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Perfect Fall Day

Today was an extremely wonderful day after what seems to be a serious of very challenging ones. It always seems just as I’m getting my footing, something knocks us off kilter and the whirlwind forces us into “survival mode” once again.

It’s been a little over a year and a half since we moved and every day feels like a paradox of both a lifetime ago and just yesterday. The kids have settled into their schools and with the exception of Addisyn, no one speaks of Texas with much longing anymore. My oldest is a different story, but that’s for a different day.

Today. Just a Normal Saturday- or so I thought. The boys were supposed to have their final Flag Football game of the season. The torrential downpour vetoed that idea which was replaced with indoor pizza parties for the teams. That left us with an extra hour before we had to leave home.

Normally, pancakes are what Saturday’s mean in the Wagner household, but today, we decided on homemade donuts.

The kids thoroughly enjoyed the sugar-filled breakfast and were happy to scarf down seconds and some even thirds.

We loaded up for the party and got to bring cupcakes along, because, what’s a party without cupcakes?!

These football cupcakes were as fun to make as they were to eat and the Lions (Go Pack Go) finished them off quickly!

After the party, we sludged over to the bookstore where the kiddos each found a new book and we brought home a new family puzzle. The kiddos were all so well behaved and had a great tome looking for books they were excited to read.

Our next stop was the grocery store for a pumpkin. Now, here’s the part where I admit my utter failings as a mother. My children are now 9,7,6 and 4. This is the FIRST year I’ve ever carved a pumpkin with them. I’m pretty sure Trey did one several years ago, but this is so not my groove. I’m not a “stick your hand in a pumpkin and scrape out all the goo” kinda girl. I have no problem with baking, but I still struggle with gooey tasks such as this. Never the less, we dove in and quickly got the pumpkin scraped clean.

As you can see, Ezryi Jane shares my sentiment and this was as close to the “gross pumpkin” that she got.

The other three were super excited to help. We printed out some family favorites for the subject and got to cutting.

Addisyn is my die hard Packers fan and Tyce prefers the Saints as his father does, so we compromised and put both on the silly thing.

Following the clean up of the slimy mess, we started on our new puzzle. We just recently did a family puzzle and the kids had a great time. Their attention seems to wain but they return and work for a little while again. Puzzles are one of my loves that I haven’t really done recently because it’s hard to find the time to cook and clean and run a household and have any extra for frivolous things. But I’m trying to be more intentional with my time with the kids- this makes that easy. We can talk and work together without screen time or distractions. It’s been wonderful so far.

Dinner was leftovers, which means I didn’t have to cook (Hallelujah) which was followed by another chapter in The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. We are now 6 chapters in, and with the exception of Little Miss Sass, they are all enthralled with the storyline.

The littles were all off to bed and my oldest asked about the slimy pumpkin guts. I’m pretty sure I stated before, but let me reiterate. I am NOT a fan of anything slimy and unpleasant. However, I’ve never been one to back down form a challenge and after a quick Pinterest search, she and I were off to sorting out the pumpkin seeds to roast for a snack. Now, I didn’t expect this to be a pleasant thing and that proved to be true. The task of sorting the seeds from the -see, I don’t even know the technical term – pulp, maybe, is thoroughly hands-on. You must peel away the rind (hoping that’s the correct term) in order to free the seed and then rinse them to let them dry.

My daughter and I were equally repulsed by this task, but we fought through. This part of the conversation hit me hard.

Addisyn: this is disgusting. I never thought I would be sorting out seeds from this nastiness!

Me: but you’re doing it and you’re doing a great job.

Addisyn: well, because you’re doing it!

Those words hit me like a ton of bricks. Life isn’t always pleasant. It’s certainly not easy and sometimes it’s simply surviving through a task or challenge to get to the other side. I was not enjoying this task at all. But I didn’t speak out about it because my daughter was there and it was something she wanted to do. Meanwhile, she fought through something she wouldn’t normally have done simply because I wasn’t complaining.

How often have I approached something and made it worse with my words and attitude? How often have I complained to God that this isn’t easy or fun or enjoyable and there are about a million other things I could/would/want to be doing? How many times have I simply shut my mouth and done it? Not enough. Not nearly enough.

It’s so very easy to tough it out when there’s an example to show you how. But I want my children (and myself) to not only do it with an example, but to BE the example. I have had the privilege to live life with many examples. I’ve also lived without them- and it’s much easier to muster up the strength to carry on when there’s someone in your face showing you that you can.

But that won’t always be the case. Sometimes, it will be just you. No one will be watching or cheering or even keeping score.

Following the slimy task- we rinsed the seeds and laid them out to dry. Apparently, they have to dry out overnight before baking, so we will see tomorrow how they turn out.

Addisyn went off to bed excited to finish the seeds tomorrow.

Today was a good day. There were no meltdowns, no huge fights, no whining or fussing or hitting. It was a day spent with my favorite four littles and I tried to enjoy every moment of it.

