The Good Thing about Hard Times

In the midst of all that’s going on in this world, it is easy for you to allow fear to grip your hearts.

Fear of the future, fear of sickness and death, fear of lack of resources, fear of the unknown. I know for my personal life, one fear has attempted to break my peace consistantly and that is the fear of suffering in some way.

Whether it’s suffering in finances, in lacking resources needed for my family, in the economy, whatever it is, there’s this uneasiness about my comfort being attacked in some way. My daily “normal” somehow changing. It can definitely be scary.

Obviously I am not the only one who feels this uneasiness, as toilet paper was the first thing we ran for during the scare. Toilet paper. Think about it. Something that is NOT a necessity being bought over food or water. Because of this one word that has imprisoned us for way too long: comfort.

I was reading in Romans today, seeking peace for my soul during this time and stumbled upon a passage I have read many times. But often His Word jumps out at us when we need it, so I figured I would share.

Romans 5:3-5 – “Moreover (let us also be full of joy now!) Let us exult and triumph in our troubles and sufferings, knowing that pressure and affliction and hardship produce patient and unswerving endurance. And endurance (fortitude) develops maturity of character (approved faith and tried integrity). And character (of this sort) produces (the habit of) joyful and confident hope of eternal salvation. Such hope never disappoints or deludes or shames us, for God’s love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit Who has been given to us.”

Wow! What peace this can give us if we center our hearts on its promises. All too often as Christian’s these days, we pray for things like character, patience, integrity, more faith, more hope, and yet we never seem to pray for suffering or trials (I know, who would?)

But think about it. This scripture shows you the formula to having joy, peace, faith, and character; trials and sufferings which lead to endurance. All too often we pray for miracles in our lives and yet would pray against situations where God would be able to work miracles.

“Lord, please deliver us from bondage of the Pharoah BUT why have You led us to the Red Sea to be killed?!?” Sound familiar? The Israelites wanted the freedom without discomfort. But without discomfort the miracle of the splitting of the Red Sea would never have been needed. Without sickness, we wouldn’t see His healings. Without struggle, we wouldn’t see His mighty provision. Without discomfort, we cannot grow.

So I take this time in my personal life to do as His Word tells us and exult in trials and sufferings. During this time where comfort and “normal” seem out of reach, this is a time to buckle down and praise the Lord that we are gaining endurance and patience. That we are learning what it means to rely solely on Him and not ourselves, our social lives, or our government. That during this time of stretching we can be thankful and renew our minds to see everything as He does and not what our flesh wants.

Take this time of isolation and really learn to be dependent on God. This is a time where distraction has been wiped out of most of our lives. Distraction and comfort that all too often keep us from our true Love and our families. Stop complaining, worrying, and fearing, and start praising God and thanking Him for your blessings, your life, and the ability to grow in Him.

Hard times are hard but they always restore my faith a little because it always seems that hard times produce such beautiful fruit in humanity. We see communities come together, servants appear in this individualistic selfish world, and neighborly love everywhere we look. Once again the principles of the Word evident all around us.

I wanted to encourage you in this time to look at things in a different way. Stay in your Word, keep your minds renewed, and walk in thanksgiving. Love you all! Happy homemaking!

Stones of Remembrance: Remembering God’s Faithfulness in the Midst of your Trial

If you have never read Joshua chapters 3 and 4 I urge you to go and read them now. You will read about a miraculous working of God once again in the lives of the Israelites. Essentially, God told Joshua to lead the Israelites across the Jordan, and that when they stepped foot in the water, He would part the waters for them once again as He had done with the Red Sea. What a mighty God we serve.

Although I love to read of His miracles then and hear of them today, that isn’t necessarily the part of the story I want to touch on. As you read in this story, Joshua also tells the Israelites to do something else. As they cross the Jordan (which was by no means a small creek or brook), Joshua tells one man from each tribe to pick up a stone (large enough to carry on their shoulders) from the bottom of the Jordan.

And he explains that the reason for doing so is that when their children, and their children’s children ask why they have kept a stone, that they can then remember God’s faithfulness to them and the miraculous work that He did. These stones became Stones of Remembrance for God’s goodness and faithfulness.

I believe we all make stones of remembrance, but sometimes they are not for God’s goodness or faithfulness to us in the midst of our storms but of the suffering we have. For instance, when I battled anxiety I remember that one of the things I feared was, well, fear itself. At the back of my mind I was always fearing when the next big anxiety attack would hit or fearing if I would live this way forever. It was a dark cycle that was quite exhausting.

One day I was crying out to God regarding this; how am I supposed to ever be free from fear if all I do is fear anxiety?!? I stilled my mind to listen and heard these three words: Stones of Remembrance. I had remembered faintly of this from a teaching at some time, but I could not remember where to find it. So I googled it and read the story of Joshua. What a nice story, I thought to myself, but what does that have to do with what I am dealing with God? (Thank the Lord that He knows how to deal with our sassy attitudes and questionings).

