How We’re Duped by the Lure of Self-Sufficiency (and what we can do about it)

Under the stillness of the cold night sky, our normally busy household sat in silence as my family slept soundly. It was after one in the morning and I was swallowed up in my Kindle, devouring what would become my favorite novel, “Where the Crawdads Sing.” While Delia Owens masterful words spun a tapestry of mystery telling the fictional story of Kia’s coming-of-age, I got a download from the Lord that tore through the fabric of my own, very real story.  

You’ve despised and abandoned the part of yourself that needs people.

It was like a light came on in a room that had been full of darkness for ages. For as long as I could remember, a nagging frustration and anxiety swirled around my relationships. I lived most of my life feeling unloved, despite knowing better and having loving people around me. I was disconnected and unable to receive what I longed for most. Those words that dropped into my consciousness were like lightbulbs flickering on and my spiritual eyes had to adjust to this abrupt enlightenment. A few things started coming into focus as the words replayed across my heart, this time with more revelation. 

You’ve despised and abandoned the part of yourself that needs people… and that’s such a fundamental part of what it means to be human.

The words despised and abandoned had a tangible heaviness to them. They settled in my gut, forcing out a sob. I began to weep so loudly that I woke up Michael. I lacked the words to explain what Truth had just released in me, so I told him I was okay and to go back to sleep. As he groggily obliged, I began to unpack this revelation.

It has been a year and a half and I’m still unpacking it.

The words that struck such a deep chord of truth within me put me face-to-face with one of my most life-robbing tendencies: self-sufficiency. Furthermore, I realized that in my commitment to self-sufficiency, I’ve denied my soul one of it’s greatest needs: self-acceptance. If needing people is a fundamental part of what it means to be human—and it is—than despising and abandoning that part of myself meant I was living in a gross amount of unacceptance towards my own humanity.

No wonder my soul wasn’t at rest.

We live in a society that celebrates independence. We clap our hands for the people who seem to “have it all together.” We glorify those who pull themselves up by their bootstraps and—without help—manage to “get it done.” We don’t have time for needy friends and we most certainly don’t want to come off as one. There is no doubt society applauds the idea of needing “nothing from nobody,” encouraging us on in our pursuit of self-sufficiency.

But society’s value clashes with our Creator’s design and the discrepancy between the two has left us tired, lonely, disconnected and struggling.

To be clear, there is a healthy level of self-sufficiency we need to survive. We need the skills to be able to take care of ourselves and our family so our households run smoothly. This isn’t the self-sufficiency I’m describing. What I’m referring to is emotional independency. It’s building up walls and keeping people out to feel a false sense of emotional security. It’s safeguarding ourselves from rejection, pain and abandonment by never really letting people in on what’s happening inside our hearts. However, when we build walls instead of boundaries, we don’t just keep out the bad people and the painful emotions. We keep the good ones out, too. We disconnect from the people we love and ironically, we reject and abandon ourselves in effort to safely avoid those same situations from others.

To abandon ourselves is to deny our needs and desires. It means suppressing what we’re feeling instead of working through it. It means responding to pain with anger because that feels less scary than being honest about our hurt and disappointment. It means saying yes when we want to say no, and no when we want to say yes. It’s allowing outside pressures and perceived judgement to shape our choices, rather than our own convictions and moral compasses.  It looks like attempting to manage another person’s perception rather than bringing the truest, most honest and authentic version of ourselves into every situation. It looks like avoiding hard, awkward but real conversations rather than embracing them as essential to growth.

We were created with an innate need for connection. In fact, connection is such a crucial part of our existence it’s actually been proven as the anecdote for addiction. Mind blown. If we aren’t living connected, we are more vulnerable to attach ourselves to the things in life that promise satisfaction but fail to deliver. Healthy relationships are a key component to living a fulfilling life, and healthy relationships begin with self-acceptance.

A healthy relationship is a relationship where both parties are seen and known. It’s impossible to be seen and known when we’ve built walls around our hearts. That’s what self-sufficiency has been for me. A wall around my heart that says “if I don’t need you, you can’t hurt me.” Little did I know how badly I was hurting myself.

Whether we deny our needs or not, they’re still there. And unmet needs lead to dysfunction, no matter how far we suppress them.

I’m learning what it looks like to embrace my own humanity by expressing my needs unapologetically. Before I had some miles in on this particular journey, I got into a heated exchange with Michael. We both have highly demanding lives and instead of leaning into each other and facing our personal difficulties together, we were in the habit of blaming and resenting one another when things got stressful. During one of those outbursts I actually said out loud “I’M SORRY I’M A HUMAN BEING WHO HAS NEEDS!”

Dramatics aside, I was sorry. I’d much prefer to not have any needs I couldn’t meet myself. That’s a much safer place to be. But that’s not how I was made—that’s not how you were made—and that’s not how life works.

I’ve since learned how beautiful it is to have needs. How my neediness attracts God’s sufficiency and being sufficient in Him is so much more fulfilling than the empty pursuit of self-sufficiency. I’m learning how expressing needs within relationships has the power to build trust in a way no other practice can. Most importantly, I’m learning how to validate myself and my needs, even when I don’t feel validated by others.

I’d like to share with you a few practical ways I’m untangling my heart from the net of self-sufficiency and embracing the neediness that makes me human.

Stop comparing.
I can be in the bad habit of looking at other peoples’ lives (at least the parts they show on social media) and thinking I should be able to do as much as them. They look like they have it altogether, why can’t I? Well, for starters, they’re not me. They don’t have the same history, emotions, demands, values, schedule, physical make-up, etc. as I do. Just because they seem to have it all together doesn’t mean it should be easy for me to, too. It’s been said that comparison is the thief of joy. I’d push it further to say it’s the thief of that and so much more. Don’t look at someone else’s life and use it as an excuse to beat yourself up or invalidate your own needs.

Accept help with gratitude.
Did you enjoy my blog post last week? If so, you partially have my friend Lyndsy to thank. I woke up that morning heavy with the demands of the day. House chores, kid nonsense and a post burning on my heart with no time nor solitude in which to write. Out of nowhere, Lyndsy texted me and asked if she could borrow my kids for a few hours. My gut reaction was “no way!” She has four kids of her own, she didn’t need to add mine to the bunch! However, I needed her to take my kids in the worst way. I needed time alone to write and get my feet back underneath me. I knew her text was a life raft sent from God Himself and I took her up on that offer. Guess what? Her kids had a blast. My kids had a blast. And she and I spent part of the afternoon together, sipping a dalgona coffee and catching up. It was good for us all. I’m so glad to have a God who loves me and friends who listen to Him when He nudges their hearts. I’m so thankful that He is the provision of each of our needs when we’re humble enough to let Him—and those He uses—in.

