Give Yourself Grace, Moms!

Another Mother’s Day has come and gone, and a few days prior I had the wonderful opportunity to meet an old high school girlfriend who is also a pastor’s wife.  The evening was by far one big lesson from God to appreciate what he’s given me, not dwell on what I’ve lost, and learn from all the mistakes I’ve made.  She pointedly asked me, “Do you give yourself Grace as a mom?” What kind of question is that? Why on earth would I give myself grace after all the stupid mistakes I’ve made…it’s hard even asking God for Grace.  An in that lies the ‘LIE’.  We all deserve and can receive Gods Grace, but do we give ourselves any?  You know…the free, unmerited favor to forgive yourself – cut yourself some slack.  No? Maybe a few of you just mumbled…’sort of’, or ‘maybe sometimes’?  I never did until recently.

I’m now a divorced, single mom of 4 (two at home) at the age of 48.  Not exactly what I aspired to be as a young girl at all lol.  Still, I’m trying to find my way through this new life and figure out who I am and what I want to do with my life, all the while trying to keep God in the center, but I fail at that most days too.  I was very hard on myself at first – taking on more than my share of guilt for a broken marriage even though there was equally fault on both sides.  My kids went through H-E-double-hockey-sticks for the first year for sure. I can say after 2 1/2 years, it’s getting better day by day, but I certainly didn’t start off allowing myself any room for Grace.  None as a matter of fact – at any point.

mom momentsMy journey as a mom began 26 years ago. I delivered my first-born in Germany, alone (outside of my husband) and scared to death.  About 4 1/2 years later, came another son. Boom. We were a family of four. I was never able to be a full-time stay-home mom except for a short time with my baby girl years later, but mostly it suited me and I have always loved to work too – it’s in my DNA. My family was healthy and happy though, so that’s what mattered! Yes, I still did all the mom things.  I was at every pee-wee football game, made cookies for the class on their birthdays, did all the messy crafts at home with them, spent hours and hours making ‘abstract’ sculptures out of Play-Dough (and fondant) at the kitchen table, and stepped on A LOT of star wars figurines and Legos over the years. OUCH!

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Burned to Bring Light

thWe’ve all been burned in some way or another.  Maybe from a past love, a boss or coworker, an old friendship, or even by a child or family member.  Many times it stems from something we’ve done ourselves – a mistake or misstep in life; a misspoken word;  an emotional reaction to an intense situation, or simply a rebellious season in life that changed our entire path.

Whatever the cause, I’m a firm believer that ‘God will allow anything and everything to happen to us as long as it brings us closer to Him‘. I heard that phrase years ago spoken by a pastor I truly admire, and honestly questioned the phrase at first.  Why would God ALLOW us to endure trials, pain, suffering, abandonment, rejection, loneliness, or any other hurtful life experience?  What is the purpose of being a Christian if God is going to just sit back and watch us implode and make stupid mistakes that not only adversely affect our own lives, but the lives of others around us – our parents, husbands, children, etc.

I now realize that I wouldn’t be the person I am today had I not gone through those trials and challenging times.  Even the rose, as beautiful as it may be, has thorns.  I try not to look back and wonder ‘what if’, but rather to look back and say ‘because that happened, I am (blank) – stronger; learned what not to do; became more compassionate towards others; have more faith!  I think it’s all those things and more!

Living a problem-free life is not the solution, and although I wish I had less problems, it doesn’t guarantee my life would be any better without them.   As a matter of fact, it could even be worse if I hadn’t learned the lessons I did when going through those valleys.

Today, I can honestly say my sempathycars are part of who I am.  The trials I’ve endured have brought me closer to the person God is molding me to be…and as much as I’d like to go back and make some better choices, I’m not sure I would be able to help others if I had chosen differently.  Having empathy for someone who is walking the same path I did allows me the unique ability to stand beside them – to be a source of strength and hope.  Because I, having been burned many times before, can now shine a little light to help others.

Wear the Red Dress!

When in doubt…wear the red dress!  Red is probably my favorite color, and also one that creates many emotions.  For me, the obvious emotion of red is love – Valentines Day, hearts, etc.  For others, red may bring feelings of anger or tension.  It’s a powerful color with a unique ability to stir up strong emotions.  Men will wear a red power tie to help make a big sales pitch, or to an important interview.  It draws people in when they look at a black and white photo showing a singular red feature – a scarf around a woman’s neck perhaps.  An local Romance Author might add a little red umbrella to the front cover of her first novel to catch a reader’s eye as she peruses the book shelves (wink wink).  During this Christmas season, we now see the infamous ‘red cups‘ filled with coffee that many enjoy, holding it in their hands for warmth on a cold winters day.

