Happiest of 10 Years!

March 27, 2006. A young, 24 year old woman sat in excited anticipation at a small, light-colored table in her sunny kitchen. She looked around the apartment she rented with a friend. It was the first home she could call her own. Independence. Adulthood. It suited her. Though a deeply broken heart haunted her, she was ready for a new beginning. A fresh start. Blogging seemed to be the ideal way to chronical this new freedom, so she sat at her very own table, and began to write….

Happy TEN YEAR Blog Anniversary! 17 drafts still hiding. 622 posts. 1,641 comments. 72,520 views. Technically the ten year mark was Easter Sunday, but it felt a little too sacrilegious to commemorate a mere blog on the day of our RISEN SAVIOR! I have to say, my generous and creative guy did help me celebrate that day. He surprised me with the delicious book, Bird By Bird written by Anne Lamott. He truly couldn’t have delighted me more!

It’s been a beautiful ten years with you all! When I first started writing Full of Joy I never really thought anyone else would read it. A few days later, a good friend and I confessed to each other we had BOTH started a blog on the same day! After that, many more friends from my church community and from work started blogging, as well. It was a blast to read each others posts and leave comments. This was before Facebook was very popular. Can you imagine a time?! ;)
I like how Anne Lamott describes being published, “It provides some sort of primal verification; you are in print; therefore you exist. Who knows what this urge is all about, to appear somewhere outside yourself, instead of feeling stuck inside your muddled but stroboscopic mind, peering out like a little undersea animal- a spiny blenny, for instance- from inside your tiny cave?”

For me, blogging has been an outlet God has used to allow me to appear somewhere outside of myself. When I write, the Spirit shows me what’s going on in my heart. The fact He can take the ashes of my heart and make them beautiful for someone else astounds me.
Overtime, most of my original blog community has faded away. I truly miss their blogs, and hearing their hearts through posts. But God has kept Full of Joy going these past years in the good times, and in the bad. He even used this very blog to lead Chuck to fall in love with me, if you can believe that! After the first time we met, Chuck looked up my blog and read every post from the previous two years! When he eventually told me, I was floored. Chuck couldn’t have known how much the blog meant to me, but God used Chuck’s thoughtfulness to draw me even more to him. He’s actually the one to point out when my Blog Anniversary was!

I’m grateful to you readers. I’m always surprised when I hear of someone who has read a post- it makes my heart skip a beat. Thank you to those who check in from time-to-time, or on a regular basis. It is my JOY to write for Jesus, and a special bonus when He uses it to speak to someone else. Writing is like taking breath. It fuels me.
Today I celebrate Jesus and the creative outlet He has given me. Today I celebrate you readers, and want to thank you for your love, support, and the time you take to read. As a small token of my gratitude, I would like to GIVE AWAY a few of my favorite things. I think you might notice a little writing theme- THANK YOU notes, a note pad, a journal, COFFEE (can’t write without that!), and a cheery Spring kitchen towel to add a dash of color. Hope you enjoy, and thank you again for being a part of the Full of Joy journey.

***For a chance to win the 10 Year Blog Anniversary Give Away, please share this post on your preferred method of social media (let me know where you shared in the comments), and comment on this post: 1.) What is the creative outlet God has given you to appear outside yourself? OR 2.) What is a post from Full of Joy that has stood out to you? (by me or any other guest.)

(***For those who commented yesterday, you are already entered! Thank you so much for sharing!!!)
Winner will be announced next Monday, April 4.

Much love and gratefulness to you all!

Resurrection Power

(L) My friend, Dan (R) Jamie

Allow me to introduce you to my dear friend, spiritual mentor, and former Pastor, Jamie Miller! If you read the post, "Sweet Things" a few weeks ago by Gretchen Miller I suspect by now you're connecting the dots they are husband and wife! They are so dear to me. God used them to help shape my heart understanding of who Christ is, and how He loves me. They serve college students (and any person they meet at any age!) through Consumed Ministries. Jamie is also the author of the great book, "Fully Alive".  I'm honored to share Jamie's words with you today.