My kids and my friend Lyndsy’s kids enjoying each other and the sunshine as I enjoyed my time alone to write.

View needs as a deeper invitation for love.
One of the most transformative things happening in my marriage right now is our view of needs and their affect on our relationship. No longer are our personal needs a declaration that the other person doesn’t measure up. No longer are we suppressing our needs and in-turn manipulating the other person to help us because we are too dysfunctional to have a mature conversation. Now, we face our needs and demands together. Rather than our needs dividing us against each other, they’re fostering honest communication and bringing us together as a team. Healthy relationships are built on trust and one of the best ways to build trust is to express a need and have that need met by the other party. Needs give us an opportunity to grow in love in a way nothing else can.  

See stress as a trigger that you’re over-extended.
Instead of sucking it up and keeping it moving when I’m stressed out and frustrated, I’m using stress as an invitation to take a step back and rest. I ask myself, what’s really going on in my heart? What do I need to maintain my peace? If that means saying no to some things, clearing our schedules and drawing boundaries, I commit to doing those things and I don’t feel bad about it. Again, my job isn’t to manage another person’s perception of me. If my “no” or my “boundary” causes someone to judge me as falling short in some way, that’s on them. I need to learn to live from my convictions and stress is a signal that my convictions have been speaking, but I might not be listening.

Stop judging.
Judgement sucks. Period. We don’t have God’s vantage point and we aren’t built to judge. Often, I judge myself and fall short of my own standards. This is when needs are suppressed and I “suck it up and move on.” Spoiler alert: You can only “suck it up and move on” for so long before you desperately crash and burn. When a need comes up, stop judging whether it’s legitimate or not. Stop saying “I’m fine” when you’re not and instead, invite that need to clue you in on what’s really going on in your heart. Practice validation rather than judgement and your sense of wholeness, peace and joy will increase as you grow.  

I’m beginning to embrace what I once despised and celebrate every messy and unpredictable part of what it means to be human. I’m finding that as I receive more and more of this grace for myself, I have a deep well to draw from and refresh others.

Did you see yourself within my story and my descriptions? Do you struggle with the lure of self-sufficiency? I’d love to hear from you. Please comment below.

Divide and Conquer: How to Identify and Overcome the Real Enemy in Conflict

I wanted to throw my phone against a wall and crumple in sadness from what I was seeing on our family group chat. Hidden and unresolved dissension between two family members had erupted into an explosion of flared tempers, accusations, judgements, justifications and misunderstandings. Some family members abandoned the conversation altogether as others picked sides or tried to grasp what the hell was going on.

I was in the latter group, though my somewhat-combative personality (holler at my fellow enneagram 8’s!) and close relationship to one of the people directly involved caused some to peg me as having picked a side.

In all fairness, I most likely would have, had I not recently fought to overcome some divisive issues within my own home in recent years. In the past, I would have judged who was right or who was wrong. I would have defended the person closest to me and vilified the one who was not. I would have crafted well-thought out arguments explaining our “rightness” and the other party’s “wrongness.” I would have jumped into “defense mode” and steadied my position as the self-proclaimed protector of all I felt were victimized.

But not this time. This time, I could see with clarity the strategy of the enemy and I determined I would NOT be a pawn in his games.

In any relationship there is a force—a real enemy—who is working to tear apart. To divide and conquer is his favorite strategy. He plays on our woundedness, our fears, our insecurity and the lies we believe to isolate us and create sides. He pits person against person, then sits back and watches us do his job of destroying one another and sometimes ourselves.

To be frank, I’m sick of his shit. I’m sick of families being ripped apart through divorce or mishandled conflict. I’m sick of people suffocating under the weight of shame, self-hatred and addiction. I’m sick of people aching for true, safe and covenant connection while indulging on the counterfeit version that only exists behind an electronic screen. I’m sick of loneliness drowning those desperate for true friendship but terrified of rejection. 

A fuzzy and unprofessional picture of two people who frequently disagree, yet love each other deeply: our two youngest children.

This recent family conflict deeply affected my heart because it came on the heels of these two non-comparable, large scale pictures of division: The murder of George Floyd and Rachel and Dave Hollis’ divorce announcement. George Floyd’s murder and the Hollis divorce are in no way similar, but rather illustrate two completely different ways the enemy tears people apart.

George Floyd’s publicized murder was the tipping point of public outrage over the wide-spread racial injustice endured by black Americans at the hands of corrupt people in a position of authority. This outrage manifested in protesting, rioting and looting. To be honest, I have a hard time writing about this topic because I know that—as a simple, rather-uncultured white girl— I don’t have an ounce of the understanding I need to process these events with any kind of authority. But as an American citizen, I have felt the tension of a nation divided. I have wept imagining the horrors black people have faced simply because of their skin color. I have been incensed with rage over those who refuse to lay down their pride and agree with the blatant truth screaming that—as a nation—we have got to do better. I can’t possibly understand; but I deeply ache to be a part of the solution and not a part of the problem.

As for the Hollis divorce: If you are unfamiliar, Rachel Hollis is a New York Times best-selling author of the books Girl, Wash Your Face and Girl, Stop Apologizing. She and her husband Dave have four young kids and built their business from the ground up on the principles of personal growth, self-discipline and adopting a no-excuses approach to life. They had a daily morning show on social media and a widely successful marriage podcast. Millions of people have eaten, slept and breathed their advice on becoming better partners and living a successful life. While millions were practicing their “proven principles” to better their relationships, they were headed for divorce.

What. Is. Happeninggg?!?!

I read comment after comment on their social media posts from those who are angered, disenchanted and simply floored by their announcement and my heart echoes many of those same feelings. How can two highly-motivated people who have the practical keys of success on lock not make a marriage work? Why can’t they apply the same grit they applied to making millions into making a lifetime-covenant relationship stand the test of time?

I don’t mean to come off as judgy, but like so many others who cheered them on and supported their work, I’m heartbroken over their split. This situation just goes to show the enemy’s strategy to divide and conquer manifests in myriads of ways and can make even the best of relationships a causality of war.

When family drama erupted amid these national crises, it felt like my personal life was resonating with the enemy’s battle cry. In 2018, my marriage survived a brutal assault during which I was made privy to so many of the enemy’s schemes as well as my own weaknesses, making me susceptible to his relentless attempts. So, instead of throwing my phone across the room when the family group chat went haywire, I threw my hands up in worship. Instead of crumpling to the ground, I dropped to my knees in prayer. I committed to being a peacemaker and a speaker of Truth instead of a self-proclaimed protector who chose a side (as I had always done in the past). Satan wouldn’t work so hard to destroy relationships if healthy ones weren’t such a beautiful display of God’s love.

