Monthly Archives: June 2019

The Lion in a Well-Aged Southern Woman’s Body


So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand”. Isaiah 41:10

What is strength? How would you define a strong person? Most of us immediately think of physical strength, right? Pictures of men lifting weights in the gym. Women running marathons in the blazing heat. Football players suited up on Saturdays. You can picture all those different people in your head with ease, right?

Being an athlete most of my life made me physically strong. At least, I thought I was well acquainted with what it took to be strong. Little did I know that being physically strong would do very little to help me when I was tossed in the ring with grief.

This opponent that I suddenly found myself facing was massive. It was hard to breathe. It was hard to think. It was nearly impossible to move. I found out really quick like that this game was going to make me or break me.

One day during the height of this battle I was introduced to a sweet, Southern lady named Ann. “Mrs. Ann”, as I now fondly call her, was a widow too. Like me, she lost her beloved husband unexpectedly. I sat on her couch one day and listened to her tell me how she had dared anyone to touch or move Andy’s toothbrush from the bathroom counter for over two years. She just could not bring herself to move it, but she knew she would eventually. On her own time, and she was not going to let anyone make that decision for her.

I remember thinking how much I envied her strength in that moment. Mrs. Ann made such an impact on me that I wrote a blog about it later that night. You can read it here.

Mrs. Ann was determined to hang on to that one thing that she could control from the life she had before coming home to find her husband caught under the lawnmower in their garage. He had been changing the blades and the mower had fallen on top of him. She was too late to save him.

I was sitting on the pretty floral couch not twenty feet away from the sight where Mrs. Ann’s worst nightmare had come true. I remember looking at her beautiful face and hearing the steel in her voice. That moment gave me hope that I could make it too. As lost as I was in my own battle; hope was what I needed more than anything. I remember thinking how strong she was and I highly doubted that I would ever be as strong as her.

Fast forward three and a half years to today. I passed by Mrs. Ann’s house and I saw her mowing her yard! She sat proudly on top of that lawnmower as she moved across the grass. I was taken aback again as I watched her. This woman has more strength in her pinkie finger than I do in my whole entire body! Not only has she moved the toothbrush from the counter; she has also moved the lawnmower back out to the yard where it belongs.  

We live in the South where the grass grows nine months out of the year. It would have been so easy for Mrs. Ann to pack up her things and leave her house and yard for someone else to take care of every week. She could have called a lawn service and paid someone to come and mow for her while she left home for an hour or two so as not to hear it. She could had done so many things that would have been so much easier than what I was witnessing today.

Strength comes when we decide to do the hard stuff anyway. It comes from staring down giants and pushing forward when that is the last thing we want to be doing. It takes courage to face our biggest fears. I can’t imagine how hard climbing on that lawnmower must have been for her the first time she did it after pulling her husband’s body from beneath it. I can’t imagine how she chose to keep getting back on it week after week either. She is a lion in a well-aged Southern woman’s body.

The smile I saw on her face as she rode atop that loud machine today sent arrows straight through my heart. That’s strength. That’s being a strong woman. That’s facing down your giant and saying, “I’m the queen of this castle and there’s no room for you here!”

When I got home, I went back to that blog I wrote the first time we met. I was reminded again where Mrs. Ann’s strength comes from. It comes from the Lord. Faith like hers is unshakable! I remembered her telling me that she found out who SHE was supposed to be after her dear Andy died. I didn’t understand what she meant at the time. Today, I understand.

Let this bring you hope. Don’t run from the things that seem impossible. Face them down. Get back up when you get knocked down. Stay in the fight. That’s how you win. Mrs. Ann is winning. Strength like that is impossible to turn away from and never easily forgotten, but it must be built over time.

It’s been nearly six years since Mrs. Ann found Andy under that lawnmower. She has chosen to fill her life with fun, adventure, travel, grandchildren, and new people. I’m reasonably sure she’s happy. The smile I witnessed on her face as she sat on that lawnmower today proved she must be happy. I want to be just like her!