“You have made stones of remembrance to your struggles and not to my faithfulness in the midst of your struggles. When you remember my faithfulness, then you will find yourself free from fear.”

Tears welled up in my eyes and heat filled my cheeks as I realized that I too had made stones of remembrance, but not to my God. I had built stones of remembrance to the onslaught of the enemy, but not to the goodness of God who always delivered me in the midst of those battles. When the darkness of fear gripped my soul, and God would bring peace on my mind, I should have built a stone of remembrance to His goodness to keep His promises. Instead, I remembered the feeling of despair and built a stone of fear’s threats.

Every time I would be going through a somewhat “good” time in my life, my mind would come across those stones made out to fear and fear would have a foothold in my mind. Thus the cycle continued. After God pointed this out to me, I decided to make stones of remembrance to His faithfulness.

Every time fear would raise it’s ugly head and say, “You’re going to have anxiety about this or this will always be a struggle for you,” I would go to my Stone of Remembrance and remind my soul, “Remember the last time you went through this anxiety battle, and God delivered you?” “Remember the last time you thought you would be overtaken, but God strengthened you?” “Remember the last time you didn’t think you could make it through the night, but God was with you until the morning?”

We can replay our sufferings, trials, storms, and traumas over and over again. And when we do we will often find ourselves on the other end of more suffering, trial, and storm. Your mind is a journey and where you allow it to travel, so will your emotions. But when we take control of our thinking and cast down those thoughts and fears and make our thoughts obedient to Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5), then we can remember God’s goodness and faithfulness, which will give you hope and strength.

Stones of Remembrance were used by the Israelites to remind them and the generations after them of God’s faithfulness and workings of miracles. They would leave the stones in the place where God worked and when they or someone else traveled upon them once again, they could remember what the Lord had done for them. What I found interesting was that Joshua had them pick stones up from the bottom of the Jordan River. These stones would not have been able to be retrieved had God not done something mighty. The stones we pick up in this life our symbols of God’s mighty power and work in our lives. And when the enemy tempts you with a pity party over your sufferings, remind him of the mighty work God has done and will continue to do because He is able to make good out of what is intended for your destruction (Romans 8:28; Genesis 50:20).

When you go through a trial or storm and come on the other side of it, don’t create a stone of remembrance that will remember and praise the attack, but create a stone of remembrance of God’s faithfulness to you and His goodness to you in that hard time. It’s time we take back control of our thinking and instead of being accused all of the time by our accuser, we can remember the love and goodness of God.

So if you find yourself traveling through the same cycles of fear of the future, fear of the next attack, remembering struggles, sins, and traumas, go ahead and make a stone of remembrance that will help you remember that God gave you the strength to get through it and He will do it again. We do not have to live in fear of the future because we know Who is already there, Who has already prepared the way for us, and Who has already brought victory and deliverance through Christ Jesus.

Clearing the Cobwebs: The Life of a Trail-blazer

You are more Christ-like in the storms, than when the sea is smooth.

Have you ever been hiking before and had the lovely job of being in the front of your group? If you have you understand that often you are the one who gets hit with all of the spiderwebs, branches, and unknowns. I once was the first in line on a trail and felt every single cobweb going across my skin, sticking so fast and hard it was almost impossible to get it off. I quickly learned that lesson and often took the second or third position after that.

It’s quite humorous to watch the first person on a hike because they usually are jumping up and down or swishing their hands in front of their bodies like a ninja attacking an invisible opponent. It’s not as humorous to be the one who is being attacked though.

There was a time in my life I felt like I was getting hit by life’s cobwebs; like I was the person in the front; the trail-blazer. I remember a time when I went from on fire for God to what felt like overnight into a battle with doubt and unbelief. I remember laying on my dorm bed and crying with frustration because I didn’t know why I was battling doubt and how to be rid of it. It was a very difficult spiritual season for me. I remember in the midst of that, I started isolating myself from others (which is a tendency for me in hard times). My best friend made me go out to a movie with her and some of her cousins, so I obliged.

After the movie (which did help distract my mind a little), we ran into an old high school friend in the hallway of the theater. We caught up with him and talked about our lives and what we had been doing for quite some time. I remembered that the last time I had talked with him, he was on fire for God and really passionate about the Lord. But the young man I was speaking to in that movie theater seemed to be a whole different person. He began talking about his struggles with his faith and the doubt that some of his college professors had instilled in his mind. Standing there in that theater the Holy Spirit immediately brought my attention to my struggle with doubt. “This is why,” He said to me.

I was able to empathize with my old friend and in that moment the Lord spoke much wisdom and freedom to him. Things I had been struggling with, the Lord began to preach through me to my friend and I sat back obedient, amazed at His faithfulness. I had bought an apologetics bible to help me with my faith during that struggle, one that helped people defend the Gospel. God told me to give that bible to that young man later that night. When I laid my head down to sleep that night, no doubt or unbelief remained. I was free. It was amazing how quickly it ceased.

