Big things

I’ve noticed a dynamic in my house that makes me wonder if it exists in other homes as well. If my husband needs to run an errand, or wants to go for a run or leave the house in general, he just goes. He gets dressed, picks up his keys and walks out the door. If I need to leave the house, I feel the need to make sure everyone is taken care of first. Snacks, diapers, naps – whatever is needed. Then mommy can leave the house. Please don’t misunderstand. No one requires this of me except me. The idea of moving forward without all my ducklings in a row is hard for me. There are times Bryan will even ask “Aren’t you supposed to be going somewhere?” as I hustle around the house finishing one task or another.

Usually, it’s one task that has magically morphed into 20. I set out to change the baby’s diaper, but then see the trash can is full. So I take the trash out and notice some boxes stacked up in the garage. I then proceed to move the boxes to recycling, at which point I notice the flowers need to be watered. I have a black thumb and routinely murder any plant that sets stem into our yard. Well at this point I’m wet because our hose leaks, so now I have to change clothes. My closet is a mess and needs a good clean out. Which of these clothes don’t fit anymore?….Do you see where I’m going with this?

It’s easy for me to get caught up in distraction. Over the years I’ve determined it’s equal parts mild ADD, too much caffeine and just my personality for wanting to get things done as soon as possible. When a thought or idea pops into my head, I have a hard time filing it away to revisit later. My brain wants to do or think about it now, so we (me and my brain) have come up with a compromise. I’ll put it on my to-do list right away if my brain will let it go until I have time to revisit the thought. Without our little compromise, my life is simply a bunch of scattered, half-completed tasks. There are days my brain gets sneaky and I find myself back in old habits. When I realize what’s happening, I typically let out a little “arggh!” in frustration, I stop what I’m doing and take an inventory of all the things I’m trying to do at one time. They all get a spot on my list and sanity resumes (sort of).

From time to time there are things that make it on the list that never quite seem to get checked off. These are the big ideas that scare the pants off of me. The ones that I look at every day and think, “I’ll work on that tomorrow.” Things like turning in my resignation at work or sending my book to the editor. The first one took over a year to check off and the latter is still pending. When I take steps that big, life is about to change drastically. Even when I know the change is something I’ve been called by God to do, I don’t always jump up and say “Yes!” More often than not, I look more like my 3-year-old when I’ve asked him to do something while he’s watching tv. First, he’s going to flat out say no without even blinking an eye. Then he’ll catch a glimpse of mommy’s frown and he’ll slowly start to stand up, eyes still firmly fixed on the tv. At this point, I’ve repeated myself at least three times. He’s moving towards compliance, but at sloth speed.

Lucky for me, God has infinitely more patience with His children. He knows we’re all 3-year-olds when it comes to listening to our heavenly father. We know best, we want to do things ourselves and no one will convince us otherwise. We may have to fall down a few times or get frustrated before we ask for help, but like a loving parent, He often waits for us to come to the realization on our own. He wants what’s best for us, the same way we want what’s best for our children. As they grow and begin to have more independence, we want them to be both safe and bold at the same time. Unafraid to try new things because they trust their parents are looking out for them.

This summer I enrolled 3-year-old Daniel in swim lessons at our local rec center. He loves to swim with his floaties at his grandparent’s house and is pretty fearless when it comes to jumping off the side or even the diving board. “This will be his year!”, I thought. The first day of swim lessons, I talked it up BIG. What a big boy he’ll be. He’s going to learn how to swim without his floaties. He seemed genuinely excited until he realized I would not be going in the pool with him. Try as I might, there was no way he was going to participate without mommy. In his mind, he wouldn’t be safe without me. Even if he could touch the bottom of the pool with his feet and see me watching from the side.

I realize this is the same reason I have such a difficult time checking those scary tasks off my list. I want tangible proof that things are going to be ok. God’s voice is telling me it will be. I can feel the Holy Spirit’s peace, but I want to see. Unfortunately, the seeing comes after the trusting and not the other way around. Rest assured, when it’s within the will of God, we can be confident in our safety. So, if you find yourself standing at the edge of the pool and you’re not sure if you should jump in, remember…your parents paid a lot of money for those swim lessons! 🙂

“For we live by faith and not by sight.” 2 Corinthians 5:7



Last summer I wrote a blog post on our foundation’s website about leaving our burdens at the foot of the cross and allowing God to work it out ( ‎). At the time I knew that Layla would be healed of her cancer and we would proclaim God’s miracle from the rooftops. But here we are nine months later and Layla is no longer here on earth. She was healed, but not on this side of Heaven. Such an experience often leads us to the same question: Why?

