September 12th

September 11th will always be a day etched in the minds of Americans who lived through that day back in 2001.  That day impacted every American.  There was death, shock, & confusion but there was also compassion, love, & solidarity.  I heard a guy on the radio yesterday say something like “we would never want to repeat September 11th but September 12th is a day worthy of rembering and repeating.”  He said that because September 11th was horrific, the greatest tragedy our nation has ever seen but what happend on September 12th was miraculous.

There were more people in churches than ever before, in the streets of New York people showed up by the hundreds to lend a helping hand, people all over the country gave blood, and I think everyone hugged their families a little tighter and maybe said I love you a little more often.  We were reminded or our humanity and the fragility of life.

Everyone came together for the love of our country & we focused not on what seperates us but what unites us, we are all Americans.  What if we could live September 12th kind of days every day?  It would be a game changer.  You do it, I’ll do it and then our friends and family will do it and we may just start a revolution!

September 12th is a significant day in the life of my family every year because it is my Momma’s birthday.  62 years ago today the world was graced with a beautiful baby girl named Sheryl Anne Turner.  I wish I had a baby/toddler pic to post because she was adorable.  The first born to my grandparents & they doted and loved on her like no other & she would say that went on until her baby brother was born:) The baby boy, us mamas of boys all know how that story goes:) Seriously, she was loved well & my grandparents thought she was the best.  Then that little girl grew up, fell in love, and married my Daddy.

Momma and Daddy embarked on their life together and birthed their first little darling (me) in June of 1979.  Their second little darling (a.k.a . the golden child/Sister) came along 9 1/2 years later in December of 1987. Those babies grew up and finally gave Daddy his boys by marrying two good men & finally the real apples of Mom’s eye were born, her grandkids, Lawson and Bella.  I think she would say life has been good to her thus far:)

Mom is a hard worker, a good friend to so many people, a firece protector of her girls and a loving Ga Ga to her grandchildren.  She is always early to appointments and events, she loves to shop & has rearrangd her house approximately 4,288 times.  She will slap a coat of paint on a wall like nobody’s business , we always say the walls of her home are held up by paint:) Mom is strong in so many ways and has a heart of gold.  She has loved on countless families during times of grief and heartache & she is incredibly loyal to her people.  She takes care of all of us and we are eternally grateful for her presence in our lives.

She has loved the same man for 43 years, been loyal to the same job for over 30, sent two girls to school to be educated and raised them to be responsible adults & bonus – gave them each beautiful wedding days they will always cherish.  Mom, you’ve done well.  We love you!  Here’s to your next 62 years!


What a Day

Good Heavens, what a day! The day is almost over & I still can’t get right. Have you ever had a day like that? I know you have cause wonky days are inevitable but this one has thrown me for a loop! Let me catch you up.

7:45 am – I get the kids out the door & begin my day. I have a speaking engagement at noon & I have rearranged my whole day to make it happen – moved a decorating appointment, canceled a yoga class & got up extra early to get office work done so I could leave my house by 11:30 for said speaking engagement.

11:15 am – I am almost ready & four workers pull in my driveway. 2 for an outside job & 2 for an inside job. I am blocked in my driveway & unprepared for their arrival so we juggle cars in my cramped driveway so I can get out & they can get going. Meanwhile, I put the dog in the crate so I can gather all my things & get my car loaded for the day & by the time I walk back in to change shoes, the dog has pooped ALL over her crate. Who does that?!? (the dog is a whole different post for another day, she is a hot mess) So, I scoop her up, clean up the mess while in my dress clothes, put her back inside & rush out the door.

11:45 am: I pull up to the downtown building where my speaking engagement is happening & I sit for a minute to gather myself. Then I remember that I need to look for my earring back that randomly fell off my earring while I was driving down the road. 🤷‍♀️ I find it, gather my things & head up to the third floor. It’s 11:52 am & it seems odd to me that no one is there yet. At 11:55, I called the organizer & left a voicemail telling her that I thought I was in the wrong place. Next, I scrolled back through our email string & realized nobody is there because the event is TOMORROW!!! 😳🤦🏽‍♀️

Oh my word. I was all dressed up & nowhere to go 😂 I couldn’t go back home because of the workers so I floated around town running my errands in style! I have never been so dressed up in Kroger, Hobby Lobby, or the carpool line:)

It was a simple mistake. The email came & I jotted the time down on the wrong date in my calendar. They wanted me on the 22nd & I penciled them in for the 21st. No big deal except that I believe there is always a lesson in things like this & today, I heard God whispering to my busy spirit. I was not even out of the parking lot & He said “Baby girl, you have got to let something go. You thought you could do ALL the things but you cannot do ALL the things at the same time. Particularly not in this season.”

Thank you, Jesus. Ya’ll, I really thought that I could manage Cross Roads, write, speak, sell skincare, decorate homes, study for my Masters , work my boutique job once a week & be a wife & Mom 😳

I was reminded last month at my conference to not sacrifice my role for my calling. For example, I know that Brad & I were called to addiction ministry & I also know that I was called to speak, write, & counsel others. All of those things are good things & it is my calling but my current role in life is to be a wife to Brad & a mother to Lawson & Bella. In other words, my calling is always going to be my calling but my children won’t always need raising & I will never get this particular season back with them or my husband. That gave me some perspective.

