Category Archives: Living Well

Life With Six Kids – My Messy Beautiful

Every day is a crazy roller coaster raising six kids from eight years old to six months old. My boys are eight and six. My girls are five, three, two, and 6 months old.

There is food under the kitchen table after every meal. There is almost always some kind of argument going on among the group. There are mountains of laundry to move here, there, and everywhere. Someone always seems to be drawing on the walls or the table with crayons. In my room there is a large collection of kid clothes that don’t fit. It needs to be sorted and taken down to the basement and I have no idea how long it has been there or how long it will continue to be there! My bathroom always seems to have lotion, soap, or toothpaste the walls, the sink, and the mirrors. There are toys absolutely every where! It’s a mess, but it means that I have a full house.

fbDSC_5800Each of my kids is absolutely amazing. Their sweet smiles are wonderful. The sound of their infectious laughter and giggles are music to my soul. When they are not trying to conquer and destroy each other, it is so much fun to watch and to listen to them playing. They are the most imaginative kids ever! The words that come out of their mouths are sometimes frightening, sometimes surprising, and often times just plain awesome.

Every day I GET hugs and kisses. Every day I GET to laugh and smile and laugh some more! Every day I GET to watch six little people grow into amazing human beings! I have learned that sharing our moments of crisis with family and friends really helps me to laugh about them! Laughing so you don’t cry still counts as laughing, right?

It is not our messiness that matters. The laughter, the smiles, the hugs, and the kisses matter! The LOVE is definitely what matters. I am a messy, beautiful warrior on a mission to be a better child of God, a better Mommy, a better wife, and a better photographer. I try to do my best to show my little people about life and loving with God’s love. It’s a messy job but somebody’s got to do it!

This essay and I are part of the Messy, Beautiful Warrior Project — To learn more and join us, CLICK HERE!  And to learn about the New York Times Bestselling Memoir Carry On Warrior: The Power of Embracing Your Messy, Beautiful Life, just released in paperback, CLICK HERE!


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Lent Day 13 & 14 – Giving Thanks

I’m thankful for new life. A few days ago I was able to photograph a brand new baby girl. It reminded me of all that is good in the world. Only God knows the plans He has for this precious little one.

There is much hope in new life. God has given me a new life through his son Jesus. I no longer have to live in bondage to my sins.  I get to live covered by love and forgiven of my sins. God makes all things new.

One of the first things that I read today was that one of my friends, who is my sister in Christ, lost her baby in still birth. I am completely heartbroken for her. We do not know why this life was lost much too soon. I know what it is to hope for a baby and have that hope shattered into a million tiny pieces after experiencing miscarriage.

Death is a part of life. Death is reminder that this life is not all that there is and we are not guaranteed tomorrow. We are only a speck in the great cosmos and our life is only a vapor. There is no life without death. If you want to have a new life in Jesus the sinful part of you must die in order for you to have a new life with God. Earthly death is not the end for those who believe in Jesus. It is only the beginning of an eternity spent with God.

I am thankful that I can look at life and death with hope. In life and death there is hope for today and hope for eternity.

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Lent Day 11 – Giving Thanks

I just realized that I haven’t written my blog today and everyone else in the house has gone to bed. I feel a little bit like I have been on a roller coaster this past week with many ups and downs. Life is a crazy ride. Life is not all sunshine and roses. I wrote that line and immediately thought of the line from Larry the Cucumber trying and failing to sing the blues . . . . “All sunshine and roses, no rain came my way.”

Life is not always peaches and cream. Life is all about your perspective! No one likes to be around people who are negative. I don’t even like to be around myself when I am negative.  Being rudely awakened from dream-filled sleep makes me grumpy. But being awake and alive to see another day is a blessing. EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. has it’s own troubles and cares, but I will choose thankfulness.

I choose to be thankful for this life with all of it’s ups and downs and as much as possible I will try to enjoy the ride.

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Day 1 of Lent – Giving Up Thanks

I have been thinking about what I am going to “give up” for Lent this year. I’ve decided that I am going to write down different circumstances that I am thankful for every day for the next forty days.

Above my television there is a 20×30 photograph of a mountain with six birds flying in the sky. I took the photograph in Alaska in the summer of 1997. It was the first time I had been away from my home, my friends and my family for any length of time and I went on a month long mission trip to Alaska with Teen Mania Ministries. For a month we traveled to different places doing a drama that was the story of Jesus, only with a king, his crew, pirates, and mimes. That month changed my life. I grew deeper in my personal faith. I made some wonderful friends, who I still keep in touch with today. I started journaling my prayers.  I witnessed a miracle. I didn’t watch t.v. for an entire month. God gave me a heart for runaways. I prayed with strangers. 