Why wouldn’t God heal her and allow her to stay with us on earth? Why does God allow people to suffer? Why does God seem silent when we cry out for help? How many times have you cried out to God asking Why?

Many times our tendency is to try and answer that question for God, as if it’s a rhetorical question. We don’t really expect God to answer so we attempt to work it out on our own. I know for me, there’s a degree of fear in asking God for an answer to my difficult questions. Not because I’m afraid of what the answer will be, but for fear of appearing to lack faith. If I truly believe God is God then I must accept whatever His reasons are, right? This couldn’t be further from the truth. We can see all throughout scripture where disciples and Jesus’ followers ask questions when they don’t understand. They’re not struck down or brushed aside. Instead, Jesus uses the opportunity to reveal more truths about Himself.

“Feeling conflicted or confused is not the same as faithlessness. It takes faith to wrestle with doubt.” – Beth Moore, The Quest

Think about a close relationship you have. Whether it’s your spouse, a parent or a friend there is one thing those relationships all have in common: questions. I highly doubt you became close with that person by never asking questions, right? Questions are how we gain intimacy with one another. We learn more and more each time we inquire and receive new information about a person. The same applies to our relationship with God. As we ask questions and allow His truths to be revealed to us we gain a deeper and deeper intimacy with Him.

Through asking questions and discovering who He is, we draw closer to Him. Our faith is strengthened through conversation. I’ll admit, there are days I feel like I’m doing all the talking, but I know He’s listening. And when I’m doing the listening I hear His replies. Just like a good friend, He doesn’t always give me the answer I want to hear. Sometimes we need to hear hard truths or direction we prefer to ignore in order to move forward. Don’t hesitate to ask the question for fear of seeming to lack faith. God already knows what is on your heart. Your questions are not news to Him and He’s been waiting to have that conversation with you.


If you ask my husband what his five least favorite words are he would probably say “I saw it on Pinterest”. I see him cringe at the “P” word and the thought of the next DIY project I’ve concocted in my head. Something that will require shiplap, wall anchors, spray paint and at least six trips to Home Depot for sure. My Pinterest boards are full of ideas that would keep his weekends busy for years. Lucky for him, 99% of those ideas will stay only in the virtual world. I know I’m better off buying a set of bunk beds than trying to build our own out of reclaimed barn wood. Handy he is, but a furniture builder he is not.

He’s also lucky that I’m a pretty handy girl myself, although I recently got caught in a faux pa of the construction sort. I had been intending to hang a towel hook outside our shower door for months and finally got tired of looking at that bare wall. Feeling slightly lazy I looked around the bathroom for a tool and spotted a hammer. [We’ll get into why there’s a hammer in the bathroom another time] Now one might think that a hammer is a fantastic option for hanging something on the wall….that is unless you’ve got screws instead of nails. What can I say…I’m a work-with-what-you-got kind of gall. My husband looked over at me and asked “are you actually hammering those screws into the wall??” I informed him of my laziness and he shook his head. He was right though. Eventually I had to cave and walk downstairs for a screwdriver. Even with all my DIY skills I couldn’t hammer a screw without making a mess of the whole thing.

Hanging a hook is a minor home improvement compared to some of the things we’ve attempted to tackle ourselves. Many times it included an emergency call to our favorite plumber. We’re on a first-name basis. Each time we’ve said “never again!”, but that hasn’t stopped us so far.

When we get our minds set on something it’s difficult to deter our focus, isn’t it? Even if there’s water spewing from the bathtub, we’re running around trying to find towels to clean up the mess instead of turning it off at the source. If we would call the expert in the first place things would go a little more smoothly. The same thing applies when we spend a little time talking to God. He’s the expert in all things and never charges weekend rates.