Stay strong my sisters! None of us fight alone, regardless of the battle. We always have a Father in Heaven helping us through every new opponent we have to face. He will not leave us alone in the battle. He stays and He sends people to help us! Our job is to realize that we have each other to lean on…learn from…and love.

Here’s a little Southern music video to remind you to keep Holdin’ On!

We Don’t Struggle Alone


Finding the Only One who truly wants to Help when we are Hopeless.

At my first defense, no one came to my support, but everyone deserted me. May it not be held against them.” ~ 2 Timothy 4:16

Have you ever found yourself alone with no one to support you? Even when you were among people who claimed to love you? Did you get mad at them for deserting you when you needed them the most? I have and let me tell you it is not a fun place to be.

Over the past few months I have faced several situations in my life that quite honestly caught me off guard. I was sailing through life, just doing my thing and BAM! out of nowhere here came a wave of epic proportions that knocked me off track. When I stopped spinning, I looked around and saw a scene that literally broke my heart.

Have you been there?

I realized after I dusted myself off and surveyed the damage that several things in my life were not what I thought they were. People I thought were my friends were anything but my friends. People I thought were not interested in being involved in my daily life truly were interested. The strength I thought I had was crumbled under the weight of the struggles I was carrying.

Have you been there?  

In today’s world people don’t want to talk about serious things like depression, anxiety, or panic attacks. It is perfectly fine to talk about any number of physical illnesses such as the flu, broken limbs, cancer, or heart disease, but don’t you dare talk about life altering illnesses such as clinical depression or anxiety. That’s where we draw the line. Many of us pack up our toys and go home when someone we know faces some kind of “mental illness”. We literally desert the people who need us the most because “we can’t handle them or their issues”.


Because we are so much better than them?

Because we don’t have those struggles and why would we? I mean, our life is practically perfect in every way. Come on man, don’t you read social media?

I have spent a good bit of time asking myself the question of why we leave those who need us most a lot lately. It doesn’t make sense why we leave people when they are at their lowest. Yet, we always do.

It really should come as no surprise that I spent a great deal of time wondering, questioning, and getting plain old mad about the fact that at my lowest I had very, very few people to turn to for help. When I realized this new territory, that I unwillingly found myself in was so very, very lonely I almost gave up.

Have you been there, too?

Today’s society only wants to see the happy, positive, good things in life. No one wants to open their eyes to the bad things. So, day in and day out we force ourselves to go to work, church, and the various other places life insists that we go even though we are silently dying inside. We put on our best clothes, fix up our highlighted hair, and paste on the biggest, fake-est smiles we can muster and do what we “have” to do.

I know you’ve been there.

In March, I decided that I was done with fake happiness. I was done with putting on a show. I was done with playing nice. I was tired and I was done with everything in my life. I didn’t want to end my life, but I sure did want to walk away from it.

So, I quit being nice. I stopped doing more for other people than I did for myself. I stopped playing the part that I assumed needed to be played. I receded into a shell and tried my hardest to push everyone else OUT.

Have you been there?

The Lord has used this dark valley to teach me more about Him. When I was at the bottom, I looked to the only thing that has been a constant in my life: My Bible. Inside those pages I struggled to find what God wanted me to know about this horrible place I found myself so desperately stuck in. Little did I know; He would use this time of pushing people out to open my heart to greater things about HIM.

I dug deep into His word and I studied what He wanted me to study ALONE. Just me and God. I couldn’t let myself get around people. Being around people, even the sincerest, truly Godliest people I know was just too much to handle. So, I retreated even further into my shell.

Have you been there?

This journey has been fascinating. I’ve been able to watch from the outside and fully process what I see and don’t see from people in general. What God has shown me is truly liberating! People, no matter how sincere or willing to help will always fail at the very moment you expect them to rise above the rest.


Even Christians.

Most importantly, Christians.

No one is perfect. No one has all the answers. No one is smarter, more capable, more important than YOU are to God. He loves us all the same.

Let that sink in for just one teeny tiny moment.







Can someone please say, “Hallelujah?!”

There are quite a few of us who honestly believe we are “better than, smarter than, more important than” other people. I hate to break it to ya, there friend. Yous been lied to!