I currently have one tattoo on the inside of my left arm. If I ever decide to give that tattoo some company I already know what I would have permanently inked into my skin. Most followers of Jesus I know that have a faith-based tattoo have some form of the cross as either the entire art form or part of it. I obviously appreciate the cross and will celebrate the victory from sin and access to God as Father as a result of Jesus’ sacrificial death this Friday. But if I were ever to get another tattoo (relax mom – no plans are in the making), I would have an open tomb. I haven’t given the specifics of this tattoo much thought beyond it simply being an open tomb. There may be some clouds involved or possibly the word VICTORY on top of the artwork.  I don’t know. I just know that for me, the open tomb represents the completed work of God. Not only did Jesus end the grip of sin on humanity through His death, He defeated death and gave us the hope of our own resurrection on Easter morning.

John, in the eleventh chapter of his Gospel, shares the story of Jesus standing outside of Lazarus’ grave, who was one of Jesus’ closest friends. Jesus was heartbroken over the residue death left on all those gathered at the gravesite. Included in this crowd of mourners was Lazarus’ sister, Martha. Martha loved her brother very much. She even told Jesus that He could have prevented this tragedy if He would have showed up in time. A few more sentences were exchanged between Jesus and Martha and then Jesus offers this amazing statement to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live.” This is such a powerful truth! Jesus didn’t only say He can be resurrected or that He can resurrect someone. He claims TO BE the resurrection and the life. HE holds the power of resurrection. And then in a few short minutes later Jesus backs up that claim and resurrects Lazarus from the dead right then and there in front of everyone.

I can empathize with Martha in this story. I too have stood at the gravesite of my sibling several times. I remember specifically the first time I stood in the German Ridge Cemetery next to Penny’s grave. It was a few short days after her death in 2010. I remember it being a cold, February morning in southern Ohio. The snow was beautiful but the chilly wind eerily reminded all of us that death arranged this appointment. So where do you turn on a bitter day like that one? What can provide any kind of hope when your heart has been ripped out of your chest as you look at your nephews and nieces missing their mommy and see the pain of a mother and father burying a child? The promise of Easter morning is where you fix your gaze. You close your eyes and imagine the warming sun on your face as you quietly listen to hear Jesus proclaim, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live.”

Jamie and Penny
I could write of the many theological implications of Easter and why they are so important. I could elaborate on Paul’s words to the church in Corinth written in 1 Corinthians 15. But for me, Easter is special because I know that since The Resurrection and the Life rose from the grave on that Sunday morning long ago, I will see my sister Penny again one day. I will see her face, hear her laugh, and reminisce of our times together here on earth. Each time I go back to the German Ridge Cemetery I remember that Easter morning is coming. Death does not have the victory.

On the inside of my arm that one tattoo I have is the Greek word “paroikos”. This tattoo was done at Saint Sabrina’s in the Minneapolis neighborhood of Uptown around Easter of 2010 to honor Penny’s life. If the open tomb tattoo ever did become a reality it would be done on the outside of that same arm. I could look at one side of my arm and remember the life my sister lived. But greater yet, I could look on the other side of that same arm with hope because one day we will be reunited again through Christ’s victory over the grave 2000 years ago.  That is the hope of Easter morning. This is why I celebrate.

Jesus has overcome

And the grave is overwhelmed

The victory is won

He is risen from the dead


And Penny will rise when He calls her name

No more sorrow, no more pain

She will rise on eagles' wings

Before her God fall on her knees

And rise, She will rise


Christ Tomlin – “I Will Rise” - modified

The Truth About Joy

Everything in me wants to curl up on the couch with my favorite quilt (we actually  named it "the favorite quilt!") and CRASH. I'm just so tired. Physically I did not get the sleep I needed last night, but mentally and emotionally I am so weary. The constant message I've been receiving lately is that I'm not good enough. Whether it be youth ministry, parenting, being a wife, or planning events- I am feeling like all signs point to QUIT. Even my attempt at creating fun moments in our family has flopped. I tried to make brownies last week, but took them out of the oven too soon so they were under baked, and really gross. That same night I had planned to watch American Idol with Chuck and just relax together, only to find out the show had been moved to Thursdays only. Another time recently I sacrificed precious grocery money to order in, and the food make me sick. What on earth?!

