7 Everythings I Learned from My Mom

For this “7 Everythings I’ve Learned” post, I wanted to honor my momma for Mother’s Day and share what she has taught me through the years.   Everyone says that their mom is the best.  Well, that is not even a thing—there are no perfect mothers.  There are, however, some dang good ones, and I will argue that mine is one of them.


With my mother and my daughter.

I’ve been in public education for the past 12 years, and I’ve witnessed some down-right crappy parenting.  Every year I am more and more appreciative of how my mom raised me.  A decade ago, I became a mother myself and realized how challenging this thing called mothering actually is; that has deepened my appreciation for my mom.  As a parent, I have consciously attempted to mirror the positive experiences and lessons I had with my mother with my own children.  

When thinking of what all she has taught me, it was extremely difficult to narrow this down to only seven areas, but I guess that leaves me with more material for the future {wink}.  Here are the 7 everythings I’ve learned from my momma and what I strive teach my own kids.

  1. Talk Openly with Your Kids
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Circa 1989.

My mom talked to me about all the tough topics: sex, drugs, rock + roll . . . {okay, not so much the latter}.  Studies show that children whose parents talk to them regularly about these uncomfortable topics are more likely to make better decisions in life.  My 13-year-old-self may have rather had math homework every night for the rest of my life instead of enduring these awkward conversations, but seeing that I was mildly rebellious in both high school and even college . . . it must have paid off.

She also didn’t just tell me not to engage in certain activities; she explained WHY I shouldn’t.

There’s a huge difference.

In addition to discussing these topics.  My mom simply talked to me.

A lot.

There are still times I call her up and we have a two-hour conversation.  I know she is a safe person to vent to, to gain advice from, and to bounce ideas off of.  That has been invaluable to me.

2. Do Something Nice for Yourself

Being a mom is exhausting and requires copious amounts of sacrifices.  I am incredibly frugal, so it is difficult for me to splurge or to pay for something I can do myself. Sometimes, you just need to take a break and pamper yourself before you go stark raving mad.  So, every once in awhile, hire a cleaning lady, have pizza delivered, or get a massage.

Oh, and for heaven’s sake, never highlight your hair with a store-bought kit.  Pay good money to go to a professional at a salon.  {I may, or may not, have been traumatized by such an attempt when in the 8th grade . . . }.

3. Go Above and Beyond for Your Kids


With my mom after I graduated with my master’s degree.

First, let me be clear that I think it’s important for moms to have their own life and identity other than just “mom.”  With that said, for the first 18 years of your child’s life, a large part of your life should be focused to them.  Each child should have at least one person in their life who is dedicated to their well being, who loves them something fierce, and who constantly makes them feel important.  If you have a child, that person should be YOU.  If it’s not, they will most likely seek love and attention from the wrong people and places.

My mom never missed a sporting event or a parent-teacher conference.  She was always a working mom so that my parents could afford to send me to college.  She helped me study and sought out resources when I struggled as a student.  She made a point to know my friends and my friends’ parents so she knew who was involved in my life.  

Having a parent who went above and beyond gave me a deep sense of self-worth, and it greatly enriched my upbringing.

4. Choose Your Friends Wisely

Jim Rohn said, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with,” and if there is one piece of advice that I continually remember my mom giving me, it was that I needed to choose my friends wisely.

Are your friends kind?  Are they bullies?  Do they have strong morals?  Are they loyal?  Are they going to peer-pressure you?  Can they keep a secret?  Are they going to challenge you to be a better person?  Are they catty?  

These questions were always on my mind.  When I was in high school, some of my friends started making not-so-awesome choices.  Because she had instilled this advice in me, I knew I needed to start distancing myself—and I did.  My life was better because of it.  As an adult, the above questions became second nature as I started meeting new people from college and work.  I can say that I for sure have some life-long friends who have been wisely chosen.

Oh, and one of the most important questions to ask when choosing a friend: Are they fun?

