Last Chance!

Friday, August 30, 2013

If you haven't entered the Share & Care Contest yet - today is the day!

This weekend is your final chance to enter to win the ultimate PARDYMAMA CARE PACKAGE!  I've scoured Nashville for some of my new local favorites, I've picked up a few of my most treasured books, and I even made an official pardymama tumbler just for you!

Check it out - here is the final glimpse into the care package that could be shipped to YOU!

There are three easy ways to enter:

1. LIKE my FACEBOOK PAGE if you haven't already. 
(Those of you that have liked it already are automatically entered ONCE! Yay!)

2. SHARE my Facebook page or a link to my blog posts on Facebook.  
(You can do this simply by clicking "SHARE" at the bottom of a post listed on Facebook! New OR old posts!)

3. RETWEET my blog on Twitter.  
(Follow me @pardymama if you aren't already, and just click the RT symbol whenever I tweet out a link to a new post!)

Remember, you have until midnight on Sunday, September 1st to enter.  

Be sure and check back here
to find out who wins!!!!

And, you never know...if enough people enter, I might just have to give away more prizes. Hmmmm.


Thursday, August 29, 2013

This morning, almost as soon as my two toddler daughters woke with squeals and giggles, they rushed downstairs to jump into the day like a soldier parachuting into battle.  They are the very definition of gung-ho and it was no surprise to me when (a full five minutes into starting the day) they charged the "art drawers" and yanked out paper and markers.

As my coffee was brewing and I was still rubbing the sleep out of my face (yes, my whole face, not just my eyes) I look over to see my youngest already liberally inking herself silly.  Green knees, blue hands, and several un-capped markers surround her.  Par for the course around here.

As I brought out the wipes and reprimanded her creativity, I tried to lure her toward the crayons.  But, no.  She was not having that.  Both girls wanted MARKERS.  They are brighter, they are striking, and they are far more risky than those lousy old crayons, right?  One can understand the appeal to the toddling mind, anyhow.

It occurred to me (in this awkward moment of arts and crafts segregation) that people are like this:  there are crayons, and there are markers. 

Crayons are safe.  Crayons are lovely, but they only get so bright, no matter how many times they go over the same line.  Crayons don't even need caps, because they don't leave a mark if they just stay put where they are.

Then, there are markers.  Markers (for all intents and purposes) MARK.  No matter where they are, you un-cap them and they will leave a dot, a line, or blotch that clearly stains where they have been. Markers are bold!  They define exactly where they're used and there's no question that they are a marker - and not a crayon.

When it comes to your faith - are you a crayon or a marker?  Do you blend in, stay within the lines, play it safe in your little unmarked box? Or do you stand out?  Are you leaving an impression wherever you go?

It's true that markers can get real messy real fast.  Nobody's saying markers don't have to go back and be cleaned up now and then.  But, I'd rather be known as a messy marker - a Jesus-loving sinner - than tucked away as an unused crayon playing it safe.

Un-cap that faith!  Let's mark it up.

In Difference

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Today, I'm not only giving you a glimpse into a couple of my favorite books, but I'm giving you a SNEAK PEEK at what might soon be sitting on your bookshelf - as I'm putting both of these books into the pardymama Share & Care Contest gift package!

Shaunti Feldhaun's books For Women Only and For Men Only rocked my newly-married-world-at-the-time about six years ago.  Josh and I were still newlyweds, somewhere in between the champagne-and-roses feeling and the oh-man-I'm-really-stuck-with-you-forever realization.  While we might look back on this time with much nostalgia, it's easy to forget the drama and confusion that exists in those early days of marriage.

We had been to pre-marital counseling, and we had even completed a couple's communications course at our church that had brought us new insight and passion about getting to know one another and essentially "why we are the way we are".  Our exposure and interest in both the psychology and philosophy behind this left us with a lot of questions, but not a lot of know-how as to where to turn to find answers.

I don't even know where I first heard of the For [All of Us, Really] Only books...but, as soon as I cracked it open, I couldn't put it down.  As the titles suggest, one is distinctly written to women giving insight on the way men function/live/ARE...and the other is written to men giving the same/opposite info on the female gender.

It may sound boring or "heady" or uninteresting to you - but, it's packaged in this compact and colorful hardback that invites you to read a snip-it at a time, cleverly written with bold titles and graphics to easily breakdown the material into delicious nuggets of digestible information.  Let me put it this way - it's a pretty fun read!  And it is packed FULL of gems of wisdom that are instantly applicable to your everyday life.

My husband and I each read our corresponding book; then, we swapped!  Not only did this double the value of our discussion - it expanded our perception of our own gender.  Who knew!?

These books blew our minds.  There is something (probably MUCH) that you don't know about the other gender, I can promise you that.  And maybe you're getting by just fine in your relationships, your marriage, or your work life.  Maybe you have nothing left to learn about the opposite sex (even though, let me be the first to burst your bubble and tell you that we all do) but, how about the ways in which the opposite sex understands and relates to you?

Since that first year of marriage (going on number 7 now!) I've re-read the books multiple times.  The last two years, I was in an incredible Bible Study that included For Women Only in the study, and it was beautiful and amazing to see multiple women from all walks of life have their minds be blown too!

We came from all backgrounds, all ages, all different kinds of marriages to all different kinds of men - and we all learned incredible things about what makes these creatures we call "husbands" tick.

If you're not married - don't think this isn't for you - NOW is the time to read these books and gain the insight before you are taking those vows!  How much better to walk into marriage someday with new awareness and knowledge that will help you extend the grace that we all need when it comes to learning about people different from ourselves?

It's obvious that men and women are different.  We all know this, sure.  But, while we all have to live in differences, we don't have to have indifference about them.  We can embrace these differences, take strides in learning more, and pray for that extra grace and wisdom it takes to love each other better!

I hope you win the care package and get to experience these books for yourself; but, even if you don't get a copy from me, I'd encourage you to check them out for yourself!  In fact, now the series has expanded to include many facets of life, and I'm certain there's one to fit your interest.  You can find out more about Shaunti Feldhahn and her books here.  And, for the record, I don't know Shaunti at all.  I am simply and honestly endorsing something I completely believe in because I think it is just that awesome! 


Tuesday, August 27, 2013

How many of you are waiting on something?

Maybe you are waiting on a job, like we are.  Maybe you are waiting on getting pregnant.  Waiting on an adoption to go through.  Waiting on a call from your doctor.  Waiting for your boyfriend to propose. Waiting to hear back from that school/program/organization you're hoping to get into.  Waiting on your order at Chipotle.  (Hey, it counts!)

Chances are, there are several out there who are waiting, waiting, waiting to hear from God about something that will epically change your life, for better or for worse.  My husband has been unemployed for over two months now, and this is not the first time God has made us wait and wonder as to what His plan may hold.  Still, patience continues to be a quality that I'm constantly in need of.