All that to say, I'd rather just curl up on the couch and grab some moments of rest and quiet while the kids are napping. Instead I will press on with this post to show I am qualified to write about the topic of joy in mothering. I'm qualified simply because joy is hard for me. I am not a woman who is just naturally happy and cheery and dancing under rainbows all the time. Because I am a realist, I worry and fret about so many things. Constantly.

As I've chewed on this topic for several weeks now, God has made it clear in my spirit a big way to find joy in mothering (and life in general) is to choose to be grateful. As mentioned last week, gratefulness is part of the strategy to fight against fear, but it is also probably the most important part of finding joy. Joy is a choice. Choosing joy means being thankful. And boy is that hard.

Most of us have been hammered with Philippians 4:6-7 our whole lives. The passage instructs us to rejoice in the Lord, not to be anxious about ANYthing, to pray, to tell God our requests, and to BE THANKFUL. Until recently I haven't given the thankful part of the verse much thought. But it's a huge part.

Listen, you're probably just as tired and weary as I am, maybe even more. How about I share some things I am thankful for, and you do the same? It's really encouraging to share in community what we have to be grateful for, so please comment- I would love to hear! Let's link arms and live in joy together!

These two. I'm thankful for their love and sweet affection for each other. I'm thankful they have one another.

I'm thankful for all the medical professionals in Basye's life that are helping her thrive! I'm also thankful for hand-me-downs from older cousins!  

I'm thankful for a husband who is excited to play baseball with his son.

This man. I'm thankful for his presence, his faithfulness, his patience, his thoughtfulness, and the fun we have together. I'm thankful for times when we can crash on the couch together and cuddle.  

Unexpected Post

This is an unexpected post, to say the least. Last week I had promised a post on finding joy in mothering during those trying times, and I will follow through. But today, there is a pressing situation happening in my life I must write about. It is currently Saturday, March 5, but this will be published on Tuesday, March 8.

A few days ago, I had my regular one year exam with my gynecologist. Normally I'm not too concerned over these appointments. I've always been the kind to take charge of my health. I like to know what's happening with my body, and why. I like to get professional evaluations. I like the peace of mind. I need it.

 I had actually seen this same doctor over 2 months ago for pain I was having in my chest. At the time, based on my exam and the type of symptoms I was having she credited the pain to a muscular issue. I had been scared to death I had breast cancer. She tried to reassure me that was not her concern, but I still felt uneasy.

 For the last 2-3 months I have been dealing with this same pain, and trying to reassure myself it was a chest muscle issue from hauling two heavy babies around so often. Yet it has been a constant battle of worry, fear, and anxiety at the thought of having cancer. As the pain has persisted, fear has driven it's ugly claws deeper and deeper into my mind. Which brings me to my appointment this past week.

I shared with my doctor nothing has changed, she did another exam, and everything checked out normal again. Only this time she said the word that shot anxiety into the depths of my soul. Mammogram. All I could think was, "I knew it. Cancer." Even though she kindly told me, "I don't want you losing sleep over this, I just want to be thorough." I felt nothing but fear. Panic. Utter hopelessness. I've even had mammograms in the past, and they've been fine, so the actual test doesn't bother me. It's the potential of what they could find.

 I went to set up an appointment at the front desk, and was able to get one for later that same morning. I was relieved! I would be able to get it over with, and enjoy my weekend. I wouldn't have to deal with the frightening unknowns, but could face it head on, right away. Unfortunately when I got in the car, the scheduling woman called and told me my appointment had already been taken by someone else. I wanted to scream at her, "NOOOOO!" The next available appointment wasn't for 6 more days.

