Friday, November 23, 2012

He's home!

Ken came home at 10pm the night before Thanksgiving! After 13 months away, we had a lot to be thankful for this holiday.

Our reunion in pictures....





Friday, November 16, 2012

nearly done

not sure if that title best describes me or ken's deployment?

let's say both.

this man is on his way back to us and i'm a mess of emotions.

he left us october 30, 2011 when morgan was 13 days old and kennedy was 18 1/2 mos. a lot happened in 13 months. i've had many people tell me they could never do it and admire my strength and i made it look "easy." (they might have been drunk.)

that's only because i haven't let you see the ugly parts.

the girl who prides herself on being authentic, hasn't spent a lot of time talking about how difficult this deployment has been. i adopted the "fake it till you make it" philosophy and gave myself A LOT of grace on what "getting by" and "survival" looked like. this organic-lovin' mom once fed her children a mac & cheese dinner 4 out of 7 nights. want to judge that? there's a plane headed to afghanistan tomorrow. :p

a lot of times i felt like i was failing, but prayers of friends and family and days on my knees before Jesus have brought me to this point...

5 days and we get all the hugs and kisses from ken/daddy we want ! ! ! ! ! !

i can't wait to see the look on the girls' faces when he gets off that plane next wednesday night and they see him. it will be similar to july when he walked down the airport corridor for a 2-week stay.

only this time we won't have to say goodbye again.

a few weeks ago i had to go to the back of my closet and get ken's gold oak leaf off of one of his uniforms for kennedy's halloween costume.

i came across his choker dress white uniform complete with medals and ribbons and i broke down crying.
all military families are required to update their will when a spouse deploys. ken and i specified our burial wishes in it so there would be no questions from our families.
a couple nights before ken deployed i made him do something really difficult. after we talked about what uniform it would be, i made Ken get it ready for me so if i was faced with the impossible task of giving him back to Jesus, i wouldn't have to worry about the darn uniform and which ribbon went where. it was as awful as it sounds.
many times this deployment i was in that closet on my face and knees crying out and begging God that i would never have to touch that uniform. i'd sit there staring at it and read psalms 91 aloud. i talked to God about all my fears and told him the many reasons why i couldn't survive being a single parent.
i'd take my fears to that closet staring at the possibility of the impossible in those choker whites, and God would give me assurance of protection and peace as i left that tiny space.

i've been asked many times how i managed this deployment. even commended on what a strong person i am and told i was one of most patriotic military spouses. i'm not sure if she was drunk or not. clearly, i did not tell her how many times i used the words, "navy", "deployment" and "sucks" in the same sentence.

i, alone, didn't manage this deployment. my Jesus, my family, my friends...they are the ones who got me through. i'm so incredibly blessed.

a few days ago ken left the country of Afghanistan and landed in a country we're not at war with for "decompression" training, etc.

when i got this email from him...i finally exhaled after holding my breath for over a year.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012


I hope you are thinking of what ARKs (Acts of Random Kindness) you will do to honor Matt Shubzda this Thursday Oct 18, the 10-yr anniversary when Matt's jet collided with another and he went to heaven. Matt was always serving others, so we're going to carry the torch for him and keep his serving spirit alive! And don't forget to post your ARK to the FB page: so his family/friends can know how Shooby Still Serves through you. (For those that don't know, our son in heaven was named after Matt. My husband and I were very good friends with Matt and we met at his wedding.)

Sample ARKs: babysitting for a single mom or family with a deployed service member; free lawn work for an elderly neighbor; surprising a widow with something he/she needs; pro-bono work for a business you run; buying someone's groceries at the store; buying someone's lunch at McDonald's; buying something for a family who has lost a child in remembrance of their child; finally deciding to sign up and serve at a local homeless shelter/children or women's shelter/soup kitchen; having a garage sale and donating the proceeds to a charity, calling your local VFW and seeing how you can help serve veterans such as helping unemployed veterans find a job; reaching out to someone you have had a strained relationship with and starting over. There are just so many things we can do to serve others! It just requires your time, heart (and in some cases, a little bit of your money.)

If you available and are local to Garland, please join us to do ARKs!

We have 3 places we will be doing ARKs in Garland, Texas this Thursday around lunch time; 1) homeless/unemployed folks outside of the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) building, 2) New Beginning Center (shelter for women/children), and 3) Garland VFW post (veterans in need).

We are meeting at the Generator Coffee House on the square in downtown Garland (107 N. 6th St Garland, Texas) at 11AM and will disperse and meet up at the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC)/women's/children's shelter (they are across the street from each other) to perform ARKs. Some folks will go and buy sandwiches we will hand out to people outside the TWC.

An NBC Channel 5 news crew will be following us around performing these ARKs but don't let that keep you from coming! You do not have to do an interview! The ARK story will air Thursday night.

Please email Cortney Schwalbe, coordinator of Shooby Still Serves and the ARK day at if you are coming and you will receive an email with more details about Thursday!

If you can't come or aren't local to Garland, please consider donating the following items we need for the women's/children's shelter and veterans in need. (Email Cortney at for info on where to drop off these donations.)

- Clothes of all kinds; men, women's, children's
- Baby food, formula, diapers, wipes, baby supplies
- Toiletries; regular or travel-sized (any biz travelers out there have a stash?) e.g., shampoos, conditioners, deodorants, soaps, etc.
- Boxed food and canned goods
- Monetary donations for us to buy these things.

For monetary donations, we are accepting cash, paypal donations (preferred) by sending money to and checks (email Cortney for info on where to send checks).

Let's make this a special day of service in honor and memory of such an awesome man. We can ALL make sure SHOOBY STILL SERVES!

If you cannot do an ARK on Thursday, just do it when you can.

**** PLEASE don't forget to post your ARK on the FB page: You can give as much or as little detail as you want about your ARK. If you're doing an ARK in the future, just post what you/your family plan on doing! ****

Friday, October 5, 2012

massive fail(s) meet hope

my friend texted me to see how my day was and i wrote back,

"fantastic, my girls are in preschool from 9-2."

don't think for a second i don't love to be around my girls, because i do. i love being their mama and i'm so glad God choose me to shepard them.

but a mama needs a break and a temporary single mama with a hubby deployed some 11 months, needs a break like an addict needs a fix.

i'm a better mama for the breaks i have built into our lives. on tues/thurs from 9-2 they go to our church's preschool and i volunteer from 9-12 helping people write a resume, and then wha-la, 2 free hours to myself! on monday from 9-12:30 our babysitter comes to the house and i serve the hungry through our church's food pantry.

breaks. adult interaction. serving the poor and hungry. yep, i'm a better mama for sure.

then there are days like today when i pick up the girls and need to go to an appointment and run errands (every time i tell kennedy we're going to run "errands" she thinks we're going to visit our friend Erin and when she doesn't get to see her, she *freaks* out!)

as a general rule, i used to NEVER take my children on errands. sure, we peruse parks, the mall play area, petting zoo, fair, sometimes other's homes, etc. but no, not grocery stores or post offices, rarely restaurants and definitely NOT a doctor's office.

if they have no experience going to these places, can i expect they'll behave?

so today we roll into the post office and immediately kennedy rummages through mailers, tape, and boxes as if its her personal art corner. i stand in line, waiting patiently (ha!) for my turn. i sit morgan down on the ground to play with kennedy so i could finish filling out the envelope. yes, kennedy, morgan definitely needs that box on her head. then i get called up, pick up morgan and wait...where's kennedy?

