Vital Plan Restore Program

My Personal Review

**I have been given this product as part of a product review through the Chronic Illness Bloggers network. Although Vital Plan’s Restore Program was a gift, all opinions in this review remain my own and I was in no way influenced by the company.**


Back in June I was given the opportunity to try Vital Plan’s Restore Program.


Few programs are researched and developed by doctors who are patients themselves. For me this is a big deal. We often say doctors don’t seem to understand our struggle because they don’t have our illness. This is not the case with Vital Plan. It has been developed by Dr. Rawls during his own battle with Lyme Disease and Fibromyalgia. You can read his story HERE.

Having prescription medications can be necessary in your battle with chronic illness. I am on a number of medications and value their contribution to my health. However, I also believe in the healing properties of foods and herbs. What  Dr. Rawls has developed is a combination of supplements and a whole foods diet that work together to bring relief and healing.

I wish I could tell you this program was the magic pill you could take and instantly find healing. We all know the maintenance of our health isn’t that easy. But Dr Rawls has also addressed this issue.

You don’t just receive a box of pills and a promise of restored health. Dr. Rawls and his team partner with you to take on a complete, comprehensive program for overall health and treatment.

In the Restore Program you receive:

  • A copy of Dr. Rawls book, Suffered Long Enough
  • A 6-month email course
  • Diet guide & Recipes
  • Progress Surveys
  • Three month supply of four proprietary supplements
    • A-Biotic – designed to balance the bacteria in your digestive tract, promote healthy skin and support your immune system
    • Adaptogen Recovery – formulated to support your immune system, metabolic and hormonal balance, increase oxygenation and improve recovery from physical stress
    • Mitochondrial Support – blended antioxidants that support mitochondria’s battle with free radicals and energy production, helps detox the liver
    • Prevention Plus – provides nutrients that strengthen and support your immune and cardiovascular systems, reduce inflammation

My personal experience with the program:

I really enjoyed Dr. Rawls book and the daily email’s that I received. Hearing his experience and journey developing this program taught me quite a bit about my body and the things that affect it. His knowledge of the supplements and herbs is relayed through the emails with an explanation of how they are working to heal the various systems of the body. Knowledge is powerful and puts you in the position of being your own health advocate!

I attacked the program with determination the first month. The most notable changes for me were a decrease in abdominal inflammation and bloat and increase in energy. As a bonus, I also lost 18 pounds in the first three weeks.

The hardest part of the program for me was the diet. Dr Rawls does say that the supplements will increase your health without the diet plan, however, when combined, the two work amazingly well. I kept with the diet for the first month but then fell off with the arrival of out-of-town company and my son’s wedding. (I never saw myself as a stress/emotional eater – but this has shown me that I have a problem in this area I need to address!) I did see continual improvement in my health, but not at the same rate as I did when I was adhering to the diet plan.

At the end of the three months I can honestly say this program has helped!

My energy has increased to the point that it’s been noticed by my husband and kids. Along with the added energy, I have noted a quicker recovery time after activities. I mentioned our out-of-town company and wedding – throughout the visit and activities that occurred during these past three months, not once did I spend a day in bed paying for the previous day. I still had less energy afterward and an increase in pain levels but it was distinctly less than what I normally endure.

As far as my pain levels, I normally spend the first day of my period in bed in tremendous pain. (Sorry if this is TMI!) The first month on the program I didn’t detect any difference. However, the last month I noted less pain and more energy. Also, changes in weather affect my pain drastically. By the third month I had markedly less pain as a storm came through than I normally feel.

My gut health has also improved quite a bit. I lost a few inches in my waist that I see is a direct result of the lack of bloating and healing that’s taken place. My normal issues with IBS have also decreased. Of course, there was even a greater difference while I was maintaining the diet protocol.

The only see two downsides to this program:

  1. 24 pills a day. That’s a lot! I do understand the combination is much more powerful than any one individually. However, if you struggle with taking capsules you may find this difficult. I found that taking them with a smoothie in the morning helped them go down much easier!
  2. The cost. The program starts out around $300 dollars. I had to break it down in my head – it’s roughly $3 a day. I feel you get your money’s worth with all you receive, however, $300 can be hard to come by. I would love to see insurance companies cover natural programs like this but for now, that’s not the case. I would suggest setting aside a few dollars each pay if you’d like to try the program. While you’re waiting for the money to accumulate, take time to check into recipes (Vital Plan has a great Pinterest page with recipes) and begin filling your pantry with healthy food so you’re ready to begin once you’ve raised the money.