I am wired to be a busy body, I’m ambitious & I love a good challenge so it won’t be easy but I know I gotta let some stuff go. Not forever, just for a season. I am a Martha for sure. My sister & I could have totally been in that bible story with Jesus & she obviously would have been Mary.

Stay tuned to learn how I am trimming back & I encourage you to think about what you can simplify in your life too. I encourage you to make time for the Lord & listen for his voice or gentle nudge. He is a gentleman so he won’t shout, that means you will have to drown out the noise of the world to hear His whisper.

I am honored that you read the words I write & I hope to keep building & growing all along the way. Thank you for meeting me here 😉



My kids just started back to school. Like yesterday. It was a long summer & it was good. I have had some strange feelings swirling around since they left for school yesterday though. I am not a super emotional person & I have never “missed” my kids during the school day but yesterday felt different.

Both kids had significant birthdays in May. One turned 13 & one turned 10. They both started significant grades yesterday. Bella started 5th grade which brings changing classes & changing clothes daily in the locker room for P.E.

Lawson started 7th grade which at our school is a big deal. This is the official start of middle school for us. 6th grade is considered elementary at our school but 7th grade means a big new building, lockers & lots of class changes.

I was not prepared for the sting of emotions I felt yesterday as we took the kids to school. For the first time in Lawson’s life, I did not walk him in on his first day. I just dropped him at the door & watched him go. I did still get to walk Bella in but she seemed so grown up sitting in her 5th grade classroom.

I think I am getting mushy in my old age. I really felt like I could cry a little yesterday & I just felt like the fact that kids grow FAST was staring me in the face. Like no longer was it just something you say, like a cliche’ but yesterday it was unfolding before my very eyes. It was like the fact that I only get 18 summers with them was sitting on my shoulders & it was heavy. As I stare down the road at Summer 14 & Summer 11 , it just doesn’t quite seem adequate.

We didn’t have a fancy summer but it was a good summer. The kids each did one camp & we had a family vacation. Other than that, it was a 1980’s summer around here. Kids slept late every day, swam some, I worked from home & we tried to get out & about but I had to remind them that just because they get a summer vacation doesn’t mean that I do. My business & our ministry doesn’t let up just because it’s summer. I told them about my 1980’s summers & expected them to be content with just being home. For the most part, they were. Then they left for school & I found myself missing my little assistants but no worries, it passed quickly. Keep reading:)

We have only been back to school for 2 days & the morning routine is just hectic no matter what safe guards I try to implement. It’s just this season of life. Seasons are designed by God & because He knew kids needed school & Momma’s need a break, summers can’t last forever. Thank you, Jesus. Forgive me when I doubt you or complain about school. Read on for a snapshot of our morning that took me out of sentimental land & back to reality.

Bella is the most self sufficient child I know. I don’t ever worry about her. On the first day of school she got up the first time she was called, made her bed, got ready & asked to make her lunch!! 😳😳 Who is this gift from Heaven & can I multiply her? So thankful for that little gem.

Meanwhile, Lawson has a harder time all the way around. He gets up later, takes forever to complete his morning routine even though his timer is ticking away & I am constantly redirecting him. 54 seconds left on the “get dressed” time clock & he is sprawled across the bed in his PJ’s. This is all while complaining of indigestion that he says is caused by the antibiotic given by the ER doc who treated his hand injury a week ago. I have been giving him the antibiotic morning & night per the doctor’s instructions. Lawson heard the doc say that indigestion might be a side effect & ya’ll, he has ran with it. I told him today that I don’t care if his hand rots off, I will never give him that antibiotic again because if I hear one more murmur about indigestion I am gonna lose it.

So, all of that to say that my mushy, sentimental feelings from yesterday have worn off & I was real glad to see the bus (Brad’s truck) leave with the kids this morning. I told Brad if I had 2 Lawson’s that I would run away. He said “you would run away? Even from me?” Yes.

If you are feeling sentimental & like the years are flying by, just give it a little time Mommas. It only took me 24 hours to remember how long the days are. To the teachers of the world, (especially Law’s) God bless you.

Disclaimer: if you have followed me long you know how much I love my kids & that Law holds a special place in my soul but some days we all just need to read something honest. If that’s you, you came to the right place 😉

Happy School Year ya’ll! Live freed up!


Love Does

Many of you may have read the incredible book entitled “Love Does’ by Bob Goff.  I borrowed his title for this blog post because it is just so fitting.  My heart gets heavy sometimes when I think about the love of Jesus and how so often down here on earth we get it twisted and we don’t give the image of Jesus that is true and accurate.  The pastors at our church always say that Jesus is attractive once you get to know Him but there can be so many things about traditional “church” that are unattractive to visitors, so we always want to go the extra mile to make everyone feel welcome, comfortable and at home when they enter our doors.

Think about that for a minute, I would bet that everyone reading this has at one point or another found themselves in a situation that felt uncomfortable.  Maybe it was not necessarily at church but we have all felt less than welcome and uncomfortable at some point in our lives.  As followers of Jesus, we should never contribute to anyone feeling unwelcome or unloved.

If Jesus is our example, let’s look to scripture to some of the people Jesus encountered and how he treated them.  We could explore these stories one by one and go much deeper but I have found the equation in each story to be the same.  Jesus bumped into people unlike him, people who had made questionable life choices, & people who had committed crimes.  But those stories all ended the same so the equation goes like this: a messed up, broken individual + Jesus = truth spoken in love & lots of grace.  If Jesus showed so much grace, who are we to withhold that from our brothers and sisters here on earth?