"kennedy, come back here. 1.....2....don't let mommy get to 3. kennedy, you're not going to get a treat." now sheer panic. where is she?

i dropped the envelope and apparently my place in line and alas, i found her opening the door to enter the back office as if she was ready to intern sorting mail. (why isn't the lever door locked?? gracious, these are the easiest handles for 2-year-olds!) "kennedy, come back here, put your hands on this sign and you'll get a sucker." listen to mommy, and i'll throw a bribe your way.

then, i get my customs form completed and hmmmm...i'm standing there at the counter while the postal workers are ushering people up to the counter from the line behind me. hmmm...hello, am i not standing at the counter? i said something like..."my form is complete now. do i have to go stand in line again to get service? this is CRAZY. i don't have time for this. clearly, i have my hands full." all in my best sarcastic voice. (kennedy now hanging from the counter like it's the bar at gymnastics.) awesome.

even more awesome?

i finally coax my 2-year-old back to me after she was allegedly opening and closing PO boxes in the corner (again, why aren't these locked?) and i say to her, "come on kennedy. we have to wait in line again because life's not fair." and when i get to the end of the line, i look up and i'm standing elder in our church. a man who i adore, and along with several others on mondays, we serve the hungry together. yep, awesome moment alright!

while turning red from utter embarrassment, i explained to him how i don't take my kids anywhere because of THIS. THIS. (now kennedy is trying to climb up the metal detector.) awesome.

he insists i go in front of him and he was probably the only nice person to me today when faced with my active children. so thankful for him, but so embarrassed by my little hissy i threw.

kennedy announces she is hungry so we drive thru chick-fil-a. after that post office bloodbath, i completely abandon my 7 fast and suck down a fresh-squeezed lemonade. for a moment, while drinking that lemonade, i thought, we'll make it; this day can't possibly get any worse. yep, i broke my 7 fast. crap. thankfully, tomorrow is a new day.

then onto the doctor's office where i got smart this time and constrained them to a double stroller. my oldest daughter likes to squeal (read: scream loudly) and when walking through the outpatient doctor office doors, she hits a high note like a professional opera singer. people stare. and roll their eyes. i can see this out of the corner of my eye, remarkably as i bend my body over with my butt holding one door and my outstretched arm opening the other to get a double wide stroller through. (i want to kill the inventor of the double stroller or these double doors at this point. not sure who; i'll toss a coin.)

never mind people, just sit and stare at us and roll your eyes. i've got this.

more freakin' out, begging for another sucker, and general terror when the nurse placed a blood pressure gadget on my arm. luckily that appointment didn't take long so the bloodbath of the post office wasn't quite repeated. we only left a few drops.

the bad days are mounting this week. all without my coffee addiction of course.

perhaps i'm traumatized by yesterday's memory of bath time, where my 11.5 mo old threw up on me and the changing table while i got her undressed, and then at the end of bath time, my 2.5 year old announced she pooped on the tub mat once the water drained out because i was taking to long getting morgan dressed. after i put them to bed last night, i did a calculation of how many days, hours, minutes and seconds i had left before ken comes home. that's exactly how long i can endure the single-parent'ness of it all. not a second longer.

our last stop was target because i'm a glutton for punishment. admittedly, i'm not grunge enough to use wet paper towels to wipe my kids' butts. because this is the forth time they've been in a crazy-large push cart that should probably be illegal, i've wised up to kennedy's urges to hit or kick morgan right next to her. plus morgan is about to have a MAJOR freak out because she is so tired.

securely in her infant carrier, i place morgan in the basket. and kennedy rides solo in the side-by-side compartment/driving cart. the problem? no room for anything. i try to balance organic fruit/veggie pouches, wipes, bread and paper plates around morgan without suffocating her. it was dicey. handing the $1 pumpkin candy holder for trick-or-treating to kennedy was a fantastic idea. she threw it down no less than 43 times. the smart mama would have put it back on the shelf.

when i paid the $125 bill (how do 3 bags of that = that?), i was never so exhausted. and i was so glad to be done. i immediately called in a togo order at chili's. i just had nothing left. this mama was definitely not cooking. (and i ordered a 7 approved meal; grilled chicken sandwich, plain, with avocado slices on a whole wheat bun with a side of sweet potato fries just plain please.)

i called my friend back who had called as we were rolling into the doctor's office. i wondered if she was traumatized by me answering the phone earlier with "hey, it's a f%$#ing crazy time and i can't talk. i'll call you back." truth is, i knew she could handle my blunder.

we made our plan for a 24-hour getaway to a women's retreat tomorrow with her grandma's church. we almost broke out into simultaneous hallelujah at the thought of leaving our families; not necessarily the fantastic teaching we'll experience. we were in agreement--we just need a break. never mind that i just returned from a 11-day vacation less than a month ago.

on the drive to pick up our takeout, i got to thinking about my girls not knowing how to act in a store or restaurant. the fact is they don't know because they haven't been given the opportunity. did you know how to ride a big-girl bike as soon as your parents placed you on the awkward-shaped seat? did you know how to play an entire song when you sat down at the black and white keys for the first time?

in order to be good at something we need practice.

so be warned river valley area, the schwalbe girls will be on the lose. i'm gonna use your town as practice turf so when we move to SD in a couple months, we'll be able to go anywhere with ease minus the exorcist-like meltdowns. but, of course.

i wonder how many people try with Jesus only to give up from massive failings?

too many people rolling their eyes, staring and not opening doors.

where's the community of so-called christians rallying around you, the new person to the Jesus club. if you are one who has tried this Jesus thing and have found zero camaraderie and support, i'm so very sorry.

i'm asking you...give it another chance.

find a community who accepts authenticity and dismisses the christian facade of living behind the veil of everything's perfect.

surely Jesus was right when he said we'd have trouble in this world. it's not our intended home. you're going to have bad, unglued days and the older and more mature we become, the less these days stain our lives. the more practice we have, the less unglued we will be. (and i've heard 7+ year olds can behave fairly well at Target, of course with the threat of being grounded for life if they flop around on the store floor.)

Jesus' mercies are anew each morning and He loves us regardless. REGARDLESS. we can come to Him at the end of a day like i had and say:

here are my bruises, hurts, bloodstains, marks, and wounds from today, Jesus.

He's already died for all of them and tomorrow He'll give me (and you) a new day.

a new HOPE.

a fresh new canvas on which you get to paint tomorrow's picture.

Monday, October 1, 2012

7 fast - food and possessions in october

ok friends, today it starts. my 7 fast.

(here's the exert from amazon about jen hatmaker's book, 7, so you have an idea of what i'm doing.)

American life can be excessive, to say the least. That’s what Jen Hatmaker had to admit after taking in hurricane victims who commented on the extravagance of her family’s upper middle class home. She once considered herself unmotivated by the lure of prosperity, but upon being called “rich” by an undeniably poor child, evidence to the contrary mounted, and a social experiment turned spiritual was born.

7 is the true story of how Jen (along with her husband and her children to varying degrees) took seven months, identified seven areas of excess, and made seven simple choices to fight back against the modern-day diseases of greed, materialism, and overindulgence.

Food. Clothes. Spending. Media. Possessions. Waste. Stress. They would spend thirty days on each topic, boiling it down to the number seven. Only eat seven foods, wear seven articles of clothing, and spend money in seven places. Eliminate use of seven media types, give away seven things each day for one month, adopt seven green habits, and observe “seven sacred pauses.” So, what’s the payoff from living a deeply reduced life? It’s the discovery of a greatly increased God—a call toward Christ-like simplicity and generosity that transcends social experiment to become a radically better existence.

i'm shooting for the stars choosing 2 areas of excess for october. i want to jump-start my diet AND we've gotta shed some stuff before we move! i have always been an over-achiever which often gets me over-committed and too stressed (hmmm...isn't stress one of the areas of excess? yeah, i can't wait for that month!)

i was going to try and change my 7 foods from the ones Jen chose, rather than copy exactly what she did. but you know what? as i was at my love/hate grocery monstrosity this evening, i sat and stared at black beans (my proposed substitute for sweet potatoes). am i really going to make several pots of black beans and not buy the sodium-rich ones in the can?