Most days lately haven’t been good days. We’ve faced challenge after challenge since, well, I don’t really have a start date, to be honest. It’s been a whole lot of Hard lately. Which makes me much more thankful for the good days. The days when I can enjoy the blessings that I’m normally to busy caring for. The days when the laughter comes easy and no tears are found.

But today seemed to preach to me through the words of my daughter. No matter what we face, the position of your heart and the words of your mouth can make or break the situation. What we choose to speak or dwell on will determine our ability to finish strong or even finish at all.

May I always follow the example of the one who bore the cross, despising it’s shame, and follow the path he has paved for me- even if it’s not the one I would have chosen.

“saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.””

Luke 22:42 ESV


Hurricanes and Home

In case you’re hiding under a rock or maybe knee-deep in babies and toddlers with no time for news at all, you probably know there’s a hurricane headed for the gulf coast. Harvey is predicted to do some serious damage to the coast of Texas as well as move inland.

Since this news today, I have received no less than a dozen calls, texts and messages asking if my family is okay or in the way of the storm. Thankfully, they are all way north of the hurricane and as of now won’t be affected by Harvey.

However, this small gesture has warmed my heart today. It’s been eighteen months since we left Texas and it has been the single most hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life. There were nights in the beginning when I would cry. Literally hours. Trying to find peace and purpose in this place.

I’d be lying if I said that I feel as if I’ve arrived. But, the peace came quickly and is still residing squarely on my shoulders. I am so thankful for that.

The purpose, well, it is still unfolding- I’m simply trying to walk every day in the way I think the Lord would want me to. It not clear-cut nor is it even visible some days, but it’s a journey, not a destination.

However, what I have found here, in East Tennessee, of all places, is My People. Thursday was completely insane. I had fourteen places to be – some of them two at a time. There was no physical way to do it all. And even though I HATE asking for help (it means admitting defeat in my head) I quickly went through the list of about 5 people that I could ask to help. My wonderful friend picked up my son for me while I took my daughter to dance. It was seamless and so very, very helpful to a struggling Mom.

While this is no big deal to some people (I used to be “some people”) since moving here, I haven’t really experienced this comfort. The knowing that I can call someone to help me in crisis. The listing of actual people who live near you on the emergency form at school instead of hours (or states) away. The last minute text saying- wanna meet up at Chick-fil-A. The texts and calls asking about your child after an injury. The feeling of knowing that people have your back- no matter what.

I’m finally here. I seriously weep tears of joy over this. I am a planner. An insane perfectionist that likes to figure everything out and plan for every conceivable plan b (and c, and d, you get it…) My heart longs to belong in a place- not the location, but the people. The friends that are more like family because you love them like that and they you. And while the Lord has taught me how to let up on the knowing of all.the.things, He still made me to crave fellowship and relationship. He has fulfilled my hearts desire of both knowing and being known here. I have found people that I can be real with, people that love (and can tolerate) my children, people that I can live life with- that’s priceless in my book.

While I am ever so grateful for the things I have learned in the midst of the alone time, I am even more grateful to be back in the place where I feel surrounded by a network of people who love us, support us and let us into their lives as we do them.

I think my heart will always long for Texas. It’s home to me in every sense of the word. But, Knoxville is growing on me. It’s becoming home. It’s beautiful and different and wonderfully amazing. I’m finding that you can have more than one “home”.

I pray that your heart finds home wherever you are tonight.

A New Chapter 

And just like that it happened. I have four semi- self-sufficient kiddos. There are no more nights rocking back to sleep or times when they just want to hold me. My three year old sometimes asks for hugs and it’s the ritual to hug and kiss 5 times before laying down for nap. But it’s different. So very, very different. 

I remember the days when I prayed they would sleep through the night. When I rejoiced if they didn’t wake at 3am to eat or cry at 5 because they needed to be changed. It went so fast. The days were so long and consuming that I couldn’t see past them. But now, they are a memory and something that I wish would return. 
Not because I liked getting up at 3am or because I enjoyed the restless nights. But because I knew my role so very, very well. I am GOOD at babies. Like really, really good. It comes naturally. I like figuring out what is wrong when communication is simply cries. I can sing a baby to sleep in no time. I spent many a night pacing and holding. I knew how to fix almost every wrong and how to make life work. 

Kids are NOT the same as babies. Not even the same as toddlers. They have thoughts and ideas of their own and make choices that sometimes I don’t approve of. 

They are messy. I thought a 2 year old could destroy a room- they have NOTHING on my 6 and 7 year old boys. They are destructive! 

They are complicated. Figuring out how life works is hard- ask any 9 year old. One minute it’s adulthood they desire and the next they act like they’re two. 

They are LOUD. Not in the cute way that babies are- in the annoying, high pitched, whine until I get my way (or get punished in my house) it’s not fair, he touched me, that’s MY toy- way. 

They are inquisitive. Why do we have to go here? How do you spell motorcycle? Why can’t I have candy for snack? How come Johnny gets an led fidget spinner and you just got me this plain one? How many more minutes until we get home? Can I stay up late tonight? Can I have a cupcake? Why do you want to go to the bathroom alone? 