Overall I was very pleased with the program. At this point, I’m not going to order the refill kit due to a lack of funds. (Did I mention my son got married. 😉 ) However, I am going to begin setting aside so that I can go through another three months and see if there is further improvements in my health.

So there you have it!

I’d suggest you go to the Vital Plan Website and check it out for yourself. It’s a great program to consider!


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Incense Rising

Enter to win a signed copy!

When you live with a chronic illness you often find yourself feeling useless. You might even begin breaking away from relationships because you feel like you don’t have anything to contribute. In order for you to feel useful and productive you have to have a way to serve others and help to meet their needs.


Prayer is often thought of as a last resort. We go to God in prayer after we’ve tried everything we can think of. We even offer a prayer as a form of apology, “I wish there was something I could do, but all I can do is pray.”

But is that truly the purpose and intent of prayer? Is prayer really a powerless exercise? 

What if, instead of thinking of prayer as a last resort, we thought of it the way God intended – a powerful tool to connect with God, petition on behalf of our friends and loved ones and a bedrock of our faith and the church as a whole.



Carolyn Dale Newell has released her new devotional book, Incense Rising.  This 60 day devotional was written with the intent of drawing you into a closer relationship with God through prayer. She addresses every facet of prayer teaching the purpose, power and practical applications for us to enter into a conversation with God. Each day offers verses and passages for you to dig deeper into the lesson. Also, included daily is one of the many names of God which allows you to see His various characteristics and learn more about Him.

Through modern day and biblical examples Carolyn paints a portrait of prayer that draws us into an effective, fervent prayer life.

She has generously signed a copy of her book for me to give to one of you! To enter to win you simply need to leave a comment below on or before September 30, 2016. I will randomly draw a winner from the comments on October 1, 2016 and will attempt to contact the winner that day. (When you leave a comment you are required to enter an email address. This address does not appear publicly on my website and will only be used as a way of notifying the winner.)

I became acquainted with Carolyn a few years ago and grew to love her style of writing and command of biblical applications. She is legally blind and, because we’re a community united by our disabilities, hardships and illnesses, I believe you’ll be able to relate to her struggles. You’ll also find inspiration in the way she has been able to use the gifts and talents God has given her to touch the hearts of those seeking a deeper relationship with the Lord.


To learn more about Carolyn you can visit her website:

You can get your own copy of her book through the links you’ll find HERE.


Once you have your copy, I’d love for you to stop back and let me know how the devotionals have helped renew a power and purpose to your prayer life!


An Open Letter To My Son On The Day Before His Wedding

Oh my boy, did you think for a moment you’d get through this occasion without a letter from me? 😉

I’ve been trying to write this for months but I start crying and have to put it down. But it’s crunch time now. The day before your wedding – so the tears will just have to flow as I type.



I’m not even sure where to begin. How do you sum up the years with the joy of your heart?

I’m going to shed quite a few tears over the next two days. They’re a mix. A mix of sadness that one of the greatest parts of my life has come to an end – mothering you. But also a mix of joy. I’m so proud of you! As a mom, my job is literally to work myself out of a job and watch as you move on to start your own family. Despite my very flawed parenting abilities you’ve turned into a pretty awesome young man.

I hope you never grow tired of hearing me say, “I love you.” When I say those three little words they speak volumes. They mean:

  • I’ll ALWAYS love you.
  • you can’t do anything that would change that.
  • I may be done “mothering” you but I’ll never stop being your mother.
  • I can close my eyes and see you sitting on the living room floor with all your Legos and Hot Wheels scattered around. Yes, I love you comes with a flood of memories. (I miss those days.)
  • I can open my eyes to see you today – a young man I’m so proud of and extremely happy for.
  • a lifetime that’s unfolded before me and one I’ve had the honor to be a part of.

This girl you’ve picked…  I can’t think of anyone who could be more perfect for you.

Since you were born I’ve prayed about this day – God answered my prayer.  Her name is Carly.

