Monthly Archives: February 2016

My First Official Book Review


Hmmm, OK. So, you all know about my book deal…right? Well, today I got to read my first official review of my manuscript and the comments that the editors left for me. I would be lying if I said that I just got that email today. I actually got it last week…I just got the courage to open it today!

My fingers were literally shaking as I pressed the buttons to open that PDF file. For one thing, it is highly stressful to let other people read something that I have written. Even these blog posts are difficult for me to publish sometimes. Y’all know I am an open book…and I’m OK with it to a point. I don’t mind writing funny things or sharing true stories with all of you. It’s fun most of the time…but then there are days like today when the depth of my openness is revealed and it makes me a nervous wreck! Reading the opinions of people who are paid to give those opinions…is by far one of the scariest things I have ever done in my life!

I took a deep breath and then I let me eyes scan the page. Tears gathered in my eyes as I read the words on that page! The editors had liked my work! They really liked it! Here is a little of what they had to say:

“Manuscript’s Strengths

• Readers will gravitate to the author’s love story with her late husband, and ways God helped her live again after his death, through her moving Introduction page. She conveys honestly the difficult journey she endured after his death, but also shares a spirit of hope in the content to ignite readers’ hope in her progress as well.

• The author leaves her raw emotions on each page of her book, detailing the full extent of her pain and sadness, but still holding true to the belief that God is still there and loves her. Each page, little by little, shows the author’s attempts to continue with life and God’s intervention to make this mission successful.

• The letter discussing the marital issues the author and her late husband endured in their marriage (Chapter 11) shows the difficult sides of marriage that can happen to people at times. It will also exemplify God’s presence even in this”

Uh….WHAT?!! I can’t even begin to tell you how blown away I am by this review! It makes me really excited to know that in a couple of months I will be holding this BOOK in my hands. I have tried really hard to keep the story itself under wraps…and I will continue to keep the details to myself for a while longer. I don’t want to spoil it for anyone who might want to read it, but reading this review you can see what the book is about.

Please excuse me while I go have an exceptionally long panic attack! To say that I am scared to death of this book and the honesty that I am so boldly sharing with the world is putting it nicely. I am terrified of showing all of you the real me behind the smiles and laughs. All I can do now is sit back and pray that God has a plan for this book and accept His will for what He has planned through the sharing of my story.

Seeing that great review made my day. I hope that the finished product will be good…and I hope that I don’t have too many panic attacks along the way! I am very humbled…and very thankful for this gift God has given me. I guess we will see where it takes me down the road.

I would like to say ‘Thank You’ to all of you who read my material. Some of you get to read more than others because I am an instant feedback type of girl sometimes. I like to know that what I have written resonates with the reader. So, to those of you who I have asked to read my stuff privately…thank you! Our secret will go to the grave!

To those of you who check your e-mail everyday and get disappointed because I have been busy…or lazy….and haven’t written anything new for the day on this blog…Thank you! I don’t deserve your support, but I sure do enjoy it!

To those of you chomping at the bit to read the finished book…Thank you! You keep me encouraged and you are the wind in my sails. I sure have been tempted to pull the plug on this whole deal a couple of times. That’s fear. I refuse to live in fear…so I just keep going. Even if it takes me a week to open a dang e-mail! Ha!

And, please…don’t mind me. I’ll just be over here biting my nails off into the quick…and rocking back and forth in a trance. I’m sure it will pass eventually….right? Fear, they say can be paralyzing…but I am still breathing….and blinking….and rocking….so…..I’ve totally got this! I just need, like six months or so to get myself back together! LOL!

Laughter Really is the Best Medicine


I have had the best time lately. It seems like happiness is just slipping back into my life little by little and it feels so good! I noticed this weekend that I was smiling and laughing more than I had since last summer. We spent time with lots of friends and family who love us without question over the weekend. Life in general was just good this past week. It feels weird actually saying that out loud.

Today it is raining outside and looks really dreary; but I don’t feel that black cloud of sadness today like I have every time it has rained since September. Today, I just feel happy. The kind of happy that lets me know I am going to make it. I truly am alive and I have a lot to keep living for in my life.

I have the best friends on Earth. Literally…the best. They have loved me through the darkest days that I could have ever imagined and never once wavered when it got too overwhelming. All of them have hugged me and listened to me. They have given me a place to hide and they have kept my girls busy so that they didn’t have to see me at my worst. They have fed us, called us, and forced us to keep on living day by day. It’s amazing to me that I have such an unbelievable group of people surrounding me that truly would do anything in the world for me. It’s just awesome!

Today, as I sit here and watch it rain outside I am realizing how important laughter is for our health. Everyone knows that diet, exercise, and sleep are the keys to good health…but so is laughter. I really believe that doctors should write prescriptions for laughter sometimes. It makes a HUGE difference in how we look at and live life. Trust me. My face and stomach are literally hurting today because I have laughed so much the past few days. Its the best feeling in the world to know that I can be happy and I can laugh at stupid little things again. For a while there I truly didn’t know if I would ever sincerely laugh again. Now, I can say that I have laughed a lot and it feels wonderful!

I am looking forward to what the future holds for me once more. I can’t wait to see what kind of adventures come my way. I am excited to meet new people and make new memories. I am finally able to let myself truly laugh again and I could not be more happy about it.

I have done the hard work of plowing through grief. I have stood still and let the hurricane hit me full force. I have withstood the devastation and the anguish that comes from soul ripping loss. I have cried out for help…and relief…and God has provided both. Today, it hit me that now I am on a wave and I am riding out into the deep water again. I’m not stuck against the rocks anymore. I’m not holding on for dear life every moment of everyday. I’m ready to see where this new wave will take me….and I could not be more excited about it. The winds of change are surrounding me and they are being pushed by the laughter of all of my friends. I could not be happier if I tried.

