I love this little stretch of year between now and Christmas.  Everything is festive & there is so much to eat and do.  I have a big ole’ extended family and I realize what a blessing it is to spend the holidays with all of them.  I am 38 years old and my family Thanksgiving tradition at my Aunt Jean’s is all I have ever known.  I have been going to Aunt Jean and Uncle Randolph’s for Thanksgiving Day my whole life.  Uncle Randolph is my grandmother’s little brother and he married the greatest southern treasure in my Aunt Jean.  My Daddy often compares her to Melanie from the movie “Gone with the Wind.”  Aunt Jean is gracious and kind & she loves Jesus & loves people. She is also an incredible cook.  Each year before our meal, we all gather in her living room and she reads scripture and reminds us of all we have to be thankful for.  Seeing her stand in the living room with her apron and bible as she leads our family in a devotion is forever etched in my memory and is something I will always cherish.

This big ole’ family all started many moons ago when my great grandmother, Big Mama married my Pa-Pa.  Their names were Rosa and Leonard Taylor but they were more affectionately known around town as Big Mama and “Slim”.  I never knew my great grandfather but I have heard plenty of stories.  He was a giant of a man towering over most people in his broad, sturdy frame.  He worked at the local chalk mine to provide for his family and he loved to umpire men’s softball games at the local field.  I have always heard he favored Uncle Randolph’s team and they seldom lost with Slim behind the plate.  Big Mama had a much slighter frame (contradictory to her name) and was quite short but she had the biggest heart in the whole world.  I was fortunate enough to know Big Mama for the first 15 years of my life.  It felt like her table could feed the whole world.  She made the best biscuits I have ever tasted and everything from her kitchen was made from scratch.  I have memories of staying with her and helping her pour, sift and chop in her little kitchen.  There was always lots of sweet tea drinkin’ and front porch sittin’ at her house & even as a kid I knew it was something special.

Big Mama and Pa-Pa had five children: Rhodesia (my grandmother), Jerome, Randolph, Evelyn, and Charlotte.  My grandmother married and had two children, Randolph married and had three children, Evelyn married and had two children and Charlotte married and had two children.  All of those children had children and now those babies have their own babies & we are now five generations deep.  There are typically around 40 of us at Aunt Jean’s on the years that everyone can come. We would probably have a few more but one brother was lost along the way.  My great uncle Jerome was in the Navy and in 1958 his plane crashed overseas.  18 were found alive, 6 were dead and four were never found.  Jerome was one of the four and after two weeks he was declared dead.  Even though they never recovered his body they said no one could survive in those frigid waters for long.  I am sure my Big Mama lost a piece of heart the day the military officials showed up at her doorstep, on the very porch where she had rocked all her babies and would eventually rock great-grand-babies.  I will always remember sitting in the pew of Calvary Baptist Church for Big Mama’s funeral and the preacher using her bible as a visual aid.  That bible was slap worn out.  The leather was cracked, pages were tattered and torn from all the turning and the margins were full of her writing, detailing prayers she prayed and scriptures she prayed over her family and friends.  I remember thinking that day that I wanted to leave a legacy like that for my family.  I am so thankful that prayers are eternal and they don’t die with the physical bodies of those who prayed them.  I am sure that some of Big Mama’s prayers are still being fulfilled today in her children, grandchildren, great and great great grandchildren.

Tomorrow there will be giant spread of soul food that I am sure would make Big Mama proud.  The grands and great grands always joke that when Big Mama’s kids can’t cook anymore that we will have an assortment of pasta salads, broccoli casseroles and Fresh Market desserts.  Hopefully the hereditary cooking skills of the Taylor family will have seeped into our bones by the time it is our turn to head up the Thanksgiving feast.  My sister and I learned how to make Ma-Ma’s famous dressing last night so that’s a start:)

Life is short and life is sweet.  Hug your loved ones tight just because you can, cherish all the moments and spend some time on your knees thanking the Lord for every blessing.  You will probably be pleasantly surprised when you name them one by one.  God Bless you all and Happy Thanksgiving!