I miss our late night long talks. So much. But those hopes, dreams, complaints about your day, etc., are now meant for late night talks with her.

Don’t let anyone tell you marriage is 50/50.

It’s most certainly not.  You have to give 100% to your marriage.

Don’t think for a minute you’ll have a happy marriage if you don’t stay in God’s word and make prayer a daily part of your life.

Pray with and for Carly daily. Hold her hand and pray for her out loud. Let her hear that you petition God on her behalf.

You know the verse in the bible about wives submitting to their husbands?

I bet you like that verse. A lot of guys like to tease their girls with that one too.

But I want to focus on the verses that follow.

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to Himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— for we are members of his body. Ephesians 5:25-30

That’s a tall order son. It’s not a job to take lightly. It requires a lot of you. Things like:

  • Sacrifice – you will find yourself in many situations where you’ll have to set aside your wants for what’s best for Carly.
  • Grace – she’s not perfect, and neither are you. Forgive her when she messes up and draw her right back to you.
  • Gentleness – lead her with gentleness and put aside any harsh attitudes.
  • Compassion – when she shares her heart with you hold it with compassion. Always look at how life’s trials affect her – regardless of the fact that it may have affected you differently.
  • Comfort – be her shoulder to lean on. Embrace her and wipe away her tears. Be her rock.

Although the verse says to love her as Christ loves the church, you’re certainly not the Son of God.

You’re the son of two very flawed humans so there’s something else you’ll have to do.

Humbly admit and apologize when you’re wrong.

I’m not going to be the first one you turn to anymore.

So don’t come to me before you go first to God and second to your wife.  I’ll always be here to support you, but I’m way down the list now. That’s the way it’s suppose to be.  God’s ideal is this… a man shall leave his father and mother and be united to his wife.  (Matthew 19:5)

Yep, hard for me to read but it’s true and it’s God’s perfect plan. Carly comes first. Before us. Always. I know you’ll always love us and we’ll always be close, but she is your priority.

I hate to say it, but you can’t come home if you’re in a fight.

Your job is to stay and fix it. Don’t let the sun go down on your anger.

Austin, here we go. Life changes from this moment on – and you’re ready for this wild ride called marriage.

My love forever,








Essential Oil Diffusing

non-toxic, healing benefits for your home and body

I have been given this product as part of a product review through the Chronic Illness Bloggers network. Although the product was a gift, all opinions in this review remain my own and I was in no way influenced by the company.



I don’t have a sense of smell. I think I told you that before. So trying to make sure my house smells nice is a bit of a challenge.

I like to use wax warmers and have the scent wafting through the house but I’ve been reading quite a bit about the chemicals in the waxes and wicks. I switched over to soy-based waxes and began looking into beeswax as well. The only issue with these is that they offer a pleasant scent but nothing actually beneficial to our bodies.

essential oil diffusing

I’ve heard a lot about oil diffusers and their non-toxic benefits and began reading up on them a few months ago. About that time the opportunity came up, through Chronic Illness Bloggers, to try an essential oil diffuser and I jumped at the chance.

Being a newbie to the essential oil scene, I didn’t know there were multiple types of diffusers out there: nebulizing, ultrasonic, evaporative and heat. While I’m not well-versed in all the benefits and differences, I’ll share what I’ve learned so far.

  • Nebulizing diffusers are the best for therapeutic results with the essential oils. It actually releases undiluted particles of the oils into the air without diluting the oil with water or damaging the chemical makeup with heat.
  • Ultrasonic diffusers can double as a humidifier since you add water to the oil; however this dilutes the beneficial properties of the oil. Also, you can’t use citrus oils in these kinds of diffusers because they can corrode the unit.
  • Evaporative diffusers work well to send a pleasing aroma into your home, but based on how they work, they can’t disperse the entire blend of oils at one time. Lighter components are dispersed before the heavier components which work against their combined benefits.
  • Heat diffusers are the least expensive and you can get them just about anywhere. However, heating the oils can damage their chemical properties and lose their healing benefits.

The diffuser Organic Aromas sent me is a nebulizer. It’s very pretty and all their diffusers have a handmade wood base and custom, blown glass diffuser. There is LED mood lights that offer a soft glow and make the diffuser even prettier to look at while it’s running. Most reviews of other nebulizing diffusers mentioned the noise being their biggest downfall. The motor in this diffuser is extremely quiet – I can’t even hear it when it’s on.