I spent the thirty minute drive home close to tears, imaging the worst, and really upset. I cried with Chuck, he went to work, and then I started to fight. Fight in prayer for the sake of my mind and soul. I began to put into practice all I’ve been learning over the last month and a half of Bible study. Thank God for Priscilla Shirer and her book, “The Armor of God”. Per her instruction throughout studying the book of Ephesians (and many other books of the Bible!), I’ve constructed several cards she calls, “My Prayer Strategy” cards. I have my prayer strategy cards on hand constantly. Cards that are covered in Scripture, written by my own hand, speaking words of Truth I use to fight the enemy’s schemes. And fight hard.

So I began to fight in prayer for peace, trust, and rest in the Spirit. This is part of what I’ve been fighting with, “2 Thessalonians 3:16 ‘May the Lord of peace Himself give you peace ALWAYS in every way. The Lord be with all of you.’ Jesus, you are the Lord of peace. You have equipped me with weapons to fight for peace. ‘The weapons of my warfare are powerful through you God for the demolition of strongholds.’ 2 Corinthians 10:4-5. May I shout, ‘My God reigns!’ Isaiah 52:7 until you actually do reign in my mind and heart and circumstances. Anytime I feel worry or anxiety or fear creeping into my heart that is my cue to turn my attention to you God!”

In her book, Priscilla used Philippians 4:6-7, Colossians 3:15, and Isaiah 26:3-4 to help me further construct my prayer strategy. On the back of my card, this is what I have written, and how I now pray, “Pray. Trust Jesus. Be grateful. Watch Jesus’ peace swell in my experience. (Trust and express gratitude = experience peace of God that surpasses all understanding.)”

So, I prayed and asked God to allow my mammogram to be completely normal. Then I felt an idea begin to swell in my spirit that God was allowing me to have this test done so I could finally have peace of mind after several months of worrying over this thing. In response to this, I began THANKING God He was giving me this gift. I thanked Him for many other things, and the list of all that I have to be grateful for in this situation began to pour out of my mouth.

I’m on Day 3 now, and I can actually say confidently the Spirit’s peace has been residing in my mind and heart and soul. I have great hope that on Tuesday I will find out good results, and I’m already thankful for what He’s been showing me during this potentially agonizing time.

The shoes of peace are real, everybody. I recommend getting yourself a pair.


As mentioned above, I wrote the first part of this post on Saturday. Last night things got much harder for me as I began anticipating the mammogram this morning. After 6 long days of waiting, I just wanted to get it over with. They really shouldn’t do that to women.

This morning I walked audaciously into that women’s center and told my good, good God, “Even if I have cancer, I know you will use it for my good. For your good.”

After an hour and a half and two different types of imaging, I waited shaking on my chair in one of the side rooms. The woman looked at me, shared the results, and I burst into tears. I was overwhelmed. The results were normal, and they want to see me when I’m 40. Thank you Jesus!

What a journey this has been for the past few months. I praise Jesus for his sweet grace to allow me to have the imaging done so I can finally enjoy the precious gift of peace of mind.

Jesus is real, everybody. I recommend loving Him with everything you have.

The Truth About Mothering

The Truth About Mothering...well, let's see.

Our strong man!
 Last week in the Daily Dubbe I gave a snapshot update on each member of our family. Towards the end of the post I realized I hadn’t really shared much about me. It’s much easier to focus on everyone else in our little family then to actually have to break down my own self.
So here it is, the truth about mothering- my mothering to be exact. I’m completely, 100% exhausted. I’ve worked hard jobs before, and I’ve been tired on a regular basis in the past, but this type of exhaustion is unique. Even when I worked at Starbucks, the hours I worked ranged from getting up at 4am, to leaving work at 1am. Back then I was able to carry two gallons of milk in each hand and walk a good distance. Back then caffeine was on my side, but caffeine doesn’t cut it anymore. I could drink a cup of coffee and fall flat on my face on the couch if given a nap opportunity now.

It’s TOUGH being a mother. Tougher than tough. Harder than hard. Each phase of mothering has its own challenges, but being a mother to a toddler and a baby at the same time is uniquely difficult (as so many of you out there can attest!). Actually, I am now heading into mothering two toddlers, which is another unique difficulty.
Here’s just one thing that makes mothering so so so so hard. The fussing. The constant fussing. They want up so they cling to my legs or push me with all their might until I trip over their little selves. They pull at my shirt or pants until I am able to scoop them up, only to hear the fussing continue because they want back down. Meanwhile the sibling is fussing and wining about his or her own issue.

