Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Announcing My New Blog!

PreviewToday I am launching another blog: "Stuff Mamas Like"! Yes, it's a shameless take-off of "Stuff Christians Like," which was a shameless take-off of "Stuff White People Like," but I'm okay with that. The purpose of this blog is to help Mamas everywhere laugh at ourselves and at the crazy and demanding world of motherhood.
So come take a gander. Maybe even leave a comment or two. Maybe even follow!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Great Faith?

A couple of weeks ago, my friend was sharing his life story with our Small Group, and he said something that has really stuck with me. As he discussed some of his current struggles with various things, including faith, and compared how different his life is now from how it was several years ago, he said, "You know, it's easy to have great faith when you have a great life." Basically, he was saying that back when he had a family, career, and "stability," it wasn't all that hard to believe in and trust in God. Now that so much of that has been lost for him (at least for a little while), his faith is being tested. And that's actually not a bad thing.

As I sat there listening to him share, I contemplated the ease of my own life. Honestly, this was not the first time this thought had occurred to me; I am well aware that I have it easy. I have a wonderful husband and three amazing children, financial stability, the house, the dog, the picket fence (okay, not the picket fence), etc., etc.--you know, the "American dream." And sometimes I don't know what to do with that.

Is it bad to have these things? Is it wrong that I have a "good life"? Should I do something to intentionally make my life difficult? Or should I just be thankful? I really don't know what the answer is. Certainly I have problems and struggles and hurts, and I do find my faith challenged, but my friend is right--It's easy to have great faith when you have a great life.

I can both acknowledge and agree with that statement. I just don't know what to do with it.

Book Review: WALK LIKE YOU HAVE SOMEWHERE TO GO O'Neal is most famous for being Shaq's mom, but her autobiography, Walk Like You Have Somewhere To Go, is mostly about her own story. She takes her readers through her childhood, which included a broken home; her teen years, which included being a single mom to Shaquille; her young adult years, which included marriage, being a military wife, and having three more babies; and adulthood, which included Shaq's move to the NBA, their family's move from rags to riches, her earning her college degree, and eventually divorcing her husband. Throughout it all, Ms. O'Neal describes her struggles with alcohol and dealing with broken family relationships. Her mother was a great influence in her life, and Ms. O'Neal gives her the credit for helping her build a foundation of faith, which wavered greatly over the years.

Although I learned some interesting trivia about Shaq (ex: His name means "little one"!) and found Ms. O'Neal's story to be somewhat interesting, I did not at all feel inspired by her story. In truth, I felt that her son's prosperity, not her "regained faith," is what gave her the freedom and confidence of which she boasts. (To her credit, this is very understandable.) A verse of Scripture is posted at the beginning of each chapter, and it just seems very forced and unrelated, in my opinion.

The story seems a bit slow at times and seems to jump around, but I appreciate the fact that it is told in Ms. O'Neal's own words and tone. Allison Samuels, who helped Ms. O'Neal with the writing, did a great job of letting Ms. O'Neal's voice be heard. I felt like I was sitting in her living room and just listening to her tell her story. And with the addition of family photographs sprinkled throughout the book, the story held my interest and helped me to picture the characters in her story.

Overall, this book is a fairly interesting but not a very inspiring read.

To order this book, visit

*Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their Book Review Blogger program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

First Guest Post

I'm really excited to have my first opportunity to do a guest post on someone else's blog! You can see it here on Mary DeMuth's "So You Want to Be Published" blog.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010


To all you mommies out there--let the lyrics of this song be an encouragement to you as it was to me this morning. It's a song written by Randall Goodgame and Andrew Osenga, and it's performed by Caedmon's Call on their latest release, "Overdressed."