I tell this story because that night I realized sometimes we go through struggles in order to help others. Sometimes, quite on purpose, God will let us deal with things in life so that we would be able to serve another in their hard season with empathy and compassion, rather than judgement. I remember that night being amazed at God’s faithfulness to that young man, that He cared so much for Him He would set me up ahead of time to help him.

That is one example of the many times I have gone through things to help someone else. I remember after my miscarriage sitting on the couch with my bestfriend and just talking a lot of my faith struggles out years later. She said something to me, about how I helped ‘pave the way’ for her as she goes through life changes after I have been through them. I remember saying to her in my frustration and flesh, “I’m tired of having to go through every tough battle to help others; I need a break.”

She looked at me and said, “Katie, you’re just clearing the cobwebs for others.” Since then, that saying as changed my outlook completely. When I go through hard times, I think of the “WHO” it may help in the future. When I struggle with something in my mind, my marriage, motherhood, or my walk with God, I don’t see it as an end, but as a beginning of freedom for someone else down the road.

When in a pity party about this trail-blazing anointing, the Holy Spirit spoke so sweetly to my bitter soul as He usually does. “You are more Christ-like in storms than when the seas are smooth.” In that instant I realized that Christ was our trail-blazer. Christ went before us, took our due punishment, and paved the way of salvation so that we could enjoy eternal communion with the Father. He didn’t have to do that, just as we don’t have to let our struggles help others. But He did it because He loved us, and to be like Christ and love others, we also take the struggle for even just one soul.

“For [as a believer] you have been called for this purpose, since Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example so that you may follow in His footsteps. He committed no sin, nor was deceit ever found in His mouth. While being reviled and insulted, He did not revile or insult in return; while suffering, He made no threats [of vengeance], but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges fairly. He personally carried our sins in His body on the cross [willingly offering Himself on it, as on an altar of sacrifice], so that we might die to sin [becoming immune from the penalty and power of sin] and live for righteousness; by His wounds you [who believe] have been healed.” 1 Peter 2:21-24

We also can heal through our woundedness if we allow God to take our struggles, sins, and brokenness and use it for His glory. I believe that God would have sent Jesus for just one person because He sees them as worth it. So even if your struggle helps just one, they are worth it.

So, if you are going through some battles and storms in this life, think of it as just clearing the cobwebs for those behind you. See your overcoming that obstacle as the way in which God can set free someone else. When you see your battle as a tool for the salvation of another’s soul, it makes the fight so much more worth it. So keep your chin up, flail your arms through those cobwebs in praise of Him, and keep blazing that trail.

So that one day you too can say, “I have fought the good and worthy and noble fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith [firmly guarding the gospel against error].” 2 Timothy 4:7.

To the one Struggling: Hang on just a Little Bit Longer

One life saying that has gotten me through many hard trials and seasons of suffering is this, “The last catastrophe you thought would end you didn’t.”

In a sense, every time a new hard trial or task would face me, I would remember that the last time I felt the anxiousness, the fear of the unknown, the questions, and the heartache, I got through them. I am a standing testimony of the many trials and tests I have been through; and so are you.

You may be facing something old or something new that is rearing it’s ugly teeth at you, making you want to run as fast as you can away from everything. Whether it’s a sickness, anxiety, depression, a personal loss, a personal tragedy, a broken relationship, whatever it may be, let this encourage you. You’ve made it through hard things before; you were made to face hard things, and you can do it again.

There was a time in my life, in the pit of despair and anxiety, that I was walking outside. It was a beautiful day on the outside, but inside my mind was full of dark clouds of fear and depression. I remember walking and talking with God, and just telling Him, “I can’t do one more day of this. Please Lord, deliver me or take me. I can’t live like this.” Tears streamed down my face. Not hard sobs, no I had done plenty of that. These were just the remnants of what strength I had left, rolling down slowly. Each tear represented one more plea for freedom, one more begging request for ease to my soul.

I remember saying that to God and looking up at a branch above me. There was a bird and if you know me, you know birds are my favorite animal. They fly with such freedom; live with such a peace that God will take care of their needs. If they need food, they know where to find it. If they need shelter, they know where to go. I looked up at the bird and heard a still small voice, “Remember the last time you felt like this? You made it through. Keep going, I will strengthen you. Just like that bird, fly in freedom and know I am the supplier of your needs.”

I walked home, still anxious. I went to bed that night, still heavy. But I had a new way of thinking, I will make it through this too because He is taking me through it. I wanted my life to end that day if it meant carrying that heaviness one more second. Had I had my request granted, I would have missed the fulfillment of all of God’s promises and more in my life. At the time of this story I was single, childless, directionless, and weak. Now I am married to a godly man, have an angel baby in heaven and a baby here with me on earth, I have learned how to renew my mind in the Lord and fight against fear and anxiety, and I walk with hope for the future and joy in my heart. I couldn’t have imagined how much God would do between then and now. But that is my point. In the midst of your despair, don’t make decisions that can be permanent. Hold on a little bit longer.

