on motherhood and finally “getting it”.

Beth is a sweet friend and mentor of mine whom, surprisingly, I’ve actually never met in person. At this point it’s hard to imagine that’s actually true, based on our email exchanges. I swear, sometimes it’s like I’ve known her my whole life. (Maybe that’s because I’m besties with her brother? Does that relationship transcend? Orrrrr am I a big creeper? I’m probably a big creeper.)

Yesterday, she sent me an email asking for prayer on sending one of her beautiful daughters away (like, far away) to college. She detailed her feelings in a blog post and a link to it was included in her email.

So I read it. And I cried a little bit. And I wrote her an email in response.

She told me I should put my response on this blog. I was hesitant to because, well, no one likes to feel vulnerable. And my reply to her makes me feel very vulnerable. But. I trust her, so I’m going to, after omitting a couple super personal details. (Plus I think it might make my mom, who reads every blog I write, cry happy tears and that’s always a plus, right?)

Read her beautiful and honest post here.

This post brought me to tears. Yes, because it was beautifully written, but also because for the first time in my life EVER I could kind of (kind of!!!) understand where the hell you and my mother are and were coming from all those years ago.

When I left home and went off to college, my mom wanted me to stay in my hometown and just go to college there, but I was so bitter about that place and all the people in it (“angsty” teenager doesn’t even scratch the surface) that I literally applied for all the colleges in Florida that were at least an hour away. I got into the University of Central Florida (a 40 minute drive down I-4 in Orlando) immediately, and I considered it my “back up” school, but even though it was a good school, it was “too close.” I anxiously awaited to hear from Florida State because, yes, it has a kickin’ communication/fine arts program but also, because it was in Tallahassee, a four hour drive away from everything I knew. As if that wasn’t far enough, I had to go and spend over a year abroad over the course of two summers and a semester.

The plan was once I graduated that I would move back in with my mom and apply for jobs in journalism all over the country until someone hired me. But, I met Dan, so I stayed in Tallahassee and got a job here. I graduated four years ago next month (WHAT THAT CAN’T BE RIGHT) and almost every single time I go down to visit my mom, she cries when I leave.

Up until reading your post, I didn’t really know why. Yes, I’m her baby and yes, she is alone. But. I have always been pretty independent. (For instance, when she dropped me off at the church nursery for the first time at 2 years old, I pointed at the door and said, “Mommy, GO.” I was also the only kid in kindergarten who walked herself to class. I’ll never forget that first day of school — me, quietly sitting alone at a table with my hands folded, awash in a sea of kids and their parents both sobbing their faces off. I never understood it. “It’s just school. What’s the big deal?”)

“It’s just college, Mom. What’s the big deal?”
“I’m just moving to London for a little while, Mom. What’s the big deal?”
“It’s just marriage, Mom. What’s the big deal?”
“It’s just knee surgery, Mom. What’s the big deal?”
“It’s just a baby, Mom. What’s the big deal?”

But I realize now, that it was never about “the thing”. It was never about college or marriage or moving abroad. It was about me “not needing” my mother.

At this point in time, my son NEEDS ME. There is no way around that. Without me, he literally cannot survive. (Though, in two weeks, he could theoretically be born and still survive but that thought just freaking terrifies me.) Reading your post and realizing that one day, he really won’t need me, was kind of heartbreaking.

But in the good way.

Because I know that no matter what happens, I’ll always be his mommy. And you’ll always be Sarah’s mommy. And yes, she may pull a Lindsay and stay in Savannah way longer than she previously anticipated. But she may not. But no matter what she does, she’s going to be out in the world being a conduit of your love and grace and support through all these years and, more importantly, a conduit of Christ’s love.

See, no matter where she goes, she always takes you with her — in her demeanor, in her words, in her creativity, in her affections, in her emotions, in her struggles. Because when people see Sarah, they see the girl that Beth raised. They see Beth’s Daughter.

Just like when people see me they see Chari’s Daughter. Which, yes, at some times, is super embarrassing. (The way we both talk about cats as if they’re people, for example.) At some times it can be really irritating. (The way we both nitpick people’s grammar and spelling. I can’t tell you how many emails I’ve gotten from my mom picking apart my blog.) But sometimes, it is amazing. Like the way we can both sit at a piano all day until our butts are in pain and flattened against the bench. The way we both harmonize with songs on the radio out of habit. The way we both cry at injustice. The way we both want everyone to be happy. The way she raised me without males around the house and we still worked our asses off to make a difference. The way we minister to people.

And so forth.

