Why This Teenage Girl Doesn’t Kiss Her Boyfriend

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I couldn’t help but share this post a senior friend of Trevor’s posted on Facebook. We all know how our society has become so sexually promiscuous. When it’s time for my second and third child to get married, I want them to have someone to choose from who has saved themselves for marriage. I’m not belittling those who have already chosen to have sex, and there is a very real concept called “reclaimed virginity.” It’s not to late to change your lifestyle because God is a forgiving and merciful God. By dying on the cross he’s already overcome all of our sins. But if you can know God’s intentions for sex before you are in a serious relationship, it will make life much easier, and you’ll be honoring God above all else.

If you are a teenager, read this. If you have a teenager, have them read this or read it to them. What Ashley is writing here is from her heart…the heart of a 17-year-old girl. I know she has one proud mama! It takes an huge amount of courage to not just hold tight to your beliefs, but to profess them on the world wide webb for all to see. Incredibly brave.


“God has really been placing this on my heart to talk about and discuss
lately. As many of my friends know, I have been dating Brandon for over a
year now. Early on in our relationship, we decided that we wanted to set
“guardrails” and “boundaries” in our relationship as far as physical stuff
goes. Now, we had these set, but honestly, neither of us really understood why.

We thought “Well, we aren’t having sex, so what’s the big deal?” I’ve found that this is the mindset that many of my friends have towards their relationship. After Brandon and I had been dating for about 6 months or so we sat down and discussed our relationship. I had been doing a bible student called, “The 7 Lies of Teen Dating”, and through the whole study, the same question kept popping up in my head, “Why am I asking the question ‘how far is too far?’ When I should be asking ‘how far is not honoring God?”

A verse that Brandon and I really looked at and prayed about was 1 Corinthians 6:20 “God owns the whole works.So let people see God in and through your body.” We both decided that we wanted our bodies and physical aspects of our relationship to demonstrate our love for God.”

I’m jumping into the middle of her post here to share the entire passage of scripture from 1 Corinthians:

16-20 There’s more to sex than mere skin on skin. Sex is as much spiritual mystery as physical fact. As written in Scripture, “The two become one.” Since we want to become spiritually one with the Master, we must not pursue the kind of sex that avoids commitment and intimacy, leaving us more lonely than ever—the kind of sex that can never “become one.” There is a sense in which sexual sins are different from all others. In sexual sin we violate the sacredness of our own bodies, these bodies that were made for God-given and God-modeled love, for “becoming one” with another. Or didn’t you realize that your body is a sacred place, the place of the Holy Spirit? Don’t you see that you can’t live however you please, squandering what God paid such a high price for? The physical part of you is not some piece of property belonging to the spiritual part of you. God owns the whole works. So let people see God in and through your body.

Now back to Ashley:

“Originally, we decided that the only physical contact we would have is a peck, and only once on an hour. Now being a teenager in a world where that is the complete opposite of the social norm, we were definitely laughed at. Now a little over 95 days ago me and Brandon decided that we wanted to eliminate kissing all together. As far as physical aspects in our relationship, we wanted to limit ourselves to hugging and kissing on the cheek. We wanted to go 95 days with no distractions, and we spent those 95 days getting closer to God and building our relationship on a God foundation. Obviously, this was not something that was easy to just tell my friends or classmates about at school, and when people found out, it was usually just laughs and side comments.

I want to address some of the questions and statements people say to me in regards to what me and Brandon do. Keep in mind I’m only 17 years old, and Brandon is my first serious relationship, so I am definitely not a relationship expert by any means, and I’m still learning from my mentors how I can better and build my relationship on a God foundation. Hopefully, this will give people some light on the subject or give someone the courage to make changes in their current or future relationship.ashleyavila

1. “Do you really love Brandon if you don’t kiss him? And does he really love you?”
The answer to this question is really simple to me. Yes, I love him, and
yes he loves me. I didn’t wake up one day and say “kissing is gross, I
don’t want to do that anymore.” It took a lot of strength and courage from
God for us to make this decision. But I promise you girls, it’s one thing for a guy to say “I love you” and it’s another for him to say, “I love you, but I love God more so I’m putting him at the center of our relationship, and I will put him before you.”
2. “Are you even in a relationship if you don’t kiss?”
Yes. A relationship isn’t suppose to be about physicality. My dad has told me ever since I was a little girl that dating is just an interview before marriage. Somewhere down the line our society has gotten this social norm that relationships should be based on physical things and that’s just normal and “being a teeanger”, and those who chose other wise are viewed as weird. But honestly building a relationship on physicality is one of the most unsturdy foundations. The only sturdy foundation to build a relationship on is God, so you should honor God in your relationship.
3. “You’re only a teenager once, and you’re wasting it.”
Again, I have a simple response. I may only be a teenager once, but I only get to live my life for God once. Nuff said.

(What an awesome perspective for everyone!)

4. “If you’re gonna marry Brandon, then why does it matter how far you go?”

Well, as much as I love Brandon and hope that I will marry him one day, I don’t know who I will marry. Only God knows who I will end up marrying, and until I am at my wedding saying “I do,” I don’t know who my husband will be. But as a christian, it is my job to stay as pure as possible for my future husband.”

