15 Affirmations Your Child Needs to Hear Today

This post originally appeared on the Knoxville Moms Blog on September 22, 2016. 

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Watching my kids get off the school bus every day is a special treat for me. They bound down the steps like prisoners set free, looking back and giggling as their friends call to them from the windows. Once their big, yellow ride is out of sight, they turn and head toward home, just a few houses down. I have a clear view of their path from my front porch, and I can often discern how their day went by observing their gait. Most days they race each other to the mailbox, or skip along the curb toting a prize they received in class. Other days they leap off that bus, not a care in the world, but as they start toward the house I can see it hit them: I have to tell mom what happened today. The skip slows to a walk and then to a trudge with head hanging low as they confess the bad grade, the poor behavior, the hurtful interaction with a classmate.

With a limited realm of life experience, these simple slip-ups can truly feel like the end of the world to a child, especially if they are repeated. Of course we want our children to be their best selves, but they need to be reassured they are capable of better. I do not suggest children be coddled or go undisciplined. As parents, though, we must recognize that words matter, and if we want our children to realize their potential, we must speak that truth to them.

Here are 15 affirmations your child needs to hear from you:

1. You are a good boy/girl.

2. You belong in this family, and nothing will ever change that.

3. You have an important contribution to make in the world.


To read the full list, check out the original post on Knoxville Moms Blog and encourage a child in your life today!

To Thine Own #Selfie Be True

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This post originally appeared on the Knoxville Moms Blog on April 13, 2016. To view this post in its entirety, please click the link at the bottom of the page.

When I was growing up, there were two things my mom could not live without: her planner and her camera. Ironically, she was very often losing them both. A few of our contributors are known for their love of planners (it is one of Lauren’s New Year must-haves!), but that is one of mom’s obsessions that did not rub off on me. The photoholic tendencies, however, are another story.

My mother has thousands of pictures. Most of them are in albums because back in the day you had to actually print pictures to look at them, so I can think of an event or trip or vague time in my life, go pull out that year’s album (or set of albums – thousands, I’m telling you!), and bask in all the 80’s glory of perms, shoulder pads, and pastel everything. I can walk through all of my awkward phases of the 90s (what’s that? You only had one awkward phase? Boy did you ever miss out! *eye roll*), then point to my brothers’ awkward phases to make me feel better. There are pictures of every family member, all our friends and teammates, and every teacher we ever had. But one person is noticeably absent from almost all these seemingly endless albums…

My mom.

Of course she was there, but she was always on the other side of the camera. She cherishes all the memories captured in those photos, especially since they are all taken from her perspective! But as I get older – and watch my parents get older – I wish I had more pictures of my mom to reminisce on my childhood from my own figurative lens, which was very often directed toward my mama.

This brings me to now, my own life as a mom. The truth is, much of my children’s day consists of looking at me. Whether I am playing a game with them, serving them food, disciplining them, or snuggling on the couch, there I am, right in their midst. I memorialize these occasions for myself by snapping pictures, but these will one day be their memories as well, so shouldn’t their perspective also be recorded?

Enter selfies.


To continue reading the full post, please click here to visit the KMB site. Don’t be camera shy; to thine own #selfie be true!

Why I Quit Wearing Make-Up (and you can too)

Selfie with my youngest at Dollywood. What's the point of make-up at Dollywood??

Selfie with my youngest at Dollywood. What’s the point of make-up at Dollywood??

Today I’m posting at Knoxville Moms Blog about why quitting my daily make-up routine was part of my journey to self-love. Click the link below to read the full post!

Okay, before anyone who actually knows me calls me a liar, let me confess that I do, in fact, wear make-up sometimes. I get gussied up to go out with my husband; I try to look nicer-than-usual for church on Sundays; I prepare myself for picture-taking events like birthday parties and holidays. However, most days my face is free and clear of cosmetic enhancement, and while you might think I look tired if you run into me at Walmart, the truth is I probably am tired, and I honestly don’t care. It’s Walmart, after all. If I wanted to impress you I would go to Target. Just kidding. Kinda.

Now, you should know that I am a stay-at-home mom and do not need to look put together or professional or even showered most days, so rocking my “I woke up like this face” all day every day is no biggie for me. I also do not generally enjoy make-up like the creative-type enthusiasts do, so if personal cosmetology is your artistic self-expression, more power to you!

