21 Grief Truths: What I wish I had known when I started my grief journey

Grief is a brutal journey.

What I've learned over the past twelve years, is there are certain universal grief truths. Regardless of your loss, you can probably identify with many on the list.

My grief journey started on October 13, 2006. It was on this day I learned my husband, 5 1/2 year-old daughter, and 19-day-old son were killed in a fatal car crash.

In my worst nightmare, I could not have dreamed up what was suddenly my reality. 

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To the Woman Grieving on Mother’s Day

Once upon a time, Mother’s Day was ‘just’ a day.

When I was younger, I made my mom a card, sent jewelry or flowers, and completely took for granted that I had a great mom who knew I loved her and knew she loved me.

Then I became a mom.

Again, mother’s day was just another day that my family celebrated. I knew Macy loved me every day, so it wasn’t much different than a random Tuesday. For the 19 days I had Caleb, the bond was strong. I loved him, and he loved me.

Then the wreck happened.

Then Mother’s Day was no longer ‘just’ another day.

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How to Combat Feelings of Shame with Truth


You know. That gut-wrenching feeling in the pit of your stomach that makes you secretly hate yourself. 

Those memories of all the times you've messed up in the past. That you're dirty. Or unloved. Or unworthy of love.

It seems there is an epidemic of feelings of shame in our society.

Not to be dramatic, but the enemy is having a hay day wreaking havoc in the minds of women everywhere. What better way to distract you from doing all the things you were designed to do than devastating you with all these feelings?

What if you didn't have to feel that way? 

What if shame didn't consume your thoughts?

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A (Faith-Based) Playlist When You're in the Pit

In the eleven years since the death of my beloved husband, curly red-headed precocious five and a half-year-old, and perfect blonde haired, blue eyed two and a half week old baby boy, the Lord has allowed me to experience a taste of the pain I felt immediately following the wreck.

And the pain was intense.

And it hurt.

And it dropped me to my knees.

And today I am thankful for feeling all the feels again because it allows me to meet you where you are in your pain.

I can look you in the eye and promise that you will not always feel this way.

I won’t lie and tell you the road is easy. It isn’t.

But you, dear one in the midst of your pain, can come out on the other side. You won’t be the same… but you can know joy again.

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What to Pray When You’re In the Pit

So you’re down and out and not sure you can take much more.

You look around and think to yourself: 

This is it? 

This is my life? 

Is this as good as it gets?

You shrug and respond:

Well, sure it is. It’s what I had comin’ to me.

My mother told me this would happen.

I should have known better. 

What was I thinking!

The imagined words of others begin to float into your mind:

You’re no fun; live a little.

Whore. Slut. 

Worthless. Damaged

It’s all in your head. You’re overreacting.

You’re exhausted. You’re not sure how you got here, but it’s been awhile.

It’s dark where you are.

It’s hard to breathe.

There’s no rest here.

You’re just going through the motions. 

You wonder if anybody knows. 

You feel alone here, isolated, even with your friends.

You live in fear here even in the presence of loved ones. 

You’re a mess, barely keeping it together.

You’re screaming, but words aren’t coming out. 

 It happened so slowly. Gradually. Over time. But here you are. In the pit. 

And I get it. I’ve been there. 

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Christmas Gift Guide for the Christian Woman

It's the time of year again... Gift-giving season. 

I don't know about you, but trying to come up with thoughtful, personalized gifts is hard. This year I decided to take notes throughout the year so I wouldn't have to stress last minute, and I figured maybe you could use it too.

Without further ado, here is the list:

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Hey Mom- You’re Doing Great (Even if you don’t think so)

Hey, Mom!

Yes, you. 

The one with the kids. The one with the backpack, purse, and grocery bag all in tow!

I’m talking to you.

You are rockin’ this parenting thing. You really look like you got it all figured out. You are taking home the prize today!

The way you wipe noses while taking that phone call.

How you stir supper at the stove with one hand while consoling the little one on your hip

And you always arrive just in time for the scheduled parent-teacher conferences

That birthday party? Boy, you are a master planner!

You drive that minivan like a BOSS… you get everyone buckled in record time.

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Making Sense of the Ups and Downs of Life

Do you know my friend's Joy and Sadness? Allow me to introduce them. They’re pretty famous. Their resume is quite impressive.

They are lead roles in Disney Pixar’s Inside Out.

Rob Base features them in the chorus of his famous hip-hop song “Joy and Pain.” 

Dr. Seuss references them in his quote “Don’t cry because it’s over; smile because it happened.”

