Becoming Mom Strong

I was blessed to be a part of Heidi St John’s book launch team!  Her new book just released on September 19th!

This book arrived in my life at just the right time.  Being a mother is never easy, raising teens is harder than I thought it would be (some days I long for the toddler stage again), and raising children in this ever-crazy world can often seem daunting!

That’s where this book comes in.  Right now, ‘Becoming Mom Strong’ sits on my night stand.  I think it should be on every mother’s!  Heidi is so relatable and encouraging.  Her words of wisdom come at such a poignant time in history as we often times struggle to stay BOLD in raising our children for Christ in a fallen world.

I know every era had their own struggles and that there is “nothing new under the sun”, but living in a highly digital era has brought along many more struggles that are often hard to stay on top of.

We need to stay BOLD in our mothering.  Strong.  Its not for the faint of heart!  Prayers, coffee, and chocolate are required! 😉

You can snag your own copy of Becoming Mom Strong here, accompanying journal here, and the Becoming Mom Strong Bible Study book here.  You will be glad you did!

I would love to chat with you on Facebook ~ or follow me on Pinterest!

Blessings & JOY ~






This beautiful book is just that.  Beautiful.  Inside and out.  It is filled with Ruth’s gorgeous artwork, along with wonderfully encouraging words about our life in Christ.

There are four sections, named after the seasons: Winter (Resting in God’s Character), Spring (Rehearsing the Truth), Summer (Responding in Faith) & Fall (Remembering God’s Provisions).  Within those seasons are chapters where our daily lives live in many quotes where you will be nodding your head saying, “yes!”.  It’s always nice when you realize you are not alone in your thoughts and feelings!

Here are some of my favorite quotes from Ruth:

Turn to the unshakable, steady, and strong shelter of our Savior.

Just because God does not remove the thorn doesn’t mean He’s not using it for our good and His glory.

He who knows every star by name knows how to heal our wounds, great and small.

If you feel worn out, friend, its a pretty good indication that our infinite God made you finite for a purpose.

You don’t have to be blooming to be growing, so don’t give up.

We are no longer the sum of our past.  We are the formed and forming work of Christ’s faithfulness.

Im not just a generic face among the masses, but a chosen one whom God knows by name.

The Holy Spirit lifts us up before the Father with prayers we don’t even know how to pray.

We can experience no true peace when we’re at war with God.

You were created on purpose for purpose.

I love how God works!  This book came into my life just when I needed it!  I highly recommend this book to everyone, women especially.  Even though I have finished the book, it still sits prettily on my nightstand as a daily reminder of His Truth.

You can find this lovely book here, along with the accompanying journal here.  I received both as part of her pre-launch team in exchange for my honest reviews. ♥

I would love to chat with you on Facebook ~ or follow me on Pinterest!

Blessings & JOY ~





Gatlinburg Getaway

It has been too many years since we have celebrated a big holiday with family.  We live on the east coast; and they all live on the west coast!  This past Easter we decided to do something different and at the last moment booked a hotel for a lil get-away to Gatlinburg, TN!

Booking online without knowing the hotel can be risky… I read all the reviews and went to one of those bargain sites.  We were SO HAPPY with where we ended up at. Originally we were looking in Gatlinburg, but Pigeon Forge is just 10 minutes away and had more options for less cha-ching!  The hotel we opted for had an indoor pool, outdoor pool with a small lazy river, and even a tiny (I don’t think it gets used much at all) gym!  We had a gorgeous view out on our balcony, including the Smokies and a creek.  It was so peaceful and beautiful!

Starbucks in downtown Gatlinburg!  On Saturday we walked around downtown.  I grew up in sunny SoCal, but every summer we traveled to Knoxville, TN and we always stopped to see the cute and quaint town of Gatlinburg…and buy treats from Aunt Mahalia’s Candy Shop!  Now that we live in Tennessee, I find it super fun to take my family here on short trips.

This time we spent the extra money and took the Ober Gatlinburg Aerial Tram up the mountain.  We saw all the fire damage down below.  Honestly, other than the tram, I was not impressed with all they offered up there.  It was similar to a county fair atmosphere. Complete with creeps.  Ya’ll, always be aware of your surroundings!