NO. NO. and NO. maybe if i had a hubby home and i could take longer prepping dinner, not having to play referee and trying to discourage morgan from walking, i could make black beans. wait, beans...don't you just throw them in a crock pot or pot and basically they cook themselves? yeah, i'm just making excuses now.

it's ok to copy her list, exactly. it's genius.

7 foods for oct: chicken, apples, whole-wheat bread, avocados, sweet potatoes, spinach, and eggs.

i went shopping yesterday and spent $71.51 on my foods. i think this will feed me for about 7-10 days.

- $42.17 for organic, antibiotic-free, free-range chicken breasts, drumsticks, and sliced chicken
- $3.97 for gala apples (no organic option at wally world tonight and i don't have time to run to mr. nutrition tomorrow; but i will the rest of the month. after all, apples are the #1 dirty fruit, meaning most pesticides!)
- $7.24 for whole-wheat pita pockets, sandwich thins and tortillas (thank you brandon hatmaker! for the love of Texas!)
- $7.44 for 6 avocados (yeah, probably will only last 4 days as i have to share with my avocado-lovin' girls)
- $5.71 for 8 sweet potatoes
- $4.98 for 10oz organic spinach
- i had organic, free-range, antibiotic-free eggs, but i'll need more next week.

i plan on taking january off when we move to SD, and my other 7 peeps, aka my "council" will be doing food that month. i'll drive to san diego, stop and eat krispy kreme donuts and in-and-out burgers, and i won't even feel bad about it. the council may disown me in january.


i'm also shedding stuff. we have too much. others don't have enough. Jesus wants me to give. simple as that.

i'll be giving away 7 things each day for the month of october.

what makes me sick to my stomach is i have a whole 24-foot POD in storage in MD. really....really?

when is enough, enough?  (our pastor in austin wrote a book about this; you should totally check it out!) i've already packed up at least 50 pieces of the girls' winter clothing to drop off tomorrow at our church's clothes closet, which serves folks in our community who are in need of clothes. i haven't even gotten to MY closet of overabundance threads.

the point of 7 is to be less of Cort, and more of Jesus.

i can't wait to share with you how this journey will change, shape, stretch and make me cry big fat tears, because i just can't eat another bite of chicken. please pray for me, friends! i expect Jesus to show up in my life and all of my council members' lives in a BIG WAY!

my last meal tonight. an excellent organic piece of rib eye smothered with bearnaise sauce, paired with some vintage red wine. it was yummy.

did i mention i'm REALLY gonna miss coffee and red wine?? i'm gonna have the shakes without coffee and it's going to be real, real ugly the first few days.

i'll try really hard to update my blog weekly to sum up my 7 successes, failures, learnings, insights, and general whining.

thanks for following me and praying me through this journey! and thanks to my long-distance council, many of whom i don't even know...this is gonna rock!

and jen hatmaker, thanks for being obedient and faithful to see this experiment through. it's changing how people live and how we respond to God's call of more of Him in us, and less of us in us. thank you.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

technology-free wednesdays

so for 2 weeks now i have been unplugged on wednesdays. i am loving every minute of it! since ken has been deployed 11 months now, i have most definitely abused texting, facebooking and TV. i justified this excess after chasing 2 girls all day long and being in the brain-fried single-parent mode.

i just need to have mindless entertainment via TV and connect with friends via texting and FB'ing. you know, to make it through another day.

most of you probably wouldn't argue with me on that. i get the girls in bed by 7-7:30 and then cortney time. yep, well deserved indeed. nevermind that i picked up 8 new TV shows last fall and spring, found myself not updating my blog for 6 months, and barely wrote anything on my book.

does all this technology really matter?

sure, i blog, reach out to people via facebook, and have some fun back-and-forth banter while texting. but as my friend reminded me last week...

let's pick up the phone sometime. people still do that?

yes. and YES! and it blessed me 7 times to heaven and back.

i think (ok, i KNOW) i started "talking" to people through facebook. hubby deployed--no problem. i can "talk" to people through facebook.

wednesdays--no texting, no TV, no computer, no facebook (actual human contact in person/phone allowed!). i start off the day with early morning PT and then kennedy and i have a date where we attend a mommy and me gym class. then lunch, naps, and play/reading time. while the girls nap, mommy reads her bible, 4 books that are in the hopper, and ... i pray.

and you know what, for someone who talks a lot, A LOT...i spend some time listening to Jesus.

then i do something i've never done before. kennedy and i attend church where we share a meal with others and dive into the word in our respective toddler and adult bible studies. this means i'm going to 2 services at the church in a week and i've never done this before. ken and i have  been a part of a small group for awhile now, in addition to attending sunday morning service, but i didn't join one when i moved to arkansas. joining a couples group felt weird without my plus 1. i traded small group for a women's bible study which i quit when i had back surgery, and instead of starting a new women's study this fall, i replaced it with serving the hungry through our church's food pantry.

going on 2 weeks now...wednesdays have become my favorite day. this past week however, i blew it, totally out of habit, like a dependence on crack cocaine.

i was in PT early morning and while getting my stimulation, i popped open facebook and posted a lengthy comment to an upsurd question my baby-loss mama friend was asked by an insensitive loon. this crazy lady proceeded to know all things about baby loss and told my friend she didn't need to teach her rainbow twin babies on the way about their sister in heaven. it would be too burdensome and overwhelming for her new babies. oh boy, my friend showed grace. my first gut feeling was to go down to dallas and scream at the idiot. i started out writing this in the comment, but in 3.5 years of walking this road, i too, have learned to let some of the dumb things people say when faced with your stain of losing a child, roll off my back.

as i finished the comment, i proceeded to roll through my news feed and.....oh crap.


the end. and bye-bye facebook.

ya'll know i'm reading jen hatmaker's book, 7, an experimental mutiny against excess with the (in courage) bloom book club. one of the areas of excess jen's family identified was media. you will have to read the book to get the details.

but she says something profound about being plugged in and available all the time:

"honestly, my biggest fear going into media month was that the world might stop turning until i was done, but i discovered others didn't need me to be as wired as i thought. most of my media involvement is simply about me (blah)."

yep, self-absorbed ME. and i think i'm a pretty humble person!

nobody missed me and i bet the majority of you didn't even know i was "gone" on wednesday.

but you know who knew i was here?

my Jesus. "The Lord your God is with you, He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing." Zephaniah 3:17

 my hubby. the more time i spend with my man, the more blessed i am. yeah, yeah, we skyped, which meant opening my laptop. he's in afghanistan and the girls and i will take every second we can get to see daddy on the computer! nobody's gonna object to that, right?

my girls. the joy i give them as a completely engaged mama is priceless to both them and me.

instead of my 2-year-old bringing me my phone as if she had just discovered the best gift ever (yuck!), she brought giggles, books, smiles, puzzles and the like.

i found myself being quiet before Jesus. and actually hearing Him.

i slowed down. i actually breathed a lot. deeply. i think i might of even relaxed.

i'm telling ya, i LOVE wednesdays.

won't you consider unplugging 1 day a week? i think you'll find it will be more of a blessing than a burden!!!

if you are reading jen's book 7, then you know it's a media fast for a month. will i consider doing it? maybe. but definitely not during football season. i just ordered the sports add-on package and my hubby is in afghan. yeah, i LOVE football. so do my girls! (pictured below with their cousin demi on the right.) the arkansas fam is trying to convert them to be hogs, but i think our girls will be confused enough with the red raiders, longhorns and midshipmen, don't you think?