For me, they require so much, much more. At any given time I have four voices asking four different questions. It’s no longer adequate to simply feed, change and clothe them. Now I have to worry about multiplication and book reports along with the tooth fairy and emotions. So many many emotions. And not just from the Girl, either! My boys feel deeply and to their core. Tears are many and often, but they don’t require just a hug and a kiss. They now require lessons on social norms and proper play technique. Sometimes they require hard conversations about how words can hurt just as much as fists. Sometimes they require mopping up blood and patching elbows. Sometimes they simply need sleep and less sugar. 

This new journey I am on is wonderful. I wouldn’t trade it for the world. But I find myself less equipped every day for these challenges. These four blessings sometimes take every ounce of patience I have. Sometimes it’s gone before 10am. Some days are easy- everyone plays well and kindness abounds. Other days require time outs, apologies, punishments and loss of privileges. Some days are rewards and exploring new places. Every day is an adventure. 

I am learning, right along side them. Someone once told me, maybe it’s not what is placed in your life but who is placed in your life to mold you into who God wants you to be. These four are molding me in so many ways. 

I am so very honored to be living this life with these four little hearts I’ve been entrusted with. They have driven me to my knees more than I can count. I want to be the example that they need to follow. I will mess up. Always. I will never be perfect. But my desire is to point them to the one who will NEVER fail them, never leave them, never disappoint them. I pray that in the mess of arguments, scraped knees, blame placing and sibling punching, they learn the only lesson that matters. 
He is everything and without Him, we are nothing

It’s a whole new chapter that I’m trying to embrace with open arms. Though, if anyone knows of a newborn that needs a babysitter… feel free to pass them my number 😉 

Today was the last day of the school year. Our first full school year in Knoxville. I now have a 2nd, 3rd and 4th grader. All with varying reactions to the new year. 

My newly finished first grader had been dreading this day for about a month. While his brother and sister have been counting down days, he has been pouting and trying to wish away the end of the year. He has fallen in love with his teacher this year and I am so very grateful. Kinder was a tough year for him. As a highly energetic 6 year old boy, he often has more wiggles than ability to sit still. This often gets him in trouble. This year, we were blessed with an amazing teacher that took his energy in stride and redirected his drive at every turn. He completed this academic year with all A’s and has learned so much more than just academics. He has retained his loving nature and is able to both be silly and serious. He was encouraged to be himself but also taught how to complete his work. The amount of patience that Ms. Mattson has is beyond my comprehension. She is a true blessing to me and I hope that we will be given the opportunity to be in her class again! 

Tyce chose not to go to school today (this is the first time I’ve given that option). He was so worn out and ready for summer, as is his Momma. We did get the chance to say goodbye to his teacher as we had to pick up his r port card this afternoon. Tyce has grown so much this year. He is so very different from his over-achieving brother and sister. He is content with knowing. He hates to have to prove that he knows over and over again. He skips problems that he knows and moves one without a thought. We have had to redo so many things this year because of this lackadaisical attitude towards school. But his teacher had been patient and helpful. She was always cheerful and helpful when we had any issues. Tyce prefers to not be the center of attention- he refuses the spotlight and likes to be a part of a group. This year has been a good one and I think he’s prepared for 3rd grade (probably more than I am!) because Mrs. Lee has made sure he knows what he needs to even when his grades don’t reflect his knowledge! I am thankful he had a teacher that understood his needs and never put him on the spot! 

Addisyn amazes me. Today, I read her letters from her classmates. Got tears rolled down my checks as I read child after child say things like “you always include others at recess” and “thank you for being a good friend” along with “you’re always kind and helpful”. This child has had the most challenging year emotionally. She feels everything big and loud. She either laughs without abandon or cries tears of despair. It’s been a whole lot of talking through feelings and managing blow ups. She is trying to reconcile the conflicting feelings of wanting to go back home to Texas and wanting to find a “home” here. I see so much of myself in this child. She is caring and thoughtful, but so very emotional. Her teacher has gone out of her way to make sure that Addisyn feels at home in her new school. She is tender and kind when Addisyn makes bad decisions but helps her correct those and learn from them. I am so proud of the maturity that has taken place this year. It’s so beautiful to watch her become a young lady. Though I don’t want her to grow up, I am so excited to see who she becomes! Mrs. Wilkinson, thank you for shepherding my daughters heart this year, along with her brain. 

I am so glad this year is complete- I am ready for sleeping in and picnics and days at Dollywood and water parks and late bedtimes and swimming and sunshine! But beginnings generally mean endings as well. I am so very thankful for the people who have made an impact on my children this year. It has gone a long way in making Knoxville feel more like home and less strange and scary. I see my children embracing new and different. I see them growing in ways they never would have if we had stayed. I see maturing and compassion. It does a Momma heart good to know that there are teachers out there that love my kids so much that tears are shed when the year ends. 
So, Thank you, to all the teachers my kids have had, and to all my teacher friends for investing you in them. For loving them like your own even when they chose wrong. Thank you for the patience you display and the work you put into your classroom. Thank you for making learning fun. Thank you for loving that one kid that makes every day harder. Thank you for being what they need even thought they don’t know it. Your job is priceless and it’s so much more than just a job. It’s a calling. I, for one, as grateful that my child has been blessed by you! ❤️