Remind yourself of the last heartbreak you went through; you made it. Remind yourself of the laughter and joy and peace you have felt since the last time you felt anxious; it’s possible. Remind yourself of the other traumas and pains you have made it through; life continues. Sometimes we believe that the next catastrophe will end us…. then it doesn’t. I am not discounting your pain, your hurt, or your trial; what I am saying is there is hope for a future, so don’t give it up.

My undergraduate and graduate studies are in psychology and counseling. One interesting study I read once has really helped me through many tough times (I love when my faith and education combine; it’s beautiful). The study found that the “high” joyous times in our lives are not as amazing as we would imagine them. For example, you get that raise and you are joyous, but then come back down to a happy medium. But on the flip side of that, the “low” times we dread are not as bad as we imagine they will be. So when asked what you would do in a hard time, you imagine it way worse then it actually will be. Why does this help me?

Because when anxiety tries to make me dread something in the future, I remember that it won’t be as bad as my mind tries to make me believe. I remember that I am not alone to face hard battles; and if you find yourself alone on Earth, you are still not alone, because our God never forsakes us (Deuteronomy 31:6; Hebrews 13:5). When that next trial or test or temptation comes against you, fight it with the strength of God instead of your own strength. Align your thinking with the Word instead of your “reality”. Thoughts stuck in a negative cycle? Make yourself think on good things, things of good report, things worthy of praise, things that are pure and true (Philippians 4:8).

One of the lies of the enemy in our lives is that we are stuck. We are stuck anxious, we are stuck depressed, we are stuck struggling, we are just stuck with no hope for change. But darling, let me shine some truth on that lie. You will never be stuck, not as long as you are breathing. 1 John 4:4 says that He that is in us is greater than he that is in the world! That means whatever is coming against you, you can know for a fact that the One on your side is more powerful. Then why isn’t He working on my behalf, you ask?

Sometimes when God is trying to work, we can be working against Him. If you know you struggle with a sin and continually open yourself up to it, that is a matter of self discipline. Pray for wisdom and self discipline and He will give it to you. If you are continually choosing relationships with people who are abusive and in bad lifestyles, don’t continue to choose those relationships. Pray for discernment in people and good, godly relationships. If you know that you tend to be pessimistic and negative in your thought life, don’t be a slave to your thinking, renew your mind and make your thoughts come into alignment with the Word. Surrender every part of your life to God, and let Him do His work while you do yours.

All of this is to let you know, that if you are in the midst of a life storm and struggle, whatever it may be, it is not your last chapter. It is not your end. Life will continue and you will get up from this. And there will be laughter again, and joy will spark your heart once more. Peace will be there waiting for you and love is still alive. What is barren will bear life, what is dry and thirsty will be quenched. What is dead will be brought to life. Don’t lose hope, and don’t be a prisoner of your struggle. Instead, be a prisoner of hope. When life tries to force your hand to succumb to despair, instead choose to remain a prisoner of hope (Zechariah 9:12). Be in a place where you cannot stop hoping for change.

Know that whoever you are, wherever you are, whatever struggle you are enduring, keep enduring and hang on just a little bit longer. I am praying for you in this season and know that what was meant for your ruin, God will use for your good (Genesis 50:20). I love you all and pray for you earnestly!

The Deception of Self Love

Okay, so this is not going to be a popular post. I’m okay with that because I don’t write for popularity but for what God lays on my heart to say to whoever may read it. There is a trend going around that is what I like to call, deliciously deceptive. It’s those topics that come along and are covered in something labeled “good” but are dangerously deceptive underneath. Have you ever heard of the saying, “A wolf dressed in sheep’s clothing?” That’s pretty much the imagery of what I’m talking about.

Now cultural fads come and go. And there’s an easy way to fall into a cultural mindset without weighing whether that mindset lines up with the Word of God. Because it seems good to the eye, then it must be inherently good. One of the things I keep seeing over and over in culture, particularly in women today, is this idea of “self love”. This notion that we as women need to be putting ourselves first, creating a beautiful self image, allowing ourselves to be selfish every now and then because, “Girl, you’re worth it”.

At first you’re like, “That’s right! I should be worrying about myself first.” And you feel really good reading posts that elevate that self esteem and independence and self love. But, if you’re not careful, that’s an easy place to be deceived into becoming self minded or what is really selfish. If I were to say to you, “Girl, you need to do what makes you happy and what makes you feel powerful,” you would probably high five me. But just because something makes you feel good, does not mean it’s biblical or that it should be something we strive for.

Let’s be real with ourselves here for a moment. This world is preaching a lot of messages to us women today, and if we are not careful we can hop on that train into a tunnel of deception. Remember, if you are saved, you are living according to a different culture, the culture of the kingdom of God. Remember, we are not of this world nor are we to think like this world (John 17:16).

“And do not be conformed to this world [any longer with its superficial values and customs], but be transformed and progressively changed [as you mature spiritually] by the renewing of your mind [focusing on godly values and ethical attitudes], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His plan and purpose for you].” Romans 12:2 AMP

It’s pretty clear in scripture that we are not to be of the world; that we are not to align ourselves with popular ways of thinking, acting, dressing, that is not in line with the Word of God. So why dear sisters are we women of faith being so deceived into what I like to call the deception of self love?