See, the devil loves fooling us into thinking we are above one another or better than someone else because we “are in church every time the doors are open” or “we tithe over the required ten percent” or “we can answer more bible questions than anyone else in the room”. He uses things like jealousy and selfishness to make you feel like less of a person when your paycheck doesn’t equal one hour of someone else’s. He loves to create chaos and scenarios about how “so and so is doing this or that and you pitiful thing are not”. I bought into some of those lies.

Have you?

Today, I am seeing life a lot more clearly. I can recognize how far I have come in my walk with the Lord. I look back over my shoulder and see that He carried me through a lot of dark places, and I am forever grateful! The lies that I bought into had the potential to ruin my life, but God refused to let me go that far.

During my quiet time with the Lord this morning, He led me to this scripture in 2nd Timothy and I realized God had truly led me out of the darkness! He let the pain of the past few months teach me some lessons I would never have learned otherwise. I wouldn’t have learned any of this if I had stayed in that same rut and routine that I was in. It took drastic measures for drastic change to happen.  

I can’t hold a grudge against another person for being a sinner just like me. I can’t let my feelings of disappointment, fear, anger, or brokenness define who I was meant to be. I can’t blame someone else for the turmoil I created in my own life. I can’t wish I had something someone else has when I’ve been so blessed with more than I could ever deserve. I also can’t run away from people forever, but I can take a break from them when it becomes necessary for my survival.

You can too.

Today I can say “I’m free!” and 100% believe it. I can choose to live in that truth, and I can let the chains that have held me down drop right here in the dirt. I am a new creation who has been set free.

Being set free doesn’t mean that those demons I’ve been fighting won’t rear their ugly heads again though. Being set free means that I am not alone in my fight. God has my back. He’s my shield and fortress. When I am under attack I can fight courageously because I wear the full armor of God. He’s my portion and my guide. I don’t have to rely on myself. I have a helper that will never leave or forsake me.

Look what the very next verse in 2 Timothy chapter 4 says:

But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed, and all the Gentiles might hear it. And I was delivered from the lion’s mouth.” 2 Timothy 4:17

 All this time that I thought I was alone in my fight, I wasn’t! The Lord stood at my side. He gave me strength. He was with me the whole time. Why?

So that you my dear friend might hear my story and see that God is good. He doesn’t just decide to help one person over another. He wants to help us all, but we have to ask for His help. Then, He can and will use all those things in life that try to kill us or defeat us for HIS good and the good of others. It’s not about you or me…its about HIM!!!

He doesn’t care what you’ve done or where you’ve been. He loves you just the same! He wants us to see that He is there and working for us no matter how bad the situation seems.

Today I learned that He doesn’t just want us to be thankful for what He has done. He wants us to tell others about the things HE has done so that they can find hope too!

Please don’t let people stop you from being the person God created you to be. He has a purpose for your life, and He wants you to complete the assignment the He has given you. The choice is yours though. Living life defeated is not fun. Living life scared, unsure, anxious, or doubtful is not really living. Stepping out of your comfort zone and making the choice to live a fun, happy, courageous life is easier than you may think right now.

Here’s the key to making it easy: realizing that you are never going to be strong enough to handle what life throws at you…but HE is!

Life is tough for all of us. At times it may seem like it’s easy for some people and excruciatingly hard for others when we are looking at their lives right now. We must all remind ourselves that seeing part of a person’s story is just that: part of the story. The only person who sees the whole story is the Lord.

So, keep pushing my friend. Don’t give up and don’t give in. Life may be hard right now. Some days it may even seem like you will never make it another minute and that’s OK. It is in those moments when you can hear that still, small voice inside your heart telling you to keep going, because God’s ways are not our ways. His mercies are new every morning!  

Choose happiness, love, and hope again today my friends. God is waiting to close that lion’s mouth just for you! None of us can do it alone, but we can do it with His help. If He will do it for me, I promise He will do it for you as well. We are all in this thing called life together.