Grief is a weird thing. It’s all encompassing. It’s one minute of laughing at a great memory and the next bursting into tears because the longing it be with that person is just too much. 
It’s choosing to eat at her favorite restaurant but also trying to keep busy because you don’t want to think too much. It’s texting family to see how they’re holding up, and then commiserating that this all just stinks. I asked my brother today when he thinks this will get easier. And his answer was birth so very true, comforting and also the worst thing I could hear all at the same time. “I hope it never does” was his response. And that so encompasses the conflicting feelings.
In as much as I don’t want to hurt, I want to never forget. But never forgetting means carrying this constant ache that never goes away. And that constant conflict hides inside your head every day. Trying to explain is painful. Living in silence is lonely. 
The truth is, there was a beautiful life lived. It was vibrant and expressive and the type of life I hope to live. She was kind, sacrificing, loving beyond measure, joyful, and so very humble. She was the opposite of me- never wanting the spotlight and simply living in the center of her world. Her life was her family. She needed nothing else. She wanted to be their everything, and she was. 
She sang beautifully. High and sweet. She was beautiful. Not the kind of beautiful that was simply outward. Her beautiful was throughout. Her heart was soft toward others. 
She was content. I say that again because I strive to have that quality. She was content. I want to be content like she was. In every circumstance. Though pain was a daily constant for her, she never complained and never required pity. 

She was not perfect. I don’t want to be that person who makes up things about a person that wasn’t really those things. My sister WAS alllllll those things. Ask anyone who knew her and they will agree. 
I can still hear the way she yelled at her son. Jayyyy-cob. 

The way she called my name, like I was three, even when I was 23. It didn’t matter to her. I was Bethie Mae even when I was about to mother my first child. The conversations we had about raising babies. The things I could only ask her. The moments we shared are priceless. 

I wish I would have called more. I wish I would have taken the time to get her cheesecake recipe. I wish so many things. 

But those things I can’t change. I can’t change what was. 

But I can change what is. I can choose to make those calls now. I can choose to say I love you a million and one times. I can choose to live in the moment and drink in the now. I can choose to spend time with those that matter and always choose people over things. 
The truth is, I never want to forget. I want the pain of the memory because it’s as sweet as painful. It’s hope in and of itself because the promise I have that this is not my home. This place is not the end. It’s not final and it’s not finished. I will see her again. She will be the one giving me my tour of my new home. She will speak of Glory with familiarity and joy. She will be waiting. I will hear her voice and hug her neck. It is not for her that I mourn. It’s not despair, it’s longing. It’s wanting to be in the joy that her reality is. It’s desiring to experience that joy for myself but also wanting to see her without pain and limits. I don’t know what that looks like. I don’t know who she is without restrictions. I’m so very excited to see that side of her. 
Today, she would have been 48. Instead, she is just a few weeks shy of 4 years in Heaven. I don’t understand the why, but I trust the One who knows beyond my understanding. I wish, for my and her babies sake, that she was here. But I am so thankful that she is not in pain. I’m thankful that she can walk. I’m thankful that she can dance and run without pain. 
Today, I will celebrate her life. I will remember everything I can possibly remember. I will reminisce and I will cry. I will tell my babies why she was important. I will tell her babies of all the ways that I want to be like her. I will tell them of her unconditional love. 
If you’ve ever walked through grief, you know the pendulum. You understand the paradox of memories. Today, I will take solace that “The pain reminds this heart, that this is not, this is not our home”. This is not where the story ends. This is a chapter of the story. Not the end of the book. 
“In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.”

‭‭John‬ ‭14:2-3‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Mother’s Day 2017

This weekend, I had the privilege of sharing a short devotion with a group of ladies. I speak like I blog because I blog like I speak, so, I figured I would share it here as well! I hope you enjoy! 

I want to share an article that was shared with me. It that was given to me when I was knee-deep in babies, diapers, nursing, potty-training and toddlers. I had three babies in three years and the days were oh-so-long. 

The Invisible Mother 

By Nicole Johnson

One day I was walking my son Jake to school. I was holding his hand and we were about to cross the street when the crossing guard said to him, “Who is that with you, young fella?”

“Nobody,” he shrugged.

Nobody? The crossing guard and I laughed. My son is only five, but as we crossed the street I thought, “Oh my goodness, I’m nobody?”

As Nobody, I would walk into a room and no one would notice. I would say something to my family, like “Turn the TV down, please.” And nothing would happen. No one would get up or even make a move for the remote. I would stand there for a minute, and then I would say again, a little louder, Would someone turn the TV down?” Nothing. 

That’s when I started putting all the pieces together. I don’t think anyone can see me.

I’m invisible.

It all began to make sense! The blank stares, the lack of response, the way one of the kids will walk into the room while I’m on the phone and ask to be taken to the store. Inside I’d think, “Can’t you see I’m on the phone?” 

Obviously not; no one can see if I’m on the phone, or cooking, or sweeping the floor, or even standing on my head in the corner. No one can see me, because I’m the Invisible Mom. 