This house is a good mess
It’s the proof of life
No way would I trade jobs
But it don’t pay overtime

I’ll get to the laundry
I don’t know when
I’m saying a prayer tonight
Cause tomorrow it starts again

Could it be that everything is sacred?
And all this time
Everything I’ve dreamed of
Has been right before my eyes

The children are sleeping
But they’re running through my mind
The sun makes them happy
And the music makes them unwind

My cup runneth over
And I worry about the stain
Teach me to run to You
Like they run to me for every little thing

When I forget to drink from you
I can feel the banks harden
Lord, make me like a stream
To feed the garden

Wake up, little sleeper
The Lord, God Almighty
Made your Mama keeper
So rise and shine, rise and shine
Rise and shine cause

Everything is sacred
And all this time
Everything I’ve dreamed of
Has been right before my eyes

Words and Music by Randall Goodgame and Andrew Osenga
(c) 2007 House of Mirrors Music (ASCAP) admin. by Simpleville Music, Inc. / 2007 Mighty Molecule Music. (ASCAP) admin by Music Services

To order "Overdressed," visit

Thursday, April 8, 2010

A Month of Sweetness

Last month I turned 35 years old.

I just had to pause for a minute and really look at that sentence. Wow. Just yesterday I was 18.

But that's not the point of this post. The point of this post is to brag on my wonderful, loving husband of nearly 12 years, Kevin Partridge. On March 1st, he declared that we would be celebrating my birthMONTH! It sounds really self-centered to say this, but I really enjoyed the month of March immensely.

There was much variety in the month-long celebration. On most of the days, I received a card from Kevin, and it often contained a word of the day that described me, and then he explained why he loved these things about me. Being very much a words person, I think I loved this the most. The cards will be bundled and kept for the rest of my life.

But the other stuff was quite fun, too! A couple of days I was given downloads of some of my favorite new music. One day I was given flowers. One day I got some Skechers Shape-Ups shoes, which have received lots of attention, even from total strangers. (To answer your questions--yes, I love them! Yes, they are comfortable. Yes, I can tell a difference. Yes, they do make a lot of promises. We'll see how well they're kept.) Other days included special outings--ice cream, Jim Henson exhibit, movie, dinner dates. Some days involved Kevin's doing some things around the house that I wanted to see done. Probably the most sacrificial gift was Kevin's commitment to watching one of my all-time favorite movies, Gone With the Wind. It helped that we took two nights to watch it.

The greatest of the birthmonth gifting were these:
  • Traveling up to Memphis to be with my Granddaddy on my actual birthday, which is also his actual birthday. When I was little, we spent many birthdays together, so Kevin's planning this was very sweet and memorable. While I was celebrating 35 years, Granddaddy was celebrating 85. It was good to spend time with him. The bonus of this trip was that we got to stay with some friends that I hadn't seen in many years, and it was a great time. (Thanks, Shackelfords!) We also got to eat lunch with my high school friend/college roommate and her husband, which is always a blast. (We must do this more often, Tiffiny and Richard!)
  • Having two parties--one with family and one with friends. My friends actually surprised me by just showing up at my house (Well, they were invited by Kevin.) with food and some sweet Guitar Hero skills. Both of my parties involved delicious chocolate goodness, which is imperative on my birthday.
  • Camping trip with my husband and children. I'm not all that outdoorsy, but I really enjoy these camping trips. It was pretty chilly this time, so we kept the fire going all day long. We still smell like smoke.
  • Dinner with Kevin by candlelight on our back porch, complete with steak, baked potatoes, and bread made from scratch by my husband. It was amazing! Then he made Bananas Foster for dessert, which was quite yummy.
  • An 11x14 print of my current favorite picture of Callie, Caleb, and Katie. It's just beautiful and really shows off their individual personalities.
  • A family photo shoot by one of my favorite photographers, Aaron Phillips! We had lots of pictures of the kids but not that many of all five of us, since either Mommy or Daddy is usually holding the camera. And Kevin and I had very few pictures of just the two of us, so Aaron took lots of those. I can't wait to see them!
I certainly don't expect a month-long celebration of me every year, but I absolutely savored the kindness and thoughtfulness that my husband put into this year's. I will never forget it. Thank you, love.