So, what does it look like to be a peacemaker and a Truth-bringer in times of conflict? Here are a few practical ways I’m learning to navigate conflict in a healthy way:

Be civil.
We are all human beings made in the image of God. It’s possible to disagree with someone without dishonoring them. To honor someone is to acknowledge the piece of God they carry and treat them accordingly, no matter how they behave. How you treat people says a lot about you and little about them.

Assume the best.
We all know what it’s like when we have been falsely accused. It’s painful and immediately puts us on the defensive. Instead of accusing, ask questions.

Have the tough conversations.
So much hurt could be avoided if we were willing to communicate through awkward conversations. If we were honest about our fears and our pain without putting up our defenses and protecting ourselves, it would be so much easier to see conflict through to a real resolution.

Speak the truth, even if it hurts.
I’ve been accused many times of being brutally honest. I’m learning to temper that and speak what I perceive to be true in a way that’s honoring and life-giving. However, withholding and “keeping the peace” is just as a destructive—if not more destructive—than brutal honesty. There is a proverb that says “The wicked flee when no one pursues but the righteous are as bold as lions.” If our intentions are pure, we should have no problem speaking our truth. It’s not our job to manage another person’s perception of us. It’s our job to be our authentic self and offer up that authenticity in times of conflict in relationship. Withholding and putting up walls in conflict plays right into the enemy’s plan to divide.  

Know the difference between keeping the peace and making peace.
A peacekeeper is not a peacemaker. A peacekeeper shoves shit under the rug to maintain a false sense of calm, ignoring real issues. A peacemaker is willing to approach divisive issues and conflict, knowing that true peace is a result of working through whatever has set itself up to tear us apart. A peacekeeper adds to division through buried feelings of bitterness and resentment. A peacemaker talks through heavy-emotional topics for relationships to be healthy, whole and reconciled.

Understand that relationships are messy.
People are messy, so relationships are even more so. True humility, mercy and forgiveness are essential for any relationship to thrive. We are all human beings with an abundance of weaknesses. We need grace from God and from those closest to us to truly grow and build thriving relationships where we feel seen, known and loved despite our flaws.

This is in no way an exhaustive list on how to dismantle division in relationships. These are just a few “tools of the trade” I’m committed to growing in personally in order to bring peace into divisive conflict.

Do you have anything to add? I’d love to hear from you. Please leave a comment below!

What it Really Means to have the Perfect Summer Body

It’s Memorial Day weekend and here in Ohio we’re thrilled to see cooler temperatures and dreary weather replaced by the warmth and sunshine of a new season. However, the brightness of summer’s coming arrival casts a familiar shadow affecting women everywhere. The shadow being the belief that the bodies we have fall short of the bodies we need to wear swimsuits and summer apparel confidently.

More devastating than those pressures themselves is the self-hatred they have the power to produce in us.

I’m callin’ bull shit on society’s efforts to tell us we don’t measure up to the unrealistic standard set for us as American women. More importantly, I’m sharing my very-present battle for freedom from a negative relationship with my body and the self-destructive habits it has perpetuated.

To give some context, I’ve gained and lost the same thirty pounds multiple times in the last few years and recently came to the revelation that my self-acceptance is contingent upon my weight.

I feel good about myself when I weigh less and I feel bad about myself when I weigh more.

When it’s broken down like that and I consider the fact that I let something as trivial as how much gravity it takes to keep me grounded affect whether or not I accept myself, it makes me feel really, really shallow. Not only that, it reveals a raw place of real brokenness that needs addressed.

We are three-part beings composed of body, soul and spirit and our bodies are the least compelling thing about ourselves. So why is so much time, energy and money wasted on obsessing over it and trying to “fix” it?

I’m a fitness instructor and an avid runner. I love to cook and eat healthy and I believe we have a responsibility to treat our bodies well. But this effort to micromanage our bodies through harsh dieting and abusive exercise in order to achieve a mostly-unrealistic standard is the opposite of caring for our bodies. In fact, it’s actually punishment fueled by hatred and fear. We hate our bodies so we starve them and over-exercise them in effort to force them to change. On the flip side, when we love our bodies, we eat well out of honor and working out becomes a fun and stress-free labor of love. Our thoughts aren’t consumed with what we are and aren’t “allowed” to eat and food is just food: We eat it when we’re hungry, enjoy food and use it appropriately as a part of how we celebrate life. In short, we consume it but it doesn’t consume us. We’re free.

Seeking to change our body from a place of self-hatred rather than self-love will inevitably lead to self-sabotage and disordered eating. Disordered eating is disordered eating, whether we’re eating too much or too little.

This is where my weight fluctuations have come into play. I have lived most of my adult life in either bondage to restriction or bondage to food. In bondage to restriction I was eating no sugar, or following some other strict regimen, counting calories and tracking my intake. In bondage to food I was abusing food as a source of self-comfort, eating well-past full out of boredom, stress or to numb my feelings. I was like an addict with junk food as my drug-of-choice. I’ve swung like a pendulum from the bondage of restriction to the bondage of food. Now I’m at a place where I’m desperate for freedom from both.

The journey to that place of freedom begins with true self-acceptance.

Me, my sisters and my niece rockin’ our swimwear, enjoying a Memorial Day picnic at my aunt’s house.

In the summer of 2018, I was on the low-end of my thirty-pound weight fluctuation. I was at my “best,” teaching a weight loss and fitness support group focused on inner-healing as an integral part of true transformation. I felt so good about myself; so confident. I rocked a bikini at the beach that year. A real bikini, not one of those high-waisted ones you can pull up and over all your insecurities. I truly accepted myself at that weight and I loved what I saw in the mirror. I was proud of her, confident about who she was and what she could accomplish.

Just then, several bombs dropped into my personal life that completely derailed me. I faced the unexpected death of a young family member, deep, gut-wrenching betrayal and—if that wasn’t enough—my Nanny (mom’s mom) was given 18 months to live as cancer began to suffocate her with it’s relentless grip. I was spiraling, trying to stay on my feet in the ring of life as I was hit with one blow after another.

As stress pressed in, the healthy habits I’d formed dipped out and I was left grasping for anything to numb the pain. I had a lifetime history of making food a safe friend and I began inviting her over nightly to help me hide the painful emotions I wasn’t quite ready to face.

It wasn’t long before nightly food binges paired with frequent glasses of wine left my pants digging into my waistline. From that point on, I went up and down in weight. I had a few stints with strict diets to get myself “under control” again only to run right back to my familiar, food-indulgent ways. I haven’t gotten true victory yet because I wasn’t fully aware of the deeper issue. I was trying to fix an internal problem with an external solution.