Scripture is blatantly clear on how we are to view ourselves.

“And He was saying to them all, “If anyone wishes to follow Me [as My disciple], he must deny himself [set aside selfish interests], and take up his cross daily [expressing a willingness to endure whatever may come] and follow Me [believing in Me, conforming to My example in living and, if need be, suffering or perhaps dying because of faith in Me]. For whoever wishes to save his life [in this world] will [eventually] lose it [through death], but whoever loses his life [in this world] for My sake, he is the one who will save it [from the consequences of sin and separation from God].” Luke 9:23,24

“He must increase [in prominence], but I must decrease.” John 3:30

“It teaches us to reject ungodliness and worldly (immoral) desires, and to live sensible, upright, and godly lives [with a purpose that reflect spiritual maturity] in this present age” Titus 2:12

“So then, none of you can be My disciple who does not [carefully consider the cost and then for My sake] give up all his own possessions.” Luke 14:33 AMP

“And he who does not take his cross [expressing a willingness to endure whatever may come] and follow Me [believing in Me, conforming to My example in living and, if need be, suffering or perhaps dying because of faith in Me] is not worthy of Me. Whoever finds his life [in this world] will [eventually] lose it [through death], and whoever loses his life [in this world] for My sake will find it [that is, life with Me for all eternity].” Matthew 10:38‭-‬39 AMP

You cannot show me in scripture where my goal in life should be to glory in myself, to put my wants and needs before others, to do what makes me happy, to seek selfish desires. What you do see is scripture telling us over and over is to lay our lives down, to put others first, to serve others, to humble ourselves before God and man, to give God the glory, to seek the will of God and lay our desires down. I am so tired of seeing a generation of women of faith falling into the trap of the self.

Hear me clearly. No, you are not meant to be a doormat. No, you do not have to be abused, used, or treated like garbage. No, God does not want you to view yourself as ugly, fat, or not good enough for love. But its not to make you feel good about yourself in yourself, but to know who you are in Him.

I’ve found that the many times I have let my self be the focus of my every thought, motive, and desire, I am left miserable. Your prayers, thoughts and purposes should not all be about you. Many of us would feel alot better, have more stable mentality, and live in more freedom if we would walk away from the bondage of self and begin to live a life concerned about others.

Get yourself off your mind. Seek God and HIS righteousness. Seek god and HIS purposes for your life. You can do your hair (not bad in itself), fix your makeup just right (I wear makeup too), take that perfect selfie (to show off how strong and happy you are) and still not ever reach happiness. You can have the new clothes, the starbucks coffee, the designer shoes, the promotion at work, the golden globe (you know who you are), and still find absolutely NOTHING at the end of the day. Because sister, joy and peace are not in this world to be found. They are in HIM and Him alone. Stop forfeiting the purposes of God for your own purposes.

When you find yourself in a cycle of self, slap the enemy in the face and serve someone else! Woke up feeling bad about your appearance? Don’t think about YOU all day, instead compliment other women, thank God for your health and being alive, do something good for someone else! Having a bad mental health day? Reach out to someone you know who also struggles and ask them how you can help THEM. You’re not too broken to be used by God to bring light to someone’s life. And you’ll most likely find yourself feeling uplifted and joyful afterwards too.

This culture for too long as promoted self and self interest; independance from others and fulfilling happiness. But if you are a child of God, happiness is not your goal. Hard to hear right? What we think will make us happy, the perfect body, the perfect husband, the perfect children, the perfect house, the perfect job, none of those things will do it in the end. You will get that next thing and feel good for a little bit… and then it doesn’t do the job anymore. You will get the followers and the attention, but find yourself feeling empty.

Because fullness of joy, fulfillment, and peace come only from Him. Because the only path to true self love is the laying down of self in His hands. You want what’s best for you? Try surrendering every dream, desire, life bucket list and relationship to Him and watch Him truly give you the desires of your heart. Trust me, what the enemy doesn’t want you to know is that behind every culutral pep talk and self love blog post is emptiness and a dangerous deception.

It’s not about not taking a night to yourself after a stressful week to unwind and find peace. That’s not what I’m saying. What I am saying is to not get so caught up in this cultural fad that you find that your self is the only thing on your mind. That is not how Jesus lived, and that is not how we are called to live.

Trust me, I feel it. I feel the tension of cultural ideals and the Word of God. It is so much easier to think about myself all the time than put others before me (thats our flesh’s auto set since birth). But there is no joy in it. Love yourself because you were bought with a price and considered worthy in His eyes, not because of anything you do. Love yourself not because you deserve it, but because God thought you were worthy of His love. Love yourself because you were made in His image, not because you have the perfect body, clothes or smile.