If you see me out and about please say hello! I love hearing your stories too. He may not call you to write about your struggles, but He has called you to share them with others so that they can find hope in their struggles. God made that crystal clear in 2 Timothy 4:16-18 today. May He bless you as you set out to bless others along the way.

My Five Rules for a Road Trip


I have heard people say that “they can’t afford” or “would not know where to start planning” for a road trip many times over the years. Today, I’m here to help you take the stress out of planning a life altering road trip of a lifetime!

Planning a road trip does not have to be expensive or overwhelming. The number of websites, blogs, apps, and books available to help you plan one of these trips is endless.

Use one of those free, handy dandy travel apps to find a hotel, motel, cabin, Bed & Breakfast (Airbnb), or vacation rental by owner (VRBO) near you for a night or two. You will be amazed at the savings you can find on those last-minute reservations! A nineteen-day road trip cost me less in accommodations than a condo at the beach for one week!

Do not let the fear of the unknown or the dread of not having a set plan stop you from planning your next summer vacation! Use my top 5 rules for planning an epic summer road trip and discover the joys of the open road and freedom!

Rule #1: Go Visit a National Park!

Researching the National Parks and the areas surrounding them literally takes up hours of my time each year. Did you know that there is a total of 419 U.S. National Historic Sites, National Monuments, National Seashores, National Recreation Areas, and other federally owned lands found throughout the continental U.S. and various locations around the world? Among those only 61 have the actual title of U.S. National Park.

All the National Parks have a multitude of programs, historical information, and geological wonders that grab your attention and provide memories that last a lifetime.  From animal identification programs to junior ranger programs; hiking into deep woods or canyons; discovering the milky way through the Dark Sky program; and many others. You won’t regret a visit to one of these natural wonders! Find a complete list here.

Oh! Before you go make sure to get your America the Beautiful Annual Access pass. This pass is available online and must be purchased prior to your trip. However, the benefits are numerous. Passholders receive free access to the park (huge savings!), half price camping rates, and other benefits. Go online to

Bonus: Every 4th grader in the United States gets one for FREE!

Rule #2: Use the World Wide Web (Internet!)

Trip planning is probably one of my absolute most favorite things to do. During the research phase of planning I love to use the internet as my first access point for a new location. The internet is a valuable resource, but it can almost overwhelm a potential traveler.

Use key words (such as actual park names for instance) to learn about an area you are interested in visiting. Learn as much as you can about the history, geography, and climate of the place you would like to visit before you get there. Then, you will be prepared for practical things such as clothing, shoes, food, lodging, and entertainment options available in the surrounding area.

Combing through web page after web page of basic information doesn’t really give you everything you need in order to have a successful trip though. Over the years I have found that I need much more insight than a website can provide. This leads me to step three.

Rule #3: Talk to the People You Know

Find people who have gone to your intended destination before you! This is where family connections, friend groups, and social media come in handy. Luckily, I have two aunts and an uncle that love traveling more than I do (gasp!) and they are always eager and willing to help me plan a trip at the drop of a hat. This happy crew has visited all the Continental United States, Canadian Provinces, and nearly every National Park inside those borders.

When the idea of a trip comes up, I always send them a text to get their opinion of the area. I gauge my determination to continue the research process by their excitement level of telling me about their experience. If I receive an avalanche of texts back to back; I know this is a trip I want to take!

Over the past couple of years each time I talk to them they always mention taking a trip out to Utah. In case you didn’t know, Utah is the National Park capital of the United States. It is home to the “Big Five” and a host of other Historical Sites, National Monuments, State Parks, and Recreational Lands. Zion, Bryce Canyon, Capital Reef, Arches, and Canyonlands National Parks are located within driving distance of one another and are the backbone of most Utah Road trips.

Last summer my family made the trip once again to Utah and upon their return I was reminded that this is a trip I absolutely MUST take one day. I have spent much of the past year researching Utah. In a couple of weeks, I will be making that trip myself and to tell you that I am wildly excited would be putting it mildly. I am ecstatic!