In my weight loss and fitness support group I taught that wounds lead to lies. Lies lead to false beliefs. False beliefs lead to negative actions which produce negative behavior. So often, we try to fix the behavior without addressing the wounds and lies at the root of those behaviors. Just like a bad weed, those behaviors will keep sprouting back up unless we completely uproot them where they’re germinating. We need to get healing to the wound, identify the lie and replace it with the truth.

What I’ve realized recently is there’s a wound in my heart that’s taught me I’m unacceptable unless I’m physically attractive. It’s also taught me I’m not physically attractive unless I’m under a certain weight. Society perpetuates these beliefs by affirming and validating those who are thin while treating those who are not as if they’re broken. What’s actually broken is a society obsessed with appearance. The fruit of such obsession is widespread eating disorders, narcissism and mental illness.

We are so much more than what we see in the mirror. As stated before, I think we all should respect our bodies, fuel them and move them well. But we need to put first things first. We can’t hate ourselves happy. We can’t shatter ourselves whole. True fitness begins on the inside and has very little to do with the weight on the scale or the image in the mirror. True fitness hinges on embracing ourselves where we’re at—accepting our bodies as a part of who we are; respecting them like we would respect a friend. Would you berate a friend like you’ve berated your body? Would you neglect your friend’s needs to manipulate her into changing? I’d hope not. However, that’s how so many of us have treated our bodies. That’s how I have treated my body.

Now, as I teeter on the high-end of that thirty-pound flux, uncomfortable with how I look and feel, I’m pressing into a question I felt God whisper over my heart a few months ago: will you accept yourself here?

God says I embrace you as you are. I embrace everything you are and everything you’re not. You don’t have to do more, try harder, or be better. Right here—in this moment—I embrace all that you are.

That is what acceptance looks like. It’s embracing ourselves despite the nagging thought we don’t measure up. Will I trade the acceptance of my Creator for society’s disproval? Will I trade my peace and sense of self for the self-judgement built by a broken society?

It’s a choice I have to make. It’s a choice you have to make.

I have two daughters and two sons and I want to give them something worth hanging on to when it comes to body image. I want them to see men and women of all shapes and sizes confidently wearing whatever makes them happy. I want them to see bodies as just bodies—not as a measuring stick for worthiness or a barometer for happiness. I want them to have a healthy relationship with their whole self, but I can’t impart what I don’t possess.

As I sit here feeling chunky, I’m also feeling grateful. I’m so grateful God has brought me back to this place where I’ve judged myself as unpleasing. It was easy to accept myself and feel confident when I was at a lower weight. Now that I’m not, it means my self-acceptance will have to be rooted in something deeper than the gravity it takes to keep me grounded and the image I see in the mirror.

Sometimes we go around the same mountain again so God can take the healing another layer deeper.

I’m repairing my relationship with my body, one choice at a time. I’m choosing acceptance over judgement; kindness over manipulation. I’m choosing to listen to what my body needs to thrive. I’m going to let her be free and celebrate without shaming and punishing her. I’m going to listen when she says she’s satisfied and I’m going to trust her when she needs to rest. Most of all, I’m going to stop shaming her for being something that she’s not and—instead—thank God for the miraculous gift she is.

Will you join me on this journey? Let’s root our self-acceptance in our spirits, where God’s unconditional love flows freely. Let’s not stop pursuing healing until we’ve struck a balance of true fitness and true freedom. Let’s give our children the gift of healthy self-love in a society motivated by fear and self-hatred.

And, in case you’re waiting for someone to give you permission, wear the damn bikini.

10 Life Lessons from Motherhood

Ten years ago, on the eve of Mothers’ Day, I gave birth to our firstborn son. His entry into the world made my husband burst out laughing with joy and my heart explode with wonder. I’ll never forget the “magic moment” when his tiny newborn frame was laid upon my chest. Life as I knew it had changed forever. I was a mom now; it was as if everything I did from this point on carried so much more weight and meaning.

The next six years brought three more babies and three more of those “magic moments.” Those moments were tucked into long days and short years, first steps and first words, mundane moments and sleepless nights, lots of laughter and deep sadness, hanging on and letting go, needing a break and getting a breakthrough, losing my image and finding myself, painful frustration mixed with deep, life-changing love.

May 8, 2010– My first “magic moment.” Holding our son, Zaiden, for the first time.

I’m in no way an authority on parenting, but I have gleaned a few nuggets of wisdom as I’ve “failed forward” on this beautiful, paradoxical journey of motherhood. Here are ten rays of light that have illuminated my path on life’s most difficult and rewarding endeavor: Motherhood.

I’m nobody’s savior.
I used to think I had to be Jesus to my kids and save them from the world that was out to destroy them. I couldn’t save myself and I sure as hell can’t save them. It’s not my job. It’s my job to facilitate an experiential relationship with God by having one myself. Before they were my sons and daughters, they were His. I don’t have to save them; I just need to let Him save me. As they see Him at work in my life, it will light a torch for them to follow in their own walks with God. Many times moms are compelled to save their kids from the pain meant to lead them into the arms of the Ultimate Comforter. It’s so hard to watch our kids go through pain. But pain is a part of life and we should practice walking with our kids through pain rather than saving them from it.

Connection is greater than control.
So many times I want to control my kids’ behavior. I want them to stop being jerks and making me look bad. I want them to knock it off, watch their mouth, clean up their messes and get in line. In essence, I want to control them and make them do what I want them to do. The truth is, I can’t control them and trying to will only damage our relationship. I’m not saying I shouldn’t have expectations for their behavior—I most definitely do and should. I’m saying that when I truly connect with my kids first, I ultimately have more influence in their life. They then want to contribute to the atmosphere in our home in a positive way. Our pastor taught me that discipline without relationship leads to rebellion. When I try to control my kids, I’m after the “results” of their behavior, not the heart behind it. Connecting with them on an emotional level enables them to feel safe, loved and known. When they are connected to me emotionally, they care how their behavior affects my heart and vice versa. They don’t NEED to be controlled because love enables them to control themselves.

Perfection is overrated; conviction is underrated.
In our Pinterest-perpetuated world many of us are after a picture-esque life that only exists behind an Instagram filter. I’ve wasted so much time trying to measure up to an unrealistic standard instead of sinking into the conviction of my heart and parenting from that place. Perfectionism is a lie. Conviction leads us to the Truth. No matter who we are or what we do, we will never be enough for some people. That’s why we need to do what feels right for us and make decisions that keep our personal sense of peace intact, regardless of how it looks to others.  