Monday, September 17, 2012

what's in a name?

people called him texas tuff, shooby, matt, matthew, matty, mattio, husband, son, grandson, brother, nephew, cousin, friend, navy pilot.

i called him matt, my friend. really, my best friend growing up.

and my husband, same friend and roommate at USNA.

ken and i met at matt's wedding in june 2002 and started dating after his accident. we were so close to matt that when we found out we were having a boy in 2008, the name choice was matthew. we wanted to honor ken's brother, phillip, who passed away at the age of 24 from testical cancer, too. we decided our son's name would be phillip matthew schwalbe but the whole PMS initials might be too traumatic for 8th grade. we settled on matthew phillip and would let our son decide which name he wanted to be called.

bearing a strong name of honor, service, love, sacrifice was the natural choice for our first born child.

when our son was born 3 months early, it never occured to me he wouldn't still be here on earth with our family today. 5 days after he made his entrance into the world, our matthew phillip joined Matt and Phillip in heaven. we were stationed in Greece at the time of matthew's birth. because i was recovering from an emergency c-section in the hospital, and not with ken when he went to register our son's name with the birth certificate office in Chania, Crete, Greece, ken left with a birth cert that read "baby boy schwalbe." (both parents had to be present to name the child.)

when matthew phillip went to Jesus 5 days after his debut, i thought, just for a moment, should his name be something else?

how do you name your child after an older brother who was looked up to and a friend who meant so much to us, who dies?

for a brief moment, i could not get my head around keeping his originally planned name.

just for one moment.

then i remembered the men matthew seth and phillip raymond were...they defined honor, love, service, and sacrifice.

we changed his name from baby matthew phillip. of course.

today would have been "BIG MATT'S" (as Ken and I call him) 37TH BIRTHDAY.

in honor of matt's birthday today, i collaborated with matt's family, his widow, and friends, and we gave a 21-year-old widow/single mom of a 3-year-old girl a good amount of cash, new and gently used household items, and clothes as she picks up the pieces of her life and tries to start over. in july, she lost her husband after only 2 DAYS of marriage. we did this today in honor of matt's birthday, because matt also left behind a wife. only matt's wife (and those young widows out there) know how hard these next days, months, and years will be for her.


we started a FB page ( and blog ( to honor Matt this 10th anniversary of not calling him to say happy birthday and next month, the 10th anniversary of his accident when he died doing what he loved.

we're encouraging everyone to do an ARK...

ACT OF RANDOM KINDNESS. (from Evan Almighty nonetheless.)

do these ARKs today on his birthday, the 10-year anniversary of his accident, Oct 18, 2012, and always.

because that's how matt rolled...always serving and always giving. he had parents who taught him this value and a wife who encouraged him to do it. i know because all of them still do it.

there are no rules here. matt always lived out of the box and he was and wasn't a rule-follower.

post your ARK to the FB page between now and Oct 18, 2012. if you can't do it on 10/18, do it sometime between now and then. or afterwards.

just make sure...


if you feel so inclined, we are also blessing 3 military enlisted families in need with cash and gift cards. check out the FB page, blog page or email for more details.

matt loved we love others.

heavy...i know. i teared up some writing this.

i would be remiss if i didn't leave you with this (what i think is a funny!) story...because matt always knew how to laugh and encouraged others to take themselves less seriously.

matt had a back tat. no, i'm not even kidding. (sorry matt's mom...i know you are dying that i am writing this!)

a back tat like a girl (wonder why i had a guy as my best friend growing up, and no, i'm not saying he was feminine at all.)

when not serving others, matt just did what he wanted and had a good time doing it.

had i been at the tattoo shop when this back tat atrocity occurred, i would have encouraged him to pick an ichthus, or Jesus fish, like i have.

but no, this smart guy...picked a texas longhorn for his back tat.

gosh almighty. don't you know when Jesus met him in heaven and told him he was in...He asked him why the longhorn tat?

matt: "i don't know. i like texas. it seemed like the logical choice."

Jesus: "i knew you texans were a different breed."

Thursday, September 13, 2012

go big or go home - ACT NOW!

Monday, Sept 17 (like in FOUR days) marks the 10th time Ken and I can't call our best friend, our son's namesake, Matt Shubzda (google his name if you want to know the whole story), and tell him happy birthday. Oct 18 of this year will mark the 10th anniversary of Matt's Navy accident when his F/A-18 superhornet collided with another, killing all 4 pilots/NFOs, off the coast of Northern California. ok, i actually just told you the story.

if it's one thing matt taught me, GO BIG, or GO HOME!

Ken and i are proud that we found the perfect way to honor matt's family and his widow. we'll reveal that to them privately in december.

Matt was always helping others; gathering money from fellow midshipman to fly Ken's dad out for USNA graduation, taking up a collection in high school for the mentally-challenged boy's new tennis shoes, and sacrificing his $200 bingo earnings and spending all of it to give a family from the angel tree a Christmas, just to name a few. matt would literally give someone the shirt off his back. he lived a life of love, service, and sacrifice. so we're going to honor him.

as for the 10 year markers this year...we're doing this: blessing a 21-year-old widow/single mom with housewarming gifts and cash on Sept 17; and a helping a military family in need with paying bills/groceries showering them with gift cards and cash on Oct 18. (AND I NEED YOUR show them even more love!)

GET READY TO TAKE ACTION! email me at and let me know you're in!

Sept 17 - Matt's Birthday

There is a 21-year-old girl here in Arkansas who works at my PT office where I go 2-3x/wk for my back/shoulder. She has a 3-year-old daughter and she was married in July. TWO DAYS later, again, 2 days, her husband was texting HER while driving and was killed in a head-on collision. I've been talking to her for almost 2 months now about counseling and grieving and heartache and lost dreams. though we don't have similar grief stories, tragic loss has some recurrent themes. mostly I've been in prayer for this sweet girl and her family.


She said she was moving into her own place next week (she's been cramped into a 2bdrm townhouse with her mom, sister, and daughter). We talked about how it would be hard to do this emotionally as it's a place she is not moving into with her husband. I could go on and on...but I won't.

The lights started FLASHING--this is who the Sept 17 donation is going to help. No, she's not military, but she is a widow, starting over. This will honor Matt. Because he left behind a beautiful wife of 4-MONTHS. i'm blessed to be friends with her dating back to 7th grade.

I just need y'all to help me give this girl a fresh start and show her the love of Jesus.

Matt didn't just teach the concept, GO BIG OR GO HOME, he may have invented it. he made me run for class treasurer in high school. he wrote my speech and created my campaign slogan, "bo knows treasury." (he gave me the nickname 'bo' for my maiden name bowen.) come to think of it, he may have thought he WAS bo jackson as they played the same sports. anyway, i was so disappointed for HIM that i didn't win...he worked so hard. (but april was much better qualified for the job!)

i'm not gonna disappoint now. our family is giving a monetary donation and a bunch of our crap to this sweet girl. a drop in the bucket. but i know...

Y'ALL can do so much MORE!! collectively we can.

we can help a widow and single mom try and start a new life.

blame jen hatmaker. she wrote a book about a experimental mutiny against excess. 7 is my new favorite number. and i'm throwing will davis under the bus too. he wrote enough, and yep, we've got enough. do i really need 14 bath towels?

obviously my procrastinating nature is working against me here, but if people pledge they're going to send me a check, i'm gonna count on it. if you say your box of crap you don't need to bless her new home is in the mail, i'll look for it.

and if you're local, i'll be here all day tomorrow and Saturday. i'm gonna give this stuff to her on Sunday in THREE DAYS, (as I cleverly invited her to my church, bribing her with lunch afterwards and letting our wild girls run amuck).

it will be a day before what would have been Matt's 37th birthday.