About five years ago, we were waiting for another reason.  We were trying to get pregnant.  We had been extraordinarily deliberate in our plan to have a baby, seeking the counsel of others personally and professionally to help us in the decision to jump into the murky and unknown waters of "trying".

Months went by, and I was still not pregnant.  There had never been any fertility issue on either side of our family, so when we first jumped into the ring we naively supposed we'd be making grand announcements within the first few months.  And, so, we began down an emotional roller coaster that kept us on our toes two-weeks-at-a-time.

In effort for my husband to truly grasp the emotional toll that this process was taking on me, I remember making an analogy for him.  Not getting pregnant, for me, is like unsuccessfully job hunting for a man. It's like, every time I see a pregnant woman out there, I think "Why HER?"  Clearly, I'm qualified for the position!  I'm perfect for it, I have all the experience and credentials I need.  And every time I'm not pregnant it's like someone rejecting you for a job you're overqualified for.

I can remember a conversation with a close confidant about 9 months into our journey.  I remember telling her how, when we'd first began to try to get pregnant, this would have been the month we had a baby.  It was weird.  I ached and longed to hold my own child, so it felt like there was no reason at all for God to have delayed the gratification.  I remember this person telling me "But, just think, when you finally do get pregnant, it will all make sense.  You'll look back and think 'Ah!  This is why God made us wait!'"

Now, I know that there are readers out there who are experiencing infertility, even waiting, who are currently in the midst of devastation.  I know that my story can seem like nothing compared to others who go through years and years of trials and hardships - so, I am in NO way trying to say that I know how that feels.  I don't.

But, when you are in the midst of it - when I was crying out to God on my bathroom floor after getting my period each month, when I was weeping and cursing and questioning "Why not me? Why not now?"...all there is is either "baby" or "no baby"...there's no timeframe or logic or end in sight.  So, all that to say, the year it took us to get pregnant felt like an eternity to me.

The year came to an end, and my first "fertility" appointment got changed to a "pre-natal" appointment. And even after I gave birth to a perfectly gorgeous baby 9 months later...I still had no idea why God made us wait.  I still wondered why in the world I couldn't have just surpassed all that pain and ended up with my gorgeous baby the year before?  What difference did it make, God, really? to today, and here's one difference:  My husband has spent the last few months getting rejected by jobs he's overqualified for.  And I know just how he feels.

I can't tell you all the reasons God had for the way it all rolled out.  I can't tell you how many lives it altered or how much we really grew as humans or as spouses through that journey.  Some things are simply immeasurable.

But, I can tell you that now I know what it feels like to be married to someone who feels understood because of a time that God brought us through together.  I can tell you that there is a reason (probably many) for the waiting - and that it is not in vain.

Growth is rarely comfortable.  Change is almost never convenient.  But, dependance on God, no matter how long it takes, is always, always productive.  It's not that I have-to-believe-this-cause-I-have-no-other-choice.  My life is a testament to His follow-through!  He is faithful to answer and be with us no matter what the answer is.

You are not alone in your waiting, friends.  And your waiting is not wasted.

Wait on!

Reset Button

Monday, August 26, 2013

Some mornings, I'll wake up to the sweet giggling of my daughters, roll out of bed, and smile as I corral my crew downstairs before flipping on the coffee maker and starting the day.

more coffee please
Other mornings, like today, I wake up to the sound of crying, force my weary bones up, and find myself coddling two irrationally exhausted goblin toddlers before the sun has even risen.  There was no going back to sleep.  There was no smiling.  There was no sound of gentle music like in those Folgers commercials with the happy parents and perfect sunlight beaming in to greet them.

Shortly after cup-of-coffee-number-two, my youngest had the worst diaper explosion since infancy (like, up-the-back grade 'splosion, people!), and before the Today Show has even switched to Kathie Lee & Hoda, I'm wrangling two crazies into the tub to wash off the evidence of the morning poo-pocalypse.  I make it back downstairs to start some laundry, just in time to catch a glimpse of the VMA recap in all its Miley-Cyrus-has-lost-her-mind-and-her-clothes glory.

What in the world is happening today?  Was there some super moon that left all of us crazy overnight????  Did I miss something here???

Mondays have a tendency to be like this sometimes, don't they?  It seems like every week I lay my head down to rest on Sunday night with hope and expectation to waking up to a new start, a refreshed week ahead, and some magical energy that will catapult me through to a greater degree than the week before. And just as I get giddy with the anticipation of a fresh new week ahead, I wake up to total and utter chaos!

Do you ever want to just hit the "reset button", go back to bed, and try to start the day over?  [deep sigh]  Mornings like this remind me how quickly things can spin out of control.  Within minutes, I can go from a deep sleep to wrestling messy, screaming toddlers.  And yet, as we all hang on by the skin of our teeth and sip that cup of coffee, peace will find us again (eventually).

Mornings like these, I'm reminded how much I need to incorporate Jesus into my everyday life - right here, right in the thick of the stinky, loud, dirty-laundry-laden disaster that it may be.  Remember how I gave you a "SNEAK PEEK" into one of the items that I'm including in the Share & Care Contest prize package???  Well, today I'm going to share with you just how awesome it the daily devotional Jesus Calling it can sometimes creep me out just how awesomely accurate it is in giving me the nugget of truth that I need for the day.

Example? Here's today's devo:

August 26Trust Me in the midst of a messy day.  Your inner calm - your Peace in My Presence - need not be shaken by what is going on around you.  Though you live in this temporal world, your innermost being is rooted and grounded in eternity.  When you start feeling stressed, detach yourself from the disturbances around you.  Instead of desperately striving to maintain order and control in your little world, relax and remember that circumstances cannot touch My Peace.Seek My Face, and I will share My mind with you, opening your eyes to see things from My perspective.  Do not let your heart be troubled, and do not be afraid.  The Peace I give is sufficient for you. John 16:33; Psalm 105:4; John 14:27

I don't know about you, but that is exactly what I needed to reset my day.  Now, let's have one more cup of coffee together and pretend the sun has just come up!  Happy Monday.

Full Plate

Friday, August 23, 2013

Ever feel like your plate is getting a little crowded?  Then, right at that moment someone offers you seconds?  Then, right as you turn them down, someone else hands you dessert?  And just as you're about to drop everything, your toddler throws her sippy-cup at your head???

What? Doesn't your home look like this?

Yeah, sounds about right for this week.

This transitional season of chaos has my family feeling anything but normal.  My husband is job-hunting, I'm diving head first into grad school, and our two toddler daughters are screaming at us all day long to go play outside in the summer heat and 1000% humidity (that's not a typo - seriously - the humidity is maybe more like a million percent here).  Whew.