I’m thankful for that trip to Alaska and for all the things that I learned on that trip!

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Starting Over

Our reef and theater were completely lost. My seven-year-old son was totally devastated. Okay, I’m not talking about an actual reef  or theater but I’m talking about two games that my son and I have played for months building Nemo’s Reef and the Muppet’s Theater. I had to get a new phone and since I didn’t save our usernames the progress we have made can’t be recovered.

In just the last couple months, I have experienced the loss of my cousin, a former co-worker, a former schoolmate, and most recently a friend. In light of these deaths, I am reminded this life we have been given will not last forever.

Life is fragile, handle with prayer.

I gave my son the choice to decide whether or not to start the games over again. He chose to restart one game but not the other.

We do not know the number of days that anyone will have. We must choose how we will spend our time and who we will spend our time with each day. I’m thankful that this life is not the end for those who believe in Jesus and trust Him for salvation. I’m thankful that Jesus gives us a chance to restart our lives with God if we choose.

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Ring Around the Chicken and Cotton Candy

My kids made up a new song to use instead of “Ring Around The Rosy,” called “Ring Around the Chicken. Here are the words:

“Ring around the chicken, pocket full of chicken. Chicken, chicken, we all go chickeny.

After this they proceed to bock, bock, ba-gock and flap their arms like chickens.  The older four sing together but even the littlest one joined in with bocks and arm-flapping. They are hilarious to watch!

After every one was in bed, I told James that I was going outside for a little while and he asked if I was okay and I told him, “Yeah, I’m really good.” He made the funniest face at me. I felt incredibly thankful and incredibly blessed and I wanted to enjoy the sunset. I got news that my blood glucose test was normal and my iron levels are good. I said goodnight to my crew. I made a little girl smile and laugh with a silly story about fluffy sheep. This was after she was oh so sad and she could not admit just how tired she was after we let her stay up just a little bit past her bedtime watching one of her favorite movies “Happy Feet.” A little boy wrapped his arms around my neck and hugged me tightly. Another leaned over his bed rail so I could plant a kiss on his cheek and he could plant a kiss on mine. A little girl climbed into her bed and as I sang her a song she put her arms around my neck and pretended to be asleep, but her sweet infectious giggles gave her away.  One sleepy sweetheart fell asleep before goodnights, and she didn’t stir while the others were tucked in.

The sunset sky looked like cotton candy, with it’s hues of pink, purple, and blue. As so often is the case, I could not resist getting my camera out to capture some of God’s most wonderful artwork. No one paints quite like Him.  cotton candy sunset


fbDSC_3884I started to type this while I was sitting on my front steps, but I got chased back into the house by the mosquitos. In spite of this, I still got to watch the lightning bugs come out and two robins perched on the fence undisturbed by my presence until I stood to go inside.  


These are just a few of the things that give me a thankful heart. I love how God blesses us when we work for Him and we stop and realize He really is the Giver of all good things.

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Lost and Found

I got my high school class ring back today after losing it at least 15 years ago. When I lost it I was heartbroken. My grandparents let me design my own ring as a gift to me when I was in high school.

The other day my mom called to tell me that someone found my class ring.  I almost started crying.  My mom gave me the number of someone to call. When I called the very pleasant lady told me that a man had brought a ring to my former high school and he wanted to try to find its owner.  The records kept at the school did not go back far enough so the school called the administration building’s records office.

The kind lady at the records office told me how the man who found my ring worked at the local college and he found my ring in the spare tire compartment in the back of the van.  My only guess at how it ended up in the back of a van is that during on of the times I was working in the college photography department I had helped load and unload equipment and somehow my ring slipped off. She also told me how she first called the old number in my records and then looked my parents up in the phone book.  She gave me a number to reach the finder of my ring and we set up a time to meet.

I called the man and we set up a time to meet. When he put the ring into my hand I was in disbelief. I confessed that I never ever thought I would see that ring again. I gave him a movie gift card as a small token of my appreciation. He didn’t want to accept it but I insisted. I am overjoyed to have my ring back!

There is a great deal of good in the world of that I am confident.

Getting my ring back makes me think of all the lost and found stories in the Bible.  How much does God rejoice over someone who has gone down the wrong path and come back to Him no matter how much time has past?  God knew how happy I would be to have my ring back because He knows how much it means to me.  I am so thankful to be found in Him and know that He treasures me.

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