October 18, 2012 - Anniversary of Matt's accident

did you know that some military enlisted personnel actually qualify for food stamp/WIC assistance because of how little they earn?

we'll be remembering the 10-year anniversary of losing matt, oct 18, 2012, by blessing a local military family here in arkansas. matt always made fun of me for originally being from arkansas before i moved to texas when i was 8 and he became my first friend. it's appropriate we'll be blessing a arkansas military family. :)

hey i know, how about my texas friends get their junk together and maybe we can bless a military family down there in the dallas area (where Matt grew up) on the same date?! better yet, how about you austin folks kick in too and we'll find a military family in need at ft. hood!?!

look for a future blog post with the details to come. i'm not sure of all those details yet ... because God hasn't revealed them. i'm working with some folks who know some folks to identify the family.

if you can't get on board with helping this sweet 21-year-old girl here in Arkansas because it's like in 2 days, i get it. maybe instead you find another widow and/or single mom where you are and bless her. tell me about it, so i can tell matt's family!

do something. like telling me you're sending $20 and actually send it. i'll cover you until it arrives.

do something. like telling me you're putting together boxes of 4T, 5T, 6 and so on clothes to bless her daughter with future wardrobes and actually box it up and ship it. i'll tell her its on the way.

do something. like buying a gift card and actually dropping it in the mail. i'll tell her to start making a shopping list for that store.

i'm so tired of the church saying they are going to do something and just sit there in their chair/pew/theater seat saying "oh, isn't that nice." after church they go back to their christian-in-a-box life.

i'm so tired of the way that I sit in a christian conference and say, oh wow, yeah...that's a great idea...mark that one for later.

then i put that little idea up on a shelf, sit on my ass, and do nothing with it.

yuck. it makes me sick to my stomach.

i wanna jump when Jesus says to. even if it means functioning in the realm of chaos and short deadlines.

can you imagine standing before Jesus and him asking why you didn't get your act together to help so-and-so and your answer being--

i was too rushed! it didn't fit into our busy schedule that weekend! i didn't want to let go of my stuff!

no thanks.

let's be a church of Jesus that identifies a need and ...


and let me know how you're going to help today!!

OR you can go to my FB page and let me know you're in!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

broken shells


what is this and where can i get some?

i've spent so much of my life trying to mend from one disaster to another. when the lies creep into my brain of whether i can be used to do anything good, i fall into the trap again.

yes,, ummm....yes, well...definitely, decidedly...NO!

you. can't. be. used.

too much bad history.

too much weighty baggage.

too much vulnerable sharing.

y'all know i recently had the privilege of meeting Angie Smith to tell her thank you for saving my life by sharing her precious heavenly daughter's story. i bought a sneak-peak copy of mended and she signed it for me. it's NOW ON one here or here.  it's her 3rd, brand new, shiny book (after 'i will carry you' and 'what women fear.') it's pretty. i can't wait to read it.

i'm sure it will change your life.

for the friends/solitude/writing beach getaway i have the privilege of being on right now, i had to narrow it down to 2 books i was already reading: (jen hatmaker's '7, an experimental mutiny against excess' and meg meeker's '10 habits of happy mothers,' one bible, and my 'Jesus calling' devo for my carry on. i am 4 months postop from back surgery and i have a 1985 HEAVY laptop that makes my backpack sag down to my booty.

not to be confused with my now sagging booty. that's a whole different post for a different day.

so, no room for mended this trip. :( Jesus speaks to me through Angie's writing like no other author i've read. i really wanted to bring it as my 3rd book...

but...and this is FOR REAL.

i did NOT want to repeat the tragic grand canyon fiasco where i packed 7 books and a makeup bag that all had to be divided up amongst 10 other backpackers when i "hurt" my ankle. don't judge. i was 21 and all my friends climbed mountains. i desperately wanted to be loved and to fit into their grungy, twisted, badass-hiking or whatever-you-call-it world.

BUT the reality?

i was the girl who couldn't part with makeup to go on a 6-day hike of the GC. i packed 7 books because the expert hiker in our group did. (she's still my best friend even though we took a couple year hiatus from our friendship after this trip!)

i tried so hard to fit in with them.

for the love of all backpacking atrocities. seriously.

yes, i fully agree with you, after all that drama, it's AMAZING that THOSE friends are STILL my friends. :)

i digress.

this whole mended thing is complicated to me.

i'm a tragic people pleaser.

i am the girl who can't say no.

i am the mama who became so unraveled with burying a child she almost took her own life and missed all the blessings of the past 3+ years...and all those yet to come.

recently i came unraveled again at Ken's long (so far) 10.5 month deployment, the single mom-ness of it all. feeling sorry for myself and angry with God.

missing my son so desperately again and ready to dive back into that pit of self-sorriness and self-centeredness that sometimes comes with grief.

allowing fear to creep back in that i'd be a modern-day Job losing my whole family literally kept me up at night. i had to stop watching the news.

unraveled at my 2-year-old who captures my heart and the very next second makes me want to cut chunks out of my hair while leaving some very long parts, so i can look like a 4-year-old who experimented with scissors for the first time.

why the hair you ask? i have no idea. i am weird.

i gave myself permisssive entitlement to whatever i felt like thinking, saying, and matter how much i hurt others close to me. after all, this single mom, 14 month deployment gig was tough.

do whatever it takes to survive.

a lie that almost pulled me down into a pit.

i desperately want ... be mended.

from Angie's 'mended' back cover, she writes about Jesus speaking to her:

"My dearest Angie. How do you think the world has seen me? If it wasn’t for the cracks, I couldn’t seep out the way I do. I chose the pitcher. I chose you, just as you are."

you'll have to read mended (and/or i will carry you) to find out about the pitcher.

yes, there are holes in my life. HUGE, LARGE, GAPING ones.

i want Him to cover them up, fill them in, and forget about them.

HE ALREADY HAS. on the cross, all those years ago.

did you read that...and get it?

let me remind myself again...


and i don't want anybody, especially you reading this, to see those holes.

but He whispers:

"if they can't see the holes, then they won't be able to see Me working in your big, fat, messy life."

i gave you that life. now go share it.

but so often I, I, I...try to do His job.

like a million times a day.

the good thing about constant conversation with Jesus is you're always checking yourself, your motives, and your thoughts with the only One who can give answers.

the bad thing about constant verbal conversation with Jesus is people might think you're schizophrenic.

so what?

my mending is a leary road of letting go of what others think.

my mending is a finite grasp of the overwhelming love God has for me and others, and what my responsibility is with that kind of love.

my mending is a glimpse understanding of what giving myself Jesus grace looks like.

my mending is an imperfect realization that there have been a lot of broken shells washed ashore.

He's touched every single one of them.


there will ALWAYS be broken shells until we are made perfect.

if not for ALL the broken shells, I would not recognize the joy and beauty of finding the Perfect One...