Saturday, April 3, 2010


I am full of good intentions. It's the follow-through that gets me. At the beginning of this Lenten season, my plan was to fast from my favorite social networking sites (which I did) and to replace that use of my time with focused periods of prayer and Scripture reading (which I only did a little). There are so many different forms of fasting, and it looks different for different people. During this particular season of fasting, I was more aware that unless I am also replacing the intentional deprivation with something more meaningful, then the point of it all is somewhat lost. If I fasted from food for a week, but the only thing I did was think about how hungry I was, then little was accomplished. But if I substituted those meal times with meditation and intently listening for God's voice, then something great was accomplished. I'm no theologian, but I don't really think that it's the shape or size of the sacrifice that matters as much as it is how it affects your heart.

The actual weekend of Easter is what seizes my heart the most. On Friday I think about the sacrifice that God made for us. Simply because He loves us. Isaiah 53 describes how Jesus was to be wounded, crushed, pierced, and scourged for us. I try to let these words and images sink into my soul as I consider what Christ did on that day. It's not just a story; it was very real. Jesus experienced excruciating pain and suffering on our behalf. He allowed Himself to be beaten and humiliated. The Bible tells us that through it all, He remained silent. He didn't stand up for Himself or give any explanation, though He's the only One in the history of the world who truly could have.  I think about how selfish and full of pride I am and how, if it had been me, I would have at least let everyone know that I was making this great sacrifice for them--that I was perfect and didn't deserve to die, but this is what it was going to take for you people to have eternal life! See how much I love you! See what I'm doing for you?!

Yep, there's an obvious difference.

Jesus was despised and rejected by the very people for whom He died. He didn't try to defend or even explain Himself. He allowed Himself to go through it, knowing full well that even His closest friends would deny knowing Him. And that for generations to come, there would be so very many people who would continue to reject Him and scorn His sacrifice. Others would accept His love and sacrifice but would take it lightly or as if He owed it to them. And yet--unlike me, who can't seem to follow through on the smallest of sacrifices--He followed through with the ultimate sacrifice, the giving of His very life.

I find myself maybe the most pensive on Saturday of this holy weekend. There is nothing written about this day in the Bible, and so I wonder how Jesus' friends spent their time on this day. Did they remember what Jesus said He was going to do . . . and did they believe it? Were they hiding out, afraid that they, too, would be killed? Did they simply wonder, "What next?" I imagine it was a very, very long day.

And then came Sunday. Certainly their fear turned into hope, which quickly turned into rejoicing! Jesus was alive! No, death had not conquered Him. And this is what made the eternal difference. It was not enough for Jesus to be killed, to take our punishment for us. He had to defeat death, not just experience it. And He did. The victory was and is and always will be HIS!!!

Praise our God for the miracle and majesty of Easter! May we never take it for granted. May our hearts never grow numb to His sacrifice. May we never feel entitled. And may our celebration be exuberant--not just today but EVERY day!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Book Review: BEAUTIFUL THINGS HAPPEN WHEN A WOMAN TRUSTS GOD soon as I started reading Sheila Walsh's newest book, Beautiful Things Happen When a Woman Trusts God, I began to identify with her. She is quite open and honest about her ongoing struggles with insecurity, lack of trust, and depression, and I appreciate her vulnerability to her readers. This book is filled with Walsh's personal stories, which she beautifully intertwines with stories of biblical characters' encounters with God.

While she doesn't claim to have achieved constant, unwavering trust in God, Walsh encourages us with the stories of how her faith has and continues to grow. She also speaks against the dangers of not opening yourself up to other people, because our lives are meant to be lived in community. Trying to live your life in isolation--even if that simply means being surrounded by people but still keeping your struggles and issues to yourself--is dangerous and unhealthy. We need others to encourage, support, and pray for us, just as we need to do the same for them. However, our ultimate faith should be placed in God Himself. He has proven Himself time and time again.

With a discussion guide and in-depth Bible study included in the back of the book, I feel that women's small groups would benefit from reading it together. By doing so, the participants will most likely feel encouraged and safe to share their own inner struggles, and some great conversations will come as a result. I would particularly recommend this book to women who struggle with anxiety and depression. It is a solid yet very tender story of faith.

To order this book, visit

*Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their Book Review Blogger program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Celebrate Easter! (New Outfits Accepted But Not Required)

Here is the link to my article on Easter in Parents & Kids magazine:


Here is the link to my column in the April edition of Parents & Kids magazine: