An Open Letter to the Mothers of Preschoolers:

Fun boy hanging on the rope, child's notebook page

Do you know what the hardest part of having a newborn was for me 11 years ago?

A two year old.

One day I answered the corded phone in the kitchen (yes, I’m that old) and made sure my two year old followed me. It was my mom, who lived more than 1000 miles away checking in on my chaos and her two grandchildren. My son was less than two months old, tucked safely in a bouncy seat in the other room.

I missed my mom a lot and hearing her voice was such a comfort. After a minute or so on the phone, I realized my two year old had left the kitchen. I put my mom on hold and ran to find my busy child. I had a new baby in the house and my two year old was what some might call A HANDFUL. Perhaps you know this stage?

I rounded the corner and found her leaning over her baby brother. She wasn’t hitting him and I sighed in relief. She ran off as I got close. But as I turned to head back to the phone, I noticed a strange red drool coming from my baby’s mouth out of the corner of my eye. My first thought was that he was bleeding.


My toddler tackled me from behind, “I share Momma!”

My baby smacked his lips and I sat in the middle of the floor and cried. I wondered how close my newborn came to choking and how close I was to shaking some sense into a two year old. My mom eventually hung up.

I have chased a two year old through a quiet library, screaming at the top of his lungs, both of us crying the whole way home.

I have whispered threats in the middle of the grocery store, bribing and begging my way down every aisle.

I have hung my head in shame after learning my three year old educated the church nursery staff on the details of his momma’s private parts.

I have packed my dinner in a To Go Box because we simply couldn’t make it through a meal in public with a two and four year old.

I have hated some days and longed for the quiet house that comes with the sacred nap time hour.

And for as many challenging days I had while mothering little people, there were three times as many that were simply good. Sweet chubby hugs, chocolate kisses, little hands in mine, the brilliant moment of teaching something new, watching little minds grasp and grow, counting breaths, stroking sleepy heads, the wonder of everyday.

But this letter isn’t a reminder to LOVE EVERY MINUTE  and LIVE IN THE MOMENT because one day it will all be gone. You get that. You’ve watched your tiny bundle turn into a toddler, you’ve packed away little onesies and big memories and I know you know your children are a precious gift from God. But honestly, there are some moments we don’t ever want to relive, there are some phases we won’t miss and there are some burdens of guilt we don’t need to carry.

You are normal. Yes, this season is beautiful and amazing. But it is equally hard. What you do in your boring, every day tantrum- filled life is important. You are molding, you are shaping. You are raising children who will eventually be able to wipe themselves. God willing.

I made a lot of mistakes. I was too hard and too soft and too human. And I probably only did two things right: I loved my little children and I loved God and did my best to introduce and intertwine the two.

With the end of every phase, another one lurks around the corner. [We are currently in the “my-tween-son-constantly-makes-noises stage and my teen daughter tells-him-what-to-do-phase. My mother in law warned these stages could last for years. Sweet mercy.] As your children get older, you will go from physical exhaustion to emotional weariness, and like it or love it not, you will get there one preschool day at a time.

Today, I have kids who are simply lovely. They are smart and funny. They care about others and are growing in grace. They can also point out a mullet a mile away, create an argument out of thin air and sometimes they make fun of grown women who wear puppy sweaters, so clearly my work isn’t done.

Yesterday my day was full of sarcastic laughter with my 11 and 13 year olds. We had intimate conversations about good stuff and mature discussions about current events. I realized how much they have taught me about motherhood and life. From their preschool days, they taught me humility and how to lay down my pride, they reminded me life isn’t always in my control and to trust God more. And today they teach me to let go a little more, to trust them, to laugh, to be ready for deep conversations, and mostly to be present.

So, momma of a preschooler or two, you are establishing routine, building character, teaching right from wrong. You are tired. Your days are long. But your every day hard work is purposeful and one day you will be my age in a quiet house. Your car will be filled with stinky tween boys and giggling teen girls. And you’ll remember these preschool days… and smile. And possibly high five someone that you made it.

Until the next phase hits.


An older momma cheering you on

An Invitation to Step (in) Mercy

Three years ago today on Sept. 12, 2010, I invited you to be a part of an incredible God-story. Some of you may remember…
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Thirty-six hard, beautiful months ago, Mercy House was born. It has been a labor of love to help those who would need to labor and learn to love.

An unlikely family was created, babies conceived in abuse and desperation, united sisters through grief and shame.


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One-thousand-eighty days ago, Mercy House opened it’s doors to be a haven for pregnant girls to become mothers, to fall in love with their unplanned babies. It’s a home of second chances, an environment for orphaned girls to connect, for lifelong friendships to establish.

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It’s a place where hope is born.

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It’s a home for new life and 12 tiny miracles so far…

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It’s a house where aunties are created and cousins play.

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It’s a refuge where girls like Cindy can lay down their burdens in exchange for transformation.

“When I joined the house, my challenges were nothing to smile about, it was not a joke because I had a big burden deep inside me. I worried a lot even though I never wanted to show it out directly. I also wondered how I would get used to the new environment at Mercy {Rehema} House with new people and policies set since I never had any at home…It was nothing close to my home having been brought up in a filthy slum. But I thank God for this far, am totally changed and my life transformed am a proud mother, the burden is gone and above all a new creature fully transformed.” Cindy, age 18

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It’s a beauty for ashes kind of place, where God takes what the world has trampled and turns it into something breathtaking.