An unfiltered, unflattering, non-Pinterest worthy of the six of us, snuggled in bed together.

Fear is our enemy.
I remember the moment I was delivered from an intense amount of fear when it came to parenting. When I had our first two children, my anxiety and worry over their safety was tangible. Every time I went anywhere without them I was worried sick. I would have visions of something bad happening to them and feel paralyzed by fear. Many times, my fear was manifested in anger. In the movie Frozen there is a song sung by the trolls that says “People make bad choices when they’re mad or scared or stressed, but throw a little love their way and you’ll bring out their best.” I was constantly scared and constantly raging as a result of that fear. One day, God spoke to my heart and said “Did you ever dream you’d have a blonde-haired, blue-eyed son?” The answer was no. Both my husband and I have dark hair and eyes, as do both sets of our parents. I assumed our kids would follow suit, yet our son was blonde, with sky-blue eyes. God continued “No, you didn’t. That’s because I made him—he was my idea. I will protect him and take care of him.” Something shifted in me and fear started loosening it’s grip on my heart. God’s love casts out fear and His love for me and my children began casting out the fear that was controlling my life.  

Parenting my kids means re-parenting myself.
I say often that my kids teach me way more than I teach them. Our third child, Brinley, went through a terrible stage when she was between two and three years old. She would scream and throw tantrums like I had never seen before. These tantrums would last for hours and I felt completely helpless and at the end of my rope. I would eventually lose it and yell out of my own anger and rage. During one of these episodes, God spoke to me and said “You don’t get through one of her tantrums without throwing one of your own.” Ouch. It was true. From that point on, I would talk to myself and validate my own frustration instead of acting out of it. I’d say things to myself like “I know this is hard, but you are the parent and you have to bring peace into her chaos.” To this day, I’m still not perfect in it. But meeting her tantrums with love and peace rather than allowing my own temper to flare changes everything. Instead of letting her tantrums cause me frustration, I’ve allowed them to teach me more patience, strength and peace.  

Moms: We need each other.
Moms. Get you some mom-friends. Parenting is hard. You need women in your corner who GET IT. Women who know you love your kids even when you are so freaking annoyed with them. I spent the first several years of motherhood gping it alone. I let my fear of being judged as inadequate by others shut people out. My heart was closed-off to friendship out of fear of rejection and life was so dark and lonely. When I begin to let people in, my life started to explode with color again. I felt loved, understood and supported. There is so much to be said for that!  

Repentance is everything.
The best thing I do as a mom is repent when I blow it. I have cussed at my kids, disciplined out of anger and acted a damn fool. While I’m so not proud of that, I know that God can use my brokenness as a springboard for His goodness in their life. Every time I blow it, I apologize. Most of the time, it’s with tears in my eyes. I tell my kids it’s not their fault that I lost it. That no matter what they do, I should always control me. I tell them that there is nothing they could do to make me love them more or love them less. I tell them I’m a human being and I make mistakes, just like they’re human beings who makes mistakes. We connect in this place where our humanity intersects and Love covers us with His healing restoration. If I’m proud of anything as a mother, I’m proud of the way I honestly and humbly repent when I all-too-often blow it.

There’s no award for having the cleanest house.
I decided a long time ago not to stress about my house. I try my very best to keep it altogether, but if you stop at my house unexpected, there’s a good chance you’ll find laundry in piles, dishes in the sink and crumbs on the floor. My fridge stinks and my cupboards need organized badly. But you know what? I try and I’m learning daily how to balance it all in a way that feels right for me. The dishes, laundry, floors and fridge will be there indefinitely, but there’s only so much time I’ll have the opportunity to play barbies, stack blocks and build train tracks with these four precious souls. I wish I was better at managing it all, but I’m not. I do know that I try my best and hope my kids remember the times I set aside my to-do list to engage with them on their level.

So much more is caught than taught.
When my oldest was four, my second child was two and our third was a newborn. Life was wildly busy and my husband was doing a lot of travelling. I was buried by the demands of raising three babies and pulling the weight of the household. I felt so much shame for not “having it all together” and being more gracious in handling this abundant load I had been given. One day, I was slapped in the face with just how tangible that shame had become. During one of my husband’s trips, my four-year-old had thrown his sister’s favorite toy and broke it. I cried because I was so frustrated and angry. My son looked up at me with tears in his big blue eyes and said “I wish I was a better boy.” Gut-punch. What a weighty load for a four-year-old to carry! No one told him he wasn’t enough. I certainly didn’t think he needed to be “a better boy.” But how often did I wish I was better? A better wife… a better mom… a better Christian… a better woman. That shame of not measuring up had fallen on his shoulders. Hearing my wonderfully adequate, much-too-young son utter that shame-filled phrase sent me on the journey of addressing my own shame and finding wholeness. More is caught than taught and, whether we like it or not, we lead by our example.   

Loving your kids well means loving yourself well.
I see so much of myself in my second daughter, Quinn. I see so many of my qualities—both good and bad— evident in her in increasing measure. When she was very young, I was having trouble connecting with her and I couldn’t figure out why. One day as I was writing in my journal I had a lightbulb moment. I couldn’t connect with her because I rejected myself. I wasn’t rejecting her, I was rejecting the parts of myself I saw in her. This broke my heart. I had to repair the relationship I had with myself if I wanted to love her well. Loving well comes from a place of being loved well. Regardless of whether or not anyone else loves us, we can choose to love ourselves. And more importantly, we can connect with the source of Unconditional Love and receive His love in such a way that changes everything.

In conclusion, ten years ago, the responsibility of motherhood opened the door of an amazing, hard, hope-filled and wondrous journey which daily continues to unfold. I hope you connected with these nuggets of wisdom I’ve expressed here and I hope you’re keeping your eyes and ears open to what motherhood is teaching you. Do you have something to add? I’d love to hear from you. Please comment below.

Finding True Healing in a Quick-Fix World

It was the summer of 2018. The sun was hot as I laced up my New Balances to hit the pavement for a mid-week run. There was a lot to sort out on this handful of miles and it had nothing to do with physical fitness or the marathon training plan I was working through.

Several bombs had recently dropped into my personal life, blowing it to bits. Running was where I did my best processing. Each stride helping me see how I could start picking up the pieces to put my life back together again.

My marriage was in shambles. A result of two stubborn, bull-headed and broken people trying desperately to fix each other and failing miserably at loving each other. All those misguided efforts had culminated into an epic explosion that threatened to rip our family apart. My husband and I were going to marriage counseling. There, our pastors were helping us navigate the seemingly insurmountable mountains of pride and pain we faced as a couple. In addition to marriage counseling, I was also meeting with a mentor one-on-one, whose victory through similar circumstances lit a torch of hope for me as I fumbled my way through this darkness.  