My daughters are three-and-a-half (you understand why that HALF  must be attached) and two-years-old.  When one of them isn't tackling the other down with a "hug" (hugs look very similar to violent wrestling moves around here) then their each climbing up some new apparatus they've constructed from pillows and dolls and most likely some rather wobbly form of furniture.  Most of these activities end in one of them hitting her head and both of them crying and my husband and I wondering how our life together ever got THIS LOUD!?

Toddlers are tense.  Toddlers are insane and irrational.  Toddlers don't care that you aren't fulfilling your life calling or too busy trying not to already-get-behind-on-homework the first week of class.  Toddlers think the world has come to a brutal and completely unalterable demise if it takes more than ten seconds for Netflix to connect.  Toddlers can not be predicted.

Basically, my daughters are the bosses I always hated embodied in the cutest and most desirable forms of humankind that I couldn't possibly love more.  They are walking paradoxes.

If I listed all the emotions that my toddlers put me through on paper, it would become glaringly obvious that this "relationship" is one of complete and total dysfunction.  It doesn't make sense to love them as much as I do.  It is completely unreasonable to continue to give of myself to that degree over and over and over again and without expectation of some guarantee in return.  It couldn't possibly be healthy for me to situate myself to be challenged so often in such a confined space for such a long time.

And yet, here I am.

Perhaps you might think (if you are grossly cynical) that I'm just saying all this because the reality is that I have no way out.  I had these children.  Indeed, I contributed willingly and significantly to the creation of them!

But, you'd be wrong.

I choose my children every day.
(Sometimes I also choose to yell at Netflix.)

I didn't walk into parenthood completely blindfolded - we all know there are challenges that come with acceptance in a position of this magnitude.  But, no matter what child you get, there are going to be surprises.  The amazing thing is, most of these surprises come in the form of revealing who you really are and finding out what you're made of.

Sometimes I drop the full plate.  Sometimes I make a huge mess and have to cry about it as I clean it all up.  Sometimes I have to ask for help and let other people hold my drink for me.  Sometimes I have to say "That's enough.  I'm full."

But, sometimes.  I close my eyes and feel the weight of the plate in my hands, the imbalance, the risk of it all, and I'm reminded that this is the STUFF that makes up a truly rich life.  It doesn't make sense to want such a loud and imperfect life.  It's a mess.

And I'll choose it all again tomorrow.


Have you entered the Share & Care Contest yet??  Did you know you can enter up to THREE times a day??  Here is a peek at a couple more items I'm throwing into the fabulous PARDYMAMA CARE PACKAGE!

Thistle Farms Citrus Vanilla Lotion!  Not only is it good for your skin - it is helping change lives!  At Thistle Farms, products are handmade by survivors of prostitution, trafficking, addiction and life on the streets.  Find out more at their website and see ALL the wonderful products they make!

Jesus Calling a devotional that has daily nuggets of insight into "Enjoying Peace in His Presence".  If you're "not the devotional type" - then this is the book for you.  Many times, this book has started my day off right or encouraged me unexpectedly.  Some days, I will pick it up and read the page for the day and find that it hits so close to home I'm curious if someone hasn't been spying on me!  It's a delightfully encouraging read, and I think it will brighten your day too!


Thursday, August 22, 2013

Since moving to Nashville just a couple months ago, our time of "settling in" hasn't been the easiest.  We knew it would come with challenges, but we could never have anticipated some of the craziness we've encountered.  While my husband's job search continues (prayers appreciated as always!) we have started to hit a stride of "normalcy" in settling into our new home.  It's a great feeling!

As I was laying in bed a few nights ago, I did what I usually do when I can't fall asleep:  I counted my blessings.  This has become an effective "default" for me to turn to in the wee hours of the morning, always helping me focus on the goodness and faithfulness of God instead of the worries that too often plague my thoughts at such a vulnerable hour.

Just as I was telling God how especially thankful I was for my daughters, that they are both healthy, and sound asleep in their beds, my heart began to swell with gratitude.  Indeed, we do have much.

Then, I began to pray for a job for Josh.  Again.  I mean, I can't tell you how many times I have to surrender this request to God throughout the day. 
Please, please, please Lord, please use his talents in work that would bring you honor and please let someone call him soon with an interview, and please let it be the perfect job for him!  Please!  

Right then, right in the middle of my appeal, a voice of doubt interrupted with, "Who are YOU, to be asking for MORE?  How can you list all that you've been given and then ask for MORE?"  

I paused for a moment.  

Then, in what I can only describe as a "Holy Ghost moment" a new thought, armed with the truth of Christ, refuted with authoritative clarity:  How? How can I ask for more?  Because I worship the GOD OF EVERYTHING.


I was stopped in my tracks right then and there.  Peace rushed over me as I continued my prayer to ask God for a job for Josh.  And then, I just laid in bed and pondered the truth that was spoken through me.  

I worship the God of everything.  He isn't just the God of things that go well.  He isn't just the God of healthy babies, sleeping husbands, and safe apartments.  He isn't just the God of my school work and good weather.  He isn't just the God of my gratitude.  HE is the God of MORE.

When you worship the God of everything - it's okay to never run out of requests.  It's not only okay - it's awesome!  He wants you to come to HIM for everything.  

My doubts and frustrations and worries can interrupt my focus so many times.  There's plenty to distract me from the truth that God is in control and hasn't forgotten about our needs.  But, the reminder that I worship the God of everything is, indeed, ALL I need.  It certainly helped me that night as I drifted off to sleep.  Turns out, the armor of God makes for pretty comfortable pajamas.

Ephesians 6:10-18New International Reader's Version (NIRV)God’s Armor10 Finally, let the Lord make you strong. Depend on his mighty power. 11 Put on all of God’s armor. Then you can stand firm against the devil’s evil plans. 12 Our fight is not against human beings. It is against the rulers, the authorities and the powers of this dark world. It is against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly world.
13 So put on all of God’s armor. Evil days will come. But you will be able to stand up to anything. And after you have done everything you can, you will still be standing.
14 So stand firm. Put the belt of truth around your waist. Put the armor of godliness on your chest. 15 Wear on your feet what will prepare you to tell the good news of peace. 16 Also, pick up the shield of faith. With it you can put out all of the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Put on the helmet of salvation. And take the sword of the Holy Spirit. The sword is God’s word.
18 At all times, pray by the power of the Spirit. Pray all kinds of prayers. Be watchful, so that you can pray. Always keep on praying for all of God’s people.

First Day of School

Wednesday, August 21, 2013


Wow, guys, I had my first day of school last night.  My classes are only once a week, on Tuesday nights from 5-10pm.  So, I basically spent five hours with my face in front of a fire hydrant last night, trying to gulp more information than my brain could sponge up.