A few places on the strip had been burned, but most were still there.  Many homes burned in the hills that we could see, I am sure many more that we couldn’t see from the tram ride.  If you look closely, you can see a burnt home on the hill in the background.

Naturally, we ate too many things that aren’t on my diet plan. But that’s what vacations are for, right??  We had fun playing all weekend.  I think the kids’ favorite thing might have been the single car rollercoaster that went through the Smokies!

I am so glad I brought my DSLR to capture this trip instead of just my smart phone.  It was worth lugging around! 🙂

I would love to chat with you on Facebook ~ or follow me on Pinterest!  See what a “few of my favorite things” are!

Blessings & JOY ~



Free Concert

So this past Saturday we were able to enjoy a great concert by For King & Country!

Our small town had a two day event by the river but due to a wet, rainy weekend they ended up canceling it hours before the concert!  A large church nearby opened their doors to allow the show to go on! It was so wonderful of them, and more were able to see the band perform than if it had still been outdoors. The band could have just gone home, but they chose to stay in town and bless our city.  Their hearts were evident in that small act.

Joel and Luke Smallbone have such an amazing story and they shared it with everyone again. (A few years ago I put 2 and 2 together and realized their big sis is Rebecca St. James!!)

We love this band, and they did not disappoint!  They even came out into the crowd and our 12 year olds year was made when Luke gave her a high five!!!  I tried to get a video of it, but was lousy – except I did get her face of sheer joy after the fact!!

I have had their songs on replay in my head!

I would love to chat with you on Facebook ~ or follow me on Pinterest!  See what a “few of my favorite things” are!

Blessings & JOY ~




p.s. my blog posts may contain affiliate links to items that I love, use, or want to share. Thank you for helping support Cottage & Hen ♥


I’ve wanted to write a post about this for years.  I know its not a happy post, but I think its something that should and needs to be addressed.

“The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” Ps 34:18

I grew up in church, but I have suffered from depression (and anxiety) for over 20 years.  It was years before I ever shared this with anyone, including my husband.  Depression is widely spoken of in the public sphere, but often frowned upon in the Christian world.  Yet, 1 in 4 women take mental health meds.  Despite the many articles and speeches on this issue, women (and men) often do not feel like they can talk about it and more often than not do not find the support they need.  In fact, many times I have left church feeling more drained and depressed than when I arrived.  Shame and stigma are often causes for suffering alone.

“But I am afflicted and in pain; let Your salvation, O God, set me on high!” Ps 69:29

Many christians who suffer from depression struggle between what we know to be true and the darkness that we feel to be true.  With that being said, we often feel that we are not “good enough”; or that something is “wrong with us”.  How can someone who walks with the Lord struggle with these dark feelings of hopelessness when God is our Hope and Strength?  So these feelings of darkness get stuffed back down and are not talked about, or shared with others.  One can only hold that in so long before breaking.

“Answer me quickly, O Lord! My spirit fails! Hide not Your face from me, lest I be like those who go down to the pit. Let me hear in the morning of Your steadfast love, for in You I trust. Make me know the way I should go, for to You I lift up my soul.” Ps 143:7-8

The church should support and not shun those who struggle with depression and anxiety.  Those who have not struggled with it will not fully understand it, but in no way should it ever be disregarded.  Nor should those who do struggle with it be told something is wrong with them.

“But God, Who comforts the downcast…” 2 Cor 7:6a

Depression and anxiety is very real, its not “all in your head”, and the church needs to do a better job in supporting those who face these demons regularly.  Brandon Peach says it like this, “It’s not a character defect, a spiritual disorder or an emotional dysfunction. And chief of all, it’s not a choice. Asking someone to “try” not being depressed is tantamount to asking someone who’s been shot to try and stop bleeding. Such an attitude can dangerously appear in the Church as, “if only you had enough faith.”

“Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.” Ps 30:5b

I know from personal experience how exhausting it is to constantly be battling it.  I know personally what it feels like to be told that I’m “doing something wrong” in my Christian walk and that is why I feel this way.