The first night we tried it I used lavender essential oil I already had on hand. Lavender is supposed to reduce stress and stabilize blood sugar, which are things I need. My daughter had been using lavender oil in my grandson’s bath to help him relax before bed and help with eczema.  We had tried our own makeshift evaporating diffuser by saturating a cotton ball with the oil and setting it in the grates of a little fan in our living room. I know, go ahead and laugh – it did make the house smell nice (so I was told ;)) but simply evaporating the oil doesn’t give the complete benefit. You can read more about the benefits of lavender oil here: 7 Lavender Oil Benefits for Healing by Dr. Axe.

The diffuser is small so I wasn’t sure how great the scent output would be. Our house is only 950 square feet, but my daughter and husband could smell the oil within minutes. There is a control knob on the diffuser to adjust the output and we kept it on the lowest setting. The scent was a bit strong at first, but then evened out as it filled the open area of our kitchen, dining room and living room. I was pretty pleased with the area it covered. It cycles on for two minutes and then off for one – the mood lights remain on the entire time. It also has a 2 hour automatic shut-off so you don’t have to worry if you go to bed and forget to turn it off.

The next night we tried the Signature Blend oil that was sent to me with the diffuser. It’s a mix of five different oils. My daughter and husband both said the scent was a mix of citrus and pine – they both agreed it was very nice. It’s a great one to add to my growing collection.

I’m going to enjoy using the diffuser and finding blends of oils that we enjoy but also benefit our bodies!

To see just how nebulizing diffusers work, and check out their assortment of hand crafted diffusers, you can check out their website here: Organic Aromas



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My Personal Review of Aromafloria Products

I have been given these products as part of a product review through the Chronic Illness Bloggers network. Although the product was a gift, all opinions in this review remain my own and I was in no way influenced by the company.


A few weeks ago I received a package of pampering goodness from Aromafloria. My hot baths/showers are my first go-to in my list of pain defense tactics, so I was excited about their products.

First, I have to let you in on a little secret. I don’t have a sense of smell. Yep, my nose is defective and I can’t smell a thing. So when I was presented with the opportunity to try these products I started with a bit of research. I wanted to be sure I would be affected by the essential oils in the products and could give you an honest review of how they worked for me. I came across a number of articles indicating good effects of aromas and essential oils on individuals without a sense of smell due to the way your skin absorbs them, etc. Here’s just one article I found by the New York Times in case you’re interested.

But on to the review…..

review of aromafloria

The Aromafloria company was founded in 1985. It prides itself in producing all natural products in a USDA certified organic facility. Their products are free of sulfates, parabens, and phythalates. The ingredients are sourced from fair trade markets worldwide and they do not conduct any animal testing.

I was sent 6 products to review and I’ll list them one by one and let you know what I thought.


Muscle Soak Bath & Body Massage Oil AND Ocean Mineral Bath Salts (pictured above)

I’m grouping these two products together since that’s how I’ve used them for the most part.

When we lived at our old house I had a garden tub and nightly hot baths after work were part of my normal routine. In our current house, baths are few and far between. The tub is cast iron and up against an exterior wall. This leaves you with one cold tush when taking a bath in the winter (the hot water barely effects the ice cold iron). Pair that with the fact that the overflow for the drain is almost two-thirds of the way down, leaving my thighs barely covered by the water, means I’ve all but lost my evening hot water therapy.

Since it’s summer and the tub temperature is above ice cold, I’ve had the opportunity to enjoy a few evening baths to try out these products.

I’m not a huge fan of massage oil so I’ve been adding a few pumps to the bath to compliment the mineral salts. The combination of these two products is wonderful and leaves you feeling moisturized, which I like. I’ve had other mineral salt products that left my skin feeling dry and irritable. Not the case with these, it’s a great way to wind down and relax before bed.