Thinking back I remember several conversations that Greg and I had about how he wanted me to live if something ever happened to him. I hated those conversations at the time, but now I am glad we had them. I understand what he was saying about not wanting me to waste my life if he died. He said one time: “If you put me in the ground….I’ll be gone. Don’t waste your life waiting on me to come back, because I won’t. Just go on living and try to be happy”. Well, that’s what I’m doing. I’m choosing to be happy and it took massive doses of laughter to help me see that I can do this! I really can go on living and I really can enjoy life again.

I hope and pray that somebody reading this realizes that they can go on living today as well. I don’t know who you are and I don’t know your story…but I do know that life stinks sometimes. I know it gets hard and the clouds gather above you until you can’t see the sunshine for the rain. I get it! I see you…and my heart hurts for you too.

I do not have all of the answers by any stretch, but one thing I do know for a fact: You can change your life no matter how bad it seems right now. You can be an overcomer and a difference maker. You can enjoy life and relax. You can make it through the darkest of days and come out singing! But, how?

First, you have to find a way to bring laughter back into your life. It doesn’t matter if it is a TV show, movie, book, music, or time spent with friends and family that makes you laugh. Find a way to laugh everyday…and keep doing it over and over. Soon, you will be like me and realize that you can laugh again…not just that fake, empty laugh either. The laugh that makes you cross your legs and hold your stomach. The one that makes people turn and stare because they want to know what is so funny. The one that can be heard all the way down the hall. The one that makes tears roll down your cheeks. The one that makes you  loose your breath. That’s the kind of laughter I’m talking about. Not the polite little fake one we try to tell ourselves is real. That one is not gonna help you. Go for the real deal!

Give it a try…and let me know how it works for you! It feels so good!!!

I love to hear your stories and how they relate to mine…so keep sending me those messages! I am encouraged by all of you who take the time to send me a message and share your stories with me. We are in this thing called life together…and I hope you never feel alone. I want to be your friend and I want to encourage you to keep on going! I couldn’t make it without the people I share my life with; and I understand how important their presence is for my healing.

Choose to laugh today. Make yourself a promise and stand by it…just for yourself. Give yourself the gift of laughter and keep on giving it to yourself everyday. I realize that I am worth it now…and so are you! We don’t have to depend on other people to make us happy. It is not up to someone else to make us happy anyway…it is a personal requirement. We just have to give ourselves permission to do whatever we have to do to make it happen.

Have a great week everybody!


I Smell a Dang Rat!


Well, the past few days have been crazy. It’s as simple as that…one crazy thing after another. Honestly, my life would make an GREAT sitcom…or comedy movie.

Sunday morning the girls and I got up and got ready to go to church. It was Valentine’s day and we were all just kind of down. I didn’t make a big deal out of it this year and they seemed OK with that, but the sadness was still pretty bad.

As we were getting ready for church, I noticed a strong odor. In my mind, I thought great…what is it now? But, we needed to hurry and get to church so I didn’t really investigate it right that moment. Well, when I walked in the door from church I almost threw up! The smell that hit my nose was nauseating! I can’t even describe to you how bad it smelled. It was just horrible…HORRIBLE!

The girls had went to see Momo and Papa after church, so I was by myself. I gathered a few things together and went up to Amy and Kyle’s because I could not stay here. Kyle and the boys came down here and crawled under the trailer thinking they would find a dead cat or possum or something like that…but they didn’t. They looked everywhere and couldn’t find anything….but the smell was enough to make them all light headed. It was terrible! No, it was HORRIBLE!

We decided that something must have gotten between the insulation and the flooring. I told Kyle I would ask Hunter and Daddy to come and maybe they could find it tomorrow. I camped out on their couch Sunday night and the girls stayed at Momo’s house. It’s a good thing they love me…!!

Yesterday, I came home to take a quick shower and get some things that I needed. The smell was so bad that you could smell it on the porch before you ever got close to the door. During all of this, I also lost my voice. It had started coming and going Sunday night, but by noon yesterday I could barely whisper. I guess the fact that I couldn’t talk really didn’t register with me, because I got so mad when I walked in that I picked up the phone and called Daddy. He didn’t answer…so I called Hunter.

I think he was able to make out some of what I was saying, because he said he would ride up here after lunch. I ran to the gym and did a quick workout; then I ran up to Walmart and bought gloves, goggles, and nose masks. We were gonna find whatever was dead and get it out of here and that was all there was to it! I had HAD it with this smell…and whatever was causing it.

Well, Hunter has the most sensitive nose of anybody on Earth. I warned him that he might throw up because it was so bad. He said that we would find whatever it was and get it out. He never threw up, but he gagged a lot!

When Hunter walked into my living room and said, “I smell a dang rat. Are you sure it’s not in here somewhere? Have you looked in here real good?” I told him I had not, because I was convinced that whatever “it” was had to be under the house. No rat (any mouse…no matter how small…is considered a rat to me) that I had ever smelled in my life had smelled this bad. I just knew it had to be a larger animal of some kind.

Hunter climbed under the trailer and looked all under it just like Kyle had…only it was now pouring down rain and the water had run under the house. Poor Hunter was covered in mud by the time he said it had to be inside of my house. Can I just tell you how big of a panic attack I had at that moment? My brain truly cannot handle the thought of a dead animal inside of my house! I’m famous for saying I don’t want anymore jaw bones living on our hill…meaning animals. They are OK if they are someone else’s, I just don’t want them myself. And I for sure don’t want rats…dead or alive!