My boy

If you know me personally or even if you just know me through social media then you know my son, Lawson.  My bright eyed, energetic fella burst onto the scene on May 25, 2005 & he has been entertaining us ever since.  Fun Fact:  Lawson was born the same night that Carrie Underwood won American Idol.  My family & I vividly remember watching from my hospital room with our new addition:)

Lawson is now 12 and a half years old & sometimes our hearts (and our heads) want to explode because he is so special and he is just so many things.  He is curious, smart, witty, rarely sleeps and has endless amounts of energy.  He loves to play football, climb, build, ride four-wheelers & skateboards.  He loves anything extreme that will get his adrenaline pumping.  He has no fear when it comes to heights or oceans but jump out of a hallway when he is not expecting it and he will scream his head off (see scare cam videos on Instagram and Facebook).   Law loves people like no one I have ever seen and has a heart the size of Texas.  He has been praying like Billy Graham since he was 3 and has always talked about Jesus like he was talking about a friend. There is not a mean bone in Lawson’s body & he goes non-stop.  We always say he is that kid that you can’t think up what to tell him not to do because you would never think of it in the first place.

My amazing boy has ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) and I’m not sure I ever really believed in ADHD until God wrapped it up in a blue bow and gave it to me.  I know there are other Momma’s out there like me who may be tired and struggling, so this is for you & hopefully it will be educational for everyone.  (Side note:  you cannot spank ADHD out of a kid.)

Lawson was our first child so we knew no different and we thought all kids were live wires that never slowed down.  Lawson started daycare when he was two years old and by three we had been kicked out of one.  Ya’ll, it was a sweet little church daycare.  I will never forget the day my husband and I went in to meet with the director and she told us that they just weren’t sure what to do and that we would have to leave.  My husband immediately replied “Ya’ll are a church, you don’t even want to pray about it?” They didn’t.  That was probably the day we knew but we did not get diagnosed until two years later in Kindergarten.  Lawson’s teacher had a son that had ADHD and after teaching him for a month or two, she recognized it and encouraged us to get him tested.  We went through all the testing with our pediatrician and a local psychiatrist and sure enough, sweet little Lawson was off the charts for ADHD.  We started taking his “vitamin” soon there after and it was apparent that the ADHD med or “vitamin” as we so lovingly call it was definitely a benefit to him.  Lawson is a straight A student, always on all the honor rolls, math team, he is a Duke Tip Scholar & a member of 2017-2018 Young Entrepreneur’s Academy so academics is not a problem for my boy.  It is the “H” in ADHD that is the most active in Lawson.  He is hyper and is impulsive.  He has gained some control of his impulses as he has grown over the years but he still struggles more than average kids his age.  He loves to laugh and he loves to have fun, so when he was 4, maybe he would pull another kid down the slide not out of meanness but because it was just so fun and he wanted everyone to experience it!  Now at almost 13, his friends are just surpassing him in maturity, they are turning into teenagers and Law is not quite there yet.  Other boys his age like to throw the football on the track at the varsity games and Law can stand that for a minute but then in an effort to make it more exciting, he catches the ball and runs to the other end of the school with it or throws it on top of the roof.  That is annoying behavior that when repeated over and over makes it hard to keep friends.  I know it is hard to be tolerant but gosh, I wish we could all be a little more tolerant of each other.  If we could, the whole world, not just Lawson’s world, would be a lot different.

Lawson never slows down and it is exhausting but I know that if we can get him through these adolescent years,  he is going to be a world changer.  I truly believe he has been set apart and that’s not just a typical comment from a Mother who thinks her kid is the shiniest, everyone that meets  Lawson draws this same conclusion.  I am certainly not perfect and I don’t have this parenting gig figured out quite yet, so I often hurry Lawson along and lose my patience with him too.  Just the other day I was running around like a maniac trying to get things done around the house and Law stopped me, held my face in his hands (like I often do to him) and told me to take deep breaths, count to ten and to smile.  We went through the breathing exercise, I did smile and then he kissed me on the cheek.  I said “Oh, Lawson, I sure am gonna miss you when you are grown up and gone.” Law immediately replied “Awe, Mom, time will go slow. I am only 12 and you know how long one day is with me sometimes.”  God bless him!  I immediately laughed out loud and thought to myself “Amen, Brother Ben” but then I also felt sad that he knew how tiring he is:)