My mom has the greatest friends {one of whom has become my mother-in-law}. She and her girlfriends from high school still keep in touch almost 45 years later.  She also still has slumber parties and most of her friends are in their 60s or 70s.  

Now, that’s fun.


My mom {front, center} with her friends in high school. Circa 1971.

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My mom with her high school friends over 40 years later.

5. Live the Example

“Do as I say, not as I do” is one of the worst parental philosophies.  


Rachel Cruz coined the phrase that more is caught than taught.  My mom raised me to have strong morals and to live a Christian lifestyle.  She also lived it out herself.  Many-a-mornings I have walked in on her while she was praying or doing devotions.  She has been faithfully married for over 40  years.  She has helped those in need.  I’ve never witnessed her cheat, steal, or lie.  I’ve never seen her drunk.  I’ve never heard her tell someone off. In fact, I’ve never even heard her cuss.  

Well, maybe I did hear her once.

Okay.  Twice.  

She is by no means perfect, but she knew the kind of character she wanted me to have, which was set pretty high.  She lived the life herself by example and taught me through my observations.

6. Let Your Kids Spread Their Wings

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Momma and me.

I am my mother’s only child, so she was always overly protective of me; however, she never held me back from being my own person or crippled my ambitions.  I ended up going to a college that was two hours away.  That may not seem very far, but I know it was difficult on her.  She never asked me to change my mind and attend a closer university for her sake; she let me go.  

When I turned 20, I had one of those “Oh-My-Goodness-I-Don’t-Even-Know-Who-I-Am-I-Need-to-Find-Myself” moments.  I decided to live in Texas with a friend for the entire summer of 2002 to get away from everything.  I drove the whole 15 hours by myself from Ohio to the Longhorn State for the three-month adventure. The next year my mom encouraged me to pursue student teaching assignments on a Navajo Reservation in Chinle, AZ and later an inner-city school in Charleston, SC. Then I was gone for good when I married and moved 700 miles away from home.

All of these experiences were vital in shaping my independence. While I’m sure many of these decisions of mine scared the crud out of her, she sat back as I spread my wings.  

And without my wings, I would have never been able to fly.

7) Grammar is Important

Since I can remember, my mom has corrected my grammar for fear that one day I would grow up to sound like an imbecile and shame the family.  All the nagging paid off since I now make a living off of having proper grammar {AKA – English teacher}.



Thank you for your wisdom and love.  I owe so much of who I am to you, and I hope to raise my kids as well as you raised me.   Happy Mother’s Day.


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7 Everythings I’ve Learned from a Traumatic Event

Happy Valentine’s Day!  On this day I wanted to share a story from one of the most inspirational young couples I’ve ever met.


Cameron and Bailey before the accident

Meet Cameron and Bailey.

Even though I’ve known Cameron’s mom for several years, and have known of Cameron, I didn’t meet this engaged couple until this past summer when we started attending the same Sunday School class at church.  They were instantly intriguing to me, and I knew I’d want to know more about their story.

Cameron was in a life-threatening car accident a little over a year ago in which he lost his left arm {along with many other injuries that Bailey will explain below}.  He fought for his life for many months in the hospital afterwards.

What I adore about this couple is how they’ve allowed God to take this hellish event to transform their entire lives with such maturity.  As soon as he was healthy enough, Cameron and Bailey started attending church on the regular.  Instead of sitting around feeling sorry for himself, Cameron has decided to give back to his community and is a contributing member of the community.  For example, he helps adults and children with workouts four nights a week, and he regularly volunteers with the kids at our church.

It also seems to me that God specifically hand-picked Bailey just for Cameron. I find it fascinating that she has worked with amputees and knew exactly how to help him adjust {coincidence? um. no.} She has been faithful to her commitment to him through this entire situation {talk about “for better or for worse”}.  While many would be scared to face such a tragic event, Bailey has embraced it.  I asked her one time if she ever felt insecure about Cameron’s physical condition after the accident, and she immediately said, “Absolutely not!”

Even though she is about a decade younger than me, she exudes wisdom, I knew I had to have them share their story for my 7 Everythings I’ve Learned series.  This one is specifically from Bailey and what she has learned through this traumatic event.



My name is Bailey and I am 23 years old. I have a wonderful fiancé whom I’ve been dating for eight years, and eventually I will become Mrs. Cameron Renfro. People used to give me a questioning look when I told them the fun fact that I’ve dated someone for that long and I’m only 23 years old; now I often see a jaw drop when I tell them my fiancé was in a terrible car accident with multiple traumatic injuries, and now lives as an amputee . . . that word still doesn’t roll off the tongue, but I’m not sure it ever will. Then again, at one point in my life prayers didn’t “roll off the tongue” either, and now they come easily.


Cameron’s car after the wreck

Just over a year ago Cameron was in a car accident and suffered multiple life threatening injuries. The doctors told us he had a 10% chance of survival and then followed with not expecting him to “make it.” His life was saved at Stormont-Vail Hospital where the first of his miracles were performed. His liver had been severed, he lost his left arm at the scene, broke his femur, hip, and several facial bones. Stormont-Vail stopped the bleeding in his liver which initially saved his life. God placed several amazing surgeons and nurses in the right place at the right time, and we are forever grateful. They were able to get him stable enough to fly to KU Medical where he spent 30 days in the ICU—followed by a month on different floors of the hospital and inpatient rehab before returning home 64 days later. Once home we continued to travel to Kansas City three times a week for outpatient therapy until April, at which point he continued therapy closer to home.

So where are we today? Cam is healthy and well and working his tail off to make the most of the life God has gifted him. If you haven’t been through a totally life changing event that flipped you upside down and sideways—changing everything you know about life, I am so happy for you. If you have, I hope you have learned from that experience and been able to grow from it. I pray that when hardship hits, you find the energy to look for the positives, strength to carry on, and your love for God, your family, and friends grows tremendously.

When Courtney asked me to write about “7 Everything’s I’ve Learned” I started making a list. And that is what is wonderful about all of this—I have learned SO MUCH through this experience that I actually have to narrow it down. I want you to know this is from my perspective, and what I have learned is from my own two eyes, heart, and soul. I’m not saying Cam wouldn’t feel the same way I do, but I have a feeling his blog entry would be a tad different 😉

Now I’m going to seem a little contradictory here, but that’s because it’s not a smooth journey. Learning life lessons and learning about yourself are very difficult things to do. You don’t see the process while it’s ongoing. You only see the current hardship, the obstacles, the world turning its back against you, flipping and spinning you round and round . . . until it stops and you can breathe for a second before the next whirlwind of events. But it’s rounds 3, 4, 9, 10, 20 that you realize you learned something. After a while you are able to look back at where you were and recognize your growth. You develop a new understanding of obstacles, challenges, and adversity and know that in the end, you will survive.

And with that lengthy yet vague introduction I would like to share with you the 7 {most important} Everything’s I have learned.

1. Breaking down actually builds you back up. At the time you feel the weakest, like you can’t hold onto your emotions any longer or you will explode – do! Let it go. Ugly cry, smear your make-up, let your nose run, and let it all out. Also, I suggest you pray. Talk to God and get whatever you need off your chest. You will feel incredibly relieved once this moment has past. The tears will eventually stop, make-up wipes off, and when you are somewhat presentable to the world again, you will most likely feel a huge weight lifted off your shoulders. The hard part is that it takes a while to get to this point – days, weeks, maybe even months. But once you let go without holding back, it’s like it all washes away.

2. You are stronger than you know. It’s true. You see other people go through all kinds of experiences and wonder how they do it. When it’s your turn, you probably won’t see it in yourself, but odds are someone is admiring how you are handling the situation. Strength is a funny concept; there are so many ways to be strong and everyone is in their own unique way.

3. There is no room for “what if’s.” When going through the loops and swoops and chaos of life, don’t get caught up in these questions:  “What if ____ had happened?” “What if I had done_____ instead?” When things get scary and you don’t know what is going on, turn to God, but try not to ask such questions. It can tear you apart. God has a plan for everything and while we might not understand or even agree with it, you cannot change what has happened in the past. You can hope to influence the future in one way or another, you have a choice of how to deal with your cards, but there is no answer to the question, “what if?” While that might seem frustrating, just trust in God and know He will take care of you because that is really all you can do about the past.

4. Plant your own green grass. Making the best of a situation doesn’t come easily. Complaining does. But how far does that get you? You cannot compare your life experience to others’, or be resentful of what they have NOT had to deal with. That kind of attitude gets you nowhere. Some people would love to have your green grass, so take care of it, love it, and grow with it.


Bailey with Cameron during physical therapy after the accident.


5. The bad days are going to happen. It’s all a part of the healing process. Being as strong as a superhero is hard to do 100% of the time and that is okay. Bad days are going to drag on, things might get worse before they get better, and occasionally your attitude makes you compatible to a walking grenade that could explode at any second. Unfortunately, stress creates more of these days than we would like, but they make you appreciate the good days . . . and how much better a good attitude feels than a bad one. Go to bed at night, say your prayers, and get ready for a better day ahead.

6. Tragedy only lasts as long as you allow it. I am not saying the heartbreaks will stop completely or as long as you have a positive attitude things will go your way. But I am saying that when reflecting there is ALWAYS something to be thankful for. I never would have guessed the positives that would follow our “tragedy,” but once I look for them, I lose count of all the blessings we’ve received.


Embracing the change

7. Prayer works. I saved the best for last. I mentioned earlier that I haven’t always prayed a lot, and I still don’t pray as often as I should, but what I have learned is that prayer works. God heals in many ways, and when it feels like there is no hope left, pray about it. There is always hope. God is always there for you when it feels no one else understands. He listens, He forgives, He answers, and He is always present. A woman we met when Cam was at KU Med said over and over again, “The more prayers that go up, the more blessings come down,” and that is one of my very favorite sayings. I have witnessed and received physical, emotional, and spiritual healing – sometimes all in one day. I am very thankful that I have had the opportunity to witness the power of prayer, and I am excited to keep learning more about it.


You might be able to gather that our journey has been a long one; but I also hope you recognize the positive tone that goes along with it. These were not easy lessons to learn, but I am thankful that I have. A positive mindset, support of loved ones, and trusting in God will get you through anything . . . and that now means everything to me.


Our culture is obsessed with “love,” but what is depicted in various forms of media is based on warm fuzzies and lust.  True love stands firm when the storms of adversity try to knock you down.  I hope on this Valentine’s Day that you can see what love should look like through Cameron and Bailey and her life lessons will be of encouragement to you no matter what you’re going through.


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7 Everythings I Learned from Participating in Judgment House

Low quality picture, high quality person.  My friend Ari.

Low quality picture, high quality person. My friend Ari.

My friend Ari {isn’t she super cute?} is the author of this guest post for 7 Everythings I’ve Learned.  

Ari and I attend the same church.  I actually knew her mom for several years before I ever met Ari herself.  The first time we were introduced was when she came to a speaking engagement of mine about three years ago.  After that, we have become friends and discovered many similarities between us, including:

  • We were both raised Nazarene
  • We are both passionate about writing
  • Both our husbands are significantly older than us
  • We are both stepmoms to {now} adult stepdaughters
  • We are both a little sassy
  • We are both avid runners {HA! Yeah right.  Only Ari does that}. 