I am praying for you and Sarah today. Not just that everything goes well, but that God’s grace and love washes over you. And as you send yet another baby into the big scary world of adulthood, on her own, “not needing” you, remember that God did that for you and Sarah with His only baby boy. And His plan, albeit painful, is sovereign and holy and He is still in control, all those years later. He’s holding you and Sarah right now and you are both safe.

Love love love.

Mom, if you’re reading this (and I know you are) know that I’ve never not needed you. Even when it looked like I didn’t need you, I did. Because after I pointed to the door and told you to GO, you came back and took me home and fed me. Because after you dropped me off at the front of the school and let me walk to kindergarten all by myself, you picked me up and asked me what I learned. Because after my dad left, you started your own childcare business to support me on your own. Because you let me sleep on the floor in the living room in front of the TV because those circumstances were the only ones that would allow me to fall asleep. Because you bought me a bike right after my new bike was stolen. Because you gave me your favorite car when my junker blew up. Because when I couldn’t (literally couldn’t) finish my homework in high school because I was working two jobs and in five clubs, you stepped in. Because when I said I couldn’t you said I could. Because when I said I wasn’t beautiful or worth it, you said I was. Because when my bridesmaids were up to their faces in problems the day before my wedding, you held my hand and told me it would be okay as long as I was marrying Dan.

You are my only mommy (my only PARENT, to boot) and I will never not need you. Not ever.

I love you so much,

Your Daughter

things i love thursday! (march 22, 2012)

Happy Hunger Games (Thursday!) May the odds be ever in your favor!

I’m so psyched about this premiere, you guys. You don’t even know. But the rest of this week was pretty baller, too. So let’s get to my list of gratitude!


  • Hang outs at the Nystrom/Hughes house with the bestie, her boyfriend, Josh, and Shelby. (Oh, and lots of animals. I even got a cat in my lap!)
  • Birthday Cake Oreos. Oh. Em. Geeeee.
  • Double date with Zack and Sammie.
  • “Look! I drew you a picture of a space robot on a pirate ship!” WHAT. BEST. PICTURE. EVER.
  • Chomper!
  • Pizza and pepsi. Dinner of champions.
  • Finally getting to see “Captain America”.
  • Mango key lime pie. WHAT HOW IS THIS EVEN. Publix you never cease to amaze me.
  • Spending the whole day with Nikki and Chris!
  • O’douls Amber.
  • Seeing my poor husband get hugged by a crazed homeless person for knowing the true meaning of St. Patrick’s Day.
  • MY HUSBAND KNOWS THE TRUE MEANING OF ST. PATRICK’S DAY. He also knows everything else, btw.
  • Having impromptu spiritual conversations with said husband who knows everything.
  • Filming the commercial for 80s Prom. Oh goodness, wait till you see that bad boy…
  • Falcons. And talons.
  • Spending Sunday with my friends.
  • Seeing Lisa and Drew tie the knot! COOL! Yay marriage!
  • Also, yay for bike-related wedding puns. (“We’re WHEELY glad you’re here!” I DIE.)
  • Walking up to Kylin and hearing her go, “Oh, hi Wis-see.” OH. HI KYLIN you dang adorable girl you.
  • Getting to snuggle her and make her laugh so hard I thought she might pee on me. (I wouldn’t care, btw. I bet she pees rainbows.)
  • Going on a (very expensive) date with my husband to celebrate being together for four years! Wow. Has it really been that long? Or that short?
  • Taking pictures in a photobooth for the first time with my husband!
  • “MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000”! I forgot how much that show cracks me up!
  • Impromptu hangouts with Lori (even if it did come with a way-too-expensive dinner).
  • THE FIRST DAY OF SPRING! Hallelujah! Sayonara, WINTER! You jerk! (Okay, not that I have anything to complain about because we didn’t really have a winter.)
  • Bubble baths.
  • Rereading The Hunger Games in preparation for tonight’s midnight showing! EEEEP!
  • Awesome Facebook messages. (FYI I HAVE read them, Sandie and Sarah, I just don’t have time to respond. I will soon, though. Promise!)
  • Awesome people.
  • Babies.
  • My kid kicking the heck out of me but calming down once Daddy puts his hand on my belly. (Sneaky kid!)
  • Writing.
  • Reading.
  • Life.

What do you love this week?

an ode to katniss everdeen.

Do you know what I’ll be doing this time tomorrow? I will be counting down the hours until I’m seated at the movie theater watching The Hunger Games at midnight.


Now, I know I’m only the four billionth person to say this on the Internet, but this book series by Suzanne Collins is seriously incredible. It’s everything I wish I could write and more. It’s my favorite series right after Harry Potter and, if you know me at all, you know that’s a huge deal. (Gotta give mad props to Emily for convincing me to read it. Shout out.)