Unfortunately, I think religion & self proclaimed “religious” people are what give the rest of us Jesus followers a bad rep.  Jesus was not about religion, He was about love.  In the bible, it was the religious people that gave Jesus the most grief and still today, it is the religious people who make Jesus so confusing to those who don’t know Him.  They hear about God’s love and then get shunned because of how they are dressed or because of who they love or because they have too many tattoos.  That’s confusing,  I for one am very grateful that the love of Jesus is not based on anything we do or don’t do because He loves us unconditionally.

The unconditional love of Jesus does not mean that we should just run wild and do whatever we please, He loves us far too much for that so he left us a guide within scripture and told us how to live.  Jesus knows the best way so He shared that with us knowing if we followed his instructions that it would be for our good and for His glory.  I think living that way is living life to the full that is mentioned in scripture.  Jesus was perfect and holy & if anyone could have turned their nose up and judged folks, it was Him but he did not do that. Nor did he avoid or speak ill of the people who were different than him.  He taught love.  He taught us to love Him first and foremost and then to love ALL His people.  Our church’s first two core values are “Love God and Love People” because those are the two greatest commandments.  It sounds simplistic but those two things are really our greatest calling.

I think it is easy for churches and people in the culture to get it twisted because it is easy to think that if you love the drug addicts, the thieves, the homosexuals, that you are condoning their behavior.  That is not what love is.  You can disagree with a lifestyle & still love the people in it.  That is what Jesus did.  Not some of the time but all of the time & I don’t think He would ever expect us to shun those who are behaving differently or choosing differently than we do.

Churches and Christians have to be like hospitals and medical staff to those who are hurting and for those who don’t know Jesus.  Our actions or reactions should never push the people we are trying to reach farther away.  Because here is the thing, we are all imperfect, sinful humans with our own individual bag of rocks & we can’t rate sin.  Jesus looks at me and the guy serving a life sentence for murder with the same eyes.  He sees my sin and he sees his sin and it is all the same, it is sin.  God does not love me more because my sin is “less” than the murderer because there is no scale.  My sin is just as great as the guy in jail – it may not have the same consequences but it is just as great so I am in no position to judge him if our God views us the same.

It is so easy to get puffed up as you size up other people and before you realize it, you are thinking “at least I am not that bad.”  We have to get rid of this sin scale that was created in our minds and focus on love, truth , and grace.  Pull out your bibles and you will find Jesus there and the lessons he taught.  Jesus ran to the hurting people & He loved ALL the people – especially the ones that were hard to love.

If you want to read some of the stories of Jesus loving on people and showing grace then read about the woman at the well, Zacchaeus in the tree, the criminal hanging on the cross, the story of Judas and Peter & the list goes on and on but that is a good start to show the character of Jesus. I am convinced that we are called to love & then we can leave the rest up to Jesus.  If we know Jesus and love him then a love for others is going to come fairly naturally.  It may not always be easy but when your cup is full of Him then it is going to eventually overflow and splash a little Jesus on everyone around you.

In Bob Goff’s book that I mentioned earlier, he talks about how love does, because love is not something we just say, it is something we do.  Bob reminds us that love does things.  In Chapter 1 of that book there is a quote that says “I used to want to fix people, but now I just want to be with them.” That is so beautiful!  I can totally relate to that sentiment because I used to think I was the fixer of all things until God taught me a little humility and how little control I actually have.  See, we can only do what we can do & then we just know that God is big enough and wise enough to take care of the rest.

That is refreshing isn’t it?  We don’t have to sort through everyone’s shortcomings or choices, we are only called to love them.  All we need is love.  I would have been a really good hippie:)

Seriously, I was at a funeral today & the pastor said He believes we will enter Heaven not simply because we are religious but because we loved well.  AMEN and AMEN.  Jesus is the way, the truth and the life & if we love Him, ask Him into our hearts to lead and guide us and love others well then I think we will have a sweet retirement plan when our life on earth is done.  Go love on somebody today and tell them Jesus sent you!

In Him,


She Speaks Conference

I can’t think of a catchy title because I have so much to tell you so the name of my recent conference will have to do!  I had the absolute honor and privilege of attending the 2018 “She Speaks” conference in Concord, NC last weekend.  She Speaks is put on by Proverbs 31 Ministries.

First though, I want to do a quick intro for those of you that may be seeing my blog posts for the first time.  I am a wife, mother and Jesus chaser.  Please don’t stop reading, I am not one of those people that holds the signs at SEC games shouting that you are going to Hell – I like to share about Jesus’ extravagant love instead.  I have experienced it first hand & I just want to share it with everyone!  My husband and I run a local ministry for men that struggle with addiction.  It is near and dear to our hearts because addiction is a  part of our story, my precious husband struggled for 12 years but now he is free (Praise the Lord!) & we want to help free all the others!  All of the info about our ministry can be found on our website,  I launched the J. Sappe Company to pursue my writing, speaking events and to promote my interior decorating business. So, you will see home pictures, event pictures, my blog posts and everything in between on the J. Sappe page.  If you are new to the blog, welcome!  Please click the “follow” button so you will be notified of new posts.

