Our Year to THRIVE


Oh, how I love these two Bravehearted Beauties! It’s back-to-school season, and this time around feels a little “extra.” Because this year, I have a sophomore and a SENIOR!!! Yep, that whole last year under my roof thing just got REAL! Maybe that’s why it took me a week to share a first day photo. Just trying to take it all in.

One of my desires this school year is to focus on the joy of the present moment with my girls instead of looking ahead at how it’s all about to change. I too often have the end in mind before fully experiencing and enjoying the goodness of the present moment. Staying present is big work for me. An area where God’s been growing me and where I’m utterly dependent on His help just to STAY HERE instead of racing ahead and trying to get out in front of everything.

Sidetrack: I’ve been trying to get out in front of things my entire life. Always trying to prevent, perform or perfect so that things don’t catch me off guard or hurt so much when they get to me. But you know what? This doesn’t work! Life happens. Pain comes whether you bust your tail trying to prevent it or not. But so does JOY. And BEAUTY. And GOODNESS. All that getting out in front of everything blocks us from experiencing the fullness of joy, beauty and goodness in the present. Why? Because it leaves you anxious, overthinking and hyper-vigilant about things you can’t control. And all that anxious energy driven by future things makes it really hard to experience what’s available to you in this very moment.

I know because I’ve been there. As recently as yesterday. And I may be there again as soon as tomorrow. If this is you, first let me say, GRACE TO YOU. Then, let’s take a deep breath. You aren’t too far gone, no matter how far in the future your mind has raced or how hard you’ve worked to prevent and perfect. You can come back to this present moment right here, right now. Try inviting Jesus into this moment with you. Ask Him to show you where He is in this present moment. One way to do that is to look around you and notice a simple beauty right where you are. Keep your gaze on that for a good, long pause. Then look again. And again. Another way to return to the present moment is to notice your breath. One gentle, life-giving breath at a time. There’s no right way to breathe. Just be intentional to take air in, let it fill and expand your body, then release it back out. Repeat anytime, anywhere. {These are all notes to self!}

I love a good sidetrack, but back to where I thought this post was going: a new school year.

My girls and I have declared this year as our year to THRIVE! 

To put that into context: last year, we were surviving. It’s all we could do. And we did it. Some years are like that, and there’s no shame in that. Some years, surviving is a victory all its own. Some days, just getting out of bed and putting your feet on the floor can feel like a Mount Everest moment. Especially as you’re walking through a traumatic event. For us, it was divorce. We were surviving the shock of a story we never imagined.

Here’s part of what surviving looked like for me during the last school year: I woke up almost every single morning at 6AM to greet my girls with as much cheer as I could muster at that insane hour. Y’all! This is HUGE! I’m not a morning person and have never been the one in the family to make sure we get up and out the door on time. {Mornings were his thing.} Then I put some worship music on in the kitchen, made a hot, healthy breakfast, brewed coffee and tea, and sent my girls off with a hug, a kiss and a smile. I did that every single morning except for a small few when I was too sleep deprived to function. And on those mornings, I set up a self-serve granola station. Again, all of this is a MIRACLE! This is survival at it’s best. Caring well for my children during a season of devastation was one of my highest priorities. And God gave me the grace and strength to do it. {As did your prayers. I mean it when I say there are days you carried me!}

Once the girls walked out the door and went to school, I had to face the reality of a legal process and get to work on the dreaded but necessary business of divorce. It felt like a full time job, and I hated every single thing about it. Talk about toxic, contentious and costly! It makes me want to vomit thinking about how much it cost me financially, but just as significant is the emotional, physical and spiritual cost. At one point, while panicking over how much the divorce was costing me on every level, I heard God say I was worth the cost. And so were my girls. He reminded me that my rescue cost Him everything, and he’d do it all again just for me. I may never know all the battles God fights for me, and my girls may never know all the battles I fight for them. But in the end, what matters is that we know our worth as daughters of the King.

Self-care became essential for survival over the last year. I’m not talking about pampering and self-indulgence {though I wouldn’t mind a little of that!}, but true care of the mind, body and spirit. Trauma Sensitive Yoga, hikes, hunting for beauty, writing in my journal, long showers, time with close friends, counseling, watching football with my brother, and cheering on the Houston Astros {World Series Champions!} were some of the ways I cared well for myself last year…and will continue to do in this year of thriving. To care for my children the way I desire, I have to prioritize caring for me. This is true whether you’re a single parent or not, going through hardship or not. We can only love and care for others to the extent we love and care for ourselves. {More on that here and here.} At some point, no matter how much we love our children, we will run out of steam and resent the needs of others if we aren’t honoring and tending to our own good and valid needs.