Incredible post Ashley. Thanks for letting me share. Ashley has started her own blog now on Christian Dating and I wanted to share that link with you: https://heleadsifollowweb.wordpress.com/

Please share this with anyone you know who has teenagers…let’s make her post go viral!


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Letting it Go~ The Power of Forgiveness

I promise I haven’t abandoned you. I’ve just come to the realization that writing regularly on a blog and writing a book while having a job and the responsibility of a family is just about impossible for me. But in teaching the 10th grade girls  small group at church, we are doing a series called “Letting it Go” about the importance of forgiveness. So I’m sharing the information with you that we are studying on Sunday nights. This is a great resource geared specifically for parents… for teaching your children about forgiveness, and possibly learning a bit yourself.

1. Be a Student of What They are Learning

“I just can’t let it go.” “They don’t deserve to be forgiven.” “It hurts too much to move on.” Maybe you’ve heard your children say something like this in the midst of pain, frustration and anger towards someone who has hurt them—or maybe you’ve said or thought something similar yourself. Choosing to forgive someone who has hurt us is never easy. So why does it matter so much that we do it? How do we know when we should do it? And how do we know we have actually healed from the pain an offense has caused? How do we simply let it go?

2. Be a Student of Your Student

I can think of multiple times in my life when I’ve been in an emotional stand off with someone over something they did or said—or maybe something they didn’t say or didn’t do. Taking the first steps towards getting back on good terms is simple enough—in theory. But saying the words “I’m sorry” often feels like it costs too much. So, too often we choose silence in the hopes that time will fix it, instead of intentional reconciliation.

Unfortunately, not apologizing can be costly—maybe even especially to the relationship with our teenagers. Maybe sometimes you don’t want to apologize because you know that they are the one who did something wrong. Maybe in reaction to something your son did, you lashed out and said something that was a little harsh—but you excused it because his behavior was completely unacceptable. Or maybe you found yourself sneaking through bedroom drawers just to squelch some rising suspicions and it really broke your daughter’s trust—but you were justified in what you did, so an apology seems unnecessary. You didn’t do anything outside of your parental rights, per se, but your son or daughter feels hurt, betrayed or angry.

Saying I’m sorry can be so hard. Admitting you’re wrong, or that you even had a small part in an argument or bad situation, can physically hurt sometimes. It doesn’t sit well. On the other hand, when someone has apologized to you, or you have made the first step towards reconciliation, something distinct and compelling happens. There is a sense of relief, of vulnerability and calm. All from simply saying—or hearing—“I’m sorry.”

What is it about an apology that can be so powerful—both for the receiver of the apology and the one actually apologizing?

To understand this a bit more, we want to share some excerpts from an article entitled “The Power of Apology: How to give and receive an apology. And it’s worth it, on both ends” by Beverly Engel featured in Psychology Today in June 2013, and taken from the book The Power of Apology by Beverly Engel: (To read the full article, go to http://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/200208/the-power-apology.)

As you read, try to focus on the bolded words—on what giving an apology does—and try to imagine these action words taking place in the context of your relationship with your son or daughter:

“Apology has the ability to disarm others of their anger and to prevent further misunderstandings. While an apology cannot undo harmful past actions, if done sincerely and effectively, it can undo the negative effects of those actions … Apologizing helps us remain emotionally connected to our friends and loved ones….

So, the next time you find yourself in a stand off with your spouse, a co-worker a friend or even your son or daughter, remember that more is on the line than just your pride and sense of justice. The future relationship, the ability to stay connected to and vulnerable with that person is on the line too. The words “I’m sorry” may be hard to say, but they are always worth the effort!

3. Action Point

The action point for this series is pretty straightforward: Apologize to your child.

But sometimes this is easier said than done. So what are some characteristics of a meaningful apology?

First of all, admit that you are truly sorry for the hurt or damage you caused. It’s easy with our students to unintentionally do or say something that they take personally. And even though we don’t always mean things the way they hear or experience them, the hurt that can be caused is still real to them. So, while you may not have meant to be hurtful, recognizing that someone else was hurt by your actions is incredibly important.

Secondly, a sincere and powerful apology includes an acceptance of responsibility. This may seem like the same thing as admitting you are sorry for the hurt you caused. But it actually takes this idea of admittance one step further. When you accept responsibility, you are not making excuses for what you did, which often has the effect of negating the apology. It’s like when your child says, “I’m really sorry that I dented the car, but the other driver was way too close to me and I couldn’t see them well out of my side mirror.” Too many excuses cloud a good apology with a message of “It really wasn’t my fault.” For an apology to be meaningful and sincere, you have to communicate that you take full responsibility for your actions.

And lastly, there should always be something in your apology that shows you have a desire to remedy the situation. You obviously can’t go back and undo what was done—or not done—but you can offer a plan to make sure it doesn’t happen again. So, if you’ve missed your son’s basketball game … again … and he is really hurt and angry, make a plan and offer a promise to get to one of his upcoming games. And then do it! An empty promise will only make the hurt deeper, so don’t promise what you can’t deliver. But be sure to offer some sort of a plan of action so that your son or daughter knows that you will work towards not repeating the action that hurt them in the first place.