“…for You have been my help, and in the shadow of Your wings I will sing for joy.” Ps 63:7

Lets rally around our sisters and really listen and encourage.  Give that hug and just be there when you are needed.  No judgement.  It’s all about loving others, by showing (and sharing) the love of Christ.

God is good, and is the reason I am still here today.

Blessings & JOY!



p.s. my blog posts may contain affiliate links to items that I love, use, or want to share. Thank you for helping support Cottage & Hen ♥

Why We Chose Homeschooling

So, our oldest started High School this year.


This was our second year in the public schools off post.  What a difference!  For one, there isn’t any PTO’s – everything is student ran.  So, no volunteering available for school dances, etc.  Which, in our home means our kids don’t get to attend.  When we lived on post and our children attended post schools, the PTO was wonderful and I was able to volunteer at their school dances!  I absolutely loved being part of the PTO and I think it had a huge impact on our kids’ academics and attitudes.

Our son has always struggled academically and as a result has had an IEP since 2nd grade.  When he arrived at this new school they told him his grades were too high and removed it.  As a result his grades and confidence fell.  I was so frustrated.  But he didn’t like being in the IEP classes due to other kids’ bullying him so I didn’t fight for it.  Maybe I should have. We did before and after school tutoring and it didn’t seem to help.  No offense to teachers, but going to school at 6:30am to play a board game, isn’t tutoring in my book.

He would get bullied at school.  Nothing too serious, just stressful when its a daily occurrence.  He would come home so angry.  So angry.  We would not even talk to him for about an hour so he could calm down and we could start to see his real personality again.

I keep tabs on our kids’ grades and his weren’t getting better.  This is High School.  These four years shape you and play a huge part in your adult life.  As a parent, I couldn’t just sit back and watch him just get pushed through with “passing grades”.  That isn’t going to help him understand the curriculum.  What would he do when he went to take his SAT??

After many tears, prayers, and talks with hubby, we decided that pulling him out mid school year was in his best interest.  It would be a lot of work for us and it would mean I couldn’t work in my salon as much.   It would also mean that these next 4 years he could have a personal tutor (me!) to help him succeed.

The perk of homeschooling that we’ve witnessed in these couple months?  His attitude.  OMStars, his attitude has changed – and for the better!!  He is, once again, the sweet young man we know.  It makes my heart happy.  I want our children to succeed academically, but more importantly, I want them to succeed in life!  Who he is, what he does, and how he serves Jesus is what will matter for all eternity.

Homeschooling our high schooler had me terrified, but we are already reaping the benefits!

Our middle child is in all advanced (pre high school) classes, yet she is bored.  So bored she draws on her papers, or mutilates her notebooks.  While in class.  Don’t even get me started on the stories they come home with.  Or the automated phone calls that we get about inappropriate behaviors that have been discovered during school hours.

Homeschooling has been such a pleasant experience that we are planning on homeschooling all three of our children next year!  Homeschooling allows your children to learn at their speed.  Because, isn’t the ultimate goal that they learn what they are taught?


I would love to chat with you on FacebookTwitter  ~ or follow me on Pinterest!  See what a “few of my favorite things” are!

Blessings & JOY ~



p.s. my blog posts may contain affiliate links to items that I love, use, or want to share. Thank you for helping support Cottage & Hen ♥



I love LuLaRoe.  No, I am not a consultant.  I discovered them back in 2015 when not nearly as many people wore them as now (at least in our area).  I would get lots of looks due to my flashy legs.  Now, we just smile at each other and point at our legs and say, “LuLaRoe?”  Yes, they are bringing people together!

Between myself and my 2 girls we have 26 pairs of leggings and I have 1 Perfect T.  I like their Carly dress and Sarah cardigan, but don’t own either as I am frugal and want the perfect one before I fork over that many dollars!!!

The main reason why I love LLR and their trademark buttery soft leggings is the simple fact that they STAY UP where they belong.  When I first discovered them, I got the Tall & Curvy size leggings.  I am 5’8″ and wear a size 10/12 depending on brand and style.  The TC fit well and were long!  The band went a bit higher than I like, but it does cover my “mom belly”.  My friend suggested I try their One Size as well and they fit, too!  A little shorter in the legs, but perfect for the warmer months.  So now I had both sizes to browse through for all my fun prints!