Our church, Wanamaker Woods Church of the Nazarene {also known as The Woods at Wanamaker}, is going into their 18th year participating in a community outreach ministry called “Judgment House.” It is a live theatrical production depicting the opportunity for salvation, set in present day and honing in on current issues that plague our youth.  It is tradition for “Judgment House” to be performed during the Halloween season in order to provide alternative entertainment to the haunted houses.

Ari has been involved in Judgment House for most of those 18 years, and this year she has a major leadership role. In fact, she actually wrote the entire script.  Whoa.  This is such a unique production that not only changes the lives of the audience, but its own performers.  I asked her if she would be willing to share the 7 Everythings she has learned from participating in Judgment House after all these years. 

If you are in the Topeka area, we would love to see you there.  Details about performances are at the bottom of this post if interested. 

Here’s Ari:

For Judgment House this year, we have adopted the motto “Only He will judge me” because that is the ultimate truth. The purpose of “Judgment House” is not to project personal judgment onto others—that right only belongs to God. Rather, our purpose is to bring awareness about the afterlife and offer hope to the hurting and lost.

 In year’s past we have purchased the script written by the staff at the home office for “Judgment House,” but this year our pastor, L.D. Holmes, felt called for us to write an original script. Our ministry focus for 2015 is cutting, also know as self-harm. Our church congregation bands together from Children’s and Youth Ministries, to pastoral staff, to prayer teams, in order to reach the hurting and lost souls in the Topeka and surrounding communities. The following are “7 Everythings” God is teaching me, our cast, and our crew through our participation in this extraordinary ministry.

1. Nothing Will Go as Planned

Although many things were done differently this year we are still scheduling a last minute rehearsal, completing sets two days before production, and crossing every finger, toe, and eyeball that the cast will have their lines down come opening night. That being said, I have watched the Holy Spirit weave throughout our preparation in what I can only describe as beautiful chaos. If my type-A self could learn to relinquish control to God in other areas of my life the way He is teaching me in this ministry, I can only imagine what He could do. {Actually, I can’t imagine it . . . but that’s kind of the point}.

2. It is a Great Social Equalizer

Our team members vary in age, ethnicity, school districts, social stature and personal interests. Some of us have been members of our church for only a few months, and then there are others who have been attending WWCN since they were in diapers. We are an amusing melting pot of disciples working together with a common goal and my cup overflows.

3. No One is a Lost Cause

We have recovered addicts depicting Jesus and the scarred arm of a woman reborn in Christ splayed across the posters promoting this year’s production. Our team members are living testimonies of the miracle Jesus can work in anyone’s life who is willing to accept Him as Savior.

4. It Will Get Uncomfortable

Did you get a little fidgety reading that last one? It’s okay if you did; you would be in the majority. Society not only encourages, they sometimes indignantly demand that we keep our shameful secrets carefully tucked away and refrain from openly speaking about our faith to avoid making others uncomfortable. The members of our team are willing to take that risk to bring a message of hope.

5. Satan Will Get Angry

Nothing ticks off the Devil more than shedding light on the lies he has fed us about our worth in this world. His number one goal is to separate you from God’s love by any means necessary. When you’ve got recovered addicts and self-harm victims speaking out about their healing, and proclaiming that others may have it too, the names of lost souls are dropping like flies off his list. He will fight back, but we have warriors lifting our ministry up in fervent prayer everyday. Satan can throw all the temper tantrums he wants; we will not back down and we will not be afraid.

6. A LOT of Duct Tape Will Be Used

I mean A LOT. I have never seen someone burn through 60 yards of duct tape in a matter of two hours, but apparently it is humanly possible. That’s what it takes to bring a ministry like this together. It requires a willingness on the type-A director’s part to accept a set whose structure is supported by 80% duct tape, 10% staples, and 10% blind faith. In reality, it takes 100% blind faith in a God who has worked miracles far greater than structurally sound duct tape contraptions. If I was forced to choose between this and unlimited resources to hire a professional construction crew, my God would have the winning bid every time.

7. Lives Will be Changed.

Lives have already been changed. Perhaps the cast and crew don’t realize it yet, but when they agreed to participate they took a step forward in their faith walk. Their path shifted, even if only slightly, to move them a little closer to Jesus. He said “Follow me,” and they said, “Okay!” The changes don’t stop there. Every person who makes the decision to attend will have their lives touched in some way; whether it’s to bring awareness, give them a new perspective, or completely flip their world upside down. I cannot describe the sense of blessing and humility I feel about God choosing me to be a part of it, and I cannot WAIT to see His hand work in these lives.

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Performance dates and times are: October 14, 17, 18, 21, 24, 25, 28, and 30. 6 – 9 p.m. on Wednesdays and Sundays, 6 – 10 p.m. on Saturdays. For questions or reservations call (785) 220-8885

In addition to the performances, we offer a plethora of delectable concession stand treats to enjoy before and after the productions. New to the list of menu items are cake pops from Bondbons! Also new this year, we will be offering mobile laser tag by Laser Trooper to those who have purchased a ticket for the show.

7 Everythings I’ve Learned When I Finally Got What I Wanted

theYou guys.  I’m super excited about my first guest post.  I couldn’t think of a better person to write it than:  

<– Holly. 

Holly is seriously the sweetest person you could ever encounter, and I am lucky to call her one of my best friends. She has also become one of my favorite writers.   You can check her out at Cartwheels Down the Hall.  She’s hilarious, and I’m pretty sure we could create an entire book from out text messages and Facebook posts that would have you rolling.on.the.floor.laughing. {Wait . . . file that under “First Book Idea”}

Holls and I met in college our freshmen year and ended up being inseparable.  We now live nearly 700 miles apart, but make a point to see each other at least every summer. The two of us have a special friendship where we can talk about all the everythings and all the nothings—which usually take place during sporadic phone conversations that last an hour . . . or two.  

Over the past several years, she chose to let me in to a dark period of her life when her heart crumble as she and her husband struggled to get pregnant.  One of the worst feelings in the world is having your BFF cry on your shoulder and there is nothing you can do to fix the problem—just listen.  {Let it be noted though that I did offer to be a surrogate for that baby!}.

Finally the day came when I received a special call—the call where she told me she was “with child.” {I really like that phrase}.  

She got what she wanted after all these years.  And that is exactly what she chose to write about for this segment of “7 Everythings I’ve Learned.”  