It was overwhelming and exciting, much as I anticipated.  Anytime you get handed a syllabus with an entire schedule laid out of expectations you have no clue as to fulfill, it's going to be mind-boggling.

On top of that, I met the 22 people I'm going to be spending the next 2 years with - my "cohort".  We are all on the same track, taking the same courses, and forging through the same challenges ahead.  To my surprise, there are 21 women...and one very brave guy.  I kinda felt like I was pledging to a sorority!  So, that should make things fun and interesting to say the least.

We got our books, we met our professors, and we scrambled to grasp what exactly we had gotten ourselves into.  The bar is high.  The mountain is steep.  And it's going to be freaking incredible.

One thing is for certain - this is right where I'm supposed to be!  Even as my eyes glazed over at the sight of the syllabi that dared to intimidate me with such words like "clinical conceptualization" or "genograms" or "1st order cybernetics" (I mean, what the crap do these things even MEAN????  Have I just signed up for a course on the Klingon language, or what?) even then my heart beat with a thrill at the thought of the adventure ahead of me.

I have no IDEA what these things are....BUT I'M GOING TO!

I went to bed around 1am after having read part of one of my textbooks.  There's a TON of reading in grad school, and I'm NOT the fastest reader.  There are a lot of challenges ahead of me, and one thing I'm dedicated to is YOU GUYS.  I have a lot on my plate, and you're all going to be along for the ride.

As I drifted off to sleep last night, I felt so thankful for this opportunity.  And, I was reminded of my "life verse" that I chose as a teenager, years ago.  (Do you have a life verse?  Just a motto from the word of God that can be a steadfast reminder for you no matter what stage of life you are in?)  Well, here's mine:

Proverbs 16:3Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed.

I can't imagine a better time to wholly commit my actions to God.  It will surely be to His credit that I achieve this feat.  And I thank each and every one of you for your support as we dive into this venture!


Have you entered the Share & Care Contest yet???  Enter up to three times a day to win a fabulous care package from PARDYMAMA!

Here is a sneak peek at one item in the care package - a pound of coffee beans from one of my new favorite coffee shops in Nashville, Frothy Monkey!  Now, that should perk you up!

Why I'm Becoming a Therapist (pt. 2)

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Yesterday, I talked a little about why I'm going back to school to get my Masters in Marriage & Family Therapy.  It's pretty crazy to think that in not too long, someone will actually be referring to ME as their therapist!?!

Have you ever been to therapy?  Does it scare the socks off you?  Do you picture an ominous couch and someone furrowing their brow at you and taking notes about your childhood?  That's okay.  I've been there too.

I went to my first therapist years ago when I was struggling with depression.  I have gone to non-Christian counselors, licensed Psychiatrists (yes, the ones with the Rx pads), and Christian counselors - both trained and untrained.  If you have a fear based on actually having gone to counseling before, there's a good chance that I've lived a similar experience in the past.

Yet, here I am, climbing the mountain of education to get to the other become the one sitting on the chair holding the notepad, instead of the one laying in a heap of used Kleenexes on the couch (okay, seriously, not every session is like that!)

WHY? Why do I want to become a therapist?

I want to extinguish the stigma that people 
should go to therapy because they have a "problem".

Do you know ANYONE who doesn't have a problem?  Really.  Really?  No problems at all?  Let me just answer that question for you:  No.  You don't.  None of us know anyone who doesn't have a problem.  Mainly, this is because WE are exactly what is wrong with the world!  We are a fallen and selfish and sinful people - yes - all of us.

Yet, (and I'll come right out and say that the church has a long way to go on turning this tide) when we hear that someone is going to counseling or seeing a therapist, what is the first thing that pops in our mind?  Gee, I wonder what their problem is?

For the record, yes, of course when crises arise it is a good time to see someone specially trained to help that person through a particularly volatile time.  But, my point is that over the years, we've pegged this vocation as one to be "the last resort" or somewhere people turn "when nothing else has worked".

Or, we sit back and judge others for going to therapy and think things like "they just don't have enough faith" or "things must really be terrible if they can't get through this on their own".  If you've never thought these things, then I applaud you - but, if you have, then you are exactly like me...before I went to counseling.

Yes, I first went out of crisis.  But, over the years, as I've encountered a wide variety of therapists from many walks of life, I've uncovered an incredible diamond in the rough.  Therapists - the good ones, the ones that love Jesus, the ones that are vitally equipped to pass on information and wisdom - can be a crucial vessel God uses to change lives, save marriages, and restore relationships.

I can tell you this much, the most valuable sessions I've had in therapy haven't been at volatile or shaky times in my life.  It's been when I was the happiest, the most "secure" and therefore, the most motivated times of my life to step outside my comfort zone and reach for the truest, most compassionate person God has called me to be.  The simple truth is that when we feel our best, we are usually our bravest.  And that is a GREAT time to be in therapy.

In earning an education to help others better equip themselves to seek out who God wants them to be, how He wants them to best reflect His character, and why He wants them to develop skills to communicate on His behalf...I hope to help break down this stigma of "hurt people" being the only ones who need it.

We're all hurting.  We're all broken.  And we can ALL play a part in the epic story of healing that Jesus so earnestly invites us to.

*TONIGHT is my first class!  Be sure and check back tomorrow to see how it went!

Why I'm Becoming a Therapist (pt. 1)

Monday, August 19, 2013

As you may have heard by now, I'm heading back to school!  It's been a loooong time since I've been in the classroom.  Okay (ahem) almost 8 years.  It's still hard for me to believe that I'm in graduate school since only a decade ago I wasn't even ever sure I would (or could) get my Bachelor's degree, let alone a Masters.

I haven't always liked school, but I've always loved the "idea" of school.  Needless to say, I was as shocked as anyone when I genuinely started entertaining the thought of going back.  I'll be the first to admit that I attained my Bachelor's in English by the skin of my teeth.  (I truly flirted my way through Spanish III so that I fulfilled the language requirement.  Otherwise, I'd still be 3 credits and many un-conjugated-Spanish-words away from holding a degree in my hands.  Whew!)

But, the beautiful thing about graduate school (and one of the things I'm most looking forward to) is that everyone really wants to be there.  Every student there has worked hard and specifically applied to get to this time and place, and everyone is interested in the same subject matter.  Yay!  I can't wait to be meeting my fellow psychopaths (though I may withhold that particular nickname until a few weeks into school).

I'm going to get my Masters in Marriage & Family Therapy.  Yes, I will be a licensed therapist when all is said and done (that is, after many many many more hours of accumulating licensing hours even after I have my degree in hand).  So, this is a genuine commitment, and I'm in it for the long haul.

Why in the world would I want to be a therapist? 