Another reason why I love LLR is because I have seen first hand the confidence their fun and stylish clothing helps bring other women.  They went from sweatshirts and yoga pants to cute LLR outfits and their confidence boost is simply amazing!!  I even feel that way often.  I get the “muffin top” when wearing some of my jeans, but I’ll put on a pair of LLR leggings and BAM!  I can tackle the day in style and confidence!  I find it amazing and wonderful how something so simple can have such a profound effect!

I also love the fact that they are made in the USA.  Well, all but the leggings…which is pretty much all I buy!  Naturally.

I now have a handful of friends who sell LuLaRoe.  I order a few from each when I cannot live without something… one has to snag them quickly before they are gone, gone, gone!  OMStars, there was sheer madness over the holiday leggings!!

Over the past 6 months I have bought both OS and TC leggings.  Some of the TC are short and too big.  Like, the ankles aren’t even tight!  Even though they say not to dry them, I wanted to simply to see if it would fit better afterwards!  A few arrived like that.  Then I ordered a few OS and they were too tight, so they ended up in my daughters drawer (she wears a size 4).  Well, the last kicker was an adorable owl print I just ordered in OS.  It was SOOO extremely small that I couldn’t even get it over my knees.  No joke.  I took them off and looked at the tag, fully expecting to see ‘Tween’ on the label.  But, no, it indeed says ‘One Size’.  I’m finding it hard to know exactly what size to buy anymore!  The quality control has seriously been lacking!  All my suppliers are amazing ladies who are more than happy to return or exchange.  It’s just the hassle and frustration of it.  Not to mention you’re already so in love with the fun pattern – possibly even your unicorn print!!

It is a sad day because I think my faith in LuLaRoe is dwindling.  I will have to start purchasing my items from local gals only to ensure they actually fit!  Here’s to hoping they figure out this drastic sizing discrepancy soon!!  Leggings are life!

Who else wears LuLaRoe?  Do you just love them??  Do you have any stories to tell?  How about any unicorns?? My mother-in-law just gave me my unicorn print in leggings for Christmas! ♥

I would love to chat with you on FacebookTwitter  ~ or follow me on Pinterest!  See what a “few of my favorite things” are!

Blessings & JOY ~



p.s. my blog posts may contain affiliate links to items that I love, use, or want to share. Thank you for helping support Cottage & Hen ♥

What’s Your Word?


Do you make New Years Resolutions?  Or, maybe yearly goals?  Last year I made a vision board…not many items were realized in 2016.  Kinda put a damper on my spirit, honestly.  I always have goals in life, and the first is always a great time to start them.  This year I have decided to focus on a word, with a few more vague goals that will be met in some capacity.  Ha, I’m slowly learning to out-smart the system! 😉

For 2017 my word is CALM.

Calm, because I suffer from anxiety.

Calm, because I’m a homeschooling mom again.

Calm, because I worry over things I cannot change.

Calm, because having a house full of teens can often be anything BUT calm.

Calm, because I often should take a deep breath before speaking (see above).

Calm, because, lets face it: life is rarely calm.

Calm, because I will need to lean on the Lord for grace, patience, and peace.

My chosen word ‘calm’ could also be described as ‘wait’, ‘breathe’, ‘patience’… 🙂

I’m really hoping this ‘Word for 2017’ works out for me!  Maybe I should also use some of my favorite oil blends from Young Living, like Peace & Calming!  Praying I am able to recall this word through out the days, weeks, and months ahead.  Trying to keep myself grounded, realizing what is important in the big picture.  What is important for eternity?  That is what I want to focus on.

This mama will be found whispering ‘calm’ to herself.

Do you have any goals, resolutions, or a word for 2017?

I would love to chat with you on FacebookTwitter  ~ or follow me on Pinterest!  See what a “few of my favorite things” are!

Blessings & JOY ~




p.s. my blog posts may contain affiliate links to items that I love, use, or want to share. Thank you for helping support Cottage & Hen ♥

My Thoughts on a Friday


As Memorial Day approaches, I have seen so many posts about the difference between Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day.  Most, if not all, were posted my military service members or their spouses.  Being married to a combat veteran, I better know the difference.  I am gathering from these posts that the general public might not?