Sunday, August 26, 2012

keeping up with the supermamas

instead of keeping up with the joneses, are you stuck in the vicious cycle of keeping up with the supermamas?

the one who wakes up at 4am to make homemade dough for out-of-this-world cinnamon rolls, then spends an hour doing her bible study and praying, and finally pounding it out on the treadmill for 45 mins, all before a soul in her house makes a peep.

don't get me started...but yes, i will.

she greets all of her children channeling julie andrews in the sound of music, "the hills are alive..." while telling each and every child how important they are without any kind of "hurry, hurry, we're late" in her voice. then this wonderful mama holds both kids on her hips while managing the iron with her foot so her hubby can wear a crisp, clean shirt to work.

don't get me started.

she fills her house with love and song, while the children play and she plays with them. she preps 3 dinners, 2 of which she will be delivering that afternoon to families who had babies. she sews on some buttons, finishes a quilt, and makes some homemade cards for friends that need a little encouragement. she wraps up the morning with sweeping and mopping the whole downstairs and scrubbing all the toilets.

her homemade turkeyball sub sandwiches are a hit with her children who eat everything. afterwards her beautifully behaved kids go down for a nap singing to her, "i love you mommy, so, so, so much" as she quietly exits their room.

instead of just turning on the TV for some downtime, she does more meal prepping for the month, hand washes all the dishes and washes/folds 7 loads of laundry. (and sneaks on facebook from her iPhone to tell you how great the day is going!) the children wake up and a yummy, organic snack is waiting. then they're on to an art activity she got from pinterest and an afternoon stroll in the wagon so she can pull the kids up the hill for an arm workout.

meanwhile the kids are still singing "i love you mommy so, so, so much." then they add the chorus, "you are the best mommy ever."

her hubby comes home and she greets him with a hug and a kiss like the statue of the Navy sailor coming home from war. she never whispers how she needs a 30-minute break or rolls her eyes when he asks how her day went. because of course, her day was fabulous. because it always is, each and every. single. day.

now on to an organic, home-cooked dinner that was prepped that morning, a family discussion of highs/lows, and then a board game so the family can have bonding time and laughter. baths are done with ease and the bedtime routine never misses a beat with books, and songs and laughter.

don't get me started.

the children go down with no fuss, and this saint of a mama now offers her hubby a massage after a long day of work. no TV for this family except a couple days a week, so it's discussion time with the hubs to talk about his feelings which he IS HAPPY to jump in and share with her until the break of dawn if she would let him.

but she knows best...

off to bed and this supermama reads her essential books on all things parenting and all things christian.

after giving her husband a night he won't soon forget, she updates facebook to tell you all about her superheroine'ness and drifts off to sleep.

for 1 hour...after all that's all the sleep this supermama needs.

don't get me started!

and she wakes up tomorrow and does it all AGAIN.

with her updating of facebook and handmade card she sends, you feel that she feels her role on this earth is to "encourage" you in her perfect role model of wife'ing and parenting.


i call bulls*&%!

this is what we THINK the supermama is doing.

and this is what we THINK we SHOULD be doing to be like supermama.

ladies, this supermama and wife...DOES NOT EXIST!

i promise! (and if you're out there, please message me ASAP! i'd like to call you to the carpet.)

sure, we all have done things on this above mentioned list and if we haven't, we have all wished we could.

they are all great, wonderful things to place importance on your husband, your children, and a healthy lifestyle. controlled temperament, serving non-stop, and living joy out each and every day.

these are all fantastic things and i wish i could do all of them every single day. (but alas, i still send my buttons to the seamstress. :)

here's the deal. the REALITY.

i can't. period. i'm human, not supermama.

i believe through Christ i can ask Him to show me my shortcomings and over time like the refiner's fire, he can help me improve in a specific area where i continue to fail.

but i'll never, ever be.................PERFECT! ever.

i'll never be this supermama.

let's show some mama love and support each other by not flaunting what we're good at as supermamas. it's not doing anything good for the self-esteem of us mamas.

if asked by a mama, who just really needs to know the keys to success, share away. after all, you were asked by her. your efficient ways may also change her life. i have done that with my friend laura and through her, i have learned more about parenting that any book i could have read.

find someone you admire and who has been there/done that, and ask her how she does it. you'll get some great tips on how to make life easier and to better multi-task.

but you know what?

if your friend is REAL, she will also share all the shortcomings and mistakes so you won't make the same ones or if you have, so you can both have a laugh about it! you'll get her authenticity and she won't let you think she is supermama...DOING IT ALL...ALL THE TIME.

that's my friend laura. i wish you all had her as a friend!

humility in motherhood is a beautiful thing to watch.

but it's important to realize a humble mother is not a mama with no confidence. we all have our strengths and weaknesses. but we all look different. we all have different husbands, different children, different lives, different beliefs. no matter how much the "same" we can look.

it's easy to see someone with the "same" life, and think you should be doing your life like hers. wonder if she is thinking the same thing about your life...wishing it was hers?

if we all could love, support and laugh with other mamas, instead of judging and one-up'ing each other, how much happier could we be?

please allow me this final suggestion...

until you find out who you are in Christ, you will never know who you are as a wife or a mother.

i leave you with this quote from a must-read book by meg meeker, the 10 habits of happy mothers:

"we think of humility as seeing ourselves as lowly or less than others. in fact, humility is just the opposite. it is embracing a realistic look at our frailties as well as our strengths and then believing that we, just as other mothers who have their own frailties and strengths do, share INORDINATE VALUE. we can love others because we can accept and love ourselves in our less-than-perfect states.

Monday, August 13, 2012

unpacking WOF...the story behind it all.

this past weekend i went to the women of faith conference in oklahoma city to hear Angie Smith. i signed up in 2010 (ok, really this past April). i went to see HER. who I met was...JESUS.

i'm still unpacking it all.

i saw myself raise my hands in praise of Him when i thought it would be ok to leave them at my side  all my life said the recovering baptist. God was speaking right to me. He was teaching me. i said NO to the fear. NO to the cycle of grief trying to creep back into my life. NO to self-pity while playing the role of temporary single mom for 14 months. NO to Satan trying his damndest to crush me in these last 10 months since ken has been in afghanistan.

i also saw other women experience the love and grace and forgiveness and the wholeness of who Jesus is and who He has called them to be. i was taught to not live in yesterday, and to not put off until tomorrow what i can do now, today, NOW through Jesus Christ's power.

i'm still unpacking it all.

most of you that read my blog know that Angie's blog was one of the only resources i had in Greece for 6 months after Matthew's death before the Navy finally got us the hell out of dodge. what you don't know is just how close i came to being dead. to joining my son in heaven.

i had meticulously planned out how i would do it. there were HUGE concrete barricades in front of the american entry into the base. i decided i would go full speed ahead and drive my car into those barricades letting either the impact of the crash, or the bullets from the security forces, send me to heaven. just to hold my son again.

i planned it for late march 2009 about 2.5 months after we lost matthew. then one of ken's seabees committed suicide on base the same week i planned on taking my own life. i thought that would be too much for ken to handle so i would wait just a little bit; maybe early April?

a few times we went to talk with our chaplain and when he asked me if i had suicidal thoughts, i lied.

i started attending a bible study in february 2009, a month after we lost matthew, that our chaplain's wife, kristie, hosted. it was a beth moore. i had been a not-always-walking-closely-with-Jesus christian for 21 years and had never done one of her studies. fruits of the spirit.amazing, but i did it half-ass. one night after bible study, kristie, our chaplain's wife, sat me down on her computer to show me Angie's blog and wrote down the blog address for me. i drove home and i read it all in the next 2 days. i wept.

i planned a trip to germany for us to get away from it all the last week of march 2009. the truth is i never intended on taking that trip with Ken. in my plan, i would have already been gone from this earth when our plane was scheduled to leave. but that troubled man who worked for Ken took his own life a few days before we were going to leave.

we went to Germany, and it was some good, and some awful. we had one of the biggest fights we've ever had that losing a child creates, in the parking lot of our hotel. i remember thinking, i should have just done it already, i should not be here in this moment, fighting with him.

i had even prayed for ken's next wife to be sweet and loving and to embrace this amazing Godly man i was married to. something i was never fully able to do up until we lost our son.

when i was at that beth moore bible study the first week of april 2009, when Angie Smith and her family were approaching the first anniversary of the death of their 4th daughter, audrey caroline, i read her words and was in awe of her authenticity. thousands of miles away on what felt like a deserted island, i felt connected to this woman. maybe if she was getting through a year without her daughter, i could get through a year without matthew?

instead of killing myself, i made one of the best decisions i have ever made. i promised God in a very angry but honest voice, i would not do anything to harm myself. BUT i told Him i would never, ever do any more work for Him. no ministry. no serving. no sharing.