Well, first of all, my primary reason is that I'm called to it.  No, I don't think I have what it takes to "fix others"...but, I do believe that Jesus does.  And I believe that a whole host of a never-ending education (in and outside of the classroom) will help me be able to relate this to anyone who God may place in my path.

I always thought about becoming a therapist "later on" when my kids were in school and I had life more figured out and it was "convenient" etc. etc. etc.  You get the picture.  Then, as we began talking about moving to Nashville last fall, I started to have some conversations with people I deeply respect who literally just pegged the question at me (many times, out of the blue, within about a week's time) Have you ever thought about becoming a therapist?

I actually had.  Many times.  But, I kept sweeping the idea out of the way simply because it didn't "fit"into my lifestyle at the moment. Still, when that many people pose the same question to you, it kind of makes you stop and wonder.  So, I did.  I wondered.  Then I googled.  And soon enough I found myself showing my husband websites of universities in Tennessee that offered programs that fit both our schedules and our dreams.  It was weird.  It was surprising.  It was everything I'd been waiting on.

Okay, okay (I can hear you saying) but why a therapist?  

Here's the thing about therapy.  Think about having coffee with your best friend.  They understand you, they want to be around you, they like to listen to you.  Now, imagine telling that friend anything or everything you may be feeling or worried about, or just excited about, or really anything.

You completely trust your friend...but, if you are being honest with yourself, your friend has deep opinions about your life and others around you.  Of course they do - they should - that's what friends are for.

Now, replace that best friend with an unfamiliar, yet kind face.  Someone who is approachable, will pray for and over you, and someone who you trust completely within moments of meeting them.  This person listens to you, they validate you, they are concerned with the reality of truth and your perception of it rather than how things may just appear.

They have no judgment, they are only here to help.  And, just when you feel like you are getting a little bored, they pose a perfect question or scenario to make you reconsider a new angle of looking at your life that you would not have considered otherwise.  They are the objective and safe voice that respects and considers who you are and why.

That's what a therapist has done for me in the past.  That's what a good therapist does.  (And so much more - and yet even more that I have yet to learn!)

If the idea of a therapist is uncomfortable for you - I'm going to guess that you probably have never been to a therapist before, or you've been to a really bad one.  I can say this, because I've been there, and I've been to both, and I can understand your hesitation.

Unfortunately, as in any occupation, there are some terrible, ill-equipped people doing this job.  Sure.  It happens.  Just like there are awful lawyers out there.  Just like there are smarmy mechanics.  Just like there are jaded teachers or bitter pastors.  And, if you've gone to a terrible counselor (or even know someone who has) and felt like they were master-mind manipulators out to get paid exorbitant amounts of money just to ask "How does that make you feel?" then you probably have very little respect for the occupation.

BUT - this is where I come in and give you a hug and ask you to take a second look.  I'm sorry if that's happened to you.  That was not cool.  And on behalf of what will soon be "my people" (haha) I cringe at the idea of anyone mis-using or abusing the teachings of psychology and communication to mis-lead or manipulate in any way.  That's not what a counselor should be.  And that's definitely not what Christian counseling is all about.

I'm becoming a therapist because I believe the greatest Counselor of ALL TIME was Jesus Christ.  My gifts and interests culminate at a point where I want to understand others and help them identify with Jesus and seek Him for their healing as they grow to understand how their lives (every aspect of it) can be a resourceful tool for His glory.

Jesus didn't just come down to earth, die, and leave.  He came and related to others.  He listened, He felt, He taught, and He equipped.  He granted us numerous tools (love, respect, and encouragement, just to name a few) to share among others - all of which reflect HIS characteristics.  I can only hope I can be that kind of counselor in the future to someone else.

It probably goes without saying, but another huge reason for my getting my Masters in this, is simply to enrich my writing.  As you know, I love to write about marriage and family - what it means, the honest struggles it includes, and the journey I'm taking in learning through it all.  I can't think of a better education to receive for what I know and love than to dig deeper and acquire the academic credential my heart is already on fire for.  Basically, I want the knowledge to match the, I'm getting it.

Stay tuned...tomorrow, I'm continuing this topic.  I have another HUGE reason I'm becoming a therapist that just might surprise you.

Back to School

Friday, August 16, 2013

School buses drive by.  Jeans are on sale.  And the scent of pencil lead and erasers fills the air when you walk into Target.  It can all only mean one thing:  back to school time.

Last night, I went to "Grad School Orientation".  Yup, the rumors are true:  I'm a student again.  As I walked off the elevator and straight into a line to get my Student ID card, it really started to hit me.  I'm a student.  

It's not like I didn't know this was coming.  Eight months ago I began the process of applying to grad school to pursue my Masters in Marriage & Family Therapy (MFT).  It was a grueling process of studying for the GRE (barf), seeking out references, writing an admissions essay, and then having an interview via Skype.  All that, leading up to a single defining moment in my life when I open an email to see the word I'd been crossing my fingers for:  Accepted.

That sealed the deal.  I became a Grad Student right then and there.  But, it wasn't until last night, as I fumbled with the orientation packet in my hands while I waited in line, that I actually felt the magnitude of what I was getting myself into.

I took a seat in a big room filled with dozens of other students, all pursuing post-graduate degrees, but not necessarily the same as mine.  I had flashbacks of my early days as a new Freshman, sizing up these strangers and trying to spot a friendly face among them.  Sure enough, a kind girl that I had stood next to in line for ID cards had already saved me a seat.  Insta-friend.  Nice.

Got my smarty specs on.
We sat through about an hour of some important-guy-in-a-bow-tie drone on about the history of the school, the campus, and various other facts that I'm sure most of us have already forgotten.  (The nerd-for-higher-education in me actually found most of it fascinating, though even I was rubbing my eyes near the end of his lengthy presentation.)

When all was said and done, I had become a member of a new family.  A new class, eager to learn and ready to be challenged.  While most of us seemed nervous and excited, I looked across the room and saw a strange village of people, united by determination if nothing else.  We were all there because we wanted the same thing, essentially:  to better ourselves in order to create a difference.  

Yep.  This is right where I'm suppose to be.

Time to hit the books.

*Next week I'll be sharing all about why I decided to go back to school!

Share & Care Contest

Thursday, August 15, 2013

As you know, here on PARDYMAMA, I'm all about sharing and caring.  I try to live and write transparently, sharing because I care about life and stories and allowing God to take the reigns and utilize the story of my life to show others truth or grace or humor, or who knows what else.

So, now I'm asking you to help me SHARE this writing venture of mine.  HOW?

There are three ways to enter the contest:
From August 15th through September 1st 2013

1. LIKE my FACEBOOK PAGE if you haven't already. 
(Those of you that have liked it already are automatically entered ONCE! Yay!)