It has just been in the last year that we have started talking with Lawson about ADHD, what it means, etc.  We wanted to time it right and most of all wanted to present it in the most positive light because he has to know that nothing is wrong with him.  We explained that he is wired exactly as God planned and that he was made in God’s image. It takes all kinds to make the world go round & that all of his traits can be used for good.  Lawson does not get hung up on too much so I think we’re good:)

Brad and I recently watched a  TED talk on ADHD.  It was incredible!  The speaker was a woman in her thirties who has had ADHD all her life.  She said that “trying to get her brain to focus on anything she was not excited about was like trying to nail  jello to the wall” (that actually sounds like something Law would try).  She talked about how our behavior is affected by our brains and an ADHD brain, while often brilliant, is not the brain of an average person.  I personally resist the urge to say normal because nothing is really normal & we should not try to define “normal”.  I think we have to always understand the kind of brain we are working with, this is certainly true of educators who are working with kids but I think it also relates to parents, and just humans in general.  We need to be able to understand what we are dealing with in any situation.  If you have a kid with ADHD or even know one, you have probably wondered what in the world is going on inside their brain at times.  Maybe you have even asked them.

I don’t have all the answers but I know ADHD is real and it is not due to a lack of parenting or discipline but it is in fact a neurological development disorder.  It goes back to our brains (our whole operating system) that is acting and reacting differently than the average Joe’s brain.  Lawson has explained it to us that it feels like a motor is running inside all the time and sometimes he tries to slow down or focus and just can’t.  The TED talk speaker said her brain often felt like it was being flipped between thirty different channels and someone else was holding the remote.  Along with regulating behavior, it is also hard for ADHD kids to regulate sleep.  Lawson has not napped since he was 3 and today if he ever falls asleep on his own, we drive straight to the doctor because we know he is coming down with something.  The other day he had an allergic reaction and I guess the Benadryl made him sleepy so he fell asleep and the very act of napping startled him.  He ran to me saying “Mom, I fell asleep!” It’s okay buddy, it happens:)

I have been learning that there are two kinds of brains.  A neurotypical brain is a brain like mine and like yours, they are non-ADHD brains.  ADHD brains usually have a skewed sense of time and have trouble with a whole set of functions like organizing, prioritizing, regulating emotions, etc.  On the bright side, these same people walking around with ADHD brains also have so much to offer! They are kind, intuitive, funny, generous, etc.  The TED talk speaker said that “ADHD people are 300 times more likely to start a business.  They don’t just think outside of the box, they are often unaware there even is a box.” So true!  She ended her talk by saying “It is not about someone who fidgets non-stop or doesn’t try hard enough.  It is about brains that are chronically not aroused & are trying to get the stimulation that all brains need.  Society is a users manual – we learn how our brains and bodies work by watching those around us.  When yours works differently, it can feel like you are broken.  You are not weird, you are not broken.  You are different, you are beautiful and you are not alone.”

I took a few pages of notes and teared up a little as she spoke because I could so clearly see my Lawson in her.  If you are parenting an ADHD kid, you are not alone either.  Keep advocating for your kid and the good news is that the rewards of parenting are so much greater than the frustrations. Study about ADHD or whatever plagues your kid, listen to podcasts, read books, find a community and just familiarize yourself with your kid’s brain.  You will be glad you did.