The other day both kids woke up from their naps at precisely the same moment. They were both wailing, they both wanted me to hold them, but neither of them wanted me holding the other one. So the wailing continued. I hoisted both (wailing) children down the stairs (that’s 60 pounds, thank you very much) and made it to the couch only to have them wail even louder because heaven forbid Mama sit down while holding them. They both fussed for the next two hours until Chuck finally arrived home. Two hours of fussing. Toddlers 2, Mama 0.

Fellow Mama’s, can I get an AMEN? It’s HARD. My back aches. My thighs are actually shaking today from carrying both kids and diaper bags and groceries up and down the stairs. Last night my leg hurt so bad I had to take Ibuprofen. My chest has a pulled muscle that isn’t healing because I’m constantly picking up and putting down 60 pounds of adorable! And my neck! The list could go on, but I digress.

I don’t know about you, but I want to scream every time someone says, “The days are long, but the years are short!” or “The years are going to fly by, you’ll see!” or “You’ll look back on this time and wish you could be there again!” I may miss certain aspects of my children being babies, and the certain delights that only come from this phase, but I probably won't wish to return. That’s not who I am. I’ve never looked back on a phase of life and wished I could return.

I couldn't tell who the guilty party was. But the little truck in the corner certainly enjoyed driving through it. Didn't like this dressing anyway. ;)
What I am striving for is to live in joy TODAY. And each day. And each new phase. Joy in Jesus. Joy is a tough bugger, one that I will tackle next week, but for this day- I just want you Mama’s to rest assured, you’re not alone. I am here looking a toddler in the face while I tell them, “Do not cross that line” only to watch them slide their little foot straight across that line with no intent of obeying. I am here holding a child who wails every time Papa leaves for work, or even just leaves the room, and can’t squirm out of my arms fast enough to run after him, leaving me in their dust. I am here attempting to keep my babies from jumping out the windows, climbing on the kitchen table, scaling the bathroom linen closet, opening the 350 degree oven, flipping their bolted-to-the-wall beds up-side-down, and oh! Have I mentioned from having to call Poison Control again? Ladies you are not alone!

The thing is, even this sounds relatively manageable, until you weigh in the mental and emotional factor. That type of fatigue is impossible to assess. Each woman handles her life-factors differently. One woman  may have five toddlers at home, and be perfectly at peace, while another may "only" have an infant and be on the verge of losing her mind. Each mother has her own combo platter of issues (mine comes with extra brownies, please) that make her mothering uniquely hard for her.
If you’re like me, I can’t function in a healthy way if there are dishes stacked up on the counter, if there are toys scattered all over the living room, if the beds are trashed, if there’s trash over-flowing onto the floor, or if the kids are still wearing their PJ’s at noon. Being orderly helps keep me sane. Another Mama may not even notice last night’s dishes are still in the sink because she is surviving by getting out of the house, and taking the kids to the library. (I’ve done that once. And I’m done, thank you.)

The best encouragement I’ve received recently is from my dear friend, Lisa. She left me a message out of the blue and said, “You are the best mother for the kids God has given you!” And this I say to you ladies out there, YOUR ARE THE BEST MOTHER FOR THE KIDS GOD HAS GIVEN YOU. Don’t be deceived for a second by any other lies. YOU are the best Mother for that toddler pushing their sister and stealing her toy. It’s YOU.

All Mama’s are so different! And Jesus has made us all absolutely perfect for our own babes.

One way for a toddler to tire themselves out is to remove the entirety of the stuffing from their huge stuffed puppy...Puppy is now quite skinny. ;)

Next week we'll tackle the joy-bugger. In the meantime, any thoughts out there on the topic of finding joy in mothering during those oh-so-TOUGH moments? Would be thrilled to hear your thoughts, and your experiences of choosing joy!