Muscle Soak Foaming Bubble Bath (pictured above)

Part of a good bubble bath is the bubbles, am I right? This bubble bath produces a good amount of foaming bubbles that last forever and leaves your skin feeling moisturized and your muscles more relaxed. I only used the bubble bath a few times – for no other reason than the lousy bathtub we presently have. We’re getting a new tub in the fall and I’m anxious to get more use from the bubble bath.

aromafloria review

Muscle Soak Sugar Salt Glow Body Scrub

This product is by far my favorite at the moment and, since I forgot to get a picture of the tube before I started using it, you can tell it’s not sitting stagnant in my shower. Even without working olfactory glands this scrub (all the products for that matter) fills my head with a fresh, open feeling. I would imagine it’s the eucalyptus and peppermint. The exfoliating properties of ocean minerals and organic sugar leave my skin feeling amazing and energized.

On mornings when I’ve woke to extrememly stiff muscles and joints this shower scrub has made a difference.


Sinus Help Inhalation Beads

Again, I wasn’t sure how much help these beads would be since I’m not able to enjoy the scent. Lack of sniffer was not an issue.

The jar comes with a little fabric pouch that you fill with beads and use by taking 3 to 4 deep breaths while holding the bag close to your nose. The eucalyptus in this product opened my sinuses and left me breathing clearer. I was able to put it to good use over the past week since I’ve had a head cold and bronchitis. I’ve picked up my little bag of beads often throughout the day.

I don’t have a picture of the jar because my future daughter-in-law stole it from me. 😉 She has allergy issues and loved the working scent of these beads.

aromafloria product review

Sleep Ease Inhalation Beads

These beads work the same as the Sinus Help mentioned above. Fill the bag with the little beads and take 3 to 4 deep breaths. While I personally didn’t get a nasal feel with this product, like I did with the eucalyptus in the others, I did experience a calm after a few deep breaths. You can also toss the little bag in your pillow case and enjoy the relaxing properties of the lavender, valerian and hops.


So what’s my over-all opinion of these products?

I truly like them. They are a bit pricey compared to bath products I currently purchase but the essential oils, muscle relief and lack of toxins make them a healthier choice. I plan to purchase the body scrub when I run out and I’ll be adding the bath salts to my Christmas list.


You can click over here to their website, Aromafloria, to see all of their products. They also carry other product lines called Stress Less, Healing Waters and Aroma Ready that might interest you. They also have a line of spa foot care products and more. Jump over and check out their site and, if you decide to try their goods, jump back over here and let me know how they work for you!




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9 Things I Wish I Knew When I Was First Diagnosed

A number of feelings ran through my head when I finally received my diagnosis. I was relieved to know I wasn’t crazy but I had legitimate problems taking over my body. The following weeks and years since my diagnosis have brought me to mature, so to speak, as a patient.

things I wish I knew when I was first diagnosed


In learning how to live and deal with the chronic life, I look back at those first few weeks and wish I had known a few things. But hindsight’s 20/20 and since I can’t go back and change things for myself, I thought I could, at least, share them with you. My hope is that you’ll be able to skip some of the learning curves I went through.

Here are 9 things I wish I knew when I was first diagnosed:

  1. Your doctor could be wrong. Don’t hesitate getting a second opinion. You have to be your own patient advocate and treat it like a job. Learn about your symptoms, what to look for as the illness progresses and about your meds and their possible long term effects.  
  2. Go into warrior mode – not victim mode. When you feel like the victim you keep yourself stuck in a helpless situation. A warrior goes in, learns about the enemy, then sets out to conquer!
  3. Your diet and exercise has a huge impact on your over-all health. I know, we all know this already, right? But what often happens is that we learn how to trick our bodies with temporary fixes. For me, it was turning to sugar and caffeine to skirt around the fatigue. These temporary fixes only bring about more problems. Don’t turn to food as a comfort or pleasure either. When so much of what you enjoy in life seems to be taken away, it’s easy to head to little pleasures, like food, to make up for what’s been lost. Focus on food as fuel and nutrition for your body.
  4. Don’t worry about what others think. You have enough to figure out with your health – the approval of others and their belief in your health problems isn’t in your control. Some people will never understand – so focus your energy on things you can control. 
  5. A support system is key. You will have friends, and even some family, that you won’t be able to depend on for support. I truly pray you have a handful of people that will come along side and walk this road with you but it’s up to you to search for those that can be a source of encouragement for you. Likewise, you need people you can encourage as well. Find a local support group or join one online. Having a sense of community and purpose are vital!
  6. Give yourself some T.L.C. Don’t try to “tough it out”. Adjust things in your home, workplace and life to accommodate your changing needs. Make sure you’re exercising self-care.
  7. It’s ok to say no. In the past you may have been the go-to person but things are changing. You’ll have to sort through your priorities and focus your energy and effort on the most important things. Not every opportunity is something you need to commit to.
  8. It’s not the end of your life’s story – it’s just a plot twist. As long as you’re still alive you have value and purpose to your life. You may have to get creative when it comes to finding these things but they’re there. I promise.
  9. No two patients are the same. Your symptoms and medical needs may be completely different than someone else’s with your same illness. Show the same understanding and kindness to others that you want shown to you.