Things don’t often bother Lawson & he is usually blissfully unaware that he is bothering anyone.  We always say this is a blessing and a curse.  A blessing because he is oblivious to how kids feel about him sometimes but it is a curse for that same reason because the switch that tells him to stop or leave them alone never comes on.  Lawson is rarely unhappy and it is always easy to tell when he is downcast or has had a rough day and we usually have to pry info out of him.  He does not like to tell us if someone has hurt his feelings because he doesn’t want us to think less of the kid!  Isn’t that something?  We could all use a little dose of ADHD brain if that is part of it:)  He just cares deeply for others and wants so badly for people to do the right things & I think he often thinks he can change people (he has certainly tried with his sister who does not like to hug or talk as much as he does) & mostly he just wants to protect people.  Here is an example:  Lawson and I made a quick grocery store run last night but there are so many eye catching objects in the grocery store that a trip with Law rarely turns out to be quick so when we finally got to the check out line I told him to help unload the buggy.  He was looking at the tabloids above the checkout counter.  I proceeded to tell him a few more times to unload the cart & by the time he was done fidgeting with the magazines I finished unloading so then I told him to come bag the groceries.  I was growing ever more frustrated with how long it was taking him to get in gear.  He started bagging things up and said “Sorry, Mom, I just wanted to hide those magazines.  Did you see the headlines?” No, Lawson, I never stopped to read the headlines.  “It was awful.  It was about terrorists & all of these things that they are planning to do.  Nobody needs to see and read that.   It could ruin someone’s day.”  God bless his sweet little soul.  He was trying to protect strangers that might be reading in the checkout line.  He was quite relieved when I told him it was a tabloid and not usually accurate or true. While bagging our groceries, he also made conversation with the grocery clerk, Camille, but he has probably never seen that name so he called her KA MILLIE.  Where are the laughing emoji’s on this blog because that was funny?!? I need to insert a good laughing emoji every now and then.  I quickly corrected him and lessened her confusion once she realized he was just attempting to call her by name:)

At the end of the day, Lawson is amazing, and confident and resilient and it is our job to do our best to keep him tender and not let the world chew him up and spit him out.  My boy has the most beautiful spirit I have ever known and I just want to keep it in tact until he is grown up and can guard it himself.  Thanks to all of you Lawson fans that love him and keep him lifted up on the regular.  He is missing the social queues that the rest of us were born with but what he lacks in social queues he makes up with heart and a little button that requires him to give no less than 2,500 hugs per day.  Thank you, Lord for the sweet gift of Lawson.

Please contact me if you or someone you know is in need of ADHD resources!  Once you know the issues you can look for solutions!  In the words of Morticia Addams from the Addams F-A-M-I-L-Y:  “Normal is an illusion.  What is normal for the spider, is chaos for the fly.”

God bless you!






Life, Death,and the stuff in between

Life is short isn’t it?  I have been reflecting on life and death this week and those thoughts inspired this blog post.  I once led a bible study & one of the exercises that the author encouraged us to do was to think about our own funerals.  If a loved one delivered a eulogy what would they say?  How will people remember you and the life you lived?  How do you want to be remembered?

I am 38 years old and have attended lots of funerals at this point in my life.  Many of my best friends in this world, including my husband buried a parent way too soon & over the last year I have attended at least three funerals for parents of friends that I have known my entire life. Funerals are a somber affair and our earthly hearts hurt because even though we know death for believers just means that they woke up in Heaven, our hearts ache for the loss of our normal and what could have been.  I was just at a funeral earlier this week for a precious lady that I have known my entire life.  Mrs. Gloria left this world and woke up in glory & she left a legacy of love for her family.  There was never a time that I bumped into her that she didn’t tell me that she loved me before we parted & I know that was common practice for her with everyone she knew.  When I shard that with my husband after her passing he said “she always told me that too.” What a sweet way to be remembered.

When you grow up in a small town like I did, everybody knows everybody & by nature we just show up for each other.  There is a bitter sweetness to tragedy & loss in a small town because your people just show up in droves.  They bring food, they clean your house, they hug you & do whatever needs to be done.  Sometimes they just sit with you but the bottom line is that they show up.  It is a sight to behold.  Every time I go home for a funeral I am thankful for where I came from and the natural love that flows from small places.

I knew Mrs. Gloria my whole life as did my husband.  Since we both grew up in the same small town we have many of the same memories and grew up around the same people because if anything we serve a God of details.  Mrs. Gloria’s oldest daughter, Anna, was about my age and we grew up together hanging out in Athens tailgating and learning football with our Daddies & the tailgate crew.  We also went to school together, swam at the Gordon Pool with all the other hometown kids & played at the ball field.  Mrs. Gloria had lots of nieces and nephews and two of those were Jennifer and Jonathan.  Jennifer and I were best friends and played ball together all through childhood and it just so happened that her brother, Jonathan, and my husband, Brad were also best friends.  All of that to say, we spent a lot of our childhood with those friends and their big ole family which included Mrs. Gloria.  She was funny, she was gracious and she loved people.