Some days I am only a pair of hands, nothing more. Can you fix this? Can you tie this? Can you open this? 

Some days I’m merely a clock to ask, “What time is it?” I’m a satellite guide to answer, “What number is the Disney Channel?”

Some days I’m a crystal ball: “Where’s my other sock? Where’s my phone? What’s for dinner?” 

Hands, a clock, a crystal ball—but always invisible. 

One night, some girlfriends and I were having dinner, celebrating the return of a friend from England. She had just gotten back from a fabulous trip, and was telling wonderful stories. I sat there, looking around at the others all so put-together, so visible and vibrant. It was hard not to compare and feel sorry for myself. I was feeling pretty pathetic when my friend turned to me with a beautifully wrapped package and said, “I brought you this.” It was a book on the great cathedrals of Europe. I wasn’t exactly sure why she’d given it to me until I read her inscription: “With admiration for the greatness of what you are building when no one sees.” 

In the days ahead I read—no—I devoured the book. And I discovered what would become for me, four life-changing truths:

1. No one can say who built the great cathedrals—we have no record of their names.

2. These builders gave their whole lives for a work they would never see finished.

3. They made great sacrifices and expected no credit.

4. The passion of their building was fueled by their faith that the eyes of God saw everything. 

In the book, there was the legend of a rich man who came to visit the cathedral while it was being built. He saw a worker carving a tiny bird on the inside of a beam. He was puzzled and asked the man, “Why are you spending so much time carving that bird into a beam that will be covered by the roof? No one will ever see it.” And the worker replied, “Because God sees.” 

After reading that, I closed the book, feeling the missing piece fall into place. It was almost as if I heard God whispering to me, “I see you. I see the sacrifices you make every day, even when no one around you does. 

“No act of kindness you’ve done, no sequin you’ve sewn on, no cupcake you’ve baked, no last minute errand is too small for Me to notice and smile over. You are building a great cathedral, but you can’t see right now what it will become. But I see.” 

When I choose to view myself as a great builder—instead of Invisible Mom—I keep the right perspective. 

When I really think about it, I don’t want my son to tell the friend he’s bringing home from college for Thanksgiving, “My mom gets up at four in the morning and bakes homemade pies, and then she hand-bastes a turkey for three hours and presses all the linens for the table.” That would mean I’d built a monument to myself! But I don’t want that—I just want him to want to come home with a friend and share a wonderful meal as a family.  

The author of the book went so far as to say that no cathedrals could ever be built in our lifetime because there are so few people willing to sacrifice to that degree. I disagree. 

As mothers, we are building great cathedrals. We cannot be seen if we’re doing it right—which is why we may feel invisible some days. But one day, it is very possible that the world will marvel, not only at what we have built, but at the beauty that has been added to the world by the sacrifices of invisible mothers.

Such a great article! How true those words are. They impacted me in a profound way at that point, and they still do today. I don’t know where you are in your mothering journey. Maybe you’re not a mother yet. Maybe you are in the throes of raising and parenting children. Maybe those babies are just learning to walk. Maybe there are no more babies- maybe its grandchildren or neighbors. Regardless of where you are in your mothering journey, I know we can all apply this lesson to our lives. 
In the article, it states that Mothers are invisible, most of the time. This, I believe, is what makes Motherhood so humbling. It is a precious precious gift, motherhood. But this gift that we’ve been given, is wrapped up in an impenetrable package of hard work. It means sleepless nights, early mornings and never ending days of labor. It means being on call 24 hours, 7 days a week. And to me, it’s the best job I could ever hope to have.  

In my ten years of motherhood, I have yet to find a way around the hard work though. Maybe some of the wiser mothers here have figured it out- if so, get with me after because we gotta share some secrets! 

Whether you have 1 or 7, children take time and patience and love and most days, mine take my sanity. The job descriptions are endless and the appreciation is usually an afterthought if thought of at all.

But today, I want to talk about the cathedrals that we can build. 

Paul says in Acts 20:24 “But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.”

Another translation states it a little simpler “But my life is worth nothing to me, unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus” many of us can say amen and preach it when speaking of this in terms of ministry. We can clearly see how a pastors wife can finish the work assigned to her. Or maybe a worship Pastor. We can see the calling and appreciate the sacrifice. We see it in those called to the mission field. What an amazing calling. I have some close friends in Jordan ministering to Muslims. What a high and heavy calling. 

But make no mistake, Mothers, these children, these babies, these young men and women were assigned to us and it is our job to finish the work. They are part of our calling. To me, they are my highest calling. Matthew states that what good is it if he gains the whole world and yet loses his soul. I know I feel that way about my babies. I can accomplish many many things in this life, and I hope to. But it was all for nothing if my babies aren’t walking in relationship with my savior. 

We have a responsibility and we have the privilege or raising them well. My mother raised me well. She made mistakes. Probably more than I remember. But she loved me unconditionally. And if I can pass that down to my babies, I know I have mothered well. 

My daughter and I had a conversation the other day about another verse that comes to mind.

Colossians 3:23-24 states 

“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.”

