aid in the care of disabled individuals, and even dogs brought into medical facilities and schools to help improve the individuals there are all ways we see dogs helping people cope. There has been many days that I really felt like I needed a friend, and my dogs have been there and helped me get out of a not so healthy headspace. God can also help you when a shift of focus. It is so important to remember God is our friend. A loyal friend that will never leave us and will always be there to be the light on a day that may seem dark. Feel his embrace and hear his words when you need comfort. Find peace in just sitting and talking to him like you would a friend. His love is constant and never changes.

Praise be to the God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort this in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. 2 Corinthians 1: 3-4.

I love having things in my life that bring me comfort. I will admit I cannot live without my comfy clothes, favorite foods, and my sweet little doggies. However, there is no comfort like that of God. He touches my heart, feeds my soul, and wraps me in such a safe embrace that there is nothing in the world that can bring me peace like him. He is everything that I need. I encourage everyone that needs to find comfort and peace to run to him. Lay everything at his feet, and get comfortable because he will always take care of you.

I pray each of you are finding comfort today and are filled with many blessings.

Love and hugs,

Jennifer

Cherished Time

Can we all just say that 2020 is throwing all of us more punches each and every passing day. I honestly feel like I am living in the middle of a scary movie, not real life. Each day I wake up and have this feeling of dread about turning on the TV and watching the news. What possibly could be going on now? There are even some days that I choose not to even turn on the TV. I make this choice for my own mental health, but my families as well. Do we need to stay informed about what is going on? Absolutely!! I am not making the choice to ignore what the reality is. I, of course, want to be educated and knowledgable so that I can keep my family safe and healthy. However, I do think because of the many different things going on in the world that each of us need to also give ourselves a mental break. To not feed our minds with the negativity news and images that is in abundance right now. Constantly feeding yourself with the negativity will not be good for you. One might think that watching the news or scrolling through social media will not have a great psychological effect, but it most definitely can. I would guess, and I am not an expert nor do I have a medical degree, that after all this is over there will be an increase of numbers of people who are diagnosed and have to be treated for depression and anxiety.

Because of all the negativity in order to prevent ourselves from falling into the rut of being depressed or anxious we must turn away from the negative images and find something that will help us take our minds off of the current circumstances of the world. One thing that has helped me is to find a way to cherish each and every moment that I have with my family. The world has changed in drastic ways, and so that means my family has changed also. My husband and my kids are living in this crazy world too, not just me. They have fears, anxiety, missed opportunities, time away from friends and loved ones, changes in their activities, restraint from activities, and the list goes on. Not only that, but we all are getting another year older, getting to new phases in our lives, and adapting to new changes . In fact, I have my oldest, Taylor who will be in her last year of college, Emma will be leaving home and starting her first year in college, Elle will be starting high school as a Freshman, and Abby will begin her journey in junior high as a 7th grader. Lots of big changes for our family!! This is one of the reasons that I try to block away the negativity and take time to cherish every little moment I have with my beautiful family. In a blink of any eye it goes by.

The time together is so important to me. I want to hang on to each minute. I was so thankful that we made the decision to take our girls to the beach a few weeks ago to get a much needed break from the real world. Before I get any hate about our decision to go to the beach, I want everyone to know that we stayed in a private residence, practiced social distancing, and wore masks while we were there. We made sure our daughters were never put in harms way or that we would put ourselves in a position to pass to others. All safety measures were followed!! It was a personal decision we made as a family to spend this quality time together. Like I said in a few short weeks, our lives will look much different because of the stages my girls are entering. Not only that, we have no idea in this ever-changing world what will be thrown at us next. So, I want to take the time to remember today. To see my girls all together smiling, laughing, and making memories. I want to see them enjoy life, despite the fear that may be lingering in the air. I want to cherish the second, the minute, the hour, and the day we have right now. I don’t want to watch the news everyday and feel depressed or weighed down. I want to lift my hands up in the air and thank God for the gifts that are standing in front of me right now.

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. Matthew 6:34.

Again, I am not promoting for anyone to ignore the news, or not take the events happening now seriously. I actually feel the total opposite of that. What I am saying is give yourself a pass. It is ok to do what is best for you and your family. Do not feel guilty for missing one day of news reports. Do not feel bad if you have to get away from it all, if done in a safe way. Make sure that your family has the opportunity to have a mental and emotional break from it all. I would even suggest to talk out loud about your fears. The most important message I have is do not ever let what is going on, take away your time as a family. Cherish all of it. Do not let anything steal your joy. Hold on to the precious minutes you have with your kids. I can tell you it seems like yesterday by 21 year old was just a baby. Now, she is a grown woman who dreams of her own family. Do not let these moments slip because you are scared. Take a hold of this season, even though for everyone it is a rocky one, but take a hold of it and turn it into cherished time together. When my 18 year old leaves for college in a few weeks, I certainly do not want to have any regrets that I did not find joy in my last few days with her at home. I do not want to take my time or life for granted. Every breath is a gift, every moment with my girls and husband is a gift. I may worry about the type of future that is ahead for all of us, and I am sure most of are having those thoughts right now, but I want to live in the present. Each new stage my kids enter is bittersweet. I have loved watching them change and grow but it also makes this mommy a little sad too. I will tell you that letting go is so very hard, that is why I want to cherish every second before my hands have to let go.

