To The One Looking For A Second Chance…

JCP-A piece of earth drenched in the splendor of HeavenMaybe you don’t even realize that’s what you’re looking for?
Maybe you’re searching for a way out of your current circumstances?
Maybe you’re longing for someone to look at you, truly seeing you for the first time, and say, “I know. I’ve been there. I’ve walked in those same shoes and I made the single choice to step off the crazy train.”?

Maybe you think you’re beyond a second chance?  Sweet friend, no one, created in the image of God, (and that’s all of us), is ever beyond a second chance. No one. You are worth saving.

There is life to be lived.
There is beauty to be had.
There is light to be shared.

However, it will not work in isolation.

~ To read the rest of this post, please join me with the community of “People of The Second Chance” by CLICKING HERE

When This Isn’t “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year”

If you’re reading this, I’m guessing you were drawn in by the title, either because you are feeling bombarded with all the “cheer” while not feeling the happiness that others expect you to feel during this time of year, or because you are curious as to why anyone would not see this as the best month of all 12.

No matter which position I have found you in, I’m asking that you relinquish all expectation of what this post is about and be present as your eyes scroll the words and your brain processes the thoughts.

It’s everywhere. The way we “should” be feeling. How we “should” be thinking. What we “should” be buying…

So what do we do when none of our feelings encompass all of the “should(s)” placed on us, and the last thing we feel is “cheerful“?

I have been given the gift of “burden bearing.” I haven’t always thought it a gift and at times tried to mask or ignore it all together. It has only been recently that I’m learning to embrace it and see it as a blessing rather than a curse.

The transformation started several years ago when Katie was 14 weeks pregnant with her 3rd child. Her baby was given the fatal diagnosis of Trisomy 13. On December 19, 2011, at 10:45 a.m., Hallie Lynn Green was born. Weighing in at 4 lbs.15 oz. and stretching 18.75 inches long.

On December 24, 2014, Hallie passed from her mama’s arms back into the arms of Jesus. Katie wrote on her blog that day, “Thank you, God, for allowing me to be Hallie’s mother. Although losing you, Hallie, is the hardest thing I’ve ever done, I would carry you and love you all over again in a heartbeat. I feel like the luckiest mom in the world. I love you.”

It is Hallie’s life and Katie’s willingness to learn how to walk in the dark that moved me from a place of empathy to action. In 2012 I began my journey, through my lens, into other people’s pain. That’s a strange way of wording it, I know, but it’s the only wording that makes sense to me.

I have been invited to document the sacred moments between life and death. There are days when I will experience the beauty of life and the gnawing sorrow of death, all within a matter of hours. I stand witness to a wide spectrum of emotions, at times, with people I’ve only just met.

The way to deal with painful emotions is not to get rid of them, it’s to sit with and in them, making the darkness conscious. Knowing that there will once again be light. Being able to experience emotion is key to paving a path to peace. To suppress it is toxic. The further we push it down, the more it festers until one day we can no longer bandage the gaping wound. Some cannot believe that the light will ever return. But it will. Healing is possible. I’ve watched it happen. However, to come to that place, one must be willing to wrestle the angel of darkness.

It is helpful to remember that grief is unpredictable. It shows up at the most inopportune times. It often comes without warning, when there are no Kleenex anywhere to be found and you didn’t apply waterproof mascara. It’s presence is often uncomfortable and frustrating. Even so, each time it appears there is something to be learned. Though the uninvited teacher, pain is not our enemy.

For those friends and family feeling helpless, may I offer some encouragement? There are 3 things you can do to help the one you love.
~ Be Present (Don’t avoid reaching out or taking something by and leaving it on their doorstep or in their mailbox)
~ Listen (I wish we could be more comfortable listening than speaking. It is a learned behavior. When wanting to make someone feel important, listen intently to them.)
~ Be okay with “uncomfortable silence.” (Silence is beautiful when we consciously befriend it.)

If you are currently learning to walk through the darkness, may I speak these truths into your heart?
~ You are not alone.
~ The Creator of the Universe knows you by name. He formed you, piece by piece and therefore sees you and hears your cries.
~ Jesus himself promises that those who mourn will be comforted. (Matthew 5:1-14)
~ You have permission to lower the bar.
If you don’t want to go to that holiday party, don’t go.
If you find your eyes welling with tears while walking down the grocery store isle, it’s okay to walk away from your cart and leave the store.

We must embrace the seasons of darkness just as we long for the seasons of light. To have one without the other leaves us lacking perspective and appreciation for either.


Was this post helpful? Do you have anything to add about seasons of grief? How can we pray for you? How have you been encouraged through pain? Feel free to leave a comment and we will respond.

If you’re in need of encouragement, click here for a fantastic message from Joel Thomas.
To hear the song inspired by Hallie’s life, written by Casey Darnell, click here

Being mere mortals

Clouds over tombsIt took me 35 years to come to terms with the inevitability of mortality.
After Elliot died, death became real…tangible.