Take some time to think through what a meaningful apology might look like for your son or daughter. And then, go say the words that make all the difference in the world—I’m sorry.

Get connected to a wider community of parents at www.orangeparents.org.

Facebook Friday~Free Timeline Cover…”One Hundred Years From Now…”



When I was in Prague, we went to a little town outside of Prague called Lidice. It was a small village of around 500 people or so when Hitler decided to make an example of it to show his power and kill everyone in the village, including 80 children. This statue was truly amazing…words really cannot describe the feeling standing at this statue looking at the detail and expression in the faces of these children who were robbed their chance of growing old. A very sad and humbling experience. Because of the magnitude of the holocaust, the story of Lidice is mostly unknown. If you’d like to read more about the history of this village and exactly what happened click HERE.

I loved the memorial statue not only because it represented the children of Lidice, but also because it made me think about the lives of these children…and my own children. These children should have been part of the future of their nation, as our children hopefully will be part of ours. No time invested into the lives of our children is wasted. Hopefully you will enjoy this free facebook timeline cover as a reminder of just how important our children are.

To make this photo your facebook timeline photo:

1. Click on the photo and a menu will come up where you choose “save image as.” (Use a two-finger click on the photo on a mac and right click on the photo on a PC)

2. In the window that comes up you can rename your photo and choose where to save it (I always save to my desktop, then move it later if I want to keep it.)

3. Then click save.

4. Go to your facebook page.

5. Put the cursor on your timeline photo, and you will see the option to “change cover” appear. Click on it.

6. Choose the option to “upload a photo.”

7. When you click on “upload a photo” your files will appear.

 8. Choose desktop (or wherever you saved your photo) and highlight your new timeline photo, then go to the bottom of the page and click “choose.”

That’s it! The image is already the correct size for the timeline cover.

Shoot me a comment if something doesn’t work. Wink











Happy Birthday to my Marlee-girl~My first letter to you…


Wow Marlee…double digits! Ten…10…years old! So now it’s your turn for me to post your first letter. I posted Miranda and Trevor’s on their birthdays. I wrote Miranda’s letter when she was 3 weeks old, Trevor’s when he was almost a year old, and you—my dear third child—were almost 15 months! But you do have a letter, and just like your brother and sister, you do have a completed baby book. Many third children can’t say that!

You have undoubtedly been my sweetest natured child—the most sensitive to other’s feelings. Maybe because you had to deal with me being sick for the first seven years of your life…but for whatever reason, God made you who you are and He made you perfect!

It’s fun{ny} to me to put these old letters in print…to see what y’all have grown to become from when I first wrote these letters. Yours is a long one so here goes…

September 3, 2004

Dear Marlee,

It is so unbelievable to me that it has been 15 months since you were born and I’m just now writing this letter to you! I wrote Miranda’s letter at 3 weeks, and Trevor’s letter at about a year, and now your letter at 15 months! I guess that’s what happens ~the more children you have, the longer it takes to do things!

When I married your daddy 15 years ago, the last thing I thought I’d be doing right now was writing a letter to my third child! (I’m sure your daddy would have been even more surprised at the thought)! But  you are one of the best things that ever happened to us…just like we felt when your sister and brother were born.

Right now I’m sitting up in my bed with Trevor asleep beside me. Daddy and Miranda are gone to spend the night with Great Grandpa Vaughan, and you are asleep in your crib (but these days who knows how long that will last).

I want to tell you about your name. We’ve had the hardest time deciding on your name. (Just as we did with your brother and your sister). You can read in your baby book in your prenatal record each month what “the name of the month’ was. (Well, you just woke up…now it’s five minutes later and you are laying beside me in the bed. You are so sweet!)

When you lay your head on my you lay your head on my shoulder and pat my back with your hand.

Anyway…back to your name. I decided on Elizabeth Parker Martin (after my mom and dady) and call you “Ellie,” but Miranda and Daddy just couldn’t settle on that name—they didn’t think it was right for you. So one night when Daddy came home rom a business trip he asked me how I liked the name “Marlee.” He thought of it on the way home~he’d heard it on his trip. (It was someone’s last name.) As soon as he said it I loved it. Miranda and Trevor liked it too…we yelled it through the house pretending you were already here to see if the name fit. It sounds like a silly to do but we did the same thing with Miranda and Trevor’s names…just to make sure yelling them sounded right. (Miranda and Trevor love you to death by they way.)

I hope you will always like your name. Daddy and I have always tried to choose names that are beautiful but not common. So far I think we’ve succeeded~we have a beautiful little name to go with a beautiful little girl!

Your middle name is “Parker” after my daddy. Quite a few people said we should call you Parker, but that will always be my daddy’s name. I wanted you to have a name of your own. I sure do wish he could have seen  you~but I know that he sees you every day from Heaven and I like to think he had a little something to do with God sending you to us. (Uh-oh…you need me. Gotta go for a minute).