To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven: A time to be born, And a time to die; A time to plant, And a time to pluck what is planted. Ecclesiastes 3:1-2.

Hope this finds you all safe and healthy and with many blessings. May God bless each of you.

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

A Letter to my Senior

Emma Grace,

I have a mountain of memories that flood through my head as I look back on the 18 years we have been blessed to have you in our lives. From the very beginning you were going to make your presence known. When I was pregnant with you I was so sick for 9 months!! I mean really sick!!! It was as if even then you were shouting to the world “Hey look at me!!” Then came the delivery, and let me tell you I don’t even have the words to describe how rough that one was. You were a standout before you even took your first breath in this world.

You were born on December 3, 2001. The day before your dad’s birthday. What a great birthday gift!!! You were also born a little less than three months after the 9/11 attack. I remember being so scared of what type of world my new baby and her older sister were going to live in. The fear, the uncertainty, the overall atmosphere of the time was just overall a very frightening time.

As you started to grow the world was growing too. The weight of the fear that came with 9/11 seemed to ease a little. No, the world was never the same again but just like everything else, the world kept spinning and the country began to heal. Quickly the time past and it was time for you to go to Kindergarten. I remember thinking it would be easier to send you off to school because I had already gone through it with your older sister . However, it was not. My heart broke in a thousand pieces leaving you in that room and waving bye to you. You were so excited though and it didn’t take you long to adapt to school life and quickly start making friends. undefined You were always someone who made friends easily. You have the most extraordinary personality and a heart that is so big. And to top it off you have always been beautiful inside and out. It is hard for everyone not to love you.

The years passed quickly and we watched you grow. We got to experience so many things with you from karate, soccer, dance, cheer, pageants you name it, I think you tried it all. No matter what you were doing we just loved watching you and seeing that smile on your face. We just loved you no matter what you were doing.

Then comes the day I was dreading but excited for at the same time. Your first day of senior year undefined. This picture was taken that day with your sisters. I remember you waking up with an excitement that this was it. The last first day of high school. The anticipation of the exciting year to come was in the air for all of us. We were all so excited for the year to come. Your fall semester was great. There of course was football games, homecoming( being nominated homecoming queen for you), leading the news show at school, becoming the yearbook editor, hanging out with friends, and trying new adventures. All the normal and fun things you get to do in high school. As the spring semester started, all was going well. The talk of where to go on spring break, preparing for prom and making sure we got that perfect senior prom dress, because we all know that senior prom dress has to be the best. We were getting ready for senior banquets, senior picnics, senior trips, and all the activities that being a senior entails. So many fabulous things were coming your way.

Then it happened. The virus Covid-19. The virus that not only has turned the world upset down and changed life as we know it, but it also is the virus that is robbing you from your senior year. At this point we have no idea if you will get to go back to school to finish the year. From what we have been hearing you will not. If you don’t, that means no prom, no graduation, no senior brunch, no senior picnic or banquet, no senior activities at all. It will all be gone. Getting to say goodbye to classmates, to teachers, to anyone who has been on this ride with you will be taken away. I hate this for you and all the seniors across the country. Baby girl, I am sorry that there is no way I can fix this. As a mother one of the hardest things to face is not being able to fix problems for our kids. I want to make it all better. I want you to be able to finish up your senior year. I want you to go to your last prom. I want to see you walk across the stage at graduation. I want to see you hug your friends goodbye. I want to see you in maroon and white one last time. Unfortunately, I am not sure if this is going to be a reality.

If there is one thing I am learning so far from all this, it is never take one single day for granted. Even the normalcy of everyday life, going to school, going to work, cooking, grocery shopping, laundry, everything is a gift to us that may be taken away at any second. We are all seeing this. So, Emma, even if you are not able to return to school, I want you to be able to see that everyday that you have had so far at school, with your friends, making those senior memories has been a gift. Even if you are unable to make anymore, hold the memories you have made in your heart forever. Cherish them, hold on them, see them for what they are, a blessing. Send your classmates and teachers messages. Let them know how much you love them. Let them know that you all are all in this together. Pray together. Pray that you will be able to come together again. Support and love each other no matter what.