This blog post is not about why you should read the books. I really don’t have time to get into it. (But seriously though, you should. Trust me.) This post is to celebrate a book series whose main protagonist is a strong, fierce, and, dare I say, kick-ass female. In today’s society, we really needed someone like Katniss Everdeen to which our young girls (like Emily, for instance) could look up. Katniss doesn’t need a man to take care of her. She knows what’s important in life. She has a feminine side but that, by all means, does not define her.

The other day, Dan and I were in Wal-Mart (for those of you paying close attention, yes, this was the same Wal-Mart trip that was the catalyst to me breaking down in a bathtub later, but whatevs) and while he was evidently poring over the purchases of the lady in front of us, I was furiously flipping through each magazine on the rack with Jennifer Lawrence (the actress portraying Katniss) on the cover and trying to consume as much information on the film I could.

I found that each article had one thing in common: they all compared Katniss to Bella Swan from Twilight.

And I about threw up.

If there is any fictional character that Katniss is like, it is not Bella Swan. If you ask me, Bella Swan is the worst heroine to show up in fiction since, well, ever. I would never want someone like Emily to look to Bella as an example of what it means to be female. Bella is weak, codependent, seemingly in love with the idea of being abused, depressed, and crazy. Katniss is strong, sacrificial, logical, level-headed, and, by all accounts, a B.A.M.F.

At any rate, I’m not writing this to bash Twilight. I have a lot of friends whom I greatly respect that read these books for entertainment purposes. But I bet they’d all agree with me on the fact that Katniss and Bella have about as much in common as I have with a dolphin.

So, rather than compare Katniss to Bella (because seriously, apples and oranges doesn’t even begin to cover it) I’d like to highlight all the reasons that Katniss rules. Period. Not in comparison to anyone else.


1. she supports her family.

Katniss’s father died in a mine explosion when she was only twelve, leaving her mother so distraught and emotionally detached from the family that she could barely even get out of bed. This caused Katniss to step up and provide for her and her little sister. Rather than crying about it and watching her mother let her family starve to death, she took it upon herself to learn how to hunt, gather, and trade so that her family would survive.

2. she volunteers for her sister as tribute in the hunger games.

She literally puts her life on the line in order to save her sister.

3. she’s a perfect shot.

She could kill anyone by just the snap of a bow and arrow. I mean. Dang.

4. she stands up for what’s right.

Katniss knows that what the Capitol is doing to Panem is injustice at best, inhumane at worst, and refuses to stand for it. At only sixteen, she stands up to something way bigger than herself.

5. she doesn’t let romance get in the way of what’s important.

Yes, in the books, there are two guys vying for Katniss’s affection. While she does consider this, it doesn’t govern her every move. What’s important to her is survival and protecting her family. Romance is an after thought. (Which is impressive because, hello, Peeta and Gale are both dream boats, am I right?)

All that to say, I raise my glass to you, Suzanne Collins, for writing a character that I believe girls everywhere should look up to. As someone who is tired of women being portrayed as meek, inferior sex objects, it’s refreshing to see someone like Katniss come in and shake things up a bit.

May the odds be ever in your favor!

tuesday tip — finding your sexy when you’re ______.

Disclaimer: So, this is my blog, after all. And this is the stuff I’m currently struggling through. If reading it makes you feel weird, sorry. You don’t have to read it. I won’t be offended.

The other day I came across this fabulous article that pretty much sums up every thing I’ve been struggling with lately as far as body image and self-love goes. If you don’t have time to read it, the title speaks for itself:

Who gets to be sexy? Is it me?

I’ve kind of touched on the subject before here and here but, sadly, I currently don’t feel like I’m one of those people who “gets” to be sexy. My husband and I have had several conversations recently (even creating a document about the mental blocks I have and the steps I need to take to overcome them) to try and get to the root of this problem (including, but not limited to: my past, including my ex who sexually abused me, my history with my eating disorder, etc.) and while these reasons are valid, I’m sick of them.

In my head, I think, I’ve always assumed that once I hit certain self-proclaimed milestones then (and only then) could I “get” to be sexy.

  • When I reach my goal weight.
  • When my face finally stops breaking out.
  • When I can figure out how to apply make up and not look like a circus clown.
  • When I learn how to properly curl my hair.
  • When I…
My husband, who is so sweet and wonderful and always trying to help, brought something to my attention the other day:
Dan: “Did you see the lady in front of us in line at Wal-Mart?”
Me: “No.”
Dan: “Oh. Well. She was at least double your size everywhere and was buying lingerie. I thought that if she could do it, you could, too.”
Under normal circumstances, I would have probably considered the legitimacy of his observation. But because I’m hormonal and crazy, I went home, drew myself a bath, and cried in it for an hour.
It seems like it’s only getting worse for me as I get rounder. This is probably shocking to you, but feeling sexy while pregnant is proving to be almost impossible for me. I know, I know. I didn’t see that one coming, either. Lindsay can’t feel sexy when she’s not pregnant? What do you mean she can’t feel sexy when she is? *Heavy eye roll.*

I’ve been searching for ways to try and rectify this. Really, the only solution I’ve come up with is only letting my husband touch me in the morning when it’s still dark since, at that point, I haven’t spent an entire day staring at my gigantic belly and focusing on how “matronly” and “not-sexy” it is.

But then (of course, while I’m struggling with this) Jessica Simpson (who has been pregnant for roughly three years it feels like) comes out totally butt naked on the cover of Elle like she owns the joint. And my husband goes ahead and says that it’s sexy.


Okay, world. I get it. It’s possible to be sexy while overweight. And it’s possible to be sexy while pregnant. So why am I still completely lacking in this department?

Oh that’s right — because the problem isn’t my body; it’s my mind.


I know not all of you are pregnant. And I know that not all of you struggle with “sexiness” in particular. But maybe it’s confidence. Maybe it’s spark. Maybe it’s being outgoing. But, if you’re like me, and you have this little part inside you that, for whatever reason, can’t come out because you’re currently _____ (fill in the blank for whatever that is: pregnant, over your goal weight, not making enough money, whatever) I’m here to tell you that your circumstance is not your problem.

It’s your mind.

I don’t have all the answers on how to change your mind (because if I did, let’s be honest, I wouldn’t have this blog) but here are some things that have worked for me so far:

1. be intentional.

Make an effort. When you think to yourself that you can’t be sexy, just think immediately afterwards, “That’s not true. I can be and am sexy.” It will be awkward and weird at first. But be intentional about it.

2. be persistent.

You can’t change your paradigm overnight. It will take some time. Commit to it because, in the end, it will be so worth it (or so I think).

3. be patient.

With yourself! Know that some days, you’ll be on fire. You’ll be a sex goddess, even! But know that, even still, there will be some days when you feel frumpy and gross and some innocent Wal-Mart shopper is gonna show up at the register with cute lingerie and make you cry in a bathtub and you’re just going to have to let that be okay.

What is your “sexy” that you’re striving toward? Please don’t say I’m alone in this!

things i love thursday! (march 15, 2012)

They say, “Beware the Ides of March!” But you know what? Today has been pretty rad, as has the rest of the week. I’m very thankful for a lot of things in my life right now, and I’m so excited to share them. So here’s this week’s list!


  •  My new (to me) SLR camera! I named her Ashley, in homage to her former owner. Some very important photos (our engagement photos!) were taken with that camera back when Ashley was just a wee photography student. My how things have changed — she’s only gotten more awesome!
  • A Saturday morning coffee date with Ashley, since she totally owed me coffee. (We had a bet on the gender of Durrenbaby, and I won! Well. I guess we all won, because I’m having a baby. And how can you lose?)
  • The weather! It’s definitely spring time here in Florida and I am oh so very thankful for that. We didn’t have much of a winter this year either, which also makes me happy!
  • Going for walks.
  • Rereading The Hunger Games to get amped for the midnight premiere!
  • Mentor-y type emails with Beth. She’s a smart lady, y’all. When I grow up, I hope I’m as awesome as her (and have kids that are as awesome as her kids.)
  • Pretty lip gloss.
  • Trace‘s goodbye party. I’m so excited for him, even though it’s going to be tough around here without him…
  • Solidarity in sobriety!
  • Kyle’s sweet fondant skills.
  • Funfetti cake!
  • Balsamic vinaigrette.
  • Random accidental coffee dates with my husband where we talk about deep stuff.
  • Seeing my buddy Sydney play music. She’s so talented! So proud of that little booger.
  • Making music and worshiping with good friends!
  • Sending my dear friends Evan and Suzanne out into ministry.
  • Silly conversations at T.G.I. Friday’s.
  • Being able to drop some background vocals on one of Evan’s jingles!
  • Thrugs. And thrug life.
  • Lunch with Chelsea and other newsies on Tuesday, lunch with Sarah at Panera (and scoring a sort-of-kind-of free Mary Kay compact that I get to fill with all kinds of goodies later) on Wednesday, and lunch with my hubs today. I’m a lucky girl!
  • Running into Tara at Crepevine! SO GOOD!
  • Free food: Bagel Bagel, Panera, and then Krispy Kreme. Y’all, I am the free food QUEEN this week.
  • My silly bible study.
  • An Idiot Abroad. What the heck, how did I not know about this awesome show before?
  • Being prayed for. Like truly, honestly, for-reals-style prayed for.
  • Getting to have dinner tonight with the bestie, her boyfriend, her little brother, and his girlfriend! WHAT UP!
  • Josh, your dreams have now become a reality. You are on TILT!
  • Flowers in my hair.
  • Psalm 91.
  • Life!