While I was standing at Mrs. Gloria’s graveside service earlier this week, I was standing between my husband and my 84 year old grandmother.  My grandmother was talking to another hometown friend and the friend said something about it being nice to have people stand up to speak and share nice stories about the deceased at funerals.  My wise grandmother in her southern drawl immediately said “yes it is, by the time you die, you  done preached your own funeral” then if she had a mic she could have dropped it. There is such truth in those words and it has really stuck with me.  She probably doesn’t even remember she said it.  It just left me reflecting on my life and how I’m living it & that ultimately actions speak louder than words.  We are all works in progress & I know we all desire to be remembered well so today, I challenge you to sit with yourself for a while and think about who you are and what kind of legacy you are leaving & how you want to be remembered.  The good news is that if you still have breath, you still have time to get it right.

Go and be the light!  God bless you all – thank you for reading and following! (P.S. -tell somebody that you love them today)

Live Unoffended

Hey friends!  Sorry that I left you hanging – I said I would be back Friday but I didn’t get back Friday so instead I am here on Sunday!  Thanks in advance for your graciousness:)

There is so much running through my mind today and so many topics I would love to hash out BUT I figured I would stay on track for at least one more post & tell you another step to living a freed up life!

Live Unoffended.  I am sure that I have read the scripture associated with this instruction and I have probably heard this actual phrase before but sometimes you just have to be in the right space to truly hear.  Recently, I went on spiritual retreat with a few friends and it was in that setting that the leader in one of my breakout sessions said “live unoffended – be hard to offend” and it really hit home.  Before we go any further, did you realize that spiritual retreats really exist?!?  I never did and it was so funny to me because during my husband’s addiction, every time he went to rehab I would tell people he was on a spiritual retreat so the fact that I was actually getting to go on a spiritual retreat was a hoot!  A free piece of advice – be wary of spiritual retreats because it likely means camping, port a potties and no showers.  Like Woodstock but for Jesus.  Jesus and I are such good friends and I love Him like no other.  He is the one who created me and when He created me, he also gave me a desire to be clean and fixed up so I need a shower & hair dryer every day and I need an actual toilet because I have a really small bladder.  Incredible overall experience but by night 3 me and my crew were in a hotel room.  The local Best Western looked like the Magic Kingdom.  Thank you, Jesus.

Okay, let’s get back on track.  Like we talked about last week, our feelings are fickle and it is easy to let them rule over us but feelings were never intended to rule.  Choices lead and feelings follow.  There are so many things in life that we cannot control but we can always control our attitudes and our response to other people & the situations we encounter.  I know that people do offend us sometimes and it is like a reflex to say “can you believe she acted that way?” or “can you believe she said that to me?” or can you believe they treated my child that way?”  What if we asked the Spirit to help us be offended less and to begin to live life unoffended.  Game changer!

Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines offense as something that outrages the moral or physical senses.  Have you been there?  Have you ever felt outraged or even sick to your stomach because of an offensive comment or action?  People hurt us and so we begin to build walls around our hearts.  Walls are no good because they not only keep the bad stuff out but they also keep the good stuff out.  Nothing can get through a wall.  I learned the difference between walls and boundaries years ago through a book I picked up in a local Alanon meeting.  Boundaries are just like drawing a line in the sand and not stepping over it.  Boundaries are healthy.  Walls however, are tall and thick and they keep us completely separated.  There can be no growth where we plant big cement walls but if we just draw a line, then we can still grow and flourish even around the people who are not our favorites.  Because of our broken world, we will always face offense but that is when we have a choice to make.  Are we going to blow up and live offended or are we going to forgive, turn it over to God and go on about our way seeking the abundant life?  The latter option sounds so much better!  None of us will do this perfectly all the time but just recognizing that there is a choice is half the battle.

Romans 8:28 reminds us that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.  God loves you, He is for you & He wants to see you prosper.  Don’t let feelings dictate your day, you have power over them!  Until next time, get out there and live your best life!  #freedup



The F word.  Forgiveness. Sorry to get all heavy on you so soon but forgiveness is one of the first steps to living a freed up life.  Forgiveness can be a little scary at first.  It can make us feel vulnerable & the world teaches us to avoid vulnerability at all costs.  But I want to tell you that vulnerability is powerful.  So is humility but we can talk about that another day.  I was not planning to write about forgiveness today but it is fresh on my mind as I prepare for my small group tonight and if you want to live in freedom and wear the #freedup t-shirt then you gotta get your heart right and forgive where forgiveness is needed.