In my favorite Christmas movie, White Christmas, there are stunning red dresses worn during the last scene.  I’ve always dreamed of wearing that dress someday! Even my favorite Christmas tree has a red dress bodice, and the tree is the skirt.  I named her ‘Audrey’. 

Not too long ago, I attended a fundraising event with some co-workers.  I could have worn the classic little black dress, as many women do for parties (and I am a BIG fan of the little black dress don’t get me wrong), but that year I was about to make some big changes in my life and I wanted the dress to reflect my inner strength, so to speak.  So I pulled out the red satin, sleeveless dress and wore it with pride, although a little hesitant at first. Yes the black dress was in the car just in case I chickened out lol…

Have you ever been torn between two choices, and you always seem to make the ‘safe’ choice because you know that is what everyone expects of you?  The choice that is ‘comfortable’ always makes the most sense right?  NO…NOT ALL THE TIME!  The difference between choosing what you know you want – deep down, or choosing what is expected of you, can make the difference in the quality of your life, regardless of quantity.  Don’t get me wrong, there is also a difference in choosing what is right and what simply ‘feels good’, but only you (and God if you are a believer) will know what that means.  No one can tell you otherwise, so don’t let them!  I like to think though, that even when we make a choice and it turns out to be the wrong one (because we all have and unfortunately will again and again), God can use it to shape our future and make us stronger and wiser.  And yes, it’s rare, but sometimes…we might even get a second chance to choose right.

My Christmas tree lights just kicked off, indicating that it’s way past my bedtime (I have Hallmark channel to thank for that lol), and I’m thinking its about time to pull out that red dress again!  Where would I go to need such a bold dress?  Well, it is the holidays right? I don’t know exactly where yet, but I’ll know when the time comes.  Maybe Mr. Right will ask me to a fun party or maybe I’ll just wear it and go to the party by myself, proud of the woman God made me…faults and all!

Maybe it’s not the red dress so much, but how I feel when I’m wearing the dress.

In the end…the dress is simply a symbol of my confidence, strength, living out loud (as my GF tells me I should do all the time), not being afraid of the future, trusting God to guide me despite my bad choices, and sometimes it means taking a chance even when I’m scared to death!  Tred-dress-2he red dress is my way of saying, “I can do it!” or “I’m WORTH it!”

So yes, when in doubt, I will choose the red dress!  (Or the white one because your daughter specifically picked it out for you while shopping lol…but in that case always wear the red shoes!)

Is it time for you to choose the red dress/tie?
Until next time…


Mentee to Mentor

My writing mentor passed away two years ago this month, and I always remember him by reading a few chapters of one of his novels.  I can still hear his advice ringing in my head as I type the words of my new book…’passive vs. active voice’, or ‘description description description’.  He hated romance novels, but read every page of my novel and gave me more encouragement and hope than I could ever asked for.

I was blessmentoringimageed to have a couple of special ‘author moments’ happen this month as well, which directly related to my mentor.  The first was being able to speak with a young writer this week who is just beginning her journey as an author, giving her some of the same advice my mentor gave me.  She shared some of her novel with me to read, and although I am not near as qualified, it was nice to be asked and fun to give her direction and encouragement in her writing.  She is quite good, and I believe one day her novel will grace the shelves of a bookstore or appear online.  It seems I may be moving from mentee to mentor…and I think Gregg would be proud.

The second special moment was receiving an email from my mentor’s mother, whom I’ve stayed connected with since his death.  I mailed her a copy of my second book and she received it the same week Gregg passed.  She said she’s anxious to read it, and will be in touch again soon.  Her email lifted my spirits today, and that was a blessing of its own as today has been filled with my own personal loss of sorts.  I still miss Gregg’s words and advice, and hope he’s looking down smiling on my progress as an author.

I would be remiss if I didn’t at least give my mentor’s work a shout.  His very first novel was written many years ago, but is still available on  Look up ‘Bob Nine’, by Gregg Haugland.  A fun, unique read you won’t soon forget! Cheers to you Gregg!  You are never forgotten…

Your Mentee



Washing of Feet

Last weekend, my mom asked me to come over and help do a few things for her and my Grandma.  One of those things was giving my Grandmother a bath.  She is 90 years old, blind, and very unstable on her feet.  That particular week, my grandmother’s helper had the previous day off and was unable to give her a bath, so I was more than happy to help.  I’ve only lived back home since October, and before that my amazing sister-in-law and cousin have always been there to help her when needed…so it was very nice to be able to help her finally.