Okay, I’m back. You won’t believe this but I’ve found myself finishing this letter now and you’ve jumped to 22 months old!

 I hope and pray that your daddy and I will make all the right decisions for you until you’re old enough to make your own choices, and that we’ve instilled the Godly values necessary to make it in this world we live in. People say you shouldn’t shelter your kids from the world, but I believe just the opposite. I think you should be sheltered from the bed things in this world until you are old enough to understand and handle them. So when we make decisions that you don’t agree with (though I’m sure that will never happen), please understand it’s only because we love you more than anything! God has given you to us to protect, love, and raise the best we can. We will always do that with an unconditional love. My space in this book is gone, but know that this letter will continue in a journal for you.

I write down all of the funny things you say and do, and I take that opportunity to write you a letter. I love you so much Marlee and these first 22 months have been wonderful! We have lots of picture to prove it. I look forward to a fantastic relationship with my youngest daughter for many years to come! I love you Marlee!



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Seven {Unconventional} Tips to Raising Awesome Kids


Okay. If I do say so myself, we have some awesome kids. But I think we are often judged for some of our parenting techniques.

When my 16-year-old calls me to ask me if her boyfriend can come in the house even though we aren’t home yet, I think we are doing something right.

When my 13-year-old son’s teacher pulls me aside to tell me that my son will make some girl a great husband someday, I wonder what he does to make her take the time to tell me that. And I really don’t know her very well!

When my 9-year-old wants to know if someone can go to Heaven if they’ve never heard anything about God, I know her heart is in the right place.

I’m so proud of my kids. They aren’t perfect, as none are. But they all love their family, and more importantly, their Savior, and they want to live a life pleasing to us and to Him. So here are some of the more unconventional things we do in our family that make our kids who they are.



1. Let your kids watch some movies and television that your friends may judge you for. The Bible says we must live in the world, but not of the world.

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:2 ESV)

When I was a teenager (barely 15 years old) we started going to a new church. I was dating David at the time, who was to be my future husband (though I obviously didn’t know it yet), and he happened to be 19. Yes, I know. It was a huge difference, but David was a Christian, and very respectful to me and my parents. Anyway, at the time there was a popular rock song titled, “Cum on feel the noise” by Quite Riot, and I didn’t know the what the slang term “cum” meant. The other kids in the youth group at church automatically assumed since I was dating a 19-year-old I would know and understand the word. They assumed I was sexually active. I was both hurt that they thought this of me, and they made me feel embarrassed that I didn’t know what it meant. I never did feel part of that youth group.

I allow my children to be exposed to the less than desirable culture we live in, and television, unfortunately, is a way to do this that I can somewhat control…and experience with them so I can explain what they hear.


2. Don’t hide your mistakes from your kids.  By letting them know you’re not perfect, they will be more open to share their mistakes with you. If your past is especially dark, there’s no need to give them nightmares, just share enough with them to let them know you’re not infallible.

Am I proud that I ended up addicted to prescription drugs? Obviously not. But I don’t hide this from them. First, I want them know know how easy it is to fall into the traps Satan sets before us. Second, if they didn’t know my imperfections, they wouldn’t know what God did in my life and would’t have gotten the faith boost they did when they saw the miracle God gave me!


3. Answer questions about sex when your kids ask.  Don’t overload them with information, just answer the question they ask. Remember that God created sex, and it’s a good thing—a great thing—inside marriage. It introduces the subject gradually, so when you tell them everything, it doesn’t come as such a shock. And believe it or not, if you don’t answer their question, someone will. And don’t you want them to hear it from you? No matter how uncomfortable it makes them! But the easier you can talk to them rationally about it, the less uncomfortable they will be.


4. Don’t hide your sexual relationship with your husband from your kids.  Let them know—in very subtle ways of course—that you have a good sexual relationship with your husband (and if you don’t have that, you might want to reevaluate Frown). Now I obviously don’t mean to give them a show! But some innocent flirting lets them know you have a good sexual relationship. And yes, while it may gross them out and make them cover their ears and yell, “la la la la la la,” it teaches them than sex inside marriage is an important part of the marriage relationship, and believe it or not, God actually wants us to enjoy it!


5. Let your kids skip school once in awhile to have a fun day with them. Perfect attendance is overrated. Education is important, but it’s more important that your child knows how much you love them and are willing to break a little rule for them.  Spending a little unorthodox time with your child is a perfect time to build their self-confidence.


6. Let your kids know when you and your husband argue. Don’t have a knock-down, drag-out in front of them, and there’s no need to give them all the details, but it builds security to let them know that disagreement is normal in a marriage, and it doesn’t mean that you are getting a divorce. It’s kind of like leaving your child at daycare. Once you leave them and they see you are coming back, they are secure in knowing that when you leave them it’s not forever. You will return.

When David and I were in our seventh year of marriage, I didn’t think we were going to make it. We had lawyers in the picture and everything. But when it came down to the wire, we decided to stay together. Miranda was 2 at the time, and we didn’t want her to grow up with divorced parents. But we didn’t just decide to stay together, we decided to forgive, leave the past behind us, and fall in love again. We made a choice. Miranda knows this story and loves to brag that if it weren’t for her we wouldn’t be together. And while this is partially true, she sees that commitment means something. And parenting was important enough to make a tough decision that would change the rest of our lives. And I’m so glad that’s the decision we made!