Hunter and I proceeded to move the furniture, look under the cabinets, move the curtains, shake the face jugs, and stick our noses against every possible surface we could looking for the dang rat. He told me that when he lived in a trailer one time with a friend of his that they would sit on the couch and shoot the rats with BB guns at night. Obviously, he knew what they smelled like and he was sure that there was a dead rat somewhere in here. He is nine years younger than me, so I guess he didn’t remember how freaked out I get about rats. It’s bad people!

After tearing the living room apart, we moved into the kitchen. Hunter looked down the edge of the refrigerator and said, “I think I see part of a tail”. I was like..”what?!” He ended up having to pull the refrigerator out and when he did he said…”Yep, this is it! And, it is huge!” I started screaming and he started laughing! Then, he started gagging….and I kept screaming….and he was laughing and gagging at the same time. I ran out the front door and told him he better not show it to me. He said, “Emily, I’m not kidding…it is HUGE”. I said, “well then I am moving OUT of here TONIGHT. I am NOT staying in a rat infested house. I am NOT”.

He asked me to throw him something that he could use to pick it up with and so I grabbed a spatula…clearly I was irrational because it was a good one that I would to have to throw away! Then, I told him he better NOT show that thing to me. Well, he held it up anyway and now I am scarred for life. I think I blacked out actually. I can not handle rats. I just can’t. Some people can’t handle spiders…I can’t handle rats!

Well, the way the refrigerator was pulled out I knew I had to help Hunter. There was no way that he could get to the sink to wash out the rags by himself. I took a deep breath and told myself I just had to do what I had to do. We Pine-Soled, bleached, and Lysoled the floor and the walls behind the fridge. I had my gloves on and tried not to keep screaming while he laughed and talked about how huge that thing was as he worked. I was so freaked out that I literally kept moving my feet and looking around to make sure another one didn’t magically appear. OK, I screamed a few more times too…I just couldn’t help it!

It took us a good twenty minutes to clean behind the fridge. The rat had apparently ate some of the rat poison that I spread out everywhere in order to avoid having them…and it had gotten inside and died anyway. Apparently, it had been dead for a few days at this point. Once we got everything  cleaned up, it wasn’t too long before we noticed the smell wasn’t as overpowering. Today, you can’t smell it at all.

I am still freaked out this morning. I woke up at 3:00 and listened to make sure I didn’t hear another one. I also kept the lamps on so I could see the floor all night!I didn’t go back to sleep until a few minutes after the girls left for school. I dozed for about thirty minutes before getting up and starting my day. I feel like my whole house is crawling with rats. Hunter said that it looked like it was the queen…and when the queen dies everything else does to. It makes sense to me. I hope they all die…every last one of them!

I guess the only lasting effects are the quick steps I take passing the fridge…and the shudders of horror when I remember seeing that huge thing on the end of the spatula that Hunter was holding. My house can NOT get finished fast enough for me. This trailer has now been invaded by a rat…and I can’t handle it!

On the bright side, Jed is here with his crew today and they are putting wood in the ceilings. I am super happy about it and can’t wait to take some pics later today. I hope you have all had a good laugh at my expense. It was funny…but not really. Hopefully I will be able to take a nap in little while…and NOT dream about dang rats!

A Walk in the Woods


I took a walk in the woods by myself today. It’s a beautiful, mild February day in Central Alabama. No clouds in the sky, a soft breeze blowing, and sunshine…the perfect walk in the woods kind of day!


We used to take walks like this almost every afternoon. This morning when I opened up Facebook, I was reminded that two years ago I took this same walk with my family of four. Only, two years ago it was snowing. As I looked at the pictures I had taken that day, the sadness hit me like a rock. It’s weird how I can remember exact conversations and emotions so clearly from that day. We had laughed and played in the snow for a couple of hours before dark.


The snow was thick and wet. It fell in huge clumps and covered everything around us in less than an hour. Greg had helped the girls build a small little snowman in the front yard and I had cooked chili with cornbread for supper. That day was just a normal day except for the snow.


Today as I walked on the same path we walked on together two years ago, I looked around and sighed. I miss walking through these woods with my husband. I miss his crazy antics and his voice. I stood still beside the pond and I listened for his voice. I could hear him so clearly in my mind…and the waves of wanting him here crashed against me like a hurricane. I stood in the exact spot he was standing in the next picture…and just let them hit me one by one.

Greg in snow.jpg

As I stood there where he had stood two years ago… on that bridge I forced myself to open my eyes and look…really look all around me. That’s when I saw it!


I walked off of the bridge to my left and up the hill a few steps. Hidden in the trees I saw it for the first time since Greg had died: Our hammock. The one we bought on our honeymoon in Cancun.


I fought through the briers and underbrush to get to it. The poor thing looked pitiful and nothing like it did when we found it that day so long ago. I had my camera, so I started taking pictures of it. The hammock itself is in terrible shape, but as I let me lens scan different angles I noticed something that made my heart stop. The hammock was tied between two trees by two pieces of rope. The rope had two perfect knots on the outside of the trees and the part wrapped around the trees had begun to be covered up by the expanding tree trunk. Greg had tied it up there in 2003 or 2004. I’m not sure which one for certain.



There used to be a tree close to this spot with our initials carved into it…sadly it got cut down when they built the pond. We never got around to carving our initials into another one. We did carve them into other trees in different places over the years, but not on our land. Oh well…nothing I can do about that now, but the two ropes that are growing into the trees by the pond will always stand as a reminder of what we had.