And most importantly, the Bible verifies them as significant times in life in Ecclesiastes 3:4—a time to cry and a time to laugh; a time to grieve and a time to dance.  

What do you notice about Joy and Sadness in these scenarios? Do you see a pattern? I notice that they’re together, appearing side by side. 

So I’ve come to think of them as the greatest underrated dynamic duo of all time!

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Finding Your Identity in God- Not This World

What do you see when you look in the mirror?

You may immediately see brown hair and green eyes, freckles and a chickenpox scar. You might see ears that stick out just a little too much for your liking. Maybe you see fine lines and wrinkles that tell your age. 

Do you see kindness? Do you see love? Do patience and acceptance stare back at you? Are you looking at forgiveness and grace? Is there the reflection of joy and contentment?

Are you accompanied by anger and resentment? Is hatred present? Is bitterness there?

It’s quite possible you see all of this. On any given day. Depending on your mood. Depending on your circumstance.

But what do you think God sees?

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Created in God’s Image- but what does that mean?

What do you see when you look in the mirror?

You may immediately see brown hair and green eyes, freckles and a chickenpox scar. You might see ears that stick out just a little too much for your liking. Maybe you see fine lines and wrinkles that tell your age. 

Do you see kindness? Do you see love? Do patience and acceptance stare back at you? Are you looking at forgiveness and grace? Is there the reflection of joy and contentment?

Are you accompanied by anger and resentment? Is hatred present? Is bitterness there?

It’s quite possible you see all of this. On any given day. Depending on your mood. Depending on your circumstance.

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Overcoming Domestic Violence: Finding Victory

When we were together for part 2 of this series, I left you with this final thought: For you are a victor, not a victim. And it's time to get your life back. Here's how.  

Things You Can Do As You're Transitioning Into Victory 

Accept the help of family and friends 

You cannot do this on your own, so stop trying to (1 Corinthians 12:25-26).

Be aware that the enemy will try to isolate you. Don't let him (1 Peter 5:8).

If church members offer to feed you and your family, let them (Matthew 25:35-45).

When your friends offer to come by for a visit, welcome them (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10).

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8 Ways to Get Involved in a New Church

You know that feeling you get when you walk into the room for the first time, and you don’t know anyone.  I’m talking, one hundred percent, flying solo, a sea of faces,  not one is familiar, and your stomach feels like it’s about to fall out of your body. 

I don’t care whether you are an extrovert, introvert, or ambivert (a combo of both), outgoing or shy, almost everybody will have some feelings of anxiety or even panic. 

If you have found yourself in a new church (new community, new school, new anything), you are familiar with this feeling.  When faced with this pit in your stomach, what did you do? Did you run out of the room, never to return, or did you push through those uncomfortable feelings?  

The thought of starting at a new church can be a daunting task.  Change can be hard.  Change can also be a beautiful thing.  What wonderful opportunities and connections are waiting for you? What does God have in store?

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Domestic Violence Part 2: What You Can Do

You realize what he's doing is wrong. 

You know this happens to other women.

You acknowledge that it's getting worse, not better.

So what are you going to do about it?

stand there while he pushes you or threatens to hit you again

believe the lies he speaks over you

allow him to defile your body, your mind, your spirit

No way. Not today. Not ever again. 

You see, my beautiful friend, there are some conditions you need to understand and accept about your situation.

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Divine Appointments- How God uses interruptions to change our lives

What if interruptions in our lives are divine appointments rather than devilish schemes? 

Originally, I wasn’t planning to go on the cruise.

Friends were all going to celebrate accomplishments in their business, but I felt like I needed to spend time at home getting my ducks in a row.  About two weeks before the cruise, two women had to cancel, which left two non-refundable spots available. 

It’s a sign!  

A friend and I decided to jump onboard (pun intended) and got tickets to Florida to set sail with the rest of our friends.  

We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps. Proverbs 16:9

My preference would have been to fly down the day before, since flight delays could mean missing the cruise’s departure; however, the cheapest tickets available put us in town with JUST enough time to set sail!  Two flights, checked baggage arrival, and the shuttle ride to the ship had to coordinate smoothly to make this happen.  My mom was busy at home praying that everything would be on schedule and that I would make the call time.

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Abby RikeComment
Domestic Violence: You Aren't Alone

What is black and blue and red all over? 

No. It's not the local tabloid. It's domestic violence, and it's happening in a home near you.

Maybe it's your home.

If it is, you're not alone.

And it's not your fault.

No matter what he says or how he makes you feel. It's not your fault.

Perhaps you're questioning if this is happening to you now.

As you ponder the words domestic violence, you think of those NBC Dateline segments and conclude your boyfriend isn't that bad. You think of Jennifer Lopez in Enough and decide your husband isn't that dangerous.

But is he?


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Can Heartbreak Lead to a Life-Changing Love?

If you had to choose a silver-screen love story, which would be your favorite?

·       the fiercely assertive Scarlet and Rhett in Gone with the Wind

·       the adventures of summer vacation with Baby and Johnny in Dirty Dancing

·       Dorothy and Jerry with their “You complete me” and “You had me at hello” from Jerry Maguire

·       the passionately committed Noah and Allie in The Notebook

If you’re like me, you grew up admiring these great loves and fantasized about your own, convinced you’d find the one, have a fairy tale wedding, and live happily ever after. Just like in the movies. Right? Of course!

Well, if you’re like me, you know it didn’t quite go that way. You probably chose poorly between an Ashley and a Rhett. You realized your summer fling should have been just that—a summer romance, not a life-time commitment. And those one-liners were momentary promises never meant to be kept.   

I fell in love for the first time at 14. No I didn’t. I had my first crush at 14. He was the hottest thing in junior high, and I was stoked to call him my boyfriend. His name was Raymond. Our young love lasted through the spring of our freshman year then he moved. Boy, was I heartbroken. Not really. I found a new crush my sophomore year.

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How to Feel Comfortable While Shopping For A New Church

Have you ever been “church shopping?”

Chances are if you have moved and tried looking for a new church, you have gone shopping for a church. For many, finding a new church home becomes a daunting and intimidating journey.

You would think that as an Army brat, growing up moving every two years and always meeting new people, I would be the best greeter at my church.  If you have checked out the Tribe’s bio page, Abby even titled me as “connector,” yet one area I feel I fail at time and time again is greeting and introducing myself to new people at our church.

After moving to Virginia, I started attending church with my husband where his family have been members for over 70 years.  I enjoyed the pastor’s sermons and made myself at home.  It felt like a good fit and one that didn’t take much effort.  I am forever grateful for this since I sort of “married into it,” which was definitely divine intervention!

For a girl who didn’t grow up around family, it was exciting to feel I like I knew everyone at our church.  Of course, I really didn’t know everyone, but it felt like I did and that allowed me to coast through the next 6 years without having to introduce myself to too many people.  As the years went on, I eased into my new role of being a “long time member” and started assuming I either knew everyone or they knew me, or at least we recognized each other enough to give a warm smile!

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How Sweet the Rescue of the Lord: when you need all the help you can get

Your way. How’s that working for you?

Has your situation changed?

You’ve tried everything, right?

  • Spilled your guts on Facebook, looking for sympathy, a like, or a thumbs up.
  • Marched into Books-A-Million and purchased the latest number-one selling self-help book.
  •  Drank yourself into a stupor to escape your current reality.
  •  Popped a pill or two just to feel momentary happiness or relief from the crazy.
  •  Hid in your house and slept on the couch to avoid the day.
  •  Resorted to casual sexual encounters, mistaking them for love or validation.
  •  Rejected those closest to you, convinced they wouldn’t understand. 
  • Decided to be part of the crowd so you’d belong.

Didn’t work, did it?

I know. It’s okay. None of these worked for me either.

For years I stumbled through life doing things my way. I made lists. I checked the calendar. I talked it out. I rationalized. I theorized. I read books. I weighed options. I considered pros and cons. I basically relied on me. I’m smart. Surely I’m capable.

While I in no way discredit the value of these actions, I readily admit there was one thing missing.

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The Battle of Negative Self-Talk: how I wore my swimsuit in public and enjoyed it

Summer is almost over.

Can you believe it? 

How many of you read the blog posts in the beginning of the summer about embracing your body, putting your swimsuit on, and enjoying life (like this one)? 

Like many of my friends, I read those and thought “YES. THIS.”   I truly appreciate these women encouraging other women to put on our swimsuits and not let our insecurities get in the way of living life!  I know it helped remind me that making memories and getting in the picture matters more than how I look!

So, if that was you too, how is it going for you? 

If you are anything like me, you WANT to embrace your body and set a good example for your kids, regardless of what shape you are in, but the Struggle. Is. Real. 

Does reading an encouraging blog post result in discarding those old negative tapes playing in your head so that you are now suddenly feeling confident to DO all of those things without insecurities stopping you?  For some of you, yes, and that rocks!  A simple mind shift and you are ready to roll.  

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