If you are not familiar with Proverbs 31 Ministries, look them up, follow them on social media and sign up for their daily encouragement emails.  This ministry was launched in 1992 and I have been following them since the early 2000’s.  P31 is led by the amazing Lysa TerKeurst (follow her too!) and she is basically my idol.  She writes and speaks so eloquently and I have been reading her books and doing her bible studies for most of my adult life.  I am a total fan.

I have always heard about the conference but never thought of attending especially this year because I have so many other things going on BUT God.  God intended for me to go and he totally provided a way and worked in all the details.  I feel like I got an added bonus because I have family that lives just outside of Concord so I got to spend two nights with them while attending the pre-conference classes.

When I walked in the conference center last Thursday morning I felt overwhelmed, nervous and a little anxious as I am sure everyone else did but it was like once you entered the doors & sat down, you knew God was in that place.  I was surrounded by hundreds of other women who were in the same shoes as me, it was their first conference and they were not sure what to expect either & I don’t know if that was the trigger or if it was just Jesus but everyone was so welcoming & it was like having instant friends.  Ya’ll know that unfortunately, that is not a normal situation for a large group of women but in this place there was no sizing up or judgment, there was just love.

Here is an example: After the prayer session, I heard two ladies talking about the drive to Matthews (a neighboring town) and I said “are ya’ll going to tour the P31 office at 11:30?” They had also just met and said “yes!  do you want a ride?”  I hopped in the car with these two women I had just met and carpooled to the P31 office, we picked up one more friend who had taken an Uber there and she rode back with us. It was so fun!  I am still amazed at all of the different ages, stages and backgrounds that attended the conference – just in our car that day we had the wife or a trucker who mostly lives on the road and aspires to write and speak, a labor and delivery nurse of 25 years, an attorney turned entrepreneur and me!

My conference kicked off last Thursday with a prayer session at the conference center with P31 staff then I got to go tour the Proverbs 31 Ministry Office (with my new friends)! It was a dream to see where the staff works and comes up with all of the ministry materials that are literally changing lives around the globe!  I totally sat at Lysa’s desk and took a pic!  I am sad to report that I did not get to meet her face to face but I am forever impacted by her conference teachings.   The conference was absolutely jam packed and at the end of those three days I was so tired & was so excited to climb in my hotel bed and stretch out each night.  I slept like a log the entire trip!

While at the conference I got to worship and pray alongside 800 other sisters in Christ during the main sessions & that in and of itself was awe inspiring.  To see all the women & know God has called each of them to write, lead, and speak.  It takes courage to pursue your calling and to be in the midst of so many women taking steps towards that was amazing.  I also had the opportunity to attend 11 workshops geared towards my writing and speaking career.  It was an incredible opportunity and I am forever thankful.

I want to highlight just a few special relationships that began last week at the conference.  First, I want to say that it was clear that God had gone before me because it was no accident that I always seemed to find myself among women that had a family member struggling with addiction.  I gave out as many Cross Roads business cards as I did my writing/speaking business cards.  By the last day,  I just instinctively handed out both cards.  This carried right over in to Sunday when I drove to Charlotte to worship at Elevation Church.  The precious lady that I sat beside has a son that has and is struggling.  I gave her both cards too and she and I have already been texting & I look forward to staying in touch!  Only God ya’ll!

Back to those conference relationships I mentioned – first is a new friend named Jennifer.  Jennifer and I have kind of known each other over the years through mutual friends & the day I left for conference my best friend, B, texted me to say that Jennifer was going to conference too!  She shared her cell and we connected and were of course conference besties.  We have lots in common and are now aspiring to do some of the same things in our lives.  I am betting our friendship will go on for years and years.

The next friendship I want to highlight is the one with my prayer partner, Anna.  I did webinars preparing for the conference and specifically for my publisher meetings and on one of the webinars they mentioned prayer partners.  If you wanted one, you just emailed Barb at Proverbs 31 Ministries and she would pair you with someone.  I got Anna:)  We exchanged emails, prayed for one another and encouraged one another for the month leading up to conference & then we met up once we both arrived.  Looking forward to staying connected with Anna.  Anyone up for trip to New England?  We can go visit her!

Lastly, is precious Chelsie.  Chelsie was with one of the onsite vendors & Chelsie makes jewelry.  Chelsie also has an incredible story of redemption.  She shared during one of the luncheons I attended & I knew I had to connect with Chelsie.  Her past includes years of drug addiction which lead to shame and feelings of low self-worth.  Chelsie got to the Rescue Mission in Nashville, TN and she kicked her addiction and she found Jesus.  While at the mission she met the incredible people of ABLE (follow them at Live FashionABLE) & she got a job and is now the lead in her department.  Chelsie has custody of her son and she is getting married this fall & she has a “Freed Up” tee shirt in the mail from me and Cross Roads:)  I LOVE a good redemption story!  Chelsie was there as a vendor but next year I want to see that she is there as an attendee so she can chase her dream of speaking and telling her story to hopeless women who are still in the shoes she used to wear.  If you would like to partner with me in getting Cheslie to the conference next year, please email me at

My next several blog posts will be breaking down some of the specific teachings from the conference so I hope you will stay tuned to hear some of the incredible nuggets of wisdom that I stored in my heart (and in my notebook) from my time at the P31 conference.  Big blessings to you all!  All the love & hugs!