I know it seems so simple…but I was reminded today how much the little, everyday details matter. It matters that Greg took the time to hang this hammock all those years ago. It matters that I saw it on my walk today. It matters that I noticed the knots that he tied in the rope. It matters that I miss him more every single day. All of it matters to me and I am grateful for the opportunity to realize just how important these things are for a lifetime.

me & greg.jpg

We cherished the everyday stuff. We enjoyed playing in the snow…and walking outside…and loving each other. We made an effort to spend as much time together as we could and I am so very thankful that we were intentional about it.

This year, I am skipping the whole Valentine’s day stuff. My heart can’t handle it. Last year, we made a big deal about it at church. Greg helped me decorate and set things up that Sunday afternoon.

He also spoiled me with a cute outfit from Sassy Lass….and a great card that I will cherish forever. We didn’t always make a big deal out of holidays…but last year he made a big deal out of Valentine’s Day. I’m happy for those memories, but I can’t take celebrating it this year without him. I just can’t. I am trying so hard to live life, but its times like these that brings me to my knees.

Today, God showed me that Greg left me all kinds of gifts scattered around our land. I just have to slow down and look for them. I can do that! I may not be able to participate in all of the Valentine’s Day events that are going on this year…but I can cry through the memories that we have from the past seventeen Valentines’ Days and remember how much I was loved. That’s more than some people ever get and I will never take it for granted. I still miss him though…I honestly don’t think any amount of time will ever ease that hurt.

I don’t beg often, but I am going to beg all of you who still have your spouses to be intentional about how you show them that you love them this year. If you are fortunate enough to still have a marriage…give it all you’ve got! Put aside your differences and look for the person you fell in love with in the beginning. Remind yourself why you married him or her. Give yourself permission to let go of anger and hostility. Do something romantic and make a new memory that will last for many years to come. Life does not have to be dull, boring, or lonely if you are married. It is supposed to be fun, surprising, and memorable. If it’s not…change what you are doing! We had to change what we were doing around year seven…and thank goodness we did! I never would have dreamed that I would cherish the memories we made as much as I do today.

Choose love…choose happiness…choose your spouse. It’s worth it!

Happy Valentine’s Day!





Be Bold…or Go Home


This morning I spent a lot of time studying in the book of Jeremiah. I may or may not be working on another project centered around this book! It’s just neat to see how much God has used this amazing example to teach me what I needed to learn over the past five months. There is no emotion, conflict, or situation that I have not been able to find an answer for inside of this book of the Bible. The number one truth that I have found through my studies is…God wants us to be bold in our love for Him.

There are so many different verses throughout the entire Bible that tell us to be bold in our faith, but in the book of Jeremiah we see the story of a man who wanted to be anything but bold. I’m not sure what it is exactly (yet) that I connect with so strongly with Jeremiah. Maybe it was the fact that he was so bold in what he said to the wayward Israelite’s; or maybe it was his insecurities that often caused him to be fearful of saying what God told him to say; or maybe it was the way he just said what needed to be said and didn’t try to sugarcoat anything when he did speak. I can relate to all of those things pretty easily. I can also see how he struggled to be bold especially around people who did not share his same opinions.

The society we live in today is pretty similar to the one Jeremiah lived in. People had turned away from God so long that they honestly believed their halfhearted attempts at worshiping Him was sufficient. They truly believed that putting idols before Him was the right thing to do. They could not have been more wrong!

God called Jeremiah to speak boldly to those people. His one calling in life was to boldly proclaim the word of the Lord to people who did not want to listen…and worse did not care to hear what he had to say. He also died before he could see the fruit of his labors. How depressing would that be? We complain when we don’t have a high speed internet connection. We get frustrated when people don’t agree with what we post on social media. We pout when we don’t get positive reviews on a project or assignment.We ruin our testimonies because our actions do not reflect the words that come out of our mouths.

I can honestly say that I do not believe I have…or ever will have the patience that Jeremiah had in his day. Although being patient was not easy for him…I know without a doubt that he had tons of patience or he would never have been able to survive like he did.  Even with all of his patience, he still got irritated and wanted real…honest…clear answers as to why he was being asked to speak to people who truly did not care…or attempt to change their terrible behavior.

Jeremiah boldly asked God the hard questions…and God answered him. I have found that God is answering my hard questions as well…and as a result I am willing to be more bold in several areas of my own life. I have learned that if I don’t ask God what I really want to know, He won’t just come out and tell me. God wants us to seek Him out no matter what we are facing. He wants us to look to Him for all of the answers we need…but we have to make the choice to ask Him. Even when the Israelites ignored God…He still loved them. Just like He loves all of us. God has the ability to make us choose Him…but he loves us to much to force us. The choice to follow Him is solely up to each one of us and no one…especially God himself….will force us to accept Him as Lord.

Thinking about this today made me think about the fact that no one can force any of us to do anything. We have to make the choice inside our own mind to do or not do everything on Earth. Are there times when we feel like we don’t have a choice…of course there is! However, in the end we always make the decision to do whatever it is that we do in life. We have influences and are all motivated differently, but the choice to actually act on something is up to each one of us in the end.

It’s funny to me that some adults think they have total control over children. It’s laughable really when you dig deep into God’s word and realize that He gave us free will in every area of our lives. So, why do some adults feel like they have the “right” to control a child? Here’s a newsflash….there is not one person on this Earth who has the right to control anyone else. No parent…no teacher…no boss…no leader…no preacher. No one.

Instead, these “adults” would do well to understand that they will get more out of the children or people that they are attempting to control if they give them a reason to want to try. It amazes me when I see grown adults who act worse than small children…especially when those adults are supposedly in charge of small children! It seems like at some point the adults would understand that punishing a child into his/her way of thinking just won’t work. Ever. What better example of this is there besides the children of Israel?