 When Courtney approached me about writing a guest post, I was thrilled with the theme. I tossed around all kinds of ideas, but every one pertained to something I felt like I’d already “survived.”  The call to write about a more current “life topic” was strong.
     My husband and I tried for exactly two years to conceive our first child. (As I write this, I’m feeling all kinds of flips and flops in my tummy as I’m currently 29 weeks pregnant.  Yippee)!
     Struggling to conceive was hard, guys.  I need another word for “hard.”  Awful?  Traumatic?  We are fortunate in that we didn’t have to go through any complicated treatments or the expense and heartbreak of failed medical procedures.  One day, the plus sign just showed up.  Hallelujah.  I could write an entire post on that topic, alone (and almost did).
     Maybe you are waiting on a baby, too.  Maybe you are on the hunt for a new house or working towards a new promotion.  The list of new life events we wait for is endless, so here’s a list of things you may find helpful when the wait is finally over.
When you get what you want, remember this…
1. It will not fix “all the everythings.”  (Thank you, Courtney, for that sweet, new catchphrase)!  Your dog will still pee on the floor.  Your husband will still put un-rinsed chocolate milk glasses in the sink.  Ain’t enough lotto-winnings or job promotions in the world to fix all that mess.  Do not be disappointed.
2.  It will fix things you didn’t even know were broken. While we were in the trenches of trying to conceive, I was doing a lot of “crying in the car.”  For me, that is always a red flag.  A sign that something needs to be “fixed.”  In short, I think I was really, really struggling with my emotions.  Depression.  Jealousy.  Blinding rage. You know the drill. I remember crying to my husband and saying, “I don’t want to “just get pregnant”…I want to FIX this.”  And he looked me in the eye and said,
“Baby.  Getting pregnant IS going to fix this.”
And that was a hard truth, but one I needed to hear.
     In some ways, my sweet husband was right.  This pregnancy “fixed” many, many emotional issues.  It has brought about a lot of healing, especially in my marriage. Imagine my relief to find that “getting what I wanted” made all these sweet life experiences that much sweeter and filled holes in my heart I didn’t even know existed.
3. Your “want” will likely bring about change, new obstacles, and also a truckload of chaos.   Perhaps number 3 needs no explanation.  Celebrate, and hold on tight.
4. It might not always “feel” right.  And now, it’s time for my favorite John Steinbeck quote.   “And don’t worry about losing. If it is right, it happens—The main thing is not to hurry. Nothing good gets away.”  
Don’t panic if, after you’ve reached your goal, you’re still feeling unsettled.  It doesn’t mean your new position in life isn’t “right.”  It just means that Numbers 1 and 3 hold true.  Don’t give up.  
5. People will be really, really good and also really, really weird.  Humans are strange animals.  Chances are, the people you encounter are going to want to talk to you about your outstanding, new accomplishment.
How was graduation? 
When do you close on your house? 
Do you like your new co-workers?
People will come out of the woodwork to love and serve you well.  It’s fantastic.  Really.
And then come the weirdos.  I had two people publicly ask me if my pregnancy was planned. That calls for an enthusiastic “yes”…but why even ask such a personal question in a room full of people?  It was awkward!
Be prepared to have a few odd encounters as you share your news.
How much was your raise?  
Is your boss single?  
Has anyone ever died in your new house?  
Try to approach these situations with as much humility and grace as possible.
6. Don’t get distracted by the question, “Why?”  
Why did it take so long for me to find a spouse?  
Why didn’t we get the first house we made an offer on?  
Why was I overlooked for the promotion the first time?  
You  might find out the answer in the near future…or you might not ever know. Try not to let the mystery that is “the past” distract you from the joy you’re surely experiencing now!
7. I hate to spoil the ending for you, but everything is going to be ok.
If you’re dealing with a nasty case of “Number 4,” again, don’t panic.  Maybe your new boss is being standoffish.  Maybe there’s more traffic in your new neighborhood than you initially realized.  There are a million different reasons to be nervous or disappointed when change comes about.  Stay the course.  
The best advice I ever received came from my sister (via Dr. Phil, haha).  
“Always play the ‘what if’ game until the end.” 
What if…
I’m unhappy at my new job?  Be professional.  Give it a chance, but keep in mind, you can always find another one!  
We didn’t choose the right neighborhood? Live with it for a while.  If you’re still unhappy, move on to greener pastures.   
Are you currently in the waiting season, or have you seen your way out of it?  What did you learn?  We wanna hear all about it!  
I wish you the best of luck in all your new endeavors.   
Love and nothing good gets away, 

Seven Everythings I’ve Learned from My Dad

Eating ice cream. Circa 1984.

Eating ice cream with my dad. Circa 1984.

I’m starting a series called “Seven Everythings I’ve Learned.”  Here I’ll feature seven “everythings” {because . . . blog name}  I’ve learned from various people and experiences.  I’ll also feature guests posts from people I find intriguing.   I figured since Father’s Day is today, it was only fitting for my first post in this category to be what I’ve learned from my dad.

I don’t remember my father ever sitting me down and saying, “Courtney, when you grow up, you need to do X, Y, and Z.”  Rachel Cruze teaches when it comes to parenting, “more is caught than taught,” and that is exactly how it’s been with Papa Jack.  He never had to sit me down and have such talks—he was teaching me by my observations.