Counseling and mentoring were essential to the survival of our marriage during this season of our lives. However, on this particular day, I was weary of all the efforts. It was as if my spiritual determination to not drown in hopelessness had wearied my soul. With this run, I was determined to find a life raft.

The afternoon sun beat down on me as I turned the corner on an old familiar route. Sweat soaked my tank and blurred my vision. My body’s endurance felt taxed, much like my soul.  Just then, words of Life floated up to the surface of my thoughts.   

You want to be fixed, God said.

Yeah, that would be nice! I replied, internally.

Your counselors, your mentor, Michael and your family—they all want you to be fixed, too. He went on.

It was true. I hated looking at myself and seeing all the glaring, obvious places where I still needed to grow. I hated seeing my contribution to our failing marriage and being suffocated by the lie I deserved this pain. I hated the depression that crouched at my door. I hated the way I buried my pain and sadness with anger and rage. YES! I WANTED FIXED! And as much as I wanted to be fixed, I could also sense that desire from others around me, too. After all, I’m the strong one! I bounce back, make healthy choices and grow through adversity. But I had never been through a season like this, and those closest to me were worried about how I would respond. They hated seeing me angry, bitter, hopeless and grappling with unforgiveness. My brokenness was scaring them and they wanted me fixed, too.

But God wasn’t scared. And He wasn’t in a hurry.

You’re not getting fixed, you’re getting healed. And healing takes time. God said.

It was the life raft I was looking for. Just then, I got a picture of a wound. What happens when you poke, prod and irritate an open wound? It takes longer to heal. I was severely wounded and my efforts to “get fixed” were bumping up against God’s process of true healing. I needed to stop viewing myself as a project needing repairs. I’m not a project—I’m a human being. I didn’t need fixed, I needed to connect with Unconditional Love which is the ultimate healing agent.

I saw my glaring shortcomings as evidence I must change to receive the love I need. It doesn’t work like that. Receiving the true and unconditional love we were created for is the only way to be truly transformed. Without that, we are just modifying our behavior to play the part. There is nothing that will bankrupt our souls quicker than that. God sees right through our pharisaical efforts to pretend we have it all together when we’re falling apart in our internal world. The only way to be truly transformed is to connect with Unconditional Love—by faith—in the face of our own glaring failures and harsh self-judgement. Walking with God isn’t about behavior modification, it’s about sanctification. Sanctification happens when we stare into God’s face long enough to begin to see ourselves through the lens of love He sees us through.

I saw immediately how this idea of being fixed rather than healed applied to myself personally, but the revelation didn’t stop there. It also applied to my relationship with my husband. Like I said, we had tried to fix each other and—in essence—failed at loving each other. I can’t fix myself, let alone my husband. It’s not my job. It’s my job to receive the love I need for myself in excess so that I have enough to pour out on others.

I won’t pretend I’ve mastered this process, but I have learned what it looks like to partner with God on this journey. I’ve learned He’s patient, gentle and that there’s nothing I can do to make Him love me more or love me less. Coming to deeper revelations of His perfect love in an imperfect world is changing my life and my relationships, layer by layer.

I’m not getting fixed, I’m getting healed. And healing takes time.

Do you connect with this post? I’d love to hear from you! Leave a comment and join the conversation.

Cultivating Connection While We’re Utterly Isolated

In Mid-March, COVID-19 brought our lives as Americans to a screeching halt when it threatened our health and encroached upon our well-being. Staples in our normal routines—like school, church, organized sports, eating at restaurants, attending large family gatherings and more—became “non-essential.” We were mandated to stay home for our own safety and the safety of others.

It’s been over seven weeks since life as we knew it ended. State and federal leaders forge a new way forward while searching for the delicate balance between protecting public health and the long-term sociological and economic impact of those protective measures.

As government leaders fight to balance the scales, within our homes we are given a choice and an unprecedented opportunity. We can scratch and claw to maintain the sense of normalcy we’ve built our lives upon, or we can take a step back and embrace the gift wrapped within the uncertainty of these times. This gift we’re afforded is the chance to clear our schedules and cultivate the very thing we were created for: Connection.

How can we cultivate connection when we’re isolated within the walls of our home? The meaningful connection we were created for begins on the inside of us and ripples outward.

It starts with connecting to our hearts and to the God who fashioned them. Where busyness normally distracts us from an experiential encounter with the God of the universe, stillness invites it. God is always singing over us with His love songs. When daily life is rushing by, it’s hard to hear His melodies. As our churches close their doors to formal gatherings, God seeks to invade our hearts and our homes in a deeper, more tangible way. We often institutionalize the very faith that needs to be personalized in order to impact us. God isn’t stuck in the church, within the pages of our hymnals and the three points of a Sunday morning sermon. He’s with us where we are, reminding us of a Love that seeks to save what’s been lost to us. He’s ready and willing to heal and restore everything we surrender into His care. No matter where we are in our journey of faith, we can be certain that God is pursuing us. Where COVID-19 is sowing seeds of fear and terror, God is sowing love, peace and provision. Our hearts are the environment where those things take root and grow. We get to choose which of the lot we will cultivate.

Not only does slowing down mean hearing God and connecting to His heart of love for us, it also means connecting to our families in a way that changes things. About a decade ago, I heard the statistic that parents spend less than three minutes a day engaged in meaningful conversations with their kids. When I heard the statistic, I was pregnant with our firstborn and thought to myself “there is NO way I’ll spend such little time talking to my kids!” Here I am, ten years and four kids later, singing a different tune. It’s not that I don’t want to have meaningful conversations with my kids because I do. But with school, sports and other obligations filling our usual schedule, finding time to sit and talk is normally a rare occasion. Not now. In this moment, most of us have more time on our hands than we know what to do with. This is our chance to develop habits that outlast any negative impact of COVID-19. We aren’t just surviving another season of busyness—we’re given a chance to slow down, clear our plates and create a healthy culture within our families. We’re given a chance to reset and be intentional.

Our four kids at the park after we finished school work one day soon after the initial school closures.

When we dropped our firstborn off at kindergarten four years ago, I ugly-cried so hard my abs hurt from heaving. It didn’t get better when we dropped off our middle two kids. In a couple years, when we drop off the baby of the family for his first day, I’ll probably need heavily medicated and physically removed from the school’s property.

Letting go isn’t easy for me and sharing my kids with their school system for a large portion of weekdays is something I do reluctantly. Since Ohio announced the closure of all schools for the remainder of the year, I feel like I’ve been given a glimpse back to simpler days when my babies were all under my roof all the time and rushing around was at a bare minimum.