2. SHARE my Facebook page or a link to my blog posts on Facebook.  
(You can do this simply by clicking "SHARE" at the bottom of a post listed on Facebook! New OR old posts!)

3. RETWEET my blog on Twitter.  
(Follow me @pardymama if you aren't already, and just click the RT symbol whenever I tweet out a link to a new post!)

AND, you can enter up to THREE TIMES EVERY DAY!!!! This means you could retweet three times, or share on Facebook three times, or mix it up and do a little of both.  However you wanna enter, I'll put your name in the hat up to THREE times each day.  Woohoo!

Each time you enter, you'll get your name placed in a drawing for the 
(Aha!  So this is where the "caring" comes in!)

This care package will be bursting with goodies!  Since moving to Nashville, I've stumbled upon some AMAZING local indulgences.  There are some local coffee roasters, a chocolate company, and even a line of lotion that I've fallen in love with.  I'll also be throwing in a few of my favorite books for you to enjoy.  But, I say all this just to tease you a bit, because... 

In the next couple weeks, I'll occasionally be listing an item at the bottom of a new blog post that will be included in the care package!  SO - be on the look out for goodies that might soon be YOURS!

Official WINNER will be announced on 
MONDAY, September 2nd

Time to SHARE and CARE!  Let's do this!


Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Here on PARDYMAMA, I've never held a contest.  I've never had a give-away or interacted with my audience much beyond your gracious emails and comments.

With everything going on between job searching and trying to keep my head above water, this blog has become a deeper source of encouragement for me than I could ever imagine.  I want to do something to reach out to all of you, to say THANK YOU and to just have some fun.

So, I'd say it's high time we have ourselves a little contest!

Mark your calendars, cause starting TOMORROW, August 15, 2013 (and running through September 1st) I'll be holding PARDYMAMA'S very first contest!!!

Don't worry, no need to get out your sweatbands or put on your running shoes.  If you know me at all by now, then you know I'm more of a sit-back-and-click-and-let-me-sip-my-latte kinda gal.  And that's pretty much all the amount of effort it will take on your part to enter this contest!

It will be simple, and fun, and there will be a drawing for a fabulous prize at the end.  I'll explain everything in detail tomorrow, right here on the blog.  But, I just wanted to give you a heads up so you'll be sure and check back first thing TOMORROW and help me kick-off this exciting event.

Get ready!

Bummer Day

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Okay, so I'm sure you are all wondering how yesterday went?  How did the big job interview go???  Well, as you might gather from the title, it was not the winsome and celebratory day that we longed for.  As my three-year-old Matilda says, "It's a bummer day, huh mom?"  (Though I think she was referring to the fact that I wouldn't let her eat cookies for supper.)

Unfortunately, not long into the interview, they began asking my husband about his experience in graphic design - of which he has none of.  That is to say, the job is not the "perfect fit" we were led to believe it might be (no design qualifications were listed in the job description, nor are they on his resume).

Josh came home disappointed, frustrated, and confused.  I could feel the cloud of discouragement settling over our house, so I promptly scooped the girls out the door and headed out to run a couple errands and let my beloved ponder in private.  This was a good move for everyone, and many hugs and long sighs were had when I returned home.  Misery loves company - but, only after a good while of decompressing the day's events.

It's frustrating.  You do all you can that's seemingly within your control only to have all of the things that are out of your control spin out of place.  So, we pray.  We wait.  We try to occupy ourselves with pursuit of any other speck on the horizon that might soon come into view as the direction we're meant to head.  There are still many applications and resumes out there that are floating in and out of people's hands, and prayerfully making their way to the proper time and place and person.

I'm not embarrassed I blanketed the internet with prayer requests for my husband.  It's not like I'm rolling the dice here, hoping that one of those prayers hits the jack-pot.  On the contrary!  I'm so insanely thankful that I have the body of Christ to support us at this time!  Thank you, and keep em coming.

I'm reminded emphatically tonight of this verse below, and I hope it lifts your spirits as it does mine.  It is such a TREASURE to be fighting for what is good and righteous, and I'm impervious to defeat when I put my faith in God alone.  Hallelujah!

2 Corinthians 4: 8-9, 17-18
8. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 9. persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed...17. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

Job Interview

Monday, August 12, 2013

Today, my husband Josh has a job interview!!!  I put this out there, anxiety-ridden-and-all, to humbly ask you to pray for him, for this opportunity, and for God's will in this situation.  He'll be interviewing at the Nashville Rescue Mission at 2:30pm Central Time.  The position is Creative Services Manager, and it seems like an awesome fit.  Not only does he fit the criteria, but it's something that he would really love to do.

Anyway - I know this is really bold to just lay out for you.  In fact, I'm red in the face as I'm typing this, feeling the pressure build up as questions like "Won't this post be embarrassing if he doesn't get the job?" float around in my head.  Sure.  Of course.  "Defeat" sucks and rejection never feels, yeah, I'm running that risk.  But, who am I to be embarrassed for asking for prayers?  We need em, you got em, and sometimes it really IS that simple.

The thing is, when it comes to things I really want - the hardest thing about praying isn't asking for prayers - it's asking you to pray for God's will in every circumstance.  It's hard for ME to pray for God's  will in every circumstance.  Because, even as I tack on a "...according to Your will..." at the end of my prayers, God still knows that in my heart I'm shouting "THIS IS WHAT I WANT!" So sometimes it just seems silly.  But, it's not.

So, what does it even mean to pray "according to God's will".  This can be a deep and sticky subject if you really dive deep.  There are whole volumes of books out there that will try to knock-down-drag-out what the idiosyncrasies of what and how much God has defined in our lives already.  But, I'm not going there.  Not because it's not important, but because at the end of the day, if you are praying sincerely to a God who wants the best for all of us and believing that HE alone can make best of ANY situation, then I think you already have your priorities straight.

So, please and thank you, pray for God's will for Josh's interview today.  We want the job.  We hope for the job.  We pray for the job.  But, we won't be defeated if this is not the job.  We rest in the assurance that God's will is for what is BEST for us, and however we can bring Him the glory and be the greatest testament to His awesomeness, then THAT is what we strive for.

Thank you, all!  I have no idea how long it may be until we know something about this position...but, I will keep you all posted!  I can't tell you enough how much we appreciate your prayers and look forward to celebrating God's answer to this prayer.

My City pt. 3

Friday, August 9, 2013

It's been awesome giving y'all (I can officially just start using "y'all" unashamedly now) a virtual tour of my new city, Nashville.  Yesterday I took you through 21st Ave, West End, and Downtown.  Today, we're exploring some areas off the beaten path, starting with another Avenue, not too far down from where we started yesterday.

The area of town deemed "12 South" is quickly becoming the new 21st (though they each have their unique qualities, and with the growing population of young-somethings in Nashville there won't be any need for these areas to compete).