I’m here to share with you 4 reasons why I gave up regularly wearing make-up, and if you’re ready to ditch the habit, you can do it too…

Check out the rest of the post at Knoxville Moms Blog! (It gets good, I promise. :D)

Waiting for Spring

Waiting for Spring

In my world, spring is the most glorious season of all. I mean, you’ve got the warmer weather and pretty budding trees and flowers and grasses and pollen… oh Mylanta the pollen…

Spring is particularly glorious for those of us parents who have been cooped up indoors with our children for the last 3 months of dreaded winter. Cabin fever is a very real thing, and it is even realer (pretty sure that’s not a word) for small children. Hats off to all you cold-weather-loving parents who bundle your kiddos up and go outside to play in the snow, but that’s big time not me. Yeah, we go out in the snow when it falls – which is rare here in Tennessee – but I get so frustrated every time because we spend 45 minutes finding and adorning 3 layers of clothes, removing and re-adorning said clothes 5 times after 5 sudden potty emergencies, searching for those blasted boots, crying that the boots are too tight with extra socks, and fighting over who gets to wear which toboggan before we finally make it out the door. Then the kids play for an hour on a good day – 10 minutes on a normal day – before coming in, wet and freezing, refusing to take warm baths because they’re too cold to undress (because preschooler logic is so very logical??), and resuming the either excessive blanket-fort movie-watching or running-and-screaming-indoors-like-it-is-outdoors that we would have been doing from the beginning anyway.

Can I get an amen??

Can I get an amen??

The coming of spring is like the dramatic breakthrough of dawn, when the darkness and cold of winter is overcome by the beautiful force of sunlight. I have Relient K’s “High of 75” stuck in my head literally all season. Because to me, winter is a season of cold, bleakness, and depression.

But the truth is, we need it.

Winter isn’t the season of death it can feel like to us haters. Winter is a season of rest. After all the growth and production and change and development of spring, summer, and fall, winter is when everything goes into hibernation mode and just chills for a bit. No visible growth, no work to keep up with, just rest.

Are you needing rest?

In Biblical terms, we call that a Sabbath. Once a week, God commands the Israelites to observe a day of rest in recognition of God resting on the seventh day of creation. (We’ll save the creationism discussion for another day.) Taking a day off once a week is something we can all wrap our heads around. But I’m talking longer-term than that. In addition to the weekly Sabbath recognition, God also creates this Sabbatical Year. That’s – you guessed it – a whole year of rest.

“While Moses was on Mount Sinai, the Lord said to him, “Give the following instructions to the people of Israel. When you have entered the land I am giving you, the land itself must observe a Sabbath rest before the Lord every seventh year. For six years you may plant your fields and prune your vineyards and harvest your crops, but during the seventh year the land must have a Sabbath year of complete rest. It is the Lord’s Sabbath. Do not plant your fields or prune your vineyards during that year. And don’t store away the crops that grow on their own or gather the grapes from your unpruned vines. The land must have a year of complete rest.”

Leviticus 25:1-5

If that seems extreme to you, consider this. the concept of fallow lands – that is, allowing soil to rest by not planting crops for an extended period of time – is an ancient practice backed up by modern science. The earth actually needs this break in order to regenerate sufficient nutrients to sustain a healthy crop in the future. Depleting the soil means future crops will suffer.

Are you feeling depleted?

Winter and Sabbath seasons are necessary for the health of the earth. These seasons of rest are needed for the health of our souls.

The other day I pulled out my resumé to update my profile for a freelance writing website. (I don’t have any offers, in case you were wondering.) It was so depressing. I’ve been a stay-at-home mom since just before my 3rd child was born, so it’s been a while since I looked at it. The frustrating part was looking at those dates of my last employment and thinking, Why would anyone hire me when I haven’t done anything in 4 years?

Here’s the thing about winter: even when it seems bleak and desolate, important work is being done. The rest is important work. Plants are storing energy and nutrients they will need for spring production; sabbatical soil is being chemically rejuvenated; my soul is finding meaning in the mundane and investing in the future harvest that I won’t reap for years to come. This season of rest is not dead, it is preparation for the spring.

If you’re feeling depleted and in need of rest, don’t despise the changing of the seasons. And if you’re like me, feeling stuck and a little useless (or, at least that bachelor’s degree I’m still paying for feels useless…), remember that the seasons change. And the down time is needed for the spring time to come.

Your season is coming.