Most service members do not seek praise and they don’t always know how to respond when told Thank You for their service.  They are just doing their job.  Many have lost friends and battle buddies while “doing their job”.  They haven’t forgotten; nor will they ever.  I pray that as American’s we will never take the cost of freedom for granted.  I am always saddened when I hear of yet another hero paying the ultimate price; as a spouse and mother, my heart just aches for those left behind.


So, I fully understand from where these informative posts are coming from.  It’s not that I disagree with them.  I fully agree that as American’s we really should know the difference between Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day.


In the midst of all these posts, a civilian friend posted a frustrated rant about these posts.  While I fully understand and respect the posts, she definitely had a valid point.  I think making sure we know our great country’s history would be better than bashing our civilian neighbors.


With these recent Memorial Day “what not to say” posts, I am reminded of the many “What not to say to a military spouse” articles I have read.  Lots of them.  Not that they aren’t correct.  But I think they come across as a little harsh.  Of course the civilian world doesn’t know what to say or do; they don’t live in the military world!  It is a whole ‘nother world, that unless you have personally lived it, you have absolutely-no-freaking-idea.  That said, we should all use common courtesy when speaking.  😉 I don’t think we should widen the gap between civilian and military families.  We shouldn’t scare them from trying to talk to us!  We need each other.  In my married life I have been both, so I feel like I can sympathize with both sides.


Don’t get me wrong.  I was one of the dorky proud Army wives!  There is nothing like being a military family and gaining those instant sisters!

So here I am, suggesting that we show grace and patience towards our civilian neighbors.  They really do mean well!

Blessings & JOY~




*In case you wonder what the difference is:  Memorial Day is a day we set aside to remember those men and women in uniform who paid the ultimate price (death) for our freedom.  Veteran’s Day is the day we say THANK YOU to all the vets who have served our great country!



Wow!  It has been three months since I last wrote you! kids2 Can I just say how AMAZING God is when you seek Him and His will for your life?  Our family has gone through personal and physical changes already this year!

Our family recently ended a 6 year chapter in our lives.  To say it was stressful would be an understatement!  We didn’t know where God would lead us, or where our next chapter would be.  We were praying for direction, for jobs, for peace.  We were applying for jobs all over the United States, with nothing really coming back.  The end was coming near and we were starting to stress.  How do you provide for a family without income and a roof over your head? We had already given notice to the housing office on post that we were moving.  We called it our “homeless lease” as we were taking steps to move forward, but with absolutely no idea where that would be!

On a Wednesday my hubby met with our pastor.  They shared, prayed, and my honey left feeling blessed.  Two days later (when he has asked God for an answer by) he was feeling even more overwhelmed as we still didn’t have any answers.  In fact, he had only gotten a single ‘no’ to all the jobs he had applied to.  Then, within 15 minutes time he received not one, but TWO, job offers with excellent companies! We had also been in contact with a local property manager/realtor looking for a place to rest our heads at night.  We own an adorable boxer dog, and that always makes it harder to find a rental as no one wants you to have pets in their home.  I understand their sentiment, but it sure makes it hard when a member of your family is a sweet fur baby!

After that initial phone call with the awesome job offer, all the little details started falling into place.  The dreams we had as a family started becoming realities.  We LOVE where we live and were so glad we were offered a job locally.  We had been looking (dreaming) at homes in a neighborhood for many years, and had our eye on a house that had been for sale for quite a few months.  The home was still available!

Because the housing office was in the middle of a large policy change (and the fact that God takes care of ALL the details) we were granted permission to stay on post, in our home that we had enjoyed for 5 years, for a few extra weeks until we closed escrow on our new home!  What a blessing it was to be able to simply move from our old home to our new home, without having to store our items for a week and stay in a hotel.  You should see our boxer run all over her new (and so much bigger) back yard!

All the details, no matter how small, were taken care of!  It was so evident that we were moving in the direction that God wanted us.

Adjusting to these new life changes has had its challenges, but it has been so worth it!

Blessigns & JOY ~