The Writer’s Zone

The Writer’s Zone.  Its a thing and I have been in it all day!  I have been preparing for a writer’s conference since Spring but sometimes I work best under pressure so a week or two before is about right for the juices to start flowing.  I have the opportunity to meet with two publishers while at the conference & the prep has been daunting to say the least!  All that to say that I never understood when I heard writers say talk about needing to get away to write or how they would hole up all day in one spot and not budge or when they wrote the books and thanked their families it all seemed a little melodramatic.  I would always think really?  That’s sweet but you wrote a book, why you are you thanking your family?  Well, now I know why! Because if you are going to write a book people have to leave you alone!  That is not easy for you spouse and kids to do.  Mama writers cannot just sit and write, there is always too much else to do. Thank you Brad, Lawson, and Bella!  You rocked at leaving me alone today!

Today, was totally out of character for me.  For starters, it was not planned & I almost always have a plan.  If you know me, you know I am organized, my house is always clean (don’t gag – it is just how I am wired) & I get things done but today I have done NOTHING but write.  It has been glorious but I am a little haunted by the unmade bed and the GIANT pile of laundry in my bedroom.  I am still in my pajamas at 4:30 pm & I have only budged from my corner of the couch with my laptop to use the bathroom and grab some wheat thins.  Like I have not showered – that is not the norm for me.  I have too many cute things in my closet to waste a day not dressing:)  Seriously though, I never understood this writing phenomenon but when you are a writer and your thoughts are flowing (aka you have a deadline) then you cannot move – all you can do is sit and pound your thoughts out on your keyboard for fear that you may lose them if you stop to do anything else.

How have I tended to my writing with Lawson in the house?  He slept late then was gone for a few hours so there you have it.  Brad was busy and out of the house most of the day and Bella slept a really long time.  It was a God wink how it all lined up for today to be the day I could really dig in.  Like I already had rough drafts but they needed lots of tweaking.  It is super helpful when your life long friend/cousin/birthday twin is also an English professor who is now Dean of a school.  Thank you for all your help today, Jenn!  I will love you forever and I am sorry for never understanding why you loved school so much – it has paid off for both of us:))

There has been warfare in my mind as I have prepared for this conference – I have felt overwhelmed, unqualified and not good enough to write a book or meet with a publisher.  I can recognize an attack when it comes though and Satan knows if he can get me off track (and feeling defeated is what does it for me) then he wins.  I won’t go to the publisher meeting or maybe I forgo the entire conference because I don’t feel ready.  But not today Satan.  I serve a mighty God who has gone before me and stands behind me.  He has set me a part and He has a plan so I am going to seize the day and this opportunity.

I have no illusions that I will walk away with a book deal but I am so thankful for this incredible opportunity and all those who have helped me get to this place.  When you say your prayers, throw up one for me and my publisher meetings please:) Thank you for following along!  Enjoy your weekend:)


Taco Night 🌮

Ya’ll ready for this? I wish I had visuals for you but I didn’t have the energy to take pics once it was all over. Last night was taco night at our house. Not uncommon – we usually have taco night once or twice per month. I don’t think I thought tacos could be ruined but I am here to tell you they can. I am blaming my skillet.

So, I am getting all the ingredients for my meal together & I put the skillet on the stove & I turn on the heat so that the skillet is warm when I add the meat. I guess I got sidetracked with my other tasks & let it heat too long because the minute I added the meat it all went up in smoke! Like I had to physically take the skillet outside, yell for a new pan & leave the skillet outside to cool off. I put the charred meat (it honestly didn’t look bad) in a new pan & finished browning it 😂 (as if it was not beyond done) added my seasoning, & moved on to my beans. I was afraid to use the stovetop again so I opted for the microwave. I chose my best Tupperware bowl (that actually came from my mother in law’s & just never made it back – I don’t have good kitchen stuff ☺️) poured the beans in, secured the lid (that I would later see says “remove before heating) & popped it in for 2 minutes. I set the table & filled the chip bowl, made a yummy dip in my Kitchen Aid mixer & then went to get my beans. To my surprise the whole bowl was dented in & the lid would obviously not come off. Thankfully Brad is big-strong so he got it off:)

So picture it – the smoke from the meat situation is almost gone, the table is set complete with chips & dip & fresh limes. Brad gets a phone call he has to take so he steps out on the porch. I bless the food so the kids & I can start eating. Bella starts eating her taco while I am busy arranging the sides on my plate. She doesn’t say anything & just quietly watched as I picked up my taco & took a bite. There has never been a better time to use the 🤢🤮. It was awful!!! Like the skillet burning up affected it all & even though it was not black it was burnt & tasted burnt. It even made my other toppings taste bad. Bella was all like “I know! It’s awful & I just don’t think I can commit” 😂 We all had a good laugh & filled up on the chips/dips & side dishes.

When Brad joined us at the table, we warned him but that sweet man was hungry & in an effort to teach a bigger lesson – he not only ate my charred food, he ate a lot of it & did it with a smile. He has done that our whole marriage but I think this was the first really bad meal at the table with the kids & he used it as a teachable moment. I even tried to discourage him because I didn’t want him to get sick & he said “Admittedly, it’s not your best meal but it’s food & I am hungry so it meets the need & you took the time to cook it & serve it so I am gonna eat it” And eat it he did. He is such a good man. I honestly don’t know how he got those tacos down & kept them down but so far so good:) I appreciate his sensitivity, kindness & how well he loves us even when I screw up what was likely his only full meal of the day.