How far have you come since your diagnosis? What life lessons have you learned that you wish you would have known since day one? Share them in the comments below – this is one small way you can encourage someone else!



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This post was shared as part of the Coffee for Your Heart weekly link-up with Holley Gerth.

Why you need a bedtime routine

A good day starts the night before. What you do right before you retire for the night has a huge impact on your mood and energy level the next morning.

That’s why you need a bedtime routine!

bedtime routine


Having a set bedtime routine will allow you to go to bed with a clearer head and rest better knowing you’re already set to face the next day.

I know, you may be thinking I’m asking you to add more work and activity to your day when you’re barely able to get to the bed before you crash for the night. I get that. But what I’m suggesting is that you just start by adding maybe one or two things to your routine at night that will help to set you up for a better day tomorrow.

You’re bedtime routine has less to do with an actual list of set activities but rather how you clear your head before it hits your pillow. Sleep issues accompany so many chronic illnesses and the things you do in the last few hours of your day will impact the rest you get at night.

Start out by picking one or two of the following examples. Try it out for a few nights and see if it has a positive impact on your sleep and mental relaxation!

Here are a few examples of things you can include in your bedtime routine:

  1. Set time aside to read. Reading allows your brain to focus on a singular activity. Don’t use this time to catch up on social media – experts say that will only get your brain rushing through a lot of thoughts and stirring emotions that can actually hinder your ability to fall asleep. Instead, choose a devotional or fiction novel.
  2. Listen to a podcast or relaxing music. If you’re not able to focus on written words, try directing your thoughts toward a podcast or gentle music. Put in the earphones, close your eyes and allow your body to relax.
  3. Express gratitude. Keep a gratitude journal next to your bed and take a moment to find one or two things you’re grateful for. Write them out and take a moment to express your thanks to God for that gift in your life.
  4. Brain dump. Have a notebook or notepad by your bed and take a few minutes to think about what you need to do tomorrow or what upcoming events you need to plan for. “Dumping” all these thoughts onto paper has a two-fold purpose. First, it allows you to have a clear head as you fall asleep. Second, it serves as your to-do list for the next day. Remember to include your daily non-negotiables.
  5. Stop working! At least an hour before bed you need to step away from any work you have going on. Housework, work you’ve brought home from your job, etc. Let your brain turn off the hustle and bustle and begin to relax.
  6. Spend some time with your spouse and kids. When my kids were little I’d sit by their bed at night and ask them what was the best part of their day. Those were precious times! It allowed me to see the day from the eyes of my children and get a glimpse of what was truly important and impactful to them. It’s also a good exercise to do with your spouse. It allows you both to focus your mind on the positives of the day and end on an upbeat note.
  7. Decide what you’ll have for breakfast and make sure the kitchen is set for the preparation. This may sound like a silly step that adds a lot of work but it will really help you start each day on a good note. Quite a few of our meds and supplements need to be taken with food. Having the kitchen set up so breakfast is easy to prepare can let you get through the first few hours of your day without the stress of cleaning the blender or counter and deciding what you can toss in your belly.
  8. Take a bubble bath! Giving yourself a moment for pampering will de-stress your body and mind. Toss some Epsom salts or essential oils in the warm water and your now detoxing as well!
  9. Check tomorrow’s calendar. Whether you keep a bullet journal or day-planner of some sort, take a peak to see if there is something you have going on the next day.
  10. Set out your clothes. Making sure you have clean clothes that fit whatever is on tomorrow’s agenda will save you the stress and rushing about that happens thirty minutes before you have to leave the house.
  11. Meditate on a few verses and take time to pray. If you have trouble quieting your mind and focusing on the positive as you fall asleep this step may just be the key.