7. Trust your kids, and let them know it.  When you put trust in your children, they are more likely to be trustworthy. But at the same time, let them know that trust is easy to keep, but tough to earn. Once they break your trust, it’s much harder for you to trust them in the future. Love is unconditional, but trust is. (Click here to tweet that Smile)There is no freedom without boundaries, and when you trust them enough to give them that freedom, they appreciate it enough not to break those boundaries. And even though they may not realize it, they appreciate those boundaries and know they are there because you love them.

What are some of your {unconditional} parenting techniques?



A Million Ways


My life has been so busy these last few weeks I’ve had a hard time just posting twice a week, and on Fridays it’s just a five minute post! But I can’t let mother’s day go by without a quick post for my mom. Among many other things, she’s one of my biggest fans! Laughing

I could not have made it thus far in life without her. Besides the fact that she did bring me into this world, and probably wanted to take me out of it a few times, she has always been there to help me…every time I’ve needed it. And believe me, I’ve kept her busy!

A million ways she’s shown her love for me…

She has always loved me unconditionally—as mom’s should—but has just as quickly held me accountable when I needed it. And helped me get through it when I couldn’t do it on my own.

She slept beside me when I was sick…even when I was 40 years old!

She babysits the kids anytime I ask if at all possible.

When I can’t get the house uncluttered, she comes to my rescue.


When I need something altered, she’s my seamstress.

When I go out of town, she helps take care of our Sophie, Benji, Little Bit, Buttercupp, and Mally…and when I come home the house is cleaner than when I left, and my laundry is magically washed!

She always wants us to come for Sunday lunch for a hugh homemade meal. And when we go to church on Sundays, the kids almost always have friends with them. She makes room for however many strays we bring!

These few things I’ve mentioned don’t even scratch the surface.

She has made and is making baby quilts from my kids baby clothes and t-shirt quilts from their t-shirts. I really have no idea how I will EVER live up to the “grandma expectations” my kids will have of me!

And all of this stuff she does for me? She does for others too. {Just not as much of course.} Wink

And even though we do make each other a little crazy sometimes…because we are so much alike…I love her so much!

There’s no way to be a perfect mother and a million ways to be a good one~Jill Churchill

I’m so blessed to have my mom!

Happy Mother’s Day Mom! I love you!


Happy Birthday to My Miranda~ {My Very First Letter to You}


Today is my Miranda’s 19th birthday! How time has flown and what a sweet and oh-so-sassy young lady you have become! I couldn’t be a prouder mom (except maybe if you kept your room a little cleaner) Undecided

“Change your thoughts and you change your world”~Norman Vincent Peale


One of the first non-fiction books I ever read was The Power of Positive Thinking by Norman Vincent Peale. I was in my first year of college at Clemson University, and I was hopelessly homesick. My mom put everything into my hands she could to help me through that first semester at Clemson, and that book was part of the package.

It’s a shame wisdom comes with age, but I’m sure it’s all part of God’s plan. That’s one of those questions I’ll ask Him someday.  From that first year at Clemson, through pharmacy school at USC, marriage, three children, too many funerals to count, seven years of grand-mal seizures and migraine headaches and addiction to narcotics, God has instilled much wisdom. My hubby has always said, “Hindsight is 20/20” and he is so right. Even after all of the struggles of life I’ve survived, I still need reminders to help remember what’s important in life.

I’ve always said I wish I could write on the inside of my eyelids, so I’d get a subliminal message every time I blink. So for the first ten days of the new year, I thought I’d share some of those “eyelid reminders” with you and remind myself in the process.

So join me for the next ten days for some “celestial” wisdom (celestial meaning “heavenly,” of course)…thoughts to renew your mind and so that you might be transformed to live a happy, God-centered life.

P.S. Sign up for your prescriptions to come right to your email so you don’t miss any 😉

As a bonus start to a blessed new year, here’s a free printable for your fridge, mirror, or wherever you might need a little reminder and join along with me as we go through these thought for the first ten days of 2013. SmileI’m thinking my bathroom mirror…enjoy!

Click here to download the free PDF printable: Click here to download your “Ten Thoughts” Printable 🙂

Ten LIfe-Changing Thoughts for a Happy 2013


Happy Birthday My Trevor~My very first letter to you…

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Today we are celebrating Trevor’s 14th birthday. When each of my children were born, I carefully and meticulously chose their baby book and wrote them each their own lullaby. I kept a journal for each one, recording funny, sweet, and sad stories about each one. All of my children love to hear stories from when David and I were little, but there are so many we can’t remember. Hopefully, by journaling (and now blogging), my grandchildren (that sounds really weird to say) will know all of the great stories that shaped the generation before them.