Brad told Lawson to always eat what his future wife cooks & thank her for cooking no matter what it tastes like. (Future wife, I have set you up well ☺️) He told Bella that she should look for a husband that always eats what she cooks no matter how it turns out. Then he added “you can tell him about the night your Momma burnt up the taco meat” ☺️

Making memories folks, the good meals make them & so do the burnt up ones:)

Friends & Music

My friend Bethany & a band known as Third Day – they have gotten me through a whole lot of stuff over the years. Saturday night, B & I had the opportunity to see one of Third Day’s final performances at the Fox in Atlanta. Third Day is on their Farewell Tour after 25 years together.  There is nobody I would have rather been beside at that concert.  As we sang along,  I couldn’t help but think of all the times over the years that we have lifted our voices together.  When we were little girls at Gordon First Baptist Church, we thought we could sing and our parents and the sweet church members never told us any different so we regularly serenaded the church with our trio act – me, B and our dear friend (who also happens to be my cousin) Ashley.  So we have sang together a lot at church functions & youth camps over the years & we have been to our fair share of secular concerts too.  I add that just so you don’t get it twisted – we are not angels & we have made our share of questionable decisions especially back in our college and bar hopping days but as we stare down at 40 it is pretty cool to still be side by side.  We have experienced lots of life together and thankfully I can say that our experiences sent us running TO God instead of away from Him.  Thankful for our individual God stories and trust that they will be used to point others to Him:)

Here is a little more detail about each of these gifts in my life and the backstories:
Bethany:  I have known her my whole life.  I was born in June of 79’ ‘ & she followed in November.  Somewhere there is a little bible that was gifted to Baby Miller from Baby Outler.  To say that we have experienced lots together is an understatement.   We have decades under our belt at this point:)  In the 80’s we were in elementary school, the 90’s brought middle school & high school along with crimped hair, then big curls & we finally straightened.  There were youth camps & family vacations with B’s parents and then there were proms, dances, boyfriends, graduation & college.  Lots of parties, LOTS of lessons learned, broken hearts & always laughter.  The first tragedy we ever faced was fairly early in life,  I was 15 & B was a month shy of 15.  We lost B’s Daddy, Mr. Steve.  Everyone that knew him would tell you that Mr. Steve was a treasure.  He worked hard, he loved the Lord and he loved to have fun!  He was always happy, always laughing and was just a great man.  Mr. Steve and B’s mom, Mrs. J always let B’s friends tag along no matter where they went and when we weren’t following them out of town we are hanging out at their house.  Now that I am a parent,  I realize just how gracious they were:)  We can’t understand why we had to lose B’s Daddy so soon & we still can’t make sense of it but it also wouldn’t make sense to serve a God we could fully understand.  So while there is lots we don’t know, we do know we will see Mr Steve again one day and get to hug his neck along with all the others who have beat us home.

Life rolled on and eventually, I married Brad and B married Tim.  For those of you that have been following me long,  you know the first 10-12 years of my marriage were trying to say the least.  B was always one of my first calls and she often played an active role in whatever was going on.  Sometimes that looked like just coming over and holding my hand while I cried (of course she cried too) & sometimes that meant she rode with me in the car for a few hours when I needed to drop Brad at a rehab.  We were just talking about a drive we took to Union Point, Georgia to drop him at a 6 week program at the beginning of our journey.  We left him sitting outside on a picnic bench and it still ranks as one of the saddest things either of us has ever done.  The night that it all fell apart in 2013?  B was here with me.  She was there for me and my kids that whole year while Brad was away and has celebrated with us ever since over a changed man and restored family.  By God’s grace, Brad and I will celebrate our 16th Anniversary this summer & B and Tim just wrapped up year 10.  Somewhere along the way, we each had babies (2 for me and 3 for her) & now we are raising them.  It seriously takes a village.  We are still learning & still growing but so thankful for all the lessons that life has taught us through the good times & especially through the bad. As I have said before, I love a mountaintop but the real gifts of spiritual growth can only happen in the valley.  From the beginning of our lives God knew what was ahead for each of us & He knew what each of us would need.  And the storms we have each faced? He built us for them. How cool is that? That the God of the Universe cares enough to be in all the details of our lives and yours. I am so glad Bethany has been a key character in my story.  When I write my book, I will give her an alias name so I don’t spill all the beans:)

Third Day: They have been playing together for 25 years & I have been listening for almost that long. Mac Powell’s voice is one of my favorites of all time. I listened to them when I was younger but the music was just a good beat until  I faced my first big trial. When my heart was hurting the music came alive. “Cry out to Jesus” was my anthem for many years.