I’ve written before on about this topic. It’s been roughly one year since Layla’s cancer returned and I knew I needed to step away from work. The urge to do things myself was immense, but the whole situation was simply out of my control. So I called in the expert and said “God, what do I do?” I felt his prompting to spend time with my children and the assurance that things would be ok financially if I wasn’t working. That was a HUGE step out in faith for me. Probably the biggest one I had ever made in my life up to that point. And it was Ok. If I hadn’t taken that time to listen and accept that I had no clue what I was doing I would be living with that regret for the rest of my life. That summer was an incredible time for our family and even if we had lost all our material possessions, I wouldn’t change any of it.

If there’s a struggle in your life that you haven’t brought to God yet, let me assure you it’s the best decision you can make. Don’t continue to shoulder that burden on your own. Be still, listen and then step out in faith. He is always waiting and willing to do the hard work.

Mother’s Day

To my grieving moms on Mother’s Day,

This year you will wake up on Mother’s Day with a piece of you missing. For some, you are a mother with no children here on earth. For others, there are siblings missing a brother or sister. A child-sized hole exists in your life that no thing and no one can fill. There are some of us who will wake up and put a smile on our faces because it’s how we get through the day, how we keep moving forward. Others will need a quiet space to just be. Either way, it’s ok. There is no right or wrong way to feel on this day. A day that celebrates the life we created, but is a reminder of the life that went before us.

You will mourn today because you mourn every day, and whether this is your first or fortieth Mother’s Day without your child, the pain will still be fresh. No timeframe exists in which this gets easier. It only gets us one day closer to the day we will see that precious smile again. The smile we remember and cherish in photos and memories.

We are a sisterhood. We are all linked by the heart because we have felt the things that no mother can bear to even imagine. There is an unspoken bond between us when we meet. A hug that means more than just hello, but says ‘I know’. I will think of each of you today and pray that your hearts are filled with God’s amazing peace. “You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy” – John 16:20


Now what?

Hello there friends! Long time, no write for me. I’m not sure exactly why, but I always seem to forget how much life changes when you bring a brand new baby into the mix of life. I mean, come on, it’s a tiny human that depends on you for every. little. thing…how hard can it be, right?  Almost 10 weeks later, here I am opening my computer to write for the first time. I’ve had so many thoughts and emotions swirling around in my head over the past few weeks, but they seem to leave as quickly as they come.  Every once in awhile I’ll catch one in time to jot a note down in my phone (because who has time to find a pen), but most of the time when I reread what I wrote I wonder what in the heck I meant. Sleep deprivation is king of zapping the creativity right out of your brain. Coffee only fixes the vital functions like keeping your eyes open to drive to get more coffee.  Perhaps in 4-6 months I’ll be functioning on at least 60% of my brain.  The other day my sister-in-law asked me “who are these people who’s children sleep through the night at 6 weeks old?”  To which I replied “They’re all liars!”  I refuse to believe there is some mom out there sleeping peacefully that soon after having a baby…and if she is I don’t want to know about it!

Another thing I realized quickly is that postpartum hormones and grief do not go well together. You know how medications sometimes have warning labels on them, like “do not drive or operate heavy machinery”, well I feel like there should be a warning label somewhere for what I experienced. There aren’t even words to describe it other than BLEH. I prefer to never (ever!) repeat that. So of course, when Easter rolled around last month I was already a hot mess of emotions. I knew it would be a difficult day for the entire family, but we all got up and dressed and made it to church bright and early. I was mentally prepared for a typically “Easter” sermon. You know…the resurrection and all that, but what I got was a big, huge sob-fest.

Leave it to our pastor to pull out something unexpected. It’s why we love our church so much. The message on Easter Sunday was about living a full life in Christ even when our big “Whys” go unanswered. Gut punch and cue all the tears. If you have 40 minutes and a box of tissues handy, I highly recommend you go to and watch it. I couldn’t even begin to do it justice here. Go ahead…I’ll wait.

Did you watch it? See what I mean? I don’t think there’s a person out there that hasn’t experienced some kind of “why?” moment in their lives. If we’re lucky, at some point we get the “Ah Ha!” moment that goes along with it. Like when your boyfriend dumps you and life is shattered…but a few years later you meet the man you’ll live happily ever after with. Or when you lose your job only to have an amazing opportunity offered to you. “Ah Ha!” moments are awesome. All is right with the world again, the birds are chirping and the sun is shining. Hooray!