What an awesome week! What do you love?

fake it till you make it — how to love your job even when you actually hate it.

Perfect post for a Monday, no?

In Jon Acuff‘s book Quitter, recently gifted to me by my sweet husband, he writes about the “I’m, But” generation. Those in this generation are called as such because they respond to the question, “What do you do?” with something along the lines of:

I’m a retail manager, but I want to be a youth pastor.”
I’m a childcare owner, but I want to be a professional musician.”
I’m a marketing coordinator, but I want to be a stay-at-home mom and author.” (Sound like someone you know? HINT: It’s me.) 

In this economy, we can’t afford to be picky. A lot of us are suffering through less-than-fulfilling day jobs with the hopes of someday breaking those chains and pursuing our dream jobs. Now, I know better than to blog about hating my job, lest I get fired. However, it’s completely true that I’m not currently pursuing my dream job (stay-at-home mom and author) at this juncture. Being the wife of a children’s pastor with a relatively meager salary, I don’t anticipate this changing anytime soon and that reality can be quite demoralizing at times.

So, if you’re in the same boat as me, here are some tips for you.

1. give yourself constant reminders about why you’re doing this.

At my current job, I have my desktop background set to a picture of my son’s ultrasound. I also have the physical copies on my desk and I make a point to thumb through them at least once a day. I do this to remind myself that I’m here in order to be able to afford to take care of him and give him all the things he needs (food, shelter, health insurance, a sane mother who isn’t drowning in guilt over not being employed.) Maybe for you it’s  your friends, and having this job gives you the money you need to spend time with them; put a picture of you and your friends on your desk. Maybe it’s your next career move, and your current job is just a stepping stone to get there; write out the job title you’re going for on a small piece of paper and tape it to your keyboard so you see it everyday.

2. pieces of flair!

Joanna from Office Space was required to wear pieces of flair and (naturally) hated it. But I’d encourage you to put some flair up around your work space. If your job makes you miserable, you can at least liven up your cubicle to soften the blow a little bit (if you’re allowed to decorate, that is. If you’re not, well, you work in hell and I sincerely apologize. Please skip ahead.)  Decorate your work space with things that make you smile. My cubicle, for instance, is adorned with such gems as a vase full of dried roses (once very much alive) from my husband, a piece of art I created with a bunch of bible verses about peace, pictures of my friends and husband, cards I’ve received from friends and coworkers, and even some stuffed animals.

3. take breaks.

If you can, take 15 minute breaks to get out of the office and go for a walk to clear your head. You’ll stretch your legs and burn some calories and get some endorphins going. And you know what endorphins do, right? That’s right! They make you happy!

4. see friends on your lunch break.

Even if you’re poor like me and can’t afford to go out to lunch, bring your lunch and eat it at work and then spend your lunch hour catching up with a friend. Before Ashley moved, she lived right around the corner from my work and I loved to meet up with her and Kylin at a nearby lake or fro-yo joint to spend an hour laughing with someone who makes me happy. Seeing friends during the day gives you a  little more pep in your step for the second half of your work day.

5. remember that nothing is permanent — not even this job — and that you’re not the only one who has ever felt this way.

I have to constantly remind myself that a) my current situation is not my forever situation and b) I’m not the first person in to utter the words, “I’m … but…” But these things are completely true. When my alarm went off this morning, I got out of bed and I thought to myself, This is not forever. And I felt just a little bit better.

I know that these tips aren’t exactly rocket science. However, they do require a certain level of intentionality that doesn’t necessarily come easily. As natural as it is for me to shut off my alarm in the morning and scream, No, I don’t wanna! I wanna stay at home, rub my baby in my belly, and write all day! That doesn’t help me get any closer to my goal. Furthermore, it doesn’t make my time at my day job any more enjoyable. Instead, following through with these five (relatively simple) steps helps me out just enough to make it through to 5pm when I’m free to actively pursue avenues that could lead me toward my dream job.

What about you? Are you part of the “I’m, But” generation, too?