Twenty-six thousand minutes ago we said yes to a God-sized dream.

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And today, we are inviting you to be a part of the story again. We have the opportunity together with (in)courage through Pure Charity to change the world for the girls and babies of Kenya.

Phase 1: Drive Mercy {Van}

Phase 2: Learn Mercy {Classroom Additions}

Phase 3: Generate Mercy {Generator}

Phase 4: Advance Mercy {Computer Lab}

Phase 5: Live Mercy {Second Home}

Mercy House is a place that will change your life the minute you step into the story.

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Will you step (in)Mercy today? <—————– Click to learn more about Phase 1 (of 5)


Thank you Dayspring and (in)courage for being a part of this dream!

photos by Bess Brownlee

WFMW: Freezer Meals?


We are a low carb, high protein dinner-kind-of-family with my husband’s diabetes and for general health reasons. In other words, we tried Paleo and lasted for two weeks. Momma needs a carb every once in awhile.

We’ve really enjoyed e-meals, but I’m contemplating once a month freezer cooking because gah on grocery shopping every week. I love the idea of spending a day prepping meals for an entire month.

I stumbled upon Once a Month Mom and love her 101 summer freezer meal ideas.

I’m turning the tables on you this month and asking for tips: Have any of y’all tried it?

Please share pros and cons in the comments.

I hope it works for me!


Anchored in Life {The Vintage Pearl Giveaway}

UPDATE: Katherine (comment #306) and Sara (comment #128) have been randomly selected as winners of this giveaway.

Our family went to the beach more this summer than any other I can remember.

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The closest beach is Galveston, so clearly, we aren’t picky about crystal clear waters or seaweed.

We took our visiting nephews a couple of times, had a little summer staycation with the kids exploring the island. Then in early August, Terrell and I did this:


What God didn’t give Galveston, he bestowed to Maui times a thousand.

In the past, the beach has been a hot, sandy place that I could take or leave, but that’s changed for me. It holds precious memories with family and a once-in-a-lifetime escape with my husband of almost 19 years.

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It also served a brief respite from a very difficult year so far. We’ve had a lot of loss and the time together served as an anchor for us, a place to be refreshed and renewed.

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I’ve used all my trial-sized Mango shampoos and coconut lotion and all I have left of the summer and the beach is what I can remember. That’s why I ordered this new necklace from The Vintage Pearl. This little seahorse represents strength, strength for the hard days behind me and the ones ahead.little silver seahorse

I love the new pieces from The Vintage Pearl (like these cute sports charms and these GORGEOUS new vintage lockets), to these beautiful beach ones that make me want to pause and breath deep and not forget the treasure of summer I want to always remember:

seashell treasure

Today, I’m giving away TWO $75 gift certificates–winner’s choice! Please hop over to my favorite silver shop and leave a comment on this post with your favorite piece.

This giveaway ends Thursday.

The Real Family Rules

If you’ve spent 5 minutes on Etsy or Pinterest or even Amazon, you’ve seen the now infamous subway art Family Rules. They are lovely and precious and available in 92 varieties and every color and font imaginable. We have the vinyl version over our piano. In black.

But if your family is anything like mine, these aren’t the real rules in our home and they aren’t always true.


Because I don’t always laugh out loud or hug often and I for one am glad there isn’t a rule making me to do. People in my house don’t always share or love one another. Sometimes we yell at each other on the way to church and when I ask them to help, they hide in the bathroom. And sometimes when we try something new, we really hate it and cry in the middle of the lake.

That’s our reality.

I think the grass-is-greener mentality is an age old problem, but with instant access to technology, someone else’s grass is filtered to look much greener on our screens, in our feeds and tempting us to change our status to match.

It’s dangerous business altering a picture to perfection before we snap it. The bottom line, technology has made it easier to give us a prettier reality, but the truth is, it’s never as perfect as it seems. Or real.

I’d like see Pinterest boards filled with disastrous recipes gone wrong, outfits from the clearance rack that don’t perfectly coordinate, real hair tutorials that involve dry shampoo or a dirty pony tale, and pictures of first day of school breakfast feasts that involve eggs on a paper plate.

While I’m interested in pretty pins on a screen, when I try replicate them in my real life, it’s more of a Pintermess.

Live your messy life and don’t apologize for it. Don’t scrub the ink off your toddler’s arms before you Instagram it or move the dirty pile of laundry in the background. Because your real life moments are a beautiful mess. And they are more encouraging to your friends than you know when they show up on their screens and feeds.

Here’s what the real family rules in our house are:

  • If your sister pushes you, do not lick her arm in retribution.
  • When you whine, you make your mother twitch and (bonus), you get to go to bed early.
  • Always do your best, but if your best is a 64 average in math, you’re going to tutoring.
  • Be kind with your words. Talking back is a bad idea.
  • Apologize when you’ve done wrong, but please don’t yell “I’M SORRY!” across the house in an angry tone.
  • Share stuff (except don’t remind me of this rule when I won’t let you drink out of my sweet tea glass).
  • Have fun. But if  you have too much fun, you might have to mop it up.
  • Be Happy. And remember it has nothing to do with getting your way.
  • Try new things, unless it’s mom’s razor on your tongue. That will hurt.
  • Be grateful. Ingratitude will be a red flag to momma that you need a chore or two.
  • Hands are for hugging or giving wedgies, wet willies, what have you.
  • Follow your dreams, unless they include a lot of facial piercings.

How about you?