I will enjoy sharing some of those stories here on my blog—as a legacy for my children, and hopefully as reminders and tips for better parenting skills. Sometimes it’s hard to remember what works and what doesn’t! Plus, every child is different. Parenting is a tough business and requires much wisdom and prayer. To quote my friend Betsy again:

In honor of Trevor’s birthday, I thought I’d share this letter I wrote in his baby book. Now when Miranda was born (I’ll share her letter with you on her birthday in April), I wrote her letter within the first few weeks. Obviously, the more children you have, the longer it takes to get things done. So I didn’t write Trevor’s first letter until he was almost a year old! But just so you know, all three of my children have COMPLETE baby books for their first five years…patting myself on the back at this very moment 😉

Without a doubt, I fall short of being the parent I should. Thankfully, God’s grace intervenes where I fail. So far, David and I have raised three pretty great kids. Not without flaws, of course, but great nonetheless. As I share some of their stories with you, I pray that you can filter the good from the bad and let God use my experiences in parenting to make yours better.

Here’s that very first letter to Trevor. I was 29 when I wrote this, and it was all I could do not to “edit” as I typed it here. I’ve learned so much about parenting and writing since I wrote this letter fourteen years ago, but here it is…exactly as originally written. With much love.











Dear Trevor,

You are turning a year old this week, and I can’t believe I’m just now writing you this letter! It’a a lot harder to get things done with two children than with just one, but at least your baby book is up to date. I think that’s a pretty big accomplishment!

You are such a good baby. This first year with you has been wonderful. I fell in love with you the minute I saw you and my love for you grows deeper each day. You have been born into such a wonderful family. You are so blessed! Much more than you can possibly know yet, and God has blessed us with you! You have a wonderful daddy that loves you so much. He plays with you every opportunity he gets.

And Miranda loves you so much! She calls herself “sissy’ to you, though we don’t know what you will call her yet. She has never been jealous of you like most older siblings are. To her, you are as much her baby as you are mine and daddy’s. She hasn’t kept her hands off of you this whole first year. When you first came home from the hospital, she was lying in the floor with you and she looked up at me and said, “I love this baby!” You tolerate her amazingly well—you just grunt a little when she squeezes you too tight.

When you were in my tummy I was explaining to Miranda how you would be born and that you would have a little blood on you when you first came out. That was all she had to hear. She would say, “I want to see him as soon as he comes out—with the blood on him!” It just so happened that Grandma Elizabeth could hear enough outside the delivery room door to let Miranda peek her head in right after you came out. Dr. Coleman held you down for her to see you. You and Miranda have had a special bond from that moment on!

You also have a mommy that loves you more than any other little boy in the whole world! I was so excited when I found I’d be having a son! They say little girls are daddy’s girls and little boys are mommy’s boys. I sure do hope I have a mommy’s boy! So far so good—your first word was “mama.” You made me so happy when you started saying mama!

I hope you like your name. Daddy and I worked hard to pick just the right one. We went through book after book of names. Everyone thought we should name you “Martin” since that’s my maiden name. As neat as that would be, I was afraid you might get some unpleasant nicknames that rhyme with Martin. You can probably guess what that might be. We thought about quite a few names and finally came up with “Trevor” about a week before you were born. We only know one other little boy named “Trevor.” We didn’t want you to have a common name, but we didn’t want you to have a weird name either. So I think we came up with a great name in ‘Trevor.” We think it suits you to a “T.” Of course your middle name, David, is after Daddy. That was non-negotiable from the  minute we found out you were a boy. This made your initials, “TD” for touchdown, and it’s funny because the whole time I was pregnant all I wanted to watch on TV was “Coach.” We even watched it in the delivery room. I had also made tapes that were nothing but “Coach.” Does this mean you’ll be a football payer? Who knows? I’m not sure I’d like the danger involved. I want whatever is in God’s plans for you. He know the plans he has for you and I pray that you will always walk in this path.

I love you so much it’s impossible to put down on paper. You’ll only understand when you have a child of your own. Sometimes in the middle of the night when I’m up with you and it’s just us, I just want to hold you and never let you go–no matter how frustrated I am about you not sleeping through the night. But you’re growing up every day…way to fast and I can’t slow it down! So I can just pray every day that Godly people will always be placed in your path and you will live a long, happy life.

Just always remember: Your mommy loves you so much and I will always love you…no matter what!

I love you!



A Little Beachy Goodness

Our marriage verse. 
Our life verse. 

Has it always been easy? 

Have we served none the less? 

When I ponder our lives and see where we are now, 
the choice was always clear. 

We will serve the Lord

And he has rewarded us abundantly. 

Enjoy a little beachy goodness from our vacation 😉
The fancy

and the fun…
Hope you enjoyed the…

From my heart,


Tip to a Happier You in 2012~I’ve been kidnapped!

Well, here it is Saturday evening, and I haven’t posted my {tip to a happier you} for today yet. But I have a good excuse:

I’ve been kidnapped and taken to Tree Hill, North Carolina! 