Many things changed that morning in May.

It has been my experience that Christians are afraid to admit their fear of the unknown outside the walls of a counselor’s office and sometimes not even then can we come to terms with the truth that we have this one area of doubt in our lives where we aren’t 100% sure God will come through.

Sounds presumptuous doesn’t it?

It isn’t meant to be. It’s the way I lived my life for over 3 decades while claiming to be a “Christian.”

I am now a Christ follower, which for me, is different. It’s personal.

When I think of faith, I picture Jesus. I see Jesus instead of a steeple touching the sky. Instead of perfectly pressed black robes and intimidating marble columns. I think of Jesus…in sandals. Bearded face, dusty clothes, tousled hair. I think of Jesus.

When I think of him it’s impossible to be afraid. As soon as I take my eyes off of him, it’s impossible not to be.

Unlike the wrath of man, Jesus is the perfect balance of grace and truth.
Giving up his mortal descent to be born of a commoner, live with little and die a brutal death beside criminals. He experienced mortality to remove all of my excuses.

When the anxiety of the unknown creeps in, I must remember the Savior, who intentionally came and died as a man. He could have decided it was too difficult and called down the entire heavenly host to zap his adversaries and escort him back to paradise in a cloud of glory. But he didn’t.

Instead he chose to be misunderstood, ridiculed and put to death. He experienced the ultimate betrayal and physical pain beyond human comprehension. I can’t help but think part of the reason he walked the human path was in pursuit of me. Maybe it was to calm my heart when I don’t feel like an omnipotent God of the Universe can relate to my everyday struggle. It is then I am reminded that he too struggled with “life.” He wore human skin and felt all of the emotions I have questioned.

When I remember this truth, there is no argument. The answer is clear. Be not afraid. It adds not even a moment to my life. Be not afraid. The days, at times, seem long while the years grow ever shorter. Be not afraid. The road ahead, though wrought with uncertainty, leads to the everlasting. Be not afraid. Evil lurks, but love has won.

Live with intention
Love extravagantly
Be slow to speak
Quick to forgive
Eager to learn
Be not afraid.

Does this resonate with you? Talk to me? Why are we so afraid of what waits for us on the other side of this life?

‘Tis the Season to…

stop judging.

I mean it. Stop it!

For many of us the holidays are a wonderful time of the year.
It’s a time for celebration and togetherness.
For others of us it’s a time of survival.
A time of trying to get out of bed in the morning and put one foot in front of the other.
A time that we long to end.

I don’t know what place you are in today.
I know where I am. I know from whence I came.
Therefore I can tell you that I have experienced both extremes.
The pain of uncertainty and the joy of security.

My prayer for you today is peace and rest, contentment and delight, meet you right where you are. For an overwhelming sense of well-being to fill your soul. Tangible evidence of love so deep and wide and unconditional that you can’t help but give thanks for the moment.

For my friend who is facing the holidays without her mother for the first time, I pray for the kind of comfort that only a mother can give. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to document a day in the last few weeks of her life. What an incredible honor.

For my friend who’s husband left her a single mother by choice, I pray for God’s provision and protection in the coming year in a way that no earthly man could provide. Thank you for sharing your story with others in hopes of being a light in a dark time. I know that in time, your heart will heal.

For my friend who is explaining thankfulness to his two children who lost their mother six months ago, I pray for words of wisdom to flow from your lips into little ears of understanding. Thank you for accepting “Happy’s” from me wrapped in crazy patterned duct tape and filled with things like “happy hearts” with arms for hugging. I will never forget how during one of the darkest moments in your life, you took the time to tell me about her love of the clinging cross, helping me feel like I was there with her during the agonizing pain even when my physical presence was not.

For my friend who would be less than a month away from celebrating her baby girl’s 1st birthday, I pray for peace as memories of the days that she had in your arms are relived. Thank you for allowing me to be one of the incredibly fortunate ones who got to meet her during her short time on earth. What a gift!

For my friend with a heart aching for the man she loves who was taken too soon. My prayer for you, dearly loved, is that you will dream big! That the purpose in your sorrow would be made known as I believe it is unfolding before us now. I pray that your story would impact others in a way that no one else can. I pray that you will love again and have a long, passion filled, beautiful life. Thank you for letting me come alongside you on this journey. You are teaching me so much about what true strength is and what faith really means.

There are more of you. Please know that you are loved. You are prayed over, you are lifted up, you are thought of.

For those who will be making mad dashes to cash in on the black Friday sales, good luck.
For each of us, may we remember to stop and think before cutting our eyes at the lady with the screaming child or cutting in front of the driver going too seemingly slow. This is a time of reflection. It’s a time to look to the left and the right and ask what we can do for someone other than ourselves. In the end Darling, it’s really all that matters anyway. What we do for others, I mean. Next year you won’t remember what you purchased at the “sale.” For me, I always remember the feeling of doing something for someone else. There is nothing better.