I’d love to hear what you include in your bedtime routine. Leave a comment below and share your best tip for relaxing and clearing your mind to ensure a night that’s as restful as possible!




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An Open Letter To My Future Daughter-In-Law

Dear Carly,

We go way back you and I.  Far beyond the 6 years you’ve been dating my son. We go back to before you were even born.  Let me explain….

an open letter to my future daughter-in-law

I remember my first thoughts of you.  I was alone in the hospital with my new little baby boy.  He was sound asleep in my arms and his life flashed before my eyes and I thought about all the possibilities that awaited my sleeping baby.

And I prayed.  I prayed for his life, I prayed he’d accept Christ as his Savior and tears ran down my cheeks.

I prayed for you.  That’s right, 8 months before you were born, and for 16 years before I’d see your beautiful face, I prayed for you.  I prayed that you were being taught about God by a family that loved you deeply.  I prayed God was molding you into a wonderful young lady that would love my son unconditionally.

I pray for you still.  I pray as you enter life together that each argument draws you closer together – each compromise has you meeting in the middle where marriage blossoms.

I pray for your strength as you become the woman of your new home. I promise to call before I come over and respect your home as just that – YOUR home.

I pray you won’t kill him when you find his boxers on the floor…. again.

Pretty soon you’ll replace me.  Oh, I know I’ll always be his mom but in so many ways you’ll replace me. It’ll be you he hugs and kisses goodnight.  It’ll be you he goes home to after work and shares about his day.  He won’t be sitting in the dark living room with me having deep discussions at 1 a.m. on anything from God to money to youtube videos – you’ll be the one listening now.

You’ll hear his dreams and his fears – please allow him to still dream. Listen as he shares his heart and encourage his pursuits. Allow him to share his feelings of inadequacy as a husband and father.  Don’t rub his nose in it, instead, encourage his heart and I can guarantee he’ll do the same for you. It’ll only make him love you more.

Protect his heart.  I’m trusting you with it now.

But please remember I was his first love.

I kissed his boo-boos, rushed him to the hospital with a bloody face when he was attempting stunts on his bike, sat up nights holding a bucket by his bed and giving him medicine at 3 a.m. to treat a fever.

I held his little hands and taught him how to walk.  Now it’s you who will hold his hand and together you’ll learn how to navigate a marriage.

I want to warn you, there will be days you don’t like him very much. But I pray on those days you remember your deep commitment to each other. Satan will try to tear you apart. And the days you don’t like each other or don’t necessarily feel “in love” will be his door in.  Slam the door hard. Keep him out.  Fight for your marriage.  You’ll like him again and feel the mushy “in love” butterflies again.  It ebbs and flows like the tide.  But true love in a committed marriage is as deep as the ocean, so the ebb and flows will happen, but the depth is still there.

Try to show him grace as you’ll be faced with the fact that he runs on “Austin Time”. Always a little late and never in a hurry. You see, he takes after my dad that way. He even entered the world on “Austin Time” – my fourth trip to the hospital.  After going into labor three previous times only to be sent home because he was in no big hurry to leave the womb, I was laying on the couch, insisting I wouldn’t go to the hospital until I knew for sure he was ready to pop out.  That night my dad knelt by the couch and held my hand in his large grasp and comforted me and let me squeeze the blood from his fingers as I moaned in pain.  My dad who was a man of few words was also a man who deeply loved his family.  See, there are so many worse people he could emulate.  So to me “Austin Time” has always been a bit precious.

I held him as he cried when he lost his grandma, aunt and grandpa.  One day you’ll hold him as he loses me.  Please hold him tight that day and assure him I’m with the Lord and it’s only “see you later” and not a final goodbye.

I want you to know his dad and I are always here for you and we’ll support and encourage you as a couple any way we can. We’ll allow you both the space to work through the life you’re crafting together. You’ll have pieces of your home and how you were raised and pieces of ours that will meld into a new life that’s a perfect fit for the two of you.

Keep God first above all and hold on for the wild, beautiful ride He has planned for you.

I hold his past – but you hold his future.

With all my love,






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