nothing. i would just exist.

i had already failed and been kicked out of ministry as a Young Life team leader at the end of college because i was sleeping with my boyfriend and getting drunk instead of telling my high school girls about God's grace and mercy and clearly, i had NO business doing His business.

i have followed Angie's blog, read her first book "i will carry you" and really, finally learned that Jesus STILL LOVES ME through her writing.


not when my parents divorced. not when i was disgraced from ministry. not when i suffered 8 years with anorexia/bulimia. not when i walked away from Him and lived my selfish, sinful life for 5 years. not when i buried my son. and not now.

he loved this broken girl, ME, and it was Angie's writing that got me to pick up my bible again. through her writing i heard Jesus whisper, don't just read what she what I SAY.

through the bible, i learned He didn't take Matthew...he received him. i learned He didn't take my child to punish me for all my life's mistakes. and i learned to laugh and have joy again after digging through the ashes of burying our child. it wasn't perfect, far from it. but it was a blessing. all of it...the good, the bad and the ugly. and their was a lot of ugly.

this weekend i didn't just get to hear, for the first time, Angie speak the words i had read on her blog. i watched the holy spirit move in her, speaking like i have never seen in a speaker before. and. i. just. wept. loudly. ugly, ugly, ugly face tears.

but Jesus wasn't done there.

i didn't even know the speakers did book signings before i arrived to the WOF conference. Jesus gave me an opportunity to meet her and have her sign her new book i purchased, "mended." then i said something like this to her, shaking, balling, and kind of hyperventilating:

"thank you for being obedient, brave and faithful to hear God's calling on your life to write your precious Audrey's story. i was stuck in Crete, Greece for 6 months after we unexpectedly lost our 5-day old son born at 28 weeks. i made a plan to kill myself and found your blog. you, wait, (raising my hand up to heaven, (thank you Jesus for giving me this opportunity to meet this sweet woman and tell her this,) your daughter, and your words, and your obedience, and your bravery that Jesus gave you, literally saved. my. life."

i wasn't freaking out that i was meeting the person Angie Smith. i was freaking out because i had to go back to those dark, awful days some 3+ years ago and remember and relive that. i had to tell her what Jesus did through her. trust me, if you were given an opportunity to meet someone that Jesus used in your life, so powerfully, like he used this woman, you would have either 1) thrown up on her or 2) passed out crashing into the pretty sign with her beautiful picture. i prayed it wouldn't come to this.

i went on to tell her how God had brought joy to my life again through my 2 daughters and husband who loved the Lord and who I adored. and i told her that Satan has tried his hardest to instill fear into me these last 10 months that ken has been in afghanistan. fear, fear, fear. i asked her to pray and she said she would and i believed her. she said she would pray for my husband serving in afghanistan. she cried. i cried. i told her i emailed her and she said she would read it. then she asked me to give her a hug. my body was physically trembling as i hugged her.

and that folks, was the holy spirit.

while i was talking to her i thought maybe i dug my nails into her arm because i just wanted to make sure she understood what she meant to me, to my journey with Jesus. but a friend's picture below proves i just pointed and shook my finger at her. :) oh good. i did NOT want to leave fingernail marks on this beautiful girl!!

i forgot my cute shoes and cutesy stationery to write her my note. and with all the shaking and finger-pointing, i forgot to give her the 3-page note i wrote that morning on tattered mini-notebook paper shoved into a "Quality Inn" envelope (see it in my left hand?). i wrote it because i didn't think i could get words out when i met her. and i didn't. Jesus did. i gave the note to her bodyguard and he said he would give it to her. it's ok if he didn't, because Jesus said to her what i wanted to.

the gracious love, heartfelt concern, and precious personality that comes through Angie's writing is NOT who she is in person. it's much, much better.

because Jesus in her life is better.

oh and meeting ken davis, christine caine, and the members of selah rocked. i don't know how it happened. christine is a GREEK (really?) australian and 'in your face.'  i immediately loved her and told her that when i met her. i wasn't embarassed at all when i said "calamari" to her and she corrected me "kala mara" (good morning in Greek). yeah, not one of my finest moments.

ken davis had us all laughing (and almost peeing my pants). as he signed the book i was buying, i told him it was for my hubby in afghanistan and he said his daddy was a POW and ken should enjoy that part. and the main speaker (and talented singer) sheila walsh telling us, on that large, public platform, how she was in a psychiatrist's office 5 days before, could not have been any more real. any more authentic. it ministered to me in ways no one else could.

we can be messy. things can be messy. it doesn't mean God isn't working in your life. and newsflash, until we reach heaven, we will be a mess. but His grace is sufficient.

Jesus showed up in my life this weekend more than He ever has in my life. i can't even put it into words. i'll try to over the next several blog posts.

i learned how to use the "tweeter" this weekend with Kim's gracious help. i tweeted this, this morning for myself and all the women who attended WOF:

let us not live in the yesterday of the awesomeness of WOF but go out and
DO what He has called us to do TODAY with His Power.

did i mention emmitt smith was there supporting his beautiful wife Pat who spoke (and ROCKED the house?) i had never heard her story and it SO, SO, SO moved me.

but don't worry honey, as you are sitting over there in afghanistan thinking Jesus made it possible for me to meet emmitt, He did not. God tells us He knows what we can handle and He won't give us any more than that. i would have passed out if i had met mr. smith and/or his wife said the devoted cowboys fan. but i got a picture honey. he's the blur on the front side row, on the end. :)

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

i like small breasts

...chicken breasts that is. before you stop reading because you think i'm going to go on and on about chicken sandwiches, give me another shot. and i promise it's not about to get all x-rated up in here.

i like small, hormone free, caged free chickens. small chicken breasts. grass fed cows. and rGBH hormone-free milk and most certainly, pesticide-free organic fruits and veggies.

i've gone to like 4 stores here in arkansas to *try* and get these groceries. it's not always easy. but the little research i did (because who has time?), sold me.

i love earth's best sticker on morgan's oatmeal cereal box. "no GEI." that's genetically engineered ingredients. genetically what? doesn't that just sound scary?

and the research about these growth hormones in our cows and chickens and the effects on little girls reaching puberty early is appalling. where are the regulations?? no i'm not an expert, i'm just an aware, concerned, taking-action mom. i'm not going to show up on the capital steps in protest (because i'll never again fly by myself with 2 small children), but i can make healthy decisions for my family. and i can tell you about it because i have this little blog.

my husband is completely on board with this now. he recently read Dr. Colbert's book, "The Seven Pillars of Health" and made me cliff notes because he knew I'm having trouble finishing the 8 books I'm currently reading. God Bless Him! the pillars of health (in this order): water, exercise and sleep, LIVING FOOD, exercise, detoxification, nutritional supplements, and coping with stress. this book covers a gamut of solid info, biblically based and medically proven. put it in your amazon cart today!

i'm not a nutrional expert...i'm still learning. my friend laura is on a mission trip right now or i would have this info on hand with a nice little hyperlink to the book that changed the way their family thought about food. we're on the same page. (and i promise to update this post with that info when she gets back.)

my dad has funny opinions. he told me that buying all this organic food would later screw up the girls in some way we're not aware of right now. hmmmm. i chose my words carefully.

the thing is that no, i'm not going to ever achieve 100% organic, hormone-free because they go to preschool, friends' and family's houses, and sometimes (like 5 times) i've even given her a McD's cheeseburger and fries. GASP! just yesterday she got to experience an in-and-out burger for the first time. APPALLING, right? but what i do know is that my dad's generation, maybe even during the early years while i was growing up, one did not have to worry so much about hormone-free and organic.
the American farmer has gotten out of control with creating bigger and better to gain more profits because the squeeze they have from the government. i'm not writing this to create controversy or make a political statement. wonder why so many people are gluten intolerant these days? how about the way wheat seeds are created? remember that statement from morgan's oatmeal cereal box? no 'genetically engineered ingredients.' amen.