The only thing God wanted from His chosen people was for them to love Him…and Him alone. He gave them free will and allowed them to make all kinds of terrible mistakes. They worshiped wood and stone…instead of God. They completely forgot the Arc of the Covenant…they didn’t teach their children about it and actually lost it inside the synagogue at one point. They turned their backs on God numerous times…even though He had performed many miracles in front of their very eyes. During all of those times, God let them make their own choices. Each time they chose to push Him away, it hurt Him deeply. God is self-controlled though and He refused to give in to his anger on numerous occasions. Over and over again the Children of Israel deliberately hurt God and yet He still loved them.

Only after many years did God reach His limit and allow His anger to drive his behavior. When He punished His children…he warned them first. When His anger grew to a point where He wasn’t going to take their disobedience anymore…He delivered harsh punishments to all of the people…He didn’t spare the ‘good’ ones. He didn’t pick favorites. He saw the heart of every person he punished and it hurt Him to be so harsh in his discipline…but He had already given them warnings, instructions, and plans to follow and they still rebelled. Every person paid the same price regardless of their sins…because they were all sinners. The only difference is that some repented before the punishment and others did not repent at all. It is interesting to see the way God works and we could all use His example during this day and time for sure.

So, the next time you or someone you knows decides to fly off the handle at a child…or another adult…maybe you should suggest that He/She pick up their Bible and read the book of Jeremiah. There are a whole lot of “Christians” out there delving out punishments, destroying people’s confidence, and ruining the lives of kids who don’t have a fair shake at life to begin with…and it infuriates me to watch it happen. If God is good enough to give us all chance after chance after chance to get our acts together…shouldn’t we do the same for our fellow man?

I’m betting we absolutely need to reevaluate ourselves and truly look at how our actions are affecting those around us…especially if children are involved. Stop being mean, hateful, and vindictive. Try being kind…and understanding…and forgiving. It’s a choice we all have to make and we will all pay the consequences of our actions one day. I’m boldly calling out the mean people…and daring you to think that you can keep your house of cards standing through the storm that will surely hit before too long. Please decide that loving people is worth more than punishing them…that’s what God does…and that is what He expects us to do as well if we truly are His children. Repent and turn over a new leaf…it’s time to discover what real life and faithful living is all about, because the lie you have told yourself for so long is not going to help you in the end. Just look at the children of Israel…

Choose to boldly walk away from your comfort zone and be a positive impact on your fellow man…woman…or child. You never…ever….EVER…know what your actions could mean to someone else. Trust me…God used Jeremiah who never got to see the fruit of his labors before he died. God is using me regardless of my grief and pain. God wants to use you…right where you are in life at this very moment. Make the choice to ask God what He wants you to do today…and then boldly step out and do what He tells you to do!

Wood! We have WOOD!!


Today was the day…the day that the first load of wood for the inside of the house arrived! I am so excited!! Seeing that truck pull into my driveway was a great moment. It has been a long road to get to this point, but finally we are ready to start closing this baby in!


This was the first of about four loads that we will need for the inside ceilings and walls. I’m super glad I had such good helpers to get it inside! It really didn’t take as long as I was thinking it would before they got here.


Piece by piece….



and little by little…



We moved all of that wood from the truck to this big stack inside of the house. I may have been excited about it…just a little.


Now, all we need are some nail guns and ladders! It’s time to put this stack on the ceiling! YaaaaaaHoooooooooooo!!!!


More posts detailing the progress in the next few weeks. Stay tuned…major changes should be happening soon! I can NOT wait to see how this is gonna look when I’m done! Can. Not. Wait!!!

























The Detour


Today I want to share some inspiration from a lady I have never met…but I feel like I know her like a friend. I was introduced to Paula D’Arcy by a good friend of mine the week after Greg’s funeral. Paula’s story is unbelievably hard to hear, but the joy that comes out of her story is amazing.

In 1975 she survived a drunk-driving accident that took the lives of her husband and twenty-one month old daughter. Pregnant at the time, Paula survived the accident and gave birth to a second daughter six months later. I don’t know about you, but I stand amazed that this woman even survived. She not only survived….she flourished.

Today, Paula is a well-known writer, retreat leader, and conference and seminar speaker who travels widely in the U.S. and beyond. She is the founder of the Red Bird Foundation and works diligently to help people who are grieving. I have read several of her books: Seeking with All of My Heart, The Gift of the Red Bird, A New Set of Eyes, When Your Friend is Grieving, and my personal favorite…Waking Up to this Day. This morning I was looking back through my journal and I was once again struck by the truth in her words.

See if you can relate to any of these quotes I wrote down:

*Adversity will be the agent of change in our lives until we decide to let love drive the change.

*The detour [in my life] that made no sense was actually the preparation I needed to develop as a person.

*Nothing is ever wasted. Every life experience counts because life counts.

*Those who excel are the ones who don’t quit.

*Adversity moves us from our safe moorings and positive change results if we agree to be taught by the experiences.

*We must deepen if we are to mature and see what is right before us.

*I did not know how to bring my life into balance before [losing my family].

*So much is possible, but not if we continue to live in a fearful way.

*We have to step through the small circles we have drawn around ourselves and become willing to embody the faith that moves mountains.

*Everything we avoid has the power to bring us down in the end.

*Stop telling yourself limiting things, because words have power!

*No amount of thinking or study will get me where I want to go. I have to show up and learn to be present in the moment.

*I did not want change. I wanted relief…not newness.

Reading her words…and my notes inside my journal, I have discovered that deciding to act on my inner feelings to keep living is a great decision. I can see the lessons I have learned since September 20, 2015. I can clearly see the person I am becoming. I recognize that I did not want to change…or grow…or move out of my comfort zone before Greg died. I liked my life…ya know? I was happy, content, and loved. What more could a person want besides money to burn? Right?