I’m waiting for a generation of women of faith who stand up for biblical principles in a world who will call them “out of date”, antiquated, and stupid. I’m not saying hate yourself, just get yourself off your mind. You will be surprised what you find. You don’t have to worry about not being taken care of either… because when you rest in His hands and take care of others, God is faithful to take care of you too. So, be free to not be in yourself. It is freedom indeed.

A Letter to my Best Friend: From a New Mommy

Dear Best Friend (you know who you are).

I have been thinking about you a lot lately, and I hope you know that. So much has changed so dramatically over the last few years. I got married, became a mommy, and now I’m balancing how to serve as a wife, mommy, daughter, friend, all at the same time. It gets hard sometimes. Remembering what it felt like to drop everything and hang out with you, laugh until we cried, watch movies and eat the junkiest of food feels bittersweet.

I miss who I was back then, when it was just me and you sometimes too! When we would lay on your bed and dream for hours about our future and what we wanted and prayed for. And now I have some of those things and I am so grateful for them, but I also grieve what I lost in a way too.

I miss you. Life got so hectic and I was so overwhelmed trying to figure out how to hold it all together for everyone else without falling apart myself that sometimes I fear I forgot to think about you too. And those few times you would come to my rescue and remind me of who I was before all of these new roles got put on me saved me. I get to where I almost forget who I am apart from wife and mom, and you remind me of my true, goofy, sarcastic, witty self.

I am writing this letter because I want you to know how much you mean to me. I want you to know how much I cherish you even though I still am figuring all of this out. I want you to know that I miss you and I need girl time. I want you to know how much joy it brings me to see you love my family. I want you to know how thankful I am that you haven’t given up on me even through the many cancelled plans, exhausted friend dates, and boring hangouts.

I’m praying for a day where life slows down a bit or even I get better at balancing it all out to where I get to give you the time you truly deserve. I always say I have been so blessed to be surrounded by people who have true servants hearts. You give so freely, so easily, and never look back. You are pure joy, peace, and truly shine the light of Jesus.

One day, we will sit together and reminisce about the good days while making more good days, surrounded by our husbands and children. Until then, lets make the most of these crazy transition years.

I’ll live through your adventures and you can always come home for some yummy homecooked meals. You tell me of your latest excitement and I will tell you of the latest baby poop story. You tell me what’s going on in your crazy world and I’ll tell you what’s going on in mine. And in the midst of the chaos, we can become those two teenage girls again, laughing hysterically, talking in accents, eating way too much chocolate, and trying to find our way in this world.

I am writing this letter because I just want to let you know how thankful I am God put you in my life. How thankful I am that you are longsuffering with me and patient. That you really are a picture of true friendship to me, sometimes when it feels a little too one-sided on your part. I promise I will try to be better at being a new mommy and a best friend; I promise I will learn. But until then, thank you for still loving me while I figure it out. (Also just think of it as me clearing the cobwebs for you for when its your turn).

I love you, best friend. I cherish you. I miss you.

Love,

Your best friend.

Instant Pot Chicken Noodle Soup

So today was soooo cold and rainy! When we got home from running errands, I turned the heat up, put on a fleece hoody, wore my house shoes, and still couldn’t get warm! We had had a big lunch so I thought I would make something light for dinner. Well, as I sat down on the couch thinking about what I could do, an old craving hit me, a memory from my childhood .

You know the one. It’s cold outside and you may have a little head cold to match. Your mama opens up a can of Campbell’s chicken noodle soup with some saltines and all of a sudden you feel like a warm hug on the inside.

I wanted some sooo bad but we didn’t have any on hand. So I knew what I would do! Make some in my instant pot! So this recipe came from me wanting some old fashioned chicken noodle soup! And as always, I make most of my soup recipes in the instant pot because 8 minutes in it tastes like 2 hours on the stove! (It’s so amazing).

This recipe is so easy! You most likely have all of the ingredients already and it will definitely come in handy on a cold winter’s day (or if you are just wanting some good ole chicken noodle soup)!

Now, my husband has had a stuffy head for a couple of days, and he swears this soup opened his sinuses up! I won’t make any magical promises to cure your head cold or stuffy sinuses, but what I will say is after a big bowl of this soup you will definitely feel better. It literally tasted so much like Campbell’s but even better! You’ll love it! Let’s get to it!

“Better than Campbell’s” Instant Pot Chicken Noodle Soup

What you will need:

  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 2 cups of shredded chicken
  • 2 stalks of celery (diced)
  • 1/2 onion (diced)
  • 1 cup of diced carrots
  • 8 cups of chicken broth (or 2 boxes)
  • 1 cup of hot water
  • Spaghetti noodles (adjust serving to family size)

Dry Seasonings:

  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp celery seed
  • 1/2 tsp poultry seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp creole seasoning (magic for sinuses)

Directions:

Set instant pot to saute mode. Throw in butter, celery, onion, carrots and chicken. Mix around and get everything warmed up and starting to get flavor. Add in the dry seasonings and stir well. Next, add in the spaghetti pasta (it should be not cooked). I break my serving of dry pasta in half so that the noodles are easier to eat in a soup. Then, pour in broth and water.