We are called, in every aspect of our life to work heartily, as unto the Lord. Not as unto our defiant three year old. Nor our ungrateful elementary student. Nor our sassy teenager. Not as unto our husband, or our boss, or our pastor or our best friend. 
As unto the Lord. 

As unto THE LORD. 

What would that look like on the daily? What would that sound like played out in real life amidst dirty socks and tantrums and arguments and discipline? 

I am so very, very guilty of responding to my children in less than Christ-like joy. 
The days are long, my friends. The homework is plenty, the accidents abound and the laundry never ceases. 

But, we have the choice as Mothers to speak into our children. We can speak life or we can speak death. The word says that power is held in the tongue. 

We mold their view of the world, just as we mold their view of Christ. 

The weight of this is not lost on me as I’m sure it isn’t on you as well. What a mighty position we have been placed in. It isn’t a visible position, but don’t let that trick you into thinking it’s not important. Just because it’s not on stage and applauded for, does NOT mean that it is worthless. On the contrary, it is priceless. I know of no love like a Mothers love. The love that would gladly lay down their life, their desires, their wants and needs to serve others. 

After all, isn’t that what we’re all called to be? Mother or not? We’re called to be Christ-like. I constantly see the Master laying down his garments of beauty and taking on the mantle of a servant. And if I want to model that to my children, what better way than in servant-motherhood. One day, maybe they will realize the depth of sacrifice. But like the article stated- I don’t want to have my child brag on my work. No. I’d rather have them want to be in my presence because I modeled the love of Christ to them. 

This Mother’s Day- and this year, lets choose to be more intentional in our motherhood. Let’s choose to daily build the Cathedral. Let’s choose to be invisible, when necessary. Because we know, beyond a doubt, that to the One who called us to this humbling work, we are never invisible. 

So, I have this problem with writing. Well, in life in general, but let’s just stick to my issues with writing. I love to write. I love to put my pen to paper (or fingers to a keyboard, thumbs to a phone) and type out all the feelings and things in life. It feels good to get it out. 

So, what’s the issue? Umm… I’m glad you asked… I like to write about good things. Sometimes I write about hard things, yes. But they usually have a good twist to them. A happy ending. A life parallel where I can either squeeze out some good example or feel some sense of accomplishment. 

I don’t like writing about the hard. The messy. The difficult. 

Not in the midst of it. 

I can easily hash out the story when it’s over- The horrors of the middle of the story pour out as long as there’s an ending that is satisfying. 

I like things neat and tied up with a sweet bow. I don’t like to bring up the uncomfortable without a solution. An answer. At least a lesson that has been learned. 

Which is why I haven’t blogged in forever. I can’t seem to find the words or get to the happy ending just yet. 

I feel very much In The Middle of the Hard, the Messy and the Unreconciled. There’s no- this WAS the problem, but it’s fixed now. 

Nope. I’m sitting right in the middle of the messy and I don’t know how or if or when this will all work out. 

But maybe, just maybe, I’m not the only one. 

Maybe there are others out there who are smack in the middle of the story. Where they don’t see the end and they haven’t tasted any satisfaction of completion in a while. Maybe there’s a whole bunch of us out there living in the middle of the Messy. 

Maybe instead of waiting to write about the tidy and neat and complete- I should just put pen to paper anyway and see what comes out. 

Maybe in the midst of the learning and growing and messing up and stumbling… Maybe there’s beauty in that too. 

Because I read in the Word that even though I’m in the midst of my struggle- there’s one that existed that already fought the battle and won. Because He says in his word that he is working all things out for MY good. Because He says he takes ashes and gives beauty. He sees my mourning and He is waiting with Joy.

He sees my struggle- my want to give him all the mess and then two seconds later demanding that I can do this on my own- and yet, He still loves. He still waits and He still desires to draw me close. 

Maybe my perfectionism isn’t just caging me, but what if it’s keeping someone out there from hearing the words they need to hear. What if the whole world doesn’t care that I’m messy and not perfect because they aren’t either. Maybe, they would rather have real and raw and unfiltered. Maybe my head has it wrong. Maybe people aren’t repulsed by the middle of the story. Maybe they aren’t uncomfortable without a happy ending. Maybe they just want to know that in the midst of the story- He is present. When I am grieving and seeking and wanting an answer- He is there. He is guiding me and leading me- even when I just want to know the end. He is patient and loving – all the things I want to be. 