The day God decided that my life needed a detour, everything changed. Everything. Today, I sit here and realize that I have decided to live with my eyes wide open. I realize that in order to love the people in my life I had to allow my heart to reach out again. I have made the choice to live my life carefully, yet way more intentionally. I want to stop rushing past things that are important and I want to cherish the little moments that get swept away in the river of time.

Paula says that the detour forces maturity. I agree with her. As hard as I tried to get myself to this point of clarity before Greg died, I never could have reached it if he had not been taken from me. I depended on him too much. I was too content. I did not really want change. I can see that now.

I am not the woman I used to be…and the weird thing is I don’t even really know the woman who I am becoming! The lady I see in the mirror now has completely different ideas, priorities, and yep…dreams. I heard through the small town grapevine that people think I’m traveling a lot…and I’m revealing my vast network of friends in surprising ways…and I’m finding courage more and more each day….and all of those things are absolutely true!

I have always been a fun-loving person. I laugh easily and I try to help people every chance I get…those things haven’t changed. What has changed is my satisfaction with mediocre. I have a drive inside of me that will not allow me to just settle for average anymore. I need to live life…really live it. Greg and I tried to really live our life together. We worked hard and played hard…and we loved all of it, but we struggled with life a lot as well.

Looking back I see that we didn’t settle for mediocre in our marriage and we gave our girls glimpses into the amazing things that this life has to offer, but we also stressed ourselves out to the max too much. I don’t want to do that anymore. I don’t have the patience to hear only the negative…and I’m not going to listen to constant negativity period. It’s a choice…and I’m choosing to cut out as much negative as possible. Negativity breeds negativity…just like happiness breeds happiness. It’s up to you and me to choose which one we want. We can’t play the victim forever…at some point it really is up to us to decide what makes us happy.

A friend told me Saturday that if I had the desire to travel or write, I should just do what I felt lead to do…well he was right. I am going to travel as much as humanely possible…and you can feel free to talk about me all you want! I am going to live life to fullest by grabbing life by the horns…and I hope I inspire you to do the same! I am going to choose to be happy and enjoy the little moments everyday….and maybe you will too!

If it is important to us…we can all find a way to make it happen. I can see that now…so go ahead and get ready to talk about me all you want, because my life…and my girl’s lives are going to be filled with amazing moments. It’s important to me and we are not promised tomorrow. Where there’s a will there is a way….even if I have to take major detours in my life to get those amazing moments. It’s worth the effort that it takes to follow God’s plan for our lives. Today, I am choosing to step out to the edge of my comfort zone and put my faith into action! Sitting back and thinking about it won’t make it happen. I have to act!

I hope that sharing my journey with all of you causes someone to make the decision to turn their mediocre life into an amazing life! It truly is a choice…why wait on a life altering detour to figure it out? You never know what you might be missing. Paula did that for me by choosing to share her story…as painful as it was for her to do at the time. She chose to love other people enough to step out of her comfort zone and grab life by the horns. I, for one am super happy she did!




Bring On the Gravy!


Welp, today was THE day. Years of dreaming, preparing, working, forgetting, and starting over came together with one push of a button today. I submitted my final manuscript to my publishing team and I nearly had a nervous breakdown before I mustered up the courage to actually do it! I told Maggie this morning that I was as nervous as a cat and she said,”Why Mama?”.

It took me a minute to figure out how to tell her why I was so nervous. I mean she knows that I’ve been writing a lot lately. She also knows about the book deal I signed. She has seen me cry, laugh, and stare off into space with my laptop sitting in my lap. She has asked me question after question about the book I’m writing, but through all of that she can’t understand in her nine year old brain why I would be so nervous to hit that button. As I sat there trying to figure out how to explain my nervousness to her I was able to get a clearer picture of all of this myself.

After a couple of minutes I looked her straight in the face and said, “Because the dream I had when I was your age is finally coming true”. She sat back in her seat and took a deep breath…then she looked at me and said, “It took you that long?!”.

Yes, as a matter of fact it did take me twenty-eight years to realize my dream of writing a complete book and sending it to a publisher one day. That’s a LONG time to wait for a dream to come true, but today when I hit that submit button it occurred to me that I had finally reached the place in my life where my dream was supposed to come true. All of those times before when I sat down and tried to write a book I would get two or three chapters in and it fell apart. I never had the whole story. Now…I do.

I glanced back over at my sweet daughter and smiled. She smiled back and in that moment I knew that I had just set a bar for her that will be there for the rest of her life. I had reached a goal that I set for myself a long, long time ago and I had clawed my way to this moment when I could finally say that “I did it!” Maggie’s smile let me know that she was proud of me. It also let me know that somewhere in there she has a dream she wants to accomplish one day too. She didn’t tell me what her dream was and I didn’t ask. Maybe one day she will share her dream with me…I hope she will.

Realizing my childhood dream today made me ride the roller coaster of emotions once again. Besides the nervousness, I felt scared…yet excited. I felt insecure…yet powerful. I felt lost…yet driven. The balancing act that I was attempting kept me cycling back and forth all morning. Once I sat down and looked at my finished book I told myself that I had dared to dream big…and I could stay home and keep it to myself…or I could hit that button and see how big my God really was. This book came from Him. This blog came from Him. This story that is being revealed to me day by day has been created by Him.

I glanced down at my wrist as I was typing and I read the word FAITH on two of my bracelets. It took a whole lot of faith for me to push that button, but once I did I felt a calmness and a sense of peace that I haven’t felt in quite some time. I am where I am supposed to be…doing what I am supposed to be doing…and it feels really GOOD!