When the legal process ended, and the full time business of divorce was over, survival meant lots of sleep. I was exhausted every single day. I still got up every morning for my girls, but when they walked out the door, I often crawled back in bed and slept for a couple more hours before proceeding with my day. Extra sleep became a huge part of self-care in this season. I gave myself grace for the first few months. I knew I had been through a lot and was grieving heavily. Not to mention struggling with the gray days that seemed to go on forever. When the sun started shining again, I started to feel some shame about crawling back in bed. I was hard on myself. Crawling back under the covers for needed rest and recovery felt too much like depression, and I didn’t want to go there. I miraculously survived the entire divorce process without falling into depression and didn’t want to land there in the end. That’s when my counselor said, “This is grief. And grief feels a lot like depression. Let yourself grieve. Give yourself grace.”

By summer, what survival looked like began to shift again. I was still exhausted despite a spring full of naps, and still grieving with a rising anger over all that happened and what still happens at times. But the difference was now I could sleep in if I needed to {though our roosters like to crow outside my bedroom windows each morning!}, I wasn’t in charge of a morning routine, there was no tight schedule or homework, and we could rest and recover a little more fully from all we’d walked through in the last year. My girls were with me almost the entire summer. Quality time together has always been my greatest joy. Especially this summer as I marveled over how they’ve matured and who they are becoming.

Y’all, my girls amaze me. Their honesty, their bravery, their hopefulness, their ability to connect with their hearts, speak their voices, stand in the midst of suffering…they inspire me every single day. I could go on and on about what I witnessed in them over the last year. Despite the massive crumbling of our family of four, they survived with dignity, courage and grace. They got up every single day, did their school thing well, then did an incredible job of self-care with hot baths, face masks, hot tea, candles, cozy blankets, counseling…and Netflix! My girls rock at self care! In this last year of surviving, they grew physically, spiritually and emotionally beyond anything I’ve ever witnessed in them in one school year. {Their shocking 5’8″ and 5’9″ height feels like a physical manifestation of their tremendous internal growth.} And through it all, they were there for each other. Loving each other in deeper, truer ways through suffering than I’ve ever witnessed in times of ease.


Just before school started, I wondered how I was going to do it all again as a single parent. I was doing that thing where I try to get out in front of today and think of all the early mornings, all the breakfasts and dinners I’ll need to make, all the homework, all the college application details, even going as far into the future as dropping my oldest off at college and returning home to an emptier house this time next year, wondering how I would survive that big life event as a single parent. {See where this goes?!?! Way too far ahead and hijacks me right out of the present moment. And leaves me sad or fearful over what has not yet happened instead of enjoying what is happening right now.}

I want this last year for the three of us together to be special, meaningful, and so much better than last year. But how do I make that happen? {Oh, precious mamas, the pressure we put on ourselves to overcompensate and come through for our children in ways that only God can do!} Before I could get too carried away in my own agenda or internal swirl, my oldest said something out loud that shifted everything. The night before school started, she said, “WE SURVIVED.” Past tense. This feels huge. “And now we get to thrive!”

She also said something about how she liked the three of us together, liked what we had become over the last year. And that’s when something else hit me: the three of us had not only survived, but through our season of survival, we had become something better together than we had been before. Talk about beauty out of brokenness! Our story may not look fully redeemed right now, but there’s restoration taking place all along the way.

And just like that, the night before school started, the three of us declared this the year of thriving. Last year we were surviving; this year we are THRIVING! 

Does that mean it will be free of the struggles and suffering that come with divorce and being human in a broken world? No. It means we are ready for MORE and believe it is for us. It means we are hopeful even as our hearts are still hurting. It means we can smile at this moment’s present joy and take in every single moment of this senior and sophomore year. SO, my friends, here’s to THRIVING! Will you join me? And if this is your season of surviving, know this: the suffering you experience here will become the fertile ground for a future season of thriving. I believe that for you even if you can’t see it.

Love to you with all of my brave and beautiful heart,

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  • Linda - My dear, you are beginning to see life as it is meant to be lived which is not to say it’s always easy but living in the moment is a skill that will serve you well. It just takes along time to learn as you have discovered.ReplyCancel

  • Andrew - Linsey, thank you for sharing so bravely and honestly. I especially relate to your “sidetrack” as a fellow [recovering] perfectionist. Such as good reminder, as we await the arrival of our baby boy, that I so often want to “get out in front of” parenting, and can find myself trying to anticipate how to handle every possible scenario – sleep deprivation, fussiness, sickness…college tuition..! Truly getting ahead of myself rather than staying present and inviting Jesus into each moment. Thank you for this reminder – it is timely for today! Love to you and the girls.ReplyCancel

  • chrissi - you continue to inspire and amaze. your girls are lovely and what a beautiful family you make. cheers to thriving♥ReplyCancel