He sees beauty in the middle of the story. He doesn’t look away and wish I was whole. He holds me in my brokenness and invites me to see that without Him, I’ll never find whole. He is whole. And for now, that’s all I need. 
“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”              ‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭12:9‬ ‭ESV‬‬

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

Four days before Christmas and all the Things To Do are getting checked off the list. Today, three class parties complete with treats for a total of 65 chocolate covered Oreos, (24 of which were Minions because my son has the CUTEST first grade class!) watching Home Alone (the original) pork chops for dinner and then our yearly Christmas Light Night where we drive around as a family and look at Christmas lights and drink Hot Chocolate. 
I’ll be honest, because, well, this is my blog and there’s really no point in me writing if I’m not going to be honest! I was slightly dreading this night. It’s been 8 Christmases. Eight times we’ve loaded up the car with our family – which at one time was only 3 – and took to the streets of Waxahachie, Texas. We’ve driven through the same neighborhoods for eight years. It’s easy to know where to go because we knew the area. We knew that the big beautiful houses across from Campuzano’s have a great display, but the one just north of there is really the best. Or the new neighborhood over off Farley usually has some impressive displays. Our own neighborhood grew every year and it was the one we always saved for last. Eight times we’ve ventured out. And eight times we’ve come home satisfied, usually with more than one Little out for the count. Tonight, I had no idea where we would go, or what we would see. I even suggested going to a Christmas Display area where you pay per car, even though my husband thinks it’s crazy to pay to see lights. But then, we would have had a plan. We would have known what to expect. It was comforting to me. 

It keeps coming back to this, over and over and over. I’m a planner. It’s the way God created me. I like to know the how and the when and the where. I enjoy being in charge of the little things, the details. I thrive on making sure every single part of a working thing is present. I’m also a mom. A mom of many small children. Planning is my LIFE. Without a plan, chaos almost instantly ensues in our household. God created me with these traits and in so many ways they’ve worked together to help further His Kingdom. 

But today, they were preventing me from seeing the beauty in the new, again. Against my every attempt, we set out this evening with no plan. I grabbed the Hot Chocolate and all the things we would need to go with that (notice the planning) and loaded the car. In the rush of getting the kiddos all buckled, I left my phone at home. Which I believe to be Gods plan all along- no distractions! 

We started driving and I was already getting nervous. Then my husband suggested we go look at the neighborhoods I had been running through on my training runs. We headed that way and the whole evening unfolded without a hitch. The kids assigned 1st, 2nd and 3rd place to each neighborhood we encountered. The Hot Chocolate ran out just as I was refilling the last cup. The Christmas Carols on Pandora were exactly what we needed to sing along with. And there was no need for the worry or the anxiousness that I had been entertaining. 

Several times I just sat and listened to those little voices as they discussed their favorite color of lights or how they liked the Charlie Brown display better than the snowman.  

Planning and order are all well and good, but the OVERWHELMING lesson that I am continuing to be taught – almost on a daily basis- is trust. Trust in the one who holds my every second. Trust that His plan is greater than any plan I could ever conceive. Trust that He desires more for me than I can dream. Trust that New, though it is hard for me, is good. In its own different way. 

My heart still hurt, it still longed for the simplicity of the familiar. I don’t know if or when that will ever end. But I know that one is not better. Familiar is never better simply because it’s comfortable. And New is not worse just because it’s difficult. If the only thing that holds you back is that you’ve never done it THIS way before, then it’s time to find a reason with true merit. Because God usually wants more for us than Familiar. His Plans are large and beautiful and so full of surprises, we might never attempt them if we knew what the future held. 

There’s a beauty in living in the now. There’s a peace in taking the next step that he lays out without seeing the rest of the journey. There’s trust built in the hard places that lays foundation for the greatness that will come. There’s strength and hope that grows in the process. 

Tonight, two of the four were sleeping when we arrived home. They were carried to their beds and neither one had a care in the world. Because they were held, they were protected. And if they can trust that their earthly, extremely fallible parents have got them taken care of…. I can trust that my God, he’s preparing things for me that I can’t see now. But soon- through my trusting and my obeying- I will see the fulfillment of those plans come to pass. 

New is Good

There was this time, not so long ago, way too close to present day, where I thought that I would never feel like this place would ever feel like home. Home was so very very far from anything I could see or feel. 
New is fun. But new is hard. New is messy and difficult and crying in grocery stores because it take 5 times longer than it ever did when I was home. New is finding that the pizza joint where you’ve taken your kids on Sunday afternoons since forever, just doesn’t taste the same 1,000 miles away. New is figuring out that Costco pizza isn’t that bad for lunch after church and can be our new normal. Normal is so overrated anyway. 
So many, many New Things we have discovered in the past 9 months. Some wonderful and some not so wonderful, but all came with some measure of difficulty.
Some days my heart would feel like I was drowning in a deep pool where the bottom was so very far that I could never touch. Some days, when one of my kids found a new friend, or when I finally mastered which aisle the yeast was in, were small victories in making this place feel a little more familiar. 

Driving without GPS is still a huge deal for me. I never realized how very comfortable that Familiar made me. I didn’t realize that leaving Familiar would cause me to question everything, even down to who I really was. 
Home was where I could be me. Home was where, even when I said the wrong things or sang the wrong note, I knew I was still loved, because despite my loud, brash outer, people understood Who I was more than What I was. Home was where my kids. had friends that would destroy the playroom with them and play swords and cars and trains and push babies in strollers. Home is so much more than a place. Home is even more than a feeling. Home is belonging. Home is finding my place. Home is finding OUR place, as a family. Not just where one of us feels comfortable, but where we all can find the soft place to land. 