Cover with lid and set to “Seal”. Remember, if you do not seal correctly it will not pressurize! Set to “Manual” and enter in 8 minutes. Once done, release pressure, taste and adjust seasonings accordingly! Next, scoop inti a bowl and enjoy! It’s that easy!

We serves ours with simple crackers (saltines for me and ritz for my husband). But you could always serve with sandwiches, salad, or fresh bread!

I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we did! On a side note, if you have a small toddler at home, John loved to eat the noodles, chicken and veggies too! Everything was perfectly softened for his chewing ability and he loved it! Happy homemaking!

I’m Tired: A Mommy Monologue

I’m laying in the bath, candle lit, writing this with tears in my eyes. Nothing “big” or “bad” happened today. It was a normal day of waking up early, diaper changes, bottle feedings, two baths, exploration of new foods, messy high chairs, laundry, toys scattered everywhere, new discoveries, chasing a hyper boy around, teething, falling down, laundry, cooking, cleaning… the list goes on and on.

That’s what a usual day looks like here at the Richards’ house but today I am just…. tired. I feel at my end and my limit. I feel like I have said nothing else today but “No no John,” “Don’t do that, John” “Come here baby” “Please don’t hit” “Don’t throw your food” “Don’tdrink the bath water”. So many NOs and not a lot of YAYs. As I got him ready for bed I just was so ready for him to be asleep so I can enjoy a minute of quiet.

And then overwhelming guilt hits me like a punch in the gut because I realized all day I haven’t got to enjoy John because I feel like I have had to discipline and parent. Instead of giggles and cuddles, today was a bunch of pitching fits and yelling. It doesn’t help that I was reminiscing all of his newborn pictures and videos last night either; making me miss those days of hectic quiet, coos, and soft cuddles.

Parenting is not easy. It is a never ending battle of wanting to slow time down and soak in every moment to please let this day hurry so I can enjoy some peace and quiet.

Time has moved so quickly lately. John is almost 10 months old and my heart is breaking. There really isn’t a point to my post except just to share what I’m feeling, which is raw feelings of sadness, exhaustion, immense love and joy, all at the same time.

But I think that’s what motherhood is; high elation and low valleys. Tears and laughs, smiles and frowns, yelling and praising. I know there will be more days like today; where I feel more like the principle from Matilda (bun included) than the teacher who comes in and saves the day with sunshine and giggles.

But that’s okay, because I wanted this and I love this. And its also okay to be exhausted and tired and frustrated in the midst of all that you wanted. Sometimes we feel so pressured to not seem “ungrateful” that we go along steaming up inside until we boil over.

You’re allowed to feel emotions, you’re allowed to miss the times when it was just you and you could do whatever you wanted, you’re allowed to crave solitude and maybe even a vacation where it’s just you, a beach, and a bible. When we strive to fit this perfect “mom” picture, the instagram mom, who always seems to have it together and enjoy every second of motherhood, then we find ourselves trying to fit a triangle into an oval; it’s impossible (yes, even my analogies now involve baby toys).

So, I just wanted to share with you mamas (and daddys) out there that, I am so tired. And I feel like poo for yelling today a lot. And I’m crying in the bath tub, simultaneously enjoying my quiet and fighting the urge to go wake the baby up for cuddles and kisses.

And I want to encourage you in this season, that you’re not alone. And God sees what you do for your family every day. And God sees your grateful heart thats just a little weary at the moment. And God wants to take away the shame that’s trying to tell you you’re not good enough for your family. And God wants to wrap you in His arms and tell you everything is alright and a new day starts tomorrow. And God wants to let you know He can carry you through the tough days as much as He’s present in the beautiful days. I want to encourage you to take a breath, start again, and truly try and savor these moments.

Parenting is hard. Motherhood is hard. Humaning is hard. But life is beautiful, messy, and amazing. So if you are like me, in the tub exhausted, tired, crying, and guilty. Stop it. Breath in. Pray for strength. And smile at this crazy, silly, beautiful life God has picked for us to live. Love you guys. Happy homemaking!

Easy Instant Pot Vegetable Soup

So I have dove into the use of my instant pot quite a lot lately! Although it’s wonderful for so many different types of dishes, I will have to admit my favorite thing for it is soup! Soup is just one of my favorite things, but soup doesn’t always feel pleasing unless it’s simmered a long time and blended all of its wonderful flavors together.

But with the instant pot, you don’t have to wait two hours for sumptious soup that tastes like its been stewing all day. You literally can pressure cook it for 7 minutes and it tastes like something you would get at a restaurant!

Now, one of my favorite soups of all time is vegetable soup. It just reminds me of home and always makes me feel cozy! It is storming here today, so I decided to whip some up for lunch! After tasting how glorious it is, I decided I would share it with you all!

Now this is a meatless version because honestly its so delicious I don’t think it needs it! It tastes like old fashioned, what your grandma would make you vegetable soup! However, it only takes 7 minutes to cook! You heard me, 7 minutes!