Rule #4: Seek Out the Locals

On a three-week road trip out west a couple of years ago (with those same aunts and uncle), I learned a valuable lesson about traveling. Always, always, always talk to the locals! In a world tailored towards tourism, it is sometimes hard to break free from the cycle of souvenir stores, big chain restaurants, interstate highways and iconic places. This is especially true if you are on a limited time frame during the trip.

However, if you will bust out of that cycle and allow yourself to get off the beaten path you will find treasures beyond belief! If you are like us me, where to eat is always on the top of the “what are we doing today” list no matter where you are on the map. My best advice? Eat where the locals eat! While you are there keep your ears open and listen to what they are saying and the places they are talking about in the area around you. Then, introduce yourself and ask them for the must-see places and/or things to do in the area. Many of those hidden gems will not be on your internet search engine websites!

While in town check out the local library and chamber of commerce. These jewels are loaded with information and real people who are familiar with the area and all the wonderful things it has to offer.

By following this plan, my family and I have found many, many places that we never would have found had we stayed on that same beaten path with the rest of the world. And, let me just tell you: We’ve stumbled onto some amazing places out there!

Cute little cafe we found in downtown Sundance in 2016
My girls had a ball going through this amazing little local museum!

Rule #5: Be Flexible!

One thing that can ruin a road trip faster than anything else is a strict schedule. In a world where lifestyles are based on strict schedules, being able to function without one is hard to do for the average American. I get it!

However, if you will allow yourself the opportunity to be flexible, spontaneous, and carefree for a short weekend or even a month (whichever you can spare!) you will find joy and happiness that you would never have believed possible! Being free to get off the hamster wheel and forge your own path is liberating!

There are a few things that you need to remember before you completely turn yourself lose in the wild blue open though!

You will need to eat at some point along the way. I suggest fixing a cooler to keep in the car filled with drinks, sandwich makings, and snacks. You never know when the perfect picnic spot will appear. Also, being out on the road (not the Interstate!) means that there may not be easily available restaurants or grocery stores nearby.

Next, make sure you have plenty of gas in your vehicle. There are tons of apps available to help you find the nearest gas station, travel conditions, and road construction. Use that tendency to over schedule in this area by paying attention to the gas needle and the area around you so that you are not caught on the side of the road with no gas in your tank.

Each morning (or night before) take a travel atlas out and decide what you would like to see the following day. Look up how many miles it takes to get there and ask yourself how far you are willing to travel to get there. Be prepared to stop along the way to see something neat, take restroom breaks (at least every two hours), and walk around.

Preventing urinary tract infections and blood clots is the key to your ability to enjoy and take more road trips in the future! If you are traveling with small children, it is vitally important to get them out of the car often and let them run around a bit to keep that blood flowing! Adults can travel for longer periods of time but need to get out of the car at least every 3 or 4 hours.

Tip: when you stop for fuel, everyone in the car should get out and walk around for a few minutes.

Also, it is a good idea to keep biodegradable wipes just in case you have a restroom emergency (with no restroom) or find yourself in a muddy mess due to an opportune hike down a wet trail. Take plenty of water with you and never leave trash behind. There are many reasons to use biodegradable products but being prepared is always best practice. See the 7 steps to the Leave No Trace policy here.

Lastly, make sure you share your approximate location and/or destination with family, friends, or local authorities in case you find yourself without cell phone service. In this high-tech world, there are still lots of places where cell service is spotty at best. Always be prepared.

The United States is filled with fascinating places, unbelievable history, and life altering experiences. The list of things to do and see is endless. I encourage you all to step out of your comfort zones, put those beach toys and umbrellas away for the summer, and hit the road less traveled for your next family vacation. Remember these five rules and be sure to check out your National Parks!

President Theodore Roosevelt said, “Life is a great adventure…accept it in such a spirit.”

For the Benefit and Enjoyment of the People

The North entrance of Yellowstone National Park has a huge stone archway that is inscribed: “For the Benefit and Enjoyment of the People”.  You, my dear fellow American are one of those people. Don’t let fear of the unknown hold you back from discovering your lands! You just might find a new addiction that you never would have believed existed down that long, open road!

Happy Travels!