Twelfth Avenue is greatly re-gentrified since I lived here last.  It's riddled with hip small businesses, giving you a taste of the local scene and the organic underground that is surfacing with catchy titles like "Moda Boutique", "Portland Brew", "Urban Grub" and "Frothy Monkey Coffeehouse" (get a turtle latte or white monkey mocha for some seriously delicious caffeine).

Other spots of interest will be Burger Up, Las Paletas (which you may have seen on Food Network) and the ultra hiip (yes, it deserves the extra i) "Imogene & Willie clothetier that will custom fit denim so incredulously to your form that it is nearly a crime to just call them "jeans".

Now that you've had a full dose of hipster for the day, let's head out of town.  If you ever visit Nashville, the Opryland Hotel is an absolute must.  It's one of those things that you just don't think you care to see until you are there, and it is spectacular enough that you'll probably want to go again.  Sure, once you've seen it, you've seen it, but it's still in the category of "just gotta see it" if you are anywhere in the area.

Basically, the Opryland Hotel brings the outside inside, and you can take full walks around various GIANT areas of perfectly landscaped atriums named "Cascade", "Delta" and "Magnolia".  Yes, it is the perfect outing for parents and grandparents.  But, they also serve great food (incredible brunches overtake the hotel on holidays like Mother's Day or Easter) and the entire premise is surprisingly stroller-friendly.

Next to the Opryland Hotel (and this is about 25 minutes east of Nashville) is the NEW Grand Ole Opry (I actually saw Taylor Swift's Grand Ole Opry debut there way back when she was "Taylor who?" True story.) And next to that is Opry Mills, which is pretty much exactly like any other "Mills" shopping center if you've been before...but, they do have the only H&M in the city, so it's worth the trek.

Last stop, Green Hills.  Heading back into the city, past downtown, and just south of the 21st Avenue area, you'll find Green Hills.  It's been my theory that if you want all the rich people to settle into one area, simply tag "Hills" on the end of the name and they'll eventually congregate there.  This holds true for Green Hills, and it lives up to it's lush name.  (The mall has marble floors! and a Nordstrom!)

There is a newish Green Hills shopping area called "Hill Center Green Hills" (see, I'm not kidding about that HILL theory) and it's posh, and perfectly snobby, and exceedingly pretentious, and you will totally love it.  Here's where you'll find your Whole Foods, your Anthropologie, and West Elm.  There's some smaller shops too, all neatly tucked in between those shops we just always feel "not as cool as we could be until I buy THAT" and so it flows well.

Surprisingly, just a few blocks away and across the street, you'll find a very authentic, boring little shopping center.  But, in this little nook of town lies one of Music City's treasures:  The Bluebird Cafe. You've seen it in movies, you've heard about it, and if you aren't watching the show Nashville then you're missing out on glimpses of it on a weekly basis.  The thing is, you've probably envisioned it in the middle of Music Row or Downtown next to a honky-tonk; but, you've been sorely misled.

The Bluebird is as legendary as it gets in Nashville, and if you can catch a songwriters-in-the-round night there, you've struck gold and might be witnessing music history.  It's simple, it's small, you'll want to order a domestic beer to be cool and act like you don't care that you are sitting in a venue that's so legendary.  And you'll wanna kick up your boots and just listen...cause, that's what you do in Music City (if you're not playing, you're listening).

I hope you've enjoyed our mini-tour.  There's LOTS left here that I've left out.  I didn't even delve into East Nashville or Brentwood, or a zillion little eccentricities that make this city so great.  We didn't even visit the Farmer's Market or the Capital.  We didn't drive south to Franklin and visit the old theatre.  Well, maybe you will just have to visit sometime.

And if you do, let me know.  Cause I ain't never leavin.

(Y'all come back now, y'hear)

My City, pt 2

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Today and tomorrow, I'm diving into my new city.  In reality, there are many "areas" of town that can offer you a variety of flavors.  But, for this mini-tour, I'll take you to Hipsterville, Countryville, and few hidden gems you might not hit in Nashville if you didn't know about them.  Sure, I've only been back a couple months - you can probably get more information from Yelp or Travel Advisor, but stick around if you want the ten-cent-Pardy tour.

First things first, a good breakfast.  There are three places that are "quintessential Nashville" that I would proudly take you for breakfast if you come visit.  The Loveless Cafe (a bit outside of town), The Puffy Muffin (technically in Brentwood), or The Pancake Pantry.  Go to Loveless if you want biscuits and gingham table cloths.  Go to the Puffy Muffin if you want to throw a baby shower and serve amazing quiche.  But, GO (run, don't walk) to the Pancake Pantry if you want history smothered in syrup.

You will definitely wait in line, rain or shine, any day of the week.  But, The Pancake Pantry is pure Nashville, and you just might see a celebrity there.  (The dining room is wide open, so there's no where for them to hide!) I recommend the orange and walnut pancakes, my personal favorite, and don't fill up on coffee too much so that you can walk next door for some killer lattes at FIDO just up the street.

The street you'll be on, in fact, is 21st Ave, one of my favorite parts of town.  Unfortunately, it's a LOT of people's favorite parts of town, so parking can get a bit tricky.  But, it's worth it since there's plenty to do while you're there.   Twenty-first is kinda hipsterville, I won't lie.  Everyone is young and hip and writing something (songs, mostly, but also books or poetry or just blogging like I do!)  You'll want to wear your skinny jeans and leave your hair messy, but don't worry - get a latte from FIDO and you'll fit in just fine (order the Local Latte, made with real local honey, and you won't regret it).

Then, walk across the street to Pangaea, an eclectic and fun little shop that carries everything from kitschy Nashville lampshades to handmade jewelry, some clothing, and other anthro-type accessories for your home that you never knew you always wanted.

Just around the corner is Belcourt Theatre, a little independent cinema that shows everything from newish indie releases to old school cult classics.  Sometimes they even host events or live music, their schedule is about as unpredictable as their audience.

After you've got your latte in hand and your new stack of handmade stationery from one of the local shops, you're ready to get back in your car and hit up Centennial Park at West End, just a few miles away.  You'd be surprised how many Nashvillians don't go to Centennial Park that often.  At least, having come from California, it's amazing to me that people aren't constantly flocking to such open space in the middle of an urban setting...but, then again, land isn't as hard to come by out here (collective deep sigh here).

Centennial Park is open, beautiful, and landmarked spectacularly by the Parthenon, a full-scale replica of the actual Parthenon located in Athens, Greece.  It was originally constructed in 1897 as part of the Tennessee Centennial Exposition, and you can read more about it here.