First, let’s talk about what forgiveness is NOT because there are many misconceptions.  It is not condoning the other person’s behavior or actions, it is not minimizing the offense or forgetting it happened.  It is also not reconciliation. You can forgive someone and never see them or speak to them again in your life.  How cool is that?!? We can probably all think of at least one person that we’d never like to see again.  Sometimes we think if we forgive a person then we are declaring that what they did to us is okay and it was not okay so it is not fair to forgive them and let them off the hook so to speak.  That seems like logical thinking but here’s the thing, you are a sinner too and if Christ has forgiven you then who are you to withhold forgiveness from others?  You probably don’t want to start talking to Jesus about what’s “fair” because his life and death on the cross was definitely not fair but he went through it all so he could bear our burdens, forgive our sins & give us an eternal home.  Truthfully, we are all grace takers & if we want grace for ourselves then we can’t dole out what’s “fair” to Susie Q down the street because she offended us.  She deserves forgiveness same as me.  You have probably heard someone say something along the lines of “you are only harming yourself by hanging on to that resentment and harboring unforgiveness in your heart.” Isn’t that something?  You are the one reaping the consequences of unforgiveness, not the person who offended you!  They are going about their lives and meanwhile, you are being poisoned with unforgiveness.  Don’t let that junk spread all throughout your body!  You can stop it in its tracks if you acknowledge it and deal with it.

Did you know that love is a choice?  Many people think love is a feeling but any honest married person can tell you that it is most definitely a choice.  Young love usually starts out as a feeling.  There is physical attraction and lots of hormones.  I can remember the butterflies in my stomach when my handsome guy would pick me up for a date or when he came to visit me at college and probably right through our honeymoon it did seem like a feeling.  It was easy to love him.  Fast forward two years into married life & it most definitely became a choice.  Some days all I felt was hurt and anger but thankfully I had heard this feeling/choice argument before so I made a choice to keep loving him and continued to make that choice over & over again for the next eleven years.  See, feelings are fickle.  Feelings are constantly changing and can’t always be trusted.  Just like love, forgiveness is also a choice. My pastor has a tag line that says “Choices lead, feelings follow”.  Such a true statement!  God doesn’t just suggest that we forgive but rather he commands it.  If you are in Christ then you are forgiven and quite simply if you are forgiven then you should also forgive.  Christ freely forgave us and thank goodness we didn’t have to earn it & because of that we cannot require others to earn forgiveness either.

Genesis 50:20 says “You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good.  He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people.” Wow!  I think about ways that people intended to harm me in the past and it did hurt but all the while my God was in the background saying “it is gonna hurt for a bit but I am going to make this mess beautiful and I am going  to use it to grow you and prosper you” Wow!  There really is no other way, we learn our best lessons and have our best God experiences when we walk through a tough time because it is at that time when we realize how badly we need the holy 3 –  God, Jesus, AND the Holy Spirit! In this broken world we are going to be harmed sometimes and we are going to experience hurt but we can always have the sweet promise that God is with us and He is going to work it out for our good and His glory.  If Brad and I had not walked the hard path of addiction then we would not be qualified to do what we get to do now.  There was purpose in the pain and through God’s work in us, it has been the privilege of our lives to now walk alongside hurting people & be able to share healing and hope because of our redemption story.  Without that story, (the bad parts and the good parts) Cross Roads Recovery would not exist.

If you feel like you are struggling with forgiving someone or folks (plural sense as in lots of peeps) you are not alone & you can forgive & overcome this road block on the way to freed up living.  You just have to change your way of thinking.  That sounds easier than it is but just know that you have to be intentional and disciplined to change old thought patterns.  Meditate on the truth of God’s word, ask him to take the unforgiveness you have been harboring and to free your heart.  Read the truth of scripture & read it out loud because there is power in His word.

Go ahead. Forgive.  Cause just like your Momma told you when you were a toddler, sometimes you gotta do what you don’t want to do.  Do it anyway.

I’ll be back Friday – God bless!