1. Live Below Your Means

Daddy/Daughter dance at my wedding.

Daddy/Daughter dance at my wedding . . . that he paid for.

My dad is cheap frugal.  Every trip to the grocery store results in him asking for rain checks on discounted sold out items.  He will politely argue with cashier if he was shorted even a penny.   And I was mortified whenever he would make me scalp tickets at KU basketball games so we could get better seats on the cheap.   We never drove new cars, rarely went on vacations (other than visiting family), and the only beverage I was allowed to order at a restaurant was water.

But because my dad was a penny pincher, he was able to pay for my college and my wedding.  He has freedom to be incredibly generous.  He could buy more expensive items if he wanted, and he’d pay cash instead of going into debt. His frugal ways have definitely rubbed off on me as I now see myself putting his tightwad techniques into practice; they pay off in the long run.

2. Work Hard

My pops has always worked, and he’s worked hard.  When I was younger, he had numerous paper routes to put himself through college.   After an MBA, he became a business man and the head of the purchasing department at his job.   I worked in the factory at his business to make extra money in college.  I’ll never forget when an employee pulled me aside one day and said, “You know, if your father ever left this company, it would completely fall to pieces.”  I swelled up with pride at this comment—that was my daddy he was talking about.  His work had become invaluable, and when your work becomes invaluable, you gain purpose and security for you and your family.

Like father, like daughter.  At my graduation for my master's.

Like father, like daughter. At my graduation for my master’s.

3. Education is Important

I was expected to do well in school and go to college.  I wasn’t even allowed to take an easy load my senior year of high school. Before I turned in my proposed schedule, my dad made me switch everything around to take all the harder classes, dang it! Because of his high expectations, I went on to get my bachelor’s, and one of my proudest moments in life was finally being on par with my pops in degrees by attaining a master’s.  Education has stamped out the ignorance in my life and heavily molded me into the person I am today.

It wasn’t just formal education my father emphasized—it was a love for learning.  Before Google, my dad had “The Red Dictionary”–a tattered old thing that seemed to always be within arm’s reach of him.  Whenever we were uncertain about anything, we’d consult said lexicon.   Even though I am now a teacher by profession, my dad has taught me to forever be a student.

4.  Be Cool

If you surveyed 100 people who know my dad well and asked them to describe Jack in just one word, I’d bet “cool” would be used more than any other.  He’s seriously just a cool guy and I’ve never met a soul who doesn’t like him.   So . . . Be Cool = People Like You.

5. Quality Time Matters

Catching a Boston Red Sox game in Boston

Catching a Red Sox game together in Boston

Some of my favorite memories with my dad are taking road trips, attending ball games, and playing euchre.  Now that he has grandchildren, he makes it a point to spend quality time with them, too. I guarantee those memories will be more significant to them than any gift they ever receive.

6. Invest in Others

My dad was a part of a bus ministry back in the 1970s where he picked up kids for church. Through this ministry he was able to build relationships with numerous boys and become a fatherly figure.  Over the years he’d hire them to deliver newspapers, took them to Royals games, and mentored them spiritually.   He still has a close relationship with many of them, and one in particular says he wouldn’t be the man he is today if it weren’t specifically for my dad in his life. Watching this as an adolescent majorly influenced my decision to become a teacher, a teen leader at my church, and a volunteer.

7. Eat Ice Cream


Passing on the art of eating ice cream to my kids.

I’m pretty sure there is a direct correlation between ice cream and happiness.  If my dad is visiting, you can bet there will be ice cream in our fridge.  He may even splurge and we’ll go out for some.  You don’t want to live a life full of regrets—a life without ice cream is sure to be regretful.

And . . . Mmmmmmm.  Ice cream sounds #sogood right now.  I think I’m gonna stop typing and fill a bowl.

I love you, Dad.   Thanks for the lessons.

Happy Father’s Day.


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