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