Trying to homeschool three kids while the fourth kid colors on the walls and flushes random household items down the toilet is character-building to say the least, but that’s a different post altogether. If ever I wanted to have more meaningful conversations with my kids, this is the time.

Along with the parent-child relationship, marriage relationships are also being reset. More togetherness means rubbing shoulders more. Rubbing shoulders more creates friction and friction creates change. When we’re stuck in the ruts of our routine, we can float along doing “life as we know it” without really engaging with what’s happening. We don’t ask ourselves what we need from our spouse or ask our spouse what they need from us. We don’t investigate our relationships and find the places we have room to grow. More time and more friction can lead to better changes and more depth.

In conclusion, COVID-19 brought us isolation, the mandate to shelter-in-place and closed our doors. Redemption brings us the unprecedented opportunity to open our hearts wider to the connections that matter most. While COVID-19 spreads fear throughout the world, redemption stirs up love within our homes.

What are you doing to squeeze the most out of this unique moment in history? I would love to hear from you! Comment below.

Reborn in the Spring

Something deep within me sighs with relief when the gray of winter bursts forth with the colors of spring. The days get longer, the grass gets greener and the birds wake us with their songs once again.

Where winter carries its own unique beauty—the beauty of stillness, resilience and solitude; Spring’s beauty thrills with her fresh breaths of new life, lavishing us with colors, sounds and warmth. Trees that looked bare and dead in the winter are now reborn with leaves and blooms, their emergence marking the coming of a different season.

Spring in Ohio usually lasts about three minutes to what feels like winter’s six months, but I enjoy every single second of it.

When I wrote the date in my journal on April 8, 2020, I realized why this time of year speaks to me in such a tangible way.

It’s because much like the earth itself, I was reborn in the spring.

When I was in the thick of my teen years making dumb decisions of chronic self-sabotage, I came home one night high as a kite. I was anorexic, trying drugs like coke and ecstasy, involved in a mutually-abusive relationship and—most toxic of all things—drowning in self-hatred. I had weaved so many webs of lies in my life that I, myself, was becoming trapped by them.

Here is a picture of me taken my junior year, about six months before this encounter.

My parents who were—for lack of better terms—the “goodie-two-shoes” type had no idea what they were up against. However, they noted my change in behavior and my mom knew it was well-past time to intervene. When I got home on this particular night, I smelled like weed and my mom picked up on it.

“Get in the car,” she said.

“Why?” I asked, panicked.

“Because God has been telling me there’s something going on in this house and I’m going to find out what it is. You’re getting a drug test,” she answered fiercely.

Shiiiit.

Fear gripped my sinking heart. I had carefully weaved those webs of lies to hide what was going on beneath the surface. I was going to be exposed for what I really was: A mess and a disappointment.

In the midst of those despairing thoughts, a bible verse I learned as a little girl in Sunday school bubbled to the surface of my heart: The truth will set you free.

I was utterly imprisoned by the deception I had created, the self-hatred I was drowning in and the toxic habits I was forming. Freedom is what I yearned for most and—in that moment—freedom is what Truth had promised me.

“…freedom is what Truth had promised me.”

Brittany Ross

Although I was sure I had just heard from God Himself, I wasn’t exactly a willing passenger on that trip to the hospital for a drug test. I was quiet and detached as my mom yelled and threatened; her love intermingling with her fear as she desperately grappled with the destructive daughter she had no power to save.

I failed the drug test miserably and my mom’s hurt and pain was so tangible you could cut it with a knife. I had gotten word that my dad left work to meet us at the hospital.

This is it, I thought. They’re going to send me somewhere.

Prior to having decisive evidence to prove their fears correctly, my dad told me if I got caught doing drugs, he’d send me to Belmont Pines—a behavioral and rehabilitative health hospital for “problem kids.”

This failed drug test would be my one-way ticket out of my house and into a treatment center with all the other kids who made messes and disappointed their parents.

But when my dad entered the hospital room, I wasn’t met with the anger and rage I expected. Behind the hurt and fear in his eyes, I saw the desperation of a father who—in his own humanity—was unable to express the limitless love he had for a daughter whose behavior ripped his heart out.

My barrel-chested, manly-man-of-all-men dad bee-lined right for me. He dropped to his knees and grabbed my hands. He looked me right in the eye and said “What did I do wrong? Please tell me how to help!”

I deserved judgement but was offered a way out. It was a tangible expression of the Heavenly Father’s grace reflected in the broken but unconditional love of the man who knelt before me, undone.

Something inside me broke. Where accusation wanted to rightfully expose me as a mess and a disappointment, my Father had a different story to tell. In His story, I’m a beloved daughter who needs the grace of another chance. I’m a redemption song He’s ready to sing; where the white flag of surrender becomes the backdrop to my greatest love story.

I never touched a hard drug again. The date was April 8, 2004. God said “Remember this date.”

Even though grace—not judgement—defined the moment that changed everything, my choices weren’t without consequence. I was grounded for the entire spring and summer and my parents became fiercely protective where I refused to protect myself. God met me here. In the midst of long, lonely days, He started to show me I could have a real relationship with Him where He speaks to me and leads me; where He is present and involved. I asked Jesus to be my savior when I was seven years old, but until that day a decade later, God was just a list of do’s and don’ts and a rebel heart like mine simply did not have what it took to follow the rules.

Both the rules and the rebellion were death to me, but this real relationship began to bring me to life. I once heard it put “God always revives what religion kills.” My life is a testimony to that truth.

This year, when I realized what day it was and my personal connection to the expression of spring, I looked up the significance of the date April 8. I. Was. FLOORED. If you have some time, you can read what I found here. But to give you the gist—Jesus was resurrected on the 17 day of the Hebrew month of Nissan which translates into—you guessed it—APRIL 8!

MIND BLOWN.

God doesn’t waste a thing. A THING.

So, yes, much like the earth itself, I was reborn in the spring. Since that day in early April 2004, it’s been a series of one step forward and two-steps back; a cha-cha dance of sorts with a Creator who is patient with me and who never stops pursuing my rebel heart. He is replacing the dead branches of religion with new growth rooted in love. Each spring, I’m reminded in such a beautiful way He is still doing something new.

Does what’s happening in the earth in a specific season connect with you in a personal, meaningful way? I would love to hear your story. Leave me a comment below. 

Three Truths for A Thirsty Soul

“You’re a good mom.”

The thought echoed across my dry, exhausted and overwhelmed soul as I began cleaning up our messy kitchen in the center of our even messier house.