As a mother, I will pray everyday that I get to watch you finish up your senior year with all the experiences that each of you deserve. There is nothing I want more. A group of kids that were born at a time when the world wasn’t so kind, is now again dealing with a world that is unsettled and uncertain. This, however, has only proven your resilience. Emma you are all so strong. You have tried to spread kindness in a world that has not always been kind to you and that has taken so much. There is no doubt, because of your strength, that even after all this you won’t look at it as being robbed but instead will use it as a lesson to build a better brighter future. Emma, never lose hope, let God guide your path, and know no matter what your future is bright.

I pray to Emma and all of you that you are covered in blessings today.

Love and hugs,

Jennifer

Do Not Fear

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Psalm 46:1

This past week has been an uncertain, and I must say a very scary time for our country, and our world. The COVID-19 virus has taken over life as we know it. Just in the past week we all have had our lives turned upside down and we are having to learn to adjust to a new normal. A new normal of the now well know topic of “social distancing”, along with homeschooling, working from home, stockpiling supplies and groceries, and the confinement of staying at home due to the closure of restaurants and stores. This new normal is difficult for people who live in a country where we have always had the freedom to do what we please, and live our lives with such comfort and ease that we have had rarely had to think about the basic necessity of survival. I would say 9/11 was the closest we have all gotten to really having our lives forever changed and the uncertainty and fear that has also come along with the virus we are facing today.

In just a blink of an eye, our world is completely different. Last week I went to a grocery store with well-stocked shelves, and passed on getting toilet paper because we had a few rolls already at home. This week the same grocery store had empty shelves and had me kicking myself I didn’t buy that toilet paper because there is now a shortage. Two weeks ago I bought my 18 year old her senior prom dress and watched her smile and laugh with excitement as she tried her dress on looking forward to her very last prom. Now, this week we are being told more than likely they will not be returning to school and that means no prom, no graduation, no more senior memories for her. My heart truly aches for all my children, but it really does for her as this was supposed to be such a special memorable time for her.

So what are we supposed to do when we are facing such scary and uncertain times? How do we ease our children’s fear and anxiety through this? How do we calm our own anxieties and worry? These are all really hard questions, and because everyone is unique and deals with things differently there may be ways one person handles a situation that works better for them. As a Christian, I am doing my best to handle the situation the only way I know how with God by my side.

Here are a few tips that I am encouraging not only myself to follow but my family as well:

  • PRAY. Pray for our world, our country, your community, your family, your friends. Talk to him. Tell him your worries and concerns. Pray that we soon can get back to what we know as normal. Pray for a cure. Pray for those who are already sick to be healed. Pray for a hedge of protection for your loved ones and others. Just give everything to him. Prayer is so powerful, and trust me it works!! I prayed to the Lord and he answered me. He freed me from all my fears. Psalm 3:14.
  • Don’t allow FEAR to rule your life. Trust me, I know this is easier said than done. It is difficult for me as well. However, we cannot live our lives in fear. We just can’t. We must stay strong, and lay all of our worries at God’s feet. We must make sure our kids see that we are strong and not living in a state of panic or fear. It is important for their mental well-being that we do this. Kids are so vulnerable, and so it is important for us to create an atmosphere of peace for them. Stay strong and don’t let the fear take over, live your life!! Tell everyone who is discouraged, Be strong and don’t be afraid! God is coming to your rescue. Isaiah 35:4.
  • Focus on the GOOD. I always try to find blessings out of every situation I am put in. Even the messy ones. Yes, the world is a scary and messy place right now. However, let’s try and find some good things to pull out of this. The first thing I can think of is that I get to spend more time with my family. Now that we are all home, we can spend more quality time together. Last night, we had a family game night and just chatted. It has been a long time since we have gotten to do that. So that was a huge blessing. Instead of focusing on the negativity and fear, reset your mind and always search for the good and the hope. An anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up. Proverbs 12:25.
  • Know God is in CONTROL. You may be scared, your children may be scared and worried, but God is with you. Lean on him for your strength to get through this. Allow him to be your rock. When you feel the anxiety taking over your mind, pray and know that God is in control of this situation and he will never leave your side. Let him guide you to learn how to deal with the new normal we are all facing, let him show you that through him, you are strong. Peace is what I leave with you, it is my own peace that I give you. I do not give it as the world does. Do not be worried and upset; do not be afraid. John 14:27.

Just know I will be praying for everyone during this time, and I pray that very soon this uncertain time will be over. I know you are all scared, but I also pray that each of you are covered with many blessings today.

Love and hugs,

Jennifer

Raising Queens

It is no secret to anyone that my four daughters are the center of my world. I live and breath for them everyday. They truly are my biggest blessings. People always ask me how on earth do you do it with four girls? Well, what I am thinking is how can I not? I sure would not want life any other way. My girls bring life into our home and my heart and make me want to be a better person everyday. Now, I’m not one of those moms who thinks their kids are perfect and do no wrong. Trust me, they make mistakes and are in no way perfect, no one is. I can say, however, that each of them do their very best to let God guide their path, and in that I am so proud.