And because I couldn’t make mention of Relient K without giving you an embedded video…

30 Reasons to Love Being 30

So, this week was my 30th birthday, and while many people dread this birthday tell-tale sign of uncoolness and aging, I’m really embracing this milestone. Being “in my 20’s” has never meant to me what it does to many others in our weirdo culture – prolonged adolescence, drinking, partying, hook-ups, relationships, exploration, etc. etc. – so I’m kind of happy to be joining the “grown-ups” in their 30’s who more or less have their junk together.

Last night my husband and I celebrated this blessed day with our annual steaks at a fancy restaurant (and subsequent crying over the tab). Today I will celebrate BuzzFeed style with the much-heralded 2010’s tradition of creating a list. You will notice that most of these correspond to accepting adulthood no matter what age is on the calendar, but turning 30 makes it pretty hard to deny adult-status, so I’ll include it here anyway. So here you go:

30

1. You have mostly figured out what you want in life – whether it’s what you want in a mate or how you like to spend your Friday night – and you’re not embarrassed to admit it.

2. 30-somethings consider wanting to be with the dorky guy or gal who makes you laugh or spending your Friday nights eating Dorito’s and watching Netflix as completely valid life choices. Because seriously, it’s your life.

3. You can wear comfortable shoes all the time and blame it on your corns.

4. You can wear adorable shoes that hurt your feet and claim you’re still too young for corns. Even though, let’s face it, you’re not.

5. You are old enough to know what your body needs and young enough to do something about it. Pregnancy aside, I am healthier and even better looking at 30 than I ever was at 20.

6. Buuuuut if you want to eat a Cinnabon for dinner because it was just one of those days, nobody can stop you. You’re a grown up, darn it!

7. Whether it’s from starting a family of your own or watching your parents age like regular humans, you really appreciate the value of life and TIME. You know well enough not to waste it.

8. People stop giving you strange looks when you admit to having multiple children. Okay, I’m really just hoping on this one. Somehow I think I will always get that look when I tell people I have 4…

9. You stop caring so much about what other people think. I mean really, all the haters gonna hate hate hate hate hate…

Shake it off, girl.

Shake it off, girl.

10. You can make conversation with that random person at the grocery store over the rising cost of eggs and your mutual dreams of owning chickens so you can have all the eggs you want and goshdarnit y’all wouldn’t charge so much for eggs because the world deserves delicious eggs! …and that’s totally not weird. Okay, maybe a little weird, but not AS weird.

11. You know your limitations and are okay saying “no.” Well, not all of us are here yet, but we are learning or at least aware that we need to learn. It’s hard, I know.

12. You take your health seriously, and that means making choices that improve your whole life. Eating well, exercising, getting enough sleep… You could bypass these and get away with it 10 years ago, but at 30, you get your priorities straight.

13. Maybe this is just me, but I have my first wrinkles and I love them. They are “crow’s feet” – or, as my mom always said in a much more positive tone, “smile lines,” – around my eyes, and I love that they show how I love to smile and laugh. Embrace that aging, folks!

14. At the same time, seeing those signs of aging reminds me of #12…. So I wear sunscreen every day, even in winter. At 30, you start recognizing the importance of those little things that make a big difference in the long run!

15. You can get super hype about things that are actually a big deal. Nobody cares about your high score on that video game anymore, but DUDE I JUST GOT A NEW RIDING MOWER AND IT IS LEGIT. Now that’s something to celebrate!

16. You have learned a thing or two and can for the most part take care of yourself without calling your parents. You may even be taking care of other people on your own! Go you!

17. Just because you can survive without calling your parents doesn’t mean you should. Growing up means you appreciate all they did in raising you, and {hopefully} you can even talk to them like a friend. Go call your parents right now and tell them you love them!

18. Having children causes us to rediscover some of the magic of childhood. Whether you have kids to help you or not, growing up means you can accept and admit your love of goofy things without worrying about what others think. You love coloring books? Have at it! Like to play in the mud? Gardening is so en vogue. Dance party all by yourself? That’s what Spotify is for!

19. You grow out of adolescent insecurity and begin to accept yourself for the incredible human being you are. And that’s pretty awesome.

20. You have no idea what teenagers are saying anymore because their ever-changing lingo has left you in the dust. And that’s totally okay.

21. You were lazy enough before to learn the value of hard work and a little elbow grease. That means you take better care of yourself, your home, and your things, and you can truly be proud of your work.

22. You are insanely annoyed by motion gifs that keep playing on repeat after you have already seen them. (See: #19 above) It’s okay to scroll down far enough that it won’t show up on your screen anymore. It’s the only way to stop the madness!