I’ve been shot in the chest, almost drowned, gotten arrested for beating up an abusive father, given birth early to twins that I wasn’t supposed to be able to get pregnant with only to have my husband forget and leave one of them in the car, been admitted to a mental health facility for blackout episodes because I forgot I had a son six years ago, and almost had a breakdown when my husband disappeared for a week and we didn’t know if he was dead or alive. Luckily, everything ended happily.
Miranda, my 18-year-old, had her wisdom teeth taken out this week. So I have played the roll of caregiver—which for Miranda means making her jello and spaghetti, escorting her plethora of friends in and out to see her, and sitting beside her to keep her company while watching the show of her choice—One Tree Hill.  

Miranda is one of those girls that loves for her friends to spend the night. I have always loved it that she wants them to come here, so we frequently allow them to.

This week, however, held one obstacle: our air conditioner upstairs is broken and must be replaced, so everyone is sleeping downstairs. Did this deter her friends from wanting to spend the night? Nope. So downstairs this week, I’ve had all three sofas made into beds, an extra twin mattress beside one of them, and a double air mattress beside another. Between kids coming and going, fixing meals for Miranda, for my family, and for any extras that may be here, and being kidnapped into the world of One Tree Hill I’m exhausted! I don’t think I’ve loaded and emptied the dishwasher this many times in years—all in the midst of giving birth early to the twins and escaping from the drug dealer kidnapper of course.

When I was depressed, I often found myself watching television and getting wrapped up in others lives so I didn’t have to think about my own. But I would DVR them and only get to watch them when they aired on television. Now we have Netflix. You can sit and literally watch 84 episodes back to back—pausing for potty breaks of course. I suppose it’s a good thing we didn’t have Netflix when I was going through depression. Sitting absorbed in someone else’s life for hours at a time would have been just fine with me, but I think my family would have thrown me to the curb. 

After the hours of One Tree Hill this week, I prefer my life any day of the week, thank you very much. But only because God has blessed me with the ability to be happy again, and in the process, has taught me much about what’s important in life. 

So where’s the tip this week? I’ll let you figure it out. This week has left me with a disaster of a house, too much washing to be done, and sleep deprived from the One Tree Hill marathon. I sat down to write a few times only to hear, “MOM! Can you__________?” But I got to spend the week beside my soon-to-be-grown-up-and-gone Miranda. We made a memory.

Sometimes you just gotta do what you gotta do.

Even if it is watch a One Tree Hill marathon 😉
From my heart, 

Speaking her love language

I am so blessed to have great kids—all three of them. But I often have people ask, “What in the world did you do to have such a great teenager?” She has her values in place, she is a leader rather than a follower, and she loves Jesus. Now is she a slob? Yes. Do I have to stay on her all the time to get her chores done? Yes. Could she screw up at any given moment? Yes. But in the grand scope of things, I’ll take it. 

We give her boundaries. We keep tabs on her. We know where she is most all the time. We set rules she must follow, and there is a punishment when she doesn’t. And she loves us, not in spite of these things, but because of them. She knows, without a doubt, that she is loved to the moon and back, and knows that’s why we parent the way we do. 

More than anything, though, she is the girl she is because of her daddy. A daughter must have the love of her father. David has put her on a pedestal since the day she was born; she will accept no less from anyone she dates. 

We practice the Five Love Languages with our children…as best as we can, anyway. Every child has his “emotional tank” filled in a certain way. The five “love languages” include:
  • Physical touch
  • Words of affirmation
  • Time
  • Gifts
  • Acts of service
Miranda’s is definitely time. She loves to spend time with us. When we speak that love language to her, everyone wins!

I don’t know any other teenage girl that would actually like her daddy to go back to college so he could be her room mate! And that’s from her mouth, not mine. 

On Father’s day this year, we made David a card thanking him for speaking love languages to his family. Truly, it is just a tiny glimpse into the dedicated father that he is. We are blessed. 
What is your child’s love language? 

From my heart, 

Tips to a Happier You in 2012~Have a Happy Mother’s Day!

To all of you who are mothers, Happy Mother’s Day! To all of you who are not biological mothers, you have the opportunity to be a mother to someone. All it takes is love…unconditional love.

Every child has a love language, and all three of my children get their love tanks filled with my undivided time and attention. So this mother’s day, whether you are a child spending time with your mother, or a mother spending time with your child(ren), or just spending time with someone you love, my {tip to a happier you} for mother’s day is to fill someone’s love tank.

I’m filling my kid’s (and hubby’s) love tank this weekend by putting away my computer. It may seem like a vacation for me, but trust me, it’s a sacrifice…especially with a writer’s conference coming up next week.

So fill someone’s love tank this weekend. Remember, doing something for someone else helps you take the focus off of yourself, and altruism actually has been proven to increase those good hormones in your brain to make you happy!