In the early 2000’s I knew Brad was struggling his Dad’s death & the opening line to “Cry Out to Jesus” is “To everyone who has lost someone they loved, long before it was their time.” Another stanza says “to all of the marriages struggling just to hang on. They have lost all their faith & love & done all they can to make it right again & it’s still not enough”
Then it says “For the ones who can’t break the addictions & chains. You try to give up but you come back again. Just remember that you are not alone in your shame & suffering”

It was like he was writing about my life & had a window to my soul! Then the beautiful chorus reminding me that I was seen & I was held:

There is hope for the helpless.
Rest for the weary
And love for the broken heart
And there is grace & forgiveness
Mercy & healing
That you will meet you wherever you are
Cry out to Jesus

Wow.  It spoke to the depths of my soul. I thought “these guys get it”.  Then last summer, I had the chance to meet Mac Powell at a low key, Memorial Day Picnic & I hugged his neck & told him what his music has meant to me. I told him about the addiction & the pain. The marriage that was broken & then redeemed. I also told him of the little boy that he serenaded to sleep night after night. Lawson has always had trouble drifting off so when he was a baby, I would strap him in his car seat & I would drive all over town listening to Mac Powell & Third Day until he was finally asleep. So, not only did I get a pic with one of my favorite musicians but I also snapped a pic of Mac & the baby he sung to sleep all those nights who is now 13 years old.  The Farewell Concert that we attended Saturday was out of this world.  They played for three hours and we heard all our favorites.  It was a sweet time and I am so glad that B and I got to be a part of it.

So me, B & Third Day.  We go way back.  May you all find a friend as true & a band as great as these two.

(Picture notes:

Mac Powell pics were taken last Memorial Day when I had my random bout with Bells Palsy and the other pic is me, B, our husbands and kids at our annual Christmas breakfast tradition)

Take her a casserole

So I have likely just given you the name of the book I am publishing one day but just act surprised when you see it in print.  A dear friend reached out to me earlier this week to ask how she should help a friend whose husband just went to Rehab.  She said she knew all the usual stuff to do like send a card, drop off a surprise treat, etc. but wanted to know from someone who had been through the same situation what would be most helpful.  I love my friend’s heart and her eagerness to love her hurting friend well.  I gave her some “to do’s” & thought it may be something that everyone needs to hear.  You may not all know a wife whose hubby just went to Rehab but we all know somebody who is going through a hard time of some sort and these tips of how to help may get you helping and loving on your friend in need.  Here are my tips in no certain order:

  1.  Just be there for her.  Just sit with her, talk if she wants to talk, let her cry if she wants to cry,  let her laugh if she needs to laugh but she may very well just want someone to hold her hand and sit with her.  One of the most profound verses in the bible to me is found in the book of Job.  Most of us know the story of Job and his misfortune but if you don’t just know that Job lost EVERYTHING in a matter of days and he was brokenhearted.  The end of Job Chapter 2 talks about his friends coming to his aid and verse 13 is my favorite because it says “then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights.” Don’t miss that – his friends didn’t DO anything, they just sat.  Sometimes we just need to sit with people and just be with them in their heartache.
  2.  If your hurting friend has kids, offer to babysit them or take them off her hands for a little while.  This is especially crucial if she has lost her husband for a time or indefinitely and is a single parent.  Let your friend go to Kroger by herself.  That will bless her socks off.
  3. Invite her out to dinner or out to a movie or just out somewhere.  When my husband was away for a year, I remember just wanting to get ready and go out. You take for granted always having a husband to do that with and if you are in a stage of life where most friends are married then you feel kind of alone and just want to get ready and go out somewhere with somebody.  Lunch, dinner, coffee, take her anywhere outside of her home.
  4. Buy your friend some books, even if she doesn’t like to read.  It will help her to study up on what is happening around her and it may give her hope.  If your friend does have a husband battling addiction, I can suggest two books by Gary Morland. “Scary Hope” and “From Beer to Eternity”.  Incredible books written by a former alcoholic who found Jesus and saw his life redeemed and family restored.  Also for families struggling with addiction, there is a great video about a regenerated man, a restored family and their beautiful redemption story.  It can be found at  I heard the family that started that ministry is pretty cool:)
  5. Connect her with someone who has faced a similar situation, persevered/faced it well.
  6. Acknowledge her hurt.  This is key.  In a lot of situations involving addiction, broken marriages, mental illness, etc. people get scared to talk about it or bring it up.  BRING IT UP.  The last thing you want to make her feel is isolated or ignored.  It is her reality and it will help to acknowledge it.  The opposite of love is not hate but rather it is indifference.  Don’t be indifferent.
  7. LAST BUT CERTAINLY NOT LEAST.  Take home girl a casserole!!!  Holy smokes, when I was in my time of need trying to work a demanding full time job, raise two little kids, run a household and basically do ALL the things I just wanted someone to bring me a casserole because dinner is hard.  Dinner is still hard for me by the way so I will always take a casserole.  It has even become a joke between my closest friends – any time I face anything, they are  like “do you want a casserole?” and I’m like “yes”:) Seriously, we live in the South and that is what we do ladies, we take food.  We should do it not only when someone physically dies but also any time things get hard for one of our sisters.  Food brings comfort and it is one less thing to think about when your world is falling apart.

Maybe you will find my tips helpful in some way along the journey.  There is a saying that you have either just exited a trial, are in the middle of one or headed in to one.  I hope you have some good folks surrounding you that will love on you whatever phase you are in because we need our people in every life stage.  I don’t know where I would be without my people & I hope I can be as good to them as they have been to me.  Ask the Lord to give you new eyes so you can clearly see and I promise he will.  You will become more aware of people and their situations everywhere you go.  Your blinders will fall off and you will be able to love like Jesus did.  Since none of us know what tomorrow holds, stay trained up.  Keep scripture close, stay prayed up and train for the marathon of life.  Runners don’t just show up on race day – they prepare for months in advance by running, adding distance and eating right.  We should take care of our spiritual beings in the same way so that when our trial comes we have on the armor and we are ready.  Then we can confidently say “Not today Satan, not today.”  If you already have a relationship established with God then the trusting is so much easier & after you seen Him work miracles, you can trust him for even more.  Give it a try, you will be glad you did.  Blessings as you train!  Love and hugs to all until next time!