23. You’re not {entirely} afraid of failure. Whether it’s changing jobs or changing your motor oil, you’ve done this – or something like it – before, and you can risk making a mistake for the gratification of doing it right on your own. Hey, this is a process for all of us; if you’re better off now than you were at 20, then you’re doing great.

24. You have friends (or at least people) that you’ve known for 20+ years. You can reference something that happened 20+ years ago. This freaks you out, but it’s cool, because that shows the magnitude of your 30 years of life!

25. You realize that 30 is actually a lot of things to put on a list…

26. You – for the most part – know how to get what you want. Whether that’s going back to school for that dream career, taking care of your body to get in shape, or seeing a counselor to help you through your issues, you can look at a problem and, daunting as it may be, find a solution.

27. You understand the importance of finishing what you start, even when you realize that you probably should have said 15 things instead of 30…

28. You don’t get carded for things anymore. I don’t drink or smoke or go to clubs, so I am not regularly in a situation to be carded. However, a few weeks ago a busy restaurant hostess offered me immediate seating in the bar area if I was over… Yeah right this way.

29. You have at least a couple of things that truly belong to you and you can be proud of. Whether that’s a house, car, nice set of china, or maybe some offspring, you can look at things around you and say, “Hey, at least I still have this.”

30. You appreciate and value a job well done, and you accept your best effort for what it is. Even if that is a list that maybe needed a little stretching to make it all the way home, you accomplished what you set out to do, and that deserves a pat on the back.

Hey, 30 is awesome! You are awesome! Happy Friday, everyone!

Old and Free: the Confusing Art of Growing Up

Yesterday my 4-year-old and I had a little conversation about jobs. What is a job? Why do people have jobs? What is daddy’s job?

“What is YOUR job, mommy??”

This is an interesting question, what with posts like this out there. (Go ahead and read it, maybe we’ll talk about it later, but I’m not up for that debate today. ;-))

“My job is to take care of you. I make sure you have everything you need and are safe and healthy.”

Then he asked, “What is my job?”

“Your job is to play and learn! Part of what you’re learning is how to honor Daddy and me. Your job is to grow up.”

“When will I grow up?”

*sigh* “Sooner than you think, buddy.”

Do you remember dreaming about growing up when you were a child? Did you wonder what you would look like, what career you would have, what your family would be like? For some reason, my 6-year-old self really thought I would defy genetics and reality and turn out looking strikingly like Midge, Barbie’s freckled, green-eyed, redheaded friend. I was short and blonde with blue eyes and a great tan but no freckles. Kids, huh?

Pretty much exactly what I expected my life to look like.

Pretty much exactly what I expected my life to look like.

Recently I have spent a lot of time on the phone with our insurance company. (Yay for high-risk pregnancies!) My daughter cried last week because I bought some Girl Scout cookies, which reminded her that I “lost” the flyer she supposedly brought home last fall about joining Girl Scouts. (I remember nothing of the sort.) This morning I took 7 bags of trash and like a zillion empty cartons of milk and juice to the dump today, then felt like a jerk because I didn’t want to walk to the recycling section in the rain so I put the plastics in the “household trash” dumpster.

This is adulthood.

Not what we expected, is it? Growing up is so strange how it happens so gradually but you never see it coming. You get glimpses here and there – you catch yourself more excited about going to Home Depot than the mall, or when you run into an old friend who asks what’s new with you, and the only response you can think of is, “Well, I got a new washing machine this week. It is soooo much nicer than the old one, and it’s front-loading so clothes don’t get caught on the agitator!” Did I even know what an agitator was 5 years ago? When did I learn that term?

But it comes. So swiftly and unexpectedly but exactly like it should and like you knew it would. It just always seems to come sooner than we expect.

Growing up can seem like a depressing shift from “young and free” to “old and responsible and physically can’t sleep past 9 am on a Saturday.” What I’m learning from my 4-year-old is that growing up is a shift in perspective, but it also invites us back to the places we have lost in the process. My job is more than to keep my kids safe and prevent premature wear on their clothing by purchasing an agitator-free washing machine. I get to help them see the world by participating in it with them. My job is to climb trees and run races and color and make Play-Doh creations and cartwheel and ride children’s toys at dangerous speeds down my parents’ driveway. Growing up means understanding the consequences, but it doesn’t mean giving up on the risks.

We’re just old and free. 🙂

Go ahead and eat that raw cookie dough, baby. Yeah, it has eggs in it. Risk taker over here!

Go ahead and eat that raw cookie dough, baby. Yeah, it has eggs in it. Risk taker over here!