Life sucks when you know that “Ah Ha!” moment isn’t coming in this lifetime. There may be some point in the future where I see all the amazing things that Layla’s legacy has left behind, but I don’t imagine there will be a time that I will think losing her was worth any of it. No amount of good can compare to having your child back. So what now?

I’ve pondered that question for weeks and the conclusion I’ve come to is not about figuring out the “why”, but the “who”. Who can benefit from what we’ve been through? How can we, and ultimately Layla, make an impact in the life we have left to live. It’s the driving force behind Layla’s Legacy and the reason I sat down to write my book, The Other F-Word. Our purpose as christians is to tell the story of Christ and his amazing love that is freely given for all of us. There is no better way to share His story than through our stories. The life we’ve lived and the battles we’ve fought are all for His glory. If not, then that’s the bigger “why”.

I will not have an answer this side of heaven about why we lost our sweet Layla to cancer, but I can proclaim His goodness through that journey over and over again. I can continue to share my faith and her story to anyone who will listen (or is too slow to run away). Our family will find ways to serve others that are battling that same disease and do it in His name. The answer to the question is always “for Him”.

It won’t always feel warm and fuzzy. In fact, it will almost always be difficult, but let’s not miss the opportunities to connect with those who share our unanswered questions and to represent what it looks like to have a life lived out in faith. Our unanswered questions will be the answer to someone else’s prayers.

The Heart of the Problem

Yesterday was a day that has become all too familiar in our current social landscape: another mass shooting. And although the rhetoric will now turn to gun control and violence and our media will be flooded with talking heads each with their own opinions, the question that never seems to get answered is WHY? I’ll admit I have a much harder time caring about that aspect of the equation when an adult is doing the shooting, but I struggle when it’s a child pulling the trigger. This young man may have been a teenager closing in on adulthood, but he was still a child.

Age does not exempt us from the brokenness of the world, but it does pose an important question that desperately needs an answer. How did we miss this? By all accounts that I’ve seen, his fellow students weren’t the least surprised by the attack, so what about the adults? Let’s leave the discussion around guns for another day and take a good look at our responsibility as both parents and mentors. By this, I mean ALL OF US.

There are thousands of hard working school counselors and administrators who dedicate their lives to investing in the children they see day in and day out, however there are thousands more parents that don’t even notice.

If we truly believe that ‘it takes a village’ to raise our kids, then we must acknowledge that the village includes more than just the immediate social circle we come in contact with. We must find ways to become more involved in the lives of the broken, so we have the opportunity to pour into them before it’s too late. I realize that’s a big task to pile onto our already busy lives, but it’s a matter of priority. How many more times do we need to see a child bring a gun to school and how many more families need to grieve over their lost children before we wake up and understand the heart of the problem.

Brokenness, loneliness, isolation: 3 places Satan loves to work and 3 places we all find uncomfortable. Especially when we’re talking about someone else’s brokenness, loneliness and isolation. I won’t deny it’s much easier to bury our heads in the sand and pretend we didn’t see anything, but as Christians (and just human beings), we need to accept that being uncomfortable with someone else’s pain is ok. How many times did Jesus sit with those who had been cast aside? That was His entire life and He has specifically called us to do the same. If we aren’t willing to be His hands, feet and heart, seeking out those who desperately need Him, no amount gun control is going to help. That is not meant to be a political statement whatsoever. Simply a stated fact that we are not doing enough for the people themselves.

So how do we start? I wish I could articulate some 4-point plan that would solve all our problems, but I can’t. All I know is that my heart aches for the families suffering today and even more so for the young man with so much pain and sadness. My heart tells me we are missing out on opportunities all around us to care for those who only need someone to pour into them the love that Christ pours into us. Maybe that’s where we start: by simple asking the Holy Spirit to reveal to us someone who is struggling and then we take that first step towards relationship. I’m certain it will be awkward and we’ll fumble, but our imperfect actions can carry with them His perfect love.

Dear fellow Christians…please be quiet


Friends, believers, fellow Christ-followers I am begging you today.  Please shut your mouth.  I know that sounds harsh, but I mean it in the most loving manner possible.  Loving, like when I tell my 3-year-old that YES he can watch Bubble Guppies if only he’ll stop asking over and over and over again.