I don’t have a clue what God is going to do with my story. I can’t even imagine how this whole thing will turn out. What I do know is that the one person I have allowed to read the finished product sat on my couch and cried this afternoon. When I asked her how the book made her feel she said the one word I had hoped to hear and had never mentioned to her at all. That’s a God thing….and it has made me more determined than ever to Dream Big, because I don’t want to stay home. One dream feeds another and if you allow yourself to remember what your childhood dreams were…maybe you can reach them quicker than I did. It really doesn’t matter how long it takes…what matters is that you step out on FAITH and allow God to use you like He wants too…that’s the key and everything else is gravy.

Today, I realized my big dream when I pushed that little button on my computer screen. I don’t care if not one more person reads my book. I don’t care if the editors tear it to pieces (OK, maybe I do care a little…I do have my pride involved here ya know). I don’t even care if I sell one copy, because my dream was to write a complete book and send it to a publisher. I never let myself dream about it actually getting published. Everything from this point forward is gravy…and I’m sure it’s got lumps in it….I’ve never made smooth gravy in my life! Good thing I was always taught to eat the gravy even with the lumps….God never tells us that we won’t struggle or get beat down. What He tells us is that His yoke is easy and His burden is light. I can testify to that truth today. Bring on the gravy, God!

The Best Christmas Gift Probably Ever…


Well, other than baby Jesus…I’m gonna go way out on a limb and declare that this gift… that I’m about to tell you about…is absolutely the Best Christmas Gift Probably Ever. Yea…I’m pretty sure it’s the second best in the history of the world.

What to see it? OK…here ya go (keep reading because this story will shock your socks off!)


Now, you may be wondering why this present is so awesome. I’m gonna tell ya, but first I need to know if you believe in miracles. Well…do ya? If ya don’t you are about to…and if you do you are about to be blown slap away.

Just look at these two…don’t they look blown slap away to you?

Bull & Jill

This story began all the way back in 2001. Brad (aka Bull) and Greg went to Fire College together. They spent ten weeks learning the hard way how firefighters are supposed to operate. We were all much younger back then with a lot of life still ahead of us. We wouldn’t have ever believed that one day our families would be as close as they are now. We couldn’t image owning homes, having babies, working long hours together, playing in snowstorms, going on vacations, or hiding out during tornadoes in each others basements back then. Those were the days before “Shell Island” and “Life without Greg”.  Look how young Bull and Greg were…


They were super cute…and so excited to be finishing school together. They had no idea how all of our lives would be so interwoven one day. Life sure is a twisting, winding journey sometimes!

Pic Frame

Fast forward to Christmas 2015. Bull’s family always draws names for Christmas and a dollar limit is placed on the gifts to be bought. Well, this year Bull’s cousins Luke and Amanda drew Ella’s name (Bull and Jill’s oldest daughter). However, they found the fire truck picture framed in barn wood above in an Antique Store one day. When they saw the picture they knew that Bull had to have it, so they bought it for him. After they left the Antique Store, they called to see if someone would trade Bull’s name for Ella’s. With the deal now done, they wrapped it up and eagerly waited for the big Christmas Party.

When Bull opened the cool gift, he was excited. He knew it would go in his basement with all of his other fireman collectibles. He truly was happy to receive such a thoughtful gift. Luke and Amanda were excited that he liked it so much. Ella came out pretty good on her gift as well, so everyone was happy, happy, happy.

Bull brought the picture home and Jill hung it up on the wall where it was hanging tonight. Living in Alabama you get used to having crazy weather. We can literally go from shorts to snow parka’s in less than three hours…and most of the time we are prepared for all four seasons each week of the year. Today, our biggest problem was the threat of tornadoes. The girls and I decided that Bull and Jill’s basement was a fantastic place to seek shelter a few years ago…so every time it storms that’s where we run for cover. Normally, Greg and Bull are on duty at the Fire Department during these storms and it always made them feel better if all of their girls were together in one place. This basement was the only logical place to be so that’s where we stayed. Tonight was one of those nights…

After the storm had passed, Jill and I were sitting around talking when all of a sudden Jill said, “Hey, did I show you Brad’s Christmas present?” I said, “No!” and so she proceeded to tell me the backstory about it. After she told me the story about how Luke and Amanda had traded Ella’s name for Brad’s she looked over at the wall and pointed to the picture. I turned around and my whole body just kind of froze. I said, “Uh…Jill…you are not going to believe this…but um…that was Greg’s picture”.

The look she gave me totally said,  “Yeah, right” so I walked over to the wall and took the picture down. My eyes had already found what I needed to know, but I had to touch it just to make sure I wasn’t dreaming. Right smack dab in the center of the top and bottom of the frame I saw that yes, indeed this was Greg’s picture. The two screw holes confirmed it. As I walked over to Jill still holding the frame in my hand, I touched the holes and said, “Yep…this was Greg’s. See the holes?” The look of complete shock washed over Jill’s face. (Scroll back up and look for the holes…see them? Yeah…it’s neat!)

She said, “There’s no way! Amanda said she bought this at an Antique Store. How could it have been Greg’s?” I told her it had to have come from either Vernon or Winfield…so she picked up her phone and immediately sent a text to Amanda. While she waited for Amanda’s reply she called Brad into the room. The whole time I just stood there holding the frame in my hands caught between smiling and crying my eyes out.

Well, as I stood there Jill told Brad that I had said this used to be Greg’s picture. I confirmed it by seeing the screw holes that nether one of them had even noticed before that moment. Seeing Bull’s shock and slow grin was almost my undoing…tears were gonna flow at some point I knew, but I was trying really hard to keep it together at that moment. Just then Amanda texted back…she had bought the picture in Vernon. I had been right…this was indeed Greg’s picture. Well, we all three just kind of stood there and teared up. I mean…it was crazy.