i realize not everyone can afford to buy organic. trust me, it's a stretch in our budget and we're currently working it out. we'll make sacrifices. but nutrition and the girls' preschool, below tithing/giving and investing/saving, have become my #3 and #4 priorities. even if you can't afford "organic" look for milk that is rGBH (hormone) free. it's a start.

i recently bought a vegetable from, as an experiement. i left it in my crisper for 9 weeks and it appeared to be ok. seriously? how does it get that kind of shelf life? i can't even think about it.

here's an article talking about what to buy organic and what is not necessarily essential to buy all-natural. it covers the "dirty dozen" fruits/veggies you should, and the "clean 15" that tested low in pesticide residue.

if enough people demand a change, what could we do? no hormones, no crazy engineered ingredients. back to the basics. old school. if you're politically driven, write a letter to your congressman. just start talking about it.

bigger isn't always better. getting more out of our food is not the answer. big breasts, big cows, big eggs. it's not my thing.

is it yours?

check these sites in your free time. and if you have suggestions, PLEASE send them to me. i'll review them and add them to this post.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

from a recovering legalist...on chicken sandwiches

i don't even really know how to start this post except to admit, i'm a recovering legalist. somewhere in between accepting God's forgiveness of my sins and telling others about Christ, i fell into extreme legalism in college. i missed all the parts of my bible that explained grace. i just didn't get it. drinking is from the devil. skip a quiet time, God doesn't love me. gain too much weight, i'm not taking care of my body and God will use a skinnier, prettier messenger. it. was. BAD. extreme legalism to the nth degree. and you know where it landed me? a fall into sin at the end of college that had a grip on me for several years and a life that certainly didn't reflect anything remotely close to "christian."

i tell you this because it's why i won't be at the 'fil-a today. i support them as a company, respect that they forego profits on Sundays, and i love their grilled chicken delux (hold the bacon, please), and their peach shakes, pahhhh-leeazzzeee! for the love of goodness.

the CEO, founders and employees didn't plan today's rally. i don't even think they want it (i asked the sweet man who took my order last Thurs about it and he said, "i didn't know about it. i'm just here to serve people." he was standing outside in the 105 degree heat taking orders before you drove up to the drive-thru speaker, so that things ran more efficiently and there wasn't a traffic jam on rogers avenue to get a chicken sandwich. god bless 'him.

as for me, i won't be there today...and i don't think Dan Cathy will miss my patronage when he posts this quarter's profits. but if i get my butt to swimming on fri, i'll probably reward myself with a peach hand-spun shake!

i probably wouldn't even be writing this post if the strangest thing didn't happen to me yesterday.

i decided to go ahead and dine-in at panera bread today even though i should have taken my salad/soup treat to-go. my compromise: instead of 15 mins of eating in solitude, go rescue my laptop from the 115-degree car and actually do an august budget worksheet for the love of dave ramsey. that would shock my hubby and make him do a happy dance.

this man was speaking to a woman behind me about how tough it was to find a job. i dismissed the conversation and told myself to quit being nosey and figure out if i could budget 1 or 2 pedicures in this month (after all, my toes look terrible right NOW, and i'm heading to the beach in 31 days.) 10 minutes into my creamy tomatoe soup and fuji apple chicken salad, the man approaches me and says i look very organized. i smiled (extra BIG) and said thanks, "it's bugeting time, which i don't particularly like," hoping that would be friendly enough to be polite and end the conversation as i needed to get on with my day.

"you heading to chick-fil-a tomorrow to support them?"

"(surprised by his question) hmmm...actually, probably not." should i leave it there? uh...uh...uh...'i'll be in the basement. i told myself  'shut up, you don't have time to talk about this.' (side note - please link to Jen Hatmaker's blog and read it ASAP!!)

"well, see, i'm not going tomorrow, but if i can squeeze in a workout on friday morning i might treat myself to a peach shake!"

"why wouldn't you go tomorrow?"

"well, ummm....(gosh i'm SO NOT good at this debate/confrontation thing!), i just want to be in the basement. i don't want to stand with a bunch of people, christians, and cast stones at my friends."

"you support gays?"

"i love them. Jesus does. so i do. prostitutes and thieves alike. sinners. because i'm one too."

he proceeded to tell me that he had done a lot of bad things in his life but now he was in church and well, gays and their liberal agendas were shoving their beliefs down his throat and he was just sick of it. he was worried about our country's moral fabric.

"they march in their military uniforms in gay pride parades for God's sake."

"does that bother you? i'm a military wife. it doesn't bother me."

"well i'm an iraq verteran and yes it bothers me. the liberal left agenda is trying to tell ME what to think."

"look, i don't know a lot about 'hot topics' and politics because most of the time i'm trying to tread above water from stinky diapers, tantrums and the like from my daughters. but what i do know is that that gay soldier, my gay friends, and the gay person in this restaurant, all need to know Jesus loves them. when we as christians stand against them, they don't get the message of love. i just can't help myself to love them."

he started backing away from me mumbling about taking back our country. i interrupted him (which i hate to do, because i HATE when people do it to me), and asked him if he had sought the career placement services at the nearby military base about finding a job because i couldn't help to hear he was looking for a job. he told me he was from Florida, not a military retiree, and practically backed out the door.

just when i thought i could finish my now cold creamy tomato soup that i had pounded (walked) the treadmill for an incline (of only 3.0) for, i was in for it.

another, seriously? i don't debate religion. politics. war. and most things. i fumble words. if you want to challenge me on an issue, give me a pen and paper for my response. not my stinkin' mouth that trips over words and throws out an 'ass' inappropriately when i don't know what else to say.
this man in his late 60s/70s dining with his precious wife 2 tables from me said,

"so did he win you over? will you be at chick-fil-a tomorrow?"

"hmmm, well, i don't think so. we won't be on this side of town and i'm not sure you heard me explain to him but i don't feel it's necessary to join a group of people together and i say, i'm protesting what you were protesting last week because i support this great Christian company and founder.
too much finger pointing. actions without love.

he answered my fumbled statements with a lot of "hmmmm's" and "that's interesting's".

he talked about moral values and losing ground in this country if we're not careful.

i had less to say and smiled more.

he went on enjoying his panini and i wanted to crawl in a hole. i felt the redness tingling up my neck. but there was a feeling i couldn't leave unless i gave him Jen Hatmaker's website / blog post address on this very subject because she was so much more eloquent than me. before i slipped out, i dropped off the paper with her info /blog on it and they said thanks.

2 people randomly confront me on why i'd rather be in the basement tomorrow than pulling through chick-fil-a. seriously?

as i drove around completing my errands, i just began to pray that if there were any strongholds of legalism for these souls, God would free them from it. i don't know if they struggled with this issue in other instances but it seemed (insert my opinion) that the water they were treading in was very, very familiar. i'm not even sure i had a non-Christian friend my first 2 years of college and i was a leader for a ministry that focused on high school people who didn't know Jesus. wow, good gracious!

since i need to wrap this up, a just have one more thing to say. i don't have any problem with you going to chick-fil-a today or not. but do me a favor. when you place your order, double it, and then drive to the scariest street in your city and find someone with a sign begging for money who you have judged to "use it for drugs or alcohol" and give them your extra chicken sandwich. chances are, they are hungry.

enough with the judgement. find a place of love.

remember the Chick-fil-a worker's attitude and heart i encountered? "i'm just here to serve people."

this 20-something sure could teach us a thing or two. and he was probably just 19.

1 John 4:7 Let us love one another for love comes from God.