I was humbled beyond belief as I washed her body and hair…being extra gentle as not to scratch her delicate, frail skin or scalp.  I know this is something that she had done for me as a baby and young girl for years, along with my mom of course, but it’s quite a different experience as an adult now bathing a grandparent.  After her bath was finished, it was time for lotion. I doused her with it from top to bottom, but what I didn’t expect was my reaction as I rubbed lotion on her feet.

I poured lotion on my hands, then started to gently massage it in, taking extra time with each one (because as one who loves to have her feet rubbed…I know it feels wonderful!).  Out of nowhere, I started crying.  Sobbing really.  My tears dripped all over her feet, but I simply rubbed them in along with the lotion…pretty sure she didn’t notice.  I couldn’t explain the tears, nor the overwhelming emotions of how special it was for me to do that for her.  I immediately thought of Jesus as he washed the feet of his disciples – showing and teaching them how much better it is to serve rather than be served.  As I continued, it felt as if my soul was being cleansed of a few things that were starting to cause some pretty bad stains. That alone brought me a joy I hadn’t felt in a long time.

I wept silently.  She couldn’t see me of course, and to my knowledge she never heard me, although I kept wiping my face with her dry washcloth and I think she was wondering what the heck I was doing.  I felt rather silly at one point, wondering what was wrong with me.  I couldn’t seem to stop the tears no matter how hard I tried.  (And no…it wasn’t ‘that time of month’.  Lucky for me those days are over!  LOL!)  In the end, she got an extra long foot massage just so I could calm down, but she didn’t complain.  I know my time with her on this earth is growing short, and I guess being able to perform that one act of love and kindness to her meant more to me than anything that day.  Time spent with my mom and dad, my brother and sister-in-law…those moments are so special to me being back home.  Although I’m still learning my way around town, and trying to make some new friends…I know one thing for sure – I am home, and exactly where God wants me.  For now.

Until next time,

Enjoy your next cup of tea or coffee, or latte, with someone you love and never take those moments for granted.  They are precious…and few.


Sandy’s Web

I love the movie, Charlotte’s Web.  I watched the cartoon version with my kids years ago and remember seeing a newer version featuring real animals/people.  That one was quite good, and both very touching.  The story is poignant – one of loneliness, abandonment, but most importantly and ultimately…a story of friendship, great sacrifice and unconditional love.

Driving to Evansville, Indiana for training earlier this week, I opened my sunroof to let the sun and warm air pour in on top of me, then cranked the music.  The skies were a little cloudy, but just enough sun poked out to bring a smile to my face.  The hour and a half drive through the countryside was exactly what I needed, bImage result for charlotte's weboth there and back.  I have NEVER seen so many RED barns!  Is that an Indiana thing?  A Hoosier thing?  Someone should enlighten me on that…  Regardless,  I imagine those barns are filled with hundreds of cobwebs both big and small, like Charlotte’s.  Her web was woven with such care and love for her babies.  It was their safe haven, their source of food, their hiding place, and more.  For me, they are a nuisance!  There is nothing I hate more than walking through a big cobweb when I’m outside…yuck!  LOL! And actually seeing a spider?  OH NO!  Not a fan!  My kids aren’t either, and even the oldest will scream like a girl if he sees one.  🙂   But I digress…

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In the Storm

Last night, it rained here.  It rained hard.  I sat on the edge of my bed and listened intently, closed my eyes, and tried to quiet every thought I had.  No inner monologue (very hard for me!).  No inside words.  I just listened to it beat against the roof and waited.  I wasn’t waiting for anything in particular, but I waited anyway.  The thunder came, the lightening…all of it!  It was music to my ears!  I’ve missed those storms so much.

Recently my family found ourselves inside a severe personal storm however – those aren’t nearly as enjoyable.  There were moments when I didn’t think we would make it through, and I beat myself up pretty good for bringing it on my family.  Then a turning point came and things began to change.  As fast as the storm came, it left, and I started seeing smiles on my kids faces instead of frowns…laughter instead of tears.  Little moments of matthewhenry189348joy are showing up more and more each day.  Even in the midst of the worst days though, my heart never gave up.  I knew the storm would pass in its own time, and today, I can see the sun!

The rain falls with intense purpose; much like God’s grace and mercy, which falls on us with intense purpose!  Even when we don’t deserve it, it falls on us anyway.  He is looking down on us, just waiting for us to notice the rain and listen.  He’s waiting for us to wait on Him.  Through this recent storm, I was reminded to keep my eyes focused on what matters most in life – my children.  No one person or thing will ever be as important as them.

I am living a new and different life now, but I know we are in God’s hands.  I am surrounded by my family, wonderful friends near and far, and a good church home for which I’m so thankful.  Despite my mistakes and flaws, I believe God has something good for us ahead! We will get through the storms yet to come, and I look forward to the beauty that awaits after they pass…