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

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

Overcoming Infidelity

Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. 1Peter4:8

In order to get to know me, you have to get to know the reasons behind what made me what I am today. As I mentioned in my About Me page, my personal marriage struggles has been the biggest thing that has shaped me into the person I am today. In fact it is my biggest testimony. I once had a wise friend, counselor, and teacher tell me one day my mess would become my message. I’ll tell you at the time, I thought she was one crazy lady!! But you know what? She was right!! More than right, in fact I think she may have written my story before it ever happened. I know there are many stories out there just like mine. Many people going through the same things, or worse and many people with bigger problems than mine. In fact every time I get on social media or the internet, I realize I am not alone. I applaud all those men and women out there that stand up and share their stories. No one really knows until it happens to them the feelings that come along with it. I’m not writing this to seek sympathy, to share my dirty laundry, or embarrass my family. I’m sharing it because my mess has become my message. And I pray by reading it, that hope and encouragement will touch someone who may be reading it.

This is not easy but here it goes:

My husband Ryan and I started dating at age 15!! Wow, that’s hard to believe. Even though we were young we quickly fell for each other, and our love story began. We dated all through high school and the start of college, and by the age of 19 we were engaged and then married on August 3rd, 1996. Now it may seem like a fairy tale, but our relationship was far from perfect. Chalk it up to being young, immature, or other reasons, but our relationship had issues that I think most couples face. Despite the small issues I was always still very confident in the fact that no matter what, Ryan would never hurt me. Yes, I was one of those women that would say my husband would never do that to me.

The years passed and along comes our four daughters. We seemed to be just moving through the world as a normal family would. Then in 2011, I noticed a huge shift in my husband, he had become almost a stranger to me. He was distant, degrading, and overall just not good to me. We had began hanging out with a group of couples that we met through our church we were attending. There was several couples, but one in particular that we got closer to. I will say from the very first day I met them, my gut was saying something was off. But I am one of these that I always root for the underdog, and seeing that most other people did not like them, I felt sorry for them and decided to really befriend them. We spent a lot time together, and our lives, our kids everything became intertwined.

My worst nightmare came true when in the Spring 2012, while away on a Spring Break vacation with my daughters, sister, and friends, I got a call that my husband was caught with the wife of the other couple by her husband. As you can imagine my world crashed. This was my husband, the father of my kids, the man I said would never do this me. And he did it to me with a woman who had become what I thought was my best friend. I also found out it had been an ongoing 2 year affair. Two years of lies, deceit, manipulation, hurt and pain. I will spare the details of the days, weeks, months that passed after I found out. That is something I will continue to write about in future posts. There are many details, many feelings, many things to write about that I will share. For this post, I just wanted to share the backstory so you would know me a little better and know where my heart is.

I don’t want this post again to be about gaining sympathy, and in no way do I want embarrassment brought to my family. I also am not on here to bash my husband, and I certainly do not want others to do that. I just want to let others know that no matter how hard the road is in your marriage you can make it. You can overcome infidelity. You can forgive, you can move on, you can trust again. You can come out on the other side. You just have to make the choice to do the work. I chose to do the work, I choose to still do the work, and most importantly I decided to let God guide me in my decisions after the betrayal. That was not an easy task, because in this situation there is so much anger, bitterness, pain, and raw emotion. There are a lot days you just want to hate, scream, and hurt those who betrayed you back. It takes a lot of self-discipline, strength, self-reflection, and prayers.

It will be shocking for you all to hear that I can say after time has passed that this hurt that happened, has actually been a big blessing to me. Sounds crazy, huh? It wasn’t a blessing as far as the pain and brokenness that it caused, of course not. And I also can’t say that there still isn’t negativity that comes from it , because there is. But, oh boy, did it make me learn what a strong woman I really am. I am fierce, I have a voice, I have power, and I can do anything!! As an insecure person all my life, what a blessing it is that through this I am able to to discover that. And you can to. You will make it. It is so important for me to tell someone that. I wish I had more people that did to me. Unfortunately I pretty much fought my battle alone. I had friends before this, but after this happened I was left in the dust. Sure, a couple of people were there a few weeks after it happened, but then it is as if everyone just disappeared. I’m still confused by this and why it happened, but it was another lesson that came out of this also, be careful who your friends are. But that is one of the main reasons I want to share my story, because I know how it is to fight this battle alone, and trying to figure what the next step will be.

I look forward to sharing more of my story with you, and I would love to hear from you about your story or any questions you may have. I can’t wait for us to grow together . Just remember you are one strong lady!!!

Hugs and love,

Jennifer

God is within her she will not fall Psalm 46:5

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

Easy Dessert

Most weekends my family gets together and has a movie night. We gather together in our basement and watch movies on our big screen and the girls love it!! Since we all have been home lately, and all extra-curricular activities have come to a halt, we have even more time that we are able to enjoy some really good movies and shows!! And what else does movie night mean? Snacks of course!! I mean what is movie night without good food? Do you know anyone who even goes to the movie theater and does not get a snack? Of course not. It is a must have!

Yes, most of the time we will have your typical snacks like popcorn or chips. And we even make a trip sometimes to grab boxes of the candy that you would usually get at the theater, sour patch kids, goobers, starburst, etc. And sometimes we love to come up with our creations or try new recipes to include in our fun family tradition. This past week we made a very simple and yummy dessert/snack, Pretzel Bars. Y’all, these were amazing! We made two pans of them, and both pans were gone by the end of the movie. We found the recipe on Pinterest and there were different variations of the recipe you could try. This is the one we used:

Pretzel Bars

Ingredients:

12 ounce package semi-sweet chocolate chips

8 ounces mini pretzel twists

11 oz bag Caramel Bits (or homemade caramel)

sea salt

  • Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper
  • Melt just 8 ounces of the chocolate chips in microwave ( keep remaining 4 ounces for another step). Be sure to stir and check on these as you microwave about every 10-15 seconds stirring until smooth.
  • Spread the chocolate evenly over the parchment paper. Immediately add the pretzel twists and press them into the chocolate. Don’t worry they can overlap.
  • Add caramel bits to microwave safe bowl along with 2 tablespoons of water and follow instructions on package for melting. Mine took a little under 2 minutes. Be sure to stir until smooth.
  • Drizzle the melted caramel over the pretzels.
  • Melt the remaining 4 ounces of chocolate and drizzle over the caramel and then sprinkle with sea salt.
  • Refrigerate until hardened.
  • Cut into squares or tear into pieces.

Guys, this is such a yummy treat!! The mixture of the chocolate, caramel, and salt is just a dreamy combination. Give this a try for an easy dessert or snack. Cut them or tear them up on a plate and cuddle up with a blanket and get ready for your movie night snack. Hurry and get yours though, they will go quick!!!

I hope you all enjoy this delicious treat and prayers for many blessings for you all today.

Love and hugs,

Jennifer