Relationships ❤️

The other day I was admiring the relationship between my husband & his best friend & it just got me thinking about relationships in general. There are all kinds. There are biological relationships with family that we don’t get to choose. Sometimes you hit the jackpot with those & sometimes you don’t & that’s just the truth:) There are lots of fairly natural relationships within your family like with siblings & cousins.

Other kinds of natural relationships include classmates from grade school & church. These are more natural because you live in the same town as these people so of course you end up at the same places. The relationships may turn out to be extraordinary but how they came about was not really anything out of the ordinary. Let me give you some examples.

Two of my best friends in this world came to me kind of naturally. One was my first cousin whom I naturally spent a lot of time with & adored. The second relationship was a girl from my small town. She lived down the street from my grandmother & we went to the same church. Each of these friendships have meant the world to me & have survived almost 40 years. Another best friend was also a cousin, we were born on the exact same day & were the first grandchildren to our respective grandparents. Her granddaddy & my granddaddy were brothers which naturally made our grandmothers sister in law’s but they were also best friends. Everybody needs a Jane & Rhody in their lives. Our grandparents were the grandest & we know how fortunate we were to have them. My twin cousin & I were spoiled rotten & we spent our entire childhoods together. Then, I joined her 9th grade class & we also graduated High School together. We have shared so much & it’s a special relationship. I have other relationships that are equally special that came about in high school, college, small groups, bible studies, etc.

Then there are other sweet friendships in my life that never would have been if I had not taken certain jobs or gone through the trials that God planned for me. Even in the valleys, He is there sending grace gifts & it is in the valley that we get to know His heart. I am convinced that God does His best work in the valleys because that is where His light can shine the brightest.

I mentioned my husband’s best friend in the opening sentence of this post. His best friend is named Ryan & they just met 5 years ago. It is rare to find your best friend in your thirties but it happens. Ryan is from a fabulous beach town in South Florida approximately 550 miles from our home in Georgia. Ryan is a city kid & Brad is a country boy. Ryan is 5’6, 170 pounds & Brad is 6’2, 220 pounds. My point in all this is that they are polar opposites to the naked eye. It was West Palm Beach meets McIntyre, Georgia ☺️ Don’t tell me God does not have a sense of humor:)

In 2013, these men not only became best friends but they became brothers as they both fought for their lives & their families. Their common thread was addiction & in God’s sovereignty it landed them in the same Recovery program at the same time. They give credit to God for placing them there at the same time because each is convinced they would not have made it through the program without the other. Ryan was one of our grace gifts that year & in the words of Uncle Eddie “it has been a gift that keeps on giving.” ☺️ Not only do we get to love Ryan but we have gotten to know his entire family & even though we don’t get to see them as often as we would like, (because of the 550 mile thing) our love for them runs deep. We got to be there a year ago when Ryan married his beautiful Amanda & it was like the height of God’s faithfulness. Brad stood by his buddy’s side as a groomsman & shared a sweet reading during the ceremony. Ryan’s parents, along with his sister & her family are some of our favorites in the world & then we got a bonus as we also got to know & love Amanda’s family last year!

I cannot forget to mention the star of the family, Ryan’s precious daughter, Addi. She is the crown jewel of it all & we loved her before we even knew her. She was born in 2013 while Ryan & Brad were in their program at NLB. Brad had earned visits by then & Ryan had not so I might have done some detective work & found pics of Ryan’s new baby girl on social media. I also might have printed them & snuck them to the boys at NLB. Promise that was the only rule I broke but Ryan just had to see that beautiful baby who looked just like him 😊

Because of Ryan’s hard work, regeneration, & God’s favor, a cordial relationship with Ryan’s former wife has been restored & thankfully Addi will never remember a life without her Daddy:) And the bonus Mom that Addi gained in Amanda is unbelievable. Like the VanSons seriously hit the jackpot with sweet Amanda.

I really don’t have words adequate enough to describe the relationship that Brad & Ry share. It’s one of those things that you just have to experience yourself. Brad, our kids & I love Ryan dearly & the entire relationship is a beautiful thing. If you ever see them together, you will note they are both very handsome, they will both make you laugh with their almost identical sense of humor, & you can tell who is who because one will be wearing shorts & slip on shoes & the other will be in jeans & boots. 😊

Just the other day, Brad & Ryan were saying that statistically speaking, after struggling for so long, neither of them should even be alive much less thriving the way they are today.

They are an unlikely pair who found themselves in the same situation & in the same boat searching for hope at a program in North Georgia. They found each other & more importantly, they found Jesus. They also found the tools to navigate this life well & I will be forever thankful for NLB as it was the vessel God used to save my little family. If you have followed me long or heard me speak, then you know I love to talk about how we serve a God of details & we can often see Him in the details of life. I can see God’s hand in so much of this relationship story but to take it to another level, Ryan & I share the same birthday. God was planning all this long before we knew it. 😉

Thank you Lord, for the gift of friendship & especially for the gift of Brad & Ryan. ❤️ We are not worthy of your lavish love but thanks for giving it anyway.