It was picture day at the elementary school and three of our four kids needed to look their best. Like a circus ringleader trying to keep the show moving in the right direction, I directed my crew. “Make sure you wash well,” “Brush your teeth,” “Let me dry and straighten your hair,”etc. I filled out three picture forms and three separate checks.

Our second child, Quinn, knew which background she wanted for her pictures—the barn door. After all, horse riding is her passion and country life feels like an integral part of who she is—regardless of the fact my husband and I never rode horses and we live in a regular old neighborhood. She deliberated over three different outfits and finally settled on one that would work best with her chosen background.

By the time everyone was brushed, washed and out the door, we were tiptoeing on the edge of being tardy. By a miraculous act of God, we made it to school on time! This was especially significant because I had neither a bra NOR shoes on! Can you imagine the embarrassment of rolling into the office and signing your kids in late under those conditions?! I could have NEVER. I might as well have “hot mess” stamped on my forehead—as if it wasn’t already evident by the state of my minivan, my messy bun or my kitchen.

Which brings me back to the words that were like a cool drink of water on that chaotic morning: You’re a good mom.

The thought rang out moments after I realized I dropped the ball on something: I forgot to mark which background Quinn wanted for her pictures. In a frantic effort to right my wrong, I messaged my friend who teaches at their school. I felt so bad for bugging her with another thankless task on her already-to-long teacher’s to-do list, but I knew how badly Quinn wanted that background. Before my teacher-friend messaged back, I reached out to another friend who volunteers at the school, thinking she might be there helping with picture day. I got her voicemail.

It was in the middle of this saga when the higher thought echoed: You’re a good mom.

The thought hit me on the forehead and stuck, replacing the “hot mess mom” label I had given myself. You’re a good mom, because regardless of how trivial it is, you care about what matters to your kids. You’re a good mom, because you savor those last extra moments in the car with them before school, no matter how chaotic the mornings get. You’re a good mom, because you packed your son’s tennis shoes in his book bag knowing he wouldn’t want to wear his dressier “picture day” shoes all day. You’re a good mom—not because you’re perfect—but because you try your hardest, no matter what it costs you. You’re a good mom, because, despite your shortcomings, you love your kids in the best way you know how.

The thought came from Heaven itself—from the mouth of Unconditional Love—in the most unlikely of moments. It hit me so hard I laughed and cried at the same time. With my two-day old messy bun dangling, braless and barefoot in the middle of my dirty kitchen, I cry-laughed at the truth that I am a GOOD MOM.

Truth to replace the story shame had told me; failure had told me; scarcity had told me; accusation had told me. Truth, whose soft whisper managed to drown out all the voices screaming at me to agree that I’m not enough.

Truth doesn’t need to scream when its whisper has the power to tear things open.

As I thanked God for tearing open the cloak of shame wrapped around my heart, my teacher-friend messaged me back. She made sure Quinn had her background marked on her picture form. I apologized for bothering her and giving her more to do. She shared with me that she had forgotten the form altogether for her own daughter and then text me a phrase that made me tear up. “I got you.” Just then, my other friend called back, explaining that she was about to call me in tears to vent about how terribly frustrating her morning had been as well. Before she got off the phone she said “I’m glad to know I’m not the only one! I’m glad to know we are on the same page!” I replied “Always!”

I got you. You’re not the only one. You’re a good mom.

Three phrases. Three different sources. All a gift from God Himself. All fuel for a parched soul and a hungry heart.

I GOT YOU. You don’t have to be self-sufficient. You don’t have to carry your burdens alone.

YOU’RE NOT THE ONLY ONE. This is hard! And not because you don’t have what it takes, it’s hard for any and all of us in different ways. You aren’t on your own falling behind as the world seamlessly skips forward without you. People everywhere agree—they’re on the same page.

YOU’RE A GOOD MOM. Because you love, you try, you care and you make all that extra effort that mostly goes unnoticed. I validate all the thankless things you do purely out of LOVE.

I never realized how much I needed to hear those three truths. I was operating under the guise that I was at a lack; a deficit; a negative. That everyone else seemed to manage just fine and, no matter how hard I tried, I—alone—couldn’t get it together. I worked at being a good mom like it was something I had to prove rather than a truth I could live from. 

But here’s the thing: When you believe you’re a good mom, you don’t have to prove you’re not a bad one—no matter how messy your bun, your van or your kitchen looks. Also, we were never created to do life alone. That’s why—alone—it’s impossible to get it together. It’s such a gift when God sends us people who, in spite of their own busyness and problems, are willing to jump into the middle of ours and say “I got you.” We aren’t just dependent in relationships, we are interdependent and hearing words like “I’m with you,” “I feel you,” and “I get it,” brings us the stillness and peace of being understood, which is so crucial to our sense of well-being.

In a world where shame and lack try to define us, it’s easy to lose our focus on the voice of Unconditional Love. Today, I’m grateful for the people in my life who echo His whispers across my soul with their own meaningful messages and the platform to pass those messages on to you. Regardless of what you face today, may you find the belief deep down in your soul that you’re good at the role that matters to you most right now. Secondly, where you strive to prove your self-sufficiency, may someone in your world step in and lighten the load with a timely “I got you.” Lastly, when you feel isolated in a painful place, may you look around and find you’re not the only one. Together is how we’ll make it through the hard times.

To my readers

Dear reader,

This is a space to drink in the certainty you’re not alone; a place where connection can revive your spirit; somewhere to settle into the rest that comes from feeling understood.

As I pull back layers and share my life, I hope you will discover pieces of your own soul reflected within my writings. I hope you find yourself at home here and join me on this quest.

This is an adventure of becoming; a journey of undoing.

I’m a full-time mom, but this isn’t a parenting blog. I’m a wife, but this isn’t a marriage blog. I’m a runner and a fitness instructor, but this isn’t a fitness blog. I’m a Christian, but this isn’t a religious blog. In fact, this is more about learning how to stop clinging to roles to define us and sinking the roots of our hearts into our identities as daughters and sons of a loving Creator.

This is about becoming His; and undoing the lies that distract us from that posture.

 I’m not here to talk you into anything; to sell you something; or to convince you I have all the answers.

I’m simply here to share my heart, my experiences and insight and use this gift of writing to lend a voice to the pain and complexities of life common to us all as humans.  

Accept this as an offer to blaze your own trail—burning down the walls of confinement created by the expectations of this world —in order to find a joy-filled life of authenticity, freedom and peace. The abundant life we were created for is built first by the product of our thoughts and then by the quality of our words.

May the words you find here become a hope-filled torch to serve you as you blaze your own trail, right into the heart of God.

Love and blessings,

Brittany