Maybe it’s because I have a unique perspective and access to a population of people who are deeply hurt, but I can’t help but see all the well-meaning, yet grossly misguided, comments that christians tend to make to non-believers and those struggling with faith.  I LOVE the fact that most of us truly love our fellow man and desire nothing more than to see them lifted up by God’s promises of hope.  Promises He made for each and every one of us.  You are bursting at the seams to share the gospel and it’s A-MAZ-ING (in my best Oprah voice), yet all the love is falling on deaf ears.  Read the room, folks.  And in case you’re unfamiliar with that saying, here:

Verb. read the room (third-person singular simple present reads the room, present participle reading the room, simple past and past participle read the room) (idiomatic) to understand the emotions and thoughts of the people in the room

You see, we’re such eager beavers to comfort others with a pat on the back and a bible verse that we’re not even hearing what’s being said.  Sometimes all that’s required is to just be quiet and let the other person speak.  If you’re only focused on the response, then you are completely missing what is really being said.  And what’s being said is “I’m hurt, I’m angry, I’m lonely, I’m sad, I’m lost” even if those words are never uttered.  Instead of jumping in with a platitude or “advice”, let’s be quick to say “I’m sorry you’re struggling today”.  Let’s you and I pray for our brother or sister silently, asking for His comfort over them.  Acknowledge that only God knows the depth of the emotions and the true cause for their despair.  He is the only one that can heal.  Our job is to be a friend and a listening ear.

God’s call to us is to “Put on compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness and patience, bearing with one another” [Colossians 3:12]

I blame most of this on social media.  The ability to post vague sentences and attention seeking comments is the devil’s playground.  We assume we know best and our one-liners of faith are all this person needs to hear.  What they hear is that you don’t hear them at all, and that you and your God can’t possibly understand their situation.  Obviously, the God part couldn’t be further from the truth, but they’ve got us pegged.

Let me give a real life example.  I have the unfortunate experience to know hundreds of parents who have lost their children to cancer.  We have an online community for support because, truly, other people cannot even begin to understand the how we feel.  Daily I see posts from other parents where they share their “ugh!” moments from comments made on their Facebook status updates.  If I had a nickel for every time someone said “they’re in a better place now”, I’d be writing you this while sitting in a lounge chair in the Bahamas.  Yes, you and I know that their child is in a better place and free from pain and suffering, but these people DON’T know that.  Or they’re not sure if they believe that because they’re still searching.  These are the people that need to see examples of faith walked out through us, not a quote or verse.  Maybe it’s because we get our feelings all in a pinch when someone dares to challenge us in what we believe.  Instead of responding in kindness and love, we lash out with hate to cover up their hate.  If we’re their example of Christ’s love, I wouldn’t say we’re doing a bang-up job.

This is where we stumble.  We’re great at talking the talk, but walking the walk takes work.  It means taking the other person’s hand and making a connection.  It’s more than a scroll through Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.  It’s more than sending a sad emoji face.  You know who is actually really good at this?  Non-believers.  I can only assume it’s because they’ve had to rely on their own strength and the strength of others for so long.  Part of me also knows that it’s all part of Satan’s plan.  To make them believe that the christians aren’t “their people” because everything we say is read with a tinge of condescension (whether imagined or real).

Friends, our actions will always speak volumes over our words.  Let’s pray that the Holy Spirit will quiet our mouths and open our ears.  At that point we’ll hear the prompting of the Spirit and be moved to help in a way that is specific to each person’s heart and needs.

1 John 3:18 Let us not love in word or talk, but in deed and in truth

Birth Plan

When my daughter was born over 5 years ago, I had all the illusions of a natural, peaceful, zen-filled delivery experience.  I was the birth-plan-in-hand mama-to-be and knew exactly how this whole thing was gonna go down.  I was obnoxious.  Like most things in life, nothing went exactly how I imagined and (what I thought was) my worst nightmare came true…I had to have a c-section.  Ack!  Oh the horror of it all!!  As I’m being rolled to the operating room all I can think is that I won’t get the immediate skin-to-skin contact, which means she won’t want to breastfeed and [que the world ending] she’ll have to take formula!!!!!  I hope you can hear my sarcasm from over here, but seriously I did have those thoughts.