You can also walk around it for free (it's very peaceful) or pay to go inside and visit the art museum where you'll see a giant statue of the goddess Athena (and I do mean GIANT).  Centennial Park also has a little pond, a bandshell, and hosts fun things like "Shakespeare in the Park" and other local talent.  It's also great for letting your toddlers run around and burn off some serious energy.  Bring a frisbee.

When you've run up a good appetite, walk over at the edge of the park to Hog Heaven for some of the best bbq in the city (are you salivating yet?) In my opinion, however, you'd have to traverse a few more miles into the city for my absolute favorite bbq:  JACK'S in downtown Nashville.  Not only is Jack's an historical gem of the city, it's as downright delicious as a pig can get.  (Just bring a pack of baby wipes with you, and fully indulge in the pulled pork and brisket.  It's well worth the saucy beard you'll be flaunting afterward.)

And Yeehaw! just like that, we're downtown.  You'll want to stay late until the lights come on to experience downtown at night.  This is when the singer-songwriters all get off working their day jobs to hob knob the local scene and see if tonight is their night to get discovered (you really just never know). Leave the kids at home and get ready to walk the strip.  You'll inevitably hear live music bursting out of every doorway downtown after 8pm.  You'll want to hit The Stage, Tootsie's Orchid Lounge, Legends, and pop in the Ernest Tubb Record Shop just to say you did.  On Second Street, you'll want to see the Wildhorse Saloon, and then bounce around the corner to the riverfront.

The Nashville riverfront is beautiful.  You can see the stadium just across the river where the Titans play, and you can see the riverfront bandstand where a ton of festivals and bands rock out all summer long.

Downtown Nashville is also home of the Ryman, the original home of the Grand Ole Opry (and one of my favorite venues of all time).  You'll also find The Country Music Hall of Fame, FRIST center for the visual arts museum, Bridgestone Arena (where the Predators play and BIG concerts are held).  The Nashville Library is within walking distance, and Union Station Hotel is not far up the street (a beautiful and very old train-station-turned-hotel that's worth seeing).  Needless to say, there's LOTS to do downtown, and I'm sure I'm not touching on a zillion other things.

Whew!  You worn out?  Kick your boots up for a bit, and we'll hit the pavement again in the morning.

Tomorrow I'll be taking you to some spots off the beaten path and a little outside the city.

My City pt 1

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

It's been two months since we started our journey of 2,000 miles cross-country and moved from California to Tennessee.  I lived in Nashville years ago, so part of this move has felt like a strange homecoming of sorts for me.  If any of you are sci-fi fans, you can appreciate the thought of this process feeling like I was entering into an alternate universe (think, Fringe-style).

It is familiar, I can remember my way around...and then all of a sudden I will see new buildings out of place, or a renovation of something completely new, or old spaces filled up with unrecognizable structures.  It's been a weird, comfortable-yet-uncomfortable combination of getting to re-learn this city I once knew.

I can tell you this, we're right where we should be.  We're home, and that's probably the strangest comfortable-yet-uncomfortable feeling of them all.  I fit in here.  My spouse and children fit in here.  My family was a wandering puzzle piece that is slowly completing the picture of what this city should look like.

I say that seriously, because I truly believe God has HUGE plans for using us Pardys in this city, and why not dream big?  We're only beginning to settle into this pond that God will generate a ripple-effect from.  Since we're handing this vision of impact over to Him, I'm not limiting its boundaries!

When one of our dearest friends visited last week, we got to finally (after weeks of unpacking and healing and settling in) GET OUT and see this city.  It was time to show off Nashville and sink our teeth into some of the many fun things this city has to offer.

Now, I can't show you everything - that would take years (which I slowly intend on doing through the course of my time here).  But, starting tomorrow, I'll virtually give you all a little tour of our new city, Music City and some of my very favorite spots.

Sure, I've only been back a couple months - you can probably get more information from Yelp or Travel Advisor, but stick around if you want the ten-cent-Pardy tour.

Welcome to Nashville, y'all.


Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Last week, we had the extraordinary privilege of hosting one of our dearest friends for the week.  She flew out from California to visit us, to see our life here, and see Nashville for the first time.  

After a rough several weeks of "breaking in" our new home, it was refreshing to open up our doors to a familiar face who was genuinely there just to love on us.  Her presence offered a tangible reminder to me about the importance of friendship.

Friendships are an imperative gift in this life.  I use the word imperative on purpose; it's first definition being: "absolutely necessary or required; unavoidable" which I think friendship is all of.  I suppose one could try to avoid it, but we all need someone eventually, so the strangest of humans still end up befriending someone in this life.  

It is unavoidable, it is absolutely necessary, and a requirement for truly experiencing life.  Even Jesus (who, we can all argue didn't require anything from this world) had friendships.  And, while Jesus may not have "needed" friends, He used friendships to show us the utmost of applicable lessons:  how to BE a friend.

Here comes the bumper sticker:  Jesus is my BFF.  Right, well, something like that, sure.  I may say that tongue-in-cheek, but the reality of it is actually true if you can cut through all the cotton candy, I'm-only-here-to-sugar-coat-life-for-you, fluffiness that we've all-too-often whittled friendships down to these days.  

Let's break it down for a second.  I'm not talking about friendships that share half-broken heart necklaces, or friendships that just post a smiley face emoticon as a facebook comment, or friendships that re-tweet verses at you when they don't have the words.  Those are all fine - those are sometimes necessary too (hey - I'm the first gal that will hug you when I get a RT!) 
But, this past week I've experienced something far deeper than cotton candy friendship.  I've been loved on by some true Jesus-oozing-out-of-their-pores people who are just being honest and vulnerable and loving the only way they know how: as Jesus did.  
Because, sometimes you don't have the words to tell your discouraged friends, so you just say "I love you, I'm praying for you." Sometimes you can't find the right emoticon on your iPhone that says "Sorry life sucks for you, but God is bigger" and so instead you get honest and just let them know "You are not alone in this".  I know, because those are the hugs from near and far that I got this last week.

Friends, all of you, you matter to me.  Some of you have sat with me as I cried on your shoulders.  Some of you are reading my blog for the first time (Welcome! Grab a Kleenex and a latte!) Some of you emailed me your own prayer requests, and I want you to know that I LOVE THAT.  I will also let you know that I count it an incredible privilege to pray and speak to Jesus on your behalf.  Please, always know that I genuinely answer all emails and will lift up your burdens to God just as you may have done for me.  

We are not alone in this.  Neither are you.

This last week I got texts, cards, emails, and real-life hugs.  People sent me verses and words that JESUS spoke aloud, and I felt them in my heart as if it were Him speaking them right in front of me.  I received encouragement from far and wide, genuine reminders that the body of Christ is real and ACTIVE and that this battle of life this side of heaven is far more effective when we join together.  

I'm reaching out to you.  I'm writing to you.  I'm SO GRATEFUL for you.  

You matter.

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