Blessings to you in this coming season and the new year that will follow. May all that is good and true and beautiful be yours.


Five Minute Friday: Beyond

The subject for today’s 5-Minute Friday post is so fitting for me right now. I started writing about Elliot this morning and was interrupted. When I came back and read the topic I knew there was a reason why I had started writing about my friend. Though some of this was written earlier today, I compiled the post within the 5 minute time limit. This one is for my Elliot.


Thoughts of Elliot consume me. Why now? Why here? No one can plan grief. When it hits…when it leaves…only to return again. It is the uninvited stranger who breaks down the door.
This week Elliot and Chris’ daughter turned 4…without her mother. This picture was taken around this same time last year. I do not have words to describe the kind of sadness I feel when I see her precious face in pictures posted on Elliot’s facebook page.

Heaviness sits on my heart when I think of the family members gathered around singing “Happy Birthday to Bradford…” yet one voice is clearly missing from the group.

It has been just over 8 weeks since Elliot’s passing. Not a day goes by that I don’t think of her. Time goes on. And it will continue to.

There is life beyond the raw reality of death. The ache of never seeing her smile or hearing her voice. The solitude of pain is intense. I am ready to be beyond it.The children visit her grave to leave flowers and kisses. Not yet old enough to understand fully that what the ground holds is a cancer ridden shell that their mother is now free from and has shed for heaven.

Beyond the grave. Beyond the sting of death. Beyond the noise of doubt. Beyond the temporary trappings of this world. My friend sits, waiting for the rest of us. I find solace knowing that she is complete…perfectly healed…and more alive than she has ever been.

“The one thing we owe absolutely to God is never to be afraid of anything…even death, which, after all, is but that final breakthrough into the open, waiting, outstretched arms of Abba.” ~Charles de Foucauld


Sometimes all ya need is a lil light

Admittedly, I’ve been somewhat of a downer today. The first day of Bella not being here I am sulky and tend to pout. SO, I think you all deserve a burst of sunshine! I mean, it’s the least I can do for my faithful and trusted readers.

I have this friend, Courtney. She is the kind of mom that other kids see and wish they had.  (No offense to all of the boring, less awesome moms out there.) This girl is stellar. Not only is she a rock-star mama (see picture below of the shaving cream art on the mirror), she is also one of the most creative people I know, turning the ordinary everyday into extra-ordinary masterpieces. I don’t know how she does it, but she does! It’s something we can all strive for.

So today I am cruising her website looking for her site button to add to my blog, only I keep seeing posts that draw me in and before long I forget what I am looking for. I’m downloading free printables and commenting on the priceless knowledge that she and several other incredible women are pouring out on the page FOR FREE! Did I mention that this wealth of information is all in one place for FREE. (Just didn’t want you to miss that.)
You will find links to each pdf at the end of this post, but you MUST visit her website to find these…
                   ABC Scripture Cards
             My Lil Money Jars TM

Look at this oh~so~fun way of displaying the cards…

There are also great ideas on praying for our children. This one is my favorite from Ashley…

Click on the links to read Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4 and Part 5

Here she is! The beautiful…the talented…the incredible…Courtney. Though I rarely tell her, she inspires me to be more. Not to settle for mediocre motherhood. I admit, there are times that I am envious of her creativity, her remarkable skills, her beauty inside and out. And then she will post something about how “normal” she is. It gives me hope and also challenges me to look outside of myself and walk alongside not only other mamas, but women from all walks of life who just need to know that they are not alone. She is the epitome of the woman described in Proverbs 31:10~31  

Get to know her. You will be better for it!

Click here for Courtney’s contact info. If you just can’t wait the time it takes to click a link, have a page load, click another link, wait for another page to load…visit her on our favorite social media site by clicking the icons…

Here are those super spectacular pdf. docs I was telling you about.
My Lil Money Jars Tracking Sheet ~ Blank
My Lil Money Jars Tracking Sheet ~ Sample
Conversations For Lil Ones
Fun With Scripture Memory
Ron Blue On Money Management
Light ‘Em Up ~ List Of Ideas
Light ‘Em Up ~ Family Planning Tool
Light ‘Em Up ~ Gift Tags
Mom, Will You Just Play With Me!
Clean Slate Club Plan


Father, here I am
my petitions laid out before You
as a day of uncertainty is dawning

It is You whom I trust
not I
I grow weary at the slightest task
Your strength endures

My heart is heavy with my will
it longs to delight in Yours
though You remain silent
the peace from Your faithfulness
calms my restless mind

Speak into my being
I beg You
search me
reveal where faith is lacking

I trust You
my Savior
I need You
my Deliverer

This world and all of its wickedness
has filled my dreams throughout the night
until I awoke
heart pounding
gasping for a breath of truth

Here I am
exhausted from a night of wrestling darkness

I come to this place
before dawn
between sleep and the demands of the day
my quiet sanctuary

Where else would I go
my King
my Lord
my Redeemer
You are all there is