I can laugh about it now, but I was freaked out at the time.  By some great miracle (again…sarcasm) we all survived and Layla breastfed for over 14 months.  By the time my son was born 2 ½ years later, I had tapered my expectations with regards to the birth itself, but not so much about how life would be having two kids.  No matter how many people tell you “it’s more than double the work”, you convince yourself that those people are just weak and don’t have the mad mama skills that you do.  Don’t worry…I got this.


Enter…”the Danimal”.  A funny nickname that fits my son perfectly.  Daniel was not quite the good sleeper his sister was and that kid was always hungry.  I felt like I spent my entire life tied to him or tied to the pump because even though I had learned a lot with the first kid, I was still stubborn as a mule about breastfeeding.  It wasn’t about shaming someone who made a different choice (Lord knows there’s too much of that), but I was shaming myself for being (by my definition) weak.  After months and months of struggling I finally conceded the fight and allowed formula to be brought into our house.  And you know what??  The world didn’t end and everyone slept better.

Phew, we survived again.  So glad that was done and over with, right?  Or so we thought.  Ladies, let me just tell you that sometimes the 3rd time is the charm.  We struggled to get pregnant both times and always needed a little extra push from my fertility specialist.  I had that filed away as “Sara can’t get pregnant on her own”.  That’s a dangerous place to put things because we got the shock of our lives at the end of July 2017 when I woke up one morning wanting to puke at the thought of coffee.  Coffee is my life!  Something was seriously wrong with me, I could tell.  Sure enough…you. are. pregnant.

Many of you may be familiar with the situation our family was in at that particular time, but I’ll give a brief rundown for the new readers…our 5 year old daughter was fighting a relapse of brain cancer (Medulloblastoma).  To see a positive pregnancy test had me like:


Lord, please tell me you are not suggesting I have a baby in the middle of all of this??  That’s exactly what He was suggesting.  3 months later we would lose our sweet Layla-Bug to her cancer.  There I was: bereaved, devastated and 6 months pregnant.  This time around I have no illusions of delivery and recovery or hard and fast resolutions about breastfeeding.  [For the love….if by the 3rd kid you haven’t mellowed out a little, we need to talk.]  We’ll take it as it comes.  As Hagrid said in Harry Potter “what’s comin’ will come and we’ll meet it when it does.”

Cancer and losing a child didn’t break me, but it taught me a valuable lesson about control and the fact that I have none.  No amount of planning or “rules” about how your life should go will carry weight in times of trouble.  God is the only absolute there is.  When we give up our version of control, we are better able to face trials.  “Lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your paths” Proverbs 3:5-6

Even when the reasoning is beyond our comprehension, we must trust that our God is faithful.  I can see the beauty in this unexpected blessing in my belly (and dear Lord, please help her to come soon because 3rd trimester is for the birds when you’re pushing 40!)  What once was a moment of panic is now a source of hope for our family.

And So The Journey Begins

I’ve experienced some weird things in my life, but by far the weirdest was purchasing a domain for my own name:  Shocker that one wasn’t already taken!

And so the journey begins – I’m going to be an author.  I knew that our journey through brain cancer would have to come to an end before I was ready to write about it.  Layla would either be fully well or no longer with us.  My heart aches every day since she’s been gone, yet in some strange way I know that this book in my head wouldn’t exist without her death.  I wouldn’t have the depth of knowledge about grief that I do now.  I wouldn’t have connected with other families in the same way.  I wouldn’t have had to lean on God or stare faith in the face and really ask myself what I believe.

That’s another weird thing…finding myself trying to put a positive spin on cancer or my daughter’s death.  There’s no earthly spin or perspective that can legitimately make this whole mess “good”.  Only knowing that her story is not over and that God is faithful to see us through the next 50 years until we see her again.  That is what allows me to keep breathing.

Our story isn’t even all that remarkable.  It’s full of love and tears; hope and sorrow;  faith and disappointment.  It’s about life and the choices that come with it.  It’s about wrapping your head around the unimaginable in a way that allows others to see the faithful work of Christ in a life that should be falling apart.  It’s where our desires and God’s plan don’t always meet up.  Life begins and ends with the other F-word.

“Faith fills the gap between what WE want and what God has planned” – Sara Stamp, The Other F-Word