Unwanted Milestone: Six-Year-Old Body Shaming

When you have a new baby, life is all about milestones. Baby holding her head up. Rolling over. Sleeping through the night. Starting solid foods. First steps. Parents drive themselves nuts comparing their children to other children and either boasting or fretting about when their child reaches each milestone. This obsession with milestones is probably the first thing about parenting that makes us parents truly crazy.

Then comes potty training, and we get REALLY crazy. Holy poop. (Pun intended.)

But some milestones are not as exciting. First ER visit. First peer rejection. First bad grade.

And the one I witnessed tonight: the first time I heard my daughter say, “I’m so fat.”

In case you were wondering, my daughter is 6. She is in first grade.

We were at my parents’ house swimming, and the heat and exhaustion had already forced her dad and little brothers into the house. She and I decided to stay and swim just a few more minutes, just the girls. She had just climbed out of the water and was talking to me while I sat in the sun. Honestly, I don’t remember how it came up. I was so shocked to hear her say it that everything else is a blur. My heart sunk into my gut as I struggled to avoid a knee-jerk reaction.

Every insecure moment of my life flashed through my mind; all the pain of my lifelong struggles with weight and identity crashed over me like an unexpected wave. My mama-bear instinct wanted to shake her by the shoulders and somehow force her to understand that she is the most beautiful creature I have ever laid eyes on!! …But I can’t do that. I swallowed hard and focused on controlling my facial expression to invite her into conversation rather than push her away by suggesting she did something wrong. All I could say was, “Honey, that’s not true.”

She was nonchalant. “Oh yeah?” she replied, slapping her thigh. “Just look at how fat my legs are!” I looked. My heart sunk even more. Her toned, muscular leg barely shook when she hit it. I thought, Those are gymnast thighs. You could be an Olympian with legs like that. Oh, Princess, you are so perfect!! Instead, I said, “Your legs are wonderful. Did you see how high you were able to jump off the diving board with those legs? Remember how fast your legs can run when you play soccer? Your legs allow you to dance and kick, and when you bend your legs, you can help a friend who has fallen down. Your legs are amazing!”

She smiled. “What about my arms?” she asked. We went through all the amazing things her arms can do, then her hands, her head, and her tummy. We talked about creation, and how God made her in his own image, and he is so proud of what a good creation she is! I reminded her that we honor God by respecting his creation, so she should not say rude things about her body, because he loves her body.

And he loves yours too. When was the last time you took a personal inventory of all the cool things your body can do? Whatever your shape, size, age, gender, disability, or whatever else you are tempted to criticize about yourself, you are capable of some pretty incredible things!

Even the things you don’t like can be amazing. My kids have this funny game of playing with the excess skin/flab on my stomach. I have lots of it after having 3 children in 3 1/2 years, and I don’t anticipate it going away anytime soon, if ever. I’ll lay on my back, and the kids will push and pull and grab my skin, pretending to knead bread dough, or they’ll slap it to make waves. The boys recently discovered that blowing raspberries on my stomach is louder than on theirs because it’s so much looser. They find all this hysterical, and I must admit, it’s hard not to laugh! Sometimes the oldest will snuggle her face into the soft skin dimpled with stretch marks and coo, “My home! This was my very first home!” That’s right! My smooshy, flabby, wobbly belly grew, housed, and protected 3 beautiful, perfect, full-term babies. A pretty spectacular feat for a lump of flabby skin, don’t you think??

I don’t know where my daughter picked up on calling herself fat. Being a youth pastor’s kid, she is often in the company of teenage girls from whom she could have heard this phrase. She could have heard it at school. But she most definitely did NOT hear it at home. I struggled with my weight and self-confidence for 20+ years. I have been “obese,” and I have called myself fat. But a few years ago I realized a truth that changed my life forever: no matter what I look like, how much I weigh, or what my pants size is, my body is INCREDIBLE. Your body is incredible! My daughter’s body is incredible. I am on a mission to make sure she never thinks of it in any other way.

I challenge you to stop saying negative things about your body, both aloud and to yourself. Rather than looking at the things you dislike, think about what you can do. Even the simplest things are miracles to those who cannot do them due to injury or illness. You are amazing!! And your Creator is proud of his work.

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.

Psalm 139:14

Here's my daughter using those amazing legs to fearlessly leap into the deep end when she was 2 1/2 years old.

Here’s my daughter using those amazing legs to fearlessly leap into the deep end when she was just 2 1/2 years old.