From my heart, 

Tips to a Happier You in 2012~Learning What’s Urgent vs. What’s Important

This morning I heard a poem on WLFJ that one of the morning hosts wrote, and once again found my self in tears driving down the road. 
The older I get, the sappier I get. 
But anyway, it really goes well to illustrate my {tip to a happier you} today: 
The Letting Go Test
 By Leslie Nease
Nine months of growth inside of my womb
And in what seemed like an instant, she was there in the room
My heart was just bursting – I could barely compose
As I looked her over intently and counted fingers and toes
Eleven days later, I remember so well
Was my first “letting go test” – her umbilical cord fell
The pain in my heart, I could not ignore
As I realized this test was the first of many more
I nursed her eight months, and then it was time to move on
So I gave her some cereal – yet another era gone
When she was five, it was time to let go again
As I walked her to the school bus, she wore a huge grin
“Oh, God! Please protect her! I cannot be there.
But I trust you are with her and you’ll keep her in your care!”
And I was grinning, also, though my heart broke in two
As I watched my little girl learn to tie her own shoe
Little by little my girl needed me less
As she picked out her clothes and got herself dressed
A few months later, she lost her first tooth
(I cried like a baby, if you want to know the truth!)
This “letting go test” was a challenge indeed
When she took the storybook from me and started to read
I blinked and in an instant I realized much time had passed
As she went off to middle school – she was growing so fast!
The “letting go test” intensified, I remember with dread
When I drove her to the DMV, and she drove me home instead!
Her face lit up with excitement as we handed her the keys
And she drove off alone as I dropped to my knees
“Oh, God! Please protect her! I cannot be there.
But I trust you are with her and you’ll keep her in your care!”
My prayers were more often and more intense, I must confess
As she was gone more often now, and I saw her much less
My girl was growing up and I was completely shook
As she picked her favorite photos for her Senior Yearbook
And just a few months later, my girl turned eighteen
A young woman she was becoming now – what a sight to be seen!
“God, where did the time go?” I began to pray
As our family dressed up for Graduation Day.
She walked across the stage with her head held high
And as she took her diploma, I began to cry
But these tears were so different, more like tears of delight
My girl was a woman now and she was going to be all right
All the “letting go tests” that I’d had over the years
Helped me let go, trust God and release all my fears
The “tests” were sent by Him to prepare my mom-heart
For the ultimate test – when we’d begin to live apart
The day quickly approached and we loaded up the car
We drove her to college – it just seemed so far
We unloaded her things and we hugged her goodbye
And I tried not to do it but I couldn’t help but cry
This “letting go test” was the hardest test yet
The drive home was long – one I’ll never forget
But the sadness I feel is not the same as before
I feel such joy for her – there’s so much in store!
“Oh, God! Please protect her! I cannot be there.
But I trust you are with her and you’ll keep her in your care!”
 Are you crying with me yet? With an {eight-year-old-going-on-sixteen-year-old} daughter, and a {thirteen-year-old-girl-crazy} son, and an {eighteen-year-old-soon-to-be-graduating} daughter, this poem really hit home, as it would with many moms. 
When our children are graduating, getting married and having kids of their own, what will we look back and remember?
  • Our little girl asking us to sit down and read a book, but we were too busy checking emails? 
  • Our teenager wanting us to meet her for lunch, but we have too many errands to run? 
  • Our kids begging to go to the pool, but we say it’s just too hot outside…so we stay home and mow the lawn instead?  
 What will they look back and remember? 
  • How the cabinets and floors sparkled every Saturday night in preparation for a new week? 
  • How much fun dad always had playing golf every Saturday?
  • How mom sat at the computer every waking hour of the day? (Stepping on my own toes bigtime)
  • How dad’s coworkers respected him because he was at the office by 7:00 am and didn’t leave work until after 7:00 pm? 
  • How there was always one more thing that had to be done before they could go out and play? 

There is a huge difference between what is urgent and what is important. In our fast-paced days, the line between the two gets easily blurred. 
My hubby and I can open up our emails at any given moment and have a thousand or more. The urge to clean out that inbox is intense, but how many of those emails are really important?
I have to stop and give God some praise for blessing me with such an awesome husband. I’m sure if he reads this post he will be difficult to live with for a few days, but nevertheless…he loves to play golf, yet he rarely does. To be good at golf, he says you have to play often, which usually means Saturdays. He decided when our kids were little that having a good golf game was not what he wanted to look back on when he was old. He wanted to look back on Saturdays spent as a family. Hiking, movies, swimming…whatever we did, we did it together. And we still do. For David, family comes absolutely first. Not to say that we haven’t had tough times. We’ve had our share of marital issues, especially when I was battling addiction and depression. But by the grace of God, David persevered. And God delivered me. Whew! I sure am glad those years are over! 
Back on topic…urgent vs. important. 
  • The grass is up to my knees, but my kids want us to bake cookies and watch a movie. The grass can wait. 
  • I’m really not hungry and need to go to Wal-Mart before Marlee gets out of school, but Miranda and her boyfriend want me to meet them for lunch at La Fogata. Am I going to remember going to Wal-Mart (again) or having lunch with my soon-to-be-in-college daughter? So what if they only want me there so I will pay? 
  • I have to be up early to work Friday morning, but the premier of the Hunger Games movie is at midnight Thursday night and Trevor really wants to go. 
I was really sleepy on Friday.
But it was important.
We made a memory. 
So that’s my {tip to a happier you} for today. Make memories. The good kind. The emails, the grass, and the dog hair on the floor will all still be there. Even when you do accomplish those tasks, I promise they will all return again.
The opportunity to make memories may not.

From my heart,