Knoxville is so not ever what I imagined home would ever be. Tennessee is not what I ever thought home would be. I don’t even like Tennessee! (Don’t take offense, its a Texan thing. I would say the same thing about any other state) But slowly, this place is creeping into my heart. Not this place. No. These people. These people who have let me be loud and crazy and cackle my ear piercing laugh and still want to be in the same room as me. These people who can handle the crazy that is the 6 Wagner’s- even the quiet one who prefers to sit and listen. These people have made this place home. Freedom House has made this place home. 

The Lord has stretched me in ways I never knew possible this past year. I couldn’t have ever imagined the heartache I would face or the joy that a welcoming new teacher would bring. I would never want to relive the past few months, but I will forever be grateful for them. I will be grateful for the stretching and the pruning. I am grateful for the finding “me” in the midst of who I thought I was or should be. I am grateful for those that chose to wrap their arms around me and pull me in, despite my attitude. 
This picture says home to me in ways I can’t explain. These people that want to share life with me without knowing the depth of what I’ve gone through. These people that I desperately pray for and want to know more about. Because it isn’t always about time. It isn’t always about sharing the past- but about deciding to share the future. I don’t want to look back anymore. I don’t want to wallow in what once was. I want to move forward and press on to what He has for us. 
I will always consider Texas home. I don’t think that will ever change. But today, I realized, Home doesn’t have to be just one place. It doesn’t have to even be the same. Because New is Good. And New means growth. And New can be Home too. 


8 months and 5 days. We said goodbye to everything I’ve ever known and the people I held most dear to me eight months and five days ago. We loaded up our belongings and made a 16 hour trip (that should have been 13) to Tennessee with a belief that this was what God had for us. It started long before that day with gentle nudges and still small voices. It was confirmed through words from friends, circumstances changing and opportunities offered. So we took the leap. 

But it will forever be the hardest thing I’ve experienced to date. This time has challenged me in ways I never thought possible. It has stretched my understanding to new levels and it has deepened my faith in ways I never knew possible. 

I like control. I thrive on routine and I demand perfection from myself far too often. New makes me nervous on a small scale. But when it’s literally every single aspect of your life… Tears in grocery stores and gas stations, wrong turns and missed exits- this has been my life the last 8 months and 5 days. Two moves and two schools for three of the four kids. Two churches and new neighborhoods- this all hits hard when you’ve lived your life in one home at one church and one school. 

Freedom House was the first place where we felt like we were “home”. We visited several churches, but they never felt like we could invest and plant our lives there. In June, after only attending for two weeks, six guys from FH came and helped us move into our new home. It would have just been me and two family members if they had not showed up. Those men had us moved in in under 2 hours. And the kindness they showed to us in time of need made me want to me a part of a church family that cares about the little stuff. Because the little stuff is sometimes the big stuff to people. 

Going to a new church is hard. Everyone has friends and their group and their people. I was so used to being in the center of All The Things and planning most of the functions, that I never realized that I would miss it so very deeply. I am loud. I am obnoxious sometimes. I laugh a lot. Because why not? Life is hard most of the time. Laughing should be a daily part of life. Not many people can handle my loudness plus 4 kids because quiet just doesn’t happen unless they are sleeping. And even then, let’s face it, I have no inside voice. 

But tonight, eight months and five days after moving to Knoxville, I found my place. I felt like I was a part of something. I felt loved. I felt peace. And it was in the midst of 51 people, 33 of which were kids. There were people in every inch of our new home. And my heart about burst with the overwhelming joy I had. 

I messed up the homemade rolls I had been planning all week. I forgot the yeast, so half the batch went into the trash. So, I made a cake instead. Except, it fell apart. Literally split in two while we were setting the table. And I caught it with my hand. Then we served it from a bowl because there was no saving it. 

It was awful. I felt like I ruined it. I tried so hard and cakes are totally my thing and I completely messed it up. 

But then everyone was there and we were all laughing and eating and suddenly the rolls didn’t matter, because crescent rolls taste good with honey cinnamon butter too. And the cake got eaten, even though it wasn’t pretty and we didn’t really need it anyway because Tiffany’s pudding was to die for. And the food wasn’t the center of everything anyway. The people were. There were babies crying and being passed around. There were skinned knees and snotty noses. There were video games and trampolines and laughter. Oh so much laughter. Belly aching, side splitting laughter. And I was Home. Tonight my house became a home. Not because of the stuff and the food, but because of the people. The company. The people that surrounded my family and accepted us as one of their own. 

Tonight I found my place. I don’t pretend to think that there won’t be more hard times and more to get used to, but I do believe that from this point forward, trust will be easier. Faith in knowing what He has for us is greater than what we left behind. Faith that He is not done with us. Trust in his promise that He will fulfill his purpose for me. 

So, if you find yourself smack dab in the middle of Hard with Difficulty staring you in the face. Hold on my friend. Speak life to your situation. Choose to believe the Truth and not just what you see. Trust His timing and His heart. Because He is a GOOD father and He is faithful and just. And I believe that He is working all things together for the good of those that love him and are called according to His purpose. And as my Pastor says, if you are not there yet, just hold on, because “You are in the middle of a miracle.”