Lets get to it so you can get cooking!

Easy Instant Pot Vegetable Soup

What you will need:

  • 2 cans of mix vegetables
  • 1 can seasoned lima beans
  • 1 can tomatoes, okra, and corn mix
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 can french onion soup
  • 1 box of beef broth
  • 2 stalks celery (diced)
  • 1/2 onion (diced)
  • 1 tbsp garlic (minced)
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce

Dry seasonings:

  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp celery seed

Directions:

Drain all of your cans and pour inti instant pot. Dice celery and onion and add in. Toss in minced garlic, dry seasonings, Worcestershire sauce, and beef broth. Stir everything well!

Put on instant pot lid and make sure to set to “SEAL”. If you do not seal, it won’t pressurize! Then hit manual mode for 7 minutes! It will take some time to pressurize and then you will see the cook time on the front screen!

Once it’s done, quick release the pressure and wait until all of the pressure is released! You will feel tension if its not complete! Omce finished, taste and adjust according to your personal taste! (It was perfect for us).

It’s best served with fresh cornbread, grilled cheeses, or good old fashioned saltine crackers! Now it may seem like an odd set of ingredients, but this is what I have gotten perfected over the last two years! It is the perfect vegetable soup! If you want to make it completely vegetarian, you can use vegetable stock instead! I hope you enjoy it as much as we do! Happy homemaking!

Easy Instant Pot Spaghetti Mac ‘n’ Cheese (Gluten Free)

Got a new instant pot? Need an easy and delicious recipe for your family? Kids fighting between mac ‘n’ cheese or spaghetti for dinner? Well this easy instant pot spaghetti mac ‘n’ cheese is the recipe for you!

So the holiday seasons have passed us by and many of us are (FINALLY) blessed to own the fabulous instant pot! If you’ve followed my posts before, you understand how I feel about the instant pot. It’s such a great tool to add to your kitchen, especially if you are a busy mom juggling tons of things like work, school, family, and keeping your sanity!

Many of my favorite recipes have come from days of a scarce kitchen, need to buy groceries, and having to piece together whatever I have left in the cabinets to make a delicious meal for my family. This recipe came from one of those nights of just not really knowing what to cook and wanting to use my instant pot for a quick dinner. Why you ask? Because my 9 month old baby is obsessed with me and can’t stand to be away from me for longer than 1 minute (please send help).

So if you love delicious, comforting pasta and creamy cheesiness, then you will love this easy instant pot spaghetti mac ‘n’ cheese! Plus, your picky toddler will love it too (and you can even add some more veggies in to trick them). But let’s go ahead and get to the good part!

Easy Instant Pot Spaghetti Mac ‘N’ Cheese (Gluten Free)

What you will need:

  • 1 lbs grass fed ground beef
  • 1/4 cup sausage crumbles
  • 1 jar of spaghetti sauce (your choosing! We use Aldi brand)
  • 1 package of macaroni and cheese (shells with liquid cheese is best – ours is gluten free but you can use regular)
  • 1/2 onion (diced)
  • 1 red bell pepper (diced)
  • 1 tbsp garlic (minced)
  • 1/4 cup mozzarella (shredded)
  • 1/4 cup cheddar (shredded)
  • parmesan cheese (optional)
  • 1 cup of water

Dry Seasonings:

  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp Creole seasoning

Directions:

Set your instant pot to sauté mode and add in about a tablespoon of olive oil. Throw in diced onion, bell pepper, minced garlic, sausage, and beef. Sauté everything until beef is almost done but not completely.

Add in jar of spaghetti sauce and stir everything together. Then add in dry seasonings. For the instant pot, in order for it to seal correctly you always need to add in extra liquid. Here you can add in a cup of water or what I do for more flavor is pour water into the spaghetti sauce jar after its been emptied, about 3/4 full, and then put the lid back on. Shake the jar to get all the remaining sauce off the sides and then pour into instant pot. This adds more flavor and makes sure you get all of the delicious sauce.

Once you’ve added in the water, stir everything very well. Then add the pasta shells into the pot but do not stir. Simply take a spoon and make sure the pasta is barely covered by the liquid. Then put on the instant pot lid and set to “SEAL”. If you do not seal it, it will not pressurize! Set to manual mode at 8 minutes and let it do it’s thing.

Once it’s done, quick release it and make sure all of the pressure as been released. My instant pot won’t let me take the lid off until it’s done so if you feel tension when trying to remove it, make sure it is fully released. Add in your cheese mixture from your mac ‘n’ cheese package and stir. Then add in 1/4 cup of mozzarella and cheddar cheese into the pot and stir! Then taste and adjust according to your taste and serve! We top ours with parmesan cheese!

This easy instant pot spaghetti mac ‘n’ cheese is so delicious, comforting and perfect for your family! AND IT LITERALLY TAKES LIKE 20 MINUTES TO MAKE. You heard me correctly! I hope you and your family enjoy it as much as mine does! Happy homemaking!