As a mother of four daughters it can be tricky navigating your approach in raising them into the women that you hope they will be. Unfortunately, the world we live in today makes these challenges even more difficult. In this day and age not only are we faced with the normal struggles in parenting with school, activities, peers, and dare I say it BOYS! But now we also have the influences of social media that play a huge role in the lives of our children today. To juggle all this and still be able to guide our children to make the right choices, have positive experiences, and seek God above all else can be challenging. Being a mom is hard work!!

Emma Miss Kentucky Teen 2019


In 2019 my family had a big year. Our second daughter, Emma, competed in her very first pageant, and won!!! She got to represent Kentucky as Miss Kentucky Teen and also in the Miss Teen USA pageant in Reno, Nevada and had a year full of experiences and blessings. She also received the honor in being named Homecoming Queen at her high school. A year of being a queen!! This year as I enjoyed watching Emma grow and learn from her experience it made me reflect on life with all my girls. What if I can make sure that all my girls experience being a queen every day? Not necessarily a queen in the literal sense (although that’s great too) but a queen in their hearts, minds, and overall life experiences. All girls know that being a queen seems so far out of reach. Most girls are plagued with so many insecurities that being a queen or even thinking like one seems like something that would never be a possibility for them. But I am here to tell you it is. I am here to tell you as a parent, we must start changing the atmosphere our girls are living in and change their world by making them feel like the queens they are.

How can we make our daughters feel like queens? Here are some things I have learned with raising my daughters:

  • Seek God always. We all belong to God. He is our helper, our healer, and guide. With God guiding your path being a queen is a easy thing to do, because with God all things are possible. We need to teach our daughters to pray, to dig into the Bible for answers, and to always listen to God’s voice
  • Make them get our of their comfort zone. My oldest daughter suffers from social anxiety, as do I, so I try to push her and myself to do things that is something we would not necessarily be comfortable doing. It may be going out to a social event, trying a new hobby, or meeting new people. Taylor is shy also but by encouraging her to get out of her comfort zone she decided to start her own you tube channel and her very own blog. Everyone should check her blog out!! Emma was out of her comfort zone when she competed in her pageant. She also told me my push was the reason her life was forever changed and she is grateful. So you never know what can happen and the confidence that they build in trying something new will help build that queen mentality.
  • Teach self-love. Like I said, in today’s society it so hard for anyone to love themself. We are bombarded with so much on how we should live, look, and act. It’s hard to look in the mirror and love ourselves. However, we need to teach our girls that they are perfect in God’s eyes. He made them exactly as they were meant to be. You are beautiful, for you are fearfully and wonderfully made. Psalm 139:14. Teach your daughter to seek God’s approval, not people. God already thinks she is a queen.
  • Praise them. Don’t spend all your time nagging. Yes, we know that this sometimes can be hard to do, especially with teenagers. But tell them how proud you are of them. Tell them how kind they are, how beautiful they are, and how special they are. Let them have a home that they want to come home to. A place where praise is a priority and not negativity. This doesn’t mean to praise them constantly and never point out any flaws. As a parent it is our job to do both. To show both strengths and weaknesses, but this is about guiding them, helping them feel confident, and letting them know they can accomplish anything because you have their back. With positive reinforcement they will certainly feel like queens.
  • Teach them never to settle and dream big. This can include a lot of different areas of their lives including school, work, friends, relationships, etc. Whatever it may be, never settle. Never allow anyone to make them believe they don’t deserve the very best. Let them know they deserve to be loved, respected, and encouraged. They will certainly feel like a queen when they have the confidence to never settle. Encourage them to always dream big and go for whatever their hearts desire. It may be starting a blog, competing in a pageant, or learning something new. Whatever it maybe, teach them always to reach for the stars. God has big plans for them.
  • Teach them to be strong. Show them how to take up for themselves and the importance of not letting others influence their decisions. Make sure they are confident in who they are so they never back down on their beliefs and values. Make sure they know as a women, they have the power to change the world. Lastly, make sure they stand strong in their faith, and that no matter what others say that will never be shaken. Even when they may feel weak, God will be their strength. 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 30:31.
  • Love them. Just love them. Show them you do everyday. They are never too big for a kiss, a hug, or a pat on the back. Never stop reaching out to show them affection. They may push you off, but do it anyway. Talk to them about their lives. Make sure you show interest in things they enjoy. Listen to them and don’t be so busy that you never have time to just talk. Show them grace and forgiveness even when they do mess up. Lastly, just make sure you show them they are truly queens, not only in your eyes, but God’s as well.

I pray that each of you enjoyed this blog, and that it encourages and helps you in the raising of your queens as well. I pray today that each of you see the blessings that are around you.

Love and hugs,

Jennifer