What are the odds that someone would go to another town…walk into an Antique Store no less…and buy a fireman picture in a homemade frame for someone who they didn’t even draw the name of…for a Christmas present…the same year that the guy they were buying it for lost one of his best friends…who, coincidentally also happened to graduate fire college with him all those years ago…whose family was hiding out in his basement during a tornado event on this very night without him…and who had owned the picture with the screw holes in the frame? Anybody? Come on…somebody has to have the odds on that happening…right? Someone…anyone? No? Well, OK then…I guess it’s just a fluke…right?

Uh…I don’t think so! As the three of us stood there in absolute shock it hit us all at the same moment…Greg was there. He was there the whole time. God knew when Greg stuck the screws into that frame and hung it on the wall at our old store that one day it would be the absolute best Christmas present ever. And, not only that…it would be discovered as the best Christmas present ever on a night when his family was hiding from a tornado in the home of his classmate, co-worker, and friend. He was there and he knew that we were going to be OK.

I don’t remember how that picture left us. I’m not sure if we sold it at a yard sale…or in the antique booth…or if Greg just gave it away. Who knows…but what I do know is that this picture made its way back into our lives for a reason. It wasn’t a mistake…or an accident…or dumb luck. It was placed there by God. There is no other explanation for it…NONE. If that doesn’t make you stop and think I don’t know what will.

It also proves that God cares about the little details in our lives. The ones that seem so insignificant and small. He cares because He knows what matters to His children. Seeing Bull’s face light up and the tears in his eyes as he looked at this picture tonight confirms it. He stood there looking at the picture and said, “I loved the picture and the story behind it when I got it for Christmas…but now I know it won’t ever leave me. It’s the Best Christmas Present Probably Ever!” Jill and I could not have agreed more!


We All Need a Few Good Friends


Good Friends. We have all watched TV shows where friends of every walk of life have all kinds of adventures. We have all found our favorite shows and we have marathon watched episode after episode of each one. We can recite all the funny lines and totally relate to some of the craziness that comes with the lives of the characters…right? I have my own real life cast of crazy characters…and I am so thankful for them!

This past week I have spent time with several of those sweet souls and I can tell you that laughter is in fact the best medicine for whatever ails you…especially a broken heart. I spent one day this week with two girlfriends I have known since elementary school. We went junkin’ and found some fantastic steals for my house. We stomped in the mud, walked in the rain, drove around in a jacked up truck, and laughed until we hurt. I felt ten years younger that afternoon than I did when I left home that morning.

I also enjoyed my daily visits with one of my BFF’s who just keeps on amazing me with all of the things she thinks of to help me. I truly could never thank her for just being in my life. We don’t get much girl time together, but we have blended our families into one big happy bunch. Plus…she can cook. And so can her hubby. Feeding the hungry neighbors is always a nice thing to do…friends or not! Throw in funny kids… a dash of SnapChat…and you have the makings of lots of laughs and fat cheeked grins from everyone!

And then, on Friday I went on a weekend getaway with a hilarious, truth talking, big-haired riot who never fails to make me laugh until I hurt. We ran away to Nashville Friday night…slept late on Saturday…and then we went to the Opry Mills Mall and shopped. It was so much fun…because shopping at the Mall is NOT something either one of do more than once a year during Christmas (maybe)! We enjoyed our girl day and then we went downtown for a fun-filled night of Music and people watching. It was an awesome, stress free adventure. I can sooooooooo see many more of these sweet escapes in my future!

There were several other friends who called, texted, or saw me during the week that made me smile. I had lunch with two girls on different days this week who each know me for very different reasons…yet we had plenty to talk about and yes…laugh about. Last night we had our fellowship meal at church and I enjoyed even more laughs with my friends there.

Here’s the secret meaning behind this friend filled post…if you surround yourself with awesome people…your life will be filled with awesome moments. Not over the top moments, just ordinary every day moments that you look at and realize are awesome because of who you shared them with! It’s the people in your life that are important.

One of my Facebook Moments this past week had a post that I had written in 2012. It said, “Spend more time looking up rather than looking down”. It would be so easy for me to look down right now. I can very easily get caught up in my own grief. I spent many days over the past four months alone and not even attempting to look up. This week I realized that I am not looking down so much anymore. I am literally surrounded by people who go out of their way to make me smile. They all make me look up at life.

Trying to accept the fact that my best friend is never coming back is really hard. The person I talked to about everything isn’t here anymore. I can’t hear his voice and he can’t ask me how my day was…but my friends do. Every one of you who reach out to me and lift me up each day keep me going. It’s hard to fully appreciate how wonderful a blessing friends are until they are all you have left. My family is awesome too…don’t misunderstand me. I couldn’t make it without them either (and I love them all to pieces!), but this post is dedicated to all of my girlfriends who have stepped up and made me and my girls a priority in their lives. I want to say Thank you…

I am enjoying time with all of you sweet friends…and I hope that for anyone else reading this post…you will take the time to re-connect with some of your friends as well. Life is short…and busy…and hard. Somehow along the way we all tend to loose who we are in the jumble of the daily grind. Look up today…and see your friends. They know the real you that maybe you have forgotten. Spending time with them will help you remember who that tired looking lady in the mirror really is on the inside. I am willing to bet that they need laughter…and fun…and a visit with you as much as you need one with them! So, make some time for your friends and they will make time for you. In the end all that matters is the time you spent together and the memories you made. Believe it or not…that’s what helps you look up on the hard days. Lesson learned….well played girls…well played!